Sunday, April 29, 2018

Homeschool: Grade 1, Term 1 (2017-2018)

I get asked a lot about homeschool, and I've decided it would be worth-while for me to be more specific in my documentation. We split our year into three terms, and I do a rough sketch of our year beforehand, but I let our days have freedom and flexibility, so I will document the specifics after a term is complete.

As mentioned in this post, these are the subjects we cover in a term:
Natural History
Physical Education
Music Appreciation
Art Appreciation

We use the scheduling cards from A Delectable Education to schedule each of these subjects into our week, some being just once a week, and some being every day, some being 10 minutes, and some being 20.

Here is what we feasted on in Term 1:

Bible: We read from the actual Bible text, and we are reading through Genesis and Matthew in Grade 1 (Form 1B). We covered Genesis 1-17 and Matthew 1-7. We read roughly 10-20 verses a day, seeking to cover one whole "episode" but not an entire chapter in a day. We alternate days between Genesis and Matthew.

Poetry: We choose one poet to focus on each term, and for term one, we focused on A.A. Milne. We read his Complete Poems. We read poetry every day, so we read A.A.Milne 2-3 times a week, and on the other days, we read from Robert Louis Stephenson's A Child's Garden of Verses.

Math: I used this math bundle to help me teach math the way Charlotte Mason taught her students.  We thoroughly covered numbers 1-30. We used money, popsicle sticks, and buttons as our main manipulatives to understand new concepts and to solve difficult problems.                

Reading: Sophie had basic reading skills coming into Grade 1. I bought the Treadwell Primer, and she read stories from that throughout the term. We also did a few word building and sight reading activities, based on words found in these stories. I used this post to guide me in our earlier reading exercises this year.

Copywork: We began our term by writing words, such as her name and her sisters' names. She already knew all her letters and has been writing for a couple of years, so I my goal for this year was for her to start visualizing words and to be able to write them from memory and beautifully and accurately.

History: For history, our focus in Grade 1 is to cover American history's early explorers up until right before Jamestown. We have a book that we use as our spine, and then we use biographies to supplement, or add to, the spine. The spine we are using this year is America Begins by Alice Dalgliesh. It is sadly out of print, but we have a wonderful library that has it. It gives short accounts of all of the earlier explorers and has beautiful pictures. We used d'Aulaire's Leif the Lucky and Columbus as our biographies.

Geography: Geography is a subject that has taken me a little while to wrap my brain around. We had two days that we did geography. One day was more for learning about physical geography and the general workings of the world (this is like "pre-map" work, because a child needs to understand these things before grasping a map or globe). The other day, I knew we were supposed to cover a story about a child in a particular location, though I have come to realize the way Charlotte Mason truly did it, and I will now do it different with future children for grade 1. Here is what we did use however:

Day 1 Book: Little Farmer of the Middle West by Madeline Brandeis (Charlotte Mason actually used this slot to help her children learn about children from other cultures - roughly 5-6 a term, so just a brief overview. This helped children to understand that there was a bigger world out there in the best way they could grasp- through the lives of other children, who were like them, yet different. In the future, we will use something more like this- perhaps the I Can See the Sun books, though I am not certain).
Day 2 Books: What Makes a Shadow by Clyde Bulla
Sun Up, Sun Down by Gail Gibbons
What Makes Day and Night by Franklyn Branley
The Moon Seems to Change by Franklyn Branley
North, South East, and West by Franklyn Branley
(While we did love these books, I will probably use them as free reads in the future and just use Charlotte Mason's Elementary Geography book for our actual school time. I was intimidated and unsure of this book at first, but now I see it is very thorough and I prefer it as our actual school spine.)
Sophie also made a map of her bedroom, though I will wait to do this activity until later with my other children. We drew around our shadows with chalk one day, in the morning and then at noon, and then at night, and it was fun to see the way the shadows change. We also learned the basic workings of a compass.

