Giveaway . . . At Another Blog!

I follow and faithfully read Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers blog by Kris.  Such a great site for resources and new and different things that are out there in the homeschooling world.  Each week I enter the Weekly Wrap-Ups just to keep us accountable and share what the kids have learning or accomplished during that school week.  It’s something I’m glad I started doing!

Anyway, there is a GIVEAWAY going on and Monday, Feb. 27th is the drawing and I wanted to share it.  It’s a curriculum called Trail Guide to Learning  and it looks really good!  Several of my homeschooling, blogging friends have made the switch and have given it rave reviews.

You can read Kris’ review HERE.  Very thorough!

Our Homeschool Classroom & What They are Learning This Year

**These photos may disappear soon.  I accidentally 
deleted an album off my picasa web site and I believe these
photos were in it. Silly me!**
 This is our extra table in the kitchen where the kids
can work on projects or sit by themselves  if they need some quiet. 
 The table where most of school happens. 
 Our bookcase, Ryan’s old desk, in the middle, and
my printer/copier and stand.
The recorders came in the other day and the 
music books were in on Monday.
I am looking forward to our music class this year! 🙂
I’ve been working on getting the kid’s school work organized
and everything ready to go for Monday, August 15, 2011.
Can’t believe it’s here, but kind of glad, too.  These 
summer days seem crazy without much of a schedule to follow
and I love to have a schedule to follow.  Helps keep me motivated!
Here is our curriculum lineup:
Bible:  We’re going to do a character study for the first half of the school year (though it may get interrupted with Advent, we’ll see).  There are verses for each character trait we’re learning about and the kids will be memorizing a new verse each week.  They will do copywork of their new verse at the beginning of each week and recite their verse on Friday. At least that’s the plan. 🙂  This will be done Monday – Friday.

Math U See:  They will be continuing in their books they got earlier this year – boys in Gamma and Grace is Beta.  Our first week or two of school will be reviewing Addition/Subtraction/Multiplication and maybe read some word problems and work through them together.  I’m planning on having fun the first couple weeks of school.  This will be done Monday – Friday.
Easy Grammar:  Nathan will continue working in his book from last year and Ryan will review rules and do some practice pages, but we’re concentrating on his reading a lot at the beginning of the school year. Grammar will come later for him depending on how his reading improves.  He seems to really want to work hard since reading is something he really struggles with.  This will be done Monday – Friday.
Spell to Write and Read:  Everyone is doing this subject.  All 3 will start where they started last year and move through the word lists for the first couple weeks of school for review.  Then we’ll continue where we left off last year. Also, we’ll be adding more hands on activities for Ryan and Grace.  This will be done Monday – Friday.
Explode the Code:  Ryan and Grace will be working on this subject.  Grace is in books 2 & 2 1/2 and Ryan is doing 3 and 3 1/2.  I am going to try incorporating some of the suggested activities from the teacher’s book with these subjects to make them a little more interesting for both.  This will be done Monday – Friday.
Handbook of Nature Study:  This is a new subject for us, but it will be fun and will help us get outside a little more during the fall and even winter so we can observe the beauty that surrounds us. I ordered these neat notebooks that have the top half of the pages blank for drawing or attempting to draw what we’re learning about and room for thoughts or copywork on the subject we’re learning.  I’m looking forward to doing this with the kids!  This subject is Monday – Wednesday – Friday and maybe more if the kids want to.  We shall see. 🙂  Nathan likes to read and answer questions, so this year he’s going to be doing a book we picked up at the Homeschool Convention we went to last year.  It’s called Creation or Evolution by Mike Snavely. 
History:  I found this book called The Founding of the United States Experience  at Ollie’s Bargain Bin last year and never used it, so this year we’re learning how our country was founded and I have worksheets and ideas to incorporate from a couple online sites.  I’m quite excited about this.  I planned it for the first part of the school year.  Not sure what we’ll do after that, but I’ll be looking around.  This subject is Monday – Wednesday – Friday.
Art:  I got a video for free called Art Class and it’s by See the Light .  The teacher is Pat Knepley and there are 4 lessons on this video.  Figured it would be a fun way to start the school year.  May order more if the kids really love it.  I’m not artistic, so it’ll be nice to have a structured class, kind of.  I’ll also use some helps from Practical Pages and Garden of Praise. Not sure if we’ll do this Tuesday AND Thursday or Tuesday OR Thursday.  We’ll see what the kids would like to do.  I want to focus a little more on art and music this year.
Music:  As mentioned above, we’ll be learning how to play the recorder this year and it’s something the kids seem excited about learning!  I’m glad I know how to read music some and can teach them a little. 🙂 This is also Tuesday AND Thursday or Tuesday OR Thursday.  Not sure about this one either.  Ryan is showing interest in my guitar, too.  We’ll see how far that interest goes.  I have a video for beginners and since I’m a beginner I can help him a little bit (very little bit, lol).   
Handwriting:  The kids are going to be working on their cursive writing this year.  I almost forgot to write about this subject.  I got these books from christianbook.com or something like that. lol  Can’t remember for sure.  Ryan and Nathan know how to write cursive, but need the extra practice and Grace will be learning to write in cursive this year.  Not sure how many days a week this will be.  Maybe a page a day.  Sounds like a loose plan so far. 🙂

Reading:  All will be required to read 20 minutes per day.  Look out library, here we come!

