Saturday, January 4, 2014

Year 2: Winter Break review

I haven't been blogging very much recently about our homeschool...I know. I was very happy when Christmas break rolled around and we could just "turn off" the school and "turn on" our regular old homelife, sans schoolwork.

Not that we didn't accomplish much in December. I wasn't really "with it" this year like last year's holiday (note the lack of Advent wreath project this year *sigh*), but we did manage to put some meaningful holiday lessons and fun into our homeschool Christmas 2013:

1) While I didn't have the boys create an Advent project,  we did do - or tried to do - a little thing everyday that I named our "Advent-ure". In a nice holiday basket, I collected enough envelopes for the Advent school days, labelled them with the number of the day and inside put an activity we could do after all our schoolwork was done. One day it was cutting out paper snowflakes (this was a dud with the boys, but a hit with Shayla) and talked about how we were all unique creations of God. Another day we made hot chocolate and played Christmas Bingo - big hit with the boys! Some days by the end of the day they didn't want to have anything to do with me and other days it kept them motivated to finish, but at least we recognized the season in our school.

2) As part of the boys' music studies, they participated in our church's junior choir through the end of 2013. They practiced at church every Wednesday night and sang at Saturday evening Mass once a month. For Christmas, they sang again for the Children's Mass on Christmas Eve afternoon. They weren't "feeling the love" for singing by then, but did a great job and Ben even carried the lantern up to light Baby Jesus in our altar nativity scene. 
Danny wasn't really asleep - Mom's just not good with her new camera phone yet :)

3)  Our new band, Encore Academy, out of Westminster, is truly a Godsend. The boys actually found a music class they really enjoyed, practiced every school day and that - ahem - Mom loves! Our Holiday concert on December 16th went really well considering that is was my and Ben's first instrument concert ever and neither of us passed out or threw up. :) Our family afterward:

4) Our art this month was sparse, but we managed to get to The Pottery Stop in Ellicott City for the first time so the boys could make Christmas gifts for their godmothers. The projects turned out so good that they begged to go back and make something to keep, so that will definitely happen in January before we begin our Abrakadoodle classes at the Columbia Hobby Lobby....

5) We were able to squeeze in a visit to the B&O railroad museum (again :) because I didn't want to miss the Christmas train exhibits. Also, since they have been celebrating the Civil War 150th Anniversary with The War Came by Train exhibit, and we just finished our Civil War unit, I thought they might tie the two together. No such luck, but we did get to see all their new exhibits (Thomas was still there :) and the main exhibit made entirely of Legos with camera-mounted cameras displayed on a TV screen. So definitely a local win!

     So, it was a fun and productive December, even if the actual grunt work of schooling dwindled down to a trickle of holiday worksheets in math and grammar by the last week. We've all spent the last two weeks letting our brains rest and I think it actually worked. I've redone my weekly school schedule to something I think will be more usable to me. Also, I got the Grammar Ace grammar curriculum because I needed something better suited for the boys and I think this might be it - I hope so! 
     My biggest challenge starting into 2014 is Danny's math issues and Ben's reading dread. However, one of those may be on it's way out. Since we weren't doing schooling over the break, I starting reading Ben one of his favorite character books at bedtime (not educational, but not a graphic novel and something he LOVES) and he FINALLY started getting excited about them and not letting me stop each night. This was a surprise, because believe me, I tried before with this same book all fall semester and he was determined NOT to like it. And - miracle of miracles! - when I was sick in bed last night and couldn't tuck him in, he came RUNNING into my room with the next book in his series to read! Since I was feeling so bad, it was good excuse for me to ask him to read to ME - and it went wonderfully. He is really starting to read with expression and comprehension and we both giggled our way through the whole chapter. I told him how good he made me feel when he read to me, so I'm gonna work this angle as long as I can. :)
     I still have to hope and pray for a miracle with Danny's math, but seeing Ben's progress, I have hope now. Happy New Year 2014!

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