*Note: While I do agree with Charlotte Mason that globes and maps are too much for younger children and are better to be introduced after the first grade year where basic map and world understandings are laid, I do still pull a map out during subjects like history and Bible and even sometimes geography, so Sophie does have experience with them; they simply aren't our main focus in geography for this year.

Natural History: For Natural History, I choose two books that we will spend the whole term using, and then we have a special studies topic for the term (and sometimes two special studies), and I choose several books to cover that topic.

Book 1: Arabella Buckley's Plant Life in Field and Garden (I recommend waiting until at least Grade 2, and probably even Grade 3, to do this book. I'd recommend, instead, to start with Buckley's Wild Life in Woods and Fields.)
Book 2: Burgess Bird Book by Thornton Burgess (in the future, I probably won't use this book)
Special Studies Books: First Look at Wildflowers by Millicent Selsam
First Look at Birds by Millicent Selsam
First Look at Plants by Millicent Selsam
How to be a Nature Detective by Millicant Selsam
Robins in the Garden by Olive Earle
A Seed is Sleepy by Dianna Aston
Red Robin, Fly Up by Jean Craighead George
(*Millicent Selsam and Olive Earle books are out of print, and sadly, expensive. Check your libraries!)

*NoteWe definitely read too many books for our special studies day, and we are doing less. It's really taken me time to learn and accept the idea that more is not always more. I need to read slower and less and give my children time to chew on and play at the ideas they come across in their stories.

Literature: We spend most of our literature time this year reading fairy tales and fables. Here are stories we covered this first term:

Aesop's Fable: Wolf & Kid
Aesop's Fable: Turtle and Crab
Blue Fairy Book: Beauty and the Beast
Blue Fairy Book: Sleeping Beauty
Blue Fairy Book: Rumpelstiltzkin
Blue Fairy Book: Why the Sea is Salt
Red Fairy Book: Rapunzel
Blue Fairy Book: Snow White and Rose Red
Blue Fairy Book: Cinderella

Kipling's Just So Stories: The Whale

Kipling's Just So Stories: How Leopard Got Spots
Kipling's Just So Stories: Elephant's Child
Parables from Nature: Faith
Parables from Nature: The Bee
Shakespeare: A Midsummer's Night Dream

*Note: After this term, I felt convicted that we were reading way too much for our literature slot. Perhaps this seems like an impossible possibility to some, which is probably as it seemed to me at first, which is why we read so much. Sophie loves to sit and listen to stories, so it was easy to read and read. However, as I dug into Charlotte Mason's own programmes and practices, I realized she only had her first year students reading 3-4 fairy tales in a term and 3 Aesop's Fables. That was all! At first it seemed ridiculous to me, but now I see the value in it. This means that we read the stories slowly, and the fairy tales span over several class periods. We spend time narrating during each class period. And then we let the stories ruminate in our children's minds, and we let them play at them. It's also important to note that we choose the best quality fairy tales, written in their original versions, and they are long

Physical Education (Drill/Dance/Play): This time should be used twice a week for actual free play. No rules, just let the child play. Other possibilities for the way we use this time is to learn jumping rope, fun dances together, and Swedish Drill. In this first term, we learned several Swedish Drill movements and had a lot of outdoor play before the cold months set in.

Music Appreciation: We studied Johann Sebastian Bach this term. We covered Magnificat in D, Contrapunctus 9, Chaconne, Brandenburg Concerto 3, Art of Fugue, and his Church Cantata No. 86. We simply listened to the songs. We also read Opal Wheeler's book on Bach.

Art Appreciation: We studied Leonardo da Vinci. We studied Lady with an Ermine, Mona Lisa, The Last Supper, Self-Portrait, Cat Movements & Positions, Virgin of the Rocks, and Ginevra de' Benci. I read a little biography on him, but mostly, we just studied the pictures, and Sophie narrated what she saw.

