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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.