Ice

 

Rory and I took a long walk this morning.

 

Yesterday everything thawed when the high was over 50 degrees, only to refreeze as the temperature dropped nearly to the single digits.

 

The nearly snow-less ground today.
Nearly snow-less ground today
Snow on the ground two days ago.Two days ago.

 

It’s important to tell you about my walks. I don’t like traveling the same roads again and again. I love circular walks, new walks, walks filled with adventure and new sights. However, the neighborhood in which we live wasn’t made for circuitous rambles. So, I usually find myself trekking through the woods at some point rather than turn around and retrace my steps.

 

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I’ve never heard leaves crackle underfoot quite like this. The thaw yesterday left them damp and they refroze, so each step was like the breaking of a hundred tiny sticks.

 

Today I decided on a new journey I was hoping would work. Our neighborhood is bordered by a beach and I was fairly certain a new route would take me down to one part of the beach. That should  connect to the beach in my area thus I could probably walk from one part of the neighborhood to the other.

 

At the end of the road I stepped into the woods.

 

As I walked down through trees, I came upon this:

 

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With the choice to cross the river or walk back up through the woods and retrace my steps I, of course, decided to find a spot to cross the river.

 

Unfortunately it only widened itself to either side as far as I could travel. There were brambles that kept me from moving in either direction.

 

I nearly turned around.

 

And then Rory took a step.

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He didn’t fall in, so I investigated the ice (I have never claimed to make particularly good decisions). Luckily I am here to tell you about it instead of…  I don’t know what.

 

I crossed safely, and we found the river opened up into a tidal pond.

 

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We tramped through the woods and headed to the beach. On the way I found a bridge over the river beyond the brambles.

 

Oops.

 

At the beach, I saw a sight I’d never seen before. Ice, floating on the Chesapeake Bay.

 

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The Homeschool Review

My first homeschool review was scheduled in early January. For those of you who don’t know the homeschooling rules in Maryland, we have the choice of either being “reviewed” by someone from the county we reside in or we can join a homeschooling “umbrella group” where the group reviews the instruction of your children(there are various methods for this). Essentially it is like choosing public school over private school; you have more freedom in how you choose to school your children with the second option, but you pay for it and you need to research your umbrella group well to make sure they will be supportive of your methods.

 

I chose to complete my review through the county I am living in now. I believed I could demonstrate my methods were providing instruction as required by the state of Maryland, without compromising my own homeschooling goals.

 

The state requires parents to demonstrate instruction in English/Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies, Health Education, Physical Education, Fine Arts (Art, Music) and Other (Technology, World Language). Parents can show the instruction through:

  • text(s) or equivalent
  • reading materials/list
  • writing samples
  • worksheets/workbooks
  • tests/quizzes
  • creative materials
  • field trips
  • other

 

I chose to create a document for each girl where I could enter in our activities to show our reviewer what we had done. Below you can see Ari’s and Abby’s charts.

A spreadsheet divided into subjects with activities Abby completed in each this semester  A spreadsheet divided into subjects with activities Ari completed in each this semester

I made a list of all of our field trips, the dates and which child participated.

 

I had pictures of many of our activities, assignments and field trips so I organized these into subject areas and also into Unit studies, as Ari has been completing most of her work through various units.

A screenshot of the albums I had prepared for the HS Review

A lot of Abby’s Language Arts work was done in a spiral 11×14 sketchbook, so I brought that along.

 

An example page from Abby's ELA "Good book" a spiral sketch book Abby used for writing/drawing

Finally, I had a 3-ring notebook for each girl. Abby’s was divided into subjects and assignments; she has a tab for math, letter practice, number practice, assessments and awards and one for writings and stories. Ari’s notebook is divided into math and then a tab for each unit.

All of this preparation not only made the review easy and a positive experience, but it really helped me to reflect on what we had done so far this year. I am happy with what we have accomplished and the learning and growth I have seen in both girls. We were given a paper that showed we had “Clear Evidence of instruction throughout” our portfolio and we will return again at the end of the year.

Abby's HS Portfolio Review Reflection Form

Abby’s HS Portfolio Review Reflection Form

Ari's HS Portfolio Review Reflection Form

Ari’s HS Portfolio Review Reflection Form

Homeschooling: Abby’s First Day

Today was Abby’s first day of First Grade.

Abby and Tigger, first day of school

She brought along a friend (that’s a cool part of homeschooling).

Abby’s school day started off with an Adventure Walk. Basically, we went on a walk while I made up a story that we acted out. Eventually I will have a repertoire of songs and actions I can do on an adventure walk, but for today I made it up as I went along. In the story the fictional characters got up and dressed, explored the woods, saw birds and trees, ran down hills and walked backwards up others, all of which we did together. It might seem like an odd thing to do, but we worked up a sweat (it was about 85 degrees out) and got a great workout. Abby loved it:)

Abby then began her “classwork”; we recalled the story I had told her yesterday, we spoke a verse (Abby knows a little of it) and we drew pictures from the story. My picture even had some hidden letters which we found! Abby then went off to play:

cat dojo house

She created a “Cat Dojo House”?!?

