Friday, August 26, 2011

Homeschool Mother’s Journal ~ August 26th

The Homeschool Mother's Journal


In my life this week…Well, six weeks into our new school year, and we’ve already switched curriculums!  It really wasn’t too big of a switch though, we’re still studying the same time history topic {American history}, we’re still using many of the same books {we just cut the number down a bit}, and we hadn’t begun our history studies yet anyway Smile

I have to say that I am delighted with this new curriculum, I am using Bigger Hearts for His Glory from Heart of Dakota with my two older kiddos {4th grade and 2nd grade}.  Practically every night I have told my husband that I am loving actually getting to do Bible, poetry, vocabulary, grammar, spelling, math, history and even science {I always planned to do all of these things, but we always seemed to run out of time}. 

And we’re not tied to the schoolbooks all day to be able to get to all of these subjects either.  This week we’ve actually been spending lots of time with friends outside {school starts back in our area next week} and we’ve still gotten everything done {my 9yo is finished with all of his work in about 3.5 hours, it takes the 7yo about 2.5 to 3 hours}.

In our homeschool this week…We’ve broken in our new curriculum, and we are all loving it.  Now I just need to plan some stuff for the 4yo to do Smile.

Helpful homeschooling tips or advice to share…If it’s broke, don’t be afraid to fix it…even if you seem a bit flaky when you switch curriculums only six weeks into the school year Smile.

Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…Today we are going to the dentist…it’s my turn to sit in the chair and all three kiddos will make themselves comfortable on the floor around me while they clean my teeth {sounds like fun, right?}. 

It’s the kiddos’ turns on Monday…all three of them.

My favorite thing this week was…Doing some fun science and history projects with my kiddos.  One my favorite things about our Bigger Hearts for His Glory curriculum so far is the fun, yet super easy to implement activities that are planned for in the guide.

What’s working/not working for us…Our new curriculum is definitely working for us! 

Questions/thoughts I have…This question is not homeschool related but…I wonder what the weekend will bring, Irene is headed our way and even though we aren’t usually affected too much by hurricanes this far inland they’re saying it could be pretty bad.

Things I’m working on…Setting up ds9’s new reading program.  I purchased Drawn Into the Heart of Reading from Heart of Dakota and I am currently studying the guide so I can hopefully start it up soon.

I’m reading…Lots of books on my Kindle {love those free Kindle books on Amazon}, lots of blog posts about back to school, and my new teacher’s guides.

I’m cooking…Lots of stuff in the slow cooker…I love not worrying about what’s for dinner ‘cause it’s already in the crockpot Smile.  I’m also cooking up a couple of freezer meals for a dear friend who is expecting baby #5.

I’m grateful for… Um, surviving the earthquake that shook our area on Wednesday afternoon Smile. I know, earthquakes are not that big a deal to people on the west coast, especially ones that don’t knock things off the wall and such…but it was definitely an experience I will never forget!

I’m praying for… an uneventful weekend…after storms last weekend and an earthquake this week…I would love to see Irene pass us by Smile.

A photo, video, link, or quote to share…


One of the fun projects we did this week…labeling our globe/ball with the continents and the oceans.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Meet My Students {AKA the kiddos}

This week it’s student photo week at the Not Back to School Blog Hop.  This was a wonderful reminder to me to get some current photos of my own students Smile.


First up is ds9 {4th grade}.  He loves baseball, Star Wars and legos.  He’s a gentle, loving, and sometimes bossy big brother Smile.


Next comes dd7 {2nd grade}.  This spunky, red-headed, middle child and only girl child keeps all of us entertained with her dramatic flair for life. 


And last, but never least, is ds4 {preschool/preK}. He loves being loud, running fast, and giving great hugs to his mama {who can’t believe her baby will be 5 soon!}.


P.S. Don’t forget to enter my giveaway for The Grace Card DVD Smile.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Grace Card DVD ~ A Movie Review & Giveaway

the grace card

The Grace Card is a movie about God’s love, God’s grace, and the power of forgiveness. 

Mac is a father who lost a son 17 years ago, a father who is on the brink of losing his other son now…he is an angry man.  And he is partnered up with a pastor cop, Sgt. Sam Wright, part-time pastor and full-time cop.  Neither man really wants the other man in his life, but God put each of them there for a reason.  That reason is to learn about grace; giving grace and receiving it.


I loved this poignant Christian film!  It brought me to the brink of tears a number of times…and I do not usually cry during movies.  I especially appreciated the message of this movie. 

Please note that The Grace Card is rated PG-13 due to some violence and thematic elements in the movie.   

The Grace Card DVD released on August 16th, 2011.  You can read more about this movie on The Grace Card website.

You can also check out their facebook page that already boasts over 47,000 fans!


Giveaway News! 

This giveaway is now closed…congratulations to commenter #1 {Laura}.   I have emailed the winner and hope to hear back from her soon Smile.

