Monday, September 29, 2008

TLC Academy

So, I have officially changed the name of our school (and this blog). No longer will the title be Corbett Family Homeschool, because it's not just our family. Henceforth we shall be referred to as The Love of Christ Academy, or TLC Academy for short. The kids all voted. I decided to call us an academy because the definition of academy is "a school for special instruction" and of course, they are receiving very special instruction, they are special kids. The name was inspired by an orphanage in Africa called TLC Orphanage. My friend Sarah is serving God there for a year, taking care of babies. In a way this name honors her and the amazing sacrafice and commitment she has made and will remind us often to pray for her in Africa. You should pray for her too (if you aren't already).

This week at TLC Academy we celebrated 2 birthdays! Hannah turned 7 and Mika turned 2. We made a cake for Hannah (our little Jedi youngling). Seeing some of the other cakes that have been produced around here, Hannah put the request in for this very specific Star Wars scene long ago.

Mika's mommy, Seven sent the most adorable little banana muffins for a special birthday snack, perfect for 2 little candles.

Another very exciting thing about this week was the completion of the boys new bedroom. When we moved in last year (exactly a year ago this week!) we painted their room very very red. It was called California Poppy and was a beautiful color but red is not easy to use...especially if you didn't use the special dark primer they recommended...anyway, it was time to start over. Jason prepped the room, the boys and I picked out the paint. We came to a compromise that "blast off yellow" can be inside the closet and a nice light blue and beige for the walls and ceiling of the room. We put up the baseball border that I bought a year ago and completely rearranged. It's like a brand new room. We are all so happy with the outcome and I am so grateful for my awesome husband who works so hard all day and was willing to come home and work some more.

Here are some pictures of the kids getting some work prove we didn't just party all week long.

They all worked together to finish this awesome puzzle that Nova and Mika's grandma got for us.

Bella hard at work making mirror images with unit cubes for math. Bella and Hannah taking their spelling test in their "offices". Our story for this week was The Story About Ping it's a classic about a little duck on the Yangtze River of China. We did all sorts of fun things with it and made a little file folder book to display all of our activities. One of the favorite activities was for Art. We talked about different ways that illustrators draw water. We looked at a few examples and then practiced with crayons, then markers, then water colors, and lastly fingerpaint and glitter. They all worked so thoughtfully and were very proud of their work.

Another highlight of the week was when Bella and Hannah cooked lunch for everyone. During their "choice time" I chose their activity for them and assigned them the task of cooking Mac & Cheese for everyone and steaming some fresh green beans that we had picked at recess. They did a great job. I am looking forward to giving them more cooking assignments...teaches them important skill and it's one less thing I have to do!

We did have a rather sad event this week too. On Thursday, Ian's beautiful little beta fish, Fishy, died. The children discovered him together when I was getting snack ready. I went upstairs to investigate the situation (as they have mistaken him for dead before because sometimes he doesn't move a lot) and sadly, he was dead. Isaac quickly confessed that he had gone fishing the night before in the fish bowl but that he had been very careful not to keep his gills out of the water for long and certainly hadn't intended to hurt him. We all agreed that wasn't probably a good idea and Ian forgave Isaac. Next came the process of disposal. The kids wanted to bury him but I told them that fish like to be buried in water because that's where they lived and that the toilet was the best choice. After much discussion, Ian agreed, the toilet was best but he wanted to do the flushing honors. He had dealt well with the situation up to the point where he watched his little friend spiral into the depths of the potty and he began to wail. It was absolutely heart wrenching. I cried too, not for the fish, but for my son's grieving heart. We decided to go to Petco right after school and get a new fish. We also hit the dollars store and picked up some new pirate apparel to cheer everyone up. The new fish is named Fishy, after its predecessor.

