Bamboo Sprouts

solid-liquid-gas experiment

This experiment was to demonstrate how solid becomes liquid and then gas and then liquid again.  Ice heated on the stove in a pan became steam that collected on the sheet pan that had ice on it and then rained back into the pan.  They loved it.  🙂  And we learned that in a way (for laughs) we drink dinosaur tinkle (because the liquids on earth evaporate and then rain back down) and this cracks us up of course, but the next experiment showed us that the rain comes back nice and clean.  Good stuff.

In a way, I am embarrassed by all that I learn alongside the kiddos.  Or more like I am embarrassed at all that I never learned in school!  Last week we learned about Napoleon in history and how he was shipped out to an island (well two different islands actually) to live out his life because he was such a nightmare they just wanted to get rid of him.  Does everyone just know this stuff?  Well I didn’t.  Then I was watching Big Bang Theory which is one of my new (to me) very favorite tv shows and Sheldon referenced Napoleon and the island of Elba and I totally got it and how fun is that?  🙂  And the grammar.  I don’t remember ever diagramming a sentence in my life and here Sophie is getting to be such a pro at diagramming and I am learning right alongside her.

I remember when I was a couple years into college and a friend from high school called me one night to tell me, with great shock and amazement and mostly just wanting to make sure that I also had this information, that we live on the OUTSIDE of the earth!  She graduated from high school thinking we lived on the inside of the earth (because otherwise we would fall off…).  She had attended a college geography class that evening and could not believe this news!  Heehee.  🙂  Now, this is funny but it is also shocking, right?  I want things like this, and much more, to not get past my kiddos!  This silly story is extreme, but there are so many things that I missed in school, probably because we moved a ton.  I am loving all that we are learning and I am loving learning it WITH my kids.

 

Rick doing a science experiment with the kiddos to show how seasons work using a lamp as the sun and a skewered orange as the earth.  I am loving our new science program, Science Odyssey (Earth 1) and also our new history program by the same company.

One of the perks of homeschooling…you can go right ahead and wear the kooky and very tall animal hat you made during free time when it is time to return to the kitchen table for class.  No problem.  It isn’t even a distraction for the rest of us because we all know that is just who Bella Boo is.  🙂

 

So here we are…huddled back around our kitchen table.  🙂  But look, we gave the traditional school idea a pretty good whirl!  Four months.  I think that was long enough to know what works best for us and yet not so long that we aren’t able to “catch up” by the end of this school year.  I don’t know much for sure, but I do know that no one way works best for everyone and I am thankful that we have options!  I think I was a little afraid of popping them in traditional school before and now I see that they (we) can manage in that setting just fine.  I won’t say that we will never put all or even just one back in a traditional school at some point, but for now, we have decided that homeschooling is the best fit for our family.

Some days I compose lengthy posts in my head about my observations from this experience but mostly, I just know what needs to be done now.  I appreciated many things about our time at the school we were at, and I don’t have regrets about that decision.  We all learned a few things, especially me!  I can assure those of you who were surprised that we enrolled them in traditional school that it went fine overall!  And I can assure those of you who are disappointed that we would go back to homeschooling, that this is best for us right now!  All is well.  🙂

As for the kiddos perspectives, well they have mixed feelings, but overall they are on board with returning to homeschooling.  Sophie was the first one to be ready to come back home but she struggles with change so we just encouraged her to stick it out and adjust for the most part.  I think Bella loved it at first and then felt lost in the crowd toward the end.  And she certainly was the least academically challenged during her time there.  This bothered us more than her though because the social aspects kept her entertained enough.  Levi did the best in school.  I didn’t see much progress academically, but he blossomed personally.  His teacher was a good match for him and maybe because he is a boy (?), he wasn’t too affected by some of the negatives in the environment.  Toward the end he also asked to return to homeschooling, but overall, I think he did the best in that setting.

The bottom line though is that we don’t let kiddos make these decisions.  It is just too big for them.  We have asked for input all along, mostly in an effort to know what was going on at school and how they were doing there, but everyone knew all along that it was ultimately up to us to decide how to continue. 

