Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Homeschool Update, Potty Training, and Christmas Break!

We are in the midst of our Christmas Break right now, and Big Brother thinks it is pretty awesome that he gets to take a longer break than the local public schoolers thanks to our flexible year-round schedule!

I want to share what we are up to during our break, but first an update on our school year:

So far this year in our homeschool, we have explored Ancient Egypt, deserts, Ancient Greece, the human body, Ancient Rome, and geology using a fun unit study curriculum. (We are looking forward to learning all about the Middle Ages and plants next when we start back in January!)

Our recent study on Rome included Bible study on the life of Jesus. We read Old Testament prophecies about Christ and discovered how He fulfilled each one during His life. We also did an amazing study of Handel's Messiah, which was so enriching and a great way to lead us up to this Christmas season.

Our most recent literature read-aloud was The Bronze Bow. We were able to check it out from our library, and Big Brother and I both agree this was probably one of the best stories we had ever read. Highly recommend!

We have focussed a LOT on earthquakes and volcanoes in science lately. Big Brother even simulated both an earthquake and a volcanic eruption. We watched videos on YouTube of actual eartquakes and volcanic eruptions, too.

To tie this in with our study of Rome, we basically became experts on the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in Pompeii, Italy during the time of the Roman empire. We read every book we could find on the subject, watched numerous documentaries about the eruption on YouTube, and watched a movie that our library had about Pompeii. Fascinating stuff!

Of course Big Brother also read many books about ancient Rome, watched both Ben Hur and The Robe, made a timeline of all the Roman emporers, and constructed LEGO models of several important Roman landmarks.

Something else we've started recently is having Big Brother go to my mom 2 mornings a week for tutoring in spelling (his only weak score on standardized tests). My mom is a certified tutor with the Barton Reading & Spelling System. Big Brother looks forward to doing these fun lessons at Grana's house...and to the special lunch of macaroni and cheese she makes for him afterward! If you have a child who is dislexic or just seems to be struggling in some way with spelling or reading, the Barton system is definitely worth a look. We are truly blessed that my mom is close by and has this expertise.

Little Brother (2 1/2 now) has reached an important milestone in his life: no more diapers (except at bedtime)! We used a 3 day potty training "boot camp" approach with him, and it pretty much worked. It was probably one of the most exhausting things I've ever done (besides labor), but it worked. Thank the Lord! Potty training and weaning are the two necessary milestones I dread dealing with the most as a mommy. Glad we have both behind us now!


So that brings us to Christmas break!

December 9th was our first day off, and we will not start back until January 4th! Woohoo!! All the hard work we put in over the summer is really paying off now as we are able to slow down and enjoy the Christmas season.

How do you think Big Brother wanted to celebrate the beginning of his break? Why a trip to the library, of course!

He was intent on finding as many books as possible on pirates to enjoy over the next few weeks. Allowing him to choose books on a topic he currently finds interesting has helped keep the spark of learning alive while we are technically out of school. He has had some new and interesting fact about either a specific pirate, the history of pirating, or ships to report to us pretty much every day. And of course he has spent some time dressing up and pretending to be a pirate. Ahoy there, mates!

Big Brother is president of our county's Cloverbuds and 4-H Homeschool clubs. He has had several recent meetings and workshops to attend. He sold candy bars to help earn money for his Cloverbuds Club to sponsor a needy child for Christmas. He and his friends had fun wrapping their gifts for the child. This whole experience was so good for him as he learned a little bit about making sales, worked on counting change, and helped a child in need along the way.

In that same spirit of learning the joy of giving to others this Christmas season, Big Brother also filled 2 shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child this year. We just discovered that his boxes were sent to a boy and girl Columbia.

Another fun service project we did was collecting pairs of "silly socks" to send to hospitalized children this Christmas. Big Brother used some of the money he had earned from his chores and collected donations from family and friends. In all he was able to send 105 pairs of socks to the cause! We had so much fun with this that I definitely want to do it again next year!

Christmas music has been major focus for our family this year. We participated in two different community Christmas caroling services, and Big Brother also performed last weekend in his first official piano recital. He worked so hard preparing and perfecting his assigned piece (Angels We Have Heard on High), and he did a wonderful job. His teacher had even taught him how to give a proper bow. Getting to play a real grand piano on stage at a large church in our area for the recital was so exciting for him.

Little Brother has been enjoying all the music, too. Several times this week I have heard him singing parts of Beautiful Star of Bethlehem while playing with his toys. So sweet! He absolutely LOVES the song The Little Drummer Boy. I can hardly wait to see his blue eyes light up when he opens the new drum set we are giving him for Christmas!!

Another way we are creatively spending our time off is by simply coloring. Big Brother has been on somewhat of a coloring craze these last few days especially, and he has finished an entire coloring book for the first time in his life. Little Brother wants to do whatever Big Brother does, of course, so he has been "coloring" a lot, too (mostly drawing lines and little circles with his crayon on the pages in his coloring books, but it is great fine motor skills practice just the same). I have taken the time to do some coloring in some of my Scripture coloring books, too. We all seem to find it so relaxing and fun that I am seriously considering including coloring time into our regular school day routine in the coming semester!

We will be spending lots of time with family on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Thankfully my husband gets 11 total days off from work for the Christmas and New Year's holidays, so we are looking forward to lots of family fun and relaxation coming up!

To you and yours: Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year 2017!