Sunday, November 29, 2009

...and all of your children shall be taught...

"...and all of your children shall be taught of the Lord and
great shall be the peace of your children." Hab 2:2

I know that I am the one who is doing the homeschooling and my kids are the ones who are learning, but I have to tell ya...I am learning so much too!! David is taking an awesome class right now about counseling for children and it is filled to overflowing with such wonderful information that we have been able to use with our two little muffins...especially about learning styles!! He was watching a DVD the other night and I was on the computer...before long I was sitting in the Living room with him watching the DVD too!! It was by a lady named Cynthia Tobias. The topic was "Learning Styles and Learning Disabilities" and it was absolutely fabulous!! I learned so much about the girls that explained SO MUCH about the girls!!!!

Aly is a Global learner and Lili is an Analytical learner and just knowing those two facts and understanding what they really mean, will make my life so much easier!! And I will be able to help make the girls life so much more productive in the long run!!! I have had some idea of these things since day one of school, but I didn't understand the impact and certainly didn't know what to call it.

Aly is my "broad spectrum, big concept, don't confuse me with the details...I'll figure them out later on my own, just give me lots of rabbits and wide open space to chase 'em. " kind of gal. I have always known that about her...from the time she was barely over a year old. My friend Babs and I used to regularly look at each other with crazy looks while we watched Aly tackle the world from crazy angles that just defied all we knew. We would watch her do and say things way beyond her years...knowing that she didn't understand totally what she was doing, but that she was definately seeing the big pictures all around her. It was as though the sky in her world was just a totally different color than what the rest of us saw!

Then there is my Tiger Lili who is very analytical and detail oriented. She says things that will blow you out of the water, but then get so bogged down in the details that you think she is just going to implode. One prime example came earlier today. She asked if she could have some string cheese. I said yes and asked her to get some for Aly and also for me. So she came back with three and then her brain went into overdrive deciding which one was hers. At that point it took several minutes more for her to decide which end to open the thing from. After studying the cheese for a few minutes and the new wrapper which she had not seen before, she said (on the verge of a meltdown), "Mamma...which end should I open it from?" I said, " doesn't matter baby...just open it!!" I mean, after all...Aly had just ripped into hers without a million questions. Lili started to whine and get very upset and said, "BUT I DON'T KNOW WHICH WAY TO DO IT!!!"
As if Cynthia Tobias herself hit me over the head to get my attention it dawned on me that it was just too much for her. So I took the cheese and then said, "This is the end Lili. Open it here" Amazingly she immediately stopped the meltdown and said, "OH...okay" All was again right with the world. She couldn't "wing it"...she couldn't "go with the flow"...she needed concrete little Analytical Tiger Lili.
Now I know!! Thank you God!!
I have to share another Lili story. On School mornings, just after breakfast, we are currently reading "Hinds Feet On High Places" by Hannah Hurnard. Aly is all about all that fits right into her personality. Lili, on the other hand, is just kind of there listening. I mean she is only 3, so I am not expecting her to understand it...but I also know that God can and
will still speak truth to her through this book.
The first few chapters there were a lot of questions as Aly tried to put it all into its place ( who everyone was supposed to represent, etc.) while Lili just kind of looked on and finished eating her breakfast. But, about 5 or so chapters into it, she stopped me cold in mid sentence saying, "Whoa whoa whoa whoa...okay now...who is the Great Shepherd supposed to be again??" Aly and I about died laughing!!! Lili's use of language is so amazing. David swears that she must get up during the night and get online and take some English language
classes online or something. :-)

As I continue to refine our school and seek to make it what God would want it to be for this family, I am continually reminded by HIM that my main focus should always be HIM. I mean, there is nothing..I mean absolutely NOTHING that I can teach them that is even remotely as important as teaching them about their heavenly Father. Teaching them to walk in his ways, to love his ways, to seek after him in all they do. To desire to please him in all always seek God's favor over Man's success.

So, as I look through curriculum and websites and books and plans that I have made I am finding myself constantly trying to figure out how to bring it all back around to him.

