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Category: Homeschooling

Fall Family Fun and A Mini Pumpkin Unit

Two of the things I look forward to when we stay up North are apple picking and pumpkin picking. It’s just not the same back home in Florida. Here, we go into the patch where the pumpkins have grown and pull them off the vine ourselves. There’re not in pretty little rows all cleaned up for us. We get to see blossoms and little green pumpkins just starting out. We go on a hunt for the best pumpkins, making sure we don’t trip over the vines, and get our hands dirty. It’s all part of the fun!! If you haven’t experienced this, take a trip one year. It’s totally worth it. Prior to our pumpkin picking day (say that 3 times fast) I took out some books from the library. Some are fictional stories and some are about the life cycle of a pumpkin, but all are fun. Here were our picks this year Pumpkin Day, Pumpkin Night by Anne Rockwell Big Pumpkin by Erica Silverman Too Many Pumpkins by Linda White Pumpkins by ken robbins Pumpkin Soup by Helen Cooper Pumpkin Day by Candice Ranson From Seed To Pumpkin by Wendy Pfeffer We had a ton of fun at the pumpkin patch. Besides filling our wheel barrel with pumpkins, we went though a hay maze, had a tractor ride around the field, ate apple fritters and enjoyed feeding and petting goats, a calf, and chickens. When we got home we decorated our house inside and out with our pumpkins. I also got dried corn stalks which I hope to bring back with me. Crossing my fingers they make it! Mini Unit Now here is where a family fun day doubles as a “school field trip”. The next day we enjoyed a notebooking activity for our nature journals. I used this free Pumpkin Investigation flip book print out to help the girls document what they had learned about pumpkins drawing on their experience from our trip, the books we read and prior experiences with pumpkins. When it was done I added it to their nature journals. You can also head over to HandbookOfNatureStudy.com for more ideas including a notebook page, if that strikes your fancy. For some added fun we created a craft to decorate our classroom.  There are so many choices out there you may have trouble settling on one. While we were crafting our pumpkins the girls spontaneously told me about its parts. Score! Combining home and school is simple and easy to do. You don’t have to create a huge lesson for everything. All you need is a library card and some art supplies. Simply talking about pumpkins (or trees, birds, volcanoes, etc. ) with your children opens up their world to learn new things. You create great memories in the process, too…

Our Homeschool Schedule- A Typical Day

From day one our typical homeschooling schedule has changed again and again. I was looking for that sweet spot where bedtime, wake up time, the order of our schedule, and weekly activities that don’t happen everyday come together in a pretty little bow. Then reality hit. I realized that everyday is going to have it’s own set of crazy so striving for “pretty little bow” perfection wasn’t going to cut it. The girls get sick, I get sick, a friend or family member is in need of help, an opportunity for us to participate in something awesome falls into our laps and our day is changed. I realized that changing my perception of a perfect day to a really nice flow through the day was more our style. Everyone is more relaxed, I’m not being a slave to the clock and when those opportunities arise, we take them, and pick back up where we left off. This is only one way to schedule your days. We school 4 days a week, Tuesday through Friday, leaving Saturday for spontaneous learning, projects, and playdates. With homeschooling you can schedule it however you like and make changes as often as you need to. For me, it’s important to find a flow where no one, myself or the girls, gets burned out. The times are not exact, but the flow of the activities are pretty much how we get to them everyday. Morning Lessons 6am I get up before everyone else and spend two hours alone in a quite house. I do some devotion, look over what we’re learning that day and get materials together if I need to. I start breakfast closer to when the girls are getting up. 8am The girls get up. I got them an alarm this year and they wake up on their own. I use a good morning board to help get their day started, an idea I can’t  take credit for. It has helped them become more independent and has taken me out of the equation. SCORE! 9am Call to worship and morning basket 930am To the schoolroom! We tackle all language arts lessons, spelling, handwriting, writing, grammar, and phonics. If we have an extra, like logic or music, then we do it during this time. 11am Time for a break and snack. Usually I put on Magic School Bus or Sid the Science Kid. sometimes they go outside or do some kids yoga. 1130am The girls read to me from their assigned books. 12pm Lunch and coffee (a must for me). Afternoon Lessons 1pm On Thursdays we have horse riding lessons. Since the girls ride one at a time, I have them read aloud to me while waiting for a turn to be done. On other days we snuggle on the couch for our read aloud. This is a chapter book we have chosen together to read that month. 130pm Math time 2pm History or Science 3pm Art or Creative writing 330pm Structured learning is done for the day! Phew! Since we school 4 days instead of 5 our days are a little longer. Our 5th school day is pretty relaxed. We often do art, creative writing, and nature study on this day at our leisure. Friday is a little different since we attend Co-op classes in the morning. We come home, take a half hour break and get through our lessons in 2 hours. So far, this is what is working for us and I’ll revisit it when we need to tweek it. Oh, and in case you were wondering, here are my first grade curriculum choices for the year. Take care!!   &nbsp…

