When I first started the school year last year, one idea I had to encourage Corynn to do a good job (and to help her get excited about schoolwork) was to dangle the opportunity to show off her work at the end of the year. Being first generation homeschoolers, I thought it might be a good way to get the grandparents' more comfortable with our education decisions by allowing them a firsthand glimpse into our work. A sortof Grandparents' Day/end-of-the-year Museum, showcasing her hardwork throughout the year.
The idea stuck and really helped motivate her, to the point where there was no turning back. ;-)
I simply kept a basket where all her finished work would go, to be sorted through at the end of the year. Only afterward did I realize it had another added benefit. Corynn is a sentimental girl and has a VERY hard time parting with anything she has done. A little slip of paper with a heart drawn on it would be tragic to throw away. This way, she could show off her work, I could "record" it through photographs and then she could give it/mail it to people without feeling as though all her work was just going up in flames.
It took a while to coordinate schedules, but two weeks ago, we were finally able to do it. Would have been nice to do it right at the years' end, since school had to be on my mind a lot longer, but ah well. Such is life.
The phonics program we used was Veritas Press' Phonics Museum, a program that introduces fine art and history while teaching basic phonics principles so I thought it fitting that the end of the year show-down be Museum themed. (We loved it by the way.)
Admission tickets were mailed in advance...
refreshments were made...
and the dining room was transformed...
It was neat to see the progress from the start of the school year to the end. From the scribbles that turned into real works of art, to the letter digraphs turned complicated reading books---I wouldn't have realized how far Corynn had come had I not saved her work to look at later.
Of course, I sought to include as much of Andrews' work as well. Maybe he is too young for "school" but he certainly worked hard at learning. He had reason to be proud too.
Andrew set up a Lincoln Log display, since he worked with those daily while Corynn did her schoolwork.
I hung the fine print alphabet cards along with the childrens' colored versions on the wall and intermingled their own individual artwork as well.
The few frames on the wall I utilized too...here is Andrews version of a thatched roof cottage.
We brought out projects like their Batiks and Geodes and put them on display as well. (So thankful to finally be able to throw those GEODES away!!!)
and shared our family read alouds and lunchtime devotional books.
There was a Nature table, where the children displayed things like Fossils and nature drawings.
It is here that I am quite sure the HIT of the entire museum was found. Corynns woodpecker watercolor. I remember her crying because she "HATED it" because "the beak is too big and the wing is all wrong." She actually cried that it wasn't good enough. My crazy, silly girl. She did a better job at six than I could likely do.
And of course, we had to make room for the CASTLE.
I think the grandparents enjoyed the Museum and I know for a *FACT* that Corynn and Andrew loved it. I was so thankful our parents' and Gram made the trip out to support us on our silly little Museum day. It meant the world to Corynn, especially.
As parting gifts, the Museum gift shop handed out ORIGINAL art signed by the artist!!
After I cleaned up the party, I realized I had never moved the Book Tree to the Museum. That's okay~ we stopped adding leaves a long time ago...basically, about the time Corynn began reading books on her own without me knowing it. I guess, then, the leaves didn't accurately portray her progress then. The number we DID record went to 78 books she had read herself.
I loved the Book Tree, but can I just say I am glad to have been able to finally take it down? The walls look strangely naked but hey, in this case that is a GOOD thing.
Now that I have finally taken down ALL the school stuff and made a clean slate, it is practically time to get my curricula around, start scheduling...its practically time for school to start again. argh.
I think summer vacation needs to be about 2 months longer. Who's with me?
I watched you this morning. I sat on the edge of the bed and looked out the window squares into the fog and saw the love of my life doing chicken chores. I saw you stand on the step there for a minute or two, hands on hips, staring who knows where. I watched, you completely oblivious, and thought about how wonderful it is to have you. I wondered how I would get through another week with you gone.
The first thing Addie Mae did this morning was say "Papa? PAPA?" in her husky, still half asleep voice. The children played out under the turkey run all morning, pounding nails into boards and making places for their tools using the tool bench you built for them.
I did laundry and washed your shirts. I cleaned the kitchen and saw the cutting board still with ingredients from your leftover homefries. I found beauty in it and realized the beauty was in the piece of MEMORIES you left. Even if those memories were just of homefries.
You are everywhere. You are in the potatoes and garlic on the counter. On the tongues of our children. Under the turkey run, in the boards of the tool bench. You are in the freshly cleaned chicken house and the already full watering trough for the cows. You are in our smiles, in our eyes, in our thoughts and on our hearts.
And that is the ONLY reason I will be able to survive this week.
Life has been so busy HAPPENING, that I am horribly behind at recording it. WEEKS behind, as a matter of fact. So far behind it would be almost too easy to just NOT catch up and just quit blogging altogether.
That would be the easiest thing to do. And maybe the best thing to do. But it is probably the LAST thing I ever WOULD do. :-)
Instead, here is a five minute run-down to get things semi-caught up.
We visited a traveling Opa, our own.
Matt and I went to the movies all alone....and realized that Monday-Thursday ticket prices are el cheapo so we splurged (and lost all savings) by buying outrageously priced popcorn. We also snuck in candy, like true rebels.
We turned our dining room into a Museum and invited guests.
We went to the fair (Matt too!!) Even though it doesn't allow entries into competitions (no chances for ribbons for me. ho-hum) and barricades you from any live animals and even though pregnant women are not allowed on rides (sniff, sniff, HONK) we SOMEHOW managed to have fun. ;-)
We went to a pool.
