Wednesday, April 30, 2014

How I Choose Our History Curriculum

This one was actually super easy for me to decide. Last year ECJ and I worked through about 3 books of a series of history that we'd borrowed from the library that we both really enjoyed. So, for next year's history curriculum we'll be purchasing History of US by Joy Hakim.

*Please note that these texts are secular and that they use the now common C.E. and B.C.E. acronyms. They mean Common Era and Before Common Era. I simply teach my children B.C. and A.D. and then explain why the new acronyms are used so that when they go to college they aren't thrust at with new terminology.*

We'll be purchasing them through Amazon (not affiliated, but LOVE the site) here . As you can see this is a several volume set that you can either buy all at once or a book at a time. There is also study guides (for all levels of learning), teacher guides (for all levels of learning), and assessment tests for each book. This means you can go through these books with your elementary students through your high school students.

For elementary level we'll be splitting the books up to cover over the course of 2-3 years. ECJ will cover all books in one year as he is capable of dealing with that amount of material. 

I will be purchasing each book separately and used to save on cost (even adding in shipping this is still less expensive than buying the whole set at once for us because it is spread out.) ECJ will not be using these texts next year however, he'll be using them for 10th grade.

So, what will he be using for 7th grade? He'll be using Studies in World History Vol. 1 . This is a three book course designed for middle school students and uses the regular A.D. and B.C. terminology. He'll work through Vol. 1 for 7th grade, Vol. 2 in 8th, and Vol. 3 in 9th ... Though we'll be throwing in some extra history work for him in 9th grade. These sets just became available and for the whole Vol. 1 set (including student text and teacher's guide) the total is 43.98. In Vol. 1 he'll learn all about the time from 6000 B.C. through to 1500 A.D. 

That brings our History curriculum for next year (purchased used and new) to: $64.90 which includes two teacher's guides, a student guide, and three text books

And our total cost for curriculum so far for next year to: $384.05. Not bad, still under the $400 mark and we're hoping to make it even a bit lower. 

Don't forget there's a few more of these posts in this series with the last one being how I'm going to supplement our income to help offset the costs of this curriculum!!

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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

7 Things I Will Never Again Do

Oh the mistakes that can be made by homeschoolers, no matter if they're in their first year or far beyond that. I've made several. Yes, I will admit to it and I'm willing to bet that many of you secretly know that you have too. I'm not talking major failure that we all fear at one point or another, just simple mistakes that we've learned from.

So, here are seven things I will never again do in our homeschool.

1. I will never stick with a curriculum even though we all hate it. When we first started homeschooling I thought that doing an online program that had everything in the world mapped out for us would be the best thing ever. WRONG! For us it just didn't work. We were bored, the kids weren't learning, I often had no clue what exactly they were supposed to be being taught, and they whined all the time that it was too repetitive.

2. I will never again assume what works for one child will for another. Horrible admission here but I had seriously thought that no matter the issues any child had they could learn in the exact same way that previous children had. WRONG! My middle daughter, YCJ, has dyslexia and there is no way that she could learn to read the same way my son, ECJ, did because he doesn't have that learning difference. Peanut will be a whole new challenge because she is legally blind and though she can currently see with her glasses eventually that will not be the case (we've known this for two years now) so this will require page magnifiers and eventually braille (which I too will have to learn). There truly is nothing out there that is one size fits all when it comes to learning.

3. I will never do a lapbook with my Cracker Jack's again. While lapbooking works for many many people out there it did not work for either ECJ or YCJ. They really disliked them, didn't learn much from them, and fought nearly the whole time they made them. Presented the same material in a different fashion they learned far more than I intended for them to learn. I may try lapbooking with Peanut next fall, but that will depend on how I feel she'll receive it.

4. I will never assume that just because x number of other homeschoolers prefer a program that I should use that program as well. I think that one pretty much explains itself. You should never try to mold yourself into someone else's methods or ways of teaching by using the same curriculum only because they say it's the best. You may find for your family it is a horrible fit.

