Friday, April 30, 2010

Weekly Report

Bear this week:

Science- Continued on with Module 12. We discussed how the body uses energy and how it burns the macro nutrients carbs, fats and proteins.  For his science fair project he is almost finished with his display board and has completed the rough draft of his research report.

Math- He started Key to Decimals, doing about 4-5 pages a day.  He didn't do any Teaching Textbooks this week but will return to it on Monday along with Key to Decimals.

English- He is 3/4 the way through Second Mrs. Giaconda.  We haven't done writing the last couple of weeks because I am counting his research report for the science project as his writing right now.  He's continued with the Wordly Wise vocabulary this week too and that's about it for English.

History- He's almost done with Mystery of History Vol 2 and then we will be taking a break from History until we start the new year in August.


Math - Noodle is still working on Saxon Math 1 and I think we'll be finished around July and he'll be ready to start Abeka in August.  We are still practicing skip counting and drilling flash cards.

Reading- Moving right along with OPGTR and the Bob Books.  We finished reading The Flying Flea, Callie and Me.  It was a really cute book.  Noodle has made tremendous progress with being sitting still and being more attentive.  He can tell you all about this book!

Handwriting- This week for handwriting I had him write his address and I have counted all the writing he has done for his science project as handwriting.

Science- He started his display board.

The basics of his project are the three types of volcanoes and how/why they erupt.  He is going to build a paper mache volcano with my guidance and instruction as well.  We've got a mural going in the classroom that we may hang at the science fair, but we'll see.

As far as our recitations he has our phone number and address down pat as well as the days of the weeks and two poems Time to Rise and Singing Time.  He almost has the months down, but he still stumbles or skips one now and then.  He stumbles with the Pledge a little too.  He started working on memorizing The Caterpillar this week.

Hopefully next week we'll have some beginning pictures of the paper mache volcano and our volcano lapbook

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Ocean Unit for Kindergarten

OK- I finally took pictures and uploaded them.  Noodle and I learned a little about the ocean and coral reefs using Coral Reef and  a unit from We are going to revisit this topic, but we had to stop so we could begin the study on Volcanoes and get his project going for the upcoming science fair.

Here's the little crab he made from an egg carton and pipe cleaners.

Here's the mural.  Noodle painted the whale (with a little drawing help from me) and then just colored the rest from coloring sheets that we cut out.  The ocean floor is painted and the seaweed is from some green paper we had leftover from the rain forest mural.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Wordless Wednesday......Almost

Played a double header, came home, showered, ate a bowl of cereal and then five minutes later............

Friday, April 23, 2010

Weekly Report

This week is kind of a blur.  The days just go by too quickly.  We are nearing the end on some of our curriculum which is kind of exciting.  We will still work through the summer part time, but it won't be as heavy as last summer since we are further ahead this year! Woot!

Noodle and I started The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading on Monday.  I love it!  We started at Lesson 27 because the first 26 lessons focus on the sounds of the alphabet and he has known those for over 2 years already.  He also easily breezed through all the lessons we did this week, but I didn't want to start too far ahead and the review hasn't hurt.

He also started Explode the Code Book 1 and he really likes it.  We started school last August and he completed the first three Get Ready, Set and Go For the Code series, A, B and C. 

I found two sets of Bob Books- sets 1 and 2 used and we began those as well.  I am really excited to see how well he'll be reading by Christmas break this year!

Noodle is still plugging away at Saxon Math 1 each day.  He is almost done with the first student workbook which we started in January.  The first part of the school year he finished up Math U See Primer.  Hopefully by August he will be done with book 2 so he can start the Abeka Math 1 that I bought for the fall when we start First Grade!  Here he is doing his favorite subject.  Really!  Well, besides science.

So I know I said I'd have a picture and details of the Ocean unit and Mural we finished, but I haven't got around to it yet!  We have started a new mural for our Volcanoes study, but I haven't taken a picture yet.  Noodle is doing a science fair project on Volcanoes for our local homeschool science fair.  The big project will be making a Volcano that he can erupt the night of the fair.  Pray for me.  :)

Bear has been working on his science fair project too.  He's covering Ball Pythons - how to care for them and he has been tracking and observing how long it takes his Ball Python Bella, to digest her meals.  So basically he feeds her and then watches and waits for her to poop!  He's going to make a graph with the data.  He also plans to do a live feeding at the science fair.  He's going to need a warning sign so people can decide if they want to watch or not!

