Thursday, December 27, 2012

Flat Stanley came to Michigan!

I have a nephew in CA that is in 2nd grade.  They were doing a Flat Stanley project and we got to participate!  Such fun!  The kids (and I) had a heyday!  Here were some of the pictures we got...shows a little of what we do for fun and school and allow me to chat about my feelings on our situation here.

Fridays are what we call "Free Fridays".  Stems over from my preschool days.  The preschoolers had more free time, we had chocolate milk for lunch, they got to choose anything they wanted to "repeat".  So after we started schooling at home I noticed there wasn't a whole lot of play.  Well, I don't feel that's right.  Not a big deal for my own kids because they are here all day and if they focused well they could get their work done in the morning and have a true half day.  But the other kids...not only did they need a break...but they needed to know they'd have time to play.  So during the week, we usually only about 20 minutes for "free play" (not counting outdoors) so we actually double up on some lessons during the week and have less planned on Friday.  We work right up until 10A and then they have an ice cream snack (this picture was from the last day before winter break and E. and W. brought a really healthy snack we had!) and if they got everything done they had free time for a good 45-60 minutes.  Typically we need to do one task when we come back in.  Older grades tend to need to do a bit more...but we try to do our best to give them a big chunk of uninterrupted time to play's important.  They work so hard during the week...they deserve it...but also because they need to learn to work and play together.  Social reasons.  I love this aspect of schooling at home.  Multi-ages.  I think the one room school houses had something going :-P.  Oh, I know that it was done that way out of necessity but I surely would love to see some of that again...multiple grades in one class.  They learn SO much from each other!  The kids that are ready to go ahead can do so without too much extra planning on the teacher's part.  The kids that need a little extra help can get it from their older peers, and in our case I do "group lessons" so it's introduction, actual lesson, review.  If they didn't truly get it the first time, they have the opportunity again.  :-)

T is 3 years old.  He loved Flat Stanley! :-P  Here Flat Stanley was watching T. transfer water with small letter sponges.  Schooling at home is an awesome opportunity for Mr. T.  Typically he sits across from the 1st grader.  He learns SO much!  Though one downside is he really doesn't "act his age"...I see behaviors that I didn't see in the other two until they were older.  :-) We do independent tray work for him for the first 2 hours of the morning...this keeps him at the table and out of the other kids "hair".  He loves it...and when I'm not diligent in switching out trays (only happened a couple of times) he was quite put out.  So I learned my lesson.  Our only downside with having him at the table with us is that he's loud!  :-D
Boy, were the kids surprised when Flat Stanley pulled out his TKD uniform and black belt!  :-D  Yes, I was having fun too!  All the school-age kiddos here are enrolled in TKD.  Great for them all...and all for different reasons.  They get such a work out twice a week  also...and with our online school, we can count it toward instructional physical education.  Here the kids were getting ready to head to class.  :-)
Island Hopping! 
2nd graders had Peter Pan as for Literature.  One family brought the movie which we watched over the course of two days, if they wanted.  A couple opted out.  5 kids ended up making salt dough islands.  :-)  Fun stuff!  I wish we had MORE time.  There are a lot of extras we could be doing but need to hold back on because of progress requirements.
Free time!  Actually this was in the evening and C. and T. were actually playing together nicely...being a good example for Flat Stanley.  :-D  All the kids, no matter the age, still love the safari, polar and farm animal set.  :-)  Well used toys!  Their play just changes as they get older and begin to use their imagination.  (Not always toward the good...)
Fractions!  That has been our 2nd group lesson.  We are working our way through another booklet.  2nd-4th grade.  So intro for 2nd grade (which really isn't an intro but their course curriculum states so...these two 2nd graders are math kiddos...they soak it up!), actual lesson for 3rd grade, review for 4th.  Pizza Fraction Game was a great help when we were learning how to compare and order fractions.
One of the last days that Flat Stanley was actually snowed.....................then rained and melted it all.  Then froze and snowed a bit more and one kiddo got a snow day.  :-)  I allow the other families to make their own decision...usually a school snow day is because of the many back roads in this rural community.  With the one that did get a snow day...that's because his sister goes to brick and mortar and so really...if sister is home for a snow's not really fair to him.  :-)  Anyway...maybe next time Flat Stanley will bring his snow pants so he can play out in the snow!  This is our group December picture.  My goal is to get a monthly group picture.  :-)
Flat Stanley renewed C.'s interest in the Flat Stanley book.  This is actually the only one we actually own.  But we are heading to the library tomorrow and that is was C. will be looking for.  :-)  The children are expected to read independently every day.  We aim for 20 minutes (depends on age/development).  A.-4th grade reads much more than that.  C. probably reads just about that.  He'd rather sit and read a nonfiction book vs. a chapter book though.
Flat Stanley got to learn about Claude Monet's Haystacks and about how to portray shadows with oil pastels.  We love K12 Art curriculum!
This day was a "special day".  W.-3rd was having a Winter Wonderland Celebration with her online via a class connect session.  So, we had some hot cocoa along with her.  :-)  Here L. and A. were watching Bill Nye the Science Guy: Mammals.  In first grade, we are starting the animal classification unit in Science.  Bill Nye the Science Guy is their new favorite DVD.  I also like them a bit better than others because they only last about 20-25 minutes.  We can get it done in one session and still get other stuff done.  Educational DVDs are being used to either introduce or review a unit/topic.  Thank you...Bay County Library System...all nonfiction DVD's are free.  :-)
Ah!  There's W. and her hot cocoa.  :-)  Winter Wonderland Celebration.  At MVCA, each student is assigned a teacher who is an awesome support!  Always there to help!  For new families thinking about homeschooling...this is a good route to least for one year.  :-)  No, schooling at home is not the same as homeschooling.  We have a lot more expectations.  MVCA is a public school. would give you an idea of what children should be working on, provide you a curriculum while you research others (an excellent curriculum it is...but no way could I afford it on our own), provide you basic materials-books etc, and there is an awesome support team! The online record tracking system helps can see progress, etc.  Would definitely get you started down the right road.  Then after you get a feel about it all, you can made a decision on whether to truly home school, continue with an online public school, or have your children attend a brick and mortar school.  Thank goodness for choices!
Check out that smile.  C. is tending to stress about writing.  There is a LOT of writing in K12 curriculum...all subjects...and more as the children advance.  4th grader loves all the learning but does not like all the writing.  He has never had to write so much.  So, some lessons I'm changing the activities a bit so there isn't an overwhelming amount of writing in one day.  Otherwise there is time be wasted because both of these kiddos will just sit with a "block".  Anyway...Flat Stanley made writing a little more fun for C. this day.  :-)
We took this one as a way to let the CA 2nd graders be reminded that in MI at this time of's we eat lots of soup in this family!  :-)  Keeps us warm.  Mmmm!
A.-playing for Flat Stanley.  :-)  I do recommend piano lessons to all families :-P...especially the families that work with me.  Why?  Piano gives much of the basic instruction of music.  I had all sorts of plans for music/PE instruction but find time has shoved so much of what I wanted to do to the back burner.  I'm coming to the conclusion that I just can't do everything.  :-) A. has been playing for about ...oh let's see...end of first grade or beginning of 2nd.  A good time to start!  He's in 4th grade now.  C. just started this year...doing great!  I love the music (most of the time) in the morning and evenings and I'm always very happy when they choose to play outside of practice time.  :-)  A. gets to play in a piano festival this year with his new awesome teacher!  :-)
Ah...see I told the pictures would make me blab!  I love what we are doing...mostly.  :-D

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