The jar above is a welcome to the neighborhood gift that I made for some new neighbors that moved in down the street. I first saw the idea here. Since I already had the jar, and I didn't really feel like baking something, I thought it would be fun to fill it with some items that are useful around the home. Included in the jar are: cupcake wrappers, a scented candle, Lingonberry jam, striped straws, bag clips, Mrs. Meyer's dish soap, a dish towel, and some Swedish Fish.
The idea of taking a new neighbor a gift jar probably wouldn't have even occured to me before I moved into the neighborhood where I now am. I had never before experienced living in the kind of community where neighbors know each other and look out for each other. I'm not saying that I've never had a kind neighbor before moving here. Certainly, I'll never forget the generosity of people in the past, like Ernie, who made us nectarine cobbler each year in Wenatchee, with the nectarines that he picked off our tree's branches that hung over his fence. But to live in a neighborhood where I can name every person on my street, where neighborhood block parties happen regularly, where little boys know they can knock on almost any door and ask for a band-aid when they've crashed on their bikes, and where I don't have to go buy a tool that I'll probably only use once, because I can borrow it.....this is a special thing. I don't take it for granted, and it makes me want to give back.
I don't live close to my extended family, so the local communities that I'm a part of here have taken on an even greater significance. These communities are real blessings to me: my neighborhood, my church, longtime friends from the past, and blogging friends. Investing in these relationships is not always the first thing on my mind. I'm naturally inclined to use my free time to curl up with a book at home, which is fine, some of the time. But I'm glad that there have been a few people (like my husband) who have helped me push myself beyond my comfort zone. Otherwise, I'd be missing out on so much of the good that comes from being in community.
Like I said earlier, the idea of taking a new neighbor a gift wouldn't have occurred to me a few years ago. I am not naturally generous. It usually takes some sort of kind gesture from someone else, on my behalf, to make me realize how good it feels be on the receiving end of generosity. Only then does it occur to me to pass that along. I'm pretty sure that I'm not the only one who responds this way. Am I wrong? Kindness is something that gets passed along. But it always takes someone to start it. This is how community relationships are nurtured, the continual passing along of little kindnesses, a chain reaction.
Here's a challenge for you today: start a chain reaction of little kindnesses and see what it does for your communities.
Some recent pictures from my camera, along with a few links...words that got my attention this week....
Our Home: the Big Idea of Small @ Simple Mom- A beautiful small house that inspired me to look at my own small house with new eyes
The Lies I Say and What is True- Naptime Diaries-Ah, yes...body image issues. Jessi speaks from the heart here, with such wisdom
To the Beautiful Woman- Knitting the Wind- and so does Sarah
How Do We Protect our Children- The Resurgence-"They need to know that even as they struggle with wrong desires, God’s mercy and love is for them continually."
4 Reasons for Optimism in Today's World- Donald Miller's Blog- A good perspective and something to remember when reading the news
I hope that you all have a wonderful weekend!
Homeschool moms often like to talk about planning and curriculum, and I'm no exception. I love to read about what others are doing with their kids for school. I've picked up many helpful tips from others, that have enriched our learning experiences and made me feel grateful for a homeschooling community. This is a community that's generous in sharing it's collective wisdom. So I'm going to share what I have planned for my fourth grade son this year- not as an expert, but as a mom who's excited about a new school year and wants to share.
Before I get into the specifics, I'll start by letting you know that I lean towards a literature based approach to learning. We devour books at my house, so it works well for us. Also, I love lesson planning, and we're enrolled in a “parent partnered” learning program through a public school district...one that requires detailed plans to be submitted each year. So maybe your plans aren't as detailed and your year isn't all planned out yet. That's perfectly okay. My whole year would not be all planned out at this point if it wasn't required...and that's coming from someone who loves lesson planning. Or maybe your plans are way more detailed than mine. I won't feel inadequate and compare myself to you, and I hope you won't compare yourself to me either. That whole comparison game is not helpful! The beauty of homeschooling is that we don't have to do things the same way as others. We get to customize everything to suit our own family's needs. Still, maybe some of these resources will be something some of you could use.
We used Teaching Textbooks 3 last year and we loved it. This program is all done on the computer. Using a C.D, my son would watch a lesson, do the problems, and watch a tutor explain the ones he missed. I like this program because the feedback is immediate. My son doesn't practice something wrong and establish bad habits because he knows right away if he makes a mistake. I also really liked the fact that this is one subject that I don't have to plan/teach. This frees me up so that I can spend more time and energy planning/teaching other subjects, like geography....
