Blessings of Including a New Homeschooling Family

 

Yes I am beginning my 16th year of homeschooling. Honestly we have a school routine, we know what activities the kids want, and what school books work at our house. How quickly I check the box on what needs to be done and move forward with the old established routine.

The downside to that established routine…doesn’t leave room for anything new…including interacting with a new homeschooling family.

Including a New Homeschooling Family

Okay I am going to publicly declare that I am veteran homeschooling momma even though I am pretty sure my oldest was just in Kindergarten not that long ago. Oh the denial of becoming the older woman. 

Since this school year I am reaping the benefits of having a brand new homeschooling family in my life…I wanted to share them with you. [Read more…]

North Star Geography and Literature Selections

North Star Geography and Literature Books

There are two different ways to select and schedule the literature books for North Star Geography. The first way is to select books based on the subject matter of the lesson. The second way is to select books with settings that matched the geographical area of the mapwork. Between the two I was able to have at least 2 book selections for each lesson.

Please note that my boys have learning issues but are avid readers. These book selections are geared toward their visual learning styles, their love for survival skills, and their sense of adventure. Sometimes I have included a younger level reading book so I can use it has a jumping off point to show poetry or other literary devices.

Since my boys have been through all the levels of Illuminations, I needed to focus on books that were not already scheduled in the program. Who knows…maybe one day there will be Illuminations 7 for North Star Geography.

Yes, this is a huge list of Amazon links. I wanted to be able to share the visual for each book. You might be able to find them used other places. [Read more…]

Fun Homeschooling? Are you planning for it?

Fun Homeschooling

I can hear the printers around the world chugging out new printables for the coming homeschool year.

I have fielded many phone calls from homeschooling mommas overwhelmed with getting decisions made and subjects planned. Can you relate?

How many questions have you asked or answered about which curriculum do you use or which extra activities are you going to complete?

I want to know who is talking about plans for fun homeschooling. If you are talking about it…what have you found?

Being intentional about fun homeschooling:

Every year there are a few subjects that bring my children dragging their feet to lessons. Ok not a few subjects…every year it is writing and math. My kids just would do anything to avoid them. [Read more…]

Life of Fred Goldfish, Extra Ideas

LIfe of Fred Goldfish Lesson Plans

I can not believe it has been two years of using Life of Fred math for my youngest son. It seems like yesterday I was shocked about a math book reading like a story would be any help.

This school year we will start with Life of Fred Goldfish.

The two biggest things that have helped my son are playing math games and the math story line. I do think 4 plus 5 equals 9 will always be associated with vending machines.

I am very tempted to find an empty fish tank to use with Life of Fred Goldfish. I am sure we could attach pipe cleaners to the perimeter and colored paper for the area. I am sure we could weigh different amounts of water. If I was a super mom I would let him set up the tank for a goldfish.

Life of Fred Goldfish: Extra Resources

[Read more…]

Online Homeschool Planner for High School

Online homeschool planner

It is my daughter’s senior year of high school and the time has come for her to take responsibility for her own planner. Knowing this goal was on the horizon I was comfortable with accepting a subscription to the online homeschool planner, the Homeschool Planet; in exchange for my personal opinion of this product.

Now my biggest challenge is bridging the gap between a paper planner and a non-paper planner.

I need my daughter to keep track of her own assignments and hold her accountable to her school lessons.

Setting Up The Online Homeschool Planner:

The moment I opened the software I had a feel for how things worked. Every blogger is familiar with a widget. My favorite widget allows me to send a text message to my daughter’s phone without leaving the software. I created a mini summer schedule to get a feel for how things worked.

I had my daughter log into the program. I pointed out where to change the background. I am not the pink music instrument kind of blogger.

Then I gave her the choice of setting up her school year. She chose her start date and which days she would be off for the holidays. Her end date of school is set by her umbrella group and since she is a senior it is in May this year. This does not leave us a lot of wiggle room for completing 180 days. Which makes it even more important that she stay on task for completing her assignments.

