Search This Blog

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Learning through gardening

I finally picked the first vegetable from the garden today... a wonderful zucchini.  I can't wait to enjoy it for lunch with my salad!  Carolyn went out with me to check on the garden as we have started to do each morning.  I showed her how to remove the zucchini by twisting and it popped off with a small tip, so perfect.  There are a bunch more squash and zucchini out there and I've found 2 green beans.  Should shape up for some yummy lunches/snacks or vegetables with dinner over the next month or so.

What was fun was that when we came in, Carolyn asked to measure the zucchini.  My first thought was "why?" but then I beat back my adult brain and pulled out the tape measure.  This vegetable is over 6" long and about as thick as Carolyn's arm!  And I had to pull out a second tape measure so the kids could play around with them.  It's so cute to watch them walking around pretending to measure various things.  So much fun!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Preparing our Curriculum

Now that my health seems to be back on track and seeing as I have a whole week before my new job starts, I've spent the past few days looking over preschool/kindergarten materials for Carolyn.  Looking at her skills, she's really already at a kindergarten level, so I want to take her skills further.  I don't want to buy a curriculum for a few reasons.  One major reason is that I don't to spend the money.  But another huge one is that I want to fit everything to Carolyn's learning style and desires.  She's a naturally curious kid, so I use that as a jumping off point.  I believe I've figure out my plan of attack for this next school year.

First, there are the set activities that Carolyn will be participating in.  Despite being asked to join team for gymnastics, we're 95% sure she won't be doing that.  Just don't want her to burn out on something she loves at only 4.  So Mondays will be gymnastics, the intro to beginner level for 1 hour.  Wednesdays will be story hour where they will use some Spanish.  And most likely Thursday, at least for fall, will be soccer.  After fall we will see about ice skating lessons and/or swimming lessons to take the place of soccer.  We'll see how she's doing and what she wants to do.  She's been asking a lot about dance, so if I can find her a program without a recital that starts after soccer is over, we'll consider it. 

That leaves us with Tuesday/Friday as our "free" days.  In the fall I am hoping to spend lots of time at parks.  Hopefully the weather can cooperate and we'll get out to a different park each day.  If we're feeling rundown or the weather is yucky, we'll hang around the house, go for a ramble in the neighborhood, or even work on a lesson.  I also want to get out to the children's museums and other community places geared towards the kids.  I need to start compiling a list, so if you're reading this and know of some, let me know.  So far on our list:
Round Lake Children's Museum
Treehouse in Lake Zurich
Monkey Joe's in Lake Zurich
Kohl Children's Museum
DuPage Children's Museum
Brookfield Zoo
Cosley Zoo (Wheaton)
Crystal Lake Nature Center
Lake County Nature Preserve
Moraine Hills Park

I also am hoping to pick places for us to visit once a month as a family on Saturdays.  In the fall I'd like to do apple picking again like we did last year.  But we may use some of the ideas above for weekend activities as well.  I'm a planner and I want to be sure we're engaging the kids as much as possible and not getting caught up in every day life such that we're not taking time to enjoy things.  On the other hand, I also intend to stay more on top of housework this year, although I suspect that will be fairly easy once I spend less time at the computer.

After all of that, I want to spend some time doing mini-lessons with Carolyn.  These I suspect will take 30 minutes or less and we will fit them in as time allows.  We may use mornings before heading off to activities, depending on wake up times and breakfast.  Or when Carolyn wakes from her nap we may begin to utilize that time more effectively, leaving me to work a little more in the evenings.  This is her last full year at home and I want to take advantage of it.  For math I'm going to work through the CSMP curriculum, although somewhat picking and choosing lessons.  I like the idea of a spiral math curriculum and how hands-on it is.  I will work to create number lines to post, likely in the basement, once our house if off the market.  I also found a good website that gives science ideas.  We are going to start with exploring the body and five sense.  This seems to make the most sense since both kids love playing with the doctor kit and are interested in how their bodies work.  After that we will move on to living things, since that's part of the K curriculum.  For writing/reading I find a cool idea that kind of puts that and art all together.  It's centered around nursery rhymes and the alphabet.  Carolyn is already very strong in letter recognition, but needs to work on rhyming, so this is perfect for her.  Each nursery rhyme is matched with a letter and an art project.  So we will also be doing more art this year, which I'm sure she'll love.  And the final thing for reading is little books that each introduce sight words for her.  In each book she'll need to cut out a sentence to paste with a picture and then write down the sentence.  I suspect we might just do the cut and paste at first and then go back for the writing later in the year.  But she'll enjoy making the books and we can begin to work on her reading.  I also want to do some social science things.  This is a bit trickier for her age group, as there isn't much out there.  But I've put together a list of topics we can explore.  I'm going to start with community helpers, although she already knows most of them, then start to expand outwards looking at our county, our state, our region, and then the other regions of the country.  I'm sure we'll talk about the election as is approaches as well.  I haven't decided how we'll choose what lesson to do each day.  Since I have 5 different "areas" to work on, I might put each one in a jar along with a computer day (she LOVES starfall) and have her pick one out until the jar is empty.  I think that'll be best for the first few weeks and then we can see where her interests are.

