Curriculum Choices for 2017-2018

This post is embarrassingly late! But better late than never, right?

We are in our 7th week of school and I am encouraged to say we have hit a smooth groove with our schedule. Now, don’t get me wrong, I still have days where I feel like I am being torn into a thousand pieces none of which that belong to me (thank you Becky for that awesome analogy at church!), but we are getting things done and I am not loosing by head every day so I am calling that a win!

I will share a more in depth look into our schedule and routine at a later date, but I did make a day in the life video last week that shares glimpses of it. You can Click HERE to watch that.

Not only is the schedule working I believe our curriculum choices are turning out to be very on point as well. Here is what are using this year!

Andrew (grade 9)

AJ is continuing in Classical Conversations Challenge Program and meets once a week with his class and a tutor to go over their work from the week. I like the community and the accountability that it provides.

  • Latin: Henele Latin
  • Science: This year he is researching famous astronomers and their life, theories, laws and contribution to their fields. He is writing reports weekly on what he has learned as well as making labeled diagrams of various theories and laws. For example last week he had to research Kepler and his three laws. He then wrote a paper describing each of  Kepler’s three laws. He is also participating in a Science Fair this year.
  • Debate: This is probably by favorite. He is researching current “hot topics” in current events such as right to life, gun control, women in the military and finding news articles that support both the affirmative and negative position. He then must form his own conclusions on them and be ready to discuss this within class with proofs and sub proofs. The second semester his class will be studying the judicial process and will be participating in a mock trial (in an actual courtroom) after several weeks learning due process.
  • Logic: He is working through two MASSIVE books: Intro to Formal Logic and Intermediate Formal Logic. Again I like that this year he is learning to think for himself not just regurgitate facts.
  • Literature/Writing – He participates in 60 minutes of SSR daily. Using the Lost Tools of Writing he is coming up with a thesis and writing a persuasive essay corresponding with his position. In the second semester he will be focusing on famous short stories and will be creating a short story of his own.
  • Math – We are still loving Teaching Textbooks and he is working on Algebra I this year.
  • Extras – Over the summer he has developed a love music. Piano, drums, guitar, ukulele and even singing. He became and amazing self taught student of piano and has amazed us by what he can place by ear and through a handful of YouTube tutorials. He JUST recently started formal lessons and and thrilled to see him move forward with this passion on his own. (We  never pushed our kids into anything they don’t show interest and/or talent in.)
  • Rube Goldberg- He a few friends are participating in the Rube Goldberg challenge this year as well.
Maddie (Grade 7)

This is Maddie’s first year in the Challenge Program and she is participating in Challenge A.

  • Latin – Henele Latin
  • Science – She is researching and writing a report on topics revolving around biology and natural science each week. Each paper has to have 2-3+ sources, a drawing and a bibliography.
  • Apologetics/Reasoning – She is addressing the topics of thinking and speaking truthfully to help her in her next year of Challenge where she will be studying formal logic and debating.
  • Cartography – She is required to draw 3 maps a day of the region of the world that she is memorizing. At the end of the year she will be able to draw the world (all continents, countries and capitols) from memory.
  • Literature/Writing – She participates in 60 minutes of SSR daily and will be writing 10 persuasive essays based upon a thesis she comes up.
  • Math – She is using Teach Textbooks as well and is in grade 7.
Faith and Michael (grade 4 and 5)
  • English – Rod and Staff, grade 4
  • IEW – US History
  • Spelling – undecided
  • Math – Teaching Textbooks, grade 4 and 5
  • Computer – Typing Instructor Platinum for kids
  • Penmanship (group – more on this later!)
Georgia (grade 2)
  • Math – Math-U-See, Beta
  • Explode the Code books for practice, review and (lets be honest here) busywork!
Ezra (Kindergarten)
Group Studies

 

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US History Bundle!

I am SO excited to announce that my US History Bundle is DONE! It is SO amazing and I can’t wait to hear your feedback!

My US History Bundle is a FULL year of US/American History, geared toward children K-6th, but could be adapted for older kids by adding in some deeper level novels (think Grapes of Wrath, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Red Badge of Courage, Etc.) and an overview of American History of your choosing.

