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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

New House New School year

The last few months have been a crazy busy. We bought a new house in a wonderful area and much closer to hubby's work. Instead of an hour drive each way he now only has about 20 min drive. Can you say big time savings in gas and much more family time, Yay! So the new house also has two extra rooms one we turned into our homeschool room and the other we turned into a library. Yes, I said a library,lol. We are finally settled in and will be starting the new school year next Tuesday. I like to start our year in July because here in Georgia July is extremely hot and going outside can get a bit uncomfortable. This way we can take off during Sept. when it is still warm enough to go swimming but not so hot that you feel like your melting. I think the kids are ready to start back up as well seeing they have both asked for some work to do. So Who wants to see the new homeschool room? Bye Bye working out of the living room and kitchen and hello to a room set up just for our homeschooling journey.

I added an old desk to the end of our kitchen table to be used for my desk.

My whiteboard wall. My whiteboard is the one item I personal just can't do without. I think we use it more than we even use the computers.

The house came with some selves and we added a few more to fit all of our stiff. Plus there is plenty of room for both of the kid's desk.

 Last but not lest the library. We purchased the shelves that can hold up to 3,000 lbs spaced them out to make a walk way between each one. Then I put all the books by subject. Around the room is a built in shelf too. We have tons of space and everything seems way more organized.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

What I love and Hate About Homeschooling

I guess I should clarify it isn't homeschooling it is more the styles/methods most use. Let me go ahead and lay it on out there that my opinion is that following one method can be a life saver at first. However over the years I bet you will not only find yourself straying from it but you will find you have a crazy happy mix of many styles.  You might be saying umm I don't know what styles/methods there really are. So I will do my best to explain them , or at least the major ones. I will also explain why I personally see it as a downfall to be religiously one style/method all together.

Traditional- Well traditional is short is very much like school at home. You have a textbook and workbook for each and every subject. You may even have a very beautiful school room too. You pretty much cover every subject everyday. You may even stick to the use of public school materials and schedule. I think this is where you normally find two types of homeschooling families ( the Newbies and the My Kids Must Go to College). There is a few things I hate about this style. First well it is school at home. Then it doesn't leave a lot of room for personal interest. But, most of all it is the feel of control like I am controlling every aspect of my child's life right down to their trip to college. I guess I should say I am in the group with those who feel if college is a means to a personal career goal then great go if not there really are many other options out there. Moving on!!

Classical- Classical education depends on a three-part process of training the mind. The early years of school are spent in absorbing facts, systematically laying the foundations for advanced study. In the middle grades, students learn to think through arguments. In the high school years, they learn to express themselves. This classical pattern is called the trivium.A classical education, then, has two important aspects. It is language-focused. And it follows a specific three-part pattern: the mind must be first supplied with facts and images, then given the logical tools for organization of facts, and finally equipped to express conclusions.these are the years in which the building blocks for all other learning are laid, just as grammar is the foundation for language. Even though I tend to agree that a good foundation is great what I don't like is the lack of what I call being a child. There is no self discovery or self expression in the early years and I definitely see that as a downfall. However let me say I agree with most of the rest of this style/method and it is in my opinion a better method in the later years than in the early years.

Unschooling- also know by it's fractions as interest led, Child led, or even radical unschooling. Unschooling basically goes with the interests of the child. There is no set curriculum. That is not to say they never use a curriculum if the child request one then the parents will happily get that for them. Pretty much what every the child is interested in learning is all the child is asked to learn. Really I wouldn't even use the word asked more like that is all the do. This is where you will find the really brave parents who trust and believe that each child is an individual and has their own individual path in life. They don't feel a need to force feed facts or information. The trust in the knowledge/mind of the child to blossom naturally right along with their spirit. I like to call these hippie homeschoolers. They are all about personal freedoms and in some cause like those of radical unschoolers that carries over into all aspects of life. I have a lot of admiration for these homeschoolers because they are brave to step way outside the box and in how much trust they have in the child. What I can't seem to get on board with is the lack of in many cases the foundation. I also can't get on board with it carrying completely over in to aspects of the families life. Let me explain. Their are some for ex. that do not make their children brush their teeth because it is not what the child desires to do. They do not make them go to bed. They do not make them eat a well balanced diet. This is not to say that these kids will not at some point choose on their own to do these things  but it is not something that is normally made to do.

