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This morning we are doing a relaxed abbreviated school day as we have to get some packing done and other things to venture out of town with dh. DD will do some reading later via Starfall and some copywork and a math worksheet.

Today we read, If you want to see a caribou. Good book about what one has to do (travel via boat, look for certain signs, sit quietly, etc.) in order to see a caribou. Also, a good page at the end about the state of caribou in the U.S. and Canada and conservation efforts.
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Continuing to nurture the desire to learn Spanish, we also read Counting Ovejas. As the little child heads to sleep he counts sheep so the book counts from 1 to 10 and also covers colors even turquoise or turquesa. The kids enjoyed it and we continued our work on pronunciation. Very gentle introduction and nice artwork.
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For the record, I am not a fan of anything that creeps and crawls. In my house, I am known as the bug killer because if it is moving and I see it, I am going to kill it. Things that creep and crawl belong outside and if they venture inside, they surely are risking life and limb. All of that said, I do not want to pass on any issues that I have with *outside* creepy crawlies to my dc.

Today, we were working in the yard as we had mulch in the back of the pickup for almost a week now so I thought I would help dh with some yard work. Mind you, our original agreement was him-outside, me-inside but in the ebb and flow of marriage things change and we have a nice balance. I pick up the hoe (no Imus jokes) and start to cultivate the areas around certain trees and the like for him to later add mulch…you know, get up the grass, weeds, and the like. In the course of my hoeing (is that a word) I start seeing creepy crawlies and instead of screaming (can’t do that the kids are around), I invite them over in my most enthusiastic rush you don’t want to miss this voice and we examine the worms, ants, spiders and the like that are coming out of the freshly turned up earth.

Well, I decided that there was one area that had stuff growing that was just out of control so I took the hoe and went to work and I am pulling out all kinds of weeds and roots and of course more worms and other creatures. I found fat juicy worms and skinny worms, red worms, white worms, hard shell bugs, and other stuff. I take the worms out for the kids with my gloved hand and they are playing with them and watching them make their way across the driveway. Dh lifts up one of the pavers and of course that is a treasure trove (think Timon and Pumba from the Lion King). We examine all of the life underneath. Ds starts to pick up worms with his bare hands which is quite amazing as he is not one for insects/bugs.

At one point, dh is not paying attention and steps on part of “fat juicy” – that was the name given by ds. He is really concerned that dh has killed the worm, so I share with him about regeneration of the worms body and yada yada yada and fat juicy starts crawling again much to the delight of ds. The birds are chirping a lot now in the nearby trees and I told him that the birds are asking when he is going in the house so they can eat the worms so dd yells to the birds that they can come eat now if they want to and she climbs back in the pickup.

I came to the conclusion that while I am not particularly fond of said creatures that I was able to discover and observe with an open mind and I actually started to look for worms while working especially ones that were different than those that I had already pulled out. Now, we are going to get a magnifying glass and later a microscope as I am all for dissection. 😉

Today we introduced skip counting and the fine art of skipping. Ds is still working on the fine art of skipping being that he is fixated with hopping on 1 foot at the present time.

So, we started reading the numbers off of the skip counting timelines that I made, we did 2’s, 3’s, 5’s and 10’s. And then we re-read Spunky Monkeys on Parade. What child doesn’t like the spunky monkey series??? This book skip counts the monkeys in the parade by 2’s, 3’s, 4’s as they do different parts of a parade. Dc are bright enough to figure out that skip counting takes less time especially when you take them through counting each monkey in the 3’s and 4’s. 🙂

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The next book was Arctic Fives Arrive. This is a 5’s skip counting book about some arctic animals that all arrive atop of an iceberg to watch the Northern Lights. I did inform them that we are not going to Alaska anytime soon to check that out even though I do miss that show Men in Trees. I love this book and not just because it was $.25 at the library book sale…okay that does influence me just a bit.

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The third book was Count Your Chickens. I really thought that this book was hokie but the kids liked it…to me it is a bit dated in the picture department but there is some variety with people, birds, and livestock. It skip counts 2’s, 3’s, 5’s and 10’s.

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There are a few more selections that we will do on Monday and probably take with on travel next week as we accompany dh for work.

