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Showing posts from July, 2012

Our Third Grade Curriculum ~ FIAR

Today's topic on Schoolhouse Review Crew's Back-to-Homeschool Blog Hop is Curriculum. Being a literature-based unit study freak, Five in a Row is the perfect curriculum for us ... when we use it.

I also do a lot of building of my own unit studies, and I like to "backwards" plan unit studies. What this means is that I search for local events, plays, movies, etc., that interest us. Then I build a literature-based unit off that event. So, the first thing I did in planning for the school year was to calendar all of the events I already know about that could have a fun unit study attached to it ... THEN I supplemented our school year with Five in a Row units. It works great!

Although FIAR has many different levels to it's units (Social Studies, Geography, Science, Art, Math), we will have separate, daily studies in some other areas:

All About Spelling
Easy Grammar
Copywork (based on the unit we are doing, usually a poem or a quote)
Handwriting Without Tears ~ Cursiv…

My Homeschooling Method ~ Interactive

I am joining in on the the Schoolhouse Review Crew ~ Back to Homeschool Blog Hop this week. There are over 70 reviewers chiming in about many different topics. Today's topic is Homeschool Methods.


I like to describe my Method as INTERACTIVE:

Involved. I like to learn right along with my kids, which is why I usually sit right next to them while they are learning.

Nature. Although we did not incorporate as much Nature into our homeschooling last year as I would have liked, this year's plans include weekly, or sometimes daily, time in nature, with more nature-based science studies.

The 3 R's. Non-negotiables each day are Reading, wRiting, and aRithematic. The other topics fit in based on our interests and time.

Experience. Learning in a text is good. Reading about it in a piece of literature is better. But, actually experiencing the topic in a hands-on way is the best! In fact, a lot of times I "backwards" plan units based on what there is out there for us to do. We pl…

Weekly Wrap-up ~ Go for the Gold!

This week marks our first week of school for the 2012-2013 school year. We are easing into it, especially since we are starting in the middle of summer and because Eli is joining us this year. I didn't want to overwhelm him with all of our usual daily activities, so we are starting out with a definite Delight-Directed unit on the Olympics with some math review and reading. It has been a pleasant week with lots of good work and lots of fun. I have been very impressed with the positive attitudes of my two little students. Even though we only do about 2-3 hours of school work a day, I have found them spending the majority of their free time playing Stack the States or Minecraft on the iPad. They have built some pretty impressive structures on Minecraft. Then they begged me for Stack the Countries, and have been begging me for months, so I thought this would be a great time to do it with the Olympics.

Here is our week in Collage form.


1. For the first day of school, Eli and Brynne d…

Last Child in the Woods ~ Chapters 18, 19 and 20

I am taking a different approach to my thoughts on Part VI of Last Child in the Woods titled "Wonder Land: Opening the Fourth Frontier", which includes Chapters 18, 19 and 20.

Chapter 18. The Education of Judge Thatcher: Decriminalizing Natural Play


Chapter 19. Cities Gone Wild


Chapter 20. Where the Wild Things Will Be: A New Back-to-the-Land Movement


"When going back makes sense, you are going ahead." ~ Wendell Berry
These chapters could NOT have come at a more perfect time in my life. Rick and I have made the decision to move our family from the "American Dream" home and suburbian posh life, back to my itty bitty small hometown in Missouri of less than 3,000 people. It was not something that we expected or planned to do. It just sort of happened. But the funny part was that it made COMPLETE sense to us. In fact, we knew that we would be stupid not to jump on the opportunity. When I read the above quote by Wendell Berry, it brought tears to my eyes.
I know …

V is for "Victory"

Are you and your family excited about the Olympics and hoping for Victory for the American athletes? We have been looking forward to it all summer and, in fact, planned our first day back to school around it! I knew that I couldn't pass up the opportunity to start school with a unit study on the Olympics. We are easing back into school with studies on the Olympics and math review this week and next.

Here are some of the resources we are using:

Olympics unit study by SchoolExpress. I received it as a free download a couple of weeks ago as part of their weekly free unit study email. (We have done SEVERAL free unit studies and they are my favorite unit studies to do for my kids.) You can sign up for their weekly e-mail and free unit studies by going HERE. Although the Olympics unit study is no longer free, it can still be purchased for $2.00. There are, however, some free worksheets that can be downloaded.

London: Once, Twice, Three Times ~ an Olympics host city infographic (we used t…

U is for Unexpected

If you have read my blog for any length of time, you know that this homeschooling journey started for us when Dawson was getting ready to enter the 8th grade. At his request, we brought him home for school. It was something that had never crossed my mind as something I would want to do. We really started out of necessity. But, it quickly became a lifestyle that enriched not only his education, but our relationship, as well.

Off and on Dawson has expressed a desire to return to public school. However, sending him back to our huge school, with the same issues as when he left, was just not something I could bring myself to do. I knew in my heart that having him home was what was best for him.

And then we received an opportunity to move back to my little childhood hometown in Missouri. It is a small town of less than 3,000 people. The class sizes in the schools are about 40-50. The high school is the one from which I graduated.

When Dawson learned we would be moving, I gave him the opti…

The Pilgrim Adventure ~ Review

Back when I was offered to review Science Unit Studies for Homeschoolers and Teachers by Susan Kilbride, she also asked me if I would be interested in reviewing her newest historical fiction book for children called The Pilgrim Adventure.


