Friday, August 30, 2013

Fun Friday...

Week 1 has come to end for us.  My little man did great getting into the routine after such a long summer break.  I know we were both ready for some structure - well, we are loosely structured here.  

Our Fridays are pretty relaxed around here.  We really just use it to finish any projects we have been working on, do some art & crafts, play games, read, and watch movies that go with what we studied this week.  Not saying we do all of those things every Friday, but that's some of the things we do.  If we take a "field trip", I'd also like to schedule them on Fridays. 

So, today we took a short trip to the town next to us (about 15 minutes away).  It has an Old Fashioned General Store that is always fun to spend time in.  My main reason for making the trip over there was to pick up Texas Postcards for a postcard swap facebook group we are part of.  

While we were there we got some bluebell icecream (yum) and played a game of checkers.  Usually our games are quick since my little man hadn't learned any strategy to his moves, but today our game took a good 30 minutes.  My little man was thinking 1-2 moves ahead (if I did this, then you could do this), I was impressed.  I had to actually play the game strategically...and I lost.  It got down to us just having kings and I kept putting my pieces in positions where he could double jump.  Next time little man, next time!

On our way out of the store we saw two racks full of silly sunglasses so it was a perfect photo op to close out our day.  ***My little man laughed when he saw the glasses in the bottom left corner.  He said "look mom - root beer float glasses!"  (made my heart smile - if they could just stay small forever.)***

I love spending my days with him!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Archaeological Dig!

Today was an exciting day at Williford Academy.  We are still on the Introduction in Story of the World and to go along with the Lesson I created an Archaeological Dig.  It did take some preparation on my part, but the boys really enjoyed it.  Here's the breakdown of our Lesson for today:

The mom of our little friend who does history and science with us bought the Story of the World Vol 1 Audio Book.  Although I have the book - this was awesome to use.  I do a lot of read alouds and having a break is great - this mom can only do so many different voices!  So we first listened to the  Introduction: How do we know what happened? "What is Archaeology? (pgs 3-6)  Then we did the review questions and answers aloud in the Activity Book (pg 1).  This takes (maybe) 10 minutes - so not a lot of time at all.  I like to find at least one extra book (usually a library book) to go along with our lesson and chose this book.  

*We enjoyed this book.  It had great pictures and tons of information on what Archaeologists do.  I highly recommend it!  

It took about 20 minutes to read the extra book and then it was time for Archaeological Dig!  Earlier that morning while the boys were doing their free reading, I set up the dig (you could do this the day before, but I was being a procrastinator!)  We put a pool in Summer so I had my hubby leave a pile of sand in our yard just for this project.  You could just leave the sand on the ground, but I wanted to have it in a container.  One day on the way to the store there was a small pool on the curb of someones house.  My original purpose for shoving the pool into the my hatchback was to have a small pool for the kids to rinse their feet when they go from the trampoline to the pool and back - but this pool had quarter size holes drilled all over the bottom.  It quickly came to mind that I could use it for my dig which was great since I already had the thing half way in my car when I saw the holes and did want to make the walk of shame and put it back. So the general set up for my dig I had.  Now for the details. So I ran around this morning searching for items for the boys to find buried in the sand.  I had bought a couple of things at thrift stores for the dig.  See that clay cup - found that for $.29 and knew it would be perfect to break up in pieces and reassemble.  I also found the 2 wooden dinosaur skeleton sets at another thrift store for $.49 each.  I know you can get these at the dollar tree -  they are a little smaller and thinner wood, but will certainly work.  I put these sets in baggies so that they wouldn't lose any pieces. Along with these items I buried: A Fork, earring, silver bracelet, two hot wheels, pair of chopsticks, and 3 marbles.  After burying them all over in the pool, I took twine and made a grid on the top of the pool (I just taped the twine ends over the edge of the pool).  I then gave the boys a shovel and a little gardeners spade to dig with.  Towards the end of the summer Kroger had their grilling accessories marked 75% off (costing me $.49) so I snatched up a package of 2 tin grill pans (they were square with the holes in the bottom) which were perfect for sifting the sand.  They spent a good 15-20 minutes digging and sifting and discovering all their treasures! We had 8 baggies labeled 1A-E and 2A-E and each thing they found in that square went into the baggie.  After we found everything they set it all out on the trampoline to record.  I had a clipboard for each boy that had a sheet of paper with a circle (I traced a small plate) and grid lines to match the pool drawn onto it.  The boys labeled each part of the grid and then drew a picture of each item in the baggie from that section.  We then headed back inside for some much needed AC and water.  Once inside we pulled everything out of the baggies and talked about what each one might say about us if an Archaeologist found it in the future.  We took all the pieces found of the clay cup and tried to piece it back together.  About a 1/8 of the cup was not found - which was a great example of how a lot of items found at digs are not complete.  Word to the wise - plain old Elmer glue doesn't cut it....we used tape to reinforce inside - but I would recommend hot glue.  After this we took on the monumental task of assembling the dinosaurs.  This took an average of 30 minutes!  I know it wouldn't have taken nearly as much time if we had the cheaper dollar tree sets - but these did make great models and are very sturdy!  My little man was very proud to show my hubby when he got home - and it now sits in his room on his shelf with all the other items he has deemed "special". 

