Sunday, September 25, 2011

Apples and Lighthouses

We just finished up a really fun week of school. Our book, The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge by Hildegarde H. Swift, was loved by all. It is a fictional story about a real lighthouse and the George Washington bridge in New York City. In the story, a once proud lighthouse begins to feel quite small when he compares himself to the enormous bridge being built beside him.

This story gave us an opportunity to learn about the difference between taking pride in a job well done and becoming boastful. We discussed personification as it is used in the story. Aidan drew a picture of some smily little "personified" oil drops for me. We made some drawings showing contrasting size and also learned about lighthouses. We made little red lighthouses at the end of the week.

We are continuing to work our way through more letters in our reading book. For math, we worked on patterns and geometric shapes. In handwriting, Aidan practiced vertical and horizontal lines and backward circles.

We took an awesome trip to an apple orchard with friends. The kids had a blast on the hay ride, picking apples, petting goats and playing in the hay maze. We shared donuts and cider with each other and about a millions bees! We have been eating our way through our giant bag of apples.

This weekend, we visited another great farm. Three Cedars Farm had tons of free activities for the kids like a giant corn box (instead of sand), the cutest petting zoo ever and a tractor derby track.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Millions of Peaches

A few weeks ago, we celebrated our annual family peach harvest. We have two peach trees that we planted about five years ago. They started as tiny little saplings that altogether produced one peach the first year. The trees ripen about a week apart. This year, we picked about forty pounds of peaches from the first tree and almost the same from the second one the following week. We ate as many as we could, baked a few pies and froze some halves for smoothies this winter. I have given up attempting peach jam. It just never seems to turn out for me.

We also gathered our very first pear crop. These trees were planted at the same time as the peach trees; but, have taken a long time to mature. Our yard is also home to four apple trees that produce a large assortment of small, sour, wormy apples and one plum tree that refuses to give up the goods.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Strong and Good

We just finished up our second week of school. This week, in addition to our reading, math and handwriting work in the afternoon, we added a Five in a Row book in the mornings. Addie is joining us for this part of our school day. We start each morning with a Bible story and then add another day to our calendar and adjust our weather wheel (mostly to "cold" this week). After we have finished these activities, we read our Five in a Row book and work on some sort of planned activity.

Our first book this year was They Were Strong and Good by Robert Lawson. We are still finishing up the second volume of FIAR from last year. On Monday, we talked about our family and made family trees together. My kids love the Jesse Bear books by Nancy White Carlstrom and I found a copy of Climb the Family Tree, Jesse Bear! that went along nicely with our lesson.

Tuesday, we learned about italicized words and made drawings of the Eliza Jane Hopper, a ship mentioned (and italicized) in the story. I also started a vocabulary notebook for Aidan with new words we learned from the book.

For art, on Wednesday, we talked about symbols and Aidan made a poster with symbols for each member of our family. These included a gear, a princess, a pink scribble, a bunch of machinery parts and a cooking pot. Can you guess which one he feels is representative of me?

For science, on Thursday, we learned about honey bees. We found a great series from the library called Real Readers. Honey Bees by Sharon Kahkonen was just the right amount of information for my kids. I find that sometimes science books are either too simple or too complicated; but, this one was just right! I am skipping the math lessons for FIAR this year because we are using Math U See daily. On Fridays, we are working out of some health workbooks I found for the kids. This week we learned about the five senses.

For our afternoon work, we finished learning about short vowel sounds and moved onto consonants this week. Aidan has informed me that he is already well aware of all that I am teaching him and would like to move on as quickly as possible. So much for a review! We finished up the second lesson of Math U See this week. We are still basically reviewing counting and writing numbers. Aidan has a great grasp on what we're learning, so I'm using these review lessons as a time to practice listening, following directions and doing what you're asked. These tasks are much more difficult for my buddy than counting and writing. I'm loving our handwriting book. I've noticed big changes in his handwriting and posture in just the two weeks we've been working. There are so many different handwriting books out there; but, I feel we made a really good choice.

We also had time for painting, cooking, singing and crafting together. We made these fun Numeral Sun Catchers from an idea I found in Easy Math Art by Cecilia Dinio-Durkin, a book I picked up at a library book sale. The number (3) is a little tough to make out; but, they're in there! We also joined up with our church mom's club for the first time this year. The kids seemed to really have fun in the childcare room and I had a great time socializing with old and new friends -well, except for the "Getting to Know You Game". I, as a personal rule, hate "Getting to Know You Games". It's not that I don't want to get to know you. I just don't want to play the game.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Farmer's Dozen

Every autumn, for the last five years, I've considered starting a Christmas cookie baking business. This year, I finally decided, was the right time. And by "right time", I mean we have a four-month-old baby, two kids beginning preschool and kindergarten homeschooling, are in the process of house hunting and Matt has been regularly traveling to Kansas City for work, a week at a time. Oh, and it will all occur during those ever-so-peaceful two weeks before Addie's birthday and Christmas! Things should go rather smoothly, I imagine.

I've spent some time putting together my favorite cookie recipes that turn out consistently great results. I'm offering almost two dozen varieties including clothespins, gingerbread, pizzelles, cake balls, macaroons and kiss cookies. Cookies can be ordered by the dozen or as mixed variety trays. Orders will be due in early December and I'll offer pickup days the week before Christmas for my Michigan friends. Ohio orders will be available Christmas Eve or possibly sooner. I'm hoping all of my busy cookie-loving friends and family will take advantage. Prices are lower than most bakery offerings and the cookies are much tastier!

If you are interested in receiving an order form with full cookie descriptions, you can leave a comment with your email address, send me an email or see me out on the town!

Disclaimer: The above-photographed sweet little hands will not be placed in YOUR cookie dough (unless specifically requested by you).

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Kindergarten Begins!

Kindergarten began in our house this week. Aidan has been really excited to get back to his school work and we had a great first week. We are doing considerably more work this year than last and I decided to ease into things gradually. We started this week with our afternoon school work.

Aidan has decided he would really like to learn to read. We are using The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading by Jessie Wise. The beginning lessons are basically review for us; but, it's still nice to brush up on our letter sounds. I think the book will be a great fit for us.

We are using Math U See for the first time this year. We are beginning with the primer; but, I think we will move through it fairly quickly. Aidan LOVES doing the worksheets and I have to hold him back a little or I think he would try them all in a day.

For handwriting, we're using the Zaner-Bloser Handwriting series. The book makes me feel a little nostalgic; as it's the same series with which I learned to write. The book actually smells familiar, if that makes any sense!

Tomorrow, we're planning to add in our morning work. I'm going to finish up Five in a Row Volume II and Volume III. I'm hoping to include Addie in our Five in a Row plans. She already loves doing arts and crafts with us and I think she will enjoy doing more school work this year.

For her part, Annalise's work seems to consist of testing out her bumbo and drooling!