Apr 182017
 

This is a post from a few years back.  As I reread this post, I was reminded to keep using what works, and adjust what does not.  We still move while learning, especially math facts and spelling words, but I need to find other methods to use for abstract concepts and general remembering. 

Last summer I went to a 3-day Parent Practicum held by a local Classical Conversations group.  My reasons for going were two fold:

  1. I was curious about CC.
  2. The kids got 3 days of a summer activity that was educational and fun.

I am so glad I attended.  Here was a group of parents who were pushing their kids beyond the standard I saw most of those around me doing.  What they were doing is what I had been trying to do at home with our kids without any guide to follow.  They were taking an active role in what their kids were learning and asking them to do things I would never have considered possible.  I left that practicum with a renewed sense of what I wanted our kids to do.

Then George started Kindergarten at the local public school.

George had been in preschool at this same school from Day 3 of living with us, and did well in preschool.  We did have some concerns about how he would do in Kindergarten, so set up extra help before he even started.  He was able to spend time each day in a much smaller class with a teacher who knew him.   He was able to get extra review of what he just learned.  Due to his learning disability, review is a must.  Though George might learn something one day, there is no guarantee that he will remember it in an hour, or tomorrow, or on Friday.  He might know something three times, then forget it the next five.  Eventually he gets it, it just takes a bit longer and a lot more review.  

The biggest difference between preschool and Kindergarten was the focus.  Instead of a small class setting where everyone had individual goals, they were setting the challenges for a class of over 25 kids.

school supplies 2013

I really struggled for the first few months.  The homework they sent home was too much for him to do every night.  Every night ended in tears and frustration on both our parts. Aren’t parents and kids were supposed to finish Kindergarten still liking each other? Life became better.  We learned through what we happened to be doing at that moment, something we as a family do naturally.  At one point I gave up. We did not do any homework.  None at all.

After a few months, I began to think of alternative ways to do the homework and help George learn at home. After all, what example was I setting to say that he did not have to do his homework?  What would happen when he got older and actually had to complete assignments?

I began to think back to the CC Parent Practicum and how the kids there seemed able to do so much.  In my searching online for ideas, I also kept coming across blogs of families who homeschooled their kids using Classical Conversations.  How were they able to learn so many things every year?  Not only that, how were they able to retain it and recite it back?

Reward chart for learning New Testament Bible books 2

Hand motions, songs, and movement is what I noticed accompanied all of the recitation given by the kids.  These things also showed up in the suggestions for how to teach the lessons.  It was also something I remember them demonstrating to the parents last summer.  And come to think of it, this was the exact method I used to teach George and Jack the names of the 12 Disciples and the books of the New Testament.

Okay, I may be a bit slow, after all it took me over 6 months to get to this point, but I got there.  Not sure why I didn’t make the connection sooner.  Perhaps because I didn’t think about the method I used when I taught them the Disciples and NT books – I just did it.

George needed something beyond verbal reviewing and me drawing demonstrations of concepts. (i.e. the things that caused him to shut down, me become extremely frustrated because I knew he could do it, and we both ended up in tears.)

So where do I find what is needed for George and what he is learning in school?  The audio CDs and DVDs that go with the CC material had some of what he was learning, but there was a lot that was not related.

I began the search for CDs and songs that would match the topics the school was teaching him – I searched online, asked people, checked out teacher resources … nothing fit what I needed.  Back to the drawing board.

(I’m not sure if we just do more with our kids in this area, or maybe we just do not know the right people.  Either way, there was no one around me who does something similar with their kids so it took me a while to figure out exactly what it was I was looking for.  I actually got a lot of confused looks from parents when I asked which CDs of songs to help their kids learn some of the things from school.)

One week, George came home with a new thing he was supposed to learn.  In a moment where I was short on time and patience, I turned to the web.  That is when I found a YouTube video that explained everything.  In fewer words than I would have used.  AND it had pictures.

