Tuesday, October 15, 2013

RTR Unit 4...Finally!

We finally finished Unit 4 in RTR hooray!  With all our extra activities and a few illnesses the past week, we finally finished up Unit 4 today. 

In History we are reading about the conquering of Rome.  We have covered famous men in history such as: Attila the Hun, Theodoric the Great, and Clovis King of the Franks.  I really like the history in this program.  I am learning way more about history than I ever did in school.  One thing we did notice is that two of the main books used "The Story of the Middle Ages", and "Famous Men of the Middle Ages" tell basically the same information.  So we have decided to just read from one book.  I chose "Famous Men of the Middle Ages" because it seemed easier to read and has some wonderfully illustrated pictures.  (Remember cutting out one book is just our choice to keep the amount a reading to a minimum.)

Our History project this week was to make game pieces from bread, glue, and paint.  AJ thought this was kind of disgusting and had to use gloves because he didn't like getting his hands dirty.  (Yes, that's my boy!)  I guess we didn't read the instructions very well because you are suppose to make round disc's about 1/2 the size of a dime.  Ours were more like the size of a penny.  You will see from the pictures below you really need them to be small or when you play the game they wont fit on your map very well.  You will also need to modify a pair of dice.  On day three you get to play "Race to Rome".  It was a little silly, but AJ had fun playing the game.

This week we researched the city of Carthage and wrote a postcard for our student notebook about what we learned.  AJ enjoys using the computer to do his research.  I just need to teach him that there is more to doing research than Wikipedia.  He thinks he can get everything from there.  And we had to write a paragraph on how Clovis became a christian for the student notebook.  We discovered that it is easier to write your thoughts out on paper, then either AJ or I type them on the computer.  Then we can print them out so they fit nicely into the student notebook.  The postcard section seems really small.  They have a lot of research questions to answer and its such a small space.

Some other things we are doing with HOD RTR is a book called "Looking at Pictures".  This is basically looking at an old painting and making observations about what you see.  "Boyhood and Beyond" has been a good book to read with my son.  We get to have good discussions about how a young man should behave and how he can grow into a Godly man.  I think he is also enjoying the bible study on Philippians, though he would never admit that.  LOL!  And for story time we are reading "Myster of the Silver Coins".  Even though the main character is a girl, we are still finding this an enjoyable and exciting book to read. 

This week we started "Drawn into the Heart of Reading" which is part of the HOD program.  We choose to start with the genre of "Fantasy" since my son is enjoying reading the Warrior series of books by Erin Hunter.  He is reading "The Fourth Apprentice" and will be going through DITHOR as he reads this book.  I think this will greatly add to his language arts skills and should be enjoyable as well.

Yes we are working on math.  We are still using Math U See Pre-Algebra.  We are moving slow, still reviewing the chapters we covered last year and in about 2 weeks we should be ready to move onto new material.  I hope by February we will be ready to move into the Algebra book.

We are loving our Microbiology coloring book for science.  Below are some examples of the things we have been coloring and learning.  My son is having a great time learning about bacteria, and we hope to add some bacteria and virus slides to our collection to observe with the microscope.

Monday, October 7, 2013


Unit 6 Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory (BLHFHG)

This week in history we learned about scrubbing day, where everyone comes out and cleans their homes and windows.  This was great motivation to get us all up and cleaning around the house.  We talked more about canals and waterways in Holland and decided to use Draw Write Now book 3 to create some boats.  They aren't quite the same as the ones in Holland, but you get the idea. 
The bible lesson this week was to go back and review the memory verses for the 4 weeks.  I wasn't too thrilled with this so instead we decided to work on learning the Lord's Prayer. 


Our adventure story "The Sword in the Tree" continued this week.  We  really enjoyed this story and JJ was very good at predicting what was going to happen.  One of the activities was to create stair steps and list events that occurred in the book.  I was surprised at home much he remembered.  He loves to play with his Lego's during story time and I wasn't sure if he was listening or not, but now I know he was.  Since we finished the book this week I think next week we will read "The Adventure of Munford: Munford Meets Robert Fulton" by Jamie Aramini.  Its about Colonial America which should be appropriate for our time of history.
We are continuing to read the Beginner's Bible as part of the emerging reader schedule.  We had our testing this week for dyslexia, dysgraphia and auditory processing disorders. We will be having more testing done later and starting therapy with a speech language pathologist in 2 weeks.  I will add a separate post later for those interested in our struggles with these learning disorders.  But for now reading is going slow, but we keep plodding along as scheduled.  

