Category Archives: Classical Conversations

Classical Conversations – Cycle 1 – Week 3

Okay, so if you are very observant….you noticed that I did not write a post for week 2! Sorry. We had a great week last week, but I just didn’t make time to get to my blogs.

This week (week 3) has been great so far. Below are some ideas that we have either done already or that I plan to do this week with my kids:

History:

We spent the last 2 weeks on the 10 Commandments. This week we moved on to Ancient Greece and Rome as we learned some of the Greek and Roman gods. My son especially loves this because he is fascinated with Greek and Roman mythology! I found another one of those free lap books online that had some info on the Greek and Roman gods. Yesterday we used one of the printables to put in our Book of History. We haven’t done the writing part on our page yet, but we read about some of the gods and then cut out and glued some pictures of their gods into our book. We discussed how the ancient Greeks and Romans fashioned (that’s an IEW vocabulary word for those in Essentials!!) these gods to worship, thus breaking God’s Commandment to not make unto thee any graven image!

Reading about History:

We also started reading Black Ships Before Troy. We will read this a few times a week over the next several weeks. Our history sentences each week will continue to focus on Ancient Greece and Rome for a few weeks, so this will be a good “connection” for them. Just reading the first couple chapters, we found so many things mentioned that the kids were familiar with. There was LOTS of places mentioned from Cycle 2 geography, as well as names of their gods and some of their myths.

Science:

After spending the last 2 weeks on how living things are classified and the kingdoms of living things, we moved into learning about animal cells this week.  We have some great hand motions that we learned last time we did cycle1 that really help you remember the parts!  So far, we have practiced the parts using the hand motions.  That’s it.  Hey!  It’s only Wednesday!  Give me a break! :)  No really, I ended up continuing our learning about the Animal Classifications.  We don’t have CC next week due to Labor Day, so I decided to go ahead and take more time on the last 2 weeks worth of Science before doing our next page in our Book of Science.  Today, we read more about why scientists classify animals along with why they use Latin to name all living things! (great connection to the importance of learning Latin!).  We finished up our page in our Book of Science from last week by gluing pictures of each of the Kingdoms on our page and then writing a short paragraph about classifications and some distinctions between the Kingdoms.    On Friday, I will have move into the Animal Cells (which is really this week’s Science) by having them watch a great video about cells!  I found all kinds of wonderful educational videos on United Streaming!

Math:

Continue in Math U See for both of my children.  We also do Math Drills!  We use flash cards, timed worksheets, games, learning wrap-ups, and TimezAttack online.

Latin

For Latin this week, we have done a lot of singing!  The jingles for Latin are great.  But I also wanted them to see what they were saying.  I found a printout on the CC Connected file sharing site that they could fill out.  We filled out the noun endings for the 1st Declensions today and then sang them.

Other items

Timeline

lots of signing and using the timeline cards to see and learn about some of the picutres.  We also found the song without the words!!! It was fun trying to sing to that!! We were pleasantly surprised with how well we did.  :)

Geography

Still doing “Map Making” 2 times a week.  This consists of either tracing maps, making map blobs (as described in The Core), or labeling and coloring maps.  We have been reviewing all 3 weeks’ worth of geography everyday by pointing to the places.

Copywork:

Yep…everyday!  Sometimes it’s CC Memory work, Bible verses, quotes, spelling words, etc.  Today it was the beginning of Psalm 23, the helping verbs, linking verbs, definition of a verb.

Read Aloud :

In the morning I sometimes read aloud to them.  Right now we are reading O Little One of Israel.  It’s about the Israelite slave who was captured and taken to Syria by the Syrian army.  Through a series of events she ends up a Naaman’s house who was the Captain of the Hosts (Captain of the Syrian Army).  He had Leprosy at this time.  It’s not only a WONDERFUL story, but it TOTALLY goes along with Cycle 1!  We have not only found tons of vocabulary words from Essentials, but every page holds the names of places we are learning on the map!  Then while reading through Leviticus we learned about the clean and unclean laws and had a discussion about Leprosy already.  We had also been reading about Elisha because my daughter’s phonics program had a lesson on it.  Don’t you just love it when things all work together??

Essentials (Language Arts)

Week three starts the “real” grammar assignments.  The first couple weeks are an overview and some charts, but this week we start doing our “task sheets.”  It’s still very easy because we start with the most basic of sentence patterns S-Vi.  DJ easily did his task sheets.  After doing this all last year, he knows exactly what to do.  We are working hard on our Noun and Pronoun chart this week too.  There’s a lot to know on those charts and copying charts is NOT his favorite thing!

For writing we have another paragraph to write this week. First he completes a Key Word Outline (KWO) from the source text about Gilgamesh.  Then he has to turn that into a rough draft (doing that today) and then finish by adding in dress-ups and decorations to help make his paragraph sound interesting and have quality word choices.  He really doesn’t mind this anymore.  He’s realized how simple it can be….just follow the steps.

We also have a Book Club in our class.  Our first book is The Cricket in Times Square.  I read this book when I was young and loved it.  I have been reading this at night to both of the kids so they can both hear the story. DJ seems to really enjoy it so far.  It’s not very long, so we should be finished way before our deadline of Sept. 24th!

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Classical Conversations – Cycle 1 Week 1 Plans

Well, yesterday was our first day back to CC.  We had tons of fun.  Since our CC group has grown so much this year, there were lots of new faces.  My daughter actually missed her first day.  She had been feeling icky the day before and I just wasn’t sure if she was okay to bring.  She spent a day with her dad and had fun watching movies and playing games.

