Sunday, June 29, 2008

Weekly Report June 22-28

Three of the kids visited their paternal grandparents last Sunday. They worked in the garden as well. One of the children remained with me and we worked on remedying a moral issue.

James and Suzy went to a Veggie Tales Vacation Bible School two days this week. (They missed the 3rd (final) day.)

David started making a suit of Mandalorian armor - totally on his own and at his own desire. (In case you are in the dark, Boba Fett and Jango Fett wore Mandalorian armor. In case you are still in the dark, it's a Star Wars thing. lol David is designing his own armor in the Mandalorian style, rather than copy an existing set.) I will have photos when it's done. I am amazed at his determination and skill!

We finished our read-aloud - The 21 Balloons by William Pene du Bois. I love this book! It's a compelling story and David was fascinated by the inventions in it. It is 10 chapters and each time I read, I read one chapter, but we didn't do it every day, so it took several weeks to complete. Trying to decide on our next read-aloud.

Math - Slower week
David - 24C Pre-Algebra Math-U-See
Emily - 20C Gamma
James - 4A Gamma
Suzy - 4E Alpha

Reading -
Suzy, James, and Emily did some reading for the library reading program and kept track of it. They didn't write anything in their literature journals this week though.

David read a lot more in his Star Wars books (The New Essential Guide to Weapons and Technology and The New Essential Guide to Vehicles and Vessels) and wrote 3 more paragraphs.

Writing -
Emily wrote a nice letter to her soccer coach. The rest were encouraged to do so, but did not. (They will be!)

They all did lots of jobs, including cleaning their rooms. The rabbits get a lot of attention and we are learning a lot about what to do (and not do) with cockatiels.

We went to the beach with our homeschool group on Thursday and some garage sales on Friday. We went to the waterpark on Saturday and the girls went with me to Walmart to buy groceries and a baby gift.

I am pretty sure that the low payout for this week will encourage the kids to do more reading and writing this coming week. Plus we don't have VBS or anywhere to go at all except FIREWORKS!

I saw back-to-school stuff in Walmart yesterday! ACK!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Sneak Peek

I got a sneak peek at the schedule-in-process for our homeschool co-op for 2008-09. Wow! Exciting! Another great group of homeschooling moms have banded together to provide bunches of interesting and hands-on classes for our kids!

By the way, I am not "in charge" this year. I'm taking a year long sabbatical from group leadership and have handed over the reins to a very competent and wonderful woman. She'll be heading it up this coming year.

It looks like I'll be teaching two classes this year. (I love to teach!)

Glass Slipper (ages 7-9) - We'll be looking at different versions of the Cinderella story and other folk tales to learn about world cultures.

Written & Illustrated By (ages 9+) - Each child will write, illustrate, and bind his or her own book.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Weekly Report June 16-21

Suzy had Nature Center Field School this week for 4 days. She learned about using her 5 senses to interact with nature. It was a great experience.

The kids did not end up going with us to court, which was just as well, since it wasn't anything like I expected it to be. David babysat Emily and James while Suzy was at Field School.

David did 24B of MUS Pre-Algebra.
Emily did 20A & 20B of MUS Gamma.
James did 3F & Test 2 (I think) of Gamma.
Suzy did 4D of MUS Alpha.

Language Arts:
David read some of his Star Wars encyclopedia-type book and wrote three LONG paragraphs about it. Emily read quite a bit of Bridge to Terabithia and wrote three paragraphs about it. James read Green Eggs and Ham, Ten Apples Up on Top, and a Berenstain Bear book and wrote about each one. He also listened to 8 Magic Tree House audiobooks and Bridge to Terabithia on CD as well. Suzy was read to a little.

All the kids wrote a nice letter to their grandparents.

We did family devotions several days.

All six of us went out to eat at an Asian buffet restaurant for our wedding anniversary. The kids tried some new foods and found out they like eating at this kind of restaurant.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Try-it Tuesday - Travel Games

Are you planning a trip? Maybe not, since gas costs are through the roof! But if you need activities to entertain your children in the car and prefer ones that will make awesome family memories, check out this site - Mom's Minivan.

Mom's Minivan has over 101 activities for babies, toddlers, and children of all ages to creatively occupy their hands and minds while building family connections. Some need preparation, so check the site well in advance for those. Then again, some are easy to play on-the-fly. Enjoy!

