Category Archives: 170 School Days. 2010

Chocolate Walk.

As we are completing a unit study on Chocolate, I had devised a clever little plan to go on a chocolate walk. I was inspired by an idea I found while looking online for things to do revolving around chocolate. There is a website of gourmet walks in San Francisco that offer Chocolate tours. You pay $50 a person and walk and eat gourmet chocolate. O.k. so my white trash, kid friendly version of this is to walk all over and eat various non gourmet chocolates. Much cheaper.

We have been having insane weather for California. It is currently in the 50’s and threatening to unleash buckets of rain. School is out tomorrow and we have been putting off this chocolate walk, while waiting for a clear day, for quite awhile. So, this morning, I aborted the chocolate walk and turned it into a chocolate drive.

Three rules : NO QUESTIONS , NO COMPLAINING and ONE FACT ABOUT CHOCOLATE RECITED AT EACH STOP. It is amazing what children will do for candy. Taylor was very pleased that Greyson was partaking in our fun by drinking his GERBER GOOD START baby formula which was originally Nestle. Did you know that in 1867 Henri Nestle’s first big hit was infant formula, not chocolate?

Loaded up and ready to go.

First stop: STARBUCKS and kid’s hot chocolate all around. $3.19

 

Next stop: Sees candy. I bought 2 pieces and the lady gave us 8 pieces as samples. The kids each ate one piece. $1.26.

Next stop: Henry’s Market. They were allowed to pick 2 pieces from the barrel candy. Chocolate covered cherries, chocolate covered pretzels and pure chocolate were the winners. 53 cents.

Next stop: McDonald’s. A snack size Rolo McFlurry split 3 ways. As you can see…the sugar is starting to kick in. $1.47.

Final stop: Bel Air. Sample cookies. I split one chocolate chip cookie 3 ways. FREE.

 

$6.50 is not bad for this fun little field trip. We will finish up our study and complete our lap books in the morning. Then school is out for SUMMER. We all survived our SECOND YEAR of this strange little phenomenon known as home school.

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I’ll Tell You Why. Curriculum Review Pt. 2.

A while back, I began to review my curriculum choices for next year. My overall plan can be found here. I have almost everything in now and will begin organizing and working on overall lesson plans for next year. I REALLY wanted to have this completed before the end of this school year. I will continue to work towards that. However, sudden classroom and pantry makeovers, among other things have stolen my attention and I am definitely NOT on track to complete that goal.

 

First Grade items make me happy. I think I am a kid at heart. I love fantastic illustrations and the choices that I selected did not disappoint.

A Reason for Spelling ~ There is a lot of Bible throughout this curriculum. Each lesson focusses on one verse that is the same verse that is being used for practice in A Reason for Handwriting. It starts with a short phonics review and then begins with spelling word lists. Each list contains a variety of ways to practice the words and activities and stories to focus on the meaning of the verse for that week.

A Reason for Handwriting~ I chose this because each daily lesson is short and uses words from the verse of the week. These lessons are a “practice” for the big day at the end of the week where your child can select a background paper and then write out the entire verse for that week. It is suggested then to color in the paper and use these completed scripture sheets to send to a sick friend, turn into a placemat, or any other creative idea you can think of.

Apologia Science ~ After aborting A Beka science I was on the hunt for a new science curriculum. I couldn’t turn anywhere without running into Apologia. I read review after review and literally found almost no negative. This curriculum appears to have  a ton of hands on learning. It is for multiple age levels and offers a note booking journal. I am really curious to see how this one will go over. I have just heard so many good things, I can’t help but think, “How can a curriculum be THAT good?” I will let you know. I will be ordering this as soon as I sell off some more of our curriculum that we are finished with from this year. This kit comes conveniently labeled for each science experiment throughout the year with all of the necessary supplies.

Write About Me/ Write About My World ~ These are great and inexpensive books for beginning writing practice.

My Calendar Book ~ Additional calendar practice and practice in charting and graphing daily weather patterns.