Unit Studies- Unit studies take a theme or topic and incorporate all the school subjects (language arts, history, science, music, art, etc.) into that topic. This form can be fun and rewarding but can tend to become very time consuming. However I have found that instead of incorporating say every subject maybe try to just include say history, science, geography keeps it a bit easier time wise for everyone. I think this style/method also tends to become the most expensive. For me this form is best used here and there when you find the year dragging and the excitement fading put aside the normal materials for a month and dive into a unit study can really bring your school days back to life. My biggest issue here really is the time and money it takes on the parents part.

Charlotte Mason-This styles of homeschooling uses rich literature and “living books” rather than textbooks.  It emphasized respecting each child as a person and giving him a broad education.They works with the way children naturally learn and presents a generous curriculum, including  nature studies,  art and  music appreciation, and  handcrafts, as well as the usual academic subjects. It seeks to “spread a feast” before the child and let him digest what is appropriate for him at the time. And it uses methods that will nurture a love for learning and reinforce  life long habits, not just present a body of information. The style seems to be very much geared toward Christians and are very morally correct material. Most all will have a bible study area involved. This could be a plus or minus depending on who you are and where your beliefs may lay. However I find it very easy to eliminate those aspects if they do not fit your family. Most parents build their own curriculum with the use of living books so that is easy. This can be both a very cheap method and a very expensive method. If you are ok with reading online rather than from a book there are completely free options to use CM method at little to no cost. If you prefer a book in hand well then it can get a bit costly. I am personally mostly a CM homeschooling momma but I do not follow any of the planned material. What I do is build my subject contents with living books of my choice. CM also does not teach grammar until around the 4th grade I personally start earlier so CM Lang. Arts materials tend to not be a good fit for my family. Charlotte Mason emphasizes real not imaginary and that two is one of my issues and is an area I stray from the CM method. My following on Waldorf method will explain why. I am also not a Christian so to much religious talk tends to put me off however some is ok. I do expose my children to Christianity I just don't want to use materials that give the impression it is the only path to God.

Waldorf- Waldorf Education is based upon the educational philosophy of Rudolf Steiner, who developed a philosophy called Anthroposophy. It is based on the developmental stages of the child’s awakening consciousness, with a heavy emphasis on the role of the teacher to nurture and guide the children. Steiner believed all children pass through the same three developmental stages at about the same time.. The first stage begins at birth and continues losing of the baby teeth, and education at this stage focuses on fairy tales and archetypal stories, carefully chosen to teach moral principles and are used to introduce alphabet and number concepts. The second stage begins at the eruption of permanent teeth and continues through the onset of puberty, and the focus is on the child’s emotional nature. The third stage, adolescence, is when reasoning predominates, and the child develops his independence and own personal way of interacting with the world around him. In these aspects I feel it is very similar to classical educational stages. Waldorf education was the first method I feel in love with but I also found areas that it just didn't fit us. What I loved about Waldorf was that it's use of fairy-tales , play ,  heavy arts, and no textbooks. What didn't fit was the delay of reading, grammar, and how they are so against technology. I think any family that is not completely Christian but do have a sort of spiritual side would fit well using a Waldorf inspired curriculum. You don't see as many homeschoolers using Waldorf materials but there are many private Waldorf schools. For me it just was to hard to try and wrap my mind around the areas of form drawing, movement, and no technology for the most part. Maybe had I some formal training in those areas it would have been easier. What I did take from Waldorf was what they call their main lesson books. The children make beautiful handmade books that contain what they learned over the course of a school year. These may include short summarized facts, verses, writings, drawings, ect. They truly are beautiful works of art and if you have never seen some examples please take the time to google Waldorf Main lesson books. What is most special about them is your child made them and you the parent will spend many years looking over these books with that bitter sweet feeling.

