We've been learning at home for fifteen years.
Our children learning at home are 14 and 16.
Our two oldest children have graduated from their homeschool years and are now in college.
Wednesday, December 6, 2006
I am using 2 different unit studies.
1 - http://www.easyfunschool.com/Blessed.pdf
This one is free and contains 25 days of activities - each on a different symbol of Christmas. Obviously I won't be able to use all of this, but that's ok. Since there are so many, I can pick and choose what I like.
2 - http://www.homeschoolestore.com/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=100
This one was a free download at homeschoolestore.com a few months ago. Right now it is about $5. This one covers 10 symbols of Christmas and ends up as a really cute "lapbook".
We are doing Christmas School as our Bible and Art. No History or Science or regular Language Arts until after New Year's. Other daily work: the kids are all doing Math, James is doing Explode the Code, David and Emily are doing Reading. We may add some other things also on an intermittent basis.
This is a tradition for us - to do Christmas School each year between Thanksgiving and New Year's. I love having the break from regular daily work and also the time to do some of the Christmas things I found I was not able to fit in along with all the regular things.
Thursday, November 9, 2006
Great is Thy Faithfulness
Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father;
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not;
As Thou hast been, Thou forever will be.
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided;
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!
Summer and winter and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.
Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!
Monday, October 23, 2006
How We Home-Educate, Part 2
Math is done each day that we do home learning. I prefer it to be one of the first things done after our group work, since the children (especially Emily) have more brain power earlier in the day. All of my kids (except the 4yo) are using Math-U-See. My almost 12 year old is doing MUS Zeta, My 9.5 yo is doing MUS Beta, and my almost 7yo is nearly done with MUS Alpha.
I like math to be a fairly independent subject. Since Math-U-See comes with instructional DVD's, this is relatively easy for us to accomplish. For each new lesson, the child watches the DVD (usually without me, although I hover nearby) and then works on the lesson. I help if needed, especially with Emily's work, but for the most part, this is something the child does on his or her own.
There are 6 workpages for each MUS lesson, and then a test. The children must do workpages until the concept becomes easy. The first 3 workpages offer practice just on the new concept. The remaining 3 pages offer review of previous concepts along with the new concept. After showing mastery, he or she may take the test. The test must be done without the blocks or any assistance. If he or she cannot pass the test, we go back and review with more help from mom or dad.
Emily and James also work on math drills - either on the MUS website, drill cards, flashcards, audiotapes, or any other method I can find. David knows his facts very well.
Emily particularly has a hard time with math, thus her still being in Beta at age 9.5. However, I am pleased with our approach, as it is mastery-based, and I know she will actually learn the math, instead of just going through the motions. She probably could benefit from a little more instruction from me, so I am trying to add that in this year for her especially.
Sunday, October 22, 2006
How We Home-Educate, Part 1
The kids are up before me usually, as I am rather a night owl and like to sleep til the last possible second, and then some. Sometimes that's past 9, but more often it is somewhere between 8 and 8:30. (If I were doing what my ideal plan said, I would be up at 7. Not happening right now.)
We usually get to our lessons somewhere around 9:30, but it can be around 10 before we actually get to it. We begin with our Bible studies. We learn a new hymn every month. This month it is Fairest Lord Jesus. Then someone picks one of our previously learned hymns to review. Currently we are doing a character Bible study on gentleness. We alternate character quality study with a Bible survey course called Bible Study Guide for All Ages, which we have been using for years. We are on volume 3 of 4. I am also reading them the book by the Mally kids called: Making Brothers and Sisters Best Friends. I highly recommend this book. Bible study usually takes around 30 minutes.
Last year we did art every day, but we finished the book and I haven't found another that works the same for us, so we have not done art consistently this year. However, they all love to draw and color so they do get plenty of that, and lots of crafts too. If we do an art lesson, it comes right after Bible.
