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Back to School 2016

So I kicked off this blog on July 13th of 2015 with our first day of school post.  As I wrote about in that post, our first day of school did not go as planned because we had been without air conditioning in our house since Saturday night.  The repairman was scheduled to come out “sometime on Monday” when he could “squeeze us in”.  So we actually had to pack our school books and head to the library and do school there until the repairman had a better idea of when he could come by.

Flash forward to the first day of school, July 11th, 2016 and we start our day headed to the mechanic to pick up our van that we had been without all weekend.

What IS it with things breaking the weekend before school starts???  (I don’t have a blog post to confirm the dates but the washing machine broke sometime in July of 2014 too….July is NOT our month….)

But we did start our day praising Jesus that there was nothing seriously wrong with the van and no additional repairs were needed beyond the battery that we replaced the previous Thursday.

So it was still early when we got back home so the first day of school DID happen (almost) just as I planned!

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The first thing he wanted to tackle was reading.

If you want to know why we start back to school in July, check out our “semi” year round homeschool plan here.

Here are the “must do” back to school pictures:

(The desk looks MUCH different than it did the night before – picture here)

The ballons on the desk made him so happy.  They’re his balloons.  I took them off the sticks so I could lay them on the desk.  But it still made him so happy.  He gets so excited about the little things.  It’s one of the things I love about him.

I get my back to school sign printables here.

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Weekly Recap – in which I recap TWO weeks

Forgive me for not recapping last week.  We took a field trip to Montgomery with our co-op.  It’s a good two hour drive so it was a busy day!

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I’m glad we went.  BigG was really excited about going.  Which is great, because I thought it might be too boring for a 6 year old.  But he had a great time.  I’ll tell you more about it in minute.

Let’s start at the beginning of the week.

We were reading My Father’s Dragon and have enjoyed it a lot more than the first read-aloud in Sonlight Core A.  Well, BigG enjoyed the Boxcar Children but I did not.  But we’ve both enjoyed My Father’s Dragon.

Here’s what he worked on during read-aloud time (because he has to have something for his hands to do):

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If you’re familiar with the book, you might recognize it as a map of the island and all the animals the character meets.  The black thing is the dragon flying away.  LOL.  The book is part of a series so I’m hoping the library has the others.

We made fossils out of toy dinosaur skeletons and playdough.  (We were wrapping up the Apologia Zoology 1 chapter on pterosaurs and I needed something to keep him still and quiet for a few minutes.  It was a big hit!  He’s done it twice on his own since!)

History was Vikings.  BigG loves vikings.  We recently read Imagination Station: Voyage with the Vikings so everything we learned from it was fresh in our minds.  We’re on book 4 of the Imagination Station series and we love it!  They’re a lot like Magic Tree House books but with a Christian spin.  We usually read them at bedtime.  It’s our non-curriculum reading but equally as educational.

So then there was Montgomery.  We went to:

It was a lot of fun!  But boy were we tired!  But not too tired to stop at Peach Park in Clanton on our way home for ice cream!

The Saturday, we went to the Anniston Museum of Natural History for free admission day they do once a year.  We always love our trips to the Anniston Museum!  There was a reptile show too.  BigG loved it!

Well, that was last week.  This week, we managed to stay in our county.  LOL.

We just started our next read aloud in Core A – The Hundred Dresses.  And history this week was all stories from I Heard the Good News Today.    I’m really pleased and pleasantly surprised at how much we are both enjoying this book!  This week we read about St. Patrick, Columba and Boniface.  All of them were missionaries in the early ADs.  I get a devotional in the mail from Samaritan’s Purse (a charity that we support) called Prayer Point and each week it tells a story of what the missionaries are doing in a specific country.  I decided we would pick this up once a week, find the country on the map, read about what the missionaries are doing and pray for the things it lists are being needed in that country.  This has gone over very well.  I’m pleased.

So basically, to recap, things are very positive!  Our Sonlight curriculum is working well!  BigG is being an open, receptive student.  And things are just going well!

We’re taking Monday off to spend with family and swim.  How about you?

Weekly Wrap-Up
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Week 5: Pterodactyls, King Tut and Togas

This has been a good week!   We took last week off so this was week 5 of school.  But in our Sonlight curriculum we just finished week 4.  Since Sonlight was new to us this year, we spread week 1 over 2 weeks to get used to it.

Anyway.  We took a few moments at the beginning of the week and back up to what we talked about 2 weeks ago – Ancient Egypt.

