Sunday, August 15, 2010

Homeschooling 1st Grade - Week 1


Our first week of homeschooling is behind us and it was great! The first day just flew by! We started the day off with swimming lessons (more on that later), a MOPS playdate at Gymnastics World (we counted that as PE), and lunch with some friends. Then we headed home for some Reading, 'Riting, & 'Rithmatic! I was surprised how quickly we got everything done! The second day, not so much. Christopher was more interested in playing his computer than any of his regular work, so it took a little more effort to get the curriculum done. But now, he knows this is our regular routine and the rest of the week went much better!

The picture above shows some of his handwriting practice. This is "copywork" from the Sonlight curriculum - it's from a story he read. Later, we circled the capital letters at the beginning and underlined who each sentence was about (in this case, Pat). The reading is actually below his level at this point, but it's building some much needed confidence for my little boy who wants to be perfect the first time he tries something & would rather not do it at all than risk making a mistake!

We took our spelling lesson outside, where he wrote all his spelling words on the driveway in sidewalk chalk. He loved it...and he spelled every single word correctly! Later in the week, he got 100% on his spelling test...and no, I didn't grade on the curve! :)

The book he's working in above is called "Explode the Code" - it's a phonics program...again, too easy for his current level of ability, but coordinates with his reading book and is building some valuable confidence that will help him tackle the harder work later!

The book above is Horizons Math for 1st Grade. Right now, he's breezing through most of it, but the first week or so of school is always review of the previous year. The best part is that it's doing wonders for his self-confidence and he looks forward to doing school every day!

Along with the workbooks, we're also reading a variety of books about history & science - including some missionary stories. We're also reading through the Book of Mark in the Bible and memorizing Psalm 1. Last week, we memorized Psalm 1:1 - this week, we'll add the second verse, and so on. By the end of six weeks, we'll have the whole first Psalm memorized! I'm memorizing it right along with him - so it's helping us both!

I absolutely LOVE homeschooling! I was a little worried about how it would all work out, and I must admit, some of my fears were realized on our 2nd day - but once I got a schedule and a routine going, it just started falling into place! If you're looking for an email, text, or facebook status update/reply from me, you probably won't get one until the afternoon on the days we are doing school - but it's so worth every moment!

As promised...here's the update on swimming lessons. We completed our first two-week round of lessons and signed up for another round. Since he was still hesitant about putting his face in the water, we decided to sign him up for Level 1 again. On the computer, it looked like there was an 8-8:30am class and a 9:30-10am class for Level 1 - so we chose the 8-8:30am class so we could get going with our homeschool day.

We showed up Tuesday morning and there was no class for him. There was a Level 2 and a Level 3 Preschool class. His teacher from the last round of lessons was there and said she'd be teaching a Level 1 preschool class at 8:45am if we wanted to stay for that. I gave Christopher the option of either doing the preschool class with the teacher he already knew or the 9:30 class with kids his own age & a different teacher. He chose to stay with the teacher he knew.

This actually turned out to be a good thing! Since Christopher's the oldest in the class (the others are 3, 4, & 5) and Christopher's already done Level 1, he got to be Teacher's Helper for this class. Since he was showing off for the "little kids," he was doing far more than he had in the whole two prior weeks of Level 1 at his age level! He put his face in the water...WITHOUT his goggles! And as you can see above, he's stretching out more and swimming with the kickboard. Giving him a little authority has really boosted his confidence, and as a result, he's doing so much more! YAY!!!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

A Day with the Ohio Jansens

David's brother Bob and his family live in Ohio, so we don't get to see them as much as we would like. Bob and his wife Betsy have three sweet girls - Jenny, Ali, & Abby - a.k.a. our nieces & Christopher's "girl cousins" (my brother has only boys, so those are the "boy cousins"). :)

This summer, the Ohio Jansens decided to make a trip down to Florida to visit...and we are so glad they did! The last time they were here, Christopher was only 4 months old...so needless to say, he's done a little growing since they were here last...and so have his "girl cousins" - they were 13, 9, & 6 when they were here last, I believe - now they are all grown up at 20, 16, & 13! Whew...time sure flies! :)

Anyway, we spent the Friday of the week they were here with them. We started out with a trip to the beach for a little sun and fun.

