Sunday, December 23, 2012

Using Joy Hakim's, The Story of Us, The First Americans

For Optimus' 5th grade year, we will be using Joy Hakim's series of American history books. The 11 volume series covers Prehistory through the early 2000's. This post is really a planning page for how I will help my son to cover the material. This will be mostly independent work for him. 

Book 1: The First Americans, Prehistory - 1600

(with History Pockets: Native Americans (HPNA), History Pockets: Explorers of North America (HPE), Scholastic's Interactive 3D Maps: American History and Dover's Exploration of North America Coloring Book)

Activities and Further Reading
Ch. 1 - Present with American History notebook. Explain that after every chapter he is to write a summary in the notebook. The notebook will also hold any extra activities.
Ch. 2 -  Present with Timeline notebook. The timeline will be filled in after every reading with 2 events important to him. At the end of each volume there is a timeline which he will be using at the final project to fill in any events he did not add while reading.
Ch. 3 - Create the "First People Arrive in America" map (3D). 
Ch. 4 - no additional work.
Ch. 5 -  "The Inuit of the Arctic" (HPNA)
Ch. 6 -  "The Case of the Missing Anasazi" (from Reading A-Z).
Ch. 7 - "The Tlingit of the Northwest" (HPNA)
Ch. 8 -  "The Maidu of California" (HPNA) and present with Early Indian Tribes map
Ch. 9 -  "The Sioux of the Plains" (HPNA)
Ch. 10 - "The Mound Builders" packet
Ch. 11 - "The Iroquois of the Northwest" (HPNA)
Ch. 12 - "Native American Homes" Montessori for Everyone
Ch. 13 - "Vikings Discover America" map (3D)
Ch. 14 - "Inventors: Johannes Gutenberg" World's 100 Greatest
Ch. 15 - "Morning Girl" (from library). Great list of books here.
Ch. 16 - "Pedro's Journal" (from library) and Columbus Lands in America map (3D)
Ch. 17 - Was Christopher Columbus a Success or Failure writing activity and Christopher Columbus (HPE)
Ch. 18 - John Cabot Explores Canada's East Coast, 1497 (Dover) and John Cabot (HPE)
Ch. 19 - Ferdinand Magellan 
Ch. 20 - "Forgotten Voyager: The Story of Amerigo Vespucci" (from library)
Ch. 21 - Ponce de Leon Explores Florida, 1513 (Dover)
Ch. 22 - Cortes and Coronado Explore America (3D) and Cortes and Montezuma, 1519 (Dover) and Hernando Cortes (HPE)
Ch. 23 - "Inca Town" (from library)
Ch. 24 - none 
Ch. 25 - "We Asked for Nothing: the Remarkable Journey of Cabeza de Vaca" (from library) and Cabeza de Vaca travels through the southwest, 1528-36 (Dover)
Ch. 26 - Francisco Coronado
Ch. 27 - "First People" (from library) and Henry Hudson (HPE)
Ch. 28 - "The Spanish Missions of Arizona" (from library)
Ch. 29 - none
Ch. 30 - "The Religious Spirit of the Navaho" (from library). Discuss religious oppression.

Ch. 31 - same
Ch. 32 - The French Explore North America (Dover) and Jacques Cartier (HPE)
Ch. 33 - The Seminole of the Southeast (HPNA)
Ch. 34 - none
Ch. 35 - none
Ch. 36 - "A New World: England's First View of America" (from library)
Ch. 37 - Settlements at Roanoke and Jamestown map (3D)
Ch. 38 - Drake lands in California, 1578 (Dover) and Sir Francis Drake (HPE)
Ch. 39 - Final summaries and logging of events on timeline.

on to Book Two: Making Thirteen Colonies

Happy Homeschooling

Monday, December 10, 2012

Since September we have been busy with so many things! Saturday was our last week for flag football before a small break. The kids have been working hard, but there have been so many interruptions. I have found it difficult to stay on task and complete the rotations like I had planned at the beginning of the year.

I have using this break (before things get nuts again) to reformat our homeschool and plan for 5th and 3rd grade. I can't believe it.

I will be incorporating a good deal of the curriculum that BASIS charter schools use for their 5th graders for Optimus. Tink's schedule is pretty easy as she will just be continuing on to the next levels of her current books.