In math we use Math U See and are currently on lesson 15 of the Beta book.  This week we learned about perimeter.  And I discovered I have another child who likes to calculate in their head instead of showing their work on the page.  UGH, maybe I can get this corrected before it becomes a habit.  

In language arts we are continuing to use Scott Foresman grammar lesson, and we learned about subject and predicate.  

And our poem this week was about the months of the year.  I wrote the name of each month on an index card and as we read the poem each day, JJ had to put the index cards in order.  This was fun and helped reinforce the months of the year.  

If you are on Unit 6, we hope you enjoyed the lessons as much as we did. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

RTR Unit 3

We finally survived unit 3 of RTR.  It has taken us quite a while to get through this week.  Between co-op, PE and chess lessons our school week keeps getting shorter.  I kind of wish all these things were on the same day of the week so we had more time for school, but I'm glad we have all these wonderful opportunities that come with homeschooling. 

So this week in RTR we learned about Constantinople, Emperor Theodosius, the geography of the Roman Empire and much more.  I'm definitely learning more about history than I ever did in school.  Either that or I just don't remember learning this kind of stuff. 

For bible/devotional time we are learning about authority and responsibility, how we are accountable to others.  How we can exercise our authority over others and over things like our chores in a positive way. 

While it doesn't show up well in the photo, this weeks history
project was to make a parchment paper that looks old.  We do this by
wrinkling up paper and then soak it in tea or coffee and drying the paper.  Once finished we get to write Matthew 16:26 in both Greek and English.  This ties into learning about Jerome who translated the scriptures from Hebrew to Latin.

This week we began doing the dictation exercises as listed in book.  My son is a little advanced for the level 6 dictation, but we are still working through it since this is something new for us.  So for AJ has done great with dictation.  He has always excelled in grammar and spelling so this is not a surprise.  There is a learning curve if you have never done dictation before.  We found a great youtube video that helped.    

Writing is going well with IEW Medieval History Based writing lessons.  This week was a short paragraph on the Byzantine Empire.  This time to keep AJ from copying the original paragraph, I used post-it tape to cover up the paragraph.  He did a great job using his own words to rewrite the paragraph.  I did not have him type up the paper, but I think we will work on that over the next few units. 

We are still going over pre-algebra review work from last year.  This year we are preparing to take the ACT as a seventh grader in February.  This is through the Duke Talent Search Program, and while it doesn't count towards college admission, it is excellent practice and gives him a glimpse of what is to come in a few years. 

Beyond (BLHFHG) Unit 5

This weeks history readings left me a bit confused. Instead of just following one family now we have to keep track of two families in two different books.  Also events in one story don't quite line up with the way they are told in the other book.  Perhaps its just me, but I keep getting confused.  But the stories are still fun to read and we are enjoying learning about Amsterdam, or as JJ calls it "hamsterdam". 
   We enjoyed learning about tulips.  We listened to the song "Tulips from Amsterdam", and one of the projects was to make a tulip out of paper.  We really enjoy the art projects so far in Heart of Dakota.

  This week in science we learned about how light moves in waves and since the bible verse talks about how babies are formed in their mother's womb, so we discussed a little but of human development.  Our other day of science was about the heart and how it beats.  We did not make a stethoscope like the book recommends, because we own a real one, so we used that for listening to our hearts.  

This we we did a geography lesson.  We reviewed where all the continents are located, learned a bit about climate and where the oceans are on the map.  I still think the science/geography is a little lacking, but I haven't come up with a good way to supplement just yet.  I did decide we would make our own map and label the oceans, since we don't own a globe.  My son has fun, mixing up the oceans and asking you to figure out which one is correct.
The poem this week was "Song for a Little House", this was a cute poem and we did our copy work off the first few lines of the poem.  Then at the end of the week we drew a picture about the poem.

Our spelling words for the week are going slow.  We are in the process of waiting for results of our oral and written language testing to see if we will get an official diagnosis of dyslexia or have to go for more testing.  I think if your child has no learning issues then HOD language program would be a good fit, for us however we are going to have to make some adjustments.

This week introduced the genre of adventure story.  To kick start the week we had a scavenger hunt around the house.   Then we began reading "The Sword in the Tree".  So far this is a great story, a little predictable, but still a fun read.  It definitely will not last for 20 days of school, so we will be searching for another adventure story when it is finished.  I kind of wish HOD would either choose longer stories or schedule it in the guide so that you read two of each genre.  