 Montessori- Montesori is very much like unschooling in the fact it is interest/or child led.. Where it differs is in the use of materials. Montessori is heavy on materials and these materials are not cheap( they are usually very well made and will last yrs).It is a view of the child as one who is naturally eager for knowledge and capable of initiating learning in a supportive, thoughtfully prepared learning environment. It is an approach that values the human spirit and the development of the whole child—physical, social, emotional, cognitive.Personally I feel Montessori is the very best method in early childhood, Montessori students learn through sensory-motor activities, working with materials that develop their cognitive powers through direct experience: seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, touching, and movement. If you want a strong foundation without it feeling extremely school like Montessori inspired is the way to go. The issue with this method is to really implement you the parent will need to do a lot of reading on how the materials are introduced. However there are some amazing youtube videos that will show you and they do not have textbooks or even curriculum what they have is teacher keys for each subject. These are like guidebooks for you to cover every subject but not by grade. Montessori uses a multi age range grouping. So you will have infant (ages 0 to 3), preschool (ages 3 to 6), lower and upper elementary (ages 6 to 9 and 9 to 12), and middle school (ages 12 to 14). Montessori never went as far as high school materials herself but there are some that have continued on through high school using this method. The real draw back here is time to wrap your mind around how to implement this method and the cost of the materials. One simple multiplication board can run you $35 plus dollars so you can see to have all the materials you are looking at thousands. I will say some parents will make many them self to save money. My favorite two subjects to use the Montessori method in are math and grammar.

Now what I have found is you have those homeschooling families like mind who may have started out with one method tried a few others here and there but in the end the became a happy mix or elective homeschoolers. What I hate though and what brought me to write this post is those other families, you know those that are so religious one method that they come off as either snarky or know it all. Making you feel unwelcoming  or less than in the process. Most of us have been there we ask questions on a forum or a facebook group geared toward a certain style and it wasn't worded the way they would like or it didn't fit that style/method to a T so they attacked. . Serious though it really boils down to attempting to find what fit's your family and yes that is through trial and error. Yet, one day we will look back on this journey and we will have mastered the teaching profession in our own little way. We will have so many fond memories with our children. We will also have many not so fond memories of days we almost through in the towel. We will have become older, wiser, and hopefully an all around better person for having made the journey. We will miss the days were educational books and materials completely took over our homes. We may even hold on to a few in the hope we can either use them with our grandchildren or pass them on to our own children should they choose to also homeschool their children. I think the number one thing I hate is the fact that one day this journey will end.


Saturday, March 7, 2015

Curriculum Plan with a U.S. History Spine

This is the curriculum plan for my 1st grade son and 6th grade daughter for next year. Most of the plan is built around U.S. History. Feel free to use any of the suggestions. All the videos can be found on youtube and I will even post a link to my playlist.

2015-2016 Curriculum Plan
Grammar- Growing with Grammar- level 1- Maverick , Level 6- Alyssa

Writing- Winning With Writing- Vol 4- Alyssa, Handwriting practice- Maverick, copywork- both

Spelling- Sequential Spelling- both

Vocabulary – Wordly Wise – Vol. 2&5

Phonics- Sound City Reading- Free

Literature- Numerous living books( Mostly Audio) 
Free online books Baldwin Online

Geography- Child’s Geography of the World Vol 1 from Knowledge Quest

Spiritual/ Cultural- Buddha at Bedtime, Stories in Our World- from library of amazon
for free lessons click here   free religious studies click here or here

Science- Mr. Q’s Life Science- free course

Science Living Books- Can be found at your library or purchased of sites like amazon( you can find some of these also on The Baldwin Online site posted above
1. Jack’s Insects
2. Burgess Animal Book
3. Burgess Seashore Book
4. Storybook of Science

History- A Living History of our World Vol. 1& 2,  What really Happened Colonial Times, The New Land Stories of American History, First Book In American History You can find free American History books on Baldwin Online site posted above

History Living Books- can be found at your library or can be purchased off sites like amazon
1. Sam The Minuteman
2.George the Drummer Boy
3.The Boston Coffee Party
4.Children of the Longhouse
5.In Their own Words Lewis and Clark
6.Landmark Books Ben Franklin
7. Dear America- The Winter of Red Snow
8. Landmark Books The American Revolution
9.Landmark Books The Witcraft Of Salem Village
10.Dear America Five Smooth Stones
11. Dear America Standing in the Light
12.The True Story of Pocahontas
14.The Very First Americans
15. The Long Way Westward
16.My America A Perfect Place
17.The Civil War An Interactive History Adventure
18. The California Gold Rush An Interactive History Adventure
19. In Their Own Words Abraham Lincoln
20.Soft Rain A Story of the Cherokee Trail of Tears
21.Sarah Plain and Tall
22.Magic Tree House American Revolution
23. George Washington Soldier, Hero, President
24.The Trail of Tears
25.The Lewis and Clark Expedition
26. True Book The Oregon Trail
27.True Book The Transcontinental Railroad
28. True Book Westward Expansion
29. True Book Colonial Life
30. True Book The Declaration of Independence
31.Wagon Wheels
32.Lewis and Clark A Prairie Dog for the President