I plan on switching over to a "loop" schedule. We are testing it now and are liking it so far. I will post that next.

Happy Homeschooling!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Get Ready! Go!

September will be a very busy month for my family. So many activities with scouts, homeschool clubs, and sports. I am thankful that I am able to be with my kids so much and experience these wonderful opportunities with them. My Hubby rocks!!!

We are in Week 7 of our year. I can't believe that!
2nd and 4th grade
First Language Lessons
McGuffey Readers
All About Spelling
silent reading (leveled books of my choosing)
Computer : Almanac and Typing
Music: Toccata en Fugue D minor (we are listening as I type and they do math)
History Project (this is for the History Fair at the end of the month)

We didn't finish our last unit for history before our rotation was up. Next week we are going to revisit the history topics we missed. We were supposed to be starting science, but a few of my homeschool friends may be starting a coop based on the program we were going to use. I am holding out until next week to learn if they will be starting. I would love the kids to have science as a coop.

PE and regular park day started this week. I have really missed seeing all of the ladies from park. We have had so many new families join our group. Lots of added energy and good conversation. The kids had a really great time and the weather was perfect.

Optimus' first den meeting for Webelos 1 was this week. They met to discuss homework for parents, which Optimus was thrilled with. They are also supposed to figure out what activities they would like to lead. The kids were given a team building exercise that was very comical to watch. They were not allowed to speak and were given a big rope. They had to make the rope into the shape printed on a notecard. They were pulling and tugging each other around, until finally in the last couple of minutes they got it. Popcorn season is in full swing. Optimus will be selling at a few storefronts this week and next. He loves to sell!

Our homeschool is partnered with a gymnastics facility that offers an "open gym". We started going a few weeks ago. The kids love it. This week a girl threw a heavy climbing rope at Optimus, giving him a bloody nose. Hubby said he was about to freak out over the bleeding, but got himself together. He is really growing up. The girl apologized and they were back to playing after that.

My little Tink, has been begging me to try and find her a Girl Scout troop again this year. Ugh. I am going to take her to the three community meetings that are planned for our area, but am not hopeful that a good troop will spring from it. I do not have the time to invest in being a leader and frankly, don't think I am a very good one on my own. We have had such bad luck with Girl Scouts. Before I go and drop another $100 at the GS store, I want to be sure we get a good group. Interesting note: Boy Scout store cost us under $40 for all he needed this year. Girl Scout store will cost us at least double that. They don't reused uniforms like BS do, so every year is a new set for GS.

I am excited to see September this year. Everything just seems so much better this year. I can't wait to see what happens next.

Happy Homeschooling

Monday, July 2, 2012

4th Grade Curriculum

My boy, Optimus, is my homeschool guinea pig. Such is the lot of the first born! He has helped me to relax as a teacher and remember the joy of homeschooling on a daily basis. It is very difficult to believe that I have a 4th grader. That seems so old.

Optimus is a Lego fiend. Anything Lego he loves. He will play for hours with his sister, making bases and weapons. He will also play with his sister's Lego Friends, if she is insistent. He is also a gamer. His current favorite is Skylanders. He has spent so much of his own money to buy this game and the figures. The company has a pretty sweet setup to keep enticing the kids to buy buy buy. He enjoys gaming so much, that I put limits on his playing time. Otherwise, that is all this boy would do.

Optimus is pretty easy to teach. He grasps concepts quickly and knows by now what is expected of him in his work. He does however detest writing. Up to this point I have assigned writing in segments spread out over his lessons, but now it's fourth grade. There is just more writing and a greater intensity to the fourth grade work. He will have to just suck it up basically.That may sound harsh, but in order to participate in some events, classes, and competitions outside the home, he will be expected to be at a certain level with writing. That is just something that my boy will need to deal with. I don't want him to give up on things, because he hates to write. My approach therefore is to do a certain amount of writing everyday (whether he likes it or not) until writing becomes just a part of things and not such a big deal.
How we "do" 4th Grade with Optimus:

Language Arts

For Language Arts we use a spiral notebook. Just like the one we use for Tink. Optimus starts out by writing the date at the top of one of the lined sheets. The first lesson that goes into the notebook each morning is Writing with Ease, Level 3.

After WwE, we review poems and complete the lesson in First Language Lessons, Level 4. Sometimes there are some writing activities in FLL and those go into the notebook. Optimus usually enjoys this lesson very much.