Our family often sings in the car - a great time to use all those hymns and praise choruses we learn in our Bible lessons. Really! They enjoy it! We also love to listen to audiobooks (most recently - The Princess Bride by William Goldman) and recorded stories (their most favorite ones are Classical Kids).

By the by, we don't own a DVD player for our vehicle. Kids who watch DVDs on family trips are missing out on some great family time! Same goes for those handheld video games. Consider your goals - are you just trying to keep things quiet in the car (which is certainly ok at times!) or can you make the time spent in the car a way to enjoy each other's company?

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Archives Updated

I realized that my old homeschooling blog might be deleted and I would have been sad to lose all those posts. So, I've copied most of them to this blog. They go back to June 2005. Three years! I didn't copy every post, but included the ones that gave the best overview of those years.

Feel free to browse through my archives and read some of what I've been saying for the last three years.

You'll find reviews of curriculum, reflections on the homeschooling lifestyle, the difficulties we've had over the last year or two as we struggled to find our way, and more!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Field School at the Nature Center

This week Suzanne, my six-year-old, attended a Field School program at a local nature center. The class was for children who have just completed kindergarten. She had 4 two hour sessions this week, each focusing on a different sense. I stayed today and took some photos and videos and was very impressed at the knowledge and attitudes of the naturalists leading the class.

Today's plan was roughly as follows:
  • Opened with talking about the featured sense today - Sight.
  • The teacher showed several things the children could look at and touch - turkey feathers, a stuffed fawn, grey and red squirrel skins.
  • They went outside to hide some nuts. After reading a story (What Joe Saw), they went back to find their nuts, as squirrels might do. Most of them could not find their hidden nuts! They hid some more and then looked at part of a picture book about animal tracks and then went again to hide the nuts. More success this time!
  • Back inside for a Powerpoint presentation. She showed a closeup slide of something in nature and the kids had to guess what it was. Then she showed the whole picture. Examples - the neck of a Canada goose, The thorax of a grasshopper, part of a ladyslipper flower, etc...
  • Then back outside for a long nature hike LOOKING for things that had been talked about all week. We saw spider webs, spiders, dragonflies, damselflies, chipmunk, bluebird, frog, fish, and more. We touched a spongy decaying log, some prickly dead pine needles, and more.
  • At the end of the hike, each child was given paper and pencil and asked to sit and draw something he or she could see.
  • By then it was time to leave, so we headed back to the nature center and said goodbye!

It was a great week! Two more of my children have field school yet this summer.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Curriculum Shopping

I went to some garage sales today and came home with a cursive workbook and a placemat with the cursive formation. I think the placemat will be helpful to Emily who has trouble with cursive letters. I think I'll use the workbook with James, who is ready to learn cursive in the upcoming year.

This week I also finally bought Sonlight Core 100 along with a great number of the necessary books for the program. She gave me a GREAT deal on this package. I am very excited about using this. David? Not so much, since it will require a HUGE amount of reading for him. I will get as many audiobooks as possible to make it easier on him.

From the same lady I got Apologia Physical Science. I have the first edition of the science, however. I do plan to get the read-along CD or the multimedia CD (or both?), even though they go with the second edition. This is also for David. The younger kids will be using one of the elementary Apologia books.

I have nearly all my curriculum now. Still need to acquire Mystery of History 2 and the art curriculum I want from Timberdoodle. Also need to stock up on construction paper.

How are YOU doing with your purchases? How about selling?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Try-It Tuesday - Tree Identification

One goal I've had for many summers now is to learn the names of all the local trees. I am going to try again this year and teach my children the same thing.

Here are some resources that we will use. Feel free to learn along with us!

Tree Identification Made Easy (figure out what a tree is by choosing which of two options it is more like)

Identifying Trees of Michigan

Upper Peninsula Tree ID Key

Usborne Spotter's Guide to Trees of North America

Monday, June 16, 2008

It's not "school."

You may notice that I avoid the words "home school" or "homeschooling" here on the Cornerstone Home Learning blog.

I don't "do" school at home.

The word conjures up images of textbooks, blackboards, rows of desks, tests, and more representations of traditional school-based education.

My children do not learn that way.

