The first week of a homeschool co-op can be overwhelming and stressful for many mothers, but there are some things you can do to prepare and to avoid the worst. Here are some of our tried and true suggestions:
Gather your supplies this weekendand put them in a safe place to grab Monday morning and to load directly into the vehicle. I like to put my supplies in our trunk on Friday, so I have time to remember all the things I have forgotten between Friday and Monday.
Pick out clothes for EVERYONE the night before the co-op day, put them in a safe place, and inspect all children the following morning well before departure time. (Leave no room for the unexpected missing shoe as everyone is walking out the door!)
Review the Co-op Rules with your children over the weekend.The #1 rule and virtue we will be covering the first week is: DON’T TOUCH ANYTHING BEFORE ASKING FOR PERMISSION. The facility is not our property. We demonstrate patience and charity when we follow this simple rule.
Pack plenty of snacks for the car trip to and from the co-op.If the natives are restless, all is lost!
ARRIVE EARLY! See this postfor tips on arriving on time.
Make sure you have a quick dinner already plannedor already in the crock-pot. There is nothing worse than getting home later than expected and still having to cook!
Plan to relax with the kids when you get home. Some time to reconnect, chat, and rest is great for the entire family after such an eventful afternoon. Time for some snuggles and stories.
Students were given a set of electrical supplies and instructed to connect everything in such a way to light their light bulbs. There was an assortment of resistors, so some students had success lighting their bulbs, some did not. One resistor was much too weak and smoked to the class’s great excitement.
My favorite comment after the smoke was: “Mrs. Rolling, I’m afraid. Can we stop doing this now? I don’t need to light my light bulb.”
Students have begun to study form this week. They worked on a still-life after being instructed to look for the shapes within the still-life. They were also encouraged to apply their past lessons. I had them connect their forefingers and thumbs to create “a frame” through which to look at the still-life and to come up with a good composition. In other words, do not put everything in the middle. They enjoyed their new “lens”.
This week students took what they learned last week about pointillism and applied it to water colors, trying to create an impressionism-era-inspired work of art. I especially liked the painting below by one of our 8 year-old boys. In case you cannot tell, it is a bridge with a sunset behind.The students used Q-tips and water colors.
As with all art classes, there were some more excited about the activity than others, but for the most part the students worked diligently and finished before our 30 minutes came to an end.
Now that my youngest is approaching 7 months old, I finally feel like preparation for our co-op is getting easier! He will be one year old before I know it!
This week in art students began to learn about value, not of things, but of light and dark. They were given a black-line print of The Boating Party by Mary Cassatt and were allowed to choose one color to use for the entire print. Their task was to focus on the direction of light and what things would be dark and what things would be light. They seemed to jump on board!
Science: The Human Body
We spent time exploring lung capacity this week using the CSH Science Curriculum; however, the activity seemed a bit too advanced for those students under 11 years of age. Since we only have a few who are older, it did not go over as well as it might have. The youngest students enjoyed being the “guinea pigs” of the older students, though!
Is it possible? Yes. Is it easy? That depends on you. Punctuality requires organization and the assumption that something will go wrong (e.g. the baby will soil his diaper after you lock him in his car seat). For the latter, I recommend:
setting your alarm clock at least 30 minutes earlier than you think you should,
getting up right after the alarm … It is most helpful if you have a baby who is in the habit of waking up 40 minutes before the alarm sounds.
leaving the house at least 10 minutes earlier than you think you should.
Planning Ahead with Organization: Have supplies and activities ready 2-3 days before your homeschool co-op. I make checklists for everything I need to have and do, and slowly peck away at the list starting the day after the previous meeting. 15-20 minutes on prep each day, and you’ll surprise yourself with how easy it is to get things done slowly, but surely. This takes the stress off, too, since you are not trying to complete everything in one day.
The first six weeks in Catholic Schoolhouse Science class have revolved around zoology. We were given 5 weeks to collect insects to mount on a display board. Now, the kids and I had been observing insects all summer! We had found a bright green praying mantis one day in the laundry basket, so we brought it inside for closer inspection. On another day, my dauther brought in a crab spider, which had been pirched on a giant marigold. He was bright orange to boot!
