Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Going Back to (Home) School with a Bang!

When our kids started kindergarten, we wanted a way to make the first day memorable.  Since we were homeschooling, they wouldn't be getting the experience of a new place and new people.  But, with some planning, we were able to make it a special day that they will always remember.

Some of the things we did have grown into traditions.  The kids (and us) look forward to them every year. 


Like many other parents, we always take pictures on the first day of school.  We get up and wear nice clothes and the kids get picture ready.  I have pictures from the first day of preschool, kindergarten, and 1st grade.  The preschool pictures aren't as nice as the others.  But, at that time, the idea of doing preschool at home was just that we'd play and they'd learn their ABC's.  I didn't realize that I'd be starting a tradition or that these were their first real school pictures.
Bubby and Sissy on their first day of preschool (2009)
Bubby and Sissy on their first day of kindergarten (2010)
It is amazing to see how much they have grown!  I'm already looking forward to this year's picture and planning what they will wear.  By the way, can you tell which of my kids is a ham?
Sis's first day of 1st grade (2011)
Bub's first day of 1st grade (2011)



We always start school on a Wednesday, because Wednesdays are my husband's day off work.  This way he gets to have fun with us and enjoy the memories.  He also gets to enjoy the breakfast!  
After pictures, we all climb in the car and head for a local Frisch's Big Boy for the breakfast buffet.  Over breakfast, we laugh and talk about what our hopes are for the school year.  I tell the kids a little about some of the things I have planned and we enjoy some quality time.  We call it our "not back-to-school breakfast."  For me, it is a little bit of a celebration that I don't have to be sending my kids to school, but instead get to head home with them in tow.  I love teaching my kids!



This is my kids' favorite part!  For the past two years, we've started our school year with an exciting science experiment.  This is not only fun, it gets the kids excited about learning.

The first year, we did the Diet Coke and Mentos experiment.  Basically, you just drop a Mentos candy (it has to be the mint kind) into a 2-liter of Diet Coke (it must be Coke brand and it must be diet) and 
Diet Coke and Mentos experiment

I think my husband liked this experiment as much as the kids!  Make sure you have a large area that you don't mind getting messy - because it WILL!  Also, for a bigger "bang," you can drop in several Mentos at once.

We tied this in to a lesson about geysers and Old Faithful.  We watched a video of Old Faithful and also talked about God's faithfulness.

The next year, we made Oobleck.  Oobleck is a non-Newtonian fluid that has qualities of both a liquid and a solid and is extremely fun to play with!  If you squeeze it, it acts like a solid, but when you open up your hand, it will start to run off it like a liquid. 

It was a great way to talk to the kids about the different properties of liquids and solids.  We also tied it in to a lesson about the Trinity (just like oobleck is both a liquid and a solid at the same time, God is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit).  It helped with explaining a concept on their level that even the best Biblical scholars in the world can't fully grasp with their limited human minds. 

The kids and Daddy playing with the oobleck
Oobleck Recipe
  1. Mix 1 part water with 1 1/2 to 2 parts cornstarch. You might want to start with 1 cup of water and 1 1/2 of cornstarch.  You can then work in more cornstarch for a more "solid' oobleck. It will take a bit of mixing to get it to the right consistency
  2. Mix in a few drops of food coloring if you want colored oobleck.  (I chose not to do this because I didn't want everyone to have colored hands.  It was just as much fun without it.)


Everything Else

For the rest of our subjects, I start off slowly.  We generally don't get into the full swing of things until the next week.  This gives the kids (and me) a chance to adjust to our schedule and not become overwhelmed.  I also make sure to have plenty of fun stuff to do the first few days.

This Year

I haven't made a final decision about what we will do for a science experiment this year.  I want it to be fun, but the kids have to learn something at the same time.  I have it narrowed down to a few different ideas, though.  I will probably run them past my husband and see which one he thinks we should do.  After all, he's just a big kid himself!  (Just kidding!)

I'd love to hear about traditions that other families have for the first day of school.  Whether you homeschool or your kids go to a traditional brick and mortar school, feel free to share your traditions with me!

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