Monday, September 28, 2009

Circle Time Update

I think Janie is enjoying our Circle Time (CT) the most! She is a great lover of routine, and also an avid "follower" ("copy-cat" being the less polite way of putting it). So, needless to say she joins right in with the big kids. She must use the toilet first (see this post for explanation) and then she climbs up in her seat at the kitchen table. We start with praying a (shortened) decade of the Rosary (yes, we're Catholic!) Jane likes to pass out the Rosaries, but sometimes someone else will do it...usually whoever is ready first. They spend some time finding the right bead to start on (but they're getting quite good) and I show a picture of that decade from a small "Praying the Rosary" book. Then I read the story that goes along with it from my Bible. A little over their heads, at least the girls, but I keep the stories pretty short and it works ok. We pray the Our Father and three Hail Marys...and Jane says about every other word to both prayers. She probably could say more, but the rest of us just can't talk slow enough for her!

Then someone collects the Rosaries and we move on to...singing. Definitely their favorite part. The "Songs We Know" notebook has been a big hit! We are up to 23 songs now that the majority of us know (and Janie chimes in for a good number of them). We try to add a new song or two every day, realizing how many songs we actually know. If we can't think of one, we practice a song on the "Songs To Work On" paper I keep in the notebook. Then we go around the table and everyone gets to pick one song for us to sing. This is a great way to review the songs we already have written down, and the kids have a great time picking. The big kids usually pick a different song every time (favorites are Yankee Doodle Dandy and The Grand Old Duke of York) but Janie's favorite is Skidamarinky-Dinky-Dink...she calls it "Dinky-Dink". And she tries to do the hand motions that we saw at a Gemini concert recently!

After singing we go on to "Poems We Know". We are just a few lines short of knowing A Little Shadow...but I am the one that is holding them back! I keep forgetting just one line, every time, and I also make a couple other little mistakes that I always get corrected on. Oh well...helps them learn, right! We add a line a day, so hopefully we'll get it by the end of this week.

And then we move on to Exercise Time. Sometimes I forget, but lately since it had been so nice out (I'm not counting today!) we've gone out for a sidewalk run. The kids run up and down the sidewalk, sometimes on a bike or scooter, and get their energy out. This morning we did get out before it started to rain and get cold...and Jane was the one with all the energy. She's recently learned how to run, and this time ran about 5 times up and down our block! Gene was keeping pace with her and promising to protect her from tripping over the bumps:)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Pudding Paint

So fingerpainting has been out for a week. Lucy has done it a couple times (today she painting a "dragon" with talking clouds above him that were making him angry. I don't know where that came from ! Jane chose it once, and Gene hasn't chosen it at all. But, I did make chocolate pudding the other day and we fingerpainted with it.

Gene was VERY unsure about it, and once he came closer and looked at his little bowl of pudding, he said, "Mama, this smells gross!" It just smelled like chocolate pudding...kind of like brownie batter. He kept complaining, but did get his fingers in it and smear them around...a little. Just not his thing, I guess. Lucy, however, loved it and I had to convince her to stop after AN HOUR of sitting at the table, once the pudding had really decided it was too warm to stay on the table and started to drip on the floor. She ended up eating almost the whole bowl, after it got onto the table and was smeared around, just by licking her fingers every couple of minutes:)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Art 101

Our first art lesson this school year is Fingerpainting. I am still trying to figure out how to make it accessible to the kids, so they can choose it when they want to, but I just wanted to do it today, so we did it all together. I haven't fingerpainted in ages...I tried to do it with Gene a couple times when he was younger, but he always ended up watching and it just wasn't any fun to do it by myself like that.

This time was great. I taped the kids' papers to the kitchen table, gave them a small bowl with paint in it (just one color) and we went to work. The girls loved it, and Janie especially kept asking me to "look, Mama" as she made a line or a squiggle or something. Gene wasn't so thrilled, and wanted to stop after a minute, but I told him he had to use ALL his paint. And I showed him how he could write words in the paint, or make designs. He was somewhat interested, but Lucy went and wrote "Hi".

