Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Plan

Since I didn't buy much curriculum this year, you may be wondering how exactly I plan to teach my children. Here is my plan:

Reading - Arwen - Teach your Child to Read in 100 Lessons - I used this with both of my older girls. Arwen is proving to be a more difficult student, but we are plugging along. We also have a million easy readers.
Sierra and Kali - books. I instituted "reading time" this year. They have always read time at bedtime, but since they play so well together they don't often read during the day. I have assigned Sierra a book to read because I think she is getting old enough to have assignments. This month she is reading Caddie Woodlawn. Kali can read whatever she wants, but she wanted an assigned book, so I told her to read Kit from the American Girls series. She finished it in a few days and is now reading other books. I am having them narrate what they read, so I can gauge their comprehension. No boring workbooks for us...

Writing - Copywork, dictation, freewriting. Yeah, Charlotte Mason all these ideas are free! Although freewriting is an idea from The Writer's Jungle which is not exactly free. I plan to use more ideas from TWJ, but haven't gotten around to it, yet.

Grammar - First Language Lessons and Rod and Staff English 4 (which I already had from last year). Last year I did grammar with Kali and Sierra separately, but it was kind of a pain and they were learning much of the same things, so this year I am teaching them together. I use both books as a guide. We haven't done any of the written assignments, yet. I gave them each a spiral notebook to use for grammar and I have them write concepts that they learn in the notebook, like the 8 parts of speech and types of sentences, etc.

Spelling - Right now we are going through Rebecca Sitton's "no excuse" list and then we will move on to individualized lists based on words they misspell in their writing. For each word they misspell we will discuss the rules and patterns associated with each word and list other words with the same pattern. I have the book, ABC's and All of Their Tricks, to use as a reference for spelling patterns.

Math - I have all 3 girls using Singapore this year. Arwen is starting 1A, Kali is almost done with 2A, and Sierra just started 4B

History - Story of the World 2 - we only got 10 chapter into this last year, so we will continue it this year.

Science - Oh, how we love the library. I have picked topics based on What your __ Grader Needs to Know. We have worked through almost all of the topics in the K - 3 books and have a few more to cover in the 4th grade book. We have an electricity set from last year and I hope to start Real Science 4 Kids in the spring. I bought Lyrical Life Science Vol1, but I don't think we will end up using it this year. Maybe we will listen to the CD.

Music - Violin Lessons, Piano Lessons Composer studies using books and CD's from the library

Art - co-op art class, Artist studies using books from the library.

Foreign Language - We were using Rosetta Stone that we borrowed for free from a homeschool program in Colorado. When we moved I figured we would use the online library version, but the Rosetta Stone company took it off the libraries' databases - grrr... My plan is to get videos and CD's from the library instead. We also still have the Minimus Latin book, but I don't know if we will get around to using it this year.

Monday, September 22, 2008

This year's homeschool purchases

I haven't bought much this year so far. I didn't need much (I wanted lots of stuff, but didn't need much) and moving and entering the real world has been a shock to our budget. I sold a bunch of stuff during the summer to cover some of the cost, so my total outgoing is $108 right now. I got a several items used and acquired some. Here is what I got:

Lyrical Life Science Vol 1 - The songs are good. The text and workbook are not as exciting, but they cover pretty advanced science information and I think they might be useful later.

Singapore Math - I have switched my oldest from Right Start to Singapore. Right Start seems to provide a good foundation (we actually started in Level D and skipped around covering topics that Sierra needed, but I have Levels B and C that I have also used as a reference for teaching). However, as we started Level E, I realized that Sierra was confident enough with her math that she no longer needed daily teacher taught lessons and I, having 3 students to teach now, didn't have the time for the daily lessons. So we are trying Singapore starting with 4B. I bought the workbook, textbook, and Homeschool Instructor's Guide.

Wrap Ups - Full Math set addition, subtraction, division, multiplication, and fractions and States and Capitals set. Hopefully, these won't sit around gathering dust...

What Your Fifth Grader Needs to Know

Winston Grammar - I bought the basic set used super cheap and got the advanced set for free at a homeschool swap. I am not using them right now, but I could resist super cheap and free :)

The Writer's Jungle - loving the ideas in this. Hoping to find time to use them...

A " mice" way to learn about government curriculum guide and A "mice" way to learn about voting, campaigns, and elections - these book go along with picture books by Peter Barnes that I plan to get at the library. I should have know I would be disappointed by curriculum design for a classroom, but the picture books are cute and I am looking forward to reading them to the girls and discussing the concepts.

Logic Safari book 2 - I haven't used these, yet. We'll see if the girls like these.

Vroot and Vroom - this is a Cd rom that goes along with Signapore Math. It was kind of a splure. I needed to spend $150 on Rainbow Resources to get free shipping and even after I ordered some birthday and Christmas presents, I still needed a bit more.

I really, really, really wanted to buy Real Science 4 Kids, but I couldn't fit it in the budget. I am hoping to be able to get it in January or with tax return money.