We ended our eventful week with our Germain friends visiting from Monson. We were so glad to have them come to our house. They used to live here and we would come visit them and now they moved back to Monson and they come visit us. It's ironic to say the least... Someone please buy their house so they can move back up here! Jen brought me the most beautiful mum as a house warming gift. It was exactly what I needed to fill a large empty pot on a tree stump in my front yard. I couldn't bring myself to spend the extra money on one and I was so so blessed to get one as a gift! Here it is on display in front of my ugly house that will only be ugly for a few more weeks because...............Seven is going to paint it for me!!!!!!!!!!!!! Yay. I can't wait to see it when it's all done, I know you can't either! By the way, it's almost play off time...Go Red Sox!!!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

fabulous fall fun

I don't know if we are aloud to have this much fun at school! After our wonderful first day of school things have continued to go so well. We are accomplishing so much and having a great time doing it!

In our first week we focused on getting familiar with maps and globes as we prepare to study different places around the world. We used the book How to Make and Apple Pie and See the World. After reading we acted out traveling from continent to continent to get our pie ingredients, then we mixed it all together and made a delicious pie.

I have been learning a lot too these past two weeks. I am learning how to adapt the routine to fit the kids. They work so well together I am amazed. I have found that when everyone is getting a little restless, a little dance party in the kitchen turns things around immediately. Nothing like a little techno beat to get you going...

Another thing I have learned is that dry erase board is a wonderful invention. Who knew it would provide so much entertainment. Ian loves to sit at the table and use it when everyone else is working. Everyone also loves drawing on the big board on the wall. It's a great place to practice handwriting (as Isaac is doing below) or just draw a fun picture. Below is Ian's creative picture. He told me it is a picture of a war.

Isabella and Hannah started their Ballet class too. They were so adorable as they practiced in the kitchen before class. I think little girls dressed up in their ballet clothes is definitely one of the cutest things.

Last Monday we had the very cultural experience of going to Tanglewood for a performance by the Silk Road Music Ensemble. They had a rehearsal that was open to the public. It is an ensemble of musicians from different cultures who come together to compose and play music that reflects a variety of places. It was so cool. I thought it was going to be outside and the kids would be able to run and play while they listened but it was actually inside in an amazing building w/ incredible acoustics...the kind of place where you can hear a pin drop. Amazingly the kids were captivated...even little Mika and they didn't make a peep (for the most part). They all drew pictures of how the music made them feel while they were listening and we talked about it the next day in school. We all agreed the the Pipa solo was a bit long but the rest of it was really beautiful and interesting.

This past week we began our study of china by reading a book called Round is a Mooncake. It is a very simple book but we did lots of fun things with it. It spurred discussion of compound words and we also mimicked it's fun rhyming pattern by making our own "Round is a..." poem. The most fun thing we did, however was making our own mooncakes. They are a traditional pastry served in China during their autumn festivals. They are not easy to make and require a special pan. They are usually filled with bean paste. We modified it and filled ours with jam and almond slivers instead and used cookie cutters to make imprints. It was fun and they were yummy, even if they were nothing like real mooncakes. This is a picture of real mooncakes...

These are the mooncakes that we made...

We also made a string of Chinese lanterns because we saw some in the Mooncake book.

For me the homeschool highlight of the week was when the kids did their own science experiment outside at recess. We have some large pieces of lumber and cinder blocks out in the backyard (for constructing a rail to skateboard on of course) and the kids are constantly playing on or around them. One day last week, Isaac and Hannah decided to make a see saw. It worked pretty well but wasn't very comfortable. After a few minutes they realized that they could also make a catapult! I almost said "no, someone's going to get hurt!" but I decided instead to only allow the catapulting of pine cones (not rocks) and let them experiment and learn. All of the kids joined the process and they experimented with how to position the wood on the cinder block to get the most momentum. It was great. They were having a blast and had no idea that they were having a lesson in "physical science".

At the very end of the week I took my kiddos on our annual field trip to the Big E. We have gone every year with my family since Bella was 1. This year we were extra blessed to have Uncle Mike and Anty Ginger (visiting from Hawaii) join us! We love sharing all of the delectable treats and perusing the state buildings and vendors. Last but not least the kids get to choose two rides to end our fun day. This year I made a "photo and fact scavenger hunt" for Isabella to complete. She had to find various things, find out a fact about it and have her picture taken with them (For ex. an animal, something yummy, something from each state building etc.). When I print them we will make a mini scrapbook to chronicle our day and document what we learned.

