Friday, September 26, 2014

When You are Too Busy......

When you are too busy to post on the blog then you know that there have been tons of great learning opportunities.

So let me begin with something most recent but it ties into the last few post about the Cahokia Mounds.  This week the girls and I got up early in the morning to watch the sunrise.  That certainly does not sound like an important event.  The sun rises and sets everyday according to God's plan.  This one was particularly special.  Since we have recently studied the Cahokia Mounds Historical Heritage Site we learned about the Woodhenge and the determination that it was an important time keeper of sorts to the Mississippian Culture. 

Tuesday was the first sunrise for fall.  So our sunrise was not just any day.  It was the first sunrise of the 2014 fall season.  It was experienced at center pole Woodhenge at the Cahokia Mounds Site. 
Here is a fabulous photo of the morning.  I must add that these kids are bundled up for a chilly morning, still in our pajamas as that was part of the FUN we put into the experience.  I made a video of it as well and set it to music but have been unable to get the computer's card reader to work for some reason. Perhaps we will get that figured out and perhaps it just was not properly formatted or something.  I can see it on the video camera though.  So here is our sunrise photo, messed hair and all.

Behind them you can see the Monks Mound and the glorious Sun on this first morning of fall.

So what else have we been up to you may ask.  Gee, it seems like we must have more than 24 hours in a day when you hear what we are doing. 

Our typical school day is still looking the same.  Be are sure to honor our Flag, to sing our National Anthem and to appreciate our Constitutional Freedoms.  We began reciting the American's Creed as well and will do that for four weeks as part of our lesson plan.  From there our day declines quickly. 
I have once again stopped setting up the daily schedule of what lesson will be done at what time.  As time goes on I have discovered that they do best if they get to choose which subject is going to be done next.  I try to set a schedule for them to follow but they are more eager learners when they feel they are given options.

Faith has begun carrying with her multiplication facts and she really enjoys this process.  While we do not do common core, the A Beka Book begins explaining the process of carrying in multiplication much like the common core handles all aspects of the process. Faith looked at the board, her text book and my eyes.  She was lost.  So instead I said, lets try it this way.  We multiplied, carried, multiplied and added.  Her response was classic.  "That is a whole lot easier. My brain was lost the other way and this way is tons faster. Why would we do it the other way?"  I explained that we would not do it that way but it is important to know why you are putting that one above the next digit.  Needless to say, she flew through the rest of her lesson for the day.

Grace's math continues to make progress.  I wish I had some magic fix for her math block. She is doing simple measurement conversations.  Her basic skills are really shaping up nicely as we continue to use them more and more.  I know without a doubt that she would be failing math if she was in the public school system.  I have faced this before with my son.  The ps does not have some magic formula either to help the struggling math learner.  AT least we can keep her at the level she is working and work forward in the process.  The important thing to know is that she is learning. She is not crying. She does not have 2-3 hours of math homework every night.  Her public school counterparts that are in her girl scout troop are really having a hard time with the new math. 

Other core subjects are really coming along great. Faith's language this year is real language arts. She is not too thrilled with it but at least I can make it fun for her.  It seems she never considered reading to be part of language. This past week as we were reading a poem I began to write the poem on the board as she read it.  I was thrilled when she caught on immediately that the poem topic was the Lord.  She did this because she found an upper case letter in the word One and His.  When she saw that she quickly shouted, "its the Lord" and explained to me that she knew it because of the capitalization of the word as it referred to God/Jesus.  I then place the words on the board and she got her first taste of ABABCDCD rhyming patterns in a poetry stanza.  When we were all through she was having fun with it and went on independently to the next poem in the book. No, it was not on the lesson plan but I am not going to stop a learner when they are in full swing.  To her amazement, the lessons she has been learning in her "real language" class helped to better appreciate what she read in
Reading Class. 

So your getting the picture that our classroom time is a huge success lately.  That does not make us busy.  What makes our time fill up is all the living that happens between the learning and during the learning.  I think I will start with Faith.

Faith decided that she did not find gymnastics to be her passion. She enjoyed going to gymnastics and actually did well in the advancement of skills.  She asked to try dance lessons instead. This is not something that Grace is at all interested in doing.  So Faith is not doing ballet/tap/jazz on Monday evening from 5:30-7:00pm.  She is very tired at the end of the session but seems to be excited about it.  That is not to say that she will find her passion in dance but time will tell.

