Archive for the ‘General Homeschooling Posts’ Category
PLEASE NOTE this post does not contain my usual found freebies! I don’t think I have ever shared with you our curriculum choices for a year but thought you might enjoy what we decided on for this year. Due to owning and running a new business, ABC Photo Art, my homeschooling time is not as free as it used to be. We needed a portable curriculum that the children could take with them when with me when at our booth. For the last couple years we have been using Switched on Schoolhouse but as that required being close to our network that was not going to work this year plus I was beginning to find it a little too structured for our lifestyle. We don’t like to move through subjects of interest at a fast rate but rather do more research and learn in more detail the subject matter.
Until a couple years ago we always schooled year round but once again, life changed and we found ourselves taking from the end of May to end of July off. (We still only do a 4 day week!) Changing our curriculum around completely this year took me a while to organize but I am happy with the end results. Hope as you read on, my ideas and thoughts will inspire you also. I have always loved the Critical Thinking Company products and we have used several over the years but this year we are using a LOT more. We have even switched to their Math curriculum as it is much more varied and also teaches practical, day to day skills. Some books get too bogged down in explanations and the older two, who have different learning challenges, just go blank and space out so a waste of paper. Mathematical Reasoning is colorful and attention getting. We’ll see how everyone does. I have never shied away from changing something that doesn’t work.
Richard and I have always encouraged our kids to think critically. No, that does not mean we have taught them to be critical! Rather, we want them to ask questions, examine the evidence put before them and come to a logical conclusion. Don’t just take what someone says as truth, prove it for yourself. Of course there needs to be balance. We don’t expect them to doubt everything they hear and call folks liars! I have started our 15 year old on Basics of Critical Thinking. I think as we go through this together it will really help him mature as he tends to be on the gullible side and also not always understand the first time around what folks are saying to him. He is also working part time on a farm and thus learning a wide variety of essential, practical skills.
For the last couple of years I have had the kids all doing different history. That worked great when I was home everyday. It will not work now! SO, determined to use the library more I invested in Critical Thinking’s World History Detective. This is one THICK book! Designed for Grades 6-12 I know for a fact that we will not get through this in a year nor did I ever have any intention of doing so. My aim is to use this as a guide and use the resources at the library to learn more. The three main categories in this book are:
- Ancient Civilizations
- Medieval Civilizations
- Early American Civilizations
For example, the first study is on the Fertile Crescent and the Sumerians. World History Detective provides some basic information but I want to delve deeper. I am going to learn alongside the children as my history knowledge is not that good. (I had the most AWFUL, BORING history teacher at school. Know where I am coming from? I spent more time outside the classroom than in or so it seems. I can still see her now and also my time spent outside on the benches!) I want our history to be fun!
Our 8 year old asked about whales the other day so I decided to find a Unit Study on Whales (Whale Tales by Amanda Bennett) which we started yesterday. Very interactive, videos to watch, books to read, word searches to do etc. Schooling here doesn’t always get done at a set time. Last night whilst letting our dinner go down I read an EXCELLENT book, Blue Whales by Patricia Hutchison (a library find). Richard and I learned stuff we never knew. Yes, of course we knew that blue whales are the largest creatures on earth but did you know that a small child could theoretically crawl into its nostril? How about that the fact that its tongue weighs as much as an elephant? The author, describing the blue whale in such a fashion, truly allowed us to visualize how BIG this creature is.
The 12 year old LOVES to learn new words. Two of our recent ones are ‘havering’ and ‘petrichor’, both of which came out of books we were reading aloud. Yes, I read aloud a LOT to these kids. Unless we are in a rush, I read to them after every mealtime. This not only allows the slower eaters to finish their meal but also allows us all to digest our food and relax a little. I hate rushing anywhere! SO with that in mind, and admittedly a little fed up with grammar, I decided to go with Vocabulary Virtuoso this year. These books provide the kids a set of new words each week with lots of lessons using the words in different ways. We’ll see how it works….
Several other bits getting added in also. When we were at Voice of the Martyrs, we picked up The Torchlighters Ultimate Activity Books – Heroes of the Faith. I haven’t had a chance to look at them in detail yet but will get there. That will be our Bible curriculum to start the year.
I have some other items planned too along with Building Thinking Skills on the computer. I don’t know about you but I LOVE logic games/puzzles. Right now our 8 year old is enjoying Rush Hour after having completed the Junior version at least a couple years back.