Here's our picture diary of our dig.

We did our dig in the late morning, so by the time we got the dinosaur models together it was time for lunch.  While we relaxed in the livingroom eating lunch we watched "The Magic Schoolbus Shows and Tells: Archaeology" on Netflix.  If you don't have access to Netflix you can always read the book or you can watch the video here on youtube.


Also, here is a Bill Nye the Science Guy episode on youtube about Archaeology that would be good to use with this lesson although we did not get to it.

I fully believe that kids (adults too) will absorb more information by using multiple senses in learning.  A study was done at the University of Texas and they found that people remember : 

10% of what they read;
20% of what they hear;
30% of what they see;
50% of what they see and hear;
70% of what they say; and
90% of what they do and say

I try to always have that in mind when creating our lessons.  So at the end of the day the boys had heard a story, read and followed along in another book (with wonderful illustrations), watched a movie, discussed the subject (I ask what? when? where? why? questions while doing all our activities) and best of all they actively participated in a dig.  That's what learning is - just layer after layer of exposure to something.  It is so wonderful to see it just "click" for my little man during one of the activities.  

So, that was most of our day - always an adventure!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Our First Project

We survived day 1 AND day 2!  
Here's a look into our little homeschool world today...

Bible:  We watched "What's in The Bible" vol 1: In the Beginning

There is 2 episodes per volume, we are doing 1 episode a week and the other days are doing our devotionals and scripture/books of the bible memorization.  

After watching part 1: What is the Bible? we discussed some of the things we learned in the video.  What's in the Bible website has a set of flashcards you can print that go along with this volume.  I just copied their q&a into a word doc and asked the boys aloud.  If you would like to print a copy of the flashcards go here.

Then, I printed a copy of the OT books of the bible. We cut these up and glued each one to a big popsicle stick.  Now we can use them to help us memorize the books of the bible - by grouping them or putting them in order.  These type of things are good to have when you just need a "filler" activity while you are preparing the next lesson or to fill in the wait time if you have a child who finishes earlier than another.

Astronomy:  There are 14 lessons in our Astronomy Book, so we are going to take 2 weeks to complete a lesson.  This week we did the first half of Lesson 1: What is Astronomy? (Why did God create the Universe?, Calendar, and God's Signs).  We did some narration (really, just review questions answered aloud).  While I was reading, I had them color their cover for their Astronomy Notebook.  I used this  Planets Coloring Page but I cut/pasted the pic only and put "Astronomy Notebook" at top.

And then our first PROJECT....have I told you how much I love, love, LOVE projects!  So, we got to break out the clay!  I have a huge box of clay that I collected from thrift stores this summer which is great, because I don't hide my craft supplies (my little man has free reign on them all the time) and he makes clay objects just during his free time sometimes.

We discussed how astronomy was used as a calendar.  One example the book talked about was Stonehenge in England and how people could tell time/seasons from the shadows of the stones.  Our first official project: 

Mini Clay Model of Stonehenge  

Supplies needed:
(we used a almond can)
Floral Foam 
(bought a rectangle at the dollar tree - makes enough for 3)
Green Felt
(1 rectangle piece makes about 4)
Push Pins
(we tried tooth pics, but they wouldn't go through felt)
White and/or Grey Clay
(I recommend Sculpty Brand)
Construction Paper 
(Strip to act as a "label" on the can)
Picture of Stonehenge
(we used this picture for reference  Stonehenge )


Cut Floral Foam to fit inside can. Cut green felt a little bigger than can and cover top of floral foam with green felt (you may have to take a butter knife to push felt around edges - the extra felt being pushed on sides should hold it down and give a nice smooth "ground").  Using your picture as a reference, start making small rectangle like structures for the stones.  Then push the ball end of the pin into the bottom of the clay.  After you have made enough stones to resemble Stonehenge (we made enough to make it look like it) then you can bake the little stones so that they harden.  You will not have to bake very long since they are so small.  We skipped the baking altogether though.  After you have them how you want them, then you can arrange them by pushing the pin into the felt.  Then cut your construction paper for a label around your can.  I then printed "Stonehenge" that was glued to the front of the can and two facts were glued to the back of the can.  We used: Stonehenge is in England.  It's shadows were used as a calendar.  And that's it!

Sidenote:  The picture in the right hand corner of my little man is my favorite.  It makes me giggle that he is giving himself bunny ears!  Ooh, and you can see one of the many packs of clay on my table back there - yeah, got that for a $1 at a thrift store!

