Monday, January 31, 2011

Looking ahead to next year : a curriculum story

In the mail yesterday was a Critical Thinking company catalog. It got me thinking about curriculum for next year. I like to have my shopping list made out, so that I can take it to various homeschool curriculum fairs and bookstores. I found a SOTW activity guide at a local used bookstore for $7. Don't forget to look in occasionaly on those used bookstores or library sales!

Next year I will have a (gasp) 1st grader and a 3rd grader. I will be able to use most of Optimus' old books for Tink, but I will need to buy new things also. So here is the "list".

2011-2012 Curriculum List

Items I already have:
Science - will continue with Building Foundations through Scientific Understanding.
Math - MathUSee (Tink)
Language - First Language Lessons, Levels 1&2 (Tink)
Reading - Funnix and Reading Pathways (Tink)
Literature - various book and The Illiad by Susan Hope Osborne from the library.
Nature Study - no curriculum needed

Items I need:
History - Story of the World Volume Two : The Middle Ages. Textbook and Activity Guide.
Music - Piano lessons  (Optimus)
Art - hopefully Artistic Pursuits, otherwise continue with art topics exploring
Language - First Language Lessons, Level 4 textbook (Optimus)
Life Skills -
Foreign Language - Song School Latin
Sports - PE and Tennis lessons (both)
Math - MathUSee and Reader Rabbit Math software (Optimus)
Other -
Building Thinking Skills Level 1, software (Optimus)
Word Roots, beginning (Optimus)
Brainbox USA We will use this for geography.

Art Topics

I will be the first to admit that I am not gifted in the art department. I liked drawing when I was younger. I would only draw horses and unicorns, but I was never any good at it. It's not really my "thing". When looking to add more art to my children's homeschool days I was pretty lost. 

I would love to someday afford Artistic Pursuits. It seems like a really great program, but there is just never enough in the budget to buy it. *Sigh* Someday...
Anyway, until I can sit back with the Artistic Pursuits books and teach art in depth, I have come up with a list of art topics for the kids to explore. 

I use this list to give the kids some variety in their drawing. My son is not really an artist (that kid seems more like me by the minute). My daughter LOVES drawing. She would probably only draw reindeer and pegasus if not stretched a bit though. 

I give the kids two topics a week. Topic "a" is a one day project and "b" is a two day project (usually). Topic "a" is always pencil and I change the medium for "b" each week. 

Art Ideas for 3rd Quarter

1a. Bird heads
1b. Vehicles of the Future
2a. Bird wings
2b. Your Dreams
3a. Bird body
3b. Monster of Your Making
4a. Bird (complete)
4b. A City Underwater
5a. Insect wing
5b. A bowl of fruit
6a. Insect head
6b. An ant's worldview
7a. Insect body
7b. Giraffe's worldview
8a. Insect legs
8b. Your favorite toy (or object in your room)
9a. Insect (complete)
9b. A pond, lake, or stream
10a. Leaf of a plant
10b. Self-portrait

There you have it. These are the topics we will be working on for this quarter. If you have any ideas please post them in the comments. I have 12 weeks in 4th quarter to fill!

Happy Homeschooling

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Week 7, 3rd Quarter

This week definitely had it's battles and triumphs! Overall a good week that ended with Optimus' scout Pinewood Derby.

Let's start with Tink:
- MEP is working well with her so far, she enjoys all the praise she's getting for the focus and attention she is giving her math.
- Tink wrote a book this week. I will have to write a second post to share the book and pictures.
Funnix has now replaced the 100 Easy lessons book that we had been using with her. Funnix is by the same author AND he actually recommends it more than the book.
- I am wondering if tennis is just not Tink's "thing", or if she would be this easily distracted at any sport. At times I get incredibly frustrated with her. She seems to be constantly wandering around in her mind and focuses on tennis for only short bits. I'm going to just take a deep breath and have her finish out the term.

