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Showing posts from April, 2012

Record Keeping ... Blech!

I love to plan.

I don't like to keep records.

But, it's necessary in homeschooling. Thankfully in Oklahoma there are no laws regarding homeschooling other than on the number of days and/or hours you have to have "school" when providing an "alternative education".

But, I want to keep records. I like to have them "just in case". And, I always feel like we haven't done much until I look back and see exactly what we have done.

I keep records in three ways:

1. My Planner. I do a lesson plan page for each of the kids for each day we do "book school". It is a simple page that my husband created for me. It basically just has a place for the date and a slot for each subject so I can write down our plans for the day. It keeps us on track. It is simple but very effective. I even write the "scores" next to the assignments after I have graded them to make my gradebook-inputting more efficient.


2. My Gradebook. I don't take grades for …

Weekly Wrap-Up ~ Connections

What a GLORIOUS WEEK! It wasn't because everybody's attitudes were perfect at every moment. It wasn't because we got everything done that we had planned.

It was because I saw some Connections being made. I felt like all we have worked toward this year came to fruition in this one week.

MANY times this week, Brynne would be reading one book and making connections from what she has read and learned in other books. She drew things out of picture books that she had learned in studying The Secret Garden and things she had learned in non-fiction books about plants. I smiled more times than I can count this week. YES!

On that note, there is SO MUCH READING going on in this house all the time! Brynne has read three shy of 100 BOOKS this year! Many days, she reads two to three books, both non-fiction and fiction, and a chapter of her current Puppy Place chapter book. She is connecting to the stories like I have always dreamed she would. She has also read at least three unassigned b…

HSV Garden Challenge #2 ~ Not Much Progress

I don't know what it is with me this year, but I haven't attacked my garden with gusto like I usually do! I have done it in bits and pieces, but it's not all complete like I would like. I am planning on having everything in the ground by Mother's Day. Hope that's not too late.


Here's what's going on so far ...

To read the rest of this post, click here and head over to Taulman Times. I am posting my Garden Challenges there.

I is for "Ice Age 4: The Continental Drift"

This weeks letter at Blogging Through the Alphabet is "I". In a timely fashion, I is for "Ice Age".


Ice Age is one of our favorite family movies. When we went on a Yellowstone trip a few years ago (60 hours in the car, for 9 days, through 7 states, with 4 kids, thank you very much), I think we watched that movie at least 20 times. It's one of our favorite quotable movies.

On July 13th, our family will be front and center, with our large box of popcorn and contraband candy, watching Ice Age 4: Continental Drift. And because there is no way to turn off my teacher brain (yes, I have tried), I thought I would do a unit study the week before the movie to prepare us for it. That way, when the characters are throwing around terms like "continental drift", "plate tectonics", and "Pangaea", my kids will have some background information, instead of just watching the movie to see what kind of trouble Sid the Sloth is in this time.

(If you ar…

Weekly Wrap-up ~ Parts

Well after a pretty quiet and sickly kind of week last week, we hit it hard this week!

Brynne started the next phase of her The Secret Garden unit by studying plants. We did an overview of the parts of a plant, learned more deeply about seeds and roots, and then ended our week with a study of The Lorax in honor of Earth Day.

The basis to our study is "Sue's Free Plant Unit Study" (under Science Freebies) by Funtastic Unit Studies. It is a free download and is excellent for Brynne's age group (probably age 5-9 or so). It was definitely my Favorite Resource this week.

To learn the general parts of a plant, we relied on the book Parts of Plants by Wiley Blevins. It is simple, has great illustrations, and was something that Brynne could read in one short setting.

Brynne made a flower with all it's parts using tissue paper for the flowers and seeds, a brown pipe cleaner for the stem, green construction paper for the leaves, and tan yarn for the roots.


Then we dissecte…

The Lorax Lesson Plan

I mentioned last week that I came across a great FREE Earth Day inspired lesson plan based on Dr. Suess' book The Lorax. Yesterday Brynne and I did some of the activities in the download.


We started our morning by making a marble Earth. We cut out a circle and taped it into a shoe box lid (to keep it stationary). We added a glop of blue paint and a glop of green paint and four marbles. She rolled them and shook them to make the Earth.


Then we read The Lorax by Dr. Suess. When we were done, we answered the Discussion Questions posed in the download and wrote adjectives to describe the Lorax.


I took a picture of Brynne and attached a Lorax mustache to her printed picture. Then she completed the sentence: "If I had the last Truffula seed I would ... plant it then it would drop other seeds and the seeds will grow into other truffula trees."

We attached those items to her Earth to make a cute story sheet!


While Brynne had her lunch, she watched the Deluxe Edition of Dr. Suess…

Amazing Science! Vol. 1 - TOS Review

When we received the Amazing Science! Volume 1 dvd, I was very excited! I have some budding scientists in my home, and I knew they would love them. I also knew that I would love having some guidance in this area that is not my passion. Little did I know how great the dvd series would be!

