Thursday, January 28, 2010

To Coop or not to Coop?

This has been the question for us since the beginning of the school year.  To Coop or not to Coop?  In our previous covering, we had Friday classes which could last anywhere from 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM.  You did not have a go all day but could take as many classes as you were allowed into.  They were enrichment classes that were good learning opportunities but generally fun in nature.  The other potential "plus" is that you could drop you child off and return to pick him/her up at the designated time.  Thus giving Mom some much needed time to run errands or do something fun, maybe by herself.  That is unless you were volunteering your time to teach one or two of the classes offered or helping out in the office. This arrangement seemed to work fairly well for us, Riley enjoyed the classes and got to know several of the children and I did get some good time to run errands or do lunch with someone.  I also taught a few of the classes which was fun too.

One draw back to the Friday classes was that usually around Thursday or so, we would get into a good swing of getting things done, attitudes were good, mom was motivated, Riley was motivated.  And then on Friday we had to set all we were working on aside and go to classes.  Generally by the time we got home after classes we were exhausted and certainly didn't want to finish up any remaining work that needed to be done.

When we changed coverings this past summer, (for several reasons-not having to do with classes) we switched to one that did a Coop instead of "Friday Classes".  I had never done a coop so I didn't know what to expect.  Although I was really recovering from a Long period of over committing myself and Riley and our time.  I was really trying to make a change in that area, so after some prayer I began to feel that the Lord was leading us to just stay home.  That was a little bit of a struggle for me because with Riley being an only child, I wanted to make sure he had interaction and playtime with other children.  During the school year that doesn't always come easy with friends who go to public school.  But I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that we needed to stay home.  So we did, and it went well.  We were able to get quality time in for school, have free time (as long as we finished school in a decent time frame...) and felt much more rested.  All the while, I was still praying as to whether we should do the Coop or not.  I still felt a nagging in my heart that Riley needed that break from me, time with children, time to hear another Mother teaching the class and see her interact with the kids.  So when the time came I put our names on the list for the coop... I took a leap!

The coop in our covering (not knowing how other coops function at this point) is on either Thursdays or Fridays from 8:30 to 12:00.  A family can sign up for either day or both if they so choose.  There are approximately three classes for each age group and the children rotate from class to class.

Today was our first day and here is how the day went.  They started off with a devotion time with the whole group of kids.  This was centered around a character trait and verses from the Bible.  Then each age group went off to their respective class.  Here was the one thing I wondered about (after having time to myself in the past).  Each Mother is expected to stay on campus and help out in two of the classes!  (They don't see themselves as a "babysitting service".) The third hour is free and you can participate in a prayer group or sit and fellowship with the other Moms.  I have to say I really enjoyed it and had a good time!  I didn't think it would be a "bad time" but I wondered if I would miss having time to myself.  I didn't even think about it!  My first hour was free, so I visited the prayer group.  I thoroughly enjoyed it but think that next week I will stay with some of the other Mom's so I can meet more of them.  The next hour I helped out in Art, then the last hour I helped out in the 3 & 4's.  That was fun too!  It brought back a lot of memories of Riley at that age and how fun it was to teach him different things.  So I would say overall that cooping was fun and I look forward to the next week!

After devotion time, Riley went to Fun with Science, then he was in Art with me and then a class where they do Unit Studies and games.  He said that school was "cool" and he really had fun!  He met two new little boys and they all three seemed to be quite the little combo...  :-)

After today, for now I guess our answer to the question "To coop or not to coop?" is Yes!  We both had fun, we were home by 1:30.  We finished up some spelling words, did some reading and we were done.  We probably could have gotten by without doing the spelling but Momma felt like we needed to squeeze that in.  I imagine we will need to evaluate that decision each term to make sure we are doing what we need to do for that part of the school year, but for now it looks as if it may work for us!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Hello Y'all visiting from Getting to Know You!

Wow!  I was so excited and blessed to see that Southern Homeschool Journey was Lynnette's (at Dancing Barefoot) featured blog today!  This was an awesome way to start my day!  I'm really looking forward to getting to know each of you and look forward to visiting your blogs as well.  Thanks so much Lynnette for featuring Southern Homeschool Journey!







