November 24, 2011

Farmer Boy

At our first Z.A.S. meeting we learned how to butcher a chicken. Calvin asked to take care of his own chicken from start to finish. He was given first pick.
The work was much harder than he thought it would be, but he hung right in there.
Every bit of this boy is bursting with pride. He has the heart to feed his family when it counts. He learned all about the anatomy of a chicken in the bargain.
He brought his bird home and made chicken and dumpling soup. It was the best chicken soup I've ever had, being full of my boy's pride.

November 17, 2011

Fall in My Backyard

I am in love with fall.

The smell of cinnamon and falling leaves.

The colors. OH the colors!

Cool breezes through open windows.

November 11, 2011

School of Leadership

Lately I've been handing projects off to the kids to be in charge of. For science we are building a large scale periodic table. I put Calvin in charge of making sure the element cards get done by everyone. We have over a hundred to do, after all. So he hands out a sheet of cards that need illustrating, then follows up with each sibling to make sure they are making progress. He's encouraging them and helping them come up with ideas. He's polishing up his teaching skills.

I caught Joshua doing an element sheet that Calvin handed to him. No complaining or arguing; just doing and with a good attitude.

Some days I put someone else in charge of math for the day. I have them check each others answers, (catching another person's errors helps reinforce their own knowledge). So the math leader's job is to assign grading and make sure everyone completed their work. I found that it works great when I have a student that needs more help on a concept. This way everyone else can move on with their respective lessons, and I can focus.

Calvin is doing his math, after Joshua checked his answers from the previous day.

For the most part, they work peacefully together. Though it's not a perfect system. When a fight breaks out I back up whoever the leader is by reminding whoever is arguing that "______ is in charge of this project, defer to him/her. You will want the same respect when it's your turn to lead." If the leader is yelling or using bad judgment, I will pull them aside and privately affirm good leadership skills or (if necessary) correct bad behavior.

Consciously teaching my children to be good leaders is one of the many reasons I homeschool.


November 10, 2011

Homeschooling the Difficult Reader

I've shared semi-openly here that Jeremiah is my reluctant reader. Capturing his interest (and keeping it) has been my biggest challenge in homeschooling...ever.

I'm fairly certain that Jeremiah is a right-brained thinker. He doesn't enjoy anything concrete. He has creativity oozing out of his ears. He struggles with the phonetic code. His progress has been 3 steps forward, 2 steps back.

I truly believe in letting each child work at their own pace. I follow my kids interests when I choose what we will study next. However, there are those times that you have to push a child to do things they simply do not want to do. Many times my kids have discovered a new interest or talent after a little nudging from Mom or Dad.

I can't say that I haven't worried over Jeremiah. So many times I wondered, "is homeschooling right for him?" or "am I going about this the right way?" I haven't been in any particular hurry. I've waited patiently for that magical moment to kick in for him. That moment when all the letters on the page just suddenly make sense. However, that just has not happened for Jeremiah. So it's time to explore other options.

Some of the things we've tried: How to Teach Your Child in 100 Easy Lessons: I used it to teach the other two boys how to read with no issues. I didn't even finish the book before they were reading independently.

Right Brain Phonics
: We did this one for a while. We used the flash cards and word lists. But it's very dry. There aren't any stories. It just never held his interest long enough to be very effective. There wasn't that feeling of accomplishment you get when you read a story. Besides, he's had so much trouble with the phonetic code...

Reading Incentives: We did the summer reading challenge at the library this past summer. We went to the library every week. I even set a family goal of taking everyone out to Sonic for Happy Hour, if everyone completed a book that week. We made it to Sonic almost every week. He made a lot of progress this summer, but he still wasn't reading independently.

So now we are trying Hooked on Phonics. I bought the first grade kit, since that is about his level.

He puts in the dvd and watches his lesson. Then we read the workbook pages together. At the end of every unit, he gets a book that he sits down to read on his own. This was the first time he ever sat down to read a book without my help! He was so stinkin' proud. 

After he does his silent reading he comes to me and answers some comprehension questions. He is flying through the first box. He actually comes to me and ASKS to do a reading lesson. The curriculm was a little pricy, but it was totally money well spent.

I did not receive any compensation, nor was I given any of these products as a sample.

November 9, 2011

Happy Birthday Leon

Joshua wanted to make his dad a birthday cake from scratch all by himself. So he got a recipe. Disregarded the instructions. Dumped the ingredients in the bowl. Whipped it till it was light and fluffy. And VOILA! Bon Appetit!
The cake was fantastic. Moist. Chocolatey. Delicious.

November 7, 2011

Zombie Apocalypse Survivalists

I am in the throes of a few big projects. One of them is starting a local Emergency Preparedness group with other local families. It's more than just a Prepper group. We are also learning more about self sufficiency or urban homesteading. Something near and dear to my heart.

We started a blog (because I needed another one?). I'm really excited about it. You should check it out, Zombie Apocalypse Survivalists. We don't really believe in a coming Zombie Apocalypse, or maybe we do..., but it is a fun theme. It's good to be prepared for anything. We'll be calling ourselves Z.A.S. for short.

The blog is really cool because we are such a diverse group and several of us are contributing. There are so many different perspectives and values coming to the table. I love these people very much. We are also just getting started. By reading the blog you'll see something great come together from the beginning.

I'll share a few of our projects here as we go. Don't forget to check out the blog when you leave here!


November 4, 2011

This Week for School

We took a trip to the Capitol and the Museum of History. I think we will be taking several trips to this museum now that we are back to American history. It's great to get out and see exhibits for the stories we are reading about. Not only is it entertaining, but it's free!

There is a new exhibit called The Story of North Carolina. We learned about many local stories such as Cary's Rebellion. Walking through it is like walking through a time warp. It's very well done. 

We also started the Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. It's slow going, the boys aren't falling all over themselves to find out what happens next. Still, it's a good story and a great way to get some discussions on morality and the importance of separation of church and state.

It's been a pretty good week. Jeremiah started Hooked on Phonics. Reading is still his least favorite thing to do, but he's made lots of progress this week. We also found a box of Scrabble Cheese Nips. We had fun putting together words.