Monday, September 8, 2008

Getting back in the groove

The homeschooling groove, that is. We are mostly unschoolers, and I have been comfortable with that for the past few years. But as the kids are getting older (8 and 4 1/2 now), I am feeling the need for more structure (though not too much, I am not a fan of schedules or following anyone else's time tables). So this year is going to be a transition for us, moving from our more unschoolerish ways of the past, to having a little more structure, a little more planning, and, dare I say it, maybe even a little teensy bit of schedule?

For those of you who don't know, in addition to Holden's Landing, I also write the Earth*School curricula. So even though we don't follow a schedule, Earth*School basically is the way we just *are*. we looked at some units today to decide what we wanted to work on this month, and we have settled on An Alphabet of Storybooks, Unbe"leaf"able Leaves, Fall in the Forest and Happy Harvest. We will, of course, pull out Halloween is Here once October starts! Halloween is my all time favorite holiday!

So today was a "ease into things" sort of day. After our usual Monday morning cleaning frenzy, we pulled out the Fall Box. Since, pre-kids, I was a kindergarten teacher who spent a couple thousand dollars every year on her classroom supplies (with a $100/year budget), I have amassed quite the collection of children's books, games, puzzles, etc. I have them all sorted into themed boxes (those huge rubbermaid totes), stored in my parents' basement. It is like Christmas whenever we pull a new one out - new books, games, decorations, puzzles, cassettes, videos, magazines, etc. We spent about 45 minutes looking through the box today, sorting everything out and putting it away in the drawer under Holden's nature table. That drawer tells the story of what we will be doing this month -- apples, pumpkins, scarecrows, leaves, acorns, squirrels, nocturnal animals.

Kenna read us a book (Clifford: Picking Apples and Pumpkins), and I read one of our all time favorites, Shel Silverstein's "The Giving Tree". We moved onto Kathi Appelt's "Bats around the Clock", which I had hoped would spur some time telling discussion after we finished, as Kenna is very interested in telling time, but not *quite* able to tell time other than on the hour and half hour, but the kids had other plans. instead, we had to go on you tube and look up videos of the different dances the bats were doing in the book. We watched some jitterbug competitions, swing dancing, fast swing dancing (amazing! I wish I had that stamina!) and watched Chubby Checker and Elvis do the twist.

We then turned on Pinocchio, our homeschool freebie of the day. The kids colored some pictures of Pinocchio while listening, but gave this particular version of the story a definitive thumbs down. I couldn't help picturing Bugs Bunny talking to Gipetto and the Blue Fairy (Mel Blanc was Pinoccio). We left Pinocchio to check out our daily chart (which I made all new wording for while they listened to Pinocchio), and put up the date, weather and activities we had for today (stay home day). We also put a new word wall on the wall behind the dining room table, and put up two word cards for this month - garden and beach. Kenna spent sometime quizzing Holden on what the words said; he told her "plants" and "sun" :)

Off to the Post Office to mail a slew of packages. Then once back home, Holden and I started some homemade rolls (Monday is bread making day in the Vontz house, and Holden loves to help me cook) that we will have partly as breakfast tomorrow (rolls under the broiler with butter - yum!!), then the kids sat down with their workbooks and did their pages while I made dinner. Kenna had been working on a second grade book last year that she hated, so near the end of the year, we found a new one that she liked a lot better, and picked that up, so she is still working through that (about 1/4 through it now, should be done in January), and then we will start the third grade book after that. Holden is working in a bunch of preschool books - prewriting, premath, mazes and things like that. After dinner (and homemade cookies for dessert!) Holden is playing on the computer and Kenna is waiting for me to finish this message so she can start her Time 4 Learning on my computer ;) She is working on 3rd grade history, math and science, and 2nd grade spelling/language on there.

All in all - a pretty good first day getting back into the swing of things!

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