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Thursday, September 4, 2014

Finding our rhythm with Waldorf and Montessori Inspired Learning.

Over the course of the last yr I have slowly been adding to our collection of Waldorf and Montessori material. Recently I bought the lifetime membership to Earthschooling which is a Waldorf inspired curriculum. Both of these educational paths offer so much that is can be a bit of a challenge to figure out what works best for each child and when. After a few weeks of stressing myself out attempting to fit it all in for both the kids I decided I need some kind of schedule or organization to our days. At first I did what most of us tend to do and right at a hour by hour schedule knowing full well I would slowly find myself not sticking to it because it wasn't relaxed enough. I found my self a bit lost as to what to do at that point. I need to cover two different levels kinder and 5th, I need to find a way to both fit everything I wanted into our lives but still remain relaxed. So after a day of moving this subject here and that skill there I think I have come up with something I feel will work for all three of us.

What I decided is three days a week I would but the main focus on Alyssa's 5th grade work with Maverick doing only math, phonics, sight words, reading, and art. Most of this he can do with very little help from me. Those days are also on days that we do not usually have field trips or park days. I did this because at the kinder level much of the learning takes place through play so having our field trips and park days on Maverick' days will not take away from his learning it will only add to it. Where as Alyssa is at the age of learning through reading more. Alyssa's days will be Tues. , Thurs., and Sat. while Maverick's days will be Mon., Wed., Fri.

Then I went a step further and decided to plan out six weeks at a time. Not so much the day to day planning but the general topic for each subject area for each child. I also filled in days I know we will have field trips or park days into the schedule. Then I broke up the subject areas into morning and afternoon with most of the work being covered in the morning and the more crafts, art, and nature studies being covered in the afternoon. Not having it planned out by actual time allows us to move subjects to the morning if we finish early or move to the afternoon if we go over in a subject in the morning. I feel this way of planning feels less like a schedule and more like a layout of the rhythm of our week.

Below is an ex. of our layout.

Monday- Maverick Day
Morning block- Morning verse/yoga, circle time/finger plays, Phonics/sight words, Math, art/form drawing, life skills
* Alyssa will be working on individual reading book usually one that goes along with her history or science, a handcraft that she is working on, Math. Plus she will join in with Maverick for yoga, art, and life skills lessons
Afternoon block- Nature studies/ Story/ outdoor play for both children.

Tuesday- Alyssa Day
Morning block- Math, language arts, history/geography, music, Spanish,life skills
* Maverick will be working with Montessori math manipultives, phonics/sight words, blocks,life skills ect
Afternoon block- Science, handcraft/woodworking , art/form drawing, outside play for both kids

Wednesday - Maverick Day
Morning Block-Morning verse/yoga, circle time/ finger plays, phonics/sight words, math, art/form drawing, life skills
* Alyssa will join in with yoga, art/form drawing, do individual reading, and work with Montessori Manipultives for math
Afternoon block- Nature studies/ Story/ outdoor play for both kids

Thursday - Alyssa Day
Morning Block- Math, Language Arts, History/ Geography, music, Spanish, life skills
* Maverick will be working with Montessori manipultives, phonics/sight words, life skills
Afternoon Block- Science/ Handcraft/woodworking, art, outside play for both kids

Friday- Maverick Day
Morning Block- Morning verse/ yoga, circle time/finger plays, phonics/sight words, math, art/form drawing, life skills
* Alyssa will join in with yoga, art/form drawing, do individual reading, Montessori math, and finish up any craft for the week
Afternoon- Park day for both kids

Saturday- Alyssa Day
Morning Block- Math, Language Arts, History/ Geography, music, Spanish, life skills
* Maverick will work with Montessori materials, blocks, clay, phonics, sightwords, life skills
Afternoon Block- Science, handcraft/woodworking, art, outside play for both kids.

We will use the seasons and holidays to decide what topics will be covered in each subject area. Also there will be times where we will use reading and writing to cover the main topics. For. ex. the next 6-8 weeks are main topics will be Native Americans, Fall Holidays, Minerals, Nature, and American Geography. We will cover reading, story time, writing using these topics. Geography will be covered by using where different tribes lived and where different Holidays are observed in the world.

 I really do think this will not only allow us to have a natural rhythm to our week but allow for me to cover more areas in a more relaxed way with each child.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Finally feeling like we have found our place in the homeschooling community

We have been at this for four years now. In the process two years ago we moved from Dallas Georgia to Newnan Georgia. When we were in Dallas we had met some wonderful like minded homeschoolers that ran a great group. It wasn't a co-op but one for outings, park days and such which was perfect for us at the time. Once we moved it was hard finding such a group again. We are going on two years here in Newnan and all the homeschoolers we had found seemed to have been a part of one co-op. I didn't want to join the co-op here for a number of reasons. One was that you have to sign a statement of faith which I can't do because I do not believe in organized religion. It also was more like grade level classes which was not something we really wanted to do. I am very relaxed and feel my kids should not only have the time the need to learn but the right to follow their own interest. During this time we still joined in with homeschooling families we know that lived hrs away but only once in a while. It was starting to feel like we would never find the right group for us that was close by.

