Category Archives: Curriculum

First Day of School. First Day of School.

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I can’t possibly NOT picture Nemo in my head. First day of school. First day of school. First day of anything is a big deal around these parts, but first day of school is right up there with Christmas. O.k. maybe not, but it is still a big deal. New beginnings, clean slates {quite literally}, and lots of surprises.

I also get this weird nesting thing like when you are pregnant, yet not. I feel like everything should be “done”. Clothes, haircuts, stocked refrigerator, full face of make up, and organized closets. Reality is no one had clean clothes this morning, my boys need haircuts desperately, empty fridge, woke up late, and who are you kidding?

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*We had ice cream just after breakfast! It’s a tradition

I am a little scared because I just realized this morning that I have one of each.

I have a preschool student

I have an elementary student

I have a middle school student

I have a high school student

I have a headache…

LOL!

No really, I think things sound worse on paper sometimes. Although admittedly switching from playing peek a boo to answering “what did Miley Cyrus do on TV that was so bad” is a lot for my brain. I am spread thin from teething to hormones…but I love it.

Today was a strange first day. Peaceful and without incident and I felt like I kinda knew what I was doing. It is SUCH a big deal to me in my heart, the first day of school. It seems like there should be a marching band or something, but it came and it went. Quietly. VERY QUIETLY.

We did pictures in front of the front door. #becausethatswhatyoudo

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We labeled binder dividers.

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*Greyson leads us in prayer OFTEN. It goes a little something like this. “Hand? Hand?” hold hands. “Jesus…A Men”. drop hands. repeat. #amilliontimes

We had snacks and lunch out of lunch boxes {my number one tip for homeschoolers! Seriously! MAKE THE LUNCH THE NIGHT BEFORE WHEN THE HOUSE IS QUIET!}.

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We learned. Today I taught my 8 year old about the dictionary and how to look up words. We practiced with some vocabulary words for her Charlottes web unit {love me some Wilbur} and she says, “Wow, I can see why people really like this book. It’s useful.” She keeps me laughing.

We discussed. Math U See is way better than last year’s math and we are grateful and excited for Total Language Plus. School should be about LEARNING. NOT checking off a completed worksheet and moving on. Side note: the older I am getting the more I am developing a sincere hatred for the check box. Stop checking things off. Start living. Check boxes are dangerous. #proceedwithcaution

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*MFW book basket for the win

We had fun. Making birth announcements for Wilbur and beginning our new morning celebrations and praise and oh my word, that will be my favorite part of school this year for sure. {details coming!}.

and you know what? I LOVE our new space for school. I will show you later this week!

and you know what else? I love my kids. I love our school days.

These really are the moments and I am ready to do it all over again tomorrow…and I seriously wasn’t kidding about the haircut.

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Curriculum 2013-2014

Green Apple on Books

I say this every year, but I mean it more, every time I say it. I am really excited about our selections next year.

We are also adding a few new things for our school days…

BREAKFAST! Each week the older two will take turns having a breakfast date with me and my husband. Mom/daughter one week and Father/son the next. We have a couple of parent/teen devotionals picked out. These will be a time to get away from the noise and happy chaos and just spend one on one time with these TWO teens of mine.

WHAT DO YOU WANT TO LEARN! I am letting each child pick one topic. We will take three days off of school during the year and spend the entire day devoted to the topic of their choice!

HOLIDAYS! My bloggy friend and fellow HHM team member, Megan, does the BEST thing and it is a perfect opener for our school day. Did you know that there is about a jillion holidays? National Hot Dog Day? How about National Hot Cross Buns Day? We are going to find them and celebrate them! More to come on this, but so excited! We will be using this resource along with others.

JESUS CALLING! I recently attended an amazing conference. A friend and I attended a session about having awesome quiet times with the Lord. The speaker told us about a book and I jotted it down so I could pick it up when I got home. Guess what arrived on my door a few days later. My sneaky friend was peeking at my notes and beat me to it. Sweet girl. It is the BEST book. I discovered there is a kids version. We will start our day together with this.

