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.

 

 

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. 

North Star Geography

north star geography

Conference season is in full swing and my daughter occasionally travels with me and helps work the booth. While I was packing my daughter was inclined to share some thoughts with me.

“Mom, I am so glad I won’t be working a booth with you this year.”

“Why? I thought you enjoyed traveling with me.”

“Well I am comfortable telling people why I love Mystery of History but I hate North Star Geography.”

“Oh my”

Which then lead to conversation about we should not always share just the good things and sometimes sharing the bad can be just as helpful. Honesty mixed with your perspective is always important when sharing your thoughts about curriculum. I reminded her not every homeschool is created to use the same books. Welcome to conferences filled with rows and rows of vendors!

But I did not leave the conversation there. I followed up with what about North Star did you dislike.

“We had to complete every single project, I hated some of the projects.”

“It sounds like you were overwhelmed with the amount of work and did not like having the opportunity to choose your projects.”

She thought for a moment.

“Hmm…I did like how the lessons talked about culture and discussed how geography was more than maps. I guess all the work killed my liking it.”

“Daughter, that is what you should tell homeschool moms…it’s a great book on geography and if you do every single project your kids will hate it.”

Oh I am so guilty of wanting to complete all the great projects!

Then I went back and counted…North Star Geography has 62 different activities. That does not include the work she did with atlas building, notebook pages, and memorizations lists.

Since we were part of the test group we were required to complete each activity so we could provide the necessary feedback.

I have found memories of the class, but I only did 5 of the projects. My favorite was the Lego city my family built.

The great thing about homeschooling multiple children..I get to teach North Star again this year to my younger kids. First on my list is limiting the activities. 

Helpful Hints for Teaching North Star Geography:

I am also in the process of creating a book list to go along with North Star for next year. I am sure a follow-up post will be coming soon.

 

The Mystery of History Volume 4 SpaceShip

Mystery of History Volume 4

It’s spring and I am trying to finish a school year and plan another…my brain is overwhelmed.

But has our school year comes to a close, I do like to look back and try to evaluate the successes and failures.

WARNING* Looking back to evaluate the school year might lead to an enormous amount of mom guilt. You might need a plan on dealing with it or else you will find yourself taking on a project…and I do not mean just an ordinary project.

We are near the end of The Mystery of History Volume IV and the content matter has been challenging to my younger kids. Thankfully I focused on exposure to the topics and not mastery of content. I do love exposure because you never know when a spark will light a passion for a new topic.

So when the spark for a new passion collides with the guilt of a mom who did not complete many projects with her kids over the school year…well this happens.

The Mystery of History volume 4 Spaceship

In the corner of my front yard now resides a spaceship! Thanks to the lesson of Neil Armstrong walking on the moon.

  • Why yes I did drag a huge tractor tire home that was found abandoned on the side of the road.
  • Then I spray painted it silver. I found an old trampoline frame and spray painted it silver too.
  • The old frame just happened to fit perfectly on top of the tire.
  • While shopping at the local garden center I found 2 Victorian gazing balls on clearance that really resemble planets when placed next to a spaceship.
  • I think sand makes the best ground cover for any planet you would like to visit. It is a great way to leave your footprints behind.
  • Do not forget to name your spaceship. Vinyl stickers finished our project on the US.Atlantis.

Now I am sure if there was an award for the most craziest, unusual, project to complete while studying The Mystery of History volume 4…I would win…or at least get honorable mention.