A Peek into our Homeschool ~ End of 2013

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I am not giving up on sharing Weekly Wrap-up post, however, mine are more like couple-of-monthly wrap ups. Below will give you a peek at what I captured from about late October – December 2013.

{disclaimer: affiliate links are used below}

We wrapped up our Australia Continent Box and each child plowed through their Continent Box Challenge.  We took an afternoon all together one day to do lots of Australia work and finish up the challenges.  Ladybug colored about every Australian animal we had, and then some!  See all of our Australia ideas here on our Pinterest board!

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One of the favorites during a continent study is opening any Little Passports packages we have from that continent.  I save them all to open when we study the continent.  We had one package saved for Australia!

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We are still using our Picture Smart Bible, although we have gone way too slowly in my opinion.  The boys both LOVE this and so do I, I just always seem to forget about it since it is an extra for us. I only use this with the boys, not Ladybug.

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See our Homeschool Curriculum Choices for this year!


 

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Krash finished up all of the lowercase letters and most of the uppercase from Logic of English’s Cursive Handwriting program. We both love the program and would definitely recommend it!

We are continuing to use All About Spelling 2 and three All About Reading 2 in place of Calvert’s spelling and phonics components.

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When reading either from the All About Reading book or the fluency sheets, he is usually moving somehow!  Here he was doing mushroom work {pommel horse trainer} while reading.  He would read a page and do some circles, then read more and circle more.

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We continue to love Singapore’s Math in Focus that Calvert offers now. He recently learned multiplication and we enjoyed many hands on activities to help him.  Below he was using our cookies to work…

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Many of our Spielgaben pieces came into action during this unit. They were VERY helpful to him.

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Math in Focus has lots of word problems, which I normally hate but LOVE now.  He is forced to THINK, deeply. He can solve much higher level problems than P could at this age.

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We have other supplemental math items too, he enjoyed the Multiplication Wrap Up as he was learning to multiply.

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Playing with the Base Ten Blocks has become a favorite too.

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We are using Calvert’s science and finished up learning about seeds and plants. This experiment was about how roots always grow down.

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He has also been learning about landforms and the earth.  Below he was making a model of how an island forms in water.

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A mini model of the Earth…

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Krash is a builder, and loves to follow directions and complete big projects.  Ladybug wanted me to make her this huge dinosaur in the manual for Zoobs, I kindly said, “not right now.”  K chimed in and offered to make it for her!

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Pac was upstairs, and K decided to be funny and leave the dino working at P’s desk.

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I don’t get many photos of PacMan, since 6th grade isn’t always a photo-worthy as the younger grades! 

He made it through his poetry book {not very enthusiastically}, One Hundred Years of Poetry for Children.  He is now enjoying a fiction novel again, Esperanza Rising.  He GREATLY prefers novels.

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We have been referring to our Big Book of History Timeline during our history lessons recently.  It is a neat resource to have and get out to compare.

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6th grade science overwhelms me.  I honestly just don’t enjoy it, but he does. I love history and could read it all day long with him, he prefers the science. Below he was completing one of his experiments involving baking soda, vinegar and a flame. I found this online that explains what we did.

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That’s certainly not everything we did, but a glimpse of what my camera captured over the final months of 2013! To see more weekly wrap-ups, visit…

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Calendar Connections ~ Pond and River Life

It has been a long time since we have had a new set of Calendar Connections cards! My wonderful friend Shannon took a break but she is back with a new set and plans for more in the near future! She writes the Calendar Connections cards for us, I design and host them. We have a new Pond and River Theme Calendar Set for you!

Pond Theme Calendar Connections



The facts are written at a 3-6th grade level but you will be able to water them down for younger kids. It’s a great way to involve your entire family in exploring a particular theme.

NOTE: these do NOT print front to back, only the premium design does. These are the original cards, which we still offer for free. You can see an example of the bundled set here! We do not have a pond premium set yet.


The cards fit my particular pocket chart calendar. I put the image cards in the pockets backwards and flip each day We either keep the information cards in a folder or behind the image card and pull it out on the correct day to read it.

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You could use a poster foam board and velcro to easily create your own set up. You could also use a standard pocket chart.