First days are usually a little crazy, but I don’t think it was too crazy….especially counting in the facts that we had so many new families and there was a construction crew working in the parking lot!

So now our CC at Home begins!  Here is a glimps of some of our goals and activities this week:

Copywork: Both children will copy the 10 Commandments as written in our History Sentence for this week (which is actually just the first 5 this week).  They will also copy Bible verses that we are working on, and a quote that I picked from my new favorite book: Great Men Bow Down (more on that book later)

Geography: We are still working on drawing the world “blobs” as outlined in The Core.  So they will start with blank paper, make folds for the great circles (equator, Tropic of Cancer, Tropic of Capricorn, Arctic Circle, Antarctic Circle, Prime Meridian.  Then they will draw “blobs” (these are estimated shape drawings) that resemble each continent.  We will also review and locate our Geography places learned at CC this week: The Fertile Crescent area.

Maybe we’ll watch the movie! The Ten Commandments

History: Our history this week and next week is actually the 10 commandments.  I plan on using that as part of their copy work.  We will also read the Exodus story in the Bible reading through the Laws given on Mt. Sinai.  And for fun, we might watch Prince of Egypt (the Disney movie about Moses).  We have many books about this time in history….Egyptians, the Fertile Crescent civilizations, Abraham and God’s Covenant, etc… also books about the Babylonians and so forth. All these books are in my “Book Bin” for us to choose from. We will read each day from books like these as well as the Encyclopedia.  My 7 year old will make a page for her “Book of History” by telling back some of her favorite things about the 10 Commandment story or about Moses in general.  I will write down her short narration for her to copy on her paper.  She will then illustrate.  We also have the first 7 events on our CC timeline to memorize…but with the new song it’s VERY easy!

Science: This week is classification of living things.  We will practice saying them in order, reading in our Science Encyclopedia about animal classification (Taxonomy), and learning the classification of some of our favorite living things.  I also found a free printable from Homeschool Share.  It is an Animal Classification lapbook.  I don’t really do lapbooks, but I like to incorporate some of their parts/elements into our “Book of Science” that the kids make during the year.  So we might pull a couple pages from the lapbook to glue on our pages in our Science notebook.

Math: Both kids will continue to work in Math U See.

This is the Ancient History Book used for CC Cycle 1

English/Language Arts: Josephine, who is 7, will continue to work on reading, phonics, and handwriting.  She also has memory work from CC for English.  DJ, my 5th grader, will do his assignments from the CC Essentials class.  This year I a1m the Essentials tutor as well…so no excuses from DJ! :) The first couple weeks are pretty easy….just a couple charts to memorize and then write a poem or two.  He knows the charts pretty well from last year, but we will copy them to make sure it’s all fresh in his memory.  We will spend about 2 days doing his poem writing. The writing assignments come from the IEW Ancient History Based Writing book

Latin: Review CC Memory Work

That’s about it…. I will let you know how it all goes and if I get any other ideas!! :)

Anyone else doing CC this year have some good ideas?  As you can tell, I like to keep things simple.  In the right way….less is more in my opinion.  But I love new ideas!

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Classical Conversations – Getting ready for Cycle 1 (2012)

Well, it’s here! We start CC on Monday. I can’t believe we are starting Cycle 1 again. The really cool thing for me this year is that we started in Cycle 1, so we are now cycling back to this cycle. This will be the first time we have repeated a cycle. I wasn’t sure what that would be like…would we be bored? Would it not be as exciting? Absolutely not! I’m so excited! I keep looking at the memory work and remembering all (okay…some) of the facts. I’m so excited about going through it all again. I think I will even enjoy it more! I have grown so much over the last three years in Classical Conversations. Less worry, less anxiety, just excitement. I’m no longer worried about what my kids are learning or when or if it’s enough….I know it is!

Okay, so I’ve mentioned in other posts about my approach to using CC as my WHOLE curriculum and how I implement CC at home. I think I’m going to try to give some “peeks” into our days as CC continues this year. It won’t be every week…but I will try to at least post every 2-3 weeks with what we plan on doing and/or what we did at home.

So far I’ve done my “school shopping” and I’m organizing my resources. I purchased composition notebooks for each child. Last year I used spiral notebooks, but these old-fashioned black and white composition notebooks were calling my name at Staples today! We will use these for our copywork each day. I also picked up some new markers, white board markers, paper, and pencils to freshen our supplies. My Amazon wish list is LOADED with awesome books. I will probably pick a couple every once in a while to order to build my library at home.

I’ve pulled some books from my shelves for the “Book Bin.” If you didn’t read my post on my Book Bin….this is a bucket that I use to store all the books that relate to our studies that week (or for a few weeks at a time). I keep our encyclopedias, read aloud books, history or science based fiction, and all the non-fiction I have that relates to our study. I pull from this Book Bin each day to read and learn from!

I also love the idea of notebooking. We’ve done this already, but I’d like to develop this more. Normally we use the paper that is blank at the top and lined at the bottom to write and illustrate our writing. We do this for Science and History creating a Book of Science and Book of History through the year. This year I’d like to add more than just our writing and an illustration. I’d like to incorporate some ideas from lap-booking into it. Maybe an occasional fold-out piece or lift-the-flap in place of an illustration.

Well that’s my plan so far. I’ll let you know how it goes after week one.

