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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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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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Filed under Classical Conversations, homeschool, Resources, The Not So Perfect Plan

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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From Workboxes to Working Squares – And I’m writing a book?

It’s been a while since I last blogged and I hope that will soon be changing.  There are many new and exciting things that I’d like to share, but first let me update about the workboxes system at my house.

When I found out about workboxes, I was completely obsessed with finding out more and more.  I am sure that I read every blog out there that had anything to do with workboxes.  I bought the ebook from Sue Patrick’s website and read it through.  I went right out and got the boxes and the shoe rack thing to hold them.  I loved the system!  I made a few alterations to the system to make it work for me and my 2 children…but they were awesome!  I told all my friends about it and even posted a few things here on my blog about them.  Oh..and I joined some yahoo groups.

My son (9) loved the workboxes.  It was because of him that I was even looking for something to help us. He had such a distaste for school and I knew I had to make some changes.  The workbox system allowed him to see his whole day at a glance.  He instantly knew what was expected of him and when the school day would be over.  It also forced me to make sure that I was including some fun learning parts to our day and not make things so dry.

My daughter (5) also loved it.  She would go through her boxes like a pro! And boy did she love all the fun independent activities I would find for her boxes. She was very good at following the system and marking her chart and stacking up the “done” boxes.

There were so many aspects to the system that I loved, that some are surprised that I stopped using them.  I think all things are here for a season and my season was just over I guess.  I learned so much from the system that will always be with me as a homeschool mom though.  In the end, space was a big factor.  I needed more bookshelves and it just wouldn’t all fit! But also, no matter how many times I tried to figure something out, the planning was just taking up too much time.  I had to find a better way.

The “better way” for me became something that for now I will call “working squares”.  It spawned from the idea of workboxes but it doesn’t take up any space and it cuts planning down to almost none!

This is how it happened:

While I had the workboxes, I would plan each weekend for the upcoming week.  I would think about how much of each subject needed to be done and what days and what lessons and so on.  Then each weekday night, I would fill the boxes, making changes as needed.  If I hadn’t done my weekend planning, then the school nights were very long as I planned out the lessons and gathered the supplies.  And if I didn’t do it the night before….school just never started started late. I tried the file system to hold all the upcoming work and workbooks, which really helped.  But I would still end up not planning falling behind in my planning and do it a day at a time.  I felt like I was just repeating the same task over and over.

I ended up creating an excel sheet with my master schedule for the year.  Not a detailed day-by-day type of thing…just an overview of what a typical week would look like.  It was the start of something new.  The workboxes were moved out of the room to make way for my new bookcases.  (they make great toy organizers by the way).  Instead of boxes to look at, the kids had binders with schedules.  They could still see the whole day and were able to mark off the items as they did them.  No more laminating or velcro to stick. Just good ‘ol paper and pencils.  Instead of having all their items in individual workboxes to pull from, they had ONE bin with all their school books and notebooks.  On their desks were their pencils, crayons, markers, etc… and extra paper.

Through the year, I started to realize that, again, I was just repeating the same task each night….writing out their schedule in their notebook each night.  The only thing that was better was that I wasn’t filling boxes anymore.  So I kept thinking….

I started calling my friends and asking them what they do.  Most of them were in the same place I was…with some sort of plan of action, but not really happy with it.  Why?  Why was it so hard to find a way that would be good for the kids and EASY for us? It’s not that I want it easy all the time, but a little break would be appreciated!

I am now in the process of writing.  (Do I dare say I’m writing a book?) Maybe I’m writing a book…can we just call it a guide or something?  That seems less daunting. I’ve always wanted to write a book guide, so maybe this will be it? It’s been in my head for awhile but kinda of in a jumbled up sort of way.  I try to explain what I want to say or write about, but it never seemed to have a clear direction.  Until last night.  I started writing.

I couldn’t stop.  I wrote for 3 hours straight.  And it was making sense! It ended up taking on a different direction than I had previously thought…but now I know it’s in the right direction…or at least the right direction for now.  

I’m writing a book guide for fellow homeschool moms  like me who feel frustrated about the state of their homeschool.  I hope that it will offer advice, support and even some laughter along the way.  The “working squares” system is still being developed, but it will be in the book guide too…along with other great ways to organize, plan, and attack your homeschool year!

So here is to a new adventure of writing and a new system of organization…oh and a brand new printer (but that’s another story!)

 

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My Favorite Spelling Program

Okay, so I am exhausted and don’t have the energy to express my love for this program as I should… but let me just say that I am so glad that SPELLING is one thing I don’t have to think about when we start back to school this year. Last year I found All About Spelling and tried it. I figured I didn’t have much to lose since there was a money back guarantee! I LOVED it. I have a son who is a little bit of a struggling reader. He is 8 years old so I couldn’t keep using young phonics programs and frankly it was my constant changing of programs that probably led to his lack of ability in the area! Anyway, I found All About Spelling and liked it because of it’s ability to also teach phonics and help with reading! And boy it did! I have seen a big improvement in his reading since starting the program. We started in Level 2 last year and finished it up by the end of the year. We are now about 3 lessons into level 3 and going strong. He actually LIKES spelling!

So here is a link so you can learn more about it yourself!

And if you are already using All About Spelling….join the awesome users forum! I have learned so much from others there!

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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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Laminating & Binding — My new obsessions!

Okay so a few months ago I got a laminator from Aldi that was only $20!  It has been the best little laminator.  It does up to 8.5×11 inches.  I’m surprised there is anything left in my house not covered in melted plastic! 🙂

Anyway, for a while I was out of my laminating sheets, but I just got some more…and I’m at it again! My recent laminating projects have been chore charts and file folder games.  The file folder games I JUST found the other night through some wonderful posters on the workboxes yahoo group! I printed out an alien one that was supposed to be for multiplication, but I printed the blank ones so I can just write (with a dry erase) anything I want! I also did a Roman Numeral one and a couple place value.

Here is my Chore Chart:

I used chore cards that I made in similar fashion to workbox cards. Then laminated them (of course) and then put velcro on them.  He takes the off as he does his chores and puts them in the little bag that says “DONE”.  Easy breezy!

Chore Chart

Chore Chart with Removable Chore Cards

I also recently purchased a Comb Binding Machine! It was on sale and it was Valentines Day….so I decided I deserved it! 🙂  I have been looking for something to BIND…so I tried it out with the alien math folder game.  It’s pretty cool!

Martian Multiplication

File Folder Game - turned into bound book

Playing File Folder Game

Playing the Martian Multiplication Game - notice it's bound!

Alien Multiplication Game

Inside of the game with binding

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