Saturday, June 30, 2012

A Visit with Mrs. Mallard

I love the Boston Public Garden. It almost feels like stepping into a story book when you walk through the gates. The noise and bustle of Boston surround the park on all four sides. The paths of the garden are unaffected by all that is going on around it. A quiet and beautiful space not only surrounds but penetrates visitors. 

One of my favorite corners is the tribute to Mrs. Mallard and her family. This past week was the first time the kids had met the family they have heard about all their lives. After the obligatory pictures, we just sat and watched as other kids - of all ages - paid tribute to this web-footed family.
One thing that every family paused to remember was the names of the ducklings. It was a universal experience - where did the names start? Oh yes, J. Jack. And then carefully working through the alphabet and the names of all the little ducklings. Jack, Kack, Lack, Mack, Nack, Oack, Pack, and Quack. 

Incidentally, I noticed that most mothers use their fingers as they work through the alphabetic names, as though they were counting. Myself included.

Monday, June 25, 2012

If you start to make a book list....

Do you remember those books "If You Give a Pig a Pancake" or "If You Give a Moose a Muffin" or "If you Give a Mouse a Muffin"? I think there are more, but those are the ones my kids had. I had one of those days last Friday. 

It started with my makings lists of all the books we had read for homeschool this past year. 

I had to put some books away, so I had to move some other books to make room.

Those books had to go on a shelf that (BADLY) needed to be dusted.

When I dusted,  I realized we had a lot of books that we really didn't need to keep any longer.

So I made a donation pile.

And then I decided to look through ALL the books in our living room.

And I found some of the books that I used to read to the kids when they were way little.

And then I sat there and was full of memories and warm feelings.

All because I began to make a list.

(It was a good day.)

Monday, June 18, 2012

Summer Win

For the first time since I started homeschooling 10 years ago, I have all my major planning done for the fall NOW. In June. Before summer kicks into full gear. I can't tell you how excited this makes me (or the rest of the family, I think).

This past year was the first year that I didn't buy a curriculum as my foundation. Every other year, I have bought a 'core package' from Sonlight. (I love Sonlight. That is all I will say about that right now.)

This past year, there were several things that led to not buying a curriculum.

  • Caleb wanted to really dig into Ancient History. We homeschool so that we can say 'yes' to those interests. So I pulled together history and readers for the basis of his year. 
  • I wanted to try to do some pieces with some of the kids together. I thought Science might be the best spot for this (the kids are in very different places - 7th, 4th, and 1st grades). I bought the recommended books for one of the Science programs from Sonlight, and planned different levels of work from each of the kids. 
  • Sofia went to public school for kindergarten, missing some of my very favorite Sonlight books for that level. So I combined the books I had from K and 1st grade for her. 
I spent all last summer planning, studying, drawing diagrams and lists on paper and on my computer. I really like logistic work like that.... but it left me exhausted at the beginning of the school year. So this spring, I decided I was going to make my plans, decisions, and purchases BEFORE school got 'done'. (We continue at least Math during the summer, and keep track of the reading and field trips that we take as well.)

An unexpected bonus to my determination has me hooked on this new rhythm. Summer reading. All of the reading that Caleb will enjoy this coming year.... it's mine, all mine (insert maniacal laugh). And honestly, you should be jealous. 

If you want some good reading lists, here is a link to Caleb's 8th grade Readers.  Or maybe you would enjoy Anna's 5th grade Readers.  (Those lists don't include the fabulous read-a-loud lists for each of the kids. Poke around on Sonlight's site. You'll understand.)

*** I had no idea this would become an "I love Sonlight" post. Well, we do. And it did. It has been one of the greatest gifts to our family that we found Sonlight when we began homeschooling. 

Saturday, June 16, 2012