6th and 7th grade curriculum just does not provide the cute factor anymore! However,I am looking forward to getting into all of these books and planning it all out. This is completely one of my most very favorite parts of homeschooling.

Teaching Textbooks ~ I  just love it. The kids just love it. It is so easy for them to understand. It provides explanations for missed problems and real life examples to implement the learned material. I found out last year while although I can DO math. I am awful at teaching it and I do mean awful. Trying to explain math concepts is difficult. I did not do well. I completely embrace the online approach and will stick to it. We are all happier this way.

Apologia Science ~ Astronomy for my 6th grader and General Science for my 7th.

Positive Action ~ I love their Bible curriculum. I have used it for 2 years now. These Wise UP books are based on Proverbs and I was able to purchase for just a few dollars each because they have redone the cover for this year. Yay for me.

Reading ~ I have selected 4 titles and purchased the unit guides for each title. We will be spending a quarter on each title. These guides offer, quizzes, project ideas, prompts for discussions and a ton more. In addition, my kids will do at least 30 minutes of reading of their own approved selections.

Writing ~ Open the Deck. I have noticed that it seems that most of the curriculum that I have looked at for language arts seem really skimpy in writing. This may or may not be true, but regardless this writing program that I have found looks awesome. It has very high reviews and goes through what appears to be super creative and thorough teaching of writing styles and basics.

Not so boring grammar ~ basic grammar review of parts of speech and all that jazz. Complete with a bit of a flair when it comes to the exercises. They do really look “not so boring”.

Expedition Earth~ These are the supplemental materials suggested to purchase for our Expedition Earth Curriculum. I still need to do the printing and organizing to put the kids binders and passports together. I look forward to doing this with all three of my kids next year. My crew is not so good at working together with their siblings. Magically they seem to turn into respectable citizens when placed next to a friend or stranger. However, ask them to do a project with one of their own peeps and they need some work. I am hoping that engaging in this year long program will provide some growth in this area for us. This program is so cool. It gives a great overview of different countries, prays for the countries and incorporates listening to their music, cooking some of their foods, and doing some international art projects. It should be a lot of fun for all of us.

 

IF you are new~ish to homeschooling you may be asking yourself HOW DO I CHOOSE CURRICULUM? This is my theory…you may want to sit down for this, as it’s pretty deep.

I am going to go in with the assumption that while I am quite certain that some curriculums are “better” than others, each one provides an opportunity to learn. All I can do as a parent educator is to pray, trust the professionals who have created the curriculum, read reviews, and talk to others for opinions. Ultimately, you absolutely can get lost and overwhelmed in the infinite number of choices out there. It can make your head SPIN. Spend some time researching, pick, commit and move on with life. Despite the distracting fun of shopping, I am pretty sure that learning is supposed to be the most important part.

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Classroom Makeover.

Last week our classroom received a re-do. It was originally sparked by the arrival of a set of fantastic lockers. My sister received a new set and so she passed these on to me. My oldest daughter will be entering middle school-home school next year and she had anxiously been awaiting the day when she could use lockers at her previous school. We have been stalking Craig’s for a year now and I will admit that there were prayers sent up on behalf of acquiring lockers for this new milestone in her life. Now WE”VE GOT ‘EM and we are thankful!

The original lockers were tan and we put on green spray paint. It still needs another coat to even it out, but the kids were so anxious to start using them, I will do the second coat and sealer later! I am going to add numbers or their initials or something at some point too.

Chicken wire was stapled to the entire wall to hold whatever we feel like clipping up there! Love blog land and all the inspiration.

The map was purchased to help us with our Expedition Earth Curriculum that we are doing next year {and really shouldn’t there be a map in every classroom in the world?} I bought some wood at Lowes to mount it on, so I could put it on the chicken wire wall. However, the lovely 18 year old who cut the wood for me, made a slight error in size. I didn’t have the heart or patience to drag 4 kids back to Lowes, so I made due. The original plan was to have a 2 inch border of wood showing on all sides of the map. With the error, I scooted the map all the way to the top and left a 4 inch border on the bottom. I grabbed some hooks from the junk drawer and screwed them on to hold the silver buckets and hopefully make it look intentional. The buckets were Ikea. I used a nail and hammer to make a hole and used some old twine to tie them up.

