Monday, August 29, 2011

First Day of School

Today was our first day of school for the 2011-2012 school year!

Mondays are very hard for me. I get off work at 6am and have to be back at 6pm. Usually we attend a Co-Op on Monday to get our educational hours in. This works great for me because I can count the hours, they are learning, and it is a social time for us all. It is not starting until Sept. 12, so we needed to do a little something at home today.

 We basically spent a little time going over our subjects for the year and giving Nico his new books to keep in his desk. Luca learned where his toys, crayons, paints, etc are kept. Here is the boys "First Day of School" picture.
 Luca got to ring the bell this morning for the start of our day. It is planned to be a short one, because mom is tired and has less patience on these days.
 Luca's first unit is on farms. Today we read a farm book and he drew the background of a farm setting. As the week goes on he'll cut out and draw pictures to add to his farm scene. We'll be reading lots of books about farms and playing some fun games. Nico will get to help out and participate in the games. He enjoys it because it is a break from his work.
 We took the summer off this year and over the last month spent no time at all even reviewing math. Today's lesson was suppose to be a quick 20 minute math drill over multiplication,,,,it ended up being an hour with us going to the MathUSee website and doing online drills. I love the online drills because it is quick correction. Much nicer than filling out a whole worksheet only to find out later you missed half of them. More math drills tomorrow! Hera, our cat, loves Nico. She loves laying on his paperwork when he has papers out. She is quite a treat to try to do school work with. I look at it as good thereapy.
 Nico took a break from flash cards and helped Luca draw his farm scene. Nico is a great drawer and added an awesome tractor and plow to the scene.
This little treasure box is from our wedding. I knew when I bought it for the wedding it would end up in the school house. I am going to fill it with reward coupons and little dollar prizes such as hot wheels. If they have extra good weeks they will get a prize. The coupons are such things as skip a subject the day of your choosing, a trip to DQ, bowling or a movie (after school hours), a park day, a half day, play a board game for math instead of a worksheet, etc. I am trying to make it fun and encouraging for the boys. They boys have to do their work without complaining and whining each day with a minimum of 3 days out of the month being bad days. We all know we have bad days. This goes for mom too!!!! So, if I feel a bad day coming on for myself, I usually shorten our day before the boys even know it, then I can make it by too.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

School Starts Tomorrow

I am so excited to be getting back to our studies. I am really looking forward to fun year this year.

The boys stayed home with Mike tonight while I am at work. I love it, because I can go home and sleep a bit then we can get up and get started. Mondays are light days for us due to my working until 6am Monday morning and having to be back at 6pm Monday night. In September we will be starting our Monday Co-Op. We attend this from 10am-12pm. This year our group is focusing on educational games with a focus on different subjects every 4 weeks. The next couple of Mondays will remain light days preparing for the weeks lessons and reviewing things learned the week before. We will also have art once a month on Monday.

I will post pictures this week on our first days of school.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

First Field Trip of the School Year

Our summer camping trip was going to be at Mark Twain Landing and fun at the water park. However, the water park was closed due to so many schools starting so early. I was really bummed because I wanted a camping trip full of fun. We didn't do a whole lot this summer due to the wedding, so I wanted a lot of fun for the kids. Mike then suggested the Missouri State Fair. We love the fair, but I wanted to camp. I was excited to find out they had over 500 campsites! Since we were going Monday through Thursday it was super easy to get a spot. $20/night, 3 hour drive, $90 in we had...priceless!!!!

While this is a lot of fun, there is still education going on, although Nico was sure to tell me he wasn't going to learn anything. 

The smile on Nico's face as he dove into the first ice cream of the trip. Funnel cakes are our favorite. We ate breakfast at the camper and then back to the camper around 3pm to cook up dinner. After that it was yummy snacks for the evening. It worked out perfect. The break for dinner was needed for us all. The beer was too expensive to buy there ;-) and the kids needed to rest their legs. Nico said his favorite part of the fair was the bunnies and rides.

One of the learning things was watching the baby pig drink from it's mama. Nico did me a favor and got down on the ground to take this picture for me. I think it is a great shot.

Can his smile get any bigger??? Luca loved this ride! The first time he went on it, his face was priceless. Luca said his favorite part of the fair is the rides.

Baaa, Ram, favorite thing at the fair is the animals. I could walk around each barn and look at each pen.

Luca had not actually heard a pig 'oink' in real life. The pigs were great to watch and listen too. Ooops, was that another learning opportunity.

I absolutely loved this big bull. I think this picture will be photo edited and hung on a wall.

Poor Luca...he kept measuring up to see if he could ride. He could ride quite a few things, but the water ride was the one he wanted to go on the most. He could ride it with a parent, so I spent $5.00 and bought myself 5 tickets to ride it with him. (yes, this says 6 tickets. It was the roller coaster) I love how me measured himself....tippy toes!

Another favorite of mine is the old buildings. The Missouri State Fair started in 1901. The buildings have been replaced, but they are still beautiful. Many are now air conditioned and the shows have tops over them. The last time I went was in 2004. Improvements are made every year.

