Friday, September 30, 2011

And our study of US History begins…

Our tepee…

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Our pueblo…

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Our amazon.com order (though not the fireman…he just wanted to join in)…

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Just a happy homeschool classroom!

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(The outfits were purchased for our three day trek to Williamsburg and Jamestown…post to come soon!)

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Family Field Trip: National Zoo, Washington DC

We kicked off the school year with a family field trip to the National Zoo in Washington DC.  Although I grew up in Maryland, I have NEVER been to the National Zoo.

It was AWESOME!  Big.  Lots of walking.  All uphill.

But AWESOME!

The students were excited.  Especially enthusiastic was the littlest one who was getting to miss his nap for this day!

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And of course, Panda girl, my T was super enthusiastic that this zoo has Giant Panda Bears!

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First, we saw the panda indoors.  But since that wasn’t good enough, we promised her another check later in the day.

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And thankfully, she got her wish!

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The reptile and small mammal houses were absolutely amazing.  I have to say that this zoo was really impressive!

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I wish I could describe for you the gleeful squeals of one VERY TIRED C (age 2) as he watched these creatures.  The creature was walking back and forth along the glass and C would watch in amusement…

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jump back from the glass laughing…

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squealing and giggling with delight…

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It was a wonderful day!  Everyone returned home thoroughly exhausted and full of stories to retell.

*HINT:  Folks told me to park at the bottom and then walk all the way up to get started.  Visit the animals on the way down, so at the end of the day you are at the bottom by the car.  The only thing I would change is to have your hubby drop you and the kids off at the top, then park at the bottom, where he can run uphill to the top…because getting the kids to walk up that HUGE, LONG hill without stopping constantly wasn’t easy.  But having the car at the bottom at the end of our long day was wonderful!

The craziness that is our homeschooling journey

Homeschoolers often join co-ops or tutorial programs for their children so that teaching duties can be shared.  These groups basically involved paid tutors/teachers or cooperative groups of moms who sharing in the teaching of certain subjects.

Our first year of homeschooling we were involved in Classical Conversations and I was a paid tutor.  We met once a week for a half day and it was great fun with an amazing group of women.

For various reasons we joined another group the following year and for two years remained with this co-op.  My kids attended grade level classes for art, music, science, language arts, and PE.  I worked in the nursery, taught 2nd grade language arts, helped with middle school research paper and drama, and taught 2nd grade science at various intervals during the two years there.  This was another great group, but I began to think we needed something else.

Not knowing what to do because there wasn’t a co-op in existence that was everything I wanted, I began talking to some friends.  Slowly, an idea began to form.

What if the 6 of us (6 families) with our 21 total children made a group that was EXACTLY what we wanted? 

Conversations began and  our small little group was born:  King’s Table. 

It isn’t a formal co-op that will grow and involve more moms.  And it isn’t a tutorial because sadly, none of us are getting paid!  But it is a group of 6 moms, invested in a creative, energetic education for their kids based on many of the principles laid out by Charlotte Mason.

Every Friday we meet for three 45 minute session, including art, music and science/nature study.

And where did we decide to meet?

My House.

This decision was exciting and overwhelming all at the same time.  And it involved a few house projects this summer to get ready.  This was good because it was about time to finish unpacking the boxes in the basement!

So the garage became the classroom for our 10 students in 3rd-7th grade.  Shower tile makes a great white board and portable tables work well!

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The basement “gymnastics” room was cleared out to transform into a music room for the K-2 class.

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And an area in the basement, formerly filled with boxes, unused furniture, and a closet that needed to be knocked down, was transformed into a classroom for 6 eager K-2nd grade students to have science and art classes.

(No, we don’t have them all sit in a row like that…there are two tables in the room, but when I came down on the first day, this is how they had situated themselves and it was so darn cute)

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So how is it working out after three weeks?

GREAT!  AMAZING!  Better than I could have hoped!  It is EXACTLY what I wanted for my kids and the house situation is working out beautifully!

The 10 older students stay in the garage for all of their classes.  Yes, the wall d├ęcor isn’t your typical set of “classroom motivational posters”, but racks of tools and bikes will have to do.

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Four boys.  Six girls.

Five third graders.  1 fourth grader.  2 fifth graders.  1 sixth grader.  1 seventh grader.

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Eager to learn.  Excited about education.  And just plain fun kids!

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Whether it is science topics, like meteorology…

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Or Nature Walks outside…

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or music class…

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This group of students is wonderful!  I love their enthusiasm  for learning, the friendships they are developing, and their love for the outdoors!

Then there are our energetic students in the K-2 group who are down in the basement classroom.  What a fun crew!

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Six of them if D joins, five of them if he runs off to play.  (non-kindergarteners have the choice).  Three girls.  Two or three boys.

Working on art projects…

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Creating parts of their family weather station…

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And not blinking an eye when we have to use the utility sink in the laundry room!  Yep, they are a flexible and fun crew!

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And what about the babies? 

There are six little ones (when D joins this crew).  One hasn’t attended our school yet, but has been able to nap at home for his AM nap while his daddy works.  The other five are here and kickin’!

First they romp and roam in the former gymnastics room till the K-2 class kicks them out for music.

(Yes, excuse the ceiling.  I could have cropped it out, but why.  Houses don’t have to be perfect for GREAT things to happen in them!)

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Then they move upstairs to the playroom for some fun.

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Their final destination is a snack and a little show while the moms who are watching them can do some clean up.  It is such fun watching how much they interact and enjoy each other.  This little crew  is heavy on girls, so the Barbie time is a BIG HIT!

Overall, my house is a delightful, energetic, organized group of potential chaos every Friday and we love it.