Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Transitioning into Independence

As a mom your kids rely on you for everything. As a homeschool mom there is even more on top of your "Mom pile" of work. Not only do you get them fed and ready for the day, but you also school them, you are the major source of their moral upbringing, and your attitude directly influences them for the bulk of their days. 

Beginning homeschooling with little ones, we manage everything. The clothes they wear, the books they read, the food they eat, their sleep patterns (if they sleep), and what they learn. As they get older and start to flex their wings, we have to step back. If they don't learn to stand on their own they will never walk, right? Fast forward a few more years and you are still a mom that schedules their lessons and activities, reminds them about due dates for co-op, and other outside obligations. When do you stop doing all of that for them? How do you stop yourself from coming in and saving the day?

My son is now in 7th grade and we are moving toward independence. I know it will be a long road, but I am hopeful that by the end of 7th grade, he will be scheduling completely independent of me. Home subjects and co-op classes may still require that he meet with me for lectures or clarification, but I won't be hand holding him through things. 

The first step on this road is scheduling. I have always organized all of our work into days and told the kids their assignments as we go. I have tried to post this on the board and let them pick through the day. I have created Evernote notes with their assignments in checklist form. I have written out all of their assignments in a planner for them. The point is, previously, I have done all of the scheduling. 

Last week I wrote out all of my son's assignments in a planner. I organized the lessons by day and he highlighted them as he finished. 

Last week.

I did this for this week also. Yesterday, was not a very successful day for him. He decided to sleep in and then take a huge "break" between lessons. He didn't finish his work until 7:45 pm. His dad did not let him go to scouts because he wasn't finished. That was his consequence. Hopefully, he learned from that. 

This week.

For next week he is getting a list of all of his assignments with due dates. He has two due dates. The first, is for co-op stuff he has to finish before class. The second, is for regular work I require. I will help him with this if he asks me. I am definitely going to check that all of the co-op work is scheduled before class, but the rest will be up to him. 

Due Date: 
Tuesday, October 13

Sunday, October 18

Week 14
Complete Ch. 6.3 Test
Review all Ch. 6 notes
Write about Gallium's compounds formed
Write about Gallium's fun or interesting facts
Review flashcards
Organize your paragraphs into an outline
Write your rough draft in Writewell. Print to edit.

Area of 2D flipbook 1 & 2 & 3 & 4
Lesson 27 (Do: 1,4,5,9,11,13,14,19,27)

Write your rough draft in Writewell. Print to edit.
Write your final
Read Ch. 21-28
Pick your topic
Write your topic sentence and questions
Read rest of Colonial Times
Research your questions (use notecards)
Write your outline

Unit 5, Lesson 2
Look at Van Gogh's art (pick a favorite and add it to your Evernote with the title)

2 - Practice Duolingo
Review Worksheets
2 - Watch videos 6-9
2 - Estar cards

Holes to @pg 120

I am interested to see if he schedules himself all of the work for individual classes together on one day or spreads each subject out. Who wants to do four math lessons in one day? I don't know, maybe he will. I can pretty much guarantee that will only happen once, if it happens at all. 

How are you helping your kids to schedule themselves? How is it working?

Happy Homeschooling

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Not Your Ordinary Book Report!

The book reports of my youth seem outdated and boring to me now. With all the technology out there and alternative education methods, it seemed to me that I should be offering my kids a different approach to book reports.
Gratis billede: B√łger

Reviewing books is a great way to reinforce learning and comprehension. It doesn't have to be a bore though. I presented my son with this list at the beginning of the year. He can choose any he likes for his report, but he can only do them once. Otherwise, I am sure to get a stack of t-shirt designs! Here is my list of 21 Book Report Options that allow a great amount of customization.

25 Book Report Options
1. Design a t-shirt. This should include the book title, author, and perhaps a sentence or repeated phrase.

2. Design a costume for a character. If you are especially crafty you could design and sew it, but designing on paper and explaining why it's appropriate will do.

3. Create a picture book. Draw an illustration complete with caption for each chapter of the book. Don't forget to provide a cover and then staple or bind it together.