5. I will never pay full price for a curriculum we've never used before. I've done this (*hanging my head in shame*) only to discover that it was a curriculum that just wouldn't work for us no matter how hard I tweaked it. Tossing hundreds of dollars down the drain basically when I had to purchase new curriculum. By the by, I try to purchase most of my curriculum used for money purposes anyway.

6. I will never again simply walk away from a frustrated child when they're trying to learn something new. This never fixes anything. The child gets more frustrated. They don't learn the new concept. They feel abandoned. And I feel guilty. Case closed.

7. I will never, ever, ever again trust that anything online, streamed, or on DVD is teaching my children correctly. There is nothing wrong with most of the material that we as homeschoolers use online, or through streaming, or on DVD. However, I have found numerous mistakes when reviewing the information taught. Or, worse yet for us, found teaching against our religious views that I then need to explain in some fashion that could have simply been avoided.

Not such a horrible list. But, I'll never do any of them again!

Linking up today with Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers
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Monday, April 28, 2014

It's Monday? Have Faith...

Oh boy! It's Monday again! Another Monday that started out oh so slow and I didn't think we'd ever get anything done. Yes, I had little faith.

However, by 2 PM we had over half of our school work finished, most of the laundry done, 2 loads of dishes done, one crock pot of beans portioned up/bagged/and in the freezer for those who we're giving them to (and later for when I make burritos), the other crock pot of beans was seasoned for supper tonight (beans and cornbread) with whatever is remaining to be the start of our chili for tomorrow night, and we'd planned our next crock pot meal (for Wednesday night) for chicken. 

The girls finished only slightly behind schedule at 4:30 PM with their lessons and it was agreed by ECJ, Daddy, and myself that he could take the rest of the evening to finish his lessons if he needed to.

God worked a miracle in our home today because as each task was completed without loss of limb or temper I became calmer. Though there was still much on my mind.

ECJ and YCJ are both making their First Communion this upcoming Saturday! We're also having a small get together at our home afterwards to celebrate. My what a check list to go through and make me slightly nervous and stressed. I am not used to holding parties and both of the Cracker Jacks are making their First Communions behind schedule as it is because we've moved so many times over the years.

Instead of panicking, as I'm prone to do, I began looking around at what God had already allowed us to accomplish.

All three children's rooms were freshly painted and had new flooring (wood or carpeting). Our "scary" bathroom was now as calm as a spa thanks to a fresh coat of paint, and since that's for the children and the guests this was important. Our living room, hallway, classroom area, dining room, and laundry area all had new flooring down as well. ECJ's suit was ready for him to wear and YCJ communion dress and veil had been to the dry cleaners and back looking beautiful. We have 90% of the menu for Saturday planned as well as the cake ordered for pick up on Friday. 

So, what was left to do? Finish planning the meal and pick up all the ingredients for it by Friday, easily enough accomplished on Friday itself. Exchange the gas bottle for the grill, also easily enough done on Friday. Clean the house, thanks to most of the house already being cleaned this can be done Friday evening also. And, last but never least, pray.

Very little left to do, very little to worry about, and yet here I was stressing out. I had not attended to my duties by putting the children through catechism all these years so that they'd have already had their First Communions with their classes. I made sure that this wouldn't happen again as we're going to make sure they all take their classes from now on as scheduled.

The First Communion is the second rite in the Catholic church, it usually happens in second grade and always after the child has been baptized (the first rite). This will be the first time that two of my children are allowed to receive the body and blood of Christ and take part in the Eucharist. It is a wonderful, beautiful, and blessed moment in their lives. I am very proud of them for working so hard this year not only in their own catechism classes but also to learn all they needed to know for their First Communion.