OUTSIDE LEARNING! My older two will each be attending two classes a piece outside the home. We have a store about 40 minutes away that is a homeschool resource store. They bring in teachers for various classes. We will be heading up there once a week for writing and science.

After MUCH prayer and research…

* I purchase everything I can through Rainbow Resource. It is the cheapest I have found. I attached the links to the product’s website, however, just in case you wanted information about the product! 

Cameron- 9th grade

Language Arts – Total Language Plus | Around the World in 80 Days, Lord of The Flies, Trumpeter of Krakow, and the Hiding Place.

History- Trail Guide to World Geography, Weekly Book Reports

Science – Apologia, Biology {taken at Kingdom Builders}

Writing- Essay Writing/ Short Stories {taken at Kingdom Builders}

Math- Math U See, Pre Algebra

Art/ Art History – See the Light

Foreign Language- Spanish

Bible- You Version Read thru the Bible in a year and various study books

PE- Running, complete one race per quarter

 

Taylor – 8th grade

Bible- Polished Cornerstones

History- Bob Jones, American Republic

Science- Apologia, Physical Science {taken at Kingdom Builders}

Language arts – Total Language Plus  | Anne of Green Gables, Incredible Journey, Swiss Family Robinson, and Christmas: Three Short Stories

Math- Math U See, Algebra

Writing- Essay Writing / Short Stories {taken at Kingdom Builders}

Art- See the Light

Elective – Photography  Gardens  Horses

PE- Family Time Fitness

 

Emma- 3rd grade

Character- Building Christian Character

Math- Math U See, Beta Gamma

History, Bible, Science, Geography, Music, Art,  - My Father’s Word, Adventures in US History

Penmanship – Handwriting Without Tears/ Cursive

Phonics -Explode the Code / Books 7 and 8

Grammar- Primary Language Lessons

Reading/Spelling – Book Studies Including:

The Boxcar Children- Veritas Press Comprehension Guide

Milly Molly MandyVeritas Press comprehension Guide

Charlottes WebVeritas Press Comprehension Guide / Confessions of a Homeschooler Classic Literature Unit

Polar ExpressGuide to Using Polar Express in the classroom…complete with a Polar Express Christmas Party!

PE- Family Time Fitness

 

 

I have created a Facebook Page for Just A Night Owl!!!

Please head on over and LIKE it there!

 

 

 

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Rambling

I figured out the secret to getting everything done. An Insanity workout taught me in the wee hours of the morning. I wrote about it yesterday @Hip Homeschool Moms. Basic information that God uses as a light bulb moment. Love those. It’s not about how much we do, but how much we leave on the floor when we are done.

It’s November and all my favorite traditions and visions of comfy cozy are coming to fruition. I walk into Joanns and before I even hit the land of endless possibilities the cinnamon pinecones awake every creative nook and cranny in my entire being. We have a Joanns Superstore and it is pretty fabulous BUT I need to go to Hobby Lobby people. STAT. Nothing better. I am pretty sure they will be in heaven. Wouldn’t you agree?

For my little guy? Heaven might be his sock monkey, the Polar Express, Thomas…. and me. I’m totally good with that.

We are so close to right on schedule with school. Yay us. In reality, I am a little shocked. Discipline to stay on track is tough when homeschooling during the time of year that is a mecca to gumdrop and pony lovers everywhere. Every where you turn is warm and fuzziness ready to lure you away from the planner. I planned this school year with an entire week off at Thanksgiving. We just might need to work one day of that to be totally on track, but no big deal. Things are going really well for the most part -then there is math. I am considering a change, but I think that there can be such danger in curriculum hopping. One can not jump ship every time something does not go as planned. However, with my increased knowledge of the education world and the deeper level of understanding that I have with my children’s learning styles, we may be making a mid year change and moving to Math U See. I am sitting on it, talking to a teacher friend, a homeschool mom friend, and praying about it.

Speaking of curriculum, I am not loving Explode the Code online for many reasons. In fact, we have stopped using it entirely. They will not refund any portion of my payment, which is a big bummer. We are using the workbooks only now and have been for a couple of years. They rock. Other than that, I am really happy with all of our choices this year. Things are going well. Except for the incessant arguing between an almost 14 year old and an 8 year old, but that is for another post, another day.

