2018-19 Week 2: Composer/Artist Study

So I was crazy inspired by this set of videos by Sonya Shafer.  She pretty much broke down the Charlotte Mason education into five succinct points.

A little tangent:

Genius! I wish someone had done this for me back when I started reading about Miss Mason. I was incredibly lost when I visited Ambleside Online. I love and appreciate AO…but I froze when I saw ALL THE THINGS and wondered how in the world I could possible do it all with my boys.  Thankfully, I found other resources that made better sense to me. Oh, to have these videos though. If you’re curious about CM or wondering how to get started…where to start, you should seriously consider watching these five short videos. Don’t even watch them on the same day. Give yourself some time to digest each one individually.  And suddenly…..it won’t seem so intimidating.

Ok, back to my inspiration. Our composer and artist studies were found lacking this past year. It wasn’t fun. It wasn’t organized. It wasn’t encouraging or inspiring or really anything but a burden for me. I kind of gave up on both. Then I watched the video on adding five things to your weekly schedule. BOOM! It made perfect sense to me. Super easy. Don’t overthink it. And here we are.

This trimester’s composer is going to be Scott Joplin. I chose him for a few reasons. For one, he fits the time frame we are currently in (American history) while waiting for our ancient history materials to arrive. I think the boys will enjoy his music. They weren’t super impressed with last year’s selections. And I was inspired by my daugher-in-law’s American Literature high class. She’s making a great effort to share more than just the typical “dead white guys” with her class. I love it. I also want the boys to have a broader experience with American history and music. Plus when we do start the ancients, there won’t be a list of composers for us so we’ll just stick with modern composers for most of the year.

Same with our artist study. We are going to start the year with Jackson Pollock because who can pass up splatter paint art?! Seriously. I think this will be a much better introduction into art than some of my previous choices. We will have fun with it for sure.

We also added back a poetry study this year. We are going to stick with one of last year’s poets since we didn’t get far….Edgar Allen Poe. We watched a fun little video of The Raven as well as a short bio on video before listening to another video of Christopher Lee read the whole poem aloud. One of my boys immediately came up with a few lines of his own for a Minecraft parody of the poem. I can’t wait to share his completed work!

We used YouTube videos for much of our learning in these three areas. I’ll link a few of the videos we loved below.

Jackson Pollock:

Scott Joplin:

Edgar Allen Poe:

On to our weekly report….

You know when we’re getting back into our school routine? When I don’t have many pictures to share because we were just on a roll! Ha! I didn’t take many but we did have a fun field trip at a local pizza place on Thursday. The kiddos were able to make their own pizza…and while those baked, we had a little pizza dough fun. Then, of course, the kids ate their creations.

Other than that, it was business as usual.  Our busy season is starting up again…a lot of baseball and soccer and co-op classes. Summer has officially ended for us!

The End of Our First Term

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We did it! We survived our first full term of a Charlotte Mason education. Whew! We are currently finishing up a week long break with Dad.

Such a great term. We learned SO MUCH good stuff.

Stuff we would have missed out on if not for a friend posting about her favorite CM podcasts last December.  I can’t believe the richness of our mornings.  It wasn’t all perfect, but I learned what works, what doesn’t, what needs work, and what needs more of my attention.

So here is the truth, the goodness, and the beauty of our first term.

All the field trips! My goal this year was the same as last….go on as many field trips as possible. Educational field trips. Fun field trips. Messy field trips. Loud field trips. Friend field trips. A few of our faves in no particular order:

We went to a free performance by a local orchestra. The boys always say they won’t like it, but end up loving it.

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Our local Charlotte Mason group took a road trip to a Cherokee event in Oklahoma. The boys visited a small village, heard a Native American story, and tried their hand (and foot) at a few Cherokee games, crafts, and activities. At the end of the day, they each earned an arrowhead by completing several of those tasks. The favorites of the day were learning how to use blowguns and all of the games. And as many wild and free kiddos, ours found a small stream to stomp in and explore.