4. Write a letter to a character. What would you say to a character?

5. Write the author. Got a question or two about the book that didn't get answered? Want to praise the author for a job well done? Put it down in a letter. Extra points for actually sending it!

6. The book has ended. What happens next? Write a short story.

7. Assemble a diorama. Got a favorite scene from the book? Now's your chance to recreate it.

8. Write an Amazon listing. Take a look at how Amazon lists books (don't look for your book). Write a listing to market this book. Look for your book after you have written your listing and compare the two.

9. Book vs. Movie. Compare and contrast.

10. Make a video review.

11. Resume or Facebook profile for a character. How would the character describe him/herself?

12. Good ole' book report.

13. Write interview questions and the responses for a character.

14. Make a movie trailer.

15. Create a collage for the book or a character.

16. Write an alternate ending and why you prefer it.

17. Make a stop-motion animation of your favorite scene.

18. Create a comic book strip of your favorite scene or a summary of the book.

19. Write a poem, song, or riddle about the book.

20. Award Ceremony. Create a list of awards for each of the characters in the book. Explain why they deserve the award.

21. Bookshelf. What is on a particular character's bookshelf? What books are there, CD's, pictures, or knick knacks? Draw it out or make a collage with pictures.

22. Past, Present, and Future. Create a past, summarize the present, and predict a future for a character.

23. Commercial. Make a television commercial for the book.

24. Design a poster or new book cover. What if the book were being made into a movie? What might the poster look like?

25. It's Your Birthday! Make a list of characters and the birthday presents you would give them. Don't forget to include your reasoning behind the gifts.

Do you have any ideas for alternatives to book reports?

Happy Homeschooling

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Free Discovery Education for the Summer!

I just signed up through Homeschool Buyers Co-op for a free summer of Discovery Education. It seems that the Co-op has deals on Dicovery Ed frequently, so I thought I would give it a try. This may be a valuable resource for our own co-op this year.

Happy Homeschooling

Friday, July 10, 2015

Curriculum Plan 2015 - 2016

The kids after they decided February was a good time to try out the pool.

We are going into our 8th year of homeschooling! I find it very hard to believe that I have a 5th and 7th grader. I have a middle schooler now. Wow. Never thought we would still be homeschooling this many years (although I hoped I would).

This year some fabulous ladies in our homeschool group have put together a co-op. This will definitely be a learning experience, but we are all excited about this new opportunity for group learning. It will be once a week, with the kids working on "homework" at home. I will be leading two classes and one club, so you can look forward to posts this year about Zoology/Human Body, American History, and Drama.

I added "Group Lessons" to our day this year. It's the catch all for everything I want to cover, but seems to be pushed aside due to time. We will do this first thing and then the kids will spread out to finish independently.

Extra Curriculars
PE/Park day - once a week
Boy Scouts - once a week
Yearbook Club (my girl) - a few times in the year
Drama Club - twice a month
Relaxation and Focusing Class - at co-op each week. They both want to try this.
Violin (my girl) - self study
Piano (my boy) - self study
4H Archery (both) - twice a month
4H Bread (both) - once a month
4H Robotics (my boy) - once a month
4H Cake Decorating (both) - short session. My daughter said, "if it involves frosting, I'm there."

Group Lessons
I am using Logic Countdown and Logic Liftoff (2 lessons a week) and Brain Teaser workbooks (2 pages a week).

Mastering Vocabulary will take us two years to get through. It is for grades 5 and up. We are covering about one Unit a week.

Reading Aloud
The kids will take turns reading aloud. Our books this year will be: Shakespeare Stealer by Gary Blackwood (the kids really liked this one), Hans Brinker, or the Silver Skates by Mary Mapes Dodge, McGuffey's Eclectic Reader Volume 3, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, Gift of the Magi, Night Before Christmas, and Legends Every Child Should Know by Hamilton Wright Mabie. I will add more if needed.

