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Archive for the ‘Homeschool’ Category

St. Nicholas Week

Theme: Saint Nicholas
Letter: n

We took the week off of homeschooling for Thanksgiving so I could travel to the land of lemon trees and sunshine (aka south Florida) but jumped right back in last week for a lesson on Saint Nicholas. This beloved saint of the Orthodox Church is the patron of children, sailors, and our own parish priest. It was fun spending a week getting to know St Nicholas better in anticipation of his feast day on December 6th.

First the kids colored their letter n worksheets, then we read the life of St Nicholas and started our lesson. R’s mom found a great web site for coloring pages and other resources at the St Nicholas Center. The children made a book about the life of St Nicholas. We also learned a traditional Russian folk song which we would perform at church later in the week.

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On Monday afternoon we joined R and her family again at a local bookstore for storytime. They listened politely to How the Grinch Stole Christmas and made a grinch themed card to bring home.

 

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Tuesday was our monthly activity day for the homeschooled kids of our parish. They came together to decorate and bake Christmas cookies and to rehearse the St Nicholas song.

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On Thursday A requested a science experiment, so we tried to pick up an ice cube with a string. It took a few tries and some patience, but it worked! The look on her face was priceless.

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On Thursday afternoon my across the street neighbor P, who is also 4, came over to play. A & P spent half their time together devising an art project and kept themselves happily busy coloring, cutting, and taping for much longer than A usually does. I enjoyed that!

On Friday we had a fun playdate with A’s closest friends R and C at a local indoor play space. We all napped well that afternoon!

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Saturday was St Nicholas Day. We went to liturgy in the morning. Every year the kids remove their shoes and leave them in the narthex. St Nicholas visits us during the service and leaves a sweet surprise in everyone’s shoes! This year we all stayed at church for lunch. During lunch the kids’ singing group got to sing the St Nicholas song twice! They did a fantastic job.

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Stewardship Week

Theme: Stewardship
Letter: l

It was important to us, as we enter the holiday season, to talk with the kids about giving. We didn’t want to beat them about the head and shoulders with lectures on privilege and poverty, but we did want them to be aware that giving is an option.

So R’s mom put together a lesson on all of the various ways we can be good stewards. We can be good stewards by being careful with other people’s things; caring for our pets and toys; not wasting time, water, electricity or food; recycling, composting, and otherwise caring for our environment; and by sharing our money and our things with people who are less fortunate than us. A enjoyed the lesson (especially the glue sticks!), but her idea of someone who is less fortunate is my across the street neighbor who doesn’t have a steering wheel toy like she does. I’m glad that she isn’t aware of these sorts of things yet. Maybe we planted a seed that she will think of when she does become aware that there are children with nothing.

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This was a great week for A, the social butterfly. She got to see friends and watch movies at church every morning while I helped the women’s group bake baklawa for our annual fundraiser. Playing with her friends makes her so happy!

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Baklawa babies

On Monday afternoon we baked bread together for the first time. A kneaded her own little lump of dough, and when it was baked we shared steaming hot bread together. The dog helped us clean up our mess.

 

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That was pretty much our whole week. We were at church every morning and evening in the second half of the week, and in between there were naps, short playdates, and quality time on the iPad. A has started teaching herself phonics on the Starfall app. I’m curious to see where this will lead.

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Onward and upward!

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Math Week

Theme: Math
Letter: t

We do a little bit of math every week, but last week we decided to spend our whole week on math concepts. On Monday we read one of my favorite little books (it has been in my purse for church reading since A was old enough to stop eating books), How Many Veggies?. Then we did a few of the Math Mission cards from A’s Team Umizoomi math curriculum. We made playdoh shapes and numbers, used multiple tools for measuring, traced numbers on each other’s backs, and tested to see how many jumping  jacks we could do in a minute. Then we headed outside to play shape hopscotch, which was more like a giant sudoku board for R’s mom and me!