I picked up this awesome book at a book sale a couple weekends ago (it even still had all the posters in it!)

Learning About Ancient Civilizations Through Art (Grades 3-6)

Full-color posters and activities that teach about eight incredible cultures of the past: Prehistoric, Minoan, Eqyptian, Mayan, Pompeian, Chinese, Mayan, and Pueblo

I gave less than $5 for it at the sale.  Which was awesome.  It’s for grades 3-6 but some of the activities are easy enough to pare down for a 2nd grader.  I knew we had to take a moment and go back to the civilizations we had already discussed.  We looked at the poster of the cave painting and discussed where it was and how it was found (Sonlight Core A week 1 discusses cave dwellings and cave paintings.  We even made our own cave painting)

But we spent a few extra moments on the Egyptian section of it.  We studied King Tut’s Throne, made a cartouche and designed our own throne.  I’m glad we took the time to do that because it gave me a chance to see what he retained from a couple weeks ago.

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Our history this week has been about Ancient Rome so of COURSE we had to make Togas to wear.  And we talked about Roman Mosaics and made our own.  I really think art is a great way to learn about ancient civilizations.

History Pockets: Ancient Civilizations, Grades 1-3 is another great resources.  We’ve been using the “words to know” cards and “Postcards from….” sections in our History Journal and have done a couple other activities that go along with our section of history (so far, the book has been useful for Egypt, Greece and Rome – 3 of the first 4 Sonlight Core A history topics!)

I know it sounds like we’re supplementing a lot to our Core A history.  There was a discussion about this in one of the Sonlight Homeschool Mom Facebook groups I’m in.  We’re using Core A which is suggested for K-2nd grade/ages 5-7.  We are on the higher end of the core recommendations – which is fine and I’m glad we didn’t skip this core and go straight to B.  But so far the history (which is at most, 2-4 pages a day from the Usborne Children’s Encyclopedia or The Usborne Book of Living Long Ago: Everyday life through the Ages – which are fun books.  But so far it’s a repeat of our history last year (which was just a hodge-podge of stuff I put together based on BigG’s interests in countries and maps) and lots of Magic Tree House books.  So I was getting a lot of “I knew that already” and history was taking about 5 minutes a day.  So I’m glad to have something that is hands on and expands our history to 15-20 minutes a day – still a reasonable amount of time to expect a 2nd grade almost-7-year-old to pay attention.

Ok, so Tut, Togas and Pterodactyls….

We’re bouncing through Apologia Zoology 1: Flying Creatures of the 5th day.  It’s a deep text.  We’re hitting the high points.  We actually started it back in the spring because we were finished with our 1st grade science way early thanks to BigG wanting to do 2-3 lessons at a time and it having only about half a year’s worth of (easy) lessons in it.  Plus, spring is a great time to start learning about bird’s anyway!  We turned our back yard into a haven for birds, got to see some species of birds even I had never seen before and make science come alive a bit.

So we’ve finished the bird part of Zoo 1 and we skipped ahead to the back to do the butterfly section while it was still spring/early summer and could study butterflies outside.  Now we’re on the section about Pterosaurs.  We’ve spent a little more time on this portion because dinosaurs has been a HUGE interest area for BigG for years (but yes, we learned that pterosaurs are a different order of animals than dinosaurs.)  So it’s been fun.

We’re going to make fossils today to wrap it up and move on to another section.  I think we’re going to do bats next.

This was a really long post to say that it’s been a great week!  We took a week off last week so we came back this week refreshed and ready to learn some more!

Be sure to check out my post on our “Semi-Year Round Homeschool Schedule”.

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This post is part of the Weekly Round Up at Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers!

Weekly Wrap-Up
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Weeks 3 and 4 Wrap Up: Field Trip, History Journals and Art

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Wow, last week was insanely busy.  I didn’t even have time to write about it!    We did take another field trip.  This one was short and only partially educational so we did a half school day that day.   What are your requirements for day to count as school?  I feel like three core subjects must be completed to call it a school day.  Our field trip day coincided with the end of a math unit and spelling test day.  So when we got home he did his tests, reading and a short LA assignment.  School day done.  🙂  (As I’m writing this, today consisted of Science, Reading, Spelling and Art.  We doubled up on some lessons earlier in the week because we have plans tomorrow and then next week is our break.  So we couldn’t really start anything new.   But I still wanted it count today as a school day.  Our state requires a certain number of days to be completed.)