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One of best things to come from starting a Charlotte Mason group in my area is all of the moms coming together to share their ideas for our group. One amazing mama suggested (and organized) a literary club for our group. We read one book each quarter as a family and then meet up as a group for an activity and group discussion.  Charlotte’s Web was the fall selection and we had such a great time with this book! The boys LOVED the book and the movie. Then we met with our friends at the local state fair to check out all of the farm animals, eat fair food, and of course ride the fair rides!

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We met up with our Charlotte Mason group at a local state park for the solar eclipse. The park rangers put together an informative event for all ages. We watched the eclipse through our glasses as well as the homemade viewers provided by the park. While waiting for the full eclipse (or as full as it was going to get in our area), we of course went down to the little creek and splashed around. After the eclipse event, we went on a small nature walk to the dam. The kids had so much fun climbing around on the rocks and on top of the dam.  I’ll admit….I wasn’t entirely comfortable with it but I did let the older boys roam around for a bit. Ha!

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Of course we had to visit a local pumpkin patch! We met up with another local homeschool group for some fall fun….hayride, lunch under the trees, corn maze, and a lot of fun activities on the farm. Each of the boys brought home a small pumpkin that they carved as soon as we finished up our pumpkin unit.

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Aaaand that isn’t even all of our field trips. Ha! We averaged about one a week! So many fun memories! We have several more coming up that I know the boys are going to love. Maybe I’ll get my act together and post more regularly so we can share all of our fun with you all.

Fall means football and soccer around here.  One of our boys played football this year. This is Gabriel’s last year of Little League so I’m interested to see if he plays with the school next year.  He enjoyed his team and of course had a lot of fun.  He said he made more tackles this year than last…improvement! He thought it was fun to be in the local high school homecoming parade with his team AND his team place 2nd in the league. Now that the season has ended, we will celebrate next week at their party!

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Two of our boys played soccer this year.  Drake has played before and loves soccer, but this was Joshua’s first year to play.  Both did well with their teams.  Poor Drake’s team was always short-handed due to illness, family vacations, and other issues but they played their hearts out.  Soccer is definitely Drake’s favorite sport and it shows! Joshua enjoyed his team.  He ended up being the only boy on the team but he didn’t mind! They had so much fun and his coaches were the sweetest mamas who loved on all the kids.

We also participated in a local homeschool’s 8 week co-op. We don’t use co-op for educational purposes but they always do learn so much.  Mostly, though, co-op is a social outlet for us, an additional opportunity for the boys to spend time with their friends. The boys had some great classes!

Kaleb took a class on criticism and propaganda, a games class, and a puppet ministry class. I think his favorite was the puppet ministry class! He found a love of puppeteering in that class and has even been offered an opportunity to share his skill with our church in the kids’ ministry! The class performed a hilarious skit at our presentation night.

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Gabriel took a fine arts class and found a love of drawing. He also took a diy class along with Drake and made some pretty amazing things including a few gifts for their mama!

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Along with the diy class, Drake took one of my classes on odd creatures. We had SO much fun in that class! He declared my class his fave! He also took a games class.

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This was Joshua’s first year to move out of the preschool block and into the “big kid” classes.  He took a games class and has fallen in love with Uno! He also took a class on rabbits and learned SO much. Then his 3rd class was with me in a younger odd creatures class.

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The other class I taught was a Story + Art class. I have five little ones and had so much fun with them.  My other two classes were fairly large so it was nice to have such a small group in between the two big classes.

So in the middle of co-op, sports, and all the field trips…..we did get some schooling done! Ha! It wasn’t as full as I would have liked but it was good. I am SO looking forward to term two with fewer interruptions and slower days.

What did we love?