I know Lynnette, your right, I do need a header!  Being new to blogging and all, I try to make changes and adjustments and strange things happen....I have no idea what I did.  But I am working on it, slowly but surely.  There is something to say about having a 42 year old mind, I just don't seem to remember all the stuff I used to!??  You did a great job at putting together those pictures for my header,

Yes, it is hard to believe that 24 - yes 24 years ago Lynnette and I graduated from high school in the small town of Derby, Kansas!  Which isn't quite as small as I remember anymore, it has grown leaps and bounds since I moved here to Alabama.  And yes, saying 24 years does make me feel old -Sometimes- but I like to think I'm really quite young.  :-)  I guess I realized that when Riley was born, I would be 52 when he graduates from High School.  So, I guess I finally reached a point that I just had to "deal with it!".  You know, positive thinking does pay off...doesn't it?

I am so thankful Lynnette and I have been able to reconnect after all these years!  Her joy, her bubbly personality and her spiritual insight as God has led her have all been an inspiration and a blessing to me as I have followed her blog over the last several months.  God is using her in a magnificent way!

Homeschooling has been a major part of our lives for the last 2 1/2 to 3 years.  So I am fairly new to it, and Yes, we are having a blast!  But I'll tell you, I learn something new about my son, myself and homeschooling every time I turn around.  There are days that I am charged and ready to go and there are days that I am worn out and exhausted and not quite sure where to start.  Then there are days Riley is energized and excited about what we are doing and the other days he looks at me like "Not that again!!"  Either way we keep plodding along and don't give up.  It is a constant effort to remind my self why I am doing this!  Because God told Chris and I to do this!  That's why!

I realized shortly after we started homeschooling that I think my homeschooling style is fairly eclectic, at least for now.  There is so much that I see out there and would like to try!   Our curriculum choices right now are Abeka, Apologia Science (Jeannie Fulbrights books), and Mystery of History.  Occasionally we'll throw in a Lap book or Unit Study from Amanda Bennett as well.  During the spring and summer months I love to incorporate some of Charlotte Mason's ideas, especially in gardening and camping.  That is one of the blessings of homeschooling, you can adapt your learning to what ever needs you, your child or your lifestyle have! 

I am so thankful that y'all have stopped by my blog today!  I hope you find some encouragement or maybe a new idea or two.  Most importantly I hope you find the joy I have in homeschooling our son and doing my best to raise him in the admonition of the Lord. 
Have a blessed week!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Productive School Day

We got a late start to school today but that is ok, things have gone well. Riley started out by reading in his library book "Daniel Boone", in his favorite spot. Right in front of the space heater! I constantly have to remind him to scoot back so he is not so close.

 

 Aaawww Mom!  Your flash is too bright!


We were able to finish labeling the last 5 states on our Map of the USA today!  We are making progress!  We have a big floor puzzle of the USA so I put it together and traced the outline of the continent, then traced each of the 50 states.  It wasn't perfect but it worked great for us!  Then as we were labeling each state we used small post it notes so they can later be removed as he learns where each state is.




He has really enjoyed learning where each state is, making comments such as:  "One day I want to go to California."  Or, "Someday can we got to Colorado?"   Dreaming up future vacations!


We are close to being done with American History for this year.  As soon as we finish we will start back up with Mystery of History which is a Biblical and World view of History.  We will pick up with King Saul, David and Solomon, then move on to the Phoenicians.  With the Mystery of History we will also do a time line, mapping and projects.



Riley had a new writing assignment today.  I read in the Heart of the Matter newsletter for today an idea on "Would You Rather...".  He takes a scenario, "Would You Rather... live in a house made of candy or a house made of money?"  He then wrote his answer in 5 sentences and really had fun with it!  He asked me when he was done, "O.K. Mom, what is my next question?"  Woohoo!!  He actually enjoyed handwriting for today!  It was also interesting as well as fun to read his answer.

