The Sacred Sprouts Schoolhouse

Archive for December, 2009

Despite The Outward Appearances…

We really are still on a break.  :)

Reading for fun?  Who knew that could make it back into my children!?  One of the things that I was always upset with the school about was how they approached reading.  Abigail constantly had to be reading in order to reach a goal or obtain a prize.  There was never reading just for the sake of reading.  There was always some carrot out there for them to read.  When one goal had been met, another one quickly swept into place.  Reading time was rewarded with prizes, candy, books, tickets, etc.  Drove me bonkers!

Reading just for fun.  Ah, it’s wonderful to see my kids choose to pick up a book when they are looking for something to do.  There’s something really special about family reading time when we all have our nose in something.

Our lazy days are coming to an end though.  Next Monday, school starts back up again.  I’m ready to go, and we’ll hit the ground running.  I’m hoping to add in a little art appreciation for a few weeks, and Abigail will get to start guitar lessons as well. She’s pretty excited about that!

I’ve got my thinking cap as I’m trying to come up with something different to throw into our day as we dig deep into the Revolutionary War.   Not sure what that will be yet… but something I hope.

posted by Erika in Random Thoughts and have Comments (3)

I Thought We Were Taking A Break…

I will say, it was genius to take half of December off from school.   It’s been relaxing for the most part, and when we start back up in January, we will be really ready to go! (Well, at least, I will, not so sure about the kids.)

And yet, the learning continues!  Last week a simple discussion about penguins not flying led Zander to an animal encyclopedia and a whole exploration of whether or not birds fly.  Turkeys, chickens and ducks all can fly, he was happy to report.   Then a few days later, after playing a quiz game on Webkinz, Zander got really excited to learn that lemmings were real.  That led to another round of learning about an animal.  Can I just say that National Geographic has a wonderful animal site?

National Geographic Animals

Yet, they let us down when it came to finding out about the lemming.  Thankfully, there was a Wikipedia entry that we could explore.  Both kids were happy to learn that what they thought was a computer game critter was a real animal after all.

In addition to our animal learning, it’s been craft central here as well.  We were given an additional Christmas tree, and having no ornaments, or cash for buying ornaments, we spent a good deal of two days making paper ornaments to decorate our new tree.  It turned out fabulous, the kids did such a great job decorating the tree with love.

Christmas tree 2n3

We also decorated a gingerbread house- again, which someone gave us.  This was a great lesson in learning to work together, and also a bit of science, as we tried to figure out which candy pieces were light enough to be held on by the icing.

house1

But perhaps the coolest non-school learning we’ve done in the last few days was a result of a rather unexpected food gift- that came packed with dry ice.

We couldn’t pass up this opportunity! The last few weeks of Science were spent on Mars and Comets.  Mars has plenty of dry ice on the planet, and a big part of the bulk of a comet is dry ice, but Zander had never seen dry ice.  Abigail had in school, but she didn’t remember much about it.

Andy donned his welding gloves and put some dry ice in the bathroom sink.  He added a little water, and the kids were just amazed.  He put a little in a plastic cup, and it continued vaporizing all over, and both kids took the opportunity to feel this gas as it melted.  They were especially intrigued when Andy took a piece of ice out and set it on some paper, and then told them to blow on it.  We could visibly see it melting, see the vapor running off, and yet there was no puddle, no moisture, and no visible residue left on the paper.

dry ice1

dry ice2

It was a fantastic learning experience, and I just love how the kids are so eager to embrace any new learning experience.   While the schoolbooks aren’t being opened up for a few weeks, the eagerness is still there, and plenty of other books are being delighted in.

posted by Erika in Random Thoughts and have Comments Off on I Thought We Were Taking A Break…

Learning Has Been Unlocked

I know I haven’t posted in a while about our goings on.  It’s just that… well, I wonder how much of our everyday is really that interesting to anyone.  I mean, I suppose it would be interesting to anyone who is considering homeschooling, but really, is it that exciting to learn that Zander is adding into the teens very easily?  Is it super exciting to hear that Abigail is working on a research report about otters?  I don’t know. Maybe I should just put it all out there and let everyone else decide to ignore me.