Field Trips:  We are working on planning some field trips with year with Renea and her kiddos and a few other homeschool friends..  Our first one is already scheduled for August 25th to Inventionland.  It looks like a really neat and fun place to go.  I’ll blab all about it once we get back from that place.
So that is what our new school year will look like, roughly.  I’m sure we’ll have to tweak things along the way, but I’m excited to see how it goes!    

Getting Things Ready!

Today I:
1. tore up my kitchen and cleaned out old portfolios
2. threw out lots of old papers and used books from last year
3. cleaned out school drawers, threw away old pens that don’t work anymore
4. wiped out a very nice pencil/pen holder and put new ones in there
5. straightened out the book case, though I do worry about it collapsing!
6. got my teacher portfolio out and started getting it cleaned up and re-organized for the coming year.

There are still a few things on my list that I want to accomplish before we start school.  I’m aiming to start on August 15th easing into the first couple weeks of school.

I need to:
1. watch the free art video I received in the mail
2. finish planning our history for the first half of the school year and figure out what to do 2nd half (I’m leaning toward geography)
3. work on Scripture memory list
4. finish purchasing a few last minute items – we’re going to have a flutophone band here! 🙂

I’ll go into more details about our curriculum and which child is doing what this school year.  Most of it is the same as last year, but there are a few differences.  I’m excited about the coming school year!  I’m praying I can structure it so we can learn much and mostly enjoy it! 🙂

Planning Inspiration!

Today I was reading a post titled “Planning, Planning, Planning” by Sam at The Kelley Eight.  She is incredibly and amazingly organized! Wow!  Almost puts me to shame, but I realize everyone is unique and organized (or disorganized) in our own ways.  🙂

So all her planning inspired me to do some planning and I got 6 weeks of lessons planned for our U.S. History Study for the next school year!  I’m still working on different activities to go along with the lessons, but I found some great resources online that we’ll be using.  I’ve never planned a “unit study” officially, but I’m finding it fun so far!  It’ll be great to get it done and feel accomplished.

Along with that, I made a school schedule that we’ll start mid-August (I’m aiming for the 15th).  I also need to read up on our Nature Study book and see how it recommends doing these studies!

More on planning another time. . .

What is Our Homeschool Philosophy??

That is a good question and I’m trying to decide exactly what it is today.

I’ve been reading this site Home School Curriculum Advisor.  You’d think after all these years of homeschooling that we’d have a philosophy written down or something.  I mean, I think I have one floating around in the space inside my head, but have never tried it out on paper or on this blog.  Up until this past school year, we were

It’s something I have been thinking a lot about lately anyway.  So today I was reading HERE about different homeschool philosophies and trying to decide where we are and we are kind of a mix of a few of them.

Our main goal is the kid’s walk with God and knowing God’s Word and learning what we can from it.  It’s important to me that they have a good foundation in life and that foundation is the Word of God.  God’s Word is the Truth and it’s important that they hunger for the Truth and knowledge that is from God.  There are many great resources out there to use in conjunction with the Bible, that help break it down so that they can understand it better.  I’m thankful for the free use of many of these resources!

My husband and I decided last year that the main 3 subjects that are most important are Math, Grammar and Reading/Spelling.  All the rest are fun extras.

We are using Math U See and it’s a mastery based program that we really do enjoy and that has even helped me learn while the kids are learning.  Math was never my strong subject, but I’m glad to have this program for our children to use!

Grammar . . . I’m still struggling as to what the best program is out there.  We are currently using Easy Grammar.  While I find it easy and understandable, my boys really seem to struggle at times.  Not sure how much is attitude based because “blah English” or if it truly is hard for them to grasp.  I’m considering getting a Daily Grams book and using that in the coming school year as a helper.  (textbook stuff)

We’re continuing with Spell to Write and Read because I LOVE it and because it’s such a good program!  We’re still having some struggles with a couple kids, but I’m working on how I’m teaching it and how it’s being used.  I’ve had some great helps from some of the certified trainers and am so thankful for their input and suggestions! (this is a Classical curriculum)

In the coming school year for history, we’re going to be doing The Founding of the United States Experience 1765-1815.  I’m working on making it into a Unit Study for a few months.  It’s a book I picked up at Ollie’s for about $15 that has all kinds of neat reprints of our Nation’s founding documents and the history surrounding them.  I’m attempting to make my own unit study out of it, so that is my major project for the summer.