After all that fun....we had P.E. - okay, they swam (that counts) :)

Monday, August 26, 2013

1st Day "Not" Back to School - 3rd Grade

Today was our first day "not" back to school - oh, see what I did there, aren't I  It was a very long summer and very busy summer filled with taekwondo day camps (we did 5 week sessions), youth mission camp (my hubby is not only a high school teacher but also a part time youth minister), family visits (here & there) and lots more.  Don't get me wrong, it was fun, but I was exhausted.  I needed to get back to our normal daily schedule just to relax!  

Last year it was just me and my little man here at the house.  This year a friend's son who is the same age/grade as my son will be joining us 3 days a week to learn history and science with us.  We are all very excited.  It will be nice to have another child for my little man to work with.

Just like every other mom - I took a first day picture and am proud to say little man was NOT in pajamas!

And here is a picture collage of our day...

We designed and wrote in our journal notebooks, free reading, read alouds (me reading to him), reading eggs, and Story of the World (SOTW).

We started the introduction "How Do We Know What Happened?" of Story of the World and read What is History? on pages 1-3.  It talked about what history is and how to learn more about our family history.  After answering the review questions aloud in Activity Book page 1, we filled in and colored this family tree worksheet (I just copied/pasted/resized to fit my page).

and I had intentions to have little man interview his grandparents, but that may be another project.  Here is a list of questions you could pick and chose from if you did do this.

Well, that was our day.  How was yours?

Sunday, August 25, 2013

2013-2014 Mashup Curriculum (3rd Grade)

Some of these we used last year, but some are new.  They may work, but then again they may not be a good fit once we get into it.  That is the great thing about homeschooling - if it doesn't work for us, we can change it!

So our choices are: (Drum roll please)

Apologia's Young Explorers Series 
Exploring Creation with Astronomy

What's in the Bible with Buck Denver DVD series
Daily Devotions with Kid's Study Bible NIrV version

Story of the World
Volume 1:Ancient Times
(Book, Audio Book & Activity Book)

Singapore: Primary Mathematics (US Edition) 2B & 3A

Reading & Phonics

(Reading Eggs & Reading Eggspress)


Handwriting Without Tears 
Cursive Handwriting

Very excited to get started!

Friday, August 23, 2013

The beginning of a blog...


I created this blog last year and had good intentions to use it to keep all our family updated on our first year of homeschool.  Well….that obviously did not happen.  But I feel more confident in our homeschooling and am determined to keep up with it (no really I do!) J

This is my 2nd year homeschooling my 8 year old son (little man).  We use a very eclectic curriculum that I have pieced together to best suit my son’s learning style, his strength’s and weakness, and also my teacher style.  *This year a friend’s son is joining us a few times a week to do our history and science with us.*  There is always a slight mystery behind homeschooling to people.  We as a society have almost been hard wired to think that only the public school system can educated our children. I admit it – homeschooling certainly is not for everyone – but for us it works – my son is happy and thriving in his homeschool education and what more could a parent ask for? 

I wanted to start this blog to allow our family and friends access into our world.  At first I wanted to use it for evidence – like “see we do school!” – I felt like I needed to justify and defend our choice to homeschool.  I feel like this summer as I was preparing for this school year I got such a sense of clarity and direction for us….and I got excited for school.  So my intentions for this blog have changed.  I want family and friends to see into our day – our many projects (Oh, we love projects!), and engage with my son – talk to him about what his working on, ask questions, teach him something you know about it – really the learning never stops, it’s endless.  I’m not really a write a long blog entry kind of girl (ok, this may seem long, but I have to set the ground work)….I’m more of a blurb and lots of pictures (with directions) kind of blogger. 

If you are another homeschooling family - I know homeschooling can be SO intimidating….choosing your own MASHUP of curriculum is even more intimidating.  But you can do it!  When other people are using a boxed curriculum (works for some, but not us) and you are scouring Pinterest in the wee hours of the morning searching for that “perfect” craft for a lesson….you have to remind yourself - you got this.  Remind yourself that you know in your heart and mind what is best for your child.  When the nay-sayers come (oh, and they will come) – stand your ground.  I am blessed to have a wonderful support system.  I have a hubby who after weeks of silent research and prayer I came to him and mentioned homeschool and he was on board.  And after we discussed and prayed about it and felt that this was the path God was leading our family – I left a full time and part time job and have never looked back.  We have a lot of people in our corner – cheering us on and it makes it so much easier.  You may not have that – but I can't express how important it is that you to find some encouraging people in your life.  If you are unable to find any in your community to connect with, find a group on Facebook.  The knowledge and encouragement of other homeschooling moms is so abundant and valuable in these groups.  And if you follow me….I pray I am an encouragement to you also – encouragement to keep going, push through the bad days and relish in the good because “you got this”!