Then we move on to Science and/or History. Science this year is Considering God's Creation, which I like. It's not a textbook, but a "notebooking" sort of curriculum. We did not begin at the beginning, but skipped to the unit on Plants and began with that. We just finished it last week. I like the fact that it is adaptable to many age levels. Next year, I imagine David will do Switched-on Schoolhouse for Science, or some other independent text, as I have decided against using Apologia, at least for now.
Mystery of History Volume 1 is our history curriculum and I love it. The lessons are just the right length. I love the mix of activities - some hands-on, some quizzes (which we often do orally or as a game), some review. Very strong program and from the point of view I believe in. I am hoping to get through the second half of this book rather quickly this year and begin Volume 2 before the "year ends". Currently we are at about 500 BC and just recently learned about Confucious, Buddha, and Daniel.
Once we have finished with these subjects, the kids begin their separate work. I'll write about that in a separate post, since I am, quite frankly, itching to move on to other things! LOL
Monday, September 18, 2006
LisaQuing: i just got tired of saying homeschool and "doing school"
LisaQuing: since i am trying NOT to do "school"
Friend: we're not a school
Friend: we're a family
LisaQuing: i am going to try to remember to say "we home educate our children" or "we teach our children at home"
LisaQuing: instead of we homeschool
LisaQuing: not sure if i can move to "we have our children at home with us"
LisaQuing: our children learn at home? hmmmm
Friend: ever since the little girl on the corner said my kids aren't in 'real school' I've been thinking about what that means to me lol
Friend: just at home?
Friend: not at the zoo?
LisaQuing: right, true
LisaQuing: our children learn everywhere except in school
Friend: I like that!
LisaQuing: Homeschooled kids - learning everywhere
Friend: except school
My new motto - Learning everywhere except school!
I am going to stop calling the kids down for "school" and start calling them down for "learning". Let's see if I can make this switch.
Friday, September 15, 2006
Today was the second day of our fall homeschool co-op session. We meet twice a month. I thought I'd post our schedules.
Lego Robotics, Physical Education, Digging into Ancient Egypt, Dynamic Discoveries (a research/report class), Basic Life Support (CPR)
Dynamic Discoveries, Laura Ingalls Wilder: Her Early Years, Choir, Recorder, Physical Education
Open Gym, What's Under My Skin?, PE, Chess, Let's Draw
SuzyFive Senses, Learning With Crafts, Move it - Be It! (A creative movement class), Open Gym, I've Got Rhythm
They love all their classes! We have worked very hard to make this semester successful. (I am the coordinator of the co-op) and I am so pleased at the results!
Saturday, September 9, 2006
Our First Day
So, we started a day later than I had originally planned. We had camped the week before and all came home sick. So, I didn't get as much ready during the weekend as I had wanted, plus there were a couple other committments on Tuesday.
So, Wednesday morning dawned and the kids arose bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, ready to begin their new grades. David entered 6th grade, Emily is in 4th grade now, and James is sort of in 2nd grade. Suzy is officially a preschooler!
First I introduced the kids' new chore charts and reintroduced the concept of chores at certain times during the day. Most of the daily jobs were reassigned, which I do about twice a year.
Then after the first set of morning jobs were completed, we had a dual treasure hunt. David and Emily paired up for a word scramble treasure hunt and James and Suzy did a color treasure hunt. The prize at the end was their new school supplies! Who doesn't love new school supplies?
Once they had ooh-ed and ahhh-ed enough over their new notebooks and crayons, we did a short drawing assignment. Ice cream sundaes is a new tradition we started last year for the first day of school, so that was our snack.
David and Emily did a history review of last year's information in preparation for their end-of-year test (yes, that should have been done before we went camping, but that's the beauty of homeschooling! lol).
Lunch fit in there someplace and then we had our new afternoon chores. At 4:00 I had a staff meeting at work, and so I trooped off for that and then went to the grocery store.
And thus ended the first day of school this year!
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
Science is All Planned!
I am not doing the book in the order it is written; I've rearranged the lessons a little to fit our cold/warm seasons and my own preferences. I don't see any trouble getting it all done this year, which is my goal. I know some people take longer to do it, but I want David to begin Apologia science next year, either General Science (which would be my preference) or Physical Science (which would be easier, since our co-op would be doing it next year).
