Thursday, March 27, 2014

Another Cool Thing About Homeschooling

It's crazy for me to believe, but we're actually in our fifth year of homeschooling.

Something that has struck me these past few months is how cool it is for us to have the continuity of working together year after year, building on what we've learned as we go along. The Core Knowledge curriculum that we use is cyclical (as are most curricula). In other words, the broad areas of study are repeated every three years. The objectives and content go deeper as the children get older. 

We are now at a point where we're re-visiting areas of study at a deeper, more detailed level. It has been fun to be able to pull out past projects and materials, remember what we've already covered, and dig deeper. We are able to compile work done over a long period of time. We keep folders of our unit study works that we can pull out and refer to and build on as we go. We also keep an ongoing "Book of Centuries" in which we record all of the people and historical events we learn about. We keep poetry notebooks and liturgical binders that are cumulative through the years. That is something that doesn't happen when students move to new teachers each year.

Over the past few months, we've studied astronomy and human body systems. We've enjoyed looking back and referring to previous work ---
We made these human body systems books two or three years ago! The boys love looking at their basic drawings.

Right now we're learning about the skeletal, muscular and nervous systems.

Ray is building a spinal column using a pipe cleaner (spinal cord), gummy life savers (vertebrae), and wagon wheel pasta (cartilage).

Look at this LITTLE toothless boy learning about the planets!
We had so much fun pulling out these astronomy folders that Mary made for us two or three years ago. We loved looking at our completed projects. We understood lots of things better now.... and we were able to go back and read/complete parts that were too hard last time.
Adam's Constellation Project

Ray still has this poster and is so proud of it.
We went back out and used our moon finders again.

This was our solar system "model" from way back when.
Right now we're finishing up a few more advanced models.
(I'll post those when they're finished.)
This year we moved beyond the solar system and learned about the Universe!
This is Adam's model of the Milky Way.

We also wrote min-reports about each planet.
We've now added those to our astronomy folders.
It will be fun to look back on them when we re-visit astronomy in a few years.
 I really like this aspect of homeschooling --- the continuity that comes with the same people working together through the years. It's so cool to see that the boys really are learning and improving so many skills as time goes by.  I can't wait to display all our work when they graduate!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Marching Through March

Happy Saint Patrick's Day! We're really close to Spring now, even if the weather isn't cooperating so far! I was trying to think about why I haven't blogged lately and what exactly I've been doing. Nothing major has been happening around here. Jon is working crazy tax season hours and we've been doing the dog days of school. I've also been washing shoes and coats. Every day. Exciting life, huh? Perhaps if I invest in rain boots for the boys things will dry out and the weather will improve! Seriously, every day they go out and get so muddy. Every day I do monster loads of laundry and mop the floor. Ugh! But at least they are able to get outside more and more. We're ready for warm weather!

Other recent highlights/adventures....

My wonderful husband celebrated his 43rd birthday. We all went out to dinner to celebrate.... and then he went back to work until midnight. I feel bad that his birthday falls during tax season, but we do try to make it special for him.

The birthday boy! I wonder whose taxes he did that night after having that drink. ;)
Last Friday we attended a homeschool swim party. The boys were thrilled to be in the warmth and water!

It's Lent. The boys came up with this idea themselves....

We made a simple cross. We pound in nails to represent our sins AND our sacrifices. (Yes, I know this is a bit messed up.... but they are so enthusiastic about all this pounding. They worked out a system where different nails mean different things. It's getting them to reflect, so I'm going with it.)

We've all given up things for Lent and we're doing some extra/different prayers and a few service projects. We're enjoying meeting friends for the parish fish fry on Fridays and then attending the Stations of the Cross together.

Last Saturday we attended our Cub Scout Pack's annual Blue and Gold Banquet. The boys each received awards and belt loops for the work they've done this year. Our boys and one other boy received special recognition for earning the "Light of Christ" emblem. We actually did the work for this during last school year. They received a medal. I was very proud of them.

Saint Patrick's Day Fun

I buy ONE box of Lucky Charms cereal each year.... for Saint Patrick's Day. We enjoyed our "special" breakfast and started the day by reading a book about Saint Patrick and learning an Irish Blessing.

I then sent the boys on a scavenger hunt around the house. They found a "box" of gold with a "rainbow" inside.


We enjoyed reading a few of our favorite Saint Patrick's Day story books.

Instead of our "regular boring old school work" ... we did some fun Saint Patrick's Day learning projects today.

We also did a secret leprechaun code, a word find, and some Math pages (which were sneakily the same skills they're currently working on, but with leprechaun themes). ;)

We've just finished up a Viking study and now we're on to the skeletal, muscular, and nervous systems of the human body.

I am cherishing our read aloud time these days. How much longer will they love it this much? We are currently reading James and the Giant Peach  and they are SO into it. I love how they laugh and discuss the story and beg for me to read more and more and more.

We're also really enjoying Adam's preparations for First Communion, which he will receive on May 10th. It's such a special, sweet time.

And lastly, my current little project --- painting more wooden saint dolls.
Our homeschool group is having another exchange in a few weeks. I'm painting Saint Zita and Saint Josemaria Escriva.
So, there are some updates for now. I hope you're having a happy and holy Lent.