The other day when I was assigning homework for the weekend, my 13 year old says to me, “Mom, I miss the days when you didn’t know what you were doing.” I grinned ear to ear. Thank you…very much, I say. No higher complement in my classroom.

A few weeks ago, I had an idea in the produce section of Whole Foods. Candy is typically a fabulous “incentive” in school. Let’s be honest, bribery works. I mean I know I would like it if there was an individual ready to give me a chocolate chip when I finished mopping the floor. “You scrubbed the toilets with a cheerful heart? Congratulations, here is an m n m.” It could be fabulous.

However, with our recent efforts to improve our eating habits, I was a bit stumped. Candy didn’t seem like a totally fantastic idea. Yet, while in the produce section, I remembered the trail mix bar. It has a ton of nuts, pretzels, dried fruit, and a few candies {free of dye and some of the junk found in a lot of sweets}. So, I thought this was a perfect compromise. I proudly shared my plan and I let each of the kids fill up a little tub to create their own trail mix.

Do you see anything missing? Total fail.

Love this girl.

Christmas decorating is in theory to begin when we have completed week thirteen of school assignments. A little incentive for all of us. However, two very wide eyed little girls, just might be sleeping in their beds next to the glow of twinkle lights this evening. A certain mother just might be considering a slumber party.

Pony and gumdrop lovers everywhere unite.

It’s Christmas time!

 

 

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The Bible And Chocolate Chip Cookies

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

Nine ingredients measured out and all lined up in bowls. Three children anxiously awaiting to see how this was our Bible lesson.

First ingredient. First child. Taste the flour. Is it good? Is it gross? Yeah its gross. It tastes bad all by itself. Tell me something that in your life that is “gross” or hard or bad. Write it down on the card in front of you.

Repeat ingredient. Different kid.

Brown Sugar – Good. Tell me a good thing in your life. Now write it down.

White sugar – good.

Salt – good.

Baking soda – bad.

Vanilla – Really bad.

Chocolate Chips – good.

Eggs – declined to taste, we know they are bad.

Butter – bad.

Out of 9 ingredients – five are bad when they are tasted alone and four are good. {Really it should be 6-3 because salt alone is gross but my kids think otherwise.}

Let’s mix up all the ingredients.

Now let’s taste.

How is it?

Delicious? Yes.

How is it that all of these things – both bad and good – together make something good?

Light bulb (or sugar rush). They got it.

Jesus takes our whole life. All of it – good and bad. He works it together for something fabulously delicious.

Praise Him for that.

*Bible lesson taken and tweaked a bit from Positive Action’s 2nd grade Bible curriculum.

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Pressed Flower Craft

One of the highlights of each country we visit with Expedition Earth is our art projects. A while back, we were in Germany and made some pressed flower art. So pretty! It would be fun to do even if you weren’t fake visiting Germany.

The suggestion was to put the flowers in a frame. We didn’t have one and if I am buying anyone a new frame around here, it’s probably going to be me. So, we improvised instead and spent no money!

Supplies:

1 sheet of an overhead transparency

Duck tape in fabulous designs (available at Target)

flowers

white paper

some of your scrapbook ribbon

First, pick the flowers gently off of a plant (one that belongs to you, NOT your neighbors). Place the flowers between some paper towels and under some heavy books for a few days.

Once the flowers are pressed, use a drop of glue to hold them to your white paper. Next, lay the transparency over the top. Using your Duck tape, seal the four sides.

Finally, punch two holes in the top of your design. Pull some scrapbook ribbon through the holes and knot it so that it won’t slip through.

Voila!

So easy. So cute.

Happy October 1st. We are celebrating with a 100 degree day over here!

BOO!

 

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One Sixth Done

We just completed week six of school. I am planning my date to plan quarter 2. I’m planning a date to plan. Does anyone else see a problem with this?

We started reading chapter books this year with Emma. I wanted a fun way to incorporate it into our school day and I stumbled upon this book at Rainbow Resource. It is pretty much the cutest thing in all the land. It has already been a big hit with Emma. It is a keepsake book to record 15 books that she has read. It even has bookplates for the books. Oh and…$7.95. SCORE!