It is flexibly scheduled for you and includes 30 weeks of US/American History

  • 30 weeks of lesson plans starting with Native Americans/Columbus and ending with America’s War on Terrorism (scheduled for either 2 day/week or 4 day/week)
  • Planned weekly source readings from spine books (Story of the World, The Making of America and The American Story)
  • Lots of Pinterest activities for varying ages that are sorted by week for your convenience
  • Geography/Mapping assignments
  • A large selection of books for family read alouds that are linked to which week the correspond to
  • Memory work for both US History and US Government
  • A large and leveled book list to help you find readers that tie in with history for your independent readers.
  • As a bonus I have also included 30 weeks of memory work for both Bible/Scripture and Math&English.
  • A 14 page resource guide that includes my favorite tips and tricks for making your year go amazing
  • All memory work is set up as printable flashcards labeled by week!

Click Here to see a sampling of what it includes!

For a limited time I am releasing my History Bundle for ONLY $6.99! A WHOLE YEAR of US History for less than a fancy coffee! I want every family to be able to enjoy a SIMPLE  classical/whole book approach to learning about US History!

 

 

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Homeschool Year Wrap Up…. Hits and Misses

We are DONE with school for the year. Like early-done. Like totally-done. Like didn’t-have-to-leave-anything-off-done…. WHAAA????? What planet am I living on? This. NEVER. Happens. LIKE EVER. (Are you already sick of the work “like” in just the first paragraph of this blog?…I am like sorry!

So, what better time to do a wrap up on of the school year than when it’s fresh in my mind and I haven’t invaded my limited brain space to start FREAKING OUT ABOUT working on next year’s plans.

This year I taught 8th grade (using Classical Conversations Challenge A curriculum), 6th grade, 4th grade, 3rd grade, and 1st grade.

Let’s just start with what went really well!

History – I just love Story of the World. Wholeheartedly. We like the books it recommends, the short segments and the map work. The ONLY problem I have with SOTW is their 4th book… Uggggh, I am not sure what we are going to do when we get back around to that one, but I guess we will cross that bridge when we get there. We used the Homeschooling in the Woods timeline figures that I bought years ago (I use them SOOOO much and I am so glad I made the investment in the whole set!)

Science – I only did 2 books when I normally do 3 per year. It worked out really well this year and the kids still got a lot out of them. We notebooked our way through them and that is always an easy yet effective way to retain information. You get to use all the different parts of your brain doing sketch journaling and it is fun; what’s not to love.

English – Grouping Michael and Faith together has been really advantageous. It allows me to teach one thing and have both utilize it. Also, Michael struggles a bit in this area, they are only a year apart in school and there is so much repetition and review in all grades you can easily lump kids together that are close in age. Last year I did 6th grade with my 5th and 7th grader (splitting the difference).

Spelling – I think we will be continuing to use the Spelling Workout Books I really like the format and the how each year it stays the same (just harder and more words). It enforces vocabulary and by the 6th grade Maddie was spelling words that I usually rely on spellcheck to figure out, but then again, I am not a strong speller, so take that as you will.

Math – Teaching Textbooks is probably what we will be sticking with although I always fall short of drilling multiplication tables and that SHOWS!!! I really need to get better at this. Anyone have a great way of having kids memorize their math facts? Flash cards, ipad drills and repetition are all I come up with. Math fact memorization is just boring. Plain and simple. But it has to be mastered so let’s put on our big girl panties and start a flash card frenzy this summer, eh?

