The Transformation of the School Room

Since I’m already feeling nostalgic about this being Turkey’s and Bunny’s final year of homeschooling, I thought I’d take a look way back, and see how our school year looked back then in kindergarten and now…it’s undergone quite a transformation! The first few years, we did school in our “extra” bedroom (now Ryan’s office), and the furniture consisted of two bookshelves, a card table and two folding chairs, and a rocking chair for the teacher. That was it, and that was really all we needed when Turkey and Bunny were in the early elementary grades.

Our educational space (technically spaces, I guess), has gone through many iterations, but we’ve been doing school in the “bonus room” (formerly the play room), of our house for many years. We now have eight regular bookshelves, plus four other non-standard ones, five student desks and chairs, a computer desk, and a cubby organizer, plus a recliner for the teacher. And we won’t even get into how many more books (and Lego sets!) we have now!

Of course this doesn’t even take into consideration all the ways we’ve rearranged our current room over the years…and there have been a lot of rearrangements, from the time we had a huge corner sofa until now! What a difference a decade-plus makes!

Ready for the First Day of School?

I’m not going to lie…I’m not really sure that I’m ready for the 2020-21 school year. If I’m totally honest, I’m kind of dreading it for several reasons, and the top reason actually has nothing to do with COVID-19. Instead, I’m apprehensive because it’s Turkey and Bunny’s last year of homeschooling. That’s right…this experiment that we began in 2008 when they started kindergarten is now coming to a close, at least for them. And I’m afraid I’m going to spend the entire school year crying, as each “last time” comes up.

But, our homeschooling experiment is far from over, especially now that Moose is joining us at home while doing distance-learning for at least the first semester of his first year of high school (which, again if I’m honest, is a little scary to me), so one way or another, I’m as ready as I’ll ever be for our most unique and challenging year of homeschooling (which includes two twelfth graders, a 9th grader, an 8th grader, and a 3rd grader) yet!

First, a look at some of the fun we’ve had in the last week of summer vacation, including Lego-building and cookie-baking. We may not have been able to travel this summer, or even do the usual local stuff we would during the summer, but we still managed to have fun experiences!

Tonight was our annual “Farewell to Summer” dinner, this time a mail-order meal from Portillo’s, which mirrors a dinner we had shortly before summer break began.

A summer classic for dessert…root beer floats:

Plus some Frango mints, another little taste of Chicago:

This year’s first-day-of-school outfits are Animal Crossing themed. It’s a good reflection of our summer, and they were pretty easy to get in a time when clothes shopping can be a little challenging.

The school room has been cleaned and organized…it looks pretty much like it did for most of last year, with the keyboard being the most recent (but not really new anymore) addition:

I prepared the schultüte for tomorrow, too:

So that’s pretty much it. We’re as ready as we’ll ever be, and our 13th year of homeschooling begins bright and early tomorrow morning!

The School Mascot

This is our, what…12th year of homeschooling? And we have a school name, and a school room, but we’ve never had a mascot…until now. Meet Hugsy, our school-time penguin pal:

Yes, this is Hugsy of Friends fame. You know…Joey’s bedtime penguin pal. I have wished I could get a Hugsy replica for years. And when I saw that the Friends25 pop-up shop had him in stock, I was ecstatic. But I didn’t think I’d buy him, because he was kind of spendy. But Ryan told me that I’d regret it if I didn’t buy him, and the children said we needed him, so after looking at how much money I had, I figured I could make it work, but only if he had a position of prominence in our family. Albert (and family) is already our pet, so schoolroom mascot seemed like the perfect occupation for Hugsy. And so, there he sits in my (new) chair when I’m not in it…our school-time penguin pal!

Redecorating

At the beginning of the school year, I was…I don’t even know what the right word is. Disappointed? Confused? Relieved? That the school room hadn’t undergone any major changes. It, for the most part, looked the same as it had the year before (and maybe even the year before that!). You have to understand, this is unusual for me, because I’m always moving stuff around, looking for the best possible use of space.

