Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Make Ten

I'm on a roll, aren't I? :) I have to confess that I've never been much into drilling with flashcards. But I probably say that to my own detriment. I can remember having flashcards as a child and enjoying going through them. Now that I'm an adult... eh, not so much. But I have to admit that this year we've been using flashcards more to increase Ian's speed in mental math.

Recently, I came across an idea for a math game, which is way more fun than drilling! We call it, "Make Ten". We use our Uno cards, just the ones numbered 1-9, and we try to pair up numbers that add up to 10, ala "Go Fish". Love it! :)

Fire Safety Fun

Had a field trip today at a local firehouse, continuing with our fire safety unit. The kids had a chance to meet Marzy, the search and rescue dog, see an aerial ladder in operation, and use a small firehose.

Found this little website for a little fun later in the week: http://www.sparky.org/

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Fire Safety Month

While I'm at it (And when I say "it", I mean avoiding lesson planning for the moment.), I thought I'd mention that October is Fire Safety month. And in that vein, this week we are finally getting around to taking the boys for a visit to a local firehouse! I'm so excited! I've wanted to do this for the last two years, but it was never the right time. So this week I'm planning on having a Fireman Theme, and we are going to be spending a little time focusing on Fire Safety. I found these super cute printables at HomeschoolCreations.com for the little one!

Pumpkin Spice Playdough

Just found this recipe for Pumpkin Spice Playdough, and it looks like a fun way to start bringing in some holiday smells into the house. Never made my own playdough.... Why cook if you don't have to? BUT! Oh my! I am totally going to make this with the kids.

And someone mentioned Gingerbread Playdough in the comments section! I think I'm going to go Google that right now. :)

Sunday, July 31, 2011

New Tricks and Feeding the Masses

Trying something new here... I've uploaded the attendance chart that I use to HSLaunch.com, but am having trouble locating a specific link to it at the moment. But here's a link to the feed, though I currently have only one file available. :)

Planning the School Year

As I sit here, organizing the coming year for my 2nd grader and the Kindergartener to be, I thought I'd kind of write down the thought process that helps me pull everything together, and maybe attach a document here and there over the next few weeks.

So because we did 2 years of Kindergarten, having started Ian a bit early, we are now entering our fourth year of homeschooling. We initially started out using My Father's World (MFW) Kindergarten, which I very much enjoyed. Then we went on to Sonlight Kindergarten, which I thought was more advanced than MFW, but also more expensive.

Some things worked better than others, so I began to look for other things to supplement or replace what didn't work for us. That led me to begin using some materials from Susan Wise Bauer such as The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading, First Language Lessons, The Complete Writer: Writing With Ease and The Story of the World. Most of these things we borrowed from the library or from friends, and we liked them so much we bought them for ourselves just to have in our hot little hands. :)

So now as we approach the second grade year, I find myself once again tweaking the system, which kind of puts me into strange territory. For the first year ever I am starting out on my own, without someone having done the lesson planning for me. It's tempting to go out and purchase a Sonlight Instructor's Guide, but I already know what I want to do. I just need to organize the HOW of it.

So here's the process I've been going through for the last few weeks, in case you're interested.
  1. Since I really love Sonlight's selection of books. I go to their website, and see what books they are using for their 2nd graders (Level C). Once you are on the core curriculum page, you can click on the "Included Items" tab and see all the books you get if you purchase the core package. I copy the list and create a Word document listing of the books for my reference. I can get most of these books from the local library or request an inter-library loan if I decide to use them. The exception to this is usually the "Christian" books like "Missionary Stories with the Millers". These are books that I am willing to order either from Sonlight, Amazon or Christianbook.com if the library doesn't have them.
  2. I also like My Father's World's selection of books, so I add some of their book recommendations to my book list. This year, I discovered the art program "I Can Do All Things" by Barry Stebbing. I want it so bad, and I want the DVD that I found out about too, but I'm trying to find it on eBay, because it's a bit pricey at this point.
  3. Finally, I check out the core curriculum at Timberdoodle, which I just discovered this year. I like their website, but I LOVVVVE their catalog!! They have some great resources, from toys to manipulatives to books. I pretty much want everything they have. :)
Now, of course, this is just the jumping off point for me, as I begin to weed through what I think we can reasonably accomplish in a year.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Review: The Action Bible

Around about Christmastime, we bought Ian-7yo yet another Bible. Knowing how many people groups still wait for a Bible, and knowing how many Bibles MY KIDS have, well I have such mixed feelings about that.... but I digress...