In this Social Studies class Trent will study an introduction to geography with some additional history and cultural studies, through daily reading, map exercises, games, and hands on activities. Topics to be covered include: world geography(9 wks), with special emphasis on the U.S(10 wks.) and Canada(9wks), and a 10 week focused study of Washington state.
National Geographic Kids
The Great World Tour- Usborne
Usborne Children's Encyclopedia- Our World
Brain Pop Geography
Daily Geography Student Book-Great Source Education Group
Maps and Globes- Jack Knowlton
P is for Passport- by Scillian, Sleeping Bear Press
DK Student Atlas
Greetings from the 50 States- Keenan, Scholastic
Smart About the 50 States- Buller, Publisher - Grosset and Dunlap
The Little Man in the Map- Martonyi, Schoolside Press
50 States: A State by State Tour-McHugh Publisher: Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers, Inc
Wilson and Ditch videos
Our 50 States- Lynne Cheney publisher Simon and Schuster
Washington (Steck-Vaughn) Raintree Publishers
The Big Washington Activity Book- Carole Marsh, Publisher: Gallopade International
E is for Evergreen-Roland Smith, Sleeping Bear Press
The Lewis and Clark Expedition-Carol A. Johmann, publisher Demco Media
My State: Open ended thematic activities Evan-Moor
Chief Joseph: The Voice for Peace-Hopping, Sterling Biographies
If You Traveled West in a Covered Wagon-Levine
The Tragic Tale of Narcissa Whitman- Harris
The Pig War-Betty Baker
Looking for Bigfoot-Worth
Simply Washington(Secretary of State office)
Field Trips: Washington State History Museum
Duwamish Longhouse Museum
I'm not going to include the detailed plans for the world, U.S., and Washington units (in the interest of space and time), just the resources I'm using, but if you're interested, the 9 week Canada unit is here.
In this Language Arts class the Trent will study spelling, writing mechanics, paragraph construction, copywork and creative expression- using literature as the base.
Spelling and Vocabulary City
Readers: Red Sails to Capri, The Door in the Wall, The Twenty-One Balloons, Marco Polo, Along Came a Dog, A Llama in the Family, The Whipping Boy, Mustang: Wild Spirit of the West, Emily's Runaway Imagination, The King's Equal, Misty of Chincoteague, The Children of Noisy Village, Betsy &Tracy Go Over the Big Hill, Wonder, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Surviving the Applewhites, The Heart of a Chief, In Search of Ugopugo, Scruffy: A Wolf Finds His Place in the Park, Who Has Seen the World, The Last Loon, Paddle to the Sea, and any other self chosen books as time allows.
Read-Alouds: The Little Riders, The Apprentice, The Aesop for Children, White Stallion of Lipizza, Castle Diary, Tales of Robin Hood, The Minstrel in the Tower, Little House on the Prairie, Adventures of Sir Lancelot the Great, Captain Nobody, Hidden Tales from Eastern Europe, Sticks Across the Chimney, Good Masters Sweet Ladies
Since this post if getting waaay too long, I'll just post the materials I'm using for now. I get many of our book titles from the Sonlight reading lists. I will save the writing and spelling details for another time.
Science: Sonlight Science E- Electricity, Magnetism, and Astronomy
We have used just about every Sonlight science curriculum up through 8th grade (with my daughter) and we love it. Like Teaching Textbooks, much of the work here, with the planning, is already done for me...though I've found that it does require a bit more from me than the math curriculum does.
In this health/P.E. class Trent will study an introduction to health and fitness through reading, running, and basketball. Topics to be covered: diseases, food and nutrition, physical activity, safety, life, and body. He will apply his knowledge through participation in a running and basketball activities.
The Monster Health Book- Miller publisher - Holiday House
Be Fit, Be Strong, Be You- Kajander
Hoop Dreams (movie)
Real Kids, Real Stories, Real Change-by Sundem publisher Free Spirit publishing
Seattle Children's Marathon
Parks and Recreation Youth Basketball
Boys and Girls club spring youth basketball
Piano: lessons 1x per week with his piano teacher. I play piano and could teach, but I've found that music lessons are an area where we're all happier if my kids have a different teacher from me.
Homeschool Co-op- 1x per week, Storybook Theater and a math team
And there it is. I'm excited. Fourth grade, was one of my favorite grades teaching my daughter, and I'm happy to be doing it again with my son. I hope that if you are homeschooling, or even if you're not, that I've shared some materials that could be useful to you and your kids.
What are some of your favorite curriculums and learning materials?