Her biggest rookie mistake with the online homeschool planner was forgetting to click the save button. She shut the laptop and thought she was done.

Then with a pile of her school books next to the laptop, she went through each subject and decided which days she would complete her lessons. Over the school year she will reschedule as she completes her lessons. She had no problem following the prompts to enter the information.

The great thing…she will be able to see how any reschedules will affect getting everything done by May 17. [Read more…]

Civitas, Card Game for Learning Governments

Civitas Game

When my daughter was asked to review the Mystery of History volume 2 cookbook before it was released I knew it was an instant fun activity.

When Tyler asked my kids to play a new card game about different governments…well I did not have the same instant fun thoughts. Fast forward a few months and it has become the family favorite card game!

What is Civitas?

  • Deck of 225 playing cards and 12 leadership cards
  • 8 Different kinds of government cards
    • Democracy
    • Monarchy
    • Communism
    • Theocracy
    • Pluracracy
    • Military
    • Anarchy
    • Republic
  • Geared toward the 10 and up age group

How to Play Civitas:

The first few rounds will be slow while players stop to read what powers the leadership cards give them and what some of the actions are on the cards. Pay attention because things will get fast once they know.

  • Shuffle and deal 7 cards to each player.
  • Play is similar to playing Uno, you will match governments (color), match numbers, or play cards like event cards or law cards that can cause you to draw more cards or change the direction of play.

Over the months this game has become our favorite family game.

  • Allies have been formed when the younger boys team up.
  • My teen boy will inform you that there are no friends in Civitas when deciding if the next player will draw two cards.
  • My daughter thinks a crown should be added to the game for when she is the queen. Yes, I can see my kids creating different hats for each leadership card.
  • My youngest can not wait to be the general of the military.

Pre-Order Civitas on the Bright Ideas Press website and use the code staceyplayscivitas and you can get 25% off the price! Since pre-order price is $24.95 that puts the game around $19 plus shipping.

This coupon code is good until May 2016. If you do not want to pre-order then pin the post and when the game is printed you can use the code and still save money on the purchase.

 

 

Batch Freezer Cooking, 4 Tips to Get it Done

Freezer Batch Cooking

Does batch freezer cooking meal plans overwhelm you? The unknown of completing the process for the first time often overwhelms me on a large project. Then the hardest part for me, just getting the process started.

Gain Experience and Motivation with Batch Freezer Cooking:

  1. Schedule a dinner out at Chipotle and then tackle the grocery shopping. In other words create some rewards for getting the job done. I hate shopping. I often imagine the big conveyer belt in the sky just dropping down and my groceries rolling off the belt into my pantry. If I have motivated myself to get the food purchased for the batch freezer cooking…I will not let the food go to waste. Having the food purchased starts the timer on getting the job done.
  2. Hiring teenagers to help. I used to joke that I should have grown an extra set of arms when I gave birth to my second child. Which in hindsight I am glad I did not because my brain could not keep up with the multitasking of another set of hands. Thankfully I have a house full of teenagers. If you do not have teenagers, find some at your local church. My daughter helps me with prep work and my boys are on clean up duty.
  3. Cook one batch a day. Sometimes my schedule does not allow for a huge block of time to prepare. I have found breaking up the tasks to be helpful.
    1. For example with batch freezer cooking for breakfast I would give each day of the week a food to prepare. Monday I will cook and prepare all the Egg and Sausage English Muffins. Tuesday I will cook a triple batch of pancakes. Wednesday I will assemble the yogurt smoothie bags, especially since the yogurt needs to freeze in the ice cube trays first. Thursday I will assemble the oatmeal bags. Friday an extra batch of muffins can be done. Whatever I am preparing that morning my kids will have for breakfast.
    2. For dinner batch freezer cooking I break down the jobs  similar to breakfast. Mondays I will cook and assemble all the hamburger meals. Tuesday I will do the chicken meals. Wednesday I will do the soup meals. Thursday I like to do some smaller vegan meals for myself. Hopefully everything is done so I can take Friday night off!
  4. Gather friends to serve others.This one was my favorite idea. I had really wanted to purchase a prepared batch freezer cooking plan. A friend at church wanted to prepare some meals for 3 expecting mothers and I had a reason for buying a prepared plan. If the ladies get together we could cook 21 freezer meals and give each woman 7 meals for the freezer. A ladies event was created that day.
    1. I decided to purchase the crockpot meal plan from 5 Dollar Dinners. I divided up the shopping list among the women. I printed out the labels and recipes. I made sure the women brought their own cutting boards and knives. First we gathered on a Sunday afternoon and prepped all the ingredients. Then while things were cooling we gathered and ate dinner together. After the meal we assembled the freezer the bags. We did invite the expectant mothers to join us but they did not need to help. It took about 4 hours to get everything done, which included stopping to eat dinner. It was a great evening of fellowship and awesome to send home 7 crockpot freezer meals ready for when the new babies are born. (Yes the plan is for 20 meals but we were able to get an extra meal out of the ingredients to keep the numbers even) 