Tests are not a regular part of our learning process. We limit the textbooks and prefer to learn from real books (which are here in abundance). There are no desks - learning happens everywhere. Math is just as likely to be done sitting in the recliner or laying on the floor as at the table. I don't stand and teach at a blackboard (or a whiteboard), although the kids do use chalkboards and dry erase boards often.

For many people, the word "school" holds negative connotations. For just about everyone, hearing the word "school" brings up a set of expectations.

So, to remind myself, my family, and others of the intentional differences in our home learning and traditional school, I don't often use the word "school" but I do find many other ways to describe what we do.

Home learning.
Taught at home.

It's freeing. Maybe you'll give it a try too!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Weekly Report June 8-15

Another week has gone by. Let's see what the Wagners have accomplished.

We went to church. I sat in on the Children's Church class and am very glad that my children learn a lot of Bible at home. We did family prayer and Bible reading several days this week.

We went to the beach with our homeschool group.
We went to the local waterpark for a couple hours.
We went to some garage sales. (I LUV garage sales! And so do the kids!)

Every kid did math:
David did the honors page for Lesson 23, watched the DVD for Lesson 24 and did page 24A of MUS PreAlgebra.
Emily did page 19F and completed Test 19 (MUS Gamma).
James did pages 3C and 3D of MUS Gamma.
Suzy did pages 4A, 4B, and 4C of MUS Alpha.

Emily read 3 hours from Great Illustrated Classics: Beauty and the Beast and other stories. She also wrote 10 paragraphs in her literature journal.

The girls wrote letters.

Everyone made a card for Father's Day.

[Edited to add: We got another pet - a cockatiel. Pix of all our pets are in the sidebar. The pets are taking up a lot of the kids' time and teaching them a lot!]

I'm sure there were some other things that escape my notice right now. This coming week Suzy has field school at the Nature Center. The kids will be accompanying us to court (Field Trip!).

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Weekly Report June 1-7

I have envied other people doing weekly reports, so I finally decided to do it. Good time to start, since we aren't doing a whole lot! LOL (There's probably some website I am supposed to sign up with, so if you know where, please let me know.)

David had his last soccer game, in which he played defense for the whole game.

David and Emily had their last art class with Mr. West (Christian Art for Kids). They drew 2 sea birds.

James had his last softball clinic. He got a couple of hits and 2 or 3 runs.

Suzy was invited to her first sleepover and had a great time.

We spent Saturday afternoon at a friend's house and the kids swam in their pond.

Each child did math:
David - Math-U-See Pre-Algebra 23F & Test 23
Emily - MUS Gamma 19D & 19E
James - MUS Gamma 3A & 3B
Suzy - MUS Alpha 3D, 3E & 3F

Each child wrote a thank you letter. (Janet, you can look for a letter!)

Emily read 3 hours from Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle and wrote 3 paragraphs about it.
James read 1/2 hour from Homer Price (which was far too hard) and did 1 page of Explode the Code 5.
I think Suzy did a page from Explode the Code 1.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Summer Off

Usually we continue our home education year-round, but this year we formally finished the Friday before Memorial Day. :::cheers::::

We won't begin again until after Labor Day. ::::cheers again::::

This has been the most difficult year of homeschooling I have ever done because of working full time on the afternoon shift. Most of it has been merely focusing on the basics - Bible, Math, Reading, Writing. And that's ok! I really am ok with it (even if you are not! lol), but I want to get back to my more complete version of learning at home next year.

To keep the kids learning over the summer months, I have introduced an incentive plan. (It's not a "bribe" since the dictionary tells me that a bribe is "an inducement to dishonest behavior," which doing lessons certainly is NOT.)

The kids can earn money for each lesson they complete - up to 2 math lessons per week, up to 3 hours of instructional reading per week (from a list I will provide and including journalling about the reading), and up to one personal letter written correctly per week.

They are all quite fascinated by the idea, especially the older two. The money will likely be used for garage saling, since we try to do that once every week.

They will mostly be able to do their work independently, leaving my mornings free for WRITING.

Home Learning Choices for 2008-09

Everyone always asks what curriculum other people use. Here is what we plan to use for the 2008-09 school year.

All of the kids together will be doing Bible study. We will continue to use the Bible Study Guide for All Ages. We have made it to the fourth and final volume. This is an accomplishment since I believe I started Volume 1 when David was in KINDERGARTEN. lol I do plan to go back through all 4 volumes before David graduates.

