Monday, June 27, 2016

Summer Series: D is for Dolphin with Mother Goose Time

A lot has been stirring in the Tiny B and Strong B household. Transitional kindergarten has ended for Tiny B, as well as speech and occupational therapy, and preschool has ended for Strong B. We've begun our summer but it doesn't feel like it has begun. Tiny B had surgery to close her feeding tube stoma (hole) and we had an overnight stay at the hospital, which really was nothing compared to the stays we've had in the past. But it made me very tired physically and in my soul as well. 

God has been calling me to slow down, change some things, do some things...The homeschool convention was beautiful and I was able to truly think about what I want for next year. I long for the days when I'll have Strong B home with me without Tiny B (because he really still needs me and she really needs to have some school adventures on the two days a week that she'll be attending kindergarten outside of the home). 

This summer I've got to purge a lot of stuff from our house so that cleaning up isn't so hard. I've got to get my remaining ten pounds off and I've got to start organizing our time better. I look forward to next year....I went from a full-time teacher (this was my entire life for many, many years) to a full-time special needs mom of two, and I'd love to transition to a more "normal" existence (is there such a thing?). I'm praying about what that will look like. 

I've decided to change the way that I view this summer. I had big, big plans to continue schooling them just as I had throughout the year, but I fully believe that they need a break, and so do I. In July and a bit of August, we'll be doing "Art Studio" with Mother Goose Time. Instead of focusing on the whole curriculum, we'll be doing all of the art projects, since there is an art project every single day. I'll also continue to do small amounts of writing and reading with Tiny B, and of course read-alouds with both. 

I'm going to try try try my darndest to keep blog posts short so that I can focus on the other things that so desperately need to be done. Oh, how I love writing, and especially writing about curriculum and my children. But I know that is what I need to do, even though it is very hard to keep it so short. 

And with that...I will now continue my long post, ha ha! 

One of the lessons that I loved for A to Zoo Animals with Mother Goose Time was Dolphin Toys. 

I decided to not even discuss the toy shapes ahead of time with Strong B, and he was able to match them very fast. 

Tiny B was doing her own work. 

Note: After this activity I decided to change the layout of the desks. Now they are still facing each other but they each have their own desk. Tell me how I was able to engage thirty 6th graders for six hours without difficulty, but my own two make me feel like I've never taught before??

I was so proud when Strong B found a cutout from a previous lesson and recognized that it was a hexagon. He was so proud too.

We then made dolphin cups to make dolphin sounds. 

We did dolphin calls using all of the vowels. 

I differentiated the lesson for Tiny B and really mixed up the toy shapes and the shapes. She was able to quickly pair them up. 

Here's to a summer where we take time to relax and just be. I want that more than anything. My mind is full and I just need to empty it out, and hopefully my mom will come over a lot and let me go to the beach and have peaceful thoughts there. Today a friend said that the summer is often busier than the school year. Man...ain't that the truth. I desperately hope to change that for at least six weeks. 

Happy Start to Summer!

I receive Mother Goose Time curriculum in exchange for my honest sharing of experiences, resulting from our personal use. All opinions/thoughts are my own and are in no way influenced by others.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Father's Day Kit 2016 from Mother Goose Time

I love the Mother Goose Time kits that come every month. MGT highlights the holiday of the month and centers their kit around this. This month was Father's Day. Sometimes I turn this kit into a mini-party with just me and the kids, sometimes I include my mom or another child, or sometimes I choose just one or two activities to do from the kit. 

This month, I chose to just do one activity from the kit while my husband was told to hide in the office while we made him a craft. I know he heard the kids screaming at each other (how can they be best friends one second and worst enemies the next?!) and my screams at them to NOT TOUCH THE WALL WITH THEIR PAINTED HANDS! I'm sure that listening in on this sounded like sweet sounds to his ear--we hustled and bustled to get his craft done, and I'm sure he felt very special. Oh, I could have waited until he was gone, but he's never gone since he works from home!

The craft was pretty self-explanatory. And adorable.

I also had them do crafts for grandfathers  and a great-grandfather, on our own paper. 

