Saturday, July 26, 2014

Wrapping Up a Very Full Week

Well, I can't sum up this week without first explaining that we had VBS at church last week, Monday through Friday, and the homeschool curriculum fair on Saturday.  With this knowledge you can start to appreciate the state of exhaustion with which I started this week!
At the same time, I must say I started the week with a full heart.  I received such a blessing as a helper in friend Misty's classroom during VBS, and the curriculum fair was wonderful and exciting.

Now on to this week...
Sunday evening was our VBS program, where, every year, the kids get to invite their parents to share in what they learned during the week.  Each class gives a short performance, and we all get to watch a Powerpoint presentation of the week's highlights.
Then after the program, we went to a friend's house for fellowship and fun around the pool.  These friends are kind enough to host this gathering every year for all the VBS volunteers to unwind after a week of hard work.

On Monday, I tried to bring the house back to order.  (Surely, I'm not the only one whose house falls apart during VBS!)  I can't say that I notice much of a difference in the clutter insanity, but I had to empty my vacuum canister twice (yuck).

The garden consumed Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.  The kids and I "blessed our family" (that's how I like to frame it) by picking and prepping about two and half bushels of green beans.  For those of you who don't garden much, that's a lot of work!!  We all worked together (not always with cheerful hearts, but progress is being made!) and now have 49 quarts of green beans canned for winter.  That means we're about halfway done with that crop.
Picking the bush beans; pole beans are to the far right.
"Snipping" off the ends of the beans to prepare for canning
Thursday afternoon, we took a short break to attend the summer reading program finale down at the library.  A friendly British scientist came and put on quite a show!  What fun!
Then Friday came, the best part of all!  We had our family portrait made!  When we last did this, Reagan was a baby, just able to sit up, and since I like to do this every couple of years, we were way past due.  The kids have all changed so much since then!  Dwayne and I, of course, have remained the same. *grin*
That was then...
February 2011
This is now!

 I've shared our two favorites here.  (Yes, Mar is taller than I am--like I said, the kids have changed so much-- so in the first picture I'm standing on a stool!)

On Saturday, the garden beckoned again.  
1.) Picked.
2.) Hauled.

Corn this time.

114 ears.
3.) Shucked.

5.) Bagged and in the freezer (17 qts.)
4.) Cut.

With all this going on, you might have guessed we have not started school days yet, as I know many homeschoolers have.  But being in the garden, working together as a family, and being good stewards of all that God has blessed us with... that surely counts just as much as books and figures, wouldn't you agree?

I'm linking up with for the Weekly Wrap-Up feature.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Reading Lists 2014

Now for the new item in my homeschool plans I am most excited about... reading lists!!  In the past, I have always encouraged my kids to read quality books, and they do quite well.  I read aloud to them almost every day.  At times, I have given one of them a book and told them, "You are going to read this!"  Most times they end up enjoying it; once in a while, not so much.

However, I have never made a written, planned list of required reading for any of them.  Until now!!
I started out intending to select about six books for each child.  Well, that list got out of control so fast!  I finally managed to trim the list down to about ten per child, with a bit more than that for Ellie because some of her books are quite simple and she is a really good reader.  They may not be able to complete all ten this year, but you never know until you try!  Many of these books are ones I have read before; the rest have been recommended by reliable sources.  Of the books that are new to me, I hope to find the time to read them along with the kids.

