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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Carnival of Homeschooling: Loving Summer Edition

SmallWorld is this week's host for the Carnival of Homeschooling. Don't miss out on some fun, inspirational and useful homeschool blogging!

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Saturday, July 25, 2009

Peter Piper's Picks: July 25th

St James, the Apostle

Do you love MadLibs? We sure do at our house! In fact we've used them for English grammar lessons. You can now play them online!

Have you visited InternetMonk? It is the #1 podcast with the keyword "monk" on iTunes (so I've heard). He's got a great and active website and the podcasts are really fantastic. His blog is great, too.

Have you heard of 5-minute Artisan bread? Some friends were recently talking about it and then I saw it online a couple of days ago. I can't wait to try it out!

Reading christian thinkers of other traditions really helps to shake up our entrenched ideas, I think. You know, the ones that might be more "us" and less "Him". This post, The Unplanned Life, gave me pause. Do you know what God's plan is for you life? Are you sure?

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Friday, July 24, 2009

Homeschool Questions: What do you use?

Last month I started what I'd hoped would be a series of posts on "Homeschool Questions" in response to some questions I've gotten from new homeschoolers. I've been a bit slow in getting to the rest of the series, haven't I? Well, what can I say, summer has gotten the better of me and I'm ok with that!

The past couple of days I've been giving some thought to the year ahead and looking over curricula. It just so happens that Kris at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers is having a Weekly RoundUp with a "What are you using?" theme, and I thought I'd join in!

So, in answer to "What do you use?" here's an overview of our curricula for this year:

Grammar Level Students
(5th grade son and 2nd grade daughter)

5th: Saxon 5/4
2nd: Singapore 2

Language Arts:
5th: Easy Writing (5th grader) - which oddly enough I'm using for Grammar. Possibly adding one of IEW's writing programs later this year (All Things Fun & Fascinating, probably). I'm considering adding a spelling unit using K. Stout's Natural Speller. HWT's Cursive and copy work.

2nd: Explode the Code (Books 2 - ? as far as we need to go until she is reading fluently). Adding some Bob Books or other simple readers as her fluency grows, which I expect will happen quickly at this point. Lots of games: Phonics Bingo, Sight Word Bingo and HWT's Printing Power and copy work.

Classical Studies:
This year we are in Rome: The Aeneid for Boys and Girls (AJ Church), Galen and the Gateway to Medicine. If we get through both of these, I'll also add Famous Men of Rome

Modern Studies:
Classical Conversations history sentences, timeline, and geography locations. Story of the World and various children's fiction/non-fiction supplemental reading - quite a few from the My Book House children's literature collection. God's World News for current events.

Science & Nature:
Nature notebooks (I've yet to do this consistently, but I'm hoping this will be the year!). Science reading, experiments, and projects to coincide with CC's science sentences. Our source material will be Great Science Adventures: The World of Plants and Discovering Earth's Landforms & Surface Features. I've found various books to cover the Animal kingdom, too.

Latin for Children
Tutored French for the 5th grader

We have a booklist for our kids that I compiled from a number of online sources. We just read whatever is next on the list. Here is what we are currently reading:
5th Grader: Lord of the Rings (read aloud with Dad)
2nd Grader: Chronicles of Narnia (read aloud with Dad)
Together with Mom: Story of Dr. Doolittle, Wind in the Willows

Building Thinking Skills - this is a maybe. I really like these workbooks, but we'll see if we have time to include it.

Arts: Artist and Composer study with Classical. Attending Children's Symphony concert and Children's Theatre productions. Possibly tutored art lessons - or mom-tutored. Picture study with National Gallery teacher resources. I try to keep a fair amount of art supplies on hand. We often pull out art supplies, listen to good music (folk, world, and classical), and just enjoy some free creation time.

Dialectic Level Student
My 8th grader

Jacob's Algebra with Dad

Language Arts:
Jensen's Punctuation
Poetry unit (Grammar of Poetry)
Newbery Literature and essays with CC Challenge B
The Short Story (reading classic short stories and writing their own) with CC Challenge B

Classical Studies:
Finish Wanderings of Odysseus, The Aeneid for Boys and Girls, Dragonslayer (retelling of Gilgamesh), Arabian Nights (selections from this), other selections from non-western cultures: China, India, Africa

Modern Studies:
Challenge B: current event research/discussion and Mock Trial

Science & Nature:
Challenge B: History of Science, study of origins

Latin's Not So Tough 5, 6

Newberry Literature (with Challenge B), plus selections from our family booklist.

