9/14/16

Finding The Quiet




I had an opportunity to get away with my husband for a couple days. We get away a few times a year for a marriage conference, but the last time we were actually alone together for more than an evening, was a year ago, when we celebrated our 25th anniversary.

I was actually pretty excited about this trip. He has a hotel for work, so it meant that I could have some uninterrupted time to work on projects, without a big financial expenditure. You see, when I am at home, I don't want to be staring at a screen. If I am not looking my children in the face, I have lots of little organizing and gardening projects that I need to look at. And don't even let me get started on all the laundry and cooking. Even with several older children, it still requires one person to manage it all.

So life at home is very full, and the first day alone in the hotel room felt pretty amazing. I worked on my computer for a full five hour stretch before taking a break. It was a whole new experience.



By day two though, the quiet was starting to wear on me. I missed my crazy life. I missed the excitement and intensity of managing my busy household. I missed the hugs and even the refereeing that is such a big part of my days right now.

Sure, I could FaceTime my kids, and do a silly check on teeth brushing and schoolwork through the computer, but there is nothing so wonderful as being around these amazing humans that my husband and I birthed together. 

I am thankful that my husband and I still love each other, after 26 years of marriage. I am thankful that we enjoy being together, because I know that someday it will be him and I without all of these children at home. I am also thankful for the quiet times that I have at home. My morning routine of reading my Bible in bed, while I sip my first cup of coffee has given me just enough of a respite to keep me going on those busy days.


But I really love being around my kids, and I am so grateful for the many extra hours that homeschooling has allowed us to have together.

Some of the things that I love doing with my kids;
Watercolor painting

Reading aloud


Nature Study


Science projects-Tinker Crate has been a great resource for us this year!



Cleaning 

Picking fruit

Baking

What are your favorite things to do with your kids?

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8/23/16

Planning Your Week


















We made it through our first few weeks of school! I am so glad that I started early. This next week is when our fall extra curricular activities start, and I really wanted to get into a routine with our academics before we added more stuff.





 As I have mentioned in earlier posts, I try to map out a weekly schedule so that I know exactly what is a regular occurring activity throughout the week. It is important to me to build in a few days at home so we can work on our farm, as well as plenty of mornings at home to focus on schoolwork. This might mean that we have to forgo some really cool activities, but it gives us a buffer so that our home environment and relationships don't suffer.












A few of the activities that we are involved in this fall;

Monday-Choir. I am hoping to get my youngest boy involved as well, this will give him an opportunity to develop some skills learning from other adults. I also have an older son enrolled in an Algebra 2 class at the local community college on Monday and Wednesday evenings. Thankfully both of these activities are in the evenings so I can have the first day of the week to focus on school.











Tuesday-Home Team. This is a P.E. activity that is hosted by my homeschool private school. It requires me to drive nearly an hour one way, but it is with people that we really love, and it is run by a wonderful local man who is teaching my older children the basics of many sports. While the older kids are doing Home Team, my youngest two and I are running a parent participation Nature Study Club. I am super excited about sharing our love of nature with some other local families.

My oldest children also have a small youth group that they go to on Tuesday nights, and will be working with a local family to improve their worship leading skills. This is an answer to prayer that I am very excited about!




Wednesday-My oldest daughter is teaching an English class to local teens, including my two oldest students on Wednesday afternoons. I am so happy to be able to outsource this subject to my daughter, and I am also excited for my boys to have the joy and challenge of learning with such a sweet community.

Thursday-We have set aside a couple hours for music lessons, but otherwise we are keeping Thursday  through the weekend open for family time, farm work and hospitality.

Sadly, I don't have a history co-op or book club set up for this year, but my kids and I are planning a middle ages party this fall, so hopefully we will get some of our projects done then.

There are always new events popping up that we need to fit in somewhere, so keeping our schedule reasonable is a huge stress reducer.



When I prayed about school for this year, I really felt that experiences with my children were going to be something to focus on. This is another reason why I am resisting the temptation to add more activities to our schedule. So far we have enrolled in Tinker Crate and built some cool little machines, pressed our own grapes for a biology/chemistry experiment that will hopefully result in wine, found a local source for beeswax so we can dip our own candles, and learned new skills with bread baking, metal working, and jewelry making. We have also already gotten through a few of our middle ages literature selections.