At the end of the evening, around 9 or 10pm, we would walk back to the camper and still be able to listen to the sounds of the fair until about midnight. Nico even asked if we could make this a yearly trip. Hmmm, did we achieve what we wanted to? I would have to say and some learning too.

Friday, August 5, 2011

A Look Inside and Missouri Laws

 I thought I would take a moment to show you the inside of the school house. It measures 11 x16 on the inside. Mike hates the color, but the boys and I wanted something bright. I am hoping the fake fireplace will give off enough heat to heat it during the winter months. I am also hoping that the end of August brings us some relief from the summer heat we are having. I do have an air conditioner I can steal from the chicken coop if needed (yes, very spoiled chickens - although we didn't turn it on this year).

I love the front porch. I have a small table I am going to put out there for the kids to work on messy art projects on or when the days are exceptionally nice we can head outside.

This is the view from the door walking in. It still needs some reorganization, but it is getting there.

This is Luca's side (where the activities for him to do are and his desk)

This is Nico's half - his desk and items

The view from the front looking back - note the comfy futon for cuddle time and reading

a blurry picture of half of the storage loft - you get the idea. I have a lot of stuff!

For lesson book planning this year I have found a website ( that I can put the weekly schedule into and then print it out. It only cost $25/year. This is cheaper than buying 2 lesson planners and I can put it right into the computer adding links to the lesson plan. I can then pull up the plan during our school day on the laptop. I can also print them out and put in a binder. This not only keeps me on track with what we need to do, but also is a documentation for the state of Missouri for our hours.

Speaking of Missouri hours, this brings me to homeschooling laws. Each state has their own laws on homeschooling. Before you begin, you should research the state requirement for where you live. This link goes to the laws of Missouri.

We are required to have 1000 hours of instruction, with 600 of them being in the 5 core subjects (Reading, math, social studies, language arts, and science). 400 of the 600 hours have to occur 'at the regular homeschool location.' We have one calendar year to complete this. The parent is able to establish what constitutes the school year. We usually school year round July 1 - June 30. This year we did take off the summer.

I keep a portfolio of the boys work to show their progression. I am actually so bad I have kept everything of Nico's. I really need to take the time to go through it all and throw the unneeded things out and really keeping a good portfolio. I am also the type of person that likes tests. Nico is given a test and he has to pass with an 85% otherwise we go back over it again. In this way, we are not continuing on with him not knowing what was learned previously. There are no teacher qualifications or standardized testing required. We also do not have to let the state or school system know we are homeschooling. It is very easy to pull your child out of public or private school if you wish to homeschool.

I did a little research for my SIL who lives in Australia and was pleased to find a lot of information there too. Homeschooling is a world wide option. I love the freedom the state of Missouri gives us to homeschool our children. I love having my children home with me, bonding with them and not missing a single thing they do or say.

Stay tuned for the topic of socializing.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Starting a New Blog with A New School Year

Welcome to my blog. I am starting this blog to help journal our adventures homeschooling. I love to scrapbook, but am so far behind, I thought by having a homeschooling blog it would help me keep track of what my kids are doing when. You know, all those cute things they say. I tend to write them on paper and of course, the paper disappears.

This year Nico is entering "5th grade". I say that loosely as he is all over the board in his skills. His birthday is in September and I started him in K the summer he was 4 years old. This puts him in the 5th grade this year. (In public school he would be 4th grade). I am excited about this upcoming year. For the past few years I have struggled with some issues he has had with reading. He tends to skip all the little words, just reading the big words to get the point across. He will even transpose a sentence; seeming to read it ahead and then paraphrasing it when actually read. I have been doing some research on the right brained thinker and he seems to fall within the realm of the characteristics. So, this year we are adding more hands on and visual things for him. I am most excited about Health. He has asked to do a health class this year (I love when he asks for a class). I found, through Winter Promise, a class called The Human Body through Forensics. How fun to get two things studied in one. There are many hands on experiments, paper making body parts, reading, games, and discussions. Other classes are the basics, Language, Reading, Math, History, and Science. We are also adding Latin and Greek Mythology. Nico has stressed an interest in being a veterinarian. We will be working on our second book of chemistry this year too.

Luca is starting Pre-K 2 this year. I bought, through Winter Promise, Journey of the Imagination, and I'm Ready to Learn. These are both literature based learning along with math, art, music, learning letters, all things preschool.

Up until this school year, we have used an extra bedroom in our house as the school room. It was originally  my scrapbook room, but I graciously gave it up to secure an isolated space for learning. (Thus not as much scrapping getting done). Last year though, I bought an out building knowing I wanted to convert it to a 'one room school house'. Well, we finally have it ready to go. (We still need to run electric, but we do school during the day, so we have sunlight to get us by there...heat in the winter will be good though). This is a picture of the outside of the building. I love it because there is a loft area in the top. I have all the school supplies for future use stored up there. The front part with the cute loft door has been given to Nico and Luca to use as a 'club house'. They love it! It will be so nice to have a separate learning space from the house. It is so distracting when Mike turns on the TV and the kids immediately what to see what is on. 

The kids really seem to enjoy it so far. We'll see how things go when we start our new school year on August 29, 2011.