History Videos-all on youtube
1. Salem Witch Trial - Full Documentary - The Geographic Channel
2. The Revolution - Episode 1 - Boston Bloody Boston
3. The Revolution - Episode 2 - Rebellion to Revolution
4. The Revolution - Episode 3 - Declaring Independence
5. The Revolution - Episode 4 - American Crisis
6. The Revolution - Episode 5 - Path to World War
7. The Revolution - Episode 6 - Forging an Army
8. The Revolution - Episode 7 - Treason and Betrayal
9. The Revolution - Episode 8 - The War Heads South
10. The Revolution - Episode 9 - Hornet's Nest
11. The Revolution - Episode 10 - The End Game
12. The Revolution - Episode 11 - Becoming a Nation
13. The Revolution - Episode 12 - Road to the Presidency
14. The Revolution - Episode 13 (Finale) - A President and His Revolution
15. Lewis & Clark- Great Journey West National Geographic HD
16. The War of 1812 - History – Documentary
17. Jedediah Smith - Story of Us
18. Into the West - Part 1 (Wheel to the Stars)
19. Into the West - Part 2 (Manifest Destiny)
20. Into the West - Part 3 (Dreams and Schemes)
21. Into the West - Part 4 (Hell on Wheels)
22. Into the West - Part 5 (Casualties of War)
23. Into the West - Part 6 (Ghost Dance)
25. History The Gold Rush Documentary
26. The History of Slavery In America (FULL)
27. Trail of Tears National Historic Trail
28. Ken Burns - The Civil War: Episode 1 - The Cause (1861) | Ken Burns Documentary
29. Ken Burns - The Civil War: Episode 2 - A Very Bloody Affair (1862) | Ken Burns
30. Ken Burns - The Civil War: Episode 3 - Forever Free (1862) | Ken Burn
31. Ken Burns - The Civil War: Episode 4 - Simply Murder (1863) | Ken Burns
32. Ken Burns - The Civil War: Episode 6 - Valley of the Shadow of Death (1864) | Ken Burns
33. Ken Burns - The Civil War: Episode 7 - Most Hallowed Ground (1864) | Ken Burns
34. Ken Burns - The Civil War: Episode 8 - War Is All Hell (1865) | Ken Burns
35. Ken Burns - The Civil War: Episode 9 - The Better Angels of Our Nature (1865) |Ken Burns

Typing- Dance Mat Typing
Piano- Hoffman Academy

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Finding our rhythm with Waldorf and Montessori Inspired Learning.

Over the course of the last yr I have slowly been adding to our collection of Waldorf and Montessori material. Recently I bought the lifetime membership to Earthschooling which is a Waldorf inspired curriculum. Both of these educational paths offer so much that is can be a bit of a challenge to figure out what works best for each child and when. After a few weeks of stressing myself out attempting to fit it all in for both the kids I decided I need some kind of schedule or organization to our days. At first I did what most of us tend to do and right at a hour by hour schedule knowing full well I would slowly find myself not sticking to it because it wasn't relaxed enough. I found my self a bit lost as to what to do at that point. I need to cover two different levels kinder and 5th, I need to find a way to both fit everything I wanted into our lives but still remain relaxed. So after a day of moving this subject here and that skill there I think I have come up with something I feel will work for all three of us.

What I decided is three days a week I would but the main focus on Alyssa's 5th grade work with Maverick doing only math, phonics, sight words, reading, and art. Most of this he can do with very little help from me. Those days are also on days that we do not usually have field trips or park days. I did this because at the kinder level much of the learning takes place through play so having our field trips and park days on Maverick' days will not take away from his learning it will only add to it. Where as Alyssa is at the age of learning through reading more. Alyssa's days will be Tues. , Thurs., and Sat. while Maverick's days will be Mon., Wed., Fri.

