Monday, August 24, 2015

August Highlights

 From late July, dapper boys dressed up for a birthday dinner at OG with Gigi Poppi.
Evan's first mommy and me art class-check out that jazzy giraffe! 
Go Durham Bulls-and so much popcorn...
First clipper cut for my not so little Bennett.

 Making animal tracks at our local Imagination Station.
Our church picnic above-technically these are from July but I couldn't pass them up!
For the icing on the cake-Grandma, homemade jet packs and brothers in a bunk bed!

Friday, August 14, 2015

Evan sings the US Presidents

He may be wiggly and eat all of the m & m's before we've finished adding them up, but this little guy sure does have a good memory! Ripe for the filling I say. :-) I'm so proud that in just under 2 weeks he has successfully memorized this presidents song with very little help from me- I can hardly take credit for playing it here and there in the car on the way to Target! Of course, it's a bit rough around the edges and we have some work to do with annunciation and so on, but I think this is a great place to start. I've noticed early on that Evan does really well learning information to music, needless to say we live in a very musical house!

Click link to see Evan sing the presidents
(You may need to turn it up!)

After we finish up our Solar system unit study we'll be camping out at the Presidents for a while and can start to color in these lines with facts. For now, this hasn't been part of our regular kindergarten school day but rather something he's picked up in the background of everyday life. It's amazing to see the mind at work, and I'm so thankful for the opportunity to pour into it daily. Lord help us to fill it well!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

For love of lefties

In this first few weeks of homeschooling, I've found myself googling so many things I could have never imagined needing to "google." Here's the short list...

1. Space slime
2. Does my 5 year old have dyslexia?(Thankfully, I don't think so-but the English language is hard!)
3. Are flamingo's really pink?
4. Spinosarous vs. Tyrannosaurus
5. Lipstick in carpet(this one may be par for parenting in general)

and more to the point,

5. Teaching the left handed child

I know I know, it's an exciting life around here! All that to say, after early suspicions and a continued dominance throughout preschool and into Kindergarten, it's safe to say that Evan is definitely left handed. I'm not. Two weeks into our handwriting materials and a few bumped elbows later I've started to dive into what difference that makes and how to make those small but necessary adjustments in order to make things a bit easier for him. No hooked wrists for us thank you!

Here's a exert from an education blog I follow on some basic differences between left and right handedness. Did you know that only about 10 percent of the population is left handed?! News to me!

"If you are right-handed, you begin on the left-side of a page and write, moving your hand from left to right. As you proceed you can see what you have written and your hand moves mostly in a pulling motion across the page. However, if you use your left hand (try this), as you write from left to right, your left hand tends to move over and cover the words that you have already written, so that you can't read them! If you are writing with ink that can smudge, this is an added problem. Your left hand moves across the page in a pushing motion. Experts say that by the primary grades, many left-handed child have not be correctly coached and have developed bad writing habits and experience considerable difficulty as a result. They often struggle and write extremely slowly, which is frustrating and puts them at a disadvantage if they have to write tests within a time limit."

Now that I know about this whole pushing verses pulling thing, here are a few simple tips I've picked up from the pages of more experienced childhood occupational therapists to make classroom life with your leftie less of an issue.

1.   Angle his paper with the left corner pointed up. Righties tend to angle the right corner of their paper up, and lefties should do the same with the left side. It places their writing arm in a natural position to be able to write on the lines as they move from left to right without having to excessively hook their wrist. Easy peasy to implement.

2. Have them sit on the left. Duh! This would be more applicable in a school setting where there is a grouping of desks. In that scenario you would ideally have the child seated at the end and on the left to give writing space to his fellow students and avoid knocking elbows. What it means for us at home is very simply that I'm intentional to sit to his right. I've also started positioning papers slightly to his left.

3. When teaching lefties to copy letters and words, make sure the example is either above or directly to the right side of where they are writing so they can actually see it. Most worksheets place the example letter or word on the left side and then leave a blank space on the right for the student to copy it. This is difficult for lefties because their left arm automatically covers up the model, so it may take them longer to complete or may lead to more mistakes because the model is covered up the majority of the time. Not fair! I selected "Handwriting without Tears" for our handwriting curriculum because it recognizes this unique need when it comes to the positioning of models and they have customized all of their worksheets so that they are accessible for both righties and lefties(they set the example at the top of the page). Thank you, HWT!

There are many more tricks out there-writing on the left side of a spiral notebook, encouraging good pencil grips, using the right hand as a helper, and mirror techniques to name a few. While it's not especially difficult to teach a leftie, I do think it's important to recognize those tiny adjustments you can easily implement early on to avoid bad habits down the road. 

