Saturday, August 30, 2008

Cameron's Kindergarten Book

A friend of mine, Michelle, binds her children's work into a book. I thought that was a great idea. I was looking at the math curriculum for Kindergarten and I was looking at spending $18-26 . Sounds like a lot for pages on pattern and number recognition. So I went to the internet. I get her alphabet pages for free off the internet. There were so many worksheets floating around, I started on a one-stop workbook for kindergarten. I put together 3 or 4 worksheets for each day on the alphabet, numbers, colors, patterns, cutting, Rod and Staff books, or anything else fun we would use in school. The pages either came off of teh internet of I cut the binding off of workbooks such as Rod and Staff. I took it to Office Max and had it spiral bound for a little over $4. The spiral bound is great because it can open flat all the way. Some of the pages (from Rod and Staff) were a little smaller, and they fit in fine. I also used pages from e-books I purchased for under $3 at Currclick ( All total, I spent under $20! I have my own printer, and it costs me three cents a page for black and white. Add workbooks in, and it would probably still be under $30. I also listed 50 activities by topic from some of my favorite activity books mainly The Instant Curriculum. This should make it easy for me to decide what we will do that day (or week). I will check the activities off as we do them. I arranged the alphabet pages according to what letter she will be learning in her 100 easy lessons reading book. Cameron loves the book. Mommy made the book just for her. There is no doubt about what she is expected to do that day, either. She likes knowing before her day begins her expected "work". Raeley designed the cover for her.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

mixing chores and school

I had to run up to the club Tuesday morning and that really messes up our school day. I didn't know how well the kids would do without me there, so I told them 3 things they could do while I was gone. One of those was for my oldest to read aloud a chapter of our read aloud book. As I was walking out the door, I looked at our embarrasingly overgrown-with-weeds flower beds. I yelled back at the kids that they could weed the flower beds and I would pay them. I didn't know if they would do school while I was gone, so I thought at least I'd make some use of their time! I hurried at the club and when I pull into the driveway, I see my oldest sitting against the garage reading out loud to the boys and Cameron as they pull weeds. Now that's ingenuity at it's best! I was so excited! Raeley did not want to pull weeds, so she was content, and the other kids all had thier own bags full of weeds so I could see what kind of progress they were making. If I would just let them come up with solutions on their own more often!

Monday, August 25, 2008

How does it work? Homeschooling and work?

What a week last week was. This week will be full also. I have lots of work to do. Keeping up with school and kid schedules is enough if you don't add marketing plans, schedules, phone interviews. Keeping the house clean? HA! Mark couldn't find the phone today for a business call. Yes, it's that bad. The juggling act is on. What is important in times like these? I try to keep my patience with the kids. I try to listen to them and not keep putting them off. I try to keep a steady list of chores for them, too. Just so the house doesn't get too bad. I have their school work listed so when I can't do a lesson with them, they know what they can be doing independantly. So far we are on track but the house is a mess - did I mention that yet? and I am living with a stress headache. I will get around to working out - I will, I will I will!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Learning Adventures Curriculum

I really like the curriculum we are using this year. It is new for us, and it is a unit study from Learning Adventures.

It is based in history, with everything tying into that. For instance, the first unit is Ancient Egypt. The bible story is Joseph, Israelites in the desert, Joshua, idolitry, 10 commandments). Science is the desert (including erosion, temperature, weather, plants). It encourages children to discover information on their own by independant study times. It covers everything but math, and I like the writing lessons. The kids really like it and are having fun. We do school together (grades 4,5, 7) with me expecting a little more from my 7th grader. She has to write 2 or 3 5 paragraph essays with each unit. Each unit lasts a month. Once a semester she will write a research paper. I do supplement with Easy Grammer and Daily Grams. I was going to substitute with Wordly Wise as well, but the curriculum covers vocabulary extensively.

