It has become a bit much for me to keep up with my separate blogs, so Firmly Planted has been merged into my other blog, Musings of a Southern Girl at Heart. All of our homeschool fun will be chronicled there and if you wouldn’t mind updating your links to reflect the change that would be great. :-)

Enjoy the adventure of learning!

Woohoo, the first 3 days of school are finished!! We started on the 15th and it has been an interesting 3 days. Overall, it has been good getting back to a routine and officially kicking off Kindergarten. Of course, the last 3 days have also revealed some necessary tweaks to the schedule as mom was a bit ambitious with her schedule and didn’t account for the split pea fog that had settled into their brains. :-)

As for curriculum:

Math – Math-U-See finishing up Primer book
Language Arts – Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading, McGuffey Eclectic Primer, copywork from these items and from History/Science
History/Science – Creation Unit Study, day 1 complete and prayerfully the weekend will allow me to post what we used/did

We read some fun books during our morning read-aloud:

1) Adele & Simon by Barbara McClintock

Adele & Simon

Brother and sister story of little brother losing items as they journey home.

2) The Beastly Feast by Bruce Goldstone

Beastly Feast

A delightful rhyming story with animals and foods, the kids loved it!!

Also, as a part of our unit study, we did do a volcano experiment today.

Here is our Starbuck’s volcano, named because that is my frappuccino bottle inside that paper and modeling clay. :-)

Starbuck's volcano

Here are your other supplies sans baking soda as it is already in the bottle.

other supplies

Yes, our grass is pretty dead, hubby rely’s on God’s sprinkler system and it hasn’t been working in our area this year. ;-)

The Eruption

eruption

It’s over

it's over

Next week is a full week of class, so off to tweak the schedule, secure any additional library books and review what needs to return to the library. Enjoy the weekend!!

To have a separate room or not for homeschool…seems to be a hot topic in some circles. We have divided a room into part my craft room and the other is for homeschool. We do some things in there and the kids are at their desks and other things we do on the floor, the couch or outside if we feel like it. :-) Either way, I wanted a big 4×8 white board and they were $300 at a few online places even with the free shipping, so what is a thrifty gal to do..we already have a small board (1 side white board, other side chalk in easel format) but I wanted something bigger. I heard folks talk about making a board out of tile board, what in tarnation is that I asked, so I did what I always do when I really don’t have the mental capacity to figure something out, I called my dad. You have to understand my dad is retired and spends his time soaking up information on all kinds of topics, yet he doesn’t talk much until you hit on a topic that he likes and then you are in big trouble…we tease him that he is either constipated or has diarrhea in the chatting department…gross but true. ;-)

Anyhoo, he walks around Lowe’s on a weekly basis so I figured that he had more free time on his hands than myself and he likes missions. He found the stuff and it is sometimes called tile, sometimes panel, sometimes showerboard but here is a pic of the tag at Lowe’s..

what to buy

You also need to buy a piece of plywood, I figured everyone knew what that looked like. It is imperative to get some of this stuff…for the crafty, think of a hot glue gun in cold form. :-)

liquid nails

Bring your goodies home and hand camera to a little girl on a stool so she can take pics of all the action. First step, screw the plywood to your wall (of course, after you have found the studs). There’s a stud in the picture, he’s only 3 though… :D

putting up board

Next, make sure you have a few extra hands

takes a few people

Once the board is securely screwed to your wall, apply the adhesive (technical term for glue)

glue art

While I was busy making squiggly lines, my dad pre-drilled the board – very important. Keep your holes near the edge and 3 on each side is good, here is one close-up

pre-drill

Then put the board up and yes the walls are white and the board is white, I am checking your eye sight. :) I think we will frame the board with trim but that isn’t too high on the priority list right now. That’s mom holding up the board.

putting it up

Voila, your own white board for less than $25 buckaroos (we already had screws). If you are concerned with ghosting, I have checked a few sites (amazing how many people make these things) and it seems that nail polish, ammonia and water, and Mr. Clean’s magic erasers work wonders.