Well I am happy to say I think we finally found our group. Funny thing is I had joined their facebook page over a yr ago but seemed they posted everything on yahoo as far as outings and we missed out on many connections. I met one family that we started to have park days with and she introduced to some other families that were also pretty close and it just took off from there. One of the moms held a " NOt Back To School" event at her house and it was perfect. Perfect for the kids perfect for me. It was so wonderful to see 15 plus kids ages 2-15 all running and playing together and not one single issue. No fights, no picking, just smiles, fun, and laughter. All the parents were great too. We only expected to be there for a few hrs and finally had to pull ourselves out after 5 hrs of extreme fun only because it was getting late. I finally felt like we had found our place once again. A group of families that for the most part have the same philosophy about education and learning as we do. A group that wasn't focused so much on co-op classes as they were on natural real life learning. A group that seems everyone's ideas and opinions flowed naturally to help each other not judge. A group that I didn't have to sign a faith statement feeling like an outcast. There are tons of ways for homeschoolers to get involved and socialize all over the homeschool community now this is true but that doesn't mean finding the ones that truly fit is always easy. It takes you as the parent searching them out. I am glad I finally found one that not only seems a great fit for my kids but for me as well.








I am truly looking forward to this year and to all the adventures we have with our new friends. If you haven't found that right fit yet don't give up. Sometimes it take awhile but when you find them it is a beautiful thing.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

New year, New ideas

I haven't wrote since we finished off last school year in May even though we started back up in July. We spent the last few weeks trying out a few new resources just to see what I thought about them. I will post what I wrote about them on our facebook page below.

Over the last week we have tried out two free programs just to see what we thought of them. We used the discoveryk12 online program and the Easy Peasy all in one homeschool. I thought I would post my thoughts on both a kind of pros and cons in my opinion. Ok first let me say not only did we use both programs we also used all parts of the programs and added on other material that we normally use. My kids were able to finish the daily work in both plus the add on is 4-5 hrs. So even though I felt the basics are being covered I just kind of felt like neither program was enough for me and mine. If we continue to use either of them I def. will be adding to them for a bit more hands on learning. I will say both programs allowed the kids to pretty much work independently while I did a whole lot of standing around wondering what to do with myself,lol. Ok so Discovery k12 pros are it keeps records of attendance, work, reading, grades, p.e ect which I really liked and for those who need to keep good records it may be a life saver for you. I liked that non core subjects like P.E., music, art were covered. My cons were that a good bit of the history and science was pretty much just watch this video and take notes which for elementary age is just not going to cut it. It was a bit boring and dry. Another con was that at this time you do not have the ability to change levels in different subjects. Many homeschool children are at different levels in different subjects. I would have also liked to see more engaged questions being given to the subjects of history and science. The spelling is pretty much write, look up, and remember the words. There is no teaching of the rules. Now let me tell you my thoughts on Easy Peasy. First off it is a Christian based curriculum and there will be many links that will be geared toward that world view. However most of the Christian topics can be easily skipped over without losing the mass of the entire curriculum. I love the math but it is using khan academy so if you didn't want to use Easy peasy but wanted to use the math you could just use Khan from their website. I felt a little more could be covered daily in the area of grammar, voc, and spelling as I found it to fall a bit short there for my taste. However you could easily fill that with a few free educational sites or even a grammar workbook. The literature I loved it was def. a pro in my book because it is mainly Classical literature and has direct links to the books. For history and science we were using year 3 which actually covers geography and earth science and astronomy. I found it to be plenty and plan to continue to use it for a spine for this years geography and science. At this point I plan to discontinue using them except for the Easy Peasy geography which I will use for now but mainly just as an outline. 

Neither of these programs just felt like us. So I am yet again just winging it in many areas but that is ok as I lean toward a very relaxed form of education anyway. So you might be wondering what are we using then. First let me say all that we use as far as curriculum is used very loosely and really used as more of a guide for me to pull from. That being said I will post this years line up for both my 5th grader and my kinder.

Alyssa-5th grade
Math- we will be sticking with A+Tutorsoft for our 4th yr now and pulling from other resources like khan academy and our large amount of Montessori manipulative.
Grammar- We will still be using Growing with Grammar it is short , easy to use, and has worked great the last few yrs.
Spelling- we are using a mixture of All About Spelling( to recover some rules) and Spelling Power( the orange book not the public school curriculum)
Lit- will be covering a few classics( we have already started reading Treasure Island) and allowing her to pick her own books.
Geography- Using Easy Peasy Geography as a guide but adding in country studies that may fit with topics in other subject areas. We also plan to do a huge Christmas aaaaround the world study in Nov/Dec
Science- we are loosely going to cover Earth science and Astronomy not using any one curriculum but pulling from Science Odyssey and Waldorf material along with many books, movies,websites, and projects
History- Mainly we plan to cover Prehistorical Life along with a bit of evolution and the Middle Ages again not using any actual curriculum but pulling from a few that I have collected and adding in books, movies,websites, projects( we have alread made swords and shields this yr- see picture below)

Maverick- Grade K
Math- Hands on games and Montessori Manipultives 
Phonics/reading- This is one of the main areas I plan to focus with him one on one with this yr and so we are using many different things- we do daily sight words( he is up to 240 as of today), Explode the code, Sound City Reading( which is a free program you can find online and goes up to I believe the 2nd grade), and Click and Read Phonics which is an animated program
Spelling- All About Spelling level 1- I am really not concerned if he gets through level one this yr or if we continue to use it again but so far he has not missed a beat and is doing well with only 15-20 mins a day using it
Geography, Science, and History all will be covered by him working with his older sister but only doing his level of work. We also plan to start next week a month long study of Dinosaurs and Archeology/ Paleontology just because he has shown such a huge interest in these areas. We will use books, movies, websites, and yes a real archeological dig in the back yard. 
Maverick also is doing a morning wall which covers months , days of the week, seasons, weather/temp, holidays, maps, shapes. It is an easy , fun way to cover all these topics without it feeling to much to him. 

