Sunday, September 29, 2013

ECC Week 4: North America--USA

What a week we have had.  The week started coming off of a camping weekend.  So we started tired, but we still did plenty of work.  This week we reviewed states names and where they each are on the map.  We also started working through 3 new books.  The first one is A Trip Around the World put out by Carson-Delosa Publishing, the second is The Illustrated World Atlas by Alisdair Rogers and the third is Flags of The World which is a sticker book put out by DK Publishers.  It was fun putting stickers with the corresponding flags for each country in North America, Central America, and the Caribbean.  We explored Farming and Industry here in the United States of America as well as facts about the Old Glory, and learned interesting facts such as the United States National Bird was almost the turkey.  We began a study of the book of Matthew, worked to memorize Matthew 1:23, also read about the Navajo in Window to the World and followed the suggestions about how to pray for the Navajo.  We also read about Harriet Tubman and we identified more leaves in our leaf collection.  We also examined more about desserts particularly what happens when it rains in the dessert.  Last week we did not do art appreciation so we decided to do extra this week so we examined 4 different Impressionistic Paintings:  Water Lillies by Claude Monet, Claude Monet in his floating studio by Edouard Monet,Moulin Huet Bay, Guernsey by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and The Thames below Westminster by Claude Monet.

Water Lilies  


One particular thing I was particularly proud of Caleb for doing is that he decided to enter a contest where he has to read a book and write a report about the book.  The contest is a national contest and is part of the Cub Scouts.  Caleb struggles in reading.  He has dyslexia and we have finally found our groove together for him to progress out of a spot he has been stuck in.  Well he could have picked a really easy book to do this report on.  Instead he picked a challenging book.  So he will be reading and writing a report.  Other things we did we did a fire drill, worked in the garden, had a surprise of going to a parade, saw praying mantis in the garden, picked out pumpkins, another camp out, baking cookies, a pack meeting for both boys where Caleb collected 18 awards and Simeon received his first award, as well as so much more.  Of course we also did reading and math, but they are not nearly as fun to share with you as these parts of the week are. Once again here are some pictures of the week for you to enjoy.

Camping out is so much fun and is a great way to get out in nature.  A component of Charlotte Mason education is nature study.  The camp out in this picture included a five mile hike where they learned a lot from the Boy Scouts who were leading this group of Cub Scouts.

 As Charlotte Mason educators we have a garden as part of our schooling.  There are so many unplanned, spontaneous learning opportunities.  For example this praying mantis found in one of the green bean patches.
If things done in the public school can cross over into Cub Scouts then the two can cross over in our homeschool.  Many learning activities we do came from Cub Scouts either directly or indirectly.

Caleb is working on his spelling.

Cooking is also a recommended part of the Charlotte Mason education so we baked cookies as part of our school day one day this past week.  Ranger Cookies (Lone Ranger cookies as Simeon calls them), Peanut Butter Cookies, and Snicker doodles.

Simeon waiting for the parade.  We stopped our school day short when we realized one morning that in the afternoon there was a homecoming parade just two blocks from our house.

One of my pet peeves is when someone says home schooled children are not socialized (as if we are raising them under a rock and they have no contact with the outside world or something).  Here is a picture of my "unsocialized" home schooled child socializing with one of his friends.

Here is another picture of my "Unsocialized" home schooled child socializing with not only one friend, but 2 friends.  If I had posted more pictures then I would have had 5 more friends he socialized with that afternoon.

Simeon thought this part of the parade was funny.

We liked the go cart in the parade.

Some of those in this Alumni band I went to high school with.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Exploring Countries and Cultures (Week 2 and 3)

I got behind on posting so here are weeks 2 and 3. We have continued learning about maps and introducing our geography and multi-cultural studies. However, one area I had not planned well for our school year was PE.  Caleb, Simeon, and I came up with a solution for this.  It started out as a free kids bike race in a neighboring town.  Both boys lost, but did their best and crossed the finish line so this mom counted them winners and took them out for a victory lunch.  During our victory lunch Caleb and Simeon both told me that they had a lot of fun and wanted to know if they could race again.  I told them that I thought it was a great idea.  So we decided to look for more bike races and for some running races.  I have not had much success finding kids bike races in our area, but I have found quite a few fun runs for kids.  So now our PE is training to run races.  I will do the 5Ks and the boys will do the kids 1 mile runs and the kids dashes.  I think we will have a lot of fun, get in shape, and make friends along the way.

