Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Let's Get Together! Yeah, Yeah, Yeah!

Can't you just hear Hayley Mills singing this little ditty?  Most school mornings I gather my children for what I call "group time".  So original, isn't it?  This is the time that I do most of my "bulk" teaching.  Just like bulk cooking I like to teach as much as possible to all my children at the same time. We usually gather around 9 o'clock in the den/school room.  Before this time the children have done some chores and independent school work.

During our group time we read from the Proverbs for the day taking turns reading out loud and go over our memory verses in our memory box found here at Scripture Memory System.  If we are studying  a particular hymn we also sing it  and then have a time of prayer.

We had a couple of chapters to complete in Mr. Pipes Comes to America so this week and next we are finishing that book and singing the corresponding hymns.  After that our group music studies will come from A Young Scholar's Guide to Composers.  We then read and discuss one chapter from Fallacy Detective.  We have done this book before and will continue our logic studies with The Thinking Toolbox when we complete Fallacy Detective.

We are also studying Latin and Greek roots.  We take one root per week and go over it every day.  Aaron and Kaelan make a page for their notebooks of the root on Monday.  Jordan has already done this, so he just gets the review time.  Our source for this study is English from the Roots Up.  I keep the roots cards in our scripture memory system box.

The children are working independently through Around the World in 180 Days for our geography studies.  I have decided to take a continent per semester which would have us completing our world tour every 3 1/2 years.  Much more doable for me and the little boys should have completed three world tours before their homeschooling days are over.  Our group study of geography includes reading from a missionary biography, reading from a Ballentyne adventure book and from ABeka and/or Bob Jones text book.  We do NOT do each of these every day!

Our group history study includes reading from All-American History, answering the accompanying questions and doing map work.  We are also currently reading together from the Landmark The American Revolution and Charles Coffin's The Boys of '76.  Again, we don't do all  of this every day.  Just reading from one book per day.  The children do read MANY other historical books on their own and we watch a good many historical DVDs.

All of my children who are at home participate in this time.  My 22 year old daughter is dismissed after our Bible and prayer time.  She then does some chores, some reading assigned by her dad or takes 22 month old Caedmon for some play time.  In a couple of weeks she will only be home two days a week. So Caedmon will be with us much more during this time.  I am thinking of making him a special box of toys to play with only during our group time.

 I will admit that this time together is not all sweet, calm and productive.  There are times when I have to stop and adjust some attitudes, give direction, pull out additional resources or just nurse the little one.  We try to continue amidst the disturbances!  I sit in my glider/rocker with my stack of books sitting on the footstool.  The older children are scattered on other chairs and on the couch.  The little boys generally have puzzles and duplos scattered across the floor and Jackson usually has some drawing paper or a coloring page related to our history study.   By the time we are finished with group time, my den looks like a train wreck.  I sometimes wonder if they are learning anything, but they are!!  One day Jackson came to me and said, "Mom, you know when we are all together in the den and you read to us about history?  Well, that's my favorite time!"  Not only are they learning, but we are creating memories!

I do try to always ask the younger children questions first before letting the older children reply.  Even Jackson can answer questions from our history readings.   A good bit of his one-on-one reading time with either Jeff or I or one of the older children is spent on biographies.  His face lights up when I pause to let him answer a question about Paul Revere, George Washington, Ben Franklin or his current favorite, Ethan Allan.

Our group time takes us about 2 hours more or less.  After this time the children continue with their independent studies which I will post about later.  Two afternoons a week I gather Aaron, Kaelan and Jackson for KONOS activities related to our geography studies.  Two other afternoons we gather for science activities.  I devote 45  minutes to one hour for this time.  Tuesday afternoons we have piano lessons and errands that keep us out from the noon hour until late afternoon.

Yes, it would be much easier to let the children study everything on their own.  Jeff and I have discussed this issue MANY times throughout our 23 years of homeschooling,  However, being able to have a family discussion about our studies, planning family trips relating to our studies, reading good books together and just SPENDING time together as we learn are all factors that make our family a family who learns together.


Celee said...

Our group read-aloud time is about 30 minutes for Bible/devotions in the morning and then another 1.5 hrs mid-morning- so very similar to yours in length of time.

I'm interested in what American History DVDs you recommend. I purchased Drive-thru History with Dave Barton that has some bios of founding men and women of our nation. I'm actually a little disappointed with it considering what I paid. I'm quite skeptical of anything the History Channel puts out. What do you guys love? My kids are 11, 9, and7.



Anonymous said...

I love it when you post your routine! I'm always open for ideas so keep it coming. :-)

Anita said...

Celee, you must have the Drive Thru History America Foundations of Character set. It does say that it is a "complete" curriculum, but only contains information on about 8 key people from the founding era. While I do have that and will use it, we like the Drive Thru history series much better. It is simply dvds with host DAve Stotts who is somewhat kookie, but his info is accurate and presented in a fun way. Check out to find this series. Buying through them will help support The Homeschool Channel!!

Although put out by HBO we loved John Adams (was that book on your list of American history reads? It was written by David McCullough and is FANTASTIC. Jordan recently read his 1776 which is also great. You might like for your own reading books by Jeff Sharra.

Another favorite movie based on a book is Johnny Tremain. A wonderful book that I just found on cd is Carry On, Mr. Bowditch. A fabulous book about a young man who virtually educates himself. Very inspiring!

Roan said...

Thanks for sharing. I love seeing how you and others conduct their day. We also spend the first hour and a half or so together....and my den and kitchen look like a train wreck when we are done! We start with Bible at the table and then move to the den for all of the reading aloud/discussing.

Tami said...

Anita, I love your blog, and I'm so blessed by this peek into your day. We also have a "group time" in the morning after chores, then we break up for individual work. It can be a chaotic way to start the day, but usually it's a great way to get us all going in the same direction. Thanks for sharing this.

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