Classical Conversations– We really loved this program for our oldest and plan to use it for our other kids as well. I am in the middle of deciding whether or not Maddie will start Challenge A this year or next, as she will have JUST turned 12 at the beginning of the school year.  AJ learned SO much, but I am afraid Latin may be a bit much for a just turned 12 year old (AJ was 13 at the start of his Challenge A year) with NO background in Latin. If we do start her next year we will be doing a summer Latin study so she at least has a little bit of experience with it. AJ struggled hard with his Latin final, although he knows SOOOO much more than he did at the beginning of the year.  He is looking forward to Challenge B next year I am I am looking forward to starting again with a bit better feel of how Classical Conversations looks and blindly trying to figure it out as we go (but that is me to a tee… #learnasido

Things that need improvement

Writing– While I LOVE Institute for Excellence in Writing I slacked at teaching it consistently. It was the subject that I tended to leave by the wayside on the days when we had too much on our plates (remember we had a baby last year… #thebabyismyexcuse!) I am planning on starting it next year with Michael (5th) and Faith (4th) although I am not sure how that will look as, like I said before, this is where Michael struggles the most. I have thought about having him keep a summer journal just to get him used to writing more and hopefully get him enjoying it.

Typing – we fell off the typing bandwagon, but I am not horribly concerned about this as most of the kids are proficient at keyboarding skills and use a computer daily for some of their school work.

Accountability – I hoping next year I am able to be a bit more organized about checking completed work thoroughly so that I can hold the kids more accountable for certain things. Accountability for them means accountability for me and last year was a tough year to keep my eye on every ball I was juggling. I think I did very well considering we had my oldest in brand new structure, I was still homeschooling my other 4, I had 2 toddlers, a newborn baby with tongue tie as well starting my new doTERRA business. Phew…

Handwriting – I LOVED having printable, renewable and super simple handwriting sheets. I DID NOT love the fact that I didn’t just PRINT THEM ALL OUT AHEAD OF TIME! But that was partly because I wasn’t done creating them. Which let me to slapping them together the morning of school that week which took more time then I had at the moment. NOTE TO SELF: I will print out a year worth of handwriting BEFORE the school year next year. I promise.

Favorite family read aloud this year: Call it Courage

Least favorite family read aloud: Samurai Tale (we didn’t even make it halfway through)

How was your year?

 

 

 

 

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Story of the World and Homeschooling the Woods Time Line Figures Resource

After I posted my video on how we notebooked in our homeschool for history and science (video below) I had so many people ask what resource I used to line them up.


I looked extensively online and couldn’t find one so I made my own for SOTW vol 2. (I reviewed both MOH and SOTW here and showed how I planned for it here if you want to check that out.)

Today I wanted to share with you my chart (click here for it: Story of the World Volume 2 figures) that lines up the History in the Woods Time Line Figures (which I LOVE) with Story of the World Volume 2. I hope this helps you coordinate your notebooks, timelines or coloring pages.

On the chapters that didn’t have coordinating figures (which were rare) I just placed a blank piece of notebook paper so they could notebook the chapter freehand.

 

 

Homeschool History: Mystery of History, Story of the World, TruthQuest, Biblioplan

Today I am going to try to delve into the details about the different home school curricula that have stolen my heart over the course of my 9 years of homeschooling. I feel like I have tried all the most well known ones (save for Tapestry of Grace). I am just going to dive in and give you an overview of each curriculum and the pros and cons of each. Then I’ll share which one we are using this year and why.

Mystery of History:

I own: Volume 1 and Volume 4, although I have only used a full year of Volume 1.

Overview: Mystery of History is set up as a classical schedule which satisfies the ideas of The Well Trained Mind (I book I LOVE and refer to often!) of a 4 year, chronologically paced history program that is broken down into 4 years; Ancient, Middle Ages, Early Modern and Modern. They actually title it differently and line it up with significant church history events as follows:

  1. Ancient = Creation to Resurrection,
  2. Middle Ages = Early Church
  3. Early Modern = Reformation
  4. Modern = Wars of Independence

Pros:

  • It has a VERY thorough church history and early biblical accounts of some of the lesser known books and figures of the bible. I learned a lot of things I didn’t know and the Old Testament has been better understood knowing and following the secular/cultural historical events that surrounded it which brings me to my next point…
  • It has enough secular history to be a solid curriculum.
  • It has ONE book that includes not only the text but also the activities, maps, pretest, tests and a suggestion of the timeline figures to use for each chapter from History Through the Ages (which I own AND LOVE!)
  • The sections to read daily are short, very manageable, written to the reader and easy to understand.
  • It is the 4 year classical, chronological progression of history that I gravitate to.
  • Fairly inexpensive and non consumable.
  • WonderMaps makes maps that match up with lessons and are noted as such in the program when you buy it! SCORE! And the maps that correspond are located in the appendixes of the MOH book!
  • Coordinating literature books are also included in the appendixes but (IMO) not as an extensive and detailed list as SOTW.
  • Has a GREAT audio book resource that can make it car friendly or just give your voice a break from reading once in a while.