Ali (16) found a very cool sea creature! She actually found it by accidentally stepping on it (not too hard, though - no sea creatures were harmed in the making of this blog)! :) We all had to check it out and got to watch it moving ever so slowly! Great science lesson for Christopher!
After the beach, we went home to shower & change clothes - then we headed back to Grandma Jansen's house (David's mom) for dinner and fun. Christopher talked Ali & Abby into playing Payday with him. He shocked me when he read "Bonus" at the bottom of the board! The boy knows how to read more than he lets on, I think!

Later, Betsy, Ali, Abby, Christopher and I got involved in what turned out to be a marathon Uno game! Jenny joined us midway through and was our spectator/cheerleader! We were going to deal her in on the next game...but the game we had going lasted way too long! Every time one of us would get an Uno, it was followed by drawing half the deck! We'd been playing by the rule that if you didn't have a playable card, you had to draw until you got one. Finally, we decided to just draw one and keep moving - thus finally bringing the game to an end...as Christopher & I (team effort) placed our last card on the pile!


These are the Jansen brothers...David's the oldest, Bob (on the left) is the middle child, and Chuck (on the right) is the youngest.

Above is the "Jansen Women's Club" - (left to right) Abby, Jenny, me, Mom/Grandma Jansen, Betsy, Ali
Hopefully the next visit with them won't be so long in the making. We talked some of meeting half-way sometime in the near future. :)




Tuesday, August 3, 2010

A Summer Full of Activities!

We've had lots going on this summer...and though I've posted some of these pictures on Facebook, I wanted to share an update blog of what we've been up to this summer! I can't believe I didn't take time to blog about our fun along the way...but honestly, it never crossed my mind! :)
Our summer began with Vacation Bible School at our church. I was a helper in Christopher's class, which may not have been the best choice. But, he brought along some friends and his buddy Mia was in his class, so he had fun. He just wasn't much for the singing and doing the motions part.

The next week, in late June, David had a conference to attend in Orlando, FL - so Christopher and I tagged along for fun. Our budget didn't have room for any theme park tickets, but we had fun finding out all the other stuff Orlando has to offer! Our friends, Joel, Sharyn, & Gabriella happened to planning their Disney vacation that week, so we met up with them for a little fun at Downtown Disney one of the days we were there. We found this restaurant there with a dinosaur theme - right up Christopher's ally!
The T-Rex restaurant is owned by the same people who own the Rainforest Cafe' - so it was quite a real experience! Unfortunately, I didn't get any great pictures inside to show how much fun we had! But, that night, Christopher and I took Daddy back to this restaurant for dinner! So, that should say something! ;)

After filling our bellies at lunchtime, we headed over to the Lego store in Downtown Disney for some playtime. While Gabriella and Christopher worked on their creations, Sharyn and I got some girl-time to chat and Joel got some quiet time alone.
Below is Christopher's finished masterpiece!
Other things that Christopher and I discovered in Orlando were a mall where Christopher had his first ever A&W Root Beer Float! Needless to say, mixing his two favorites (ice cream and root beer) was sheer heaven for him! On our last day in Orlando, Christopher and I hung out at the World's Largest McDonald's while Daddy attended his last conference. It's like McDonald's and Chuck E. Cheese all rolled into one. They have a huge play area that's free, as well as plenty of arcade games to drain your bank account, if you aren't careful!
The sad part of our summer was letting our friends Joel, Sharyn, and Gabriella go to where God was leading them. It had been on my friend Sharyn's heart for many years to be geographically closer to her parents and God provided that opportunity for them this year by opening jobs for both Joel & Sharyn at a school in Oklahoma near where Sharyn's family lives. As much as we knew this was God's plan for their life and we couldn't really argue with Him (believe me, we've tried!), it was still hard to let them go! Sharyn, Gabriella, Christopher, and I had one last playdate at the mall. We started with lunch in the food court and then headed to the playground until we couldn't delay saying goodbye any longer...well, sort of! We did have dinner with our hubbies/daddies, our friend Heather and her sweet baby Molly later that night. It's just so hard to say good-bye to such great friends...so, we decided to say "See ya later!" instead! ;)

While we were at the mall, Christopher decided he wanted to make a Build-A-Bear for his cousin Hannah Kate's first birthday (more on that later)! Below is a picture of him dressing the bear he made in a special "Happy Birthday" shirt.