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My Homeschool Plan – Using Classical Conversations – PART 2

If you haven’t read PART 1 of this post, you might want to read that first!

Here I am continuing my subject-by-subject overview of how I use Classical Conversations at home.  I’m excited about sharing what we did with Science & History!!  After struggling so many years with the pressure to use other curriculum (I say pressure…from myself!!), I finally found a way that would keep Classical Conversations as my ONLY Science & History curriculum while also providing a concrete (hands on) study of the topics.

First…A Look at the Book Bin:

The Book Bin

Here are just a few books that I’ve already pulled off my shelves for the CC Cycle 1 year. These are all history & science books

I use the idea of a Book Bin for my history & science studies. The idea is simple:  Take a look at the next few weeks.  See what topics or time period you will be covering for science and history. I do this by looking in my Classical Conversations Foundation Guide.  Go through the books you already own and find all the books that cover those topics and put them in the book bin!  I’m a book junkie so I have tons to choose from, but if you don’t have big selection then you could use the library.   In a way, this “book bin” becomes my “curriculum” or my “text books.”   These are the books that we read and learn from.  I try to have a variety of types of books.  Encyclopedias, fiction, non-fiction, biographies, novels to use as read-alouds, and more.  Anything and everything!  We might not read all those books, but they are there!  Sometimes if we are working on math and they both need me at the same time, then I can tell one child to take 10 min. and read a book from the bin.  It’s great!

Science

Each week at CC, we are introduced to a new science fact to memorize.  At home we expand on that science fact.  The science for CC each year is broken into 2 distinct fields of science.  This year (Cycle 1) we will be studying Biology during the first semester and Earth Science during 2nd semester.

During the week, we read books (from the “Book Bin”) about the science fact, discuss anything interesting, and then write or draw about what we learned.

My children each have a sketch book.  It has the type of paper that is blank at the top and lines at the bottom.  This allows us to write something about the science we are studying and then draw, clip, copy or diagram a picture at the top.  Since we do this each week (or at least most weeks), by the end of the year, we have a wonderful Book of Science.

Since they have memorized facts about each topic/page, they are able to also explain each page and really HOLD onto the information they are learning.  (As opposed to spending a year going through a science text book and ending up with kids that can’t really remember and/or explain any of it later!)

1-3rd grade: For my 7 year old, the pages in her “Book of Science” are usually just copywork of the science fact we are memorizing that week.  To change it up a bit I sometimes have her tell me something interesting that we read about.  I write down what she says (narration) and then she copies it into her book (copywork).

4th – 6th grade: For my 10 year old son, I would have him take “Key Word Outline” notes (*this is a skilled learned from our IEW writing program) from one of the science books we read that week and then turn the outline into a paragraph…thus writing a science research report (1-2 paragraphs) on each week’s topic! He would also have the option to illustrate his page with a drawing, chart/graph, clipart, diagram, etc.

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History, Geography, & Timeline

I treat history in the same way that I treat science.  At home we work on memorizing our history sentence and our timeline cards.  We spend time each week reading about the topic for the week.  Usually, we read from our Usborne Internet-Linked World Encyclopedia.  It just happens to be the Encyclopedia that I have.  However, I am thinking of purchasing the Kingfisher Encyclopedia.  The Usborne Encyclopedia is GREAT, but the Kingfisher is better for the upper elementary and middle school years.  My son is turning 11 this school year, so I want to get one that has a little more information to read!

Classical Conversations History Cards - This year, we have a NEW set of timeline cards!  Previously, CC used the Veritas Press timeline cards.  The problem was that due to copyright issues, CC could not publish the timeline card titles/events in the Foundations Guide!  Also, the timeline could not be added to our audio CD or any of the other fun tools and resources CC offers.  This year they released their own timeline cards!  I’m very excited.  As much as I loved the Veritas cards, I love these even more.  The events and titles are different (which means we all start over), but I believe that they represent a broader range of events, cultures, and peoples.

Grades 1st-3rd: We also have a Book of History which is just like our Book of Science.  It has the pages that are blank at the top and lines at the bottom.  My daughter does the same thing for History as we do for science.  We read through the week (together) and then discuss anything interesting.  We often find connections to our geography and our timeline cards!  Then she writes her history sentence (copywork) or narrated to me a couple sentences about something interesting.  I write them down, and then she copies them into her book.

Grades 4th-6th: My son used to do this same process, however, since he started the Essentials program at CC he doesn’t do this.  As part of Essentials, he writes a paper each week.  Sometimes it’s just a paragraph, while other times he will work on a 3-5 paragraph essay over the course of a few weeks.  Each writing assignment is about a topic in history!  The topics always “go along” with our CC cycle.  His Book of History is actually just a collection of all his history reports he wrote for Essentials!  I didn’t see the need to make him do both.

History also includes our timeline.  As I mentioned, we simply just review our timeline.  Outside of review, we don’t really do much with our timeline.  Learning 160+ facts on a timeline is a lot in my opinion.

Geography is done during CC review time.  However, I’ve recently done more with geography.  After reading The Core, by Leigh Bortins, I decided to implement her ideas on teaching Geography.  She has a step-by-step plan for teaching children how to draw the world, the great lines, and the continents.  We have been working on those steps lately and the kids LOVE it!! During the CC year they will be learning 4-5 places/features each week.  They learn where they are and can located them on their maps.  We also practicing tracing and drawing their maps.

Thanks!! Hope that helps give you a few ideas for you own use!