Cons:

  • Secular history was a bit scarce for my liking. I understand the reasoning in the book we did (Ancient/Creation – Resurrection) as MOST of the Old Testament was covered and if you want to keep it a ONE year curriculum you have to pick and choose what you use. This was heavy on church and a bit lighter on secular. This could be a pro depending on how you see it. I just wish it were a TAD more balanced. That being said, this is exactly WHY I bought it to use last year. We had just finished a 4 year cycle of Story of the World and had heard that Mystery of History was stronger in biblical history. It was indeed and doing a round of Ancients in both books I like the complementing subject matter in both interwoven together in our brains.

Biblioplan:

What I own: Year 4 (Family Guide, Timeline, Cool Histories, Coloring Pages and Companion)

Overview: Biblioplan isn’t quite a “curriculum” but more of a guide of using resources to put together a comprehensive curriculum of your own. It offers you lesson plans with several different “spines” and a suggested reading plans for different age groups as well as family read alouds. It also lays out for you bible lessons and activities suggesions for all ages.

Pros:

  • HUGE reading lists and the reading lists give you a good idea what the books are about so that you don’t have to wonder if your particular child will be interested. MAJOR POINTS!
  • Works through various resources so that you can pick and choose which one you want to use. Want to combine Story of the World with Mystery of History, NO PROBLEM!
  • It is also is set up as a 4 year classical, chronological progression of history that I gravitate to.
  • It is digital download that keeps the price low and gives you immediate access to the products you buy.
  • It offers a TON of extra resources that you can buy separately: timeline figures, “Cool Histories” which are basically like comprehension worksheets, map work and now they even have their own text book to use as a spine.
  • Offers a 3 week sample that is FREE so you can really see if it’s for you.

Cons:

  • All the extra resources are extra which can add up.
  • The book list is HUGE… this is a pro and a con for me. I have such a love for books that sometimes I just can’t weed out enough and I get overwhelmed trying to make it through all of them.
  • I never used the bible lessons so I kind of felt like I was paying for a part of the curriculum that I never used. (I think this was a mental thing…)
  • Again, too many resources staring me at the face made me want to use all of them. The whole point is to have a lot to choose from but sometimes to me that was like putting a whole bunch of sparkly things in front of my eyes and asking me to choose my favorite. A hard task sometimes.

Truthquest

What I own: Age of Revolution III

Overview: TruthQuest is really not a curriculum but and EXTENSIVE resource/book list. It lists topics, give a blurb about each topic (kind of what a “spine/text book” would do and then lists A TON of whole books in a variety of styles (picture, chapter, novel, biography, text) that appeal to different age groups. The idea is that you get familiar with the subject matter in the blurb and then dive into good books to make it come to life.

Pros:

  • Quite honestly this is my IDEAL curriculum. I LOVE LOVE LOVE books. I love learning from living,whole books that make history come alive.
  • The book list is HUGE. You can surely find something on amazon or at your local library that matches each and every topic and subtopic.
  • They now offer resources to go along with their book lists: lapbooks, notebooking pages, maps, timelines, etc.