In addition to all our work with HOD the boys have started up chess lessons again and are doing great.  Chess is a wonderful activity for any child and I highly recommend teaching this game to your child.  We will also be checking out fencing lessons this week as a possible extra curricular activity.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Beyond (BLHFHG) Unit 4

This week we continued reading "Stories of the Pilgrims" by Margaret Plumphrey.  The story of a family from England who choose not to worship the way the King dictated.  The family tries to flee England in hopes of reaching Holland.   After many struggles they finally make their way to the city of Amsterdam.  We learned that the city is protected by a dike.  So our history activity was to build a dike to show how the city was protected.  Here you can see our little town of Amsterdam, before and after we flooded it, to show how the dike can break and leak.
 We talked about what the city looked like and how they have windmills.  So I searched online for a craft project and we decided to make a windmill.  Directions can be found at DLKT's crafts for kids. I think we will continue to add objects to our little town so we will remember what Amsterdam is like. 
The bible verse this week was quite a long one.  We practiced reciting it every day, but I did not require memorization this time.  Our art project this week was a little lacking.  Just making barn doors and putting part of the bible verse inside.  I'm glad we choose to do a few other things that I could consider art as well. 
Science this week consisted of two experiments.  The first one was on light, showing how it is either reflected or absorbed by color.  The second one focused on buoyancy and how ships float on water. This tied in to the history story nicely as our family traveled by boat from England to Holland.   

Language arts is going a bit slow.  We are working on getting an official diagnosis of dyslexia for my son, and then making a choice for the best curriculum to use.  We still practice writing the spelling words and talking about sentences like recommended in the guide, but I don't stress about him getting it correct.  

For story time we finished the biography of Louis Braille.  JJ was excited at the end of the book when it mentioned how Helen Keller was present when his body was moved after he died from his home town to Paris.  Fitting that we read both their biographies.  Louis Braille lead in interesting life, and we really like how he choose to live life to the fullest, even though he knew it would be a short life.  

We are still reading through the assigned pages in the Beginners Bible for early readers.  Some days are better than others.  But we try to keep practicing.  And in Math U See we are learning about measurements.  Specifically inches and how many inches in a foot.  

Morning Bells has been put aside as well as the Hide 'Em in Your Heart CD as my son really does not like them.  We are using Music for Little Mozart's for piano lesson and I think that's enough music for our week.   Can't wait to see what next week will hold. 

Friday, September 6, 2013

Week 3/Unit 3 Beyond (BLHFHG)

We had a great time doing week three of Beyond (BLHFHG).  This week we read about the Brewester Family, and how they had to worship in secret because they did not follow the faith appointed by the King. There is a fun game you can play on day 5 to see if you end up in jail for worshiping your own way or in the Kings court for following the King. 

For art we painted a rock wall with a rose bush/vine growing up the side.  Mom had to make one as an example.  For some reason JJ says he can't figure it out unless he has an example to look at.  That's ok for now, but after a few more weeks I may make him attempt one on his own with no instruction.

In science we learned how bee's help pollinate the flowers to make more flowers.  There's a great Magic School Bus video that talks about this process too.  (available on Netflix)  I think this was a bit too easy for science. So I'm in the process of reading ahead a little in the teacher's guide to see how I can beef this up.  Remember, I am using Beyond for a 3rd grader, there's no need to add any extra, its just my personal choice.

Our poem this week was "Uphill" this was a more difficult poem to understand compared to the first two, but we manged to get through.

This week we started a new biography "Louis Braille".  Beyond covers the topic ov a biography for the first 5 weeks and since the books are short we decided to read 2 separate but related books.  We also had some interesting discussions on safely using sharp items, since Louis became blind after being stabbed with an awl in his father's workshop.  It was also a good lesson in not touching things that don't belong to you.  This was an excellent book with many options for teaching good life skills to your child.

Spelling isn't going too well for us.  We are still having trouble with reversing letters and just motivation to try our best.  We tried writing our words outside with sidewalk chalk, but my son didn't seem to think that was fun.  Maybe it was because it was a PE day and he was excited about seeing friends.  I think we may start adding in All About Spelling next week.   

We practiced counting money for math this week, since it was a short with with the Labor Day holiday.  We choose not to start a new lesson with Math U See.  

