Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Curriculum for Next Year -CHOSEN!

I can't tell you how good it feels to know what curriculum we will be using next year! First and foremost there are a couple things that have been a great fit for our family this year and we will continue with them next year. Those subjects/curriculum are:
Science: God's Design
Math for Peanut: Singapore Math
The programs that will be new to us next year (and I'm quite excited about using!) are:
Geography/History/Bible/Music/Art: My Father's World
Math for Sissy: Teaching Textbooks
Language Arts for both girls: Bob Jones University Press
It is such a relief to have our curriculum chosen! You'll notice that I didn't mention Sweet Baby at all and she is going to be starting Kindergarten in the fall. The reason I did not mention her is because I am still undecided as to where she will begin her education. She has been telling us that she wants to go to school and I am fine with her getting her start with math and reading at public school for kindergarten, if it is only half day. Here in our city, the school district is trying to do away with 1/2 day kindergarten all together. If it is still available, chances are she will attend for one year. If not, she will be home with us. But for right now, the majority of my selection process is done. pray I find most of this used to save some money!!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Writing Because You Want To?

I never thought I would see the day that Sissy would write for fun but it happened today. We use All About Spelling as our spelling program (I'm sure I have mentioned this AWESOME program before!). Sissy has always struggled with spelling and because of that she does not like to write. She is always afraid to try new words because she is afraid she will not be able to spell them.

She is in book 3 of the program and today she hit a new process. After doing the lesson and the spelling test she gets 5 or 6 words that use some of the skills she has learned (these words all relate to one another in some way) and then she is supposed to write at least one sentence for each word. I told her that if she wanted to write more she could. I was HOPING that maybe she would write a small paragraph bringing those words together. Well, today, she blew my mind! She must have sat and written for over an hour. She made a complete story and it was over a page long! I was shocked and thrilled! In addition, she was really using some super sentences. For example she wrote, "The raindrops were dripping off of my window. I looked out of my window and saw the ponds overflowing." This is completely creative for her. Just 2 months ago, she would have simply said "It was raining outside."

I absolutely LOVE those days that I can see the growth that is happening with the kids.

By the way, if you have any questions about the best spelling program ever, All About Spelling, please feel free to e-mail me at

Friday, March 20, 2009

Impressionist Painters

Last week the girls and I discussed impressionist painters. I chose 3 particular painters to talk about and we read some great children's books about painters. There is a great series of books for kids written by Laurence Anholt that is a great way to introduce kids to some famous painters like Degas, Monet, and VanGough.

I for one have always loved Monet. His painting of his wife and son in the poppy field is my favorite. I was really excited to share with the girls something that I really enjoy. Imagine my shock when I asked the girls if they liked the first piece that I showed them by Monet and Sissy's comment was, "Mom! They look like black dots all over the page!" Throughout the week she never grew to like impressionist art. Peanut on the other hand thought it was beautiful.

On Friday of last week the girls got to paint like they were impressionists and they enjoyed that. I gave them a bunch of Q-Tips and let them have at it. Even Sweet Baby got in on the fun!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A Beautiful Day in Michigan!

I was beginning to think that we would never see the sun again here in Michigan! It seems like this winter has hung on so long! We got our first snowfall early in November and there are some spots where we still have mounds of snow (you know, the mounds of grey/black snow that accumulate on the sides of the road and in parking lots - YUCK!!)

We had a couple nice days a few weeks ago, but nothing consistent. One day it was 50degrees and the next it was 20! Sissy keeps saying, "I just want to be able to go in the backyard and play and not have to worry about mud!" Well, it happened this week! Sunday was so nice that in the late afternoon the girls were in the back yard with daddy playing softball and then yesterday they were in the driveway. Once a year our church has a roller skating night which has affectionately been called "Sissy's Bristol Road Family Skate Night". Every year she has me ask the teen minister if he can plan a night for the church to go skating. Well, last night was the night. So, to pump themselves up, the girls were in the driveway skating. Sweet Baby put on the Fisher Price skates and tried her hand on wheels (her first time) and she did great!

Neither Peanut nor Sweet Baby have ever skated at the roller rink, they have been to young, but this year they both donned a pair of skates and had a great time! They are looking forward to practicing in the driveway this summer as well!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Finding Happiness

I LOVE these pictures.

There are 3 things that I would like to see in happen during our voyage of home schooling.

1) To see my family grow know, the girls love being together and there is hardly ever any bickering and they learn how to be kind and loving to one another, lots of empathy and love growin! That is one thing.

