Saturday, August 24, 2013

THE BEGINNING OF HOME SCHOOL

I'm about to enter into my first year of home schooling Aiyana (my 6 year old).  I feel a little bit insane for doing it, just because my educational background has not prepared me to teach.  I studied psychology, the only good that is going to do me is helping me identify when I'm having a nervous breakdown over the whole homeschooling process. LOL!

I think I'm prepared.  Thanks to my wonderful friend Teresa over at Homestead Notes I was able to find the right curriculum for Aiyana.  We are going to be using Oak Meadow, which from what I've read is based on the same principles as the Waldorf Schools.



Waldorf schools emphasize the teaching of the whole child—head, hands, and heart.

I've reviewed the curriculum several times and I love it.  90% of it is hands on learning and what child doesn't want a hands-on education over sitting at a desk all day? None that I know of.  I think even my 13 and 17 year old are a bit jealous that they didn't get to learn using Oak Meadow.

I'm not the most organized structured person so I've decided the best way for me to start is to keep Aiyana on the same schedule as her sisters.  She'll be home schooled 5 days a week, 9 am - 3 pm.  That way her sisters are not around to distract her (they'll be at school) and I won't feel like I'm all over the place.  I think in the beginning it will be easier if I stick to what I know, which is the pattern the schools follow, except most of what we'll do will be outside and hands-on as oppose to sitting at a desk all day. Once I get more comfortable and start to see what Aiyana's learning style is, then I'll make adjustments.

I'm not as nervous as I was initially.  Having friends like Teresa and Natalie give me home schooling advice has helped a lot.  Teresa has been such a great source of information and always a confidence booster, I can't thank her enough.  If it wasn't for her I would never have found the courage or the right curriculum to be able to home school.

The last thing I had to prepare after getting the Oak Meadow materials was a system for keeping track of grades, subjects we will be focussing on, field trips, etc... I decided to just start with a search online and when I found a few sheets to guide me I downloaded a bunch of cute clip art from Etsy and made what I think will help me keep Aiyana's education in order.  Since it seems like everywhere I looked someone wanted money for just these basic sheets I've decided to upload them here and share them for free.  Why would someone expect others to pay for a silly little grading sheet? I hate when people charge for EVERYTHING.

So... here they are.  Hopefully they can help anyone who may be just beginning to home school like me :)
















If you have any trouble downloading these, please let me know.


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

FUN IN THE BOUNDARY WATERS


I meant to post this much earlier but I didn't get around to uploading all of my BWCA pictures to the computer until now.

In early July our family took a trip up to the BWCA (Boundary Waters Canoe Area), one of our most favorite places to visit in the U.S.  We spent 4 days canoeing, hiking, fishing, camping in addition to looking for bears and wolves.  Unfortunately we didn't find any wolves or bears :( but maybe next time.  

It was a great trip (aside from the whole "losing my dog" situation).  Our guide Kate was absolutely amazing!  We met Kate back in winter 2011 when we were up in Ely for a Wintergreen dogsledding adventure but we didn't have the pleasure of her guiding us on any sort of trip until this year.  She's fantastic with kids and overall just wonderful with families.  Our daughter Middy is tough to please but Kate kept her busy, didn't take no for an answer, and in the end Middy really enjoyed being in the BWCA again and having Kate as a mentor.  Middy learned to bait a hook with leeches, remove her fish from the line, build and start a campfire, prepare and cook camp food, identify wild plants, etc...  Some of the valuable things that not many kids get to learn today.

I really liked that the trip our guide Kate and the owner Jason from Ely Outfitting Company planned for our family was perfect for the energy and enthusiasm level of our kids.  We stayed at one camp site this year, were able to visit several different areas in the BWCA, divide equal time between hiking around and canoeing and we also had some fun fishing and the kids were able to squeeze in some swimming.  Kate is such an awesome guide that when we had one day of solid rain she still managed to keep the entire family entertained by playing cards and other games.  

I recommend Ely Outfitting Company and any one of Jason's guides to anybody interested in visiting the BWCA and not wanting to think about possibly getting lost because you have no idea how to read a topography map or a compass (like me) or if you don't want to go through all the work of packing enough food, finding and transporting a canoe and other equipment.  With Ely Outfitting Company it is all done for you and worth every penny spent.  

Here are some of our pix from this years visit to the BWCA:
Gypsy resting in the canoe.

Pure and beautiful BWCA water (courtesy of Kate Ford).   

Aiyana releasing her floating art (courtesy of Kate Ford).  Kate had the kids create art from pieces of nature and when they released their floating art into the lake they were to make a wish.
Sunset in the BWCA (courtesy of Kate Ford).  Kate got up really early to take some fantastic shots of the BWCA.
Early morning in the BWCA (courtesy of Kate Ford).


Middy with one of the fish she caught (courtesy of Kate Ford).  This little baby was returned to the lake.

Me showing Aiyana how to bait a hook with a worm (courtesy of Kate Ford)
This was actually a good lesson for Yana.  She learned a bit about the process of fishing and what it all entails in addition to seeing a living thing going from nature to her plate.  She decided that keeping fish and eating it wasn't for her (she liked catch and release much better), she also decided on this trip that she'd much rather use fake bait over live bait.

Kate and Middy sunk the canoe and played around in the water with it (courtesy of Kate Ford)

Kate making us dinner.
Pictographs (If I remember correctly these were done by the Ojibwe).


Kate, Maya, Gypsy,  Middy, Ulises, Me, Aiyana

Our little crew in the BWCA
Maya Fishing.
Tea made from nature (I forget the name of the plant)
Scenery from above our campsite.
Wintergreen.
Ulises and I.


Our state bird: the loon.

Kate teaching Middy to put a leech on a hook (you have to look closely to see the leech on Kate's boot)
Aiyana waiting for a big fish.