This is Ms. Kilbride's first book in her Our America series. It is a story about Finn and Ginny, two children whose parents disappeared when they accidentally mistook a time machine for a television remote control. Once the childrens' uncle reveals to them what really happened, they decide to try to go back in time to locate their parents. They find themselves on the Mayflower coming to America. And then the adventures begin.

This book is an easy, informative, and fun read with fairly short chapters (I find that important when reading to younger children.) The story is told from the perspective of two children who are traveling to America on the Mayflower and then settling there. There are hardships, most definitely, and many obstacles to ove…

Attention: Quiet Week!

I am in Portland, Oregon, with my mom this week helping my brother and sister-in-law paint their house in preparation of the birth of their first baby due in October. We are starting school next Monday morning, the day after I get home from my exhausting trip. So, this week the kids are doing nothing but enjoying the last week of their play time.

Journey to Excellence will be silent this week.

I won't have time to read Last Child in the Woods this week (what was I thinking when I assigned the next three chapters). So, the next three chapters are due for discussion at the end of NEXT week.

Since there will be no schooling, there will be no Weekly Wrap-up or Homeschool Mother's Journal.

The next time you hear from us, we will be reporting on our first day of school. There are lots of changes happening in our family, especially pertaining to school, so we'll be discussing all of that soon.

I'll leave you with some pictures from our final Family Summer Camp at Bass Pro Shop…

T is for "Taking Grades"

I am behind on my Blogging Through the Alphabet posts. Last week was "T" and recently a commenter asked how I take grades for my students.


For Brynne, I don't take grades. I do keep a daily planner where I record everything she is doing. But, I do not assign grades and likely won't until she is in high school. The same goes for Eli this upcoming year. My kids do like to see a 100% written on a paper sometimes, so if it's a math page or something "gradeable", I will do that occasionally.

Since Dawson was a freshman last year, I did take grades for him. I used the same style planner page as I used for Brynne and recorded each and every assignment or activity he did (including read-a-louds). Next to each assignment I would use a red pen and assign points earned (including read-a-louds). For instance, if he had a notebooking page, they were typically worth 15 points if he did the required 7-9 sentences. I didn't "grade" them. He just got parti…

Last Child in the Woods ~ Chapters 15, 16, and 17

This has been a crazy, whirlwind of a week. I wasn't sure if I was going to get the chapters read in order to post my thoughts. But I sat down yesterday in the midst of some crazy moments and read. And, just READING about Nature soothed me. I can't imagine how at ease I would have been if I could have actually been sitting by a pond with a fishing pole in my hand. I haven't done that since I was a kid. Maybe I should take it up again.

(Well, that's a bummer ... I came back to add my thoughts on Chapter 16, and Chapter 15's thoughts were no longer here. So, here goes again.)

Chapter 15. Telling Turtle Tales: Using Nature as Moral Teacher."Let Nature be your teacher." ~ William Wordsworth

When I was a girl, my dad took me fishing all the time. We lived in a town with a large Amish Community. My dad has a plumbing construction business, so he would barter out work in exchange for us having use of their well-stocked ponds. My dad did not hover. In fact, his …

Homeschool Mother's Journal ~ Summer Week 8 (the week before the last week)

In my life this week ... Okay, I can't stand it anymore. I have to share what's going on in our life. I went to my hometown in Missouri this past weekend to see my newly born niece, and ended up making a decision (with my husband)to buy a home there in the town where I grew up, and where my parents still live. We are in the process of making an offer and getting inspections done. (So far, so good on the inspections.) If all goes as planned, the kids and I will move as soon as possible while Rick stays here to sell our house. Dawson has decided that he would like to go back to public school because it is a super-small school where he could really connect. There will be MANY changes in our lives and we are SO EXCITED about it (well, most of us.) More about this decision will come soon.

In our homeschool this week ... It's all about Ice Age this week! Although we didn't get in our field trip to the Tulsa Geoscience Center because of the craziness of our possible life chang…

Learn Our History ~ Election Day: Choosing our President

After an extensive American History study with Dawson this past year, my children's extreme interest in the United States, and the upcoming election (Dawson and I will also be studying Current Events and Government this year), I was excited to learn about the DVD offer from Learn Our History by Mike Huckabee.


I knew that I would want to have a unit study on the Election, and even purchased one from Amanda Bennett, but I was still worried about my ability to adequately teach the ins and outs of the election to two third graders. Honestly, the electoral college, conventions, elephants, GOP, and right or left wing jargon leaves me confused! I was never taught what any of this means. Obviously being a part in electing our nation's leaders is the most important job any one of us will do as Americans, so being knowledgeable about the process is important!

Although the DVD entitled "Election Day: Choosing our President" came at a cost of $9.95 plus shipping and handling, I…

Homeschool Mother's Journal ~ Summer Week 7

In my life this week ...This week as been a mixture of busyness and home time. I was glad to have a day at home yesterday to do some reading, blogging, school organizing, and laundry. The kids enjoyed a day at home relaxing and playing in their pj's. Some days we just need that!

In our homeschool this week ...This was a great week of learning. We spent Monday doing some reading.



On Tuesday we went to another Bass Pro Shops Family Summer Camp workshop, this time on Camping.



On Wednesday we celebrated Independence Day while having a school day learning about it, and then some family fun with swimming and fireworks.


Yesterday Brynne and Eli spent a lot of time playing Minecraft on the iPad. They only build things, not really play anything on it. But they have got some mad building skills! I am wondering if we have some future engineers or architects on our hands.

Helpful homeschooling tips or advice to share ... If you have a grumbler (my Eli is a grumbler), try this simple motivator. …