Thursday, August 12, 2010

Getting ready for our homeschool year!

There is nothing better than getting ready for a new year of homeschooling.  (Well actually giving birth to a new baby tops my all time list of favorite things to do, not the laboring and delivering part but the actual looking into the eyes of a brand new human being created in the image of God that is an amazing representation of the oneness of you and your husband!)  Okay, so back to homeschooling!  I've been ordering books and reorganizing and getting totally excited for all we are going to learn this year!  Oops-did I say we???  Confession-I learn as much as the boys do in school-don't tell them!  I'm supposed to be the "know everything teacher", I think.  

So I was looking and thinking in my kitchen about what would be more helpful.  I had on this back wall in my eating area a giant bulletin board with the boys artwork, a calendar, etc.  And then I had three small iron magazine pocket type things that I put their morning and noontime work in.  The only problem was that these little iron cubbies didn't hold things like the memory verse box.  They were kind of busting at the seams so to speak and we still had books and other materials hanging around on the counter tops in various places.  I got to thinking that we could probably fit some bookshelves on that back wall instead and hold so many more things!  

Notice the book of centuries to the far left.  We used it a lot year before last but then got out of the habit.  I'm hoping that by putting it here within my sight I will remember to pull it out and have the boys write new history entries in it.  It really is the coolest idea.  (you can click on "book of centuries" to download a free book of centuries!)

In the basket are our water color supplies and fancy prismacolor colored pencils.  I splurged this year and got the nicest set of 48 colored pencils to do our nature drawings.  That is something that we got out of the habit of doing this past year and I'm wanting to get back into this year.  Again, I'm hoping that having it right here in my sight will help me remember.  To the right of the basket is the boys sketch books and a few art instruction books that we will use in conjunction with our nature journals.

We have found a real enjoyment in doing puzzles together as a family, but again having them put away in the closet tends to make me forget about them.  I pulled out the ones we haven't done yet and put them here.  I don't think they look pretty but it is more important to me to remember to pull them out and make memories then to have pretty looking shelves!  :)  Next to them are some really fun mind bender games.  I think those are so good for critical thinking skills and I want to remember to do them more with Isaac, my oldest.  To the far right is our Bibles.  Steve reads the Bible to the boys every day and it used to float around and we'd be looking for it.  Now it has a home right by the table!  Underneath are two baskets of puzzles.  In the basket on the left are puzzles that Andrew, my 4 year old is capable of doing.  On the left are the harder puzzles for Micah and Isaac.  I took these 20 to 100 piece puzzles out of their boxes, cut off the small picture on the side, and put them in ziplock bags so that they didn't take up so much space.

On the top shelf I have to the left our morning work, Bible, Hymnal, timeline cards, morning read-aloud, and our box containing our Bible verses that we are memorizing you this scripture memory system.  To the right is my collection of home school books for this year that I'm still sorting through.

Underneath those are my planning books, such as the Busy book for toddlers and Around Atlanta with Children.  These are the books that I like to go through to get fun new ideas of crafts and field trips to do with my kids.  My planner is also on this shelf so everything is right there ready for me to sit down at the table with my resources and make plans!  I have found that unless I plan my days we don't get a lot more accomplished then just three square meals and no eyeballs gouged out by tinkertoys.

And my planning books wouldn't be complete with my cookbooks!  These were squished into one of my cabinet shelves and I'm so pleased to have them here now.  Part of planning is definitely meal planning!  In the basket are my cards, envelopes and stamps.  That way I can easily sit down and write a note to someone I've been thinking about or need to thank!

Of course the two bottom shelves are just holding empty baskets and empty boxes for Benjamin to play with.  He destroys anything he can get his hands on!

We are trying a unit study approach to our study of science, history and fine arts this year (Math and Language arts will remain consistent throughout the year).  All that means to me is that we will rotate studying these subjects in depth, as opposed to studying them all a little bit every day.  I'm not very good at doing multiple things at the same time, so we will see if this works better for us!  Our first unit is a author study and book writing unit.  We read today about Elizabeth Yates who wrote Mountain Born and won a Newbery Medal for it in 1944.  We started the book and immediately we were drawn into a precious story.  I would highly recommend this book so far!

We will also read up about Walt Whitman and some of his poetry.

As well as study the history of bookmaking using this handy thrifted book...

And work on gradually over the next 6 weeks having the boys each write their own novel or picturebook, complete with illustrations, coverpages, indexes and bound!  I found this book recently at the thrift store and hopefully it will be handy in putting together their books!

I'm also hoping to have time to read this....

and this....

And these!

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