As far as academics we started out our days learning about 6 major world religions.  We also looked at several Scripture passages that coincide with our lessons.  I introduced the boys to spelling and how we will go about spelling this year.  Then we started a vocabulary book we discovered the definition of the word ocean and ocean ridge.  I also added 2 words that can be helpful when training character.  The first of these words is opposition so I can now use this word when my children are working against me to call them back to right behavior.  The other word is attentiveness.  This is an area of weakness in my children (paying attention) so I am defining it so I can say it is what I want and not have a gap in communication.also in week 4 we are starting an alertness training program to help with this problem.  We have also in the last 2 weeks have learned about longitude and latitude (we will be practicing using this skill throughout the year), my children passed the test and could name all seven continents, examined how to evaluate elevation and depth on maps and on globes, drew maps of their bedroom, our street, and our neighborhood.  During week three during our nature walk both boys had the opportunity to practice using the trail map to guide us.  We also evaluated the different symbols on the map to determine what they mean and how to tell North, South, East, and West on both a map and a globe.  We learned that there are five oceans in the world, where the Tropic of Cancer, Tropic of Capricorn, and the Equator are and the purpose of the Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn.  We explored the cycles of nature, different aspects of plant and animal life, as well as beginning our study of deserts.  Also each boy started a leaf collection.  So far they each have 21 leaves.  We take weekly trips to the library to look them up and label them.  We read about DL Moody and read many, many books from the library.  Our favorite was Around The World In 80 Pages.

During these 2 weeks our town also had their annual Fall Festival.  During the parade Caleb and his dad were clowns.  This was Caleb's first time to be a clown.  He participated in skits and songs with the men and he handed out God Loves You Stickers during the parade route.  Also Caleb and Simeon entered the Fall Festival photography contest.  Caleb's picture won a blue ribbon.  I will share his picture with the ribbon after we pick it up at the library.  It is on display for another week.  We also did nature hikes, grocery store math, both boys are showing progress in reading aloud to me.  Here are the last couple of week in pictures to sum up weeks 2 and 3 of our school year.  Week 4 will be posted this weekend I hope.
 Simeon drawing a map of our street.
 We took our school to the state park and did it there.  Here is our picnic lunch while I did some reading aloud with them.
 Here is a toad they found clinging onto the playground equipment when the boys took a break from our studies out at the state park.  Simeon took this picture.
 This has been our favorite book of our school year so far.
 Caleb on the parade route handing out God Loves You stickers.
 Caleb and Dad pose for a picture before the parade.
 Caleb took this picture.
 Simeon took this picture.
 Brothers pose for a picture while walking the balance bar on The Fitness Trail at another state park.
 This was a great feat for Simeon.
 This was a first time for Simeon.  He did the monkey bars all by himself.  He made it two thirds of the way across.
We found an inch worm while on our walk and Caleb had to pick it up.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Exploring Countries and Cultures (Week 1)

THE WORLD IS FULL OF PEOPLE (and Jesus gave his life for them all)

Jesus loves the little children
All the children of the world

We started our week by receiving passports.  Our sons each have a little passport which they now know is the document that gives you permission to leave the country.  Of course ours are not official and airport security would never honor them, but since we are going to be world travelers from home this year their passports give them access to the many countries we will be studying.  We also discussed what a visa is.  A visa is what the country you are visiting gives  you to say it is okay for you to be there in that country.  We also are going through a book called Windows to the World.  In it we will examine other countries and it gives us a guide on how to pray for that country.  As we went through the introduction of this book we talked about how God created ALL people of the world, how the Lord LOVES all people of the world, and that Jesus died to give each and every person in the world a chance of salvation.  We have started this week praying for people all over the world to come to know Christ.

We have been introducing ourselves to maps and learning how to navigate them.  There are seven continents and have a little song to the tune of Yankee Doodle.

