After Christmas I heard Hailey talking to David. During the course of their conversation, in a very casual manner, Hailey said “Dad, I think Mom forgot about kindergarten.” I laughed at first then realized that was the sign I needed to really get back to lesson planning.
Though I was tempted to really hit it hard out of the holiday gate, my homeschooling friends and veteran homeschoolers I follow online really stressed the idea of easing back in after the holidays. After our first day “back” resulted in a math lesson squabble and both of us taking “breathers” in our separate corners only 30 minutes into our morning, I decided to heed their advice.
The next day we read several chapters in Little House on the Prairie (we finished Little House in the Big Woods and Hailey loves the series- so do I!). We did a little math, then we played games. There is a whole gameschooling movement and I totally get it. Though some games like Sum Swamp are obviously academically driven, there is much to be learned from all sorts of games.
Taking the more relaxed route worked beautifully for us and reminded me that no one is learning anything when the environment is forced and stressful. I decided to continue the philosophy for the rest of January and into February. The idea is to not overload us with tasks to check off, so we are using one theme for both months, and allowing for plenty of time to explore projects that come up naturally.
For example, our temperatures dropped into the teens for a week or two in North Carolina. As the girls brought up questions about ice, we turned their organic interest into a science project for the day. We talked about forming a hypothesis, the scientific method, and how to measure temperature. David was took the lead. It ended up being a HUGE hit for our little scientist (and her little sister).
So for January and February I am sticking with the theme unit, just as I have been doing since the start. We are learning about SNOW. I’m excited about this because it lends itself so nicely to different subjects- from science to reading to experiences.
The Snowy Day – Beautifully illustrated picture books give you a look at our world from a small child’s point of view.
Katy and the Big Snow – Katy, a brave and untiring tractor, who pushes a bulldozer in the summer and a snowplow in the winter, makes it possible for the townspeople to do their jobs.
The Story of Snow – How do snow crystals form? What shapes can they take? Are no two snow crystals alike? These questions and more are answered in this visually stunning exploration of the science of snow. Perfect for reading on winter days, the book features photos of real snow crystals in their beautiful diversity. Snowflake-catching instructions are also included.
It’s Snowing – Small, soft flakes fall quietly from above. It’s snowing! People like to sled and ski in it, but what exactly is snow? How does it form? While it is believed that no two snowflakes look exactly alike, most have either six sides or six points. included in this crystal clear introduction to one of winter’s wonders is information about different types of snowstorms, regions where snow falls, and how to prepare when a snowstorm approaches.
Snow – No one thinks one or two snowflakes will amount to anything. Not the man with the hat or the lady with the umbrella. Not even the television or the radio forecasters. But one boy and his dog have faith that the snow will amount to something spectacular, and when flakes start to swirl down on the city, they are also the only ones who know how to truly enjoy it.
Tracks in the Snow – There’s a mysterious set of tracks through the snow, but who do they belong to-a rabbit, a duck, a woodchuck? On this brisk day one little girl is determined to find out. So off through the woods she tramps in hopeful discovery. Where will the tracks lead her and what might she find?
Winter of the Ice Wizard – Merlin the magician and Morgan le Fay have disappeared, and in order to find them, Jack and Annie journey with their friends Teddy and Kathleen to the Land-Behind-the-Clouds, a frozen kingdom of ice and snow. There they must overcome their fears and solve the Ice Wizard’s riddle, because if Jack and Annie don’t complete their mission in time, Merlin and Morgan will disappear forever!
Macarons: Because I told her we would a couple months ago and we never got around to it. So now they will be PINK and Valentines’ Day themed. These were described as foolproof, which is right up my baking alley!
Sourdough Bread: I’ve been following Jen’s Sourdough Step by Step Guide for some time and Hailey loves helping feed the starter and make the dough. She has requested more freedom to experiment with sourdough so I envision an afternoon of complete culinary disaster, ahem, I mean creativity, as I sit back and allow her to go crazy!
I shared above about our states of matter water/ice experiment, which was on theme and a big hit. Hailey also is taking two science classes at our local science museum, one on simple chemistry and another on space.
We also have a few not-on-theme experiments, mostly from kits we received from Santa at Christmas. This crystal growing kit is next on our list, as is making candles, which we will do with another kit I ordered. We spent an afternoon excavating gemstones from a rock in another kit from Christmas and the girls had a BLAST with it. A word of caution, it probably would be best for when the weather warms up and you can do it outside since it makes a dusty mess.
Back on theme, I look forward to making this snowstorm in a jar because Hailey in super into anything that bubbles or fizzes as a reaction right now.
Though I am sure we will see snow locally at some point over the next month, and the kids are still talking about our snowy polar express experience, but we have a special trip planned too. We are going to SNOWSHOE to take the girls skiing for the first time and we are absolutely giddy about it! I don’t know what the girls will think, but I have a feeling they will be completely enthralled with the mountain, the snow, and all the activities.
I’m realizing coming up with crafts is really not a natural thing for me. Thank goodness we live in the age of Pinterest! We have a new weekly schedule that started this week, and now I have both girls at home for two mornings (and Kaitlyn goes to preschool the other three), so I looked for crafts we can all do together.
We will make sock snowmen, snowflake ornaments to decorate the playroom, and we will paint a snowy winter tree using our fingers to make the snowflakes. I also hope to spend a lot of craft time making Valentines to drop off at friends’ houses, which I think Hailey will get a big kick out of. We will also make a hot chocolate sensory craft, drawing cups then using cocoa powder and marshmallows to bring it to life. We did something similar with a gingerbread man in December and Hailey loved it!
I feel like all the above, in addition to our math and language arts core, will keep up plenty busy. Plus, there are always more things to learn about that pop up naturally every day!
For more of our homeschool journey, visit our homeschool page.