Thursday, July 14, 2011

Road Trip

And we're off - for our first family trip in over four years.

We've been so busy with our project - a social arts school for Mayan youth and children in rural Guatemala - that it was impossible to travel, until now.

We're heading north for a road trip from Cali to NM, and then staying a few weeks in the mountains.

These last couple of months, since I started this blog, have been amazingly helpful. It has been a means for me to meet many other - more experienced - homeschool bloggers and participate in homeschool communities.

I feel so grateful for all the help, tips and motivation I've received.

I'll be back at the end of August. Thanks for reading, commenting and sharing. I wish you all a very happy rest of the summer. See you soon!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Solar System Mobile

We finally finished our Unit Study on the Solar System.

We studied each planet and decided to make a mobile for our final project. During our research, we were very impressed by the size comparison of the planets. So, for our mobile, we decided to focus more on size.

Most mobiles make the planets to the wrong proportions, because doing it to scale would make the smaller planets too tiny to really see, or the larger planets too big to fit in a room. We wanted to show the amazing differences in size, so it didn´t matter that our Mercury is only half a centimeter in diameter.

We looked for rocks to represent the planets,
and didn't worry about them being round or not.
For Neptune we found a rock with a quartz patch,
that looks like a face.
For Saturn we found a yellowish rock.
For Earth we used a blue marble, which served as reference for the sizes of the other planets, and is the only round planet in our mobile.
Dad helped us cut wire to make spirals for the orbits, after I nearly pinched a piece of flesh off
my hand with the wire cutters.
We used very thin wire to wrap around each rock
and then hung them from the thicker wire we used for the orbits.

Finally, we hung our solar system around an extra-large light bulb that represents the sun.
It's quite an abstract representation,
but I love how original it looks.
And as it hangs from my son's ceiling, I know he will often look up and reflect on just how huge the universe is.

For the research part of our project we watched Space School Videos.
You can find them all on this YouTube Page.
We're also working with these Worksheets on the Planets.
This Video on star size comparison is a must see!
The whole project cost us less than $2 (for the wire).

When we come back from our Summer break, we plan to stage a Solar System play - Pluto's Monologue. We'll learn about the Roman gods (and one Greek one) and practice memorization, speech and theatrical expression. We had planned to start a third Unit Study on the Human Body, but there's time for that next year and we're so fascinated by the Solar System. After all, that's what it's all about - finding a passion and flying with it!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Awesome 80's Kids Movies

When my son turned eight last year, I decided it was time to watch my favorite 80's kids movies with him. I also got him big into Michael Jackson and moon-walking.

Several of them are PG-13 - kids swearing, smoking, general bad-assery...
You never see kids being real in movies anymore, my boy loved them.
Here are the ones we enjoyed the most:
  • The Goonies
  • E.T.
  • Stand By Me
  • The Toy (or just Toy, with Richard Pryor)
  • The Dark Crystal
  • The Labyrinth (so totally wierd)
  • Gremlins
  • Edward Scissorhands
  • Explorers
  • Fire Starter
  • Legend
  • Pee-Wee's Big Adventure
  • Savannah Smiles
  • Annie
  • The War (I think this was early 90's)
  • Return to Oz
  • Pete's Dragon
And here are some added by friends.
  • Ferris Bueller's Day Off
  • Time Bandits
  • Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure
  • Beetlejuice
  • Willow
  • Princess Bride
  • Batteries Not Included
  • Short Circuit
  • The Last Starfighter
  • A Far Off Place
  • The Sandbox
  • Bad News Bears
  • The Lost Boys
  • Ghostbusters
  • The Karate Kid
  • War Games
Oh, how I miss the 80's...
If you can think of other classics from the 80's for kids, please let me know and I'll add them on.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

What we do for Physical Education

My son loves soccer and dance, so we concentrate our physical education around them.

He has soccer once a week with a young friend of ours who comes to our house for an hour on Mondays. They do a warm-up, some coordination games with the ball, and then they play.

On Thursdays we do dance together: warm-up, across the floor movements, stretching and strengthening, bar work, and sequences.

Both classes are highlights in my son´s week. He gets a great work-out, sweats and has fun.

Sometimes, when our soccer teacher can't come, we do this activity that my son really enjoys :

  1. He goes outside with a pencil and notebook
  2. He writes down a warm-up routine with words or pictures, (5 push-ups, 10 jumping jacks, 10 sit-ups, jog in place for one minute...)
  3. Then, he sets up an obstacle course around the yard - using sticks, rocks, rope or whatever he can find - and draws a map of it in his notebook
  4. Finally, he goes through his warm-up and performs the obstacle course as many times as his "self-designed work-out" calls for

It's a fun way to get a work-out while also developing skills in planning, memorizing, writing, and mapping.

Curriculum Help is a very helpful site for creating your curriculum.

We're making up our own as we go along, but I want to make sure I don't leave out any of the "standard" basics. Every month or so, I revisit this site to check that we're getting everything in. We could probably do everything on the list in three months, so I don't worry too much. Our curriculum doesn't revolve around it, I just make sure to include most of it - we don't include areas that aren't relevant or of interest to us.

Just go to the site and look for "Browse by Grade" on the right-hand sidebar. Open your child's grade and they show you subject-by-subject content. It's very clear and to-the-point. You can see what the standard curriculum is and then create your own, including as much of the suggested content as you want and ignoring what you don't want.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

If We Can Do It, You Can Do It

We live in a very rural town with a population of 3,000.

The three semi-worthwhile museums in the entire country are four hours away and not worth the drive, let alone the risk of being on highways that are prone to collapsing, speeding chicken buses, and armed robberies.

We just got internet connection a couple years ago, and it is very
s l o w. We have limited bandwidth, which means that the system often crashes if we use YouTube or interactive sites for more than 5 minutes, so we can't sign up to any on-line certified programs.

We live pretty much off the grid. Both my husband and I could make decent money if we lived in a city, but we prefer to live here, in our tropical paradise. Since we don't have reliable internet access, we can't buy on-line packages. We could use mail-deliver homeschool packages or textbooks, but they're too expensive - the shipping is even more so - and we'd rather spend our money on enjoying life.

There is only one other homeschooled child in our area, and probably only a handful spread around the country, so there are no homeschool groups.

This would probably all be okay if I had a degree in Science, Math or History, but I'm a dancer and never paid much attention at school. I do have 20 years of experience working with children in the arts, but not in math or grammar, let alone science experiments. Besides language arts and history (which I did like), I can pretty much say that I am (re-)learning all the other subjects with my son - two students, no teacher.

One thing that works out very well for us is that I work with a group of 30 children who come to our house (which is also a social arts school) twice a week, so my son gets plenty of socialization space through this program.

You might be like us in that you live way out in the middle of nowhere. Or maybe you share some of our other limitations. But, as you can see, our combination of limitations is pretty full-on.

Nevertheless, we are successfully and happily homeschooling our son, who is learning all kinds of things, and doing incredible projects with the resources we have available to us.

So - as the title says - if we can do it, I bet you can do it too.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Homeschooling an Only Child

As a homeschool newbie, I spend quite a bit of time reading other homeschoolers' blogs.

Many of them are filled with three or four children running around the yard, playing ball, reading around the kitchen table together, going on field trips together...

Ours is quite a different picture.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Moving Out at 8 yrs. old

Yup, he´s 8 yrs. old and he´s moving out... of our bedroom.
We've been co-sleeping since the moment he was born, and now it's coming to an end.