The first week of school was less about schoolwork and more about life lessons. Of course, every one is extraordinarily excited on the first day about getting up early and doing everything expediently that they are instructed to do. It's amazing.
We started with Scripture memorization. I am using this Charlotte Mason approach, though I handpicked the verses, which are verses about the sea. There were so many, I had to be selective.
On Monday I gave my children their Log Books to record all of their history, geography, and anything else we do pertaining to exploration. My 11-year old painted her cover, though I have not much hope for the lifespan of the cotton balls glued to the cover.
We also began enrichment (a hymn study) on Monday, and next month we will add new enrichment everyday: Tuesday- poet study; Wednesday - composer study; Thursday - artist study. More on those next month.
For the hymn study, I chose hymns from our church hymnal that pertain to clinging to God, or God's mercy, or God's greatness. Think about Psalm 107:23-31 and how you would feel sailing on God's great ocean, knowing He is in control of all things; that you would cling to Him in times of great distress (like a storm on the sea) and have faith in Him to make all things right. Those are the hymns I choose. I printed the words to this one we sang, and the kids glued it into their logs.
For literature, we started an abridged version of Gulliver's Travels, which is titled Gulliver's Stories. This is a much shorter version, to introduce them to sea travel and adventure, and they are enjoying it very much. Anyway, I could not read the original to them, as I would have to edit it frequently.
After Literature, I introduced them to the Age of Discovery and the science of navigation using numerous sources (Truth Quest History Exploration, Explorers Who Got Lost- Sansevere-Dreher). While I read (both literature and history) they colored printouts from A Coloring Book of Great Explorers. I used to allow Legos while I read, but sometimes WWIII broke out, and I don't like being interrupted. So we're back to coloring or drawing.
Tuesday, I also read from Around the World in 100 Years - Fritz, but I'm not certain, yet, that I agree with her retelling of history. We'll have to see as we move on. Wednesday we covered the time of the Vikings, using The Story of the Thirteen Colonies and Famous Explorers (Leif Ericson). We looked at our wall map to locate Scandinavia, Iceland, Greenland, and North America, and then the kids colored printouts of those locations and put them into their log books. They also wrote a short narration about or illustrated something from topics we covered. Next week we'll explore more of the Vikings.
Tuesday was PE day; hence, we had a half day so we could do PE at a local park with other homeschool families in the afternoon. In addition, on our half days (Tuesdays and Fridays), my kids used Rosetta Stone to learn Spanish. Yeah, they fight over that, too.
Thursday we did science. I'm not much of a science person, so once a week is all we do officially, using Jeanne Fulbright's Young Explorer's Series. Naturally, we are studying oceanography.
Our first fun experiment was about gyres, or surface currents. Ta-dah! It worked.
Fridays we will alternate between an art project and a nature walk/study. I use The Usborne Complete Book of Art Ideas. Sometimes the projects are a success, and sometimes not. Today was a not. The rest of the day they did chores and played with Legos until one piano lesson and four dance classes later in the afternoon. And that was our first week.
Now, back to Tuesday: there was a huge fire twelve miles from our home. We live in a desert, where it is always windy, where it never rains, surrounded by massive mountain ranges, and we see fires about this time (almost) every year. But this fire felt different. Ash rained like snow on our roof and in our pool. The air for three days, especially when the wind picked up, was horrid. The evacuation area ended one street over from my neighborhood, and my husband was unable to come home the first night because the only major freeway was through the fire area.
|From our location, hours after the Blue Cut Fire began|
The firefighters said this fire burned so quickly, as they had never dealt with before. For two days, we were on pins and needles, especially after we could actually see the red flames coming up over the ridge, on our drive home from the park. The kids asked a lot of question to reassure themselves that we were ok. I was not even sure I wanted to go to sleep that first night. My husband did get home the next day, after driving an alternate route, and he stayed home from work the following day because the freeway had not opened yet.
|At sunset, the first day (the sun is a little red dot at far right)|
Friday there was 25% containment, and my husband was able to go back to work. The sky was not so smokey, and there was not a hint of smoke in our neighborhood. Everything in our home was back to normal.
Case n point: during our art project today, my kids started fighting over borrowing and sharing a pencil. I usually side with the person whose property is in question, and I allow them to choose whether to share. I never like to be the socialist/communist government that tells the owner what to do with her property, and let the individual deal with the ramifications of being stingy and selfish.
However, then I thought: nothing we have is ours because it has all been given to us, by God. Even my husband who works to earn his income knows his income is from God. What we have, we have to share with others. I thought about the families who lost their homes and property and maybe even their animals in this recent fire, and here my seven-year old is protesting because her brother "borrowed" her pencil without asking (which I still agree he should ask FIRST). But we should always be WILLING to lend or even give what we have, even if it means we may not get it back or have it returned in the same condition. God will always provide. And so if my seven-year old is sure that she will not receive her pencil in the same condition, God will provide for her another pencil that works. (In fact, we do have about a hundred pencils in this house.)
Yes, I lectured Friday about sharing and giving willingly from our hearts. And I shared with them that if they cannot have this attitude, then I must insist on what they do with their property: share it or give it. I still believe in the respect of property, but I cannot approve of hoarding and being selfish and greedy. I am not being North Korea, but rather stepping in when one does not use good judgment or is sinning because she does not want to share or give up what she has been freely given.
So many people have lost much, as they return to their properties in the burned out areas. So many will have to start over, but many will be able to rebuild their lives because others will willingly share and give what they have, and more.
This isn't a fire; it's a stupid pencil. And if my kids cannot see how minor this, then I have to intervene and tell them how to do it right.
And that was our first week's most important lesson (for me).
|Four days later: 96 homes lost|