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2013 – 2014 Curriculum Plan (So far)

Next year will be Haden’s second grade year! All my researching seems to be paying off because I’m feeling pretty solid about the choices I’ve narrowed down to so far, and I only have a couple things I still need to make a decision on. So, here is the list that I promised!

Math

We will continue doing mostly Living Math, and will be using a variety of resources throughout the year. So, I’ve just listed some of the things I want to add to our collection of living math tools. 

Miquon Math – This will be the core of our math. We have already started using the Orange & Red Books, but will continue on throughout the rest of the series.
I Love Math Books
Logic Links
Usborne First Maths Dictionary
Learning Resources Creative Color Cubes
Citi Blocks

Plus, living math books that we will borrow from the library. 🙂 You can find book lists here, here and here.

Language Arts

I have had the hardest time making a decision here! I’ve thought that I had it all figured out a couple of times, only to change my mind again. I think this is it though. Hopefully….

I linked to the main website for all the Brave Writer materials below, but you can buy them at a really great discount on the Homeschool Buyer’s Co-op.

Brave Writer’s The Writer’s Jungle
Brave Writer’s The Wand
Brave Writer’s Jot It Down

Handwriting Without Tears

And of course, reading TONS of books. 😛

Science

Elemental Science: Elementary Biology

Required books for Biology:

Kingfisher First Encyclopedia of Animals
DK First Human Body Encyclopedia
Plant Parts
Janice VanCleave’s Science Around the World
Janice VanCleave’s Biology for Every Kid

Intellego Unit – Evolution

History

Classical House of Learning – Grammar Stage Ancients (FREE literature-based program.) Although, this curriculum offers a reading schedule that includes Story of the World, I’ve decided to skip that, and use the Usborne Encyclopedia of World History as a supplement to the program. I may do Ancient Civilizations History Pockets with it too.

I will be borrowing most of the Required Books for the course from the library, as well as the Optional Books.

Also, we will be doing American History read-alouds throughout the year to go ahead and dip our toes into our history a bit better, until I’m ready to do a more thorough study. 🙂

Geography

Intellego Unit – Maps
Geography from A to Z: A Picture Glossary
World GeoPuzzle 

We will probably do misc. country studies as Haden shows interest too.

Social Studies

Intellego Unit – Goods and Services
Intellego Unit – Choices and Resources

Art

We will continue using our Usborne Art Coloring Book and Draw.Write. Now.

BLAM

BLAM by Roy Lichtenstein

Spanish

I’d really like to start doing Spanish next year, but I am still undecided on what to use. I am considering using the book, Getting Started with Spanish. Maybe Mango if I can budget it in… I’m really not sure yet…

Others

I will be adding to our collections of field guides for Nature Study. We really like the Peterson Guides. 🙂 I’m getting Peterson First Guide Rocks and Minerals & Peterson First Guide Caterpillars, plus maybe a couple others.

The Kids’ Book of Questions – This book was recommended in the book, Raising Freethinkers: A Practical Guide for Parenting Beyond Belief, which is a really awesome book, BTW. I will be using it as a starting point towards having  more thought provoking discussions with Haden and to encourage moral reasoning.

Usborne Encyclopedia of  World Religions

And (of course) we will be taking classes through our co-op next year too.

Chickens

All about chickens in Life on the Farm class.

Websites

These are all websites that we love and utilize now. Just thought I would share the love. 😉

Education Unboxed – Oh, the amazing things you can do with Cuisenaire Rods.
Cool Math Games – Cool math games. 😛
Math Playground – More cool math games.
Living Math – The place to check out for living math resources.
Handbook of Nature Study Blog – I love their monthly newsletters because they include fun outdoor challenge grids and free notebooking pages to go with them.
Notebooking Fairy – Lots of free notebooking pages.
Homeschool Share – FREE lapbooks!

Pre-K

Addison will be 3 1/2 in the fall, so I will most likely start making a more concentrated effort to plan activities to do with her. She already tags along with Haden during school sometimes, especially science. She likes to sit at the table with us and work on puzzles or pages from her cut and paste book when we are working. I’ll keep it simple, but do want to start forming a habit of thinking about her more than I currently do when it comes to our plans for the day. I’m thinking about buying her some sand paper letters and numbers… I’ve started a preschool Pintrest board to pull ideas from, and I will likely try to take a literature-based unit study style approach with her for Pre-K, and see how that goes. The last two classes of this term at co-op she actually attended class on her own, so I’m hoping she will do that in the Fall too!