Cons

  • Have I mentioned I LOVE books? Have I mentioned I overwhelm myself because I don’t like to pass on a “good one”? Well, welcome Villa de la Overwhelmed! I just couldn’t stand to leave topics out, books out or even blurbs out. It would have taken me 5 years just to get through the ONE resource guide I bought at the speed I was wanting to do it at. If you’re good at skipping things and not going back to rethink if you should have skipped it at all then this may be perfect for you. But for me it was a con.
  • It isn’t broken down into the 4 year cycle I liked.
  • While it is perfect if you live very close to a library or go to one very regular I tend to have waves of libraryness (yes, Mr. Spell Check that isn’t a word…I made it up…). One month we will be regulars who deserves their own desk and mug with my name on it and the next month my fines from overdue books because we haven’t been there rival my food bill. Because of this I like to own a lot of the resources we use during the year. Being able to grab them off the shelf is much easier than tracking them down at the library or waiting for them to come in because someone else has it checked out when I need it. With that said my house nor my pocket book is large enough to accommodate all the books I would want need to get to make this whole-book-history-nirvana for me.
  • The PDF is HUGE! I was thinking of having it printed and bound because it is hard for my brain to navigate the flipping back and forth in a digital book, but it was 408 pages! So, I just never did it.

Story of the World:

I own: All 4 years including text and activity books.

Overview: This is another 4 year chronological sweep through history. It is biblically biased but not overwhelming so. It is basically 2 parts. The first is the text which is tells the “story” of history. The second is the activity book. This includes all the coloring pages, activity print outs, maps. It is also an amazing resource for sample narrations (Charlotte Mason style), comprehension questions and amazing literature selections.

Pros:

  • That 4 year thing again. I like it, what can I say?
  • LOVE their literature selections. Our eyes have been opened to some really great books.
  • I think they do a very good job of pulling the whole world into the history story. So many curricula focus ONLY on European history. While the majority of it is Eastern European (because most of the major events and empires where located there) they do a great job of tying it together with what was happening in other, more remote places.
  • It leans toward a Christian emphasis but not heavily. This may be a “con” to some but for me, personally, I like to tie in to biblical events but still have the flexibility to really teach that from a more personal place about our faith (than someone I don’t know interpreting it for us, if that makes sense).
  • We have done ALL FOUR YEARS so I know this curriculum well.
  • Map work is tied to the lesson and included in the activity book and helps further drive home the lesson. It is also pretty simple and doesn’t take ages to accomplish.
  • Activities, for the most part, are simple, fun and tie in to the lesson well.
  • I learned a LOT more about history during my four years of Story of the World. I also have retained it thanks to some of the awesome discussions and activities I have put together for my kids.
  • There is an AWESOME resource that lists all of the books from Sonlight’s book list in chronological order and by reading level and how they match up with Story of the World’s 4 year cycle.

Cons:

  • Some of the more political segments got boring and confusing (Especially in volume 4). I think that is just part of it though. Not all history is existing and clear cut.
  • Again in volume 4 they really changed things up and did more of an “schooly” approach.  Instead of containing comprehension questions and fun activities it is just boring outlines… I get bored with Times-New-Roman-Run-of-the-Mill-Outlines. But again, personally, I retain more when the creative side of my brain plays a part in the learning too. Even notebooking we like to turn into a chance to make it creative.
  • While it does have an audio book, the narrator is not one of our family’s favorite voices. Because of the unanimous vote that we don’t like listening to it we rarely use it.

 

So with all that said the curriculum we KEEP coming back to is: Story of the World. Maybe it is because it is familiar. Maybe it’s because it is comprehensive enough to satisfy my OCD about covering everything. I don’t know. But it seems like every time I put it down in search of the “holy grail” of history curriculum I come running back within a month or two.  It seems to be the perfect balance for me. The spine offers enough information to seem cohesive and “whole”, while the books we sprinkle in through family read alouds and individual readers really make the story come to life and offer a deeper understanding and feeling for the time period and the activities really draw in the younger crowd and give them memories that allow them to retain the information leaned. Also it is solid enough in the geogrpahy category to seem complete for the K-6th grades while not being overly overwhelming for either kids or mommas. Can I get an amen to that. Also because the spine is such a main part of the curriculum the family readers and readers purchased to use with it yearly make it a whole book curriculum that doesn’t break the bank or require the use of a storage shed/library to house. Also, I have found that the books we love we hold on to and they are used again and the ones we don’t care for (not many have fallen in that category) we pass along and purchase different ones when we hit that time period again. Again it is a 4 year cycle so the kids will complete one cycle while young and activities and being introduced to the subject mater will be the focus and again when they are older and can understand the more complex features of the time period.