You are hereby charged to go forth and make white boards because the $275 saved can be used for much important stuff like fabric, trim…oh, this is about homeschooling, I meant books, educational supplies, etc. ;-)

For those in Maryland/DC/VA or those that do not mind driving or taking the MARC train to Baltimore, the Maryland Science Center is now taking reservations (i.e., payment) for their homeschool events which are scheduled from September 5th through the 21st and here are links to the fall schedule, course descriptions, and pricing. Classes are selling out pretty quickly, so make your reservation today.

back to homeschool week

It is hard to believe we are at the end of the week already of Randi’s wonderful Back to Homeschool Week and Tiany’s Homeschool Open House. Please join me in giving these 2 ladies extraordinaire a virtual round of applause for their efforts in coordinating these wonderful events that have afforded many of us to share what we are doing, what we have learned, how we do it and to glean the same from others…..bravo, bravo, bravo!!!

Today is about curriculum….it’s a dirty word in some circles and it doesn’t work for everyone so like with anything else, find what works for you and your family. :-) I shared more in my Day 2 post.

This year we will use Math-U-See for math as referenced here. This program works for my daughter and it works for me, so we are sticking to it.

Reading - The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading combined with the McGuffey Readers, Reading Teacher’s Book of Lists, and heavy use of the library. I also have some books from Reading A-Z books during their free teacher appreciation week. I also use many of these items for copywork/handwriting.

History/Geography and Science – Unit Studies

We utilize the library heavily and like to use different library reads to enhance our current course of study and I hope to start sharing some of those items here in the weeks ahead.

I want to share some goodies that I have found in my travels that may help others and like I said earlier, I would do the social network/bookmark thing but I am just not there yet, so click on the links below. :-)

Amy at Are we there yet? has a delightful idea of making a blog for her kids. I think this is just great and will have to implement this in a few years. :-)

The Learning Umbrella has a wonderful idea about School in a Box. Well worth a try, possibly modified, to fit your family’s needs.

Scribbit has a fun box top maze that will have you scavenging for boxes during trash day. :-)

Enjoy and if you have some goodies, feel free to share in the comments!

back to homeschool week

I am not a veteran homeschooler but I think that no matter what stage of homeschooling you find yourself at/in, there is something that you can share with someone else.

If I knew then:

1) My learning enviornment does not have to look like the government funded school systems. That is an eye-opener to many but especially to many in my extended family. Many are educators or former educators so they have a biased and often limited view of homeschooling.

2) Schedules are not masters but suggestions. In an ideal world, everything may flow via a schedule, but my world is not ideal and yours probably isn’t either (sorry to break that to you). Fact of the matter is that somedays thing need to be adjusted, enjoy your homeschooling freedom and just adjust, it will save you a lot of frustration and your kids will be happier because you aren’t in a constant state of being freaked out. :D

3) The library is a treasure just waiting to be discovered. Even if you didn’t enjoy it as a child, it is a wonderful place, trust me, you will see. It if full of books for the young and the old and everyone in between.

4) If at all possible, review a curriculum before purchase and do not make impulse buys based on what such and such said. Such and such doesn’t live at your house and doesn’t have your kids. :-) I really recommend, reviewing and reviewing, praying, listing it out and putting the list away for 2 weeks to make sure that you still feel the same way and think it is the best purchase for you and your children.

5) In the end, remember why you are doing this because you will need to call on that often when days and situations are not as ideal as you hoped they would be but please don’t give up, keep perservering, the rewards are so worth it!!! :-)

Check out what others have to say:

back to homeschool week

Today is Day 3 and it’s about getting out of the house and sometimes my hubby thinks that is all we do… ;-)

We are blessed to live outside of the nation’s capital so historic places abound as do all of the free Smithsonian museums. Even in all of this richnes, we have a tendency to sometime not venture out which I am working on changing because I feel it is a shame to waste such great learning opportunities. Hence the borrowed Nike slogan as the title of this post. ;-)

Sometimes the biggest obstacle to getting out is justifying it in the realm of defined education. The truth is learning doesn’t have to take place within the confines of the education system – that is why we homeschool….yippee!!! Everyday activities are learning opportunities and that is the binocular to be used as the kickstart to getting out of the house more often. Does it mean that sometimes work will have to be finished after school hours – yes it does but the learning and the memories from the fieldtrip last a lifetime.

