Monday, July 30, 2012

Finally planning!

I am finally starting to get some planning done for the upcoming school year. I am finding it easier to plan each unit/subject one at a time and am planning for the first month right now.  I just finished planning our first Science unit. I decided to (loosely) follow the Virginia standards to give me a starting point, and I would like A to  learn things that are similar to what his peers are learning, but I am skipping around. I am also going above and beyond the state standards, simply to keep A from becoming bored! That doesn't mean I'm tying myself to standards, if there is something A wants to learn that isn't in the standards, well then we'll do it (like dinosaurs, monster trucks,  or Spanish)!

I wanted to share our first Science unit with you. I have decided to do Science on Tuesdays and Thursdays and alternate with History/Social Studies on Mondays and Wednesdays, I may change my mind though and do one week of Science and one week of Social studies to keep things consistent.  I'm just not sure how that will work yet! If you homeschool your elementary aged children, how do you schedule units like Social Studies and Science?

Our first Science unit for first grade will be "All About Animals"!

"Animals" published by  American Education Publishing. 
Large folding project board to use for charts 
Two smaller poster boards( also for charts)
Glue and scissors  
Poster Paint or Markers
Various books about animals, habitats, etc. 
Pictures of different animals cut from a magazine or printed from Internet, or you could even use pictures that  you take at the zoo! 
Computer or IPAD with Internet access- for related videos and websites 

Day one

  • Discuss animal safety and how we stay safe around animals. 
  • Discuss life needs of animals and humans 
  • Read "All about Penguins" in "Animals"/grades 2-3
  • Discuss Penguins, discuss their needs and their habitats. 
  • Introduce descriptive word chart, paste a picture of a penguin on the chart 
  • using descriptive words describe penguins, write the words under the penguin picture on chart 
  • Color penguin activity page
Day Two

  • Animal Habitats- discuss and review what he learned in Kindergarten ( we did a whole unit on habitats in K, complete with a field trip to the State Park) 
  • Start our Habitat Chart- Chart will have the following pictures, Forest, pond, desert, ocean, arctic, and a house (for our tame animals/pets). 
  • Discuss animal adaptations and defenses using pages 228 "Animals"/grade 2-3.
  • Watch a video or read a book about Penguins (habitats and adaptations).
Day three

If weather permits we will take this lesson outside, to enjoy with our pets!
  • Read about Gray Wolves (p32) in "Animals", Bald Eagle(p30), and Giraffes(p99), add each of these animals to descriptive word chart, and habitat chart. 
  • Talk about animals we have around our home (pets), discuss the difference between tame and wild animals. 
  • Read page 176 Cats, page 187 dogs, and page. 190 Guinea Pigs ( all pets we have). 
  • Add Cats, Dog, and Guinea pig to habitat page (lives with people as pets), and descriptive word chart. 

Day four

  • Read pull out story about frogs in "Animals" p193. 
  • Compare and Contrast frogs and toads using Venn diagram 
  • discuss the life cycle of a frog. 
  • Make life cycle of frog book found a Enchanted Learning
Day five
  • In "Animals" read about: Jellyfish, Lobster, Octopus ,Sea Horse, Shark, Starfish, and Whales 
  • Add these animals to habitat chart and descriptive word chart, discuss adaptations. 
  • Go to National Geographic Kids and learn about ocean animals. 
  • Go online and find pictures of favorite animals and finish chart, make sure each habitat has at least one animal under it!
Field trip to zoo!! 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

A not so relaxed stay at home mom!

I don't know how many times I have heard "you are so lucky to be able to stay at home with your kids", and I know I am. I am very thankful that I am able to be here for my boy's, I am thankful that I am able to home-school "A". I am thankful that I am able to meet his unique needs, and help him learn and grow, he is after all a very intelligent little boy! I am not a stay at home mom by choice, but I am not complaining.

When my youngest son Elijah was born at 24 weeks, we brought home a very sick four month old. "A" was diagnosed with High Functioning Autism about a year later. It didn't take me long to figure out that life was going to change drastically! I know that many of you special needs mommies know how it is. The appointments, often traveling hundreds of miles to get the medical care your child needs.  Dealing with the schools, which is often a major heartache and headache, and the way it feels to hand your home over to strangers. Early intervention, therapists, social workers, nurses, aides, all of the people who spend hours a day in your home, to help with your child. I have almost forgot what it is like to just kick back on the couch while the kids take a nap.

So when I say I am a stay at home mom I am sure some people think that I do my housework, put the kids down for a nap and then turn on my favorite television show or soap. Or maybe I kick back and read for a couple of hours. That isn't how it is, at least not for me.

Housework, well that is something that I do in between appointments, sometimes I reserve housework for after the kids go to bed. Needless to say, I will not be winning any awards for the cleanest, best decorated home. The wallpaper is still half off the walls in the kitchen where I have been meaning to repaint, it has been that way for a long time! You won't find flowers in my flower bed, but you may find a few weeds! If you stop by without calling first there may even be a few dishes in the sink and my living room will probably look like a preschool! I don't even want to talk about the basement area!

Television, well what few shows I do watch I DVR, and I try not to fall asleep as I am watching at midnight or possibly later.  Most days I enjoy bits of Nick Jr. and Mario jumping across the screen. I love to read, but that is something I don't do near as much as I used to.

During the school year our day is a blur of lessons, appointments, and running errands. Some days I catch myself in "survival mode", where it feels like I am just doing what I need to do to get through the day. I really try not to do that . I try every day to recognize my blessings, I realize there are others who are so much worse off. I get to wake up every morning to my boys sweet voices, many never hear their child speak. I am able to teach A at home. Many parents have no choice but go work, send their child to school, often not knowing for sure if their child's needs are really being met. I see Elijah improving every day, far past the doctors expectations. I have a wonderful 17 year old son who makes me so proud!

 I know how fast things can change. I know, because I've been there. So my plan is to strive to find a blessing in each and every day, because the blessings are always there!

 A and his newest pet

A and baby brother

A and big brother