This post is part of Trivium Tuesdays at Living and Learning at Home!

This blog has been submitted to the Classical Conversations Blog Carnival at Half A Hundred Acre Wood!

Classical Conversations Carnival

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My Homeschool Plan – Using Classical Conversations – PART 1

I’ve recently led (or co-led) a few meetings with Classical Conversations families in our area.  These meetings were held to discuss how Classical Conversations could be used at home as a full program.  Many people have misconceptions when it comes to CC, and I’ve been working to help expose the myths and present the truths about using CC.  I’ve come across many parents who are interested in CC but felt they still had to purchase and use a whole other curriculum for their studies at home…that CC was a “supplement” that they could add to their schooling.
Classical Education Made Approachable
To read a FAQ about Classical Conversations….click here.

CC is a very flexible program.  If a family wants to join CC and use our program as a supplement only, they certainly can do it that way.  However, I suggest using the Classical Model of Education and using CC the way it was intended.  I admit that learning this was hard for me.  I tell people all the time that it wasn’t until I was starting my 3rd year of CC that I really understood HOW to use it to the fullest.  Retraining my modern education brain to understand the Classical Model of Education took some time!

Options are everywhere.  Even when using CC in a “classical” way, there are lots of paths one could take.  I wanted to simplify my life as much as possible, so I looked for ways that I could use what I already had on my shelves, what I was already learning at CC, and how I could combine those things to create a predictable schedule and pattern for us to use at home.  With that, I also wanted to incorporate some key parts into my home: copywork, read alouds, love of literature, etc…

I can’t say what would work for everyone, but what I can say is what I found works for  us.  I have rising 5th and 2nd graders.  If I explained each subject in detail (which is what I plan to do), it would be a very long post!  So this is part one!

Copywork:

I found this definition of copywork from a website (www.homefires.com) under their “Dictionary of Homeschool Terminology for the Totally Confused

This technique is used to help students learn to write — from the initial skill of forming alphabet letters, all the way through learning to write sentences, paragraphs, poetry and more. Once students have the ability to copy sentences and paragraphs, they usually copy excerpts from good/classic literature. The idea is that by copying, they learn the techniques of great writers that they can then apply to their own original writing. 

I totally believe in the importance of copywork!  At first, I admit, that I wasn’t sure how much of an impact copywork would make for my children!  You can read all about my trials and accomplishments of copywork here.

Memory Work Review:

This part of our day is dedicated to practicing our memory work.  The source for our memory work comes from our Classical Conversations program.  The entire Foundations Program at CC (4-12 years old) is made up of Memory Work in each subject.

To read more about what the Classical Conversation’s Foundations Program is….click here.

We spend one day a week with our CC Community learning the copywork for each subject for that week.  Even more than that, we also see the tutors model for us (the parents) how to teach the memory work in a fun, fast-paced way!  Watch this video to see some clips from a CC Community.

Memory Work Review at Home

The time each day at home is spent orally reviewing, playing review games, and singing our Memory Work.  I spend anywhere from 10-30 min doing this each day.  Okay….okay….so I don’t do it EVERY day.  Don’t tell anyone!!  But…I am able to say that we do this at least 2-3 times a week at the house.  To give me some credibility, we also listen to all our Memory Work on CD in the car during the week whenever we leave home!  So we actually review this A LOT!  I mostly just use the ideas that I saw modeled for me at CC.

Math:

I’m going to start the with the math as the first subject. I felt it was best to talk about math first just because math is one subject that is not fully incorporated into the CC program.  We have math memory work to work with each week, but it’s not a math curriculum.  The math memory work is awesome and should NOT be neglected no matter what!  However, you will want to find a math curriculum that works for you (or if you feel confident, you can piece together your own stuff…especially for the younger years).   We use Math U See.  I love this program.

To see my post about Why I Love Math U See…click here.

To be continued… in my next post I will discuss Science and History!

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Getting Ready for School

Well, we are in the middle of summer now and us homeschoolers are thinking about the start of the next school year.  Usually around this time I am very busy researching curriculum, buying books, looking through that gigantic Rainbow Resource catalog, and becoming stressed out.  How do you choose?  How do you know that you’re not leaving something out?

After all that research and purchasing of books, I would spend the next several weeks planning out our lessons for the year…or at least trying.  Often times, I would be up to the wee hours of the night since that was the only time I could work in silence…and you know I needed to concentrate with all those important decisions.

Over the last few years, I’ve had the opportunity to be part of Classical Conversations.  At first, I didn’t really understand how the program would work for us.  I knew it would be great, but I had no idea how much help this program would be! It has taken all the guess work and stress out of our homeschool!

We meet once a week with the other families in our CC Community for 24 weeks.  During that time, we are able to be introduced to the memory work for the week (in Math, English, History, Geography, Timeline, Latin, and Science).  We also spend time doing Science experiments, Fine Arts, Oral Presentations, and Review Games.  CC believes that the parent is the ultimate teacher and helps come along side you, as the parent/teacher to equip and support you!  The day at CC becomes your springboard for the rest of the week.

The other day, I was talking with some other homeschool moms (and great friends) about the upcoming school year.  “So, are you guys all set for school again?” These moms are wonderful homeschool moms with great kids!  I knew that, like any good homeschool mom, they would be very busy getting their supplies and curriculum together.  We talked about curriculum, resources, and even laughed at how big that Rainbow Resource catalog is!! When they asked me how my plans were coming…and what things I would be getting for next year….I paused and then said, “Great!  I don’t have to do anything to get ready!”  I almost shocked myself!  Wow.. I really don’t have anything to do!  That’s incredible!