We will also begin Volume 2 of Character Building for Families, alternating the units with the units in the BSGFAA (above).

We will continue with learning a monthly hymn and a monthly praise chorus. (I have not chosen them yet - SUGGESTIONS??)

We have recently reintroduced Bible memory - one long passage per month. We will work on that too. (Again, suggestions?)

Family prayer and devotions will also be included. I plan for this Bible Hour to be the cornerstone of our day.

DAVID will be in 8th grade and will turn 14 during the school year. He will be doing a lot of work separately for the first time, as well as doing it mainly independently.

He will be using Math-U-See Algebra I. (Once he finishes Pre-Algebra. That may occur before fall or it may not.)

A return to Sonlight is in the plans for David next year; this is History and Literature. We did Sonlight K and 1 when he was very young and I had hopes of returning to it for high school. We'll see how we like it. Sonlight Core 100 is what I've chosen and it includes lots of historical fiction, American history, and good literature. He will also be doing the Bible component in addition to our family Bible time. We will pick and choose the books, rather than do everything, as I think that will be overwhelming to David and be way too much work! lol He will be able to listen to some of the books on audio, which he will like.

Apologia's Exploring Creation with Physical Science will be his science course. It will be a more structured study than David has ever done, but that will be good for him.

Language Arts will be similar to what we have done in the past - Spelling Power, Literature Journals, English from the Roots Up, Communication Journals. We will redouble our efforts to complete IEW's Student Writing Intensive Course.

This year I am adding Easy Grammar Plus for David. (I didn't like Sonlight's Grammar Ace much at all and we only completed about half of it this year.) I am ready for him to have his grammar intensive, probably over two years.

David won't be playing soccer next year but he will take the soccer referee class and be available to ref some of the little kids' games. He also may help me coach a team. He also wants to concentrate on his skateboarding. He will take PE at co-op as well, I think.

EMILY will be in the 6th grade and will turn 12 near the end of the school year. TWELVE! Yikes!

She will be finishing Math-U-See Gamma soon and will complete Delta within the year, hopefully moving on to Epsilon before the beginning of her 7th grade year. I am hoping for a very good math foundation for her rather than moving her along and never gaining a good understanding.

Emily, along with her two younger siblings, will probably be doing Apologia's Exploring Creation with Zoology 1: Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day. I may even put her in charge of this study. We'll see.

Emily, James, and Suzy will all be studying World History through Mystery of History Volume 2: The Early Church and The Middle Ages. (Actually David will be sitting in on this as well for the information and any projects he cares to participate in.)

Emily's Language Arts will be very similar to David's, except she will be reading literature chosen by me instead of by Sonlight. She may do the Easy Grammar or she may not. I need to see how the workload is for her compared to David's. I also want her to focus on neater and correctly formed handwriting.

Emily won't be playing soccer either next year and I am looking for an idea of a physical activity to replace it - preferably one that will focus on coordination and grace. Ballet? Hopefully she can take PE at co-op.

I am thinking about piano lessons for Emily again.

JAMES will continue in the 3rd grade and he will turn NINE during the school year.

He's doing Math-U-See Gamma now and will continue that into the year, probably moving to Delta somewhere around the halfway point.

He will do the Flying Creatures book with his sisters and Mystery of History as well.

James' Language Arts will continue much the same, with an increase in difficulty as needed - Explode the Code, mom-chosen books to read aloud and silently, Literature Journal, Communication Journal. He will also begin Spelling Power at some point during the year and will learn cursive.

James WILL be playing soccer. It will be his 5th year and he will move up to the U10 League.

SUZANNE will be in 1st grade and will be six for most of the year.

Suzy has already started Math-U-See Alpha and will likely transition into Beta at some point during the year.

She will finish Alphabet Island Phonics and continue working on Explode the Code. She will read Bob Books and other appropriate readers.

She will listen in on History and Science and complete some fun projects.

Soccer next year will be Suzy's 3rd year and she will move up to the U8 league. (This is the one I would coach - Hey, now, I would get a big discount!)

I'm sure I've forgotten some important things, but that gives you a good idea.

Oh yeah, foreign language and art. I am going to forego foreign language this year again.

Art - The 3 older kids will do art with Mr. West, James for the first time.

I think I will be buying Creativity Express from Timberdoodle.

So, there you have it.