Tuesday, February 24, 2009

first book of nature & nature journals

this usborne book has been our "science" to this point. we've spent about a year reading this 167-page book that compiles 7 smaller books: birds, trees, flowers, butterflies and moths, wild animals, fishes, and creepy crawlies. there is so much info packed into each colorful page. we try to read outdoors so that we can see what we're reading about immediately. i've learned tons and the kids have some interesting vocabulary that they use when we're out and about in nature. we could probably read it again this coming year and they'd not mind because they'd learn many new things. even sy gathers in for this reading!
we were trying to keep "nature journals" as well. but we've given up for the time being. i bought these spiral notebooks with the top 1/2 of the pages blank for drawing and the bottom half with lines for writing. the boys would draw something in pencil out in the yard and come in to write a sentence or 2 about their drawing. unfortunately, i cannot draw and they have not been avid drawers or colorers so there is very little development with their art. many times they chose to draw something from the garden, a tomato or pumpkin perhaps, and it was basically a circle. so i have decided to shelve these until we can get some "formal"-ish drawing instruction. anyone? anyone?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Christian Heroes Biographies

Our newest favorite books are the christian heroes biographies from ywam. these are fantastic read-alouds and i am hoping they will entice the boys to read more on their own. there are 2 versions. one series is smaller books "for young readers". (we have William Carey and Amy Carmichael). all my kids love these. then, there is the older kid series (10+ maybe?) that i've been reading aloud with the boys while the little ones nap. we're only on our 2nd one of these. our first was Hudson Taylor, a missionary to china. our current read is Brother Andrew, a missionary behind the iron curtain.

through both books, we get to read of the missionary's journey to their mission field, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. we see God moving in their lives and the people around them. we watch Him see them through opposition. these books are such a blessing to read. they picked this second one after hearing stories of various family members who smuggled Bibles.

within each book there is also the historical content that surrounds the story. with china i learned many things i'd not known (there's only so much of the entire world's history they can fit into a 1 year high school course). with our europe book i am more familiar and am able to offer further explanation to the kids. as it happens, brother andrew's ministry, open doors, has it's US office nearby, so after finishing the book, we'll have the opportunity to field trip there. look for our pics in the next week or two as we're 1/2 way through the book!

ywam also offers unit study curriculum guides so that you can even better utilize the books. i think we may get these for use our second time around.

right now we are all thoroughly enjoying the books. just thought i'd share!

Monday, February 16, 2009

making math meaningful

i am now enjoying the benefits of our first year of math!
"last year" (through november 2008), we used Making Math Meaningful (MMM) kindergarten book. we didn't use numbers! i wondered how you could teach math with no numbers, but i'd listened to the author speak about a couple other subjects and i valued his methods so i was willing to stick with it. on the other hand, scott was a little skeptical and would supplement what i was doing with random math facts and addition. at the end of the book, we introduced numbers and thanks to scott's lessons they were already familiar. jojo is now working in the level 1 book while kik should start it next month. as jojo is doing ALGEBRA and totally getting it i am truly a believer in that first year book of no numbers! the boys have all the concepts down and thoroughly reinforced. i am excited to see what comes next in these books. beyond their success, their attitudes are incredible. "who wants to do math first?" is always answered "ME!" by both boys. then, while i'm doing the activities with each of them, the other asks if he can do it too.
MMM is one reason that i am really enjoying homeschooling this year!
i am looking forward to adding cornerstone's science curriculum this next year (and their music and art too - but i might be getting carried away! - time will tell.)