We are rocking along in Sonlight Core A and still loving it!

One thing we started this week to go along with Core A’s history is a History Notebook – or History Journal.  I stocked up on these Primary Journals when they were on sale for back to school.  (I got them for $2 each).  So we’re using one to journal about history.  Which is mostly me writing down important facts after our history readings, having BigG read the facts to me and then illustrating something from the reading.

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Writing skills is something we’re working hard on this year.  But I’m not pushing him because when it comes to writing, that really backfires.  Sonlight’s LA for 2nd is about all the writing he can stand for one day.  So as long as he’s doing that well, I’m ok with him dictating and me writing.  We do the same thing with our Apologia notebook.

As for week 4, we didn’t take any field trips this week.  (I know!  I broke our streak of a field trip a week for 3 weeks!)   We finished reading The BoxCar Children which is the first Read Aloud for Core A.  I’ll be honest, I didn’t love it.  But we did read two stores from James Herriott’s Treasury for Children.  They were sweet stories.  BigG and I both enjoyed them.  I can’t wait to read more.

I’ve also been trying to find something for Art that’s REAL art and can be taught by someone who is not artistic (me).  I came across the Adventures in Art Curriculum at a consignment sale for just $5!   And it just so happened to be 2nd grade!

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We love art.  BigG loves making art and we both enjoying looking at art.  So far, this curriculum is great!

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So that’s four weeks of school down for us!  Local public schools start back next week but we will be taking our first one week break!  Yay!

Next week I will share with you our semi-year round schedule for school.

This is part of the Weekly Wrap Up at Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers!

Weekly Wrap-Up
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Loving Sonlight Already | Core A Week 1 & our Supplemental Activities

I am so glad that I found Sonlight for our school year. After 2 weeks, I’m already in love. I love how it’s laid out for me and all I have to do is pick up my IG and the books we need and go. And I love how the subjects work together. It makes the lessons flow instead of feeling like we’re shifting gears between each subject.

We’re using Core A with Language Arts 2. The history seems a little light but I think it will pick up. Core A is made to work with K-2nd grade so I figured it might be a little light but everyone I talked to said not to skip Core A if your child fell within the age range. And I hate missing out on stuff so we went with it.

Core A History starts at dirt.  By that I mean creation.  But since it uses Usborne’s Children’s Encyclopedia and The Usborne Book of Living Long Ago it presents an old earth, “dinosaurs before man” and evolutionary version of history.  The Sonlight IG does a good job of helping you navigate these topics if you’re unsure of how to do it.  This is a topic I’ve discussed with BigG often so it was just a normal discussion to him.  He knows why we believe they way we believe.

One of the first history lessons discusses “cavemen”.  And while we don’t dispute the fact that people used caves as shelter, we don’t believe that they were unintelligent neanderthals.  One of the things the section on cave people discussed was cave paintings.  It suggested making a cave painting of your own but it was about putting your hands on paper and blowing paint around it to make a handprint.  That sound messy and not fun.

So I improvised!

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Make a Cave Painting

In the lesson it talks about how they made their own paints and used twigs, feathers, reeds, etc as “paintbrushes”.  So we went outside and gathered some things that we thought might make good paintbrushes.

We came back in and got started.  Ideally I would’ve used a brown piece of construction paper to paint on but apparently we’ve had a run on brown in the house and there wasn’t a piece to be found anywhere.  Orange made a good substitute.

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We discussed how mixing paints and making cave paintings actually pointed to intelligence and creativity bestowed upon man by our Creator.

We talked about things that might be easy to paint using the tools we had.  He decided on water, a boat and mountains.

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About halfway through trying to use a stick to paint mountains he decided that it would just be easier to use his finger to finish them.  So he did.  And he thought that was AWESOME.  Apparently I’ve never let him paint with his fingers before.

Here’s what else we’re doing to go along with our Sonlight:

Vocabulary Notebook – This is coming in handy.  When we come across one of the vocabulary words in our read-aloud, we write it down with the meaning.  Plus any other words that are new to BigG.  We review them everyday before we read our next chapter in our read-aloud.  He always points out the word if it comes up again.  I have no plans to test him formally on these words.  I think reviewing them each day is sufficient at this level.