The library is another place that should not be overlooked because you can truly travel the world. :-) Get to know the local business people in your area as they are often willing to share about their trade and who knows your child might like it and get an internship/job there and what’s better than some hands-on learning. Local farmers and co-ops are also open to visits and get to knows and many are willing to do it for small groups.

In my state, some churches serve as umbrella groups and many allow you to go on their field trips even if you are not a member of their co-op. Also, if you do not have co-ops or you aren’t a member, step out of your comfort zone and ask that mom that is in the library with her kids during the day just like you, she probably homeschools. :-)

back to homeschool week

How do we homeschool?

Such a loaded question that is…basically we homeschool like I cook – a little of this and a little of that. :-) For the most part, we are following the broad outlinesof the classical model of homeschooling but willing to veer off course and hop down rabbit trails if our hearts desire.

I am the type of gal that needs some sort of structure or I will hop down too many trails so for scheduling we use Homeschool Tracker. I do use the Plus program but there are few software programs that you can purchase for $39 with free upgrades and able to be used on more than 1 computer in your home. I find it a great help and being that my state requires a review, the reporting feature allow me with a few clicks of the mouse to have a summary of everything. Of course, first the information has to get into the program which is what I spent a large chunk of today doing hence my late posting. :-)

Like I mentioned in the beginning, we are following the broad parameters of the classical method as outlined in the Well-Trained Mind (see sidebar). This year, I am going to do an overview of all 4 periods as exposure before delving deeper next year in the ancients. For this overview, I am developing my own unit studies that will cover history and science and I hope to share here in the near future.

For Math, we use Math-U-See. I absolutely love this program and so do my kids. A will be finishing up the Primer and starting Alpha come mid-September. We have both sets of blocks and they are in a fishing tackle box and they work well for my visual daughter and my tactile son. :-)

For Language Arts-Reading, I use the Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading. I did purchase the combo pack and the kids love the magnetic board and will often just want to sit and make words with it without any prodding by me, which is just wonderful. Another item that I use to supplement is the Reading Teacher’s Book of Lists. I picked this up at Barnes & Noble with my teacher’s discount and it is a must for every bookshelf. Being that my daughter is very image driven, I find that books without images or few images work best and unfortunately many of the learn-to-read books have a lot of images. I downloaded the FREE McGuffey Eclectic Primer from Project Guttenberg. They work lovely and they are great for copywork as well. For her afternoon reading, I use some Dr. Seuss and early reader books because it is fun to read with your mom on the couch.

My son, while 3 1/2, is involved in some aspects of our daily learning but there are times when he must go have some structured play so I use ziploc bags and fill them with different things for him to do like mazes, coloring sheets, scissor activities, etc. He likes this plus it helps his skill development.

I do use some DVD/VHS tapes like Magic School Bus for further understanding and to this day, a how our food grows video has been their favorite and they know all about farm equipment. These tools have their place but they are not the bulk of our learning as they pretty much only get 1/2 hour of tv/video a day.

I use the library as much as possible to fill in other items and I find that thrift stores are often a treasure trove for books that can be used in a homeschool environment. We do field trips especially to the Smithsonians and I love the fact that they are free. :-)

This year we are looking at a co-op for Fridays just because we are in the process of a church plant and our old church had a lot of activities for the kids and A is very social. I have not done our schedule justice but check out the archives for some other items and thoughts and check back in the future. :-)

Okay, I confess that I look at my stats, probably too much!! :D I saw several visitors from wordpress.com and I went and looked and it was because I had made the front page for the 2 Weeks in 1 post. I could only share this with you all because non-bloggers wouldn’t understand. :-)

Our Scripture

He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers. ~Psalm 1:3

Something to think about…

"I never teach my pupils: I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn." ~ Albert Einstein
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