Friday, October 2, 2020

Homeschool Weeks 2-4

 Homeschooling has been all the things: amazing, fun, exhausting, wonderful, hard, time consuming, rewarding. We've fit a lot into our first four weeks of homeschooling. So much so that I only documented our first week, then I started slacking. It's been rough running daycare, supervising virtual learning for older kids, and homeschooling my three. It's taken time to get into a good routine, but we're getting there. Above all else, we've still managed to place fun and learning at the top of every day!

Here are a few things we've done to grow minds:

This little one has had a hard time with the kids being "in school." He does not like that no one is around to play every second of every day.

A month after Iowa's derecho hit, our yard debris (also known as half of a tree) was picked up.

Yoga for gym class is a winner, as is karate.

Our science unit this month focuses on rocks and minerals. Ironically, we had a large bag of dirt from Crater of Diamonds State Park when we visited Arkansas four years ago. So, we spent a morning digging for diamonds, which also fit in nicely with daycare's letter of the week: D! The kids had a fun time with it. We didn't find any diamonds, but they found a few rocks we were able to examine with magnifying glasses.

A look at what daily life looks like: we have a homeschool schedule, a virtual school schedule, and daycare. Yes, it's as exhausting as it looks. Since I have quite a few preschoolers who are missing school this year, daycare follows a preschool curriculum 2-3 mornings a week. It's actually been easier this way, as the little kids feel they have "work" to do too, just like the big kids!

I found these beginner sewing kits on These made a perfect art/home economics project for the minis! They loved they so much that they finished these and asked for me to buy more. I see a sewing machine in our future--and I don't even know how to sew!

Our rocks and minerals unit. Who knew that 25+ years later my rock collection would be a prized possession for homeschool and daycare. The minis got to identify the rocks and study them.

Mid-day dance party to shake away the school day crazies!

How the dog "punished" us for changing our schedule on him: he asks to go outside and then sits and looks at us through the window....but still refuses to come in. We're clearly horrible dog parents.

Breaks are important for this teacher. I've treated myself to drinks and dinner out a couple of times since the school year has gotten underway.

Our school district doesn't offer Spanish classes for elementary students, so instead of enrolling the oldest in Spanish class through the district, we've chosen to find programs online that all three can use to learn Spanish. I'm also re-learning Spanish right along with them.

While we're learning about rocks and minerals in this science unit, we're also learning about the Scientific Method and conducting experiments. The oldest is missing his beloved science fair this year, so we concluded we could easily do one at home. Since our theme was apples, the homeschool kids used apples in their experiments. On this day we cut apples and observed them throughout the day to see which turned brown the quickest, which turned the brownest, and how mushy they got throughout the day.

I've always felt that there were kids in every corner of our house, but now feel it even more since we have more rooms now dedicated to older kids who are working and learning during the days.

Gym class gets creative with apple tennis. It wasn't nearly as messy as I predicted, but we also used a baby gate because I didn't want to deal with cleaning our actual net!

The only one who doesn't understand, "be gentle with the pumpkins."

The kids made caramel apple bites for all of daycare one day. They made the perfect snack later in the day!

The annual apple painting for art class.

We took our apple that turned brown the quickest in the previous apple experiment and put the slices in vinegar, lemon juice, and Sprite to see which kept them from turning brown as quickly. The lemon juice and Sprite worked the best. Of course, when the experiment was over the kids asked if they could try bites of all of the apples to see if it changed their taste. Short answer, they did and the Sprite apples were liked the best (I did not try them, so I cannot confirm this), but the lemon apples were the mushiest.

More yoga and karate for gym class.

The next experiment was for the littles, but the bigs were in charge of coming up with the presentation, getting it ready, explaining, and doing the experiment with the kids. It went well....until the bigs got sidetracked by playing with the baking soda and vinegar mixture. Sigh. That's so not unusual.

I have LOVED having my Fridays off. The minis and I have hit the road and had some great fun! On this particular Friday, we spent our morning in "science class" at Devonian Fossil Gorge in Iowa City, Ia. We found each fossil marker and read every plaque, then did further research of the area in the car. This was perfect for our rocks and minerals unit!