He's up to Lesson 94 on Teaching Textbooks 7 and we have been doing some review from previous lessons.  We will continue hammering away on this all summer so he is ready for Pre-Algebra in the fall.  I am slightly nervous about this and I think I am going to start the Pre-Algebra program myself this summer so I am more confident when he starts in the fall.  I am not thrilled about that, but it is better than the alternative which is spending $55 a month and driving an hour one way, once a week to have him take it with other homeschoolers.  I have no interest in doing that.

For Apologia General Science he is on Module 12.  Nothing too eventful with that this week.

On our Quest for the Middle Ages from Winter Promise we have about 6 weeks left.  Basically we are just reading the lessons from Mystery of History Volume 2 and doing an occasional assignment.  Also, Bear just began reading The Second Mrs. Giaconda.

For me the most exciting thing this week is that I finally learned some specifics about Homeschool Tracker!!  It is making my lesson planning relatively stress free.  Happy, happy, joy, joy!!!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Homeschool Tracker

Back in 2005 when we were in our first year of homeschooling I purchased a software program called The Homeschool Tracker.  Click Here to read all about it. 

I have been using it on and off over the years.  Mainly I go off the tracker because I haven't properly studied and learned how to use it.  There are things I loved about it and kept trying to make it work.  Granted I was trying to figure it out instead of just reading the instructions!!!  Anyway, I utilized the lesson plan feature here and there, downloaded lesson plans from the HST yahoo group etc., etc., but just never really used the program right.

Fast forward to yesterday at the WTM Boards......someone had a thread about HST so I read it of course.  Holy cow!!  There are TRAINING VIDEOS on the HST website!  You can also download the manual in pdf.  I feel like a moron.  I had no idea that stuff was there. I knew they had a message board and I had posted there asking questions before, but I like instant answers.  The customer service at HST by the way was AWESOME when I sought them out.

So, I spent most of yesterday afternoon and a lot of today training on this HST software. I am in love!  I cleaned up the messes I had previously made, customized my tabs and even started a new lesson plan for the fall.  Do I have to say that I am really excited?  Mainly I needed to figure this program out because I want to keep very detailed records on Bear.  He is university bound and I want to make sure we have our act together and everything at our fingertips when we start the college application process and looking for scholarships.

If you are in a state that requires detailed record keeping and attendance records etc then you may want to consider this program.  Everytime they update it you get the updates for free - so it is worth every dime!  I encourage you to check it out.

Friday, April 16, 2010

I love a bargain!

I went to a used book sale tonight - as a seller and a buyer!  I am so excited!  I found:

Complete Abeka Arithmetic 1 set (including student worktext with no writing!) for $35- the curriculum/lesson plan book alone from Abeka is $35

If You Were There When They Signed the Constitution - 25 cents!!!!

If You Lived in Williamsburg in Colonial Days - $1

Abeka Health Saftey & Manners 1- like new - FREE!!!!! It was on the FREE table! Wooohooo!

Kingfisher First Encyclopedia of Animals (to go with Elemental Science) - $2

Next Friday is another sale and I can't wait to see what I can find.

Oh, and my First Language Lessons and Ordinary Parent's Guide to Reading came in today so Noodle and I started it right away.  Although we started at Lesson 27 because he already knew all the letter sounds and the long and short vowel sounds.  He also knew the two letter words in Lesson 27, but we did it anyway.  I am so tempted to start FLL now, but I will wait until August.  It isn't going to be easy to wait!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Typical School Day - 6 Year Old Kindergartner

I belong to several Yahoo groups and frequently people ask, "What should I be doing with my preschooler, kindergartner?" etc., etc.  So I thought it might be fun to do a "day in the life" kind of post that explains what I do with my Kindergartner.