If we like CGC, and I think we will, I'll do it again at some point, with James and Suzy. Maybe even Emily will do it again, as I doubt she'll be inclined to do heavy science in the junior high years.
:::glances over at nice neat stack of lesson pages and beams::: Now I need to go find a nice clean new binder for my lesson plans!
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
I had hoped to do a leaf study this summer, but that hasn't happened yet. There's still time! Unlike some southern homeschoolers, we won't begin our new school year until after Labor Day. :-)
For Bible this summer, we have switched gears and are taking a break from the Bible Study Guide for All Ages. I found a cool book that illustrates Biblical concepts using science information. It's called Our Place in Space and 59 More Ways to See God Through His Creation. For instance, yesterday's lesson was about concave & convex mirrors and how the shape affects the light. The Bible lesson was about how we should not depend on what we look like in a mirror, but rely on the fact that God loves us just as we are.
Additionally, I am reading aloud to the kids Making Brothers and Sisters Best Friends: How to Fight the Good Fight at Home by Sarah, Stephen and Grace Mally. This is part of our Bible study also. This book is obviously about sibling relationships, but more widely also about family relationships in general. There is lots of good Bible teaching mixed in with clever anecdotes about the Mally family.
The kids are continuing in Math-U-See through the summer. David is working in Zeta, learning decimals and percents. Emily continues working hard in Beta. She now knows how to CARRY without any problem! Man, that was a struggle back in the spring. James is working on subtraction in Alpha. He's only 9 lessons from the end of the book, so good thing I bought Beta for him to begin.
James is working in Explode the Code book 2 off and on. He is doing well with that. I am also signing out short vowel phonics readers from the library, so he can read those for the library program and get reading practice at the same time.
Emily is reading chapter books, short ones and longer ones. She also likes to read American Girl magazine, which she gets from the library. David is reading almost exclusively Star Wars novels and comic books like Calvin and Hobbes and Foxtrot. Some of the SW novels are juvenile level and some are from the regular fiction section at the library.
His reading level tests at 8th grade level when I gave him an informal evaluation this spring. Emily tested at a 7th grade reading level on the same evaluation. I don't put a lot of stock in tests. I already knew they were good readers. They are also quite good at comprehension, although the test didn't cover that aspect.
Some days we do Mystery of History, but not very often, as I want to just be about halfway through the book when we start our formal school year on Sept 5th. We are nearly there now.
James and Suzy had Field School at the Nature Center. David had his Star Wars field trip to the Columbus COSI science museum. I plan swimming lessons for the 3 youngest starting August 7, if I can gather up enough cash AND if there is still room in their lessons. I dare not call and reserve a spot until I have the money. Hopefully after our yard sale this weekend.
So, anyway, that's our summer schooling!
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
Read a Zillion Books with Jerry Pallotta
Oh wow! My kids and I were BLOWN AWAY by the presentation by author Jerry Pallotta today at the local library. 4th graders from the local elementary school and a preschool class attended, as well as at least 4 homeschool families.
My kids react:
"I thought he was funny. Everything he told us was funny! I like his books because they give you facts - a bunch of facts about the thing in the picture. I bought the Jet Alphabet book because I really like drawing jets and stuff like that. The thing that made me buy the book was a picture of a jet engine that is cut in half so you can see how it works." David, age 11
"I liked the part when he showed us all his books, especially Dory Story. I like that book because it's funny. The little boy was standing on a rock and he had his mouth open." Emily, age 9
"He put those fang things on that kid. That was funny! He put a kid in front of the screen and then the shark was going to eat him. That was
the funniest. I learned that he made all of those books!" James, age 6
Mr. Pallotta is an author of fact-filled, fun to read children's books such as Icky Bug Alphabet Book, The Dinosaur Alphabet Book and The Hershey's Kiss Addition Book. Visit his website at www.alphabetman.com.
