Sunday, August 11, 2013

School's In Session!

In keeping with our tradition, here are our back-to-school photos. (See here and here for previous years.)

This year, we've got a second-grader, a kindergartener, a 3-year-old, and a baby. Phew! But I have to say, so far it's been an easier year than last year (with a first-grader, a preschooler, a 2-year-old, and a newborn. Now THAT was a challenge!) We're trying some new stuff this year, and liking it a lot. So if you want the gritty details, read on.

First, we're using a six-weeks-on, one-week-off schedule. In order to prevent burnout and give me chances to plan throughout the year, as well as to give us time to travel, do fun stuff, and enjoy the fall weather, we're taking more breaks. This meant starting earlier than, well, everyone, but that's okay. Our official start date was July 22, so we're about to start in on week four, with our first break just around the corner. Nice!

Day one: checking out new school supplies:

We're also not using Sonlight this year. While we really enjoyed it last year, I figured I could probably plan something similar for cheaper, and include a language arts program that I liked better too. So after LOTS of research this summer, we decided to go more classical, loosely following The Well-Trained Mind.

This year, we're studying the Ancients in history/literature, which the boys have been eating up. We're also trying to do as many read-alouds as we can, hitting reading, math, and handwriting hard, and making sure we're doing serious language arts work. Sounds like too much? So far, it's been manageable. We're done with most stuff by lunchtime, usually doing one or two subjects after lunch.

Day one: hard at work!

 Curriculum for the 2013-2014 school year:
Iain, Second Grade:
Readers from the library
Singapore Math B
Explode the Code 3 1/2 and following
Wordly Wise (next semester)
First Langauge Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind (so far, we're breezing through this, skipping a lot he already knows)
Classical Kids music cds
Story of the World book one
A Reason for Handwriting A (finishing from last year)
Science: Apologia Zoology (I'm bartering this with a friend She does science with the boys and I do math with her girls)
Spanish (so far, just a pipe dream)
Art (again, a pipe dream)

Cory, Kindergarten
Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons (he started last year; he's half way done)
Singapore Math K (second book; again, he started last year)
Explode the Code 1 (sloooooow going)
Specific Skills picture level
First Language Lessons
Classical Kids music cds
Handwriting Without Tears
Story of the World book one
Science: Apologia Zoology
Spanish (see above)
Art (see above)

For Laina, I've got all kinds of fun activities, but usually she ends up playing in the playroom or coloring. Or watching and interrupting a lot. :)

(one of Laina's activities taken over by Cory. He said, "I call it, 'World Without Heads.'")

Mason has been much easier than I thought he would be. He's generally napping for most of our morning school time, and when he isn't, he's in here for a few minutes:
 And here for some of the time:

And I hold him for the rest.

So far, here's the day's rundown (this is for my own memories--not because I think you guys are terribly interested in our schedule!): Chores first thing, and then PE (15 minutes of a video exercise for me and running around like crazy people for the kids). As I'm giving Mason his bottle and putting him down, we pray, do Bible (Egermeier's Bible still), and our current read-aloud. The kids have "magic carpets" (aka beach towels) to sit on, so there's no wrestling/arguing/rough housing as I read--not that they EVER do that. Then I pop Mason in bed, and Iain goes downstairs to read with his daddy for 15 minutes, while Cory and I do math. Then Cory reads downstairs while Iain and I do math. After that, we hit all the combined subjects or ones I can oversee simultaneously. At 10:30, I kick them all outside with a snack for recess, while I clean up the kitchen from breakfast, or start the crockpot, or get Mason up, or (I'm still waiting for this one to happen) drink some chai and read a book for a quiet half hour.

(day one again, illustrating a poem)

At 11, they come back in and we hit another subject or two before lunch. Between lunch and Laina's nap, we run errands, do more school, or clean the house up. Then when she goes down, the three boys and I do history/literature, or science/math (with our friends) depending on the day. We're generally done by 2:00 except on science days. 

Cory moved up to the big kids' class at church last week, with his two partners in crime. They hammed it up on stage and got certificates. Not sure where Cory put his...

Lately, in every spare moment, the big boys have been drawing battle scenes. It's pretty awesome. They are incredibly detailed and involve things like helicopters, horses, cooks making dinner, hospitals, and of course, dead people and blood. The cool thing is that they narrate the battle while they draw, so it's kind of live-action drawing. And they sometimes add to each other's pictures. The same picture might be worked on for days. And in general, at some point, the tiny little soldiers strike a death blow to the Yogurt (don't EVER tell them it's really ogre. I love the Yogurt so much!), and the result is "A BLOOD FLOOD!" which makes their little hearts go pitter pat. I love these dudes and their all-boy imaginations.

 (see the big green Yogurt?)

This week, we made the Nile River in a pan and flooded the Delta. It was pretty cool, but I'm guessing the grass seed "crops" we planted on the banks aren't going to grow after all that flooding. :)

So! In a nutshell: school's going well!