Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Bible Lessons

Our next Bible stories stop was to visit the miracles of Jesus. Since these occurred during the worst time of year for us, NIU band camp and Tom's west coast activities, very few pictures were taken and the core of the month was provided by Netflix. It is amazing how many biblical movies they have. Not all of the them are good, but Stephen enjoyed many of them and retained the information just as well as if I had done a ton of crafts. I prefer crafts to the DVD player, but we needed to survive the month of August.

A few craft project ideas survived and where completed prior to marching band madness.

Great Faith: Jesus Heals the Sick Servant

We must apparently cover our whole face when we sneeze. LOL

Good Soil: Jesus Talks About Growing

Be Still: Jesus Stops the Storm

Let's Eat!: Jesus Feeds the 5000

Netflix Picks

Greatest Heros and Legends of the Bible

This is about the time our schedule went out the window for awhile, but we also covered:
She's Alive: Jesus Brings a Girl Back to Life, A Ghost: Jesus Walks on Water, The Christ: Jesus is God's Son, White As Light: Jesus Shows His Glory, The Greatest: Jesus Talks About His Greatness, Forgive: Jesus Talks About Forgiveness, Now I See: Jesus Heals a Man Born Blind, My Sheep: Jesus is the Good Shepard
We have been having a much more productive month in September and here are the stories that we studied.

The Baby: Baby Issac is Born

Each morning, the kids come down to do an activity that introduces the story. This gives us time to vacuum and empty the dishwasher without too much incident. For this story, I decided to bring up the container of baby toys. I think Tom was a bit sceptical on this activity and it was a HUGE hit. I think some of the toys were smuggled up to their rooms since the container wasn't as full as when I brought it up from the basement.

The Bride: Issac Marries Rebecka
This activity was also a big hit when I had them use ground coffee to glue onto their camels. We talked about how the servant rode to find Issac a wife and how Rebecka gave them water. I think they actually remember the story AND had a great time playing with the coffee grounds. I'm not sure why I have not done this project before and plan on using it again on those cold snowy days coming up soon. I had a picture of the finished product, but it has somehow disappeared.

The Twins: Esau Trades His Birthright
This was a story with another fun introduction activity. I gave the kids our big soup pot for them to make their own stew using their plastic play food. It was interesting since I only gave them one pot and asked them to work together. They weren't crazy about it at first, but then saw that there were two spoons. I didn't think it was wise to push my luck and have them take turns stirring. It was, in fact, first thing in the morning; that is my excuse and I'm sticking with it.

The Liar: Jacob Takes Esau's Blessing

This morning, I brought up the whole play kitchen that proved to be another snowy day idea that I will tuck away for later. Typically, only Rhea plays with the kitchen set downstairs in the playroom while Stephen plays with his trains. When I brought it to the kitchen, everyone cooked and served meals like Jacob and Esau.p align="center">
The Ladder: Jacob Meets The Lord

Stephen drew a touching picture to begin this lesson. Our focus was "God is with you ALL the time". He was instructed to draw a picture of him and God together. The result was the two holding hands. God also needed a kite and a few other things too...

The Worker: The Lord Blesses Jacob
Helping hands was our theme today and the opening activity was "supposed" to involve drawing and coloring their hands. This turned into a short period of making hand bats followed by an immediate breakfast. I think they were extra hungry and missed the whole helping hands application. Oh well.....

Forgiveness: Esau Forgives Jacob
This was another activity that took a different form. The kids were supposed to draw roads on the floor using butcher paper and play with their cars. The object of the activity was when one child crashed into another child's car, we would teach forgiveness. I was told that we didn't quite get that far since bodies were somehow crashed before the roads were drawn. Hey, however the concept was taught really doesn't matter, right?

The Coat: Joseph's Brothers become Jealous

This lesson was a big hit because they were able to construct their own coat out of paper. Stephen's came out really nice, but as you can see, I think I underestimated Rhea's size. She is small, but not that small.

Slave: Joseph Helps the Potiphar

The Dream: Joseph Becomes Egypt's Leader
The Reunion: Joseph Welcomes His Brother's
The Blessing: Jacob's Family Grows in Egypt

These lessons were a lot of fun. We talked about God's faithfulness and that he will take care of us no matter what. These pictures are of the kids shopping for food. We talked about the famine and how Jacob's family came to Egypt to find food. I'm not sure how much sunk in, but they had a great time with their store.

Victory: The Walls of Jericho Fall Down

Building the Wall

Can we knock it down yet?

.....and the walls came tumbling down!