After lunch we had Quiet Time, which is a time of inner reflection or focus. Abby worked on her “cat dojo  house” as I looked through materials for Ari’s afternoon Math lesson, cleaned up a bit and made sure I was calm and centered for what would follow.

While Ari did math, Abby played with some math manipulatives. When she was done, she decided to do math “like Ari” and made herself some addition problems to complete. Once done, we all read a story about finger crocheting. Abby did a bit herself, and then begged me to do more. I held off and right at bedtime she decided to work on it herself using the nightlight we have for her. I don’t think she did many but she had completed a few more when she last told me where she was. For those of you who haven’t spent a few hours with Abby, you won’t know that she talks incessantly and loves to narrate what she is doing. I usually tune her out, which she says is fine with her!

Day one for Abby is finally done, Ari has started week two and our rhythm actually seems to be working out! I’m excited to see what tomorrow brings.

Real Life Math

Today, Ari’s math didn’t come from a book or a worksheet. Instead she budgeted for a shopping trip and made the purchases for our family! It was a busy afternoon; we planned to go to the library (free!) and then we needed to visit the farmer’s market, BJ’s, Michaels, the grocery store and a local farm store. Before we left we made a list of the items we needed and I estimated what I thought each cost. Then, we built some money into the budget because I inevitably forget a lot on the lists!

It started off well as she noticed a sign for $.05 off gas on Thursdays just as my tank was about to hit “empty”. She calculated it out and we saved $.42 due to her “eagle eyes”.

After our weekly visit to the library, we decided to go to Michael’s first.  This is the place we can spend the most money AND it was the furthest, so I decided to test Ari’s budget skills! She passed with flying colors, though I did insist we buy something on “one-day-only” sale.

BJ’s went just as well (darn, we forgot bananas from the list too), and we carried on to the farmer’s market. Our budgeting was a bit trickier here because some of the needed items were not what I regularly buy and I had to estimate. Ari kept us on track and as we figured out what we could spend to have enough for other items, she made sure we weren’t going overboard. I was not allowed to buy a second dozen eggs “just in case” or any shitake mushrooms that were a surprise (she hates mushrooms) and she reasoned with me that we needed to buy some milk and chicken, which I had forgotten on the list… sigh.

We worked in a bit of math with Abby too, as she was given $1 to spend and we informed her honey sticks (her favorite) were 4/$1 at the farmer’s market or 5/$1 at the farm store. She resisted the immediate temptation and saved her money for later.

Ari reasoned we needed to go to the grocery store next so we knew just how much we had left for the farm store, where we obtain our milk and meat. We ended up with enough left to buy our milk, chicken and some fruit with a tiny bit extra! As a thank you for a great job Ari and Abby were each given $2 to spend (black cherry soda and chocolate milk respectively) and adorably, they switched drinks halfway through the ride home.

Ari was really proud of herself for not only sticking to a budget but also not losing the money(!). I can’t imagine why I didn’t do this before and I’m pretty sure this will become our weekly ritual.

But I just remembered I forgot to get something we need at BJ’s :(

Homeschooling Day 3: What’s Working and Needed Tweaks

Pshew. Day 3 done. Now its time to step back and see how it’s going, at least with Ari.

Here is my envisioned rhythm for our days and week (click to zoom in):

daily_weekly rhythm

Here is reality:

tie up teacher

Ok, just kidding. That’s not me or my kids; it’s a random picture from Google (which I linked to the picture in hopes someone won’t sue me).

 

Reality was some things worked and some didn’t. On Tuesday, Ari woke up early. Really early for her. This meant all the time I would have used to relax, or as on the rhythm, do yoga, I instead spent with her asking if we could start school yet. It was cute, but certainly unexpected. On the other hand, Abby didn’t wake up at all and we waited and waited and finally I gave in. Ari and I started school early only to hear “Mmmoooommmm” 5 minutes later.

 

Rest time isn’t happening. Ari, who loves to go read or hang out in ther room, says she hates being asked to  do a quiet time. Abby doesn’t even want to go upstairs despite being reminded that she can play with her trains or dolls. Both my kids left naps behind at about two and have bad memories of being forced to lay on cots for an hour during “rest time” at daycare, so I’m guessing it’s reminding them. Of course, that was my “plan dinner and maybe read something for a bit” time that I think I really need :/

 

Ari’s actual “schooling” is going well. In math we are reviewing and extending the basics and on Tuesday she had an “aha” moment when she realized she hadn’t ever learned multiplying double+ digit numbers… We’ve tried taking things down to basics and are using Cuisenaire rods and colored markers to understand some concepts. I’d love to take her back to learning the processes, but she is very hesitant, so maybe we will hold off until it becomes clear to her that the “baby” stuff is important.

 

Finally, the rhythm is nice to have. It gives me an idea about where we should be in the day and keeps me from getting sidetracked as I so often do. The rhythm is often said to be beneficial to children, but I think it help me as much or more than it does them.

 

If you check our rhythm, you will see that tomorrow is a fun day that includes a trip to the library and the farmer’s market. I’m not sure which one I like better!