Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Great Desert, a poem by Emma

Today Emma wrote an acrostic poem for a project about the desert. We read "Around One Cactus: Owls, Bats and Leaping Rats," by Anthony D. Fredericks, which was not only well-written and beautifully illustrated, but full of fascinating facts in the field notes section that I never knew. For instance, kangaroo rats digest carbohydrates so efficiently that they never drink water, and the saguaro cactus doesn't grow arms till it's 70 years old! These giant cactus also don't need water for 2 years at a stretch, and can live to be 200 years old. Anyway, Emma wrote this poem (she did have a bit of help when she got stuck, but I still think it was a great effort, so I'm sharing) in the acrostic style. Enjoy!

Scorpion stings
Animals at night
Gila monsters' painted backs
Underground burrow
Arid and dry
Rat hopping like a kangaroo
Owl flying
Cactus in the moonlight
All the animals are adorable
Caves of bats
Tails of fox are bushy
Unkind rattlesnake
Sand is yellow

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Summer Vacation, Almost Over

One of the best things about homeschooling is that I decide when we begin again. So I always take the entire Labor Day week to finish up vacation, while school kids are generally starting back. And still, I find myself wanting more vacation. Part of it is that, well, vacation is lovely! Who doesn't prefer sleeping in, reading novels, going to the pool or water park or beach several times a week? Not having to enforce bed times, catching fireflies, planning day trips, camping, watching movies, IMing on Facebook any time of the day or night? Ice cream, s'mores, barbecues, carousel rides? I call all that F-U-N! And school work is...less fun.

Which is not to say we aren't excited about the year ahead. We thrill to new school supplies and books arriving daily for a few weeks. The kids like to set up their notebooks, and I love seeing my calendar be blank at first but then fill in slowly until there is somewhere to be many days of the week. The kids start complaining of boredom and asking when we will start work again, and I find myself marveling that they don't seem to want endless vacation as I do! I plan lessons and gather supplies we'll need, and everyone notes the first day (this year it will be September 13) and for some strange reason they will all get up and dress in "school clothes" and want to start at 8am...for the first week, anyway--then we will snap into reality and do work in pjs once more.

I am particularly excited at my new plans to do history, science, art and music in a one room school house format for Julia, Ben & Emma. (Rachel, being in 10th grade, must of course do a much higher level of work than the 6th, 3rd and 1st graders!) The materials are for Julia's level and the other two will absorb information like sponges, I hope--which will be a far cry from the usual suffering through boring "grade-appropriate" work that is frankly a waste of time. I plan to have the kids take turns reading what needs to be read aloud, and then we will talk about things and work on maps, projects, experiments, art, or music projects together. This will add interest for all of them as well as make MY life a whole lot easier! I just find I am burned out trying to switch between grade levels AND subject matter when everyone is doing their own thing. I feel like I can't take it any more.

We also have some fun plans, including heading back to the Bronx Zoo and the NY Aquarium, heading up to MA to go to 6 Flags when lots of public schoolers have switched gears to the school year and aren't thinking of amusement parks any longer, and going on one or even two more camping trips. This will, of course, depend on the weather since we have to wait till the last minute to take off--my family does not have good luck with planned camping; it always rains on us! Rachel and her friend are joining a Long Island-wide photography club, so that is going to be very exciting for her. Bimonthly meetings, monthly day trips and a photography contest each month--she is in heaven! Plus she will be attending the Comic-Con of the Anime world in October...though I can't remember the name of it--we have to get her costume for that together, too.

Sometimes I feel like it's lazy of me to want endless vacation--but then I remember all the parents whose kids go to school jumping up and down at the sight of the school bus, and realize it's the same for them--it's just that their vacation is longer than mine! Also, how lucky I am that I get 3 solid months of summer vacation when a lot of parents are working while their kids go to school. I guess we just get used to what's normal for our own families. I am lucky to be able to spend so much time with my kids, and if it entails the full time job of teaching them--that's how I like it.