Faith's Brownie Girl Scout Troop on the other hand has resumed their weekly meetings on Tuesday evening. I am the leader for the group so that means that I am managing Faith's evening activities twice per week.

As we move onto Grace's activities it was clear that gymnastics is not her thing at all.  Her skill was slower to develop but she did progress.  It was not a confidence builder for her and never seemed to be something to fill her with much joy.  She enjoyed going and getting out but I think she liked the time with me more than the class.  She asked to stop before the last session was even over.  I must say, she gave it a try but not her cup of tea.  Perhaps the fact that the girls there were so much younger than her had a hand in that.  She got started later than most.  So I have been trying to line up a person to work with her and horses.  Nothing is set in stone yet but I do have a local person who has stated they are willing to provide lessons regarding riding and care of the horse.  (no, I have no plans to get a horse)

Grace did manage to get a new piano teacher that was available and closer to home than the one we had before. She has sparked a renewed flame in Grace to achieve in the piano.  The best part is that the teacher is on the way to ballet and had openings on Mondays. 

So just what does our week look like right now?  OK here it goes:
Monday: The day begin with tending to the farm animals and gathering eggs. Lessons in all subjects in the classroom.  Done with a sluggish start as I have just  worked the weekend.  Our Kitchen Table Monday projects are really thrown out the window or we would never get any subject lesson progress.  We prepare an afternoon snack and hit the road for 4:30 piano and 5:30 dance.  During dance Grace and I go to the library two blocks down and Grace gets to experience a HUGE library compared to our own.  Return the children home to their mother very hungry by 7:30pm

Tuesday:  Farm animals.  Archery team lesson/practice from 10-12 but it takes 35 minutes to get there and I am the coach so it takes 30 minutes to set up the archery range.  Lunch out together.  Return to home where we can work on our archeological digs or our "thinking out of the box" sort of projects we use to do on Monday.  Meal preparation together and thus working on some domestic issue along with some practical math.  The day is not over until Girl Scouts are over. We meet at the library so Grace comes along as she is a regular at our library and can always find something to do.  Following the Girl Scout meeting the girls are returned home about 8pm.

Wednesday: This is our no nonsense class day. We get tons of lessons completed. The girls know that if they want to do archery and the cooperative that they must do more than one lesson per day.  On Wednesday they tend to really be eager learners.  Of course they must first tend to the animals.  I manage to always find a way to keep the day more interesting than doubled up lessons.  ON this night the girls are staying the night with me.  The next day is the Cooperative and enrichment classes.  (I think this probably needs to change but when they are at home then the whole process of getting ready get complicated somehow)--besides I like to have the spend the night at least once per week.
On Wednesday evenings Grace has her Girl Scout Troop meetings but Kelley is the leader for that troop and I get some time with Faith while Grace is gone.  When Matt works I will have Owen with me as well.

Thursday:  Early to rise, eat a meal, pack the car, pack a lunch, and feed the animals before we leave. Owen arrives and by 0800 we are on the road again. This time traveling 45 minutes to our gathering place.  We are there until around 3:30pm.  We have 1 hour for lunch that can be experienced in a picnic at the park down the road. Each child has three classes and one PE period that they participate in for the day.  I have four class hours that I teach, leaving me free for one hour without teaching.  We get a snack on the way home and by 4:30 the children are delivered to their mother again.

Friday:  Kiddos arrive whenever they get here. Flexible but all subjects are again accomplished.  There are several times that we have field trip opportunities arise on a Friday.  I am trying to avoid committing to all of them or we would never get core subject matter completed. 

Well, that is a snap shot of the week with the kiddos. Kelley is in the classroom a large part of the time as well but not all day every week.  I still work on the weekends but that has nothing to do with the education of grandchildren. 

Keep in mind that this is all flexible.  For instance, the sunrise lesson does not fit the plan that has been listed above at all. Neither do the Powell Symphony Hall trips or the glass blowing trips that we are doing.  They are not weekly but they manage to fit into this plan somehow. 

I must end this post somewhere along the line so I guess this will be the end point. I have so much to say about Grace's animation class and Faith's chess club but find it is just too long and boring to go on.  The post has lost its flare.  SO TTFN.