2) For my girls to truly enjoy learning. I want to see them pick up books for fun and actually read them, and not easy books. Those don't count. Sissy reads, but she consistently chooses books that are below her level. I do not expect her to choose literary works of art - deep pondering books. Even I do not read those types of books, the occasional classic would cause me to be thrilled though. (For the record she did recently complete an abridged version of Little Women. That sent my heart aflutter! Pure joy to have her reading about Jo, Amy and Beth March!)

3) For them to find a passion and expand on it. Be it sports, art, music or drama. We have opted to NOT have our kids into a ton of different activities. Our rule is usually one activity at a time, and in all honesty preferably something not to expensive since. Sissy has tried gymnastics and softball (both of which she is really good at), Girl scouts, and acting. Peanut has only tried violin thus far but wants to do softball this spring. Nothing is more thrilling for me than to see my children delighting in some accomplishment of theirs.

Last year when I attended Peanuts final parent/teacher conference her teacher gushed about her writing skills. She informed me that she tested well above a kindergartener in reading and writing but that I should be sure to give the child paper and pencil whenever she wants it. For school so far she hasn't wanted to write for science or history. It is more of a chore but on rare occasions she will begin writing "a story" and that story takes her DAYS to complete. Last week she wrote a story about her Webkinz. She wrote it and illustrated it and we stapled the sheets together. She was so proud of herself.

Yesterday she began writing again in an old spiral bound notebook my husband gave her. You would have thought he gave her a diamond ring the way she lit up! As soon as we were done with formal school for the day she ran to get her notebook and she sat at this spot for at least an hour. Dutifully writing, only breaking for a split second to take a bite out of her sandwich.

After she had filled up three pages, I asked her about her story..she promptly informed me that it wasn't a story. "It is a play mom." My go girl!!!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Invertebreate Pictionary

Today for science we began discussing invertebrates. We have worked our way through mammals, reptiles, fish, birds and now we are on to creepy crawlies. We have taken WAY to long with Science this year. As much as I LOVE our co-op, it falls on Tuesdays (which is the day I have scheduled for science and I like to keep things consistent). So at least 2 days a month we don't do science. Then, back in October we had some family things happening that really pulled me away from school for several weeks. I couldn't focus so I let it slide. Then we went on that fabulous vaction for 2 weeks and we didn't do any science then either. So...even though it is one of the subjects we are enjoying most, we haven't gotten very far in it! I'm hoping to finish up our Animals book in the next few weeks and be ready to start on plants before the end of April.

Anyway, here the girls are playing Invertebrate Pictionary. Can you guess which invertebrea they are drawing?

'Tis the Season...For Choosing Curriculum for Next Year

It was this time last year that I began obsessing with curriculum choices for this year. I had just decided to home school and the race was on to find the PERFECT curriculum. Of course, I had NO IDEA that the "perfect curriculum" does not exist. How hard can it be to create the perfect curriculum? Well, when you consider that all children learn differently, not all home schoolers want their school day running the same (imagine that!), not every home has a money tree growing in the backyard. If we did, I would use it to buy the $300 (for one subject) curriculum that I think we would like. In addition, not all home schoolers decided to home school for the same reason...this is why the perfect curriculum doesn't exist.

One thing that I have learned in the last 7 months, (this being our first year of home schooling) is that I now have a better idea of what will NOT work for my kids, what I don't want to do and how I would prefer our day run. This helps me weed out alot of different curriculum. In addition, I have found 3 pieces of our curriculum that worked really well for us this year, so we are going to keep plugging along with them.

In another post I'll share with you what programs we like and are sticking with. But right now I am going to share with you the process I go through when deciding which curriculum to research more about. Please remember that anything I say is based on my own personal opinion for our family and in no way has anything to do with what other people like or dislike. Also, since this is our first year, I am sure there are other, more seasoned home schoolers who have better advice!

First I make a list about which subjects each child needs to be on their own level with, such as math. I cannot teach my 1st grader 4th grade math, so obviously they need separate math programs. This holds true for language arts as well and even writing. So, for those programs I begin seeking a program that will work for them as well as for me. I would like to use the same publisher for both but this year we discovered that that isn't always going to happen. For example, so far Saxon math seems to work o.k. for our 4th grader (once we got past all the review the first 40 lessons) but Saxon moved way to slow for our 1st grader and the work bored her. So, we switched to Singapore a few weeks ago for her and are giving that a try.
After I decide which subjects they NEED to do at their own level, I start looking for the subjects they can do together - history, science, spelling and art. Believe it or not you CAN teach a 1st grader and 4th grader the same history, science and even spelling lessons.