If you have the opportunity to hear him speak, TAKE IT! He is doing a "Read a Zillion Books" tour right now.
Thursday, May 11, 2006
"I can read this whole book!"
I wanted to post about a moment that gladdened my heart! I signed out a couple of easy reader books at the library the other day. You know the kind - Mat the Rat sat on a cat.... Anyway, I knew James could read them, but I just put them on the library shelf with the other books, instead of pointing them out and calling them "school". That was last week sometime.
So, today, he brings me one of them and announced proudly "I can read this whole book!" He was SO pleased! I would not have taken away that moment for anything.
He loves the Explode the Code workbook I got for him at the conference - it is book 2, which adds blends and digraphs to short vowel words. He is really on his way to reading well! I am so pleased that I waited until HE was ready and excited about learning to read. We have not had any problems at all about it; he has enjoyed it from Day One.
Tuesday, May 9, 2006
I go to seminars for the "experience" - the seminars, the friends, the night out, etc....
That said, I did find some things to buy! Here they are:
- "markerboard" number line marked 0-25
- soda bottle bird feeder adaptor
- Trees of Michigan field guide (our summer "unit" will be tree identification)
- Zeta Math U See complete set (David has already started it)
- Beta Math U See student books (for James when he finishes Alpha)
- Discovering Great Artists: Hands-on Art for Children in the Styles of the Great Masters (to replace the art we are doing now)
- My First Book of Cutting - Kumon (for Suzy so she stops cutting hair, pants, etc...)
- Explode the Code book 2 - for James, since I don't have Alphabet Island 2A right now
- Jonathan Park Volume 1 audio CD's
- Making Brothers and Sisters Best Friends: How to Fight the Good Fight at Home! by Sarah, Stephen and Grace Mally
- You Can Paint Watercolors: A Step by Step Guide for Absolute Beginners by Alwyn Crenshaw
- a paint with water book (for Suzy)
- My Book Report Journal - ELP (for Emily next year)
- subscriptions to Hopscotch for Girls, Fun for Kidz, Boys' Quest (bimonthly magazines to replace God's World News, which none of us really find too enthralling)
- a place marker thing for James' reading
- a DeVos for Governor bumpersticker :-) (actually free!)
- Dover coloring book - Warriors of the Ages
- Dover coloring book - Landmarks of the Ancient World
- Analytical Grammar (have to SEE it before spending that kind of money, but after hearing Andrew Pudewa, I am pretty much determined to not do any formal grammar at this point)
- How to Write Book Reports (Resurrection Resources)
- Writing Step-by-Step (Builder Books)
- Greek Alphabetarion (Trivium Pursuit)
- Piano for Quitters
- Scripture Memory Fellowship books
- Fun Projects for Hands-on Character Building - Boyer
- More Rummy Roots card game
- Lyrical Life Science
- Even the Sound Waves Obey Him
- ArtWorks for Kids
- Student's Guide to Keeping an Art Journal
- Jon Gnagy Learn to Draw set
- Teaching History Through Art
- Alphabet Island 2A workbook
Stuff I looked at and decided not to get:
- Wordly Wise
- Considering God's Creation (still plan to get it, but wanted to wait to spend the $$ or see if I can find it used)
- Hittite Warrior/God King and other historical novels (just can't spend the money on that!)
- Diana Waring tapes or CD's (again, still want to get them eventually)
- Homeschool in the Woods timeline figures (too expensive, and I like how we do our timeline just fine right now)
- Come Look with Me: Enjoying Art with Children (beautiful book, but I needed something more in-depth)
- Jensen's Grammar (wasn't impressed)
- Progeny Press and Total Language Plus literature guides (Maryann has a bunch I can borrow! lol)
- Rosetta Stone (just can't spend $200 on it right now!)
- Squire and the Scroll (will get it someday)
- 100 Top Picks - Duffy (will buy it eventually)
Sunday, May 7, 2006
About 25 families I know were there. Hundreds of people attend this conference, so we were a very small portion, but when I went in 2004, I didn't know ANYONE from this area that was there! So, that's a huge improvement, eh?