The fabulously functional and questionably pretty workboxes that are sitting under the map, have saved my sanity for a long time now. Sometimes function trumps pretty. Not often, but there are rare occasions.

I have been wanting a chalkboard for awhile now. When I saw THIS FAB ONE it was love at first sight {which was soon followed by a trip to Lowes}. I bought some fence boards {SO CHEAP} and had them trim that pointy part on the top off for me. Another sheet of wood cut to size, multiple layers of chalkboard paint, and some dark brown stain and I now have a chalkboard for about $25.

I am now stalking Craigs for some old vintage school chairs, but for now I collected these four from around the house and they will make do.

This fab chandelier ultimately came from Urban Outfitters, but it had been living in my closet upstairs. It was lonely up there. It’s a little small for the space, but its so sparkly and pretty I ALMOST don’t notice that.

I purchased this table last summer off of Craig’s for a steal, but the blonde w00d had been annoying me for a year and so I finally refinished it a fun silver, with ivory legs.

I hope to add a rug and those elusive chairs over the summer. However, what is fairly common in my home is that FOR NOW this room is “done”. Almost summer time!

 

Linking up with Tater Tots and JelloFunky Junk,  Under the Table and Dreaming, and Lolly Jane and Chic on a Shoestring, and hiphomeschoolmoms.com.

 

 

 

 

 

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I’ll Tell You Why. Curriculum Review.

First, let me say that I am completing my 2nd year of homeschool. I love my children. I have a brain. I have done lots of research, questioning, and prayer. However, by no means do I consider myself anywhere near of an expert on the subject of school curriculum….not one bit.

I have had multiple questions on why I chose what I chose and why I aborted A beka. If you are like me at all. I love to hear what other people use and why and then filter it into my world and how it fits into my gig. So, here goes. Random, unprofessional, thoughts on curriculum a la me….

First off, I tried SONLIGHT last year. We used it for weeks. The company has unmatched customer service and incredible return policies. This curriculum requires a ton of parental involvement and a ton of reading. My kids have had a strong classroom setting background for 5-6 years and they weren’t super comfortable with the switch in learning styles. Sonlight has little to no tests, quizzes, or worksheets. I think it is an awesome curriculum if you love literature and reading and plan to do a TON of both. It is a user friendly curriculum I think, as the lesson plans were super easy to understand and use. Another downside is because you are purchasing so many books, it is quite expensive.

A BEKA. From what I have gathered from people I have come in contact with, A beka seems to be viewed as a solid, traditional, kind of “old school” curriculum. It is worksheet driven. It is bright and colorful. It has incredibly detailed lesson plans. Down to…”say this, say that, etc.” I used A beka almost exclusively (Bible was with Positive Action) in year one. I used it almost exclusively this year for my kinder and parts for my 5th/6th grader. My Kinder is super tired of worksheets and I simply can’t seem to wrap my brain around the lesson plan/teacher guide books For some reason they are so tedious and confusing for my brain and we don’t play well together. This is one of my main dislikes about the curriculum. I have also heard that their science is super easy. I really can’t attest to that, other than to say it comes from people that I know and trust in the education field.

Why I’m eclectic ~

So, you can choose a curriculum company such as A beka, Sonlight, Monarch, Switched on Schoolhouse, or others. You can order an entire grade. With A beka for example you can order the student kit and teacher kit. Choose any additional supplements they offer and you will be set for the year. I would recommend this for the first year if you are unsure of what to do. There is so much to learn and figure out that using one publisher can really eliminate a lot of work by getting used to different styles and layouts of the various curriculum choices. I found it helpful.

