Monday, September 15, 2014

The Little Island

This is Eden's craft of the morning.  The other three are all taking on-site classes on Mondays, so it is just the two of us.  So quiet!

She is working on Moving Beyond the Page Age 4-5 this year as her curriculum, and we are just loving it.  There is a book each week, and activities surrounding that book.  This week is The Little Island by Margaret Wise Brown.  This is a cute little book, simple enough for the preschool set to listen to and enjoy, but meaty enough for some naturalistic learning.  There is a little island in the ocean, and we see the visitors to the island throughout the seasons, very cute.  In Eden's craft for today, she created her island (the white is the island, blue the water around it), and then placed the correct number of die-cut trees and bushes on the island - practicing her counting of course.  She cut out her rock for the island, and then added the firefly stickers.  This one was a huge hit for her.  I can't say enough good about Moving Beyond the Page.  We got the supplies kit, and I love pulling out the baggie of activities for the week with my stickers, die-cuts, etc.  Left to my own devices, I would not be hunting up die-cut trees and bushes.  This is just such a good blend of literature, crafts and more traditional learning for us (letters, numbers, etc). 

Friday, September 12, 2014

As I mentioned, we are working on "notebooking" this year for science and history, more interactive way of taking notes and documenting.  This is a picture Zach worked on from his Elemental Science Logic Stage Biology.  We love Elemental Science.  They provide nice student pages with space for notes and places or outlines of sketches.  I had him copy the sketch into his laboratory notebook and then label and add color.  Then, he did his laboratory writeup in the pages afterwards for the week instead of doing them in the student pages.  We used the student pages last year, and they were certainly adequate, but with our focus this year I wanted more and chose to go this way.  He continues to do his lab with a buddy each week, which adds some extra fun into his studies. 

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Book Review: Turn of the Century by Jackson

My kids loved this one. Each 2-page spread is about a child in that time period, beginning with 1000 AD. We used this in our introduction to the Middle Ages. My kids are 4, 6, 9 and 12 at the time of reading. All of them enjoyed it, even the 4yo, though her mostly the pictures. 

The kids depicted in the book ranged from about 8 to 12 I think. There was a narrative as if written by that child, followed by a bullet point list of facts about that time period. It was kept brief and entertaining. The art style was excellent. Some of the facts though were a bit gruesome (chamber pots, illness, life on board ship including eating rats, hanging), so read first if your kids are sensitive, but it was honest, keeping with the brutality of the times. It wasn't presented in a depressed or glorified way, but rather to educate.

This one gets 4 stars from us for excellent entertainment value with a nice balance of factual information.  With the range of ages we have, it is sometimes hard for us to find books that appeal across the group, and this one did a very good job.

Monday, August 18, 2014

The Fall of Freddie the Leaf

We did a little more in Science Through Children's Literature today, this time talking about seasons and leaves falling, and read a book, The Fall of Freddie the Leaf.  This was an incredible book for all of us, one I hadn't seen before today.

I can't say enough good about this book.   The youngest got a little from it, but it really struck the 12yo.

Freddie is a leaf on a tree in a public space.  He tells us about himself and his friends, the other leaves.  He tells us about the spring and summer, the winds, the people who come to enjoy the shade.  Then he starts to change colors in the fall, and tells us about that.  He questions his wise friend, Daniel, another leaf, about what is next.  Daniel explains to him that they are changing colors and that the leaves are dying and falling in the winter, but that it is okay, they are all part of Life.  Freddie is frightened about dying, and Daniel reassures him and comforts him. 

On the surface this book is about the seasons of the tree.  But, of course, that is not all.  This book is about Life and Death, passing from one season to another in a year and in life. 

There are pictures of trees as the illustrations, a picture for most 2-page spreads but not every set.  There is a paragraph or two for most 2-page spreads.  This is a wonderful picture book for the elementary into middle school years really.  It is a beautiful story for all ages. 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Science Through Children's Literature

We love teaching/learning through living books and always have.  Below I talked about Art Through Children's Literature, and now I'll share some of what we are doing with Science Through Children's Literature.  The science has two levels, beginning and intermediate.  We are working on the beginning one with all, Zach for review, the rest maybe some new information.

Today, we talked about trees, using A Tree is Nice as the introduction story.  Honestly, despite this being a Caldecott Winner, I wasn't terribly impressed with this book.  The shape being tall and narrow like a tree was an interesting feature, and the illustrations (alternating color and pencil) were nice, but the vocabulary and sentence structure were bland to the extreme.  It read like one of those tortuous level 1 readers kids try out when first learning to sound out words.  Needless to say, my kids were a bit bored with this one. 