It takes me 2 to 2 1/2 hours to cover the work with them, with 1 hour or less independant study on topics discussed, 30 minutes independant reading, 1 hour of math, and 30 minutes of whatever elective we are doing that day. The school day is usually done in 5 hours, with us being done around 2 or 2:30. Last year our days seemed to drag on, but I have learned that more is not neccessarily better. My kids are learning quite a bit. The science activities are frequent and easy and they work, which I appreciate.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Less is More?

The curriculum that we are using this year really fits our family. The kids look forward to school and I feel that they are learning quite a bit. I learn more all the time that too much information just bogs the kids down. I feel that if I give them a shorter lesson, they are much more likely to remember the information and file it away in their minds somewhere. Who would think that less is more?

On the note of filing information, during one of the SETHSA conference talks in Houston, Texas that I went to this summer, l realized something that really clicked with me. When you are teaching your children, you need to make sure that they have a "peg" or a "hook" on which to hang the knowledge. For example, if you are talking about a new topic, such as a science principle, make sure some kind of base knowledge is there. If you are teaching about liquids turning into gasses, make sure your kids know what liquid is. If you are teaching about something they have never heard of before, such as simple machines. They are thinking engines, and you are talking about fulcrums, tie it immediately into a see-saw. That is your peg to hang the knowledge on. For kindergarten, this is basic but can be easily overlooked.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Breavity of Life

It has been over a week since I posted. What a week. My sister went in to the hospital for a simple proceedure and ended up in critical condition. She almost died. She is doing much better now, but will have a long road of recovery. Here is a note from her on her experience:

On 08-08-08 the world was talking about what a lucky day it was. For me it was a day I was to have a very routine surgery. One night in the hospital, two to four week recovery time. No big deal. The surgery went fine. Or so they thought. In recovery they realized it was not good. But it was a day of luck! What was going on? My blood pressure was crashing. There was internal bleeding. When they checked it out, emergency surgery was needed. I remember hearing bits and pieces of it and knew there was trouble. From what I understand, here is what happened: I was hemoraging and something else was going on with my blood. I went into shock and my body was attacking my blood. It was going from bad to worse. I know my doctor prays before each surgery and pictures The Great Physician behind him guiding him and giving him wisdom. I need to inform him that in my case, God stepped in and carried me. I wanted to live. God took the team of doctors and preformed a miracle. He carried all of us. And I survived! My blood pressure was very unstable and my blood was doing funny things. I had 12 or more transfusions among other blood stuff. I have 2 clots, one in my lungs and one in an arm. They put a filter in my lungs to protect against any more clots and the one that is there. My veins didn't cooperate and I had to have a central line put in. I swelled up and it made movement very difficult. After a few days my lungs started filling with fluid and started to collapse. I ended up staying in the hospital for 12 days. The road ahead is filled with doctor appointments and different kinds of treatments. We still don't know what is going on with my blood. Not all the numbers are running normal. I still have clots and will have to have the filter removed when the clots are gone. Walking is slow and I have to take it really easy. Through it all, God held me close. Jesus was my companion at the darkest moments. Without the miracles and mercies of God, I would not be here. I am reminded of that everyday and am so happy to be alive. My outlook is one of freedom and grace. I see God's smiles all around me, through people's prayers, through phone calls and emails, through offers of help, through the bird that plays on the tree outside my window. God has shown me there is a new path for me, a new way to live. I no longer have a job so I can have as long as I need to heal. I no longer feel oppressed by the outside things I was beholden to, things that didn't really didn't matter. I was given a gift in this. A gift of life and a gift of a new path. It really was a "lucky day". Thank you God!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Olympic Opening Ceremony

For those of you who do not know, my niece Jordan is in the Olympics! The Paralympics in Judo to be precise. So we are very interested (OK, obsessed) with the Olympics this year. For the opening ceremonies, we ate chinese food and drank hot tea. Our neighbor Maddie, joined with us in the festivities. She loved the hot tea! It was great fun and a great way to kick off the end to a first week of school. By the way, our week got much better on the time aspect. What a great note to end on. And didn't you think the Ceremony was just spectacular?