Apple Picking with Homeschooling on the Side

My family is very blessed to be in upstate New York during the Summer and Fall. For the last couple of years we have taken the girls apple picking at our local orchard (there’s no shortage of orchards here). Our favorite stop is Beak & Skiff and our favorite apple is the Honeycrisp. If you have not had the pleasure of tasting a Honeycrisp apple off the tree you are missing out on one of God’s greatest gifts. This apple is AWESOME!!!! It’s no surprise to me that on day one of picking Honeycrisp the trees are nearly bare by 1pm. I’m not kidding. I keep Beak and Skiffs Facebook posts pinned to the top of my feed so I know precisely when Honeycrisp is going to be available. The day we went I finished up school at 1030am and we headed to the orchard. When we arrived around 11am there were already people heading back to the car with their bags of treasure. We hopped on the wagon and headed out. And how glorious it was! The wagon ride to the trees is beautiful with hills and blue skies off in the distance. It was so pretty! And so different from Florida’s flat-ness (I still love you FL).   We picked 3 (yes, 3) full bags of Honeycrisp and gorged on a few ourselves, then we hurried back to the car with our treasures. I don’t know how many pounds we bought, but it was heavy 🙂 I was already thinking of the yummy goodness I was going to make with them when my husband called to let me know he was going to be coming by to pick as well. We decided to stick around and help him pick. In the meantime, we did some light schooling while eating cider doughnuts and drinking cider. I found these apple orchard notebooking pages earlier in the summer and I knew we would use them for our nature study when we went picking. I also found this apple unit study, but didn’t use it. We read the story of Johnny Appleseed and then after lunch (I had a pulled pork taco with apple slaw…yummy) the girls drew an apple tree with all its parts and a Honeycrisp apple like the ones they saw that morning. When we got home the girls narrated to me all about their trip to the orchard and it went into their nature journal. Nature study you can see and taste! After lunch we headed out to the orchard again and I was in complete shock. The same trees the girls and I visited just a couple of hours earlier were looking so bare! I’m telling you these apples are that good. They must also have the shortest season ever because they’re gone so quickly. I’m glad we got our fill in early because I don’t think they would’ve lasted until the weekend (we went in the middle of the week. Score for homeschooling!) If you find yourself at an apple orchard in the near future, take along a clipboard, colored pencils and some blank paper and call it a school day…