As far as homeschooling style/methodology goes, around here we are pretty ecclectic.  We have a classroom, a whiteboard and use some textbooks (traditional "school at home"), we do copy work (Charlotte Mason), we do Memory Work (Classical), we use "real books" and lots of literature, we love projects and taking field trips.  I am not rigid, but I do enjoy routine.

A School Day in the Life of Noodle- Age 6 - Kindergarten

8:00ish wakes up, has breakfast, watches one of the following depending on his mood: Word World, Super Why, Magic School Bus or Clifford the Big Red Dog.
9:15- Morning Routine of:
*Pledge of Allegiance
*Bible Story
*Recitations - Days of the Week, Months, Phone Number, Address, Poem

Noodle is BIG on breaks so after we finish the morning routine he is ready for his first break. I give him 5 minutes to goof off and then I corral him back to the classroom.

Math- Typically Noodle does one workbook page a day from Saxon Math 1 and then we do some skip counting practice by tossing something back and forth like a ball or a stuffed animal.....2, 4, 6, 8...we take turns.....5, 10, 15, 20........lastly about 3 times a week we do flash cards.

Time for another break!

Reading- Right now we are working our way through Bob Books, Set 1: Beginning Readersand doing some sounding out of words.  I made some word flash cards and I also use 25 Read & Write Mini-Books That Teach Word Families mini books and their word wall words.  I have ordered First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind and The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading but they have not arrived yet!

Time for another break!

Read Aloud- Right now I am reading him The Flying Flea, Callie and Me.  It's funny and we do a lot of giggling. I really enjoy doing voices of characters etc.  He cracks up!  Lest anyone thinks he sits still for this, I assure you he is bouncing around, rolling around or doing cartwheels.  I used to get ticked (still do sometimes) because I would think he wasn't listening.  I started quizzing him every other page and sure enough he knew what was going on!!  OK then, bounce away boy!

Phonics- A page or two or three or four out of Explode the Code books.  He just completed book C of the Ready, Set, Go series.  He's now ready for Explode the Code 1.  He really likes these books and we will continue with them.

Handwriting- This is random.  Typically if he had to write letters or words in any of his math or phonics work or in a lapbook assignment then I don't give him too much handwriting. He is a boy and well, he gets tired of writing and I don't want to kill his enthusiasm for learning.  If he is struggling with writing something (like sometimes he struggles with 2's or lower case letters) then I give him a sheet to trace for practice.  We were using A Reason For Handwriting, Kindergarten: Kindergarten Student Workbook but it was too slow for us.  I am going to try again in 1st grade with the A Reason for Handwriting: Manuscript Aand see if that works better for us.

Time for another break!

Science- We don't get to science nearly as much as we like to.  We just started the "V is for Volcano" Lapbook from because his Science Fair Project is on Volcanoes.  He really can't wait to make a volcano that "explodes."  We might make a mural of a Volcano, but I haven't figured out how yet.  As you can see from some of our other blog posts, we are fond of making science murals.

Time for another break!

History/Social Studies- we rarely do anything for this.  At the beginning of the school year he was tagging along with Bear's study of the Middle Ages, but it just became too much for him.  We have discussed the globe a few times.  Noodle also likes to play the geography game Hop Off.  It's basically a big vinyl mat (think Twister) that has a map of the U.S. on it.  There's a deck of cards with one state on each card.  I show him a card and then he tosses a bean bag on the state or he hops on the state.  I love games like this where he is learning something but doesn't know it! Ha!  History and Geography is something I will tackle more formally in first grade.

So, there you have it!  I've been accused of doing too much and not enough, but like FOX News, "I report, you decide."  I learned a long time ago to "swim in my own lane" because when I compare myself to other homeschoolers inevitably I'd compare my weaknesses to their strengths and of course would always come up short.  So, I try not to do that anymore (I slip now and then) and so I suggest that you too swim in your own lane and have fun with your littles!

P.S.- Over on the right side bar I have the document that states our goals for Kindergarten.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Book Review 1: Homeschooling For the Rest of Us

In Homeschooling for the Rest of Us: How Your One-of-a-Kind Family Can Make Homeschooling and Real Life Work the "rest of us" refers to those parents that aren't perfect homeschool parents.  You know the ones with eight children who all dress immaculately, are well behaved 24/7, never fight with each other, never talk back and always complete their work without fuss.  Oh, and their work is always three grade levels ahead of where they should be!