After looking at Lyrical Life Science and needing to wait to buy Real Science 4 Kids, I decide to do science one area at a time starting next year. I have been skipping around through Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Earth Science using What Your __Grader Needs to Know as a guide, but I am thinking with RS4K dividing their curriculum into Biology, Chemistry, and Physics, it makes sense to learn about one area at a time. I think that will also make it easier to use Lyrical Life Science along with RS4K Biology instead of trying to skip around. My plan is to do some Physics topics this year - electricity (because I have a set that I bought last year and never got around to using), magnets, and simple machines. I also want to do a little unit on reproduction. It has been 3 year since the girls and I have really sat sown and discussed "the birds and the bees, " so I thought it might be time to revisit that little topic. And then next year we will do Biology, followed by Chemistry the next year, and then Physics and Earth Science the year after that. By that time Sierra will be a high schooler - ack! OK, I must go before I freak out about that.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

More educational TV shows and other random stuff

I recently discovered 2 educational TV shows that I have tracked my kids into watch. The first is Liberty's Kids. This show has been around for a while. I tried to get my older daughter to watch it a few years ago, but I don't think she was old enough to understand what the show was about.The show takes place during the Revolutionary War and each episode has some historical facts mixed into the fictional storyline. My kids are loving this show right now.

The other show is called Crash, Bang, Splat. My friend, Heidi, recommended this show to me and I wasn't sure if I would be able to convince my daughter's to watch a science show, but they like it especially my oldest.

In other news, I am starting another blog called Behind the Mess to chronicle the boring details of our homeschool life. For those interested, I will be posting our learning experiences daily (or weekly if I get busy). It is mostly a way for me to keep records and to see in black and white exactly what we are accomplishing each day, but I figure it might be of interest to other homeschoolers.

Also, I have added the books that we used during our recent weather unit to the booklist side bar. Enjoy!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

The first week in review

Overall, it was a good week. Up until this year, we have done a lot of school all together. The 3 girls and me. We've done lots of read alouds and discussions. This year I want my oldest especially to take more responsibility for her school work. One idea I had was to print out a chart of our schedule for each day. It has worked brilliantly. My older 2 can read the chart and know exactly what is expected of them each day. I can't believe I didn't come up with this idea earlier. It includes a special chart for morning chores that I expect them to get done before we start school at 10 am which includes:

Get dressed AND put away pj's and put yesterday's clothes in the laundry basket

eat breakfast AND put dishes in the sink

brush teeth AND put away toothbrush and wipe out sink

Make bed NEATLY

Brush hair

It was so nice to be able to refer to the chart to make sure they had done everything. Then once we started school the girls helped me stay on schedule using the chart.

10am - Topic Read Alouds - next week we are learning about weather
11am - break
11:15am - spelling or grammar, alternating days, Kali and Sierra together
11:30am - Writing - alternating copywork, dictation, freewriting, etc.
12:00pm - Lunch
12:30pm - break
1:00pm - Math
1:30pm - Reading
2pm - freetime
4pm - Practice Piano, Violin (Kali), Typing (Sierra)
5pm - Clean up

This is the schedule for Monday and Tuesday. Tuesday we do our weekly chores, so free time doesn 't start until 2:30pm.

Wednesday and Friday we have afternoon activities so we have to shorten our school day. I haven't exactly figured out how to do that, yet. Something will have to be skipped.

Thursdays, I have the girls signed up for a choir that meets in the morning. I don't generally like morning activities because it messes up our whole day. None of us feel like doing school in the afternoon after getting home from a morning activity. But this year I have a plan. My dh had an idea to do stations like his favorite second grade teacher. At first I thought, "How am I going to fit this into my already super full schedule?" but then I realized it would be a perfect thing to do on Thursday afternoons. Arwen was feeling a bit sick, but the older girls did the following stations this week.

1. Do math wrap ups. Multiplication for Sierra, Addition for Kali
2. Practice spelling words
3. Do a Mad Lib
4. Draw a picture and write a short story
5. Silent reading

It worked out really well. The idea was to spend 15 minutes at each station, but some didn't take as long. I helped keep time while I got the dishes done. And right now the girls think it is great fun.

It was a busy week. I had meetings Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday evenings, a homeschool planning meeting on Wednesday afternoon, and a Homeschool Potluck on Friday. And I am now feeling the repercussions of it. I am defintely sick today Of course, it didn't help that poor sick Arwen was breathing in my face all week because sick kids alway need lots of snuggles... I am hoping to feel better by tomorrow, so we can a a good first full week of school next week.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

You Are Pocahantas!
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Free-spirited and wise. You have a strong passionate spirit that touches and changes all who know you. The wisdom and common sense that you have is really what guides you through life. Even so, you also have a very playful side that loves adventure and excitement.

Which Disney Princess Are You?

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

First Day of School - Homeschooler Style

Last week as I was reading blogs, I noticed that a lot of my friends and family members were posting First Day of School pictures. Well, we started school today and I thought I would post some First Day of School pictures of my own.

Here are my children at 8:30am:

Here is a slightly blurry picture of my youngest who is officially a kindergartner this year - Yikes! I am sure I would be sad and emotional if I weren't keeping her home with me.

I think the picture is blurry because Arwen kept sticking her legs up in the air and showing her underwear. It is probably a good thing that I am not sending this crazy child out into the world just yet.

And here is a picture of all of my students getting comfy on the couch for our read aloud time. I meant to take more pictures, but I got busy with the, ya know, doing school thing and forgot. It was a pretty good day. I will post more about it later since I should probably get to bed so I will be ready for the second day of school - homeschool style.