I think the kids had more fun acting this one out rather than their activity sheets. We first built the wall, but then had to resist tumbling it down before we marched around it.

The Wool Fleece: Gideon Becomes a Warrior

The Little Army: Defeats the Minianites

This one took a little practice, but was a fun story to act out once they got the hang of it and remembered the words. We took turns "sleeping" while the "army" snuck up and said "The army of the Lord, and Gideon!" The "sleeping" group would scream (big fun) and run away. I can't remember how many times we did this, but we had a great time!

Jesus Heals the 10 Lepers

This was our version of Jesus healing the 10 Lepers. We talked about the people in our lives that take care of us and that Jesus loves all of his people. The kids love playing with my blood pressure cuff that I had when I was pregnant. Stephen, however, is a little confused as to where it goes sometimes since he has it around his bear's leg.

Little Dancer and Little Mozart

OK, so scratch that last post. School looks completely, well, at least mostly different that previously explained. Rhea was supposed to have her music class on Monday mornings while I taught Stephen the piano in another room. At the time, this fit in perfectly with my workout schedule and it set us up for the "perfect" week. That was until her class was cancelled two days before the first class. My first reaction was "These things happen" and I went along my merry way to find her another class. My demeanor went from happy homeschool mom to crazed and frantic homeschool mom on a mission. There were many similar classes around the area, but they either didn't fit into our schedule/situation, or they too, were cancelled or full. This lead me to the Naperville School for the Arts. They offered the same class and were willing to let me use a practice room, free of charge, to teach Stephen. However, the class was cancelled. Not being a huge girly girl myself, dancing wasn't high on my list, but the class was open AND the same practice room deal was available to us. Rhea understood that we were registering for her class one day, but missed the memo that it wouldn't start until the following week. This resulted in foot stomping and a huge verbal "What about my class" as we left the building. My next stop was to Target and Payless for our dancing gear. I honestly thought I would be buying a Karate uniform before buying a leotard and ballet slippers, but it has turned our week into the best semester yet! We showed up early the next week to find our practice room and for Rhea to watch the class in progress prior to her time. I could tell that she wasn't completely wild about the idea of doing the class without me, but I had high hopes. I wised I would have had the camera with me that day, but you will just have to picture her peering through the crack in the door at the other little girls in skirts and tutus. After about ten minutes of complete silence (impossible, I know), she turned and said "I am ready to go in NOW". Her teacher soon arrived for her class and she marched in without even a glance back. It was almost too easy, so I watched for a few minutes before taking Stephen to the practice room. I am thrilled to say that I am VERY happy with the class and the teaching! Her teacher is a 15 year Disney instructor, so what do you expect. Well, apparently, flawless teaching that Rhea LOVES!

Stephen is enjoying most of his piano class. The sitting still parts are not as fun as the running and jumping to music parts. I have a non-traditional way of teaching piano that doesn't always involve a bench. This picture was at the end of class after he wrote his very own music. So far, we have talked about how to sit, arm and finger placement, high/low sounds, loud/soft sounds, bar lines, and quarter notes. Today, I handed him a dry erase board with staff lines to write his own music. I am sure that you can guess that only forte markings made it into his music since he wasn't much into playing soft. Here are the results

Now that our fine arts classes are taken care of, we can get on with our semester. I would not have thought that one 45 minute class would re-arrange the ENTIRE week, but it did and I am sure this is not the last time.

So, Monday mornings are spent doing our core curriculum, Winter Promise, and bible study followed by a trip to Lifetime fitness for the kids to play and for me to workout. Stephen gets to do his math and reading in the afternoon when Rhea goes down to take a nap.

Our Tuesday's start with Winter Promise and Bible study followed by a trip to the library. We then head to dance/piano class and then home for lunch and rest and sometimes reading and math if Stephen is in a decent mood.

Wednesday mornings are free play and then a second trip to Lifetime. When we come home, so shower while the eat in front of the TV before we head off to the playground to meet our homeschool group. Rhea is indifferent about the group, but has been getting to know a small group of girls that lead her around. Stephen, on the other hand, LOVES the group because the older boys treat him very well and include him in everything they do. The other mom's are nice too and we will be taking field trips together as the year goes on.

Thursday's are spent at home no matter how many times Stephen asks to go somewhere. We are, in fact HOMEschoolers. Well, mostly........ We do Winter Promise and Bible in the morning followed by a play date with our neighbor five feet away. We don't even need to change our clothes or shower for this one! Gotta love it! Stephen does reading and math again during Rhea's nap followed by some quiet time. Daddy isn't home on Thursday evenings, so it is a "No bath night", unless they just really stink!

