It's the beginning of a new year and I'm feeling a new peace about homeschooling. During our first semester, I found myself constantly shifting styles and trying new things to see what works best. And feeling like I had to prove myself. I also went through a huge identity crisis. One of the biggest things I discovered about myself was my own perfectionism, and how constantly trying to reach the extremely high expectations I have for myself was leaving me exhausted, discouraged, and angry. And it was affecting the expectations I had for my kids as well. So I was always planning and trying to do too much and always feeling disappointed in myself and my life as a result.
So this year, my new motto is from Mr. Rogers: "I believe that simple and deep is more essential than shallow and complex." I realized that the most important things that Ella could get out of kindergarten this year are to love to learn and to want to read. So we are going to be interacting with books as much as possible, doing a ton more read-alouds, and concentrating on doing Five in a Row. And we're going to try harder to live up to our family motto "Love Jesus, Read books, Eat donuts, Laugh a lot."
So last week we "rowed" Mike Mulligan and the Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton, chosen mainly because I already had the book and some other activities. Simple, see?
We learned all about personification and drew some pictures that personified inanimate objects. I also had this fun Mike Mulligan travel kit that I found at the grocery store that included an audio cd, activity book, stickers and postcards. The girls did all the writing prompt activities in one day instead of spreading it over the week, but they enjoyed them.
The girls loved that Mary Anne was a girl steam shovel so we went outside and pretended to be steam shovels. I pulled out the sled because it's hard for Beatrix to walk in the snow. But, of course, she insisted on trying to pull her sisters in the sled instead.
This guy was very tolerant of the giant snowsuit, though he really didn't see the point.
For math day, we counted all the little details in the book and did a graphing activity. I've been enjoying learning about Virginia Lee Burton. I checked out a dvd and a book about her life and I love the way that she was able to intertwine her creative pursuits with parenting. She used her kids as the test audience for Mike Mulligan and when she could read it to them for a month without anyone falling asleep, she considered it good enough. Her art is really beautiful too and has tons of details.She and some of the other women in her town decided to trade art lessons for violin lessons and ended up forming a design guild that produced the most beautiful fabrics. Really awesome.
We got some blocks that we hadn't played for awhile and built town hall. Mabel was very insistent that we look at the pictures and make sure ours looked the same. So she added the flag on the steeple and the columns in the front. Ella built Mary Anne and she came out great.
Here's Mike Mulligan and Mary Anne in their retirement in the cellar of town hall.
We learned about steam power, though our experiment: trying to get a paper pinwheel to turn with the steam from a teakettle, kind of flopped. But the good thing about homeschooling is that since the tea kettle is already hot, you can go ahead and have some tea.
Another favorite was listening to the Maestro Classics classical arrangement of Mike Mulligan. Ella particularly liked one track, which was a croony musical number called the Mike Mulligan song. By the end of the week, they had memorized the words and developed a dance to go along to it. Heck, I'm pretty sure Brent was wandering the hallways at work singing, "Here comes the man, Mike Mulligan, With Mary Anne, Mike Mulligan."
And for our baking day, we made a Mike Mulligan cake, which was a chocolate cake with some peppermint bark chips on top. We cut a hole, neat and square out of the middle and used one of our stickers of Mary Anne for decoration.