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Resurrection to Reformation Unit 2 (HOD RTR)

This we we have finished up Unit 2 of RTR.  This unit has been a learning experience for me.  Much of the history lesson were things I either never learned or quickly forgot about.  I think I should have done more summer reading to prepare myself for our year with RTR.  I guess now my evenings will be filled with reading.  Which probably wont be so bad since we are canceling our cable service soon.

This week I printed out a chart I got from the Facebook group for HOD Resurrection to Reformation.  I was hoping this would make it easier to keep track of what we need to do each day.  My son on the other had was not happy about having to keep track of what he's doing in 2 different places. 

This week in history was Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria, Basil the Great, Bishop Ambrose, and Augustine.  My son thought it was funny that anyone would be named Basil like the herb.  But we learned a lot.  History project was to research Alexandria, while our timeline focused on the Nicene Creed.  I think think will be a good time period for us to study as my son starts confirmation this year in our church. 

We are really enjoying the book "Forbidden Gates" which tells the story of a young Jewish boy, about to become a man, at the time just after Jesus' resurrection.  He struggles with many trials like doing the right thing, telling the truth, and struggling with his faith.  All great lessons for a young boy or girl, even my 8 yr old like listening in on story time. And the devotional lesson in "Boyhood and Beyond" was also about how telling the truth upfront is always better than telling lies.  I always tell my children they will get in more trouble if they lie about something than if they just tell the truth from the start. 

Our lessons with IEW Medieval History Writing is going quite well.  The writing lessons are short and easy to understand.  The hard part, once again, is trying not to copy the original story when writing the summary paragraph.   Although I have to say, using it the way HOD has written may make a difference.  We have yet to really need the teacher manual, so for those of you out there considering this program, you might not need to purchase the TM to make the program work. 

Since we are taking HOD slowing this year, we have not yet started Drawn Into the Heart of Reading, or the dictation exercises.  I am hoping we will be reading for this by October, once we have gotten into a better routine and we are doing full days vs half days.  

The art project for the week was making a stained glass window using construction paper, glue and pastel chalks.  Everyone had fun with this activity, even mom and younger brother joined in the fun.  Here you can see our completed works of art.

Mom, AJ, & JJ Stained Glass Windows

Math is still in the review phase of our Math U See Pre-Algebra program.  This is going really well considering we didn't do any review over the summer.  And for science he is enjoying our Microbiology book.  This week he learned more about the different types of microscopes and how they all work. 

I hope everyone else is enjoying working through HOD RTR program, this is going to be a great learning year for both Mom and the kids. 

Beyond Little Heart, Unit 2

Today we finished Unit 2 in BLHFHG.  It actually took us a week and a half to finish this unit due to a birthday, doctor appointments, and a fun day with friends.  But hey, that's what makes homeschooling so great.  You can be flexible with your schedule.

JJ has had some trouble getting into the school groove. He has become Mr. Procrastination. This was kind of fitting as our bible verse and  lessons from Morning Bells was about obedience.  I hate to resort to bribery, but I have decided to implement a behavior chart.  This pertains to doing things the first time he is asked/told.  Once the chart is filled he will get a small reward, like a piece of candy or an ice cream.
Another thing we have added to our routine is a chart to track what subjects we have to complete for the day.  It helps JJ to know how much he has done, and how much is left to complete.  I got my chart from the Monarch Room blog.  She has some wonderful printable on her site.  I also printed off the stars from her site to use on the behavior chart.
This week we learned about the settlement of Jamestown.  Our history story told about life in the 1600's.  How children as young as 8, were caring for their siblings, sewing, cooking, and knitting.  We learned about many things we take for granted today that they did not have.  Things like matches, and water hoses.  During the story one of the children ran away and we learned how to make a map to show where they traveled.
For science we read about squirrels, and had to research an animal from another country.  My son choose kangaroos.  He drew the pictures on his science pages, but mom is still writing the dictated words.
This week most of our spelling words were practiced using the white board.  And in addition to HOD language arts, we discovered Scott Foresman Reading site. We are using the online grammar book for grade three.  It goes along really well with HOD language arts.  Starting with sentence fragments and then moving on to run-on sentences.  Writing the sentences on the whiteboard as opposed to reading them made it easier to see where the break between run-on sentences should be placed.

