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Thursday, October 2, 2014

September Highlights

Wow September has flown by, and it looks like we will get little relief in October. All but 3 days are already full on our calendar and a few days we have multiple things to do. Of course October's busyness is due to some fun family outings we have planned.

Here are our highlights for September.
Mid September we took a week off and went to Myrtle Beach.
It was the kids first time at the beach. (At least that they can remember.)
We had a great time. We stayed right on the ocean at a resort.
It had a water park type area in it-so between swimming
and the beach-they had a blast!

Cherry Grove Pier
A big stingray swimming under the pier.

Back home in Tennesssee, I decided to get busy with my photography again.

Me and my daughter chasing a sunset-to capture some pics. She is on my truck playing with my iphone 6 taking some pictures so we can compare.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Australia unit week 3-180 Days Around the World

This week we finished our Australia unit study.

Our focus was on history and the religions. We watched the movie "Australia".

The kids did an Aboriginal art project.
Lexi designed a menu describing foods you would find in Australia.
Peyton made a dictionary page explaining some commonly used Australian terms.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Homeschooling, what does it take?

So what does it take to homeschool? A willing heart, and some perseverance, When you get the "why" the "how" comes.

The Why becomes the How.

There are many things to consider when you are considering homeschooling.
I think the most important thing you need to figure out is WHY?
Why do you want to homeschool your child? This is what it always comes back to in the end. There will be days you want to call it quits. Guess what? Life is like that. There are days I hated public school when I was a kid, and days I liked it. There are good days in our homeschool journey, and their are days that can be frustrating.  There are good times, and tough times, and life happens. It will happen when you homeschool too.

The Vision:  The "why" is not the vision. The "why" is the road that keeps you going toward the vision, that you are uncovering during this journey.

I have an incredible book that I re-read often. It is called "The Angel in the Marble." This book made such a big difference in how I approached homeschooling. One of the articles mentions Michaelangelo. He would walk around a square piece of marble for days and just stare at it. Of course people felt this was odd behavior. When questioned, he responded "I saw the angel in the marble and I carved until I set him free."  He was able to capture a vision of what that piece of marble would become. He would begin to chip away, little by little, and then stare some more. He continued in this fashion until his work was done.

We like, Michaelangelo,  are called to seek the vision God has for our children. We should ask for wisdom to provide the resources they need to learn and become the person they are to become. We don't need to regurgitate information to them. This goes so much further than just academics. We are to contribute to building the whole person, - mind, spirit and body.

When my daughter turned 3, I enrolled her in her first dance class. It was a creative movement class. I had no idea then that dance would become a passion for her. For her, dance is worship, she can express herself through it. The older she gets, the more I see dance really becoming a big part of her life and who she is.  As we continued on the journey, I allowed her to take different types of dance classes, gymnastics, art, and follow musical interests like piano and most recently guitar. Some things she likes, other things, she may find she is not so passionate about. That is okay. I am partnering with God, in helping her find her destiny.

The Mission: What am I trying to accomplish here.

When I began our homeschooling journey, I wrote out a simple mission statement. It is still in my binder today. It states my vision and my why. My mission has never, ever changed. The vision will become more specific over time, it will fine tune and become more focused. But the mission remains the same. Why am I doing, what I am doing?  There are many reasons I homeschool, but what I want at the end of this journey is what matters most.  One day, the kids will be ready to go out on their own-who do I want them to be?  What kind of person do I want to put out into this world-that so desperately needs people that care.  That is simply two things-I want to know my children (relationship), and I want them to become the person that God has created and destined them to become.

Under my mission statement I have this written:
Relationships first,  (with God, with each other.)
Life Skills second,  (character, diligence, work ethic, etc.)
Academics third. (reading, writing, and arithmetic, etc.)

Keeping priorities in order is key.  Sometimes, we may have to set things down-to get this back in the right priority.

Other things to consider are:

My child's learning style. (Auditory, kinesthetic, visual?)

What curriculum to use.

What activities to be involved in: co-ops, dance, sports if available, etc.  It is important to find others on this journey to support you-and you likewise can be a support system to them. Sometimes the simplest thing can just be one friend of two that you can talk to when you need to vent.
My child is an individual, and the plan for one child, may look very different from the plan of another child. (This is OK. If you haven't read the "School for Animals" article, now is a good time to read it.)

