Tuesday, November 30, 2010

France - making soap

I wanted to make soap as part of our study of France and while catching up on some blogs I follow, I discovered that not only had Confessions of a Homeschooler been studying France but they had also made soap. I followed the instructions supplied by this awesome blog.
We bought supplies at Michaels. Melted the soap over a pot of boiling water. Next we added scent (pearberry) and poured the soap into molds. I let the kids choose their own colours and swirl them with kabob sticks. I made one too. It was cool to see the marble effect from only stirring a little. The soap hardened fairly quickly and were so easy to pop out of the molds. We are going to use the remaining soap block to make mini soaps using festive ice cube trays as molds to give as gifts.

France - Art

Last week we drew and painted the Eiffel Tower. First pencil drawings using a printed image as inspiration. Next they drew over their lines with a Sharpie (actually I did T2's for her) and I erased their pencil marks.

Then painted using water colours. I let them choose their own colours! I love using water colour paper. It is so worth the money. I think they both did an awesome job.

Around the world - first stop..... FRANCE

I wanted to begin exploring the world with T1 and T2 by choosing a new country each week and learning about it through books, listening to music, eating foods popular to that country, learning their flag and a few words from their language.

T1 chose France for the first destination because he already speaks French pretty well and loves the Eiffel Tower and TGV! He has also been there via the Channel Tunnel but he wasn't actually born yet!

I wanted to make passports that we could stamp after 'visiting' each country and was very excited to find this one.

We printed and filled in our names and dates of birth (must add photos!). On the first page we wrote 'France' and drew the French flag. We stamped our arrival date.

We had a great time learning about France and T1 enjoyed teaching us some French words and correcting us when we messed up (he loved that part!!).

Monday, November 15, 2010

Sharing triumphs

Today T2 was reading some simple books and T1 said "I don't quite know why but I am really excited that she's starting to read". His expression was that of a proud parent watching a school play or a recital. It's so nice that he is able to see her achieve new goals first hand rather than just hearing us talk about them over dinner like we used to when they went to public school.

Week 12 and a bump in the road

Last week was our twelfth week of HS and it was the week of the bump in the road. It was the week where I wanted to change my name and check into a hotel for a couple of days for some serious me time. We managed three fairly good days of school work and an awesome social afternoon with friends but I felt on the edge of losing it all week. I had very little patience, the kids were bothering each other all the time and suddenly everything seemed to be my responsibility. I felt like the house was a wreck, the dog's shedding seemed out of control, I couldn't think what to make for meals, I felt even fatter than usual, everything seemed to be piling up. Surprisingly, I didn't question the decision to HS or want to run down to our public school in a deranged manner dragging two kids behind me to drop them off. I just felt a bit lost. I didn't cry, I didn't shout but I was simmering all week.

I woke up this morning feeling more like my old self and we had an awesome school day, the kids (mostly) got along, I worked out and the towering laundry pile didn't overwhelm me. Even knowing G would be working late couldn't spoil my mood.

I knew there would be weeks like this. I am pleased we had ten good weeks before a bad week. I hope we have many more good weeks before the next bad one hits! One thing I am glad of is that it is a new week and so far this week is off to a way better start!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Ten weeks in...

We have almost completed our tenth week of homeschooling. My kids haven't been to school since the end of June and I have completely forgotten how our daily routine was. I do know that with the darker chilly mornings having the opportunity to let my loves sleep until they are fully rested and ready to face the day and for myself to remain snuggled in bed a few extra minutes is quite delicious and we all start the day on a better note.

Both children are doing very well and neither seem to miss public school much. T1 hasn't mentioned anything other than positive things and T2 only misses not seeing her friends as much.

We haven't used a curriculum, although I have kept the Provincial curriculum in mind just in case either one should return to public school at a later date. T1 has only one more day of G5 written science and then we will get to the hands on (more fun) part. He has had some struggles with math and language arts but has sailed through social studies and has learned about Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, China and now Canada. He is researching the Wright brothers - his choice as he is fascinated with planes and the history behind flight. I am finding myself reacquainted with a protractor and angles and I still loath long division but try my best to hide it!

T2 has loved school at home and although we aim to start at 10:00 each day (unless we have plans outside the home or anything else on the calendar in which case we work around our other plans), most days she is asking "when are we starting school" before we are even done with breakfast. She has done most of the Kindergarten work I had lined up for her and really just needs to continue working on reading and math - both of which she is doing well at.

We have a large HS community around us but so far I haven't found too many people that I feel a connection too. We have become good friends with one particular family and my kids are thrilled with their new friends. T1 said yesterday that New-Friend-A is his "main man".

Our new friends are vegan which has me contemplating whether I might want to follow that path. Already a vegetarian for 20 years I have eliminated meat/fish/poultry and never looked back but milk/cheese and eggs are still in my diet in small amounts. It's something I'm considering. Anyway they are awesome and we have enjoyed getting to know them. They are also new to HS so it is nice to be finding a rhythm and chat about hurdles together.

Home life hasn't changed much except the house is never tidy or quiet during the day unlike when they were at school but that's no big deal. I spend way more time in the car going places but way less time in the car sitting and waiting for school bells! I am loving not having to deal with the endless school mail, packing lunches, signing permission slips and remembering who has library/gym/music/homework due on which day.

There hasn't been a day yet where I have questioned or regretted our decision and over all I am less stressed than when they were in school. For sure some days are harder than others if one or two or all of us are grouchy but over all it has been a very positive change. It will be weird when report cards come out in a month at their old school. I half wish someone would come over and make sure the kids are where they should be but I think that it's typical to feel a little insecure this early on. I am fairly certain they are both learning at a good pace and it is very likely that they have both done more work at home than school. T1 spent a lot of time at school being unproductive and unfocused and T2 was only in school for a couple of hours each day and in that time there would be a lengthy snack time, free play, time spent moving from classroom to gym/library/music etc. Having spent a lot of time helping in her class last year I saw first hand how little time was spent focused on a task or practicing skills - and that was with a great teacher!

My favourite things about HS are seeing my kids learn and knowing I taught them - major satisfaction there, having so much time with them and realizing how much better I know them now, having so much flexibility in our day, eating lunch together and leisurely breakfasts, art projects - seeing T1 who typically shows no interest in painting/drawing etc take care and pride in creating art which I am proudly displaying, hearing T1 explain something to T2 having just learned it himself, seeing T2 listen intently as he explains things to her - I could go on and on.....

My least favourite things about HS are - hmm not coming up with anything really. It does bother me when people ask how it's going and I can see they are expecting me to complain about not having time for myself or how hard it is - are they hoping I will fail or do they want me to send them back to PS so they feel better about their kids being there?? I don't know. I do know that I am happy we are doing this but I don't think everyone should necessarily do it - all families are different and I don't feel like it makes me special or anything - it's just what is working for us right now and we haven't ruled out the possibility of the kids returning to school in the future.

What changes I would like to make in the way we HS.... I do think we need more field trips and activities outside the home at some point. I'd like the kids to have some more household responsibilities tied into their day and more family reading time and board/card games. I'd also like to add some volunteer work. I approached a farm very near to our house and asked if they would be interested in us helping out (I was thinking of joining their CSA next year). They asked to meet with us which we haven't done yet but I plan to. I think it would be good for the kids to get their hands dirty and see how a farm works and help out and it's something we can learn about together.

I can't quite believe that we are ten weeks into our HS journey already. I thought the time would go slowly but each day seems to fly by! I don't know how long we will HS but right now I am happy to keep going as long as it seems best for the kids/family : )