Friday, September 10, 2010

What we do-organization

I have been reading about all the different organization systems for homeschoolers. Everything from chore charts to workboxes to computer trackers. Some days I feel like I have tried them all, now as we enter our 5th year of homeschooling (really 5 years- good grief, I could have sworn we just started last year!) I realize that we have a system that works for us.

First we pile. Hey don't knock the pile. Piles can save lives (or take them if they get out of hand)
We pile all our books that we will use that day next to our desks.

Next we pick and choose. I let the kids pick what subjects they want to do and in what order. The only time I have them wait or skip to a subject is if they are going to be doing it together. But even that isn't that often because unless they are to be playing a game together, they can usually figure out what they need without their sibling to help.

After that, the list. For English, the kids have a list of what activities they need to accomplish that week as part of the curriculum. As they work though the list, stuff is checked off. It makes all of us feel better checking things off.

Finally, put it away. As they finish with each subject they put it back in their desk so at the end of the morning (or afternoon) they just have to put their desks away and the living room is neat and clean again for playing Wii or watching TV or playing a game of Harry Potter Legos.

As for how I track what we did each day (because some years I get the awful evaluator who wants proof of "regular and thorough instruction") I have a daily calendar and I make a note as to what was done.

Today's looked something like this:

T-Reading comp. Chap 3
L- Science 43-45
T- Science 44-45
L- Reading comp.
Descriptive sentences
T- IEW Lesson3a

Obviously we did more than this but as an example I'm sure you get it.

Monday, February 22, 2010


Here it is, the end of February, and I have plans for next year on the brain. I know it is too soon but I can't help it.

I am working with my local homeschool group to set up a co-op. There is so much to do. Between planning the location, figuring out forms, classes, age groups and rules, I wish it was just planned and ready to start. But honestly I love plans. They make me feel secure. They are like lists but more long term.

So my friends and I have been working on this co-op, which leads me to start to think about next year's curriculum. It is a big year with Boyo going into 4th grade and Girlie in 2nd. We will finally be done with speech (hear the singing? between 1 to 3 afternoons a week have been taken up by speech for the past 4 years!)

Some stuff I want to cover next year:

--I really want to start a good writing program with Boyo. I think by now he really should be writing paragraphs that are more than 3 or 4 sentences. So we will spend lots of time on that next year. I plan on using IEW and Myths and fables or US History.

-- We have been working on a $1 Target book about the states, next year I want to go more in depth and really cement that in. I don't need for the kids to know all the capitals (though that would be cool) but I want them to know all the state names and have a good idea where in the USA they are located. Not sure what curriculum I want to use for that.

--I think we have a good language arts program so we will continue on with that. Queen Homeschool

--Singapore math is working well for Boyo so we will stay with that. We might try a more spiral type approach for Girlie as she is still struggling with much of it, maybe saxon or horizons

--We will continue with Latin as the kids love it, we might add in Spanish but maybe not, it depends on life :)

--I want to do Chemistry next year, we tried it out and the kids loved it so it is definitely on the to do list.

-- History, hmmm, well Boyo has enjoyed the workbook I got for him at BJ's and he won't finish it this year so he is covered for a while. Girlie has enjoyed doing the lapbooks on different topics so we might continue with that otherwise I'd love to do Beyond the Page with her. I really think she'd like it.

Well that is as far as I have gotten. Need to work out the budget, research different ideas, oh and sew for Gulf wars, Celt wars and Pennsic so I can afford these goodies.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Night at the Museum

Lately the kids have been working on a lapbook about the movies- Night at the Museum and Night at the Museum 2. We got it from we3kids. This is a wonderful lapbook with more than just the usual minibooks with a "read and report" mentality. There are informational paragraphs (to save mom much of the research) but there are also wonderful activities to go along with certain topics.

For example in the movie there is an Easter Island head ("Got some Gum-gum, Dum-Dum?") and in addition to reading a paragraph about the heads in the lapbook, the kids are encouraged to make their own.

Boyo's Moai

Girlie's Moai

We have all really enjoyed this unit. Thanks we3kids for making it!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Our homeschool day

I love seeing how other families plan their days. What stuff do they do? How do they organize their kids? Do they ever get done with dishes and laundry?

So in the interest of transparency here is a typical day right now, in February, in 2010, with a 6 and 8 year old. Because as we all know typical changes -often!