Invest in Yourself
The other thing I highly recommend is to invest in yourself. You cannot give yourself, if you are tired, and frustrated or burnt out.  Get with other like minded moms/parents. Join in some fun activities to help strengthen you and your children. Their are even online support groups that can offer support.

Last but not least is:

You can learn as you go.

Remember, You don't have to have a 12 year plan-when your child is in Kindergarten. Don't become overwhelmed by the "what ifs".  You are not going to ruin your child. You are just taking a different route to get to the final destination. Just take it one year at a time. (Or one semester at a time.)  I began with a 1 year plan.  I knew I could always enroll him the following semester if I needed to or felt I couldn't handle the task.  You don't have to have it all figured out now. You can learn as you go too. On the journey you and your children will both begin to grow and change.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Australia Unit Week 2

This week we continued our Australia Study. We are using 180 Days Around the World. I love this curriculum It is so incredibly versatile. Anyway, here is what we learned about this week. The kids have really excelled here and surprised me with their work and creativity. I really love that they are learning to research more on their own, and write and do projects about it.

Sometimes the kids have the same assignments, some times they are age specific assignments. They will list Jr. High assignments and High School Assignments. Other times I may decide that Lexi do an assignment and choose a different one for Peyton.

This is an assignment I chose for Peyton to do. He had to create a map showing the industry, agriculture etc. of Australia. He also had to create a map key. I think he did great, but I would have preferred a little more color in the map, but I thought his pictures were pretty creative.
He was allowed to choose and animal to do a report about.  He chose the Dingo.

They really enjoyed this activity and really came out shining with their creativity and humor.
They had to each design a travel brochure on some place in Australia.
Peyton chose New South Wales.
He read about fruit farms in New South Wales-and that all the fruit on the Island comes from this area. So it became a pretty big part of his brochure.
On the first page, he highlights fishing and fruit.
The next pages talk about hiking (mountains in the area),
and visiting a real live working fruit farm.
Surfing, and fruit eating and a no refund policy. (Humor there.) LOL

Here is some of Lexi's work.
Her travel brochure was on the Great Barrier Reef

She includes facts, activities like diving, snorkeling, sunbathing, etc.

Her animal report on Koalas, and another report she did on the Cane Toad problem.


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Easy Grammar Plus

The first thing I have to say about this curriculum is, I really wish I had found this a couple years ago. We have tried many different grammar curriculums and I love this approach. When I went online to find out more about it at Rainbow Resource. I saw a video. It discussed the idea of teaching kids prepositions first. Then they learn to mark out prepositions. This allows them to simply the sentence and then they can figure out the subject and verb.
For example if we take the following sentence:
Over the river, and through the woods, to grandmother's house we go.
Now if we ask the student what is the subject of the sentence, you will likely get many answers.
( river, woods, grandmother, house, we). Now a student proficient in grammar will know the answer.
So by learning that over, through and to are prepositions, we can know that the subject is not contained in a prepositional phrase. Students are taught to identify the preposition, then strike through them. 
Over the river and through the woods, to Grandmother's house, we go.
So when we strike through the prepositional phrases, we are simply left with "We go."
Now, finding our subject and verb are easy. "We" is the subject and "go" is the verb.
What I want to know is:  Why wasn't I taught like this. I remember years of being frustrated in school having to diagram sentences, trying to determine parts of speech. How easy is this system.  The only thing I really remember about prepositions was it was supposed to be a place a mouse could go. (But that system doesn't always work." 
When I was in my 20's someone corrected me over the phone. I said "Where are you at?"  My client laughed and said "Don't you know you cannot end a sentence with a preposition?"  I said, "What was a preposition?" He said "At, is a preposition."
So anyway, back to the topic here-the first lessons are spent on learning prepositions. The book uses many ways to help the children learn and memorize the 50 most common prepositions. (Really, they just need to know one when they see it.)
The first day we played Preposition Bingo.