It’s a wonderful feeling to know that I don’t need anything.  That’s the beauty of Classical Conversations!  I will say, though, that many people who participate in CC don’t use it as their complete curriculum.  They simply use it as a supplement to other things.  That’s okay, but if you want to get the most out of CC, then I suggest that you learn all that CC really is!  The only thing I add to our CC curriculum is a separate Math curriculum.

I have learned to use CC as my entire curriculum and it’s wonderful.

Let me say that CC does not come with text books for each subject.  Many people realize this and then figure that they need to go and purchase text books/resources for each subject!  I’m saying that you don’t have to (except for Math).   I use CC and the ONLY “text books” I use  (if you want to consider it that) are Encyclopedias (History & Science), a Math curriculum (we use Math U See), and books to read (like children’s stories, read alouds, library books, books from my shelf)

That’s it!

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As you can tell, I’m so excited about how simple CC has made my life.  I understand that not everyone is part of CC though.  But, I have learned a lot about simplifying homeschool while getting the MOST out of your time and efforts!  That is what led me to writing my book “The Not-So-Perfect Mom’s Guide to Homeschool”  I believe that many of the things I’ve learned in my experience with CC, can be used by anyone!  I hope it will help with anyone feeling like I used to feel.  Now that I’m not spending all my time planning and researching, I can spend more time crocheting! :) I will be posting some of my crochet projects on my other blog, Hoot N Owl Homestead, soon!

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The Not So Perfect Plan – Chapter One – What Plan?

I’ve mentioned in an earlier post about writing a book.  I’ve actually started many writing projects that I haven’t finish or just give up on.  Over the last year, I’ve worked on writing an article/book about homeschooling.  It’s geared toward new and seasoned homeschooling parents who just feel frustrated with how they are organizing their curriculum or their school year.  I’m still working on a name for the book.  So far I came up with “The Not So Perfect Mom’s Guide to Homeschool”  with a subtitle: “One homeschool mom’s advice for creating a plan that works” Here is the beginning of my writing:

Chapter One

Plan…What Plan?

One of the hardest parts of homeschooling is getting a plan of action together…and then sticking to it. Well, the sticking to it might be the hardest.  But this first step is by far the most important step we must make.  This becomes our foundation upon which our homeschool year is built.  So why do we overlook it?  Why do we make it then forget about it?

Life Happens

If you ask my friends they will tell you that I often talk about my “utopia” homeschool.  It’s the homeschool world I would live in if I had total control of everything around me.  But reality is, I don’t.  Life happens.  Schedules change, people get sick, cars breakdown, and we get worn out.  I know that my “utopia” is not my reality.  I probably wouldn’t really want my utopia anyway…it would most likely be boring there with nothing changing. 

The truth is we need some changes in our life.  It helps to make us who we are.  Our children need to learn how to deal with unexpected things in their lives too.  So it’s a good thing that life happens, right? 

Yes and no.  Life does happen, which is why in all other areas of our life, we need to create order.  When things are in chaos, nothing can be successful.  We’ve all been there with too much on our plate.  We want to be involved and we want to help out our friends.  Then there are play dates, and co-ops, and sports, and clubs.  Is this just “life happening?”  No.  This is us creating a chaotic world for ourselves and our children.  But it’s hard.  Where is the balance?

Here is the reality (which is no surprise to any of you).  If we are too busy, or if we make our children too busy…no plan or curriculum will work.  If we stretch ourselves too thin, we will do poorly at everything we do.  I am the worst at doing this.  I get so excited about new things and ideas and want to just jump right in and do it.  Not only do it, but be the leader, start the group, organize the trip.  I take on so much that I am too busy to be a wife and a mom….let alone a teacher for my children.  

The result?  A whole lot of misery for me and my family and in the end I can’t be successful at any of it.  I mean you just can’t be slave to all those masters!  I get cranky, tired, anxious.  My kids feel the worst of it because they are the ones that I end up getting short with.  And they are tired too.  All that running around from activity to activity is hard on a kid. 

But what about socialization?  That’s the question we get, and that’s the issue we try to prove wrong as homeschoolers.  We try to show THEM that our kids are WAY more socialized than their kids.  Our kids do more, with a variety of age groups in different settings, than any public school kid would be able to do.  Which is great.  But at what cost? 

Does that mean I think we should just stay home all week?  No! I’d lose my mind if I did. But find a balance that works for your family. Help your children find something they have a passion for and only get involved in that activity for right now.  If you have a large family, you might want to alternate between the kids.  I know of families that rotate each sporting season.  One season child #1 will play a sport. The next season a different child will choose something. And so on.  It’s kind of fun because then the whole family gets behind that one child and his/her activity to support them.

Do what works.  But if you feel like a taxi and you and your kids are stressed out over your hectic schedule, then maybe it’s time to re-think it.  Don’t create stress…reduce it.  So when “life happens” for real and something unexpected comes up, you can handle it.  Remember, there is no plan for homeschooling that will work if you’re not home to implement it!  So take time to be home, be with each other, and learn together!