Introductory Logic, Intermediate Logic (Nance & Wilson)

Arts: Drama with local drama program. Children's Symphony and Children's Theatre productions. Possibly attending some of the Metropolitan Opera performances being played in our local movie theatre (and these).

Earlier this week I looked over our annual, weekly, and daily schedules and I'll post more about that in the next week or so to answer the next "Homeschool Question": "When do you homeschool?"

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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Ideas for memory work

Several of my kind blog readers have asked me to share how we review our memory work for Classical Conversations. Obviously, many of these ideas can be used for other types of memory work and not only for CC!

You'll notice I have a common theme based on a simple penny game. I keep a stock of coins in my school supplies. I give out pennies for right answers and then the kids can trade the pennies in for larger coins. They LOVE this!

Timeline cards
This is one of our favorites! We use the Veritas Press history cards. Each week CC works on about 8 cards. We memorize them a few different ways. First, we go through the stack to be memorized and talk about each card (background info and such). Then, we go through them and say the main fact ("The Flood", "Tower of Babel", for ex.). Next, we lay them all out in a row and pick out clues from the images on the front (ex 1st week: God, garden, brothers, ark, tower, shield, big pyramid, small pyramid). Now the fun begins! The kids hide their eyes and I mix up all the cards. They begin trying to get them back in the right order (usually I let the oldest child go first - this allows the younger ones more time to memorize the order). Once the first child lays them out in the order he thinks is correct I place pennies on the ones that are correct. Then he keeps reorganizing until he's gotten them all in the correct order and collects his pennies! We follow up by chanting all the cards quickly in order ("Creation, Fall in the Garden, Cain and Abel, The Flood, etc). Then the next child gets her chance to try.

We don't always do all this on one day. Sometimes we just get up to the image part and then start the penny game the next day. On subsequent days we do the penny game only and do the chant - reviewing the image clues, if needed.

History Sentence
I find the CC powerpoints helpful as they have good visual cues, and of course the CC songs are always good! I usually print out the powerpoint slides and keep them in a binder. We flip to the the current week's and play the music while looking at the slide. I often find that hand motions of some sort are very helpful, too, especially with non-readers! I don't review these every day, but about twice a week and then play the audio CD in the car here and there.

This consists of simple skip counting set to music (CC provided, but if you don't use CC, you could find skip counting songs elsewhere, I'm sure). We print out the powerpoints (kept in the same binder), but could just as easily create our own charts. We look at the powerpoints and listen to the songs, singing along. Another time (or the same day, if we wish) we write the skip counting on a white board and one by one erase the numbers having the kids say the skip counting and filling in the missing numbers from memory until all the numbers are erased and they are doing it entirely from memory. I give pennies everytime they get the whole skip counting series correct.

Here the powerpoints (binder again) are quite helpful and we also use hand motions of some sort. We have done this in the past and will again, but this year I'd like to also incorporate something hands-on for the science memory work. My plan is to use some of Dinah Zike's ideas for "books". I'll share my ideas for those as I get them figured out, but if you don't know about Dinah Zike's "Big Book of Books", check it out! For example, using a Venn Diagram to display the facts about the differences between animal cells and plant cells (weeks 3 and 4).

This is pretty simple: get a map, call out the places to be located, pennies given round for correct answers! I usually start by going clockwise around the map, or in some other expected pattern, and then start switching it up a bit. Another good idea, if your kids are able, is to let them trace a blackline map and color in the locations on their tracing. If that is a breeze for them, they can try drawing them free-hand.

We use hand motions, rebus charts (using images for keywords in the verse), and pure repitition. Of course, pennies for good work!

We try to quickly run through the timeline, math, geography, and Bible on each of our four non-CC school days, and alternate between science and history, spending two days a week on each. My goal is to get through the memory work in about 30 minutes, but sometimes it takes much more or much less time. While I highly value the memory work, my higher goals are the basics (math and languages), the beautiful (literature and arts), and the fascinating (science and history) and I will sacrifice memory work time for these other goals.

I'd love to hear YOUR ideas for memory work and other readers will benefit, so please leave a comment!

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Monday, July 20, 2009

Cheating Summer

Originally posted in June of 2007, this post has been on my mind recently as the thermometer has been hitting the 90s and above again. This morning I sat out on my front steps reading and remembered the delight of a summer day . . . heat and all.

I think I'm cheating summer.

