Packing up and Moving out

As much as I love, I’ve packed up my blog and moved to my own domain! There have been just a few things that I wanted to do with my blog to make it more interactive, and’s setup didn’t work for what I wanted. They are still the best free blog host ever, and highly recommend them.

I was able to import everything from this blog over to the new one, but I’ll be cleaning house over the next few weeks. Things will be dusty over there, and you might run into some broken links. But my goal is to make it bigger, better and more interactive.

Please head on over and check it out, and be sure to bookmark the new site. See you there!

Dreams into Plans

Creativi-Tea days

Fridays are my favorite day of all! Fridays are when we focus on the Arts, and I wish sooooooo much that I had come up with this idea with C20 was still homeschooling. She’s my artistic one, and would have LOVED days like this.

Artistic Pursuits, K-3

For Art I am using Artistic Pursuits, the first book specifically. For preschool and kinder I used to plan my own artsy type project. But I really love, love, love the approach AP takes in teaching the concept of art in a conversational and interactive way. Plus, it’s all laid out for me and has practically zero prep time. All I have to do is make sure I have all our art supplies for the lesson ready to go.

I really appreciate also that they encourage the children to express themselves, not to follow a particular formula. (Remember those days? When everyone made the exact same paper pilgrim from pieces of paper already cut out for you?) They use a variety of art mediums which, I will admit, can get kind of expensive.

I discovered that Michael’s Crafts is giving teacher’s 15% off their entire order through Sept 24th. Plus my store also let me use their 40% coupon off one item too. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this will be something they will do each semester. But even if you miss out on this special, if you plan your purchases carefully and use coupons (JoAnns and Michael’s will often accept competitors) you should be able to get the most expensive items at a discount.

One tweak I made to fit our homeschool is I have made copies (and laminated them) of each lesson’s art masterpiece. I hang the artwork on our Learning Board so that we can see and discuss it during the week before our art lesson. That way the artwork is part of our everyday learning, not just once a week. We don’t actually talk about the piece every day, but it’s there for his little brain to look at and absorb.


I also make a point of listening to classical music during our school day. Last year it was Mozart, and this year it is Beethoven. I’ll probably check out a picture book or two about Beethoven for “couch school,” so G6 can become a little more familiar with the man behind the music. But at this age it’s more about exposure than anything else. I don’t expect him to be able to pick out specific symphonies or even be able to distinguish between Mozart and Beethoven. Although I do think it’s funny that he’s realized that there’s a lot of classical music in Bugs Bunny/Looney Tunes cartoons. *snork!*

Of course, the MOST important part of our Creativi-Tea Day is our Tea Party! I’m sure a lot of you are thinking “What? Tea party with a BOY?”  I assure you, G6 is about as boyish as they come. He loves Star Wars, swords and having mock wars with his Legos (despite all my efforts of raising a peace-filled child!) But he and I have been having tea parties since he was about three years old, and they are lots of fun.

A tea party with a boy is more about food and conversation, rather than teddy bears and dressing up. In fact, he’s never had a tea party with his stuffed animals. However, I’ve always paired our tea party with a yummy snack, fun project and a good book. (Not to mention the classical music playing in the background.) I also take the time to gently teach/remind him of table manners.

Sometimes we make our tea party snack together, which is a huge thrill for him since he likes cooking/baking things with us. Snacks can be as simple as cheese and crackers, or as elaborate as finger sandwiches (usually PB&J). Sometimes I’ll even buy a special treat from the international section of the grocery or from World Market. And if I can fit in a food from the time period or area of the world we are studying, even better!

The boy even drinks actual tea. Sometimes people will serve kids juice, lemonaid or kool-aid type drinks at tea parties. But I’ve always given G6 real tea. Most of the time it’s a fruity herbal, although we have tried rooibos teas on occasion. I tend to stay away from caffeinated teas for him. Someone gave him a gift of Children’s Tea, and he really enjoys it too.

This year our “project” is our Artistic Pursuits lesson for the week, which is is absolutely loving to pieces. So far we’ve been closing our party with our art project rather than a book. But since we don’t limit reading only to “school time,” he knows he only has to ask, and one of us will cuddle up on the couch and read with him. 🙂

Exploring Creation with Astronomy

Exploring Creation with Astronomy

At first I was a bit leery of spending an entire year on just one subject. What about the weather? The human body? Oceans? After I read Fulbright’s introduction though, I fell in love with the idea. Fulbright explains that by immersing the student in just one subject, they get to really plumb the depths and richness of that topic. It reminded me a lot of Charlotte Mason’s idea of narrating….letting the student explore and interact with their studies in ways that helped their brain to make connections that they might have otherwise missed.

