I’m always excited to do a unit with a focus on America with Aria each year, because it always seems that I learn something when I go back and study American history. This year, I learned several new names of presidents with the awesome President’s Matching Game I found. I also highly recommend you getting the presidential rubber duckies (also from Oriental Trading). They are silly but actually helped Aria to learn the names of several presidents. She now knows Washington, Lincoln, Jefferson, Obama, and Trump, which makes me really happy.
She also really embraced the lessons on money and had a blast sorting and identifying presidents on each one. She finally seems to know the amounts of each type of monetary unit, though anything with Washington was her favorite. Aria has officially proclaimed him the best president. Skylar conveniently got a counting piggy bank for her birthday (https://www.target.com/p/the-learning-journey-learn-with-me-numbers-and-colors-pig-e-bank/-/A-51911527?ref=tgt_adv_XS000000&AFID=google_pla_df&CPNG=PLA_Toys+Shopping&adgroup=SC_Toys&LID=700000001170770pgs&network=g&device=c&location=9011446&gclid=EAIaIQobChMI8KbLg7vT2QIV3rbACh27vQs1EAQYBCABEgLPr_D_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds), so she was able to play with coins right alongside Aria and feel like she was doing school too.
If we hadn’t just gotten back from our trip to Atlanta, we probably would’ve gone to visit the Little White House, but that is definitely in our plans for next year! I also cant wait until the kids are old enough to go to Washington D.C. and see the monuments for our presidents in person and possibly the White House.
Though it is still a little young for Aria to know all of her states and American history, I think it is so great that she embraces the early introduction to some of our presidents and that she can name several of our states from doing USA maps with me. I can’t wait to add on to this unit next year and see how much she will absorb.
Since farm week was such a hit I thought we would stay outdoors for school just a bit longer and tackle a nature theme. I’ve read a lot of child rearing material regarding the importance of spending time in nature and connecting an ecological identity to the child (especially in today’s tech driven society). Taegan came to appreciate a variety of backyard wonders through this theme. We counted stones along our riverbank, cut grass to practice our scissor skills, looked for pictures in the clouds and traded stories about the things we saw, made mud pies, and picked a lot of flowers. I also bought a bag of corn and we put out bowls for the deer that share our neighborhood. Taegan enjoyed helping me come up with names for them all and she was thrilled when the food "disappeared" overnight and she could refill the bowls all by herself each morning. She had to select a new and perfect place each day for the deer to eat. I tried to explain the "nocturnal" concept to her and she requested we too stay up all night so we could watch them eat the corn. That did not happen but it was amazingly easy to come up with ways like this to blend traditional learning to the outdoors. For instance, to work on learning letters we simply hiked around looking for items I could point out that began with a particular letter. A…acorn, B…bush, C….creek etc We read a lot of books under the shade of a tree and painted rocks to act out the “Five Speckled Frogs” song. By the end of the week T could sing and count the whole rhyme without any assistance, I was so proud!
I am so grateful…to myself (haha)…that I planned this winter unit out before we took our Christmas vacation. Between going to St. Simons Island for 5 days, and then immediately going to Hawaii for 8 days, by the time I got back between the trip and the time change, I was shot. It took us a good 3 days to reacclimate and get fully unpacked, but finally by Wednesday of the week we returned from Hawaii, I got back into the groove of things and we started on a Winter (and finished up our Arctic) unit. It actually worked in my favor that we waited until January, as January was far colder than December and felt much more wintery. Not just that, but the week after our winter unit, we were able to do some actual snow activity when we got our first real snow in Columbus in 4 years! I still can’t believe we got so lucky!
The main focus of our winter week was hands on activities. Not that we didn’t cover phonics and math also, but since we live in an area that doesn’t usually get snow, it was important to me that the girls got some hands-on wintery experiences.
