Monday, May 31, 2010

New Floors

In February we bought new flooring.  Yes, February.  We got them installed in the first room this weekend - the family room.  The classroom and stairs are next.  I am really excited about the classroom because every year I rearrange the classroom and it gets a mini makeover, but this summer it's getting a big makeover!  New floors, new paint and some new storage.  The goal is to get it done by August which is when we will start the new school year.

Anyway, here are some pictures of the family room!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Our Homeschool Style

When we began homeschooling I tried to duplicate the public/private school model.  I made a schedule that included even recess!  After about two weeks of that Bear and I were burned out already.  I loosened up a little bit and dumped the schedule and then our school days ran  in to dinner time.  That got old quickly as well.  I went back to the Internet to read more about homeschooling.  I must say that the Internet is a great wealth of free information, but can also be overwhelming. 

I don't remember the order we tried things, but the gist of all our experiments was this: textbooks, notebooking, unit studies, literature based, lapbooking, parent led unschooling, Charlotte Mason, Classical and co-ops.  All that torture only to realize that we liked a little of everything.  I concluded we were eclectic!

I still like textbooks and think they serve a purpose for certain things - certainly math.  I also love literature and doing literature units that include comprehension, writing, analyzing and hands on projects.  I like doing a notebook page here and there and Noodle enjoys lapbooking.  We still like co-ops but not back to back or we get burned out.

This past year we were heavy on the textbooks/workbooks and literature.  This coming year I will be heavy on the Classical methods.  Bear will be doing a lot of outlining and writing to "catch him up" to the Rhetoric stage for most of high school.  Noodle will continue learning to read, practice his handwriting, start narration and copy work.  I plan on keeping The Well Trained Mind handy to remind me of the things I want to implement and work on this coming year.

I also plan on doing a lot more read alouds in our new school year.  It is something I wish I had done more of this year.  We have done them, but there were plenty of days we missed.  I'd like to be more consistent with it so we can read more books.

As far as organization, I have big plans for that as well!  The Well Trained Mind explains how to set up notebooks for each subject and that is what I plan to implement.  Getting Bear on board will take some training since he is like me and tends to surround himself with stacks of paper!  Lest you think I exaggerate here are some recent before and after pictures of my desk.

As you can see we can probably benefit greatly from the notebook suggestions in TWTM.  In case you were wondering I am about halfway back to the before picture! I think I will have to do something about that today!

Weekly Report 5/24 - 5/28

Slow week.  We are winding down as we head in to summer so this week was not chock full of school.


Math: He did TT once this week I think.  We will get back on track Monday.

Vocabulary:  He continued with Wordly Wise.

Keys to Good Language: Almost finished!

Science: Still working on Module 13. 

Literature:  He finished The Shakespeare Stealer.  He will begin On the Far Side of the Mountain on Monday

Critical Thinking: We started a workbook called Perplexors this week.  He will fly through this, but I wanted to start at the beginning basic level.  This will be a regular part of our weeks from now on.


Math: Noodle is still steadily progressing with Saxon Math 1 and practicing skip counting

Reading: We do one lesson daily with OPGTR and it going very, very well. I am so pleased with this curriculum.  He is great at sounding words out.

Science:  We read a little bit about Dinosaurs this week, but did not add anything to the lapbook.

Cub Scouts:  Noodle officially became a Tiger Cub this week!!  He was so cute at the "crossing over" ceremony.  Big THANKS to Grandma who purchased all his gear: Shirt, neckerchief, slide, book, hat, pants, belt and socks. 

Friday, May 21, 2010

Weekly Report 5/21/10

We are winding down the school year even though we school year round.  Our days are getting lighter as we finish up some subjects. 