At any rate, the new Bible is called The Action Bible, and it is written entirely in graphical novel format. When I was initially researching this Bible I came across this little tidbit, which really delighted me:
"Sergio has worked for Marvel Comics and DC Comics. He attended the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art as well as the Word of Life Bible Institute in upstate New York."
Yay! A WOLBI alumni! Now, I have to confess that I had had some qualms about a Bible that was basically written as a comic book. I mean, we don't want to confuse the two, do we? If the kids have a Bible in a comic format, will it take away from The Truth? Some "experts" even say that having any pictures in a kids' Bible is inadvisable, and will confuse the children about the real events portrayed in their Bibles.

I can see their point. I really can. And of course that should be a concern. But I bought it anyway, and I'll tell you why. My son has recently discovered "reading", and cannot get enough of the graphical novels he finds in the library. Some of them are okay, some are a bit iffy, and I monitor what he takes out closely. It was my hope that if he had The Action Bible, that he would choose to spend more time looking at the Bible and maybe a little less on Star Wars. (As if!)

Having had The Action Bible in our possession for almost seven months now, I wanted to give a little review from the standpoint of a parent whose sons are totally enthralled with it. Although it was not my intention, my husband began using The Action Bible during our evening devotions with the boys. They love it! It's like the stories are coming alive to them, and I confess that I have also gotten some insights into the stories as well! And they are focused the whole time on the story and the pictures. They remember the stories long after we've read them too.

And the most recent development? Ian has been struggling to fall asleep at night, so I recently began allowing him to spend 15 minutes reading his Bible in bed. So on nightly basis he is spending at least 15 minutes reading his Bible, and I do mean READING, because afterwards he will come and read to ME!! And somewhere along the line I realized that he is actually teaching himself to read with his Bible, because he is sounding out words that I never taught him. It's pretty cool.


Kinda stumbled on this fun game, and since the 7yo saw me playing it, looks like we will be solving some puzzles in the near future.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Art, Not Just For Art's Sake, Follow Up

I've been meaning to follow up on my previous post about teaching through Art. I was delighted when shortly after my post, I received an email from Sharon Jeffus of Visual Manna asking me what it was I was interested in. She was so nice to give me more information, so I thought I'd pass it on in case you have been looking into her books as well. Here was our exchange:

Hi Sharon, Thank you for emailing me! All of your Teaching Through Art books look interesting to me, but I was specifically drawn to your site by the book Teaching History Through Art. My son is 7 and he LOVES Art. I think he'd enjoy this curriculum, but I was unsure about what the level and skills were that would be required. Thanks for any input you can provide!
Sharon's response:
If he is a mature 7, he would be able to use most of the lessons. In
the math and art, he would learn how to tell digital and analog time
and counting money, face proportions...might have trouble with
fractals....each book would have some things it might take till next
year for him to get....or longer....

Monday, March 21, 2011

Art, Not Just For Art's Sake

Well, this was a digression from my earlier post about Science, but I decided to spare you the rabbit trail and let it be its own little post. So here you have it... Remember when I said my Fantasy School would revolve around Science? Well, someone else, who apparently thinks like me, thought the same thing about Art. And actually, this comes in as a close second to my Fantasy School, because I love Art with the same geeky passion as I love Science. :)

So, I recently came across a bunch of books that teach other subjects through the subject of Art, and it so intrigues me, except that I haven't been able to actually SEE any of the pages of these books. (Sharon Jeffus, are you listening? People like to see previews of a page or two on websites.) If this concept intrigues you too, you might want to check out VisualManna.com. They have much more than just books. They have lessons online, art camps and But if you buy a book, can I take a look at it? )

Geeky Post

Home Science Tools is such a fun website for me, even though their website is actually, hometrainingtools.com. When I get their catalogs I just drool over the pages, in a way that I used to do with Pottery Barn catalogs. I start making wish lists and everything.

In my fantasy school, everything revolves around Science: Handwriting, Math, English, History, Art and Gym. I mean, why couldn't it? :) If I could find a curriculum that was basically Teaching Everything with Science, I'd buy it in a heartbeat. And if I had the time and knowledge to do this myself, I think I could get a following. :) So there you have it. I'm a complete geek. My kids are doomed... Or very lucky.