Optimus has been reading the McGuffey's Eclectic Readers since he started to read. He is now reading the McGuffey Reader, Fourth. He has also been reading the selections from Baldwin Children's Library online. There are selections for Waldorf and Ambelside Online. He is reading through the Waldorf selections for 4th grade. He will alternate between the two lessons. He is required to look up two words that he doesn't know and write the definitions in his language notebook.
The last thing that goes into the language notebook for the day is All About Spelling. Any words or phrases will need to be written during the lessons.



For a half hour each day Optimus reads a book of my choosing. After he has finished the chapter he writes a sentence or two about what he has read. This goes into his "Literature" section of his binder.  The list of books for fourth grade is long, but we will see how many he actually gets through.

Math-U-See, Epsilon or Logic

Math is four days a week and logic is one day.

Computer Lessons - This is a great site that is customizable!

Children's Farmer's Almanac - He reads and explores this page. - Optimus doesn't like the silly BBC Dance Mat typing, so we found this site and her is much happier about it. Optimus likes "grades". This site will give him his time, wpm, and accuracy.

Baldwin leveled reading - Reading the Waldorf 4th grade selections.

Core Knowledge 4th Grade Pack

I have taken the suggestions from Core Knowledge Foundation and made a packet for each of my kids. It has everything in it from poems to Science biographies. I don't mind what order this packet is done. He just needs to finish one activity each day it is assigned. 

Prima Latina

This is the first year we are working on Latin. He seems to like it.


Group Lessons
I'll write about these another time. 

After lessons, it's time for chores and play. I forgot to mention that each day we try to break for lunch at around 12:30. This is the time that "Pet Keeping with Mark Marone" comes on. It is on the Hallmark channel. This kids love this show. The kind of quirky host has tons of information and a menagerie of animals that he teaches you how to properly care for. I have owned and read about animals all my life and still I learn things from him.

Happy Homeschooling!

Monday, June 25, 2012

2nd Grade Curriculum

Today I thought I would write about Tink's second grade curriculum and how we get everything accomplished. Let me start by telling you all about the youngest of my two children, Tink. Tink is a girl that loves rainbows and unicorns. She loves drawing and singing. She lives to make up her own stories and draw pictures to go with them. I try to accommodate her creativity while still actually getting some work done. Sometimes it is a difficult balance, but usually she is happy to finish her work and get on with her day.

How we "do" 2nd Grade with Tink:

Language Arts

The first thing we do is pull out a notebook. This is a simple spiral notebook with lined paper (it usually has a fluffy critter on the front). This is the "language" notebook. Each day she starts on a clean sheet and writes the date at the top. Then she is ready for her copywork. We have used Writing with Ease, Level 1 and when we finished she started making up her own sentences. I am now pulling the sentences or phrases from the suggestions given for 2nd grade by the Core Knowledge Foundation. 

After her copywork, we move on to First Language Lessons, Level 2. Any writing that needs to be done for the lesson goes into the notebook under the copywork. These lessons are super short and she usually is very happy to do them. She likes the selections for memorization and turns them into songs. 

Next is her McGuffey Reader lesson. She reads the selection to herself and then out loud to me. She is currently reading the First (having finished the Primer in 1st grade). If there are any words she does not understand she will write them in the notebook.

The final lesson to go in the "language" notebook is All About Spelling. We are almost finished with Level 1 and then we will move on to Level 2. There are usually words or phrases that she needs to write for this lesson, so those go in here too.


About this time it is hard to keep her still. I usually send her outside to run the dogs or we all take a break to bike ride or stroll around the block. 


She has a list of leveled readers that she will pick from to read for a half hour. After she has finished the book, she dictates a summary and I write it in the "Literature" section of her binder. 

Math-U-See, Beta or Lollipop Logic

We will go through her flashcards first and then complete a lesson from her book. Memorization is hard for her right now, so we have to do flashcards every day we work on math. Logic is done one day a week. We don't usually write anything from the logic book. She just points to the answer. I let her dictate how many lessons in logic we do (at least one).

Computer Lessons - This is a great site that is customizable! She gets short lessons in Science, History, "Fun", Art, and Music.

Children's Farmer's Almanac - She reads and explores this page. 