Math:  On Lesson 97 of Teaching Textbooks.  We are going to be doubling up to finish up and then we will do a review and continue with Key to Decimals.  Once I order  TT Pre-Algebra we are going to start on it right away instead of waiting until fall.  If all goes well he may get to start Algebra 1 before 9th grade is over!  I think I will be buying Key to Algebra as well.  Math will be a huge focus this summer.  Luckily (depending on whose perspective) his best friend will be in Alaska all summer and his two other good friends are moving to Idaho so he wil be relatively free this summer to focus on learning Algebra.  He didn't even protest when I told him!!!  He does have a couple other friends he could get together with and some scout camping stuff to look forward to as well.

Enhlish/Literature:  Still reading The Shakespeare Stealer and I am pushing him to finish by next week.  He's not as in to this book so he is only doing about 3 chapters a day.  He's nearing the end of Wordly Wise 3000 Grade 8 Student Book - 2nd Edition and Vocabulary Vine.  He's almost done with Keys to Good Language too.

Science:  We're about 1/4 way through Module 13.  This week he did one experiment about digestion.  It was kind of gross.  He used too much iodine and didn't get the results we were looking for.


Math: Still doing a lesson a day with Saxon Math 1 and practicing skip counting.  We've also been playing a lot of UNO.

Reading:  Still doing a lesson a day in The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading and reading additional easy readers for practice.  Our read aloud is still Ralph S. Mouse and it is really cute.

Bible:  I love the Rod & Staff Bible Stories because it has three little comprehension questions at the end of each story. 

Science:  We FINALLY started a unit on Dinosaurs using the lapbook from and our many, many dinosaur books!

Phonics:  Explode the Code Book 1 is coming along nicely.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Curriculum Buying and Lesson Plan Season

This week I have spent over $200 ordering some of the finishing touches for our next school year.  I love to buy used and with a $30 exception from all of what I bought was used.  I am getting about $450 worth of stuff for about $220.  I love savings like that!  I still have two major purchases (Classical Writing & Poetry for Older Beginners AND Teaching Textbooks Pre-Algebra), but will be selling a few more items before I purchase those.  Plus I have lots of readers/read alouds to locate - that is if I can find them cheap.  If not, I will utilize the library.  I definitely plan on using the library for books on tape this coming year, but I don't like to get readers because I have to plan way ahead and remember to renew things.

As things start coming in I am working on lesson plans.  For now I am going to use for all of Bear's lesson plans as I need to track his stuff for his transcript.  For Noodle I am using a combination of the two.  For his history plans I decided to put them in a spiral notebook and I MIGHT transfer them to HSTracker after I finish the planning.  For the rest of Noodle's stuff I may utilize the HSTracker for things like a literature unit or unit study with lapbooks or even the Elemental Science lessons.  History is going to be really involved (lots of handouts, history pockets/lapbooking and read alouds) so using the spiral will be much simpler for me than trying to plug things in on HSTracker.

Also thanks to a dear reader I have decided to make the daily checklist.  She suggested that in the morning I just check off right away anything we won't be doing that day!  It's genius!!  Thanks Moonbeam!  Once the checklist is made I will share it on the sidebar to the right.

One thing I have done this year that I never did before was make complete resource lists.  Instead of just listing the main texts I am listing everything we'll be using (except for Netflix videos).  I also made goal lists.  They are all on the right sidebar if you want to see them.

Lesson planning is so fun and I will try to remember to share any fun, free or awesome materials I come across. If you post your lesson planning ideas on your blog be sure to tell me about it!! I love hearing what others do as it always inspires me somehow.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Following a schedule

I guess I am somewhat of a schedule rebel.  In the past I have made schedules. Lots.Of.Them.  They just don't work out! LOL - of course silly, a schedule doesn't work you, you work the schedule. DUH!

So, instead of making yet another schedule I am thinking of making a pseudo schedule, aka a checklist.  What a concept.  My dilemma is do I just make it generic and use one everyday to check off or do I attach a heading such as "Day 1" or "Monday."  I honestly don't know what to do because there will be things on the checklist that we aren't doing everyday and I am the type of person that needs boxes checked.  Having an unchecked box, even if it is on a day we aren't doing said activity, would make me feel like we didn't finish. Crazy, I know, but that's me.

