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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.
I know some of you are wondering what the kids are learning being that I haven’t posted. Today we continued home economics by going grocery shopping.
Seriously, we have had a small lull as I have had to get a few thing together and we have been moving at a snail’s pace. I had to provide an incentive for dd to finish the Bob books and that is working. Why a 4 1/2 yo wants an umbrella is beyond me but if that is what takes to finish all 12 books than an umbrella it is. Ds wants an incentive but he is 3 so it is more of I want to be like her and get something, I told him I would think about it (that will buy me about 3 days).
MSNBC has an article about homeschooling during high school. It actually was pretty positive even with the social questions as if being social is the prime reason for high school. Quick, painless read for those that are there and those of us that are light years from there.
Yesterday we read some fun books. Animalia, Lunchtime for Purple Snake, and Hoptoad. The kids really liked Lunchtime for Purple Snake and it is one of many books that I keep sharing with them to encourage art appreciation.
Also, we finally finished the audio version of Charlotte’s Web so they watched the video – yippee!!! It was delightful to see their expressions about Templeton and the rest of the characters.
Many are winding down their homeschool efforts and we are going to just keep on going with a lighter schedule for the summer. DD needs to read daily and copywork 3x a week to help her with handwriting and we are going to throw in lots of fun and exciting things as the outdoors continue to beckon.
Today, was the first real day of introducing skip counting via MUS. I have been introducing the concept through books (most titles are mentioned in previous posts, check the sidebar) and other items in everyday life. I made some number lines that are for skip counting by 2’s, 3’s, 5’s and 10’s.
Also, I did a worksheet to supplement the book as a gentle introduction to skip counting.by 2’s worksheet
By happenstance, dd found another skip counting book at the library – Cat up a tree by John and Ann Hassett. It skip counts by 5’s and is a cute story that the dc both enjoyed.
We also read Not a Box by Antoinette Portis. The fornt of the book reminds me of our books growing up when your book cover was a brown paper bag. The book lets kids imaginations run wild with a rabbit and the different things that he imagines his box is even though to him it is never just a box.
The last book that we read today was A Frog in the Bog by Karma Wilson. My ds loves rhyming books and this was perfect plus it counts from 1-5 and back again. The frog keeps eating various things while on a log in a bog until a rather unfortunate event happens with a gator in which all of the food items leave the frog’s stomach (it was rather tight in there) and he no longer sits on a log. Great illustrations and a nice read.
I also liked these books because dd can read the titles and it enforces her reading skills.
After being inspired by another MUS user, I went to Wal-Mart and purchased a fishing tackle box to store all of our blocks. Now, they are all organized and it is compact and portable in case the beach or the park calls us.
Okay, so all week is Teacher Appreciation Week and as a tribute, Learning Page has opened a site a day for free after you fill out a quick form. I didn’t find much to download the first 2 days but today I downloaded a bunch of awesome level readers for the dc from Reading A-Z. Most of the readers are also available in French and Spanish so that furthers dd desire to learn Spanish and now I have some readers that are also level appropriate as we head down that road. If you hurry, you still have until 11:59 p.m. EST to download to your hearts desire and tomorrow they are opening Writing A-Z and on Friday Vocabulary A-Z where you can generate your own vocab lists and more. Don’t cha just love free stuff.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.