Thursday, December 27

Christmas Break Plans

Warning: Rambling ahead

We are taking two weeks off and I love that Christmas came at the beginning of it, so we could incorporate our holiday preparation into our studies… and now we can breathe a bit.

I am in the middle of planning the next three units in order to get us to Easter when we’ll take another two-week break. We are going to be studying Growth for the next four weeks… physical (bodies and nutrition), mental (decision making and problem solving), spiritual (hopefully trying some new Bible study tactics), and social (manners and friendships). It’s really slow going because there is so much wrapped up in this topic.

In February we’ll do a unit on the miracles of Jesus and I’m really looking forward to it. We’ll explore the principles behind the miracles, not to take the mystery out of them, but to gain more understanding and perhaps instill a greater sense of awe in all of us. So, we’ll be looking at nature (water, fish, weather, blindness, fig trees, ears, etc.), distance, disease (all those healings…) death (and resuscitation!), and the spirit world (all those demon possessions). Looking at that list makes me think it’s going to be a crazy ride.

I can’t recall what the next unit will be after that. I obviously still have some work to do.

I’m also starting to think through the next class I’ll teach at our co-op. Waaaayy too many options here. I love teaching academic stuff with a lot of tactile methods, but I also need something that won’t tax me in preparation time. I’m usually up far too late on Thursday nights before class the next day. Some ideas: dinosaurs, ancient Rome, journaling, world religions…nothing’s really screaming at me. Give me suggestions.

Tomorrow, we’ll have a field trip to OMSI. We haven’t been for a while and we received a membership for Christmas. I’m hoping the holiday light show at the planetarium is worth going to. We’ll find out. Next week the older boys are going to Winter Break Basketball Camp here in town Wednesday through Friday. That will count toward p.e. attendance as well. (In WA we have to account for 180 days of schooling, so I get those days in anyway I can, even when we are on break).

Just 10 days left. I’d better get on it.

Friday, December 21

Teaching About Reproduction

We just finished our last day of our unit on Families and Reproduction. We read through Mary and Elizabeth’s accounts and the entire Christmas story. We studied families in four other countries. And we talked about the importance of families to society and the roles we all fill in our own home. And then, of course, there is the science of it all. Since we had a baby last year, this isn’t the first time we’ve talked about how babies are made. But we did delve deeper into it.

When teaching an 8 year old and a 5 year old on the topic of reproduction you naturally run into a sticky situation on several levels. One obstacle is the fact that they are at very different stages of interest in the topic. For the 5 year old, reproduction is like a magic trick. Put two things together and get a third thing. Cool. He’s pretty happy with that.

For the 8 year old there are more questions and a budding curiosity around the mechanics of the whole thing. We started with cells and DNA, we moved into plants and pollen and ovums, then we mentioned animals and wombs and eggs and sperm and then by the time we got to human babies, it was pretty much old news. He knew what he needed to know. So rather than push him into anatomical knowledge he’s not ready for, I asked him (out of his brother’s earshot) if he had any questions about human baby making. He asked about were milk comes from when breastfeeding, wondered if it hurt to cut the umbilical cord, wanted to know if a uterus was the same as a stomach and if I could feel the babies inside. That was about it.

So, rather than create a sexual mental picture for him that he’s not ready to handle (why do most books for kids immediately illustrate the parents in the bedroom?), I spoke to his scientific side. Neither of the boys was left frustrated nor overexposed. Teaching to their level and not to some sterile standard leaves us all feeling much happier.

I just thought someone might benefit from knowing how I handled it.

A Little End of The Unit Quiz for You

Answer it right, get a bean bag to toss. Earn one or two points depending on where it lands. Every two points gets a marble in the jar. Fill up the marble jar, earn a little something from the box of goodies. [That’s how we work around here].

4th Grade Questions:

  1. True or False: When a cell divides it creates a new cell with the exact same instructions.
  2. What is genetics? A) the study of heredity b) the study of plants c) the study of animals.
  3. What do all animal cells need to survive? A) hydrogen b) oxygen c) nitrogen
  4. When a sperm enters an egg it is called a) reproduction b) fertilization c) mitosis
  5. Fill in the blank: Some plants like ferns and mosses produce millions of tiny ______________ that are blown by the wind to plant themselves and grow.
  6. What letters designate the chromosomes that determine if a baby is a girl or a boy? A) q and r b) j and k c) x and y
  7. True or False: Gregor Mendel discovered that some genes (like eye and hair color) will be dominant.
  8. What does a cell use DNA for? A) fighting germs b) making food c) getting instructions
  9. Which of these is not connected? A) sepal and pistil b) anther and filament c) stigma and ovary
How’d you do?