[box] So, what are your plans for next year? You know I want hear about them! :)[/box]

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Oh, the Curriculum!

And the purchasing has begun!!! Our next school year  has been on my mind for the past month or so. I’ve been making lists, researching, crossing things off, researching some more, and adding things on… I’ve got a pretty good list going, which I will probably post in the nearish future, even though it is subject to change. 😛  Now I get to spend my night perusing all these new books! And the nerd in me finds that rather exciting.

Homeschool Curriculum

A little sneak peek @ the first wave of resources we are adding to our homeschooling arsenal. 😉

 

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Every Day is Earth Day

Today, on Earth Day, we (with the help of friends) helped SAVE the Earth! It was really quite impressive. 😉

Ready!

We ventured out to Sweetwater Creek State Park to give a little TLC.

Trash in the creek

The voices of outrage at the amount of trash in the water could be heard from afar. We really needed a boat and a net with a long pole to tackle the places that need it most. 🙁 Our butterfly net was not up to the task. Bummer.

Searching

We cleared the ground though.

Play time

Ah. A reward for a job well done. Cheeky looks to be basking like all the turtles we saw on the way.

Explorers

Maybe they are scouting for more trash?

Sleepy Girl

Our Earth Day adventure wore Cheeky out. She passed out on top of me eating the boobie milk and watching My Little Pony.

[box] How was your day?[/box]

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Do You Strew?

One thing I love about being a homeschooling parent is that there always seems to be a never-ending stream of homeschooling styles, concepts or ideas that you have yet to explore – and I am always on the lookout for new ideas. So, recently I stumbled across a term that is closely associated with unschooling – strewing. I was like… What. Is. That? It was kinda a DUH moment for me because it really is such a simple concept it should have occurred to me before. Aren’t the best ideas like that???!! Completely over my head apparently…

Strewing effectively boils down to leaving things out for your children that will draw their attention, and encourage exploration. Genius. We seriously have all kinds of cool things in our house that my children rarely mess with, and I think that the way I keep things tidily in their place is a deterring factor.

Here are a couple of links that can explain strewing better. I could take the time to write more, but why would I when I can pass you along to someone who has already done it for me. 😉

If You Strew It; They Will Come

Homeschool Strewing

So, I have been making a nightly effort to strew before I go to bed… and the results have been awesome. Every morning when we come downstairs for breakfast, my kids seem to feel drawn to things that I have left out.

 

Playdough2

Our playdough strew. I printed off a couple of playdough mats (links found here), put out some plastic animals, sea shells, rocks and feathers to go with the playdough, and they just went with it.

 

Strewing1

I pulled out all of our nature study stuff, and put it in a big basket that is now sitting on our fireplace. I’ve been laying out some of our rarely looked at books, and utilizing some of those easy/fun projects that I am forever pinning that I rarely actually work into our school day…

 

Strewing2

Like painting salt with colored water on black paper.

 

Not every strew has been a winner, but I can always try it again later. 🙂 I’ve been working on a Strewing board on Pintrest. Check it out!

 

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From Clay to Bricks

For once, all the Georgia Red Clay that plagues my backyard can be considered a good thing. Today, as part of our Earth unit using Elemental Science, we made some bricks.

Mud hole

Mixing water and grass clippings into our clay hole.

Our Mold

We used a cut up orange juice carton for our brick mold.

Bricks

Finished bricks!

I’m hoping they will be dry by tomorrow afternoon, so we can play with them. They are currently in the back yard surrounded by orange cones to deter anyone (dogs included) from trampling them. 😛

[box] What happened in your homeschool today?[/box]

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2012-2013 Curriculum 2.0

Since my original post on our curriculum for the year (back in September), I have made a good number of changes, so I figured it was about time for an updated version!