Busy Activity during Read-Alouds – BigG is no stranger to chapter books but the first read aloud, The Boxcar Children, is lacking the pictures he’s used to in our newer chapter books we’ve been reading.  We have an older edition of it, I don’t know if the newer ones have better pictures.  I don’t mind that it doesn’t have exciting pictures – I think it’s good for BigG.  But I have allowed him to sit with his Legos or Play-Doh during read-aloud time.  The only stipulation is that what he makes during that time has to relate to the story somehow.  When our chapter is over he has to tell me about what he’s made.  This works as a check to see if he was really listening.   One day he made a boxcar out of Legos.  Another day he tried making the children out of Play-doh.

That’s all for now!  Can’t wait to share more with you as we keep going through this year!

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Wrapping Up Week 2 | Yes, we took more field trips

I really love field trips.  They’re quite possibly my favorite thing about homeschooling.  Last week we went to a show at the Planetarium.  They were having another one this week so we went to it also and while we were out, we used some free passes to the Southern Museum of Flight that we had gotten.

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The Southern Museum of Flight was something we’ve never done before (despite being in close proximity to it) so it was a nice treat.  Plus, unless we’re doing something huge like the zoo, I like to try to squeeze in two “field trips” in one day.  While the Planetarium was great, it was a one hour show.  Kind of hard to justify a one hour show as a whole school day (especially since it was the 2nd time we went in as many weeks).  BigG also did some independent reading in the car and we did Lesson 3 in English for the Thoughtful Child, Vol. 1
(our LA supplement we’re using in addition to Sonlight this year.)  Science, history, reading and English sounds like a day to me.

We also fill out our field trip logs when we get home from a field trip.  So I guess it was science, history, reading, English and writing.

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Last summer we read the book The Glorious Flight: Across the Channel with Louis Bleriot July 25, 1909 
and strangely enough, it turned out to be a book BigG really enjoyed and wanted to read over and over.   He remembers it well so we brought it up while we were at the museum.  BigG also learned about Wilbur and Orville Wright and their first flight from one exhibit.  But aside from that, the museum was more fun than educational.  He liked looking at the planes and he liked the few hands on things but the history of the planes and the science of flight was just a little over him.

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Also this week:

  • We’re two weeks into Sonlight Core A.  I really like it.
  • I realize it’s very Charlotte Mason-ish and I never viewed myself as that kind of homeschooler, but I like English for the Thoughtful Child, Vol. 1.  I got it brand new at a book sale for $3 too.  Awesome.
  • We’re finishing up our BJU Math 1 because we didn’t finish it last year.  See, BigG started the year as a Kindergartener but by October I realized that wasn’t working at all.  So we bumped up to first grade.  Getting a late start meant not finishing all of the 1st grade math.  We managed to finish all the other subjects but not math.  After we finish we’re picking up Singapore Math 1B.  Yes I know there is a 1A and it’s supposed to be for the start of 2nd grade.  But I flipped through it and he could already do everything in it even before he finished BJU Math 1.  So I decided to start at 1B.  We have some math supplements too and we take our time with math.  It’s not a subject I want to run through.  (I was never great at math anyway.  It was always my “sweat subject”.  I had to fight to keep my A average in math in high school when everything else was a breeze.
  • We are also doing Abeka cursive.  BigG begged for the longest last year to start learning cursive.  I promised him in 2nd grade we would.  We do a cursive lesson every day and he willingly writes more than I assign him.  But ask him to write his spelling words?  AGONY.  For both of us.
  • And we finished up our week learning about Monet and doing one of the art activities from the Monet art activities magazine (free to download!)

All in all, I say we’ve had a hugely successful first two weeks of school.

This is part of the Weekly Wrap Up at Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers!

Weekly Wrap-Up
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Still Kicking After the First Week of School

Despite a rocky start on Monday we made it through our first week of homeschool!  We even squeezed in a field trip to the Planetarium at Samford University!

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I should’ve mention that we didn’t do FULL school days this week.  We are easing back into the routine.  We’re doing Sonlight for History, Bible, Language, Spelling/Vocab and Reading.  So this week we did the Spelling, Language and Reading Portion of Sonlight each day along with Handwriting (G is SO EXCITED to be learning cursive!!) and we did Math three days this week and Science on one (finishing up Apologia Zoology 1 that we started back in the spring.)

Next week we’re going to add the History and Bible portion of Sonlight to each day, math everyday and aiming for 2 days of Science.  And possibly another field trip.  I do love field trips!

I posted this as part of the Weekly Wrap Up Linky!