Spanish: We use Cherrydale Press's Spanish book (volume 1) as our spine for this subject. We use it 1-2 times a week. It is based on of Francois Gouin's research that showed it is easier to learn a language when you learn the action verbs (rather than just a noun). So, we learn a set of activities in English (acting them out); then once we have the English memorized, we learn the same set of activities in Spanish. We made it through the first four Cherrydale lessons. We also had flash cards and learned new words from those, and we used real objects, such as the table settings, to learn new words. We also read Buenas Noches, Lunas (which is a favorite book of ours in English).

Singing: We learned and sang the following songs over the term:

- Song Games: Brown Bear Brown Bear, Miss Mary Mack, Father Abraham
- Folksongs/Nursery Rhymes: Baa Baa Black Sheep, Lavendar's Blue
- Hymns: It Is Well, Nothing But the Blood
- Spanish Songs: Estrellita, Si Cristo Me Ama

Recitation: We split our recitation time into three different days (we have a five day rotation for our subjects). The first day, we recite a hymn (rather than sing). The second day we recite a Bible verse. The third day we recite a poem. In a term, for the first grade year, the preference is to learn two hymns, two verses, and two poems. The purpose of recitation is not memorization (though, that often happens over the term!); the purpose is to be able to read something beautifully. Because Sophie is still a newer reader, she repeated lines after me rather than reading herself. This term, we did the following:

- Hymns: Isaac Watts: When I Survey the Wondrous Cross; Thus Far the Lord Has Led Me On
- Verses: Matthew 18:10-14 (Parable of the Lost Sheep)
- Poems: A.A. Milne: "Now We are Six" and "Halfway Down"

Drawing: I definitely did not feel confident or equipped in this area. We did a few activities from Drawing with Children, but I didn't end up loving it beyond the first few activities. She is also supposed to paint characters whom we read about, so she painted Christopher Columbus (and ended up making a little "pop up book" about him... she has such sweet creativity). Sophie also did a few nature brush drawings. It's important to note that drawing refers to brush drawing, so we actually use a paint brush to draw. It's freeing for a child to use because they don't have to be so exact with a paint brush. Sophie does draw plenty with a pencil during her free time, however :)

Note: I have since learned the drawing class is much simpler than I realized. I simply have Sophie do drawings from nature (we bring the object inside and she brush draws it), from her imagination of stories we have read, and from her memory of animals she has seen.

Handicrafts/Work: We focused on hand-sewing. Sophie did a few projects for Christmas gifts as well as a hand-sewn doll that she put in our Operation Christmas Child box. She made this doll for the Operation Christmas Child box (but we bought the dark skinned one from Walmart).

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Brielle Turns FIVE

Brielle turned 5 the end of January. What a joy to celebrate her!

Brielle has a sweetheart personality. She is my quietest child, and she also has a big heart of compassion. She runs to help anyone who gets hurt, and she dislikes when people are unhappy, so she nearly always accommodates them, even if it means giving up something she wanted. She is very motherly. It is always hard for me to say what her favorite things are, but truly, I think that's because her favorite thing is people. She loves people, and she always wants to be with them. She wants to do whatever the people around her want to do, because that's what makes her happy. 

Funny/Sweet Things:
- "I'm going to get a soup and a cracker for you for Mother's Day and a chocolate for daddy for Mother's Day." (yes, she said mother's day both times haha!)
- "You're anking my hair!" 
- "Grandma, your fridge is sinking again!" (she meant leaking haha!)
- "We're going to cut up the chubbiest watermelon."
- Whenever she has the hiccups, she says, "I have the hook ups!"
- After burping, she told me, "My stomach doesn't hurt anymore now that I got my excuse out of my throat."
- "Mommy, I'm going to live with you forever."

We don't do any formal pre school work. She has learned how to write her whole name now, simply from seeing me write it. She also can write all of her sisters' names and mom, dad, and Ben. When we read stories and she sees two of the same word on a page, she always asks me what the word is. It's been a joy to watch her learn, as I haven't pushed anything. It's incredible to see how their own curiosity pushes them to ask questions and discover learning.

