Friday, December 27, 2013

Homeschool Organization

Hello.  My name is Shannon. I am a perfectionist.  Yup - there it is.  While I am admitting things - I also have an issue with some OCD tendencies.  Things must be alphabetized, color coordinated and specifically organized.  Sadly, I also have the tendency of not putting things away, so when things become a mess, I pull EVERYTHING out and reorganize.  So how is it that I keep our home school stuff organized?  This has been a question I have been asked numerous times and I finally am going to answer!

My notebook:
The first thing I have done is created a notebook for me.  It is a three-ring binder with a clear plastic cover on the front.  In that cover is a copy of the "schedule."  I use that term loosely, because though there are times on it, we use it more as a routine that an actual schedule.  The schedule is color coded by child.

When you open my notebook, I have our attendance sheets.  Behind those is a regular sheet of paper, where I write our field trips down.

There are also multiple tabs.  I have a tab for each of the four children I school, a tab for extra copies of my planner sheets, and a tab for field trip information.

Here are the planner sheets in MY binder for each of the kids.  Each one is color coded - DD4 is pink, DS6 is blue, DS8 is green, and DD10 is purple.  On these sheets I write what is expected of them for the week - such as what chapter they are to do for math.

Kids' Notebook:
Each of the children also have a three-ring binder.  In there, I have THEIR planners.  These are broken down into the days of the week and the subjects.  I write out for them what they are to do.  There are ten subject boxes for each day - I write them in order of their workboxes.

Below is a picture of our workbox system.  There are ten drawers.  The first drawer for each of the children is for devotions and supplies.  The rest of the drawers hold the books and materials for each of their subjects.  For example, all of the children do geography as their first subject after our morning devotions, so in each of their second drawers is their material for geography, be it flags to color, their passports, etc.  On the front of the boxes, I have numbers velcro-ed on.  When they are done that subject, they take the number off their box and put it on their laminated sheet that sits on top of their boxes.  This helps me keep track of where they are in their day, without me disturbing them if they are busy working.  For the younger children (all but DD10), I also put potty breaks on their sheet, so they can be reminded to go before the urgency hits, lol.

Hopefully all of this made sense.  If not, please feel free to ask me to clarify!!!!

Christmas Day pictures

I wanted to share with all of you some of our pictures from Christmas.  We do not exchange many gifts.... we each get "something you want," "something you need," "something you wear," "something you read," and "something for your hobby."  Then we also exchange homemade gifts between ourselves.  This year, ds8 made everyone wood burnings.  Ds6 made everyone, except me, a scarf.  I received a box to put my sewing pins :)  DD10 made a mixture of things.  For me, she rescued a tiny "wild" tomato seedling a couple months ago, and has been nurturing it ever since :)  My dear sweet hubby is working on a drying rack for fresh pasta.

After opening a few gifts, we had a yummy breakfast of fruit cup, a bacon, potato, and egg casserole, and some warm wassail.

After breakfast, I got the turkey in the oven, and then we headed out to the fire department and police department.  The same two gentlemen that worked Thanksgiving at the Fire Department were working Christmas as well!

For our children this year, my hubby and I put our heads and "talents" together to make gifts.  DD6mo received a swing.  DS2 received a busy board.  DD4 (ack she's almost 5!) received a play kitchen, though sadly it is not quite done.  DS6 and DS8 both received trays with large flat 10 inch lego pieces in it, to build their lego masterpieces.  DD10 received a bunkbed nightstand :)

We enjoyed a quiet day together, though we missed being with family.  We were able to Skype with hubby's family for a few minutes, where the kids opened a few of the presents from them.  We kept our dinner small this year, with my health issues rearing their ugly heads in major ways over the last few days.  Overall, it was a great Christmas, with us trying to keep our focus on the Greatest Gift of All!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Advent Countdown - Day 24 - Christmas Eve

Today we read John 1:14.  "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." (NKJV)

Our focus today was on the United States... and more so on our own Christmas Eve traditions.  We read our traditional Christmas Eve book - My Birthday, Jesus' Birthday, by Holly Davis.  Throughout the day, we ate numerous appetizer foods, including

