Monday, September 23, 2013

Homeschooling the Younger Years

Homeschooling the younger years doesn't have to be complicated. Find yourself a solid math program, an easy to use reading program without a lot of bells and whistles and you can rest assured that life will teach them the rest for now. However, if you want to add in some enrichment, you can't go wrong with Memoria Press. They sell whole kits but you don't really need all that. What I do is purchase the Teacher's Guides and rewrite the lesson plans to only include the Enrichment portion of the guide. This gives me a rich addition to my son's homeschool day. 

Using wonderful picture books as our springboard we learn about beautiful music, art, rich literature, social studies and science. I often will find the musical selection on youtube where we can watch the actual music being played. How awesome is our life that we can have our own symphony orchestra right in our homeschool room? I teach him all about the different sections and types of instruments. We talk about the feeling of the pieces and through this he is developing good taste in classical music. 

For the art piece, I have created my own art prints for him using Google Images. I downloaded them, and had them printed at my local Walgreens as photographs. He has his own photo album that he keeps them in. Each week, I give him a new print to which he studies. I play little games with him, taking the print away and asking him what he remembers about it. Sometimes we talk about the colors, the textures, the subject matter, etc... I also tell him the title of the painting and who painted it. He keeps that information in the photo album with his print. Each week, he recites from memory the paintings and artists. It is wonderful memory work and makes for an exciting time on our trips to the museum when we see works by artists he is familiar with. 

For the rest of the subjects, we use youtube to look at things he may be unfamiliar with. For instance, today we learned about water powered sawmills. We were able to go on a virtual field trip to see one. Sometimes, for the science, I'll get additional books and videos from the library to expand the topics. 

So for very little money ($30 for the Teacher's Guide), I have a rich addition to our 1st grade homeschool. Here is a screen shot of the 1st four weeks of school this year. I retyped the guide into a more user friendly format. 

Monday, August 12, 2013

Homeschool Room 2013-2014

I had a big remodel this summer. I moved my homeschool room back into its own room. Below you can see the desk I built using plans from The shelf that holds most of my school materials. (Yes, I said most... I don't hold onto books I'm not using) Watercolor insect art and posters of famous paintings.

Here is my thrift store steal and prize... My $14 chalkboard!

My full size map and my computer desk.

I have my art cupboard and new supplies shelf to still show you. Coming soon!

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Homeschool Basics - part 1

Dear Elizabeth,

         How much research have you done on homeschooling? The reason I ask is because what I recommend would be influenced by what method you feel drawn to. I tell you about myself in a minute, but first let me tell you a little about the different methods.

         I found this pdf file that explains a lot about choosing curriculum. I didn't read it completely through, I mostly scanned it but I thought it looked pretty good. The article talks about learning styles and I want to say at this point in the process, I don't think that should be your focus as much as YOUR teaching style for now. (i.e. your chosen method for presenting lessons) Once you determine that, (and it may change over time so don't think you have to have it 100% figured out today) it will help tremendously in choosing curricula.

       Anyhow, in a nutshell, here are the different styles* of homeschooling.

The Charlotte Mason method has at its core the belief that children deserve to be respected. According to Charlotte Mason, children should be given time to play, create, and be involved in real-life situations from which they can learn. Students of the Charlotte Mason method take nature walks, visit art museums, and learn geography, history, and literature from "living books," books that make these subjects come alive. Students also show what they know, not by taking tests, but via narration and discussion.This method is a very broad education. Don't get the impression this is an easy, lazy form of education.  Art appreciation, literature, foreign languages, etc. are introduced early to the child. The school days are balanced by spending adequate time with the core subjects in the morning hours while providing plenty of free time to enjoy life in the afternoons.

School at Home is the style most often portrayed in the media because it is so easy to understand and can be accompanied by a photo of children studying around the kitchen table. This is also the most expensive method and the style with the highest burnout rate. Most families who follow the school-at-home approach purchase a boxed curriculum that comes with textbooks, study schedules, grades, and record keeping.