Tuesday Math
Tuesdays we have PE/Park day and 4H activities planned. The kids are usually tired and not really able to sit down to a full math lesson. This year on Tuesdays we will use The Everything Kids Math Puzzles Book and Singapore Math Challenge Grade 5+. We will work through the books together. After the group math, the kids are then to complete 30 minutes of Khan Academy in their respective grade levels. They like to compete for points!

5th Grade

My Pokemon princess

Along with poems from various authors, she will also be reading a few books. The list is: A World of Fairy Tales by Andrew Lang, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O'Brian, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, The Cricket in Times Square by George Seldon, Peter Pan by James M. Barrie, and Pollyanna by Eleanor H. Porter.

The kids are going to be participating in the co-op Classic Books Club. They will be reading The Bully Book by Eric Kahn Gale, Redwall by Brian Jacques, and others.

Saxon 6/5

Language Arts
KISS - I really like the looks of this program. We are using the 6th grade level.

We are starting out the year with reading The Care and Keeping of You each day. She is then working on a lapbook about plants and another about weather. After that she will have Zoology (there will be two Zoology units on my blog. I didn't really like the first one and decided to make another one that has more of everything) and then Human Body in co-op. If we have any days to fill, she can do free study.

She is reading the Introductions and Conclusions in Human Odyssey Volume 2. This is just as a review. She is going to be taking Story of the World, Volume 3 in co-op. It has a great lapbook to go with it, that she will be adding to a notebook with a timeline.

We are working our way through ancient art with the help of Cave Paintings to Picasso and various library books. The kids are just reading and looking. They can paint in the style they are learning about if they wish. When co-op starts, they will begin Artistic Pursuits, Middle Grades Book 1. They have a wonderful art teacher that will be continuing from last year.

This will not start until co-op. The leaders will be using various materials. The kids will be using a Spanish/English dictionary and First Thousand Words in Spanish. This book is a little basic for the age my kids are, but they really wanted it. I think because it looked easy, but there is a lot jammed into those pages.

7th Grade

My young man 

Along with poems from various authors, he will also be reading a few books. The list is: The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain, Classics for Young Readers, The Call of the Wild by Jack London, The Spy by James Fenimore Cooper, Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis, and The Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare.

The kids are going to be participating in the co-op Classic Books Club. They will be reading The Bully Book, Redwall, and others.

Language Arts
KISS grammar program

Saxon Algebra 1/2 
Khan Academy as supplement

Before co-op starts, he is reading through The Boy's Body Book and completing lapbooks on Introduction to Chemistry and the Periodic Table. For co-op, he will be working through's Middle School Physical Science textbook.

He is also reading through the Human Odyssey volumes. In co-op this year, he will be covering the first five books in the A History of Us series by Joy Hakim for American History 1.

Art and Spanish
Same as 5th grader.

Happy Homeschooling

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Homeschool Teacher Gifts?

So, here is my question, why don't homeschool teachers get end of the year gifts?

I asked my husband this question this morning. His response was that, "raising the children should be gift enough." Haha. I love my kids, but come on. My main thought is not so much the gift, but in the act.

An end of the year "gift" could be a card or a hug along with a heartfelt thank you. I know that homeschooling is a choice we as parents make, but kids get plenty out of it too. Homeschool parents put in a ton of time and energy to make it possible for the kids to stay home. They also make many sacrifices like having less (or no) personal time or less family income.

I would just like to encourage spouses of homeschooling parents to take their kids aside and help them to appreciate what has been done for them the whole year. Also, a present wouldn't be out of line.

Happy Homeschooling!

If my husband reads this and needs inspiration, here is a list of my demands, err ideas.

Monday, February 9, 2015

France and England at War

France and England at War
(Story of the World, Volume 2, Chapter 26)

1. Listen to the audio book selection or read Story of the World text.
2. Write in your notebook.

Happy Homeschooling!

The End of the World

The End of the World
(Story of the World, Volume 2, Chapter 25)

1. Listen to the audio book selection or read Story of the World text.
2. Write in your notebook.

Happy Homeschooling!

The Ottoman Empire

The Ottoman Empire
(Story of the World, Volume 2, Chapter 24)

1. Listen to the audio book selection or read Story of the World text.
2. Write in your notebook.

Happy Homeschooling!