We arrived just in time to check into the hotel and head over to the first seminar. There are 7 time slots for seminars, and I had chosen a seminar in each slot, but I only ended up attending 4 of them. I did not attend either general session (Friday night/Sat am) so I did not hear the keynote speaker.
The two seminars I attended on Friday were fine, but the content did not match the description of the seminar very well, so my expectations were not met. One presenter was one I had heard several times before, so I was disappointed that she had not included enough fresh material in this new seminar, which was titled Managing Multi-Level Teaching. The other seminar, Developing Independent Learners was too general. I wanted MUCH more specific details on how to develop this trait at every age.
I spent an hour or two in the vendor hall and bought a few things that night. Then eleven of us decided to head out for dinner instead of attend the general session that night. We walked to a nearby restaurant that was highly recommended but the wait time was very long. (There were many graduation celebrations in Lansing that day, due to MSU graduations.) So we went back to the hotel and decided to drive out to Olive Garden. Most of us were STARVING, so the drive over was torture. We demanded breadsticks as soon as we walked in! lol Dinner was WONDERFUL - both the food and the company. We took a very long time at the restaurant and didn't get back to the hotel until about 10:30pm!
At a convention, you can tell the night owls from the earlybirds very easily! :-) Some people headed right off to bed as soon as we returned, but others of us stayed up VERY late playing cards, talking, and getting reprimanded by hotel security! Yep, I guess we are a wild bunch of homeschool moms - not a denim jumper in any of OUR suitcases!
About 2am, Vicki, Darlene and I finally turned in for the night and didn't set a wakeup call since the first seminar wasn't scheduled until 10:20 (since we were planning to skip the 8:30 general session!). However, Pam, who was staying in a different room, had OTHER plans for us. At SEVEN AM, a sharp knock sounded at our door, and I blearily answered it to find a perky Pamela greeting me. What did she want? NOTHING except to wake us up! Very funny, Pam! So, none of us in our room got more than 4 hours of sleep. But that's to be expected, I suppose!
We headed over to the convention center eventually and tracked down a muffin for breakfast and then headed into our first seminar of the day. Andrew Pudewa, director of the Institute for Excellence in Writing, was speaking on the topic Nurturing Competent Communicators. This seminar blew us all away!! I highly recommend him as a speaker and if you can get THIS seminar on tape, I would do it!
He said that a wrong, but common attitude is that if children are good readers, they will be good writers. This is not true. He said that children need to build "linguistic databases" in their brains that they can draw on for writing and speaking. Reading current children's fiction is not usually effective at this.
He suggests several things. First, throw out the TV or severely limit it. This would also include DVD's, video games, frivolous computer time, also. Second, read aloud. A LOT. To all ages. He suggested that 2-3 HOURS a day would not be too much. He specifically suggested fiction from 1850-1930. Third, have children MEMORIZE. Poetry. Scripture. Literature. Use the "Suzuki" method to memorize. Start with a short section and add to it as children master the parts. Work up to being able to say LONG sections. He gives this seminar across the country from time to time, so watch the website. You could also order a tape/CD of the seminar from INCH. www.inch.org
I was so glad to have attended THAT seminar, but needed some time to process it, so I didn't attend the next seminar I had planned to hear. I headed into the vendor hall for some more shopping. Then 8 of us headed over to the hotel for lunch in their restaurant. A yummy buffet featuring stroganoff and chicken looked great, so most of us had that. We relaxed upstairs in our room for a bit before heading back over.
Vicki and I went to a seminar entitled "Top 20 Products Used in Over 20 Years Homeschooling" but as soon as we walked in, they handed us a detailed handout of the top 20 products. Since we had the handout, we didn't really think we needed to attend the seminar, so we snuck out just as it began. :-) MORE shopping followed!
The last seminar we attended was the same woman, Donna Reish, who was giving the top 20 products seminar, but the one we went to was entitled Training Children to be Diligent Workers. Another EXCELLENT seminar! I highly recommend this speaker as well - she was funny and practical and had a TON of ideas!