Biology 101 Series, Unit 5, 6 and 7

Biology 101 Series

If you are finding this series for the first time I suggest starting with the Biology 101 series post on units 1 and 2 or the Biology 101 series post on units 3 and 4.

Yes, it has been a year since she finished this. I got busy homeschooling and forgot to do the write up on the last half of the year. It has been sitting in a pile on my desk mocking me about unfinished projects. Today I will claim the victory of getting this post published!

My daughter did well in the class and is graduating from high school this year to pursue a career in the cooking world; her goal is a pastry chef. I will use this class again next year with my son, so a bonus for me to remember what I taught. 

Here is a list of extras I added to the provided schedule.

Biology 101 Series: Land Animals

  • I wanted a better visual for understanding toes and cud chewers. I had my daughter complete this diagram while reading the lesson, Toes and Cud Chewers Venn Diagram. She wrote the name of the animals and where they were on the diagram. Then she read some books on a few of the animals that were mentioned in the lesson.
  • I found this youtube on cow digestion.
  • She completed the listening guide on Eyewitness video on Mammals.
  • I had found an experiment on How is water used to lower an animal’s body temperature, but it seems to have been removed from the website. It was originally written by Janice Van Cleave.
  • My daughter loves frogs! So we agreed she would do the other dissections in this class if we skipped dissecting the frog. Instead I created a Frog Field Guide and had her go on a frog hunt to find and identify different species of frogs living in our neighborhood. She photographed and reported her findings.
  • I found this youtube on Dissection of a Crayfish helpful with dissecting our own.

[Read more…]

North Star Geography Notebooks

North Star Geography Notebooks

Time to create our North Star Geography Notebooks! 

First thing I did was review the teacher’s introduction in the front of the book. I am notorious for jumping in and then missing a few small details, ok maybe some big details too.

Since my boys are 9th and 6th grade I made some choices to skip some sections in North Star. First I am not requiring them to do the memorization lessons and we will skip the research section. My goal is to expose them to geography and adapt for their learning needs.

My boys like to know the big picture before they can settle into the details. I have taken the suggested schedule in North Star and tweaked to reflect the choices I have made. This will be the first page in their notebooks. Yes, we only do lessons 4 days since the 5th is co-op day.

Geography Schedule

North Star Geography Notebooks: Supplies

  • 3-ring binder
  • 6 dividers or tabs
  • Pouch to hold glue stick and colored pencils
  • Printer ready with paper and ink

North Star Geography Notebooks: Printing

  • Print the first page of the student reader for a cover page for the notebooks.
  • Print the 16 note taking pages and put under tab 1. Each lesson has its own note taking page.
  • Print the vocabulary notebook pages and put under tab 2. (more info below on this section)
  • Print Atlas building section and put under tab 3. I did the 26 pages double sided to save on paper.
  • Print the outline maps needed for Atlas building and put under tab 2 matched with the lessons. That is 16 maps total, one world, two Europe, two N. America, two S. America, two Africa, two Middle East, two Asia, two Oceania, and one Antartica.
  • Print Activities section and put under tab 4. I did the 55 pages double sided to save on paper. I want my boys to select which activity they will complete each week.
  • I printed a blank book list to put under tab 5. My kids can track the extra books they read from the library.
  • I did not print the quizzes or tests. My boys will be taking them online at the Bright Ideas Press website. I will allow them to take the quizzes open book.
  • Tab 6 will be for any extra maps or projects completed over the school year.