Perhaps I will do a weekly checklist with Monday-Friday lists and just follow it whatever days we are doing school.  If we miss Monday for a field trip then we just pick up on Tuesday.  This whole "do I or do I not schedule" plays in to how I will do the lesson planning also.  I am looking for the simplest way to handle that as well. In the past I used a teacher planner with the big blocks.  Like this:

Honestly, it is my favorite method. It has something to do with memories of playing school as a little girl and being so excited when I got a glimpse at my 5th grade teacher's plan book and the grade book.  When I started homeschooling I just assumed that was the way to do it!  The problem is it isn't realistic.  Life happens. Sickness happens.  Field trips happen.  Then it just gets screwy and off kilter and that makes me batty.

I have and I can use it to write lesson plans and in fact I have used it. They then can be printed out and I could just 3 hole punch them and stick them in a binder.  Done that way it would be subject by subject and that is the method I am leaning towards now.  That way we can be ahead in one subject and behind in another and I am not staring at a page that is all out of whack.  Do you hear a "but" coming??   But, the problem with this is I don't always sit at the computer when planning. Sometimes I like to spread books out and "handouts" and frankly, I just like paper.  So, I make double the work for myself if I plan it all out on paper and then transfer it to the Homeschool Tracker program.  The good news is once it is in there it is in there and I can re-use it if needed, but since I only have two students left and they are 8 years apart, that's not likely.  Sigh.

I have also done the 180 file folders for the year, but that gets screwy too if we don't finish everything in one day.  Is there an ideal plan system?  If you know what it is please enlighten me.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

First Grade Curriculum

I love this time of year - curriculum buying season! I have made all my decisions regarding first grade (I think).  This is almost a comprehensive list of materials, not just our everyday stuff. 

Math: Abeka Arithmetic 1 and flash cards

Reading: Continuing with OPGTR , Bob Books, Step into Reading and I Can Read It readers

Phonics and Grammar: Explode the Code and First Language Lessons

General Language Arts: Classical Writing Primers Autumn, Winter and Spring from There is copy work, spelling, grammar, nature study and picture study.  I chose this over Writing With Ease because of the nature study and picture study components.  I am still kind of mourning WWE though and we may switch to that in 2nd Grade....I just don't know!

Spelling:  Because I am not sure how comprehensive spelling is with the CW Primer I am going to choose a spelling program, but I can't decide between: Spelling Power (which we already own and would save me $$), Spelling Workout A (which I haven't seen an adequate sample of) or Steck Vaughn Linking Words to Meaning Grade 1.  Also, to add more confusion there are also FREE spelling lists online. What to do, what to do????

Science: combined with lapbooks from and   Lapbooks on the "to do"  list: Animal Classification, Five Senses, Frogs, Birds and Human Body.  Of course lots of readers to go with them!  My goal is science 4 days a week.  Noodle will be growing frogs and worms this year too!

Health:  Abeka Health 1 is my spine.  Lapbooks to go along: Health and Safety (HOAC), Dental Health (HOAC), Healthy Bodies (HOAC) and Healthy Eating (HOAC).  We'll do health about 2 times a week.

American History (1492-1860): I am just making this up on my own using ideas from and reading lists from Sonlight and Winter Promise.  Books I have included so far: The Indian Book (Childcraft Annual 1980), If You Lived.....series from Scholastic, Native Americans (Nature Company Discoveries Libraries), History Pockets: Native Americans, Grades 1-3, History Pockets: Life in Plymouth Colony, Grades 1-3, The American Story: 100 True Tales from American History, The Lewis & Clark Expedition: Join the Corps of Discovery to Explore Uncharted Territory (Kaleidoscope Kids Book) .  On the Read Aloud List so far: The Birchbark House, Night Bird: A Story of the Seminole Indians (Once Upon America), The Sign of the Beaver, Ben and Me: An Astonishing Life of Benjamin Franklin by His Good Mouse Amos, Trail of Tears (Step-Into-Reading, Step 5) and so many more!

