Saturday, October 24, 2020

Homeschool Week 5 & 6


My days are busy with very few breaks. I've been terrible at taking pictures, mostly because I must be hands on at this point. At one time, I could set out an activity or something and snap away. I have dozens of pictures from every day life "back then." Now, as I find myself in a new role of daycare provider AND teacher/mom, there's no time to snap away at all of the fun everyone is having or what we're doing. 

What I can say, we've finally gotten into a routine. It's not always smooth, but the kids have mostly settled into having school at daycare. The littles have been absolutely AMAZING if I need to set away to help the bigs. They're even more amazing if I have to teach a lesson to the bigs. The bigs are adjusting to school time, free times, recess, and back to school time. Sometimes there's issues of "but why do the little kids get to do that and we don't??!!?" But for the most part, the bigs are good about doing their school work. 

Homeschool is going great! I and the minis are enjoying choosing what and how they learn. Sometimes it's worksheets, sometimes it's spending three days writing a play, and sometimes it's conducting experiments and helping the littles with projects. I've enjoyed all of the various ages I have and all of the different aspects there are to think about each day, but I really miss being able to plan only one or two activities for each day! My greatest challenge has been making sure I'm organized enough that all ages and learning models have something/what they need for each day. It's making for some very LONG and busy days, but I'm ending week 6 with a fall break. The minis are doing self guided school work on our fall break, while I'm actually taking the break!

I cracked up while helping with this reading comprehension with informational texts. I had the child read it to themselves the first time, I read it aloud, and then the questions were asked and answered verbally. As I asked the third grader a question about the text, a couple of four year olds chimed in as they played in the play kitchen, "it's because of that dirty water in Michigan." The second text was about Flint, Michigan. It was one of those moments I wish I had recorded.

The minis learned origami for art one day. Despite my extra long days because of it, I love being able to do school at any time of the day. Because of that, we've been able to fit a lot of art, music, and gym inot our daily schedules.

While these littles may be learning letters and doing other guided activities and worksheets, there's plenty of free play happening too. I'm still able to set out activities and watch their imaginations take over while they learn to communicate effectively with each other. There's also a dog in the middle of it all now.

Homeschoolers have been practing the Scientific Method by conducting numerous experiments. All of this will lead up to our own At Home Science Fair coming up in November. The oldest mini has been a part of a science fair already, so we're really working on nailing down the Scientific Method and how to write a good conclusion to our experiments. 
Also, I had to look up the difference between a hypothesis and a prediction a few times. I'm probably learning (or re-learning rather) just as much as the kids these days.

We hadn't had a lot of sensory activities up until week 5 because I truly didn't know how school at daycare would be going. Sensory play is something that, while the kids have the freedom to do what they please with those activities, it is something that needs to be supervised closely. You know, in case a random black bean ends up in an ear or someone eats something they shouldn't. 
However, the littles have shown superb listening skills and we've been able to have a sensory activity out nearly every day, even on my busy days. If I ask the kids to step away from the sensory bins for a bit while I assist with school, they do it with ease and the knowledge that I'll allow them to play again as soon as I come back with them. This is only something that could be learned through our consist routine. 

Our fall walk was a highlight for all of the kids. It took us 20 minutes to walk around one block because we were finding colorful leaves, acorns, bark, and other fall goodies. I had one kid hold a pumpkin bucket to hold all of the leaves we found. We had initially planned an art project with the leaves, but the kids chose to play with them and build fairy houses with them. This was so loved that we still have a bucket so kids can put fresh leaves in as they find them during recesses.

The middle mini finished the first Harry Potter book and was rewarded with a movie morning. Don't be fooled, afterwards he had to write a comparision paper on the book vs. the movie. Some kids watched and some played while the movie aired. 

Daycare's letter of the week was H, so we did all things Halloween: coloring sheets, sensory bins, and brain Jello for snack! We also found out that our brain jello mold had a large crack in it.

The middle mini had been eagerly waiting to try a new pho restaurant near our house. Pho and bubble teas all around for dinner one night.

The minis love documentaries. I love them because often times they can simplify or show something I'm teaching in greater detail. I've determined Fridays are great for documentaries!

I noticed all of the kids were in the playhouse during recess. I walked to the window to hear them discussing their favorite shows and cartoons to watch!

Our letter of the week was H, so I made Halloween cupcakes. 

Costumes (and actually any cloth toys, furniture, etc.) are a no-no during a pandemic unless these things can be deep cleaned after each use. But it was a short daycare week. So, I dealt with the extra laundry every day and the kids happily dressed up.

Pumpkin baking soda snow in the play kitchen. This provided two solid hours of play. Not just play, but play with each other. They were talking to each other, sharing, deciding how and what they would play next. I never did figure out what exactly they were playing, but I believe it had something to do with a restaurant because they "baked" and then plated their "food."

Surprise flowers from my parents brightened up my short work week, even as my table was scattered by school things.

The minis used their literature/language arts/the arts time to write, produce, direct, and perform a play. I really had no idea what to expect. The middle mini has been working on writing styles, two of which being how to write comic strips and screen plays. When I read through the rough draft of their script, I was delighted to see that they worked in things they have learned in other subjects. 
Everyone "helped" get things ready for the play.

Our house has been covered with so many praying mantis! The kids asked if we could bring some inside. I told them maybe next year.

The minis began their virtual block classes that take place every Wednesday for the next few weeks. Since we chose the homeschool assistance option through our school district, we have a wide variety of resources available to us. Elizabeth is learning about marine biology, while the boys are partaking in a drama class. All classes have homeschool kids in their age ranges and in our school district. It's a great way for them to connect safely with other homeschool kids! I've enjoyed seeing their enthusiasm for their classes as much as they're having fun with it all.

There's rarely much sitting time in my days, but every day at the beginning of nap time, I sit on the couch (or floor) and rub backs, hum, or just simply exist while the littles fall asleep for naps. It's only a few minutes, but it's a few minutes of peace for me as I sip an afternoon coffee that was delivered to me in surprise by a friend. I love little moments like these.

Thursday of week 6 began our fall break. My first plan was to go someplace for fall colors, but the weather (or wildfires) anywhere we'd like to go didn't cooperate. Instead, we enjoyed a Thursday of voting, flu shots, cooking, hiking and ultimately deciding we'd stay in Iowa for the rest of fall break. 
We have always taken the minis with us to vote, but we've been studying this election process in depth, so they've had an extra interest in the voting process.

Tip of the day: don't take a water dog near water unless you have every intention of entering the water too. There was A LOT of whining because we wouldn't take him in the water for a good swim. It probaby had something to do with it being windy and 40 degrees out.

Then there were burs. So. Many. Covered on the middle mini's pant legs. It took us 20 minutes to pick them off...all while the dog cried because he wasn't in the water. The untold side of our adventures.

That hike deserved treats: coffee and hot chocolates (and a cup of whipped cream for the dog) from Caribou and cookies from Eileen's Cookies in Windsor Heights. Both highly recommended.