As for our activities of the past week...
A while ago, Pastor Aaron asked if I'd be willing to learn the video "trade" at church and help out for the next few months, until he can recruit more permanent video volunteers. I'm always willing to help with the worship ministry because that's "my thing" at church - and he promised I would still sing as regularly as before - so I debuted in the video booth last weekend, shadowing on Saturday and then running the slides and lights for both Sunday services. I need to gain confidence in terms of editing songs and insuring that all the components (song slides, videos, sermon slides) are ready to go, but running things during the services was easy, and I'm glad to serve. I'm still wondering, though, if Aaron's comment that he knows I'm "good with computers" means I spend too much time on Facebook! :^)
On the home front, we "left Norway" early Monday morning and took a short cruise through the North Sea to Germany, where we'll "visit" through this coming week. Strangely enough given the strong German heritage around here, it was hard to find good, child-appropriate resources, but I did manage to snag a couple of good books from which to provide an overview. The girls noted the similarities between German culture and things with which they are familiar, and we also tried kuchen on Monday and potato pancakes on Wednesday - both hits - and did some faux-rosmaling on Friday. But they've decided they wouldn't want to live in Germany since, unfortunately, home education is illegal there.
With so many possible topics to address in a short time, I decided to focus on three elements of German history and culture I knew will resonate with the girls: Grimm Brothers' fairy tales, German composers, and castles. This week, I read "Hansel and Gretel," "Cinderella," and "Rapunzel," while letting all four girls color appropriate pictures while they listened. I also read biographies about and had the girls dance to music composed by both Bach and Handel. Next week, we'll do more of each and spend lots of time on castles, too.
A curriculum-related bonus was attending our homeschool association's annual Geography Fair on Monday night, where we stopped at a Germany-themed table among many others. In fact, there were close to 40 impressive displays put together by 80 children, including one on the Roman Empire by the girls' friend, Elizabeth.
I'd considered having the girls make a display themselves but, since we've never before attended the event, it seemed best to first let them see what it was all about. And, as I'd hoped, it seems they've "caught the bug," so now we'll plan to participate next fall.
That should be easy to accomplish seeing as how they really enjoy doing projects, the latest of which was Abigail's book project for Tangled, the Rapunzel-inspired book she recently finished. As with Rachel's last project, Abigail's idea for this impressive creation - a dollhouse-style Rapunzel tower - was completely her own.
I've also been impressed with how both girls have taken to the idea of presenting their projects. Granted, their only audience at the moment is immediate family, but I am glad they are not only not afraid of sharing in some detail, they are also gaining poise and composure with every presentation. It reminds me of the small elocution clubs some families in our association organize and, while I don't know when that would fit into our lives, I'm glad to give the girls this early experience in some form of public speaking.
Anna and N. focused this week on the letter D and learning about dinosaurs, who, "big or small, God made them all." It's difficult to find books that are not steeped in evolutionary, "millions of years" bias, and most of the creation science-oriented materials are over the heads of such little ones. So, instead, we read one simple creation-themed book (God Made Dinosaurs by Heno Head, Jr.) and then a few fun books by Jane Yolen (How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night?, for example) to simply introduce the girls to some basic information.
They particularly enjoyed playing with several plastic dinosaur toys (who interacted quite nicely with the Little People toys!), doing dinosaur stencils, and drawing their own versions of particular dinosaurs. Here, Anna displays her triceratops.
And, of course, this was Baby H.'s second full week with us. I feel things are going as well as can be expected; his smiles and giggles are priceless, and he remains unphased by the inevitable noise of four busy girls or even Rachel and Abigail's daily piano practice. My biggest challenge is not yet knowing from day to day what his sleeping and eating schedule will be - it has been different every day - but we had an especially good day on Friday, and I'm hoping to see if I might nudge him toward following a similar schedule most of the time. Of course, having him here is a good way for me to practice the important "art" of being flexible, but I won't deny wishing for a little consistency from day to day!
I did publish two pieces this week:
- an article for the Facebook page of The Old Schoolhouse magazine, summarizing home education in Wisconsin.
I'm woefully behind in posting to The ChatterBee, updating this year's home learning blog, and working on the girls' scrapbooks. But I'm hoping to get a handle on all of that when we begin our "winter break" just before Thanksgiving. We'll still actually "do school" between Thanksgiving and Christmas, but our schedule will be lighter - focused mainly on a Christmas-themed unit study - so I'm hoping to have more time and energy to get caught up with those other things while the girls enjoy a bit more free time as well.
Of course, all of that necessitates us completing our study of Germany...and to do that, I've got to wrap up this wrap-up and get onto to my preparations for the week!