Thursday, February 18, 2010

Teacher In-Service Day

Every once in a while, we have a "Teacher In-Service Day" here. I highly recommend them.

This week, things started feeling just a little bit out of control, disorganized, inadequately planned, etc., and I knew it was time to regroup. I announced the news to Z-Man first thing in the morning, just when he would normally be doing Saxon math. Needless to say, he was thrilled.

With the boys joyfully occupied with a living room football game, I made a list of things I wanted to organize/plan/schedule.

Now let me say right here that IDEALLY, you want to have treats at these things. I mean, in the schools, there are donuts and coffee in the morning and you always get a free lunch. I made do with Dunkin Donuts cinnamon spice coffee and Dove sugar-free chocolates. I was pretty happy with that.

Anyway, here's my list of things I wanted to work on:

Prayer - make a list with the boys of things we're thankful for and a list of needs/people to pray for. Leave a place to write down answers to prayer.

Bible - We've been using Bible Study Guide for All Ages and that's good. Also the Daily Audio Bible for Kids podcast. I hope to keep doing both of those. I would like to get Z-Man a devotional that he can do himself too. Any ideas?

Character - we need to focus on character around here!! I plan to use this website: and spend a week or two on each character trait. I think I'll give Z-Man a character chart for his notebook and he can color in each one with a highlighter as we cover them. I hope to find children's books that exemplify the virtues that we're studying and also to find ways to "practice" using those virtues. Maybe some family recognition at dinner time for those who showed the virtue that day.

Memorizing - Andrew Pudewa of The Institute for Excellence in Writing really emphasized this and I want to do much more of it. We'll focus on scripture and some poetry and I want to work on some system - index cards that we all say each morning? Contests with parents? A sticker chart? It's definitely something our whole family could use - maybe we could do it each night after dinner? I'll talk to Mark about this one.

Reading aloud - we already do this but need to work on having Z-Man do more narration.

Chores - any suggestions here are welcome!! I'm thinking of some sort of checklist so the boys can see what they need to do each day and THEY are responsible for it - not me constantly reminding them.

So you can see I have a lot to work on here. Add to that the fact that this is the time of year when I start thinking about planning NEXT year and it looks like we may need to have several more "Teacher In-Service" days very soon!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Oh Canada!

Did you know Canadians eat more macaroni and cheese than any other country in the world? Vitally important information of this nature demands action. We therefore had mac and cheese not one, but TWO days this week. THAT is how committed I am to my children's education, friends.

I challenge you to try to beat that justification. Can't do it, can you? I thought not.

ANYWAY... it was a good week in Canada.

We read Count Your Way Through Canada which is apparently out of print but our library system has quite a few in the series. I wish I'd known about this series earlier but we still have quite a few countries to go so we'll make good use of them.

We reviewed a lot of French words, read some of our French books and worked on counting in French.

This one was good too:

Z-Man and I loved this book and he looked forward to reading it together every day:

It's the fictional (I think) account of a family's summer trip across Canada. It's fun to look at with lots of pictures, the boy's cartoons, weird trivia, etc. We both really learned a lot. Amazing how little I really knew about our northern neighbor.

Using this book:

we learned about coniferous forests (also called the taiga). We actually managed to find some pine cones in the snow and brought them inside to cruelly trick them into thinking it's spring. (Is there a PETA for plants?) It worked and they are slowly opening so we can examine their seeds. We sped up the process by popping one in the oven for an hour or so.

The boys also enjoyed this experiment which showed how the shape of coniferous trees helps them shed snow.

They both enjoyed making a white flour blizzard but the conifer-shaped tree stood strong.

Z-Man put together this great mini-lapbook on Canada which costs, incidentally, exactly one dollar from Fortunately For You Books. No, I don't get any money if you buy one - I just thought it was a pretty good deal!

There is also an awesome Winter Olympics/Canada/Snow lapbook resource over at We'll probably be using some things from that once the Olympics start.

We headed over to Youtube and listened to several versions of Oh Canada (I'm sure we'll be hearing that a lot more in the next few weeks) and watched some nice slide shows of the various provinces.

Tomorrow we're off to our homeschool co-op, then skiing on Saturday and church and a Superbowl party on Sunday. That will be a bit of time in the car for us to listen to the audio book of Anne of Green Gables, which takes place on Prince Edward Island in Canada. It'll be a busy weekend, but lots of fun. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend too.