Sunday, December 23, 2007

Europe picture books part 1

Believe it or not, we continued doing school periodically up until last Thursday. I tried to tie study of geography into the holiday season, but I was too late trying to get the Christmas traditions from around the world books at our local library. We read books about countries in Europe and some did have a Christmas theme. Here are some books we enjoyed:

Popcorn at the Palace

The Leprechaun's Gold
An Irish Halloween
Jamie O'Rourke and the Big Potato
Market Day

Per and The Dala Horse
Who's that Knocking on Christmas Eve?
Hanna's Christmas ( yes, our local library has Melissa's book)
Welcome Back Sun

The Christmas Witch
Jingle the Christmas Clown
The Legend of Old Befana

I did find one picture book about Christmas traditions around the world called Jingle Bells by Trapani. We didn't make it through all the books I checked out. We have several more about Italy and a whole stack of books about France. Luckily, I can renew them and keep them to use after our Christmas Break. If I don't blog again before Tuesday, have a Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

I need some advice

As a follow up to my last post, how do you get rid of excess toys and kid stuff? I am good at getting rid of broken stuff and most McDonald's toys, but we still have tons of toys. I have 3 girls and generous relatives, so we have A LOT of toys and I can't seem to get rid of the toys that are in good condition. The trouble is the girls do play with most of it. I hate to get rid of something and then have them ask for it a week later. I try to get them involved and they claim to love it all. We have sorted through their toys twice since the summer and I feel like we haven't even made a dent.

The only really good idea I have, I got from a friend of mine. When you want to get rid of something, put it in a box for 6 months. If no one asks for it, then you can get rid of it without worrying that you are getting rid of something the kids really like. Anyone else have any other good ideas for dealing with the mounds of toys that somehow come into our worlds?

Saturday, December 8, 2007

What Homeschoolers get for Christmas?

I always love reading about what other people are getting their kids for Christmas. Especially homeschoolers. Because they always know the coolest educational stuff to sneak into any gift giving occasion. Here is what my girls are getting this year:

Stain Glass Coloring Books
Jim Weiss CD's - King Arthur, Shakespeare, and Famously Funny tales
Madlibs - regular for Sierra, junior for Kali
Dot to Dot Book for Arwen
a Calendar for each
Stomp Rocket

So far so good. A little bit educational, a little bit fun. Here, I start leaning more towards educational:

Ant farm
Zeus on the Loose
Snap Circuit Set

Then I fully go off the deep end with these, but I actually think they might like them, at least the art cards...

Composers Cards
Scientist Cards
Renaissance Art Cards

I also like to wrap up some art supplies that I would replenish anyway, so we can have more presents under the tree.

Fuse Beads

Then I went to an Usborne Party and decided to save the cool stuff I got for Christmas presents.

an Origami Kit for Sierra
and Fairy Things to Make and Do Kid Kit for Kali
I didn't find anything for Arwen, so I went to Michael's and got her Spin Art ( with the 40% off coupon, of course)

Then I hosted an Usborne Book Party and the girls, especially Sierra, fell in love with some books, so I used my hostess credit to get:

The Princess Treasury
Fairy Things to Make and Sew
How to Draw Fairies and Mermaids
See Inside Fairyland
Art Skills

Since most of these are for Sierra, I got Arwen a Seek and Find Book and Kali a book from the easy chapter book fairy series, Holly the Christmas Fairy

I am still a gift short for Arwen. She's 5 she may not notice, right? I grew up in a family of 2 kids, so everything was always pretty even. Does everyone try to even out the number of gift or a I just weird?

OK, have you noticed that there are no toys so far? The thing is, we have too many toys already and sometimes it seems like we have every toy in the girl's section of the toy store ( except Barbie, Bratz, and toys that make noise, which are all banned) But every year the girls are allowed to pick one thing that they definitely want Santa to bring them for Christmas - within reason - the girls have be informed that parents have veto right when it comes to what gift he will bring. So this year the girls picked:

Sweet Secrets Slumber Party - Sierra
Sweet Secrets Mall - Kali
Only Hearts Club Doll - Arwen

Now, some of my hippy homeschool friends have been giving me crap about the Sweet Secret Dolls. My girls have a few already since the dolls by themselves are only $4 and since they only get a $1 a week allowance after a month of savings they are chomping at the bit to buy something. Anyway, my friends have accused the dolls of being a bit trampy and they are a bit scantily clad, but they are tiny, so their boobs are the size of a pinhead and their clothes are painted on so you will never find them lying around naked, ala barbie, with their teeny tiny boobies hanging out...