Science we’ll be doing more of a Charlotte Mason method.  I recently purchased Handbook of Nature Study  and since we live in the woods and have nature all around us this seemed the better course for us in the coming school year.  I’m looking forward to the change.  The lessons are all laid out and it will be fun!

I’ve been reading up on the Charlotte Mason Method on Practical Pages and am interested in reading and having the kids re-telling or writing what they just learned from the story.  I’ll be looking further into this before the new school year starts in August.

We’re going to start our Bible study for the new school year doing Character Studies from Homeschoolhelperonline.com and whatever else I think the kids will be needing in their Bible studies.  I’m still working on other Bible ideas.  We’ll start up our gratitude journals in August as well, but for the summer we are doing 7 Gifts Good & Perfect (scroll down the page for Related Resources and you’ll see you can download the PDF file) from Ann Voskamp’s site A Holy Experience.  I love her Christ-centered focus.  She and her writings are an inspiration and also a conviction for me.  My walk has become slack lately and I must get the focus back on Him.

Music and Art we’ll do again in the coming school year on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  A friend of mine is a music teacher and she suggested using flutophones to help the kids understand notes better, so I’ll be ordering a few of them and some music books to go along with them.  They are from Musiciselementary.com.  They have great prices and a lot of other interesting musical instruments, etc.  As far as art goes, we’ll just try different things through the year again and see how it goes.

 We are a little of this and a little of that homeschoolers.  Mostly eclectic, a tiny classical, a little Charlotte Mason (or will be).  Mainly we want to do all to the glory of God.

The Bookcase

My new bookcase.
It was dirt cheap and cheaply made,
BUT it does hold all the school stuff.
I was tired of “Mount Bookmore” on my kitchen table!

My CLEAN kitchen table.
Hi far end of the kitchen table!!!
It’s been such a long time since I’ve seen you!
Wow, my kitchen lights are bright.

A closer look at the bookcase.
Now I just need some nifty basket things
for the kids to put their stuff in and I’ll be totally happy.

Summary of Week 2

Monday: Labor Day, but I had the kids do just a tiny bit of Math (tests mostly).

Tuesday: Good day mostly, but the chaos started with SWR. It wasn’t terrible, but I was quite unsure of myself and where to go with my oldest.
Wednesday: Science project using as seen in the pictures below. The kids got to play with Corn Starch mixed with water. That stuff is SO fun! We were talking about viscosity and how the mixture was or wasn’t viscous.



The downside to the cornstarch project was the MESS! Ick! But they loved it and I think it helped get the point across. I think. If not, at least they’ll remember that they played with corn starch mixed with water during school.

Aside from the fun science project, the rest of Wednesday wasn’t so great. Math is always fun, so that wasn’t the problem. The main problem was with our oldest son and his Spell to Write and Read. Ugh, it was so confusing and I was so discouraged. I’m doing the younger 2 together and following along with the guide in the back of the SWR book.
Thursday: It was a repeat of Wednesday, but different son and over silly stuff. I’m just glad I got to talk to someone (Thanks, Jen!) and get some direction and help with my oldest son, and encouragement from her and from another friend (Thanks, Liz!).
Friday: We were all glad it was Friday. See, the kids were taking a break and racing across the kitchen floor for a bit of a break. We’ve been enjoying our Bible Study each day. Today we talked about the faith of Abraham and how he looked forward to Jesus’ sacrifice and how today we look back at Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins. They were curious why Abraham and others in the Old Testament had to offer animal sacrifices and today they FINALLY learned WHY! 🙂

Some silliness while getting ready to do our science project today. 🙂 Yes, those are baby diapers that we used in our project today.
They got to fill the first diaper with as much water as it could hold and see what happened to it. They rather enjoyed the diaper getting all bloated and had fun pouring water until it could hold no more. We kept track of how much water to would hold until it leaked.
The second diaper we got to take the inside stuffing of the diaper out and measure it. Then we kept track of how much water we put into the plastic bag and saw how the “stuff” inside grew.
It was quite fun (and a little messy since they liked to play in the gel stuff). Could be the kinds of diapers, but the stuff inside the bag held way more water than the other diaper.
It was a fun time and the kids enjoyed a little destruction and mess and learning about different types of materials and how they feel and what makes them do what they did. They got to compare the corn starch and water activity to the soaking diaper activity.
Math was good, as usual. English went well this morning and SWR went well! We talked about vowels and consonants and syllables and made a page at the back of our spelling books about them. Ryan got a little frustrated, but after he settled down he did just fine. Nathan had already finished this page in his book, so he would help me out every once in a while and give an answer the others didn’t know. Grace was totally enjoying the entire dictation/writing process! HUGE SIGH of RELIEF today! 🙂
After school the kids did some reading and are now enjoying some game time on the xbox and nintendo DSi. Yay for the weekend and then we start week 3 Monday morning! 🙂