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Later that afternoon my husband came home and continued our math lesson with a laser thermometer that we own. A was really enjoying taking the temperature of just about everything in our house.

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By Wednesday she had picked up on how to say a two-digit number. What on Monday was seven one had by Wednesday become seventy-one. Yay progress!

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On Thursday I introduced A to the movie Fantasia and she absolutely loved it! Above you can see her dancing to one of the scenes in it (with a costume change, of course).

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On Friday we went on a field trip to a local science museum. The kids wanted to touch a butterfly in the butterfly house so badly! Here they are trying to be still as they hold their fingers out for the butterflies to land on. I wonder why none of them took the girls up on the invitation…

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I’ll leave you with one last sister photo. Baby S likes to grab faces and she just loves her sister!

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Ballet Week

Theme: Ballet
Letter: s

Last week was ballet week at our little home preschool, and we had some very happy ballerinas as students! R’s mom set the week up by inviting A to the library the previous Saturday where a local ballet group did a free public rehearsal for the Nutcracker. They even taught the kids a dance. I didn’t go, but A showed me her soldier march after Vespers that night. She really enjoyed it.

Then on Monday morning we got together for our formal ballet lesson. The girls colored a letter s worksheet and we had our usual storytime (Angelina Ballerina) before getting into the best part: the dancing. R’s mom led the girls through a ballet warmup and taught them the various foot and arm positions before letting them dress up and go crazy to ballet music.

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The rest of the week was a bit off the rails partly because I didn’t prepare much else to do, but also because A’s great-grandfather passed away. We had a lot of conversations about death and heaven instead, which was fine with me. It’s not like we would have made a whole preschool theme week about it! So we took last week one day at a time.

One of my favorite things that happened this week was on Wednesday. My neighbor was burning leaves and A wanted to see what was going on, so I told her to go peek through the fence while I brought things into the house. The next thing I know I find this:

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They had a nice conversation about something, I’m sure.

On Thursday I went to A’s house early and we had a pajama party while the rest of her family went out of town. For the first couple of hours we ate breakfast and she watched Frozen (again) in her fanciest dress.

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The only thing that got us out of the house was the promise of going to her favorite library to get new books and play on the playground. We got some great books for the next week and one for baby sister. A got to show it to her the next day:

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We had our usual playdate with R on Friday morning and a liturgy for the archangels on Friday night. It was a full week!

And now suddenly this week is almost over. I’ll update sooner next time.

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Pumpkin Week

Theme: Pumpkins
Letter: r

This is the third year that A and her friend R have gone to the pumpkin patch together. We went two Fridays ago in preparation for last week’s Pumpkin theme. They always have a great time!

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Our schedule got a little turned around last week. Instead of having school first thing Monday morning we couldn’t do it until Thursday. So instead, I had A work on some pumpkin cutting practice worksheets. We made pumpkin pie in the afternoon and got to eat it after nap.

On Tuesday she learned about the life cycle of a pumpkin plant and she painted pumpkins at her homeschool co-op. We spent part of the day working out in the garden digging compost and putting it on the planting beds. A did it all in her Cinderella dress and high heels, of course!

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We had had two weeks off from our little home preschool, so I had some difficulty getting back into the swing of things. So while we talked about our science experiment — filling a pumpkin with dirt to see the seeds grow — we haven’t actually done it yet. Instead our week was full of activities like these:

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Finally on Thursday we got together with R for a formal lesson on pumpkins. The kids got to get their hands inside a pumpkin and also taste some baked pumpkin seeds. They read books about the letter r and other books about pumpkins. Our story time is really starting to be fun, with each of the kids taking turns “reading” a book to me before I read a book to them. We are learning how to sit politely and listen respectfully (and not heckle). We are also learning about being confident and telling stories, even if you don’t really know how to read yet.

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On Thursday evening my husband came home early to carve jack o’lanterns with A in preparation for Halloween. A designed her own:

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Then on Friday we celebrated all day! First we invited our friends over for a Halloween party playdate in the morning. They played outside in the leaves, ate Halloween themed snacks, and had a great time together.

