Friday, August 22, 2014

This Week in Homeschool

I would love to say with great conviction that a weekly round-up of our homeschool week is going to be a regular feature here, but all I can say with any real firmness is "I'll try".

I am very pleased that the start of this school year has been anticipated with much more energy and joy on my part than last year. While we are still juggling a great many demands on our time, and especially, our energy, we have a much firmer grip on what we are doing. This is especially so in regard to Kit.

Last August, I was a complete mess. I was operating on basically no sleep. I had so much stress and anxiety over Kit. I was deep in the void of depression. We had just, yet what felt like, finally, recieved Kit's official Autism diagnosis. And I was completely burnt out. 

But stopping wasn't possible because no matter how exhausted I might have been, and no matter how supportive and helpful Victor was (which he was, enormously, and still is), the demands are still there. Everyone still needs food, clean clothes, baths, hugs, boo boos kissed, theoretical questions about time and space debated, and shoes found. So we muddled through, some days doing purely the bare minimums. 

And for a couple of months school was pretty bare bones as well. I let the kids indulge in  science experiments as long as they cleaned up after themselves, which they usually still couldn't do completely, so they didn't get to do as many as they asked for. So school last fall was mostly book work of math, science, and a couple of writing projects each week.

This August, I'm still a mess. But a much happier, much more organized, better rested, and fairly mentally stable mess. :)

And school this fall is back to more the way we like it. Busy, hands-on, and often, messy.

We are still in the midst of a reorganization of the house. Many changes to furniture, and storage happening around here. It has Zak somewhat irritated, Grace in tears with every adjustment, and Kit just loves the extra space to spin and run! Hopefully, when we are done, everyone will appreciate the newly organized spaces and better access to all our stuff! 

In the meantime, we have also been busy with the change of grades, and had a great first week!

In math we haven't had any major changes. Zak is not quite finished with his book from last year, so he is still plugging away with that. I had intended for Grace to continue in her book from last year as well, but she begged to start 3rd grade with her 3rd grade math book, so I told her we would try it out. She's three lessons in and just needs help with a few things here and there, same as with last year's, so, hooray!

Both are still working through their science books, which we tend to migrate through slowly because we do so much hands on science. The books we use are designed for a span of ages rather than just a specific age or grade so our science work flows from year to year and wherever our ideas and interests take us. 

The kids had some friends over yesterday and they joined us in school work. This was what they did for science.



I divided them into teams and challenged them to build a free standing bridge, platform, or table, at least three inches tall, out of paper and tape, that could support the weight of a thick textbook. The boys hurriedly attempted several designs trying to race to finish first, where the girls brainstormed, discussed and examined the elements of the paper before implementing their plan. Both teams were successful! And they had fun while they did it! 

While they were doing that, Kit and I were able to do some counting work out of her math book, which she loves. She loves holding her pencil, even though the book doesn't even require pencil work. That doesn't stop her from circling, underlining, and coloring in the pictures!

The last couple of weeks Kit has really been into Play-Doh! So much so that we ran out about a week ago because of being left out and drying out. I finally bought some more this week, much to Kit's and Grace's delight. But during my brief visit to the bathroom Wednesday, Kit decided this was the way she wanted to display the hot pink Play-Doh:

Yup. That's my hairbrush. Thankfully, the dough came out relatively easy with the help of a comb to work it up through the bristles, and the brush came out of the ordeal unscathed and still usable. Unfortunately, the dough came out looking like a comet dragging a tail of wispy blond and chocolate brown hair. Bye bye brand new hot pink Play-Doh.

The majority of Kit's activities during the week were not quite as dramatic.

She enjoyed blowing bubbles as Ivan batted at them with his paws (for a blind cat, he is astonishingly accurate with his aim!).

She loves building towers with her Wedgits.

And swinging on the rope outside is a huge favorite right now.

And Mama is very grateful for the days that she actually naps! They are getting to be few and far between even though we both still need her to!

This little guy came with Kit's school stuff and he has been quite popular with both Kit and Grace. The cards show an arrangement, and the point is to arrange the blocks and bunny to look like the picture. It helps develop spacial thinking, processing, pattern recognition, and many other thinking skills. Not to mention it's fun and adorable!

