Thursday, December 30, 2010

New Year Planning

The New Year is almost here! We are adding a few things to our curriculum for 2011. I love Story of the World but I stink at picking out the right readers and read alouds even with the aid of the Activity Guide. To help me, I purchased Biblioplan. I think it will help me keep a schedule too. I addition, I like that it devotes a large amount of time to church history and the reformation. We cheated a little and already started this one. My girls are loving the read alouds and I don't even have to wake Cally up. She even begs for one more chapter.

Another thing we are adding is Latin. I don't have any background in Latin so I wanted something super gentle to get our feet wet. I chose Song School Latin. I like that it has games online to go online with some of the lessons.

My oldest daughter will be starting cursive writing too. She is very exciting about trying to figure out cursive.

I am planning on starting the Carb Lovers diet for the new year. They say you can lose up to six pounds the first week. I just need to get to grocery store and stock on banana. (It seems it is a central part of the diet.)

I want to read 52 books in 52 weeks this year but with college classes, homeschool, and a toddler, I think it will be a real struggle. I am going to start and see how it goes. The first book on my list is Child 44 by Tom Smith.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thanksgiving Week Activities

Thanksgiving week is busy for most family.  We are no exception.  We are doing a short week of school this week.

I have found turkey math pages for the girls to do instead of the regular math books.  I also printed several crafts and mini books from Enchanted Learning.  

Even though we lighten most of the home school load this week we are still doing reading. I added another subject for my eldest, speaking.  She has trouble saying certain sounds still.  I printed off the worksheets on the speechercise cd and used a digital recorder so she could hear what she was saying.  She is already making progress with some words.  My youngest is tickled that she can do something her sister can't do yet.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Week 2 playing the Grocery Game

Even though I don't have a 12 week stock pile of coupons as suggested,I have started to see the big deal behind the site. Last night my grocery bills went down from 78 dollars to 41. Two weeks ago I would have spent the 78 dollars. I got a few things for Free, which completely amazes me. I got free batteries, deodorant, and two boxes of whole fruit bars for free. I love it.

I just made a back to school shopping list for Walmart.
Elmers Glue Sticks $.25 (4 packs)
Composition Books $.25 (4)
Crayola crayons 24 pack $.25 (4)
Dixon No. 2 Yellow Pencils 10 pack $.50 (4)
1 inch Economy 3 ring Binder $.75 (8)
Crayola Colored Pencils $1 a 12 pack (2)
Crayola Markers $1 (2)
Page tabs 2 different colors
Index cards (2)
Copier paper (2 packs)
Sticky notes
Ruler (2)

I really really want a laminator, but I will have to wait for a different pay check. :)
Scotch(TM) Thermal Laminator 15.5 in x 6.75 in x 3.75 in 2 roller system (TL901)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Ancient China

Today we learned about Ancient China. The girls were very interested in the Terra Cotta Warriors. They couldn't get enough so we looked up some cool pictures online and watched a video.

Now my youngest wants to visit China and see it for herself. She can't believe all of those clay men are not 3 inches tall.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Day 1 of the Grocery Game

Recently, our bank began to do analysis how we spend money. I was shocked at how much we spent on groceries. We never really budgeted for groceries or used coupons. To top it off we are brand loyalists and we do little shopping trips daily instead of one big trip.

Out of desperation I began a search for ways to saving money and I ran across Grocery Game and Coupon Mom. Coupon Mom doesn't list my state so I started my free trial at Grocery Game. After watching the video, I realize maybe I should have waiting to start after saving up the coupons in the Sunday's papers. I can't really start saving too much with only one week of coupons, even with the online coupons available.

That hasn't turned me off of the site. I still got a rush looking though my list and seeing all the groceries that I could get for over %50 off or even free. The stuff on the list is stuff I typically buy anyway. My husband is picking up a Sunday Paper so I can start playing the real game soon.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

If You are a Homeschooler Vacations = Field Trips

We just finished our "vacation" week last week. We decided to stay here and explore our own backyard. Usually on vacation we visit museums or a zoo and we always end up saying the ones close to home are so much better.

We went to the National Zoo, the Museum of Natural History, Port Discovery Children's Museum in Baltimore,and Chocolate World in Hersey, PA. Even though we stayed close to home, everyone had a blast. Even with the astronomical cost of parking and gas each day we saved a bundle. Every place we visited had free admission with the exception of Port Discovery. We packed a lot of lunches. (Who really wants to eat Museum food anway?) We also saved a small fortune on a hotel and the kennel fee.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

We discussed the Nazca line drawing today in history. The girls were really interested in knowing how they made this amazing drawings. I told them we really can't know for sure how they made them. They spent the morning developing theories on how they could have accomplished this feat.

Friday, March 12, 2010

This Week...