Last year my next step was completely off! I began thinking of what home schoolers were "supposed" to do. Like unit studies. Take a subject and start reading books about the subject, doing art about the subject, start cooking meals around the subject, start dressing like people did during that time period (history), write about that subject, only have conversations dealing with that subject, free reading could only be done if it was about that subject (hmmm.."FREE" reading..doesn't sound very free if you are telling them what to read about), etc. I have finally began to realize that there is no RIGHT way to home school. What works for each child and each family is different. So, now I am trying to find curriculum that I think I will enjoy teaching and the girls will enjoy learning from.
Finally, it is sad to say that one thing I do think of is time. "How much time each day will it take us to get this done?" My children have not turned into the "school hungry" children I was hoping for. They are still young and just want to play together. Peanut does choose to read and write during the day for fun sometimes, but mainly they want school to be done by 1:00 so they have the rest of the day to play.
After I have all these questions answered in my head, I go to the experts. Other moms who home school. These moms have all tried the "perfect program" and found that it didn't work. They have also all found the "perfect program" and wouldn't change to another if someone paid them to! My first stop is my favorite yahoo group: A Home School Review. It is here that I can ask all the "experts" what has worked for them and what hasn't. I then go to my Rainbow Resource catalog and read a review to find out what type of curriculum I am dealing with. This is also a catalog you can order to have to lug around with you. It is a huge book, but I prefer leafing through pages to sitting at the computer any day! Next, I fret. I fret about the gaps the curriculum may have, I fret about how "fun" it will be to the kids, I fret about the cost. Finally, I pray. I pray that God will direct me to the perfect curriculum. Since God knows my children better than I do, and He knows me best as well, I pray that he will show us a curriculum that works for us.
I'll share in a few days about the curriculum's that we deem "perfect" so far. The ones we will be using next year, and I'll tell you what we like best about them...until then....have a great day!

Sunday, March 8, 2009


My girlfriend Jenn "tagged" me on her blog recently. I don't usually play along with blogging "tags" just because I feel like my time is so limited online. So many places to "surf" not enough time to do it. But I thought this would be easy enough. Problem is, I can't really tag anyone because I seriously don't know anyone who reads my homeschooling blog who has a blog themselves! Only a couple of friends do so, I'll list them but then if you have a blog and want to play along, consider yourself tagged and post back here and let me know that you played along as well.
So here's what I'm supposed to do:1. Grab the nearest book.2. Open to page 56.3. Find the fifth sentence.4. Post the text of the next 2 to 5 sentences, along with these rules.5. Don't dig for your favorite book, the cool book, or the intellectual book. Pick the CLOSEST!6. Tag five other people to do the same!
The book that was closest to me is going to be completely boring to you all! It is the Rainbow Resource catalog. That counts as a book right? It is a whopping 1367 pages long!

So, page 56 is all about Homeschool Helps products. The fifth sentence:
"The days of the week are listed down the left-hand side of the page, and each week has two blocks of space per page for a total of four separate blocks for each day. Each block has several green ones bordered by a couple white lines creating room to record objectives, activities, and assignments. Enough pages to last through the school year."
So how exciting was that for you? I followed the rules, it definitely wasn't the intellectual book, or most interesting was it?? Ha, ha, ha!
So, I'm tagging:
That's it! I don't know who else reads my blog and has a blog of their own! So..if you do, post here so I know and can check your's out!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

First Choir Performance

After their experience with the church Christmas play, Sissy has been telling me how much she would love to do another performance. There aren't that many avenues for children to snag acting positions (unless I wanted to pay for her to take a class at one of the city organizations). A home schooling family we have been getting to know has a daughter her age who apparently likes productions like that as well and she informed me that there is a local group in our town that occasionally puts on plays. She told me that they were doing a choir performance called "Freedom" and we might be interested. Both of the older girls wanted to be involved so we have spent the last month and a half going to rehearsals. This past weekend were the performances. (That is Sissy holding the first "E").

It is funny how the performances fit in so well with our history study right now. Last week we began studying the 1900's. Specifically we are studying Samantha in our American Girls study and one of the things we are going to start talking about is the influx of immigration at that time. During the performance all the children were dressed to look like immigrants. They sang songs relating to the freedom we all have in America, the "melting pot" and they got to say where their relatives came from. They did really well and had fun although Sissy did say that she does not really desire to do choir again, rather she wants to do acting and have lots of lines. That's my girl!