We also bought her a "journal" that has a blank area on the top 1/3 of the page, with lines below.  Right now she's pretty much just coloring in it.  But I'm hoping as the year goes on we can use it as more of a journal and she can draw a picture and then write some words or dictate to me what she'd like to say.  For now she's drawing and then telling her "story" to use.  It's super cute and I love how she's showing her understanding of books in this way.

I'm really looking forward to getting started with all of this, but we will wait until Jon heads back to work.  For now I continue to prepare everything and we enjoy our time as a family.  I continue to worry about Carolyn being bored in school when she starts, but I want to help her to advance this next year as well.  It's amazing to watch how both kids are so interested in learning and books.  And I love that tv/videos/computers are such a minimal part of our life.  I know that will likely change as the kids get older, but it's awesome for now. 

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Embracing the Unexpected

If you had asked me where life would be 6 months ago, it would have been really different than how things are going.  I definitely would have had Jon in a new job and probably would have had our house sold.  But God works in very mysterious ways at times.  Rather than the expected, I'm embracing the unexpected.  There's a somewhat short list, but very impactful none-the-less.  Started with a promotion to Senior Mentor April 1.  This lead to a little more work, easily meeting monthly income goals without having to tutor.  Then I was contacted to tutor in person and paid a fairly high amount, leading to us able to stockpile some cash for activities this summer.  A few weeks ago, Jon saw information about reinstating a lapsed certificate just by paying the fees.  I had looked into this last fall when I realized I could teach online, but found out I would have to take 9 graduate level hours to get my certificate back.  With this brief window of opportunity, I paid about $65 and have a valid certificate for 4 years.  And then I found positings for teaching with, physics and math both needed.  Figuring it was a long shot, I put up my info and sat back and waited.  We went on vacation and enjoyed our summer.  Then I received an email asking for my certificate, which I cobbled together without a paper copy, and waited again.  Last Sunday I got impatient and emailed asking the timeline for the position.  I was told Monday morning they were hoping to have the person start late July.  I came home from the zoo to a request for an interview on Tuesday!  Luckily the hours worked with my schedule working hours and we set up a time.  After about 30 minutes, I was offered the position.  This seems like a fantastic opportunity that could lead to a lower stress level for me.  In the meantime, there is also a track position posted at ZB.  Jon has applied for it and was told he will be interviewed when the time comes.  So it looks like we've been giving quite a few opportunities to be prosperous this next year, albeit not anything we had anticipated.  Who knows where life will lead, but things are looking up for now.  Amazing how God provides and it you're willing to follow along you can get everything you need.  I'm interested to see how everything fits together over the next few months.

I'm not sure what's going on with my health.  After a month of being completely exhausted, the last week hasn't been so terrible.  I worked out yesterday and it felt good.  I was definitely tired as the day went on, but not even exhausted when I layed down for bed at 9.  Definitely a good sign.  Amazingly, I am also not even sore today.  So I don't know what to make of any of this.  But I've decided to kind of try to push through.  I will nap when I need to, but workout on the days as planned, as long as my muscles aren't too sore.  And hopefully by this fall my body will be in a good, energetic state so I can work 2 part time jobs and be the mom the kids need me to be.  Next month I will start piecing together Carolyn's preschool program!

When I look at everything around me, I am truly amazed at how blessed I am.  A wonderful husband, 2 beautiful, amazing kids, a safe home, and the opportunity to spend a lot of time together.  Thank God for putting all of this together.