Volume 1 contains two dvds. The first experiment we chose was Experiment 13 - Floating Eggs. I just wanted to get a feel for the dvds and to gauge my children's response to watching the videos.

My first observation was that the video was short, concise, informative, clear, and had a "wow" factor!

The experiment is introduced and a materials list is provided. The materials were simple and were items we already had at home. Then Jason Gibson (the scientist behind the series) proceeded to conduct the experiment. It was easy to follow and fun to watch. And something happened that doesn't normally happen here: The experiment actually worked! (That is usually a major problem with our experi…

A Phone Call of Encouragement

My husband called me today in the middle of the day. He said he had been listening to a radio program and the guy was talking about the creativity of children. He said that 95% of second graders, when asked, say that they are creative. By 5th grade, only 50% say that they are creative. And by high school, only 2% of students say they are creative.

He told me that he believes that bringing Eli home to homeschool will be one of those things we look back and see how it completely changed his life for the better. The same holds true for Brynne, and even Dawson who is already in high school.

He told me that if and when I ever feel discouraged from others about our decision to homeschool, that he wants me to remember how important our homeschooling decision is and our desire to allow our children to be creative.

What a great moment of encouragement!



Ultimate Blog Party 2012

It's that time of year to get all fancied up and climb into your limo to head over to the Ultimate Blog Party hosted by 5MinutesforMom.


I am Nicole, Lead Teacher at Pursuit Academy (we have a new name!) I blog here at Journey to Excellence about the schooling experiences of my children: Dawson, age 15 in the 9th grade (homeschool), Eli, age 8 in the 2nd grade (public school), and Brynne, age 6 in the 2nd grade (homeschool). I also have a 17 year old daughter, Kyndal, who lives in another state with her dad. She is a junior in high school. My husband, Rick, is an engineer and supports our schooling endeavors. Starting next year, he will be taking on a more active role by leading our children in Science Saturdays.


Our homeschooling journey started two years ago when Dawson, a then 7th grader, begged to come home. God had already been speaking to me about this, so we jumped right in the next year. Eli and Brynne were in public school ... Eli in 1st grade, Brynne starting kindergarte…

A Time to Visit and Get Inspired

The TOS Blog Cruise topic this week is "Who Inspires You?"

As I relate this to homeschooling, I realize that other blogging homeschoolers inspire me most. I could spend hours (and sometimes do) reading what other homeschoolers are doing with their children. I gain so many ideas that I couldn't possibly do them all! It so happens that a few of them are participating in a 10 Days series hosted by iHomeschool Network, starting today. When a post comes up from one of these ladies, I always read it because it is sure to contain something useful or inspirational.

Take some time to see what these amazing homeschool moms have to say on a wide range of topics:

Mary at Homegrown Learners
Jamie at See Jamie Blog
Kris at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers
Jimmie at Jimmie's Collage

Have a wonderful day being a home educator!! And go to the Blog Cruise on Tuesday to see what inspires other Cruisers!


Earth Day is Coming!

Earth Day is Sunday, April 22nd. Do you have any lessons prepared to celebrate this very important day?


If you don't, you need look no further than TEACHERS Pay TEACHERS (TpT), an open marketplace for educators.

Each week I receive an e-mail notifying me of 10 Free Downloads. This week, there are some great Earth Day downloads! Brynne and I will be incorporating:

The Great Kapok Tree ~ Celebrating Earth Day by Cooperative Learning 365
Earth Day Report Card by Runde's Room
Lorax Earth Day Craftivity by Mel D

On Friday afternoon, after we get home from Co-op, we are going to watch the movie, The Lorax.


We will also be going to the zoo on Saturday because our local zoo is having an Earth Day celebration.

If you want to do different activities, TpT has 789 Earth Day Materials you can choose from. Some are free, some are at a minimal cost.

I encourage you to stop by the site, look it over, download some great materials and SIGN UP FOR THE WEEKLY E-MAILS! Scroll to the bottom of this …

H is for "Humdrum Days"

At Ben and Me's Blogging Through the Alphabet, this week's letter is "H". The only word that kept popping up in my mind was "Humdrum".


You have those days, right? Or those weeks?

We had one of those weeks this past week. Dawson had oral surgery on Monday, Eli was home Tuesday with a cold, I was feeling bad because I am, well, a woman and it happens to us (if you know what I mean), and it's been rainy and dreary.

Hum. Drum.

What do you do when you have a humdrum day?

We spent the week pretty much doing the basics and resting. But on Thursday, we had a movie day. We bundled up on the couch with blankets, hot green tea, and the dogs. We watched "The Secret Garden", because Brynne is finishing up our unit study on the book.


Then we watched "Journey to the Center of the Earth" because Dawson is reading the book with the same title by Jules Verne.


The other thing we concentrated on was reading. Brynne finished her second chapter book in th…