Depending on the state you live in depends on record keeping required. Let me encourage you, that no matter if your homeschool laws are easy, as they are for us. keep GOOD and DETAILED records. Your kids will thank you for it in later years PLUS if you ever have an issue you have the records to prove what you have done. Believe you me, you won’t remember them all in your head! I keep an Excel Spreadsheet on each child, for each year. If anyone was to ever question me, I could just print each record off. This also encourages you when you look back over the year to see what you have accomplished. I do not keep a record of every book each child reads but I do note down every book we read aloud and every book we share for school.
Hope this helps and that you have a wonderful and successful school year,
Most of us are in full swing of summer activities but I am sure many of you, like me, are already thinking of next year. In fact, although we are taking time off here and there we are continuing to school through this period. When I received notification of the “Pay What You Want” sale over at CurrClick I simply had to go take a look! It is an AMAZING deal! There are many, many publishers partaking in this offer which ends July 9th, 2014 so you have a few days to browse and stock up!
I LOVE a great deal but try to restrain myself to what I know we are going to use! LOL! Our bank balance would really suffer otherwise! This is also a great opportunity to try out a new publisher and see if you like the products they produce. We certainly have our favorites but I have already found a new one that we are going to try.
Happy shopping and planning,
I promised you yesterday I would share the Circle C Beginnings Andi books with you by Susan K. Marlow. I discovered these books earlier this week and although we are only two thirds of the way through the first one, I am liking what I am reading and the kids are enjoying them as well. Although this set of books is primarily for Hannah, all the kids are listening to the story whilst only Hannah is completing the worksheets. They are set in the 1870’s.
For this set of 6 books there are:
Although suggested for children 6-9 and Hannah could read these by herself, we are reading them aloud so the whole family can benefit. The first book starts off with Andi wanting a horse of her own and not her pony, Coco. She is soon going to be 6 and thinks she is now big enough. Of course her mother knows Andi is not ready for a big horse because she does not care for Coco very well nor is she tall enough.
We then find Andi heading out to collect the eggs with strict instructions not to break them. What happens? Henry the Eighth, the big mean rooster, chases her! Uh Oh! Our kids were in hysterics!
This find is an absolute gem – a true blessing. I have downloaded all the studies so that we have them when we are ready to use them.
Hope you can get to enjoy them also with your family,
Maybe you get the impression that our homeschool is perfect and that every morning sees the children sat doing their school work in an orderly fashion. Let me burst your illusion fast! Nothing could be further from the truth! Yes there are days when schooling goes really well and we get a lot accomplished but there are many days when quite the opposite happens!
Take this week for example. I have learned that it is important to do math first. This way the kids are fresh. So, with Hannah having finished her math she was moving on to a new workbook I had just printed out for her on animals. She did the first couple pages with no problem and then started on a word-search puzzle. Nothing complicated. Yes the words went backwards, forwards and diagonal but she had done them before and this was designed for her level.
8+ hours later she had still not completed the puzzle. No, that is NOT a typo – EIGHT HOURS! She threw hissy fits, the full works. At one point I started to feel a little guilty and thought maybe there was an error and the words she said she could not find were not there. I took the puzzle and checked it for myself. No, they were all there. After about 4 hours she had 4 words left to find so I showed her beside each word which direction each word went. By 7 pm Richard told her that if she had not found the last two words before Caleb got out the bath she would start it all over again the next morning.
Guess what? We started all over again on Friday morning! She still carried on but finally got it done after 4 hours. It was not difficult, she had just decided that she could not and would not do it.
So be encouraged. When you have a rough day, remember you are not alone and persevere!
In case you do not know, we live on a farm and raise all our own meat for eating! This morning, Daniel was doing the section on string in his Critical and Creative Thinking Activities book. The first question was:
What are 4 different ways to use string?
You will never believe the first answer out of his mouth! “Tying up a pig’s butt!”
Oh my goodness! I can pretty much guarantee that no child EVER has come up with that answer for this question in the book! If you are shaking your head wondering what on earth Daniel and I are talking about, let me explain. When you butcher an animal, in our case pigs or sheep, it helps to tie off the anus with a piece of string before gutting. This ensures that no “nasties” come out all over your meat.
As for the Critical and Creative Thinking books, we LOVE them! They really do encourage the kids to think about how things work etc. Highly recommend them AND it is legal to copy them for your own use so once you purchase a copy, you can copy it all onto your computer and then print out as many copies as you need. That means great value for the educator. Yes it takes a while to copy all the pages but the pages are perforated and once the job is done, it is done. It also means that if your child messes up on a page, you can reprint the page.