I honestly am so thankful for Pinterest. Come follow me there. If you homeschool, I am telling you it is a lifesaver! I found this fun craft. We are focusing on geography this year and this was just a great review of what’s what.

We are learning all the states this year. This week we had Emma’s first state test. She nailed it. I add a couple of states each week. We have map posters to review them daily and then I give her different worksheets and things to practice. You can grab a blank map outline here.  I also purchased this magnetic map. It’s been great as well AND it’s from Hobby Lobby, so I just gave you ANOTHER reason to go and drool your way around the store. We nailed it to the wall and then I just give her the states as we learn them.

…another Pinterest find. Domino Math. They currently have dominos in the $1 section at Target and you can grab the recording sheet here.

Last year I created a file system for all of my “extra” resources. Thin worksheet style books and printouts from the computer live in here. This way when I am sweetly minding my own business online and some magical worksheet jumps out at me, I can print it, file it, and actually find it again so that I can use it.

We are back in the swing of things with one of our favorite curriculums, which is one of our electives, Expedition Earth. We have visited Germany and the Netherlands this year, so far. We have made lots of crafts, studied music and art, famous landmarks, and on and on. This week we finished up our stay in the Netherlands by eating one of their treats (chocolate bread) and playing a game of pumpkin bowling (thanks Pinterest). Bowling originated in the Netherlands way back when, so we gave ‘em props with a little fall version of our own. Taylor won. Go Tay.

 Our littlest student has really fallen in line with the routine. Week one and two had me questioning my sanity a bit, but as I told the kids, he will get it-and he has. We have that super hexagon gate for play time (with extensions=lifesaver), movie time, outside time (the older two kids take just 15 minutes each of watching him each day), snacks, high chair play, and whatever else I can think of.

He has finally decided that talking is a good idea. SOOOOOO lessons around here are frequently interrupted with sweet toddler speak of beep beep, monkey, fish, stuck, plane, Elmo, and mmmmuah (as he kisses his sock monkey). There is enormous cheers and high fives goin’ on each time he speaks. I am not the only one around here completely head over heels in love with this little dude.

Hope you are enjoying your weekend, my friends!

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Progress, Pain, and Smash Books

It’s Wednesday.

There was a handful of debacles by 9 am. The most important of which, I awoke to finding out we were completely out of toilet paper. Stellar domestic skills.

I was armed and prepared, yoga pants and hat. Lip gloss and earrings brought me to life and a quick game of tag, peek a boo, blocks, and a calm spirit persuaded my lovelies to join my happy mood and…

a trip to Target at recess remedied the lack of bathroom necessities. However, it found me drooling over Pumpkin Ice Cream. I am sure that a scoop with a Bourdeuax cookie dipped into it, woulda been magical.

I opted for my salad instead. Yummy?

Lately, I have been inundated with:

“How many pages do we have in history today?”

“When is my next spelling test?”

“Are we going anywhere today?”

“When is daddy going to be home?”

“What color shoes are you going to wear?”

O.k. I added the last one, but geez.

It is said, we likely won’t change behaviors until pain prompts us too. I decided to test it. Every time a child asks me a question, I break into about a 3-4 minute response, giving them every un necessary detail that I can think of. It’s a rabbit trail of all rabbit trails type of party. They thought it was funny – the first time. Now they start to question and quite literally throw a hand over the mouth for fear, “she’s gonna start again.” Blessed blessed silence is mine.

I have started focusing on character development this year. My 2nd grader is studying a character trait a week in her existing Bible curriculum. The older two kids are doing a program through Doorposts that my sweet friend Amy introduced me to. Well, really I saw it on her blog and swiped it. It just sounds so much kinder to say it the other way.

My daughter and I began this week. Polished Cornerstones. A giant book with the cruise ship mentality of, we have provided you more options than you can possibly accomplish- ever. It is a book focused on discipling your daughter and I fell in love with it instantly. It has different qualities and traits of a Godly woman and then endless activities (broken into target ages for your girls) that you can choose from to help teach these qualities. The book suggests making a journal of all of your progress and projects over the year. It also suggests going on dates to discuss your progress. We will be doing both.