🙂 Here it is…

Language Arts

We left behind Time4Learning for various reasons – mostly math related issues. Now we are using How to Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, and Haden’s progress since starting has been amazing, and we are only on lesson 40. I’m sure it isn’t the most interesting program to use out there, but it is effective and our lessons are never more than 15 minutes (usually less). I wish we had made a change sooner. As a supplement, we are using the program, ClickNKids.

Math

Time4Learning Kindergarten curriculum worked in hands-on activities, and used living math books to reinforce concepts introduced in the online lessons, which really worked well for us, but that stopped in their First Grade curriculum. After considering some various options, I decided that Living Math really is the best fit for us. So, now I am building my own lessons each week using various resources. Pintrest has really been my friend, and I’ve actually worked together a pretty awesome Living Math board. A little shout out for Education Unboxed too! I was so happy to find this website. Education Unboxed is filled with instructional videos on how to use Cuisenaire Rods to teach math concepts – way more than I ever could have come up with on my own.

photoTools for Living Math 🙂

 

Science

All my original plans for science have been working out well, but I have been working in more science than I originally planned. It has definitely become a favorite in our house! After we started school for the year, I bought Elemental Science’s Preschool Series Used because I had the opportunity, and since then have been working in parts of it on the subjects that we haven’t done much study on. It is a little young for him, but it has been easy to make it more meaty by using their extra recommended reading books. It uses the book Science Play, which is what I used to build the Toddler science class I just finished teaching with out co-op. (I have every intention of posting my plans soon, so others can use them.) I love that it is not textbooky. It is notebooking and activity heavy. Also, I appreciate how easy it is to use their lesson plans flexibly, and that there are additional things you can add in if the interest is there. I’m planning to use their Elementary level Biology for next year.

Elemental ScienceStudying dirt in our Exploring Earth Unit. Experiment: He collected dirt from our backyard, added water to the jar and stirred. When it settles the dirt separates into layers. He drew/colored what he saw and labeled his layers.

 

Other Stuff

We have made some other cuts too, like our Road Trip U.S.A curriculum. I doubt we will try to use this again unless Haden or Addison show interest in learning more specific things about individual states at some point. Now, I am winging Geography too, and using cool things I find on Pintrest. Like this video, which I think my kids have watched at least 25 times in the past 2 days. Enjoy! 😛

That pretty much sums up our changes! Everything else has worked out just fine. 😛 Annoyingly, I feel like summer is right around the corner, and then I have to start thinking about the next school year. :/ Sigh.

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A Little Push

It has been far too long since my last post. Honestly, I don’t know what my deal is, because I can’t really say I’ve been too busy to find the time to write. Maybe it has become like exercising. Since I’ve lost my momentum it has become hard to get back into it? Who knows. Maybe giving myself a little push, I can find my way back…

Since I am here and writing I feel like I should give you an update on life, so this feels like a good place to insert that I am quitting school. Yeah, I bet everyone is totally shocked. Cause I seemed so committed and all. I really can’t think of any good reason to be doing it, and my lack of overall goal makes my motivation almost nothing. Since I can’t seem to justify the increased stress levels, and the whole eating away of my time thing, I figured I needed to live by one of my new-ish life rules – to only be doing shit that I want to do. So school is out for now. Maybe when my kids are older, I might figure out what I want to do when I grow up and all that jazz, and I can revisit that option.

So, I’m officially unschooling myself again. 🙂

In other news I have been participating in a book club with some friends from our homeschool co-op, reading the book Daring Greatly. Brene Brown’s work is amazing, and even if you read the synopsis for the book and don’t think it is a book you want to read – do it anyways. Best advice I have ever given you. Her chapter on shame was excruciating to read, eye-opening and more than a little heart-breaking. It is the kind of thing that breaks you down, but at the end you are thankful for it. Truthfully, it is hard fior me to put into words and make any sense, so just read it.

I posted her Ted talk Listening to Shame below, which gives you a little insight into what her book is about. Watch it.

Anywho, things in the land of homeschooling have been fun and interesting… you know between the crying, whining, and fits (mostly from me). Plus, bribing Addison with TV to give me 20 minutes of peace to actually work with her brother… 🙂 I have a lot of homeschooling topics I’d like to blog about, but I just need to sit down and do them.

