Welcome to 5th grade in our little homeschool. We are beginning Boo's third year as a homeschooler and each year I get more and more excited about what lies ahead of us. This year looks to be super promising! Teaching from a place of rest has been a HUGE part of our success, along with adding in Morning Basket time.
Over the past year I became an official Timberdoodle blogger and we have had the chance to experiment with so many fun products that it began to just slightly shift some of my thoughts on homeschool education. We are still completely sold out on educating classically, with a Charlotte Mason style and method. However, this year we will be adding in so many more FUN ways to learn - lots of hands on, multi-sensory, engaging, "crazy-smart" STEM and critical thinking types of learning. I'll be doing a full curriculum post soon showing all the products we are using this year - so stay tuned!
Here are a few pictures from our first week back - again we are using Veritas Press History self-paced course on line which is the BOMB! :)
We had a fun "first day" snack.
For those who have followed along on our homeschool journey you know that math is the one thorn in our side - we just couldn't seem to land on the perfect avenue for the most efficient learning. HELLO Teaching Textbooks!!! We used this long ago in the past with Banana and here we are again. The usual dreaded part of our day (the M word), now has momma taken out of the picture, therefore everyone is about a ba-jillion times happier. So far so good - fingers crossed.
May I introduce you to Gabriel. Why Gabriel you ask? Yeah me too. Who knows the how and why of the 10-year-old mind, but Gabriel it is. I've been told to share with you that he also enjoys singing and dancing to old folk songs. He may or may not have been dancing a jig when Boo and I were jamming to "Down By the Bay" this morning, as we were discussing the life of Frederick Douglas who grew up near the Chesapeake Bay.
Gabriel is yet another fabulous Timberdoodle product - very soon I will be sharing a review on our Custom Curriculum Kit we are using this year from Timberdoodle!
We are starting off our science curriculum this year with a unit study of Human Anatomy and Physiology - not what I had originally planned but Boo is CONSUMED with all things related to DANCE right now. This will be her first year on her dance company's competition team - so I thought it would be a perfect time to really focus on the human body and have a good understanding on how her muscles and skeleton allow her to do all the fabulous things she can do!
When the teenagers in the house are introduced to Gabriel - strange things can happen. That fun lighted orb is one of our STEM learning tools called SPRK Sphero - just about the coolest learning tool ever. I can't wait to share more with you!
Friday afternoons are science experiment time - another cool book from Timberdoodle is Boom! - where Boo found this weeks experiment - Electric Slime.
By rubbing a balloon on her hair and creating static electricity she learned that a combination of corn starch and vegetable oil made into a thick paste actually pulled toward the balloon as it drips off the spoon. "This effect is due to electrostatics and the way unlike charges attract each other, and like charges repel." So cool. Isn't homeschooling awesome? You really don't have to know stuff like electrostatics - you simply get to learn along with your kids. I could only have said something about negative and positive charges and particles and stuff. But being a good teacher or homeschool teacher mostly entails putting your kids in the way of excellent learning, creating the right environment for learning, and then stepping out of the way. So very similar to how we can point them towards Christ, but ultimately we step out of the way and let the Holy Spirit do the rest. We can't MAKE them live a life pleasing to God, we can only do what is required of us to raise them "in the way of the Lord", and step aside and let HIM take over. Such a difficult thing for us control-freakish homeschool moms to do, but I'm learning, one baby step at a time.
We are enjoying our refreshed learning space, a well-ordered and organized room that will enhance our days, designed with a big comfy rug and an oversized chair for restful learning. In the words of Charlotte Mason -
Education is an Atmosphere, a Discipline, a Life.
Putting thought and effort into the atmosphere in which we educate can go a long way in our homeschools.
"Education is an atmosphere" doesn't mean that we should create an artificial environment for children, but that we use the opportunities in the environment he already lives in to educate him. Children learn from real things in the real world.
Our God is a God of order. I love to create order in our homeschool environment, in our resources and our schedules. Boo and I read a story this morning called The Lost Treasure. It was such a beautiful reminder of the treasure we all hold, especially as mothers, in the care, keeping and environment we create in our homes.
To summarize the story - A man was out traveling when a great storm quickly came upon him. He saw two homes in which he might find retreat, a broken down, litter-filled yard of a home, or a beautiful white well-ordered house on a hill. He chose the closest house - the broken down poor looking home. He soon learned how unhappy the family in the home was, always bickering and lazy, the home was a mess and there was nothing to eat. As he left the next morning, he challenged them all to find the treasure within their home. They all searched and searched for some sort of earthly treasure, which of course could not be found - except for an old family Bible discovered by the mother. After reading the verses-
The mother began to clean and care for her home, to put things in proper order and have self-control over her lazy tendencies. She prepared a loving meal for her family and her children happily began pitching in. The children learned to help about the home and it soon became a happy place for them all.
We have been given such treasures in our homes and our families. When we clean our homes, organize our belongings, and teach our children good and proper habits, we are following the commands of Christ. That is where our true treasure lies. We as moms have such power over the "atmosphere" of our homes, let us not forget how important of a job it is!
As a great reminder of our Charlotte Mason educational philosophy, we have one of her famous quotes on our walls in our learning room - I am, I can, I ought, I will. So much wisdom is packed into these few words - another post for another day!
A fun addition to our learning space this year is this fabulous cart from Ikea! It mostly holds our Morning Basket items and my teacher edition books, along with a few basic supplies. The great thing about this is wherever we happen to land within our home for learning times, this can easily be wheeled to the perfect spot!
A quick glance at some of our current Morning Basket items.
I did some rearranging and refreshing of our homeschool central book case - which also doubles as our home library. The four shelves along the bottom hold our homeschool books, with a special spot for our current library books. This year, I arranged all the books by subject and I have found it to be SOO helpful. I am more easily able to use all the resources we have now, instead of accidentally overlooking or forgetting about the perfect book for the perfect time!
A peek at Boo's US history readers, literature, read-alouds and Shakespeare collections for this year.
The shelf underneath holds many of our hands-on learning tools.
We are again using this simple method of having a daily checklist for Boo so that she knows just what needs to happen each day. I write it up either the night before, or the morning of, or sometimes we even just record what is happening as we go along if it's one of those crazy days! It's perfect to keep track of everything we have done when it comes time for the mid-year and end-of-year review.
Boo has her own "locker" in her desk where she stores her daily workbooks and such.
A closer peek at what's inside....
We ended our first week of school doing some STEM work with our SPRK Sphero. Boo is learning basic HTML coding in a super fun way with this crazy durable programmable robot - that YES is even waterproof! In the picture below she programmed it to launch off the counter into a sink full of water. Does it get any more fun than that learning fifth grade level coding?
Overall, it's been a great first week. The weather has turned and there is a hint of fall in the air. The windows are open and the curtains gently sway in the breeze. What a wonderful time of year when everything is fresh and new and exciting. I hope that by taking a peek into our first week of homeschooling that you have been inspired to find some fresh ideas for yourself!