Monday, December 19, 2011

Serving others

The theme this week has been serving others as we have had opportunities to serve in the community and not because I said lets plan some service project. We did extra work on Thursday in order to free up Friday to help in the morning with the Food Drive put on by the Ministerial Association and then Friday afternoon we went Christmas Caroling at 2 nursing homes. Then Saturday morning we helped distribute food boxes at the food drive. There is a police officer in town that Caleb really looks up to. Caleb helped him, but Caleb did not recognize him without his uniform so he found out later who it was. Simeon and I helped a few others who were distributing boxes. While Simeon was not able to do some of the things that others have been able to do, he did carry loaves of bread to cars and wished them a Merry Christmas. Caleb said he wants to sing at the nursing home again so I think we will have some future projects of visiting their again.
Another thing I did with Caleb that I now wish I had done sooner is that I caught up on grading all his papers and went over his progress with him. We talked about how his math is really going well and how his hard work learning to read is paying off. Caleb beamed with pride while we did this. The we talked about what he needs to work on-- attitude or his temper might be more accurate, having neater penmanship, and not writing some of his letters and numbers backward. He decided he wanted to get better at these things too. I told him I was going to give him more penmanship work. He has cheerfully worked on this and even asks for more. I also told Caleb that one of the qualities I really appreciate about him is his determination. He does not like it when he can not do something so he works and works at it without giving up. Even when it has taken him a really long time weeks and sometimes longer. I have told Caleb from the start that he can and is supposed to do hard things in his life. I no longer have to tell him because now he tells himself out loud.
We finished reading The Jungle Book and started to read Tom Sawyer. Then Caleb read from two different readers one was Dick and Jane and the other was the Bible reader that came with My Father's World Curricula. Caleb practice a lot of addition facts and it is coming much more quickly. We read the rest of The Magic School Bus The Five Senses and explored each of the senses. Simeon practiced putting together three letter words with Bob Books, reviewed his letters so far, and had Mommy read him lots of Christmas stories. Caleb worked on Sh--, U_E, and --UE sounds in phonics as well as being introduced to a new list of spelling words. We got so busy doing school work that we did not take pictures and I regret that, but we had a busy week. We did not do Muffin Tin Monday since it was a review week, Sketch Tuesday was around things that make them each smile. Thursday we did extra school work to make up for what academic work we were not doing on Friday in order to do serve projects. That was pretty much our week last week in a nutshell. We had some Christmas celebrations over the weekend and Vic preached at an area church so this post is even being posted late. We hope you have a great Christmas week and keep Christmas about Jesus.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Ants, Music, The Letter T, Subtraction, and so much more

It has been a while since I have posted. Caleb asked if he could take some time to try to read certain books. He pulled them out and showed me-- they were all over his level, but I was not going to stop him from trying. He was at a good stopping place in math so we spent the week before our vacation with Caleb reading bigger word books. Then we went on vacation to the North Carolina Shore with extended family. We left the day before our flight and visited the Indianapolis Children's Museum. Then Caleb and Simeon flew in an airplane for the first time, saw the ocean for the first time, saw jellyfish, went to an aquarium, made some new friends, and just had many great experiences. Then when we got back Caleb and Simeon both got sick. So our break for Thanksgiving turned into 2 weeks instead of one. This week we got back into the swing of things.
Simeon's letter of the week was T and his number was 6. He also started putting together a couple of three letter words. His favorite one was Tad from the Leapfrog videos. We did some hands on projects to reinforce the letter T sound. He made turtles one out of a coffee filter and the other out of a paper plate. Thank you Refined Metals Academy and Delightful Learning blogsites for the ideas on these turtles. He also baked turkey and T-Rex cookies. Well we cheated a little with the T-Rex cookies as I actually did not have a T-Rex cookie cutter. Instead I had a generic dinosaur cookie cutter so we pretended it was a T-Rex.
Caleb has been struggling to figure out when y sounds like long i and when it sounds like long e at the end of words. So we went back and spent a lot of time reviewing this. He seems to have grasped the concept now. Then we moved on the ch sound. I typically try to combine food and other daily life things with the phonics sounds being learned. So this week we ate grilled CHeese and ate CHili. He also began to do addition problems that can not be done on his fingers. At first he was frustrated by this. However, when he slowed down a little he discovered he was able to do it. Then there was a subtraction problem on his last math sheet. So we will be moving into subtraction soon. Caleb was also thrilled when I pulled out some music and started pointing out the Treble and Bass Clef symbols and introduced the concept of Ta and Tee-tee to develop rhythm in music. He does not have this down yet, but he enjoys practicing it so he will soon.
For science Caleb is using Apologia and we were not going to do this with Simeon yet. However, Simeon wants to be involved so we let him as he wants. This week we started studying about social insects. Specifically we have talked about ants and honeybees so far. Next week it looks like we will study bumble bees and termites. At the beginning of the year Caleb and Simeon both asked if we could study Spanish and Sign Language. I told them both was too much, but they could pick one and we would add some of that one. They chose Spanish. So far we have looked at some greetings, and numbers. This week however, we learned what certain colors are in Spanish. We are learning about art and manners together in a book put out by How Great Thou Art. In this book Miss Annie teaches us lessons on how to be polite. This week Miss Annie challenged us to make it a point to smile more often and she talked about manners when spending the night at someones house. That was timely since Caleb and Simeon are spending the night with their grandparents. We also enjoy eating popcorn and drinking tea, apple cider, hot chocolate or some other treat while Mommy reads from a classic book. We are reading The Jungle Book right now. We have not liked that book as much as some others we have read, but we should finish this coming week and are looking forward to starting The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.
As you can see it has been a busy week-- maybe that's why I am tired. We hope you have had a good week and we look forward to sharing more of our homeschooling days in the future.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Veterans Day