Goo

Bed Time

Growing

Exploring

[box] Did I mention Addison turns 3 in two weeks???!!!![/box]

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Immigration Detention: The People Along the Way

As you know this weekend was our much-anticipated immigration movie screening event, and trip to visit immigrant detainees at the Stewart Detention Center. Along with the hospitality house, El Refugio in Lumpkin, GA, which houses families coming to visit loved ones.

Through my endeavor to learn more about immigration, I can officially say from the other side that I was successful. Possibly more successful than I expected.

I learned that Stewart Detention Center is the largest detention center in the country, detaining about 1,800 immigrants at any given time. I’ve learned that it is one of MANY detention centers scattered across the U.S. that are for-profit, owned and run by corporations, such as Corrections Corporation of America, which is the owner of Stewart. I’ve learned that the CCA makes $100 a day per detainee that resides in their facility, which offers great incentive to keep detainee numbers high, and that money is paid to them from our government straight out of your tax paying pockets.

Stewart Detention Center falls in the top 10 worst detention centers in the U.S. Detention centers have ongoing issues and complaints for inadequate medical care, sexual and physical abuse, insufficient food, and high costs for communication to those outside of the facility, making contact with family members hard. I’ve learned that breaking immigration law is considered a civil offense, and not a criminal one, so detainees are denied the right to government provided legal defense.

Detention centers are primarily built in impoverished areas, away from major cities to make it difficult for families to travel to visit their loved ones. In Lumpkin there are no hotels, or public transportation options, not even a regular grocery store.

I’ve learned that our immigration policies and our high rates of deportation have destroyed many families. Thousands. Nearly 45,000 immigrant parents were deported in the first half of 2012 alone, separating them from their U.S born children. It is estimated that at least 5,000 of those children (in 22 states) now reside in our foster care system, which doesn’t account for the number of children in foster care in states unaccounted for, or those that have been orphaned by these policies that now reside with other family members living in the U.S. Husbands separated from their wives, mothers from their children, and fathers from their children.

These are just a few factoids though. Stats. Just a few, since there are so many more I could be throwing out there. And while they are disturbing and sad, they don’t put a real face to what is really happening here.

So, more important than what I’ve learned here, is what I saw.

I saw how difficult it is to navigate the detention system without guidance, and you can wholeheartedly expect to get little to no help from those running or those employed by these bureaucracies. We can mince words all we want about how detention centers aren’t prisons, but only those that haven’t been there would ever make that assumption. Or those that have a monetary or philosophical interest in them. They are very much prisons.

Stewart Detention Center is completely surrounded by high fencing topped with barbed wire. Not only one fence, but two. You can’t walk into Stewart without being buzzed into their two-gate system. You enter the first gated door, and it closes you in before allowing you to enter through the second. Detainees are only allowed one visitor per week, and families sit for hours waiting for the opportunity to visit (I waited 2 ½ hours.) Each visit is one hour long, and only 5 visits can take place at one time. These visits allow no actual contact with the detainee and take place over phone, while being separated by glass. When you go through to visit they require that you remove your shoes, empty your pockets, remove you belt, and place all belongings in a bucket so that they can be scanned. After you walk through metal detectors you are allowed your shoes back, but must replace all belongings inside a locker for the duration of your visit.

However, it wasn’t the inner workings of Stewart that made the biggest impression on me. It was the people along the way.

It was the story I heard of one man’s personal experience in hiring a coyote to take him to the border to get here. About how his group was lied to about how long it would take, so they were inadequately prepared with food and water. About how merciless coyotes can be, and that they were not allowed to rest, even the children. He described the fear of stopping, because their guide would leave them behind with no way to find their way forward or back. He described the experience as a nightmare that still haunts him today, I could hear his pain, and I cried for them. All of them. In my lifetime I will surely never understand the fear or necessity that drives so many to make that trek, or the level of bravery that it takes to make that choice.

Most of us, those “lucky” American born folks never will.

It was the people who traveled from all over to visit their loved ones. Mothers. Fathers. Wives. Children. Sisters. Brothers. Friends. The woman I spoke with who was trying to visit her husband, but was turned away after 40 minutes of waiting because they realized that he had been visited earlier in the week, so was not allowed to see him. The woman that was almost denied visitation access due to her shirt baring too much skin. The woman I met that travels every Saturday from Buford to see her husband, who has been at Stewart for the past 8 months.

