Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Kindergarten - Week One

Little Man is now in his second week of kindergarten. He was so excited to start kindergarten, but I'm not sure he knew why he should be excited since he has been in our homeschool since he was born! He has heard others talking about it though, and I did try to make it a big deal since this is his "official" start in school (and my last baby to go through kindergarten with ~ boo hoo!).

His kindergarten experience will be different in some ways from our first child's kindergarten experience, since he has so many older siblings to try and keep up with. My personal philosophy is "better late than early" so I am committed to not pushing him to do too early what will come easily later. Still, he wants so badly to do everything his siblings do!

This week he:

made his history notebook (with his brand spankin' new scented markers!),

made a cookie dough map of Egypt,

acted like a little Egyptian boy and went shirtless!

and made papyrus and painted hieroglyphs on it.

For something fun while I worked on other things with his older siblings, I found this book where there is a puzzle on every page.

Inside each page's puzzle there was one big "shaped" piece that was fun to find!

In addition to all the history stuff he did this week, we started a couple kindergarten things just for him. He and I will be using a beginning book from the Handwriting Without Tears series. This curriculum uses wooden shapes to help the student build and trace the shapes of all the letters. Before we began using them for their intended purpose, we had a day where we just played with them and built whatever we wanted to build!

AND....(drumroll please).....the thing that Little Man was most looking forward to about kindergarten.....

his very own Math U See book!!

This was a new activity I bought him to help with number recognition. All the number puzzles link together, but they only link up with the correct puzzles on each side, so it is self correcting.

He happily linked and laced for about an hour.

And that was Little Man's first week of kindergarten!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Making Paper from "Papyrus" and Painting Hieroglyphics

We made our own version of paper-from-papyrus-reeds this week and then painted hieroglyphs on them. They turned out great! I followed the directions found in this book, which I had checked out from our library. Usually we use hands on ideas from the activity books that Tapestry recommends, but none of those had this paper project, and I wanted to do an activity that more closely fit with one of our history themes for this week, which was learning the importance of the Nile to the Ancient Egyptians.

It turned out to be a 3 day project. Day 1 we made the paper (it had to dry overnight). Day 2 we drew hieroglyphs on them, copying from some of our Egyptians books I got from the library. Day 3 we painted the hieroglyphs. It was also a very messy project, however, a little mess now and then is a good thing, don't you think? Especially if the children help clean it up!

We covered our work surface with long strips of wax paper so the glue would not stick to it. Then I poured glue into a large bowl and mixed with equal parts water. I ended up using this entire bottle of glue for 5 pieces of "papyrus" paper.

Next we tore paper grocery sacks into long strips. These were to simulate the strips of papyrus that would be cut lengthwise down the reed, pounded to get their natural juicy "glue" out, and then covered and left to dry. We dipped the strips into the glue mixture and squeezed off the excess.

Then we lay the strips next to each other, slightly overlapping.

This was a difficult project for our sensory child, yet he wanted to do it too. I was proud of him for following through, and he did a super job!

When we had enough strips going one direction, we placed a second layer of strips on top, going crossways. Here is Little Man's "papyrus" when he had finished with his strips. I took my rolling pin to it after this picture was taken, to squeeze out all the excess glue!

We let the papers dry overnight and then drew on them the next day. In one of our library books were pictures of 24 hieroglyphs that stand for 24 letter sounds. Each of the children used these hieroglyphs to "spell" out a phrase.

And finally we painted them!

Ta-da!! Five colorful and unique papyrus sheets with hieroglyphics on them!

It was a very fun project! I have learned that the finished product is not nearly as important as the process of doing it, and the memories that are made as we work together. We're looking forward to more fun hands on activities as we learn about ancient times!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Days Three and Four

There has been much emotion and drama in our home (and therefore school) the last two days. Questions, tears, misunderstandings, lost papers (yes, already), mixed signals, disobedience. Some of it is teenage hormones. Some of it's the annual don't-want-to-end-the-relaxed-summer-schedule thing. Some of it is the fact that I wasn't as prepared as I thought I was, and our schoolroom is still not usable. Some of it is sin.

Today our 8 year old asked if he could run away from home (at least he asked first!!).


Deep breath.

Bullet prayer for wisdom and discernment.

Long talk on the couch with 8 year old.

Prayer together.

Long hug. Child didn't want to let go.

Long talk with another child about work ethic and expectations.

Prayer together.

Long hug. I didn't want to let go.

Talk with 10 year old about why an internet gaming site was not suitable for him.

Tears. Disappointment. Ultimately submission and trust.

Prayer together.

Long hug.

Talk with 5 year old at 10:00 p.m. last night when scary thoughts about parasites prevented him from going to sleep.

(Just fyi, don't let your children watch 'Animal Planet' at someone else's house while you visit with the grown ups without first checking to see exactly what's showing)

Prayer together.

Song together.

Soaking in the moment when my presence still makes everything better.

Long hug. Neither he nor I wanted to let go.

Honestly, I'm exhausted. But this is one of the big reasons we homeschool. This type of character training and discussing and praying with our children about every day things is what we signed up for. This is the process of discipleship.

Thank you, God. For these moments. Tiring and taxing and insightful and precious.