Some of the new things we are doing this yr are taking a monthly class at the local nature center, joined a homeschool group for weekly park days, Doing monthly class at the history center, taking an art class for 8 weeks, taking swimming class in the spring, Joined a group of unschoolers for weekly unschooling day, joining the monthly class at the zoo,plus we will attend at least 3 other field trips a month through out the state depending on events happening at different times of the yr. My goal is 3 days a week doing what most would see as book/ school work, one day a week for classes, and one day a week for just socializing and natural real world learning. I really am attempting to grow as much as my children in this year. Moving ever closer to letting go of that school mind that they have to know something at a certain age. Hopefully I will also grow in the area of seeing learning as part of life and not something that has to come from being pushed on them so demanding and rigorously. The first six weeks of this school year have been a great success and I feel it can only get better as I learn to see what they need and want to learn and learn to think more outside the box on how to give that to them. I wish all of you a great school year and I look forward to seeing what you are changing up this year and how you and your children will grow.







 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Everyday you are learning something new

Last week was our yearly family trip to Jekyll Island Georgia. It is the one week a year that my entire family looks forward to some fun in the sun. I am a full believer that everyday you are learning and that life will always give you a new adventure to learn from. On our trip we had many new adventures and some first not just for my kids but for me and my husband as well. 






While on our trip we learned how to go crabbing. Like most people now days when you don't know how to do something you google it or watch a youtube video. We watched many and learned most people tie chicken into the crab basket. You lower the basket down into the shallow of the water and attach it to the dock. Then you wait about ten minutes and pull it up really fast usually you will have a crab or two in the basket. The crabs are kept on ice because they must be cleaned while alive. Let me tell you from our learning experience catching them is way more fun than cleaning them. It is not for those with a weak stomach. My kids really enjoyed crabbing because it is easy and some what of a faster pace than fishing.

We also learned you must throw the pregnant female crabs back. below is a picture of a pregnant female crab. The orange sack are the eggs.
My daughter Alyssa even caught one stone crab but we gave him away because his claws were a bit frightening to me,lol
If you every take a trip down to Jekyll Island don't miss out on the dolphin tours. It is a 90 min boat ride that takes you out right into the middle of a pod of dolphins. Not only was this the first time any of us has ever saw dolphins in person but it was the first boat ride for both of my youngest two children. It was also a great treat from the heat.

While on the boat ride we learned that dolphins can hold their breath for about 18-20 mins and that they will beach them selves for prey once beached the other dolphins will help get them back into the water by causing a big wave of water to reach the beached dolphin. Also that manatee live in the channel off Jekyll Island because they actually need fresh water to survive and they will swim many miles up stream out of the ocean. We were not lucky enough to get a shot of the manatee though.

Another adventure we had on vacation was an hr trip south down to Florida were we visited Amelia Island. If you are wanting to go shell collecting Amelia Island is def. your place to go. There are millions of shells not just one here or there but piles and piles of shells. Also on Amelia is Fort Clinch it is an amazing place to visit and the brick work is just jaw dropping. Fort clinch has been used in 3 wars and was last used during WWII.

So even while on a relaxing vacation you are learning and having new experiences. The more you see that life is always teaching and you are always learning the more you will relax and just enjoy the experiences.




 



Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Just breathe and get re-centered.

Sometimes we as homeschooling parents get lost in the mix of teaching lessons, searching out more interesting material and helping our fellow homeschooling families. We take on a very heavy load of responsibility and it can and does from time to time throw you off balance in life. We get so focused on the needs of our children and our passion for homeschooling that we forget to address our own needs in the areas of physical, emotional, and spiritual. Before I started homeschooling I had been on a 7 yr spiritual journey , a undeniable thirst for spiritual knowledge and understanding. I 100% believe that spiritual journey lead me to the convictions I feel today so strongly about homeschooling my children. Yet somewhere along the way I let my own spiritual quest fall to the back ground so that I could give homeschooling most of my attention. I took on the running of countless homeschool groups to help others. I somehow stopped having time to search for my own spiritual truths because I was so busy between helping my children and helping my fellow homeschooling families. I stopped meditating ( which was something I knew kept me spiritually and mentally healthy). I realized that I had taken on such a huge amount of work in my drive to help others that I was living one very important person out( myself).

For about a year now that voice that calling has been saying you are doing to much. You need to take a step back and re-center yourself. Remember the bigger picture and the things that are important to you. I had noticed more and more I physically felt drained. I had restless sleeping pattern, and my connection to my inner guidance was not as open as it had been in the past. Not because it had some how disappeared but I had not slowed down long enough to listen to the message in the silence. There wasn't any silence even when I would try to sleep I would be thinking of new lesson ideas, materials I wanted to get, or websites I wanted to share for the benefit of others. I was losing my ability to turn off the switch per say and to just be. Just be with the stillness that has for so many years been my source of true knowing, my guide, my God. I knew deep down that something had to give. I had to take a breath, a break, and re-center myself and my focus on my vision of the co-creating life I truly wanted. I need to get back into my spiritual practices of prayer, intention, and meditation. I needed to reconnect within so that I could truly feel I was living the divine purpose God had planned for me.






Today it hit me that I needed this as much as I need air or water. I needed to regroup and re-center. I decide the first thing was to take a leave from facebook groups for a month. We had just met our yearly attendance and a vacation was a little over a week away. The second thing I needed to do was start back up my daily morning and evening meditations and lastly to reconnect and focus my intentions on the life I wanted to co-create.

To be a good mother, a good wife, and a good teacher we also have to be good at address our own personal needs. We can't just forget to love ourselves as well and loving yourself means taking some much needed me time. It means saying I need a break to just breathe. It means taking time for your spiritual practices be it a walk or meditation. It means an hour long soak in the tub if that is what you need to rejuvenate your soul. Take the time you need to just breathe and be full of life and love and then everything else will fall into it's rightful place in your life.  