The second year, I deviated a bit more as I become more comfortable with home school itself. This year I will became totally “eclectic”. I made a list of subjects and inserted the curriculum that I wanted to use to fulfill that subject. I have seen people who use exclusively one publisher, those who don’t ever use more than one subject from the same publisher and everything in between. I think there are pro’s and con’s to everything and every combination. I also think, especially for those of us who are new to this, that there is the possibility to get lost in the oceans of curriculum and all of the shiny options. Research is super important, but at some point you need to just make a decision. With that being said I also feel like if something is completely not working, go ahead and switch.

Personally, I have several teacher friends that I periodically check in with. I also plan to do the testing for my kids. I also continue to periodically check homeschool reviews etc. I also completely commit this to prayer as I really believe God will guide me to find what is right for my kids and this home.

I personally want a mix of learning options for my kids. It seems to fit us best. Some computer, some worksheets, some reading. Just well rounded with lots of variety. I want some tests and some quizzes. I want some independent work and some unit studies that will provide me teaching my kids together. I want everything with a pretty bow on top. I feel putting in a bit of extra work and going eclectic allows me my bow.

THIS YEAR….

I am using EXPLODE THE CODE. My six year old daughter is kind of “worksheeted out”. The downside to using all one curriculum is that everything starts to look the same. I love variety and I think its natural my kids will too. My daughter has done 2 solid years of A beka and I just think it is time to change it up. Explode the code offers an online deal for $65 a year that is a huge draw to me. It is the only part of school that I plan to have my first grader do online. I also have purchased the workbooks and she will do these as well. They are all black and white from what I can see, but have adorable little stick type figures that my daughter already finds “so funny”. The teacher books are written in a way that I completely understand which is huge. I need them. I will confess that I have a bit of anxiety knowing that I am really the one responsible for the foundational learning that she is doing. My other two were at a great school during the first few years of their education. When I brought them home, they had a wonderful foundation under their belt. Explode the Code has fantastic reviews and when you combine that with the ease of the teacher guides, the online options…I’m set and excited about the change.

I am switching to HORIZON from A beka for math primarily for two reasons. First, the lesson plan/teacher guide books again just make sense to me when I read Horizon. A beka does not. Second, there is a manipulatives kit that is used with this curriculum that I am looking forward to. I think this is going to be a great addition to my daughter’s learning. Again, she is kinda over the repetitive continuous worksheets. This will provide some variety for both of us.TEACHING TEXTBOOKS is a permanent fixture in our home for math. I love it. It begins in third grade, however. We will have to wait a bit longer for my soon to be first grader to start that.

WORDLY WISE is a program I found by looking on the Sonlight website. My kids have done A beka spelling for awhile, but I feel like they just memorize the vocabulary and don’t have a huge ability to use the words correctly. Soooo naturally I was drawn to a program that is primarily vocabulary. We will use the same vocabulary list for the spelling as well. This program begins in K. I will be using the first grade set for my youngest. I love it.

more tomorrow…….

 

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2011-2012 Curriculum Plan

I purchased almost all of my curriculum through Rainbow Resource. After a lot of research, I found their prices to be the best….by far. I feel like this is pretty early to have done. HOWEVER, I really want my summer OFF with no thoughts of school. I have a lot of planning to do and I need time to get it DONE! SO, the tax refund arrived and the shopping began! I am sure there will be tweaks, as usual. I went completely eclectic this year.  I researched a lot of different curriculums, asked a lot of questions, and read a lot of reviews. I spent time praying about it and this is the result.

 

First Grade

Phonics  – Explode the Code

Reading – A beka readers. We were able to borrow tons of these for lots of daily reading.

Spelling – A Reason for Spelling

Penmanship – A Reason for Handwriting

Vocabulary -Wordly Wise

Creative Writing- Just Write

Math -Horizons

Science-Apologia Astronomy

Geography/History- Expedition Earth

Bible & Art – Both are integrated through some of the above curriculums

Sixth Grade

Reading -Unit Studies, one book per quarter and daily reading of their choice.

Vocab/Spelling – Wordly Wise

Grammar -Not Boring Middle School Grammar

Creative Writing- Stack the Deck

Math – Teaching Textbooks

Science-Apologia Astronomy

Geography/History- Monarch, Expedition Earth

Art -Global Art

Bible- Positive Action WISE UP

Seventh Grade

Reading -Unit Studies, one book per quarter and daily reading of their choice.