Then I went a step further and decided to plan out six weeks at a time. Not so much the day to day planning but the general topic for each subject area for each child. I also filled in days I know we will have field trips or park days into the schedule. Then I broke up the subject areas into morning and afternoon with most of the work being covered in the morning and the more crafts, art, and nature studies being covered in the afternoon. Not having it planned out by actual time allows us to move subjects to the morning if we finish early or move to the afternoon if we go over in a subject in the morning. I feel this way of planning feels less like a schedule and more like a layout of the rhythm of our week.

Below is an ex. of our layout.

Monday- Maverick Day
Morning block- Morning verse/yoga, circle time/finger plays, Phonics/sight words, Math, art/form drawing, life skills
* Alyssa will be working on individual reading book usually one that goes along with her history or science, a handcraft that she is working on, Math. Plus she will join in with Maverick for yoga, art, and life skills lessons
Afternoon block- Nature studies/ Story/ outdoor play for both children.

Tuesday- Alyssa Day
Morning block- Math, language arts, history/geography, music, Spanish,life skills
* Maverick will be working with Montessori math manipultives, phonics/sight words, blocks,life skills ect
Afternoon block- Science, handcraft/woodworking , art/form drawing, outside play for both kids

Wednesday - Maverick Day
Morning Block-Morning verse/yoga, circle time/ finger plays, phonics/sight words, math, art/form drawing, life skills
* Alyssa will join in with yoga, art/form drawing, do individual reading, and work with Montessori Manipultives for math
Afternoon block- Nature studies/ Story/ outdoor play for both kids

Thursday - Alyssa Day
Morning Block- Math, Language Arts, History/ Geography, music, Spanish, life skills
* Maverick will be working with Montessori manipultives, phonics/sight words, life skills
Afternoon Block- Science/ Handcraft/woodworking, art, outside play for both kids

Friday- Maverick Day
Morning Block- Morning verse/ yoga, circle time/finger plays, phonics/sight words, math, art/form drawing, life skills
* Alyssa will join in with yoga, art/form drawing, do individual reading, Montessori math, and finish up any craft for the week
Afternoon- Park day for both kids

Saturday- Alyssa Day
Morning Block- Math, Language Arts, History/ Geography, music, Spanish, life skills
* Maverick will work with Montessori materials, blocks, clay, phonics, sightwords, life skills
Afternoon Block- Science, handcraft/woodworking, art, outside play for both kids.

We will use the seasons and holidays to decide what topics will be covered in each subject area. Also there will be times where we will use reading and writing to cover the main topics. For. ex. the next 6-8 weeks are main topics will be Native Americans, Fall Holidays, Minerals, Nature, and American Geography. We will cover reading, story time, writing using these topics. Geography will be covered by using where different tribes lived and where different Holidays are observed in the world.

 I really do think this will not only allow us to have a natural rhythm to our week but allow for me to cover more areas in a more relaxed way with each child.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Finally feeling like we have found our place in the homeschooling community

We have been at this for four years now. In the process two years ago we moved from Dallas Georgia to Newnan Georgia. When we were in Dallas we had met some wonderful like minded homeschoolers that ran a great group. It wasn't a co-op but one for outings, park days and such which was perfect for us at the time. Once we moved it was hard finding such a group again. We are going on two years here in Newnan and all the homeschoolers we had found seemed to have been a part of one co-op. I didn't want to join the co-op here for a number of reasons. One was that you have to sign a statement of faith which I can't do because I do not believe in organized religion. It also was more like grade level classes which was not something we really wanted to do. I am very relaxed and feel my kids should not only have the time the need to learn but the right to follow their own interest. During this time we still joined in with homeschooling families we know that lived hrs away but only once in a while. It was starting to feel like we would never find the right group for us that was close by.

Well I am happy to say I think we finally found our group. Funny thing is I had joined their facebook page over a yr ago but seemed they posted everything on yahoo as far as outings and we missed out on many connections. I met one family that we started to have park days with and she introduced to some other families that were also pretty close and it just took off from there. One of the moms held a " NOt Back To School" event at her house and it was perfect. Perfect for the kids perfect for me. It was so wonderful to see 15 plus kids ages 2-15 all running and playing together and not one single issue. No fights, no picking, just smiles, fun, and laughter. All the parents were great too. We only expected to be there for a few hrs and finally had to pull ourselves out after 5 hrs of extreme fun only because it was getting late. I finally felt like we had found our place once again. A group of families that for the most part have the same philosophy about education and learning as we do. A group that wasn't focused so much on co-op classes as they were on natural real life learning. A group that seems everyone's ideas and opinions flowed naturally to help each other not judge. A group that I didn't have to sign a faith statement feeling like an outcast. There are tons of ways for homeschoolers to get involved and socialize all over the homeschool community now this is true but that doesn't mean finding the ones that truly fit is always easy. It takes you as the parent searching them out. I am glad I finally found one that not only seems a great fit for my kids but for me as well.