For her birthday, I decided to do things a little differently. She loves people, and she especially loves all her extended family. But I didn't really feel like planning a birthday party. I decided, instead, that we would visit all of her family members on her birthday! We began our day by opening gifts at breakfast. At lunchtime, we went to her favorite restaurant to eat, and then we started our rounds. We first visited Aunt Nikki at the bank. I asked each of the family members to forego gifts but to get her a balloon. I thought it would be fun for her to have a bouquet of balloons at the end of the day. After visiting Aunt Nikki and getting her balloon, we went on to visit Aunt Brianna and Aunt Brittany at their jobs, and then we went to my mom's house, where she got to see all her cousins whom my mom was babysitting. We sang to her there, and we cut and ate her cake. After that, we went to visit Uncle Nate and Aunt Kelly and cousins at their house. We ended our day at her other grandparents' house with dinner and her final balloon (and some flowers!). It was a really fun (but long!) day, and Brielle really enjoyed all of the special attention.

Loves: family, her blanky, eating, taking care of her little sisters, making people happy

Dislikes: being left out, saying good byes

What's your favorite food? Apples and bananas
What's your favorite thing to play with? My bow and arrow that I got for my birthday
What's your favorite movie or show? My favorite show is Puffin Rock. My favorite movie is Little House on the Prairie 
What's your favorite song? Away in a manger
What"s your favorite verse? The Lord is my shepherd
What's your favorite book? The Going to Bed Book
What's your favorite color? Yellow, like my Mommy
What's your favorite Bible story? The ten men went to Jesus because they were really sick, for Jesus to heal them. One man went back to Jesus to thank him for healing them.
What do you like to do with Sophie? My favorite thing to do is to play house.
What do you like to do with Lyla? Jump on the couches and the bed and to take the pillow cushions off
What do you like to do with Violet? Play house
What do you like to do with Daddy and Mommy? I like to hug Mommy and Dada
What do you want to do when you get older? Get a phone
Okay, what do you want to BE when you get older? I want to be a vet
What's your favorite animal? Kitties and goats and all the animals in the world
Who are your best friends? Emma and Jaeda and Khloe and Bowen 
What makes you happy? Watching a movie and playing
What makes you sad? When someone throws something at me
What are you really good at? Doing my bow and arrow


Saturday, February 3, 2018

Kitchen Remodel [Progress]

The month before Christmas, Ben asked me if I wanted to do a trip for my Christmas gift, like we did last year. Last year, we took a four day get-away where we went antique shopping. I thought about it and told him that really, all I wanted for Christmas was a staycation where we painted my kitchen cabinets. At our last house, I was able to do a lot of renovation projects with the girls around. But with the addition of homeschooling plus another daughter, plus our garage/workshop is unattached to the house, it has been harder to do renovation work here. So I just wanted a few days without the girls where I could paint my kitchen cabinets!

The kitchen was in decent shape, but just very dated. I was content in it, but painting is such a simple and cheap upgrade. So, during the first week of January, we sent the girls off to their grandmas' houses (thanks Grandmas!), and we got to work on the kitchen! Here is what our kitchen looked like before we started working on it.

And after (in progress):

Here is another before, from a different angle. We moved the fireplace to the living room. We love the antique fireplace, but it seemed more fitting in the living room than in the kitchen. We haven't hooked it up yet, so we are not currently using it, but we hope to by next winter!

I painted the cabinets a light creamy gray and we bought new hardware, and then my husband said, "We might as well get new countertops while we're at." I wasn't going to argue with that! I really love the concrete look, so we considered doing concrete over the existing laminate, DIY-style. We opted, instead, to buy laminate that looked like concrete. It wasn't much more money to do so, and DIY concrete is messy. Additionally, people with concrete countertops say that they can be high maintenance, with water marks and oil marks being unavoidable. In our last house, we installed butcher block countertops, and we loved them, but every cup that was set on them left a water mark, and I hated having to constantly stay on top of my children and even guests about babying them. I wanted something much more low maintenance in this stage of our lives with young children and also with the desire to host.