Another very popular, and new addition to our school stuff is the Laser Maze. The object is to reflect and bend the laser beam to hit the target. I haven't sat down and tried it myself, but I think the cards tell you where to place the beam and the target, and which pieces are needed to make it work, but the puzzle is finding how to place them in order to hit the target. I'll have to actually play it though to get more specifics. The kids really love it, though even the beginning levels are very challenging for Grace. Kit loves to snatch the laser and shine the little red dot all around the kitchen!

And lastly, in history this week, we read about the rise of the Medes and Persians, and about Cyrus. We discussed in detail the Bible's account of the fall of Babylon, and the events of that much prophesied about night. It's an account that always thrills and amazes me, and I was amazed that when we talked about the handwriting on the wall, Zak remembered the words almost perfectly! That is just from his own reading about it over the years, because we haven't talked about it in quite a while!

It was definitely a fun and busy first week! And only a four day one at that. The kids are off to Auntie and Nana's for the day, and night for a couple of them. And Victor took his dad to work with him since I have Kit's IEP meeting this afternoon with the Special Education team. I'm ignoring my nerves and distracting myself.  I'm supposed to be cleaning and organizing, but I'm drinking coffee and blogging in my quiet and empty house. But time flies when you're having fun and I need to shower so as not to show up with leftover Play-Doh in my hair. ;)

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

First Day of Homeschool Party

Monday was our first day of school!

Even though we do school all year, I like to make the start of a new school year "official". The last couple years did not lend themselves to anything big, but this year things have been much smoother all around, and I am really excited about how many of our friends have started homeschooling either last year or this year! So I wanted to do something a little more special this year.

Monday afternoon we had a First Day of Homeschool Science Party!

Not all of our homeschooling buddies could make it, but we ended up with 10 "students" ranging in age from 2-15.

The science nerd in me was completely geeked out! And I loved it!

I set up science stations around the house for the kids to check out, build, play with, and eat! I made fact sheets about each one and supplies for them to play with. There were six stations: 
  • what makes popcorn pop 
  • mad science fizzy drinks (pop rocks in Hawaiian Punch and Sprite)
  • a build-your- own- race-car station with celery and carrot rounds
  • a cup full of a larger version of the absorbent beads in a diaper
  • a basket full of party poppers and how they work
  • a station with a bunch of Zak and Grace's crystals, both raw and polished, that they have collected over the years and a brochure I made about how they grow.

The kids meandered from station to station, trying out different things. The Fizzy drinks were a big hit, as were the party poppers, obviously. And I was impressed by how creative the kids were with their cars, adding steering wheels and tail fins. And one did't make a car at all, she chose to travel by llama!

They made fruit kabobs to snack on, and played outside while they munched on pizza rolls and pigs in a blanket. 

Meanwhile, I boiled the water and dissolved sugar to make the syrup for our candy crystal experiment. After each kid chose his or her own color, we hung the sugar coated sticks in each jar with high hopes that they would grow into rock candy over the next week or so.

But I think I might have missed something, or maybe still didn't have enough sugar, because the ones on our window sill are still not growing any crystals after two days. So I think we might have to boil the mix again and add more sugar and see if that gets them growing. It was the first time trying it, so who knows? It was a fun learning experience either way.

So that was our first day! And it sure was a fun one. 

I was thinking that we will have another one soon. Such a great way for the kids to learn through play, and for us Mama's to get to visit a bit too! Plus, I thought of way more ideas than I had time or room to set up. So we will definitely try to do it again soon!

Linked up with:
Hip Homeschool Moms     Thoughtful Spot Weekly Blog Hop

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Chicken Coop

Yay! We finally finished the chicken coop!

We built the framework, and the hen house over a month ago. But due to schedules and weather, hadn't finished fencing in the run.

But we finally were able to get a load of sand, much of which went down on the floor of the run. Then put up the hardware cloth around the walls and installed the door to the run.

Now our chickies can freely go between their house and the run. They can exercise and visit and claw without worry of one slipping out of the yard.

We still let them out in the yard, nearly every day. But this way they have much more room for the days and times when they need to be more confined.

It came out so nice!

Can't wait till they start laying! Looking forward to going to visit my girlies and collecting our daily eggs!

The Chicken Chick