Friday, March 15, 2013

Something New To Us This Year: Notebooking

Last year I did a series of posts on “how we do” most of our school subjects.  (I never did get around to math or French…maybe because math isn’t that exciting since we mostly stick to our curriculum and French I still haven’t really found a groove for? Anyhow…)   A lot of that information still applies.  But there are a few things we are approaching differently this year, and I look forward to sharing some of those things with you.   One of those things is that we’ve added in some notebooking.
Oral narration is still a staple around here – we still orally narrate all of our school readings.   At the end of each “week” (as per the AO schedule) we take some time to add any new historical figures to our timeline book (that’s new too…post forthcoming) and she chooses whatever reading was most interesting to her that week to do a notebook page about.   She has really taken to this!   I only asked her to draw a picture and write a 1 sentence caption, and she ended up writing a whole paragraph!   
A recent notebook page from an installment of Dangerous Journey

We are collecting her notebook pages into her school record binder, so by the end of the year we should have a really lovely record of some of the highlights of our reading for this year.   We are using a very generic template for simplicity (I printed off a supply of two different styles for her to choose from), although if you get really in to notebooking there are TONS of resources (both paid and free) to choose from online.   We may eventually divide out into more subject-specific notebooks, but I didn’t feel that was necessary if we are only producing 1 page each week.
Normally, Charlotte Mason didn’t recommend asking children to produce written narrations (of which notebooking is a form) before the age of about 9 or so.  The thinking behind this is that the child first must feel comfortable with the mechanics of handwriting as well as have developed the ability to narrate orally (organizing and expressing thoughts in one’s head and then verbally) before melding these two skills together.   Michelle, a 7 year old first-ish/second grader, is very comfortable with these two skills separately and often chooses to write on her own (letters, lists, stories)…so I felt it was time to start gently nudging her in this direction.    If your child is not ready to do write on their own (meaning that the physical act of handwriting and/or the process of organizing one's thoughts through oral narration is still laborious for them), but the idea of notebooking intrigues you can always be a scribe for your child and take down an occasional oral narration for your child to illustrate if they so desire.  We did that some last year and I found it very motivating for Michelle when I took down what she said.  And as you can see we are starting very small – 1 page per week on a topic of her choosing.  Eventually we’ll work up to 2 pages per week, and then 3 until eventually she is producing some type of written work daily – probably a mix of topics of her choosing and topics of mine.
So do you use notebooking in your homeschool?  Please share if you do – I’d love to see how you do it!

Monday, March 11, 2013

What We've Learned - March 5, 2013

Now that we’ve been back-to-homeschool for 2 weeks, it’s time to get back into the swing of sharing some of what we’ve learned…
Michelle (Age 7)
  1. I have been reading about Pocahontas. (Pocahontas by Ingri and Edgar d’Aulaire).   She dives for her bath.
  2. I read about the missing cupcakes in Part 2 of “The Mystery”  (in my reader, Climbing Higher).
  3. I have been doing subtraction in my math.  (We are almost finished with Math U See Alpha).
  4. We are learning to spell –er words like other.
James (Age 4.5)
  1. I learned to read out of my “jam book”.  (We are using the All About Reading Level 1 readers for extra phonics practice.  The very first story we read in book one was about jam, and the book has been dubbed “The Jam Book” ever since!!)
  2. I learned to read words that have 4 letters in them.
  3. I played the math game that is like Skipbo with Mama.
  4. We read a story called “The Peaches” (from Kindergarten Gems)
Elizabeth (Age Almost 3)
Currently unavailable for comment, as she has worn herself out and is taking a nap as I type. =)  She loves doing cut-and-paste type things, however.  She begs for this regularly.  She also thinks that she was a princess in a movie.   Not sure where she got that idea from – we’ve never been that into the whole princess fad thing in our house!
Mama (because you should never stop learning no matter how old you are…)
  1. It is OK that I am not a crafty mama.  Why do I say this?  Because if I don’t direct the crafts the kids will make them up for themselves.  Case in point: Michelle drew her own ant to cut out and paste together.   She even examined the drawing in a book about insects to make she that her ant was anatomically correct!!
  2. You can make amazingly delicious ice cream without a fancy ice cream maker machine with nothing more than a can of sweetened condensed milk, 2 cups of cream (which you then whip to double or so the volume), some vanilla, and some cocoa powder.   The only equipment you need is something to whip the cream with.  A-MAZ-ING.  (Thankfully, a liter of cream here costs about $7 and I had to use half of it in this recipe…so that will help me keep it as a special treat instead of eating it for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack!)
  3. The  English language has a fascinating history – just finished reading King Alfred’s English which was a highly readable narrative history of the English language.  (Y’all already knew I was a nerd, right?! If not, you can add it to your list of things you learned this week! ;-))
  4. God is good and faithful to provide encouragement when we need it: Last week I was feeling lonely and out of place and discouraged since finding out some friends of ours who we thought were coming to serve here with us now aren’t.  Since then He brought an impromptu visit from a sweet Cameroonian friend, an encouraging conversation with a veteran missionary lady, and an evening out with a couple of other homeschooling mamas.  Isn’t He good?