BBC dance mat typing - She kind of skips around on this page. She will switch to a more serious typing program a bit later. For now she is having fun with this one and is improving.

Baldwin leveled reading - There are actually Waldorf and Ambleside curriculum categories. She is reading through the Waldorf second grade selections.

Core Knowledge 2nd Grade Pack

I have taken the suggestions from Core Knowledge Foundation and made a packet for each of my kids. It has everything in it from poems to Science biographies. I don't mind what order this packet is done. She just needs to finish one activity each day it is assigned. 


Group Lessons
I'll write about these another time. 

After all lessons are finished the kids have to do their chores and clean up their room. The rest of the day is spent outdoors! If it's bad weather for outdoor play they can play in the house or work on a project. They have not really been in to working on a skill (like sewing or crafting), but it is available to them if they wish to try. 

and that is a "regular" day of homeschooling for Tink. 

Happy Homeschooling!

Monday, June 18, 2012

A New Year Begins: 2012-2013

Today is the first day of our 2012-2013 homeschool year!

I never thought I would be homeschooling this long. My husband has been a great supporter of ME, but the homeschooling idea has been difficult for him these last five years. The kids are amazing, bright, and oh so happy. Homeschooling is definitely the right choice for us. Anyway, my "babies" are now in 2nd grade and 4th grade. I can't believe it! Look for links in the sidebar.

Here is the curriculum plan this year:

2nd Grade, Tink
First Language Lessons, Level 2
McGuffey Reader, first (then second)
Writing with Ease, Level 1
All About Spelling, Level 1 (finishing up then on to Level 2)
Math-U-See, Beta
Computer Lessons (, Children's Farmer's Almanac, BBC dance mat typing, Baldwin leveled reading)
Core Knowledge 2nd Grade Pack
Lollipop Logic

4th Grade, Optimus
First Language Lessons, Level 4
McGuffey Reader, fourth
Writing with Ease, Level 3
All About Spelling, Level 1 (finish and move on to Level 2)
Math-U-See, Delta (followed by Epsilon)
Computer Lessons (www.headoftheclass.comm, Children's Farmer's Almanac, typing, Baldwin leveled reading)
Core Knowledge 4th Grade Pack
Logic Countdown (followed by Mind Benders Book 3, Red Herring Mysteries Level 1)
Prima Latina (followed by Latina Christina I & II)

Lessons we do together
Road Trip USA
Core Knowledge World Geography
Mango, Spanish
World's Most Famous Artists
Story of the World, Volume 2
The Story of Us, Joy Hakim
Great Composers
 R.E.A.L Science Odyssey for Kids, Earth
French project (for Christmas Eve dinner)

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Summer Break

For the first time since I started homeschooling five years ago, I am taking a summer break from lessons. Well, kind of. We will be taking four weeks off from lessons starting mid-May and coming back mid-June. We will be attending camp and house/pet sitting from my brother in Show Low. Look for new posts starting mid-June!

Happy summer!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Summer Activities 2012

What to do for the summer in Southern Arizona? If you are looking for activities to fill up your child's summer, here are some great websites to check out.

Pima For Kids (Pima Community College)

Bear Essential News - Summer Camp Guide

Pima County Library - There is a summer reading program as well as free activities.

June 8, Aqua Linda Farm - Garlic & Onion Festival

Also check out the YMCA for more great activities!

Happy Homeschooling

Sunday, April 22, 2012

We are almost at the end of our homeschool year! 

All curriculum we used this year has worked out wonderfully. We did add All About Spelling two weeks ago and everyone loves it! The kids hurry through copywork to be the first finished to start spelling. It is fun and works well for both kids. The review at Satori Smiles ( was a wonderful help in making the decision to go with this product. 

I have updated the side bar with the curriculum for next year and will post more in depth about how we accomplish things here. 

This year I have been busy with our homeschool group. We started a Lego Club, Homeschool Scouts, and a Nature Club. All of that will be ending at the end of May and will start again in September. PE also ends at the end of May and we will be moving to our summer park home for weekly meetups. 

We are actually going to take some time off for the summer this year. We usually homeschool year-round, but this year we will take a whole month off. We will be going up to Show Low for Memorial weekend and then off to PKU Camp the first week of June. 

I am so proud of my children. They have done amazingly well with their lessons and have grown so much as human beings. 

Happy Homeschooling!