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Little by Little

My 13 year old is using the same curriculum as my boys and it is discouraging her.
Today she fixed breakfast, which delayed school by a good 30 minutes. Then my sons fixed lunch - I guess not to be outdone by big sis. Add one hour for that. I guess that is what homeschooling is all about - taking hold of the opportunities and encouraging the excitement when the kids feel it. But school past 3:30 and I start to climb the walls. Especially since I still have work for the business to do. I scrambled and typed as fast as I could to edit three letters to staff and one article. I finished in time to take the kids to church. We made it and we were only 15 minutes late - would have only been 5 if I could have found my purse and baseball cap. Baseball cap was manditory since I hadn't had a shower!

So what am I going to do about school taking so long? I stopped to pray. Living in this juggling act makes prayer like breathing. Lately I've been holding my breath, though. And scared that the balls would come crashing down around me. It's hard to live in fear, and doesn't make life very fun or joyful. So I'm trying to start breathing again. Here is what I will do to try to make tomorrow go better. School will start on time and I will write down for the kids how long each activity will take. If one child goes over the alloted time, he will work on it later, but all of us will move on. Now, doesn't that sound simple? The curriculum, however, because of it's nature,doesn't fit neatly into a schedule. Let's see if I can make it!

May I breathe tomorrow! And let me say in closing (hymn music, please) I enjoyed today. It is fun having all of us do the same curriculum, and I got to cook in the kitchen with three of my kids!

Monday, August 4, 2008


Books and Websites I use:
Teach Your Child To Read in 100 Easy Lessons
When I use this book to teach my children to read, I don't do a lot of alphabet work beforehand. I guess I just was never that organized in preschool. I tried with my oldest, Raeley, and she got mouth ulcers because she found it so difficult to remember her letters (and probably because I was so distraught that she wasn't remembering her letters).
The first letters introduced are m, s, and a. Before I sit down with her to do a lesson, we do a worksheet on the letters, including writing them and saying the sound each time she writes a letter. There are only two or three lessons where more than one letter is introduced.
BOB Books after 100 Easy Lessons

Here are some of the websites that I use to find letter pages:
Links to other sites
letter activity pages
alphabet sheets for handwriting

Here is anothere site that has "vintage" records your child can listen to while doing a craft. They are great stories on records from the 40's and 50's.

Essential Math by Singapore Math

Usborne's I Can Draw books and I Can Cut and Stick
Abeka Art K
Mona Brooks Drawing with Children (very teacher involved, but does not require artistic ability to teach, just patience and humility)

For Art Activities:
Encouraging the Artist in Your Child by Sally Warner
Art Adventures At Home by Pattye Carlson and M. Jean Soyke

I also use the book The Instant Curriculum by Pam Schiller and Joan Rossano. I used this for Pre-K, but it is so much fun, and jam packed with activities, that we will use it during K also.

History and Science are done by hanging out with the big kids. I also go to the library and use the referrence books on children's books that catagorize picture books by topic (the thick book with A to Z in the title is my favorite). I look up picture books about science and history to read with her.

Our first day

We made it! Our first day, everyone was up on time. We completed all of our schoolwork. What more could I ask for? Of course, we started out with half a school load. I was mainly trying to get a feel for the new curriculum, and how long it would take to complete a day. We also went to the library, which we will do the first day of each new unit.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

First day of homeschooling - Ready or Not!

I have been excited about this day all summer. The first day of school, starting things off right, throwing my heart into it, working less, and homeschooling more. I love the curriculum I have chosen, and I have been looking forward to getting started ever since it arrived in May. I have slowly been working to get my chaotic life organized. Only problem is, I took too many vacations this summer to really get any substansial amount of work done. Truth be told, I only decided on Saturday that we would start on Monday. So, ready or not, here we go!
As you can see by the pictures, not many books made it on the bookshelves. Notice the fabric samples on the orange wall? I was hoping to have the curtains done this summer. My outlook, I need to do a little bit each day on getting organized, and forgive myself for not meeting my goals of organization this summer.