I have a brand new copy of this DVD to give away to one of my readers.  If you would like to enter this giveaway simply leave a comment on this post.  That’s it Smile.  I’ll be choosing one winner using at 9:00am EST on Monday, August 22, 2011.



“Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Friday, August 12, 2011

Weekly Wrap-Up ~ Week 4

Ahhh…week 4 already! 

I didn’t get any pictures of the kiddos “doing school” but I did get some pictures of them having fun in a friend’s pool {we took a midweek break on Wednesday}.  I’ll share those just to make this post a bit more

visually pleasing Smile.


I am still in the process of adding in subjects, this week I had planned to add spelling and Bible to the line-up…but only spelling made it {although we did continue with our morning devotions from our Keys for Kids devotional}. 

Both kiddos are moving right along in their math programs.  Ds9 heads to the basement each afternoon {without complaining,  mind you} to complete his Teaching Textbooks lesson, while dd7 works with me at the kitchen table on her CLE Math lesson.  Dd7 finished up another light unit this week and aced the end of unit test Smile


Both kiddos are also seeming to enjoy their new writing curriculums.  Ds9 is still working through lesson one in his IEW program; this week he wrote a paragraph from the key word outline they worked on during the video part of lesson one.  He also made his own key word outline from a paragraph about desert tarantulas and rewrote a paragraph from the outline. 

Dd7 and I have been having fun with her writing curriculum {Write Shop Primary Book A}.  Every day we have been writing about animals {her favorite topic}.


We also began a new chapter in our science curriculum.  I read aloud to the kiddos from our science text while we had an impromptu lunch on the back deck. 

Even though we haven’t added history into our school day yet, I did begin to whet their appetites for our upcoming history studies by beginning a new read-aloud ~ The Birchbark House.  This book is not one of our scheduled read-alouds from Sonlight, but it is one that I wanted to add in and it matches our upcoming history studies perfectly Smile.

Once all of our subjects have been added into the line-up, we will return to our regular schedule of beginning our school day in the morning.  However, these past couple of weeks the kiddos have been doing their schoolwork in the afternoons…mornings have been spent on chores and lots of outside playtime {while the day is still cool}.

Our School Room{s}

Not Back to School Blog Hop

This is school room week on the Not Back to School Blog Hop…so I guess it’s as good a time as any to share pictures of our school rooms. 

I say school rooms {with an s} because we “do school” in many rooms in our home, and we also store school supplies {i.e. books} in many rooms in our home Smile.

First up is our former dining room {thankfully we have an eat in kitchen so we don’t need to eat in our dining room}…it has been transformed into our main school room.

We’ve made some changes to this room this past year {here’s what it looked like last year}…in the spring we purchased some wonderful expedit shelves from IKEA {what homeschooler can ever have too many shelves?} and a couple weeks ago we gave three of the walls a new paint job.


I picked up some inexpensive picture frames from Michaels so I could display the kiddos’ art above the shelves.  We repurposed an old kitchen table and some mismatched chairs to be used as a writing/work table in the middle of the room.


The shelf between the windows holds our current science books {top shelf}, our circle time notebook, our history notebook and notebooks for each kiddo {to keep this year’s completed work in}.  Dd7’s All About Spelling supplies, books, and writing supplies are on the 2nd shelf; ds9 and dd7’s writing curriculum and more writing supplies take up the 3rd shelf.  The two bottom shelves hold coloring books, crayons, blank paper, magazines and more.

Under the table is a basket full of blank books waiting to be filled with stories.


A pocket chart calendar hangs on our double-sided easel which stands in the corner of the room.


In our basement I have a desk and rolling cart for each kiddo…ds9 completes  his math down there {that’s where the computer is}, but at this time the desks and rolling carts are basically just a place for each kiddo to store his/her stuff. 



See…dd7’s desk is currently covered with building blocks and the table is covered puzzle pieces Smile.


Most of the work gets completed at the kitchen table or in the dining room/school room…or on the couch {read-alouds}, or the back deck or even in the kiddos’ rooms.  But I didn’t take pictures of those areas Smile

2nd Grade Reading List

Last year my dd7 was a struggling reader.  Thanks to All About Spelling {yes, it is a spelling program, but paired with the AAS readers, it is a very effective reading program}, my dd has spent most of the summer checking out books from the library that she can read all by herself Smile!

So for the first time she will be getting her own reading list for the school year.

We will be working through Sonlight’s Core D history program this year.  Many of the readers that I chose for dd7 will match what we’re studying in history, others are just classic, fun readers that match her reading level.

