Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Cottage Co-op

We were invited to join a Charlotte Mason co-op. So far it has been an amazing experience. CM is very focused on the whole child. I am reading the summaries of her books online right now. Here are a few quotes from volume 1 that really struck me...
Parents must teach their children that they must not misbehave because it isn't right, regardless of the mood or whim of the parent. 
Habits can overcome nature. A bad habit isn't cured by punishment or reward and it isn't outgrown. It is replaced by a new habit.
Don't let the desire to excel replace the desire to learn. Children should be given a sense of achievement for what they have accomplished rather than feel pressure of what they haven't done.
A child who is prone to stubbornness and temper doesn't have a strong will, rather, he doesn't have a strong enough will to get his passions and temper under control. The will enables us to do that which we know is right but which we may not feel like doing. Teach changing thoughts, concentration, and every act of obedience as an opportunity to conquer his inclinations.

Okay, back to the co-op...
We do nature study (this term is farm animals), habit study (self control), composer study (Aaron Copland), picture study (Grandma Moses), sing a folk song (This Land is Your Land) and read/recite a poem of choice. We have planned a field trip before each meeting to learn more about the animal and observe its behavior. The first field trip and meeting I forgot my camera so refer to our leader's blog for the information and pictures. Our focus was rabbits. Going to the Puppies and Guppies pet store to observe and learn about rabbits was a simple and yet delightful fieldtrip. Then we met for co-op and read a book, talked about the rabbits, and drew in our journals. Olivia drew a picture of the rabbit sitting in his food bowl and also a picture of the rabbits tracks. In the co-op each of the moms have a different responsibility. My focus is on the habit of self control and also to engage the younger kids in activities on their level (although we try to let them participate as much as possible as one big group). For the habit, the kids have an I WILL pledge that they say and this time we played Red Light, Green Light. I keep any teaching short and then we reinforce the skills with games/activities. It has been wonderful and Olivia and Gabe love it.

Our second nature study topic was horses. We visited Fellowship Farms in Greensboro to watch how they care for and groom their horses. Ms. Bell, our host was a lovely lady and gave us a lot of good information.

waiting in the barn

watching a horse is being groomed

Gathering for Co-op:

Nature Study- talking about seeing the horses and listening a book on jobs horses do and "The Runaway" by Robert Frost. **notice Gabe is not participating so well. :) I had told him he needed to take a seat and for some reason he was not wanting to sit that day. He wanted to be on my lap. I was holding another baby--jealous! :)

The kids are drawing in their nature journals (or coloring pictures for the little ones). Olivia drew a picture of a horse's stall and then one of the horse nodding his head. She did this by drawing several outlines of a head as though it was moving and then added up and down arrows. I thought this was a pretty inventive way to demonstrate movement. She came up with it on her own.
Picture Study time. Today they looked at Little Boy Blue by Grandma Moses. After they have observed the picture for a while with the goal of seeing it in their heads, they turn over the picture and we go around the room and the kids tell what they could remember. 

I think the nature study and picture study are great exercises in observation and noticing detail. I think these are very valuable for my kids to learn. For our habit game, we had each of the kids take turns trying to keep a straight face or keep their eyes closed while the other kids around them attempted to make them do the opposite (without touching). This turned out to be very fun! :)

One of my "jobs" at co-op is to help entertain the "littler" ones if they get restless. They usually sit well for the books, pictures and information during the nature study time but then their attentions either run out fast or they don't participate in the drawing time. I put together this matching game of sorts with pictures from our trip to the horse farm.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Children's Theater--Eric Carle

Last week, we pulled out all our Eric Carle books and reread them. He is an amazing children's author and illustrator. His books are great for reading to the three kids all together. I found a book at the library that talks about how he does his art work and we have done some art projects in the past based on a few of his books.

We saw the Mermaid Theater of Nova Scotia at the Children's Theater of Winston Salem. They are puppeteers and they performed Little Cloud, The Mixed Up Chameleon, and The Very Hungry Caterpillar. It was an amazing performance. There were just two puppeteers doing the whole show along with some help from their stage manager. They dress in all black (including masks) and use black curtains on the stage so that the puppets looked like they were floating in the air or moving all by themselves. They also used black lights to make the colors glow in the dark. Of course we were not allowed to take any pictures during the performance but I would encourage you to look them up and go to a performance.

After the performance, we were just hanging back and letting the crowds leave. Then we were surprised when the puppeteers came out and answered more questions and let us touch and see any of the puppets we wanted.

Gabe tried to walk off with the caterpillar. My favorite puppet was the chameleon (there were actually 7 different chameleon puppets because of all the color changing he does). Olivia said she liked them all. JR says he didn't have a favorite. JR and I  admit that we probably liked it as much as the kids or more. :) While Ezra didn't voice any opinions, he blew lots of raspberries during the performance which is usually a sign of approval.

Monday, January 24, 2011

State by State

We are continuing to trek through the states by the date of their statehood. Some states have given us opportunities to learn about famous people. For instance, with Ohio we read some about Johnny Appleseed and with Mississippi, we talked about Robert Fulton and his inventions including steamboats. We have also enjoyed some good food. For instance, with Louisiana, we listened to jazz music, made red beans and rice, talked about Thomas Jefferson's Louisana Purchase and Louis & Clark. We learned about George Washington Carver when it was the day for Alabama. We learned what an amazing student and scientist he was and in his honor we had peanut butter sandwiches and sweet potato fries for lunch that day. We started to talk some about pioneers trekking westward. The pioneers used their old torn fabrics to make quilts. Olivia made her own paper quilt for her dolls.

