Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Outdoor Education

We found something we love about learning at home. I think it makes everything else worth it.

Who knew we could cover so many standards in a garden?

Science Standard K-4: The student will demonstrate an understanding of seasonal weather changes. (Earth Science)
K-4.1:   Identify weather changes that occur from day to day.
K-4.2:   Compare the weather patterns that occur from season to season.
K-4.3:   Summarize ways that the seasons affect plants and animals. 
Science Standard K-2:   The student will demonstrate an understanding of the characteristics of organisms. (Life Science)
K-2.1:   Recognize what organisms need to stay alive (including air, water, food, and shelter).
K-2.2:  Identify examples of organisms and nonliving things.
K-2.5:  Recognize that all organisms go through stages of growth and change called life cycles. 
Language Arts Standard K-1: The student will read and comprehend a variety of literary texts in print and nonprint formats.
Indicator K-1.2:  Summarize the main idea and details from literary texts read aloud.
Language Arts Standard K-1 (Author's Craft): The student will begin to read and comprehend a variety of literary texts in print and nonprint formats.
Math Standard PreK-2:  The student will demonstrate through the mathematical processes a beginning sense of quantity and the connection of language to quantity.     
Math Standard K-2: The student will demonstrate through the mathematical processes an emerging sense of quantity and numeral relationships, sets, and place values.
Indicator K – 2.5: Recall numbers, counting forward through 99 and backward from 10. 
Social Studies Standard K-5: The student will demonstrate an understanding of his or her surroundings. 

Standards courtesy of The South Carolina Department of Education.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

1st Day of "School"

Yesterday was our fist day of homeschooling. I think it went pretty well. We started by referring to the schedule that we made last week so that Aiden would know what staying at home would be like. He named it "Our Day of Home".

Aiden, Evie, and I made drawings to remind us what each activity meant. 

After having breakfast and getting dressed, we lit our special circle time candle. This is Aiden's favorite part.

We had two copies of "The Tale of Peter Rabbit", our story for the week. Aiden asked if we could read them together, so we did a read-along. In the middle of the story, he exclaimed "You're teaching me how to read, Mommy!"

After circle time, we did our main lesson. To remember the letter "A", we drew the gate Peter Rabbit squeezed under in Mr. McGregor's garden. We used "gate" because of he long "A" sound. While we worked, Evie colored in her high chair and looked a a board book.

Here is my gate and Aiden's, he focused mostly on making his a "very purple gate". 

After the main lesson, the kids had had enough of me and wanted to play by themselves for a while.

After a while, Aiden wanted me to help him build a house.

Then it was snack time. Eating watermelon went along with our Science lesson for the week, which was observing all the sights, smells, and noises of summer. We talked about all the wonderful things about watermelon so that we could remember it in the winter.

After snack, Aiden washed all the dishes from our morning. Evie helped.

We played "Find Peter Rabbit".

Guess who found him!

After lunch, we rested then went to Aiden's school to bring cupcakes and say goodbye to his friends there. Fortunately, we will be having playdates with some of his favorite friends.

It was a pretty good day.

Friday, August 12, 2011

New Beginnings

We did it. We made a decision. Next week will be Aiden's last week of daycare. The following week, we will begin the Oak Meadow Kindergarten Curriculum. From there, we will be taking it one year at a time.

I'm excited. I went to school for this. I'm going to school for this. I've done this with preschoolers. I've done this with children with special needs. I've done this at church. Now, I get to do this with this guy.

And this girl.

It's going to be quite an adventure. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Evie's 1st Birthday

It's been way too long.

This summer has been full of celebrating bellies, the births of new babies, learning new things, and exploring the people and wonders of our little corner of the world.

Most importantly, though, we have rejoiced that our little Evie, who has given us so much happiness and worry, has made it through her first year.

We invited our friends and family to come and celebrate with us and contribute to a fund for Greenville Children's Hospital's Virtual Toy Drive. We wanted to raise money to purchase vein finders for other little babies like Evie who needed to have blood drawn. Our goal was to raise $100, we expected that we might raise $200, but we were very surprised and overwhelmed with the love and support our friends and family showed us when we raised $500. Praise the Lord!