North America, South America
Europe, Africa, Asia
Kangaroos hop in Australia
Penguins waddle in Antarctica

 We have done some art appreciation, made some posters, math, reading, science, language arts, and physical education.  Then there has also been phonics, spelling, penmanship, music, sign language,and read alouds.  For art appreciation we are using Usborne cards of Impressionist Paintings and Famous Artists.  This week we explored Snow Scene at Argenteuil by Claude Monet and At the Theaterby Pierre-Auguste Renoir.
   At The Theatre - Pierre Auguste Renoir -

Since Simeon has been telling me all week that he has a smart brain for science I need to feature science a little.  We are using two different books as our text books.  This week we started to use The Usborne Living World Encyclopedia.  This week we looked at different environments, how seasons change, and made a map highlighting ecozones.  When we did our nature study we went out to my family's farm and explored a small area of habitat. 

Caleb during one of his sessions of reading aloud to me started laughing because he thought the book he was reading was funny.  This I just had to add because reading for him has been a struggle and so instead of frustration he was laughing.  That was such a welcome sight.  I hope the beginning of many more times of laughter over something he reads himself. 

We also went on a field trip to a little museum in a neighboring town called The Oilfield Museum.  Overall it was a good week especially for a short week.  Here are a few pictures.

 This is our dining room table this year for easy access to 
look up wherever we are exploring or the setting of the
books we are reading, etc.

I purchased a white board for Caleb because it had 
a sports team he liked at the top.  Simeon started to
use it and would not stop drawing and enjoying it.
So when I saw Dollar General had one for $1 I got
him one for himself to use.  He loves it and uses it
 more than pencil and paper. 

  Math drills have become a part of Caleb's life this year

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Last Week of Summer Break

For the Children's Sake  -     
        By: Susan Schaeffer Macaulay

We are starting back to school the day after Labor Day.  I am glad that recently I finished the book For The Children's Sake by Susan Schaefer MacCauley.  It really broke down the Charlotte Mason style of education in a way that gave me some new eyes for our upcoming school year.  I love the gentle approach to learning that Charlotte Mason education provides.  Some of the things that I appreciate are the way this approach help children develop their own thinking and ideas, the sense of wonder and excitement that this style provides, and the value of the child as a person instead of someone to shape and fill up with ideas.  I love the Living Books that we read and the hands on learning as well as life learning.  Mostly though I really like that the family is considered the most important place for children to develop.  It seems in society we tend to look for our children to develop so many other places than home.  I believe t his thinking hurts families.  Since family is the backbone of our society then it hurts society as a whole.

We are going to have a motto this year for our school: I Am, I Can, I Ought, I Will.  I think there are some issues my children have that this motto will help correct.  I am is their identity in the Lord.  I can are the many things they are capable of doing.  I ought are the habits, routine, and things that they ought to be doing.  The I will is developing a willing spirit in the things that need to be done.

So this week I will finish the bulk of my canning, get the house back in order, and get us geared up for a great school year where we travel around the world exploring other countries and cultures.  Now to set things up so that Charlotte Mason's three elements of education are in the best shape possible.  I am setting up our educational Atmosphere, set up are Disciplines (schedules, routines, chores, etc), and be prepared to share Life in ways we never have before.  It will be a good year.  For anyone reading who has started this year already or is still preparing for the year please share what you are doing this year.

Monday, August 12, 2013

New School Year To Start Soon

Begin checking in September as we will be following along this year-- more faithfully than in years past.  This year we will be using My Father's World Exploring Countries and Cultures along with doing other things.  It will be fun.  I look forward to sharing the journey with you.  See you in September.

Saturday, November 17, 2012


I was going to post about some of the fun activities we have done this week, but I will have to do that another time.  We have had some fun learning opportunities.  Instead I want to share a a bit about some of our journey and the struggles we have had and the recent progress that has encouraged us. 

When Caleb was two I went to the pediatrician and told him that something seemed not right with Caleb.  The doctor and I had a discussion about it and he told me that my concerns were valid and real.  We talked about the options and in his opinion we should wait a year and if when Caleb turned 3 he was still having these issues that we would take further steps.  Caleb turned 3 with no improvement.  He was then sent for evaluation at the school system.  They tried to diagnose Caleb with autism.  I suspected speech apraxia and ADHD, but not autism.  I was a mental health/ substance abuse therapist at the time and I used the diagnostic manual (DSM-IV) regularly so I looked up the autism symptoms and Caleb did not show signs of autism.  So I told the school psychologist she was wrong and went back to the pediatrician.  The doctor agreed with me.  However, my husband was about to have brain surgery so I was not able to continue this matter further for a while. 