Please restore me and fill me and prepare me for whomever wants to run away tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

First Day of School - 2010

We started our day with our "breakfast out at Denny's" tradition. Yay for breakfast out!

Then we went to Target and spent a happy hour picking out school supplies. Rather than do this before school starts, we like to make it part of the first day. The children were *so* excited at my generosity. When they would ask, "can I get this?" and I would say, "yes!", they would invariably respond "REALLY????" (I must say no more than I think!) (oh, and despite my generosity I'm sure that I spent less than if they were all in building school and we had gone to the store with 5 different supply lists!)

We came home with our new supplies and the children decorated covers for their history notebooks that we will use all year. I told them to draw and color pictures of what they thought we'd be learning about this year.

We ended up with 3 pyramid pictures, a very detailed picture of the Ten Commandments, and a 4 part masterpiece by our daughter showing Moses, the pyramids, a Roman soldier, and a horse and cart on a Roman road.

Then we read about the Nile River and began working on our cookie dough maps of Egypt! Egypt has a rather funky shape, with a little triangle sticking off a top corner, so that was a bit tricky for a few of the children, but they all did a fabulous job. Here are their "during" and "after" pictures. You will notice in the after pics that the dough spread out during baking and the shape wasn't quite as distinct as before. Still delicious though! For more on how we decorate and bake our cookie dough maps, please go here.

We found these awesome gold colored sprinkles that were just perfect for the desert!

And we talked a lot about "Upper Egypt" being on the bottom part of the country when looking at a map (due to its higher elevation) and "Lower Egypt" being the top part of the map because it's lower in elevation there. That was hard for Little Man to understand at first.

When my husband asked the children later what they had learned about the Nile River that they didn't know before, here is what they said:

Little Man: "It grows a reed that they make paper out of......(long pause)...it's called pa-pa-papyrus."

Son C: "The Nile River was very important to Egypt."

Son L: "There's a measuring post where they measure how high the flood crests are."

Son G: "It goes through 8 other countries besides Egypt and is the longest river in the world."

Daughter G: "When the Nile overflowed each year it left silt behind which was good for growing crops."

Pretty good learning for the first day!

Monday, August 23, 2010

School? Did somebody say school?

Every August I go through this, and somehow every year I manage to forget.

The last two weeks of August are crunch time for me because not only am I preparing for a new school year to start, I am also preparing for another REAL moms ministry year to start. If you've read my blog for awhile, you may remember that REAL moms is the new name we've given to the MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) program, and I am the coordinator for the evening group that meets at our church two Wednesday nights a month.

We almost always have a leadership/training retreat in August (hours and hours of preparation for that), and are looking to fill any holes on our leadership team (hours of work on that too). We are working to develop our theme for the new year, divide the groups into their tables of 8 for the year, buying beginning of the year gifts, and a host of other details necessary before our first REAL moms meeting. Of course I'm not doing all this by myself, but the responsibility to oversee everything is mine.

In the midst of this, God always reminds me that this is HIS ministry. Not mine. He has plans to work through it that I can only guess at, people (leaders) He has in mind to work through and ladies He wants to reach. August provides good opportunities to surrender my role in this ministry to Him. In that mindset, the hours of work on REAL moms truly do not seem like work.

On the other hand, working on REAL moms means I'm NOT working on other things. The house is not ready for school (literally ~ our school room expansion is not nearly finished and it is a huge jumble of stuff right now), my mind is not fully focused on school, and I discovered yesterday that there were 3 books we needed in order to start school TODAY that I had forgotten to order (I paid for 2 day shipping ~ they'll be here Wed!).

BUT.....we're starting school anyway! The beginning of our school year is always a gradual thing, and we are just going to go with the flow. I may never experience an August where I feel totally "ready", books are perfectly lined up, supplies are all purchased, and pencils are all sharpened (which reminds me, I should check and see if we have sharpened pencils!). Our virtual co-op start date dictates that we need to start now. So I will do as I do with REAL moms ~ remind myself that this is GOD'S homeschool, not mine, that we are accomplishing HIS plans, not mine, and that He will provide all we need to accomplish HIS goals for our homeschool, whether I feel ready or not. I *have* spent hours and hours this summer preparing for school too, so I will offer those hours to Him and just START.

New school year, here we come!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Grief and Gratitude (again)

This past week the children and I once again visited the grave of a little boy who died before he was born. He is the son of dear friends of ours who have moved out of state. Because his mother is not here and able to do this herself, we go each year and clean off the grave, arrange flowers, and pray for his family and all the families we know who have lost little loved ones. I truly love doing this for my friend, and it's become a sweet and special time that we look forward to. We always bring black eyed Susan flowers from our yard because his mama's name is Susan.

God, we still don't know or understand all the reasons why you allow some children to live for such a short time in their mothers' wombs or on this earth before calling them home, but we thank you for each life that you create. YOU are the author of life, not we. Each life matters, and each life is one you love and have died for. Thank you for creating this little boy and all the children that girlfriends of mine mourn and miss. Comfort the hearts of their families, who still wonder what they would have been like and how their families would be different had these children lived. Thank you that these precious babes have already arrived at their true home and that we will meet them some day. Thank you for the sweetness of young life, and the familiarity of old life, and everything in between. We trust you Lord. And we love you.