Today we began our Christmas break.  I woke up this morning and just decided to go ahead and do it.  I’ve been keeping careful track of the time we spend schooling.  In our state, we are required to engage our children’s mind for 875 hours, which sounds like a lot, and is, but I’ve been surprised when I actually added up our time.   Because we school at home, I am able to add in all those extra learning bits.  When we spend a Saturday afternoon watching a movie on the Mayflower, that adds 2 hours to our school time.  When Abigail goes to dance class at night, that counts as 2 hours of phy ed for her.  And as all these little things, plus our more formal seat work , add up, we have actually fulfilled over half of our requirements for the year already- and we’re just over a third finished with our core work.  And to think that I had been worried about actually meeting that hourly requirement!

My title this morning for my blog post has everything to do with how I really feel like something has been unlocked within my children.  The biggest way I can explain this is to tell you a little bit about their non-schooling time.  What they choose to do with their non-school hours has changed so drastically in the last month or so.   My children have re-discovered the art of play for one, and I love seeing that.  Several times as of late, the two have them have holed up in one of their bedrooms, playing with toys that were seemingly forgotten.  They’ve rediscovered their imaginations, and that has taken the play to a whole new level.  Where several months ago I was lamenting the fact that my son hates legos, he now pulls them out every single day, trying to come up with a new creation.

And I think that is the biggest thing I’ve noticed.  They aren’t just gravitating to the mindless play (for which I do think there is a great purpose in) but they are gravitating towards that pull of wanting to learn more.  Just last night, the kids pulled out a star globe and stretched out on a bedroom floor to gaze at the ceiling and identify some constellations.   Abigail spent a great deal of time yesterday morning digging out a snow cave, just like the Inuit, who we learned about many weeks ago.

Board games are coming out more often, and Zander eagerly adds the dice together every single time, showing off his blossoming math skills.   As I write this, Abigail is working very diligently on a cross-stitch, and has taken it upon herself to color in her pattern first, to make the actual stitching easier to follow.  Other days she gets out her paper dolls and acts out one of many books that we’ve read.  Even Zander got down on the floor with her the other day and played with the Little House paper dolls for some time with her.

Zander can frequently be found somewhere with a book in his hand.  Either reading it himself, or asking me to read it to him, so he can sit and snuggle under a blanket.   When he does choose to play a video game, it’s one that requires a great use of logic and problem solving skills- and both kids are eager to do research.  When they hear something on a cartoon they watch, they are eager to look it up and see if it’s real- hoping against all hopes that the Alaskan Bullworm that Spongebob speaks of is real.  (Which, it isn’t, but it is Spongebob’s term for a bookworm- also a fictional figure.)

We get to do experiments with toys- just how tall can we stack the legos before they fall over?  Or sometimes Zander will just come running to show me something he found- like the rectangular prism that was disguised as a block, but look! It’s also a square on one end of it!   And my little boy who just a few months ago would burst into tears at the mere thought of coloring can be overheard asking his sister to color with him every once in a while.   Right now, he’s trying on a pair of Andy’s boots, talking like a cowboy, and just now he asked if people in the old days had cowboy boots.

My kids have simply discovered the joys of learning.  And they’re learning how to learn.  They know that if they want to know if something is real, we can look it up on the computer.  And they also know that if they want to learn more about something, we can check out a stack of books on the subject at the library.   They’re just simply enjoying life and learning.  We’re taking this break from school until the new year, simply because we can.  We want to enjoy the Christmas season without feeling like we’re rushing through the school work.  They are both so far ahead in their math that taking a few weeks off to refresh their minds will be wonderful and help them to excel even further.  And our break from school is not a complete break, because there will always be those learning moments.  We’ll learn more about Christmas in the weeks to come, and learn more about winter and snow and all things ice as well.  The learning doesn’t stop simply because I put the curriculum away for a time- the learning will just get that much more special.

posted by Erika in Random Thoughts and have Comment (1)