The First Russians

The First Russians
(Story of the World, Volume 2, Chapter 23)

1. Listen to the audio book selection or read Story of the World text.
2. Write in your notebook.

Happy Homeschooling!

Exploring the Mysterious East

Exploring the Mysterious East
(Story of the World, Volume 2, Chapter 22)

1. Listen to the audio book selection or read Story of the World text.
2. Write in your notebook.

Happy Homeschooling!

Zoology, 5th Grade

I am in the process of putting together a semester (possibly a year long) Zoology study for my 5th grader. She is all about animals! I will be adding things as I find them throughout the journey through the materials.

I am using a notebook that I outlined myself for her. After I outlined the notebook and topics, I started printing out pages to go into the notebook. Then I thought, why am I doing this? The point of letting her choose what to study, was to let her have more freedom. If I print everything I want her to do, it won't be as fun as if she fills it in herself. Ugh! This approach takes some getting used to. Sooo, after closing all of my browser windows, I got down to finding books and videos for her.

Front Cover
Title page and sticky with kits to buy.

print out I added. Title page with sticky listing books and videos. 

She needs a place to start from as this will be her first formal attempt at educating herself. Otherwise, I'm afraid she will spend all of her "science time" watching LPS videos that sound remotely like the topic of study. Here we go again with me having my hand in it, but I feel that she will appreciate the "recommendations" as she won't be forced to read the books or watch the videos. They are just a place for her to start.

I am planning on buying her a few kits and supplies. I like the Sealife Shell Pack $10.95, the Owl Pellet kit $4.10, and the Butterfly Garden Kit $14.92.

Here is the list of topics I outlined in her notebook and the resources for each. The books are all available at my library (I linked to Amazon so you could see them). I created a Youtube playlist here other videos are from Netflix or Amazon Prime. I have all of these books and videos listed for her in Evernote. She can access this on her own and have everything she needs in one place.

Zoology, 5th Grade:
1. Animal Classifications (Classifying Animals and Taxonomy)

2. Ecosystems

3. Amphibians *After a general overview with these resources, she will pick an amphibian to study in greater detail. Those resources I will let her find on her own using youtube, netflix, and the library. She will need to keep a bibliography and complete a lapbook or interactive notebook pages to show what she learned. (Books: The Life Cycle of Amphibians & Do You Know About Amphibians. Video: Amphibians this was available at our library or Bill Nye: Amphibians)

4. Animals in Winter (online reading. Videos: Investigating Hibernation, Bear Snores On *for fun, Animals Do Winter Better Than You)

5. Reptiles *she will have a reptile report to do also (Books: Reptiles & Reptiles. Videos: Reptiles 1, Reptiles 2, Reptiles 3, Reptiles 4)

6. Animal Adaptations (no books for this one. Videos: Bill Nye: Evolution)

7. Birds *another report also (Book: Birds . Video: Life of Birds)

8. Mimicry (online reading. Videos:Avoiding Predators, Hiding, Camouflages )

9. Insects *another report (Books: Insects & Magic School Bus Presents Insects. Videos: Microcosmos, Watching the Bees, and Creepy Crawlers)

10. Symbiotic Relationships (videos: Symbiosis, and Amazing Symbiosis)

11. Fish *another report (books: DK Fish. Videos: Blue Planet and Search for Great Sharks)

12. Other Water Animals *report (online reading 1, 2, 3. Books: Sea Anemone *couldn't find a link on amazon for it, Octopus, and Jellyfish. Videos: Mystery of Eels, Turtle, Ocean Life, Sea Creatures)

13. Animal Senses (no books. Video: Animal Senses)

14. Mammals *another report (Books: Mammals and Mammals. Videos: Life of Mammals, Bill Nye: Mammals, Private Life of Deer, Fortress of Bears, Leave it to Beavers, and Honey Badger)

End of Zoology Project
She can pick any topic in Zoology and do a big project on it. An informational video would be a cool idea, but she can choose anything.

