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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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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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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. 😛

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I’m ALIVE!

That is all.

Ok, maybe I can do a little bit better with my update than that. 😛

I am BUSY. For realz kind of busy, but in a really good way. The kind of busy that results when you are really engaged in what you are doing and actually enjoying yourself… at least when I’m not over thinking it, and considering all those things that need to be notched off of my to-do lists.

I am LOVING my Genetics and Evolution class through Coursera, and I’m happy that it followed right on the heels of my Human Biology class, because the two compliment each other well. Today, started my Sociology class, and I am finding my text  ACTUALLY  enjoyable. SO rare! I feel like I’m spending much of my time half buried in books, when I’m not with my kids.

I’m sure Facebook is tired of hearing me post about school related things, and the general mischief I have been causing lately with sensitive topics…

Other than our normal homeschooling adventures, that is about all I have been up to lately. Here are a few pics for the road!

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Scheduling Our Homeschool

Before, I mentioned  in my A Day in the Life of This Homeschoolin’ Mom post, that we don’t really have set schedule every day for school, but more like a list of goals I would like to accomplish for that day, and we just work them in at some point throughout our day. I thought I would expand on that a bit, and show you what my list of weekly goals actually looks like, so that it doesn’t sound quite so vague.

I only schedule a week at a time, and usually begin my planning for the following week on Fridays. I use a weekly schedule planner that I got from the Notebooking Nook. You can find it near the end of the page in the Planning section. The layout is simple, there is enough space for me to list all the subjects that I would need for any given week, and the boxes are big enough for my writing. 😛

So, each day I schedule out the things I would like to get done on that day, and I always schedule our Fridays much lighter. Generally, we plan something out of the house on Friday anyways, but also because if we don’t get to something on a certain day, our schedule can be adjusted with work being pushed onto our Friday schedule without it being a big deal.

We are usually working on school at different points between 10 and 2, but at the end of the day we probably never actually work more than 2 hours a day, and that would be on a heavier day. That is just accounting for our planned lessons or activities, and doesn’t include learning that just happens, or our reading time before bed, which could be consider “school,” but is more of a family ritual for us.

Sometimes, I will completely cut something from our list if I feel like I scheduled too much, which may or may not get added into the next week’s plans. 🙂 I try my best to stay flexible with it.

So….

[box] How do you schedule your homeschool?[/box]

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A Peek at My Week: The First Week

Whew! It has surely been a busy week. I won’t bore you with every tiny detail. I’ll just bore you with some of them. 😛 Last weekend was spent with my family hanging at the lake for my birthday. After having an insanely crappy week, with insanely crappy weather, my birthday weekend really made up for it. The weather was gorgeous, and there is much to be said about drinking lime-a-ritas, playing board games, messy BBQ ribs, and flying at high speed across beautiful water for an adrenaline rush. Even if my whole body did hurt the next day. Hurt like I’d fallen down a flight of stairs kind of hurtin’. I’m just hardcore that way.

This week marked our official start for First Grade! I tried my best to make it feel special for the kids.  I do fondly remember first day of school excitement from my youth. We took the kids not-back-to-school shopping, so that they could pick out a first day outfit. They were uber excited to dress up nice for the first day, as opposed to their usual pajamas, or just running around in their underwear fashion they normally sport. 😛 I cooked them sausage pancake muffins for breakfast, which is something I rarely do. Have I mentioned that I am not a morning person? Plus, I surprised them with an awesome cake, which I very heavily relied on Michael’s assistance to actually make look good!

I wish I could say that our school week went off without a hitch, but that would just be a complete lie. We ran into a couple of problems with new curriculum this week, mostly easily rectified problems. One of them, however, has me a bit stressed out. That would be our math. My choice for math was a super easy decision for me, because we are just continuing on with our Time4Learning. We liked it for Kindergarten, so I saw no reason to switch it up, and I assumed it would be a smooth transition from Kindergarten to First Grade math. That isn’t exactly the case though. I won’t get into a long winded explanation on why we are having problems, but it looks like I am either going to have to pick something new or do some supplementation to start with and then use throughout the program. I’m leaning more towards the second choice. I’m hoping it will work itself out in the end.

Highlights from our homeschool!

This was out first week back at co-op classes too, which went really well. The kids had a lot of fun and being with a smaller group this year at a smaller location is going to do wonders for my stress levels. SO I am a happy mama.

We spent our weekend seriously kicking butt, getting some stuff done around the house! You can always tell when something big is coming up (Haden’s birthday party), because that tends to be the only time we get shit done around here. My upstairs bathroom went from being this insanely “blah” powder blue to a beautiful Bermuda blue! We had so much extra paint that we decided to spread the blue across the upstairs and did accent walls in the hall and both bedrooms. 🙂

And we made a firepit in the backyard! We have some backyard camping plans for the near future!

[box] Soooo, how was your week?[/box]

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Raising Freethinkers: A Practical Guide for Parenting Beyond Belief

 

I have been steadily working my way through the book, Raising Freethinkers: A Practical Guide for Parenting Beyond Belief, since it was recommended to me by a friend after my post To the Non-Religious: How do you talk about religion with your children? I have really been enjoying the book so far, and I was happy to find at the end of each chapter, lesson plans/activity ideas to do with your children, along with additional resources like books and websites. It has worked out rather nicely for me since I bought the eBook, I have printed out the ends of each chapter to use, so that I can start working them into our homeschool. The activities range in age appropriateness, but there is something for the littles and up.

My newest notebook is now separated into 9 different sections:

  • The Inquiring Mind
  • Ethics
  • The Religious World
  • The Physical Self
  • Positive Living
  • Celebrating Life
  • Life & Death
  • Creating Community
  • Recommended Films

 

I’m excited to get started! As we begin working them in, I will try to come back and blog about the ones that I liked the most. 🙂