I love this book.  I want to say that I received this book free from Bethany House and was asked to review the book.  Several months back I wrote a review of Exploring Creation With Zoology 2: Swimming Creatures of the 5th Day  on the Facebook page of a homeschooling magazine (I can't remember who) and my review was one of the three winners chosen.  It was pretty exciting!  Anyway, from that I received an email asking if I wanted to review this book.  I jumped at the chance for a free book.   I love to read so this was going to be a no brainer. A couple of months later I received the book in the mail. 

Sonya Haskins addresses everything from the pressure put on homeschool moms to perform perfectly - to co-ops, field trips, chores, dealing with relatives and my favorite- ways to pay for curriculum.  On co-ops she gives suggested class ideas and she also provides a list of different types of field trips.  Sonya discusses chores in her "Living in a Messy House" chapter.  She not only provides very practical ideas about how to keep a relatively organized house while homeschooling, but she spells out age appropriate chore ideas for every age range of your child. 

I deal with some not so postive relatives on a semi-regular basis so the brief chapter on dealing with relatives was good for me to read.  Lastly, because I am a curriculum junkie I always appreciate money saving tips and creative ideas on how to homeschool for less money.

Overall this is a great book and something I am sure I will refer back to time and again for inspiration when I am feeling like what I do is never enough.  Homeschooling for the Rest of Us will make a great addition to your homeschool library.

Disclaimer:  This is my personal blog.  Opinions expressed here are mine and I do not receive compensation for posts.  I am an Amazon Associate.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Some Of My Favorite Resources

In spite of all the money I have spent on curriculum, I really love freebies.  You may have seen these before, but I thought I would share some of my favorite free resources.

For Preschool/Kindergarten

Handwriting Worksheets

Make Your Own Handwriting Worksheets

Phonics Word Wheels

All Kinds of Crafts

Math Worksheets for K-8

Rethinking My Lesson Plans "plan"

So, a few weeks back I posted that I was going to do my own lesson planning this year since we have so much stuff on hand. Well, I am rethinking that. There are still lots of resources I would have to get and I am realizing I am better at tweaking than planning from scratch. I don't have the patience or time to do it. So, I am just going to pick a U.S. History spine and flesh out from there.

I think I have decided on Notgrass Exploring America for Bear and Abeka Grade 1 History for Noodle. The plan is to follow the table of contents in these books, read, do the questions, quizzes and tests, but then I will add outside books to cover topics more in depth. We will also be using the Trail Guide to U.S. Geography for map work and other miscellaneous activities. I have lots of neat websites saved and freebies as well to round everything out.

We will be doing U.S. History over two school years starting with North American Indians and ending with present day. I have it planned this way so that when Bear begins his Jr. year he will be on U.S. Government the same semester as the 2012 Presidential Election.

I have almost made all the curriculum and book extras for next year and will be doing a post about that soon.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Weekly Report 4/5 -4/9

Our homeschool group took a trip to the San Antonio Zoo on Monday. Here's all the kids on the Lion Pride statue at the entrance.

The San Antonio Zoo is actually pretty fabulous. We saw lions, tigers, bears (oh my!!), lots and lots of birds, butterflies, snakes and other reptiles. There was an Anaconda, Reticulated Python, African Rock Pythons etc, etc., that just thrilled Bear who is my future herpetologist. There was a Leopard, Cheetah and a Jaguar too. Bear spent a lot of time in the Reptile House. Noodle loved the Hippo, Elephant, Hyena and Wild African Dog most because we did a whole unit on the African Savannah at the beginning of this school year - so he was fascinated to see these animals live and in person! We love the zoo!!!!!

We had a very light week because it's been hard to stay focused when the house is in such disarray. There's no good sign that dh will be able to work on floors this weekend either! Uggh.

So basically both boys did math and reading everyday. Bear is almost finished with Crispin, Cross of Lead and we have been using the Teacher Created Resources Literature Guide for vocabulary, some misc assignments and comprehension quizzes. We did two days of science this week and no history.