The Journal~

Have you seen Smash Books? I am kinda in love with them and drool over them most times I am in Target, or Joanns, or anywhere that they exist. They just make me happy. A book full of endless options for creativity with no rules. A little cage I can go fly around in and make things pretty. They are truly fabulous. I mean just look at the cute little instructions. Seriously.

I had always thought that I should get one. Then one day, fate delivered. Carissa created a recipe book out of a smash book, that little evil genius. Go check hers out! It had been on my floating to do list to somehow get my recipes from our new style of eating into a place that was a spot of its own.

I was at a stoplight when the email notification dinged and I saw the post. I was literally in front of Michaels and in about 15 minutes my birthday money envelope was empty and there was a smash book on my front seat.

*That Pumpkin Hot Chocolate recipe is from 100 Days of Real Food.

I have begun transferring my recipes over, just my healthiest ones. It’s perfect and pretty ~ and fun.

When I read that Taylor should make a journal of her progress this year, it seemed only fitting that another Smash Book should be purchased for just such an occasion.

She has begun filling it up, after our first lesson on being a Godly woman. I can’t wait to see all the fabulousness she creates with what she is learning. What. A. Keepsake.

The dates~

We have tried to be big in our house about reinforcing the fact that we all have strengths and weaknesses. It’s o.k. We can discuss them in the environment of our home. Nobody will judge or make fun of our struggles. I am so excited about Polished Cornerstones, because it provides a framework for conversations with my daughter about this very issue. I want to develop a relationship where struggles and strengths are regular topics. I want to intentionally create this environment where she feels safe to talk through her shortcomings with me, rather than hiding or trying to figure them out on her own. It’s important. This type of relationship will not magically appear when she reaches young adulthood. I believe that it needs to be established as early as possible, with all of my kids.

We will be going on monthly dates. Walks or even trip to the grocery store. Just devoted times for her and I and we can discuss how she is doing in life. Where she is rockin’ it like no other and where she should pray about making some changes.

AND…

there is a boy’s version of this resource. Just in case you have some fabulous young men in your life.

AND AND…

it is NOT just for homeschoolers.

It is completely fabulous.

Make sure and check it out… and run to buy a Smash Book. All the cool kids are.

I have noticed that so often in my parenting I take the opportunity to deliver an epic lecture, of which I am queen. I am almost embarrassed to admit that I pulled the whole I used to walk uphill to school in the snow both ways card yesterday with my teen. I had a slight out of body experience when I heard myself actually say (in the context of trying to inform him that he should be more grateful) you could be homeless….so yeah, I went there you could be broke immediately followed. Then I did it, I broke out into song, thank you Justin Bieber. I sang as long as you love me…he tried hard not to crack up and remain cool. Lecture over.

These life changing and mostly useless lectures are given at the time of sin by my kids. They are in trouble and they are cold busted and I sit them down and talk…and talk. The Lord has really been teaching me lately that teachable moments come in the everyday and the ordinary, NOT the crisis. I want the teaching to be done in the calm before the storm. SO THAT, when the storm hits and the boat is rockin’ every which way, there is already a foundation that has been laid. It really works SO much better this way, for myself included.

If I am two seconds away from drowning, this is not the time to figure out how to swim, right?

Speaking of drowning, the laundry is still screaming.

Happy Wednesday, my friends.

 

 

 

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I Can’t Think Of A Title For This Post

We started off the school year with the main subjects: Language Arts, Bible, and Math. We have now added science, art, and one elective each. Next week, we will be adding the rest of the subjects and will be in the full swing of things. I have to say that I am 100% pleased so far with our curriculum choices. We have a nice eclectic mix of style and intensity and I think it’s going to be a grand year.

My ideas always upstage my funds or the stock in stores to pull off. It’s a sickness. I just wanted to put that out there.

We have added P E. to our subject list this year. After doing a review for Family Time Fitness over at Hip Homeschool Moms, I was initially intrigued by the whole concept. I have always thought that if the kids were active that, that would be fine. However, after reading the information about the curriculum, I have changed my line of thinking. There is a lot more to Physical Education than just staying active. The Wii isn’t going to cut it after all. Totally sort of kidding.