  • All the read alouds! I am reading almost all of our morning time books out loud and we just love it. The boys are doing SO well with narrations. Even my boy who was struggling to narrate even a sentence at the beginning of the year is easily and confidently narrating chapter after chapter AND recalling the previous days’ reading. That in itself makes my heart smile SO big that my eyes leak every time I think about it.  Narrating has been such a blessing to this guy who struggles with any kind of reading.
  • History! Again all those read alouds.  Real books! We aren’t tied to a textbook but enjoying personal stories of famous people from the past, digging deeper into events that interest us, and linking all of that with geography. So fun.
  • Bible study. The boys remind me every morning that we must begin with our devotional reading and Bible story.
  • And, surprisingly, our memory work. We’ve memorized so many things this term! Poems, songs, Bible passages, and so much more.

What didn’t go well?

  • Science, although it’s all my fault. I just failed. Didn’t have the materials needed. Forgot about it, even though it’s on my schedule! This is an area that will definitely improve in our 2nd term.
  • Handicrafts. I think only because we were so busy with other activities that we just didn’t get to the handicrafts I had planned. However, I must remind myself that all four boys took handicraft classes in co-op! Even though my plan didn’t happen, they still succeeded with handicrafts. Most of term two will consist of many Christmas gifts being made by the boys so we’ll certainly get our fill soon.
  • Art and composer study. Again, I think just the lack of time. This is another area I will work to improve in the next term.
  • Nature Study. Same as above. Just not enough time but will improve next term.

Our greatest success? I am thrilled to pieces that Drake’s phonics program is working brilliantly for him. We’re using All About Reading….and the kid is READING! He was diagnosed with dyslexia this past May and we immediately switched to AAR. It’s worked wonders. His confidence has soared! We’re working hard on fluency right now. I see him just continuing to improve and grow his love of books. I have to credit this amazing Charlotte Mason education.  Our short lessons, read alouds, and hands-on time have absolutely contributed to his success.

Whew! If you stuck with me through all of that, give yourself a high five! This is why I need to update more often. Ha!

All in all, we have had the most amazing start to our school year.  I see where we need improvement. I see what we’ve done well. And I see all of the learning that has taken place. It’s been fun and real and exhausting….and I’ve loved every single second. So thankful for our Charlotte Mason education. Looking forward to term two and all the good stuff to come.

I am off to enjoy the last few days of our “staycation” with the hubs. I will miss having all this free time when we start back to school and work next week. Mostly, I’ll miss hanging out with this guy.

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Please comment with a link to your blog. I would love to read about your Charlotte Mason home! Also please join me on Instagram. I post waaaay too many pictures over there about our school and daily life.

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Week 1: The one with zero pictures

So week one. Success! But yeah…no pictures.  We were just trying to get stuff done. Ha!

We started off slowly with about a half schedule, finding a groove with our morning work. I’ll admit, I’m still a little unsure about dictation, recitation, etc.  I need to get a better grip on it before Monday. Also need to redo my afternoon loop schedule since I forgot to add typing and Spanish….I didn’t even realize until Wednesday. I did keep thinking that I was forgetting something so there’s that.

We rocked at history, science, math, and Drake’s phonics!  We’re actually finishing up last year’s history.  We’ll start our brand new exciting history next week!!  I can’t wait!

The boys LOVE their new science program from Sabbath Mood Homeschool.  Kaleb is especially excited about it.  He enjoyed tracking the weather this week, although he did say he was hoping one day would be different that “clear skies and super hot”.

I can see we need to work a little bit on our habit of attention with math.  We were doing so well in the spring! Too much time off. I know we’ll get back to it soon, though.  We covered some multiplication, scientific notation, and a LOT of graphs.

We finished up My Side of the Mountain….finally.  We just haven’t been reading together that much this summer.  Back to school routine means more read aloud time. I’ve missed it.  We also are still reading Little Pilgrim’s Progress. We are about half way through that book.  We will add On the Far Side of the Mountain and some living history books next week.

I finished the week with the monthly mom’s meeting of our local Charlotte Mason group.  We are going to work our though Charlotte Mason’s book one Home Education.  We discussed Out of Doors this month.  I love her description of a “typical” afternoon of nature study.  I can’t wait to implement many of her ideas into our nature study.

