Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Making It Up as I Go

This school year looks nothing like I expected. Last year was such a sweet year of homeschooling around the dining room table, using familiar curriculum that Sweetheart had used in private school the year before. She loved all things schoolish and loved for me to act like it was "real" school. (She would come in every morning and say, "Good morning Mrs. E" or "Mom, pretend like I'm a new student and you have to introduce me to the class!") I really enjoyed last year.

But having the summer to think about things and research my options a bit, I changed a few things. What worked really well in 2nd grade wasn't necessarily going to work again in 3rd grade. And I'll be honest, it was very hard to let go of my preconceived notions of what 3rd grade "should" look like. (I used to teach 3rd grade.) I branched out and got some new curriculum that would allow us to study things from a Christian perspective and I'm very glad that I did. I have enjoyed the curriculum we purchased, but the year still doesn't look like I thought it would.

For one thing, the younger grades (Pre-K through 2nd grade) lend themselves to thematic units. That's how I always taught. If we were to the part of our reading book where we read stories about the ocean, I stayed late at school hanging blue plastic wrap from the ceiling to transform our classroom into the ocean. Then I researched and found extra books to go along with our study. We had the best Titanic unit back then. When the movie came out, my former students all had to stop off at my door to ask if I had seen it yet. They remembered that unit because their interest was sparked. I love theme units. It's so fun to put huge dragon footprints in the hallway leading to your room and decorate your door like a castle and watch your students' faces as they walk up. "What are we learning about?????" The answer? Fairy tales. Don't even get me started on my pig unit. I stayed late hauling landscaping timbers to my classroom to build a pig pen that we filled with the students' stuffed pigs where they could sit and read.

Sigh. School used to be so much fun.

But because of the curriculum choices for Sweetheart's 3rd grade year, there really isn't as much time to do a theme unit. Besides, she knows all about Johnny Appleseed and the first Thanksgiving already because she remembers from last year. And if we do our History curriculum every day, it is a theme unit in itself. (The Ancients and all that encompasses.) But to us, that is boring by itself.

I could not believe the transformation in my oldest daughter when we began learning about horses two weeks ago! Since she was already interested, I think I could have gotten her to do just about anything. And we've pretty much kept up with our other subjects. Kind of. But how else can you find yourself watching Mr. Ed and The Roy Rogers Show on Youtube? We were studying famous horses, OK? We have had so much fun.

And that led into our Colonial Unit. I wanted to do some stuff on the 13 colonies, then I got a homeschool freebie download of a colonial book that looked awesome, then I thought, "Why not read the Felicity American Girl books next?" Hmmm. Then I remembered a free lapbook for American Girl books on Homeschool Share.

Another unit is born.

And if you think I have a plan past this you are VERY, VERY funny.

Or new to my blog.


  1. Aren't we all making it up as we go along? ;)

    I'm trying to embrace the fact that each year will be different. It's hard because I like everything planned and purposed, but I'm beginning to realize the flux is a blessing of homeschooling.

  2. I am working to try to fit in the theme units also. It is so hard, I am not doinng what I want to be doinng, but I am stuck doing the "neccessary stuff" and trying to find my balance! Not doing well at the moment. Today we started off good, Bible, spelling, check math, history and than the ideas started bubbling out of me. I have been wanting to do a diaroma with the kids, so what better than a Jamestown or a Colonial ship! So we started but han nothing else got done???? AKKK. But they will remember?

  3. I just think it's cool that you homeschool and you can teach your children to learn in a way that works for them...admirable.

    Sometimes we have to go with what works for the moment. God has our plan in place...take comfort knowing that at least He knows what is supposed ot be going on.

  4. We love themes, but I'm not so creative at making it all up so we use Winter Promise for ours. All made up for me, even craft ideas!

  5. Oh, you have awesome theme units right now! I know you're creative enough to turn your home into an original colonist's home.

    We started Frontiersmen and Tracking a few weeks ago, but ditched it because I wanted to start with Westward Expansion on the whole, not just a portion of it. Then we put that on hold for Thanksgiving. We'll have to go back to WE after Christmas--not what we had planned. But the kids are loving it and learning LOTS.

  6. Sounds fun! let me know when you're having dress up day. The girls and I will fly in.

    If that's not too much for you. :0) We can camp out in the back yard and make it "authentic". We'll just pretend we're the hired help or something.

    And you have to watch the Felicity movie. It's excellent.

  7. Brenda-

    email me for a picture of a monkey puppet :)

    That sounds funny- but you know what I am talking about!

  8. I'm going to be out today. Here's my link for Fitness Friday, if you want to link it. No pressure. If not, I'll just link it sometime this weekend.

    Hope you had a great week!


I don't get to talk to a lot of actual grown-ups during the day, so your comments make me really happy! :)