I am now creating smaller sets to go along with the small pocket charts found in the Target $1 section. Be sure to visit this post for a tutorial of how to sew your $1 pocket chart into a calendar!

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There is also a new sheet included to be used in a Calendar Notebook if you are using those too!

I printed my numbers on cardstock and laminated them before cutting them apart.

You can download these for FREE here!


You can use most of our Calendar Connections cards for any month! We now have 14 sets to choose from, and we will still be adding more too!

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We are taking suggestions for upcoming themes.  Leave suggestions in the comments!

A Peek Into Our Homeschool ~ October 2013

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Woo-Hoo!  My goal is to keep up regularly with a Weekly Wrap-up post, this is my 2nd this year, I am off to a good start!

{disclaimer: affiliate links are used below}

This year we don’t do much as a whole group, it just wasn’t working.  The boys have been participating in some of Ladybug’s Integrity Time lessons, I “make” Krash sit in and I invite Pac when I think he might like it.  Recently we did the letter D for Determination lesson and explored magnets together {they stick with it}, as an object lesson.

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See our Homeschool Curriculum Choices for this year!


 

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I decided to make a few changes to K’s curriculum.  Although we use Calvert through a cyber school, I have a lot of freedom and basically use what I want and change if needed.  I am very blessed with my situation.  One thing I have always disliked about Calvert is their Calvert Script, so with Pac I used a basic cursive and with Krash I have decided to use Logic of English’s Cursive Handwriting program. I wanted a plan and this gives it to me.  I did TONS of reading prior to choosing this one and purchasing it.  I am really happy so far and he loves it.

We are learning 2 letters per day, going through the sequence of using the salt tray,

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A dry erase marked on large lines…

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Finally the pencil and paper practice.  We each circle the letter we think he wrote the best each time.

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I have decided to let go of the phonics and spelling program that comes with Calvert.  It’s not bad, I just like All About Spelling and All About Reading better. I was having him do both, but realized that at this point it’s not necessary.  We are now doing two AAS 2 lessons per week and three AAR 2 lessons per week.

Below he was using the AAR/AAR word cards to work on alphabetizing to the second letter.

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I am keeping the literature portion of Calvert, which brings in sight words, vocabulary words and awesome stories and themes. I really like this aspect of Calvert.

One thing I love about Calvert this year is the option of using Singapore’s Math in Focus. We are in LOVE so far, it is a great fit for Krash and for my teaching style! This is an aspect of Calvert I am definitely keeping and love.  The hands on aspect is a big win for both of us.  I won’t say it’s always easy, he does struggle with some of the intense methods that are teaching the WHY behind the problem.  However, I am glad he is being taught this way, I think it will benefit him in the long run.

Below was an activity he did, to find the missing number in the addition problem.

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Our Continent Box is a fun extension to our homeschool, Krash likes working towards his goals on his Continent Box Challenge.  Below he completed the one of the challenges from our Australia Continent Box to create the continent out of a material of his choice, he chose rainbow blocks!

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Here he was matching the 3 part animal cards

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Recently Krash had to write a story, to work on writing structure {we use Calvert’s writing portion}. He uses a Try-It notebook for words he has difficulty spelling.  It’s a technique I used when I was a classroom teacher.  He tries a word on the left side and then brings it to me and I write it correctly on the right side. This enables him to use his phonics and spelling skills while also having the correct end result to reinforce correct spelling.

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He had to read his final story aloud, and since it was about Minecraft, PacMan was an eager listener!

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We are using Calvert’s science and have been learning about seeds and plants. We soaked bean seeds and investigated them the next day.

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He learned to identify the seed coat and the embryo.

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Ladybug joins in when she thinks it looks fun!

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Best part of homeschool, the cat gets to come!

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I don’t get many photos of PacMan, since 6th grade isn’t always a photo-worthy as the younger grades! 

Below you can see his study notebook.  Calvert uses assessments every 20 lessons and they can sometimes be a bit overwhelming in my opinion.  In order to stay prepared throughout the entire 20 lessons, he utilizes printed flashcards I prepare in advance.  I use the free flashcard creator software here, and print them out and file them in a study notebook. As we read he looks for key terms and writes the page number and definition on the paper.  In the end, before the tests, we cut them out and work through the flashcards to prepare!