Boy quotes on week one:

  • “I really liked the weather science.” Kaleb
  • “I just like My Side of the Mountain.” Gabriel
  • “I kind of like my reading program.” Drake
  • “I don’t like school. Is it over yet?” Joshua

I am incredibly pleased with our first week.  It feels great to be getting back into a routine. Our days felt productive and peaceful.  I hope the following days, weeks, and months continue in the same manner.

I promise pictures next week!  We have some fun activities coming up and the boys will be starting their handicrafts soon. So many good things! See you next time!

 

 

February Recap

Oh man.  February was a tough month.  I feel like we were sick the whole month. Were we?! I can’t remember exactly. What I do remember is that we didn’t get a lot accomplished.

On the home front:  I caught a cold or some kind of virus and got very sick.  So. Sick. For three weeks. Then, in the middle of that, Joshua became ill.  When his fever wouldn’t break, I took the two of us to the doctor.  Thankfully, he tested negative for strep and flu.  The doctor didn’t test me because he said I had bronchitis and  pneumonia and would need the same meds anyway. He put me on a Z-pack which was awesome. I felt better in about a week, but that cough hung on for a couple more weeks.

The hubs and boys did manage to surprised me with fun Valentine’s gifts.

Then, as I was finally feeling well, Kaleb got sick. He just felt weak and tired, and had a fever.  Same as me.  After a few days of that, he came to me one afternoon and said he was having trouble breathing so we headed to the walk-in clinic.  The one Joshua and I went to was closed so we went to a different one.  Kaleb had two chest x-rays done. The doctor told me that he had a partially collapsed lung and that we needed to head to the ER!  He kept talking about chest tubes and maybe a transfer to Children’s Hospital!!  The ER doctor, however, disagreed and said it was simply a bad case of pneumonia. So a Z-pack for him too!

Needless to say, none of the projects I had planned actually got done in February. Really nothing got done.  The hubs, poor man…came home from 10-12 hour work days to cook dinner and clean house while I was sick.  I literally spent a month, just laying on the couch. Occasionally, I would get up and do things but I’d just wind up back on the couch.  Then the same with Kaleb for two weeks.

However, everyone was well enough to attend the much anticipated Newsboys concert at the end of the month!  Kaleb’s 2nd concert and a first for Gabriel and Drake.  Joshua spent the evening with his grandpa.  They had a great time and so did we. It was an awesome concert.  All that my boys were hoping it would be and, as a bonus, we received three meet-and-great tickets. Plus a gift card for two free t-shirts.  Drake decided he would be too shy to meet the band so he stayed back with Dad while I took Kaleb and Gabriel to get autographs.

Homeschool: While I was sick, we did nothing.  I couldn’t read aloud without coughing and couldn’t sit at the kitchen table.  The boys did an occasional math lesson….if they understood it on their own, but that is about it.  We watched some educational stuff of TV but mostly the boys just played and had a fun home-bound school break.

I did spend a lot of my sick time reading on my own.  I want to switch our homeschool approach to Charlotte Mason.  I’ve been reading everything I can get my hands on about her.  I started listening to The Delectable Education podcast which I love.  Between the podcast and books, I am SOLD! We tried it a little bit before I got sick and our school day did go a lot smoother.  I also realized a lot of our group work aligns well with Charlotte Mason’s philosophies so we’re not too far off base anyway. I’m excited to dive in deeper this month.

So that’s about it. Hoping and praying that March is much nicer to us.  We have baseball sign-ups, Drake’s birthday, and some fun field trips coming up.  Also our local homeschool co-op has started. Should be a fun and busy month!

Christie 💙

Oh, Charlotte Mason…I think I love you.