We finished up Phonics and did a Math Test and we are done.  Busy day but good and well productive!  It was so nice to have a victory in handwriting today!  Thanks to Angela at Heart of the Matter, what a wonderful idea!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Our Bird Feeders

As I posted earlier in the Homemade Bird Feeder post, we have been studying birds through our science curriculum Exploring Creation with Zoology 1:  Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day from Apologia (Jeannie K. Fulbright).  I'm sure this will be an ongoing study, (at least as far as I am concerned! :-)) hopefully Riley's interest in identifying birds will continue on into the spring and summer.
I had originally signed up to do a Project Feeder Watch through Cornell University School of Ornithology, thinking this would be a help in our study of birds.  I will say that it has done a couple of things:  It has definitely fueled Riley's interest in birds.  He can identify more birds now than he could when we first started our study this fall.  It has also increased the number of birds in our yard and provided many opportunities for taking photos (which I have thoroughly enjoyed!).  It has been however difficult to consistently keep watch at the designated times and count the number of birds on our feeders.  Hopefully we can do better now that the holidays are over and we have gotten into the full swing of school.
Winter is a great time to hang feeders (and no, it's not too late).  The birds are looking for other sources of food since the berries and seeds are not as prevalent.  It provides a great source of education and entertainment as well as an awesome opportunity to watch God's magnificent creation at work.  We have identified types of birds, watched their mannerisms and listened to the different songs and calls they make.  In our science curriculum we have been able to learn why certain birds make a call as opposed to a song.  Did you know that how many different calls a bird makes depends on how many muscles he has attached to his voice box or syrinx?  And to think God planned it all this way! Great stuff!

Here are some pictures of the different types of feeders we have put out in our yard this winter:


 We have 4 suet feeders:  3 store bought and one Riley made in Scouts with a pinecone, peanut butter, lard and birdseed.

 
This wire mesh tube feeder above is filled with Black sunflower seeds.



 This inexpensive Hopper feeder has a mix type seed and is easy to fill.
And of course there is the Homemade Bird Feeder from my previous post which is still a work in progress.
(see the Ooopps! post)


And of course you must have water for your birds.  Yes, water in the winter.  So we have a bird bath.  Some of the best pictures and fun we have gotten is from the birds enjoying the bath.  If you are looking for some bird feeders check out the Amazon links I have on my blog.  You may find what you are looking for at a great price!
I leave you with this picture of a Mocking bird enjoying his bath in our bird bath.



 

 


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Ooopps!!

Well, we found out something interesting today with our homemade bird feeder.   Apparently we did not wash the bottle out well enough because this is what we found today.




Yes, those are bees!


They were going to town on that birdseed!

Today there were tons of bees flying around the bottle and the table below.  Lady (our dog) was biting at them and chasing them.  That's trouble waiting to happen!  I guess we will start over tomorrow.  I'll have to take it down tonight so that the bees won't be back in the morning.  Well, we live and learn don't we?   We'll see how things go the second time around.



Monday, January 18, 2010

Martin Luther King, Jr Lapbook

We are learning about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr this week. I went to CurrClick and found a lapbook to help us study him this week. In the Hands of a Child created a project pack that has all the tools you need to put a lapbook together. In the project pack there is a Research Guide for the child to read with you. Then your child can complete the hands on activities which correspond to the research guide. After the hands on activities are completed they can be added to the lapbook.

As we finish I will post pictures of the finished project.


Partners in "Crime"

Riley and Lady decided to go outside and enjoy this beautiful day.  The sun is shining and the temperature is not quite as cold.  He had done what I had asked him to so he wanted to play outside in the back yard.  Why not??

Except that with the rain we have gotten lately, we have a "River that Runs Through It".  Yes, that means mud...




I guess it could have been much worse...Both Riley and Lady were speckled with mud all over...  In the pictures below you can't see the fine specks on Riley's face but you can on his clothes.  Lady had much bigger specks all over her white coat.  Bath's were in store for both of them.  Needless to say school has been delayed today.  Riley helped bathe Lady and then cleaned his tub (with my help) and got a bath himself.  I had to laugh, it was really quite funny!






Jedi mind trick-"you will get clean!"


Well, now they are clean.  Can they stay that way long enough to do school?  I think so.... :-)  Now it is time to start leaning about Martin Luther King Jr.  We are starting a lap book about him today and will work on it this week.  I'll have to post our progress and results.  Have a great day!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Homemade Bird Feeder


We are using Exploring Creation with Zoology 1:  Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day from Apologia (written by Jeannie K. Fulbright). I love their science curriculum! Of course the number one reason is because it is taught from the creation perspective. The second reason is that so far it has held Riley's attention and he has really enjoyed it (asking to do more type of enjoying it!). The third reason is the activities and projects she has in the book are fun, you can learn from them and easy to do. Most of the items needed for the projects are things you would have in your home. That makes it great! The less money you have to spend, the better in my opinion!!