My husband then said we might as well pick out a new sink too. I was really feeling like we were on a good roll at this point! (What else should we get, dear?) I actually did decide to take advantage of his willingness to upgrade the kitchen. We originally planned to just get a standard, black, granite sink. I couldn't shake off the fact that the standard black sink didn't seem authentic to my 1930s farmhouse kitchen. So, I started doing what every good housewife does. I started searching on Craigslist. And I found this gorgeous antique farmhouse sink that was just two hours away and was listed for right around $100. I couldn't get it off my mind for several days, so I called them, and they still had it! So then I brought it up with my husband. He was not so keen on the idea at first. It would mean more work for him, and it would certainly be more difficult since we had already ordered our countertops at a particular length. I told him that while I liked the sink, I only wanted to get it if he was interested in it as well. And I meant that. He thought about it and decided that we should get the sink. And would you look at this beauty! 

Hubby says he's glad we went with the farmhouse sink, as it definitely defines the kitchen. It adds character, and it's fitting to the age of our house. 

We debated about whether to put the sink up front, where we would have to build a ledge behind it, or to set it back more, so that the high back on the sink fit to the wall. At this point, I did the second thing that every good housewife does... I perused Pinterest and Instagram like it was my job, and finally landed on preferring the sink to be flush with the lower cabinets, with a ledge built behind. I'm so happy with my decision! I love my ledge.

On the wall opposite of where the sink sits, we have the refrigerator, pantry cabinet, and a few extra lower cabinets with a countertop. There is an old doorway behind the pantry that we plan to close in with drywall at some point. This door leads to the living room, but there is another door that leads to the same area that we use rather than this one. I plan to have my husband put up a few open shelves above the countertop area.

Here's the pantry cabinet before. I put deglosser on it, and then simply painted one layer of white paint on and sanded it down to give it this rustic whitewashed look.

We also have a Hoosier cabinet in our kitchen that I love. It's a beautiful antique, and we live in the Hoosier state, so it was a must for our kitchen! We found ours at a local antique store. All Hoosier cabinets are made different, and I don't love all of them. My husband really wanted one, so I searched for a while before I found one I truly loved, and then I surprised him with it :) 

As the title suggests, these are not our final kitchen renovation pictures. We still have some work to do, such as adding in baseboard trim, finding a new light fixture, adding open shelving, and building a small island. And a little further in the future, we would like to close in the doorway, buy a new fridge, and build it into the kitchen along with a built-in pantry. We also would love a new stove at some point, but we'd really love either an antique one or an antique remake, so we are waiting for now. We are so happy with the progress we've made, though, and we love our farmhouse and are content to take our time as we work on it. :)

The Fine Details:
Cabinet Paint Color: Valspar Signature's "Snowed In"
Wall Paint Color: Behr Marquee's "Cappuccino Froth"
Countertops: Laminate in Cookies & Cream from Menards
Sink Faucet: This Kingston Brass faucet
Backsplash: Shiplap painted in Valspar's "Snowed In"

Monday, January 29, 2018

Little Women Cottage School (Summer Kitchen Renovation)

One of the most difficult things about our farmhouse was that it was smaller than I had hoped. The old summer kitchen on the property, directly behind the house, gave me hope though. I envisioned it as the perfect little room to homeschool in! I don't need a huge house, but as a homeschooling mom, and as one who goes crazy in unorganized spaces (as does my husband), I knew a separate space for homeschooling was crucial. 

Our beautiful homeschool room didn't look like this to begin with, though.

We actually finished renovating this space at the end of the summer. I think I have procrastinated writing this post because I plan to paint a sign to hang on our schoolhouse, and it hasn't happened yet... but, I've procrastinated long enough. So I write write the post and hopefully paint a sign for our cottage school this summer. This is the exterior of our summer kitchen turned school house. I love imaging the years this little building was used as a summer kitchen. 