Dd didn’t consider the skip counting fully doing math as she wanted a worksheet to complete but when presented with the option of doing one she opted to do “1” worksheet tomorrow on Saturday. I chuckled but if she really wants to do one tomorrow, I will not stand in her way.

We continued our McGuffey readers and copywork and with dh being home today when he came in from some morning errands he sat in and of course at that moment, dd couldn’t remember anything. Once again, I chuckled as I know she knows the stuff and once she shook the sillies out and stopped trying to perform for daddy, she got back to business. She is one for detours.

We also had science later in the day while we doing some yard work but that post will be later.

Whatever has led you to that conclusion, take some time to do your own research. Taking responsibility for your child (ren’s) education is a serious undertaking and should not be done lightly. There is a lot of information out there on styles and this and that, but in the end you know you best and you know your children best. If you decide to homeschool, do not do your child (ren) a disservice by being uninvolved, and just thinking that they will be okay by being home versus being in a school setting (public, private, charter, etc.).

Develop your homeschooling philosophy/foundation and stick to it. Do not be swayed by this program/curriculum only to purchase it and find it not to be for you, check it against your philosphy/foundation. Read, read, read and keep reading as you are never to old to learn and you need to learn if you are going to provide instruction to your children.

Now that I have said all of this, here are some great books to help with your philosophy/foundation development:

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A Biblical Home Education by Ruth Beechick

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For The Children’s Sake by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay

Very good books, if you are seeking a Biblical foundation for your homeschool.

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This morning we read Brian’s Bird by Patricia A. Davis. A delightful book about a young boy that is blind and receives a parakeet for his birthday. I had the kids close their eyes for the reading of the book and then narrate back what they heard which was interesting because they realized that not being able to see the pictures that they really had to listen. Afterwards, with eyes closed, I led them to various objects in the house and they had to feel them and tell me what they were. Ds was trying to peek the entire time, but dd did quite well. Ds concluded that he does like to see and he hopes God never takes his eyes (Brian could see some when he was 4-5 but then lost his sight completely). I am going to try to do a project with the Braille alphabet but this weekend is looking a bit crazy but I am going to try if not we may have to check this one out again. A good read.

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We also read From Me to You by Anthony France. A rat receives an anonymous letter that serves as a spark for him to get out of his ‘bathrobe blues’ and he sets off to find out who wrote the letter and along the way realizes that he has neglected his friends and is being selfish as he seeks the author of the letter. He also encounters his friend Bat that is also having the bathrobe blues and he encourages him the same way he was encouraged via a letter. In the midst of expecting friendship you have to show yourself friendly (can’t recall the Scripture reference). This book served more as a reminder to me than the kids. 🙂

DD did great with her addition facts and her copywork is looking good. We did the next 5 lessons in the McGuffey reader and ds and I started short vowel e words.

We still need to do 2 chapters of the Charlotte’s Web audio book if we are ever going to watch the movie.

So, dd comes to me and tells me that she wants to learn Spanish and sign language. As I plan for next year, I hadn’t really thought about putting both of those in the schedule but if they ask, I think you should oblige (my unschooling side is showing). 😉

At the library, I picked up Eight Animals Bake a Cake by Susan Middleton Elya and we read it today. I had begun teaching them Spanish but stopped to spend more time on the 3R’s. Susan Middleton Elya has some other books that we may check out as well and make a path into more formal learning Spanish program.
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We also read The Greatest Gymnast of All by Stuart Murphy. You have to love all of the Math Start books as they are fun to read, nice pictures and there is a topic for just about everything. This one is about opposites and ds really liked it as he is into opposites and rhyming words at this present moment in time. Any word you say he is trying to figure out a word it rhymes with and if possible its opposite.
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A few dear friends are a part of the sign language ministry at our church and I have to assume that is where dd interest has been piqued. So, I will be sitting down with 2 books Learn to Sign the Fun Way and Teach Your Tot to Sign to come up with a plan.
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All in all, we moved forward in MUS. We are on doubles (up to 5) and addition +1 facts so since her workbook is finished for those lessons, I am going to get some additional worksheets to provide additional drill for the rest of this week as next week it is onto skip counting. I made some timelines that I laminated for skip counting 2s, 3s, 5s, and 10s and they are cut like rulers so I will also go over that on Friday and Monday with some magnet fish game. Yes, I made a bunch of different fish and attached magnets and made fishing poles out of small wooden dowels and she can use the timeline to pick up only the fish listed…we will see. Also, I need to hit the craft store for some foam as I had an idea about making die to further the addition stuff…still thinking it through in my head but may post a pic when the project is finished.