Today, my middle son enjoyed anther afternoon of digging in the sandbox with his bestfriends next door. I stepped outside just to have a listen (they are so close that sometimes they all bicker like siblings, so we keep close tabs on the temperature of the interraction) and was delicately distracted by the buzzing and whirring and screeching of a hot, humid summer afternoon here in the south. The June bugs, in their shiny, metallic green shells, were buzzing around my herbs. There were various species of "bee" also making the rounds. And high above me came a distinct, rising screech. It was definitely the screech of a bug - almost a crackling screech - rather than a bird or animal. I've no idea what it was, but it was quite loud!

I stood there thinking how lovely this hot and stifling afternoon really was to my senses, if not to the comfort of my inner thermostat. My husband would cringe if he knew what I did next. I went inside and opened a window. And, no, I didn't turn off the A/C .

Somehow by sitting inside my home so nice and refrigerated, and perfectly still , I feel like I'm cheating myself out of summer. I've missed the soft clamour of nature and the warmth of the sun on my skin.

I think I'll keep the window open.

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Saturday, July 18, 2009

Peter Piper's Picks: July 18th

While Newsweek is not my usual reading, this book list looks promising: Fifty Books for Our Times.

A comic strip representation comparing Orwell's and Huxley's ideas about the future of society.

This is good reading for newbie homeschoolers and old-timer homeschoolers alike: 7 Dumb Mistakes Smart People Make as Homeschoolers

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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Baby L says Daddy and Doggie

Well, you can't tell here, but WE can tell when she is saying "daddy" versus "doggie". These are her first words! At the very end you'll hear Erik say "SIT". I promise he's talking to the dog (who was trying to eat the camera right out of my hand) not Baby L!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Peter Piper's Picks - July 11th

Only one this week, but it is a good one. Earlier this week Ann Kroeker posted a link to a PBS series (on YouTube) entitled, Consuming Kids, about the marketing machine aimed at our children. While I knew companies marketed to children, I was shocked by some of their tactics. It is a little over an hour, but broken down into 7 10-minute segments. I had planned to just watch a couple episodes at a time, but I couldn't stop watching once I got started.

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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Carnival of Homeschooling - Founding Fathers Edition

The Carnival of Homeschooling, Founding Fathers Edition, is up at Why Homeschool (the carnival's original home blog). It is great to read encouragement and good ideas as we gear up for the new school year, isn't it?

Head on over - you'll enjoy it!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Gathering up all the Stuff we needed to take with us for our Fourth of July swim and fireworks party was quite a task: pimento cheese, squash casserole, swim suits, towels, changes of clothes, diapers, bottles, toys, etc. There was one item I really didn't want to forget: a camera. It was Baby L's first Fourth and I wanted to get lots of photos for the scrapbook!

I wandered around the house muttering "camera, camera, camera" until I could get to the cabinet where we keep The Camera. Unfortunately, my mommy-brain was too easily distracted and we went off without it. Oh, the guilt!

Then my friend, Donna, came to my rescue! She had remembered her camera (she has more functioning brain cells than I, don't believe her when she tells you otherwise) and was kind enough to send me some of the photos she took (one of the wonderful joys of the digital age - instant photo sharing). So, thank you, Donna!

Poolside - relaxing in the afternoon shade.

Not so happy.

Happy! Baby L's first dip in the pool!

LadyBug (on the left) and her two girlfriends
enjoy snowcones

The boys enjoying snowcones in the hot tub!

Here's a man with a pyrotechnical problem.

Hey, look, it really goes up there!

Hope you had a wonderful Independence Day!!

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Saturday, July 4, 2009

Peter Piper's Pick's - July 4th

An excellent and short essay on modesty's ability to preserve the holy from Betty Beguiles.

Mom My Ride - my husband sent this to me. He always tells me I should leave the van doors open and let the birds feast from the crumbs.

Jennifer of Et Tu has some thoughts on prayer and the Psalms that really spoke to and challenged me.

Are you enjoying the beautiful fruit of summer? How about making some delicious fruit tarts?

And finally, for the Fourth of July: Cyber Fireworks! You can choose your location. (I chose the White House because I love DC, but you can choose your own location.)

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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Why my blogging is sparse . . .

Dressing poor pooch up in dressups and doll clothes.

Middle son's plan for a homemade beany baby.

Painting extravaganza.

Hanging streamer decorations for "underwater" play.

Cracking jokes with Baby L.

Making cupcakes: chocolate with strawberry frosting and SPRINKLES!

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