I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. 3 John 1:4


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Back to School

Emily is enjoying her science curriculum and learning about birds.
How air pressure might lift the water up like the wings of a bird.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Schedules, Structure, Accountability...

I have been working on a more structured schedule for school next year.  Both Emily and Michelle needed this, and so do I.  Even though Michelle is in 7th grade this year, she still must have a good bit of one-on-one attention - direction, teaching, etc.

I will be using these two schedules for them.  It was useful to get a side-by-side view on Word to make sure there was no overlap.  The underlined subjects are those that I will be teaching and working on with them.  I will be printing one copy for each day, which they will use to write in their assignments and what they need to work on on their own (OYO).

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Science Project - Birds!

Emily has been recording her bird sightings in the backyard in her journal this summer, building a nice collection of drawings and observations, and having lots of fun with it. 

This week, we installed our new bird feeders, and we've all been enjoying watching the birds which congregate around it, especially early in the morning and late in the evening. 

Our science curriculum for 2014-2015 will be Apologia's Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day.  So, out bird studies will extend through next year.
Living in Florida makes this project especially fun, as we have so many species to study year round.  Nevertheless,   I signed up for the Cornell University Birdfeeder Project starting this Fall.  We are also recording our logs on ebird, their amazing website where thousands of people from around the world contribute their sightings. 

Cornell has a number of projects and resources on their website:
All About Birds is an online guide to birds and bird watching. It provides information about birding basics, live video feed from bird cams, informational videos, and more.
There are also three free modules to download for teaching the scientific method and graphing data called Investigating Evidence.

For field trips this year, I have planned several outings to county parks, and one longer trip to the J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge  on Sanibel Island.  We are blessed to live very close to one of the county's best bird habitats - Edward Medard Park.  There are birding groups organized each Fall which I hope to join with to learn more about bird watching, etc.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Summer School II

I thought it would be fun to do a nature journal with some structure this summer, one which asks questions to help with observations.  I'm very happy to have found the Bird Log.  It comes with 30 log pages,  space for drawing,  and pages in the back where we can add photos or more colored pictures.
Emily is a great animal lover. She has been this way since she was a toddler, bringing bugs and frogs inside for me to admire, taking care of our pets...  she has been enjoying her Bird Log and going out to find and watch birds in the mornings.  I think it will make a nice keepsake for her.

Adventure Publications also sells a Nature Log, which I'm thinking of getting for next summer.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Classical Conversations - Resources

One summer, a few years ago, a friend introduced me to the team who leads the Classical Conversations (CC) groups in our area.  It was a planning meeting, and I was invited with the thought of perhaps teaching high school science and math for them.  Although that plan never materialized because of the time commitment it would have required, I had the chance to learn a few things about the program.  We have not joined a Classical Conversations group, though the possibility exists that we may some day.  Cost and time commitment have been the main reasons why it hasn't worked out for us yet.

This last year, I decided to try one of Classical Conversations' calligraphy workbooks:  Prescripts Passages & Illuminations: American Documents.  I have been very happy with it.  For next year, I am planning on putting an emphasis on geography in our social studies curriculum and have decided to use one of CC's resources from their Trivium Tables - Geography.  This video explains what it is and how to use it.  I like that it is laminated and the maps can be traced with dry-erase markers.  Such a simple concept and so useful.

Two other great resources I'll be using next year for grammar and writing:

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Curriculum for 2014-2015

This coming year, I think may be my easiest yet.  I will have Emily in 5th grade, and Michelle will be in 7th.  Michael is a senior this year and fully independent at this point.  He will be dual enrolling in three classes each semester at USF, taking bible classes with Ligonier Connect, and a persuasive writing/speaking dvd class from IEW.  The biggest change will be that Don will be handling the teaching and grading of Michelle's work this year.  I will still be responsible for her curriculum, lesson plans, and record keeping, so I guess we'll be co-teaching.  He seems to handle the difficulties I've been having with her all these years much better than I do, so hopefully this plan will work out well.  She does most of her work independently now anyway, so teaching her involves accountability, direction, and answering questions.  I am looking forward to spending more of my time focused on Emily's education, as she really needs my undivided attention now.

I have the following curriculum lined up for next year:

Emily (5th Grade)

Bible:  Studying God's Word G (Gospels), Memory Work Notebook (Catechism, Scripture memory)
Math: Abeka 5
English: Easy Grammar 5, Building Spelling Skills 5, Wordlywise 5, IEW Student Writing Intensive & Fables, Myths, and Fairy Tales, Fix it!
Literature/Reading: Veritas Press Literature Guides for 5th Grade - Mary Poppins, Anne of Green Gables...
Social Studies: Around the World in 180 Days, Maps, Globes, Graphs F, BJU Heritage Studies, Where in the World?
Science: Apologia Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day, My Nature Journal

Michelle (7th Grade)

Bible:  Studying God's Word G (Gospels), Memory Work Notebook (Catechism, Scripture memory)
Math: Saxon 76
English: Building Spelling Skills 7, Fix it!, IEW Medieval History
Literature: BJU Literature
Social Studies: BJU World Studies
Science: BJU Life Science

Pens for 2014-2015

I like a good pen. Perhaps that is an understatement...  I shop for pens once a year. I've bought numerous fountain pens in the past, and I still like them, but this time, I wanted ballpoint pens in several colors.   After reading several reviews on Amazon,  I decided to go to the store and skip the wait, since I was looking for easy-to-find brands.

I brought home a pack of BICs that looked great, BIC Atlantis, and another one of Uniballs.  Without hesitation,  Uni ball is much better side by side on an index card; furthermore, the lighter green BIC was not just a disappointment because the color was way too light and skipped leaving white streaks, but the pen actually didn't work... the clicker was broken right out of the box. :(

One reviewer on Amazon had high praises for the red Uniball, but there were none to be found at the store, so I did order that after testing them out. 

These days it's a good idea to check even on products I've bought many times before because companies change management all the time, and you never know if you will be getting the same item you've always liked.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Lesson Plans

When I taught high school in both public and Christian schools, I was expected to keep detailed lesson plans with goals and objectives.   I know of home school umbrella schools which require them as well.  I think this is for several good reasons.  Lesson plans help me stay on track and accomplish more of my goals,  stay organized, maintain structure through the day,  and the make difficult days easier by helping me stay focused when my mind is weighed down by other concerns.
I have been using Homeschooling Tracker Plus for lesson plans and other record keeping for years, and it has served me well. Once I figured out the system,  it really made lesson planning an easy-to-do task.
For homeschooling,  my lesson plans are a simple skeleton listing classes in order with some basic notes on the side.  Homeschooling Tracker allows for levels of complexity.  I like to keep my plans simple, then add comments as we go along during the week about topics which need extra work or ideas I have during the day which may be helpful through the week.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Summer School I

This summer,  I am doing school in the mornings with the girls, and Michael is studying for CLEP exams on his own.  We decided to give year-round schooling a try and take shorter breaks throughout the year.

I am using the Memory Work Notebook from Christian Liberty Press again for bible. Emily will be working through the Westminster Shorter Catechism, part of the 5th grade schedule. Each day, she will memorize one question on an index card, Monday through Thursday,  then on Friday s, she'll recite them back to me.  I copied the questions on separate cards held together by a ring.  I have some fun rewards for her to keep her motivated.
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