He got it!

The next day I began in earnest to search for videos to review what he had learned, videos to cover things he might learn, and videos to review things he already knew.  It took a while to put together a list of videos that weren’t too flashy, too loud, too long or too boring,  I was looking for catchy songs, quality videos, to the point lessons without a lot of fluff, and ones that he would also enjoy watching.

With these in hand, I was able to make a play list for George (and Jack) to listen to during breakfast … or lunch … or after school.  We can even listen to these in the car while running errands.  What took him months of saying over and over, yet not learning, he learned in two weeks.  TWO WEEKS!  Now he may still not be able to count by 2’s and still forgets what coin is what value, but he can count by 10’s to 100 down, tell you the days of the week, months of the year, and many other things.  Add this to the Starfall, Reading Eggs, and an online math programs we are doing and I think we are set at home to help him review and learn in a fun stress free way.

Now I count it as doing his homework if he can sing me the song or pick up where I leave off while singing it.  At random times through the day I may break into song (didn’t I say they were catchy?).  There are even times I catch him singing while playing or explaining something to someone.  YES!!

Some of these, like the one above, have been helpful when we are working on things like reading.  I can remind George of the rule by singing the first line of the corresponding song.  A much better method than nagging him.

Once I got the basic songs down I began to look for others that he may enjoy or that Jack would like.  Speaking of Jack, he too has learned a lot of the songs and can sing them.  He is prepped for Kindergarten when it is time for him to start.  Actally, a few of the videos are for him, as his brain works differently and has been able to grasps concepts that George still struggles with.  To help avoid bad behaviors due to being bored, I began to give him things that he would actually be doing if he were in Kindergarten already or about topics he finds interesting.

Here is my current list of songs.  As time goes on there will be more added to this.  What are some songs/videos not on this list that you have found helpful?

Jack loves saying, and I love hearing, “fundamental process”.  He even tries to give it an accent.

GARDENING (Science)

The Garden Song – not a fan of the “Mother Earth” sentence, but the rest is cute

Spring Songs for Children – Spring is Here with Lyrics – Kids Songs by The Learning Station

THE PHOTOSYNTHESIS SONG

Butterfly, Butterfly! (a song for kids about the butterfly life cycle) – Harry Kindergarten Music

 The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle – reading of the book and showing of illistrations

I Like the Flowers – by Beat Boppers Children’s Music

Let’s Plant a Garden – Nursery Rhyme

plant parts – the parts of a flower, sung to the “Head and shoulders, knees and toes” song

 

SCIENCE

Solar system

Solar System Lesson for Kids | Learn about Planets , Stars, Galaxy – a decsripition of the solar system, no songs

Animal (Classification) Song

4 Seasons In A year  – Harry Kindergarten Music – Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter – asks you to name the seasons as he describe them

Seasons Song: Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter – video asks you to name the seasons they show


LANGUAGE

ABC’s

Phonics song

YouTube.com, really like

Between the Lions: “When two vowels go walking” by BTLfanatic – fun to watch youtube.com and also catchy just to listen to.

Super “e”!!!!!!! (hip children’s song by Mark D. Pencil) by harry kindergarten music

The Sentence Song With Miss Jenny / www.edutunes.com – a quick video and song, but a favorite of our preschooler

Punctuation Explained (by Punctuation!) – not flashy, but very clear and to the point

Kindergarten Sight Words

Classic Schoolhouse Rock : A Noun is a Person, Place, or Thing (1973)

 The Five W’s Song ♫♪♫

 

MATH

Shapes Song 2 – circle, square, triangle, rectangle, star, diamond, oval, heart, then some more advanced shapes.  May work for a review of shapes rather than a teaching of the shapes themselves.

