Sunday, May 17, 2009

Why I love our dog

There are too many happy adjectives to describe this!

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

A lull in homeschooling

Well, we've been really busy at home with all sorts of things, though none of them on my 'original' plan. With spring bursting foward, all of us have been busy cleaning up our yard and readying it for planting. Every year I think I will plant early, and every year I end up planting in early May....hmmm. At any rate, the garden is an amazing source of inspiration to us as a family and as an artist. Its a time to contemplate, dig deep and meditate. Of course my girls love the worms and seedlings. Perhaps the most rewarding aspect is being able to watch our efforts become real throughout the summer months. Our garden is very small, but you would be amazed at just what you can grow in a small space! We actually don't have any real grass area in the yard anymore, with a park/ play structure down the street and a huge field there as well, we just decided to grow all we could. 
Now if only I could get some chickens! Of course with our goofy dog (hound) there would probably be an incident! In fact any suggestions on handling this would be appreciated! 

Speaking of gardening, this talk at TED on our relationship with nature was mind bending....that much production on 100 acres ...huh!

I'll post pics soon, we're off to get compost at the works department... 

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Why climb the mountain of workbooks

I have come to the realization that there is no one program to fit all our needs. Not one new workbook that upon completion will fill the void in my daughters education. In fact, I many days want to scream at some of the workbooks/unit studies I have used. At the end of it, workbooks are like the favorite DVD you pop in so you get a moment of peace. Its there when you need it.

However, workbooks have given both my daughters a sense of accomplishment and control over their education. It is so solid and easy to measure progress with. At the end of the day, I use these resources as another piont of view coming into our home school. Afterall, I do not want to be the source of knowledge. I want each of my daughters to become guided by their own inner compass. Independent learners. 

The reality is that learning to read, write, and do basic math is just a matter of time and attention. But to have direction, creatively solve problems and take an interest from a thought and investigaate this subject fully; this is my goal for my daughters education.  This is where unschooling and Project-based learning come in. I've been using a journal to help give feedback to both Anya and Fi on their interests. It also means I don't have to remember every interest they have and I can see patterns of interest that have developed. 

Check out Lori's website (at the link above). It's fantastic and her resources are amazing.

Wow, this post has wandered a bit! 

Monday, April 06, 2009

Mountains of workbooks and to climb it and do you want to?

Fellow homeschoolers, on many different educational paths, have been a buzz about the huge amount of tools available to us! So I thought I would talk about some of the tools we use.

History: Love love love Mr. Scott Powell's History at our House program. Fiona has been doing this for a year and a half and we are both very happy. This year we went with the live call in option. It seems to have brought it more to life for Fi (even though she doesn't say much) . The cost is reasonable(ranging from $20-$75 a month depending on how many live lectures you attend) for the amount of material and support that is givien and I really like the way information is built upon in three year cycles. Next year we will be trying this for Anya (she'll be 6). Also, Mr. Powells knowledge base is extensive as well as his passion for history, something that comes through in his lectures.

Science: For Fiona, we've been doing experiments on and off, natural science unit studies that are mostly observation and nature drawing, and this year our Co-op offered a science and literature class that has been a bit challenging but Fiona has had fun in. She was surprised at how much fun she had in that class. In addition, we've been reading Joy Hakim's first (of three) book on The Story of Science Aristotle Leads the Way and we also just got the workbook and teacher edition that goes with it. These are wonderful basics that really cover the material very well.
We have also participated in Cornell University's Project Feederwatch. Both my girls have gotten a lot out of this this winter (it goes from Nov-April). We are also doing the Sunflower Project this summer. Science, for us, has been really about doing and understanding. THe more abstract concepts have been hard for Fi to get sometimes so I thought I'd get Nebel's book Building Foundation of Scientific Learning to do with Anya (of course Fi is right there to 'help' and listen) and the book is awesome! I think this paired with Comstock's A Handbook of Nature Study is a realistic curriculum to take young first graders through third or fourth grade. 

For hand-on nature studies, there are so many local gardening projects in the city and load of 4H in the outer suburbs and country it is relatively simple to get good hands on instruction if gardening is not your strong suit. I'll do a post on this later. Probably untitled "not all nature programs are equal".

Math: We've been using math-U See for the past three years and recently added Aleks
(if you sign up, be sure to mention me as referral ). Math-U-See we started using just one manual at a time, but soon I switched to 2 at a time since there is a lot of repetition in the workbook. Also, I first use the test manual, and if Fiona takes the test and gets 99% correct, we go on to the next test. I do this since she has many levels of competency in math depending on the subject. Anya started the kindergarten workbook this year. We go in spurts and starts with her on math. I will say that math tutors can be the right choice if your student is struggling here. I saw amazing improvement at the end of summer shen Fi saw on once a week. We've also enjoyed Donna Simmons math unit studies(first through third grade). She is a Waldorf based curriculum so some of the very anthropologically based exercises may not be what you're after. But she is practical too. Very practical! So many awesome ideas about how to present this subject or that with really simple and easy to do hands on activities (like measuring a mile by walking for 1/4 and counting how many steps you took) It makes math real.

I'll post more about what we use for litrature, art , nature programs and music tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Friday, March 20, 2009

Tapping the trees

In the sugaring house

Maple sugaring

We had a wonderful time at my friend and fellow homeschooler, family
maple syrup farm. Thank you Sue and the whole Battel family for a
great time and yummy syrup!