This post is a reminder not just to me put to all those out there who need to slow it down a bit and re-center yourselves. JUST BREATHE!!!!!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

This years school materials





Math Materials Above

Geography Material Below





Grammar Material Below





Science Materials Below



Simple Lesson planning and schedules That fit

When I first started homeschooling not only did I think I had to use the same material as public schools I also thought I had to plan out our school year lesson by lesson subject by subject. I would spend weeks with all my curriculum books around me flipping through to divide the lessons by the number of days we do school. As I grew more comfortable homeschooling and realized how every little I actually used this type of lesson plan I devised my own system. It is simple not time consuming at all. For the most part curriculum wise I follow loosely Montessori/ Waldorf . Both have a good bit of flexibility and can be blended with many ages/levels. This allows me to have my kids working on the same topics at the same time in many areas. It also allows me to use my intuition when it comes to their own individual needs.  First off a make a list of topics I hope to cover in each subject. I also make a list of concepts or areas I feel each need more work in. Then I get 12 pieces of paper labeling each one with a month of the year. I add any special days like holidays or vacations that fall in that month. Then I start with the month we start our school year. This year that will be June. I list the topics to cover for each subject that month. I do not go into great detail. For ex. under science it may just say insects. Now we will dig deep into that topic but I do not write every single activity on my lesson plan. I then keep a daily log of what each child did in each area and amount of time spent.

This is an example of my weekly log


1st block(1Hr)

Circle time

Spiritual

Reading

Spelling/writing
Tuesday

animal stories

affirmation

independent

week 1
Wednesday 

insect folk

meditation

independent

week1
Thursday 

insect folk

white light or protection
independent

week1
Friday 

insect folk

meditation

independent

week 1
2nd  block lesson
 (1.5 Hrs)
Math


Grammar



Multiplication review
A+ tutor soft
 Triangles



Workbook
1pg


Multiplication review
A+ Tutor soft
 Triangles



Workbook
1pg
3rd  block lesson
 (2.5Hrs)
History

Science

Geography

Botany/ Geology


Story of the Universe 
 
Insects/ants


Gardening growth chart


Story of the Universe

Insects/ants


Gardening growth chart

Big Bang Movie


Build an ant farm

Parts of a flower cards
  
Research Big Band write paper on 

label the  parts of an ant
gardening growth chart
4th  block lesson
 (1 Hr)
Practical Life

Art

Music
Art

food prep

Big Bang art
Life

cooking

Finish Big Bang Art
Art/Life

hand washing dishes

Recorder lesson 1
Music

laundry



recorder lesson 1 review

Date:_6/17-14-6/214____Time 24_hrs  _Name__Alyssa Cater__



By writing a more general schedule and lesson plan it gives me room for all those things that come up in life that through off your week without having to rewrite my entire lesson book for the yr. BTW I do not recommending writing out more than 6-9 weeks at a time because you want to make sure your curriculum and your schedule really do work for your families needs and life. For us we only school 4 days a week and in the summer that is 3 days a week. I personally do not live in a state that requires more detailed records but if you do there are many different free homeschool record programs out there. I like A simple plan from My Mardel Homeschool  http://homeschool.mardel.com/Intro  There is also ones like Homeschooling records.com that you can input grades and attendance  http://www.homeschoolingrecords.com/  and http://www.homeschoolskedtrack.com/HomeSchool/displayLogin.do  I have found that extreme detailed lesson plans not only do not work for me and my personal needs but they need up being a complete waste of my time and effort. Blogs themselves are another easy yet fun way to record what your child/ren cover each day. You can even add in pictures of them doing it.  For those who follow more of a relaxed or unschooling style of learning blogs are great way to show the state what your children are learning.
 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Great Story my plan for the Year.

Through my reading more on Montessori Method I learned about the Great lessons and how elementary Montessori schools cover these lessons in the first few weeks to month of the school year. They set the tone of learning and discovery for the rest of the year. Each have subject areas to dig deeper into for the children. "Montessori uses its Five Great Lessons as an introduction to all topics, providing a "Big Picture" to demonstrate how the sciences, art, history, language, geography are interrelated. Through the Five Great Lessons, children become aware that the universe evolved over billions of years, and that it is based on the law and order through which all the plants, animals, and the rest of creation is maintained."You can find the great lessons here with resources as well.  http://www.moteaco.com/albums.html

I also came across The Great Story site which is a evolution curriculum used in Montessori schools. You can find that and all the resources for it including videos, links, and pdf forms here. http://www.thegreatstory.org/kids.html  A suggested added on reading are the 3 part book series from
Jennifer Morgan called Born with a Bang. Luckily I already own this series and had not used them yet.
Between the two curriculum the Evolution Great Story and the original Montessori Great Lessons I figured you can cover just about everything you need to cover in a yr and some.

The first great lesson is called" God without Hands" It is pretty much the story of the Big Bang and the creation of the Earth and the Universe. The second Lesson is called " The Coming of Life" it is pretty much what we call prehistory. The third Lesson is called"  The Coming of Human" is is early history of man, up to the first civilizations.The Fourth Lesson is called " The Story of Writing" its all about the first written history, languages, .The fifth and last lesson is called" The Story of Numbers" it is the origins of numbers and mathematics.


The idea is after exposing the children to the Big Picture or The Great Lessons at the beginning of the year they would then go back and study areas of interest that fall within the contexts of the lessons using Key lessons.

