First day of school

We just wrapped up our first day of school.  We're easing into it this year, so we aren't doing every single subject this first week, but this is what today looked like:

We woke the kids up at 7:45.  (This is the first time we've done this.  Every other school year we've let them all sleep until they wake and then we begin school-- which just meant that some days we were starting breakfast really late.)   This way we can maximize our morning time, which is when we do most of our work.

Breakfast was at 8:30, and Mark had asked the kids to do three things by the time they came to breakfast:
-make your beds
-get dressed
-have a 10-minute devotional time

We hope our kids will have a habit of spending time with Jesus before they leave our home, so we're providing a morning time for them to have devotions this year.

For the little girls (5 and 4):
I set out a basket in the living room containing children's Bibles along with some paper and colored pencils, and we showed them their "spots" on the couches last night and talked about sitting quietly and looking through the Bibles or coloring during that time.

For the older kids (11, 8 and 8):
They each took their Bibles and found a spot to read or pray.  Toward the end of that time I heard Ella singing some hymns from our bedroom (where she'd settled herself) and it so delighted me to hear that early on in our day.  :)  Isaac told me later he'd read the first chapter of Genesis, the first chapter of Matthew, and three Psalms.  Fabulous!  Isaias read the words to some hymns and then prayed.

I nestled in on the couch next to Audra with my Bible during that time, but ended up hearing all about every.single.picture she was looking at, which was perfectly fine with me.  :)  It was a sweet time.

I made pumpkin chocolate-chip muffins for breakfast-, and we also had bacon and hot cocoa (with whipped cream).  I set the table last night and had made some paper place mats for each of the kids, so they were excited to see those and they all ended up hanging their place mats on their walls after breakfast.  :)

Ella's place mat, now on her wall.

During breakfast we read from Hurlbut's and did narrations.  This is the way I've been doing narrations: I've assigned each child a colored bead and then I shake them in my hand and draw one.  For example, Ella's color is pink, so if I draw the pink bead, she begins narrations until I tell her to stop.  Then I draw another bead, and work my way through all five.  Sometimes I switch it up and have them draw a picture or make a little booklet of the Bible story we've read that day, or act it out- but those types of narrations take longer, so most of the time we just do a verbal narration using the beads for "turns".

I keep this by our table for easy narrations.  (Toothpick in a ball of playdough to hold the beads when we're not using them.)
We played some classical music while we did after-breakfast chores, and then the plan was that I would do storytime with the little girls on the couch while the older three finished up their chores.  But Ella, Isaac and Isaias all zipped through their chores so that they could be there, too, so we all gathered on the couch and read picture books from our latest trip to the library.

Then the older three headed to the table to do some math.  They're all doing Rod & Staff this year.  Mark and I decided to limit math time to 20 minutes.  This is to keep their lessons short and to keep their attention focused.  (I'm hoping this will limit the dawdling and doodling and staring off into space during math time.  So this year it's: "Here is your work.  You have 20 minutes to complete this lesson." - and it's their responsibility to be attentive and complete it in the time allotted.

While the older kids did math, I sat with the little girls in the living room and did 20 minutes of school with them.  We put stickers on a big letter A and Adelia and I practiced forming A's.  First we traced a sandpaper letter A and then formed A's on a rice tray, and then she wrote a couple.) 

Adelia is definitely behind Audra in these types of things, though she's a full year older.  Audra has been writing her name (and all sorts of other things) for well over a year but Adelia struggles to make one legible letter- and gives up easily and with frustration.  Generally she's quite too busy to sit still and work on anything for longer than 2 seconds, so that's part of it.  But I can tell it bothers her and I know she lacks confidence, so we're working on her letters, one by one- and with lots of encouragement.

some of our memory work pages
Then we all began memory work.  Instead of the memory work box we've done for several years, each of the kids now have their own memory work binder.  Each binder has a "review" tab, containing all of the things we've memorized over the years, as well as the new stuff we're memorizing.  The binders were a big hit.  The kids were amazed to see all they've memorized, and it's nice for the older three to be able to read along with me as we do so, and Adelia and Audra just felt pretty special that they had binders just like the big kids.  :)

memory work: catechism

Are you familiar with the Clarkson's Our 24 Family Ways?  Mark and I used that as a springboard to make our own family ways.  We used many of theirs but tweaked it a bit- adding some different verses, omitting a few and adding some of our own.  So we're introducing these week by week and discussing them.  We'll memorize verses to go with them for our new memory work this year.

We then worked on a little history- introduced the ancients and did a little reading about the Egyptians, and the kids all chose books from our history book bin on Egypt and looked at them for awhile, and then we were done for the day.

It was just after 11 when we finished so we played games: UNO, Apples to Apples, and a few of the kids started a game of Risk.

Next week we'll add in copywork, dictation, written narrations, science, picture study, poetry, some Shakespeare, notebooking, and geography. (And maybe a few other things that I'm forgetting at the moment.)

It was a wonderfully peaceful day, and I am thankful. Oh, and BONUS: I got all the ingredients for beef stew in the crockpot by 1:00, so we'll have yummy stew later tonight for dinner. 

Not super tasty-looking when it's all uncooked, but give it 5 hours and it will look good!

Ella ran out to the garden to get me some of her carrots for our stew, and she came in exclaiming that this carrot was "fair-worthy" so I took a picture.  :)


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  2. Your first day sounds lovely! Would you be willing to elaborate on your memory binders? That sounds like something my kids would love! It would be encouraging to them to be able to see all that they've memorized over the years. Thanks!

    1. I got the idea for the binders here.

      ... so I can't take credit for the idea.

      What I did was take what we'd already memorized and did some color copying (to save my tiny illustrations that I'm a little sentimental about since we've been using them for years), or type things onto the computer and printed them out and then everything went in sheet protectors.

      As for the system, I plan to do something from the "New" section each day in addition to reviewing about a page a day.

      I hope this helps! Oh! What we have in the review section:
      -lots of verses/longer passages we've memorized
      -Ten Commandments
      -list of OT books of the Bible
      -list of NT books of the Bible
      -Apostle's Creed
      -several catechism questions & answers
      -50 states
      -rules for gentlemen/ladies
      -the kids ten verses cards from this post.

      The only things I haven't put in yet are hymns we've memorized, and I haven't figured out a way to put in landmark cards or sign language we've memorized, so we may have to go back to the box for those.

      Let me know if you have any further questions!

  3. This sounds amazing ... and peaceful. You were holding out on us. :) Would you be willing to share your plans? Believe it or not, (and I imagine you understand), it is almost October and I'm still a mess myself. We've done some reading aloud and a bit of thank you cards and Life of Fred, but have not yet started our full schedule either. Mostly because I cannot for the life of my finalize any decisions or put together a schedule. Any/all inspiration you can provide would be so much appreciated. :)

    1. It really WAS peaceful. That's how I described it when I journaled at the end of the day. I have a post in the works on our planning and what I've learned.... so stay tuned. (((hugs))) to you and don't rush it. Remember that you're schooling even when you're not *officially* schooling.

  4. Oh Stacy!
    Can I just say how much I love you and your lovely family! I wish that I could be in your "classroom" and learn along with the children. It sounds amazing. Aaron and I keep you in our prayers. Blessings to you for a great school year!!
    lots of love,
    Lucy xoxo

    1. Oh, Lucy. You are so sweet. And thank you for your prayers, dear you. I hope you are well! :)


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