Small Wolf

The Story of Columbus

Small Pig

Owl at Home

Mouse Tales

Mouse Soup

Frog & Toad All Year

Frog & Toad Are Friends

Frog & Toad Together

Days With Frog & Toad

The True Story of Pocahontas

George Washington’s First Victory

Uncle Elephant

Grasshopper on the Road

A Bargain for Frances

George Washington and the General’s Dog

Ben Franklin and His First Kite

Paul Revere and the Bell Ringers

The 18 Penny Goose

Betsy Ross & the Silver Thimble

Sam the Minuteman

Amelia Bedelia

Thimbleberry Stories

Sacagawea and the Bravest Deed

Lewis & Clark: A Prairie Dog

Little Bear

Little Bear’s Visit

Little Bear’s Friend

Thank You Amelia Bedelia

Teach Us Amelia Bedelia

The Statue of Liberty

The Mighty Mississippi

The Long Way to a New Land

The Long Way Westward

Mount Rushmore

Looks like a pretty daunting list…I planned one book per week but I am very willing to slow the pace down if necessary Smile.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Weekly Wrap-Up ~ The First Three Weeks

We’ve actually been “back-to-school” for three weeks now.  Back in the spring I decided that our first day of school for 2011-2012 would be July 18th…July and August in our area are usually really hot with a lot of humidity thrown in, so we might as well have some structured learning going on while we’re hiding inside with the A/C on Smile.


For the first week back to school, I planned a pretty light schedule {only two subjects per kiddo ~ math & reading, and one family  subject ~ science}.  The second week remained the same, and then this past week we also added in writing.  I plan to add two to three subjects per week until we reach full capacity on August 22nd.


So here’s what we’ve accomplished in the past three weeks:

Ds9 broke in his new math curriculum, Teaching Textbooks 4, and so far so good.  He has completed 9 lessons so far, and both he and I are loving that he can do this subject independently Smile.


Dd7 is continuing with her math curriculum from last year {CLE Math}.  The plan is for her to finish up the 1st grade text soon and then head into the 2nd grade text.


Both kiddos have been reading like mad the whole summer, filling bags full of library books to checkout during our weekly treks to the library. They’re not yet required to read from their reading lists yet, but they are reading Smile.


Our current science curriculum is Exploring Creation With Botany from Apologia.  We have all of the books in the series, and I thought Botany would be the perfect choice for a summer study.  So far we’ve completed the first chapter {we’re still in summer mode}, and we were even able to put some of our new knowledge to the test on a recent family hike Smile.


Both kiddos are using new writing programs this year.  I purchased IEW’s Student Writing Intensive A for ds9 and Write Shop Primary Books A & B for dd7 {she is extremely creative and this curriculum looks like such fun}. 

Ds9 watched his first DVD lesson for IEW this week…he was not at all excited about beginning writing, but Mr. Pudewa actually makes writing fun {really}, even ds9 admitted that he was funny Smile


Dd7 and I completed two days of writing so far.  The first day she was a bit grumpy because she really wanted to join her brothers on the front porch instead of doing writing with mom, but she seemed to enjoy the second day, especially the read-aloud time with mom Smile.


Next week I plan to add in spelling {for ds9} and Bible.  The plan is to have all subjects added in by August 22nd Smile.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Our Curriculum for 2011-2012

Not Back to School Blog Hop

We’ve actually been “back-to-school” for a couple weeks now.  We began our new school year on July 18th, just around the time that the 100 degree days started in our neck of the woods Smile.

So I guess it’s about time that I post our curriculum choices for this year…and thanks to the Not Back-to-School Blog Hop I have incentive to do it right now ‘cause it’s curriculum week!

This year I’ll have a 4th grader {ds9}, a 2nd grader {dd7}, and a preschooler {ds4}. 



4th Grade

Grammar ~ First Language Lessons 4

Writing ~ IEW Student Writing Intensive A

Handwriting ~ A Reason for Handwriting Cursive

Reading ~ SL Readers Core D Advanced 

Spelling ~ Rod & Staff Grade 4

Math ~ Teaching Textbooks Math 4, Daily Word Problems Grade 4

2nd GradeIMG_1070

Grammar ~ First Language Lessons Level 2

Writing ~ Write Shop Primary Books A & B

Handwriting ~ Italics Book C or A Reason for Handwriting Transition {we have both books, I’m going to let her choose which style she prefers}

Reading ~ Various Readers to match our History studies {I hope to post her  2nd grade reading list soon}

Spelling ~ All About Spelling Level 2 and matching readers

Math ~ Christian Light Education Math Grade 2

Family Subjects/Circle Time

History ~ Sonlight Core D Intro to American History, adding in various activities from History Pockets and Time Travellers

Geography ~ Daily Geography {we have grade 2 & grade 4, I plan to do grade 2 orally with both my 2nd & 4th grader and use grade 4 another year}, State Study/Notebooking

Science ~ Exploring Creation with Botany, Discover and Do DVDs from Sonlight that match our botany studies

Bible ~ Bible Study Guide for All Ages, Keys for Kids devotions

Art ~ See the Light Art DVDs {I reviewed the first DVD while with the TOS Homeschool Crew last year, my kiddos loved it so much I bought the whole set Smile}.

Music ~ We’ll be singing selected hymns and patriotic songs during Circle Time.

IMG_1067Ds4 {the preschooler} will be listening in during most of our family studies {history, science, Bible, read alouds} and doing his own letter study with me during independent work time…hopefully Winking smile.

So that’s the planned line-up for 2011-2012.


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