Lesson One Key Lessons: God With No Hands"
This lesson leads to the study of:
• Astronomy: solar system, stars, galaxies, comets, constellations
• Meteorology: wind, currents, weather, fronts, erosion, water cycle, clouds, glaciers
• Chemistry: states of matter, changes, mixtures, reactions, elements, atoms, periodic
table, compounds, molecules, chemical formulas, equations, lab work, experimentation
• Physics: magnetism, electricity, gravity, energy, light, sound, heat, friction, motion,
experimentation
• Geology: types of rocks, minerals, land forms, volcanoes, earthquakes, plate
tectonics, ice ages, eras of the earth
• Geography: maps, globes, latitude/longitude, climates, land/water form names,
continent and country research

Lesson Two Key Lessons: Coming of Life
This lesson leads to the study of:
• Biology: cells, organized groups, five kingdoms, specimens, dissection, observation,
use of microscope, Dinosaurs, Prehistorical animals, Amphibians , Reptiles, Insects
• Botany: study of plants, classification, functions, parts of plants (seed, fruit, leaf,
stem, root, flower), types of plants
• Habitats: location, characteristics, food chains/webs, symbiosis, adaptation,
ecosystems, conservation
• Ancient Life: eras of the earth, evolution, extinction, fossil records, excavation
• Animals: classification, needs, similarities/differences, human systems, nutrition,
hygiene
• Monera, Protista, and Fungi Kingdoms: what they are, classification, observation

Lesson Three Key Lessons :Coming Of Humans
This lesson leads to the study of:
• History: timelines, prehistory, ancient civilizations, world history, history of specific
countries and continents, stone age life, shelters, weapons
• Culture: art, artists, music, composers, dance, drama, architecture, design,philosophy, religion, grace and courtesy
• Social Studies: current events, government, economics, commerce, volunteering &
charity
• Discovery & Invention: scientists, inventors, scientific method, inventions, simple machines
math: geometric shapes used in building, 

Lesson Four Key Lessons: Story of Writing
This lesson leads to the study of:
• Reading: literature, poetry, non-fiction, myths and folk tales, authors, reading
comprehension, reading analysis, literary terms
• Writing: elements of style, function, voice, composition, letter writing, research,
study skills
• Language: origins of spoken language, foreign languages, history of languages,
speech, drama
• Structure: alphabets, bookmaking, grammar, punctuation, sentence analysis, word
study, figures of speech
History: Cave Paintings, Cuneiform, Hieroglyphs, paper making, myths/legends

Lesson Five Key Lessons: Story of Numbers
 
This lesson leads to the study of:
• Mathematics: operations, fractions, decimals, multiples, squares, cubes,
percentages, ratio, probability, intro to algebra
• Numbers: origins of numbers and systems, bases, types of numbers, scientific
notation
• Geometry: congruency, similarity, nomenclature of lines, angles, shapes, solids,measurements, sacred geometry, geometric art
• Application: story problems, measurement, estimation, graphs, patterning,
rounding, money concepts
History: famous Mathematicians , Roman Numerals, architecture, History of mathematics,  Pythagoras, vedic math,


So as you can see you could very easily spend the entire year and more covering a number of interesting topics that fall under just about every subject area there is to cover. It seems to me a great way to plan my next year out in an over all picture of topics so that I know what resources I will need to have on hand or be collecting to help my kids dig deeper into these topics but without spending days/weeks making out a very detailed lesson plan. Clearly, these five stories encompass an enormous amount of information about the origins of the world around us


Resources sites:
http://www.thegreatstory.org/kids.html

http://www.montessorimom.com/great-lessons-cosmic-education-links-and-more/

http://www.moteaco.com/albums.html

http://missbarbara.net/greatlessons.html 

a print out timeline http://discoverymoments.com/homeschooling/montessori-monday-great-lesson-2-the-coming-of-life/

http://expeditionmontessori.blogspot.ca/2013/09/diy-great-lessons-charts.html




youtube video playlist
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLLDHKQUBNhrkVo0avFHm-j05P4-xO-oYw


Link to the Jennifer Morgan Book series
http://www.amazon.com/Born-With-Bang-Universe-Children/dp/1584690321/ref=pd_bxgy_b_img_z

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter and The Song of Creation.

Humans are the instruments got uses to play his favorite music. You are a note in a song and I am another note. If you strum a guitar, you play five or six notes all together and it sounds really good- a chord, right? Well, all of us here are a chord when we're vibrating right. In attunement we sound a beautiful chord. If the people of the world were all in attuneement, they would be sounding music that we could actually hear. Some people actually do begin to hear the music life is playing throughout the universe. The stars, the planets, the galaxies are all vibrating to this song. This is the song of life, the song of creation. it is the creative word that was spoken in the beginning of time. It is still being spoken now. In the beginning was the word and God was the word. Everything including you was created by the word or the vibration of God. You, me and all of creation are God's song. 


 Now on this wonderful day I want to add to this...Jesus tried to tell the people of the world don't worship me- be like me.Let the same spirit I am move through you.Jesus was like a single note sounding.He knew if their were others vibrating with him, making chords of Gods song with him then they could do great things together. We are here to learn to vibrate/life like Jesus. We are here to help making the beautiful song of God's creation.



