Monday, August 16, 2010

Less is MORE

It’s back to school time.

Lately everywhere I turn in blogworld, especially in the corner that houses homeschooling families, everyone is getting ready to start schooling their kids.

I decided to sit down today and gather ideas from other people, which I like to do every couple of months.

I noticed something interesting:

At first, you get really excited seeing all these ideas.

Then a slow dread tries to climb onto your back as you unconsciously find yourself comparing with these families, and then the next thing you know, you start thinking: I’m not doing enough.

You begin to think:“I need lapbooks this year. Tons of them. In fact, why haven’t I been doing that for the past 3 years??? And another thing, when am I going to get a school room. I need to make a room for school and paint the walls a cheery yellow that will inspire learning. I need a bookshelf. Twelve of them actually. The more the merrier. The truth is I just need more.”

And then I step back and say “Wait a minute! That’s not us. That’s not how we roll at this house.”

Here’s what works for us and why it works for us:

There’s no room for a school room in my house. We have a small house. We have a kitchen, living room, three bedrooms and bathroom all on one floor.

While a school room works for others, it doesn’t for us--it’s an impossibility.

So, where do I store school stuff?

On a bookshelf. Yep, one bookshelf.

(And, to be fair, a craft cupboard in the laundry room).



Less is more.

At our house, the less we have, the more creative we are. New ideas emerge as we explore what we do have, and find every possible way to use what seems like a limited amount of resources.

I love ideas.

I love thinking of the possibilities that can come with one theme. I love to grow ideas, stretch them, try them out, adjust them, fix them, and try once more to see where an idea will go.

So, while I will use some of the ideas I bookmarked at other people’s blogs, I am looking forward to how we will be inspired with less. We seem to stumble upon our best ideas and create our favourite memories when we have little to work with.

My advice to homeschoolers this year: LESS is MORE.

You don’t need to do as much as you think you need to do. And it doesn't need to be what everyone else is doing either.

Focused LESS is Productive MORE.

And you can quote me on that.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Mediating Math pays off

Remember my math nightmare last year with my eldest?
I call it a math nightmare, but only to be dramatic. It wasn't a nightmare, just a wake up call for how I was going about teaching math.

We were frustrated, angry and annoyed over working on math. Too many times, we would both walk away from her workbook shaking our heads and muttering under our breath.

And then I took my first Mediated Learning course.

I came home and put the work book away. I went online and ordered books from my library on math games, famous mathemiticians and brought out dice, cards and Blokus. For the next three months, all we did was play math games.


Because the LOVE of learning needed to be restored.


Because learning math isn't just about adding digits together. Learning math helps our logic and problem solving skills. We need these skills to face life.

And while we played games, I mediated our math.
How does this compare to that?
Why do you think the answer is always the same?
How can adding help us at the grocery store?
When does rounding up help us when were at the lumber yard?

We worked and played and had loads of fun with math.

During the summer, I was cleaning out the garage and came across a new math book. It was the one we were supposed to do this year, but never got to because we were to frustrated to finish the first one.

Well, guess what?

My daughter found it and said, "Hey, can I try this?"
I nodded and sighed inwardly. I wasn't sure workbooks were something we were willing to look at again.

Well, guess who got the shock of her life?


My daughter sat down and worked on 21 pages and taught herself two new concepts.


It's not about producing 21 pages of work. That's not what got me excited. What got me excited was when I said, "Wow! Twenty one pages. How come so many?"

A bright smile appeared on her face. "Because I love math."

Monday, August 2, 2010

The weekend--Aug 1

Let's go fly a kite...
Up to the highest heights

Let's send it soooooaaarrrrring

Friday July 30

The day started off with some handprint art. Flamingo pink
Pink inspired our morning smoothie
Nature walk and meeting neighbours
off to the park for some fun...
and water play
The our friends arrived. We took our friends to the pool...
after we had made some Stone Soup. We acted out the famous story and I assured everyone the stone had been thoroughly washed
We celebrated Christmas in July! We invited a family to come to our house. We lit the tree, we played carols and we laughed about it being Christmas on a hot sunny day.
Playing with our new gifts! (We had each of the kids bring toys they no longer played with. We wrapped them up and opened them with great joy!)
It's too hot to bake cookies....
so Jello jigglers are the next best thing

Happy Christmas in July!!!

Thursday July 29

Now,technically, Beatrix Potter should have been celebrated yesterday on the 28th, since that is her birthday. However, due to schedule conflicts, we felt it necessary to celebrate it today.

Because who doesn't love Beatrix?
We invited some friends over for a Beatrix Potter tea party. Complete with story telling. We started with the tale of The Flopsy Bunnies
And then we went to the garden and re-enacted it. Look at those flopsy bunnies. They are headed straight for the soporific lettuce
And there they are...nibbling away at it. And then they fall asleep
My starring role was to be Mr. Macgregor, the farmer. Here I am re-enacting when he throws compost on the Flopsy Bunnies head. (I'm expecting the movie offers any day now)
The mouse who rescues The Flopsy Bunnies!!!
After working up quite an appetite, we brought everyone in for a bunny taste test. We tried the different greens and decided which one we would pursue next time we were in Mr. Macgregor's garden
Then we added more color to the table. And our good friend, Miss Lolo B found a Peter Rabbit cook book and brought some extra things to make us ....
A veritable feast!
After lunch it was out for a nature walk (where Mom left the camera at home.) Rocks were thrown, flowers were picked, rivers were watched and clouds gathered. Ominous clouds. Clouds that indicated we should head home.
We laid out our nature findings
And decided that while we did our next activity we would listen to an audio book of Beatrix's classics.
Now, if there is one thing Beatrix loved, it would be watercolor painting. And if there is one thing that we are going to do today, it is going to be watercolour painting of all our nature finds.
The day turned out well, wouldn't you say?!

Wednesday July 28

Summer is full of colours. Ours is a very colourful one.

Brown (molted tarantula skin. Insert shudder here)
Blue (me on the trampoline!)


Ah, another great day!

Tuesday July 27

A perfect day for watching clouds. What will the day bring?
A haircut. A result from a story we read. A girl was living in the 1920's and got a "bob" haircut.
My eldest asked if she could. I shrugged, "Why not? It's only hair! It'll grow back!" She wanted to be called "Bob" for the rest of the day.
Mailing off a package to a friend
Buddy has his own adventure today and needs to be rescued by the Broom Patrol Unit comprised of myself, and three kids
The results of last night's rain

Ah, the sweet smells of summer
Let's make tin can lanterns! (She looks so cute in her safety goggles)
When you make tin can lanterns, you must freeze water inside them so you have something solid to nail into
Naturally, this lead to ice-play with food colouring
and food colouring can be messy
messy and fun
Autocumulus clouds--it is a good day for cloud watching
The latest thing is talking about "Googol of...". My eldest is practicing writing out the number Googol. She is also talking about how I should hurry up because it is taking a googol of hours for me to finish and it will be a googol of hours before we can go...
much needed rest
followed by berry picking
A happy yield of goodness
We went bananas over bananas at the store tonight (we like making smoothies). We lost count at 40 bananas
A soft candle glow...

from our tin lanterns