Some families use the school-at-home approach but make up their own lesson plans and find their own learning materials. The advantage of this style is that families know exactly what to teach and when to teach it. That can be a comfort when you are just starting out. The disadvantage is that this method requires much more work on the part of the teacher/parent and the lessons are not as much fun for the children.

Unit studies use your child's interest and then ties that interest into subject areas like math, reading, spelling, science, art, and history. For example, if you have a child who is interested in ancient Egypt, you would learn the history of Egypt, read books about Egypt, write stories about Egypt, do art projects about pyramids, and learn about Egyptian artifacts or mapping skills to map out a catacomb.

"Relaxed" or "Eclectic" homeschooling is the method used most often by homeschoolers. Basically, eclectic homeschoolers use a little of this and a little of that, using workbooks for math, reading, and spelling, possibly taking an unschooling approach for the other subjects.

The advantage of this method is that the parent feels that the subjects they believe are most important are covered thoroughly. This method also allows the family to choose textbooks, field trips, and classes that fit their needs and interests.

Unschooling is also known as natural, interest-led, and child-led learning. Unschoolers learn from everyday life experiences and do not use school schedules or formal lessons. Instead, unschooled children follow their interests and learn in much the same way as adults do—by pursuing an interest or curiosity. In the same way that children learn to walk and talk, unschooled children learn their math, science, reading, and history. John Holt, schoolteacher and founder of the unschooling movement, told educators in his book, What Do I Do Monday?: "We can see that there is no difference between living and learning, that living is learning, that it is impossible, and misleading, and harmful to think of them as being separate. We say to children, 'you come to school to learn.' We say to each other [educators], 'our job is to teach children to learn.' But the children have been learning, all the time, for all of their lives before they met us. What is more, they are very likely to be much better at learning than most of us who plan to teach them something."

The advantage to unschooling is that unschooled children have the time and research abilities to become experts in their areas of interest. The disadvantage is that because unschoolers do not follow the typical school schedule, they may not do as well on grade-level assessments and may have a harder time if they reenter the school system.

The "classical" method began in the Middle Ages and was the approach used by some of the greatest minds in history. The goal of the classical approach is to teach people how to learn for themselves. The five tools of learning, known as the Trivium, are reason, record, research, relate, and rhetoric. Younger children begin with the preparing stage, where they learn basic reading, writing, and arithmetic. The grammar stage is next, which emphasizes compositions and collections, and then the dialectic stage, where serious reading, study, and research take place. All the tools come together in the rhetoric stage, where communication is the primary focus.

The Waldorf method is also used in some homeschools. Waldorf education is based on the work of Rudolf Steiner and stresses the importance of educating the whole child—body, mind, and spirit. In the early grades, there is an emphasis on arts and crafts, music and movement, and nature. Older children are taught to develop self-awareness and how to reason things out for themselves. Children in a Waldorf homeschool do not use standard textbooks; instead, the children create their own books. The Waldorf method also discourages the use of television and computers because they believe computers are bad for the child's health and creativity.

Montessori materials are also popular in some households. The Montessori method emphasizes "errorless learning," where the children learn at their own pace and in that way develop their full potential. The Montessori homeschool emphasizes beauty and avoids things that are confusing or cluttered. Wooden tools are preferred over plastic tools, and learning materials are kept well-organized and ready to use.

The Montessori method also discourages television and computers, especially for younger children. Although Montessori materials are available for high school students, most homeschoolers use the Montessori method for younger children. 

Internet Homeschooling harnesses the power of the world wide web by accessing virtual tutors, virtual schools, online curriculum, and quality websites. You need never feel that you can't find the help, expert advice or resources necessary to homeschool your child. Did you hate math as a child and feel you can't possible help your child learn math? Or what about (YIKES) Algebra? How about Physics? No problem. There is a wealth of cutting-edge online curriculum programs, private distance learning schools, homeschool support academies and more.