Well, I lasted exactly two weeks into the 2019-20 school year before I made a major change. Really, it all started because I was desperate for more seating downstairs in our living room, so I moved the over-sized red chair that was my seat in the the school room, and that, of course, was the beginning of trouble.

In the end, you might notice four major differences in the school room. The new recliner (the first brand-new, just-for-me, chair I’ve ever had!), is maybe the most noticeable. If it’s not, the curtains I purchased to replace the old ones, which were hand-me-downs from our kitchen years ago, probably catch the eye first. But there’s also a new lamp, something I’ve been meaning to add to our school room for years, and a signed picture of Rick Steves, which was sent to us as a recognition of our summer school this year from his company.

So. it took a few weeks, but I finally made some noticeable changes. And they’re improvements to our learning space that I really like, and hope will make our educational endeavors even more successful!

2019-20 School Year–Week Four

Honestly, the busier our weekends are, the more exhausting the school week is…and last weekend was very busy! We went to the St. Louis Science Center on Friday night, where we learned a bit about biology as it relates to Pokémon…that was a lot of fun! And on Saturday, we spent the day at an air show, where not only did we get to see groups like the Aeroshell Aerodynamic Team and the Blue Angels perform, but also the Red Arrows, all the way from England on their tour of the US and Canada! That was a complete thrill…it’s something I’ve wanted to experience pretty much forever!

So, it was once again hard to get to work on Monday, but as always, we persevered. Turkey and Bunny used trigonometric ratios to determine the lengths of sides of triangles in pre-calculus. They studied the derivatives of equations in physics. In health, they learned about mental illnesses. They also both started their choir season, and are looking forward to singing some new pieces, and having a few special performances!

Ladybug worked with radicals in pre-algebra…she was thrilled, and I had some flashbacks to the last time I taught seventh-grade math. In history, she read about the Mayflower, and also the founding of New Amsterdam (and how it became New York!). She finished her second chapter in science, which focused a lot on using the scientific method. We’re both continuing to enjoy her study of the The Hobbit…and even though I have read it before (and taught its literature study), a lot of it seems new to me!

Chickadee spent a lot of time practicing her subtraction facts in math. We got to read my second-favorite chapter of Little House in the Big Woods…the one about the dance at Grandpa’s. In science, she read about solar eclipses, and she was excited that she’s had the chance to see one. She also enjoyed learning about New Amsterdam in history…I couldn’t believe how much of the information she retained over the course of the week!

And time for a school room update. Two weeks ago, I mentioned that I did some rearranging…it’s finally complete, so here’s a look at the updated portion of the room, including my very own, brand-new, teacher recliner!

We have a fairly relaxed weekend planned, and I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to not setting an alarm tomorrow after so many busy weekends in a row! We’ve done some amazing things, and had a great time, but I need to just chill!

Ready for the First Day of School!

The summer went by way too quickly, and it’s already time for the first day of the 2019-2020 school year! Yesterday was spent doing a few last fun things before we get back to work…playing board games, baking cookies, building a Lego set, and having an Iron Man movies marathon:

Today, on the other hand, was “cleaning day.” We got the school ready (more or less) for another year of learning. Surprisingly, not too much has changed in the last year, just some minor rearranging, which is very unusual for us!

We had a “Farewell to Summer” dinner tonight…ribs, corn on the cob, baked beans, watermelon, and root beer floats for dessert. We also watched Detective Pikachu, which was a really cute movie, even for someone like me, who isn’t too familiar with Pokemon.

And the outfits are ready for tomorrow morning!

Everything else that needs to be ready for tomorrow is good to go…I put the schultüte together (but you’ll have to wait until tomorrow to see their contents), organized the bookshelves, and got all the new workbooks sorted out and put on desks. I’m looking forward to beginning our 12th year of homeschooling!

Ready for the First Day of School!

