Wednesday, December 31, 2014

December Lessons

Feeling less and less certain of where Isla will start school in September, I am feeling the pressure to get her reading. But I can't let her feel a modicum of pressure! We are plucking along, keeping everything in the imaginary realm, learning through story and picture.

We finished up our book on uppercase letters, "The Wise Enchanter," with which I took significant literary license to make it work for my girls. Here are the last letters (I guess I didn't take a picture of Z):

Then, since the vast majority of letters in their lives will be lowercase, we figured it was time to bring those in. The letters that were the same (or very similar) but smaller (c,k,o,p,s,v,w,x,y,z) were instantly recognized, but the rest had to be learned. Some were easy for me to introduce imaginatively. E, for example, was "elephant" in our story, so I drew the lowercase "e" as a baby elephant, with its trunk hanging down. This also helped Isla remember which way both of the letters faced, since Mama and Baby faced each other. Others were tricky. We started by making watercolor cards with upper- and lowercase letters on them:

These went up on the fridge so she could easily see them from her school desk:

I had her write them all down as though they were different animals on the earth, some of which reached up to the sky, and some of which dipped a tail into the water:

Most of the work learning to read Isla does on her own, whenever she feels like it and without any prodding by me. On walks she delights in finding letters she knows on signs or spray painted on the sidewalk. At home both girls love to play with their wooden letters:

Besides a little bit on letters, December has been mostly about remedy-making:


Cooking: We made so many pies! I don't think I captured much of our cooking on digital film, though.

Dressing up, mostly playing Anna and Elsa from "Frozen." Yes, I let them watch "Frozen." I don't want to be too extreme, so we don't cut out ALL media. We don't do TV, but we do watch a few carefully selected movies. Some that made the cut: "My Neighbor Totoro," "Ponyo," and "Frozen." They don't play on our computer, but I do use it with them to look up plants we don't know, and they are allowed to play the games on the computers at the library.

And playing outside (although we didn't take many pictures of our outdoor adventures this month, here are a few - at the zoo, at the park and creek, in our backyard with her froggy friend, and at the spot they call "Fairyland"):

We made the trip to Fillmore to chop down our tree, and made it to the grocery store to see Santa:

We saw The Nutcracker:

We keep snack time fun:

And we've been reading books on some of the different ways people celebrate this time of year:

It has been a busy month, and I'm looking forward to getting back into our routine. The girls are dying to go to Numeria, and take the keys I gave them out of their desk drawers to look at often. I am almost ready for our math block, and have finished the math gnomes as well as Empress Equal:

Now I just have to do some more reading ("Making Math Meaningful" and a few other ones, especially Andrea's beautifully retold homeschool adventures on her blog, "Littlest Birds," from which I borrow many ideas and glean much inspiration) and get my script sorted out for the interactive puppet show I plan to do. My hope is that I can set it up so that Phaedra and Adira (see November Lessons) become my girls when they enter Numeria. Then, they will meet the math gnomes (the four processes) one by one. They will be able to interact with the gnomes. I have velvet pouches and beautiful jewels in different colors for manipulatives. I'm as excited about our next math block as the girls are.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Rhythm of Our Home(school)

When things run smoothly around here, it's because I've kept up our daily/weekly/monthly/seasonal rhythms. Here's a bit of what those look like in our home:



free play for girls while Mama cooks a warm breakfast and Baby (usually) naps

breakfast blessing, then breakfast with tea together

Morning Verse:
"The sun, with loving light
Makes bright for me each day.
The soul, with Spirit power
Gives strength unto my limbs.
In sunlight shining clear,
I do revere Oh God,
The strength of humankind,
That goodness has planted in my soul,
That I, with all mt might,
May love to work and learn.
From Thee stream light and strength;
To Thee rise love and thanks.

Sing "Who will Come Into My Wee Ring" as we gather for circle
Circle time consists of 15-20 minutes of songs, poems and games which go together in a theme. September was "Michaelmas" for one circle and "apples" for the other. October was "Pumpkins" and "acorns," and both circles included a lot of letter songs and games. November was "corn/harvest" and "Martinmas/Lantern Walk," and both circles included a lot of math/counting songs and games. December has been "Christmas."

After circle my four year-old and six year-old sit at their wooden table for Main Lesson. The subject of main lesson rotates on blocks, which last anywhere from 2-4 weeks. So far we have had blocks on form drawing, uppercase letters, quality of numbers, and letters again, including lowercase. Next up will be the four mathematical processes, wee one's botany - AKA the wonder of plants, and building words. We will conduct our botany block outdoors, rather than in the desk, of course.

Free play while Mama tends to Baby and gets snack or first lunch ready

Snack together, indoors or out:

Reading time, where Mama reads one or a few of these categories: 1. a chapter in the current month's Herb Fairies, 2. a story from Herbal Roots Zine, 3. Ladybug Magazine, 4. books from the library and/or home that go along with the theme of the circle/block

Outdoor free play/ gardening time/ walk or hike/ fun with Daddy

Home for late lunch/ second lunch

Crafts/ remedy-making/ painting/ modeling/ or cooking project (AKA help Mama make dinner)

Free Play

Dinner blessing:

Give thanks to the Mother Earth
Give thanks to the Father Sun
Give thanks to the plants in the garden where
The Mother and the Father are one
Give thanks

and dinner together with Daddy

Straight to bath, brush teeth, PJs on

Cuddle up on couch, each child brings over book of choice, read books by fire

Songs (I love you little ____, Mommy loves you, Daddy loves you, too, Which is the way to fairy land?, Upstairs to fairy land

With this last song I take the girls with me to their room and get them snuggled in bed