A recent favorite has been Maine. Our local grocery store has a tank of live lobsters that Olivia got to go observe and draw. He noticed that they move their antenna slowly. Then, since Maine has more lighthouses than any other state due to its rocky coast, we read about lighthouses, looked at pictures that mom and dad took of the NC lighthouses years ago, and then made a lighthouse craft.

We are reading our second Little House book, On the Banks of Plum Creek. This one is about the growing up years of Laura Ingalls Wilder. Olivia is just loving this book! I'm sure it is because of how adventurous Laura is. :) Prior to this book, we read Betsy's River Adventure, about a girl and her family that build and ride a flat boat down the Ohio river to the pioneer town of Cincinnati in 1808. 

We have learned about Jesus as the Vine and Jesus as Head of the Body. We discussed plants and did our celery experiment. We talked about the fruit of the Spirit and did some science experiments with fruit/fruit juice. We have also reviewed and learned some new information about how the body works. We have done some fun science experiments with lung capacity and taste/smell. Then we have read about how the church functions like a body with Christ as its head. We have talked about the different gifts that God has given each of us and how we can serve others with those gifts.

We are also going through the "Put On" Chart lesson book by Doorposts. This is a wonderful character study. It is very visual. The little kid puts on his shoes of kindness, watch of patience, etc. I would highly recommend this to anyone! I have really been focusing much of my time and energy on character recently. Because, what is knowledge if you don't have love, right? The greatest commands are to love God and love others.
1 Corinthians 13:1-3, If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

And of course, we are continuing on with reading and math but there just isn't too much to say about those. :) Olivia can read just about any library book in the kids department that she picks up. So I have been letting her pick out more books on her own recently. I do review them before she actually reads them though. :) I want her to continue to develop a love for reading. We have been working on writing and spelling more. She enjoys math and was very excited to learn to tell time. She received a watch for Christmas which she wears almost every day.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Pitiful but FUNNY :)

So when Ezra is upset, he gets really upset. And when he gets upset in his jumper, he jumps hard and fast. Yes, we let him stay upset long enough to catch his expression on camera. ;) He was so upset that he managed to get a little airborne while there was some slack in the jumper's cable.

Interestingly, he went from absolutely WAILING to perfectly silent/content as soon as we picked him up out of the jumper...hmmm, wonder what he wanted. :)

Friday, January 21, 2011

School with Gabe

When Gabe is willing to do some school time, I try to find activities that he will enjoy but will also challenge him. Of course, being the second child, he has picked up so much more all on his own. Sometimes he definitely tells me that he isn't interested at all and sometimes he wants to do the activities over and over. He is slowly becoming more willing to sit still through the reading of books. Here are a few pictures. I find it a bit hard to do activities and take pictures at the same time and avoid messes. :)

I made this shoe box with some stickers on the sides. The side you can see has colored stars. The other side had different numbers of different animals. He was to put the clothes pins in the box, out of the box, and on the particular stickers as asked. Sometimes he did as he was asked and sometimes he just had fun putting them where he wanted. But, this was one activity that he really enjoyed. :)

Here he was watching our celery absorption experiment. Just kidding, he just got excited about drawing when the pencils came out. This is always true. He wants to "write, draw, or color" right along with sissy.

"A says a, like alligator"

He is making an alligator with his arms. He liked pointing out the eyes, the mouth and the teeth.

I am using the same letter of the week learning poster that I used with Olivia. You can see it in the background. This week was a cow, a calf (baby cow), a square, the letter A, the number one, Hey Diddle, Diddle, and a song about cows set to "The Farmer and the Dell". Here Gabe is milking a cow. :)

Here, Gabe is eating up his hay.

Blue painting with blueberries.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Early America Lapbook

This was a very simple lapbook that Olivia and I put together to review the first 13 colonies, a few of our founding fathers, the Declaration of Independence, the Liberty Bell, the first 3 presidents, and the first flag. The picture on the front is of George Washington and a dog, from this book

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Morning Gabe

Olivia and Gabe decided that The Family Hat made good stocking caps. Olivia got this notion from the Little House books we are reading. Anyway, Gabe went to bed with his on and then I found him still wearing it in the morning. I promise we don't keep the house that cold. :)
He is telling me to go away because he doesn't want to get up yet.
Then I entice him with waffles.

He peeks an eye out and says, "faffles, sure" and gets right up.
The hat stayed on about half the day. :)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Recent Art Projects

These activities all came out of our Great American Artist book.We have been learning about some of America's great artists from the 1700s and early 1800s. We read a little about the life and work of each artist, look at examples of their work, and then Olivia tries her hand at using a similar technique to the artist. You have seen some of them in previous posts but here are some of the latest...

Olivia's first easel painting. This is our backyard. The lesson here was to take art supplies on the go and paint an outdoor scene. Well, it's cold right now and we've done "art supplies on the go" previously, so I assigned her to observe the backyard from the window and paint it as she observed it.

She was to do a reproduction of a great work of art.

This was a lesson about Currier & Ives and the company they formed making prints of their artwork. The kids (including Olivia) were colorists working in an assembly line process. They were each assigned a color and then had to color just that part of each of the pictures. It was a very fun activity.

Olivia is sewing felt. She is adding a sequins each time she makes a stitch.

This is a monoprint. She spread paint a cookie sheet, pressed a piece of paper into it, and then "drew" the duck on the paper using the back end of a paint brush.

Here she was trying her hand a "stained glass". We used tissue paper. According to Olivia, there is a red flower just to the left of center. :)