Sometime between 8 and 9 am: The kids get up, lay on the sofa watching TV, drinking chocolate milk, eating cereal.

8:30-ish: I get up and have breakfast, cuddle the kids, review our plans for the day.

9 -ish: Pull out all the school books, make 3 piles (Boyo, Girlie, and both) and start school.

12:00 : Take a break for lunch Usually by this time Girlie is done with all her workbook work.

12:30: Back to school concentrating on whatever subjects the kids have to do together (science, unit studies) When Girlie is done, she goes to put away laundry, empty dishwasher, clean bedroom etc. then she can play. Boyo goes finishes up whatever else he has to do.

1:30 : School is usually over and we can head for the library or to speech class or run errands.

4:30: Home from errands or whatever and the neighbor girl calls. Kids go out to play and I get a break.

5:00: Contemplate dinner, clean up the house, get on the computer, etc.

6:00-ish: Kids home, Dinner time, Hubby comes home too.

8:00: Kids sent off to playroom to watch movies or read books or play quietly.

10:00: Lights out for the kids.

12-1: Bed time for me.

I am not strict about a schedule other then we have a set amount of work to get though each day. When that work is done- the kids can go play. This works for us. It may not work for another family, and that is ok too.

Friday, February 19, 2010

knitting olympic update

Ok, sorry there are no pictures. That is how I roll, I want to wait and show you the finished thing all at once. So far I have 13" done (I started at the bottom of the sweater) plus the pouch pocket is all made and grafted on. Another 3 " and I stop to make the arms. So far this sweater is going really well. Though it occurred to me that Hubby has been working out and thus has bulked up in the pecs. This might have changed his 40" chest size.

Oh well I am past the point of no return on the sweater so he'll just have to live with it if it is a little tight.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Yarn Harlot's Knitting Olympics

So I decided to do Yarn Harlot's knitting Olympics My goal is to knit a sweater for my dear wonderful hubby using the wallaby pattern (sans hood) in reclaimed yarn from the "sweater that was much too big" tm I have 17 days to get it done starting 9 pm Friday. Yay!!

So far I had Boyo frog the "sweater that was much too big" tm It was much yarn!! It is all balled up and I even did a gauge swatch so everything should work out right. Did I mention that I am changing the pattern from straight stockinette to a moss stitch? Well it gave me 8st/2inch instead of the 9st/2 in but as this yarn has a tendency to shrink when washed and hubby likes stuff big. I should be alright.

I am using lion brand wool ease in hunter green.

Feel free to join in! Click on the yarn harlot link to get full directions and all. Good Luck.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Thanks Patty

I am a crafter. I scrapbook (a little), I knit (all winter) and sew (all summer). I am content with that.
But let me tell you about my friend Patty. She is an artist. She has had her work published and is even a contributor to an e-zine. She makes amazing papercrafts. The things Patty can do with paper and a cricut would blow your mind. Each birthday, holiday and anniversary, I wait with bated breath for the next wonderful card she will send. We have actually kept some of her cards for years.

Knowing Patty's skill set, and not finding anything that I liked for the cover of our civil war lapbooks, I begged her for a favor. I asked her to make some paper dolls and decorations for the kids to use. Honestly, I gave her practically no guideline other than whatever was made for Girlie, she could assemble herself. After all Girlie is a crafty type kid. I knew Patty could come up with something better than I ever could have thought of.

And she did! Patty not only made nifty silhouettes for Boyo, but she sent 4 different paper doll soldiers for Girlie to assemble. Each came in their own envelope with a picture of what they would look like all put together, and all the bit and pieces cut out and ready to be glued.

The kids were so excited by the details and loved putting the dolls together. Girlie even let Boyo assemble one and put it in his lapbook, after they played civil war battle of course :)

My favorite part about these dolls is the attention to detail, not just historically but practically. All the pieces were big enough that 6 year old fingers could glue them without help and there were neat extras for each doll- a canteen, sword, bayonet or gun.

And if all that wasn't enough, she sent me a card in the package. it is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen! She took my "mousetower" name and made this... oh there just aren't words. It is sophisticated, whimsical, and oh- just look for yourself.

