Friday, June 15, 2018

Word of the Year: Release

Normal people do Word of the Year posts in January. But, hello, here I am doing mine in June.

I did one of these posts in 2016 and in 2017, so I wanted to do one again this year as well. But there was just no word on my heart in January. Or February, March, or April. Then, last month, in May, I finally felt a word being put on my heart. The word release.


I make plans. A lot. I'm not always great at planning my weeks and months... I like to have a level of spontaneity in my life that makes it hard for me to make concrete plans. But I am the queen of planning the future, in my head. I think for the first 25 years of my life, my plans in my head pretty much went exactly how I dreamed. And then I've spent the last five years building dreams that continually fall apart. Honestly, so many dreams of mine have fallen apart in these last five years, that sometimes I sit and wonder if I am in tune with God at all. 


I felt the weight of crashed dreams recently when we learned our neighbors were moving. We live in a farmhouse surrounded by cornfields, so we don't have many neighbors. These neighbors lived across the cornfield, and we were delighted when we found out, shortly after moving here last year, that they had three kids the ages of our kids. We got together a number of times so that our kids could play together, and we had them over for dinner. One of the greatest blessings was that they had a daughter Sophie's age, and Sophie is our extremely social child. I was so thankful to have them as neighbors. We lived in a cul-de-sac before with tons of neighbors, and literally none of them had kids! So I mentioned to several friends how much of a blessing this was, and I had so many dreams in my head about our future with them as our neighbors. I imagined our kids playing together every summer until they turned 18. So when we learned they were moving, I felt devastated. Really, I was shocked how devastated I felt, but I think it just felt like another crashed dream on top of so much other rubble from these last few years.


And then, just a few weeks later, I received an incredibly shocking job offer - an amazing job offer. After writing just one article for Wild + Free, a non-traditional homeschool community, and a few short correspondences, I was asked if I would consider editing for their magazine. The story is quite bigger than that. I deactivated my instagram account last fall and winter, as I felt overwhelmed and anxious by it. I just needed to get away. I actually thought I would never come back to it. I continually received requests for more updates on homeschooling and house renovations, though, and so in January, I hesitantly rejoined. I really wasn't at all sure if I wanted to. If I hadn't rejoined, I never would have approached Wild + Free about writing an article for them (as they are heavily an instagram community), and I never would have been offered this job. I have thought numerous times over the years about how I could look for editing jobs. But I never have. And I am just completely amazed that I didn't even have to seek this job out, it came to me. And it's not just any type of editing, it's editing in the field of work that I am passionate about (homeschooling and motherhood). The hours are perfect, my boss is incredible, and I get to do it all from home. And I just really love the people I get to know because of it.



So, in one month's time, the future of my life looked so different, both in a hard way and in a beautiful way. And the Lord pressed on my heart the word release.

Alisha, release the idea of what you think your life should look like.

Goodness, when will I ever learn this lesson. I don't think dreaming is bad. But I hold so tightly to dreams that I feel deep devastation when they crumble. So I want to focus this year on learning to release my ideas of what my life should look like. To release what I think God will do and won't do. To release what I think I deserve and don't deserve. To release the thought that I know what's best. I want to rest more in an uncertain future



Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Homeschool: Grade 1, Term 2 (2017-2018)


As mentioned in this post, these are the subjects we cover in a term:

Bible
Poetry
Math 
Reading
Copywork
History
Geography
Natural History
Literature
Physical Education
Music Appreciation
Art Appreciation
Spanish
Singing
Recitation
Drawing
Handicrafts/work

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 2:

Bible: We read from the actual Bible text, and we are reading through Genesis and Matthew in Grade 1 (Form 1B). We covered Genesis 18-30 and Matthew 8-12. 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 two, we focused on Elizabeth Coatsworth. I found most of her poems online, but we enjoyed Song of the Camels in book form. We read poetry every day, so we read Elizabeth Coatsworth’s poems 2-3 times a week, and on the other days, we read from A Child’s Book of Poems by Gyo Fujikawa.

Math: We used Charlotte Mason Elementary Arithmetic to cover numbers 20-50. This is a new math book that will be part of a series with plans for the rest to come out in the next couple years. I am so excited about this math series! It is completely based off of Charlotte Mason’s method, and it is different from other programs available (mainly, that problems are mostly done orally which is so gentle for these young ones!). It goes along with the bundle that I used last term (the bundle is more like a teacher’s guide and includes the entire scope & sequence for 1-12 grade).                

