Friday, September 7, 2012

Unit Theme: All About Me AND Recap & Reflections

Well, we are 3 weeks into the school year!  Many have asked me how homeschooling is going.  That's a hard question to answer.  As with any "job", or any parenting experience, every day is different!  Some are incredibly great, others make you thankful for tomorrow. 

Overall though, we've had a good few weeks.  I am tired for sure, and my days look a bit differently now that I am not only busy being a (6 months pregnant) Mom to 3 small children, but also prepping and planning as a teacher to those children.  But, I really am loving this experience.  So far. ;)

The most challenging thing is for sure trying to teach and manage and engage all the kids at one time.  There are some things that all of the kids actively participate in (even Shane loves our rug time/calendar time that we start the day with), but there are some things that require more focused attention (ie: Caleb's phonics work), so figuring out when and how to do what is a challenge.  But, I continue to "tweek" things, and each day seems to be going smoother than the prior one.  You know, except when it doesn't go smoothly, in which case I am happy that the next day is a chance to start over. =)  Living and learning, taking one day at a time....

By far, the best thing about this has been seeing moment-by-moment progress in learning.  We're only 3 weeks in, but I have already seen so much growth!  I feel so thankful that I have the chance to witness it in this way, and get to be such an integral part of the process. 

I've also noticed the ways in which Meredith and Caleb are learning to work together and get along better.  Part of this probably comes with some natural maturity/growing up on each of their parts, but I really think that part of it is also coming from "doing school" together.

I hope and pray that no matter how challenging certain moments can be, I will always remember, and hold fast to, those moments of affirmation and grace and joy.

Today was Caleb's 1st day of our homeschool co-op.  I am very thankful that we were able to join this group.  Every Friday, Caleb will spend the day in a class with other Kinders....he will get P.E., Art, Music, and Science as well as some other Kindergarten-type of activities.  He has been very excited for this to start, and was absolutely ecstatic last night as he helped me put his lunch together in his new Spiderman lunchbox. =)  Personally, I am very excited for this as gives me a day "off" each week to spend time with the littler ones and a break from our regular schedule.  I will be volunteering every 2-3 weeks at the co-op (that's how it works), but it will be a nice change of pace for everyone!

In addition to the formal Math and Reading curriculum that we are using at home, I've planned out thematic units for the year.  All of the activities and books that go along with our themes are put together with both Caleb and Meredith in mind (differentiated, based on their levels, obviously).

Our first unit was "All About Me"....  Here are the main projects the kids completed over these past weeks to go along with "All About Me."

We started our school year off with these
"1st Day of School Profiles":

Fingerprints, inspired by here:
We traced the kids' hands, and then used an ink pad to stamp their fingerprints.  We used the magnifying glass to "inspect" their fingerprints to see how they were different.  We talked about how God made each of us unique, and that our own fingerprints are unlike any others'! 

"Where I Live" book, inspired by here:
This was a really fun way to illustrate where we live, and how our house is part of a city, which is part of a state, which is part of our country, etc...Meredith calls it her "rainbow book." =)

All About Me lapbook:
This one took several days to finish.  Each kiddo made their own lapbook (from a file folder) with some "All About Me" details inside...their name, family, what they want to be when they grow up, what they can do with different parts of their bodies, important things about them, etc.  Many of the bits of information are found when you flip the paper up, which is extra fun.  They are both so proud of their "books".

We also talked about the kids' "life verses"...Scripture that we chose for each of them when they were babies.  And, we reminded them what their names mean.  They then drew a picture to go along with those meanings.

Caleb - "faithful & brave"; he drew a picture of him going into a bear's cave, being brave!
Meredith - "blessed by God"; she drew a picture of herself (bottom left corner of picture) with some flowers and grass and a sun, and lots of scribbles. =)
And finally, the kiddos made their own "Important Book" pages.  The Important Book is one that I always loved to read to my classes when I was teaching, and then have them pair up with a partner to write "important book pages" for one another.  Caleb and Meredith worked together to write pages for each of them (with some assistance from Mom)....and then I let them loose with stickers to decorate their pages (they looove stickers).

Here are what the kids came up with:

The important thing about Caleb is that he is a Johnson.
He is strong,
He is good, 
And he is crazy.
But the important thing about Caleb is that he is a Johnson.

The important thing about Meredith is that she is Sissy Girl.
She is nice,
She is silly,
And she is always kind.
But the important thing about Meredith is that she is Sissy Girl. 

Next up is a Chicka Chicka Boom Boom/Fun with Words and Letters unit!


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