How perfect is this!!
Patty- You are amazing. Thank you for taking the time to make these dolls for the kids, for giving them something tangible to cement some of the ideas we talked about with the civil war soldiers, and for every card you have sent us in the more than 12 years I have known you. And thank you Eric for helping with the research, I look forward to seeing you in August.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Thursday 13

I really like this meme. I mean really. It fills my need for lists and gives me a schedule so I don't neglect my blog (like I did after a 2 week vacation in August when I went to visit it and wondered why it hadn't been updated.) It gives me a chance to share my thoughts and expound on stuff that I hadn't thought about that hard. But this isn't the topic of today's Thursday 13 (mostly because I ran out of stuff at 5)

Today's topic is......sewing. I like to sew, I have been doing it since I was a kid but didn't really take off with it until I was in high school. I taught my son to use the sewing machine at 4 (my daughter at 5) . So I present 13 reasons why sewing is useful.

  1. I get to use my creativity.
  2. I am making something that can be used by my family.
  3. When I get the fabric for free, I can make new clothes for the kids for the cost of my time.
  4. On patterns that I know backwards and forwards, I can whip them out in no time.
  5. My kids (and family) appreciate homemade stuff.
  6. I can sell some of the stuff I make and earn a little extra money.
  7. I can do it at home without having to send my kids away.
  8. I can make things that actually fit my super skinny boy without being too babyish.
  9. I can make things that fit my daughter that are not hoochie
  10. Sewing makes it easy for people to shop for me, they just buy gift certificates to fabric stores.
  11. It is kinda cool to know how to fix that expensive outfit you bought when it rips the 3rd time you wore it.
  12. My kids love when people ask where they got their pants, shirts, dresses and they get to say "Mama made it for me."
  13. I can't hear people calling for me when the sewing machine is going. :)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Thursday 13

I love lists so this meme might become a weekly thing.

13 reasons I love my husband (probably should save this for nearer to Valentine's Day but why waste love) -- in no particular order...

  1. He provides well for our family.

  2. He is steadfast.

  3. He plays with the kids.

  4. He gives me insight into things that I never really think about.

  5. He plays a mean guitar.

  6. Sometimes he can break things down well enough to explain stuff to the kids.

  7. Sometimes he needs to to translate for him, or them.

  8. He buys me all the yarn or fabric I could want, never having said, "Don't you have enough?"

  9. He is supportive for homeschooling even if he thinks I am too easy on the kids.

  10. He eats what I make for dinner before he critiques it.

  11. He talks to me about his game or work even though he knows I don't understand it.

  12. He listens to my concerns, worries or venting and only tries to give a solution if I ask for one.

  13. He loves me.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

5 fingers of thanks

On the eve of another trip to the hospital for Girlie, I found this meme and I feel the need.

  1. I have a wonderful and loving family.

  2. We have medical insurance that has made all these Dr. visits and what not affordable.

  3. My husband has a great job that he enjoys.

  4. I get to homeschool so my kids learn how important family is.

  5. I have enough food that I don't have to make the trip to BJ's until Wed. at least.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


We are working on a money lapbook (I will post later with the resources for that) but one of the minit books asks the kids to list what is a necessity and what is a luxury. It was very interesting to hear the discussions that took place as we figured out what we need and what we want, plus how to reconcile some thing that really do belong in both categories.

  • Food
  • water
  • a home
  • electricity (for heat since we use electric heat)
  • a car (necessary for us as we live 5 miles from town and there is no public transport option, a Luxury for Oma who lives in the city with buses and the ability to walk where she wants to go)
  • a job
  • gas (to make the car go LOL)
  • education
  • clothes

  • Wii
  • computers
  • TV
  • sushi
  • nerf guns
  • homeschooling
  • soda

Things that are both- ie we could do without but they make life worth living

  • Daddy's guitar
  • yarn (originally a necessity according to Girlie because it makes clothes to keep us warm)
  • field trips
  • ice cream
  • cell phone

Originally the Guitar was on the luxury list but when Hubby came home at lunch and saw what we were working on he insisted on the third category and he did a great job explaining the importance of the third category- "it makes your soul happy and if your soul isn't happy there isn't a point to living"

I love when Hubby shows that side of himself.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Question of the week

I saw this over at Wayzley and though I should do it too.

What activities outside of Homeschooling are your children involved in? (also include kids ages please)

How important do you think having your kids in extra-curricular activities is?