We'll see if they choose it once it's on the shelf. I have a feeling the girls will choose it EVERY DAY and I'll regret putting it out because Janie at least will need a lot of help. But, oh well. I've neglected this part of mothering for the past 5 years...I think I can do it now!

Monday, September 14, 2009

First Couple Weeks

Well, we're starting the second week of homeschooling, and so has been alright. I am not on top of things as much as I'd like, but we're getting there, and we have established at least a few basic school routines. We have started a daily Circle Time in the morning, after we all get dressed, clean up the upstairs, do hair, have breakfast, and brush teeth (in that order). I wanted to have them all up by 7 to get started on the day, and that has been working fairly well, as they've been up by 6:30 on many days! (I'm not quite ready for them then).

Circle Time the first two days consisted of my trying to teach them a song and a poem, and a short prayer was mostly a flop. Janie wanted to sit RIGHT next to me, but then also move around a whole lot. She was also very noisy, and yet wanted to participate and wasn't interested in playing by herself! Lucy was mostly bored and didn't want to sing, and Gene was mostly interested but annoyed by the girls. So, after this same thing the second morning (while also dealing with a potty accident on the kitchen floor and a 2 year old slipping and falling on her back in it!) I was a little frustrated! But after thinking for a while, I came up with this:

New and Revised Circle Time-
Pray decade of rosary (everyone picked their Rosaries ahead of time, and we'll keep them without trading for at least a month...last year there were a lot of tears over Rosaries!)

Pray a short prayer for each person in our "close extended" family- immediate family, grandparents, aunts and uncles (only those who aren't married in) and the priests we know by name. We put the name of each person on a popsicle stick, and we divide them up and each pray for a few each morning. I hope to add "married in's", cousins, friends and special intentions, but we are starting with these.

Work on filling in our "Songs We Know" notebook. I thought an incentive for learning a new song would be being able to write it down. So, we have a list of songs we're working on, and the kids and I brainstormed and came up with a few that we all know ("know" meaning know ALL the words). It was really fun, because they were actually trying, and realizing which songs we all knew was enlightening. Janie knew all the words to Take Me Out to the Ballgame, and a few others. But mostly we count just myself and the 2 big kids.

Work on filling in our "Poems We Know" notebook. I asked them the first day of our new routine what poems they knew, and there were blank stares! So, we started learning A Little Shadow (don't know who wrote it). I taught them the first line, and once they could recite it a couple times, I wrote it down. We're up to four lines now, and it is fun to do it all together. And again, the notebook is a good incentive. It's not just Mama wanting them to learn a poem, it's learning a poem together so we can write it down and say we know it. Much better!

Then, I read a Bible story from my Bible. I decided to do this instead of reading from their Children's Bibles, though we haven't put those away, it's just that they know the basic stories and I want to introduce them to the language of the Bible. However, we haven't quite figured this out yet. Gene is interested, and wants to sit next to me and follow along with the story. Lucy and Janie want to be there, to "see" but can't sit still, can't stop touching the Bible or each other, and can't BE QUIET. I may just start reading to him during quiet least he appreciates it!

That's the routine. I decided to try and stick with it for a few weeks before changing anything, to wait till they get adjusted. I think I usually try to change my mind too soon on things, and the kids get confused about what we're doing.

As for other schoolwork, Gene has a chart of things to work on every day, and a few things to work on for each week. Daily- writing, math, art and spelling test. Spelling is a favorite (we're doing it phonetically so he learns a few spelling rules and can spell many, many words). And art is becoming so. I gave each of the kids a "story book" and they dictate a story to me and draw pictures. The art part comes in here, with the illustrations. Gene hasn't drawn much before this year, and now I'm strongly encouraging him to draw people, animals and whatever else from his stories. It's going well, and he's quickly building his confidence. For writing, it counts for now that he dictates a story (yesterday he dictated 4 pages double spaced) and we'll soon move into journal and letter writing.

I'll keep this updated as much as possible. We're just getting our bearings again:)