It has been a busy couple of weeks so I have not posted in a while. The highlights are that we spent 5 days at a family farm just for a change of scenery. We enjoyed that. We did our school work there though too just like at home with the exception of our timeline which we will catch up later. We got so caught up in what we were doing that I did not take pictures. The boys did some fun things such as baking cookies with Mommy, Caleb wrote his first letter to a pen pal, playing extra learning games with Daddy, gleaning corn from a harvested field as we talked about the story of Ruth, we explored nature, saw a dead groundhog, Pop-pop even got in on the action and I believe they saw deer with him. We worked on -igh sounds like I, the-ing sound, and then three sounds for -y and Caleb did well on his Math test. We will be putting Math on hold for a week so we can do some studies on Thanksgiving. Caleb also wanted to read a book that I thought was over his level. It was, but he rose to the task and was rewarded with ice cream for his amazing feat. Simeon worked on the letters M and L as well as the numbers 2 and 3. We did our Muffin Tin Mondays and our Sketch Tuesdays, but did not do lapbooks as we were too busy with our nature exploration and then this past week preparing for Veterans Day. We ended this week by celebrating Veterans Day at a ceremony on the public square here in our town. Our community flies a flag for veterans from our community who have died. Every single flag represents one veteran and I think the total I heard this year was 460 flags. Tomorrow we will go help fold the flags. We will change gears a little for the next couple of weeks. We will continue with Simeon's letter and number of the week. Caleb will continue to do reading, phonics, and penmanship. Then we will use the rest of the time for both boys to do a unit study on Thanksgiving. After that a week off as we celebrate the week of Thanksgiving.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Fun week of new activities

Lots of pictures this time. We started having different themes for each day of the week. Monday's are Muffin Tin Monday. We will eat lunch out of a muffin tin and the lunch will follow a theme. This week the theme was the letter S since that is Simeon's letter of the week. Caleb and Simeon really enjoyed Muffin Tin Monday so we will continue. If you would like to learn more about Muffin Tin Mondays then check out Muffin Tin Mom. Tuesdays are Sketch Tuesday. We go to the sight of Harmony Art Mom and she offers a weekly theme. The theme this week was stew. So they could draw anything in stew, related to stew, or stew itself. Caleb decided to draw deer stew and Simeon decided to draw lava stew. Wednesdays we have AWANA in the evening so we have AWANA Wednesday. Thursday is Lapbook Thursday. We make lapbooks that are either work we have done this week or a review of something we have done a couple of weeks ago. We did a lapbook of the letter S and added the number one since those are the themes Simeon worked on this week. So this is a culmination of work we did while learning about the letter S. Caleb did a review of his first chapter in his science text-- Exploring Creation with Zoology 1: Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day. Then Friday is Adventure Friday. We will do a lot of outdoor things when possible. Sometimes we will do science experiments, other times try new recipes, other times field trips, you never know what we might come up with for Adventure Friday. This particular Friday we did a science experiment where we made foam out of vinegar, baking soda, dish soap, and food coloring.
Outside of our new themed activities we learned about the letter S, the number 1, learned that a, e, i, o, and u can all have the short u sound as well as sometimes wor is really pronounced wir, then we worked through word problems in Math, in science we talked about the life cycle of various insects. We talked about what etiquette is, as well as why it is important, and learned how to begin counting in Spanish. It has been a full week and we learned a lot.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Field Trip to Ballard Nature Center

What a week this has been for us. Caleb started math fact drill. Then he worked on the -er, -ur, and -aw sound in reading. Then Simeon started learning the letter S-- the sound it makes, how to write it, and to identify words that start with the S sound. We will pull it all together with a lapbook next week. Then we will work on one letter per week. We did a craft project making napkin rings and we started reading The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling this week. Our school week ended with a trip to Ballard Nature Center where Patty never fails to present an interesting, educational, hands on experience for the children. She talked about pond ecology and showed the children tadpoles, baby blue gill and possibly bass, a crawdad, and a spider. I learned that a baby fish is called a fry. Then there was another presentation about nocturnal animals complete with a game where the children identified various nocturnal animals with flashlights. Then we went for a nature walk. Patty talked with us about how various seeds are dispersed, caught grasshoppers, saw animal tracks, turtles, squirrel nests, frogs, and so much I could not even list it all. Caleb found a crawdad on our walk. Then we saw a snapping turtle in the middle of the trail on our walk back to the center. It was a terrific, fun learning time for all.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Nature Study