———————————————————————-

Well, that’s the first little bit of my book… actually that is just the beginning of chapter one!  I continue on as we learn what type of planner we are so we can see where we are strong and where we need help! From there I go on to talk about the HOW behind creating a plan that works for your family by helping you to understand what is important.  Creating a Christian Classical Education at Home (or any homeschool plan) is not hard.  The hard part is getting rid of all the old habits and ways of thinking in our own brains! Really, it’s much easier and more peaceful than the old way!  In my book, I hope to give you a humorus and very honest picture of what I have learned so that we can learn on this journey together!

But wait…I know you’re saying that you have that BIG book about being Well-Trained.  That big book is overwhelming and reminds you that you just can’t attain your goal right?  Well at least it was like that for me.  Look, I like that book.  I read it over and over.  But truth be told, no matter how much I tried, I could not replicate what was in that book in my own home.  Maybe I was too lazy?  Maybe I was not organized enough? (I know those who know me are laughing at that one…I love to organize).  There were many reasons why I couldn’t get that book to work for me.  I talk about some of those reasons in my ebook.  If you have that book, keep it.  It has wonderful information and works as a great resource.  Just don’t let the weight of that book weigh you down!

More to come!!

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Curriculum/Resources We Use (3rd Grade)

I love finding out what other people use for their homeschool curriculum.  I have a few friends that I always ask just because I trust their opinions and feel that they take the time to really find quality resources.  Most of what I use came directly from fellow homeschool moms!

So I will share what I use now along with my opinions:
For my 9-year-old son (3rd grade)

Math – Math U See Gamma

I LOVE this program.  I started using MUS when my son was K4 age and we started with Alpha.  We went through it very slowly since he was young which ended up being good and bad.  He learned everything that he was supposed to learn, but because we took so long with one level (2 years) we were just both sick of looking at it.  I decided to take a break and try something else.

First I wanted to try Horizons Math. I should’ve know that this wouldn’t work out.  Horizons claims to be a mastery approach program, but they are actually very SPIRAL! I hate spiral math programs…especially in the early years.  I bought just the 2nd half of the program of a used curriculum site to try it out.  I hated it.

Then I purchased k12.com 2nd grade math.  I was unimpressed.  I loved other things about K12, but the 2nd grade math was mostly just items learned in Alpha with the last 1/3 of book containing new content…adding/subtracting with regrouping.  There was also a VERY small section at the end with an intro to multiplication.  I will say that I liked that it was colorful and it included graphs and charts that my son hadn’t seen before….but in the end, I basically tested him through the book then taught the regrouping part (which would’ve been Math U See Beta).
MUS Gamma
After that, I went BACK to MUS!  We picked up with Gamma and we’re back on course.  I can now see the benefit of using the MUS program.  It starts out so slowly at first that it scares many people away.  They feel that their child is not being introduced to enough concepts.  But if you give that time with a solid foundation in the basics, it pays off!  My son is in Gamma which is multiplication (including large numbers) and he is just sailing through!  He knows his add/subtraction facts so that doesn’t slow him down and he has learned his basic multiplication facts through our Classical Conversations curriculum along with the skip counting at the beginning of Gamma that concentrates on that…so now that he is doing 3 digit x 3 digit with regrouping…he gets it! No more switching for us!

Grammar – Growing with Grammar (level 3)


Growing With Grammar

LOVE LOVE LOVE IT!  I good friend told me about this program.  It was cheap, easy and requires no prep time!  If your child is a good reader, then he can even do this pretty much on his own!  It teaches grammar in step-by-step format.  Each lesson has the new teaching (again…one step at a time) with practice, then it reviews previous lessons.  It also teaches sentence diagramming which was important to me.  It comes with a “text book” and a “workbook”.  The text book is half-page size and spiral bound.  This has the lesson that you read with examples that explain the concept.  The workbook is what the kids write in.  Each lesson has a workbook page (2-sided) with a section on the new content and then 3  or 4 sections on review material.  It can be done in about 10-15 min for a quick worker or maybe 20 min for a student that takes their time.


Spelling – All About Spelling – Level 3


If you have read my blog, then you know how much I love this program.  I have posts on my blog totally dedicated to AAS program!  I will just say here that again…this is awesome.  My son was behind in reading and many of the phonics programs were geared toward younger kids.  I needed something that would continue phonics instruction but not be babyish!  AAS was it.  It’s a spelling program, but it’s phonics based, so it is a wonderful reading program as well.

The lessons are called “Steps” because you don’t just go through lesson by lesson….moving on each day.  You start on Step 1 and stay with Step 1 until they have mastered the spelling skill/key as well as mastery on their spelling words and dictation sentences.  It is very flexible in how you break up the Step into daily lessons…although some will not like this aspect.  If you want a lesson plan that tells you exactly what to do minute by minute for spelling each day, then you will not like this layout.  But, I would still encourage you to try this out!  It is totally worth it.  There is an online community that helps give you ideas on how to schedule spelling for the week as well as other tips and suggestions.

The program comes with one book (this is YOUR book…there is no student book!), index cards, and any relevant charts or word reading sheets.  You can also purchase the magnet letter tiles separately (do it… I tried without this and although it can be done, I saw a huge difference when I started using the tiles!).  You will only need to purchase an index card box and have pencil and paper on hand. I suggest the this box. It provides all the room you need so it’s not squished in too tight…plus it allows room for the dividers without smashing them!

Sterilite Index Box

Best Box for AAS Cards!