As for reading, we did the first few lessons in the free McGuffey Reader and did 2 copywork sentences from that for dd and ds reviewed -at, -ad, -ap, -an, -am words. He also did some matching stuff and connect-the-dot worksheets.

Today was a good day at Firmly Planted.

Lately I have had some angst building as it relates to curriculum choices and comparisons. There are opinions to go around on what is best, what works best and what is liked the most or what is preferred by many. However, at the end of the day, isn’t the reason why you are homeschooling so that you can make your own choices as to what your dc learn??? If that is the bottom line then get out of the box of thinking that any one curriculum is going to meet all of your needs…it isn’t. One curriculum is not going to make all of your children, if schooling multiple children, happy. One curriculum is not going to make you happy.

There are choices upon choices upon choices in the homeschooling arena and with choice comes opinions upon opinions upon opinions. I think it is helpful to hear others thoughts/opinions but you still must take it with a grain of salt because that person is not you and their kids are not your kids. I have seen that so much opinion following only leads to people buying things that came highly recommended by so and so to find out that they don’t like it and neither do their children. Get out of the box of following everyone’s opinions.

Maybe at the end of the day, I am just thrifty (cheap) because I am not willing to follow the latest whim and purchase just because x number of people like it. I need workarounds and I like trying to find workarounds because when we decided to homeschool it wasn’t expected to be an easy process, I expect bumps and some of those bumps are me finding a workaround because I do not like to waste money.

Over the last few days, I did not feel as if our reading curriculum was getting my dd to where I think she should be so I was doing some research on the net and came across a resource that I subsequently checked out of the library. I liked it so much, I purchased the updated version from Barnes & Noble today with my teacher discount…what was it – The Reading Teacher’s Book of Lists. This book has all of the current reading programs on the market combined into 1 book that will take my dc through high school and college. Not only does it include phonics, it includes phongrams, homophones, homographs, vocab builders (prefixes, suffixes, synonyms, antonyms, greek and latin roots), word families, content words, books to read at different stages, writing, ideas for teaching, comprehesion, study skills, test skills, spelling, grammar, sing language examples, braille alphabet, morse code, hieroglyphics, games and additional references. All for less than $25. I had to get out of the box of thinking that one way of teaching them per some curriculum was going to be the end all be all.

Now, I am going to include some readers and based upon my dd tendency to figure out from the pictures with the BOB books, I am going to download the FREE McGuffey Readers from Project Gutenberg. Yes, I did say FREE, here is the Primer. The readers are pretty and nice but seriously after the children learn to read, are they really going to come back and read the pretty reader that you spent so much money for….no. Get out of the box of always wanting to keep up with the Joneses and buy, buy, buy…instead be wise, wise, wise. You are teaching your children more than the 3 R’s when you constantly spend unwisely…

My boxers have really been in a bunch over this because I think that even though well-intentioned, the opinions can lead some new homeschoolers down a path that they later regret. If you are new to homeschooling, take your time to look around and read as much as you can and figure out what you want to be the underlying philosphy (foundation) of your homeschooling efforts. Once you have solidified that foundation, then figure out what you want your dc to learn/know and then begin doing some research on what is out there and even challenge yourself to design your own curriculum. Every method around suggests using living books, go walk the shelves at the library, talk with the librarians (I find them to be quite helpful and willing to assist homeschoolers), and see what is available for your family. When you are comfortable with your research/investigation, make a list of what you would like to purchase. Put the list away for at least 2 weeks and during that time just pray over your list/choices and I guarantee when you pull your list you will scratch some items off of the list. Or make your highball list and your lowball list…you will be surprised how much you can eliminate when you switch time for money.

Another issue that is related to this is the concern that the chosen curriculum will not meet college standards or will not prepare the dc properly. As a homeschooler and a parent you want the best for your children well maybe you need to get out of the box of what is currently offered and move up to some college texts. Yes, you can get the teacher editions as most of us belong to some card carrying homeschool group so speak with the publisher and as a homeschooler use your professional homeschool voice and get what is best for your child.