First, a little back story:
We have been homeschooling since 2008 when we pulled my oldest son, Nathan, out of public school.  Now, I have to admit that I love public school.  I loved my own school days and, up until this point in 2008, I had planned on being a public school teacher. I had no plans of homeschooling. Unfortunately, the school system didn’t want to work with us, concerning my son’s ADHD. His teacher actually told me that she would just rather I give him medication and not worry about the rest.  The rest…being a 30 lb weight loss in a few month’s time, depression, anger, and many other troubling side effects.  I decided that maybe I could just teach him myself and see how it goes. After all, I had planned on teaching a room full of students….how hard could one be?
I quickly realized that I knew nothing about homeschooling and turned to the experts….my local homeschool mama friends. We stumbled around with curriculum and schedule and life, really, for the first year.  However, I did my research and our second year was much better. Since Nathan was so used to public school, a mostly school-at-home approach worked best for him. By the second year, we added in Kaleb and just had fun. A lot of books. A lot of worksheets. A lot of crafts. A LOT of library time!
Soon after, I discovered The Well-Trained Mind forum board and was hooked! This approach worked well and was similar enough to our school-at-home that the boys never missed a beat.  We had a few GREAT years!
However, I began to notice a discontentment in myself over time.  I would drop this curriculum, add that one. Changed our schedule around. Nothing seemed to get us back to the joy that we had experience those first few years. I just became frustrated with all of it.  My oldest spent his 9th grade year in public school and I was kind of relieved.  Homeschool wasn’t fun anymore. Or even enjoyable. Or tolerable.  It was actually pretty terrible.  My youngers and I kept at it though.  I had a 3rd grader, 1st grader, and preschooler so I kept it pretty light that year. I combined all of the subjects that I could. We sat on the couch and read as much as we could. And I didn’t stress about the rest.  We found a little bit of our joy.  Nathan came back home in the 10th grade and we tried again. The joy didn’t last and we found ourselves once again miserable. I decided that maybe I just couldn’t teach upper grades, and my boys should probably go into public school once they reached a certain grade.
Fast forward to January of last year:
My oldest graduated with his GED. He just began to refuse to do schoolwork so I told him he needed to work on getting his GED before he turned 18.  On his 18th birthday, he passed the last test.  It took that smartypants only two weeks to take all of the required tests to receive his GED!!  That made me feel so much better about our homeschool. Even in the midst of struggle, he was still learning.
With a new school year beginning in the fall and the pressure of high school temporarily out of the picture, I declared Fall 2016-Spring 2017 the year of Fun School.  If it was fun and even remotely educational, we were going to do it.  And really we have. Three different sports in the fall. So many field trips. Fun days. Play dates. Parties. All the fun things.
I also declared this the year that I would figure out how to joyfully teach upper grades because my youngers were begging to stay home through high school. If they really want to stay home, I decided to find a way to make it happen for them.
Quite by accident, I found The Delectable Education podcast in December. A new homeschool mom had posted a question about Charlotte Mason. She mentioned that she had been listening to this podcast. I didn’t even consider it at first.  Honestly, I believed that it wouldn’t be a good fit for us.  I had looked at it before and discarded the idea….for some reason I can’t remember now. It wasn’t until last week (Jan 19th) that I finally remembered that podcast and decided to check it out.
After that first episode, I was hooked. I quickly realized that the parts of our homeschool that I loved and cherished actually followed the CM method.  Our morning time. All those books. And simple narration. I didn’t know that this was an actual method. I was just trying to simplify our homeschool.  The parts that I didn’t like, well, every one of them went against Charlotte Mason’s philosophy.  During the second episode, I listened while I pulled every living book on American history that I could find from our bookcases and stacked them in our living room.
We are only in our first week, but oh the joy. I’ve added a little to our morning time. I’ve lessened the time we spent on individual work. No more dawdling at the table for hours over math. We’ve spent less time on schoolwork but already covered more than we did in previous weeks. Isn’t that crazy?  No tears. No fussing. No homework.
I’m working on a more permanent schedule for us and would love to share it with you as soon as I have it finished. If you love the Charlotte Mason method, please comment with advice or maybe a book suggestion. I do plan on ordering The Charlotte Mason Companion by Karen Andreola, and of course I will continue with The Delectable Education podcast.
I am so excited to share the next few weeks in our homeschool.  Thank you for *listening* to my ramblings.
Christie ❤