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He is currently reading City: A Story of Roman Planning and Construction, and learning a lot.

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This book as amazing drawings, I learned SO much when I read it this past summer to prepare to teach him!  He is enjoying it, but he much prefers novels with more of a story line.


That’s certainly not everything we did, but a glimpse of what my camera captured over the past couple of weeks! To see more weekly wrap-ups, visit…

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A Peek Into Our Homeschool ~ 2nd & 6th Grade

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It’s a new school year and once again I will attempt to keep up regularly with a Weekly Wrap-up post.  I will probably fall off of the wagon again, but it’s worth a shot!  This year we have a 6th graders, 2nd grader, and preschooler. I hope to share every couple of weeks or so.

{disclaimer: affiliate links are used below}

A common view these days…

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I am using the Picture Smart Bible lessons with both of my boys. 

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My younger son colors.  They both LOVE it and so do I!Picture Smart Bible -7311

The Picture Smart Bible will take us through each book of the Bible, I love the teaching manual {it tells me what to say}, Bible passages we read together, and of course the fun element of artwork!  Krash actually begs to do it, I was surprised!

I am not combining many subjects as I did last year, It just doesn’t work well for my personality and teaching style.  This year I am mostly separating individual subjects.  Below I will share a peek into the older boys’ school!

See our Homeschool Curriculum Choices for this year!


 

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Krash is in second grade and is moving along at a very typical pace.  I am so grateful that God led us to homeschool, I think he would be falling behind in traditional school.  Thankfully I am able to adjust and teach in a way that helps him.

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This year Calvert switched to using Singapore’s Math in Focus {they also have their own math program}. We are in LOVE so far, it is a great fit for Krash and for my teaching style!

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It is filled with hands on work, and we even increase the amount since it benefits Krash’s learning style.  Here’s he’s using pieces from our Spielgaben set in a tens frame.

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There is a large written, and oral part too, which I like.  These are more challenging for K, but he is doing well.  Math is taking about double the time I had scheduled but I  am finding he just needs more time with me to grasp things. I am adjusting as needed for this.

Below you can see his math mini-office, which actually was Pac’s when he was in lower grades!

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We bring hands on into other worksheets too. He isn’t fond of writing, and instead of pushing I let him use materials like this to mark answers sometimes.

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We are using Calvert’s science and have done 2 experiments so far, which he loves. First was about how a frog balances on a lily pad…

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The second was mixing oil and water…

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My oldest son is a joy to teach and is really transitioning well into more independent learning.  Homeschooling this young man in the early years was anything BUT easy, so I am very grateful that we found our groove back in about 4th grade.  We have our moments, but overall he is a great student.

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He is currently reading Theras and His Town, and learning a lot about ancient Greece. I am learning a lot too!  This is a simple read {I read it over the summer to prepare}, but very engaging and educational!

 

He loves science and his first experiment was about dissolving hard colored candy…

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I had him explain the results and experiment to his captive audience…

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We were shocked to see making Oobleck and experimenting with it was his second experiment!  We had just made Oobleck a few weeks prior!

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That’s certainly not everything we did, but a glimpse of what my camera captured over the past couple of weeks! To see more weekly wrap-ups, visit…

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10 Tips for Studying Nature with Tots & Preschoolers

The following is a guest post from my friend Maureen {Spell Outloud} she has a natural gift for bringing nature into the lives of her young children, I pray her words bless and inspire you!


Do you love the idea of doing nature study with your toddler and preschoolers but aren’t sure where to start? Or do you think the idea is admirable but totally impractical to implement with your toddlers and preschoolers? I understand. As a mom of 7 children ages 14 down to infant, I know that it can be overwhelming to go on excursions with toddlers and preschoolers. Here are some of my tips (in no particular order) for getting out and observing nature with young children:

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1. Go with an interest. My 14 year old was recently studying about birds in her biology class. She downloaded several bird apps and bird books which made my younger children curious. They asked if they could study birds too. I took my toddlers and preschoolers to the store to pick out birdseed and a bird feeder. We hung it up so we could view the birds from the comfort of our own home. They loved having some ownership in our nature topic. I would find them sitting at the window watching the birds and naming them correctly!