I am truly looking forward to this year and to all the adventures we have with our new friends. If you haven't found that right fit yet don't give up. Sometimes it take awhile but when you find them it is a beautiful thing.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

New year, New ideas

I haven't wrote since we finished off last school year in May even though we started back up in July. We spent the last few weeks trying out a few new resources just to see what I thought about them. I will post what I wrote about them on our facebook page below.

Over the last week we have tried out two free programs just to see what we thought of them. We used the discoveryk12 online program and the Easy Peasy all in one homeschool. I thought I would post my thoughts on both a kind of pros and cons in my opinion. Ok first let me say not only did we use both programs we also used all parts of the programs and added on other material that we normally use. My kids were able to finish the daily work in both plus the add on is 4-5 hrs. So even though I felt the basics are being covered I just kind of felt like neither program was enough for me and mine. If we continue to use either of them I def. will be adding to them for a bit more hands on learning. I will say both programs allowed the kids to pretty much work independently while I did a whole lot of standing around wondering what to do with myself,lol. Ok so Discovery k12 pros are it keeps records of attendance, work, reading, grades, p.e ect which I really liked and for those who need to keep good records it may be a life saver for you. I liked that non core subjects like P.E., music, art were covered. My cons were that a good bit of the history and science was pretty much just watch this video and take notes which for elementary age is just not going to cut it. It was a bit boring and dry. Another con was that at this time you do not have the ability to change levels in different subjects. Many homeschool children are at different levels in different subjects. I would have also liked to see more engaged questions being given to the subjects of history and science. The spelling is pretty much write, look up, and remember the words. There is no teaching of the rules. Now let me tell you my thoughts on Easy Peasy. First off it is a Christian based curriculum and there will be many links that will be geared toward that world view. However most of the Christian topics can be easily skipped over without losing the mass of the entire curriculum. I love the math but it is using khan academy so if you didn't want to use Easy peasy but wanted to use the math you could just use Khan from their website. I felt a little more could be covered daily in the area of grammar, voc, and spelling as I found it to fall a bit short there for my taste. However you could easily fill that with a few free educational sites or even a grammar workbook. The literature I loved it was def. a pro in my book because it is mainly Classical literature and has direct links to the books. For history and science we were using year 3 which actually covers geography and earth science and astronomy. I found it to be plenty and plan to continue to use it for a spine for this years geography and science. At this point I plan to discontinue using them except for the Easy Peasy geography which I will use for now but mainly just as an outline. 

Neither of these programs just felt like us. So I am yet again just winging it in many areas but that is ok as I lean toward a very relaxed form of education anyway. So you might be wondering what are we using then. First let me say all that we use as far as curriculum is used very loosely and really used as more of a guide for me to pull from. That being said I will post this years line up for both my 5th grader and my kinder.

Alyssa-5th grade
Math- we will be sticking with A+Tutorsoft for our 4th yr now and pulling from other resources like khan academy and our large amount of Montessori manipulative.
Grammar- We will still be using Growing with Grammar it is short , easy to use, and has worked great the last few yrs.
Spelling- we are using a mixture of All About Spelling( to recover some rules) and Spelling Power( the orange book not the public school curriculum)
Lit- will be covering a few classics( we have already started reading Treasure Island) and allowing her to pick her own books.
Geography- Using Easy Peasy Geography as a guide but adding in country studies that may fit with topics in other subject areas. We also plan to do a huge Christmas aaaaround the world study in Nov/Dec
Science- we are loosely going to cover Earth science and Astronomy not using any one curriculum but pulling from Science Odyssey and Waldorf material along with many books, movies,websites, and projects
History- Mainly we plan to cover Prehistorical Life along with a bit of evolution and the Middle Ages again not using any actual curriculum but pulling from a few that I have collected and adding in books, movies,websites, projects( we have alread made swords and shields this yr- see picture below)