This week has been one of changes. Cally started this week of angry and in tears every time we started phonics. We were using OPG (Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading). On Monday night she got Phonics Pathways of the shelf and asked for a lesson. We did one lesson that very night. She likes the goofy drawing of the caterpillar like creature. She likes the format and the size of the words. Gabby hated Phonics Pathways. I wrote it off...until this week.
While I still prefer OPG. I love the scripted lessons. I love that it goes up to 4th grade reading level. I tried today to get Cally to do a lesson in OPG. She did so well in PP, I thought it would carry back over to OPG. I was wrong she wouldn't even look at the book. She ran to get Phonics Pathways. With tears in her eyes, she begged to do two lesson in this one instead of the old book. So now we are sticking with Phonics Pathways.

We finished Lesson 11 in Apologia's Astronomy, only 3 more to go. We sat outside with a star chart and looked at stars. Even though we lived pretty close to a city we saw several constellations. Cally found a light that wasn't twinkling and exclaimed "THAT'S a PLANET!! I DISCOVERED A PLANET! THAT MEANS I GET TO NAME! I AM A REEEAL ASTRONOMER."

We read about ancient Crete this week. The girls pretended they were bull jumpers. We got to use the Kingfisher Encyclopedia as an additional resource. We all loved the pictures. It really helped to cement what we read.

Gabby started Singapore Math 1b this week. This is the first time I am using the teacher's manual. We are also using the IP book along with it. I am surprised at how well she is picking up more complex math problems. She is growing up so fast.

Both girls started piano lessons using Alfred's Prep Course Level A. I wrote numbers on their fingers to help them remember. Catherine sneaks a way and practices all the time. She tried so hard to redo the page we did that day. We still need to work on timing with her. Gabby is picking it up fast, probably because she is a year older. She learned the song on page 11 and 12. She performed it tonight for everyone after dinner. She did a curtsy after it was done.

Solar System Scale from Karen Ruggles on Vimeo.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Christian Home School Science Publisher Responds to Darwin Article

Dylan Lovan, of the Associated Press, recently published a story "To Home-School Texts Dismiss Darwin." The article focuses on Christian home school science textbooks and non Christian homeschoolers. The majority is from a secular homeschooler's stand point and even how non homeschoolers feel about Curriculum they don't even use. Only three sentences were given at the very end from a Christian homeschoolers perspective regarding Christian Curriculum. While the article was harsh the comments after the article were even harsh. Some posters call Christian Homeschoolers "idiots" and equate them with the Taliban.
Lovan writes "'If this is the way kids are home-schooled then they're being shortchanged, both rationally and in terms of biology,' Coyne said. He argued that the books may steer students away from careers in biology or the study of the history of the earth."

Apologia, one of the most popular science curriculum publishers was blasted in the article. It was given a grade of an F by Coyne. Davis Carmen, the President and Owner of Apologia Educational Ministries, issued a response regarding the Lovan article. In the statement, he says he is not surprised that "Jerry Coyne, a professor at the University of Chicago in the Department of Ecology and Evolution, thinks our books are "promulgating lies to kids." After all, his title clearly conveys that he believes in evolution." He also admits that Apologia Educational Ministries are not shy about their Christian faith but they are open and welcome a debate regarding evolution.

The Lovan article hints that users of Apologia's curriculum will at a disadvantage when they went to college. Carmen offers evidence to the contrary in his statement with many testimonials of students who have used their products. One student stated "I am in the tenth grade and have used Apologia books for four years. I love them. They cover hard concepts, but Dr. Wile is very clear in the way he explains them. In fact, I've already passed the CLEP test for biology." Another student states "In my very first test in college physics, I got the highest score in the class. My professor said that I must have had an excellent high school physics course. He was right!" There are many more examples that echo these sentiments disproving that an Apologia student would be at a disadvantage when they went to college.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

My growing reading list

I just got another box of school books for next semester. RSO just arrived. I really need to read the introduction and how to use the book section. I also need to make a list of the science supplies I need for the first few weeks. Sequential Spelling was in the shipment too, yet another thing I need to figure out before trying to implement it. I want to give Drawing with Children another shot next year and reread that book. I am not artsy and I found it dull the last time I read it. Hopefully this time will be better.

With all the reading I need to do I still started reading a book just for fun and just for me. I am reading The Shack by Young. I only read the first few chapters but I can already tell it is a tear jerker. I can't wait until the kids are asleep so I can read more.

Monday, March 8, 2010

On Attacking Homeschooling Choices

I recently read an article at Yahoo I found on a message board link. It was an article against homeschool Christian Science Textbooks. I didn't agree with article, I even use Apologia, which was slammed in the piece. However it was the comments that bothered me. There was so much name calling and hate filled rants against Christian parents and homeschoolers in general. Many of these attack God and equate believing in God to the Emperor's New Clothing. There was so much hostility and hatred in the posts. I am trying not to let it bother me, they don't homeschool, they don't understand why we do it. I am homeschooling so we could have the right to choose what is best for our own family.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

New Addition to Our Home is on the Way

We finally own a piano. We went to the music store yesterday to ask about music lessons and one caught my eye. I dug up my old music books and sheet music. There is a nice spot cleared for her in the living room.
I don't know if I will be able to teach the girls piano. I am not very good at playing. It has been 12 years since I have even really tried. I am still very excited about the chance of girls learning and me relearning. I can't wait to play tomorrow. I probably would embarass myself if I tried the first time in front of my husband.
I found free sheet music for beginners at

Friday, March 5, 2010

Alladin and Rocket Ships

Today after seat work the girls listen to an audio book the corresponded with their SOTW lesson. "Alladin's Lamp" was very well received and the best part is I downloaded it for and I didn't have to register. There are lots of other titles I want to download as we continue with SOTW. (Robin Hood should go nicely with SOTW 2).