So, imagine our surprise when we had to find insects, there were none so easy to find! I had thought five weeks a rather long time limit until we began searching. Thankfully, we had five whole weeks, and thankfully insects slowly revealed themselves in their own time. A large millepede we found in the mop, a stick bug on the garden gate, a grasshopper on the ground cherries, and so on.
This was a great way to end our time in zoology, which focused on the classification of animals. Now the four- and three year olds are constantly debating whether an animal is an insect or a mammal! Imagine their deciding if a fuzzy caterpillar is a mammal because it has “fur” or an insect!
Art: A Peaceful Tree. This week students learned how to draw a tree, a project very fitting for the autumnal season as trees are very prominent in the landscape this month. I used the instructions from the Catholic Schoolhouse Art curriculum, Year One. The students enjoyed talking about peaceful, sad, and angry trees and how to make their trees express moods. As a practice in cutting, the students had to cut a circle around their tree before matting it. The circle was pre-drawn for them. This was most challenging for our Kindergarterners, but the extra scissors practice will pay off in future art classes. Sent Home With: Artwork in Portfolio.
Science: Caterpillar Life Cycle & Insects Magnified. This week in science I had to be a little creative. Since we are still waiting on a shipment of oil pastels, I had to find a project for the butterfly life cycle that would involve hole-punched, black construction paper and hemp strings (materials I had prepared for last week’s art class but could not use). I found the right project online here: Backyard Butterflies. You can visit this website for more activities if your children are interested!
Unfortunately, we ran out of time to look at our insects under magnifying lenses. I was very impressed with the students’ bug boards! Many children worked hard, finding exotic insects and displaying them beautifully with labels. Thank you parents for helping your children learn about insects and encouraging their excitement.
Art: Inspired by Navajo Sand Painting. Wow! What a week! Sand in every corner, glue on every finger, and eyes intent on art! The sand art project suggested by Catholic Schoolhouse this week was quite the success. Things went more smoothly than I expected, and the children enjoyed the project more than I hoped. My little perfectionists were begging to take glue and sand home with them. What a joy! Science: Zoology continued. Science was less successful. The 3D Ocean Bingo I had planned from the Catholic Schoolhouse curriculum unfortunately does not work as is for a large, mixed group of children. In retrospect, I should have sent the color pages home the week before to be colored and then brought back this week to be cut out and constructed. This would have allowed time to play bingo, too! Now we know for next time at least. The children did still enjoy coloring the various creatures of the deep, however, so it was not a useless day in science.
What is the art and science curriculum like at Catholic Schoolhouse? Fantastic! Something I love about Catholic Schoolhouse’s science curriculum so far is that it borrows ideas from bloggers and websites across the web and helps us use the ideas in a 30-minute window during our homeschool co-op. Finding projects that can be done in such a short time window is perhaps not terribly difficult, but it takes time, which most of us do not have. The art curriculum is much the same way. It is not so difficult to think of projects or even to find supplies, but to take the time to prep the necessary materials or lesson plans is.Catholic Schoolhouse’s lesson plans are clearly laid out with supplies for each week and step-by-step instructions for students. This is a time saver!
In addition, as a mother of very young children still, I am learning about many resources to use later on in my own homeschool. This is invaluable to me.
What did I do with my students in week 2 using the Catholic Schoolhouse curricula?
We have 23 students at the Tour Guide level, and they range in age from 4 years old to 12 years old. Needless to say, having 23 young people in a small space with paint and glue can be quite challenging. Thankfully, there are at least three other mothers pitching in!
Art: Inspired by Native Americans. The first three weeks of Year One Art at Catholic Schoolhouse focus on Native American art, so we have been working on pottery. This week we painted the pots we made last week with air-dry clay by Crayola. We used turquoise, yellow, and brown acrylic paints. Of course, the little ones mixed all the colors, but these colors when mixed made a lovely jade. An easy project that could be done at home, but with set up and clean up, a project most moms (myself included) usually neglect.
Science: Exploring God’s Creation. The first quarter of Year One Science at Catholic Schoolhouse focuses on zoology. We studied mammals the first week and then moved into amphibians and reptiles this week. As a fun project, Catholic Schoolhouse has students color a paper chameleon to match its habitat. This project was borrowed from the popular homeschool science website: ReptilesAlive.com. Even the older students were challenged to camouflage their chameleons perfectly.