Aren't they adorable?? Oh my heart. Years from now we'll pull these out of a box and get tears in our eyes as we remember the long days yet short years of having small children. 

Hubby loved the progress. I also got him a shirt that says, "I'm in love with my child's teacher." 

Happy Father's Day to the amazing dads out there.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Curriculum Design: Former Public School Teacher Has an Epiphany

I've been thinking a ton about curriculum design lately. It's actually one of my most favorite things to write about, so when Mother Goose Time asked their bloggers to write about it, I got pretty excited.

This upcoming year I will be schooling my children in a way that I hadn't imagined. I certainly had no idea that I'd be homeschooling through a charter school. (If you would have told my public school teacher self six years ago that I'd be homeschooling, I would have flipped out! Homeschooling is weird!!! And anti-social!!). Well, it is certainly no secret that I don't find homeschooling to be weird or anti-social anymore. 

I believe that a huge part of what will make my homeschooling journey a success is choosing appropriate curriculum. Tiny B's charter homeschool will choose her curriculum, which I am totally fine with for now. I trust the public school to choose curriculum to educate my child to have mastery over the learning objectives. There was not one single curriculum choice that I was given to use as a public school teacher that I did not think could be used in an effective way. My feeling might change, but for now, I completely trust their choices for her at this point in her schooling. Strong B will be in his second year of preschool (his first year completely at home with me :) and I will use the absolutely fabulous Mother Goose Time (MGT) again. It is a huge part of why I feel confident enough to bring him completely home to homeschool. It absolutely brings together the teaching of all of the necessary preschool objectives as well as the excitement and love needed to reach preschoolers where they are and deliver the material in a way that will build a deep love for learning within their little souls. 

As an aside, and since we're discussing curriculum and therefore environment and themed learning, I changed my homeschool room around a few weeks ago and completely organized it. Isn't is fabulous?? In all honesty, it's my dining room. I have a very small home and we have one big room that combines the dining room and family room. To some it might be tacky to have this "classroom" when you first walk in...But to me, it symbolizes what I'm wanting our home and life to be--a welcoming environment of learning and love.

I've already changed it a bit, and in a few weeks I'll share more recent pictures.  

This month looked a bit different for our family, so instead of sitting and planning by myself like I usually do, I sat with my two teammates and asked for their help in planning. Needless to say, they were definitely thrilled to collaborate together.

I told them that  the theme for the month would be zoo animals to which they replied that it was their "favorite." This doesn't surprise me...most themes in MGT have been their "favorite."

We have a very busy month filled with vacation bible school, end of school activities, and surgery for Tiny B, so I knew that we were going to have to pick out a few animals and activities because we would definitely not have time for all of it. My objectives were also different this month. I wanted to focus on writing with Tiny B and I know that Strong B simply needs time to acclimate to being home every day and not at preschool for six-nine hours a week. 

Simply put, my objectives were not so much academic or covering all areas such as number sense, reading comprehension, letter sounds, etc. 

I simply wanted to work on her writing and start to get him used to learning solely with me, and give him a taste of the amazing things we will do many of our days when September comes around. God has been calling me to a time of rest this summer, and therefore I'm looking at our academic plans through different eyes. 

A few days ago my friend and I were discussing the homeschool convention that both her and I are attending this weekend, and she noticed that a speaker that I was raving about uses the Charlotte Mason method. When she told me in a sentence what that meant, my first thought was that that method is absolutely not one that speaks to me. 

She described it as learning throughout the entire day...making homeschool about more than just textbooks...theme studies...

And my public school teacher mind went, "But I'm about getting my children to meet the standards. I know how to do this. I know how to pick materials that will accomplish this and I know how to school for a few hours a day and squeeze in the most important objectives and as soon as we've met those we'll move on." 

But then I really started thinking about how I want to totally emerge my children in learning all day, and not just at their little desks in my dining room. And maybe, just maybe, meeting the objectives should not be at the top of my list of importance. Maybe "to develop a love of learning, people, God, and life" should be at the top. 

