I’m very thankful we already had a break built into the month of December. We ended up dealing with two illnesses and a week where my back was out so badly that I was in survival mode and homeschooling would not have been on the agenda. We had some small activities planned for the month, but those went out the window. Maybe we’ll try again next December!
Beyond the illnesses and injuries, we had a memory-filled month with birthday celebrations, Christmas festivities, and home improvements. It was a very full month and by the end of it, we were more than ready to get back to our normal routine.
It felt really good getting back into our homeschool activities this week. We’re taking on a little bit more than we did during the fall unit, including some more nature study and some weekly growth mindset work. For this unit, we’re also changing the structure of our week. Instead of doing a little bit of each subject every day, we’re doing a few core things like math, handwriting, and reading every day, with a larger daily focus. Mondays will be Language Arts, Tuesdays will be Handwriting and Growth Mindset Work, Wednesdays will be Nature and Science, Thursdays will be Math, and Fridays will be a play scenario that will incorporate all of the subjects (like our airplane scenario).
Adi and I went on a shopping trip by ourselves a couple of weeks ago while Mimi stayed home to help Aaron install our new bathtub. I think it’s great getting kids involved in projects around the house so they can start building confidence in that area! During our shopping trip, Adi picked out a pretty yellow candle so I lit that on the first day of our new curriculum. It really helped add an extra layer of magic to the table when they woke up and saw our activities planned for the day!
For the winter, we are using Winter Wonderland from Wee Folk Art as our Language Arts curriculum. This contains art study, nature study suggestions, two winter-related books a week, crafts, and recipes. This is the winter version of the curriculum we used in the fall. We’ve loved everything so much that we plan on repeating the units every year until Adi has outgrown them.
For math, we’re continuing to incorporate games and hands-on activities. I also found Life of Fred books at our local library. This is our first time using them. They have a cult-like following among homeschoolers so I’m hoping we love them. After a week of reading a chapter a day, Mimi is hooked on learning more about Fred and I’m pretty impressed. It subtly gives algebraic equations, along with random knowledge, like days in a week, and seasons. It’s not a stand-alone curriculum though so in addition to that, we’re continuing to work through our Math for a Living Education.
Mimi is able to identify numbers without any hesitation and is currently working on refining her written numbers. The Measured Mom has free number worksheets with three different levels for each number. Our goal is to focus on one number a week and do all three levels within that week.
In addition to one number a week, we’re also focusing on one letter per week. Following along with The Measured Mom’s Letter of the Week curriculum, we’ve been playing games, doing crafts, and singing songs about the letter F this week. I chose to go through the letters in the same order as our handwriting book.
This week’s books focused on snow. We read The Story of Snow and The Tomten. The Story of Snow took us a few days to read through because it wasn’t as much of a story as it was an informational book about how snowflakes form. I learned a lot from this book!
The second book was The Tomten and is an older book about a troll who comes out at night. The general message of the book was that seasons change. It was a very sweet book that I’m sure we’ll read a few more times this winter. It must be a popular book because there were six holds on it at the library! I ended up finding it for 99 cents on Google Play and it’s also on Nook for around the same price. I recommend getting the book in print or eBook format, but not the audiobook format because the pictures are very well done and add a lot to the story.
To go along with learning about snow, our art activity was painting watercolors on salt. I found a cute printable template on The Best Ideas for Kids. If we do this activity again, I’ll try to use less salt. It made a gigantic mess, but was easy to clean up. The salt clumped together and made it hard for the paint to properly spread. We experimented with shaking most of the salt clumps off of one paper and that helped tremendously. It was a fun activity though and made some pretty neat pictures.
A new subject we’re adding in is growth mindset. I found some awesome printables from Big Life Journal and started with the All About Me page for both girls. My plan is to glue their pictures to their pages, laminate it, and keep it for future reading. I have already written myself a note in my planner for next December to remember to do this activity every year with them. It was really fun seeing their answers.
One night this week, after Adi had gone to bed, Mimi excitedly came in to let me know she had set up a surprise for us to do together. I was whatever the level is that’s five stories below exhausted, but I knew she really needed some quality one-on-one time so we went out to the family room and put a puzzle together, played some games, read a book, and had a great time.
A parenting course we took a couple of years ago stresses the importance of spending at least 10 minutes of quality time with each child a day, doing an activity of their choice. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but is sometimes hard to remember to do. This was a great reminder to at least start incorporating it a few days a week until it becomes more of a habit.
Over our December break, we ended up relying pretty heavily on tablets and the TV. Although I used to be 100% against it, I actually don’t have a huge problem with screen time as it can be an invaluable tool for learning and hearing about a wide variety of subjects. Instead of fighting about how much screen time there ends up being, I’d rather join them in what they’re doing and make a conversation about it. That being said, what we were doing over December wasn’t very productive. We dealt with two illnesses and my back going out for over a week at the end of November so we started our break worn out and burnt out. It was easy to just veg in front of a screen and zone out in between going to different places for the holidays.
This article from Our Muddy Boots – Unlimited Screen Time: What if We Love Our Kids as They Are? perfectly sums up what our goals are in handling screen time. We’re also being more strict about what they can watch and what apps we’ll encourage them to use. That being said, I wanted to begin incorporating more activities and options for them to do so they didn’t feel the need to turn to the screen as much. One way I’m working on this is by saying yes more often when they want to do arts and crafts. Mimi asked to do a few color-by-numbers pages and even made a windmill out of the crayons. She took the picture of the crayons herself and did really well! She’s been interested in photography for a while and it’s fun seeing pictures from her perspective.
A lot of this week was settling back in and cultivating a nice, cozy feeling in our home. After the rush of the holidays, it was nice to pull back in and be together.