Vocab/Spelling – Wordly Wise

Grammar -Not Boring Middle School Grammar

Creative Writing- Stack the Deck

Math – Teaching Textbooks

Science-Apologia General Science

Geography/History- Monarch, Expedition Earth

Art -Global Art

Bible- Positive Action WISE UP

 

Other cool things I found:

Track weather and continued calendar practice for my 1st grader with THIS.

My drawing loving 10 year old loves this find.

Clock learning. {apparently I am finding this is well known and common, but since I am new at all of this, this is new to me}

If you want prepackaged science experiment kits that correlate to popular science curriculum, enter your science curriculum in the search box here or here and you will find a box of all the goodies you need without having to gather them all up. This may seem ridiculous to spend money on some of these common household items. However, believe me with 4 kids and a dog running around…this money is well spent. Something as simple as 5 minutes to grab a few things may turn into 15 minutes and ultimately may keep us from doing the experiment after all. Ask me how I know that?

 

We are on the countdown to summer over here! 23 days of school left, curriculum boxes arriving for next year, the classroom getting a makeover to become more functional, we got real LOCKERS from my sis’s old craigslist find, and we will be done by June 2nd so we can spend the summer PLAYING…

Horse camp, robot camp, VBS, musical theatre, soccer, the lake, family get away, slip n slide, and a secret hope that I get to see the ocean this summer…

For now I am living each day with my antihistime Visine in hand, trying to get through spring and these ridiculous central valley allergies. Hurry up summer!

 




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The Early Bird.

I am currently cleaning out the classroom cupboards. In week 23 of school, it’s overdue! Getting re~organized is energizing!

I am also planning for next year. It’s early I know, but we use part of our tax refund to purchase our homeschool curriculum, so curriculum shopping happens in the spring. This way I can also try to take the summer completely off. I try to be {mostly} ready for the following year by the end of the current year. I am currently in shopping mode. I love to plan and organize. It’s fabulous.

Some of my favorite school related finds {some new and some tried and true}

1. CHICKEN WIRE WALL ~ are you kidding me? I am extremely disappointed that I did not think of this a long time ago! I have multiple frames with chicken wire adorning my house. FORGET THE FRAMES…let’s cover the whole dang wall! Check it out here.  Ashley~ you may just be my new hero. My school classroom thanks you. I am still trying to recover from the fact I can’t do a chalkboard wall due to my overly textured walls. This may truly help ease the pain. I can smather the wall with yummy art projects, project helps, and anything else I want to at the pinch of a clothes pin.

2. DROPS IN THE BUCKET ~ still checkin’ this out. Looks great.

3. SUPER TEACHER ~ This website is crazy amazing for FREE and I’m in love. I use the workbox method so I am always always looking for fun extras or just different from the curriculum extras to add to the kids boxes.

4. CONFESSIONS OF A HOMESCHOOLER ~ This glorious woman must have a closet full of capes that she wears daily. I love her ideas. If you want inspiration in one place…do not walk, run here. I had heard of the workboxes before, but when I read her post on it, it became tangible to do. She has a new geography curriculum out that I am going to jump on board with next year.

5. IKR DESIGNS ~ This is a shameless plug for my sissy’s Etsy store. I received this candle for Christmas and I tell ya, I read it multiple times a day. It’s a must for my school room. Thankfully it’s battery operated and on a timer, so I won’t be practicing any STOP DROP and ROLL drills in the near future.

5. DOWNLOAD N GO~ These are just plain fun and educational too. We are just starting our second one. I picked chocolate! They are purchased, printed, and ready to go. I will be posting on this when we are through! These are such fun supplements to our curriculum. The kids LOVE. We did a pizza one last year.

6. PROJECTS TO TRY~ I want to do this and this.

7. MAKE YOUR OWN ~ I love that you can go here to the free resources section and make up your own word finds, writing practice sheets, awards, and more. I made a word search for my six year old with the names of all her friends. She was quite amazed at my teacher skills.