Our copy work this week was part of the poem "Father in Heaven We Thank Thee" by Ralph Waldo Emerson.  At the end of the week we get to draw a picture to represent the story.  This is one of the best drawings my child had done.  He's really starting to improve.  Handwriting needs a bit of work though.
Story time this week was finishing the book about Helen Keller.  JJ really enjoyed this story.  Then as a treat we watched the Disney version of "The Miracle Worker".  It helps sometimes to reinforce the story if you can visualize what you read. 

We weren't really impressed with the music cd that came with HOD this year.  Younger children might enjoy it more than the older ones. So we are continuing our piano lessons with Music for Little Motzarts. I know my son is a little older than the suggested age range, but he seems to really like this program.

For math we are using Math U See, and learning to add 4 or more numbers at a time by finding tens.  We used some of the suggestions in the HOD guide book as unit 2 talks about finding numbers that make 10.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Homemade School Planner

I just wanted to share a few thoughts on how to survive homeschooling with your school planner.  You don't need a big expensive fancy planner to keep yourself organized.  This year I made my own homeschool planner!  This was such a fun project.  I printed off my pages from the Tina's Dynamic Homeschool Plus (formerly The Newbee Homeschooler).  They have some really wonderful printables on this site. 
This is my cover pages, I laminated it to make it more durable.  I love to laminate things! Anyway, right now I have string holding it together until I can get some small rings.  I thought about having it spiral bound, but didn't want to spend the money right now.
This photo shows our yearly calendar.  The left side is the back of the front cover which was laminated.  Here I have tried to plan out all the days we intend to have school.  Our state does not have a required number of days, but recommends 180 days of instruction.  We try to plan in plenty of time for breaks and family trips.  On the right is the actual days we have done school.  Each month has a place to count how many days you actually had school.  And there is an attendance record of sorts at the bottom of the page.

Next we have our monthly and weekly planning pages.  Here I keep track of what we actually completed each day from our HOD guide books.  I usually list something simple like:

Beyond - Unit 1, Day 1, or RTR - Unit 1, 1/2 of Day 1.  I also record any appointments we have, Co-op days, PE, and play dates and field trips.  Then at the end of every year we can look back and see where changes need to be made if we had too many or not enough activities.

I have a reading log for each child.  Each one is in a different color to help keep them apart.  Here I can keep track of books they read and how long it takes them to read  book.  This is helpful in planning how many books to assign and can show how much they improve over the year.

This year I included a grade record page.  I haven't really assigned grades.  We attempted it the first year since we were fresh out of private school and that's what we were use to.  But its really a lot of work to keep track of everything and assign grades.  Now we are getting close to approaching high school, so I thought I would try again to keep track of grades.

And lastly we have our field trip pages.  I love these pages!  Here you can keep track of everything about the field trip from where you went to how much it costs.  This really helps planning and then when the year is over you can see how much money you are actually spending on field trips. 
I also laminated the back cover, just a plain piece of blue card stock.  Now if I set my planner on the table if I didn't see the spilled water, my pages wont be ruined. 

So here you have a simple planner that you can print at home and customize to fit your needs and help you survive your homeschool journey.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

First week with Resurrection to Reformation

We finally completed our first week of our new curriculum Heart of Dakota: Resurrection to Reformation (RTR).  We decided to move at half speed since this program is much more reading intensive than our last.  AJ is a seventh grader how at times is too smart for his own good, but he lacks a bit in the area of motivation.  He spent K-4th grade in a local private school where he was under challenged.  Now we are into our third year of homeschooling and he is thriving.  This year his attitude toward school has improved dramatically.  Either its just that its early in the year or he's finally starting to mature into pleasant young man.

Back to RTR, we attempted to complete 5 boxes from the guide each day.  So we made it through 2 1/2 days for our first week.  By the beginning of September I hope we will be on track doing full days because we will have co-op one day a week which will use up a hole day.  That's why I love how the upper guides of HOD are on a 4 day week.

I read on the HOD facebook page or yahoo group how someone recommended using page protectors to cover your pages in the guide.  This was an awesome idea!  It allows you to use a dry erase marker to write on the pages.  Since my son is the one primarily using the guide as his assignment book, this allowed me to cross of things he doesn't need to work on, or add in other things. 

He has enjoyed reading about Rome and the life of Paul.  The "What's in the World" audio CD has been fun to listen to as well.  After researching Rome on the computer he had to write a post card in his student notebook.  He decided to write his to our cat, Skittles, he did a great job, but the space provided for the post cards is small.  I am thinking of having him write the postcard on a piece of paper and then typing it out to paste into the notebook.  I found a notebook rubric on the HOD yahoo group which we will be using to "grade" how well he completes his student notebook.

