Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Our Beach Vacation... aka "Shark Week!"

Things have been quiet here BECAUSE.... we just returned from a great 10 day vacation to Myrtle Beach! We planned this trip last spring, when I realized that our first grade curriculum included an ocean unit. It ended up being a really wonderful experience for our family. My dad and his wife, Mary, live at Myrtle. We got to spend a whole week with them.... having fun, seeing the sites, relaxing a bit, and of course doing some hands-on ocean studies.
I just finished going through the 700+ pictures that Mary and I took. Wow! There is so much I want to share here.... but for now I'll just give you this teaser....

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We have nicknamed this vacation "SHARK WEEK!" The shark pictures in this collage are all from the wonderful aquarium that we visited. However, our shark sightings did not end there. We saw people catching small sharks from the pier near the condo where we stayed. We saw sharks... mostly small ones (it's "baby" season) VERY CLOSE to shore in the surf EVERY DAY except for one. So, my husband and children were swimming in SHARK-INFESTED WATERS and I was mostly playing lifeguard and praying the Rosary! Mary was trying to go out far enough to see the sharks up close (!?!) and my dad and I were watching the water carefully and calling the boys in whenever we saw something. It was really amazing - but scary - to see them so "up close and personal." Fortunately, we got everyone home in one piece!

So we've spent the past few days unpacking and getting back into a "normal" school routine. I will be posting our vacation pictures and stories in bits and pieces over the next few days.

Monday, September 19, 2011

All-American Learning Adventure

Our Monday co-op class ("AEP" ... aka "Academic Enrichment Program") has an American theme this year. Each Monday afternoon we gather with about 15 other families to learn together. We begin with prayer, the Pledge of Allegiance, patriotic songs, and discussion of American saints and historical figures.

Adam's class (preschool and Kindergarten) is going on an American Alphabet Parade, focusing on patriotic themes that go with each letter of the alphabet. The first through fourth graders are going on a State-by-State Adventure, learning geographical information and basic facts about each state. They will be enjoying stories, snacks, crafts, and other activities related to the states they are studying each week. They also will be receiving materials to use to put together State-by-State scrapbooks. Ray is happy to be in the 1st/2nd grade AEP class and I am excited to be teaching the 3rd/4th grade class.

The older children are engaging in some book studies, debates, and writing projects... all with an American theme. It's going to be a very busy and fun year!

Our classes began last week. Adam learned that "A is for America." He had fun writing A's on a map of the USA and making an apple print painting. Ray's class (and mine) started by learning a bit about Washington DC and our first State, Maine. Here are some pictures of the wonderful 3rd and 4th graders in my class making a light house craft.

Here's Ray showing off his "Washington Monument" craft.

Here are my boys modeling this week's craft, Uncle Sam's masks:

Uncle Sam was allegedly born in New Hampshire, one of our States for this week, although he later moved to New York. We can't go through a year of Americana without learning about Uncle Sam!

Hopefully, I'll be blogging about our State studies periodically this year. You can see where we got lots of our ideas at Shower of Roses and Pinterest.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

"Oceans of Fun!"

Here's a peek at some of the great fun we've been having with our cross-curricular ocean unit!

"Characteristics of Oceans" by Ray

 Almost all of these ideas came from Pinterest and Enchanted Learning. We've been reading lots and lots of great ocean books, fiction and non-fiction. (I'm sorry I don't have time to put up a list right now -- maybe later.) Each of the boys has a folder of ocean-themed activities they are working on and they are so excited about all that they are learning.

It's amazing to me how much we've covered in just a few weeks of school.... and how much I'm learning right along with the boys.

Adam's Theology

Adam recently drew this "holy picture." I was thrilled, especially since the only things he seems to be drawing lately are Mario Brothers pictures. He narrated this picture to me, pointing out the yellow cross where Jesus died, the soldier guarding the tomb, and the purple angel with blue wings. Who are the three "guys" on top? "God. Jesus. Santa Claus." My response: "Wow. Really? Do those three hang out a lot together?" Adam's reply: "Yes. They're cousins."