8. TEACHING TEXTBOOKS ~ I am so glad I found them last year. They have saved my children from having to purchase a math for dummies book when they are grown.

9. EXPLODE THE CODE ~ I am swayed by great covers of books. I admit it. These are really cute books. In addition to being educationally sound and all of that other stuff. blah, blah, blah. I had my kinder do the demos last night for the online option of this curriculum and I couldn’t get her off the computer! I plan to use this for our phonics next year.

10. MY MASTER PLAN ~ I purchased Sonlight last year. It is a great curriculum, just not for us. It went back to them in a pretty little mail truck after about 12 weeks of using it. I am bummed because I was super excited about it. Don’t be afraid to try new things. If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. No big deal! I could not wrap my head around all of it. Thankfully they have a learning to love guarantee and I was refunded 100%. What I did learn from them is absolutely invaluable and it is very simple. A method for organizing.

I have a giant binder with dividers labeled 1-36. This is for 36 weeks of school. Last year I was trying to bite off the whole year with no real way to break it down. This simple mind shift has been a great way to function this year. Every single thing that I am doing for the week of school has been ripped out, printed out, or hole punched and placed in the binder accordingly. At the beginning of the week I take out the whole section for the week and put it on my handy dandy {and ridiculously cute} clipboard. It just works.

I swore I would never homeschool with an eclectic mix of curriculum. It seemed so overwhelming at the time. With input from teacher friends, checking of state standards, and many conversations with other homeschool mom’s, I am happy to report that I am wading my way through the endless oceans of curriculum options and finding ones that truly work and inspire not only my littles, but me as well.

Happy School planning to all and to all a good night.

 

 

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What’s Working…Schedule.

One of the things that freaked me out a LOT last year was how much less time it seemed to get our work done at home versus how many hours they were at school. It didn’t seem that I was doing enough. Once I figured in all the extras at a school campus including, recess, line up times, lunch, waiting for the whole class to be done, etc. I calmed down. I have restled with scheduling a lot, perhaps more than anything else. It’s tough to find a balance.

How do other mom’s handle it?

Do the kids need a rigid schedule?

Do they not?

Do I?

You can imagine all the questions and options.

I think I fall somewhere in the middle. For right now, in my ninth month of pregnancy…this is what we are doing and for this season it works great.

First problem to battle for me is I am NOT A MORNING PERSON. I can try and try to be one but I am not. So, I have fallen into this routine and it works good for all of us involved.

The standing rule in our house forever has been no one is allowed out of bed until 7 a.m….If they wake up before this, they can read, play, or do something quiet on their beds. It’s my personal favorite rule of our household. It’s always been this way and it is followed by all.

SO, remember our chore chart? It took a break over the summer, but it has returned…new and improved. Now the kids are required to have their chores done (usually 2 a piece), breakfast eaten, and be up and dressed by 8:30. I then have quiet time to get up and get dressed with some peace and quiet for myself. It works great. We then begin school shortly after that. I usually put a list of the independent assignments, along with a couple worksheets for my 6 year old, on the school table before I go to bed. This allows me to get some wash started, return emails, or take an extra long time to get ready in the morning. Then when I am awake, we complete the assignments together that need to be done in that way. Sometimes at about 9:30 we hit the park for a break for them and more time for my brain to begin functioning and then return home ready to dig into school. We usually have our school day completed by 2:00.

What used to happen was the kids would wake up around 7 and hit the t.v….then I would come down stairs at about 8:30 or 9:00 ready to go, only to find 3 slugs laying on my couch with bed heads and jammies. It was frustrating for everyone. This year with giving them the chores and morning routine, it keeps them occupied and helps us all begin our day a whole lot calmer. Everyone knows what is expected of them. That is the key.

I try to balance my interaction with them, with independent time. I feel both are super important. I do try and shake up the schedule to keep some variety and interest, but keep it structured enough that they have some expectations to follow. It’s a big fat balancing act for sure. One that almost certainly will never be perfected.