Friday's are much the same and are spent getting caught up from the weeks chaos. Everyone will be happy to know that I rarely clean my house like I used to in order to soak up all the wonderful blessings or otherwise that God gives us through our wonderful children. Laundry gets done when we have no more underwear and Tom has been helping by preparing meals and freezing them on Sunday's. WOW, what a HUGE help!

I have committed (mostly) to not doing traditional school on the weekends. Saturday's are set aside for field trips after our third trip to Lifetime. The kids are also involved in a Preschool Sports class during my workout class which, in their words, "WE LOVE IT"!! It is as organized as you would expect a preschool physical education class to be, and most importantly, they have a great time.

Sunday's are the best day of the week since Tom will be with us most of the time, except the next two weeks :-( We have been more and more involved at church and have been asked to join the Counting Team which is a huge honor. Each Sunday, a group of people are locked in a room (literally), to count and document the offering. It is a bit overwhelming since the offerings are from all of our campuses, but we are up for the challenge. We considered it an honor when our pastor asked us to help and are looking forward to being locked in a room together once a month! Sunday's are then planning days for meals and curriculum. Tom takes Rhea shopping while Stephen and I go throw rocks in the lake at the library. He never has enough time to browse at the library when Rhea is with us, so he and I make an extra trip and get some exercise long the way. We then come home for the kids to take naps and the fun begins. Tom and I found that we are most efficient when we are working on separate jobs. We wanted to be together on Sunday, but we really do think about the same project differently. To remedy the situation, he does meal preparation while I make sure we have all of the supplies for the coming week of school. This guarantees us a happy afternoon while still being in the same room together. So far, we have been successful with getting everything done by the time the kids come downstairs from their nap/quiet time and we are able to finish the evening together.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Last Summer Blast

Our Wedding Gear
My little baby brother is actually getting married which required some new wedding apparel. The first picture of Stephen is what HE would like to wear to the wedding, but I am afraid it is going to be too hot. I think he might be wearing it even if he has to sweat from the look on his face. He really likes his second outfit since he calls it his "work shirt" like Daddy's. This is what he will most likely wear, or at least Mommy will have it in a bag for when he passes out in the Texas heat. Rhea likes her new clothes too as the picture tell you. The first dress with detachable jacket is for the rehearsal dinner (it will go great with BBQ sauce on it), and the second is for the wedding. Poor Stephen just has a polo and pants for the rehearsal dinner, but I don't think he much cares. It was nearly impossible to find a fall formal dress for Rhea that didn't scream "Merry Christmas", or had something on the arms so that she wouldn't freeze to death even with indoor air conditioning temperatures. I did buy the shrug separately and was relived when it all went together. The last picture is of my dress which was easy to find compared to the shoes to match (what a nightmare). Anyway, we are all set for Texas in October and I think Stephen is almost ready for his first airplane flight. I haven't prepped Rhea at all which could be a mistake. I hope that she just takes Stephen's lead since he now knows EVERYTHING about airplanes.

This is Stephen's very first drawing. He did it at church and it made Daddy's heart melt. Stephen told us that it is a picture of he and his Daddy. The border around the picture means that his Daddy loves him. We also noticed that Stephen drew his face looking up at his Dad. How cool is that?Soon after this drawing, Stephen wanted help drawing other things. I had been reading the Artistic Pursuits "The Way They See It" which has really helped in his free drawing. However, he wanted help drawing other things that he sees in books. All of these pictures were done with me drawing my own picture and him doing the same with step-by-step instruction. Everything was done by his own hand. I have since ordered the Draw Write Now full set to help me with this since it take too much brain power to break a picture down and explain it to him. He feels more confident in drawing on his own after this session, but I know the Draw Write Now books will help us out even more and encourage him to see more shapes within the pictures he wants to draw. A trip to the garden helped out tremendously as you will read in our Winterpromise post. It is amazing what he can do with just pointing out a few basic shapes!

We took one last trip, for the summer anyway, to the Brookfield Zoo. The main even was to the Butterfly House since it will be closed by the time we return. We were in there for about 45 minutes before Rhea lost interest. Luckily, Tom was with me and stayed for quite a long time more with Stephen. There was a poster of all the butterflies and their names, so Stephen was determined to find all of them. Rhea and I meanwhile enjoyed the Butterfly and Birds giftshop.

We are still have beautiful weather, well, now that the rain is finally gone. Here are the last of our warm days. First is a scooter race which ended in a crash that Rhea wasn't too happy about followed by a water fight with Daddy in the backyard. We also had a brownie making night where Rhea always manages to make a mess of herself.