Reading: We just use this time for Sophie to get more practice with reading – 10 minutes a day. We read some of Treadwell’s First Reader as well as different readers like Frog and Toad and her American Girl Samantha book.

Copywork: For copywork, Sophie typically copies a line or two of poetry. Occasionally we do a verse instead or a line from a hymn. The goal is to visualize each word before writing it so that she can write the whole word from memory.

History: In our continuation of studying early American History, I wanted to take this term to focus on Native Americans. We used Meet the North American Indians by Payne as our spine, and we read Children of the Longhouse by Joseph Bruchac to go along with it. We actually didn’t finish Children of the Longhouse, but we enjoyed both books. Joseph Bruchac is a great author to check out for Native American writings. We also read Whispers of the Wolf by Pauline Ts'o.

Geography: We have two days that we do geography. One day is 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 is for reading and learning about children of other cultures and countries. Here is what we used:
Day 1 Book: The Little Mexican Donkey Boy 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. Sophie did love this book though, and we learned a little about Mexico through it.)
Day 2 Books: The Big Storm by Bruce Hiscock
Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin
(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.)

*Note: We 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: Wild Life in Woods and Fields by Arabella Buckley
Special Studies Books: Winter Trees by Gerber and Evans

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 Fables: The Dog, The Cock, and the Fox
Aesop’s Fables: The Lion and the Mouse
Aesop’s Fables: Belling the Cat
Blue Fairy Book: Little Red Riding Hood
Blue Fairy Book: The White Cat
Blue Fairy Book: The Wonderful Sheep
Blue Fairy Book: Felicia and the Pinks
Blue Fairy Book: Diamonds and Toads

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 (on the other days) are to learn jumping rope, fun dances together, and Swedish Drill. In this first term, we reviewed Swedish Drill movements and learned a fun drums song dance. We also skipped and marched to songs.
My two favorite resources for Charlotte Mason dance and drill: Swedish Drill and Dance/Moving to Songs

Music Appreciation: We studied Peter Tchaikovsky this term. We covered Swan Lake, The Nutcracker, Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy, Piano Concerto No. 1, 1812 Overture, Violin Concerto in D Major, Quartet No. 1 in D Major. We simply listened to the songs. We also read The Story of Peter Tchaikovsky by Opal Wheeler.

Art Appreciation: We studied Winslow Homer. We studied The Milkmaid, The Country School, Snap the Whip, Fog Warning, The Turtle Pond, The Fox Hunt, and Deer in the Adirondacks, . 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 did Cherrydale lessons 5-8 this term. We also had flash cards and learned new words from those, and we used real objects, such as clothing, to learn new words. We also Pio Peep poems.

Singing: We learned and sang the following songs over the term:
- Patriot Song: America the Beautiful
- Folksongs/Nursery Rhymes: Will Ye Go Lassie, Hot Cross Buns, Doggie Doggie Where’s Your Bone, The Boatman
- Hymns: O Come O Come Emmanuel, I’ll Fly Away, Oh How I Love Jesus
- Spanish Songs: Noche de Paz, Cabeza Hombros Rodillas y Pies
We learned the difference between the beat and the rhythm.

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: Fanny Crosby: To God be the Glory
- Verses: Luke 2:1-20 (Christmas Story) and Luke 10:25-37 (The Good Samaritan)
- Poems: Elizabeth Coatsworth: “The Mouse”

Drawing: We used this time to do drawings from nature (we bring the object inside and she brush draws it – with a paint brush), from her imagination of stories we have read, and from her memory of animals she has seen. This is an area I am still learning to improve in.


Handicrafts/Work: Sophie learned how to sew on a sewing machine. Her grandma taught her, and she has done a few projects since then. She’s made four pillowcases! She continued to do some hand sewing, and she also did some origami projects. We also did lots of baking for Christmas goodies!

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:
Bible
Poetry
Math 
Reading
Copywork
History
Geography
Natural History
Literature
Physical Education
Music Appreciation
Art Appreciation
Spanish
Singing
Recitation
Drawing
Handicrafts/work

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."


Development:
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.


Birthday:
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


Interview:
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

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