3D Shapes I know (solid shapes song- including sphere, cylinder, cube, cone, and pyramid) – Harry Kindergarten Music

Good video to go with it – The Big Numbers Song (counting 0-100) 

Learning Numbers from 1 to 100 – Counting Song for Kids 

Counting by 5’s

Favorite – Counting by Tens – Barbara Milne

Count by tens song – also mentions money though a bit busy

Counting By Twos Song

count by 2- a sing-along for early elementary – Mr. R’s Songs for Teaching – a song that probably works best with the visual

Number Line Addition

Basic Addition

When You Add With A Pirate (addition song for kids)

Counting Song 1+1

Addition Songs for Children: Addition 1, Addition 2, Addition 3, Addition 4, Addition 5

Addition +1

Addition +2

VIDEO showing chart and explaining – 1st Flipped: Skip Counting

The Big Numbers Song for Children – Ep 6 

“Penny Your The One” Penny Counting Song (Money Math)

Coin Value Song- Pennies, Nickels, Dimes, Quarters! – Mr. R’s Songs for Teaching

The Coin Song

Money Song – fun video for once the kids know their coins and values

 

CALENDAR – DAYS, MONTHS

Days of the Week Song – 7 Days of the Week – Children’s Songs

Days of the Week Song

Months Of The Year Song

Kindergarten Time (Sun travel with words) – a visual display of the different times of day – tracks the sun across the sky from morning till night.  Has words telling the time of day but no audio.

 

GEOGRAPHY

The continent song – this has become a favorite bedtime song, as we can do it with me singing the first part and the kids doing the response.

 HISTORY

No More King! (Schoolhouse Rock!) – Pilgrims sailing across the ocean to leave the King of England behind

 

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Apr 102017
 

 

Regular turning of your compost pile is one of those garden jobs that often is forgotten.  Turning your pile over does several things:

  1. Mixes the new items you have added to your pile with your older items.
  2. Allows air to get to items that may previously have not had it.
  3. Discourages pesky insects (gnats, flies, mosquitoes, etc.) from gathering and laying eggs by covering food scraps not yet decomposed. This is only an issue if your pile is near where people will be, and therefore they will be pesky.
  4. Speeds up the decomposition of your pile.  In other words, you will have compost that you can use faster.  (This is my favorite reason.)

If you are in a cooler climate, or just a down right cold area, you may have to wait till a warmer day. This is especially true if your pile is under snow or otherwise unable to be worked.

Mar 272017
 

mason jars

After spending all the time canning produce from your garden or elsewhere, the last thing you want to happen is to have jar go bad and not realize it till you “smell something funky” when you go to your pantry.

Take a few minutes to look over the jars you have.

Are they all still sealed?

Do any need to be wiped down?  If so, do it now before you forget.

If any have gone bad, dump the contents and sanitize the jars.  Check for chips before storing them till they are needed again.

Mar 182017
 

Plow & Hearth

Confession time: I did not buy new cushions for our porch swing for … 8 years!

And to make it even worse … they were the cushions which we inherited with the house and swing! Gross, I know!! Trust me, they were ready for retirement.

Not only did they not provide any form of softness, but they were faded and harbored who knows what kind of allergens.  It was finally at the point where I was afraid to even wash them.  Yeah, they were bad.

It was not until we were gifted a new swing that I began my search for new cushions.  The difference was like night and day!  Not only were the colors vivid, but the cushions actually, well, cushioned.

Never again will I wait so long.  I have learned the wisdom of routinely changing out cushions, especially if they are so worn you are afraid to wash them.

Right now, Plow&Hearth is offering $10 off orders over $85.  Whether you are looking for new cushions, a side table, outdoor planters or an arbor, not only can you save yourself a trip to the store, but also enough money to fill that new planter with your favorite plant from the local nursery or your greenhouse.

This post contains affiliate links.

Mar 162017
 

life is a series of experiences henry ford quote

This week finds us out of the house quite a bit.  So, I thought I would take the opportunity to look back at some posts from the past.

One thing that stuck out to me was the difference in weather between years, even though all these posts are from March.