Elizabeth was our fossil picture taker. She was fascinated by it all.

I was designated dog watcher and holder while the minis jumped from rock to rock looking for fossil markers.

Part of social studies was spent at the old Iowa capitol on the University of Iowa campus. We didn't tour the museum, but we took pictures and read about it as we traveled to our next destination, where we continued social studies. 
When Hubs and I visited Utah in February (read about that here), on our recommended lists of places to see in SLC was Temple Square. We had a fascinating experience. We enjoy teaching our minis about different religions and beliefs. Visint Mormon Handcart Park gave me the chance to teach both social studies and religion and get in gym class too as we walked, jogged, and skipped down the trails.

Study time in the car. 

We had an hour drive in between gym classes, so the minis did schoolwork in the car. Gym class #2 was at Union Grove State Park, where we hiked part ways around the lake.

Fall art projects are some of my favorite! The younger kids traced leaves and we did crayon leaf prints.

The kids spend as much time as possible outside during the day. Sometimes this means taking books onto the deck and doing work, while keeping an eye on the dog. Other times it means racing around the backyard playing tag for gym. 

One thing I LOVE about homeschooling is that we can choose what and how we learn. I decided to continue our Universal Yums box, since the kids loved it so much over the summer. We spent a day learning about Colombia, listening to Colombian music, and trying snacks from that country. 

We celebrated a little's birthday. I swear he liked it! Harrison spent his Sunday evening creating these chocolate Oreo cupcakes with chocolate Oreo frosting. I didn't have one, but I heard they were delish!

The kids are so excited that they get recess now at daycare. I don't have the heart to break it to them that it's literally the same thing as outside time, we're just calling it recess since there's more kids doing school at daycare.

The oldest wanted to go for a hike on the night of the fall equinox. It was warm, cloudy, and two of the three minis to were too scared to walk in the woods, so we stuck to the pond trail while we looked at the moon. The oldest mini talked all about the moon and stars and the rest of us listened. It was the perfect science class at night.

Our whole school at daycare thing has gone somewhat smoothly. It's taken us nearly a month to get into a groove, especially with all kids doing something different. Instead of telling the youngest kids what they can't do right now with big kids studying at daycare, I give them something to do. They LOVE "doing work" too. On this day the littles worked on shapes and drawing pictures using different shapes. 


Zeus is thrilled at the end of the school day because that means play time!

We broke out the Fall sensory bin for F week.

The dog thinks he's a kid. He goes into the playhouse on his own, since he's seen the kids go in and out. 

This kid has been learning about different writing styles and genres. He spent a week writing comics. When he read them to me, he read each character in a different voice. To say I was entertained is an understatement!

We "do school" when it works for us and our schedule. Sometimes that means holding art class at 7:30 at night, after dance classes.

Sometimes, we like to have fun for science. We'll be holding our own science fair in November, so they've been practicing how to conduct experiments and the Scientific Method. On this day, they saw how many rubberbands it took to explode a watermelon and a pumpkin. It didn't take quite 200 rubberbands for each, before they exploded. The watermelon was a slow, crack, then POP! The pumpkin happened suddenly and actually popped up and hit the oldest in the lip! It was an interesting experiment all around!

This one was a huge help with the experiment.

A homeschooling neighbor came to the backyard to watch the experiment unfold.

Thinking on how to write their conclusions at the end of the experiments.

The pumpkin popped open right in the middle! 

Our Friday adventure led us to Geode State Park. The lake has been drained for a while, so we walked on a hiking trail and walked around (part) of the lake bed. We dug a bit in the sandy dirt and came across sea shells (we were shocked! I still don't know if someone left them there or what), geodes, and many sedimentary rocks. This was the absolute perfect spot to go for science and gym class for the day!

This is at the beach area. It was easy to "wade" into the rest of the lake bed from this point.

We played on the playground for a bit too. We had the place to ourselves.

We stopped along a few dirt roads to admire and take photos of the fall colors beginning to pop through.