The teacher’s book will tell you what you will be covering in each step and what to say.  So, although it doesn’t have detailed lesson plans, it does have a scripted lesson!  You read through the Step (lesson) as it is written in the book.  It will tell you when to bring out the index cards (which have the spelling words, the key cards, phonogram cards, and sound cards) and when to use the tiles.  At the end of each lesson there is a list of spelling words and “more” or Challenge words (not all lessons have challenge words).  There is also a list of sentences that are used for dictation.  They reinforce the skills previous and currently taught in the book.   It also comes with a handy chart to mark off each step as you go and a certificate of completion.

How I Do It:  I start a new step by just reading through the first few sections.  There is usually a skill reinforcement section where you really analyze the spelling of a word.  Then there is the new stuff for that lesson.  I read through the New Teaching section.  If it’s short then we will complete all of that in about 15 min.  If it’s longer then I sometimes break up the New Teaching section and just introduce part of it one day and part another day. I finish the first day with a few of the dictation sentences on paper. Don’t skip this part.  It truly makes a difference.  This where you see if they can take what they learn in isolation and apply it to regular writing!  The next day in spelling, I review what we learned by QUICKLY restating what was in the New Teaching section and then continue forward.  If there was more New Teaching, then I continue that section. If not, then I introduce the spelling words and we  practice with the letter tiles on the magnet  board.  We finish that day with a few more dictation sentences on paper.

I continue on like this each day until I see that he “gets” it and then I do a test.  The test certainly doesn’t have to be formal, but I like to have him do it on paper.  He has to spell the 10 words plus 2-3 dictation sentences.  If he misses a few, but seems to get most of it right I usually move on, but keep those words in our “Review” section of our card box.  This is then reviewed with the next set of words.  If however, I feel that he didn’t get enough correct, we would just stay with that lesson/step a little longer.

Phonics/Spelling – Explode the Code – Level 5

Explode the Code

We started with Explode the Code series pretty early on in our homeschooling, but then I put it aside for a time.  I wish I hadn’t.  It is a great program that easily and without difficulty, introduces key spelling, phonics/decoding skills as well as some vocabulary. It’s a workbook that the student writes in.  There is a teacher’s guide that I hear is very good, however I don’t have it.  I only used it for the K levels.  I have found that Level 5 goes wonderfully with AAS Level 3.  Last year we did Level 2 in AAS and level 4 in Explode the Code and they mirrored each other.  So for me, Explode the Code offers an independent way for my son to get reinforcement in his spelling concepts. I usually just have him do 3 pages a day.  When he gets to the end of a section, I give him a test that tests both spelling of the words in that section as well as some vocabulary by doing a fill in the blank.  I created the tests myself and will post them here soon.

Literature – Various Books

Okay, so I’ve totally slacked in this department.  I have just recently picked this subject back up. I’m starting out right now just by reading great books to and with my kids.  My son has made wonderful improvements in his reading and actually reads all the time, but for literature, I still wanted to read to him.  We all enjoy story time.  We have read C.S. Lewis’s The Lion, The Which, and The Wardrobe and The Magician’s Nephew.  We are now reading the Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  It’s been fun learning about how families survived in those times! I’m always amazed at the pioneer spirit!  I currently don’t do any formal program for literature or use any literature guides.  We just enjoy the books and discuss them as we go.  I bring up new words as I read them and also find places on the map so they can visualize the story better.  No quizzes or tests…just learning to enjoy a great book.

History & Science – Classical Conversations

We are part of Classical Conversations which is a wonderful Classical Education homeschool program (read more on my other posts).  Our History and Science pulls from what we are doing with CC each week.  We meet once a week with CC and each week the kids are introduced to a new History and Science sentence/fact.  At home each week we expound on that fact by reading from encyclopedias, library books (or books I have on hand), internet, DVDs, and biographies.

I do History 2 days a week and Science 2 days.  We spend one day at CC to that makes up our week.  The first day for History and Science I do the reading from one of my sources (or sometimes a great DVD from the library) We spend about 20 min. doing this.  We discuss what happened and how it relates to our CC History or Science fact.  On the second day for each one, we read a little more from a different source and then I have my son draw and/or write about what we learned in his own words. This goes into his notebook.

We are always reviewing our History and Science fact from CC so they have that memorized by the end of the week.  We also review previous week’s facts and memory work so that they stay fresh in their minds!

Some of my favorite resources are:

Usborne Internet-Linked Encyclopedia of World History

Story of the World

Mystery of History

Usborne – What’s Science All About

Usborne – Internet Linked First Encyclopedia Series

Apologia – Young Explorer Series

Geography and Timeline – Classical Conversations

At CC each week, we introduce several new places on the map.  Right now we are concentrating on Europe which ties into our History this year.  At home, we continue to review those new places by locating them and coloring them in on our maps.  We also draw/trace the maps.  At least once a week we will also review some of the places from previous weeks to keep them memorized.

Our timeline is also introduced each week at CC.  We introduce 8 new cards per week using the Veritas Press timeline cards.  CC incorporates the Bible History cards with the World History cards in chronological order.  It creates a wonderful outline of history from creation to modern times that really helps kids in all subjects! At home, we practice the cards using hand motions and the cards themselves.  Sometimes we play games with the cards too.

I am still figuring out vocabulary and Latin.  We do some Latin at CC each week, but I have not formally started that at home.  I’m thinking of either Latin’s Not So Tough or Prima Latina. Vocabulary has been another sore subject for me.  I haven’t found anything that I really love and have just been using different things here and there.

So if you have any great vocabulary or Latin ideas, let me know.