Noodle is continuing with Saxon 1 Math and we did some flashcards and skip counting practice too. We use the Skip Counting Charts from For reading we are doing flashcards and sounding out words everyday. He has such a memory when it comes to math facts, poems etc., but for some reason he isn't memorizing words. Which on one hand is fine because I'd rather him sound them out instead of just memorizing sight words, but I'd like to think that after sounding out a word 50+ times you'd remember it when you see it! LOL Oh well, we have plenty of time for him to catch on. He also did some handwriting practice this week and we continued with our daily recitations of the pledge, days of the week, months of the year, phone number and address. Finally we put the last ocean animal on the mural, which I will document in a future blog post.

Hopefully next week will be a little more productive!

I am anxiously awaiting two books that I ordered that I am hoping will fast forward us for reading. They are First Language Lessons and Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading. I hope I am not disappointed because I have been picturing these books as a magic reading pill!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Great Lapbooking Tips

Thaleia at the new blog Everyday Homeschool has some great Lapbooking tips and just had to share them!

She says:

For all you newbie's, like myself, I wanted to share a few tips I have discovered regarding lapbooking!

1. Check your printer settings. Our printer allows multiples pages to be shrunk and put into 1 page. So you can make elements a better size for your lapbook instead of having a full page document. If you find a few coloring pages and want to use them in your lapbook put 2 or 4 on a page from your print menu. You will end up with really cute elements small enough to put into minibooks. Only print the pages your really need if you downlaod a free kit. No need to print an entire 30 page lesson just to print 3 pages of lapbook elements that you want to use.

2. SAVE IT!! If you see a lapbook, links to lapbook resources, or links elements you think your child may be interested in then save it. If you research a topic or theme you want to learn about or your child might be interested in the future. SAVE IT. Things change VERY quickly online and I have been disappointed to find links that no longer work.

3. Gather Supplies. Get your basic supplies ready to go ahead of time. Make sure you have enough file folders, cardstock, colored paper, scissors, glue/tape, stickers, colored pencils/crayons, etc. You may want to keep your supplies together once you print out your lapbook elements and put them together by theme in a file folder. (Especially if you have more than one child or theme going at a time.)

4. Watch a video. There are some awesome demo's for lapbooking. Watch these and you will understand how to fold things and put things together to create your own from scratch. Plus knowing what you are doing BEFORE engaging the kids will make your life a little easier and your lapbooking go more smoothly.

5. Swagbucks/Google search it. Do not be afraid to shamelessly search for topics or themes for your lapbook! Look for free ideas, themes, elements. Use some of the following general terms to help in searching.lapbook basicsfree lapbooksfree ____ worksheetsfree minibooksfree ____ coloring pagesfree printablesfree Christian printbales

6. Favorite/bookmark Blogs. remember to visit homeschooling blogs. Favorite them for future reference and ideas. Usually a family that blogs about lapbooks or unit studies has links to free printables or other blogs that talk about lapbooks. These other blogs will usually provide more free lapbooking, notebooking, or printable ideas. There's soooo much out there it's truly incredible.

I hope this give you some of you new homeschoolers or new to lapbooking encouragement. Do not pay big bucks for a lapbook theme UNTIL you've exhausted all your free resources!

Thank you Thaleia!!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Proud Mama

Ever since Super Duper graduated I haven't had much to say about him here at WCA Blog! He graduated from our homeschool almost a year ago. I am very proud of him and his passion! He has been skateboarding since he was 8 or 9. When it began I had hoped it was just a phase, but here he is almost 19 and he is still at it! He has done quite well for himself. He has several sponsors which has definitely helped my pocketbook over the last 4 years or so. He gets free decks, shoes, hats, shirts, jeans etc.

In addition to skating he holds down a full time job as a cook and a trainer at a nearby restaurant. He has considered culinary school, but as of now he only desires to keep working and skating. Whatever he decides to do I support him. DH, myself and his little brothers love to watch him skate so I thought I'd post some of my favorite pictures. I didn't take any of these pictures except the first one from way back when. The rest were all taken by photographers.

Last but not least, I love the expression on his face here as he is coming down for a landing. LOL
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