Thursday, January 3, 2013

Homeschooling - Take 2

I attempted to follow a homeschooling program with the kids in September.  We did a good job for a week, maybe two.  Then it just became too much of a struggle to plan, organize, and get two munchkins to co-operate....and it all fell apart.  I still tried to incorporate small bits and pieces of the themes from each week into our daily routine.  I just wasn't putting together anything organized.  Then, in December we had a great time with the advent activities and I felt re-inspired to give homeschooling another try. 

We are following our own Waldorf based style.  I had planning guides for the fall, but I don't for the winter/spring.  I tried to come up with themes that fit into nature and the seasons, while incorporating the Waldorf festivals.  I've decided this year is just laying the groundwork and we'll add to the themes and lessons each year.  I can adapt the themes and lessons according to the kids' interests as they grow older.  Töchterchen is still roughly a year younger than I think is ideal, but I know Mannchen is ready and I think the added structure and rhythm will be great for her.  I just have to get creative in order to adapt some of my crafts to her or I have to make sure it's an activity Mannchen can do mostly in his own, while I help her.

Side note - if you don't know what Waldorf education is, I highly recommend you look into it.  We feel like it is a good fit for our family right now because it helps children pay attention to the great outdoors and fosters creativity.  Our greatest hopes for our children's early years of "education" are that they develop critical thinking skills (i.e. a vivid imagination) and kindness towards others and the Earth.  I see no place for technology in fostering or aiding either of these skills.  They get to watch a small amount of TV each afternoon, but that's about it for them.  The rest of their time is spent playing, reading, and exploring.

This week has been a huge success so far - the extra months of development were a huge help. Plus, I am more organized and it helps me that we're forming more of our own curriculum. I've found great ideas on Pinterest, through a good friend, and from a large variety of blogs from Waldorf homeschooling mamas. I'm really excited about what we're doing and what I have planned. I hope to be able to share a weekly post about what the kids are learning/making/doing!

We have been learning about what hibernation and how different animals survive the winter.  I love it when I get moments to explain to them that not all living creatures have it as easy as humans - the birds and bears can't drive to the grocery store whenever they need to! 
Two little bears, snug in their den!

Working on his craft to go with the book, "The Mitten" - a longtime favorite in our house.
Mannchen's colored and cut animals - all on his own!

Another shot, courtesy of Mannchen.  He wanted a close up of his favorites - the bear, mouse, and rabbit.

Töchterchen's finished product.  I did all her cutting, but see used her safety scissors to add a few pieces of "confetti" to her mitten.  She did the "sewing" of the mitten mostly on her own!  I was impressed.

Töchterchen finished much more quickly.  While Mannchen continued working, she entertained herself my spinning in circles with our free grocery store balloons, while singing her "Ballerina" song.  She makes herself dizzy and thinks it's hilarious.  Silly girl.

Our school corner.  I made a planner with all the extra felt in my stash and we added a (very) small nature table.  I was excited to add the nature table that will tie into our themes and the season.  Plus the kids love to display their outdoor treasures indoors.  And, of course, we have a basket of books that go with our theme.

Little closer view of the table.  In the bowl are things the kids have collected from outside.  Right now it's holding holly branches and pinecones we collected from the local college campus when they rode their Christmas bikes around campus the other morning.

Mr. Bear in his den.  The kids are making smaller dens of their own tomorrow.  I have two smaller knit bears for their dens.  They are going to be very excited to have their own!

Poem about a hibernating bear that I found online.  I forget the website now, but I think it was someone's blog.  We've had to re-draw the picture several times due to my little artists' love of coloring on the chalkboard and wanting to help create the picture.

Today during lunch, we spotted a lot of our favorite birds stopping by for a visit. 
Woody the woodpecker.  The circle on the right is one of our activities from yesterday - ice suncatchers.  Too bad our winter days aren't cold enough to keep the ice frozen.  By dinner, it was mostly gone.

Mama Redbird (The kids and I know it's a female Cardinal, but they love to call them redbirds.)

Daddy Redbird

Daddy Redbird came a little closer.  Neither of the cardinals have yet to come to our bird feeder this season.  Last year, they were ALL about it.  Maybe soon!

Happy New Year!!!