This past Thursday as we finished up our lesson on birds, we got to make a bird feeder! The nice part was that we had most of what we needed and what we didn't have, we could improvise a little. So here is how we made our bird feeder:

What you Need:
* An adult with a knife
* Two bamboo skewers (These serve as perches for the birds-we did not have bamboo skewers so we used sticks.)
* An empty plastic bottle with a wide mouth opening like a juice jug. You can use a plastic soda pop bottle instead but the narrow opening can make it hard to fill with bird seed. (We used a soda pop bottle and were able to fill it just fine. We just used a paper plate as a funnel and cleaned up our mess afterward!)
* Wire or string (we used a wire coat hanger)
* Bird Seed

1). Have an adult cut two holes on opposite sides of the jug, about two and half inches from the bottom. The holes should be about the size of a nickel or quarter, depending on the size of the seed you bought. The holes should be large enough for a bird to access the seed, but not so large that the seed just spills out. If you bought very small seeds like those from a thistle, for example, you will need to make the hole the size of a pea.
2). Have the adult use the knife to make a small slit at the bottom of the bottle on each side, about 2 inches below each side.
3). Slide the bamboo skewers (or sticks in our case) through these slits to make a perch under each hole.
4). Make a small hole on each side of the bottle, near the mouth.
5). Slide the wire or string through the holes and tie the ends together above the feeder's mouth.
6). Fill the feeder with seeds and replace the lid.
7). Secure your feeder to a tree that birds are likely to see when passing through your area. (We hung ours outside our kitchen window since we do not have a tree that would support it close to viewing range.)



It turned out great and already some Black Capped Chickadees have perched on our feeder to get their dinner! Anything to draw more birds to our yard!  If you are doing a bird study or lesson this is a great, easy and fun project for your kids with some adult supervision.  Have fun!


Saturday, January 16, 2010

A Battle of the Wills is raging

Well I must say that this week has been much better than last. Attitudes were much better although still present. The Lord used situations this week to help me learn something about myself and my son. I am finding more this year how much of a strong will my son has. We knew and suspected that he did because we saw evidence of it as he was an infant or toddler. We saw more evidence of it as he grew up but it didn't seem to be quite as previlant the last couple of years. Do any of you have a strong willed child? How do you deal with it?

A dear friend of mine gave me a great analogy yesterday as she was helping me through one of those battle of the wills. He is like a lion in temperament and I am like a lamb. The lion struts around trying to gain control of his territory and show he is king and the lamb stands there trying to figure out how to bring this to an end and keep from getting eaten. It isn't like I don't discipline him at all, I struggle with knowing how and when to do so and to what extent. My tendency is to threaten a certain discipline and then when it is too late I realize that I've really messed myself up by threatening and not following through.

I know the enemy seizes the opportunity to grab a hold of me in my weakness and cause me to doubt my ability to effectively discipline my son. Sometimes it takes me a little bit to realize that a situation is slipping out of control and like yesterday I loose sight of my job as a parent - only momentarily. Then I have to remember to ask myself, what has God called me to do as a Mother to Riley? These verses came to me this morning.

Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6

And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Ephesians 6:4

34"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35"By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." John 13:34-35


My job as Riley's Mother is to train him up in the way he should go, so he will not depart from it (Proverbs 22:6), to raise him up in the admonition of the Lord, (Ephesians 6:4) and to show him Jesus, to set an example of Christ before him and be obedient and discipline him in love. In my thoughts and prayers this morning I have been reminded of Hebrews 12:4-12

4 In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5 And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as children? It says,
"My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline,
and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,

6 because the Lord disciplines those he loves,
and he chastens everyone he accepts as his child." [a]

7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? 8 If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate children at all. 9 Moreover, we have all had parents who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! 10 Our parents disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

12 Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. 13 "Make level paths for your feet," so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.