Our super-fun summer has just sped by, and tomorrow it’s already time for the first day of school! To make our last week of vacation extra special, I prepared everyone’s favorite meal (with some exceptions…for example, no one was allowed to request Thanksgiving dinner!). Our lineup for the past week was:

  • Amanda–Reuben casserole
  • Turkey–Stromboli
  • Bunny–Brazilian black bean stew with Pao de Queijo and Brazilian lemonade
  • Moose–French toast with bacon and cranberry-pineapple juice
  • Ladybug–Creamy onion soup with Irish soda bread and pumpkin fizz
  • Chickadee–Mac ‘n’ cheese with bacon
  • Ryan–Cock-a-leekie pie

Tonight we had a “Farewell to Summer” dinner of hot dogs (including Chicago-style and chili dogs) and brats, with a special cream puff dessert:

The school room has been cleaned and organized, and for once, there really haven’t been any significant changes in the way it’s arranged! We’ve either found a really good layout that works for us, or we’ve run out of room to make any changes…or most likely, a combination of the two!

And the First Day of School outfits are ready to go…we’re going with a Harry Potter theme this year!

Tomorrow marks the beginning of our 11th year of homeschooling. As always, I am both excited and terrified, but one thing is for sure…I can’t wait to see what this year brings!

Ready for the First Day of School!

We had our End-of-Summer-Back-to-School-Super-Fun-Barbecue 2017…ribs, corn on the cob, salt & vinegar chips, and root beer floats for dessert:

The school room is clean and organized, with all this year’s books ready and waiting:

The first day of school outfits are ready to go:

So, that’s it. Summer 2017 is drawing to a close, and we’re ready for our first day of the new school year!

First Day of School 2016

As you’ve probably guessed by now, today was the first day of our ninth year of homeschooling! This year, I’ll be teaching two eighth graders, one fourth grader, and a cute little pre-kindergartener!

As I traditionally do, I prepared the school room before I let the children see it. I handed out the schultüte and all of their new workbooks, placed some of the books we’ll be using this year around the room, and displayed the Lego set I purchased for this year:

I love our calendar…we’ve been using it since our very first day of school in 2008!

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Of course I had to take lots of pictures of my students!

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We didn’t do every subject, but we did get to work on the basics:

Turkey, Bunny, and Ladybug worked on building their new Lego Architecture set, a model of the Burj Khalifa:

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Chickadee doesn’t have the fine motor skills (or patience!) for a Lego set like that, yet, but she did have fun working with the pattern blocks!

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Here’s a look at this year’s arrangement of our school room:

And even though it’s not something I’ve done every year, I had Ryan take a picture of me with my students:

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Today was a great start to what I hope will be a great year of school!

2015-16 School Year–Weeks Fifteen and Sixteen

Last week was kind of crazy, due to a two-day week of school for Moose (two scheduled days off and one snow day), and a lot of furniture moving, so I decided to just wait until today to do a two-week wrap-up!

We started Mr. Pipes Comes to America last week. So far, we’ve enjoyed this book, especially as it has tied in nicely to our history studies, which have focused on the American Revolution. It has, so far, been the book with the fewest familiar (to us) hymn writers, however!

In math, Turkey and Bunny have been working on permutations and combinations. Ladybug had been revisiting Roman numerals and working with different forms of measurement. They’ve come to the halfway point in their workbooks, which feels like quite an accomplishment!

We finished Farmer Boy this week…Ladybug is looking forward to beginning Charlotte’s Web next. Turkey and Bunny are still working through Tom Sawyer, and we’re all looking forward to finding out what is going to happen next in that story.

Turkey and Bunny are continuing to learn about geology in science. We’ve been focusing on fossils so far this week. Ladybug is learning about eggs, after having finished the chapter on nests.

Our history lessons have focused on the early wars fought in North American thanks to the European colonization of the continent. I always enjoy a visit to the time of the Revolutionary War, so I’ve really enjoyed our studies. We’ll be learning about the early days of the new country of the United States of America next week.

As I mentioned at the beginning, we have rearranged our school room yet again. The bookshelves from our library/guest room have been moved into the school room, so now all of our school stuff is in one place. It’s kind of cozy this way, and even though it was a lot of work moving all of those books, I really like it!