Saturday, August 19, 2023

Homeschooling through the Seasons

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It has been a while since I blogged, but so many fellow mamas reached out to me with questions about homeschooling and others encouraged me with their stories of how my blog has inspired or encouraged them in their homeschool journey. So, here we are starting our 11th year of homeschooling and I have a goal to document it once again. This year we will have a 9th grader, 8th grader, 6th grader, 4th grader, 3rd grader, 1st grader, pre-k 3 (or little tornado), and Lord willing a baby will be joining us! One of the things I love about homeschooling is the freedom to adjust and make course corrections through the different seasons of life. With one going into high school and a baby due in November, I knew that this year would not and could not look like other years. There are some big changes for our older girls and some smaller changes for our younger boys. We kicked off our school year two weeks ago and so far I'm loving our curriculum choices and think it will work well for this season of our life. If you are in a different seasons of homeschooling, you can check out the Homeschool Tab for an idea of what some of our other years have looked like. 

So I'll start with the biggest change. For the first time I will not be teaching the girls any of their subjects. This was not an easy decision for us at all (I'm a little sad), but it is what we feel is best for them this year. I knew that I would not be able to provide the level of academic rigor I believe they need this year and they are craving social interaction with peers. We enrolled them in a homeschool academy and some online courses. The homeschool academy we chose is a once per week hybrid program, so they will take five courses there with teachers who will assign and grade assignments that are sent home to be completed throughout the week. Some of the subjects they are taking are core subjects (like history) and others are electives (including art and photography). 

For math this year they will be using CTC Math. I have heard other homeschool moms rave about this program for years, and finally gave it a try. Two weeks in and I wish we switched much sooner. For the first time ever, our 9th grader who hates math is completing her assignments independently and without tears! You can pay for a family subscription, which makes this course super affordable for homeschooling families. I will likely switch the boys to CTC Math next year (thinking maybe 3rd grade and up... when they have a basic understanding of early math concepts and are able to navigate a computer independently).

Both girls will be doing their English through Apologia online. We love the teacher and book selections (many Lamplighter classics). Apologia Academy is one of the more expensive online options out there, so we likely will not continue to use them each year.

Because we were so late in signing up for the homeschool academy, the 8th grade science course was already full, so she will be taking Astronomy through Journey Homeschool. The course has not started yet, but so far I am impressed by the syllabus and layout of the course. I love that they have a fill in the blank notetaking notebook to go along with the weekly videos. I think this will work out wonderfully for our daughter with dyslexia. I also like that it is biblically based science curriculum and the affordable price tag.

With the girls mostly on their own this year, it was important to me that we still start our days together as a family. After breakfast and morning zones (their chores) we gather on the couch for World Watch News. This 10 minute daily newscast delivers relevant headlines and global topics from a Christian worldview. It's a great way to stayed informed and spur discussions with the kids. Afterwards, we read a chapter from Proverbs and pray together. 

Since it is the first year that the boys will be schooling at home without the girls, I designed the year 100% to their interests. We are going all out boy here at home! For science, I chose Masterbook's Paleontology class. Our boys are wild about dinosaurs; so much so that their room is dino themed. We love Masterbooks for their biblical worldview. While I'm not usually a huge fan of student workbooks for science (I prefer journaling), for this unique course we decided to use them. We are also using the Masterbooks Academy Elementary Paleontology supplemental videos. So far the course is everything we hoped it would be and the boys are having a blast learning!

For History it was time to loop back around to early American History, so we are using Masterbook's America's Story 1. Instead of worksheets, we will be doing lots of hands on projects and field trips. So far this year we have already visited Toltec (Plum Bayou) Mounds State Park, made duct tape Viking Helmets, and crafted cardboard ships. Looking forward to making many memories together this school year!

For Math and English the boys will be going through Math Lessons for a Living Education and Language Lessons for a Living Education (both by Masterbooks). We love the short lessons and spiral approach. This leaves plenty of time for us to play some educational games (like Sum Swamp, Prime Climb, and Chess) and read books together. 

And while that wraps up the "book" learning, remember that a large portion of education takes place outside of the books. We will round out our days with music, sports, scouts, service, entrepreneuring, and more! Are you a veteran homeschooler, first time homeschooler, or somewhere in between? I'd love to connect with you on Instagram @Pocketful_of_Treasures

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Saturday, November 5, 2022

Construction Week: Preschool Gymnastics Lesson Plans

 I drew up a plan for our themes for the entire year at the start of the summer, and could not have planned this theme more perfectly if I tried! It just so happened that during the two weeks I had the construction theme planned for, our gymnasium was under construction! I didn't even have to decorate, as the construction crew took care of that. Since I knew we would be changing rooms, the only decoration I hung on the wall was “Gymnastics Zone” spelled out on orange cone shaped construction paper.

While our themes change twice each month, our "lesson plan" typically remains the same so you will find this lesson plan to be very similar to our Safari theme. We change out some props and the narrative of the exercises to keep things fresh and fun for the littles. Boredom will definitely make your preschool program bust, so its good to change things up every once in a while. A weekly theme was too much work, as was coming up with complete new plans for each theme, so structuring our preschool program with two themes each month with generally the same lesson plans was our happy medium.

For warm up we played a fun game called builders and dozers. We broke the class into two teams (sometimes coaches versus students). One team (the builders) tries to build pit blocks in stacks of three while the other team (the dozers) crawls around and knocks down the stacks. To make it more or less challenging, we would add rules like you had to crab walk, bear crawl, skip, hop on one foot, etc. to move around.  

We then made stacks of the blocks about the floor and they each had to log roll towards their stack and knock it down. 

We also played a game of red light, green light (the coach is the traffic director around road construction). This game is great for helping little ones turn on their "listening ears". 

The entire narrative of the warm up stretch focused on construction. Since we were under construction, we asked questions like "what are you most excited about" while we stretched, but you could ask them if they ever built things out of legos, if anyone has a family member that works construction, what their favorite construction vehicle is... you get the idea!

The floor setup was very similar to Safari week, but instead of hopscotch on the animal tracks, we placed directional arrows. They would jump, turning either 1/4 turn or a 1/2 turn, to position their feet so they were pointing in the direction the arrows were pointing. Then they would log roll down the cheese mats, tight like a compactor, cartwheel on the cartwheel mat, jump up to a panel mat and roll off, lever down to pick up a plastic construction vehicle, and then walk their feet up a wedge that was propped against the wall (handstand drill) while pretending they were a dump truck lifting its bed to dump the load. 

Remember our mini watering hole during safari week? Well it turned into a construction site! As a side station, they could play in the construction site while waiting for their turn.

For bars instead of swinging like a monkey to knock down a wedge, they stacked pit blocks and swung to demolish their building.

The swinging safari bridge became a rickety bridge under construction to walk across.

Beam also had a few transformations. Instead of a Safari puzzle, a construction puzzle was used. The puzzle pieces were placed along the beam with the puzzle board at the other end. Starting at the puzzle board, they would walk out to the first puzzle piece, pick it up, turn around, and walk back to place it in the puzzle. They would continue this until they completed the puzzle.

Instead of crawling into the tigers den, they crawled into a mining cave. 

On the third beam we placed construction cones to jump, leap, and or step over, and the follow

For the final beam station, we pretended the dots were mud and they would place their strong arms on the beam and jump from side to side on the mud splatters.

Undergoing construction was completely worth it! Check out our new preschool space where we finished up the last few days of our construction theme. 

Thanks for stopping by! I hope to share more inspiration preschool gymnastics themes and lesson plans!

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