And it was the man that I had the privilege, along with my husband, to spend an hour talking with that I gained the most insight from. The man who has been fighting his case and residing in Stewart since Sept. 2011. The one whose mother died from cancer shortly after his visitation request was denied to go see her. The one whose wife suffers from a heart condition, who has been without insurance since his detention began, and can no longer afford the expensive medications she needs. I listened as he expressed his fear for her, as she has been in and out of the hospital. His fear that he may never see her again, and his fear that she will die before he ever has the chance. I listened as he told us the story of how they met, and fell in love. I watched him as he cried for his life being denied him, the loss of his mother, for his wife, and I cried with him. He is scared (like so many others), and he has every reason to be.

So, those are the faces. The people behind all the stats and facts and articles. And it makes me angry. And so so sad. And scared too.

Because as my new friend, Jose described to me – the American Dream has become a nightmare.

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Border Crossings Educational Event

Last semester during my Sociology course, the topic of immigration in the United States came up. In an attempt to learn more about the barriers immigrants face, I ended up having some great conversations on Facebook with my friends, and connecting with a friend that is very passionate about immigration reform, and volunteers much of her time to helping detained immigrants and their families.

In order to learn more about a topic that I have (in the past) been sorely lacking knowledge on, and with the help of said friend, I have been helping to organize an educational event that is taking place this Friday night!

So, my local readers… Join us for an educational event on January 25th @ 6 pm to view the film, A Better Life in Avondale Estates near Decatur. A Better Life tells a typical story of Latino immigrants that bring to light many struggles that Latinos/as face in the United States. We will follow the film with a discussion, which will be a great opportunity to learn more about immigration and detention issues, and start thinking about and discussing ways to take action and work towards social change.

You can find full details for the event at it’s Facebook Listing.

Wanna know why you should care about immigration in the U.S? Watch this short 2-minute video for a brief glimpse into our private immigrant detention industry.

This Saturday, along with my husband and a group of friends, I will be driving to Lumpkin, Georgia to visit El Refugio, a hospitality house, right outside the gates of Stewart Detention Center. Its purpose is to serve the family and friends of men detained and, thus, separated from their loved ones. Stewart Detention Center is the largest immigrant detention center in the country. During our trip we will visit with detainees at Stewart Detention Center. You can look forward to reading about my experience after I get back. 🙂

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2013!!! Here’s to getting it right!

I’m running a little behind on getting this post out. As usual, although I intended to be a blog writing machine during my break from school that hasn’t really panned out in reality. Oh, well.

2012 was a really good year for us. SO I really want more of that.

I wrote these goals out over the summer in preparation for the new school year, but since I haven’t really given them much thought since then it seems like a good time to actively start trying to actually focus on them.

My focus going into 2013:

  • Keep letting go. This year my anxiety levels have been pretty minimal. I don’t want to back track. I just have to remember to not get so caught up in the day to day crap, notice how I am feeling about life and do what I need to stay happy. Let go of other people’s expectations for me, but probably more importantly the expectations I place on myself.
  • Fight less. I really want to minimize the amount of time we (my family) spend being snappy with each other or having full out brawls, so I’m trying to pay attention to our triggers for negative behavior.
  • Remember, I don’t have to do everything! Less is sometimes more. And sometimes less is all I have energy for so it will just have to do.

These are more centrally focused on our homeschool:

  • Be more open to on-the-fly learning. I have to be less focused on trying to plan everything out, and being MORE available to the needs of always curious children.
  • Support more independent, student-led projects and learning, which is why I’ve completely cut Fridays out of our regularly scheduled school so that they have a free day where I can stop focusing on the stuff I feel like they need to be learning and can ask, “What would YOU like to learn about today? What do you want to explore?”
  • Foster entire family participation in activities. I would really like to find ways to get Michael more comfortably involved in our homeschool.

Today, we had one of those rather perfect homeschooling moments. While we were cooking dinner, my kids were in the back yard doing this…

Later, I told Haden that what they did on the seesaw was Math, and he just looked at me all confused-like. 😛