WP I'm Ready to Learn - Farm

Despite a long month due to NIU Marching Band, it was looking like we had a bare spot in our curriculum this year. Stephen was perfectly happy with his McRuffy Phonics, Singapore Math, and Bible Stories. He especially was enjoying the Bible stories. Rhea enjoyed working with Daddy and Stephen on the Bible stories, but was even more content with the the crafts and sticker pages. However, when they were done, they wanted more of something. While Stephen has been happy with picking out Encyclopedias and a ton of books of his choice from the library, that "something" was still missing. So far, we have cover Dinosaurs, Knights, Castles, and Airplanes. Last week, he woke up and asked for an Usborne Internet-Linked book on Outerspace. I thank God every day for our library and for Usborne. Rhea, however, enjoys her libary books, but needed structure and more to go along with her book treasures. I noticed that she was picking all farm related book which reminded me of the Winterpromise program I'm Ready To Learn. http://www.winterpromise.com/ This will be a great introduction to our Animals and Cutures unit next year.

It was August 23rd, and I couldn't believe I was actually going to order a curriculum so late. I did anyway, and received everything within two weeks. I am so glad I got this for the kids! There is something for everyone and more importantly, Rhea can be more involved. There are a number of activity books included that could have been ordered without the program, but Winterpromise has done a wonderful job with organizing and scheduling everything for me. We also found that Tom loves teacher manuals because they keep him from trying to remember my ramblings.

I had every intention to add pictures of our animal crafts along the way, but they were all joyfully played with and thus mostly destroyed by the time we were finished, so "not so much" on the pictures. We used each animal project in our circle time since we had songs and games to go along with our themes. The kids still randomly sing these several months later, which is really cool to hear.

I drew this mural the night the box of curriculum books arrived. You could say I was only a little excited. Stephen liked it so much that he wanted to draw his own, BUT he had to add the right amount of fire alarms.

Our Paper Plate Barns - Rhea's is on the left, and Stephen's is on the right

I love how easy and adaptable this curriculum is for both kids. We use all of the activities which allows both kiddos to be included. Clearly, some of the activities are too old for Rhea, and Stephen merely humors us by participating in activities that are more Rhea's speed. As always, we really enjoy the crafts and I can't say enough about the trinket box. I don't follow the schedule for the box since we like to explore it in its entirety. Rhea spends the whole time sorting, while Stephen uses it for story starters. Again, there is something for everyone so that brains are occupied and my house stays intact. They have enjoyed this box so much that I have added a few things to it from left over art projects that are similar to what is already there.

Our Firefighting Cowboy

Chicken and Hen Week - Easter in September

We did a really cute song about a Farmer that would come in and "steal" the chicken eggs. This prompted me to do Easter in September since we had the eggs out. Or, maybe it was the craving for Jelly Bellies that led me to that activity. Anyway, all of the "chickens" would close their eyes with their egg in front of them, and the "farmer" would come and swipe the eggs. The "chicken" would then have to guess who the farmer was. We played this over and over again and the kids loved it. Yes, we hid Easter eggs all over the house too for fun.

OK, so here is a funny story; well, funny for me because it happened to my darling husband. It was Cow Week and we always talk about what we get from each animal. We obviously talked about getting milk from cows and figured we would make ice cream. We have done this once before and it was a big hit. We happened to have some bannanas that needed to be eaten, so it was a perfect opportunity to make bannana ice cream. The bannanas were mashed, the ingredients poured, and the ice cream maker didn't start. So, here we are, it is almost October, and no ice cream maker. I needed a break from the morning, so Tom decided to take the kids to the hardware store to buy a replacement motor. I didn't know you could do such a thing, but wasn't going to question my opportunity to get a little peace. Time passed and I began to wonder what happened to my family. Three stores later, my darling husband comes home with a new ice cream maker. Now, you have to ask yourself, how did he find an ice cream maker in our region in the fall. He says that it was God since there was only one and it was in the out-of-season isle. I would have been willing to make bannna bread and take the kids out for ice cream, but we still had our ice cream thanks to a faithful Dad.Stephen's Barn