We are notebooking this year though as our note taking activity, so we all then got out the science notebooks to write down something we learned.  Lily made a beautiful picture to illustrate her coniferous/deciduous distinction in her notebook. 

Monday, July 28, 2014

Art 2014-2015

Here is where I admit that art is not a subject we do each year systematically.  I have used art curriculum in the past (Artistic Pursuits), plus we have done occasional informal co-op classes with a friend who is very artistic, on top of the usual casual arts and crafts kids produce. 

As it is summer and we are actually taking off this year for the most part, I decided to focus a bit more on art before the start of the core subjects again in September.  After thinking, I didn't want to go back to Artistic Pursuits, though we did enjoy it.  I decided to try Art Through Children's Literature: Creative Art Lessons for Caldecott Books


We did the first lesson today, which used pencil, paper and a library copy of Abraham Lincoln (Bicentennial Edition) Each child then tried to replicate the lesson, which was creating a log cabin with shading to attempt to show dimensionality. It wasn't the greatest success, but they tried and had fun. :)


Zach had lots of detail but skipped the shading entirely. Oh well, he enjoyed doing it and produced something. IMG_2862

Lily's attempt was interesting in her shading attempts but she also had a good time, and they are looking forward to tomorrow's book and lesson. IMG_2863

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Planning time! Preschool version


What's new with us? Planning, planning and more planning. We are going to be teaching 4 this year, ages 12, 8, 6 and 4. Whew. That equals approximately 7th grade, 4th grade, 2nd grade and pre-K. I wasn't going to do really anything for pre-K to be perfectly honest. My tune has changed a lot since my first was 4 years old and I had energy to burn on formal schooling of that child, eager to get started. Now, it's all about the play and a few fun workboxes at that age, or so I thought. Until she grabbed pencil in a really nice grip and started producing letters and saying their sounds spontaneously. Yep, those educational videos do work. But now she wants to write and read, so that laid back pre-K year is not really going to happen. I could slow her down, but I can't bring myself to ignore that passion and enthusiasm to get started.

I did Sonlight with my two oldest, starting with my oldest before the P3/4 I think they call it was even out. By my third child, honestly that had gotten old. We still have many of the lovely books around, and still read them, but I was past the snippets of several books each day. And I couldn't face another child with their learning to read/write program.

So for the third child we went way the opposite way and did Funshine Express with her. It was pretty much all crafts all the time with some learning in there too of course. It is really set up for daycares and the like, but worked fine for us. We did even a little of the Buttercups with the younger. The price though was really outrageous for our use. Since it is set up for daycares, you get your month at a time package, and the cost really adds up fast with shipping charges by the month with no option to get the whole year at once. Really a daycare would not want that option. So, while it was well organized and fun, it wasn't going to happen again for this fourth child.

I was stumped for a while, but then I saw Moving Beyond the Page had a new age 4-5 curriculum. We have used individual literature units from MBTP but never a whole level for a child as the core. We use it as add-on to our basic classical 4-year history cycle. Looking deeper into that 4-5 age curriculum though, it seemed perfect for us. It has the strong literature focus I loved from Sonlight but with a ton more hands on that I loved with Funshine Express. It was that ideal middle of the road thing for us, and was still open and go for this mom who honestly is tired some days and not up to planning out fun and exciting preschool crafts that week. So, late last week it finally arrived in our hands, and I'm excited to teach this! We got the Materials Kit and the curriculum. Being she is a fourth child, we already own a significant portion of the literature, and what we don't have the library does. There might be a book or two I need to order from Amazon or whatever, but that is fine. It came to just under $150 for the entire year, which is quite good as that included shipping on the box that was larger than my pre-K child.

Check it out with me, materials kit first:


Oh yeah, all organized and tidy in little baggies. This is looking good, right? This is the entire year in the box. Let's look at a single item or two. Each baggie is labeled for when it is used.

Random bag of dirt/sand? Huh. At least it's provided for me! LOL

Then there are the written guides, one for the parent and one workbook for the child. The parent one is broken out by week and day, open and go format. Perfect for me. The student one is just that ... the worksheets for her. As she is a young age 4, I plan to use the page protectors over some of the letter pages so she can practice then more than once. When she is confident, she can complete the page in her book. Sometimes too, the option of dry erase just adds an extra element of fun to her work.

IMG_2856 IMG_2857 IMG_2858

So that is her main lineup. I also have some tag-along stuff she will do with her older siblings in their studies, little lapbooks she can do as they do harder lapbooks for their level. But her Moving Beyond the Page is set up to be 30 weeks of curriculum, 26 letter units and 4 holiday special weeks. That is perfect for us, and we will be getting started in September. My next posts will be about my olders and their studies, so more to come!