Mimi made Evie's birthday cake. We used sunflowers because they sort of keep popping up along our life journey. As I waited and waited and waited for Evie to be born, the flowers around my yard kept blooming. At first I thought she'd be my little day lily, then my stargazer lily, but finally, when we arrived home from the hospital after her birth, my sunflowers were in bloom. Sunflowers have always been my favorite flower. So, of course, we had to use them. Because she's our flower.

This year has gone by so unbelievably fast. My little girl has grown so much. And so have we. She's learned to crawl and talk and play. We've learned to trust our God, put our hearts at peace, forgive. We all have so much more to discover. Life is fresh and just beginning for her, and for us too. 

She'll always be my baby.

Thanks Jenn Anderson for all the lovely pictures. You've helped us to remember this day in a very special way.

Monday, June 27, 2011

My Story

Recently, I read this post. It really hit me that this is it. This is our real life. And I'd like to take a couple of minutes to jot down my story just as it is today.

My story is staying up late drinking cheap wine and watching fireflies with my honey as we butcher all our favorite songs on our various stringed instruments.

My story is inviting everyone I know and love over to eat and play even though we're broke as joke with nothing to offer them. And there is plenty.

My story is blowing off everything and catching up with a friend over coffee, or sushi, or pasta, or pizza.

My story is holding a friend late at night and crying with her over what's not fair and wishing I could carry her sorrow for her... hoping that sharing in it will be enough.

My story is taking risks. Stretching my limits and coming up short most of the time. But, having friends that think I am totally awesome even in my failure.

My story is having enough love to go around, having a family to share my life with, and a crazy, unpredictable, unbelievable life it is.

What's your story?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Home Improvement Week 2: Challenging My Children

This week, I will focus on thoughtfully giving my children opportunities to expand and explore based on their individual interests, characteristics, and developmental stages.

I don't know if you've met Aiden, but it's clear that his Type A personality craves uniformity and predictability. He has an idea of how the world is supposed to work and when someone strays from his vision, meltdowns quite possibly may ensue. He also has a curious and adventurous side that combined with this stubborn, unbending view of how the world works (very firstborn), scares me a little and challenges me a lot.

Evie, though little, is exhibiting many of the same traits as her brother. She is determined and she is fearless. However, she is free of the constraints of space and time. She eats when she wants, wakes up to play when she wants, sleeps whenever she's tired, she leaps from the couch to the floor though she cannot yet walk, crawls behind herds of running, rolling big kids while other babies linger near their moms, and hangs her head from the edge of the bed, all with a certain cavalier dare-devilness. She also craves social interaction and is happiest, and least clingy, when in a group of other babies.

Evie is me... with wings...on fire. Aiden is Dave... with a mustache... and a megaphone. I'm in trouble... big time.

How can I give Evie the opportunities to safely grow and explore; socially, intellectually, and physically, while not limiting Aiden's sense of curiosity and adventure (putting him a situation that will get him into trouble) and providing the structure he craves?

This is where I come back to time and again in my inner homeschooling debate. This is where Aiden's morning preschool comes in. Do I feel that his school is providing the stimulation to fulfill Aiden's desire to expand? No. But, it does give me a chance to spend some time focusing on what Evie needs; playdates with other babies, plenty of time for us to read board books, sing, dance, and for her to crawl, creep, and push her own limits in an environment that is safe for her.

That way, when Aiden comes home from school, I feel completely at ease strapping her in the Ergo or putting her in her high chair with a snack or toys so Aiden and I can do a science experiment, garden, cook, hike, swim, go on a big kid playdate, or whatever else sparks his interest that day. All the while, Evie can watch, listen, talk, and participate when appropriate for her.

So, to put things simply, this week I will focus on providing Evie opportunities to explore and grow in the morning and Aiden in the afternoon.

How do you challenge your children? How do you balance meeting their individual needs and interests?