 Veggie tree tray

cheese tray and gf crackers

Ham, dill pickle, and cream cheese wraps

Mini tacos

Buffalo chicken balls with blue cheese dip

Then, that night, we received our Christmas Eve pajamas and watched a new Christmas movie - Silver Bells.  It was a really good, clean, family movie :)

Advent Countdown - Day 23 - Canada

Matthew 2:9-12 was our reading for today.  We then learned about Canada.  It seems like Canada, much like the United States, are a mode podge of cultures.  The one thing that seemed pretty consistent, though, from area to area, was that the people of Canada often send Christmas cards to one another.  The other traditions seemed to be based on where the people were from - be it from France, Germany, England, Ireland, etc.

Our book today was Waldo, Tell Me About Christmas.  We absolutely LOVE this book!  To sort of go along with it, we got our dogs some gifts for the season.  For those that do not know, we have to fantastic, though big, dogs that we adore.  Our older dog, Stephie, is a dutch shepherd mix.  She is fantastic with the children, yet very protective of them and myself.  Our other dog, Zoey, is still very much so puppy in her play.  However, she too is quite protective of "her pack," lol.

Advent Countdown - Days 21 & 22

The last weekend before Christmas!  We have lots to do!  And yet, we must remember to keep Jesus at the center of this season, trying not to get caught up in the bustle that surrounds this holiday!  Our readings for the two days were Matthew 2:3-6 and Matthew 2:7-8.  Our weekend was busy with finishing up gifts, grocery shopping, and delivering some goodies.  We included a small plate of cookies we had made, one of our nativity ornaments, and one of the cards we had made.  What a fun time!

Advent Countdown - Day 20 - Mexico

Our reading from the Bible, today, was Matthew 2:1-2.

Our country was Mexico.  May I just say that I LOVE learning about Mexico!?!?  Maybe it has something to do with the fact they are such close neighbors.  Maybe it is because most mexicans I have met have incredible work ethics and family values.  Maybe it is because I love eating Mexican food.  Maybe it is all of the above :)

Anyways, we truly enjoyed learning about Mexico.  I think our favorite part was learning about Las Posadas.  For this, starting on the 16th of December, a young girl dressed as Mary, riding on a donkey, along with the town people, go to a different house, asking for a place to stay.  And each night, they are turned away, being told there is no room.  That is, until Christmas Eve - and then they are welcomed in the home, where they say prayers of thanksgiving and then have a party.  What a great way to reenact and remember what Mary and Joseph went through so many years ago, bringing forth the King of all kings, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, so that we, His disciples and adopted children, can be reconciled to God through the shedding of His blood for our sins.

Our books we read went along with Mexico.  These included A Night of Las Posadas, by Tomia dePaola and The Legend of the Poinsettia, by the same author.  I highly recommend both books!

Our dinner included Chilaquiles al horno and Arroz verde con queso y rajas.  Oh my goodness - YUMMY!  The chilaquiles were a bit spicy, but mixed with the rice, it was fantastic!  Definitely a meal we will be making again!!!  Oh - and we had salad to give us a veggie ;)

Advent Countdown - Day 19 - Costa Rica & Guatemala

We started our reading today in Micah 5:2-5.  Then we started looking at Costa Rica and Guatemala.  In Costa Rica, tropical flowers are often used to decorate.  Tamales are the dinner of choice after the Midnight Mass.  In Guatemala, the Nativity scene is popular.  They often use dyed sawdust in bright colors in their scenes.

Our book for today was The Baker's Dozen, by Aaron Shepard.  What a great book!!!!  To go along with the story, we spent the day baking cookies.  Here are some of our delights.

Advent Countdown - Day 18 - Argentina & Brazil

Today we were blessed with the gift of help from a sweet sweet friend.  She came over and spent five hours playing with our children, so I could get some sewing done!  I cannot even begin to express my gratitude or what a blessing this was!!!!!