For me once I move beyond our biblical foundation to educate our children, I see the world as our oyster and we are free to choose/develop a curriculum that best meets our needs but also as the teacher/parent I am to not rely solely on that curriculum, I am to supplement it with whatever I feel necessary to make sure that my student/child understands it. There isn’t a curriculum in the world that you will ever be 100% happy with but you can be happy with knowing that you have found what is better for you and your family and you have taken the time to add to it to make it best for you and your family.

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Today we read That Pesky Rat by Lauren Child. A cute story of a rat that desires to have owners, a name, and a place to live (inside).

As we continue listening to the audiobook of Charlotte’s Web, prior to watching the new DVD movie, the dc have become fascinated with Templeton the Rat. So, when I saw this book at the library I knew it would be a nice fit. The book has lots of vibrant colors and the font changes and it even shows the rat’s handwritten note for a new owner. The rat shares snippets of the lives of his other animal friends and what he likes/dislikes about their situations to drive home the point that he would like an owner. The ending is cute so I won’t provide the spoiler here, go check it out from the library and read it to your kids. 🙂

Since college, I have been a fan of used book stores primarily because I was on a budget and I loved to read and also I think I like to ‘have’ things on hand…just-in-case but more on my shopping issues later. 🙂

Today was the local library book sale and I went to check it out without the dc and I am in love….I spent $16.50 and came home with some great finds:

1) Paradise Lost and Other Poems and a book of Walt Whitman poems
2) book of Shakespeare
3) Gone With the Wind
4) Ton of great readers for the kids even a book explaining the end of Dinosaurs according to the Bible
5) Kingfisher Children’s Encylopedia
6) Anne Gable (3 in 1)
7) Animal Farm and Plato’s Republic (didn’t keep my high school and college copies)
8) Children’s World Atlas
9) 2 great math related readers for the kids that the library didn’t even have in its collection (God is so good!!)
10) about 5 Magic School Bus books
11) 3 Dr. Seuss books
12) Anne Frank
13) Rhyming Bible and Bedtime Bible stories
14) more than I can remember right now!!!

All children’s books and children related books were $.25 yes even the big encyclopedia was a quarter. Adult books were $.50 so I was and still am a very happy camper right now.

Well, good plans are made to be changed…I had planned to attend the homeschool curriculum fair on Saturday but changed my mind and went today. It was approximately 1 hour from my house so I left early because Friday rush hour starts at about 12 noon around here. My mom came with me as I did have the dc being the dh is at the men’s retreat. I was pretty excited about attending my 1st curriculum fair…I had my list of what I wanted to buy, what I wanted to look at and purchase if the price was right, and I had my checkbook. 🙂

Well, we arrived and the place was already quite packed. My mom was like “wow, there are a lot of cars here.” There was a Mason-Dixon knife show at the location but it is fair to say that the majority of people were there for the curriculum fair. 😉 After entry, I made my way to a map to jot down locations of my must visits – Math-U-See and Rainbow Resource. Okay, now off to shopping. Purchased the Alpha curriculum for dd math and the completer set of blocks. Had on my list the skip counting cd but forget to purchase it in all of my excitement and did not realize it until I got home..kinda bummed but I moved on. Also purchased the Usborne Internet-linked History and Science Encylopedias. A few other items – Aesop’s fables, Charlotte’s Web, Aladdin story reader, writing pads for dd penmanship, a shapes thinking game, and 2 maze books.

I was able to check out SOTW and was tempted to purchase but will wait until 1st grade. Looked at First Language Lessons and do not think I will need this until Novemeber-December so I will order when that time approaches. Of course there were more goodies than you can shake a stick at but I have resolved myself that I will not purchase a lot of curriculum to keep up with the Joneses but I will purchase what I have researched and prayed over with dh.

The kids held up well even though it was quite a bit warm and having mom was a blessing. All in all, I feel that I am good to go and will finish designing a few unit studies for history/science and we will go from there. I also discovered a decent used bookstore on the way home from my parents where I picked up The Trumpet Swan, Stuart Little, a Bill Peet book and a few other items. I will definitely add it to my rotation and tomorrow is the library sale. Yippee!!

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
April 2007
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