Welcome to TwoCowgirls, the blog about our crazy life in Downtown Saint Paul!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

4-H In Our Homeschool

"Isn't 4-H just for people that live on farms?"  

That's a question I get asked a lot!  It's definitely not just for people that live on farms.

We live in a high rise condo in Downtown, and Millie is quite involved in 4-H.  There is a club in our county, which is very urban, but we chose to go out to the next county over so she could get a different kind of experience.

Here's why we love it so much:

A Great Group of Friends

The kids in our 4-H are amazing.  The group is so inclusive of everyone, welcoming, and supportive.  Seriously.  They give me faith in humanity.

Experiences I Can't Provide

Throughout  the year, our county offers amazing classes and camps, taught by experts in their field.  I wouldn't be able to teach Millie how to make a solar car or paint Ukrainian eggs, but she was able to have the experience of learning about those things because of 4-H.

Overnight Camp

It has been proven that sending your kids to overnight camp in the summer is a great way for kids to build confidence, try things outside their comfort level, make new friends, strengthen bonds with old friends, and learn ridiculous camp songs that they'll continue to sing for weeks after camp :)  The 4-H camp that Millie went to was very affordable.  We were able to send her to an overnight camp experience that she otherwise wouldn't be able to participate in.

Public Speaking

So much public speaking!  It's not just limited to giving demonstrations in front of our 4-H group, but also giving demonstrations in front of a judge at fair time and participating in plays.  Millie has never been a shy kid, but getting these opportunities brings her out of her shell a bit more.  

Friendly Competition

Enter fair time!  The kids compete against other kids in the county for ribbons, and a chance to go to the State Fair.  The kids are driven to do their best work, put together their best presentations, and speak in front of a judge.  The encouragement that the kids get from their fellow competitors is very sportsmanlike!

Record Keeping

What if Lewis and Clark hadn't kept detailed records of their journey?  So much history would be lost!  I'm not saying 4-H is of Lewis and Clark proportion, or anything, but it is a good example of why keeping records to look back on in the future, is important.  In 4-H, kids are encouraged to keep records of the activities they do through the entire year.  At the end of the 4-H year, the kids can turn in their records to be judged, and can win a ribbon for it.  Ribbon or not, it's fun to look back on.  I'm sure Millie will like to remember her first year as an official 4-H'er.  She had quite a year!

Skill Building

There are so many groups the kids can be in!  No matter what they're interested in, there is something fun for kids to participate in.  Shooting sports, clothing project, food project, wildlife, various animals, etc.

This is why 4-H is the single most important activity in Millie's world.  She even chooses this over dance!  Wow.

Of course, it's not just for big kids.  The have Cloverbuds (which Elise participates in), that is for kids K-2.  They don't get judged, but they get to participate in the county fair, plays, camps, cloverbud day camps, and other special cloverbud activities.  Elise has made great friends, too.

We love 4-H!!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Not Back To School Blog Hop 2014-2015 - School Room Week

When I first started thinking about homeschooling, I thought I couldn't possibly do it right without a school room.  Having a separate space for school work isn't an option for us because our condo is sooo small, but as it turns out, it doesn't really matter.

Here's where we do most of our book work:

If the subject we're working on doesn't involve the computer or writing, the kids are usually somewhere else working.  For example, we do all of our reading on the couch, All About Spelling is done on the floor in front of a magnetic board, NaNoWriMo is done in Millie's bed, and art and nature study could be done anywhere.

The big red cabinet you see in the picture is where I keep all the books we need on a regular basis.

It also houses my "holy grail of homeschooling."   Here's a peek inside:

"Ooooooooooo..."  That's me using my best opera voice.  Use your imagination ;)

A detailed plan for our 3 book work days

I have 39 week worth of detailed plans.  

Millie's spelling plan

"Special Interest Days" are something new for this year.  It'll allow the girls to explore subjects they want to learn about, that I didn't plan for.

So, there you have it!  A table, a cabinet, and a plan!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Not Back To School Blog Hop 2014-2015 - Curriculum Week

My curriculum and detailed plan for the 2014-2015 school year are set in stone, and ready to be implemented!  Our official start date is September 2nd, the day after Labor Day.

This year I'll be homeschooling 1st and 5th grade.  We're going to do book-work 3 days per week, and have 2 days free for outside classes, parties, and playdates.  Each book-work day will begin at 9 AM, and will hopefully end around lunch time.  The afternoon will be spent working on a "fun subject" such as geography, art, science, DIY (working on their DIY.org project), or pursuing special interests (this could be working on 4-H projects, writing letters to grandparents, playing board games, working on Collectors Corner projects, doing craft projects, playing Lego, etc)   Here's what we've got lined up!

I love the smell of new textbooks!

1st Grade:

Reading - All About Reading
Math - Saxon Math
Literature - I'll read classics to her, and then we'll do projects, copy work, dictation, and/or sequencing based on the story.

5th Grade:

Math - We're trying something new this year.  She'll be using Life of Fred exclusively.  She does really well in math, but dislikes it.  When we tried Life of Fred last year, she really liked it, so we're going forward with it this year.  I'll update on her progress later in the year ;)
English - She'll be using Bob Jones 5 for English this year.  She used it in 2nd grade, and I liked it, but she didn't.  We've been using less rigorous programs since, but now that she's older, we're going to try it again.  This time we'll take it a little slower.  I think the reason she didn't like it in 2nd grade, was because I was pushing her too fast.
Piano - She'll continue piano with her current teacher.  She was making a lot of progress last year, but I fear that she's fallen behind since she's only practiced, oh, 3 times this summer.  :/
Typing - She'll continue using www.TypingWeb.com
Spelling - I'm going to use a technique that I learned about at a homeschool convention last spring.  At the end of each day, I'm going to have both girls journal about something they did or learned that day.  I'll then check for misspelled words, and use those as her spelling list.  She'll do weekly projects with her spelling list.
Literature - She's going to read some great literature this year!  I'm making guidebooks for each book, and she'll complete them as she reads.  Among the books she's going to read are; Where the Red Fern Grows, Little Women, In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson, Eight Cousins, and several others.
Math Drills - She'll use www.XtraMath.com to continue working on her math drills.

Together they'll work on the fun subjects.  Here's what we're using:

Geography - I made up my own plan for this (with a lot of help from Wee Folk Art).  We're going to study maps, the USA, and focus on several countries from the different continents.  At Christmas time, we'll do a "Christmas Around the World" lesson.  Fun!
Art - I made this up, as well.  They'll be learning about different art concepts, such as color, texture, geometric/organic shapes, principle, lines, etc.  We'll have a lesson, and do a fun art project (most of which I found on Pinterest) to go along with it.
Science - Millie will be doing SciGirls this year.  At home, we'll do chemistry and various experiments I found on Pinterest.
Read Alouds - I'll read to them every evening before bed.  Among the books I'll read are; The BFG, Around the World in 80 Days, The Hundred Dresses, Island of the Blue Dolphins, James and the Giant Peach, and Frankenstein.

And I'd also like to thank my mommy for her support (especially when I feel like giving up on homeschooling), and for buying my Rainbow Resources wish list.  Thanks Mommy!  I know you're reading this ;)

Find out what other homeschoolers are using for curriculum this year, here!