On to Optimus:
- MEP has not been the right fit for Optimus. I think it is the worksheets. He is not a worksheet type of kid. I am now researching math games and other non-worksheet ways to "do" math. This has not been an easy subject for either of us.
- Optimus organized his thoughts for his book, but we didn't have a chance to get even the first draft done.
-Funnix has been very good for Optimus. He sometimes completes a few lessons on his own. He enjoys the stories.
-Optimus is really doing well with tennis. He listens to the coach and has improved his hitting. He hit 15 balls back to the coach at this week's lesson. Yeah!
-Language Lessons are still one of his favorite things to do. This week we focused on the dictionary skills lessons at the back of the book. He finished the McGuffey book and is on to the next reader in the series.
-Magic Tree House books have really captured his attention. He even took one in the car to read on the way to scouts! The group of books I ordered came the other day, so I can keep my word at giving him a book each time he reads one. He wants to finish the series. I hope he sticks to it.

In SOTW, we took on Far East: Ancient China. We only got half way finished though. We will need to combine the second half with Ancient Africa next week. I really wanted to get the kids making their Ming bowls, but that will have to wait until next week.

With BFSU we talked about Distinguishing Between Plants and Animals. This topic seemed to be an easy one for the kids and they got the concepts quickly. I am happy with this program. I finally have a science curriculum!

This week's activities were a huge amount of fun. We did our routine of PE and playtime, scouts, park day, and tennis. Yesterday we had loads of fun at the Pinewood Derby. Optimus didn't place this year, but he did win a ribbon for the Funniest car.

 "Armored Brick of Cheese"

Happy Homeschooling!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Tink turns 6

Where did all the time go? I can NOT believe that my baby is now 6 years old. She is growing into a young lady. Here are some pictures from her birthday weekend.
Daddy and I gave her a microphone. She adores it!

Tackle Cousin!

She really loved her Pet Shop tent.

Her unicorn and a visiting flat traveler

The BEST cake hands down I have ever tasted!

I love you sweety.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Week 6, 3rd Quarter, 1/17-1/21/2011

Morning Meeting - Words of the day (generous, respectful, obey, natural, discuss), calendar work, gathering stuff for our Flat Travelor from Pennsylvania.

Science - Living vs. Non-Living
History - Ch. 9, The 1st Cities of India
Math - MEP for both

FIAR - Night of the Moonjellies
Language Arts - Funnix and other curriculum

Nature Study - Bird bodies
Art - underwater city and Cub Scouts Art belt loop

Color wheel

Left page is his tea cup. Right page is a dog (exploring texture).

This is Tink's dinosaur egg and bird.

Life Skills - forgiveness and animal care

Silent Reading

Week 5, 3rd Quarter 1/10-1/14/2011

Morning Meeting - Words of the day (difficult, clutched, scrumptious, kind, and quality), calendar work, sent off Flat Travelor to Pennsylvania.

Science - Gravity I

History - Ch. 7, Hammurabi and Ch. 8, The Assyrians

Math - MEP for both
FIAR - Owl Moon
Language Arts

*Continuing with Funnix and regular curriculum.
Nature Study - Bird wings

Art - vehicle of the future and Cub Scouts Art belt loop
Life Skills - forgiveness and animal care
Silent Reading

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Week 4, 3rd Quarter 1/3-1/7/2011

So I said I was going to try and take pictures this week, but I didn't have batteries until Thursday! I am set for next week though and have my camera sitting on the workbox! No way I can forget right, right.

Morning Meeting - Words of the day (satisfied, beckoned, amazing, gleam, and tidy), calendar work, made flat trav for Pennsylvania. We received our flat on Friday.

Science - Matter and it's Particulate Nature
*We did a simple experiment with blowing bubbles in soapy water. We also ripped up some paper.

History - Ch. 7, Hammurabi
*We are going to have to push this to next week. I ran out of printer paper and we just didn't have time to even read the selection.

*Still loving MEP.
FIAR - Beatrix Potter selections
*I adore these stories. I am going to just finish the book with my daughter.

Language Arts

*We are trying the program Funnix based on the Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. There are two levels, so each kid is trying it out.

