Thursday, September 10, 2009

School Days

It has been a while since I have posted anything about school. This year has started out fabulous! One of our homeschool groups had a back to homeschool pizza party at a local inflatable place. It was a great group and the kids all played wonderfully together! (Note: Any of my local friends who might be considering homeschooling are welcome to join us for any activity. Let me know if you are interested and I will let you know the next time we get together.)

Back to homeschool pizza party!

Unfortunately, I have not been keeping up with pictures of our school days. I have a few, but somehow I keep forgetting to get pictures when we have the dining room/school table all covered with work! It is so much fun and the kids just love what they are learning!
Princess TD loves every aspect of school. Her favorite subject varies from day to day. She always loves doing the science experiments. Here are a couple of pictures of our experiment in seeing how blubber keeps whales warm. Each of them coated one hand in shortening, and the other one was bare. The shortening covered hand was supposed to stay warmer than the non coated hand. With 4 hands in a bowl, it seemed that all hands got somewhat coated, so there was really no scientific conclusion made here. They did have fun! Thankfully Mr. TD got home from work about the time we were doing this experiment, or we wouldn't have had pictures since my hands were coated from coating their hands!

For one of our art projects, Princess TD was to make a shield based on Psalm 18:1-6 decorated with symbols from those verses. When I gave her the assignment, I told her that the Lord is our shield and our protector and when you are scared, you need to trust God to protect you. I then asked her to draw on the shield the things that let her know that God is protecting her. Here she is with her finished product, and a close-up shot of what she drew.
In case the pictures aren't clear, we have a bear, a dog, grass, flowers, a river, the sun, clouds, a rainbow, and Jesus watching from heaven (at the top of the shield). Very sweet!
Of course, Little TD had to get in on the action too. Here he is with his shield.

Little TD is loving his school as well. We started his "school" last spring, and he wasn't quite ready to be sitting for the 20 minutes that it takes us to do his lessons. So, we put it back on the shelf until this school year. Now he can't wait to do school and is catching on so quickly. We have spent the first few weeks reviewing what we had done in the spring. I didn't want to re-do everything, but I didn't want to not refresh his memory either. I think it is paying off for him with the little review we did! One of the activities for him is to tape a giant sized letter on the floor for him to interact with. Sometimes, he's not interested in the specific activity, so I just improvise. Here he is walking the capital B to learn the proper way to form the letter.
Of course, when school is over, they have a great time playing "chase" on the letter. We have only had one major collision, but no bruises!

Here is Princess TD practicing her spelling words. I will do a separate post on the program she is using. It is really pretty neat and a great program for spelling practice.

We are reading the genre of biography for Princess TD right now. I couldn't decide between the girl interest selections and the general interest selections, so I bought them both. Since I wasn't sure how she would take to the new books, I began with the biography of Helen Keller. She loves learning about true things, people and stories. (I think she is taking after her mommy there!) She wanted to know what it would be like to be blind, so I tied a scarf around her eyes, and had her clean up her school stuff.

Then afterward, I had her walk around the living room. This was a little bit harder, because we had just moved the furniture around a couple of days before. She did pretty well, but when it was all said and done, she was very thankful that she could see.

We have had school at the park a couple of times. That is so much fun. I think we will be doing that more often as the weather cools. It is nice to be able to take a break and watch the squirrels, or spot a butterfly, or a group of ants carrying a goldfish cracker! School takes a little bit longer on those days, but it is so worth it! Next time, I'll try to remember to take my camera!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

A New System

Earlier in the year I posted this about creating a rewards system for Princess TD. That system worked very well for it's intended purpose. She was able to redeem a few "fish" for a playdate with her best friend, computer time and some special time with either mom or dad. But there was something missing.

Both Princess TD and Little TD, just like every other typical child out there, didn't want to help with chores around the house.

A couple of years ago, we started giving Princess TD a quarter every day that she completed her chores. On Saturday night, we would sit down and separate those quarters into 3 piles, church, piggy bank (savings) and spending money. (Periodically I would exchange the quarters for dollars in her spending money; with a lesson in identifying money as well!) Although this was/is working well, we see that there is still a need for something more.

In June, I attended a homeschool conference and saw the booth there for Accountable Kids. I found the system very intriguing and the lady there gave me a CD that described the system. I watched it. I liked the system. I did some research. Signed up for the newsletter and contemplated purchasing the system vs. creating one of my own. I decided that my time was valuable, and that I didn't need to recreate something that has already been done. In August, I attended another homeschool conference and they had a booth there as well! I purchased the system on Friday, decorated the boards the next week, and jumped right in!

Let me just say...I LOVE this system! We are just getting started with it all, but so far it's great!

Here's how it works:

Both Princess TD and Little TD have their responsibilities that they are required to complete each day. They have morning, afternoon and evening chores. These chores are just their way of helping out in making the household run. No allowance or money is earned for these chores. For each chore group that they complete, (morning, afternoon or evening) they earn a ticket. Those tickets can be traded for privileges that they want to have. We use mainly computer time or choosing a show for TV time. The next step (we are still working on consistently remembering to do our chores, so we haven't done anything from here on) is to earn a sticker on the "Date Night" for each day that all three tickets are earned. Once the card is filled up, they earn a special one-on-one "date" with either mom or dad. There are extra chores that can be added to each board. The extra chores are ones that the child can choose to help with and that will earn them money. At the end of the week, you hold a family meeting which is where the extra chore cards are redeemed for money.

So far I really like what I see with this system. It encourages the children to take responsibility for being part of the family. Just within the few weeks we have been using the system, I see both Princess TD and Little TD volunteering to do extra things around the house. They are both offering to help each other with their chores. Just last night, I found Princess TD taking a sponge and wiping toothpaste from the counter in the bathroom that Little TD had spilled!

If you are looking for a chore chart system, or something to replace an old chore chart that's not quite working anymore, I encourage you to take a look at this! I think you will be surprised how easy it is, even for young kids.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

For the Parents of Truck Crazy Little Boys

Little boys are so different from little girls.

The most amazing difference to me is how they were born making truck sounds!

Little TD loves trucks and cars, 4-wheelers and motorcycles, trains and planes; really anything with wheels or wings! Having grown tired of the typical morning fare for our TV time, I decided to search through our channel selection for something new and different for us to watch. Much to my surprise, I "discovered" something new on Discovery Kids (ok, not new; but new to me) Bigfoot Presents: Meteor the Monster Truck!

Being from the same hometown as the real Bigfoot, I set the episode to record for later previewing by me. I was truly impressed with the content of the show. We have learned about teamwork, responsibility, patience and friendship. We have 20 episodes recorded and it has become the favorite program choice for our TV time. (Princess TD even asks to watch it!)

As an added bonus, Little TD has taken to creating his own monster truck courses for his cars to travel. He has become very creative in coming up with items he finds to pretend to "crush" (his favorite being my cap). Old "baby" board books make great ramps. Paper makes a great "gunk" sound when you land there after a jump. His cars have taken on personalities and now interact with each other. It is so fun to watch him play cars!

If you haven't seen the show, I encourage you to take some time to check it out...especially if you have a truck crazy little boy!