All of this creativity is made possible in part because I am limiting computer time through our Circle device. If I wasn't taking authority over time spent on computers, there would be no time to pursue these creative endeavors. Because I am able to set individual time limits on each computer in my house, I can make sure that even older children who need the computer to work (even adults such as myself) aren't just wasting the day away on video games or social media.











I want my family to have the opportunity to develop as many skills as possible, and love learning, while they are in my home. I've got only one chance to pour into these children, and I am so excited about learning with them!

If you are looking to create more experiences with your preschoolers, check out my new collaboration, The Peaceful Preschool. This literature and project based curriculum is perfect for early learners, and is offered at a special introductory price until September 15.














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8/2/16

2016/2017 Curriculum Plan














The number of years that I have been homeschooling seems to escape me. I started my oldest out with preschool, and then followed with K-12. She graduated at least 3 years ago, plus she took a gap year, so I think that should add up to 17 years. That should make this my 18th year, although about every 6 months I give myself an extra year, so occasionally you will find me saying that I have been schooling for about 30 years.


If you hear me say that, set me straight.

Mostly these have been great years though. Some years we have simply scraped by, between various crisis, we didn't get tons of schooling done, but we have always had lots of books being read, and I think that contributed to the progress of my older students.











My third child graduated this spring, and is taking the last class he needs for his AA this summer. His teacher in that class tells him that he is a great writer. This is despite the fact that I assigned very little writing to him until high school. He also worked for a contractor through his high school years, and only did school a few days a week. He has a high GPA and graduated with honors from the PSP he is enrolled in (no, he was not the only graduating senior.)











That means that this year, I will only have four students! This is incredible to me, for the last several years I have had at least 5 students, often with a baby or toddler as well. I am excited to see how it goes, especially with the happy fact that my youngest is beginning to read without me having to cajole him.

Without further ado, this is the budget friendly curriculum that I have pulled together for this year. Budget friendly because I owned most of it already, had it given to me, or purchased it used.
It's called networking.


2016/2017 Course of Study

10th Grade Boy 
(I was going to have him move into 11th this year, but when I did the math on how old he would be when he leaves home for college, and about how efficient it would be to get as many JC classes done while they are free in high school, I decided to have him do 3 more years of high school)

Bible
New Testament Survey (Read New Testament, write verses, memorize, and participate in Bible studies.)

English
British Literature Class, My daughter is teaching this to a group of Jr. High and High School students in our area.
English 1A- This will be a Jr. College class he takes online the second semester of school
Wordsmith Apprentice This is an editing curriculum. Ethan has his second book, The Fire Trolls, available on Amazon, so the extra editing practice will be helpful for him.

History
Abeka World History (I owned it and will let him read through for an overview.)
Middle Ages Literature Selections
Adventures of Robin Hood
Son of Charlemagne
Men Of Iron-Howard Pyle
Joan of Arc
The Little Flowers of Saint Francis
Morning Star of the Reformation

Science
Apologia Chemistry, followed by a Chemistry class at the JC

Math
Algebra 2 at JC

Electives
Guitar
P.E.
Spanish (online at JC)
4H

9th Grade Boy

Bible
Studying God's Word book G (New Testament Survey)

English
British Literature Class
Rod and Staff Grammar

History
European History
Studies in World History-James Stobaugh (Part B)
Middle Ages Literature Selections (See above)

Science
Apologia Physical Science

Math
Teaching Textbooks Algebra

Electives
Computer Programming
Russian
Filmmaking
P.E.
Tinker Crate












4th Grade Girl
(My experience with my college students inspired me to rethink the grades I had my children in. I started out homeschooling with the idea of getting my kids through with school and on to life as soon as possible. However, if life involves a college education then it makes sense for them to be a little older in high school so that they can manage the demands of junior college, and then be a little older when they leave home for university.  In our state, dual enrollment students do not pay for classes. Although I love the freedom of private homeschooling, I also love the help that community college classes provides me and my students. for this reason, you will see that a couple of my students are doing the same grade that they did last year. This is the beauty of homeschooling. We are free to have our children on an educational track that most benefits them.