At our house we take nature study as adventure seeking. We have been known to do things like spend a day down at the river bottom just observing, going out to nature trails hiking, collecting bugs in our backyard... We have seen tadpoles at various stages, minnows, as well as deer tracks, raccoon tracks, various bugs, frogs, different stages of decay... We have learned things like how rocks errode, the difference between a toad and a tree frog, something that hedge apples are good for (keeping pesky bugs away in case you didn't know). We have also identified the different parts of insects, learned what makes moss form on some parts of a river, what a current is, and more things than I can ever list. One thing we planned to do and will still do if we get another nice day is to dig our an old half rotten log to observe what happens inside of it. We have been known to have bugs living in jars and net cages on our kitchen table. After the bugs die we have saved them in plastic bags and hung them on the wall in our school room. They have been taken out a couple of times to look at them with magnifying glasses to identify things about them that we have been reading about in our science text. This has been a lot of fun for my boys. Right now we have a hedge apple rotting in a bowl on the kitchen table so that we can observe the process. So I know many who have posted these nice neet and well decorated school rooms. I am going to post a few pictures from our school room-- only they won't be like these nice rooms they will be of some of the dead bugs hanging in our school room.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Dick and Jane books, Addition, Seven Days of Creation, and Painting pumpkins

This week in school Caleb told me that he wanted to start reading his Dic and Jane books. I knew there were a couple of words that were a bit longer than he was used to and I was not sure that he was ready, but decided to go ahead and try it. He did great!!!! It seemed that this was the right amount of challenge for him. He has now been reading and reading. He is trying to read everything too. He picks out words from signs as we are driving down the road, from the mail, newspapers, from the internet... Then also this week in our Saxon Math addition using the actual "+" and "=" signs were introduced. Caleb is making math problems out of every day life now. Yesterday for example he asked me how many cookies there would be if he had 5, Simeon had 5, Daddy had 5 and I had 5. When I talked him through this math he came up with the correct answer of 20. It has been a lot of fun to watch him get excited about what he is learning.

We also painted pumpkins one day for art. The boys really enjoyed this. I am including some pictures of this. The other big event is that Simeon had completed the Seven Days of Creation. I will show some pictures of this as well.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

So far this year

Since we are well into our school year before starting this blog, I thought I would share some pictures of our year so far.


Welcome to our homeschool blog. We wanted to share with family and friends some of the things we are learning and doing during our homeschooling days. We have named our school Vanderhoof School of Excellence because we strive to do all things excellently for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
When my husband and I were researching different styles and methods of homeschooling there were three that we were drawn to. The Charlotte Mason style, Unit Studies, and Classical Education. We really appreciated the gentleness of the Charlotte Mason style. Also, both of our children are creative and our family is one that enjoys outdoor things. Unit studies appealed to us because we could take the things our sons are interested in and use it to build the curricula around. It seemed that this would develop curiosity, a love of learning, and leave room for creativity. The Classical Method appealed to us because of the discipline and learning solid principles to use for thinking. We want to raise children who are not told what to think, but learn how to think for themselves.
As my husband and I talked about the method or style we would use, we could not let go of any of these three. That was a struggle for us until we discovered My Father's World curricula. It is a combination of Charlotte Mason, Unit Study, and Classical Education. We are also using Apologia Science and Saxon Math.
After talking it over with my husband and children we decided to use our real names instead of nick names. Basically Vic and I decided to let our sons decide and they decided they did not want to have nicknames.
Meet our family. Vic is the hard working dad and principal. He has a lawn care and floor care business and works various jobs when needed to pay the bills of the family. He can often be seen telling stories, reviewing lessons from the day, practicing drill with our oldest son, and whatever else he needs to help make things work around here. Caleb is our oldest son. He is 7 years old and is now learning to read. Caleb is curious, determined, creative, and energetic. When he has free time he can often be found making radio shows on his cassette recorder, making up stories, drawing, and building with Legos. Simeon is a vibrant four year old. He enjoys puzzles, drawing, playing with sticker books, and snuggling while listening to stories. Then there is Charity also known as Mom or homeschool teacher. After eight and a half years as a mental health/ substance abuse therapist she was burnt out so came home to be with her children. She is still adjusting and learning how to juggle the responsibilities of a household, homeschooling, and being a supportive wife to her husband.
We look forward to sharing the adventure of homeschooling with you. I hope you will enjoy our pictures, challenges, good days, bad days, and all that falls in the middle.