Anyway, that's about it. One last cool idea I got this year. I recently ordered a bunch of books from the Read It Again Books Yahoo group. Since I didn't pick out any of the books for any girl in particular, I decided to just lay them all out on the coffee table with a note from Santa telling the girls that he know how much they love reading and hopes they enjoy these books. Here are the books I got ( from the yahoo group and also a few from my Usborne hostess credit):

All of a Kind Family
The Borrowers
Half Magic
Caddie Woodlawn
Catherine Called Birdy
The Phantom Tollbooth
The Witch of Blackbird Pond
A Giraffe and a Half
Poetry for young People Emily Dickinson
Phoebe the Spy
How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night?
A Tree is Nice
Have You Seen My Duckling?
Twenty One Balloons
The Door in the Wall
Adam of the Road
The Usborne Book of Art
Usborne Story of Music
See Inside My Body

What's your favorite gift idea for a homeschooler?

Thursday, December 6, 2007

You know you're a homeschooler when...

...your 5 year old says " Oh, good Greeks!" instead of "oh, good grief!"

* add your own "your know your a homeschooler whens..." to the comments

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

In praise of Story of the World

We have finally gotten around to starting Story of the World 2. Despite the fact that some of us are suffering from the stomach flu AGAIN, we decided to do a bit of school today. Laying around on the couch does lend itself to reading aloud. My oldest was excited as she enjoyed SOTW 1. They love doing the coloring pages from the Activity Guide while I read the chapter. I also like to get some of the extra books from the Activity Guide's list at the library.

The really fun part is that I have the girls put their coloring pages in a sketch book for an easy time line. so after reading chapter 1 and doing the coloring pages, we got out the sketch book time line. The girls were so cute looking through last year's pages.

"Oh, look Gilgamesh!'

"Your King Tut looks like a girl."

"Here is where I did China writing."

This is definitely the fun part of homeschooling. Story of the World is written in a very interesting way and I am even learning stuff, too.

Thanks to Mrs. T for her words of encouragement after my last post. It is nice to hear from homeschoolers with older children that things like spelling and writing so work themselves out.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Is homeschooling to blame?

A recent comment from my mother about my 9 year old's spelling sent me into a tail spin. Am I doing a disservice to my child by not making her take weekly spelling tests? Am I completely messing her up by homeschooling?

I was chatting with a friend about this and she pointed out that my daughter's weaknesses are not necessarily because she is homeschooled. Who is to say that she would not have the same or more weaknesses if she went to school?

My oldest has always been "slow to warm" ie. shy. For the past couple of years, my family has hinted that her shyness towards adults may be because she is homeschooled. She occasionally still makes backwards letters and numbers. And her spelling is still more phonetic, perhaps, than her schooled counterparts. School would beat these bad habits out of her, right? Ugh!

And homeschooling never gets the credit for her good traits. She is polite (most of the time). She shares with her sisters generously. She is a 9 year old kid who still plays with toys and not a 9 year old going on 16. She loves to read.

Our kids are who they are whether they go to school or not. It is comforting to know that even when they struggle with academics, personality traits or whatever, that these are areas that they would struggle with even if they went to school. And as homeschool parents, we can take time and work on the weak areas with each child individually...after we get out of the tailspin...

Saturday, December 1, 2007

My poor neglected blog

I had to take a break from the world of internet for a while. Between going to Kansas City, Thanksgiving, Christmas preparations and my youngest's birthday, it was all I could do to keep my head above water the last 2 weeks. Oh and I also taught a make-over class for the teenage girls at my church.and hosted an Usborne book party - whew!

I do have some posts rolling around in my head. One on why people blame everything they perceive to be negative about your children on homeschooling and one on Christmas gift ideas.

Perhaps I will have some time tomorrow afternoon. Today I am off to do some Christmas shopping and to a birthday party. See you then :)