Bible
Studying God's Word
Daily Bible Reading/Verse Writing

English
Writing With Ease, Level 3
SWR Spelling
Jr Analytical Grammar and Mechanics
Prescripts Cursive
Narration

Math
Math U See Delta

History
History of the Middle Ages-Watts
Greenleaf Famous Men of the Middle Ages
Timeline/Geography work, Book Club
Literature Selections- The Door in the Wall, St George and the Dragon, The Dragon and the Raven,
Pilgrims Progress (abridged version) Men of Iron (Audible),


Science
Nature Study
CLP Nature Readers

Electives
PE
Piano
Choir
Wild Explorers Club











2nd Grade Boy
Hooray, he is reading! The first couple days of school, he has sped through his work, and read without complaint. This is a big change from last year. Sometimes our students just need a little time to develop.

Bible
Rod and Staff Readers

English
Explode the Code
Spell to Write and Read
First Language Lessons
Prescripts Cursive
Narration

Math
Math U See Beta

History
Middle Ages Book List

Science
Nature Study
BJU Science 1

Electives
P.E.
4H
Wild Explorers Club

I am so excited about this school year. We get to go back up to the creek for nature study, and my older kids have a sweet community of friends who all love to worship God.

If you are looking for help with homeschooling in the early years, please check out my new curriculum, The Peaceful Preschool, you can download a free sample of the curriculum, and the rest of the manual will be available on August 15.















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7/11/16

An Italy Study


Last year we were able to dabble in a study of Italy while we covered ancient history. It is one of those magical countries, that captures the imagination, and makes you want to visit, or at least revisit, a study of it. 

The Romans made such an impact on western culture, and the country still inspires, with innovators such as Carlo Petrini of The Slow Food movement, and Loris Malaguzzi who helped pioneer an educational movement called Reggio Emilia, that places a beautiful emphasis on environment and play.



This summer, we are studying cultures around the world, and loosely participating in a Read Aloud Revival book club called Give Your Child The World.  The book club has inspired us to do a few short unit studies on some of the countries and cultures that intrigued us last year during our ancient history studies. Italy is also a great country to study over the summer in preparation for our year of middle ages history that we are gearing up for.

There are many famous historical people of Italy that we are touching on during this study; Galileo, Leonardo da Vinci, and Michelangelo are just a few, and we are also highlighting some of the beautiful regions and products that are Italian.

















No study is ever complete without a feast, and Italian food is a family favorite, so preparing for this part is pure fun. We could have gone to World Market to search out some imported Italian foods to add to this feast, but we were fortunate to find the Nonna Box, and had one shipped to us.













The Nonna Box was a very happy way to experience the foods of Italy. It included several delicious items, including the best strawberry jam and biscotti that I have every tasted, as well as a beautiful panforte full of delicious dried fruit.




































We also traced maps, watched this adorable video, and looked up photos of Tuscan gardens. We also plan to try our hand at fermenting grapes, and curing olives from produce grown on our land. We have the fruit, and will let you know about the results!


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6/28/16

A Study of Birds


For the last several years we have done most of our elementary science as part of a homeschool co-op. This is a perfect arrangement for me; I can enjoy nature study and reading about nature with my children in between our meetings, but then once or twice a month we meet with our co-op to go over the science experiments.


This past year, we studied birds with the younger students, and it was a wonderful exploration of our feathered friends. We used the book, Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day as a spine, and checked out lots of books from the library about the topics we were studying. After we read each book, we would write a narration about what we learned and then paint or draw a picture.




We also did some fun projects, such as building nests in the trees with found materials, creating these nests out of melted marshmallows and chow mien noodles, and making bird feeders with recycled bottles. We also collected feathers and diagrammed them, and made a diagram of an egg. There were so many interesting ways to make this study come alive for my children.



Although we read many beautiful books this year, one of my favorites was "Bird Watch", which was a book of poetry about birds. We also used the book, "Nature Anatomy" extensively. It was a perfect inspiration for our nature journaling activities.










We also watched a few movies about birds, including, "Winged Migration" and for the older kids, "The Big Year" When we study a subject, I love to include as many types of information as possible, including fiction works, non-fiction, nature guides, posters, and experiments.