North Star Geography Notebooks: Vocabulary

This section needed my most attention. To quote Tyler Hogan, “How you wish to incorporate vocabulary is entirely up to you.” So I created a plan for my students.

Geography VocabularyGeography Vocabulary 2Geography Vocabulary 3

Geography Vocabulary

I created 3 Geography Vocabulary notebook pages for this section. One page allows for basic word and definition style in a list form. The second page has a blank box to provide a visual for the vocabulary word. The third page is blank to create or copy labeling of vocabulary in things like the layers of the earth.

I then went through each lesson and decided which Geography Notebook page I want my boys to use for the bolded words in the text.

If you would like a PDF of my schedule I created this Geography Vocabulary Schedule

Then I will plan some vocabulary games to review the terms throughout the year. My boys enjoy hangman and matching games.

What great ideas have you found for organizing North Star Geography Notebooks or other items? I have a Geography Pinterest board on some of mine.

Next up to plan my literature books to correlate with North Star. 

Teenagers and Chores, Downside to Chore Charts

teenagers and chores

I have a house full of teenagers and chores that need to be completed. Since I have been a mom for 19 years, I have used an amazing amount of chore systems and chore charts. Routinely I would change systems just to keep things looking different for my kids.

Last month I realized the disservice I had established in my kids…they did what was on the chart and nothing more. They could ignore the bag of trash that blew into the yard, they did not care if the corner of the living room became overrun with clutter or if anyone around them needed help. It was not on their list.

I know…some moms would be jumping up for joy if their teens did the chores they were asked. This is so much more than chores…this is teaching my kids to notice what needs to be done, prioritizing the chores, and serving others.

My kids have become accustomed to mom writing a list and mom deciding what needs to be done. I called a family meeting and explained there was a new cleaning system effective immediately.

New System for Teenagers and Chores:

  • There are no more chore charts or lists coming from mom.
  • Teenagers must decide what 3 things they will clean each day.
  • On Friday a written list of what was accomplished each day must be submitted to mom.
  • A fun reward will be given to those who have done their tasks.
  • Failure to complete daily chores results in spending time on Saturday catching-up.

Of course 1,000 questions were launched at me…my teenages thought I had finally gone crazy.

I did state that personal laundry and dishes did not count. These already had systems in place and needed to be done regularly. Otherwise a fight would break out on Friday morning with 5 people trying to use the washing machine.

The lawyer of the group immediately wanted to know if he could do the same 3 chores each day. No, some chores only need to be done weekly, your list should reflect that. 

What if I can not find 3 things to do? I would encourage you to ask mom, dad, or a sibling if they need help. Helping counts as a chore. 

What if I forget to do my 3 chores? Ideally 3 a day is best, but I know there will be times when things need to be adjusted. I need 15 completed by Friday, but I warn you trying to complete 15 on Friday might be overwhelming. 

Things I have noticed with my teenagers and chores after one week of new system:

  • My teens began tackling jobs I would never have assigned them. I came in one morning and my son had emptied the tupperware cabinet and was matching up lids with containers.
  • I invented the saying, when in doubt, look around and find something extra to do. One of my sons wanted to discuss if each item on his list counted and could something be counted twice. If this counted twice then he was done for the day. He really wanted a list of acceptable chores and I wanted him to decide what was important. We are working toward him being confident in his choices.
  • My youngest son with Aspergers has learned to ask his siblings if he can help them. Bonus: he is learning to work with others which is a bigger accomplishment for him.
  • My daughter hung my clothes on the line and has asked me for help on a regular occasion.

Now what to do with the time I spent on creating and maintaining chore charts. 

Do you have any great tips on helping teens complete chores?