Time to start geography!

So, first a confession. I’ve been totally slacking off on doing much “school reading” with my younger kids. I’ve been having Jenny tag along with Emily on Sonlight’s Core B, which is working fairly well. But I haven’t been getting to the morning reading much at all, which theoretically was supposed to be one P3/4 book for Charlotte and then P4/5 for Jenny (these are the Sonlight preschool cores, in case you aren’t familiar with Sonlight).

It’s really easy with homeschooling to focus on the oldest kid/kids, I find, because they’re doing the most “real” work, and they’re old enough that it’s more crucial for them to be getting enough school in. But that shouldn’t mean that the younger kids are getting an inferior education, of course.

I think part of the problem is that the preschool cores just don’t have an overarching theme to pull them together. I remember being somewhat bored with P3/4, P4/5, and even Core A when I was going through them with Emily, too. The books are great, and we enjoyed reading them, but I like being able to see the pattern as you travel through time or place, that sort of thing.

So, even though I’m not finished with P4/5 (which was what I was originally waiting for), I think I’m just going to go ahead and skip to our “around the world” unit with Jenny and Charlotte. I’m also flying by the seat of my pants, because… it’s not finished! While I do have a mostly complete list of books, I only have the schedule planned out for the first ten weeks or so, which gets me through North and South America and just starting on Europe. But as long as I keep working on it, I should have plenty of time to finish the rest before I get to it. I put the first few books on hold, and we’ll start once they all arrive, probably starting this Monday if they arrive in time.

We start in Canada, so that means we’ll be reading the entries for Canada that are in some of our spines:
My First Atlas
Children Just Like Me
Children Around the World
My Librarian is a Camel

along with some fictional stories from:
Around the World in 80 Tales
Tales of the Shimmering Sky.

We’ll read:
Very Last First Time
Shi-shi-etko
Goose’s Story
Wilderness Cat
Dawn Watch
Olden Days Coat
Perfect Snow
Up Home

We have some songs from the two World Playground CDs, and some science from “Science Around the World” and “The Science Chef Travels the World.”

Between all of them, we end up with a nice variety, covering native Canadians, the frozen north, surburban life, the Great Lakes, both snowy days and summer, and some of the cultural influences on Canada from French, to Scots-Irish, to “Eskimo.”

I was slightly disappointed to find that one book, “the Gift of the Inuksuk,” had disappeared from the library before I got to use it. I looked for something to replace it, but I think for now I’ll just leave that slot blank, and maybe we’ll have a light reading day, or we’ll double up and get two days done in one. More likely the former than the latter, as I still have the Core B readings to get done in the afternoon!

The new passports arrived for the girls today, too. I decided this time to take the easy way out, and ordered two passports from “My Father’s World” to use for our flag stickers. I’m also using a sticker book instead of making my own stickers, http://smile.amazon.com/Flags-World-Color-Stickers-Dover/dp/0486485269/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1423105157&sr=1-1&keywords=flag+stickers. The stickers look to be just about the right size. The passports have about 23 usable pages, maybe 24 if you want to use the inside of the back cover. If you keep the stickers placed reasonably tightly, you can fit 4 stickers to a page. So that’s 92 stickers if you use 23 pages. The flag book comes with 96, but there are a few that we might not use because we don’t actually cover the country. If I really wanted to use every sticker, I’d just use the back cover and I’d have enough pages, anyway. So I think we’re good.

The girls are really excited about the flag/passport books, and also about the sticker books we’ll be using here and there. We have Usborne’s “Sticker Dolly Dressing Around the World” and “Sticker Dolly Dressing Costumes Around the World.” The first is one that we used last time we did this, but the second is new to us (not sure if it wasn’t around last time, or if I just didn’t know about it).

If you’ve been waiting for the geography program, know that I’m working on it and should have something to send you fairly soon. Starting on it should give me the impetus to get it done. 🙂

Back home in time for Advent!

So, I mentioned in my previous post that we were on a visit to Seth’s parents. We’re back now, but we ended up staying about two weeks for a pretty awesome visit!