On the last day of school, which was also class Christmas party day, both Rick and I attended so that we could help with the parties and to wrap things up and say goodbye.  It was a half day and afterward we went to a little Greek restaurant for lunch and during that lunch, in a very general way, I said something like well now what are we going to do?  Sophie responded that now we are going to get back to living our wonderful life.  🙂  It was very cutie pie and affirming.  And if I was to try to say in a nutshell what didn’t work for us these last four months, I would say that our quality of life suffered.  I would say that homeschooling allows us to live a much more full life and we missed that very much.

So that is that.  🙂

I had already purchased much of our curriculum before we enrolled them in August so we are keeping most of that, but I am switching a few things.  For those who are curious about this sort of thing, here is what we are using for the rest of this school year.  We will have to buckle down a bit to finish it all in the next few months, but I think it is pretty managable.  We may skip a few things and we may work a bit longer (but we will have a summer break…that is one thing I learned in the last few months!  Breaks are important!).

Curriculum:

Our main guide.

 

I have always been happy with this writing program so we are sticking with it. 

 

Math U See for Levi and Bella.  They started this last year but only made it about half way through which is perfect since we have about half a school year to finish up and it is second grade level which fits better for this year than last.  I like Math U See ok but I have figured out that I just don’t like teaching math in general.  Teaching Textbooks begins in third grade so Sophie is starting that this year and I hope the other two will start it in the fall! 

Sophie’s math- Teaching Textbooks, a program done on the computer.

The math situation around here is the biggest bummer.  Sophie made a bit of progress so should be fine with our curriculum or catch up pretty quickly.  Levi made no progress and went backwards (forgot) a bit, but I think it will come back to him.  Bella though!  My goodness.  They had her doing dot to dot pictures as “math”!  I don’t want this post to turn into a rant but if I did, this might be the topic of it.  Last May Bella was doing hundreds and thousands place addition with carrying and such!  So to be honest, I don’t even know where to start with her but I need to get her back up to speed.  For now, I dug out some old Saxon math fact books and am hoping it will all come back to her pretty fast.

 

Spelling Workout is a good little spelling program that offers them a quick, daily activity page and a test at the end of the week.  Simple and fine.

 

This is a newer version of the program we have always used for grammar. Sophie is level 3, Levi and Bella are starting level 2 books.

 

I am most excited about our new history and science.  We are switching from Story of the World to History Odyssey.  I love how clearly it is laid out and from what I can tell in previewing it, it will hold their attention better and offer us much more in the way of hands on activities.  FUN!  It references Story of the World a lot so we will still be using that in addition to Odyssey.

 

For science we will be using Science Odyssey 1- Earth.  Also very excited about this!  Lots of experiments using pretty typical household items and a very clear list of additional items to have on hand.  This format should work well for us.

 

I will use this book to teach art classes.  Might supplement this on a weekly basis but will use this at least on a monthly basis to offer an art class to other homeschooling families. 

Everyone is finally taking off with reading.  We did not have any early readers, but we do have three kiddos who love books, the library and reading.  Sophie now reads avidly.  Levi probably seeks out reading as an activity the least, but he is getting there.  Bella is very excited to just be starting on chapter books.  We have R and R time each day for them to read and rest.  They also do a reading comprehention sheet each day, will read aloud during school hours as it comes up and they are read to each night.

Sophie will start this very basic Latin program.

Girls will continue with ballet.

Sophie will continue with piano lessons and Bella is just starting.

Levi will take swimming lessons.

All will continue with Chinese school which includes language, culture and dance.

And if we have time to spare (and that is the plan!), they are interested in learning to sew, crochet and cook and Levi would also like to take a martial arts class (we are accepting donations for all these activities!!  ha).

(oops!  low camera battery = blurry pic!)

Wish us luck.  🙂

Dropping kiddos off at enrichment. 

Each Thursday, they attend an enrichment program for homeschooled kiddos.  It is similar to a regular school day but they just do things like art, science experiments, gym and some language arts.  They don’t do any regular curriculum, but they do some unit work and have learned a lot and enjoy the other peeps there.