For our history project we had to make a roman arch out of air dry clay.  I was thankful that their was a recipe in the guide as I did not shop ahead.  Its like making homemade play dough.  Then after making the arch he was to draw and color a background fitting of the time period we are studying.

The Midieval History-Based Writing Lessons book from HOD is going well.  Though in the first writing assignment it was hard to write an original paragraph and not copy the one giving in the student book.  I think I will need to cover the paragraph or make him write his answers and paragraphs on notebook paper so he is not tempted to refer back to the reading.  I think learning how to use your own ideas when summarizing a story read is a difficult task and for a 12 yr old this will take some getting use to. 

We are not using the recommended science from HOD as we just did Exploring Creation with Astronomy two years ago.  This year my son has shown an interest in microbiology.  I found a great book called "The Microbiology Coloring Book".  Its a really interesting book and goes into detail about bacteria and viruses, etc.  He's doing a wonderful job so far.

For math we are using Math U See Pre-Algebra.  We started this last year and will finish up this year.  By Christmas time we should be ready to move on to Algebra.  In addition to all of this we will be adding typing from Typing Web three days a week.

My favorite part so far was the devotional study from the book "Boyhood and Beyond".  For my son who is a bit of a hermit these days I really loved how the first chapter was all about the best way to learn is not from books.  You need to go out and experience the wonder of God's creation.  

First week of Beyond (BLHFHG)

We survived our first week of using Heart of Dakota: Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory (BLHFHG).  Overall we had a productive week.  We had some trouble with being motivated to do our school work.  I probably should have waited another week until the neighbor kids all went back to school because JJ was preoccupied with when he'd be able to go out and play with his friends.

This week we learned about early pioneers like Columbus, and pioneers who sailed from Spain to Florida to establish the city of St. Augustine, FL in the "New World".  Here's what our timeline for this year looks like after adding two events from history.   We printed off a grid and marked them in 50 year increments so we have plenty of room for drawing.

History Timeline

 I printed off the notebook pages from the HOD yahoo user group for my son to work on this year.  To start off I will be doing the writing portion until his writing improves a bit. Since we are using BLHFHG as our third grade curriculum I think these pages will help make the program challenging enough without being too overwhelming.

The memory verse for this week was Psalm 4:8 "I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety".  We wrote this out on our whiteboard to recite each day.  I liked how the bible study boxes in the guide related back to the history lesson.  Another thing we did to learn our memory verse was to write the words on small pieces of index card and then put them in the correct order.
The science experiments were ones we did last year when using My Father's World.  Making an index card boat to float in the bath tub.  Then using a pipette to create current to move the boat.  The other one was to show how blubber works on whales and other mammals by covering one hand in shortening then placing you hand in cold water.  My son loved doing the experiments even though we did them last year.  I'm not sure he even remembered that they were repeats.

For spelling we used list 1 in the BLHFHG guide, the list was easy for JJ to complete.  I made printouts from Spelling City  of all the spelling list for the year. First I had him trace and write the words then on Thursday I covered the words for him to write from memory.  Along with the poetry copy work pages from the HOD yahoo group and had them spiral bound into a notebook.  We took the copy work pretty slow.  The first 2 days we traces the words for 2 lines, then the next two days we wrote 2 lines each on our own.  Next we colored a picture of what the poem was about.  You can see my son's "Storm" is a pretty big mess.

For art this weeks project was to make a shield.  JJ really wanted to make one out of wood but settled for a pizza box lid because that's all we had on hand.  He still had fun playing with his shield.  I highly recommend saving this task for the end of your day, as he had no interest in anything else but playing sword fighting.

We use Math U See for our math program.  Last year we got about half way through the Beta book and we are continuing where we left off after a little review.  In addition to all of BLHFHG we are also using Explode the Code and Handwriting Without Tears.

Overall we had a good week.  JJ didn't really like the song that went along with the bible verse, which surprised me since he loves music, but I must agree it was a little too young for an 8 yr old boy.  Our days only lasted about 1 1/2 to 2 hours even with all our extras thrown in.  I'm hoping that the program will increase in difficulty as the weeks go by or I will need to look for ways to beef this up for my 3rd grader. 