History Lapbooks on the list: Declaration of Independence (HOAC), Let's Learn About American Indians (HOAC), Story of Jamestown (HOAC), 4th of July (CurrClick), Christopher Columbus (I think Currclick or Homeschool Share) and others. 

Seeing it all in print makes it seem like I will be working my 6 year old to the bone, but I promise I won't be! It does look a little ambitious and it isn't even the full list for History!  We love to read here so it really isn't as daunting as it seems.  I am so excited!!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Kindergarten Volcanoes Unit

Noodle did his science fair project on Volcanoes.  We studied Volcanoes for about 3 weeks.  Because he is only six and in Kindergarten I kept it very basic.  My goals were for him to know:

  • The 3 main types of volcanoes
  • Parts of the volcan
  • Definitions of Active, Dormant and Extinct Volcanoes
  • Where they are
  • What/where re: "Ring of Fire"
  • Largest Volcano
  • How they form
  • Magma/Lava
The books we used for our study were:

We also used the lapbook from called "V is for Volcano."  Additionally, I used some of the lapbook activites from

This year each time we start a new study we make a mural and volcanoes were no exception. Here is our mural - nothing too fancy this time.  We just labled the parts of the Volcano. 

Noodle's Lapook

Homeschool Science Fair 2010

Tonight was the annual homeschool science fair! Noodle placed 2nd in the Kinder - 1st Division and Bear placed 3rd in the 5th-8th Division. This is the first year he placed. Usually he gets a "participation" ribbon so he was happy to finally place. This was his last year participating. He is moving on to high school and will have too full a plate to participate. Plus there will be no competition at the high school level since he is the oldest of our local homeschool group.

So, here are the pictures.

Weekly Report 5/10-5/14

This week the boys mostly worked on finishing up their science projects for the Science Fair being held tonight.  It is sponsored by our local homeschool group.  This weekend I will have a report complete with pictures.

Noodle continued lessons in The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading and reading Bob Books, Set 1: Beginning Readers.  He also continued working in Explode the Code book 1.  We did not make much progress in math.  He completed filling in the 100's chart and we did some skip counting.  No Saxon this week.  We'll be back on track Monday with that.  He did a few handwriting practice sheets, but mostly he did a lot of writing on his science project.

Bear has also been working on his project.  He continued with Key to Decimals and Teaching Textbooks 7 - he is on lesson 96.  He finished Module 12 of General Science and we are about to move on to Module 13 which is more of the human body.  He is still reading The Shakespeare Stealer.  We did Spelling Power a couple of times too.  He's on Lesson 14 of Wordly Wise Book 8.  We have about 3 weeks left of Keys to Good Language.

This school year is wrapping up nicely.  Math and reading will continue through the summer for Bear, but I will continue all subjects with Noodle since he doesn't know what "summer vacation" is! Plus, science with him this year went much slower than I anticipated and we only studied 3 out of 7 planned habitats!  Next week we are going to start the Arctic habitat.  Over the summer we can hopefully get to the Wetlands and the Woodlands as well.  I hope to be able to have some semi detailed plans here for other parents to utilize.

As for what I have accomplished this week I scored some more deals at a couple book sales and I planned about the first 20 days of Noodle's American History study for the fall.  Essentially I am putting it together on my own, but I am taking ques from American history plans and utilizing a lot of neat books we already have and books from my Amazon wish list.  I love American History and I decided I couldn't follow just one plan like Sonlight or Winter Promise.  I love them both, but I have a very specific picture of what I want our studies to look like.  Anyway, the last big used book sale is next Friday evening so after that whatever I didn't find will be found on or or  I love saving money by buying used materials!

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