The summer kitchen looked like this when we bought the farmhouse. It was simply used as a shed in its most recent years. 

The insulation had years of mouse droppings stored inside, so we tore all of that out.

We then installed new insulation, added drywall, and used plywood to created shiplap walls. We left the original ceilings and floors, because, hello! Beautiful!

I sure am thankful for this space. It's so nice to be able to keep some of our books in here (because we sure do love books in this house!), and it's such a fun space.

I found an old school clock at a vintage fair, and it fits perfectly in the schoolhouse. I also keep craft items in the school house.

People always ask us if we are using the school house during the winter. I really thought we would, but we haven't been. Once it started getting cold, we began doing school inside. In order to do school in the school room, we would have to buy a heater. For now, with just one student, it makes sense to just do school inside. During the warmer months, the younger girls play outside while I do school work with Sophie, but during the colder months, the girls play inside with all of their toys, so it makes sense for me to just be inside with them as well. We do keep many of our school supplies in the school house still, and I just gather what I will need each day. It's incredibly nice to have a separate space for all of our school books and supplies! And we look forward to when it will be warm and we can do school out in this space again.

We had animals in the school house every day. Farm schooling at its finest!

Thursday, December 28, 2017

A Very Merry Homemade Christmas

Four years ago, my friend asked me to go to these girls' craft nights with her, and I always responded that I wasn't crafty. My friend now makes fun of me for saying that and complains that we could have been crafting together all that time.

To be honest, I didn't know I was crafty or could even like things like sewing and painting. I was the nerdy one who always had a book in her hand, a paper to edit, or a topic to research. I still love those things. But now, I've discovered that I have a love for keepings my hands busy as well. Since learning to sew and paint three years ago, I have made it a goal to make one thing for the girls for each birthday and Christmas. I don't believe it's always happened, but I try. Well, this Christmas I went a little overboard! I just kept finding too many things I wanted to make, and then the girls would ask me to make things as well.

A year ago, I bought a pattern for a doll I really wanted to try to make. I knew it would be a challenge for me, as I truly am a beginner sewer, but I enjoy challenges. I started making one for Violet a year ago, and then I got scared and put it down. Sophie asked me about it and asked if I would make her one, and, well, one thing turned into another, and I ended up deciding to make one for each girl for Christmas.

This was definitely the hardest thing I made, and there were many times I wasn't sure if they would get done, but they did, and I love them... and so do the girls!

Sophie and Brielle have little felt dolls and carry-along cases that I made for them two Christmases ago. I have always assumed that I would make one someday for Lyla, but she loves to tear things apart... so I was in no hurry to make her one. But then she started asking me when she would get one like her sisters, and she asked so many times, that I felt like I must make her one as well. So I hand sewed the little doll and I machine sewed the house, and she was so excited when she got it on Christmas morning and that it was purple! 
(Dollhouse pattern: Here)
(Doll pattern: Here)

For previous birthdays, I have made Sophie and Lyla stacking dolls. Brielle didn't have a set, and she has asked a number of times about having one. I have procrastinated a long time... I think because it always seems like it will be a lot of work. In reality, it didn't take that long, and Brielle is very excited to have her own set now.

My grandma got the girls a felt doll with cloths from a garage sale a year or two ago, and they play with it often. They asked about getting more... I searched for a while online and saw that you could buy more. I bought them through amazon, but then had to cut them and their wardrobes out. I then had this idea that Ben could build felt boards in which they could play with their dolls on.

I wanted to make some things for family members but just ran out of time! I did, however, have fun making these sandwich and snack bags for my nieces and nephews. 

I was also commissioned to make a few things for others. A church friend asked me to paint on slate some signs for her family members. 

And this one she asked me to make for my in-laws :)

My dad commissioned me to make these chocolate covered strawberries. I have never made these before, but as mentioned above, I always love a good challenge.

Making things with my hands is such a beautiful outlet for me. It helped me through a really hard time in my life, and now it's a way that I rejuvenate and a way that I can give to others.