Home Science Tools has a page that lists all different Science Projects. There is a whole section that deals with crystals, and that is what we are focusing on this week, since I've been meaning to do this all winter and now that Spring is coming... well, crystals become a little less timely as the weather warms up. LOL..

Today, we tried out the Quick Crystal Cup experiment. It was a big hit. We are letting the crystals grow over night, and we'll check them in the morning. Can't wait! :)

Update: So here are the pictures of our fun crystal experiments:

As you can see, even hubby got into examining the crystals.... Too cool!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Lots of Dots

Recently, we read The Dot again. Love this book! I think I first read about it over at ArtProjectsForKids.org, and decided to take it out of the library a few weeks ago. What I really love about this book is that it shows the kids that all you have to do is start with ANYTHING, even a small dot, and you can have art. It makes it so simple to do art with reluctant or perfectionistic children. Not that my kids are reluctant when it comes to art!! But I do have a boy that leans towards perfectionism. So we've read the book a few times, just before an art project.

Today, we painted dots! Big dots, little dots, and all different colors and thicknesses. To make it interesting and easy, I pulled out toilet paper tubes, marker caps, plastic cups and empty yogurt containers and a few straws. I demonstrated the general idea to the boys, who were a little puzzled by the lack of brushes, and they were off! :)

Clean up was pretty easy as well, as the paint had been poured out onto styrofoam plates, and pretty much everything could be thrown out when we were done. The only caveat, if you decide to try this sometime, was that the toilet paper tubes roll, if not stood on end, and could easily make their way to the floor. Fortunately, ours didn't quite make it to the floor, but it was definitely on its way when I caught it!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Spiritual Awakening

January 19, 2011, my oldest son sat at the breakfast table with me, while his little brother slept. I thought to wake the little guy, but was enjoying the one on one time with my firstborn. As we talked, the conversation turned to spiritual things, and we began to talk about what the Bible says about God and Heaven. We talked about how everyone has a decision to make, and how we can choose to live for God, accept Jesus' death on the cross and receive forgiveness for our sin. I asked him if he had ever done that. "Nope." I asked him if he'd like to do it. "Not right now," he said. So I told him if he ever decided he wanted to, he could come to me and I would help him. I went into the kitchen to make some coffee and a few minutes later he was calling to me to tell me that he had prayed!

Now, I'm one who is, by nature, skeptical of everything. And not having been raised in the church, I am skeptical of children that make professions of faith, but I also know that very often these little ones are the ones who really have that childlike faith to trust God... As I talked with my son afterward, I questioned him briefly, but I also noted that the Spirit of God within me seemed to be rejoicing, and so I found that encouraging. Also, Ian soon after started expressing a concern about when his little brother would make that decision as well, which was kind of cool.

So the question that's really been pressing on me lately is where do we go from here? How do you properly disciple a 7 year old? Yes, we are involved in church, and he also attends AWANA at another church, and of course we have devotions in the morning and before bed. Is that enough? Is it the right kind of thing to be doing? Are we missing something?

In my search, I came across this page, which expresses a few things beautifully and gives me a few things to look into: CharlotteMasonHelp.com

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Plans of Man

One of the things that I struggle with in general is being organized. Although I don't really like the constraints of a rigid schedule, I do like to know what's coming up so I can plan and be prepared. I used to just keep things in my head or make lists of things to do. But ever since I became a mom, I've HAD to rely on those lists. This works pretty good for my "Things to do" list, but not so good for the homeschool stuff. So I thought I'd share something I've found that have really helped me.

First, I have to tell you about the Well Planned Day Yearly Planner. I LOVE this planner! It includes monthly calendars, a weekly meal planning section, sections for field trips, attendance, inspirational quotes, and pages for writing out your children's assignments for each day of the week, subject by subject. (They say that you can record assignments for up to 3 children. At this point, I'm only using it for one, and there seems to be enough room for me to record my second child, when I get to that point, but I don't know that I could squeeze in enough info for 4 kids... I suppose I'd come up with abbreviations if I had to.)

What I really like is that I can sit down on the weekend and plan out the coming week, meals and assignments, and even priorities and weekend activities... AND it's all right there on a two-page spread right before me. AND the Well PLanned Day Yearly Planner for the coming year is on sale till the end of February. So if you're in the market for a planner, this may be the time to check it out!