Our first field trip with Winterpromise's Farm unit included a nature walk. We had just visited a farm at the Zoo, and plan on some farm visits with our fall activities, so it was time for something a little different. I made sure we kept it simple since Tom is working most Saturday's and I was on my own. We went to our local Phillips Park where we have a sunken garden, small zoo, mastodon museum, and a really fun playground. One of our Winterpromise activities throughout the week was to go on nature walks. Since we live in suburbia, this calls for drastic measures sometimes depending on the topic. The garden was our focal point, but I didn't think we would be there quite as long as we were. Three hours later, I informed Stephen that we just had to go before Rhea started into a complete melt down. I think I phrased it differently, but that's what I was thinking. We started out in the garden and I had put together a simple drawing bag for the kids the night before. Yes, two of everything (Sidebar - I could never figure our why my parents thought it was necessary to buy two of everything for my sister and I. Shouldn't we be able to teach our children to either share or be happy with what they had as individuals. I can hear you laughing from here, Mom. Now, no matter what it is, if I think we MIGHT need two, I buy two). So, Stephen headed into the garden (running), with his clipboard, paper, and crayon box. I am so glad I though to get a picture of it. Maybe someday he will be an artists and I can pull this out and show him his first adventure. Otherwise, it will just be a wonderful memory for mommy.

We must have stayed in the garden for about an hour with Stephen drawing for the first time, the WHOLE time. Rhea, on the other hand, spent about five seconds "drawing" and decided that she wanted to see and touch instead of stand still for too long. Part two of our nature walk was to collect treasures along the way, so that satisfied her. Luckily, we were in a sunken garden, so she couldn't go very far or get away from me too easily. Rhea eventually announced that she needed to use the potty, so off we went after I promised Stephen that we could come back to the garden on the way back to the car. The bathrooms were located at the Mastodon Museum, so we stopped and checked out the very large fossils. Stephen had just finished his Dinosaur encyclopedias, so he was very interested and drew some of the fossils in his nature book. Next, was off to the little zoo where the reptile house was the main attraction. When I say little Zoo, I mean suburban zoo with crocodiles, turtles misc. animals and a 50 gallon fish tank. It is small, but enough for a stress free trip to satisfy little minds and antsy bodies. Yes, the playground was last on our list and we stayed for a short while before I thought it to be wise to head back to the car before the cranky children troll arrived. Stephen didn't forget that I promised a second trip back to the garden, so off we went. On our way, he asked to stop to sit under a tree to draw. I knew what the results were going to be since I didn't have a blanket, but I agreed. We sat down and by the time I got out the paper and crayons, here came the first army ant. Did I mention that our home is in the heart of suburbia. Rhea then freaked out at the Daddy Long Leg, especially when I picked it up to show her that it would not hurt her. An ant interfering with Stephen's work was NOT OK, and Rhea thought that Mommy should NOT be handling "big giant spiders", so we were on the move again. We made it back up to the paved path with Stephen still drawing as we walked. I told him that we could sit on the path for awhile, but he insisted on continuing on to the garden where we spent another hour. This was about the time that I was running out of snacks for Rhea and she was now flat on her back in the stroller with her blankie hanging out of her mouth. It looked like naptime to me, so we finally headed home.

We did manage to find some roosters and this was Stephen's impersonation

Time to Play

Our Journey Back to the Garden

No Creepy Crawlies Here

The family fun activity for this week was singing "In and Out the Barn Door", which Stephen didn't care for, but Rhea loved, followed by animal charades. These activities are done either before book time in the morning, or after dinner when Daddy gets home. Here is our "barn" and we added a few non-traditional farm animals according to some masks I had from our Noah's Ark unit. Stephen decided that this activity was cool enough for his participation and proceeded to have a great time! We did the activity correctly the first time and the kids enjoyed guess what the farm animals where. To my surprise, they actually took turns acting out and listening to each other at the appropriate times.

I started using the Williamson Science Play and really liked it. However, it just gets too cold here too fast and stays like that for too long. That said, it was best that we save that book for spring and summer. We did manage to do a couple of projects in the the book. The first one is the bug hotel. This one frustrated me at first since it is looked down upon to have bugs in the suburbs. I honestly couldn't attract ANYTHING. I was just about it give up until one day when I had been munching on an apple while the kids played out side. I walked over to our little bug hotel and put the apple core in there along the the untouched cheese. We had ourselves a little army of ants by the next day. Stephen was pretty grossed out, but I thought it was pretty neat to watch. I think he will appreciate it more this spring.

We were fortunate to have a warm start to fall this year, so the pool was left out a little longer than usual. I figured that I wouldn't stop with that and have them wash the car too!

A Patient Dog

Mix and Match Spinning Plates

Sequencing Crowns

I took sequencing cards out of some workbooks for these crowns. Rhea's was very simple with tree pictures showing bird eggs hatching to go along with our Chicken theme this week. Stephen's was a series of four sequences. Two are on the front and two on the back. He taped them together and used some scraps to complete the crown so that it fit his head. These are still a hit even a few days later

Painting with Circles