After the audio book, we read lesson 11 in Apologia's Astronomy book. The girls have been waiting for this lab since the summer. They woke me up early, "today is rocket ship day!!!" Not a lot to live up to right? I was worried about this one. I keep seeing posts about it being a soggy disappointment. I was extra careful in following the directions hoping to avoid an mistakes.

The first time, I dropped a whole tablet in to the water and placed the film lid back on and quickly stood back to see the solution leak out of the sides of the container. I was prepared for this. I had two more tabs to drop in the water. Someone a message board suggested using half an tab instead of a whole one. It didn't work, more fizz leakage and no blasting off. The paper on the rocket was a soggy sad mess. My girls were so disappointed.

We went inside and threw away the paper on the rocket we worked so hard to make look realistic. We tried things in the sink to see what would blow the lid off. We tried vinegar and baking soda and that just leaked out too. We then tried it again and again playing with the ratio of vinegar to baking soda. They all just leaked. Then I shook added the baking soda to the vinegar, put the lid on, and shook it. That did the trick the lid blasted up. Only about 4 feet but that was good enough for the girls who wanted something to fly today. It probably would have worked if I did as suggested in the book with the tab and water if I shook it first. If you are planning this lab be prepared for disappointment and try shaking if you are about to give up all hope.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

First Package Arrived...Well Almost

My first box arrived today. I was so excited when the door bell rang. Until I saw the box. It was missing one side and was in a bag with a tag mark "received possibly damaged, Received without contents, received unsealed, received unsealed." Then my heart dropped. There was only one thing in the box that I ordered out of six things. I called the company and they are shipping another order out right away. Since it seems like a problem with the postal system, I don't want to say which of my orders came almost empty, but my missing items will be shipped out soon.

Curriculum Envy and sick days

So I ordered just about everything I want for next year minus things for science labs. I am waiting on the RSO to arrive first. After I order everything I keep hearing Tapestry of Grace. So out of curiosity, I visited the TOG website. I browsed, I listen to an audio lecture, created a book list, crossed checked it with my library, stalked their forum and I fell in love. I already have history planned out for next year with SOTW. If I wait until next year to start TOG the years won't match up. I would have missed the colonial time. (pretty important stuff). If I start this year I have too much curriculum. Ah the struggles of curriculum buying, the next time I hear about a curriculum, I should cover my ears or close my eyes.

All the kids have colds today. The girls were very displeased to learn we would still do light homeschooling. Luckly, it just so happened each had short phonics lessons for today anway. We did our additional reading for SOTW as we snuggled on the sofa. For spelling, Gabby skipped her usually boring Spelling Workout lesson and in exchange did a spelling bee at BigIQKids . She doesn't seem to mind the pointless activities in SWO but they really irritate me.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Wishing and Buying for next year

I placed an Amazon order today and created a wishlist at Peace Hill Press and another at Rainbow Resources. I purchased several field guides and books for science, WWE level 2 workbook, handwriting books for both girls, and several early reader books based on SOTW and RSO. I was about to place an order with rainbow resources and I thought maybe I should spread out the financial pain. I quickly moved all of my items to my wishlist. It can wait, so I guess I can too. At Peace Hill Peace, I put SOTW II, activity guide, and 2 sets of student pages on my wishlist. I also put student pages for WWE I for my youngest next year. I still need to gather all of the many items for the experiments, but I still have plenty of time.

I found a great website to help with spelling and math drills. The best part is that it is free. The kids do the math drill or spelling bee. After they finish successfully they earn a point to play a game.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Science Excitement this week

This week was a good science week. The kids really enjoy Apologia. I had my doubts; I thought it would be above their heads or too textbooky. We made a model of Olympus Mons, a volcano on Mars, the largest in the universe.
Everything is going so well with Apologia, so why am I thinking of switching? The next rec commended book for Apologia is Botany, a whole entire year spent on plants. Then the next is a whole year spent on Marine life and then birds. I am worried that my kids will get bored with Science. I am worried that I will be bored with science. When will they learn about matter and clouds if they spend the next four years learning about living things. While I love the thoroughness of the books and the idea of having a book devoted to each day of creation, I think we may need more variety.
People have made several recommendations. Some of which include: Elemental Science, NEO, Real Science4 kids, and R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey. Right now I am leaning toward R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey. It is rich with experiments and it has a drool worthy recommended book list. It reminds me fondly of Story of the World. I even took the first step towards RSO, I joined the Yahoo Group. I may go back Apologia for Elementary, but for next year, we are testing new waters with RSO. I am excited and nervous. I have yet to find a science kit for all the experiments. (They are so easy to find those for Apologia). I will probably have to gather each item one at a time. I really hope it is worth it.