Here they are snacking under a tree
Here is Bella with a cup of fresh cranberry juice from the Massachusetts building. She learned that they grow cranberries in Cape Cod in cranberry bogs.
Isaac took a moment out of his busy race to pose for the camera.

We had a delightful weekend and got to see some of our friends in Monson while we were in town watching Madi so Angela could enjoy a lovely day in Boston for her birthday. Was the weather beautiful or what?! I am usually facing some serious allergies at this time of year but have been almost completely allergy free this year!! I finally found something that works (Airborne allergy). I am truly enjoying this beautiful weather of early fall. I hope you are too.

Monday, September 8, 2008

the journey begins

Our butterflies came out of their chrysalis on Friday morning (both of them within an hour of each other!) It is such an incredible experience to watch them come out, dry their wings and then fly away. We waited for Hannah to come over to share the experience of letting them go. We let them crawl onto our fingers and waited patiently for them to fly away. Everyone got a turn to hold one one before they both departed for their journey south.

Last year this experience was especially poignant for me because as we were observing and learning about this amazing change of life we were experiencing one ourselves. We were getting ready to move and we were starting our homeschool journey. It was very symbolic and meaningful to me. Letting them go this year sparked a time of reflection. This time last year was just so overwhelming and emotional with the move and all. It is amazing that we got any schoolwork done at all... It made me realize though, how natural the whole process of homeschooling is. It didn't take eons of planning and structure, it just happened. Don't get me wrong, I planned a lot once we were settled and things got very structured because that is how I am by nature, but I realized that its not necessarily necessary. Ironically I came to this realization after spending two solid weeks planning and printing all of my lessons from now until December as well as creating and laminating all of the things for my walls and bulletin board. I nearly drove myself, and everyone around me, crazy with all of my preparations! I was stressing over the whole process and this new realization was very welcomed. I am glad that I organized and planned the way I did. I know it will make the next few months much less stressful but I am also grateful to have things in perspective...learning is a natural process, kids are doing it all of the time and for me, teaching is a very natural process too. Its the way God intended it. I feel blessed to be able to serve God by teaching His children.

So this is the perspective that i approached the first day of school with...which was today!!!!!! It went so well! Part of the reason that I was trying to be so organized is that we have others joining us for school 3 days a week. Hannah is doing 2nd grade with Bella, Nova is doing kindergarten with Isaac and Mika is here to become a genius with Ian as they soak in everything going on around them.
This morning, as Isaac came downstairs for breakfast, I excitedly told him that it was officially his first day of school!! (even though he did school with us most of last year) I dressed him in a nice shirt (well, it had a collar, that means it's nicer than most of his others lol)and took his first day of school picture . He was so cute. Again it made me reflect. I remembered Bella's first day of kindergarten and how I cried and cried. I was so sad that my baby was growing up and I would be letting someone else teach her. I was happy not to experience any of that nonsense with Isaac. He's a big boy and we were both excited that he was starting school today. No tears for anyone.

The whole day went off without a hitch. We finished everything I had planned with time to spare and I even managed to get the dishes done, the bathrooms cleaned and two loads of laundry washed before school was out. Everyone worked very hard but we still had lots of fun too.
As usual there have been plenty of other things going on besides school too. We had a lovely labor day picnic at my Aunt Roberta's (by the way, for those of you at the family party who were interested in seeing Crystal's blog click on her name ). The kids had so much fun fishing and swinging (ok, it was really me who had so much fun swinging and snuggling with Madi lol).

The boys started Soccer this weekend. Jason is coaching their team. They are just too cute! I didn't even know they made shin guards that small! The team impressed me on Saturday, they all understood which goal to head toward and which one to protect and for the most part no one used their hands and all after just one practice! Jason is a great coach.

So we are plowing ahead toward fall with lots to accomplish. Dance class starts tomorrow. We will be starting our study of China next week and taking our yearly trip to the Big E. Stay tuned...