Monday, December 10

Why Is This Only About Homeschooling?

1. Education is my passion. I've done my time in education acquiring a B.A. and an M.A. degree. I've supported my husband through 3 of his 4 degrees -- edited every paper of his including the 200 pg. dissertation. I want my kids to have the best education possible. I imagine that when the kids are off on their own, I'll even go back and do more schooling. Every year that I'm out of school I realize how much I'm no longer learning. And on one level it bugs me that life is changing and I don't have time to figure out an RSS feed because my kids need to know the parts of a cell. (Of course, I needed a refresher in that, but cells aren't going to change anytime soon.)

2. I tend to be a bit ADD myself I think. It could just be the effects of managing three small kids, but there are times that I can't remember what I was thinking from one second to the next because there's so much to deal with. So, a blog that isn't focused would be a total disservice. My goal is to break down stereotypes of what our life as a homeschooling family is like and to demonstrate that not all homeschoolers are the same.

3. I don't enjoy reading other people's blogs who say they are all about painting for instance and then they are suddenly telling me how to make peppermint brownies.

4. I journal as an emotional outlet, source for venting, keeping track of prayers and struggles and milestones. If you want to get inside my head, read my journals... but you'd have to kill me first as they are only open to the public once I'm turned back to dust.

5. I have no idea how to blog about the rest of life without talking about the people of life. And many times those people let me down, frustrate me or do things I don't understand. They don't need to know about that. I just need to get over it. I like to keep relationships. They are hard to replace.

Do I think about other stuff? Yep. Right now we are struggling with "what's next" for us, family drama, and financial pressures. Those won't be made public here. One of these days I'll get around to the "emergent" part of this blog, but I seriously have to think hard on that because I know I'll get blasted once I enter that stadium.

Of course, it might not be so bad because I think the five people that read this like me at least a little bit.

Thursday, December 6

Kicked it to the Curb

We were doing a Bible Study book together in the Explorer's Bible Study Series on Luke and Acts this year. It's a simple workbook study where you read the text straight from the book (though it's not in the most kid-friendly version) and answer 6-12 questions each day, with one day for reviewing and doing a map study. There were zero application questions though and nothing other than rote regurgitation. Because we're spending the year on the life of Jesus, I thought it was a good way to introduce them to the Savior I want them to know. I'm embarrassed to say that we managed to do it for about 10 weeks, much to the great discomfort of my two boys...and their parents. So, after that "trial period" I had to re-evaluate.
  • Was this teaching them anything meaningful about the life of Jesus? Perhaps. It majored on the details of his story.
  • Was this teaching them anything about the value of studying the Bible regularly? Well, it was teaching them that doing it daily meant daily discomfort.
  • Was it, at the very least, a good method of improving their penmanship? No. After a couple weeks, they were DONE answering those questions.
  • Was this doing anything to help transform them into fully devoted followers of Christ? Nada. They hated this book, hated the time we spent it in, moaned and groaned and I'm sorry for putting them through the experience.
So, now we're using the Bible lessons from my curriculum which I love and I always have loved; I guess I thought there needed to be more to it than "read and discuss." The lessons aren't very detailed, so I can hit whatever points seem most applicable to the kids and they can ask me questions or just wiggle and catch whatever their young minds and hearts can catch. Nobody has to write, just find the verses and read them. It's pretty pain free.

And I'm pretty sure, the point is not to make them hate studying the Bible.

Monday, December 3

Taking the Day Off

Whew. It was a busy weekend.

We were supposed to start a new unit today. But I was completely unprepared. So I declared it a "teacher inservice day" and we did what we needed to do to give it a go tomorrow.

The open house was good for my boys. Thanks, Amy, for coming and asking good questions. They weren't nearly as cooperative for my parents by the way... too exicted to go get our Christmas tree.

We'll do at least one more this year, maybe two.

Okay -- so the to- do list is waiting. I don't want anything hanging over my head so we can get a running start at "Families and Reproduction" tomorrow. (Yep, that IS our new study for the next three weeks.)