Happy Homeschooling!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Our Current Schedule

Our schedule seems to morph throughout the year into somewhat of a monster. I have a tendency to keep adding to it until the kids and I rebel against it. I feel a certain amount of pressure to keep the kids ahead of where their public school peers would be and find it difficult to scale back. The kids would probably do just fine with days filled with reading according to their interests and generally following an unschool approach, but I just can't do it. I am an unfit unschooler. I NEED my lists and schedule to check off. I NEED them to systematically go through their Saxon books. Perhaps these are very selfish needs, but without them I don't "know" where the kids are academically and that makes me crazy. Not only me, but when their father asks, where they are in terms of grade level, it would be impossible to answer. So, the kids are stuck with me and the way I map out our homeschool journey. Anyway...enough introspection. I have come up with a form based on one I saw online somewhere. Here is a blank version if you want it.

This schedule is for next week. I have a fourth and sixth grader. I start at the top and work our way down. I have the lessons listed in order of importance (to me!). 

Math - Monday-Wednesday, the kids both work in their Saxon books. They read the lessons and do the lesson practice only. They also work on multiplication coloring sheets. I found a creeper from Minecraft and a Pokemon. On Thursday, the kids work on Saxon again, but this time they do the lesson practice and evens or odds of the mixed practice on one lesson. This way they are getting the review of the last chapters without all of the (for my kids) unnecessary repetition. Friday, the kids do Timez Attack, a free game.

LA (Language Arts)- Monday-Wednesday, the kids read a McGuffey Reader lesson EXACTLY. I have found that they will skip over words or mispronounce something, so I read it with them. If they make a mistake, I have them read that sentence again. After they have read it, I have them write the lesson (or half of it) as copywork. They do the next half the following day and read the selection again. Alex will work through the lessons on Daily Grammar and I work with Sidney through First Language Lessons, which Alex joins us. After that I make up a sentence or two for them to write in cursive. Thursday, the kids write an original compostion on anything they like. I sometimes need to give my boy prompts, but my girl never runs out of stories. Friday, the kids turn in the final draft of their composition. We do not do Daily Grammar, FLL, or cursive on Thursdays or Fridays. 

Read(ing)- Monday-Thursday, I read aloud. This is the "L" on the schedule for Listen. The kids then read aloud, "A" on the schedule. We are going through What Your Sixth Grader Needs to Know. This week I am reading, "Oliver Twist" and "The Secret Garden". The kids are taking turns reading the poems and speeches aloud. This week Alex is reading, "A Song of Greatness" and "The Road Not Taken". Sidney will read, "A Psalm of Life" and "Life E'vry Voice and Sing". The kids then read silently, "S". Alex is currently reading "Hatchet" and Sidney is reading "Eloise". Friday, the kids work on vocabulary.

Art- We are taking an art history class that has a lot of reading. Monday-Thursday, we do the reading and Friday we work on an art project. 

Hist(ory)- We are working through Story of the World, volume 2. You can see my other posts about this. 

Unit (study)- This is where science comes in. We are going to finish Earth science this year and then the kids want to do more random unit studies. Sidney wants to focus on animals and Alex wants more experiments and chemistry. 

Other- Typing and Seterra (geography game) twice a week. Spanish, 3x a week, and Latin 2x a week. 

Happy Homeschooling!

p.s. "Proud Mommy Moment"
I have used a simple reading test for the kids since they started reading. The kids both took it this week. Alex is reading at almost 9th grade level and Sidney is reading at an 8th grade level! So proud of both of them. 

The Mongols Devastate the East

The Mongols Devastate the East
(Story of the World, Volume 2, Chapter 21)

1. Listen to the audio book selection or read Story of the World text.
4. Timeline:
1167 Genghis Khan born
1215 Genghis Khan conquers Beijing
1227 Genghis Khan dies
1274 Kublai Khan's first invasion of Japan
1279 Kublai Khan becomes emperor of China
1281 Kublai Khan's second invasion of Japan
1294 Kublai Khan dies
1368 The Yuan dynasty in China, founded by Kublai Khan, ends


Happy Homeschooling!