Would your kids do less, more or the same amount if they were in a traditional school setting?

My answers:
This is hard for me to answer since everything we do is part of homeschooling. Both my kids (8 and 6) do scouts, art and a cooking class and at the moment that is it. In the past they have done Gymnastics, swimming lessons and soccer.

I think it is important to do outside activities, I would love to have Boyo in Gymnastics or Rock climbing. I would love to have Girlie in a drama class. But the money isn't there for Gymnastics and Girlie isn't old enough for the play productions in my area.

If my kids went to traditional school I think they would only do scouts or scouts and one other thing since traditional school takes up so much time that even if I was working and could afford it, there wouldn't be time to do it.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Thursday 13

I saw this meme and it spoke to me. Will it speak to you?

Make a list of 13 things you like about homeschooling:
  1. I see my kids for more than a couple hours a day
  2. I can celebrate their triumphs and help with their weaknesses
  3. I get to learn all kinds of new stuff.
  4. We stay in our PJ's as long as we want.
  5. Play dates that happen during the day so that night time is for family
  6. Seeing the love and respect my kids have for each other
  7. New books, new manipulatives
  8. Field trips!
  9. Co-ops and shared teaching
  10. Not being tied down to a schedule if something more fun turns up.
  11. Play dates that involve whole families so that no one is left out.
  12. Creative learning time (Mythbusters marathons count as school, hours spent arranging and decorating a doll house can count as school)
  13. Being with my kids!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Civil War

We have been working on a Civil War Lapbook after an impromptu trip to Gettysburg PA to see the battlefield.

When we are finished I will try and post pictures of the completed project but in case I forget here are the resources I used. They might be helpful.

Lapbooks Parts:
Dynamic 2 moms
Wonderful, even-handed approach. We used many of their components. Boyo used the Gettysburg address for copywork.
-Causes for war
-Other names for the war
-Famous people North and South
-Clara Barton
-Harriet Beecher Stowe
-Matthew Brady
-Gettysburg Address
-Cotton Gin
-Cotton Boil
-Harriet Tubman
-Slavery and the road to war

Homeschool Share
We used a few from here. Not a bunch since Dynamic Moms was so complete.
- Buglers
- Uniforms
-Eat like a soldier (involves cooking)
- Hardtack and Johnny Bread Recipes

Then there were the books from the Library :

Harriet Tubman, a woman of courage / by the editors of Time for kids ; with Renee Skelton.
Minty : a story of young Harriet Tubman / by Alan Schroeder ; pictures by Jerry Pinkney
An apple for Harriet Tubman / by Glennette Tilley Turner ; illustrated by Susan Keeter
Harriet Tubman : the life of an African-American abolitionist / by Rob Shone & Anita Ganeri ; illustrated by Rob Shone.
Dadblamed Union Army cow / Susan Fletcher ; illustrated by Kimberly Bulcken Root

Red Legs : a drummer boy of the Civil War / by Ted Lewin
Charley Waters goes to Gettysburg / Susan Sinnott ; photographs by Dorothy Handelman

These 2 books are about a re-enactment, and as re-enactors this very inspiring and made lots of sense to my kids.

The Battle of Bull Run / by Deborah Kops
Welcome to Addy's world, 1864 : growing up during America's Civil War / written by Susan Sinnott

DVD- Harriet Tubman [videorecording] / NEST Family Entertainment and Rich Animation Studios

There were many more books but these are the ones I haven't returned yet. Since we live very close to Gettysburg there was an ample supply of books to choose from at the library.

Last trip to the Hospital

The last time I posted about going to the Hospital was a couple days before Girlie's first visit. Now the night before her 3rd visit, it seems that we are old pros. Girlie is excited to go (can you believe that?) Thank Heavens for the Doctors and Nurses as they have been wonderful each and every time.
The medicine they give her seems to make her not remember much of anything after taking it until hours later when she is back home. I love that!! The first time on it she saw fairies for about 2+ hours. The second time she seemed to come out of it quicker and there were no fairies. I think that was because of the IV. We will see how she does with it tomorrow.
I really commend the Doctor and the hospital staff. They have gone above and beyond to make this an easy deal for Girlie and me.
Please tomorrow morning send good thoughts our way as we go though what is hopefully the last test.