First Grade Curriculum 2016-2017

It’s been 6 weeks since we started our school year. There have been many tweaks and changes in the last several weeks in our schedule and curriculum while we find our flow. Right now, I feel like we’ve gotten to a good place, it took a while, but we got there. There’s always a learning curve when we start something new. I’m sure there will be more changes as we go along, but that’s one of the many benefits of homeschooling, I can change, add, get rid of and tweak as often as I like. For this school year I planned, and planned, and planned some more (if you haven’t guessed, I’m a planner. Type A much?) I looked into all kinds of curriculum to see what would be the best fit for my daughters. Taking into consideration their personalities, strengths and weaknesses I choose ones that would suit them both. I also looked into extras for our morning-time basket and made up my own curriculum were I couldn’t find one I liked. We don’t follow any particular homeschool style. I have become familiar with a few and pull from each what I like and add ideas I find other homeschoolers doing if I feel it would work for our family. I would consider us eclectic homeschoolers. It works well for us! Morning Basket Time-Everyday Worship song from our YouTube list The Jesus Storybook Bible We’ll be done with it by the end of this week and will be starting a different storybook Bible the Read with Me Bible. Scripture memorization box using this memory system. Uncle Arthur’s Bedtime Stories One story a day with some discussion The Random House Book of Poetry for Children One or two silly poems because they’re fun to listen to Language Arts-Everyday All About Spelling Level 1, we may start Level 2 mid-year Writing With Ease Level 1 First Language Lessons Level 1 (Grammar) Phonics Pathways Read aloud from an assigned book Handwriting-Everyday Handwriting Without Tears Grade 1 Math-Everyday Math U See Alpha Science-Twice a week I have put together my own curriculum for science. This year we’re focusing on animals and their habitats, the human body and, if we get to it, botany. If we don’t we’ll save it for summertime. History-Twice a week Here is where the crazy started. I had my entire history schedule picked out and scheduled for the year and then we started it. It wasn’t working. We were using History of the World Ancient Times, but the content, I felt, was too much for my girls to grasp. I understand why teaching history in chronological order makes sense, but the living literature available to children on a first grade level was sparse. After reading this post I decided to change it all up a week after school started. No big deal! With our new choice I am able to find living literature geared toward their age and we are getting so much more out of our lessons. Truthquest History American History I Art-Once a week Art videos from my Youtube playlist and Pinterest ideas. Focusing on one art master a month, last month we learned about Van Gogh. Music-Once a week I don’t think the girls are quite ready for music lessons yet, so every month we are getting to know master composers using my YouTube video playlist  and good books. Last month we learned about Chopin. Creative Writing-Once a week I keep this simple and use a primary composition book like this one to keep all there crazy little stories. I ask them questions like “If you had $1000 what would you do?” and let them tell a story while I write it down for them. It’s interesting to see where they will take it. I keep my ideas on my Pinterest board. I love Pinterest. Logic-Once a week Can You Find Me? Lollipop Logic Nature Study-Once a week This is going to be a time when the girls and I get out for a while to look at what we find in nature, trees, birds, streams, and journal about what we see. I want them to be more aware of God’s creation and admire the beauty he created for us. I also have a few subscriptions to add to our lessons DE Streaming Plus, National Geographic for Kids on Roku, BrianPOP and Epic! We also have a zoo membership and a science museum membership. Put all these together and I have first grade down! &nbsp…

So, How’s Homeschooling Going?

I get asked this question a lot. It’s not a bad question, just my friends wanting to know how things are going. We’ve been homeschooling a little over 6 months now and we are loving it. There is a huge learning curve that we are still riding, but we take it in stride and learn as we go. The biggest change I think is within myself. My whole perspective on education has been changing. I’ve started to associate the word “education” differently. Before homeschooling education brought to mind images of textbooks, 3-ring binders, rows of desks, thinking about what I have to memorize for the next test, and feelings of anxiety for my least favorite subjects. Now, I see education as an endless stream of knowledge with so many things to see, do, feel ,and learn. Learning should be a positive experience with meaning to the learner. Otherwise, what’s the point? Algebra meant nothing to me while I was learning it, and still doesn’t. Tenth grade biology was awesome and has turned my interest to learn more about anatomy and how the human body works. (I’m no expert, I just find it fascinating ;))I even took a forensic science class in college, which was awesome! For now, with a couple of 5 year olds, we just have fun. I try my best to make life interesting and fun like the fuzzy caterpillar we played with in the park for 10 minutes or the adorable animal videos a cousin of mine posts on his Facebook page. I believe the girls love homeschooling even though they don’t really understand it. The only experience they have in school was a positive one and they loved it. But, there’s no housekeeping area or pool time in kindergarten.  Right now, I see no reason to put my girls back in school. I don’t know if that will change in the future, but for now we are just loving life…