So without further ado.... The Lists.
*Marian (strong reader, 8th grade)*
Mary Slessor: Missionary Mother
Behind Rebel Lines
Twenty-One Balloons
The Singing Tree
The Endless Steppe
Number the Stars
If I Perish
Red Scarf Girl
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry
The Phantom Tollbooth

*Andrew (a-bit-reluctant-but-good reader, aka typical boy, 6th grade)*
David Livingstone (by Sam Wellman)
Shades of Gray
Old Yeller
The Singing Tree
Misty of Chincoteague
I am David
Lassie, Come Home
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

*Ellie (strong reader, 3rd grade)*
Abraham Lincoln: A Photobiography
Thee, Hannah
Meet Kirsten (if time allows)
Meet Addy (if time allows)
Shipwrecked (by Rhoda Blumberg)
Anastasia's Album
Sarah, Plain and Tall
Meet Kit
A Penny for a Hundred
Molly Learns a Lesson (if time allows)
Charlotte's Web
Cricket in Times Square
The Secret Garden

 After reading each book, the kids will write a short summary of the story and complete some sort of creative project relating to the book.  For example, each list starts with a biography.  The project for this will be a picture collage and, if they would like, one or two quotes from the person studied.
For most of the books, I will let them choose what creative project they would like to do.  Ideas for these projects include...
a comic strip or newspaper article, 
a diorama or triorama (!!), 
a lapbook or shapebook, 
a movie poster, 
a diary entry, 
a paper doll figure for the character(s), 
a Venn diagram, 
a story map, 
a mobile, 
a collage,
a wordsearch or crossword puzzle, 
a main character body book report
or an art project which integrates key words from the story.

That's the plan for our reading this year!  I would love to hear about other homeschooler reading lists, or if you would like to weigh in on any books in our lists, that would also be welcome!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

New School Year, New Plans

Every homeschooler in southeast Tennessee is probably a combination of electrified and exhausted this weekend as the Chattanooga Homeschool Curriculum Fair is on!  Dwayne and I went together this year-- a rare treat, indeed!  We had a wonderful time and had the chance to look over some really great school materials.
This year, we have Marian in 8th grade, Andrew in 6th, Ellie in 3rd, and Reagan, age 4.  So what's in store?
For starters, we're going to continue with last's year's strategy:  forego co-op classes in favor of field trips in the fall, then rejoin co-op for the spring semester.  We had such a great time last fall going places and seeing things together!  A definite do-again!

Our core curriculum continues to be My Father's World.  We have made it to year 5 in the MFW Family Learning Cycle!  It has been so cool to go through all this history chronologically with my kids.  There's so much history that I just did not catch the first time through (back in my school years), and, truth be told, so much that I have yet to truly catch now!  This year we will be reading about events from 1850 to the present.

Bible study will include a unit on the names of Jesus that we started over the summer, our weekly hymn study, and readings from the MFW materials.

Math will be RightStart for everyone; Life of Fred once a week for Drew; and Marian continuing the transition from RS Level G to VideoText.  I love teaching math to my kids!

For science, Ellie and Andrew will use materials from the My Father's World package, which is a combination of chemistry and physics this year.  Marian will be venturing off to more independent work with Apologia's General Science.

Some parts of our writing and grammar curriculum will look different this year.  Marian will continue with Writing Strands since she enjoys it and is doing well.  I may add in a grammar text per MFW recommendations since she is in 8th grade, though grammar is not a struggle for her.  Andrew is going to start Essentials in Writing, a new curriculum for us.  I am really excited about it.  As for Drew's excitement level--- I'll work on him!  Ellie's favorite subject is creative writing, but her basic capitalization and punctuation skills are somewhat lacking, so we are going to use a book from A Beka that will combine the writing she loves with the instruction she needs.  We actually started just the first unit of this book last year when she finished her writing text early and she really liked it, so I envision smooth sailing.
Spelling for everyone will be dictation sentences that I come up with using the word lists from Spelling Power.  Creating the sentences adds a level of difficulty for me, but I have found my kids really do a lot better at spelling if the words are in the context of a sentence.  (Anyone have insight as to why this is??)

In addition to these basics, this will be the first year that I have developed a reading list for each child.  (I'll share the specific lists in a later post.)  The intent is to make sure they are reading more quality literature, and taking time to think about the content.  After finishing each book, they will write a short summary of the story and complete a creative project to go along with the theme, main character, or important event in the book.  A bit of a twist on your standard book report.  I'm really excited about this plan!  I think each of the kids will enjoy the selected books, and I can't wait to see how their creativity shows itself!

