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 22-24: Jan 25-Feb 12

We have spent the last three weeks working hard, and I haven’t taken many pictures. 

The boys have been working hard.  Nathan and Kaleb both are doing very well in math.  MM was the perfect addition to Nathan’s math program.  He has been so much better with Saxon since we added MM.  Those two math programs really compliment each other!  Kaleb has been flying through Saxon 1.  I am thinking about adding MM 1 for him just because he is going so fast through Saxon.  I want to make sure he is retaining.  He has the majority of addition facts memorized already.  Seriously, he is blowing me away with his math ability!

We are finishing up Apologia Astronomy and have Botany waiting on us.  I bought the Botany Notebooking Journal to go with the book.  I don’t like Apologia’s free notebooking printables.  They are too plain.  Nathan needs a little bit of guidance to his notebooking/lapbooking.  For Astronomy, I printed the free lapbook pieces from a yahoo group, but  there isn’t a free Botany lapbook.  After looking at the samples on the Apologia’s website, I just decided to go with the journal.  I can’t wait to see it!  We are all really excited to get started with Botany, and what perfect timing!!  Spring is just around the corner.

R&S English is still just as boring as always, but still working so well for us!  I see all these posts on forum boards about fun, exciting, easy English programs, but I just can’t take R&S away!  It is working so well.  I don’t think Nathan will ever develop my love of grammar, but at least I know he will understand it.  My only complaint is that I don’t think there is enough diagramming instruction.  I think I may just get a diagramming book for over the summer to cement what he has learned already before moving on.

OPGTR is amazing as always.  Kaleb is doing so well.  We are covering long vowel sounds so this is pretty easy for him since he has the LeapFrog videos.  When the lessons are short, we do two a day.  It is just about time to pull our my own kindergarten reading books for him to read.  I have been patiently waiting until he make it through long vowel sounds before getting them out.  I LOVE having these old books for my boys.  I can still actually remember reading them myself.

Kaleb moved into ETC 2 a while back and is about finished with it.  I decided to get the 1/2 books for him.  He does so well with ETC, and I heard that the 1/2 books weren’t just about having extra practice but had some fun activities that the whole books don’t.  We’ll see how it goes.

I have spent quite a bit of time collecting materials and planning for my spring co-op class and next school year.   I am so excited about the class and next year’s schedule!!  It seems every year we homeschool gets better and better. 

For our spring co-op that starts on the first Friday of March, I am teaching a K-2 geography class.  I hadn’t planned on teaching a class since I’m also co-director, but we were in need of another K-2 class.  I’ve had a lot of fun planning it and can’t wait for co-op to start!!  I looked and looked for a program that would fit the class requirements.  I love Galloping the Globe, and purchased it for my homeschool next school year.  However I don’t think it will work with my class.  After a bit  more searching, I decided to make my own curriculum for the class and it is working out wonderfully.  I am making the children’s books and my teacher’s manual myself, and they are looking great!  I can’t wait to have it all printed!!

I also have next school year just about planned.   We are keeping everything except WW, R&S Spelling, MEP and MOH.  Nathan and I are both bored out of our minds with WW.  I am currently looking for a new vocab program.  I may just skip it this year since I’m supplementing our history with the Famous Men series.  I noticed last night that each chapter includes a vocab list!  R&S Spelling wasn’t getting done.  Plus I plan to use vocab words as spelling.  We dropped MEP earlier this school year and added Math Mammoth.  We just recently dropped MOH in favor of using SOTW as our main history spine now.  I added SOTW AG’s and will add GtG and foreign language for next year.  As per Nathan’s request, we are going to add an art/drawing class.  Also I would love to {finally} add the CM composer/artist schedule to our homeschool.  I tried earlier this school year but gave up due to our out of the home schedule.  This time around I would like to get it established before that busy fall/sports season.

I know I’m forgetting something, but this is long enough for now.  If you’ve hung with me this far, please take a look at our snowy pictures below.  We don’t usually get snow like this around here so we have had a fun couple of weeks!  I have to say though I am ready for Spring and warmer weather.  There is a reason I live in the south….I’m a hot weather fan!

First co-op class of the year–Friday!!

The boys had a BLAST at co-op on Friday!!