The kids chose words from the list of prepositions and wrote them randomly on their bingo board.
As I called them out, they covered them up. (This helps in familiarizing the kids with some of the words.)
Ok, yes I see it is upside down. I haven't figured out a good way to get my phone pics into my blog.
And don't want to upload them to my computer and then have to upload them again here. So I email them to my blog. (And since they are small on my phone I did not notice they were upside down. ) There is no app in blogger to let me straighten it out, so use your imagination. LOL
Here is the list of prepositions we went over this week.
This is a word scramble activity that is just getting the kids familiar with the words again.
The Teacher's Manual really is essential to this program. It guides you through how to demonstrate things to the kids. The lessons are fairly short -and would only take 15-20 minutes a day. Which is great because we also have a full writing curriculum this year. In the TM it shows the worksheet the kids will do and has a worksheet with the answers as well. It also has a pre/post test.
We spent our first 3 days doing the Pre-Test. This is a fairly long test, so I split it up so I would not overwhelm the kids.
Anyway, I know I am going to love this curriculum. I can really see the difference in the style already. I know at the end of the year when I do the post test I will see much improvement.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Australia Unit Study -Week 1

I have to say that my favorite thing about homeschooling is the journey.  Not only are my children learning, but I am learning new things every day with them. As we study a subject, I learn and my passion also becomes ignited. It's not just pouring information in-it is helping kids ask questions about things-and helping them go get those answers.

This month, in our History/Geography program we are learning about Australia. We will take 3-4 weeks to explore this continent. The curriculum I chose is very much, a research based curriculum. It really guides the children -having them learn things about that country/continent. We learn about the geography, the topography, the culture, history, wildlife, agriculture, trade, natural resources etc. We also add in living books. So we can engage in the lives of people through a book located in the country.

Here are a few books I got from the library. This will help them do research. I also allow some internet use. I want them to use multiple resources, and not just google the answers.

Lexi is reading "Quicksand Pony." and Peyton is reading a Kindle book "Escape to Murray River". 

I found a couple videos -that would enable us to learn about the Great Barrier Reef and Amazing Animals in Australia. During this month they will do written and oral reports on these subjects. They have to choose one animal to research. They will give a report on the Great Barrier Reef. I like mixing it, and not making them write every single thing. I believe they can learn best by doing different types of reports.

Here is the map work they did the first week.

A list of things to label:

Geography Research

On Monday -they defined some geographical terms as well as found unique things about Australia.

Then each day they did a page of research. Here are a couple days.


We also watched Youtube videos on the Great Artesian Basin and Lake Eyre.
Next week will be even more fun as they begin to do various reports and projects.
So far -I am loving this curriculum. You can add to it as you see fit. You can decide how much you feel each child needs to do. Another great benefit when dealing with children of multiple ages is that the activities are labeled for JR High and High School. So I can assign those to upper level students in addition to the regular work. It could even be used as a 2 year curriculum if you wanted to do a more exhaustive review.


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Apples Spelling for Secondary Students

Apples: Daily Spelling Drills for Secondary Students
I read the reviews on this and really thought it was what we needed for Lexi.
We used Sequential Spelling in the past and Peyton really seemed to pick up well on spelling. Lexi still struggles a bit and I really think she needed further work. It is recommended for grades 7-12. (This is the time that most people dump their spelling program.  I think it's a great time to reinforce it, or expand it. After getting the book I really am happy I got it.
I love that the lessons are short, about 10-15 minutes a day. No teacher prep. The lessons are challenging yet not exhausting. The spelling rule is repeated for 5 days in a row. Which aids in teaching the student the rule. The first day the rule is written for them. On subsequent days they add in parts of the rule.
There are multiple other exercises throughout the week. Some get the child to circle misspelled words. Some are adding suffixes in. Others ask you to state which rule applies to the spelling.


Monday, August 4, 2014

Homeschool First Day and Schedule

Today we started back on our regular homeschool schedule. Peyton is a freshman (9th grade) and Lexi is in 7th grade.

Here they are at breakfast goofing off.

Lexi has some scrambled eggs I made her.

Peyton eating biscuits he made himself.
(Well they were frozen and he baked them.)

Peyton working on Algebra 1 and Computer Programming Course through Kahn Academy.


Lexi working on her science.

Here is the schedule I set up for this year.

8:00 Wake up, make beds, dress, eat, clean up after breakfast.

Work on any independent subject you want until 9:30. (Science, Math and Bible, Spelling)

9:30 (Together) Devotions, Language Arts, History/Geography

11:30 Lunch

Finish work.