Four days after my husband's brain surgery we moved back to our hometown community.  We had Caleb evaluated again by the school system.  They agreed that he does not have autism.  They agreed that there were some speech issues and something more, but wanted to try some other things besides treatment.  So I worked with Caleb at home and he did show improvement, but something was still not right.  So we continued on with what we were doing at home because he was improving.  Then it came time for kindergarten.  I truly believed the Lord wanted us to homeschool, but we needed my income so I was not going to be able to.  Then 2 weeks before kindergarten was to begin I was laid off.  So we declared our intent to homeschool to the district and withdrew him from the school system.  Then we started homeschooling.  This was one of the best things we have ever done.  We were even so convinced that when I was recalled to go back to work about three and a half months later we continued to homeschool (I am now home full time for good).  I have only been back working for a few days when we discovered Caleb had been having seizures in his sleep and judging by certain symptoms that only those familiar with seizures would know it was apparent that Caleb had been having them for quite some time.  The doctor was never able to quite determine the cause of his seizures nor the reason for some bizarre patterns in those seizures.  The appeared to come in clustered time spans.  This is not normal for epilepsy.  Then one day he just stopped having seizures.  The doctor had not medicated him because he had not been able to determine in which area of the brain the seizures were happening .  We went through periods of time with other neurological issues such as tics and night terrors were the worst ones.  Then last year we repaired a floor in the house that was rotten and full of black mold.  His symptoms all disappeared within 2 weeks and have not returned.  It baffled us and the doctor as to why he only had symptoms in the late fall and winter.  Then when spring would arrive the symptoms would disappear.  Now I understand that he was having neurological issues during the times of year the house is closed up so mold was not escaping.  Hind sight is 20/20 after all. 

The floor was repaired 11 months ago and Caleb finally started retaining reading skills.  Before this past year he would do well in math, but could not seem to retain reading skills.  We had tried so many different methods and curricula.  Nothing had helped.  Since his neurological problems have left Caleb has had to work hard, but he is learning.  A few weeks ago (3 or 4) we were in a shopping center.  Out of nowhere Caleb says Cash Store.  Right in front of us was a sign that said Cash Store.  At that moment Caleb said, "That is why you have been trying to make me read, there are words all around every where."  He finally decided there was a purpose and the skills were coming together.  Now Caleb wants to read every day.  I find him looking at just about anything around us and trying to read it.  He does too.  Today he was rewarded for his reading effort.  He was given a kids cookbook this week and was looking through it.  He came to me and said, "Mommy this says Pumpkin Smoothie and I would like to try it."  We did not have all the ingredients so he had to wait, but this afternoon we made the pumpkin smoothie and it was yummy.  I gave him even more opportunity to practice his skills by letting him read the spice labels until he found cinnamon and nutmeg.  Then this evening we were cleaning a church we are contracted to clean.  Caleb was helping me clean the bathrooms.  One bathroom door says Eve and another bathroom door says Adam.  Caleb came to me while I was helping Simeon with some dusting and said, "M-O-M, I finished cleaning Eve."  Then when I came back to help him he said, "M-O-M, I am cleaning Adam now."  I asked him where he was getting these names from and he told me, "The sign on the door."  It has been exciting for Caleb and for me.  I am proud of him for continuing to work hard and learn to read. 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Let's Start Again

I started to blog about our homeschool last year, but then it fizzled.  I actually remember what happened.  A rather large type of repair happened right at Christmas time, then our family ended up going to the Appalachian Mountains to do some volunteer work and I did not have internet while there so I lost momentum.  Now, however, I think we can get the momentum back.  I will try to post something weekly to let you see what is going on here at Vanderhoof School of Excellence.  For now let me post some pictures of this school year.

These were from our trip to the Indianapolis Children's Museum.

Of course no school year is complete without a sick day.  I told Caleb that day when he had the stomach flu that he sure knows how to get out of school.  He told me that school is much more fun than the stomach flu.

Reformation Day. 

Here are just some pictures around our schoolroom this year which ironically I feel like we school all over the house more this year than in this room.

We are studying anatomy and physiology in science this year.  So we traced ourselves and I trace different organs, bones, etc and we discuss what they are, color them, and then put them on the body tracings.

This is a sample of our year so far.  We love school and are so glad the Lord called us to homeschool.  We look forward to actually sharing our journey with you this time.