2. Be aware of every-day situations that could be turned into science or nature experiences. Many of our science and nature activities weren’t planned at all. I would be going through my day as usual and something would either cause my child to ask a question, or I would find something to show my child. That spider I just trapped in a cup? A science discussion. That dead plant I forgot to water? Science discussion. That moldy food I pulled out of the fridge. Science discussion. That baby robin hopping on the ground? Science discussion.

3. Go on local nature walks.

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My favorite place to observe nature is our own back yard. I’m in a neighborhood in a suburban area, yet there are so many things to find! Many times I will go look out in the backyard for something to point out to my kids. For instance, I found some shelf fungi growing on our garden box. I brought the kids over to see it. We looked at the colors and I asked them if they thought it was a plant or an animal. This led to a discussion about mushrooms and how some mushrooms found in the wild can be dangerous but the ones at the store are fine. In addition to our own backyard, our city has several parks that are perfect places for young children to learn about nature. Many times we’ll go on a short nature walk and then head on over to the playground.

4. Train kids to observe things around them.

Nature Study with preschoolers Observation is an important skill to teach young children. Just like you wouldn’t expect a young child to ride a bike without learning to balance first, you should not expect your child to be observant without teaching them observation skills. In order to help develop this skill, I created a series of printable I Spy cards for us to take along on our nature walks. These cards help the kids look for something specific and give us a goal to reach on our walks.

5. Have helpful science tools on-hand. I like to keep a pair of binoculars, several magnifying glasses, large plastic tongs, and large eye droppers on hand. That way when an opportunity for observation arises, you know right where to find the right tools for the job. We also have a high-quality microscope that is fun to use periodically.

6. Keep it short and simple. When first starting, make the nature walks/nature observation times short. Many of our walks are less than 10 minutes. Mix in ways for the kids to be moving, exploring, digging, or collecting in order to help keep them on task. Often I’ll tell my kids, "Run to the tree with the rough bark," or "Find 3 different sizes of pinecones."

7. If you can’t get out, bring nature in.

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Every spring we bring various insects and animals in for closer observation. It is the perfect time to watch a caterpillar turn into a butterfly, see a tadpole change into a frog, observe ants, start a worm farm, and observe ladybugs! Don’t limit yourself to animals-you can also bring in rocks, sticks, leaves, flowers, and dirt. Kids love to be able to see things up-close and use their senses for observation.

8. Read quality literature that teaches science in the context of the story. By pairing hands-on activities and observations along with great literature and songs, young children learn and can retain much of what was taught. There are so many great literature options that this would be a whole separate blog post.

9. Set up observation centers that can be used independently.

bird science basket from Spell Outloud Give your child the opportunity to learn on their own. Periodically I set up nature themed baskets for my toddler and preschooler. It usually contains books on the topic, pictures, objects, tools such as binoculars or magnifying glasses, stickers, magazines, games, stuffed animals, or any other item that goes along with the topic. We are not "teaching science" but rather letting young children explore and observe nature and science principles in action. Now is the time for the young child to learn by playing, observing and using their senses. Make a basket that allows them to do just that.

10. What nature study tips do you have?


Maureen Spell is a former elementary school teacher who now has a classroom of 7 at home. She blogs at Spell Outloud, a blog that has nothing to do with spelling and everything to do with learning. With kids ranging from toddler to teen, she highlights many homeschool activities, toddler and preschool crafts, and free printables. Stop by her blog for more preschool science activities.


This post is #5 in my series, “Homeschooling Tots & Preschoolers,” for the iHomeschool Network Spring 2013 Hopscotch. Visit other bloggers participating here!

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Homeschooling-Tots-and-Preschoolers_[1]Day 1 ~ Where to Begin with Tot School eBook

Day 2 ~ You Don’t Have to Do it All!

Day 3 ~ Developmentally Appropriate Practice

Day 4 ~ Time Invested in Tot Schooling

Day 5 ~ 10 Tips for Studying Nature with Tots

Day 6 ~ Exposure vs. Mastery

Day 7 ~ Why Themes?

Day 8 ~ Teaching Tots in a Large Family

Day 9 ~ Our Favorite Learning Tools for Tots

Day 10 ~ Early Childhood Theme Printables A-E