After a week of Vacation Bible School at Grandma Jansen's church, we headed off to Alabama to visit my family! My brother's boys Jackson and Brody spent two nights with us at Gran & Pop's house. The boys had a blast playing together - and we even made a special craft together!
Later, Gran took all her grandsons, Stephanie (my SIL), David, and me to see Toy Story 3 in 3-D. It was a great movie and I think everyone enjoyed it! We later went to my mom's favorite Mexican restaurant for her birthday dinner. The next day, Gran decided she wanted to take the grandsons bowling...so, off we went! Everyone had a blast!


On Thursday of that week, we had a low-key day. Jackson and Brody had gone back to their home. I had an Opportunity Meeting scheduled that day for anyone up there who might be interested in selling Avon. Once that was over, David, Christopher, and I headed out to check out some of my favorite places around town. Our first stop was the art museum where they have a hands-on area for kids. Christopher got to step into a painting.

Then we spent some time making lots of fun light art images. We made several, but here's one to give you an idea of how cool it is! This was Christopher - he moved and the lines followed him.
Then Christopher tried his hand at stamp art. Each stamp had a different color, and by the time you were done, you had a great image!

The picture below was taken at the entrance of the hands-on children's area of the art museum. Christopher is holding two prints he made with the stamps pictured above.
I decided I wanted to check out the "grown-up" art in the rest of the museum, but Christopher wasn't too interested in that...so he and Daddy wandered outside where they found this...
Knowing that my grandparents' last name is Till, they came and found me so they could show this to me. Turns out, Harry Jackson Till is my grandfather's first cousin. My grandfather's dad and Harry's dad were brothers. Very cool finding! Below is a picture of the fountain:

On Friday, on our way up to a family gathering in north Alabama, we stopped at my brother's house so Christopher could ride his horses. Josh walked him around for quite awhile and then his cousins Jackson & Brody took their turns. Jackson can ride the horse by himself!

Just look at this happy face...I think he LOVED it...how 'bout you?
We got to meet Wilson, my cousin Alison's little boy. He was born on Christopher's 5th birthday. Two special boys with one very special birthday!
My cousin Katie's little girl, Hannah Kate, turned 1 the week we were up there. We had a family gathering on Friday to celebrate this special event. I'd been looking at pictures of Hannah Kate and Wilson on facebook, even got to Skype with Hannah Kate once - but nothing compares to breathing in their sweetness in person! I think Hannah Kate loved her bear Christopher "made"!
Back home, Christopher decided he was a big boy now and asked Daddy to take his training wheels off his bike. I was doing an appointment at the time, so Daddy held him off until I could get home. Then we took his bike out for a spin - on 2 wheels! Christopher insisted Daddy hold on (so he got quite the workout), but David said he only held on enough to catch him if he went too far either way - Christopher was pretty much doing it on his own!
Christopher was invited to Vacation Bible School with his friend Emily at her church (yes, that's his 3rd VBS this summer)! Emily's church did High Sea Adventures like our church, which may have been a good thing! Christopher even decided he wanted to perform for the church on Sunday morning - a huge step for him! :) The picture below isn't the best - but it was the only one that was light enough to post!
I loved that Christopher went to VBS at Emily's church - because it meant I got to spend some time with her Mommy and my friend Maureen in the afternoons! Maureen and I used to hang out on the playground after school while our kiddos played...now, we'll be starting our homeschooling adventure together! :) Maureen's mommy loaned me the Sonlight Curriculm that her sister-in-law gave her. This was my choice curriculum for homeschooling Christopher, but the price tag put it out of reach for us...but God used Maureen and her sis-in-law to give me the desire of my heart (at least in this area)! :)
Right now, we are in the midst of swimming lessons again (not again this summer, but as in we're trying this again)! We've tried this just about every summer since Christopher was a few months old...and this is our first year without tears! Christopher actually got in on his own without any arguements! YAY!!! That alone is progress! His swimming teacher says that once he gets over his fear of putting his face in the water, he's going to be a great swimmer! She says he's very smart and follows directions well. That makes a momma proud! :)


OK...so, now you're caught up on our life. I would like to say I'll do better with blogging...but I've made that promise to myself before and I hate breaking promises...so, I'll just promise that when I can, I'll blog. In the meantime, check in with me on Facebook to get the most up-to-date info in our lives! :)