Monday, January 26, 2015

Some thoughts with My Father's World Kindergarten, where we're at, and where we're going from here

This part was written awhile ago:

We've been going slowly through some of the My Father's World Kindergarten units lately. The farm animals units were fun, and I was glad we could go to a dairy farm for a group field trip roughly when we were learning about cows. Did I mention we made our own butter? We put heavy cream in a jar and shook it. For like 20 minutes.

All 5 of us took turns shaking it, and it turned into butter. I added a little salt and we spread it on zucchini bread. Nomnomnom.

Anyway, today I started unit 15/26 which is on elephants. It's the first of four units discussing various wild animals.

I read all five of the Bible lessons today, as they were so brief and I had attentive kids. We read a few books from the library on elephants, and Johnny read one to me. He was like, "wow! Did you know...?" and sharing fun facts with us.

I found some video clips with elephants and shared them with the kids. I especially enjoy watching elephants swim. There's just a certain grace about it. Plus, they look like they're having fun.

We'd go to the zoo to see them, except it's sub-zero right now and. I. just. cannot.

So, MFWK as a whole:

We aren't doing the phonics, math, or handwriting. Also not doing the Cuisenaire Rods alphabet book or classical music activities (but I do like the CD and play it from time to time). I do the Bible lessons, do the book themes, activities that sound like fun. We do a field trip if we can work it in.

What we're actually doing with MFWK is fun, but it's brief. It seems like the activities and are getting fewer as we go.

Written on 1/26/15:

We're now on unit 19, Rock. Johnny was a bit over learning about animals. He is more into physical science. He is interested in weather, astronomy and I wasn't surprised when he took to our rock unit.

I think we'll keep on using the MFWK teacher's manual to help with library book selection, projects and activities, and I still do like the Bible discussion that we have with it. After all, we're almost to the end, and in that slightly OCD way of finishing a program I think we'll keep with it.

But oh man. It is a really stripped-down version from where we began with it.

In a way, I knew this would happen. I drafted a post two years ago about why My Father's World Kindergarten wouldn't be a good fit for us. I never published it. I'm reading through it now, and yup. I was right. All of the potential negatives I pin-pointed ended up being true for us.

Also, I think we would have used the program more as-written if I began him on it sooner.

Ultimately, MFWK was overall a good thing for me and my firstborn, because it was our first year of being more intentional with structured learning, and it helped me to see the possibilities. It held my hand in some ways, and it left it open-ended in other areas.

I'm not sure if I'll use it in any form with my 2nd or 3rd children. It might prove beneficial to pull out some of the worksheets for the girls. I know my 3rd child will have no memory of any of it, heh. Maybe my 2nd child will remember some of the units, but I don't think there would be harm in me starting over with her in say, the fall when she's 4.5. I may end up doing that.

I may also scrap it and keep the 3Rs separate, as that proved to be a BIG DEAL to me.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Some Christmas school

Seems like a lot of homeschoolers choose to take it easy between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Especially this year, I'm seeing the perks of taking a break and switching it up.

Are they still learning? Yes, ma'am!

Some things we've done so far:

  • Reading lots of Christmas books. I added a few more to our collection.
  • Making ornaments. Some are for us, others are for gifts. Some were from craft kits, and others were made with supplies we had. This is low-key but fun. Fine motor skills! 
  • Made gingerbread houses (a kit, thankyouverymuch)
  • Learning and singing Christmas songs
  • Making cards
  • Driving around and enjoying lights
  • Children's Museum Jolly Days
  • Baking
  • Watching Christmas movies
  • Doing our advent calendar
  • Preparing for our church Christmas program (I will have a shepherd and an angel and they will be singing! CAN'T WAIT SO CUTE)
  • Bought gifts for impoverished children overseas


Unfortunately, we have been sick on and off for awhile and so we haven't been able to do as many things as I'd like. We missed a field trip at Garfield Park that would have been fun. I'd like to go to Christmas at the Zoo, but we'll just have to see. Also would like to go to the Indiana State museum for their Christmas things and get a membership.

But overall? This is a fun time of year. Next week is birthday week. I will have a 4yo and a 6yo. My word. Time is speeding up.

J is reading well, and reads to himself daily. I read aloud daily. He is into making comic books lately, so there's lots of writing and drawing going on. Oh, and I grabbed some "model magic" and also some air-dry clay and they've been creating stuff.

I am glad we can be together and savor this time of year! 

Once January hits, I think we'll try to get back to the 3Rs more formally, especially math. kbye

First live theatre performance for the kids!

I would love to take my kids to as many fine arts performances as possible. I think it's valuable to expose them to plays, concerts, exhibitions, ballets, and such. It's educational, hopefully fun, and something we can do as a family. What's not to love?

So mid-November, J and V went to the Sleeping Beauty performance at Beef & Boards. I haven't been there since middle school. My mom and grandma went with us. Shane had to stay home with the baby because she was sick :(. I don't think she would have done so well with it anyway. It was an hour-long performance and she would have been to antsy, I think.

The kids were familiar with the story ahead of time (hi, Disney version coming out of the vault last month). I should have read the non-Disney story version but whoops, I didn't. Oh well.

They both enjoyed the production and would like to go again some time. Yay!

Beef & Boards puts on a few children's performances each year. These are cheaper than the regular dinner shows. In fact, they ask that children under 3 do not attend the regular shows (and I can see why).

The snack provided was a juice box and a rice krispie treat in a package.

The actors were good and seemed like they were having fun. I think they connected well with their audience.

We all had a nice time and I'm glad we are able to enjoy these types of things!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Learning Chess at 29, and 5. Who knew?

I never learned how to play chess. The rules seemed too complicated. What do you mean the knight moves like an L? And the bishop can shoot across the board in one move?! If my friends played, they didn't tell me about it. It just wasn't on my radar.

That changed last week.

I came across a blog post about using chess as part of your home school, and it was a little light bulb moment for me. Improved logic, you say? Better math and science understanding, you say? Ability to plan ahead, predict outcomes, practice good sportsmanship? Ok!

I think it's important for my own brain that I learn new things and challenge the remaining brain cells I have. I downloaded the free app, which has lessons, tactics training, game play vs. computer and vs. people, etc. (Parents, note that the app has a chat function) So far, I haven't won. I'm appreciating just how hard it is to win.

But that's not the point. I now understand the basic rules and movements, and it's on to learning more strategy with openings, middle moves and closing it down. It is so fun!

I grabbed some books at the library the other day and hopefully they can help.

Meanwhile, Johnny saw me playing a game and was curious. I handed him my phone and let him play the rest of the game vs. the computer. He wanted to learn more, so I found Kid Chess, which has some kid-level tutorials and a computer game called EZ Chess that will basically let the kid win. I don't plan to use that game too much, but I think it helps to cement how pieces can move. Plus, getting a checkmate is a confidence boost and perhaps it's enough to keep the interest going?


Anyway, I'm thrilled that Johnny is showing an interest and I plan to teach all of my children how to play chess. If any of you have advice for me on that front -- recommended books, websites, certain game boards, etc., lemme know. I want to find a set with distinctive pieces. Some I've seen, it's difficult to tell some of the pieces from each other. No good.

Meanwhile, I am on a mission to beat both my husband and my sister. At minimum. I'm ultra-competitive by nature, with absolutely nothing to back it up. Yikes.