How could I respond to that? I chuckled and gave him a hug and told him I loved his picture. Then, my bubble was really burst when he asked me if he could have a dollar for drawing a holy picture! (We've been encouraging the boys to do extra chores to earn spending money for an upcoming trip.) Sigh. He's definitely got the "Santa Clause syndrome" .... "gimme, gimme, gimme." I just hope and pray that the "holiness syndrome" ... "love, give, serve" is growing somewhere in there too.
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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

"Special Visitor"

This morning I told the boys that a very special visitor is coming to our city today. They were excited and intrigued. I told them he's the leader of our country. Ray shouted, "PAPPY!" (My dad) Adam shouted, "THE POPE!" Yikes. It was funny.... sort of. So our first unplanned lesson of the day was about President Barack Obama, who is giving a speech at a high school in town today. We're going to try to drive past the airport and spot Air Force One.... or maybe the Popemobile.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Mass for Homeschool Families

This evening we had the great privilege of attending Mass at Saint Joseph Cathedral with Catholic homeschooling families from all over Central Ohio. Bishop Frederick Campbell was the presider! It was a very special evening. The boys had only visited the Cathedral once before. They really enjoyed "checking it out" and they both asked lots of good questions. They were especially impressed with the enormous and beautiful organ!

At the end of Mass Bishop Campbell came down into the aisle and allowed the children to ask him questions. He was so kind and personable. One child asked him when he would become Pope. He said he prays that will never happen. One child asked him about his crosier. After explaining that it was like a shepherd's staff, he joked that he used it to reign people in and wake up anyone who was sleeping in Mass (by banging them with it). He wrapped things up when a child asked him if he was going to get married when he retired. ;)

After Mass we enjoyed a social in the undercroft. The bishop graciously joined us and we had the opportunity to talk with him as a family.

Adam especially enjoyed the undercroft, comparing it's stone and pipes to a SuperMario world. As he went to bed tonight he was asking when we could go back there.

 I continue to be so thankful for the experience of Catholic community that we have. The boys are making wonderful friends. Celebrating Mass together is really special. 

What a shot, huh? Ray and his "girl"friends.

I wish this picture wasn't so blurry. In preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we lit a candle and said a prayer at the Marian shrine in the cathedral.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Where We Live

I am still loving Pinterest and I've found lots of fun ideas there that we have already used for school. We just completed one of my favorites, a concentric circle book for learning about where we live.

I had the finished books laminated and will display them near our calendar/weather center for regular review. Even when I taught second grade (three lives ago) I found that students had a hard time keeping continent/country/state straight. We'll be practicing this for a while!
Visit my Pinterest page here: http://pinterest.com/kryzenga/.

School Snapshots

Here's a peek of some things we've been doing in school.

Ray continues to enjoy "Little Stories for Little Folks" from Catholic Heritage Curriculum. He read this story - 144 words - straight through for me and we both were so happy and proud!

We followed up our habitat study by learning about food chains, herbivores and carnivores, and animals that are now extinct. We've been reading lots of dinosaur books. I surprised the boys with dinosaur fossil kits (from Dollar Tree). We had a great (and messy) time chipping away the stone/dirt and finding tiny dinosaur bones.

During Ray's early morning alone time (before the rest of us get up), he's been making what he calls "One-sticker Holiness Pictures." So sweet!
 "Chores" are now part of each day's school checklist. We have been teaching the boys to do more around the house. This has been so helpful for me. AND, they are loving it. They couldn't believe it when I let them help me scrub the tub. They were awesome scum-busters! It's crazy the things that can make a mom proud and happy!
 (I acutally edited out some of the yucky grout around our tub in this picture! ;) I wish I could take care of it that easily in real life!)

Jon was home on Monday (Labor Day) and so I put him to work helping with school. He worked with the boys on a clock game.

Geography puzzles
 Our resident "weather man!" How about that uniform.... and the boots?!? Homeschooling at it's finest!

This morning we practiced counting by two's with this "shoe" game. It was a fun and ACTIVE Math activity.

(I got those number pads from Oriental Trading this summer. They are great. We've set up lots of hopscotch games and marching games. So many uses for them! I wish I had found them a few years ago.)

Art --- We're learning about the color wheel. We did some painting with primary colors as well as some color mixing.

Adam's Math book featured an ice cream sundae activity in which we had to count and add several toppings to our ice cream. Yummy fun!

And so we're off to a good start. We've been enjoying a mix of "table work" and fun activities. We're beginning to find a rhythm to our days, including afternoon quiet time in our rooms (for mommy too!) and no TV or electronic games until after 3:00. Hooray for homeschooling!