Exploring Creation with Astronomy is for kids six to twelve, but I feel the text is geared toward the older child. In the notebook (sold separately) there is a suggested schedule, usually reading about 2 pages twice a week. However, I’ve discovered that although G6 is intensely interested in the subject, if I read more than a page his eyes gloss over. *lol*

So instead I’m reading about one section (or topic, depending) per day. For example, in chapter one there is a section called “Astronomers, Astronauts, and Satellites.” Even though it’s only about a page long, there is no way he could process all that information in one sitting. So today I only read him the small section about astronomers. Tomorrow it will be about NASA and astronauts, and Thursday will be about satellites. I’ve also brought home a bunch of picture books about space from the library, some non-fiction and some just fun, so that he can flip through them or have us read them to him at bedtime if he chooses.


Getty Dubay Italics

In all my years of homeschooling I’ve never met another parent that uses Getty Dubay Italic for their handwriting program. But I really like that the letters basically stay the same in both print and cursive style. One reason I think is there are some complaints that children grow up not being able to read “regular” cursive.

In my experience, cursive handwriting has to be decoded for each individual anyway. KWIM? My mother’s cursive is waaaaay different than both my grandmother’s and my mother-in-law’s. I had to teach myself how to read their cursive, even though I was taught “regular cursive” in public school.

Italic cursive is as easy to read (and write!) as Italic print. So chances are people will be able to read G6’s handwriting better than traditional cursive. Assuming, of course, than anyone will be actually WRITING with pen and paper and their own hands in the future.

All About Spelling

All About Spelling

Just like RightStart Math, we only do about 1/2 a lesson a day in All About Spelling. AAS is multi-sensory and mastery based also, which goes along with Charlotte Mason’s teachings. G6 has forgotten some of his phonemes over the summer, so before each day’s lesson we do a quick review and/or re-teaching the ones that he’s forgotten.

Since we’re going so slowly, we’ve not actually gotten very far into the program. I’m also not actually going to formally teach G6 spelling at this age, since he is still working on reading. Sometime at the end of this year (2010) AAS is supposed to come out with a reading program for parents who love AAS but need help tweaking the program for reading instruction. Hooray, I can’t wait!

RightStart Math

RightStart Math, Level B

We started RightStart in Kinder, but we’re only working about 15 mins a day (per Charlotte Mason) on a lesson. Nice and slow, working on mastery rather than trying to finish a book in a specific time frame. RightStart itself is also based on the principle of mastery. I also like that it uses lots of manipulatives so the student gets to really PLAY with their numbers.

I’m a bit math phobic, I think because I struggled so much with math in school. Hubby on the other hand, is really great with math, and I have to get him to slooooow down when trying to explain a math concept to me. I like RightStart because *I* can see where it’s going during the lesson, and it helps to fill in my own math gaps.

I used Saxon math with DD (C20) when we first started out homechooling, and quickly discovered that the textbooks weren’t really math-phobic friendly. I felt like they were written more for a math TEACHER, rather than a parent who needed a help teachING math to their student. I relied on hubby a lot during our Saxon years. Then I discovered Teaching Textbooks and fell on my knees in thanksgiving. *lolololol*

RightStart requires a little prep from the teacher, but it’s mostly an open-and-go kind of program. I usually only need about 15 minutes to read through the lesson to understand what concepts are being taught. And since we only do about 1/2 a lesson a day, G6 and I both get plenty of hands on time with whatever we’re supposed to be learning at the time.

Grapevine Stick Figure Bible

Grapevine Bible Studies

Although TOG has a lot of bible readings built in I wanted a more structured bible study for school. I didn’t want anything too rigid, but also wanted something that was easy to tweak to reflect our family’s personal beliefs. I saw a few reviews of Grapevine’s Stick Figuring Bible around the web, and finally decided to give it a try. And I’m so glad I did!

G6 has really been enjoying “making his own Bible,” as he puts it. I only teach one page (two pictures) a day. Since we’re doing Creation in TOG, I chose Beginner level Old Testament overview. He loved drawing the story of creation, and every day asks to do “just one more, please!”

I don’t have him memorize the Bible verses since he’s already doing a lot of that for Awana. However, I think he’d gain a lot more understanding of the verses he’d be memorizing with Grapevine, versus the 2-3 a week he’s having to memorize for Awana.