Which is your favorite?

What are you using this year?

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34 Weeks Pregnant with 8th Baby

SIX more weeks, folks! ONLY 6! Although, the days where my feet are sore and my back is achy and I look in the mirror at night and see THIS HUGE thing….

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…I think more along the lines of SIX more weeks? REALLY? Can my body realistically get ANY bigger?

This weeks update vlog touches on quite a few things:

My weight finally decided to budge. It hasn’t moved since before 28 weeks and it looks like I have gained 2-3 pounds in the last 2 weeks. Normally I gain like a girl training for a hot dog eating contest in the third trimester so this is new for me.

My 32 week ultrasound (2 weeks ago) revealed a 4#8oz baby that still happens to be a very proud to show us each and every time he is in fact ALL BOY! Today’s appoint also revealed that he is growing like a weed, as I am measuring 37 weeks instead of the 34 I am. But, come on now, LOOK at those cheeks!

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Braxton hicks contractions have been strong and frequent and I have a slight feeling he may come earlier than my other 38-39 weekers.

I am planning on doing my first ever belly cast using this kit from amazon.

It has rave reviews and has EVERYTHING I need. I picked up some plaster strips from Hobby Lobby but realized when I got home to check the amount I would need that 3 rolls (all they had) was not sufficient for the cast I want to do. I plan on returning the rolls to Hobby Lobby and will be using the kit I  mentioned above. Hopefully we will be doing it sometime in the 36th week.

I have been a busy bee planning my homeschooling out To. The. Max. I mean things cut out, copied, bound, precise lessons and page references because I am a bit panicked about the fact that my oldest is separating from the heard which means 2 COMPLETELY separate programs (his and the one I will be doing with the 4 younger ones) all while chasing 2 crazy toddlers and nursing a newborn around the clock… .*insert crazy Exorcist type head spin minus the vomit*.  Preplanned and grab and go will be my friend next school year. Or so I am telling myself while staying up until the wee hours of the night pumping out notebooking pages, pinning free resources, organizing books, making list, and lesson planning until my butt falls goes numb from the cheap desk chair I am using.

Plan on getting inundated with homeschooling information, resources and vlogs soon because that is my whole life right now. Well, that and busting out another crop of Nicci Lynn Handmade orders, partying through FIVE birthdays in a month and taking care of a good size (sometimes disgruntled) army of small people.

This post contains affiliate links.

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Blue Ribbon Point System

Above is a short explanation of our Blue Ribbon Point system. It is used to reinforce positive behavior in our homeschool, but it would be easy to adapt to a family that does not homeschool as well. Feel free to download the printable below and use them in your own home/homeschool!

BLUE RIBBON PRINTABLE

I simply printed these out on cardstock on my inkjet printer and laminated them with my laminator. After cutting them apart I store them in a pencil box like this.

(This link contains affiliate links)

DITL: “I’m not grumpy; I’m AWESOME!”

Have you ever wanted to be a fly on the wall in a large family home? Well, here is your chance! Now that the GoPro set up is here and I am playing around with it a bit more to figure it all out I thought I would try to post more regular “Day In The Life” vlogs. Let me know if this is something you would be interested in seeing on a more regular basis and how often (weekly, monthly, here and there?).  I absolutely love doing them because they are so fun to look back on. Life is such a blur sometimes with 7 curtain crawlers that it’s nice to freeze some moments in this very precious and fleeting time.

 

Homeschool Planning Book

 

Many of the following links are to Tina’s Dynamic Homeschool Plus. The AMAZING momma that runs this site give these PDF forms, calendars, covers and planners out to people for FREE so go over there and give her some LOVE! I absolutely adore her site and have used her covers, calendars and goal sheets for a couple of years now!

Resources for printing your own planner:

My cover

Other BEAUTIFUL front and back covers

planner title page

6 child planner with weekly independent and daily group studies

Planning pages – 4 day weeks

Planning pages – 5 day weeks

Calendars page

Goals Page

Affiliate Links for products in this video

Laminator

Binding Machine

Spines