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Classical Conversations – Our Year 1 Journey Has Ended

In August we started on a new addition to our “homeschool story”. We became part of Classical Conversations! Actually, I became the director and opened a CC in my area. It started with a very difficult beginning (I have to say). Nothing to do with CC, just with logistics trying to get our location started! We had trouble finding a church that was available to use. Then because that took me so long, I didn’t have much time to get families to join! I also needed some experienced home school moms to be “tutors” (class teachers). I found a great group of friends and we all did the training together. Then I lost each one of them due to different reasons. Some went to another group that was closer to their homes (who can blame them). Anyway, it looked like I was starting up with just me and my kids and I was about to throw in the towel…when along came my first family! Then another one, then another! God truly brought me wonderful women and children to join along side me in this new endeavor!

Classical Conversations (CC) is a WONDERFUL home schooling group that meets once a week to model & introduce classical learning methods using 6 main subjects. Each week the kids are introduced to memory work (and let me say, they memorize their work by the time they leave! It takes us moms WAY longer) in Science, History, Geography, Latin, English, Math. We also do a hands-on Science lesson and a hands-on Fine Arts lesson! It is so much fun. I know…you’re asking how memory work can be fun right? Well, it is! CC has given so many tools, examples, and resources, that you can have a blast with the kids! We sing, play games, chant, explore, draw, color, etc…

My kids have walked away from this year with SUCH a huge amount of learning!

We take each week’s memory work and then form lessons around that at home to create our daily work. For example, one week the memory sentence for History was about the Kush (they mined gold along the Nile River). The history sentence they memorize tells them the time period and more. We sing it to a song. Anyway, that week at home for history, we read Story of the World about the Kush. We also did some map work and put up the Kush on our timeline.

A Science fact learned one week was about types of clouds. So at home, I printed off pictures of the types of clouds. We made hand motions for the different types and practiced them. Then we looked outside each day (and now anytime I think of it) and try to identify the types of clouds we see! I have a weather book that I had my son read through too.

The list goes on and on. All I can say is WOW! Without the accountability and hard work that CC has provided, I would’ve never been able to instill this type of long-term learning this year!

Our last week was March 29th and then on Good Friday, we had our Family Night! The kids all got to share what they had learned as a group and as individuals! It was amazing!

If anyone is interested: http://www.ClassicalConversations.com It’s Nationwide!! Check out their schedule because they probably have a parent practicum near you! These are free to any homeschooling parents (or those interested in homeschooling) even if you have no desire to join CC!

So I say: Thank You CC!! And I look forward to another year!

Everyone with their certificates

Just having fun with friends!

Acting out parts of the Ocean Floor!

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Workbox Crazy!

Okay so I had seen postings about workboxes on several blogs but purposely didn’t look at them! I knew if I did, I’d go crazy researching and learning about them! After a while, I finally decided I’d look into it! WOW!  I was up till 3am a couple nights in a row just pouring over all the wonderful blogs about the workboxes!  I have NOT read the book about the system. I have, however, spent hours learning from all the great homeschool moms out there who have used the system and changed it to work for them!  I’ve had some great ideas and I finally started it here at home!  Here is an explaination of how I started and how we are using them.  Let me say that I start a lot of things only to find out that it doesn’t work for us later on…so I will update as we continue and see if this will be a long-term addition to our homeschool story!

Workboxes for 2nd grader

Workboxes for 2nd grader

Workboxes - Schedule Card

Schedule Card

I created a checkoff card (or schedule card) based on ideas I got from the numerous blogs out there. Like most of you, I like to tweak things to fit our needs….so I tried something a little different .  I added an extra line of squares so that I could add in cards for things like snack, lunch, computer time, outside play, etc… I put extra velcro over to the right to put those extra things that he can do in one day. Through the day, he can stop working on the boxes and use one of those cards.  For example, just now, he finished working on box 6 and decided he wanted a bit of a break, so he took his computer card (which says 20 min) and put it in the box after the number 6 card.  I set the timer for 20 min and he is playing on the computer. After 20 min. he will come back and pick up on box #7.

 

I wasn’t sure if I was going to buy the cart/shelf thing that was recommended for the boxes. They seemed like they would be big and take up too much room in our very small school room.  I have 2 kids, so I’d need 2 of them! I went to Target and found them (after searching for awhile….they are on the same isle as the hangers…not with the shoe racks!) I brought them home and I was so glad I got them! They are actually much smaller than they look in the photos… they are only 3 boxes wide…so if you line up 3 shoe boxes, that’s how wide the shelves are!

Our first few days of boxes included:

2nd Grader:

1. CC Review (We do Classical Conversations and we review all our memory work once a day)

2. Math U See – Gamma

3. Jim Weiss CD – Old Testament Stories w/ coloring sheet

4. Biblioplan

5. Take It To Your Seat – Phonics Center

6. Read Aloud (Stories About God’s People)

7. Uno & Snack

8. Grammar

9. Read Silently (any book)

10. Computer Time

11. Constellation Dot-to-Dot and Info Sheet

12. Science – Apologia Astronomy

 

Day 1 for 4.5 year old:

1. CC Review

2. File Folder Game – Counting

3. Math U See – Primer (building 0-99 numbers with blocks)

4. Explode the Code (book A)

5. Sorting buttons – by number, by shape, by color

6. Painting with Water Colors

7. Snack & Uno

8. Cut & Paste Goats and Troll (on Popsicle sticks for puppets)

9. Read & Act Out Three Billy Goats Gruff

 

 

 

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