Well, sadly, that marked the end of the convention, or just about. One more walk through the convention hall, some goodbyes, and leaving the hotel room, and then we were driving away. Again it was Pam, Darlene and me, but we swapped Vicki (who was staying one more night with her family, who had driven up to join her) for Tammy. We stopped in Flint at Don Pablo's for dinner, had some great Mexican food, shared some thoughtful conversation, and then started dropping people off one by one.
I can't believe it is over!! Can't wait til next year either!!
Will post my purchases separately. :-)
Sunday, April 30, 2006
Mystery of History
This past week, the children took an oral quiz - 30 questions asking: Who is..Eve...the Sumerians....Hammurabi....King Wen...etc....? They got 26 of them right! Here are the 4 they missed. Do you know who these historical people are?
Who was King Minos?
Who was Khufu?
Who was Jeroboam? (They knew it was a Biblical king, so MORE than that is needed!)
Who were the Aryans?
I love the clearly written Christian perspective of the text and the choices of activities are varied and fun, yet bring home the point of the lesson.
The memory cards have been the main sticking point for us. We are keeping up with them, but it is the only thing the kids really complain about. We have enjoyed doing the map work and the timeline.
The activities really complement the lessons. We made a plumb line to go along with the lesson on the prophet Amos. The kids dyed cloth with stinky dye to remember the Phoenicians. They made Lego ziggurats to illustrate the Tower of Babel.
The thing I love about MOH is that Biblical history is integrated seamlessly with the rest of world history, putting it on the same level. I want my kids to see the events of the Bible as true beyond a shadow of a doubt, as well as know when the events occurred and in what order. This is something I never learned, but I am learning now and MOH is a great tool to help my kids to see the big picture.
Wednesday, March 1, 2006
To Epsilon or Not to Epsilon
Well, I didn't HAVE $55. Then I had it, but I needed it for bills. Then I didn't have it again, lol. Then I had it again, but needed it for bills again. With no $55 looming easily in the horizon, I needed to find another solution. (No, I can't get it on eBay. It's too new and no one is selling it. In the rare event it does come up on auction, it usually sells for retail!)
So, I finally decided to see if David could pass the Epsilon placement test. He didn't pass, but he came pretty close. So, I figured I would just teach him fractions (Epsilon's focus) out of some books I already have. He understands the concepts fine and doesn't really need the hands-on part anyway. IF there is something we don't get, I have 2 friends that have the Epsilon stuff and I could take David over and show him the lesson on the DVD.
So, I've decided just to CLEP him out of Epsilon after some intense fraction study. :-)
Then, on to ZETA!
Saturday, January 7, 2006
Sitting Still Training
Well, I've realized that most of my kids have no tolerance at all for sitting still. I'd like to be able to take them somewhere - church, the dentist's office, to a movie, etc. and have them be able to sit still in their chairs. They don't sit still. They wiggle. They talk. They crawl under the chair. They fidget. They get up and run around. They change seats. Enough already! Ta-dah! Sitting Still Training!
How exactly am I doing it? Well, it's pretty simple. They practice sitting still.
I line them up sitting on the couch. I want them all together because that's the hardest time to sit still - when you are with your siblings.
I put on classical music. (They love classical, by the way, thanks to the Classical Kids audiotapes I mentioned on this blog a while back.)
I set the timer.
They sit. And sit. And sit some more.
They aren't always sitting perfectly still and quiet, but that's the goal and they are learning how.
I am working on 90 minutes of sitting still. Once they have all achieved it, which could take a while, we will do a big family prize.
They each have a chart to keep track of how long they can sit. They earn 3 individual prizes along the way (to keep things exciting! and no, I don't care if you call it bribing, if my kids will be sitting still while you say it!).
David is up to something like 45 minutes. Emily is around 30. James and Suzy, not surprisingly, are much farther behind. But I have confidence they can learn it.
And after Sitting Still is achieved, we move on to STANDING STILL. Oy.