Again I think it’s key to try different things and figure out what works for you. There doesn’t seem to be a right or wrong way to do this and I think it is safe to expect that things will constantly be changing. I have accepted now that it is part of the drill and it has really released a lot of stress from my day.

One thing that has been top priority for me this year is to abort the words HURRY UP from my life. I hate them. If we plan well and stay on top of things, that will allow us plenty of time to get things done and get places we need to be. Then hopefully, those words should be spoken few and far between.

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What’s Working…Curriculum.

Knowledge is power they say. I agree. I have heard so many people say that they learn more about themselves while homeschooling then potentially what the kids learn. I agree with that too. I have definitely figured out after just 18 months (yes, I’m a quick learner) that there is no one way to homeschool. However, I should have known because there is usually not one right way for a lot of things in life. In the beginning, I used to see an idea, read a blog, or a book, and immediately try to implement that glorious plan into my household only to find it was a disaster for me. All was not a total loss, however, because failure is definitely part of learning and growing. It should not be feared. Do not freeze up because you do not know which way to go. Curriculum can be returned (or sold on Ebay), systems can be changed, furniture can be re arranged, chore charts can be thrown out, and craft projects can be repurposed. You never know what kind of fabulous can be created until you try.

Over the next few days I am going to be posting on what is working and what isn’t. Not just in school land but in our house in general. I have been thinking about how things are going lately. A lot has changed since last school year when God allowed us the blessing of picking our lives up, shaking them all around, and flipping them upside down. I have had plenty of failures and successes. They are both equally important.

Curriculum…

I had an original curriculum plan. Some aspects worked some did not. Sonlight has by far the best guarantee and return options that I have seen and Ebay has helped me out too. I have taken advantage of them both. I have made changes and things are working great for us right now.

Emma~

Most subjects are A beka.  I decided last minute, last spring, to go ahead and try Handwriting Without Tears through Sonlight. The program personally caused me tears. Too much for my taste. I returned the $80 program through Sonlight and went back to the $15 writing through A beka. There are no tears around here from either of us now. Yay, because that is that important.

Bible~ I do not personally find the Bible through A Beka to be something that fits for us. We chose to go with POSITIVE ACTION. The worksheets at this level go with Bible stories that I easily look up in her children’s Bible and read to her. We do one a week. I did not order the teacher’s guide for this. I didn’t find it necessary.

I love everything we are doing for Kindergarten right now. The bright colorful worksheets from A Beka make us both happy. I love the content. It works for us. I did not order most of the lesson plan books. I tried one, but sold it on Ebay because I waited too long to return it. At the Kindergarten level it is fairly basic to plan this stuff out and I saved a bunch of money this way. My organizing system this year ROCKS for me…more about that another day.

Taylor and Cameron~

Spelling~ A Beka….traditional type lists and tests. One lesson a week. Inexpensive. LOVE!

Read and Thinks~ A Beka….The kids actually enjoy these. Timed stories with comprehension tests. One a week. Again Inexpensive. LOVE!

Bible~ I returned Sonlight and went with POSITIVE ACTION. Sonlight looked fine, but it was a devotional type book similar to what the kids have and do on their own before bed anyway. We love Positive Action.

Language Arts/History ~ Sonlight. I LOVE these products. I LOVE Sonlight’s customer service. I particularly the writing curriculum. There are very creative ideas that beautifully reinforce otherwise potentially boring writing concepts. I did supplement the grammar exercises with a work book that I found at Lakeshore for just $9.95. As for history, the kids have read a ton of books already this year and are completely enjoying this style of learning. The girls also completely enjoyed that the box the Sonlight products were shipped to us in because it was a craft project. A castle waiting for some crafty touches! I’m totally impressed with the little things.

Science~ I completed 6 weeks of Sonlight Science and it all went back to them last week, for a full refund of $250. While I thought it was o.k. I was not impressed. The biggest issue I had with it, is while although it was “God Based” it was by no means written in a way that ever mentioned God one time in the six weeks we used it. A Beka science is completely God integrated throughout the material and for science, in particular, that is a priority for me. Shiny new A Beka science curriculum is on its way to me as we speak. In the interim, I am doing a 7 week A Beka Health course that I never finished last year that actually is part of their science package. So, it all worked out great.