We are not a terribly big sports family and really my kids don’t own many clothes that are suitable for that type of behavior including tennis shoes. We are a Converse, Toms, flip flops, and bare feet type of family. I was a little apprehensive about getting set up to implement PE because of the cost in purchasing curriculum, clothing, shoes, and supplies. However, it has all worked out and we will be off and running in a week or two. We will be doing our PE curriculum two times a week and the Couch to 5k for my older two, three times a week. In addition, my youngest daughter is on a soccer team.

So back to the clothes – my daughter has two dreams for middle school. Lockers and changing for PE. I delivered the lockers and this year I am delivering PE clothes. Yep Yep.

I had grand plans that failed, largely. Thankfully there are 26 letters in the alphabet and somewhere along plan D or E, I have finalized the situation. My kids will be issued PE clothes in about 1-2 weeks. 2 tshirts, 1 sweatshirt, 1 pair of shorts, 1 pair of sweatpants, and 1 pair of socks. They will be adorned with our fabulous new logo for our school that my husband created. It cost me $30 a student for the above ensemble.

While 50% of the time I think this is perhaps over the top to make my kids change for PE, especially into a uniform. Let me tell you what the other 50% says. First, little things are fun to kids. Lockers, honor roll, school parties, yearbooks, awards, trophies, and about a billion other things including PE clothes, despite their general hideousness.

What is it going to hurt?

Second, there is something to be said about learning to keep track of their things, making sure that the right clothes are clean on the right day, making sure they can get changed and get outside on time, etc. Yeah we are at home, but in my class, if they fail to do so, they are going to drop and give me twenty.

Third, it’s fun.

The end.

My youngest is beginning the Draw Write Now series. She LOVES it.

We are doing it once a week on Thursdays. I did not care for the journal that came along with the book, so I cut up some ruled paper and some plain white paper to glue onto a pretty colored sheet. This way my girl can mess up a jillion times and get it just the way she wants it before she commits. I am saving them all year and will make them into an art book when she completes volume 1.

 

It has been interesting having a toddler while school is in session. People asked me ALL the time how I was going to “do school” with a newborn in the house. That was a piece of cake compared to this. A piece of double decker chocolate cake with rainbow sprinkles and strawberry filling compared to this.

However, we are falling into a schedule. He knows nothing different and really has no choice but to comply with us!

He plays, struts his fashion sense, and eats. Between those three things, he’s pretty much good. He likes to be right in on the action.

The other day we were running an errand in the morning and my little boy began to shimmy. Serious shoulder shimmying in the stroller going on to some fabulous in store tunes. My oldest says, ” I am so glad we don’t have to leave all day to go to school. I can’t imagine not being able to see him do all these things and be with him. That would be so sad to have to be separated.”

Yeah I melted. No question.

When I began homeschooling I heard one word repeatedly. Apologia. I drank the kool aid last year and I’m a fan. My kids adore science now. Like super adore it. It’s homeschool friendly and it’s tough too. It pushes my kids and they learn. One of my favorite parts? You can order the experiment kits already labeled and ready to go for each lesson. Makes experiments actually doable in my kitchen.

Boy, have I had a fun last week or so on the internet.

First, our classroom was featured at 36th Ave during a weekly link party. Um, fun.

Next, both this year’s classroom and last year’s classroom were featured on a post about inspiring homework and learning spaces at the TLC website, Parentables. Pinch me, please.

Then, I wake up Sunday morning to find that Centsational Girl featured my classroom in her monthly best of the blogoshpere post. Um wow. My unicorn just flew right in on a rainbow and fed me gumdrops. SO FUN!

It’s like I won employee of the month really. Only without my own parking space or feature on the bulletin board in the lunch room. It’s a whole lotta fun, I tell ya. I feel very grateful.

Back to real life, the laundry is screaming at me!

Happy Wednesday to you all!

and p.s. I lit my pumpkin candle this morning. It’s officially the most wonderful time of the year.