The cows got out and decided to hitchhike on the main road. A tractor-trailer truck nearly taught them the dangers of hitchhiking.
Our much-loved, well-used and too expensive to replace Radioflyer wagon was stolen. Right from our yard. (weep, weep, wail) STOLEN. (Who woulda thunk? That sorta thing is supposed to happen in CITIES. or so I thought.)
Andrew and Papa built a pig fence. I wonder why?!?
I picked up my never-ending afghan project again. It's a slow-goer, and since I am an instant gratification kinda-gal, I don't give it its' due. Poor Mattie. The project that is just exclusively for him is taking me YEARS to finish.
For reasons too sad to talk about, we had to say goodbye to our much loved dog, Dutchess. It was terribly heart-breaking and we have been lonely ever since. She's left a big, gaping void on our hearts and homestead.
Our tomato plants outgrew ME.
We harvested from the garden for the first time last week, and have harvested DAILY since. Farmer Boy (Andrew) goes out every morning first thing. My, he's passionate.
Homegrown flowers (and weeds) are now constantly gracing the table.
I am now seeing the midwife weekly. Not too long now...
The laundry line is constantly full.
The fans are constantly on at night.
Flies have invaded.
I outgrew my maternity shorts; they now officially HURT to sit in. :-(
I had to mop UNDER THE FRIDGE when an entire glass pitcher of lemonade spilled all over the kitchen floor. That was fun.
We had an impromptu huckleberry (small, wild blueberries) picking session at Matt's parents' house in which we picked not nearly enough, but loved every minute of it. (We meaning ME.)
The children all got 24 hour fever bugs-on different days.
Matt left me for a week last week and my DEAR friend drove four hours to stay with me. She was a perfect diversion. I had so much fun that, as is usually the case when real life fun is happening, I didn't pick up the camera but once or twice. A measly few photos to show for such a splendid time.
She made a shield with Andrew. She helped Corynn sew a skirt for PiePie. She held and hugged on Miss Addie Mae. She even brought stories to read about knights and castles, perfectly fitting. And OH, she was purely medicinal to me.
She and I stayed up late. Gabbed for a week straight. Sipped lemonade and tea on the patio in the middle of the day. We laughed. We cried. We created. She helped create a pattern for a knit baby cocoon that I have been PINING over making for months now and then I knit one! I KNIT ONE!!! (And it won't be the last. You can trust me on that.) She helped me hang laundry and did almost ALL my dishes for me. Crazy, stubborn, wonderful gal.
She came bearing gifts, all handmade-all amazing and left one gift more before she left. She gave me back my motivation for creating, an area where I have been treading water for months now. Grand plans but no motivation to make those plans reality. Ahhh-but no longer. My stifled fingers are itching now and will, I have a feeling, be making up for lost time.
This comes at a most opportune time, since my Mattie has left me again THIS week. (His employers must hate me or something.) Lots of chick flicks while folding laundry, lots of catch-up blogging, and lots of crafting to keep me occupied after the childer are in bed on these long, lonely nights. A lot sure can happen in two weeks' time.
Life has been ridiculously busy and yesterday was the worst yet (of this week anyway) so even though I have a ridiculous amount of work to do (like say, get the house undone from yesterday's adventure~to be revealed, btw~ and prepare for our upcoming week long house guest), I am TIRED and it is ridiculously hot out so I can only muster the energy to sit in front of the fan and write a ridiculously long post about a recent project the childer have been working on and to see how many times I can fit the word "ridiculous" (in any form) into one ridiculously redundant paragraph.
Yes~this heat IS getting to me. Why do you ask?!
Andrew found this book at the library and, as is often the case with books, was spurred on to creating one himself. Of course, being the crafty gal that she is, Corynn jumped right on that bandwagon.
So the castle project began and I tried very.very.very hard to let the kiddos do their thing without taking over the project (being the crafty girl that I am can sometimes create a problem when Mama starts making things "just so").
So the children gathered the supplies. Glued. Colored. Painted. Taped. Folded. Drew bricks. Cut brick slits for the castle top. Strung the drawbridge. Cut and made flags. Made water. Grew grass. And generally took over. (I never knew my children could grow grass and make water~the things you learn!)
I wielded an Xacto knife and glue gun for the small bit of "tough stuff" and then sat back and let them have at it.
We haven't done every project in the book. We may NEVER do the people and horses, since Playmobile people work so lovely with it. (THANK YOU PLAYMOBILE!) But I don't doubt that there will be a church and battle tent in our very near future.
They DID make the stable, though.
What is a castle without a place to put the horses? Andrew took over the stable project...
while Corynn made the flags.
And Papa took over the popsicle stick catapult project (his own design, not the one in the book). The kids didn't help with the catapult but have sure made USE of it! Cheerios are great ammunition by the way, especially for catapults with this much....power.
It can take people out across the room.
So you boys had better watch out.
Andrew painted the grass and Corynn made water from aluminum foil painted blue and plastic wrap.
They both did an awesome job brick-laying. The key to good brick laying is two on one and one on two, by the way.
Andrew says we need some alligators for the moat.
And since I am a homeschool Mama, and since ANYTHING fun can also be educational~ I went searching for some books on the subject. Maybe the children will find a few MORE projects to do for their castle. ;-)