"I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you,
who directs you in the way you should go. " Isaiah 48:17

Oh how I pray for wisdom and direction and guidance...I'm talking handwriting on the wall people!!! I can mess up around the house...the laundry, the meals, whatever else...but not these children!!!

Well, I have posted some pictures from the last few weeks. We took this past week off to prepare for Thanksgiving. It was a good time together for the three of us as we tackled several projects. Amazingly we still managed to sneak some school work into our work work and it was time well spent!! I hope you enjoy the pictures~

Aly had a fun science experience that we worked on...we gathered our materials.

The experience was about "germination" You should have seen me scouring around for bean seeds in November!!! LOL

Aly had fun setting up each of the jars.

Jars 1,3 & 4 had to be in a warm sunny laundry room window was perfect! The others were in the fridge!

A very interesting fact that we picked up along the way. Can you imagine???
Lili was so funny...she had to connect the dots by number, but then she thought she was supposed to connect the pictures as well!!! See the black line going from one pic to the other? We all got a good laugh at that one...even her!

We are so enjoying the "Which Way USA" puzzle books and maps for each of the States. So far we have done Florida, Texas, New York, and California. Next week we start on Oklahoma. Aly is getting a good overview of each state and learning a lot of fun facts as well. We also are spending a good bit of time doing map work with each state. It is her favorite thing we do, so it always gets saved for the last subject of the day so as to provide good motivation to get everything else done!!! I'm a smart Mommy like that!! :-)

Okay...this was hilarious. Lili wandered into the dining I mean our homeschooling room. (Okay, David would like it to be our dining room...meaning that we occasionally dined there, but alas...we only school in there. Except for Thanksgiving and Christmas....sorry Babe!!)
Back to the story~
Lili wandered in there on this morning and asked, "Mamma, what am I going to be doing today in school?" I said, "You, my little muffin, are going to be working
on the letter C" She said, "But, Maaaaahhhhhhhmmmmmmaaaaaaa, I can't make the letter C like it is supposed to be made." I said, "Well my dear, that is why you are going to work on them today" All was quiet for a few minutes and then I heard her in the dining room with her doodle pad...then she said, "But if I can't MAKE them right then how am I supposed to WORK on them?" (Ah yes...she really is my little Analytical baby!) "I mean LOOK Mom...Really...does this look anything like a C to YOU?????" You just HAVE to love that kid...I mean, come on... seriously!

This is what Lili wrote on her Doodle pad in the car the other day. I was pretty impressed.

Aly has been working on this poem in English. She just loves it. She decided to spice things up a bit and add in the body movements so that "People will really enjoy it!" I'm off to clean up the kitchen now. Have a wondeful week!!
In HIS Mighty Grip

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Old Schoolhouse...

Hello friends...well, we are officially on Fall Break this week so I thought I would post some pictures from over the last couple of weeks. We have been busy learning, reading, tweaking, understanding and learning to follow our rhythms as a homeschooling family. It is amazing to become a student of your children. Every day something implies a new responsibility on my part and it blows me away that God would allow me this honor!!

I have seen Aly on the verge of a crazy fixation with I*MUST*DO*IT*ALL*NOW and I watched my Lili on the brink of a nervous breakdown because her "A" didn't have the perfect point at the top...never mind that she had never written and "A" before and she is only 3!!! Nothing would convince her that it didn'g have to be perfect the first time and nothing would stop her from staying the course until it WAS perfect!!!

I learned very very quickly that if this continued, we would ALL IMPLODE in a matter of weeks!! So...I started backing off of everything and taking it MUCH slower. I know that it is MY responsibility to see that she doesn't burn out and learns to pace herself. I also need Lili to see that model as she is doing her preschool work and getting ready to follow in Aly's footsteps! will all be in the nut house if Lili doesn't get a grip before 1st about high strung!!!! I also have found that Aly loves to teach Lili what we have been learning...which helps her to see the other side of the situation. She is really good at helping to calm Lili down when her head starts to spin around...which in turn, helps Aly. Does that make any sense??? It is also hilarious when Lili corrects Aly on something we are doing!!! "No Aly...bicycle has three syllables not two!"