Maverick- Grade K
Math- Hands on games and Montessori Manipultives 
Phonics/reading- This is one of the main areas I plan to focus with him one on one with this yr and so we are using many different things- we do daily sight words( he is up to 240 as of today), Explode the code, Sound City Reading( which is a free program you can find online and goes up to I believe the 2nd grade), and Click and Read Phonics which is an animated program
Spelling- All About Spelling level 1- I am really not concerned if he gets through level one this yr or if we continue to use it again but so far he has not missed a beat and is doing well with only 15-20 mins a day using it
Geography, Science, and History all will be covered by him working with his older sister but only doing his level of work. We also plan to start next week a month long study of Dinosaurs and Archeology/ Paleontology just because he has shown such a huge interest in these areas. We will use books, movies, websites, and yes a real archeological dig in the back yard. 
Maverick also is doing a morning wall which covers months , days of the week, seasons, weather/temp, holidays, maps, shapes. It is an easy , fun way to cover all these topics without it feeling to much to him. 

Some of the new things we are doing this yr are taking a monthly class at the local nature center, joined a homeschool group for weekly park days, Doing monthly class at the history center, taking an art class for 8 weeks, taking swimming class in the spring, Joined a group of unschoolers for weekly unschooling day, joining the monthly class at the zoo,plus we will attend at least 3 other field trips a month through out the state depending on events happening at different times of the yr. My goal is 3 days a week doing what most would see as book/ school work, one day a week for classes, and one day a week for just socializing and natural real world learning. I really am attempting to grow as much as my children in this year. Moving ever closer to letting go of that school mind that they have to know something at a certain age. Hopefully I will also grow in the area of seeing learning as part of life and not something that has to come from being pushed on them so demanding and rigorously. The first six weeks of this school year have been a great success and I feel it can only get better as I learn to see what they need and want to learn and learn to think more outside the box on how to give that to them. I wish all of you a great school year and I look forward to seeing what you are changing up this year and how you and your children will grow.


Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Everyday you are learning something new

Last week was our yearly family trip to Jekyll Island Georgia. It is the one week a year that my entire family looks forward to some fun in the sun. I am a full believer that everyday you are learning and that life will always give you a new adventure to learn from. On our trip we had many new adventures and some first not just for my kids but for me and my husband as well. 

While on our trip we learned how to go crabbing. Like most people now days when you don't know how to do something you google it or watch a youtube video. We watched many and learned most people tie chicken into the crab basket. You lower the basket down into the shallow of the water and attach it to the dock. Then you wait about ten minutes and pull it up really fast usually you will have a crab or two in the basket. The crabs are kept on ice because they must be cleaned while alive. Let me tell you from our learning experience catching them is way more fun than cleaning them. It is not for those with a weak stomach. My kids really enjoyed crabbing because it is easy and some what of a faster pace than fishing.

We also learned you must throw the pregnant female crabs back. below is a picture of a pregnant female crab. The orange sack are the eggs.
My daughter Alyssa even caught one stone crab but we gave him away because his claws were a bit frightening to me,lol
If you every take a trip down to Jekyll Island don't miss out on the dolphin tours. It is a 90 min boat ride that takes you out right into the middle of a pod of dolphins. Not only was this the first time any of us has ever saw dolphins in person but it was the first boat ride for both of my youngest two children. It was also a great treat from the heat.

While on the boat ride we learned that dolphins can hold their breath for about 18-20 mins and that they will beach them selves for prey once beached the other dolphins will help get them back into the water by causing a big wave of water to reach the beached dolphin. Also that manatee live in the channel off Jekyll Island because they actually need fresh water to survive and they will swim many miles up stream out of the ocean. We were not lucky enough to get a shot of the manatee though.

Another adventure we had on vacation was an hr trip south down to Florida were we visited Amelia Island. If you are wanting to go shell collecting Amelia Island is def. your place to go. There are millions of shells not just one here or there but piles and piles of shells. Also on Amelia is Fort Clinch it is an amazing place to visit and the brick work is just jaw dropping. Fort clinch has been used in 3 wars and was last used during WWII.

So even while on a relaxing vacation you are learning and having new experiences. The more you see that life is always teaching and you are always learning the more you will relax and just enjoy the experiences.