Nathan loved his CSI class. They tested margarine to see how much fat was in different brands. His teacher said he did great and was a terrific leader in his group.

His second class is backgammon. He enjoyed learning how to play and looks forward to the competition later in the month.

He switched his third class. Originally he was signed up for recycle art and was excited about it. However he found out one of his friends mom is teaching a rocket science class. We didn’t see it on the list when we registered for some reason. He asked the art teacher and his friend’s mom if he could switch, and both agreed. He LOVED that class and is very excited for next Friday!!

Kaleb’s first class is art. He had a lot of fun! They did an art project and went outside to draw on the sidewalk with chalk.

His second hour class is a game/fun class. He wasn’t really impressed with it. I think mostly because he didn’t understand the game they played. Each Friday will have a different game so I told him to just stick with it and see how he feels about it after another week.

I think his third hour class is his favorite. He is taking a pilgrim history class. He has such a blast and his teacher told me that she absolutely LOVES him!! She said he kept the conversation going througout the hour. The first thing he told me was “did you know I was BORN five years ago??? My own history started when I was BORN!”

I’m not sure how Gabriel is doing in his classes. I didn’t get a chance to talk to his teacher about him. He has a Frogstreet reading class, a playground/snack hour, and Frogstreet math class. He said he enjoyed all three classes and can’t wait to go back next week.

I am the nursery director for our group. I stayed in the nursery with Drake, a 2 yr old boy, and a 4 month old baby girl. I have a helper during 1st and 2nd hour so we mostly chatted while Drake and the other boy played. We took turns holding the baby girl!! She is so precious! The room is FULL of toys for the boys to play with and they had a blast exploring the room. I was a little bored during the third hour. lol Both boys started getting tired and sat quietly playing by themselves for the most part. I may take a book to read next Friday.

It was a GREAT first co-op day! We all look forward to next Friday!!

Happy Back To Public School Day!!!

Today was the first day of public school so we celebrated by NOT having school today!!!

Nathan still wants to go back to public school (for all the wrong reasons though) so I thought we’d have a celebration day just to remind him that we are free to do fun, spontaneous things…any day we want.

We stayed up late last night. The boys were actually watching a show on sharks and it was going to end late anyway. I put Drake to bed at his bedtime so the older boys and I could really enjoy our lat night. (Drake is NOT a night owl!!) Gabriel and Kaleb fell alseep on the couch, and Nathan was ready for bed by midnight.

I let them sleep in this morning and wake up on their own time. They played outside for a while this morning, and then we left to go eat pizza at our favorite pizza place

After that we headed to a pool party with our homeschool group.

I didn’t tell the boys of our plans until this morning. Nathan thought it is very cool that he got to play today while all his neighbor friends and his cousins were sitting in school. Kaleb ran up and hugged me…and said thank you about a million times!

…..so I guess my plan WORKED!!

They had a blast at the pool party and met some new friends. This is our first year to really participate with the group. We are all signed up for co-op classes, and I volunteered as the co-op nursery director. Even Gabriel has three classes this time!

Classes start Sept 11th and are three hours long on Friday afternoons. I love that we don’t have to re-arrange our schedule for co-op this year!! We generally don’t do much on Friday afternoons as it is.

First hour classes:
Nathan-CSI class. LOVE this!! It’s a book that is Christian-based so I know the gore will be kept to a minimum.
Kaleb-art class
Gabriel-Frog Street Press math class

2nd hour classes:
Nathan-backgammon (he is sooo excited for this!!)
Kaleb-games (mostly a time for K-3 to socialize with fun board games)
Gabriel-naps/snacktime (for those who don’t nap , they will play outside on the church playground. On bad weather days, they will have fun games and storytime.)

3rd hour classes:
Nathan-recycle art
Kaleb-fun history class
Gabriel-Frog Street Press reading class

I will be in the nursery most times with Drake. I’ll have helpers so I’m hoping to be able to check out each of the boys’ classes each Friday. I hope to help with Kaleb’s game hour and especially excited to check out Nathan’s CSI class. I’m interested to see how well Gabriel does in his classes. I know the outside play and storytime will be a piece of cake for him. Can’t wait to see how the other two classes go.