Yesterday when I got up I felt we should take a walk right after breakfast before starting school. I knew the weather was going to warm up and make the snow slushy later. At that time it was hard and crunchy making it easier to walk on. Doing our usual walk on the road was not an option as that was like a sheet of ice and I wasn’t about to risk my limbs or rear end! SO we headed off down the field.
One of the first things we saw were animal tracks and not ones from our animals. The kids immediately started searching to see what different ones we could find. Some were real small, some a little bigger. The sun was shining and it was a beautiful morning. As we went down along one of the fence lines we noticed that some of the electric wire was buried under the snow so we released that and tightened it. Then we moved any branches that had fallen on the wire. It wasn’t long before the new children that moved in recently down the road had spotted us so the kids headed down to chat. At that point I did have to resort to sliding on my bottom for a while to get down the steep slope safely!
All the kids wanted to play together so we made our way home, called their mom and headed out again to go to their house. By this time., part of the road had defrosted so easy to walk on. Maddie and Duke (dogs) came with us and although Duke left to come back home, Maddie slept on their porch right outside the door waiting for her “family” to come back out!
A totally unplanned morning but a very enjoyable one for all. I know I sometimes get so carried away with what “needs” to be done that I do not take the time to just enjoy! I’m sure I’m not the only one!
How many of you love the Raggedy Ann and Andy stories by Johnny Gruelle? These stories are true classics, well written with excellent morals and story lines showing children how to have a good attitude no matter what happens. The books are FREE to download on Gutenberg.
Due to the images being freely available out there on the web there are a number of resources available also. We are studying Raggedy Ann with Hannah at this time & I have actually made up my own Study Guide which I will share with everyone once we have completed it here. (I want to make sure there are no errors & that it works well before passing it on!)
In the meantime you can take advantage of this FREE Raggedy Ann Resource Pack from Warm Hearts Publishing. I printed off the bookmarks & laminated them for long term use as we are always looking for a bookmark to use! As well as the bookmarks shown, there are incentive cards etc.
Another adVENTURE of FREE, fun learning
Sometimes when I plan a school lesson I question whether it is too simple, other times whether it is too hard. Most times I leave it as originally planned & see how things turn out. I thought one of today’s lesson would be completed in five minutes and we would move on to the next subject! HAH!
At this time we are studying chapter by chapter the story of James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl. One of the things the children had to do this morning was describe & draw James at night as described in Chapter Nine. Roald Dahl is very descriptive so there is no lack of inspiration from his writings. “The night was all around him now, and high overhead a wild white moon was riding in the sky…..” We had also recently read one of the Magic Treehouse books with Jack and Annie where they had been out on a moonlit night & their long shadows were in evidence SO the concept of a moonlit night and shadows were no strangers to Daniel and Hannah.
The kids were clueless. Of course they could draw a moon and James standing up but could they draw his shadow?! Thankfully it was a sunny day here today so we all headed outside to see how our shadows come out from our bodies. (We have certainly looked at shadows many, many times in the past but I do believe that this was the first time they have ever had to illustrate them.) In we came again. What did they draw? James’s head coming out of his feet! Out we headed again. What I thought was a very simple lesson turned into a full blown science, art, logic. concept etc lesson on shadows, why/how they are formed (our bodies blocking the rays from the sun and moon) etc. I was SO thankful Richard was here today to help with this!
Being able to diversify is one of the many joys of homeschooling. We are not confined to certain length lessons or having to cover a certain amount of “stuff” in a day. When we find a weak spot, like we did this morning, we can take time to expound on the subject so that the children actually understand it, rather than rushing on.
Happy Monday to you!
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia (Public Domain)
When I need some glue for crafts etc I like to use Elmer’s “runny” glue but when the children use it they tend to squeeze the bottle way too hard & we end up with some very soggy paper & an oozy mess. SO we have reverted back to glue sticks for them which are apt to be more expensive as they do not last as long. (A pot of Elmer’s lasts for months.) This week we needed to replenish our stock of glue sticks so when we were in Walmart we headed over to where the seasonal school supplies had been (not the regular supplies aisle). I picked up a couple packets going “Ouch!” at the price when Richard came around the corner saying “Will these work?” He had found some single sticks (Elmer’s) reduced to 10c each! Wow! What an observant hubby 🙂 We now have a good supply for a very reasonable price.