Math~ Teaching Textbooks. I absolutely could not love this more and even better my kids love it. They literally ask me to do math now. It is a complete online curriculum that even tracks the grades for you. It’s brilliant. It’s a bit pricey, but honestly worth every single penny.

Electives~ Cooking, art, park/library…we aim for one of these each, one time a week.

Extracurricular~ Currently Awana and Football. We LOVE LOVE LOVE!

Field Trips~ see our plan here.

More to come…

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Old School.

Our first field trip of the year came last Thursday. It was so great to have a break and get out of the house. Also great to have it preplanned and not have to do anything but just go!  There was a group of  5 adults and 12 kids that went. We met first for breakfast at Chick Fil A and the kids played some. Then we all headed down to Old Sac for the tour of the Old Schoolhouse. It was about a 45 minute gig at the Old School house. The kids sat in desks and experienced what school would be like in the 1800’s. They got to say the “pledge” that was before our current pledge of allegiance, curtsey and bow to the teacher, read aloud, do some math on chalk boards, and learn about old school punishments!

After that was over and they got to ask some questions, we had awhile to play on the playground outside and sample some taffy at the candy store across the street. It was a great morning hanging out with friends and getting to experience something new.

Girls on one side of the classroom and boys on the other…

One thing I LOVE about homeschooling is my kids hang out with all different ages and both boys and girls and it is completely normal to them. Just like one of my favorite little guy’s love of rain boots on a late summer sunny day. Isn’t he the cutest?

Math problems…

The old pledge…

My kids USED to think I was strict

We are looking forward to our next field trip, coming up next month!

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Field Trips.

There are so so many options for field trips that it kind of hurts my head. How often should we go? Do they HAVE to match what your studying? If so, I have three different curriculums, so which one should it match? You know, all those new home school mom questions. So, this year I decided to bag all the questions and just go on field trips. My goal was one a month. I spent quite a while researching websites and finding interesting places to go that hopefully wouldn’t break the bank. Once I compiled my overall list, I chose the ones that fit this year the best and committed. Last year, I had all the best of intentions and life just got too busy and they never seemed to happen. This year I have given the kids a list of where we are going and when and I have them all in my planner as well. This way we can all look forward to them.

I have noticed that most places have some kind of home school discount or free day…even Disneyland. Imagine that. I emailed some homeschool friends on some of them to get group discount rates and take advantage of tours and things. Not to mention, it’s just all more fun with friends along!

My overall budget for the whole year is $382. That is the cost for myself and the kids and on occasion my husband is joining us. Considering that includes an overnight trip and 10 additional field trips for 4-5 people…I am pretty pleased!

Sep. OLD SCHOOLHOUSE  ($2)

Oct. MAGIC CIRCLE THEATRE/ CHARLOTTE’S WEB LIVE ON STAGE  ($20)

HIGH HILL RANCH~ APPLE HILL  ($20)

Nov. SKY HIGH JUMP ($15)

Jan. EXPLORIT SCIENCE MUSEUM (Free)

Feb  FREE MUSEUM DAY (TBD~Sacramento has a city wide free museum day, so we will choose when it gets closer)

March  CA RAILROAD MUSEUM (Free)

April     CA ACADEMY OF SCIENCE IN SAN FRANCISCO ($75)

May      6TH GRADE OVERNIGHT TRIP ON THE U.S.S. HORNET FOR MY OLDEST SON AND HUSBAND ($200)

GIRLS SLUMBER PARTY FOR THE REST OF US! ($20)

May       CROCKER ART MUSEUM (free)

June      BOWLING/LUNCH FOR LAST DAY OF SCHOOL ($30)

I am sure it will vary slightly as the year goes along, but it is so nice to have a plan that is reasonable. If I had my way, everyday would be a “field trip” somewhere!

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