This is a wonderful moment for my children and our family. Though we noticed today that ECJ has a few pimples developing (he's 12 and we knew they would happen sooner or later, but another week of waiting wouldn't have hurt anything lol) and that he's chewed his bottom lip until he has a scab there. I handed him some of my facial scrub in hopes that it would help as we have nothing for acne here in our home, we hadn't needed any yet, and a brand new tube of chap stick.

We've convinced YCJ that she does not need to wear lip gloss to her First Communion, but that we'll allow a really pale pink nail polish. We also are planning on surprising her with a brand new hair style that will compliment her veil. 

Later on we'll have pictures taken professionally to commemorate this day, but for now we'll enjoy it. I'll take a deep breath and remember to have faith that all will go well.

How can it not? I trust in Him, and He even made our Monday work well for us!!! Monday's hardly ever go well for us. Thank you Lord for this day and the lesson You taught me about keeping faith!!

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Saturday, April 26, 2014

Did We Do It Again?

OK, so those of you who read the weekly wrap up or follow us on our Facebook page will know that we spent ten hours outside by Wednesday evening!!! Here's just a few snapshots of those first four days of our week...

These were from early Easter Sunday afternoon, one quick shot of ECJ in all but his suit jacket and then pictures of the playing after we all changed into more comfortable clothing.

 These were all snapped later Sunday afternoon as we stopped at a park/beach on our way home to stretch our legs. We could have gone further out on the pier but didn't want to disturb the fishermen.
A shot of the green (yes, GREEN!!) field next to our house on Monday
Part of our new decorative fencing Daddy and I put in on Tuesday, while the campers blew bubbles
and ran around like crazy.

Peanut playing with her stick and bottle cap baby doll

And these were snapped on Wednesday afternoon. As for Thursday and Friday we had a total of 2.5 hours for these two days. I didn't snap any pictures of either because on Thursday I forgot to and on Friday it was raining off and on all day and I don't like the idea of getting my camera wet. That means 12.5 hours so far in the week, leaving 7.5 hours worth of outside time for Saturday if we were going to make 20 hours...

So, did we make (or top) 20 again??

Nope. We woke up Sunday morning to stuffy heads and noses. Allergy and sinus season has arrived! So, for today at least we stayed inside and babied our poor heads, hoping to come up with a solution to this problem before it stops us from reaching our goals.

So, our weekly total is: 12.5 hours outside
And, our year to date total is: 238.25 hours!!!

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Friday, April 25, 2014

"Oh No They Didn't!"

After having seen Rio 2 with the campers and Noni on Monday I simply couldn't resist using Gabi's (the "poisonous" frog) most memorable line from the movie. It sort of completely describes our week in four words. Other than the movies, tons of popcorn, and outdoor time we didn't do anything else on Monday. I mean no lessons, no crept in lessons, and very few questions from the kids that required any looking into. This made for a nice long Easter weekend for us.

Just to backtrack for a moment I'm going to share what we did on Easter Sunday with all of you. All of us woke up early (before 7 AM) and found hidden boiled eggs, found our hidden Easter baskets, and discovered what treats were on the dining table for the campers. By 7:30 AM we had the campers eating breakfast while Daddy and I got dressed for the day. As soon as the campers finished breakfast it was time for them to get dressed for the day (we'd set everything out the night before, including several items I'd packed in a small suitcase with changes of clothing, treat bags, etc.). We then headed down to Grandma and Papa's church, arriving over an hour early, for mass where Papa sang. We saw some family we don't get to often see and spent a little over an hour of faith with some of our favorite people in a church we often miss (we've moved 70+ miles away and now have a new home parish, but the other is the one my husband grew up in). After mass was time outside, brunch at Grandma's, pictures, more outside time, a stop at a local beach/park on the way home, and the children digging into their Easter baskets after we returned home that afternoon. Daddy even let YCJ paint his nails (yes, he is man enough to wear pink lol). * All of the "make up" in her basket was made specifically for children, the lip gloss Daddy put on her was clear and the nail polish is very pale and peals right off.*

Tuesday we proceeded to work on our lessons. Mainly these were review, a few new concepts, but nothing too strenuous for anyone. And when the day seemed to be "too" much lesson and not enough play with the decent weather the children went right back outside to play. YCJ did finish her first complete workbook for the year this day!!!