Monday, August 12, 2013

First day of School..................Resurrection to Reformation

School this year I think will be quite different from the past few years as we embark on a new curriculum journey.  This year we have chosen to use Heart of Dakota.  My youngest son (8, 3rd grade) is using Beyond Little Hearts, while my oldest uses Hearts for Him Through Time Resurrection to Reformation(RTR).  In the past years we used My Father's World.  You can read about our reasons for changing on my curriculum page.  I believe RTR will be a good fit.  My son could have placed in either RTR,  Revival to Revolution, or Mission to Modern Marvels, however since this is our first year with HOD I decided to go with RTR.  Plus it helps that he wanted to study the medieval time period.  

As you can kind of see from the photo, the two green book holders on the right contain all the books he will need each week.  The red box is for is younger brother.  What a difference in the number of books from 3rd to 7th grade. 

To begin our day I explained how the teacher's manual/student guide is laied out.  And since in the past we were only use to doing two hours of school each day, we decided to take the first month slow and only work on half the boxes each day.  Today he opted to work on math (Math U See - Pre-Algebra) review, science (The Microbiology Coloring Book), and from HOD reading about history and the history project sections. 

This is our first year doing oral narration and he was complaining quite a bit about how he wasn't going to be able to remember anything.  However I think he was pleasantly surprised as he was able to tell me the main points of the chapters he read about the life of Paul.  For the history project we had to make our own air dry clay and form blocks for an arch which we will continue to use this week to make an art/history project. 
Roman style arch
So this is what we accomplished in 2 hours, I think we could have done more but I have to remember we are easing into school since this is a new curriculum style.  When co-op starts in three weeks I hope we will be close to the full 4 day schedule. 

First day of School............Beyond Little Hearts

Today we started our new program Heart ofDakota  Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory. We got off to a slow start being the first day and all, and my son was not super excited to get started but had fun once we got going.  We started with math (Math U See) review while I explained how school was going to work to his older brother.  After that we worked on 2 pages of handwriting in our Handwriting Without Tears book Printing Power. 

Then we dove into the Beyond manual.  We read about how the first people came to North America.  Made a "map" on the floor to learn where the different continents are located, and learned about what a biography is.  For our biography we are reading about Helen Keller.  Its a very short book and not sure I can stretch it out over 20 days like teacher manual recommends.  I am thinking about adding a book about Louie Braille, or maybe watching the movie "The Miracle Maker". 

My son really like the poem part, and wanted me to read more poems.  Hopefully that excitement will last when it comes time for copying the poem.  I decided to hold off on copy work today since we are using both Handwriting Without Tears and Explode the Code.  We tried the spelling list from our Beyond manual and he knew all of them but one!  I'm not sure if we should just go through all the lists till he starts having trouble or just go as its written. 

Overall we had a great first day, we were done with school by 10:30 am so it really only took us 1 1/2 hours to get through everything.  If we keep finishing so quickly I think we will have to  beef it up a little, after all we are using this as a third grade curriculum.  We continue to survive this homeschool journey.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

School Room.....do you really need one?

Most new homeschoolers have an idea of setting up a separate room to "do school".  And why not, its fun to buy school supplies, hang up cute posters and make it look like a real school room for your child.  But is it necessary? Absolutely not.  Its all a matter of personal preference and what works for your family.

The first year we homeschooled we did not set up a school room.  Having pulled the boys out of private school just after K & 4th grade, we wanted to get as far away from a classroom setting as possible.  Or at least they did.  So school was in the living room, dining room table, kitchen any where we needed.  And the house was a mess! A big huge mess! All the time!  I will admit I am the worst when it comes to putting things away where they belong, and having school all over the house didn't help matters.  But we survived the first year.

For our second year I decided I had enough with all twas he mess and going to create a nice little "school room" in our dining room.  I got two white boards, two bookshelves, and hung our big map on the wall, trying to make a cramped space really cute.  The mess was contained to the dining room (sort of) but I longed for a room dedicated to just school.
Dining room/School room

 So we moved again and set up everything in our bonus/guest room. Well that lasted for about 2 months before they hated being together in the same room, stuck at a desk, and having to go upstairs to do school.  LOL!  So the material stayed upstairs, but we gradually gravitated back into the living room, carrying things up and down every day.  And by now I'm frustrated that nothing is working.  My perfect ideal "school room" just isn't going to work.

Bonus Room/School Room

This brings us to this year.  Once again something different.  We have a built in bookshelf and small area behind the couch in the living room.  I have transformed this small area into a storage area rather than a school room.  A place to keep our books and supplies as we move throughout the house to do school where ever it works best. 