Nature Study - Bird tails
*Focus was much better this week.
Art - Color Wheel and Cub Scout Art belt loop
*Daddy will be teaching the kids about the color wheel on Sunday and the kids and I will be making an Elements or Art book.
Life Skills - honesty and cleanliness

Silent Reading

*Optimus has started reading the Magic Tree House series. He wanted to make a deal with me that if he finished one book, I would buy him the next. DEAL!
Happy Homeschooling!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


I have never done a post about a product other than used for homeschooling, but I can't contain this one. I must share the awesomeness that is this tea.

Honey Vanilla Chamomile, herbal caffeine free tea
It's made by Celestial Seasonings.

Oh my, it is wonderful. Even the kids like it.

I now return you to your regular broadcast.

take care,

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Week 3, 3rd Quarter 12/27-12/31/2010

This is my favorite picture of 2010!

Week 3 is over. Here are the highlights.

Morning Meeting - Words of the day (struggled, delighted, horrid, cozy, and responsibility), calendar work, choose next state for Flat Travelor.
*We chose Pennsylvania and I was able to find a nice family we will trade with. This week we will be making new flats to send out by Friday.

Science - Air is a Substance
*The kids really understood the concepts and loved the experiments.

History - Ch. 5, The First Sumerian Dictator
*We had a bit of a break before getting back into SOTW, but I was super surprised by how much Optimus had retained!

*We started MEP. I really like the the pace of this program. I was shocked when Tink was answering the < > = correctly! I think this program is a keeper. Optimus took the New York State, 3rd grade Math test and received an 82%. I am happy with this considering he is in 2nd grade. It was a good exercise to see if we had any gaps. We will focus on those and retake the test later in the year.

FIAR - Make Way for Ducklings
*My kids adore this book.

Language Arts
*The kids each had their own assignments in LA. Tink is at Lesson 30 in Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. She still loves it. Optimus started First Language Lessons, Level 3. I really love the drill and he is learning a lot with this program.

Nature Study - Bird heads
*We really had a struggle with focus for this project. Tink, who is my artist, lacked interest. Unless it is unicorns and reindeer, I guess she just doesn't want to draw it. Optimus took his time and added good detail.

Art - self portraits
*I had each child go into the bathroom with their papers. They looked in the mirror to draw their own faces. Fun.

Life Skills - honesty and cleanliness

Silent Reading

*This was a great week. I feel like we accomplished a lot. I am very happy with both of the kids for jumping back into the swing of things after a big break. Next week I hope to take pictures of our lessons.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

A New Year and a Fresh Start

Now that Christmas is over and we are mostly settled in to the new house (don't mind the boxes in the background!). It's time to make those New Year resolutions. I feel like this is going to be a great year for us. I am so excited about the things we have planned and our current situation.

I have a few New Year's resolutions. I make a resolution each year, but have never followed through with keeping them an entire year. Perhaps if I cronicle them on the blog, like a journal, I will keep up with them.

#1 Get fit.
I am not making a resolution to loose a specific amount of weight or to exercise a certain number of times a week. Those just have never worked to keep me inspired enough to do it. All I want is to be more physically active with the kids. I want to be able to play football (really play) by Thanksgiving. Last Thanksgiving we talked about playing football afterwards. I thing that sounds like a lot of fun. There is a really big park near our new home and it would be perfect for this purpose. I know I'm thinking almost a year away, but that is my goal.

#2 Play with the kids more often.
I am a homeschooling mom, so I am with my kids nearly 24/7. You would think that meant that we played all the time, not so for me. Our routine has been more like: make food, eat/clean, lessons, eat/clean, lessons, free time, eat/clean, movie, bedtime routine, sleep. With my free time I am usually going through emails, watching tv, reading or planning homeschool stuff. I am going to set aside my a half hour of my free time to just PLAY with the kids. I am also "scheduling" dates with each kid individually.

#3 Blog more.
The key to this will most likely be to write blogs ahead of time and schedule them to be posted. I really like blogging about our life and the things we do. It has taken the place of scrapbooking for me. So, one those nights I can't sleep or the mornings I wake up at 4am, I am going to remember to blog a few extra entries.

What are your New Year's resolutions?

take care,