DVD / Video homeschooling is an approach that can be used with all different styles of homeschooling. Use quality educational titles to help your child learn Science, Physics, American History, World History, Religion, Preschool skills, Music, Art and more. This is not watching television. A powerful movie can inspire a new interest or help your child develop a solid understanding of a complicated area of learning

  • *courtesy


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

New Years Resolutions... with a TWIST

So this year I really want to make some big changes (don't we all?) But I think that I need to approach these changes the way I train my body to run a 5K, in baby steps. So I have decided that I am not going to do "A" New Years Resolution, I am going to do "Monthly" Resolutions. This will give me a chance to start with a few plans, turn them into good solid habits and then add more. For January, I am going to work on the following:


Spending on pizza & fast food - No going out to eat unless someone else is buying. This is my area of biggest spending. Plus I am starting my fitness routine in 5 days and this will help keep me on track with my diet plan. 

Make do with what I have - I am not a big spender by any means, but I could have easily justified new boots recently. I wear them every morning while I deliver my newspaper route and they are essential to me. I noticed about a week ago that my feet were getting really wet. Upon inspection, I saw that the sole had separated from the boot pretty significantly and there were cracks all over the vinyl. I used Gorilla Glue to reattach the sole and then used Mod Podge to cover the cracks. It worked beautifully and I had both fix it solutions on hand. Money spent $0.

Make a budget based on the envelope system and stick with it - I have already done this and I am being very strict with it. I divided it out over all my paydays and determined which envelopes would get money each week. Next month when I get my Income tax return, I will take this to the next step. 


Workout - For the month of January, I am going to do the Jillian Michaels 30 day Shred DVD. It is available for free on youtube. 


Meal Planning Pictures - I am going to take a photo of each meal I make and save them on my computer. This will help me to visually menu plan for future meals as I am a highly visual person.

Track my calories - I am going to track my calories on SparkPeople online and eat more fruits and veggies. I will award myself $10 for every pound lost so I can get my hair done. It has been over 7 months since it has been cut and highlighted and it really needs it. 

Personal - It is my goal to have a visual diary of my life this year. I have been taking daily pictures with little notes on my Kindle, but my real plan is to print out a few pictures each week and keep them in an album. For now, this works. Here is a screen shot of my journal.

OK, those are my January Resolutions. Do you have any? Leave me a note in my comments section. 

Saturday, December 29, 2012

American Girl Doll Room - Part 1

I am so excited to share with you my first video tutorial. In this one I am highlighting the techniques I used to create the walls. I want to share with you a few additional tips that are not included on the video. 

After I painted the walls, I applied inexpensive trim molding that I painted white. This created a much more realistic look to the room that you can't get from just painting it on. I used Gorilla Glue. Be careful with this as it does seep out as it expands as it is drying. You can't beat the hold it has however. 

You'll also notice that I used hinges on the boards to hold them together. This is such a nice feature for several reasons. First, it allows you to fold the boards shut for storage. Secondly it is a very sturdy way to hold the boards. I had seen someone who made this type of project using duct tape. My goal with this project was to have something that would last. Finally, it allows the girls to adjust the size of their rooms. 

I hope you enjoy this first video and I am looking forward to bringing you more later this week. 

Monday, December 24, 2012

American Girl Rooms

This Christmas I wanted to give my 9 & 12 year old daughters scenes for their AG dolls. So I built and designed two bedrooms, one is cottage style and the other is a Paris themed room. Over the next week or so I'll be uploading video's that explain exactly how each piece was made, but for now enjoy pictures of the rooms.

Friday, December 14, 2012

This week we read a new (to me) book that is now in my top two favorite books of all time. It is The Little Fir Tree by Margaret Wise Brown. The other day, I cuddled my three little ones around me while I opened the pages to read. Throughout the story there are songs with the music that go with the story. Since my oldest is a pianist, I had her play the pieces as we sang them when came to each. It was magical I tell ya! It felt like that moment in A Charlie Brown Christmas when they are all singing, holding hands around the Christmas Tree. I instantly knew I was in love!

So what is YOUR favorite Christmas picture book?