You don't need a dedicated school room, the important thing is to do what works best for your family.

School Storage Area 2013-2014

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Getting ready for RTR

Today I finally got around to looking through the manual for Heart of Dakota RTR (Resurrection to Reformation).  I searched the web for blogs by homeschoolers who have used RTR in the past, but did not find too many.  I know the upper guides are fairly new, but I was surprised at the lack of information about them.  This is one of the reasons I will be blogging about this curriculum, in hopes of helping others who wish to use this program, and see what other mom's have done.

So the first thing I did was to print out all the maps we would need from the Map Trek CD, which came with the program.  You may choose to print them as you go day by day, but I prefer to have them all ready so I'm not trying to print them at 9am on the day we need to get school finished quickly.  I printed up the student maps and placed them in my son's notebook, as well as the teacher maps (with answers) and made up a little booklet for myself. This will make checking his work easier for me, rather than always referring back to the CD each time. 


The other thing I worked on was a supply list for each unit, so I can see if there are any special school supplies we will need.  Most of the things on the list are normal items, crayons, colored pencils (these are used a lot), markers, paint, etc.  Some things you may not expect are the water color paper, and oil pastels.  Many household items are needed as well such as, aluminum foil, waxed paper, ziploc bags, etc.  There is a fair amount of cooking in RTR and it will be nice to make sure I have the supplies on hand, or easily add them to my weekly shopping list. 

And the last thing I am working on is making up sheets for story time.  The guide recommends using index cards.  These are used to record things each week as you read, new vocabulary words, vivid descriptions, plot twists, character moods, etc.  I think the index cards may be a bit small for this project, so I am making pages which can be kept in the notebook with all our other papers. 

I am excited to work through this guide with my son, I think I will be learning things about history that I never learned during my school years. 

Friday, July 19, 2013

Getting ready for Beyond Little Hearts

Summer quickly going by and the school year is approaching.  I am in the process of figuring out what we have and what we still need in order to start school in three weeks.  Wow only three weeks left, summer going by really quick this year. 

Most of our curriculum, Heart of Dakota, was purchased at the homeschool conference this year.  Nearly all the books for Resurrection to Reformation were purchased from Heart of Dakota, and for the Beyond Little Hearts program we are using a mix of books from Heart of Dakota, Amazon and the library.  In addition to the books that come with the program, I printed out some wonderful material off the Yahoo group page for Heart of Dakota users.  I had these bound into spiral books to help keep everything together.  I printed the science and history pages and combined them into one book, printed a copy of the poems for another book, and in the last book I used the poem copy work from the yahoo group files as well.  In addition to the copy work, I used SpellingCity.com to create spelling pages using the word lists from the Beyond Little Hearts appendix. 

Next we will being organizing our school supplies and books to see what we still need to buy.  We have some special things to purchase this year like back packs, since we will be participating in a co-op program.  It will be fun for the boys to have a chance to pick out school supplies for their classes.  I have to be careful, school supplies are one of my weaknesses.  I love to buy school supplies! Its just so much fun to have everything nice and brand new at the start of each year.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Surviving Summer

How am I surviving summer vacation at home with the kids 24/7?  I am saddened to say I am surviving by doing the very thing I complain about the most.  Letting the boys watch TV and play video games, almost unlimited.  There have been good days and bad days as always.  And there have been days "when they actually get bored of electronics and crave other stimulation.  Maybe my plan isn't failing as much as I thought. 

Like many homeschooling parent's I had visions of us doing "simple school" work over the summer.  Finishing up our math that we didn't get done with during the year, and working on reading and handwriting, or other "problem" areas.  That vision only lasted a few days before the complaining and whining was more than I could bear.  Mom needs a summer vacation too!

So we are surviving our summer.  We are enjoying doing what each of us wants.  AJ has been busying playing his computer games (MineCraft and Spore top the list), Wii games and watching TV.  He reads every night before bed, still working his way through the Warrior book series by Erin Hunter, and watches educational shows like River Monsters.  JJ has been busy most recently riding his new bike, playing with kids down the street, learning to swim, and he's trying to read but prefers listening to audio books.  And Mom is busying doing pretty much nothing.  I too had grand visions of cleaning the house and exercising.  Well with JJ's new bike, we have started morning bike rides, so exercise is happening, but cleaning the house.........that will just have to wait until Grandma decides to come for a visit!