I scrapped all the Language, math and science plans...and found some curriculum that was MUCH lighter. I bought "First Language Lessons for the Well Trained Mind" she loves loves loves it (so do I...I highly recommend it!!) The lessons are very short, very to the point and very well done! They build on each other and the book covers 1st and 2nd grade as thoroughly as anything else I have seen! It was written by Jessie Wise who is the mother of Susan Wise Bauer ("The Story of the World" series)

Then I scrapped the plans for Math. Aly is blessed with a brain that is able to grasp concepts far beyond her is really insane. She has been doing a lot of math for several years now so it was hard to know where to jump in with her and not burn her out. So, now we are keeping a Math Journal and she does a series of word problems each day where she has to work the problem by drawing her answer and showing her work. The questions cover a multitude of concepts and keeps her in the "mindset" of math. It also is helping her to "see" math all around her and not just working a long list of problems on a page. I was amazed with all the books available about Math. I don't mean textbooks or curriculum, but just fun books that teach so much!!! One of her favorites is "Math Curse" by Jon Scieszka. I read it over and over and over!! Another one she loves is "The Librarian Who Measured the Earth" by Kathryn Lasky. Each week at the library I bring home tons of "Math books" and she is totally enthralled with them. Currently she has figured out how to do Multiplication so she is very excited. I'm not even going there yet, but she understands the concept so when we get to that...she should do very well. One of her favorite Math problems is to figure out all the ways she can get to a certain number...through addition, subtraction, or multiplication (10 = 5+5, 6+4,
11-1, 12-2, 2x5, etc...) In January we are planning to start "Math on the Level" (also here ) and I think it is going to be a great fit!!! I can also start Lili on it as well.

Now Science was a mess!!! I had decided to not use a formal curriculum yet as she is only 5 and so I planned to just begin to teach her the basics to get her ready to start a good science curriculum next year. Well...I found myself having to comment and filter everything through our Christian beliefs when I presented it to her. I knew that something had to give when she started filtering it before I could even say anything. "I know Mom...the earth isn't REALLY billions of years old!!!" "I know Mom...people aren't animals" etc...
Come on...there has to be a better way to teach my 5 year old science through the eyes of our Creator and not through some humanistic colored glasses!!! So I went to Answers in Genesis and found the answer to my problem ..."God's Design for Science" There are 4 modules that span from 1st - 8th grade. We are starting with "God's Design for Life" It has the Biblical Worldview that we want and it is exciting for Aly. and I love that I can show her the miracles of God's workmanship while teaching her science!!

The most important change we made was the time spent outdoors! David takes them outside, to the park, around the neighborhood, where ever!! At least three days a week. We do not live in an area that allows the girls to go outside and play in the yard. We don't have a fenced in area and there is a good bit of traffic and it just isn't conducive to letting them out to play. But, they are loving the time with David, I get a much needed break, and they are sleeping much better at night!!!

I think I told you before that we go to the library every Friday and usually bring home no less that 50 books. I have a rolling cart that we fill to the brim with books that they pick out and books that I order online through our inter-library loan system. (I love that I can sit on my computer at midnight and pour through lists of books that I want to read to the girls and with the click of a mouse I request them and a few days later I get an email telling me that my book requests are waiting on me to pick them up!!) We love love love reading time and I love that Aly also loves to read to her sister...which is great when I need to fold a load of laundry!!


...and more books!

Oh...I forgot the books!!! "Girls? Are you ready to read before lunch ?" Aly appears with a tall glass of water for me and Lili runs around the house tracking down my reading glasses...I guess that means "YES!!"

Lili working on her Pre-Math skills
Notice that she is she is using her Left hand.
she is concentrating SO hard!!
This requires TWO crayons, but I am ready!!!

