Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Changing course

After spending all summer, and part of last school year, and hours and hours of prayers, worries, and discussions, I created amazing lessons for my kids and I to share during homeschool.

And they were amazing lesson plans, let me tell you. We were going to learn it all. EVERYTHING. Every single thing there is to know....we were going to learn it.

About that.

We're changing course. Originally, I had planned unit studies for our boys. Our first unit was Habitats. We studied the desert, ocean, forest, and rainforest habitats. Each week was a different habitat.

Week 1, Oceans, went pretty well. Full of enthusiasm, optimism, and smugness, we studied all about oceans- animals, plants, etc. We wrote about the ocean. We watched documentaries. We were brilliant.

Week 2, Forests, went well also. We started this unit with a little less enthusiasm and optimism, but still had plenty of smugness to go around. We drew trees, labeled the parts, and dissected an acorn. A trip to Warner Parks and the nature center convinced me even more that homeschool is far superior to any experience public school could offer. (Lots of smugness)

Week 3, Deserts, started with exhaustion, arguments, and whining. What had happened? Every desert book we read was like pulling teeth. Even studying sand with our super-cool magnifying glasses failed to motivate. This spilled over into our other subjects as well. Math, normally our "easiest" subject, turned into a battle of wills. We didn't learn much about deserts, but we sure learned about ourselves. (Smugness gone)

Week 4, Rainforests and the 13 Colonies, marks a change in approach. Instead of all rainforests, all the time, we are adding in some Social Studies. Labor Day was spent revamping all my carefully, perfectly constructed, amazing, wonderful plans. Instead of being about me and what I think is fun and interesting, it's about my guys and what they think is fun and interesting.

Week 4 starts our every-other-day approach. On Tuesday, we learned about Jamestown. Today, we are studying the Rainforest. Tomorrow, we learn about the Puritans, and Friday, we are doing tessellations.I think that focusing on one topic, reading about only that topic, and writing only about that topic was too much for the boys. Even though I thought I was switching things up enough, the boys were getting bored. Bored kids=grumpy kids=grumpy mama.

Through our adventures, I've found lots of really fun things that the kids and I both enjoyed. Hope these links are helpful to you!

Adventures of John Smith- This is produced by National Geographic, and my kids spent over an hour going through the adventure. It's a great mixture of video learning and instruction and games that reinforce without being boring. The boys asked to play this one again today.

13 Colonies Interactive Maps and Info- This website has maps, games, and information about the 13 colonies.

Colonial Kids- This is a fun ThinkQuest site that gives kid-sized info on life in Colonial times.

Create an animal- This is a fun activity. We're using this as a follow up to learning about all those habitats. The boys will create an animal and provide descriptions about its habitat, adaptations, etc.

Saguaro Cactus Interactive- The boys had fun with this one. The page has links to an interactive picture that gives information about all kinds of desert animals.

Tessallations- This is an amazing website. Tessallations are lots of fun, and this website defines them, explains how they are created, and has amazing pictures to help you through it.

My goal is to try to share with you resources that work for us. I hope you'll follow me and share with me too!