Thursday, September 20, 2012

Highlights from our first week of school

So we're nearly finished our 3rd week of school, so I thought I'd better get on the ball and start posting!  Here are some highlights from our first week.

I was mostly organized for the start of the new year.  I have two small bookshelves designated for the girls' school books, each on one side of a door that runs between our living room and kitchen. You'll see more of the door later, as due to a lack of wall space, it serves as somewhat of a bulletin board.

I have my 7th grader's books for the year all on this shelf:

And my  kindergartener has her books for the year on this shelf:


On top of this bookshelf you can see some of my Goodwill finds: a Talking Clever Clock and an old (now discontinued) Junior Explorer Talking Globe from Leapfrog that I paid only $1 each for! I also needed a CD player and found the one you see--with a manufacturing date of 1994 (!) on it--for just a few dollars as well as a set of sound-proof headphones to use with it for only a quarter.

The shelf below was also a Goodwill find. For years I wanted a shelf like this and a couple years ago I found this one for about $3...they retail new for over $100, so I was really excited to find it, needless to say. While in the past, I kept picture books on it, starting this year I'm using it to keep our current week's books for both girls at an easy-to-grab spot. So in this photo you can see books from both Sonlight Cores H and K.

I took First Day of School photos of each of the girls holding signs showing their grade. I found these on Pinterest.

Here are my girls, under the apple tree in our back yard....

Here's my youngest sitting at her desk, all ready to start her first day of Kindergarten! Her desk is the same one all her older siblings once used--salvaged from a Christian school near where we once lived in Massachusetts. They were getting rid of a bunch of old desks and chairs and I was able to get it for free.

One thing we did for fun to launch the new school year was to go to McDonald's for lunch.  Because we can. *grin* That's half the fun of homeschooling--doing things like this in the middle of the day, since we're not restricted to a "normal" school schedule.

Eating out is something we rarely do, especially Fast Food. If we do stop for fast food, it's because we're traveling. So this was a big deal. my youngest got a coupon for a free meal from the summer reading club at our library and of course she was eager to put it to use! I forgot to take my camera INTO McDonald's--accidentally left it in the car--so only got this photo of her as we were getting ready to leave. She's holding her milk jug that came with her meal.

My two graduates--a daughter, 22, and a son, 18--joined us so it was me and all four kids. I had the older kids share some of their memories of kindergarten--they were all homeschooled, by the way (though my son went to a public VoTech high school before graduating earlier this year).

It was a fun time of them sharing memories...and my oldest sharing memories of doing K with a baby brother around...then the two oldest sharing and laughing over memories of doing K with daughter #2...and finally all three of the oldest sharing about doing school when the youngest was born.  Definitely a homeschool back-to-school memory time VERY different from brick & mortar school kids!   I remember when I first started my homeschool journey in 1994, feeling a bit wistful of the back-to-school memories I had that my daughter wouldn't  have. And it's such a joy now to look back at the different memories they all have--and that they are SHARED memories.

I noticed at McDonald's that my youngest didn't seem to have much of an appetite...and that proved to be an issue all week. She did fine with normal school activities the first day, but by that evening, I noticed she was mildly feverish. The rest of the week, she battled a mild fever off and on and did a lot of extra sleeping. She hasn't taken regular naps in ages, but all that week, she would stop periodically to lay down to "rest" and several times fell asleep--a few times for a couple hours.

Yet in the midst of all this, she was so excited about starting kindergarten, that she was determined to get up to do a few things. She started in on her Handwriting Without Tears and Explode the Code (she's doing book 4 currently) each day as well as her reading.  Plus I  read aloud to her the Boxcar Children and her history.

Since she's an advanced reader, I have her doing Sonlight's Grade 2 readers, but even with that I'm mixing it up a bit. I decided to have the Beginner's Bible reading be her own personal Bible reading rather than "reading class". Also, there are several of the readers that she's already read this past summer, so I scheduled those earlier in the year and have looked for some fun activities to go with them. I'm also having her read the science on her own.

For her first reader, she enjoyed Owl at Home. I have a little activity book that was designed for it that I found at Goodwill ages ago, and she's doing those activities that go with it. I also added a special craft to go with "Tear Water Tea" (a favorite story in our family for years--going back to Daddy reading it to our oldest when she was this age). Here's the pin where I describe the craft and you can click on the pin to go where I found the template:

Her list was the following (exactly how she spelled everything):

  • Sad dolls!
  • Mulisu (Melissa, her baby doll) getting lost!
  • Unicorn maet! (unicorns are her favorite animal)
  • Lions eating zebras!
  • Falling down!
By Friday, she was a bit better, but still wanting to rest. She did some more Explode the Code and then I gave her an activity that I came up with based on one described in a book I think someone in the Sonlight forums recommended to me a couple years ago called Work Jobs. I picked three coloring pictures about Brazil, since that is our "Country of the Month" based on the Create-a-Calendar. I printed two copies of each picture and cut out 3 small portions from one for her to place on the other. It's a "part-to-whole" activity. She had to be able to look at the small portion and figure out what part of the bigger picture it matched. She wasn't feeling up to coloring the pictures afterward, but did want to read.

Here she is doing that activity:

For science, she read all of Tadpoles and Frogs, much of which she did laying down on the couch. She was  eager to do this activity I found on Pinterest.

For my 12yo, we sat down together to go over all the the subjects I have planned for her so she could decide her schedule. She knows what she likes to get done first and I want to honor that as much as possible while working around needing to teach her younger sister for K. Thankfully, there IS a lot my older daughter can do on her own or with minimal help from me: math and science for example.

With the youngest getting sick the first week, I'm really glad I'd already planned to start out light. I've found over the years that going from 0-60 at the beginning of the school year is just too much, so we don't do every school subject the first week. It's easier to start out light the first week while we get back in the habit of "doing school" and what we skipped over the first week can easily be picked up (and if necessary, doubled up) the following week. Things like math don't need to be doubled up, since that's not on the Sonlight schedule. The first week, we did all the reading and read-alouds, but other subjects just added one new one each day and didn't really go "whole hog" until this week. Takes a LOT of stress off that first week of school!

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