We are about 3/4 of the way through our first year of full-blown homeschooling. February, the month of love, seems like a great time to share what I LOVE and what I HATE!
First off, I LOVE all the stuff that I am learning. We just finished a unit on space, and it is seriously blowing my mind. Elementary science is totally wasted on the young. Talk about bringing perspective to my boring adult mind. And ancient history? Its better than a novel. I have really enjoyed seeing how all these cultures that I vaguely know something about fit with each other in history.
I also LOVE planning. Yup! I get excited at the end of the week when I get to mark boxes off and plan something new. When its time to start a new unit, I LOVE gathering relevant resources and activities that incorporate all different facets of learning around one subject. And in my planning world, everything is always well organized and lovely and the children are listening and getting everything done in a timely fashion.
I LOVE the fact that I can make them clean toilets every Friday as part of “life learning”.
I LOVE that we are getting to deal with some authority issues that I kind of brushed away up to this point, before they are teenagers and all hope is lost.
I LOVE that we can pick up and travel whenever we want and give them field trips to exotic places.
Okay, so now the not-so-pretty.
I HATE that I am too tired at the end of the day to want their friends in my house. I’m pretty sure most of their friends think I am a grumpy old woman.
I HATE that I have to make a jillion more decisions every day than I used to, and that my kids know when I am weak from such decision fatigue and ask for ridiculous things that I will probably grant.
I HATE that my planning world is never my actual world.
I HATE that they are picking up even more of my bad habits than before.
And most of all… I HATE the intensified sibling rivalry and irritation that we often have with each other because we are spending almost every waking hour together.
Now that last point has had me thinking for a while now about how to more intentionally speak words of blessing and encouragement to each other. Ideas have been brewing and what has formed is my “Let’s all get along Valentine’s Day unit!” My hope, and prayer, is that as we speak loving things to each other, we will be more grateful for one another, that our defenses will lower a little bit, and that they won’t feel like they have to constantly compete for their piece of attention and respect among so many siblings. But along the way, we’ll learn a little bit of all the traditional school subjects too!
We’re staring this week, the week before Valentine’s Day. We just finished up an English Unit, so we’ll take the week off of English to have time for the extra stuff. It’s split into five days, but you could spread it out over a longer period, or pick and choose just a couple of activities for a shorter period of time.
DAY ONE: THE HISTORY OF VALENTINE'S DAY
We’ll talk about the origin of Valentine's Day, which is mostly legends about St. Valentine from 3rd century Rome. We just started our Roman unit in history, so it is a great connection that I didn't plan. There are a lot of weird videos on Youtube that tell the stories about Valentine's origin. This was probably the most well done and appropriate for kids.
However, she presents everything as fact, and there are a lot of discrepancies in the story. Without getting into too much detail, I will point out to the kids these key points.
-There may have been three different St. Valentine's from which the stories derive.
-There was a Roman pagan holiday celebrating love and fertility and some say the legend of St. Valentine's was used to Christianize the holiday.
-In this story, it is hard to know what is truth vs. legend.
1st grade : Write 3 sentences re-telling the story of St. Valentine.
2nd-5th grade : Write your own legend about the beginning of Valentine's Day. OR Design a comic strip based on the legend of St. Valentine.
Creating a comic strip can be a good exercise for reluctant writers (which all of my children are!) Here's a template I created to get them started.
DAY TWO : TRUE LOVE
Day Two will be all about “What is Love?” We will read the biblical definition from 1 Corinthians 13. I’ll have them copy the verses in their best cursive writing on a nice fancy paper. Then we’ll make these spinning wheels and do this word search.
DAY THREE : LETTER WRITING
Day Three we will talk about the mechanics of letter writing, stamps, post offices, etc. We will learn how to fold our own envelopes from paper, using my template below. We’ll talk about postage, how post offices work, and how to address an envelope.
They will learn their own address and then pick a grandparent to write to. They'll have to do the whole process of making and addressing the envelope.
DAY FOUR : MAILBOXES!
This is where we take out all of the boxes I've been saving up and each kid will get to design their own mailbox. They can decorate it any way they want. I remember doing this as a kid and covering an entire box in conversation hearts for the competition at school. They will also get to make up their own address and keep it in outside their bedroom when they are finished.
DAY FIVE : CARD-MAKING AND SENDING
Now we will get to work making Valentines for each other and sending each other encouraging messages. Since we are staying in a foreign country and I’ve not quite figured out the postal system, we will pretend mail the letters. I’m going to set up a box where they can put the letters and each day they can take turns as the postman delivering them to each mailbox. There will be a small fee for each “stamp” (heart sticker), and we will put that money toward buying candy for a Valentine’s Day party.
On Valentine’s Day we’ll actually be starting a unit on Anatomy, which as luck would have it, begins with the heart/circulatory system!
What do you do in your homeschooling, or life in general, to encourage healthy sibling relationships? What are your LOVES and HATES about homeschooling?
Luke and I are married and have four little munchkins that travel the world with us. I blog about living overseas, travel, kids, education and graphic design.
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