Sunday, February 3, 2008

Making it Fun

When it comes to schooling, there are a few things that I think are important. First, I believe that the basics of learning to use our language (reading and writing) and math are the most important academic subjects. Without these skills, you just can't succeed in life. With them, you can read and learn about anything you want. Because of this, I stress these subjects more than any other academic subject. However, I've also made them as painless as possible. They are able to finish their daily language arts and math work in about 1 1/2 hours a day. Once these subjects are completed, we can spend time in other subjects.

I use these other subjects to bring the fun into school. I believe that kids learn best when they are enjoying themselves so I try to make it fun whenever I can. This year I've added in a little bit of notebooking and lapbooking to our studies. The kids use notebooking with their Bible studies. I use a combination of lapbooks and unit studies for our literature, history, and science studies. We just started using lapbooks; I believe that they are here to stay. Our first lapbook, based on How the Grinch Stole Christmas, was a lot of fun. We are working on a bird one now.

Sometimes our homeschool days look like this. Mika and Sammy are working on notebook pages. The kids prefer to do their book work at the coffee table or on the couch but Josh usually makes that impossible because he loves to turn and tear pages in their books. They are looking foward to him growing up a little so they can return to the couch. When we are at the table, Josh often joins us. Sometimes he eats cheerios. Sometimes he colors like he is in this photo. Either way, I'm starting him out early.

Over the summer, we discovered Home Depot Kids Clinics. We enjoyed the clinics so much that I incorporated them into our learning plans for the school year as a beginning woodworking class. This past Saturday we made these football stools at our local Home Depot. Then today, the kids painted them. This is Sammy's stool. He chose to make his look like a football (he asked for help on the stripes) with blue legs for the Seahawks. Mika chose help make a friend's stool rather than assemble hers. She wanted to paint the top as a plaque for her daddy. She painted it to look like a football and wrote, "My MVP" on it. He liked it.

This year we enrolled in a virtual school. Because of funds provided by the school, we are able to take classes in the community we wouldn't otherwise be able to afford. Mika and Sammy both take swimming lessons and gymnastics at the YMCA. Sammy takes taekwondo at a local dojang. The kids love their classes; they are a highlight of their week. Sammy takes every opportunity to practice his taekwondo forms. In this photo, he's practicing his white belt kicking technique while he waits for me to finish getting ready to leave.

I've mentioned before that we love field trips. They definitely add a lot of fun to school and the kids learn and retain so much more than they would just reading textbooks. Thankfully, in our area, there are many low cost field trip opportunities. We've been so busy that we've only been able to fit in one trip since December. Fortunately, we have one scheduled soon: a trip to a local dairy farm. I'll be sure to blog about it with photos (of course) after the trip.

Don't forget the benefits of playing games. This weekend, I taught my kids how to play war and crazy eights. My son wanted to learn to play cards by himself so I also taught him a version of solitare that I played as a kid. Kids can learn many things playing games including how to get along, take turns, and be good sports. This evening they spent some time playing Yahtzee.

And where is Josh when he isn't sitting at the table with us? He's probably in the kitchen studying the properties of water in the dog bowl. He's going to grow up to be a world famous scientist some day. ~smile~

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Michelle Olsen Sasak said...

Miss J had a great time hanging out with Mika. Her stool turned out so well. Sammy looks so cool doing his kicking technique. The pic of Josh in the water bowl is so cute!

Anonymous said...

Oh, he is enjoying that doggy bowl. So cute. When Hip Rider is quiet, she is usually in a corner somewhere trying to take her diaper off so that she can run freely naked through the house.

Anonymous said...

That last pic really brought a smile to my face! How adorable!!!

Manders said...

I posted a little be about you and your blogs today.

I'm not sure how to post back like "everyone" does, feel free to tell me.