Monday, April 8, 2013

Homeschooling - creativity in the making

Sometimes I think we're so far behind, and then I remember how young they really are.
Burnell is 8
Orin is 7
Chance is 6
Ty just turned 5
Quint is still 3
and Wyatt is not quite 2

We're doing GREAT actually!  The oldest 4 can read! That's a huge feat in and of itself.  I credit primarily the Teach Your Child To Read In 100 Easy Lessons book.  Fabulous!  It's easy enough for a 3-yr -old to begin to master.  Burnell and Orin are now moving into 2nd grade readers.  They are also getting quite good at writing stories and reports on what they're reading. They're "ahead" in math, can tell time, measure - everything a 1st grader should do. Chance is moving right along, knowing most everything a kindergartener would know.  And Ty is right behind him.  Quint - having observed his older brothers is doing great at 3 and loves to spell his name.

Whew! We're on track.  And I say this mostly for my own encouragement. :-)

The joy of homeschooling is that we can incorporate so much fun into our "schooling."  I am amazed at what these guys are able to learn - without any books.  Not to mention life skills, agriculture, animal husbandry, driving skills, equipment maintenance, exercise, etc.  Yes!

This week's fun!

Geography:  As part of our afternoon fun (while the little ones are napping), the oldest 3 and I have been taking a "tour" of the United States.  We have our "tour books" (from when I taught 1st grade) that we write facts about the states we are learning about.

Side note:  I'm actually quite proud of the fact that I decided to let each one choose which state we "visit" next.  Usually, I plow through with my own agenda.  Hey -- we can all learn. :-)

Highlights from our tour so far have been:

  • learning that Maine supplies 90+% of the country's blueberries, lobster, and toothpicks (who would have thunk).  
  • Oregon has a gold mine we want to check out - in Cottage Grove.
  • When Chance found out that Texas had cowboys, he suggested that we drop him off so he could learn about being a cowboy - since it is his chosen occupation at present.
  • While visiting Florida, we learned that that's where the space shuttle is launched from.  So, we found pictures of it; watched a video clip on it taking off; learned that it went faster that 6000 mph during launch; watched the rockets separate; discussed the earth's atmosphere, gravity, and the vacuum in outer space; checked out the space station; and saw it land.  Whew!
  • I think we're off to Montana next ... Burnell's pick.

Woodworking:  Dwight added some fun by teaching the boys how to use a jig saw, router, and sander ... on our front porch!  [Hey, I guess you don't need a wood shop.]  Using plywood scraps around the property, Burnell's become quite proficient at drawing and cutting out all sorts of projects.  Battle-axes, swords (1 for all his brothers, 1 for cousin Kendrick, and even a tiny one for Vienna), knives, and a shield that even had handles.  It is so fun to see his creativity and exuberance for making things.  Orin even tried his hand at it once or twice.

Crafts:  Chance's creative interest has been in preparing some crafts for Ty's upcoming birthday.  First, we looked on my Pinterest "Fun with the Munchkins" board for something fun to make.  He found some smiley faces and decided to make custom wrapping paper for his gift.  He (along with Burnell and Orin) cut out several circles, glued them to some paper, and drew smiley faces on the circles.  Simple, creative, and fun for them.  Chance and I also made some party blowers using wrapping paper and straws.

Our final project for Ty's birthday - custom puzzles!  We had Burnell cut out a square out of plywood, and sand it.  Then, during nap times, we painted our puzzle.

Art: It was a good art lesson also as they learned to paint the background first.  Of course, needing inspiration, we watched several clips of Bob Ross and the Joy of Painting! I LOVE watching Bob Ross clips!!!  I think I could do this for hours.  I remember being mesmerized by his paintings when I was a girl, and I still love watching them.  Do they sell the episodes on DVD??  That would be a fun thing to have on hand - especially since the clips we found didn't go from start to finish always.

Anyway ...We then painted 2 animals (a zebra on 1 and fox on the other).  We painted the animals one solid color, then added the black stripes for the zebra along with the face details on the animals.  It took quite a bit of painting, letting dry, painting more, drying more, etc.  Finally, late Saturday night after Ty was sleeping, we finished our puzzle by having Dwight cut out our pieces.  Boxed them up, wrapped them, and they were ready for the party.  So much fun!

Cooking is always a creative homeschooling experience.  I often associate meals with the female gender, however many (if not most) of the fabulous chefs in this world are men.  So ... MEN ... I will teach you to cook!  They actually love helping with the meals ... and we have plenty to cook!
Wearing my new apron from my Mama, along with Burnell and Vienna. Never too young to learn!! :-)   I've had most of my children up on the counter when they're young.

Quint helping with pancake batter
Orin making a white sauce for our fabulous "Eggs a la Goldenrod" special family recipe.

Strike up the band!
Music is such a part of our lives. I know that by listening to music, they are learning pitch, rhythm, styles, and more.  Our favorite CD at present is called Sunday Sax by DJ Wilkinson.  This guy can totally jam!  Dwight met him at an event while selling our soap.  Awesome musician!!  Other favorites that we find ourselves listening to over and over again are:

  • Children's CD - my siblings, Dwight, and I singing children's songs from our youth, recorded by my Dad
  • Voetberg Family CD's -- all of them ROCK!
  • Kelsey Johnson's piano CD - Love it!
  • Booher Family CD's -- all of them ROCK!!
The boys came up with their own marching band this week --  including drums, accordian, keyboard, and harmonicas.  I just had to get a picture and video!  Don't you love the drums:  construction material held on by belts?  These guys are so much fun!

Well, that's it for now.  I was encouraged by what they are all learning.  A little here, a little there and then I look back over the week and am amazed.  It's a good feeling.

Lot's more to come ...

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