The girls loved making homemade snow, making fizzing colored ice, and the snowstorm in a jar. Aria would have played with the snowstorm in a jar all day if I would have let her. For the actual snow day, she loved making snow cream, painting the snow, and making Mr. Potato Heads that she could decorate with Mr. Potato Head accessories. Of course, nothing could beat playing together outside and having a snowball fight! The girls also loved making a tent and filling it with really soft comfy things so that they could be bears hibernating in a cave to survive the winter cold. I think they holed up for hours in there.
I’m so grateful that we were able to experience our first real winter in Columbus with the girls this year. I feel like Aria will finally be able to understand that Winter is an actual season and snow truly exists, not that it is some fictional concept. Now, I’m ready to go enjoy some hot chocolate with marshmallows with the girls and enjoy the next 2 weeks of winter here in Columbus before it decides that its ready for Spring to start…in February…
I cannot express in mere words how proud I am of my husband for serving in our armed forces. For four years after college, he trained and fought overseas for the safety of our country, and I am so grateful to him and to all of those who are willing to sacrifice their lives for my safety and the safety of my children. Now that Zach is back in the Army Reserves, I really enjoyed spending a week celebrating soldiers and explaining why they are so important to both of my girls. While I had to be careful about what we talked about, as I didn’t want them scared for their daddy’s safety or inundated with lots of violent images of war, the girls really embraced learning about soldiers and their duty to our country, playing with soldiers, and making crafts for daddy and their Papa (who is a Vietnam War veteran). I also think that it meant a great deal to both my father-in-law and my husband, Zach, to be remembered and celebrated on a day that perhaps too many of us brush over or take for granted.
We kept the week short and treated it as something of a fall break week (taking off Thursday and Friday), but still accomplished a lot of crafts and learning activities. The girls loved painting cards and soldier dolls for daddy and Papa. The cutest craft we did was a handprint flag, which both girls were surprisingly helpful in making. We also made daddy an adorable flag snack on Veterans Day that was patriotic, healthy, and delicious. The girls loved playing with their soldier box that I made out of numerous military items I loaded up on at the dollar store. Zach enjoyed playing with the box with the girls and explaining what each item did, especially the tank that Zach drove in Iraq.
The most enjoyable part of the week for me was taking a family trip to the National Infantry Museum at Fort Benning and not only seeing what Zach and my father-in-law did to keep our country safe but also watching Zach show this part of his life to the children. I am so grateful that Zach and my many friends who are military wives came into my life and gave me a greater awareness of the sacrifices others make to give me a sense of security in my daily life. Growing up, I had respect for the military but never saw how hard the life could be on soldiers and their family and how long lasting the effects of war could be. I am so glad my eyes are opened so I can build greater respect in my own children and make sure that Veterans Day is not just another day on the calendar each year but a special, important day to honor those who gave so much for our country and us!
Thanksgiving is such a wonderful time of year. I don’t love the holiday quite as much as I love Christmas, but I do enjoy the time with family and the joy that comes with truly starting the holiday season. This year was special for us because we were able to spend the holiday with lots of family, from parents, grandparents, step siblings, cousins…and even special visits with friends (aka, the amazing Jessica and adorable Taegan were able to come hang out with us at the Polar Express train ride in Salisbury, NC). The girls really enjoyed having their cousin, Will, in town to play with them and to do school activities together. What a treat!
One of the best things we have for the week is most assuredly the Native American teepee that my stepgrandparents bought for the girls last year. They love getting to pretend they are Native Americans, and it becomes a special hiding place for the girls while we leave it up. Last year, I invested $12 in a Little People Thanksgiving meal set that I found at a local consignment store. I’m really glad I did, because this year I looked the kit up and it is quite expensive. Between the Little People Playskool set and the Jamestown settlers/Powhatan Indians toobs, the girls had a blast playing with characters as we talked about the first Thanksgiving. They also loved watching Schoolhouse Rock America and singing the Mayflower song.