One new thing we tried was leaving at a different time of day. Usually when we visit my parents, we leave around dinnertime and arrive in the wee morning hours. That way the kids sleep for most of the drive. However, Seth’s parents didn’t want us arriving during the night. So we switched up, and instead we left a little after 3am, planning to arrive around noon. We ended up making fantastic time and arrived around 10:30 or so.

Seth’s parents have a pretty small two-bedroom apartment, so we were a little concerned about how well it would work, adding in an additional 6 people (including a newborn) into such a small place. But Seth’s mom is something of an organizational genius, and she made it work. She said she looked upon it as an engineering challenge. 🙂 So, his parents gave us their bedroom, and they fixed up the closet so that Megan could sleep in a laundry basket on the floor. Then I could close the closet door and give her a little bit of a noise buffer (not a lot, as the front of the door is slotted and it doesn’t close all the way, but at least a little). The girls all shared a bed made up of piles of blankets on the floor of my FIL’s office. And my in-laws moved downstairs and slept in the living room, on the couch and an air mattress. They wake very early in the morning, so it worked best to have Seth and I retire upstairs when they were ready to go to bed, and then they didn’t disturb us in the morning. Seth’s mom also brought up a little table to act as a changing table, and fixed up a ton of little baskets and bins and emptied some drawers so that we could put things away, so we really fit quite well. We had a great time with them, too. I even got a few days of school done (although really just a few).

One new thing we’re doing this month is something called, “The Truth in the Tinsel.” It’s an Advent program that gets kids excited about Jesus’ birth by having a little lesson/activity each day in December. Each day, you have a reading from the Bible during which kids listen for a specific word or concept, a lesson, and a craft. For instance, today we read Isaiah 9:2-7, part of the prophecy about Jesus and the establishment of a forever kingdom, and then we made little crowns and read about Jesus as a descendant of David and how he would be king of justice and peace forever. The crafts you make are Christmas ornaments, so you can decorate your tree with reminders of what Christmas is really about. I love the idea. We’re a little behind because we didn’t start until we got back home (I didn’t have my craft supplies at my in-law’s and it would have taken a lot of extra money to buy duplicates of items I had at home just so we could start on time). I think we’ll do two crafts a day on occasion until we catch up.

We actually did yesterday’s craft, making a little candle silhouette, during gymnastics. Emily and Jenny both take gymnastics, and their classes are on the same night but overlap by only 15 minutes. Which means that we’re there for almost 2 hours. Ugh. Least favorite night of the week, let me tell you! But between needing to go grocery shopping that morning (as we’d just returned Monday and the fridge was empty) and then needing to practice violin before gymnastics, we ran out of time to do that day’s Advent craft. So I brought along craft supplies to gymnastics, and we used a little empty table there and did the lesson and craft. We had two little girls who were also waiting for siblings join us. Good thing I thought that might happen and packed extra scissors and glue sticks.

I’m really excited about getting to the countries in our geography program. Right now we’re in the middle of the first three weeks of “introduction to geography,” where we read the parts of “A Child’s Introduction to the World” about geography and mapping and such, and the parts of “A Life Like Mine” that talk about the general needs/desires of children and how they are fulfilled (or not fulfilled) in different countries around the world. It’s not really incredibly fun, but I think that particularly the parts in CIttW provide a useful basis for looking at geography that I do want to preserve.

But I am getting all excited about getting to Native America! I threw it in there during our section o North America because we won’t hit it in a Sonlight core for a while and I thought it would be fun, plus we have a lot of stories from Native America. So that will be our first “country,” so to speak. We have “The Very First Americans” to give a good nonfiction basis to our study, lots of missionary stories, and “The Girl Who Helped Thunder” to provide a lot of the fiction stories. I really like the layout of GWHT, as it groups the stories by area (Northeast, Southeast, etc.) and then also lists which tribe each story comes from. And the illustrations look like Native American artifacts, so they lend a nice verisimilitude. We have a bunch of other stories, a few profiles of modern Native American children, and some extra books on the Eskimos.

We also have some fun activities to look forward to. We’ll be putting together a simple 3D paper longhouse, making a pueblo out of clay, making a teepee cake and a picture of teepees, creating an igloo out of sugar cubes, and making succotash and cornbread. So lots of excitement! I’ll really have to try to take pictures. I might try to take some of our Advent crafts as well, just for fun.