So I googled and came up with this: 

From "The Charlotte Mason method is based on Charlotte’s firm belief that the child is a person and we must educate that whole person, not just his mind. So a Charlotte Mason education is three-pronged: in her words, “Education is an Atmosphere, a Discipline, a Life.”

And I had to stop there, not because I didn't love it, but because it absolutely spoke to me and I knew that I wanted to totally delve into as I attend my homeschool conference this weekend. 

My friend had mentioned theme studies as part of what she loves and subscribes to as she homeschools her children with her love of Charlotte Mason. As a public school teacher, we used themes to teach the standards, but we never used themes only to teach more about the subject. For example, when I taught 3rd grade, I taught about deserts, but used it as a means to teach writing, paragraph structure, reading comprehension, etc. I have changed my thoughts on theme studies this year due to MGT's curriculum. Yes, we used the theme of "Safari" as a vehicle to teach letters and fine motor skills and reading comprehension, but we also used the theme of "Safari" to teach about going on a safari! We went to The Safari Park Zoo about five times during that theme study and totally immersed ourselves in the animals and people that you would find on a safari. This deepened their love for learning and knowledge. 

Seeing theme studies as totally beneficial is a complete 180 for me. Last year at the homeschooling conference a lady told me that as a former public school teacher, I was going to have a harder time than other homeschooling parents who haven't taught. I got sooooo mad at her. But after a year of homeschooling, I learned that she was right. She also told me that having been a public school teacher was going to be a detriment to me, and on that account, I can say with full confidence that she was wrong. I'm thankful every day for my training and the years I spent in my classroom and I know that I can bring the best of both worlds together...Because I truly believe that both worlds want the best for all children, and that the teachers in both worlds know a lot about how to educate children in an exciting yet effective way. 

I think back to all of the fun/learning of objectives/love of learning we've had all year, and it makes my mama/teacher/homeschooling mom heart go pitter patter. 

Today I leave for the homeschooling convention, and my mind is open to the things that I wasn't ready to learn last year. I can't wait!

Thursday, June 2, 2016

A to Zoo Animals Begins!

When the adorable yellow Mother Goose Time box arrived this month, Tiny B and Strong B were extra excited because they couldn't wait to study their favorite subject: Animals.

I wasn't quite ready to start the unit on the day that this arrived, so I did what I always do, which is give them the Circle Time CD to introduce them to this month's concepts and songs. I couldn't help but smile really big when I saw the picture on the CD case! Do you see that child in a wheelchair? Do you know just how much this warms this special needs mom's heart? We've seen a child in a wheelchair several times this year in MGT's curriculum, and it's always an opportunity to talk about why people might be in wheelchairs. This is a type of dialogue that is important for the children. I always welcomed it when parents would see me tube-feeding Tiny B and ask me questions, rather than just stare. The more we talk about it, the more we understand that everyone is different, and that we need to embrace these differences. 

The CD is very special this month because there is a song for every letter in the alphabet! We just started the unit and I've heard the CD approximately 1,492 times from their sweet little CD player in their bedroom. It's adorable to hear their sweet little voices. Na na na na newt. Such a cute newt. 

Dance n' Beats also was extra special this month with a song and dance for every letter.

The three of us sat and picked out which animals we wanted to focus on this month. Each day is a letter and an animal and I know that we have a lot of summer activities this month, so we need to choose so that we can enjoy and not get overwhelmed. 

I am supposed to take out a new letter and animal card with every lesson, but another blogger suggested putting the booklet together and going on a scavenger hunt for the animals at the zoo, so that's our plan!

I want to end with this picture that touches my heart. The home medical company that delivers our formula and feeding tube extensions every month picked up our feeding pump, because we have no use for it anymore. We have the IV pole from a previous company and I've been looking to give it away, but it turns out that Tiny B still wants to use it. We placed a feeding tube in her dolly and she's been playing with her old extensions. In this picture you can see her dolly hooked up to the feeding tube extension and IV pole. I thought we were done with these things, but I guess not. I think it's the sweetest thing that she wants to continue to play with the stuff. It's a good memory for her. That makes my heart happy. And of course her dancing in her tutu/robe to Dance n' Beats makes my heart happy too.