Our Scripture reading was Luke 2:19-20.  Then we started looking at Argentina.  The Nativity scene is an important "decoration" in Argentina.  Considering most of the people of Argentina are Catholic, Advent is normally celebrated.  Fireworks are common at midnight.  In Brazil, fireworks are also common.  The children often hand socks near their windows, for Papai Noel.

Our book for the day was The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg.  We decided to have a yummy "north pole" smoothie to go along with a festive breakfast.

Advent Countdown - Day 17 - Ethiopia & Kenya

Our reading for the day came again from Luke - Luke 2:15-18

In Ethiopia, Christmas is not celebrated on December 25th... instead, it is celebrated on January 7th.  This is because the Julian calendar is used.  Wat is a traditional food eaten for Christmas.  Unlike the western commercial idea of giving lots of gifts for Christmas, in Ethiopia, the people go to church, eat, and play games.  In Kenya, those who had left their rural homes to find work in the larger cities, often return to their families for Christmas.  They then party for two days - Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

While we were hoping to make Yataklete Killkil and Doro Wat for dinner, the day was not conducive to this.  Instead, we ate leftovers, lol.

However, we did read the story How the Grinch Stole Christmas, by Dr. Suess, and had some grinch floats :)

Advent Countdown - Day 16 - France & Spain

A week and a half until Christmas!  Woohooooo!

Our day started with reading Luke 2:8-12.  Then we started the geography portion of our schooling.  France and Spain were the final two countries in Europe we took a look at for our countdown.  In France, the yule log is a very important part of celebrating Christmas.  It is carried into the home on Christmas Eve and burnt through the night, in case Mary and Baby Jesus come by.  In Spain, the Midnight Mass or Mass of the Rooster is popular.  It is called the latter, because a rooster is thought to have crowed when Jesus was born.

Our book for the day was Snowflake Bentley, by Jacqueline Briggs Martin.  This story is fascinating!  It is about Wilson Bentley and his fascination with, and determination to capture images of, snowflakes.  To go along with the story, we decided to make paper snowflakes to hang around our house.

For dinner, we decided to do our main course from Spain, with a side from France.  It consisted of Shrimp Andouille Paella with a side of Salad Vinaigrette.  Super super yummy (little spicy - but yummy).

Advent Countdown - Days 14 & 15

Day 14

This was a day of shopping for us - so much to do and not enough time in the day :D  First, however, we spent time in the Word - reading Luke 2:6-7.  We then headed out and did some shopping for Christmas outfits, along with grocery shopping.  Our book for the day was The Christmas Snowman, by Chris Angelilli.  We didn't really have a craft... but our breakfast centered around the snowman theme ;)

Day 15

Today was a special day at church :)  We went to the "normal" morning worship service, which is always a delight!  Then this evening we headed to a fellowship dinner followed by Christmas music singing and specials by members of the church.  We belong to an incredible church that LOVES Christ and tries to serve Him to their utmost!  Our verses for the day were Luke 2:8-12.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas

Wishing each of you a very Merry Christ-centered Christmas, from our family to yours!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Advent Countdown - Day 13 - Germany

Germany!  A country I would love to visit one day!  A country full of traditions and culture.  A country with exquisite castles.  A country that has its own emphasis on things at Christmas time.

We started our time with reading Luke 2:1-5.  Then, we started learning about the traditions in Germany.  Germans put a good deal of emphasis on Advent.  Sadly, this is something not always celebrated to its true extent here in the States.  But alas, I am taking a rabbit trail ;)  Christmas trees are also quite important - with the first being displayed during the Middle Ages.  Unlike the family tradition of decorating the tree that many of us are accustomed, in Germany, the mother often does this in secret.

With such an emphasis on Christmas trees in Germany, we decided to read the book Christmas Tree by Florence and Wendell Minor.

Our craft for the day was decorating gingerbread houses.  I totally cheated and glued the house to the plate and together with a hot glue gun.  Then we let the kids decorate.  Once the houses were done, we decided to decorate ourselves a little ;)

Supper was a yummy elk roast, potato dumplings, red cabbage and a black forest cake.  Yum yum yum!