This was by far, the most interesting year of science we have had, and also the easiest. By focusing on interesting literature, and experiments, and ignoring extras such as worksheets, we kept learning and having fun at the same time. Now if I can only find a way to make this happen with math!



















6/20/16

Summer Science Fun



We have been having a sweet mix of school and summer fun here, spending a couple days a week reviewing our math facts and then swimming with friends or heading on an adventure the other few days.

As I was discussing what we would use for school next year with a good friend, she explained to me that she planned to use Tinker Crate for science with her elementary student. I got excited about the idea also, because I have felt a strong inclination to start making more of our science learning project based, in order to get my boys more engaged with the idea of science as a career. I had even ordered Snap Circuits as a coming home present for my boys, an out of character splurge for me, as I don't often buy gifts (aside from thrifted books) in between birthdays and Christmas.



The boys were thrilled with the Snap Circuits, so when I started looking into Tinker Crate, I got excited about getting a subscription, and using it for our science studies.



Our first box came midway through June, and coincidentally contained a constellation project and other projects related to astronomy. I say coincidentally, because my favorite homeschool resource is Wild and Free, and this month's bundle was all about stargazing. We were able to combine the two resources to really delve into a fascinating short study of the constellations, while also giving my children a beautiful introduction to fiber optics, and some extra skill with wiring electrical circuits.

There were several other science experiment ideas in the "Tinker Zine" that came in our crate, but by far, the fiber optic night sky that we created using the materials that were contained in the crate was our favorite.



Really, any activity that gets my sons off the computer, and into hands on learning, is a hit with me, and I loved that this engaging activity didn't require any convincing to get them excited about completing it.

You can sign up for Tinker Crate here,



They have a few great specials right now, including 25% off the first month of any subscription. 

You can sign up for Wild and Free bundles here (Wild and FreeThe Stargazer bundle also has all the beautiful audio from the recent Wild and Free conference. I have listened to the talks several times, getting new ideas with each listen, and I can't even tell you how encouraging the spoken word by Danielle Bennett was. I could listen to that every day.

A few other things we are doing to stay busy this summer;
1. Swimming in a lake
2. Visiting a beach with friends
3. Making lots of jam
4. Planting an herb garden
5. Hosting a graduation party
6. Going backpacking
7. Taking a quick mission trip to Mexico
8. Reading lots of picture books
9. Eating ice cream
10. Sleeping in a tent.

What are your favorite hands on science resources? How do you keep your kiddos busy and off the computer during the lazier days of summer?

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6/14/16

Reviewing What Worked

    

                   


I am busy wrapping up the preceding homeschool year, and planning out our coming year. As I plan for how I will teach my four students this year, I find it helpful to thoughtfully review what we did last year, and to see how productive it was.

With each child, I simply looked at what we had set out to do for the year, and then made a few comments about its efficacy. Perhaps you will find it helpful as well.


1st Grade Boy


I was not a fan of Math Mammoth. Math is not my favorite subject to teach, and I felt like they skipped very quickly to abstract reasoning skills, which in my opinion is not suitable for a young child. We struggled through the first book and I won't use it again.


Spell To Write and Read/All About Spelling

Explode The Code Book 2

Rod and Staff Reading, Grade One, readers only

Mystery of History, Ancient Times




Apologia Flying Creatures

    

I loved everything else we did with my 1st grader, especially all the nature study and history projects that we got done through our co-ops. It was a wonderful school year, and the simple curriculum that I chose was a big part of that. Also, reading some fascinating books out loud was a big bonus.


4th Grade Girl


I had purchased a Saxon 3 book at a used book sale, so we finished that this year. However, I wanted more multiplication instruction so we are doing Math U See Gamma over the summer for review.

I also am revising when my children will graduate, which means my 9 year old girl is going to be in fourth grade again. When I first started homeschooling, I wasn't really planning for college and I just wanted them to graduate as early as possible. However, as I have transitioned several students into college classes, I have realized that I don't want my graduates to be leaving home for college at 17.

For this reason, I am adjusting the grade of a few of my students who were on track to graduate and start college at that young age. Also, because we do dual enrollment and try to earn an AA in high school, giving my students the time to get as many classes in as possible past the age of 14 is important to us.