Another theme I noticed is that I often posted about food.  That may have to do with the first things that stood out to me – the weather.

Soon it had been over three weeks and I had not even begun looking for a new stove or coming to a decision as to repair it.

Living Without An Oven – This phase was actually easier than I thought, though it did take some thinking.  We were also blessed, several months in, with a $1 toaster oven find at a local garage sale.  That toaster oven even moved with us, as I came to find it useful for different situations.

Once the warm weather comes, I would rather be focusing on outside rather than stuck inside doing these things.

30 Days, 21 Projects – It is amazing how all the little things around the house can be put off numerous times.  Suddenly, no matter where you turn there is something glaring at you that needs to be done.  Having a plan of attack, and a deadline, helps you realized the list is not never-ending.  It also gives you a sense of being in control rather than being controlled by your stuff.

I didn’t plant all the tomato seeds I had, but I got 75 of them started.

Weekly Goals – March 18, 2012 – Not only is it interesting to look back and see what was happening at this time in years past, but you may also be reminded of things you used to do and can do again.  While I will not be starting seeds indoors this spring, I hope to do it again in the future.  I also learned that I did not need 75 tomato seedlings.  Live and learn.

At first $4.30 didn’t seem like a lot to Mr. Arends, but by the end of the 6-weeks time frame, he had learned several lessons.

Comparing The Numbers – Before making statements about what can or can not be done, it is a good idea to take a look at the reality of your situation.

Last week he spent over 6 hours across several days working with cardboard and duct tape.

This Week in School, practical life skills – the above quote would be called a STEM activity in public school.  At home, it was called free time.  This post highlighted a season where Jack really did not respond well to sitting to learn.  While we were following Charlotte Mason’s methods, I had not fully implemented them, nor researched them.  So some items, like short lessons, were in play, there were other things I was learning on my own.  I am still not fully doing what she recommends, but we are getting closer.

Mar 142017
 

This post from a few years ago came up in a search I did recently.  Reading through it, I was reminded of how our gardening can start off with great intentions, but time can make us forget the blessings and larger purpose it may serve.  

Botanical Garden Fountain
Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.

 

The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.

 

She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.

your  husband will appreciate your gardening efforts if you include items and varieties he likes.

She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands.

playing in the dirt is actually called “working”.

She is like the merchants’ ships; she bringeth her food from afar.

it is okay to not grow everything. instead go to the produce auction or farmer’s market if there are things you want but can’t grow due to time or space.

She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens.
you don’t have to do it all yourself, hire help as needed. different stages in life call for different things.
She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard.

gardening … need I say more?

She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms.

pulling weeds … and weeds … there are more? Didn’t I just pull those?!? (not such an issue with raised beds, but we did have to haul in dirt and build the boxes)

She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night.

endless nights of canning, because you still have so much yet to do.  meanwhile, the next crop is ripe and ready to be put up.

She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff.
She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.

have you ever “blessed” someone with a random bag of zucchini?

She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet.

all the canning and preserving serves a valuable purpose during the colder months. (or when a new child in the home meant not being able to shop as much for two months, those stores were very much a blessing.)

She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple.

when not in the garden, you are allowed to do non-gardening related crafts.  even better if it is something useful.

Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land.

our gardening habits will also reflect upon the rest of our household.  let it be a good reflection upon them.

She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant.

otherwise known as running a produce stand, listing extras on Craigslist, trading for other items or services, selling at a local store, etc.  

Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come.

all that planning means rejoicing when the first vegetable or bloom appears in the garden.  it wasn’t all for naught.

She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.

learn from those who have done it for more seasons than you, and share kindly with the new gardener just starting out.  you were there once too.

She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.

while it would be great to sit and watch the flowers and birds (or hang out on the favorite social media site), we can’t do that all day.

Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.

gardening should not make you grumpy, short tempered, annoyed, or isolated.  instead it should add happiness to your home. if it doesn’t, then you need to sit down and redo you gardening plan.

Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all.
Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised.

your house may be perfect; your garden beds weed free, organic and trimmed; and you may even be one of those gardeners who can work outside for an hour in the humidity without a hair coming out of place or breaking a nail.  If your heart is not in the right place, though, it doesn’t mean a thing.  

Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.

enjoy what you have worked to make happen.  now would be the time to get that cup of tea (or peppermint cappuccino) and enjoy the flowers and birds, knowing that you have worked hard and blessed others … till it is time to go weed again or put the next load of jars in the canner.

PROVERBS 31: 10-31 (KJV)

Vase of roses in window

Bible passage taken from KingJamesBibleOnline

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Mar 122017
 

This post contains some affiliate links.  If you click on them and purchase something I will receive a small portion, at no extra charge to you.  Thank you for helping support this blog.

Living in Reality with smokey border

(click here for Part 1 or Part 2)

Looking back at the list, waaay back at the start, you will notice I did not disregard everything on my “this is what life should look like right now” list.  There are still thing I can do where I am and with the reality I have in front of me right now.

can work on growing in knowledge.

can work gardening in the space I have been blessed with.

can have bees in an urban setting.

can do things on a smaller scale to help reduce energy usage, water waste/runoff, improve the soils, and teach my kids about nature.

can use solar power in various smaller settings.

can go for walks in the neighborhood.

can send my kids outside to play.

can take the kids to the local mountain/nature preserve/park/wetlands to see and experience wildlife without being surrounded by buildings.

can still recycle, reduce, and reuse. Or as my grandparents would say, “Use it up, wear it out, make do or do without.”

dad child walking by spring river

Once I got past what I could not do, i.e. stopped whining to myself, I began focusing on what was at the core of my desires and how it could be implemented where we actually were. I began to feel less confined by my circumstances and more free to find solutions.

I also have to realized that some of my life’s dreams have been fulfilled, just not all of them right now.  There are also many years ahead, God willing, to explore those ideas.

When I mentioned to George, who was watching the movie ‘Alaska‘, that I used to want to be a bush pilot, he looked at me with a serious expression and asked, “Why didn’t you?”  It was a great opportunity to point out to him that life only contains so much time.

“If I had pursued that desire, I would have had to give up so many others.  While it would have been fun, it was not what I was meant to do.”

And that, my friends, is when I realized all my contemplating and searching had finally come full circle and I was ready to move forward once again.

Mar 102017
 

Plow & Hearth

If Spring has not arrived in your neck of the woods yet, it is not too far around the corner.  With a mild winter across most of the country, gardeners are starting to get back into their gardens earlier on the calendar.

Whether you are looking to add lanterns, illuminators,  planters, or walkway lights to your garden, use solar power to add an additional interest to these elements.  Not only will you be saved the limitation of placing them only where there is a source of electricity, but you will also be saving on your power bill.

Today Only, save 20% off all solar accents and receive shipping sitewide on orders of $75. Ends 3/11/17.

In addition to these savings, if you are a new subscriber to their email list, you will receive $10 off your next order.

This post contains affiliate links.

Mar 102017
 

 

Regular turning of your compost pile is one of those garden jobs that often is forgotten.  Turning your pile over does several things:

  1. Mixes the new items you have added to your pile with your older items.
  2. Allows air to get to items that may previously have not had it.
  3. Discourages pesky insects (gnats, flies, mosquitoes, etc.) from gathering and laying eggs by covering food scraps not yet decomposed. This is only an issue if your pile is near where people will be, and therefore they will be pesky.
  4. Speeds up the decomposition of your pile.  In other words, you will have compost that you can use faster.  (This is my favorite reason.)

If you are in a cooler climate, or just a down right cold area, you may have to wait till a warmer day. This is especially true if your pile is under snow or otherwise unable to be worked.