On Wednesday our day was super easy. Peanut had no lessons planned that she simply "had" to review that day and the Cracker Jack's simply finished what they hadn't completed from Tuesday's lessons. Then we spent the afternoon outside. By the time supper was ready we had 10 hours under our belts towards our 1000 Hours Outside Challenge with another three days left of our week to go!!

Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday ... Oops, sorry got caught up in the "Days of the week song". On Thursday we began our lessons a few hours later than normal, Mommy is suffering from some awesome spring time congestion and it took awhile to pull herself together (blasted sinus issues and allergies anyways). After noticing that I'd mixed up the times and dates of two of the library events we decided to do our lessons until 4 PM, get some outside time, and then head to the library for the even I'd thought would be on Friday (silly Mommy). We didn't finish all the lessons on the plan for Thursday, well Peanut did (and completed another one of her workbooks!!!) but the Cracker Jack's simply got through their Language Arts work. This was perfectly fine as I intended for them to work on their Math work while Peanut attends an event at the library Friday morning.

This is what our Thursday evening looked like:

Finally, we come to Friday where our morning was spent at the library so that Peanut could attend an event specifically for her age group and the Cracker Jack's worked on math together near by. This was a wonderful experience, we all worked on the letter V, heard a story and a rhyme, the instructor gave out summer sand buckets with some healthy treats in them. Unfortunately someone else will be taking over this event next month and they won't be following the alphabet plan as it's "too labor intensive". However, fortunately, the lady who led it today is getting a package together for me of all of the alphabet letters and crafts that I can pick up tomorrow and we can use them as part of our review work and add them to our alphabet book! Love that lady! Once we got home, after a snack, the children did some lessons. For the next few weeks we may be bringing school back to Saturdays, leaving Sundays for rest and faith alone. We also were able to sneak about half an hour outside between rain showers!

Here is some pictures of what Friday morning looked like:

Something we did around the house this week:

 Had to reorganize ECJ's room as he'd sneaked candy and hidden it under his dresser and in his toy box... (Yes, it is now clean and back in order again.)

Installed part of our ornamental fencing that will be part of the landscaped section of the yard. That gape with the wood laid down is for the gate that will eventually go there. The weather vane finally found it's "perfect" home as well. I really like how this is shaping up. That side of the house will eventually have a deck, handicap ramp, flower "bed" (so excited to show you how we do this later this spring/summer), and a small play area for the campers.

I felt like I had to include a TON of pictures in this one or no one would ever believe everything we had done! This was NOT a typical week for us. Some people would say that we had not enough text book time, some people would say that we had too much text book time, some people would say we did too much or too little. I think this week was one of our all time favorites because we did a little of everything and enjoyed every moment of it!!!

Random picture:
Moragon can no longer pretend she doesn't like Trixie cat, she chose to go take a nap right by him while ECJ
did some of his school work and hadn't even noticed the cat and dog nap going on behind him!!

Posts you may have missed this week:        
Egg Hunts and Outside
How I Choose Science Curriculum
Make Your Library Work for You

Things to look forward to this week: The next post in the series of "How I Choose/Pick Our .... Curriculum" will be out on Wednesday. Seven things I will never again do in our homeschool on Tuesday. Our outside post coming up tomorrow (Saturday). And so much more!!!

Who we're linking up to this week:        
Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers
Faithful Mom of 9
Homegrown Learners

 Find us on Facebook here or subscribe to the blog for tips on homeschooling, book reviews, how to get your children helping out in the kitchen, and to see many pictures of the cute kiddos, plus much more!