Bible Copywork


We really loved this grammar program. It was very simple to use, and provided a wonderful review of grammar concepts. Along with Jr Analytical Grammar, we also used Jr Analytical Grammar Mechanics. Although we previously used Rod and Staff Grammar, which is very thorough, we all struggle with comma usage. JAG Mechanics provided a wonderful, simple and concise review of comma rules, which is making it so much easier for us to edit the volume of writing that we produce as a family.

My daughter was doing lots of writing on her own, so we didn't complete this book, but I did love the instructions for improving writing, and we incorporated them in her papers on other subjects.

Spell To Write and Read
I have used this program for many years, and love how it helps us to analyze words and develop an understanding of how things should be spelled.

Memoria Cursive

I loved this cursive program. It was nearly all Bible verses, so it helped make our Bible copy work very simple. I will buy a similar one next year.

Ancient History Reading List

Mystery Of History Ancient History

We listened to the C.D.'s in the car and read several of the chapters. It also was a great spine for developing our schedule for the year.

Apologia Flying Creatures

This was a great textbook for our study of birds this year. I didn't read every chapter, but simply looked at the concepts and then found children's books at the library that reviewed that concept. It made for a fun and thorough study of birds.



8th Grade Boy

Life of Fred Algebra

This really did not click for my son. (Can you tell that math is not my area of expertise?) We ended up going back to Algebra 1 with Teaching Textbooks and will have to keep working on it next year. I seem to to have a pattern of trying several algebra programs with my kids, and then when they start their junior college algebra class they do great. I am hoping this will happen with Emmett as well. He also loves programming, so he spent lots of time on Khan Academy doing algebra activities so that he could earn programming time.

Bible Copywork

Jr Analytical Grammar
 (I will do this as a class with the younger sister,
 followed by Jr. Analytical Grammar Mechanics or R&S Grammar)
We loved this!

Theme Essays with Co-op
Writing reports for our co-op was a great way to keep my 12/13 year old boy engaged with writing.

I.E.W. Ancient History Writing Lessons
I love how I.E.W. helps me as a parent to evaluate my children's writing.

Ancient History Reading List
The Golden Goblet was a favorite.





Apologia General Science

We had a co-op for General Science which was very helpful for keeping us accountable to finish the lessons

Studies in World History-Stobaugh

I loved this study. It was very inexpensive, but provided an overview of World History from a Christian worldview. It was interesting and gave us lots of food for thought.





10th Grade Boy
Algebra-Community College
Hooray! He finished a year of college algebra. I was so happy to be happy to be able to outsource teaching algebra.

Theme Analysis with Co-op
He wrote another book this year, so I gave him the freedom to work on that, as well as completing his papers for the co-op English class. His book, The Fire Trolls, is available on Amazon, and my 9 year old said it was the best book she ever read. However, it does contain some violence.






Ancient History Reading List

Beginning Painting-Community College
He loved this class and came home with several wonderful paintings which were given as Christmas gifts to all his siblings.

Philosophy 1 (audit Community College class with older siblings)
He got a B in this college philosophy class. I was so happy! He also ended up taking an ecology biology class at the college, which was a fascinating experience for him.

English 1A-Since he was working on his book, he took the biology class instead.

Studies in World History-Stobaugh

Spanish 2-BJU
We are making slow progress through Spanish!


12th Grade Boy
Study hard for SAT

Chemistry- Community College

Geometry- Community College

U.S. History

He graduated as an honors student with our cover school, and is also taking a final class this summer to earn his AA degree. I have officially graduated three students, and I am feeling pretty happy about that!


The children also do martial arts and ballet for physical education, as well as music lessons. 
We took a break from martial arts this year, but had our first experience with a community team sport, when my 5th son did a season of football. He had a great time.

For science and history, we will focus more on notebook pages with illustrated and written narration than on using tests or worksheets to assess their progress. We will do experiments and hands on work in our co-op.
Note booking was wonderful this year. I have a great collection of painted illustrations. Jodi Mockabee was very influential in helping me break away from simply writing reports, and transitioning my family into using illustrated and written narration on a regular basis.

For Bible, I am using Long Story Short and The 18 Inch Journey as my curriculum. We will also be reading through the Old Testament and copying Bible verses. 
I loved both of these resources.

Thanks so much for reading! I can't wait to post my plan for the coming year in an upcoming post.


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