We weren’t able to do as many activities as I had planned because we went on adventures around Charlotte almost every day and had so many distractions around the house, but we fit them in when we could. Early in the week, we made Native American headbands and vests with the great grandparents. We colored thankfulness pages every day and did some Pilgrim literacy games and coloring activities. When Will was here, we painted with Indian corn, built a turkey out of gingerbread, , and Aria even dressed up like a Native American for the Thanksgiving meal.
On Thanksgiving Day, we went to the downtown Charlotte Thanksgiving day parade. It was cold but so much fun to dance along with the bands and see the colorful floats. The highlight of the day was of course seeing Santa at the end of the parade and waving hello! The girls loved playing with all of the family on Thanksgiving while we cooked, though Aria helped make green bean casserole in a small gap in her playing. The whole family was able to join the fun with the “Gratitude Game” played with all of the adults and led by Aria. I highly recommend playing this game with your family. We had silly fun but were also able to be an example to our kids of gratefulness and gratitude on a day filled with gluttony.
This year, I am so grateful that Aria has been so open to homeschooling and has such a joy in life and willingness to learn. I wouldn’t have the love of homeschooling that I have if she wasn’t such a fun girl to teach. I am also so grateful to have the support and partnership of Jessica, who has pushed and encouraged me to become better and better in my homeschooling. I am so much prouder of my teaching this year than last due to following her amazing example. And finally, I am so grateful to my amazing husband, who supports my schooling endeavors, never complaining and helping as much as he can. I am so grateful to have him by my side and I couldn’t do it without my awesome partner in crime. When the going gets tough in teaching, or simply in parenting, it is so good to have these moments to take a little bit of time to remember how blessed (Thank you, God!) I am to get to be home with my girls all day every day and doing something I am so passionate about!
Never has my love of teaching been tested more than through doing a unit based on something I truly don’t enjoy at all: sports. However, between the Superbowl at the start of the week and the winter Olympics at the end of the week, doing a sports unit this week only made sense. Plus, my darling Skylar turned two this week (still can’t believe it!), which meant that between celebrating and family visiting, we were not left with a ton of free time, so no reason to try and do a unit that was super intensive. The girls seemed to enjoy the unit and all of the sports that we got to play.
When watching the Superbowl, I gave the girls glow in the dark footballs that they practiced throwing and catching. Then, we set up pillows and Aria asked me to “run into her like they do on tv,” which meant me gently tackling her into pillows. We also played a mini football game using a “flick the football” game from the dollar store. We set up fun football snacks and the kids got to stay up late watching the game. Aria especially loved dancing to the halftime show. By starting our school activities on Sunday, we were able to take Tuesday off to celebrate Skylar’s birthday without missing a day.
We also did a day each of basketball, golf, baseball, and soccer. We tried playing each game and did some learning activities associated with each every day, such as a hide and seek graphing game, alphabet basketball, a golf ball counting game, and simply learning terms for the games we played and the sports that each ball is associated with. The girls were sick early in the week, so it was good to have some physical activities to get their energy out since we couldn’t do our usual activities.
We ended the week watching the Olympics, which allowed us to refresh on the many different countries in the world and the different continents, while also talking about winter sports. We will keep watching the Olympics over the next few weeks so she can get more of a sense of winter sports, since we don’t have many of them here in Georgia. Maybe through my kid’s excitement in sports, someday I will find a love that I have somehow missed or overlooked, but I can’t say that I discovered the love this week! Glad the kids had an active and fun week even though stuck in the house…but I’m so ready to celebrate Valentine’s Day and Mardi Gras next week!
Jessica and Ana
Our Homeschooling Mission Statement: We will strive to be patient, godly examples to our children, integrating biblical principles and morality into every subject. Learning should be fun. We will foster an attitude of lifelong curiosity and play while providing the best possible education we can through books, art, technology, food, tactile activities, and cultural experiences. Learning will not be dictated by hours on a clock but will be a way of life for our families.