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AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH

Precisely the response that I get when my seven year old sees an entire page of math problems. She knows them, but she gets tripped up when there are too many on one page. It is definitely not her favorite thing.

Today we experienced the new font size and quantity of 2nd grade math worksheets. I knew I was in for a parenting moment. Before the full scale meltdown occurred, I said, “O.k. we are doing the first thee rows orally”. Off I went asking for answers that I know she knows the answer to. She stepped up her game and got through it o.k.

With the superpower given to all women as they become mother’s for the first time, I multitasked my way through the first three lines of math facts while plotting a way to make this a bit more fun today.

Last problem, line three, an idea arrived. It was just in the nick of time, as they often are.

“O.K. now get ready Emma because we are doing the rest as a race. Each row will be done in a new location in the house. We are racing the clock so you gotta be quick. We gotta go to the place that I yell out, do a row, and move on. Got it?”

Eyes beaming she jumped to the start line.

Ready.

Go.

We visited my closet, my bed, Greyson’s room, her bed, my husband’s office, our learning closet, and finished in record time. Being that this was the first time we had done this, it was in fact the record.

All smiles.

No tears.

Math done.

I started thinking about this. I often find that homeschooling is an intricate dance between presenting material in a way that is engaging for my children, but also not wanting them to become accustomed to everything being explained to them and presented to them on a big fat silver platter. The platter that is called in your exact learning style, on your terms.

This is one of the biggest advantages and potential detriments that homeschool offers, in my opinion. If my children are never gently nudged, (or some days shoved off a small cliff), then how will they be equipped to handle real life after school, or say a job? What happens the first time their boss asks them to do something they don’t like or don’t understand? Are they going to look him and the eye, ” I am sorry you didn’t teach me that in my preferred learning style?”

I dance this dance daily. Minute by minute, in fact. It is the same dance of a parent in general that is specifically heightened in the life of a homeschooling family.

But today.

Today my girl needed someone to show her life could be fun. Hard things can be accomplished in record time with a new perspective and a new tactic. Impossible things become opportunities every single day and the opportunities are the lessons that are waiting to be learned.

I know we will reference this morning the next time math brings us so many addition problems crammed onto one page that my seven year old feels like she wants to pull her own hair out strand by strand. I will remind her as many times as it takes that it is mostly all about perspective. I will remind her that she holds the record in the first ever math facts around the house race. Anything is possible.

She rocked it.

and

I needed to be reminded myself of those lessons today. All of them. Sometimes we just need someone to hold our hand, run, and laugh with us. Sometimes that is all it takes. Who can I be that for today?

I can hardly believe we are already wrapping up week two of school. We have been to the library to secure books for our first book reports. My girl was over the moon to get a book list and some guidelines and have to find a book that fit those requirements. I love her.

I discovered my baby says QUACK about as cute as can be.

Practicing spelling words is more fun when stamped.

The night night game is fun even in libraries.

Our history curriculum is awesome. Have you ever wondered how Bible history intersects with actual history and why we keep them separate? I had not. This year I started a four year long series titled Mystery of History. It teaches Bible and history together. For example, did you know that Jonah was swallowed by the whale at approximately the same time that the first Olympic games took place in Greece? Yeah, me neither. Am I a total nerd that I find that fascinating? I read it in the introduction of our curriculum and I have to admit I am pretty excited about learning this along with my kids.

Today we are studying the Ice Age. There are suggested activities to enhance the lesson. I chose the one where I have the kids place an ice cube on their bare stomach and see who could leave it there the longest. It sounded fun. It was. Red tummies later they both survived and tied. Neither gave up.

Tomorrow I will be back to show you my shiny new business logo. I Love it.

Happy Wednesday!

 

 

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My School Lesson Planner

If you have seen Martha Stewart’s line of office supplies at Staples you may just understand that it is almost entirely necessary to make up some reason to use it, even if none truly exists. Fortunately, I had an actual need. I have been experimenting with different ways to organize my lesson plans for the past three years of school. For the first time, I am actually super excited about my lesson planner.

You know why?