On Easter I don't focus on the story of the death of Jesus. You will not see me watching a Passion of the Christ Play. I focus on the message Jesus came here to teach us. I focus on becoming more Christ like and remembering that I am a divine creation , my goal is to attune my vibration to God's creative song and help make the world a better place. To bring it back to it's original glory. I truly do believe that our world is in a time of reawakening, a time where the truths that are at the heart of all religions and spiritual teachings are coming to light. We are waking up to the understanding of our true spiritual birth rite and realizing that we are all apart of God. the story of Jesus rising is the story of the human race waking up.We are at the point in human history were we have been in the tomb for 3 days/ and are now waking up to our true self's. Little by little over the last 2,000 yrs we have woke up more and more. we are beginning to remember things from the very beginning, even things from before the earths creation.Spirit beings are what we are.  For 2,000 years we have been riding the wave of awakening. This is what I believe to be the Second Coming of Christ. This to me is the story of Easter and the message Jesus brought to the earth. Happy Easter may your day be blessed and may you awaken that part of you to take part in God's song.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Waldorf Gnome

So if you haven't seen all the cute little Waldorf gnomes yet as soon as you do you will want your own set. They are just cute little guys. Now I am no artist but I am a creative momma who likes to save money so I made my own.
So far I have a total of $16 in my cost but I still need to get felt to make their hats. For the moment we made paper hats for the math gnomes.
If you are interested in the Waldorf math gnome lessons you can get them here http://ebeth.typepad.com/serendipity/gnomes-and-gnumbers-a-mat.html also here https://www.etsy.com/shop/fromjennifer You can also find Waldorf gnome stories in ebook at Waldorf Library http://www.waldorflibrary.org/.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Why not blend take what works

I have spent the last few years learning as much as I can about different educational philosophies with a real focus on a few that I was drawn to. They are Waldorf, Montessori, Unschooling, and Unit based learning. I personally felt these forms of education had areas they were strong in and areas they were weak in. Seeing I wanted my children to have a very well rounded education I felt it was best to follow my heart and my own intuition on what method or methods I should use. I have taken the time to try them all and see were their strong points are to me.

First I will talk about Waldorf Education created by Rudolf Steiner.   Rudolf Steiner
developed on an extremely detailed curriculum in which subject matter is designed to complement and harmonize with the growing state of the child’s inner consciousness. Thus the child is taught in ways he can deeply connect with, such as using fairy tales as the springboard for early language arts work — or studying a science unit comparing people and animals at an important developmental juncture at age nine. The teacher brings in stories, poems, songs, and a sense of lively imagination and wonder to enliven curriculum topics. Written work is almost always approached with
colorful drawings and artistic, often multicolored,writing. There is an artistic thrust to almost every lesson in all curricular areas — even math and science. Personally once I used Waldorf educational material I felt the math was extremely weak. On the other hand I was very drawn to the very artistic creative approach to learning the lessons. I also enjoyed that I had a major role in helping my children learn with this method.

Montessori created By Marie Montessori is very much different. Far from Steiner’s notion that the inspired teacher should present special lessons to the children, Montessori’s radical idea was that the teacher should take a back row seat: “Education should no longer be mostly the imparting of knowledge, but must take a new path, seeking the release of human potentialities”. Through the use of hands on learning materials with clear concepts in math I seen the real benefit of this learning method. Yet I felt it was very lacking in the areas of story telling, arts, and even spirituality. I was not attracted to me the parent/ learning guide having such a non involving role, yet I seen the benefit in having some area of learning where the child was the lead and could gain a strong confidence in themselves and their own abilities to learn on their own. That idea just happens to be very unschooling and something I do agree with on a certain level.

That brings me to the area of unschooling that I do agree with and try to impalement in our learning journey. The freedom for the child to follow their own interest and learn from their own creator inspired gifts. I believe every person is born with special gifts and purpose in life. I think unschooling is wonderful in the area of allow the children time and space to really strength this gifts and interest. I think it is highly important to allow time for this in my child's life.

Now unit studies this really isn't a philosophy but is a great way to cover topics of interest. It is so well rounded you can cover just about every subject area using one unit study. For new homeschoolers this was a life blessing.

This blend of philosophies is what I use and feel is best for my children. Maybe that’s what
education should be for children: helping them learn about the world around them through touching their inner, subjective beings, as well as leading them to interact with a rich environment. In other words, maybe what children really need is a creative, nurturing, enlivening blend of Waldorf and Montessori.  

DIY Montessori learning materials

This week I have been busy bee making and using some homemade Montessori learning materials. They seem to be a big hit with the kids and a much welcomed change to some of the online materials we have been using this yr. I thought I would share some and tell you how I made them at very little cost to me.


These are the number tiles used with the 9 layout. I still need to make 9 thousand blocks but I will be using the base ten set I already have instead of the Montessori bead set. I used a bundle of shims I had in the shed. Shims are angled pieces of wood used to level things like cabinets. You can get them for like $4 at Lowes. I cut off the thin end , sanded them down and wrote the numbers on with sharpie. Then I coated with triple coat finish. If I would have paid better attention I would have color coated the ones and thousands green and the tens blue and the hundreds red. Oh well these will do for now.



These are the blue and red color rods for counting. The real Montessori ones are actually connected where mine are not. I used an old jenga game no one played with any more. I figure not only can the kids use them for counting but the can use them for block building as well.



The addition board you can get this print out free from Montessori Print shop here http://www.montessoriprintshop.com/Free_Montessori_Downloads.html  I just laminated it and attached to a file folder for easy storage.


you can get basic math equations as well off Montessori print shop in addition, subtraction, division, and multiplication. I would laminate because you can use them over and over with many different resources.


The teen board is used for learning numbers 10-19. The real ones are wood but I used two different colored poster board. The pink is two inches wide and has ten 10's on it and then the green tiles are 1 in and are 1-9.


My 4yr old Maverick working with the teen board.


This is my daughter Alyssa working with the division board. I made it using a paint canvas but you could make one using some ply wood . It really could be used for multiplication as well.