Wow! What encouragement to persevere, to press on and to not loose hope regarding my son's strong will and my inability at times to keep the battle of the wills under control. Thank you Lord that your promises are true and you lovingly chasten us when we loose sight of our job as a parent to these precious gifts you have given us. As my husband and I discussed this situation we have with our son and how it is my job as his Mother and teacher to lovingly discipline Riley. God used my loving husband to show me that I need to have the temperament of the lamb but not back down, to keep persevering and hanging on to my territory as a parent. My prayer this week is that i don't loose sight of that territory and give in to the lion that is waiting to take it from me.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Great Toolbar for homeschooling moms!



Check out this cool tool bar that I downloaded from the Homeschool Lounge!  It is called the Homeschool Toolbar.  It has so many great features that a homeschool mom could use!  It gives you a link to Facebook, Twitter and Youtube, links to some of the best homeschool websites, links to the top blogs in homeschooling, and HS feeds.  There is also a cool little button that has a to do list, calculator and other very usable features.  The current weather for your area and an email notifier are also included.  For the kiddos (and adults too!) there is an awesome little game button that has tons to choose from!  If you look to the far right of the toolbar and click on the two little arrows you'll find a bunch more little surprises, a radio player is one of them.  I'm thinking this toolbar could cut down on the search time a little bit!  It really puts some of those daily places I go to online right at my fingertips!

The Homeschoolbar is a free download found on the Homeschool Lounge website.  If you haven't joined this wonderful group yet, check it out.  It is full of resources, encouraging words, ideas for homeschooling, recipes and games.  I have really enjoyed being a part of these Christian women who are striving to raise their children in the admonition of the Lord and possibly experiencing the same or similar things we are.  So be sure and check out the Homeschool Lounge and see what they have to offer.  While you are there check out the Homeschool Toolbar.


Saturday, January 2, 2010

Happy New Year!!

Well let me just say, Happy New Year to each of you!  My prayer for you is that your New Year is rich with God's blessings.

We thoroughly enjoyed our New Years Eve, the three of us stayed home and had a nice candle lit dinner of crab legs, shrimp, salad and sour dough bread! It was delicious!  Riley was so excited when he found out we were having a candle lit dinner and even more excited when he found out we were having crab legs!  He jumped in there and cleared the table, and helped get it set and got the candles ready.

As we ate we discussed what the new year brings, an opportunity to make resolutions, to make a new start and to anticipate what the Lord has in store for us.  We had to redirect Riley a little when he said his 'revolution' was to play more WII...it's hard for an almost 8 year old to think about anything else except for playing.

Chris surprised me and asked Riley if he wanted to be homeschooled this next year.  I must admit, I was a little anxious to hear his answer.  Thankfully he said he wanted to keep homeschooling!  Whew!!!!  Then we talked about doing the Abeka DVD's or continuing on our same curriculum choices we've been using.  Riley said he liked what we were doing!  That is a good thing!  I just need to get some more energy somewhere!!  This break we've had over Christmas has been a BIG blessing to me for I was really tired!!

I look forward to starting school next week.  I have some things to do to get ready.  Math, Phonics and Bible are easy because we'll just pick up where we left off.  Science we are still studying birds and I need to see what is in store for us there.  We need to finish up our American History/Geography so we can resume our Mystery of History.  Of course we need to do some more reading and make a trip to Pizza Hut for his Book It awards.  We are doing a Coop this winter/spring.  I had decided to take the Fall off from doing any Coop classes and here's why.  Last year we had Friday classes and it seemed that by Thursday school would be going well and we'd be on a roll then we would have to stop and go to classes on Friday and I felt like we were falling behind.  After taking the fall off, I've decided my plan worked, we really enjoyed staying home and getting school done and being able to do our own thing once we were done.  However, I really felt Riley was missing the interaction with other kids.  So we are giving this a try.  I'm looking forward to it, I've never done a Coop before.   Riley seems a little excited too, it's always hard to meet new people.  It meets on Friday mornings from 9-noon.  So we'll have the afternoon to finish up projects or get other stuff done.  We'll see how it goes!

I have spent this past week cleaning out particular areas of our house.  They were in terrible need of purging and dusting and cleaning.  I feel like I have made some progress!

So I guess I say all that to say that I feel like we are going into 2010 somewhat ready mentally for somethings.  At least my home will be purged and clean for the most part and we will be ready for school next week!!

So blessing to you this weekend as you start your new year!