Aly working on measuring with a ruler.
How many inches is that line?
I did it!!! This was fun!!! What else can I measure?
Spelling test in a few minutes...I know I can do it!!!!

I just love this video of Lili!!! It is kind of long, but worth it!!!

Blessings to you~
In HIS Mighty Grip

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Our first field trip!!

David and I decided that it was time for a field trip, so we planned a day of it. Dad took us out to lunch first at our favorite sandwich shop...The Cheese Wheel! Then we headed off to the Fire Department here in St. Augustine. I had called ahead and we scheduled our visit for Friday at 1:30. So we got the grand tour!! The girls had a blast! I laughed at Aly because she had so many questions. They really enjoyed their visit with all the firemen and we offer up a sincere THANK YOU to all the firemen for treating us so well and for all they sacrifice to help keep us safe!! Here Mr Fireman shows the girls all the "gear" and explains it to them. I was so pleased that they were so interested in it all. They really paid attention and asked some good questions!
Here is little Tiger Lili. She was so excited that she only had one question..."Where is the firedog!!!" Our new friend Brandon sadly told us that they didn't have one!! Lili was very sad, but quickly recovered when I pulled the camera back out!!

"What is that mask thingy you are putting on your face??"

Here is Aly with her list of questions for him.

Pictures with their new buddies!

These gentlemen were all around the back of the truck until I said that there were two beautiful young ladies that wanted to have their picture taken with them....they quickly
headed to the front!!
Gotta love a photo op with pretty girls!!!

The girls even got firehats out of it.
We rounded out the day with a banner trip to the library. I have a folding crate on wheels that goes to the library with us and this day was no exception. We came home with 54 books!!! Whew...we did a lot of reading this past week!!
Just got some new Science curriculum...I'll update more later...time to start dinner!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Our little schoolhouse update...

Well, we are about 2 1/2 weeks into our homeschooling adventure and I thought I would post some pictures so you can see that we really are doing it and we really are surviving!!! I am feeling a bit more comfortable and falling into habits, Aly is a good bit less high-strung and starting to really get into the swing of things and Lili is having a blast learning to write her letters and she is starting to understand that she doesn't get to get up and walk away from the table telling me, "No Mamma, I don't want to do that!" with Lili...never a dull moment!!! :-) are the pics ...enjoy...

Lili and her new favorite book. I highly recommend it!! I am amazed at what comes out of that little brain...she really has some amazing thoughts!!!

Such beautiful illustrations and such thought provoking questions!!

She was so proud of her Lion!!

Day one of our Science "experience" (she doesn't call them experiments, but instead prefers to call them experiences!!!) about water evaporation.

Yes, we did indeed lose water due to evaporation and there are indeed air molecules in there! Thanks Magic Schoolbus!!

Copywork time. Must improve that handwriting and get that address memorized!!

Aly was learning about syllables and decided to teach Lili. I about fell out of my chair when Lili corrected her on one was hilarious!!!
The girls are memorizing the books of the Bible. I printed them out on index cards for them and they were putting them in order.

Some goodies from our nature walk. We couldn't stay out too long as the bugs were vicious!!!!

We have been studying about Florida and during a break Lili came out in this getup. We laughed at the hat. It had gotten smashed in the dress-up chest and amazingly it looked somewhat like a Spanish Conquistador helmet!!! Rather approriate for the study and the town where we live! Even the horse got in on the act.

Aly LOVES doing Sudoku puzzles. Sometimes she helps me with the one in the paper, but I started printing them out for her to do during math time and she has a ball with them.

Here is the completed Lion from the video above. She was so proud of herself!!
I continue to remind myself daily of the awesome privilege and opportunity I have been given , along with David, to raise up these children in the "nurture and admonition of the Lord."
(Eph 6:4)
Aly prayed the other morning before we started school. She thanked God that we lived in a country where we were allowed to homeschool. Then she asked God to "please keep it that way!"

"Teach them God's decrees and give them his instructions. Show them
how to conduct their lives." Ex 18:20

In HIS Mighty Grip~