And now you know-one less topic to google! :-)

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Baby on the way, home in progress

I wouldn't call it nesting just yet(though my kitchen pantry would beg me too), but there are a lot of exciting changes going on in the Scott household. Mainly, the boys will be sharing a room to make way for baby #3. Bennett will be movin on up to Evan's current room, and baby "A" will claim Bennett's room as a nursery.

To get the boys super excited about their new adventure sharing a room together, we're giving the room a mini makeover with a few fun-and some necessary-improvements. Priority #1-paint!

Yesterday I happily bid goodbye to Evan's jailhouse blue colored walls and welcomed this clean, fresh coat of "natural linen." This is the biggest and most necessary change, as his poor wall had taken quite a beating over the past two years.  Shortly after moving into this house Evan took it upon himself to "decorate" one wall with a lovely crayon mural. Add to that, just recently we had some serious drywall damage thanks to some mischievous band of brothers(definitely not my children...oh right...). Anyhow, this new coat of paint was just what the doctor ordered, and has totally transformed the room already.

Next we'll look at installing a ceiling fan(another more practical purchase) and then spruce up the room with new bedding and a pop of color via a fun IKEA dresser. I have fun frames waiting for them to create some custom artwork for, and am slowly moving some of Bennett's things up there. I anticipate the hardest part of transition will be nighttime sleeping-but as with everything else it will just be an adjustment. Otherwise I know the boys will LOVE it. As it is now they play almost exclusively in Evan's room, and are really only apart to sleep. I'm encouraged by the fact that they both seem really excited to share a room, and pray it serves to grow them closer as brothers and buddies.

Phase two will be taking on the "nautical nursery" next month. We are keeping all the basics the same with our old baby furniture-crib, dresser, rocker, etc-and dressing it up with a fresh coat of paint, and some "whaley" cute new crib bedding. I have to admit I really enjoy the planning and "pinning" process, and am really looking forward to seeing how it all turns out. I also feel about 5 pounds lighter having cleaned out and vacummed underneath Evan's bed for the first time in almost three years...

Monday, August 3, 2015

Our Kindergarten Cirriculum

What curriculum are you using? It's a common question, with a not so common answer. As I'm learning in homeschool circles, there are likely as many answers to that question as there are individual homeschools!

 The beauty of teaching your children at home is that you have the freedom and flexibility to customize your teaching to their unique and individual learning styles. Because of that, we've really tried to stay away from the one size fits all "curriculum in a box types," and have chosen different materials for each subject(of course, if that type of thing works for you, rock on!).  There's a sea of choices and different methods of teaching out there, and add to that a great amount of books and resources dedicated to helping you evaluate those choices and what would work best for you. Read: Overwhelming!
Enter "The Well Trained Mind" to the rescue! Thankfully I'm kind of a planning and research nerd, and have really enjoyed sifting through the options out there over the past year(or more, embarrassingly). This gem of a book has by far become my favorite resource and in effect, our road map to a classical education at home.  She's basically my own personal Siri for all things school related.

So here are my humble picks for this the first chapter in our homeschooling adventure. In a nutshell, I plan to focus most of our time on the "3 R's," and color the rest of our day with fun unit study activities.

Reading-We are working our way through Bauer's recommended "Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading," and using a variety of phonics primers provided by Usborne(a fave!) and Scholastic.

wRiting- We choose "Handwriting without Tears" because well, self explanatory.

aRithmatic-I feel like Evan will be a strong math student, so I felt comfortable going with the Singapore based "Math in Focus" to start. Not only has it come highly recommended, but once I saw how nicely illustrated and colorful the workbooks were, I knew they would be a hit. We actually started with this set earlier this summer and are currently whizzing though Kindergarten math-thanks in large part to all of Evan's excellent preschool teachers for giving us such a solid foundation.

As an aside, Cathy Duffy's curriculum review website has been such a helpful reference. You can read Cathy Duffy's review of Math in Focus here...
To mix in the arts and a wide breadth of other subjects, we are also doing monthly unit studies. We started off July with "Under the Sea" and will be moving onto Dinosaurs this month(because my Evan is ALL about some dinos right now!), then the Solar system, and so on. The bulk of our library books, science and art projects will tie into whatever theme we are learning about that month.

Speaking of art, we've noticed that Evan has picked up a budding interest in drawing, so we've recently added some books on first drawing lessons to our library-a perfect example of something I hadn't necessarily planned for at this point, but decided to follow his little 5 year old lead on.

Later on this year I'll add piano into the mix and use the Bastien primer to start-simply because that's what I learned on. Music is a huge part our everyday life with the hubbs being such a talented musician and serving as worship leader at our church, it's only natural that it would pulse through our schooling as well.

So that's the plan! If you're a fellow homeschooling family, please feel free to share you're doing this year!

*Disclaimer-all plans subject to change! ;-)