I am not ashamed to admit that it is in part because the whole thing is black/white and aqua. It is also true that I swear I can’t stop petting my binder {do not write me off as crazy because of this unless you have gone to Staples and petted one of her binders yourself}. However, more importantly, everything school related is in one place. It makes sense to my brain. I made it up and I think it has to be this way. No one perfect planner exists and sometimes you just need to take matters into your own hands.

Here is the tour. Five stops. Five dividers. Buckle your seat belts please.

1. Calendar

Within this tab there are several different things. I didn’t want more than 5 dividers in the binder overall, so I combined some things in this section. I used Martha’s coordinating little mini post it notes to separate them to make it easier.

Calendar at a glance.

This is a one page quick look of what our school year looks like. I have checked our state requirements for attendance and planned accordingly. We have a four day work work with a fifth day of independent work (180 days). You can download this sheet for free here. I have taken a highlighter to our school days. We have one week off at Thanksgiving, three weeks at Christmas, one week at Easter, and a few misc president’s days, etc.

I plan our year in weeks, thirty six of them. It really is the backbone for how our whole year is laid out.

* I only highlight the days of in the classroom learning. The fifth day each week is independent work and can be completed at any point over the weekend. Therefore, I do not schedule it on this calendar. I think it is important for all my kids, even my second grader, to learn to manage their time and be able to complete assignments on their own.

Monthly calendar.

I use this calendar for school related functions only, not personal household planning. I have labeled the 36 weeks of school, our breaks, our science classes, and our days off. I will include our field trips (once I get those planned). I use this calendar often for planning out curriculum, etc. I chose this one for several reasons. First, it is Martha Stewart and part of this line. Yes, that IS a valid reason. Next, it is aqua. It has big huge boxes (lots of room to write in). Finally, it provides me with constant laughter. Oh yes, because in typical Martha fashion, she offers household and seasonal year round tips. For example, on March 22nd, please check and stock your first aid kit. Uh, huh….that’ll happen. The below month is October. Check out the 29th.

Curriculum Overview.

This is new for me this year and I love it. If you would have asked me any of my past three years of homeschooling, what we were learning, I would have said oh Abeka, or oh Sonlight {the company rather than the content}. This year, I made up a sheet and I spent a few hours going through each subject to figure out a bird’s eye view of what we are learning for each week of the school year. Now I can tell you that on week 17 we will be covering Indians, God’s truthfulness, Venezuela, and qu words. Magical, ey? Best part is now when I find all those crazy fun projects on Pinterest, I will be able to pin them and do them at a time that really makes sense with our studies.

I use one set for Emma (2nd grade) and one set for Taylor (7th grade) and Cameron (8th grade) combined.

2. Daily Lesson Plans- Emma

This sheet I splurged a little and had printed on a creamy ivory cotton linen (it’s petable too). This is where I plan the details for our day to day, including the page numbers, specific assignments, etc. This will be filled out a month in advance, maybe six weeks. I would like to do this weekly, but it just isn’t realistic for me. I do better taking a chunk of time to plan for 4-6 weeks. Then on Sunday night or over the weekend, I can simply review what is coming up for the week and gather the necessary supplies.

3. Daily Lesson Plans- Cameron & Taylor

Same as above. They have their own sheet.

4. Project list.

I am very hands on with the kid’s curriculum. The more projects and experiments, the better. It has been hard to find a really tangible system that works to make sure I have all the necessary supplies in order to make this happen. I have experienced all too often sitting down to do an experiment and not having cabbage or an egg or something else. During my daily lesson planning that I do 4-6 weeks at a time- I take one sheet per week and make a list of supplies I will need to purchase for that week at the store.

The greatest thing about these papers in this section is that they are perforated. I can just rip off the shopping list and take it to the store with me to prepare for the upcoming week. The other side of the paper is left in the binder, so that I can see the notes I have made regarding those projects. Rad, huh? Yes, I just said rad.

5. Grades.

I have chosen a single subject grade sheet by Donna Young. You can download it here for free. It’ll work beautifully.

There you have it!

It’s a good thing, as Martha would say!

More school related posts including our new classroom reveal, our new school name, how I handle all those worksheets, and plenty more….coming soon.

Here’s to happy school planning!

 

 

 

 

 

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