As for Reagan, he has come the stage that he asks to "do school" whenever the other kids are busy with their subjects, so I am developing a plan for him, too.  It is my goal to have more one-on-one time with him this year (as opposed to only including him in the older kids' studies), specifically some Before Five In A Row stories .  Also, at the curriculum fair, I bought a Kumon book of mazes, which he really likes to do, and a super cute Richard Scarry book for preschool.  I also have preschool books (C-F) from Rod and Staff, which I don't think he's ready for yet, but this could change as the year progresses.  All written work will be done only as he has the interest.

So that's my plan for the 2014-2015 school year.  Happy planning to all you other homeschoolers out there!
Linking to:

Monday, July 7, 2014

Homeschool Year Recap-- Part 3, Co-op Group Stuff

As much fun as we had on our field trips in the fall, we still missed having time with our friends doing co-op activities.  So after Christmas break, we rejoined our group classes.  The focus this past spring was mostly art.  The kids did a number of projects, including line & design, stamping, collage, and acrylic paints.  We also had a fun trip to an art museum and a great field day to wrap up the year.  So glad to have such good friends!
Food art!  Using grapes to worms coming out of our apple!
Pudding paint!
Painting with acrylic

 Two beautiful finished products!

Museum Trip:
Reagan was a little keyed up after being so good and so quiet during our museum tour!
I just loved this work!  The jars are filled with little things the artist found around an old homeplace.  The woman is simply from his imagination-- how he thinks someone who lived there might have looked.  I seem to remember that the boards are from the structure of the home.  How creative!
 Field Day events:
 Herculean Shot Put!
  The kids assured me throwing this globe was harder than you might think!
 Obstacle course:  boys vs girls!
(Audrey at 14 versus Reagan at 4 just doesn't seem like a fair fight, does it?)
 Sock War!
This was hilarious to watch, but no joke about it for the contestants!

...and that wraps up my homeschool recap!  
We've had fun, worked hard, and learned a lot-- at least Mama has!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Homeschool Year Recap-- Part 2, Projects and Work

Well, we all know it can't be all nature hikes and museum tours.  (Although, wouldn't that be nice?)  At some point, we have to stay home and hit the books!  We did our fair share of that this past year, too.  We finished our fourth year in My Father's World curriculum, which covered our history, science, music, some art, Bible, and literature.
We toured history from the age of exploration to the discovery of gold in California, including much study of our nation's founding and early history, and completing Tennessee state reports for three different grade levels.
Writing names with a feather quill and blackberry juice
In science, we covered zoology using Answers in Genesis material and botany using Apologia material.  I'm going to guess that the kids preferred the study of animals, but I really, really liked our study of plant life more.
Earthworm science (No earthworms were harmed in the production of this experiment!)

Flower anatomy using clay, construction paper, and chenille wires (aka pipe cleaners)
We listened to Schubert and Mendelssohn for music study and integrated art with other subjects whenever possible.
Sketching George Washington
Sketching wildlife
 We also read some really good books together, including Almost Home by Wendy Lawton, Madeleine Takes Command by Ethel Brill, Bound for Oregon by Jean Van Leeuwen, Mary Jones and Her Bible by Mary Ropes and Christopher Wright, Amos Fortune, Free Man by Elizabeth Yates, The Boy in the Alamo by Margaret Cousins, and several others.
We also made time for math with RightStart, Life of Fred, and VideoText, creative writing with Writing Strands and Just Write, and spelling with Spelling Power.
That just about covered all the bases!
The kids were also involved in various activities:  basketball in the winter for Ellie and Drew, ballet for Marian and Ellie from fall through spring, fall football and spring soccer for Drew, and Awana for everyone.
We had a busy year!  Summarizing it all in one post like this makes me feel like we really accomplished a lot!