Friday, November 13, 2015

Sea Kettle School - 2015-2016 (Levi, Age 4, Magnolia, Age 1)

The question is not- how much does the youth know?  When he has finished his education - But how much does he care? And about how many orders of things does he care?  In fact, how large is the room in which he finds his feet set? And, therefore, how full is the life he has before him?
-Charlotte Mason

This year we continue to do light preschool activities at home. Our "curriculum" is mostly Charlotte Mason inspired (with a Classical twist? haha) and our aim is to provide our children with a feast of the great ideas, literature, art and music and to gently foster an insatiable curiosity and love of learning. We don't do every subject every day, and our schedule varies, but here are some of the intentional activities we are engaged in these days. 

Morning Basket:
This year we have started a morning basket time(inspired by Pam Barnill).  We begin each day at the breakfast table and go through the activities in our morning basket. At it's most basic level, our morning basket includes the four R's; Reading, Recitation, Ritual and Relationship. We light a candle, list things we are thankful for and things we need to pray about, pray, memorize Bible verses, read from the Bible, sing our monthly hymn, memorize and read poetry and read aloud. Some days we do more, some days we do less, but this is a habit we have formed this year and it has really transformed our days. Most of the activities are geared more for Levi, but Magnolia has picked up on many of our rituals and readings and will participate quite a bit. She is actually sometimes more attentive than her big brother and is a good role model! The books, songs and poetry in our basket will change throughout the year and I hope to share what's in our basket throughout the seasons. 

We continue to work through various booklists inspired by Charlotte Mason's philosophy(here is a great one from Ambleside Online (year 0). When I choose books, I'm looking for books that are well written, aren't dumbed down and encourage goodness, truth and beauty. Current favorites: A Child's Garden of Verses, The World Treasury of Children's Literature, Beatrix Potter, Just So Stories. Sometimes I ask Levi to explain what happened in the story or encourage him to draw something that happened in the story. These are our little beginnings of narration. In general, I try to read aloud to the kids as much as possible. We read around the breakfast and lunch table, at various points throughout the day and Brian reads to Levi before bed at night. Recently we started inviting friends over for "Poetry Tea Times" where we gather around the table to drink tea (or hot chocolate, as the case may be), eat a small treat and read poetry. I have been listening to a great podcast, The Read Aloud Revival, which is wonderful inspiration for those of us who aspire to "build our family culture around books". We aren't doing any formal reading program yet, but Levi recognizes all of his letters and numbers from books we've read and works on writing them every so often at his new (picked up from the side of the road) desk. ;)

For Math, we continue to talk about numbers throughout the day as we do our daily tasks. We count, add and subtract as we cook, walk, work, read and play. This year, I also bought a simple math activity kit. This kit has some fun little games to play that involve counting, sequencing and number recognition.

For Science, we work on nature study throughout the week. We meet with other homeschooling families regularly to go on a nature walks and to draw/make observations in our nature journals (although I'm not pushing this right now). We also collect things to put on our seasonal nature table, such as shells, rocks, pinecones, colored leaves, seed pods and wildflowers. We make careful observations of the world around us, notice the seasons changing, watch the birds in our window feeder, ask questions and read books about things that interest him. (As a sidenote: he's also really into watching old episodes of Bill Nye the Science Guy) :)

We aren't doing anything very formal, but I have picked up a few living books about the history of America that we read on occasion. We talk simply about different time periods and events as they come up in our reading or if he asks questions about something he has heard about.

We listen to it, sing it, play it, dance to it.  I play music all day in the background; classical, folk, jazz, rock and roll, you name it. Family jam/dance sessions happen regularly and there are a plethora of instruments around the house to play. Levi is quite partial to the drums and he even got a few real drums for his birthday this year. 

Levi is much more interested in drawing/art this year (which is good for his Mama's soul, haha). We try to keep drawing, painting, lacing materials easily accessible at all times. We spend a lot of time at the Peabody Essex Museum, especially enjoying their special exhibits, maker lounge and expansive children's area. 

I'm really enjoying these early years of simple discovery, nature exploration and lots of good books. Slow and precious days, these are.

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