The Montessori stamp game also from Montessori print shop. It is used when learning place value and can also be used along side a set of base ten blocks. i don't have a color printer so I cut construction paper in the needed colors to fit my printer and the number tiles printed out just fine. I laminated everything so it will last longer.

Our morning wall is not really Montessori as far as I know but is a great learning aid to have for young children who are just learning about the calendar, seasons, weather, ect. This is the first thing we do everyday.  You can buy one off amazon for about $30 or you can piece together your own for about ten using items from dollar tree and walmart.


My 4 yr old working with the 1-10 cards. I suggest using two different colors so you can cover even and odd numbers in a very visual way. The glass gems run 1-2 dollars at walmart. This is what he has worked on all week. I mix the cards up and have him put them in order 1-10 then I have him place the correct number of gems with each card , making sure to place them in groups of two so that we can go back and visually see which ones do not have a partner/friend and cover even and odd. Then I have him place the color beads below with the correct number of bead on each strain. Then I go back and point to each number while asking can you tell me is this number even or odd. I do that agin but in random order. Then we end the lesson by counting the evens 2,4,6,8,10 and counting the odds 1,3,5,7,9.


Montessori colored beads. The real ones come on metal wire. I made mine that way but my son didn't like the texture of the metal. So I went back and made these with pipe cleaners and he likes them much better. His issues with textures is why we do not use the sandpaper letters or draw in sand.


I still have a good many more DIY educational items I am working on making for next school year along with themed boxes for topics like ocean animals, insects, space, ect..I will post those when I get them completed. I think I have about $15-$20 dollars in making all of the above. If I had bought the real ones it would have cost me hundreds.Our homeschool is a little bit of this and a little bit of that but we mainly used Montessori for math and Waldorf for History and Science with some added in resources. Since we will be moving to pretty much year round learning I am hoping to have everything pulled together and ready to go by June.











Friday, April 11, 2014

Planning to move to year round schooling

I have realized that long summer breaks just don't work for us. First off it gets to hot to even enjoy the break and 2nd like most kids some of what they learned last year goes right out their heads lost into the ether. So as we finish up the last two weeks of this years curriculum I have been busy planning next. The plan is to take off the month of May. Here in Georgia May is about as good as it gets. Not to hot not to cold and usually beautiful weather just about every day. We will start back in June with a 3 day week until Sept. then move back into our normal 4 days a week schedule. I won't be doing a unschool approach after all. Turns out my kids don't like it nor my hubby. Therefore I will be going back to my relaxed eclectic with a good bit of Waldorf/Montessori  inspired style that has worked for everyone in the past. We will stick with lesson blocks each month. Over the summer our blocks will be review concepts, Nature, fairy tales, Oceans, and Insects.  My kids really missed the Waldorf inspire rhythm we had used in the past with our morning circle time, handcrafting, and heavy use of arts. Some of the interesting areas we will be learning this year with my 5th grader will be learning to play the recorder, free form dance, clay and wood working, With my kinder son we will have basic intro to ocean life, zoo animals, reptiles/amphibians, dinosaurs, insects, nature studies, and earth/space. He will also be learning poetry and how to make home made instruments.


This style of homeschooling allows me to not only cover I wide range of topics but it allows me to connect more on a spiritual level with my children. It just feels right in my heart and soul to introduce them to these concepts. I felt while giving unschooling a try was a great learning experience for us it just wasn't the right fit for my family nor me. Even though I still see everything as learning and I feel allowing time and space for a child to follow their interest is highly important I felt I could give my child a more enriched experience doing it my way instead of what is or is not unschooling. In the bigger picture I was seeing a disconnect and I didn't like it. I started homeschooling to bring the world alive and when I just let my children do their own thing it seems they were learning very little. I even tried to stew new educational items all around them but nothing much happened. So it is what it is.


So for those who might be wondering what we will be using curriculum wise I will list them below. We still will not be doing any testing and will use art and notebooking to show what we are learning.


5th grade curriculum

Lit- Norse myths, various fairy tales( with painting and notebook page for each story)
Grammar- Growing with Grammar
Spelling- Soaring with Spelling
Writing- Winning with Writing
Math- a mix of family math( which is hands on) and AHA math which is online
Science- two main areas Geology and Astronomy- using a mix of Waldorf book Geology and Astronomy for text reading( with art picture and notebooking) and Science Odyssey Earth and Space for hands on projects
History- We will cover the Middle Ages- Using  mix simple homeschool,  Story of the Middle Ages, Life in Medieval Times, Viking Tales. ( again will show work by picture with small notebook entree.
Home- ec- made my self
Learning to play recorder- Youtube lessons
Handcrafting- using a Waldorf book called Creative Pathways


Kinder curriculum

Most everything except his phonics, history, and arts will be using the learningpage.com curriculum. It has a wonderful well put together curriculum that comes with lesson plans, recommended reading, and covers math, handwriting, phonics, science all in one.

History- he will join in with sister
Phonics- using the sound city reading program which you can find free on line and I highly recommend.
Handcrafting- Creative Pathways.


I am pretty content with where we are at on our homeschooling journey after what is now our 3rd year. Not only have they learned and experienced a lot but I have as well. I have learned more about my self and my children and what works best for us at this time. I have learned to drop my fear and trust in my self to follow my own intuition on what path we should or should not take. I have watched my children blossom into very intelligent beings. I look forward to a much needed break and to the excitement of what next year will bring. 