Daily Reading

2:00 PE (Dance Exercise etc.)


Then free time if chores are done.






Monday, July 21, 2014

Our Homeschool Journey

So many times people ask when I began homeschooling my children. I know they mean "formally with academics". 

When my children were little they leaned to crawl, talk, walk, use the potty, dress themselves, make their beds, clean up after themselves, tie their shoes, etc. So learning was just a natural part of life.

I helped them as they learned the alphabet, learned to sound out words, and read at home.
We began our official "homeschooling adventure" when my son was 4 years old in Pre-K. I actually got a preschool curriculum from a friend and used it. (It was from Weaver called Interlock.)

So the next year when it came time to enroll him in Kindergarten, I decided to begin homeschooling. I really just took it year by year.  I had the heart to do it, and really felt that for my children it would be great. I really sort of took it year by year. I had many things cross my mind, can I teach him everything he needs to know? Will I ruin my kid forever?  Will he be able to interact with others? Will he be too sheltered?  All those common things that people seem to assume about homeschooling.

Fast forward....9 years later and my son will begin his Freshman year of high school this year. This was another time that I really stepped back, prayed and my husband and I talked again about the direction we should go. Should we continue this course, or choose another. My son, was the biggest factor-he wants to continue to homeschool.

There are many reasons different people choose to homeschool Not everyone chooses to homeschool for the same reasons. Some are religious, some are because of the schools being more dangerous, bullying, some are flexibility, and others choose to do so because it opens up many opportunities to unconventionally teach your children. It gives you freedom to try different materials and approaches and see what works best for each childs' learning style.

We have tried curriculum materials, some we loved, and others we set aside, since they didn't work so well for us. Learning is a lifestyle, not something we do just during set school hours. We have learned unconventionally, we have studied out in nature and been able to go on many great field trips. Most of the time I learn new things right along with the kids. Learning never ceases. In fact I must admit my love for history wasn't even ignited until I began homeschooling. I discovered a literature approach to history which made all the difference for me. I grew up reading history from a traditional boring textbook, but now we get to travel along with characters of the past in amazing books and adventures. The kids and I have had many opportunities that we would have never had if they had been enrolled in traditional school. Especially opportunities to share together in this amazing journey.

The kids and I taking a walk at 10 AM on a traditional school day.
So glad we get to spend this time together and not segregated.  

Now, even though I am pro-homeschooling, it doesn't mean I am against traditional (public or private) schools. I am for allowing parents to make that decision for themselves.  They can decide what they feel is the best way to educate their child. I believe parental involvement is very important no matter how one chooses to educate their child. I can tell you that I want my town to have the very best educational opportunities for everyone. I believe having more choices is better, than fewer.

Friday, July 18, 2014

The Amazing Benefits of Mila-The Only Chia Seed You Need

This is another product that Cleanses, Balances and Builds the body. Skip to 4:12 to hear the benefits of adding Mila to your diet.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Visit To Ijams

Today our hiking club went to Ijams Nature Center. This is a great place to view nature, hike, play, and they have a little exhibit area too. We haven't been in a couple years and I have to say after going today I am very sad that I haven't taken advantage of it more. It is a great place to go and free to the public.

Here are some pictures of what we did today. We hiked the Universal and River Trails today. Then played in Jo's Grove which is like fairy land for kids. I never even knew this existed, so I think it might be a new addition. It is a great place to have a picnic lunch and allow the kids to play, jump over logs etc.

At the Discovery Center

One of the many scenic views along the river trail.

A beautiful farm across the river. On the river trail.

Beautiful wild foliage line the trails.

A couple trails are paved. But not all. So be sure to ask and plan appropriately if you plan to take a stroller.

Jo's Grove. This is like a fairy play land for kids. There are little huts made from sticks, a playhouse, Logs to walk on, or sit on. Picnic tables and benches for lunch or for watching the kids play. The area is all shaded. It was a lovely little place to play. Even the 14 year old boys enjoyed it.

I found out today that they actually have many planned events during the summer months. Many times a hike is planned with a volunteer. These are great because most of the time, theses people know a lot about the plants, and wildlife in the park and can point it out. For more information visit their website.