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After nap we got our costumes on to get ready for trick or treating in my neighborhood. A was a cat and her baby sister was Ariel, the Little Mermaid.

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Our friends and their families came back over in the evening to join us on the neighborhood hayride that takes the kids around to all the houses. We had a great day!

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Leaf Week

Theme: Autumn, leaves, seeds
Letter: u

This week we took advantage of the changing seasons to talk about Fall. First the kids colored a letter u worksheet while R’s mom read books about the short u sound.

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I then read Beatrix Potter’s Squirrel Nutkin. Next we did one of my favorite Fall activities — we made seed bracelets. I gave everyone a bracelet made of wide duct tape, sticky side out, and we headed outside for a nature walk. Along the way we collected any small signs of Fall we could find and stuck them to our bracelets. I like the way this activity makes everyone slow down and notice small things. At the end of our nature walk the kids got to play on our neighborhood’s new playground.

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Our Wednesday science experiment was a great success. We made tea bag ghosts: we emptied tea bags of tea, then lit them on fire and watched them fly up into the air! We repeated it several times. On Wednesday we also had the chance to learn all about furnaces when the furnace repairman came out to do our annual winter heating check. A was very interested in what he was doing. Later in the afternoon we met up with neighbors at the neighborhood playground.

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Thursday was gymnastics day. She spent a good long time with her Starfall app in the afternoon, then we hopped in the car for a hike in the big state park near my house. A walked almost a whole mile without getting too tired. My favorite part was that she recognized when she needed to turn around in order to make it back to the car without problems. On Thursday we picked up my husband at his office in the evening, which meant that A got to see the big tropical fish tank in his office lobby.

On Friday morning we had a fun play date with her best friends, R and C, and then she got to spend the afternoon with her daddy while I finished preparing for my Saturday craft fair. It was a fun week!

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Teeth Week

Theme: Teeth
Letter: o (short o sound)

A’s friend R has already started losing her primary teeth, so we decided to spend a week studying teeth. We read one of my favorite books about teeth, One Morning in Maine, and learned all about how to brush and floss. The kids then made toothy smiles for their new balloon friends. A’s had lost all of its teeth by the end of (the increasingly inaccurately named) nap time.

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On Monday afternoon we tried painting with a toothbrush for our art lesson. She thought that was pretty funny, but ultimately preferred a brush.

On Wednesday she came up with her own science lesson when she discovered the way that liquid makes paper towels transparent. We then introduced her new math curriculum: Team Umizoomi Math Kit. She is really enjoying working in workbooks lately, but she needs to be reminded that pages have to be finished according to the directions and not just colored on.  Other math areas we need to work on include writing numbers, drawing shapes, and recognizing patterns. After all that hard work it was time for the pool, whose open days are definitely numbered for this year.

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Thursday was our triumphant return to gymnastics class! She took gymnastics class for a few months when she was 3 but took a break when her baby sister was born. I was amazed at the increase in her maturity level in just those few months. She had no trouble sitting still for the teacher, and she listened better. She even changed the way she did one skill even though she had always done it slightly wrong before, and all because she listened better this time. She enjoyed herself and I was very proud of her.

In the afternoon we ended up doing an impromptu lesson on blue whales because of a picture she was coloring in a workbook. We watched videos of blue whales, talked about how they breathe, and listened to recordings of their song.

On Friday we met back up with R for a playdate at our local library. I like our library because they have a nice playground outside, so when the kids are done being quiet they can run around and be noisy. It was fun to watch them play together because they both at different times decided to read to each other. Here is A playing library on the playground:

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And here is R reading to her a little bit later when we had gone inside for some water and to cool off:

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On Friday afternoon we went downtown to the Wide Open Bluegrass Festival to hear some music. I am really looking forward to finding more opportunities to go to live music events together.

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