Saturday, March 29, 2014

Topics covered week March 24,2014

List of topics covered week of March 24,2014:

Chinese New year
Chinese folk lore and the Jade emperor
History of Chinese lanterns, dragons, and Ba Long gu rattle drum
Lunar Calender and signs of the Chinese Zodiac
Confucius
Buddha
Tao Te Ching
chakras and alternative medicine
Chinese medicine
healing uses of Jade
Fortune cooking cooking and Chinese Food
Dividing  fractions   and multiplication
math games
synonyms
seasons and new birth
death
Health( drug use and the effects of drugs on the body)
dwarfism and how people should not let a disability define them
Yin-yang and how all things in creation have both a male/female energy
Paper fans
Chinese traditional music and Chinese pop music
moral stories in literature
different species of cats and the nature instincts associated with cat behaviors



Next week we will be on a week long camping trip with other homeschooling families. During that time we will visit University of Georgia's Veterinarian Program. I am looking forward to writing about that great adventure but will not post much until we return.

Learning to see your own true beauty

Two things have inspired me to post this all natural selfie. One the TED talk below I hope at least all my female friends will take the time to watch that.Two I have lately seen people posting natural selfies for cancer awareness. My selfie is not for cancer though it is for something the just about every single person is in some way effected by...LOW SELF ESTEEM. For ten yrs I starved my body to fit what society seen as beautiful. I exercised sometimes 4-5 hrs a day. In the process I started to even loose my life. I won the battle but not the war because like most everyone I still have some self esteem issues to work through. It is strange because my husband seems to think I am the most beautiful person on the face of the earth(even without make up). I have all those things we women do not like like bye byes under my arms( you know that little bit of skin that wiggles when you wave), I have stretch marks from having children, I have roles of extra fat, I have the muffin top, the thunder thighs, dark circles under my eyes, blotchy skin tone, freckles, wrinkles, you name it. Sure I can cake on the make up and look like a totally different person. I can even jump and pull my self into some spanks so that everything will stay put while I am out on the town. I can color the gray out of my hair, wear something that accents my so called better body parts so that instead of me they see my boobs,lol. Yet that is not me at least not the real me and those things and that way of thinking is what I would like to bring awareness to. So I say to everyone we don't have to fit societies idea of beautiful we can choose to just be ourselves. Here is me all natural and showing the world that we can be brave enough so that others too will be brave but not on facebook or blogs but in their everyday life.

We will all age and the other beauty will slip from us as our years go by. True beauty comes from within. It is the very essence of your divine being. I wish that my message could inspire just one other woman/girl to not harm themselves for a moment of what society thinks is beautiful but will strive to love themselves and their own inner beauty more. 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

China and the Healing properties of Jade

For the last week China as been the major topic of our interest here. We have read many of the Chinese fairy tales, watched movies, made lanterns, shuttlecocks, mask, and dragons. Last night we even made fortune cookies to go with our Chinese dinner. The Jade Emperor is mentioned many times in Chinese folk lore and that lead me to pull out some of my own old school books from when I was learning about the healing properties of crystals. My children are very much aware of the many uses of crystals as they have seen me balance my chakras, crystals lay around my house for energy purposes, and even watched me give crystals to love ones for healing use in their own home. It is not something I have taught them just something that is in their awareness because it is a norm in my home.

So I decided that our study of China was a great way to also expose my children to the healing properties of Jade. Jade is said to bless whatever it touches, serving mankind across the globe for nearly 6,000 years. For primitive peoples in the British Isles, its toughness, and ability to polish and sharpen made it a favored stone for axe heads, knives and weapons. Indigenous tribes of Mexico, Central and South America, and New Zealand carved it into deity masks and ritual artifacts, even cast it into wells as an offering to the water spirits for fresh and plentiful water. Jade has been the most highly esteemed stone in China throughout recorded history, and was valued for its beauty and powers of healing and protection. An endless variety of gems, vessels, incense burners, beads, burial items and statues have been wondrously carved from Jade, as well as musical instruments and pendants inscribed with poetry.

 Jade is the stone of calm in the midst of storm. Its action balances nerves and soothes cardiac rhythm. A piece of Jade kept in a pocket or on a pendant to stroke from time to time recharges energy, and traditionally guards against illness. Jade may also be used to temper the shock or fear of the very young or very old being cared for in the hospital or away from home and family. Green Jade also fosters chi, or Life Force energies, and is excellent for hiking, gardening or relaxing out of doors. Jade is a powerful cleansing stone, enhancing the body's filtration and elimination organs. It is excellent for treating the kidneys, spleen and supra-adrenal glands, removing toxins and balancing the fluids and water-salt/acid-alkaline ratios in the body. It is helpful to the bones and joints, especially the hips, and for treating bacterial and viral infections, cystitis and genito-urinary infections, and bed wetting. Jade has a restorative property, allowing for both the cellular and skeletal systems to re-bind themselves, and assists in the removal of pain associated with the body's healing of itself. Jade also helps stitches to bind and heal properly, and has been used to diminish cramps and "Charlie horses.  Jade is a "dream stone," releasing negative thoughts and irritability and soothing the mind. It stabilizes the personality, integrating mind with body, to stimulate ideas and make tasks less complex and easier to act upon. Placed on the forehead, it brings insightful dreams.

Personally Jade is one of my favorite stones to work with. It works wonders of balancing the heart chakra. Green Jade is an abundance stone, representing the flow of Divine energy into the reality of one's life. It brings harmony and happiness in business and family relationships, as well material abundance. It is a reminder to smell the flowers, touch the ones you love, and share your heart with others in affirmation of plenty. For some families these type of ideas of using a crystal for healing both physical and spiritual issues might seem strange but for us it is very normal. So today I am taking my kids to my favorite crystal store to pick out their special piece of Jade to work with.