She Who Walks With Goats


Homeschooling

My three boys are the odd years for 2010.  My munchkins will be 7, 9 and 11 this year.  I have homeschooled all of them since day one with the exception of trying our public school out for a year when we moved here.  We realized then,  we were doing the “right” thing for us with homeschool. 

  Each year is a learning year for me trying to figure out the right way to approach the organization of time.  This year “Firstborn” is in fourth grade, “Daredevil” is in third and fourth, and “Hoop” is in first grade.  I have probably had about five different time schedules this year before settling on something that works.

  • Daily Schedule 
  • Our general outline is this:
  • 8-9 am – math for older boys
  • 9-10 am – math with “hoop” while the other two work on the 3 R’s
  • 10 am break  for everyone
  • 10:30 – noon – I work with “hoop” on his 3 R’s, at some point I leave him to a worksheet or something he doesn’t need me for and do Language arts and Bible Study with the older boys.
  • noon-1pm – lunch and P.E. with “M&M King”
  • 1-2 pm – We rotate two science subjects usually every other day
  • 2-2:30 pm – we rotate  between American History and World History every other day.

Friday is called “Friday Fun Day”  we save anything for Friday that seems like the most fun.  My only rule for Friday is that we are together from 8 to 2:30 (unless it’s a special trip to Grandpa’s). We always fit some Bible Study into Friday and save that day for field trips or library visits.

This is not a plan set in stone but a guideline to use when I need to keep myself on track.  We can go off on creative tangents this way or focus heavily on a topic and still get back to the roots of academics by having  a schedule.

 I look forward to waking up every morning and discovering what type of people my munchkins are.  One is an early riser, one is cranky, and one just likes to bring his blanket with him and cozy up on the couch while he wakes up a little more.  When we tried public school it was a whirlwind of clothes, food, toothbrushes, a quick kiss and then silence.  I couldn’t stand it, especially when I sent them out into the cold to catch the bus. 

Some people argue by sending them to school you are preparing them for the real world and work.  I like the argument that by homeschooling them I am preparing them to LOVE being at home with their families.

 

 I absolutely love listening and watching my munchkins grow.  From the kitchen I can hear them talk to each other, play in their own worlds and even watch them intently reading a good story or video game manual.  I can see and hear how different each one is and really get a sense of what type of person they inherently are.  I just don’t think I could ever get the chance to be so in tune if they were away all day.

Lapbooks

I can’t praise this learning tool enough.  If you don’t know what they are, lapbooks are like scrapbooking your topic.  You can lapbook any subject, theme, or book you want!  The best website that provides free lapbooks to download is www.homeschoolshare.com.  There are pictures to look at and all the subjects they cover are listed in multiple ways to help you search easily for the topic you want.  It is worth spending an evening looking at all the categories.  They even have  blank templates to use for creating a lapbook they don’t carry.  Did I mention it is free!  We are lapbooking history, science, language arts and character traits right now.  All the supplies you need to lapbook are filing folders, colored paper and cardstock, scissors, glue, and tape.  My kids are so proud of their lapbooks, and enjoy showing them to others.  Also they allow us to really study something in depth and keep our train of thought  because all the information we collect ends up categorized in our lapbook.  I highly recommend trying this.  My two oldest munchkins are in fourth grade.  Some of the information in books is starting to become dry.  So the lapbooks help solidify that information.  My approach this year is for each unit we are studying, I buy an appropriate age level book on the subject to read  in depth and we do a lapbook.

Art

This year I finally found an art program that works for everyone.  In the past the kids weren’t enthusiastic about art time and some of the programs were too mundane for their creative little minds.  I finally found www.artprojectsforkids.org. Kathy Barbro created a website full of art projects she uses on kids in her art classes.  She uses  different mediums and different styles and her projects are short lessons with big results.  On her website she has years worth of projects and organizes them by grade level or style.  Each lesson has a picture of the finished product and brief instructions.  She also posts what art standards in academics the project  meets.  My art standard is “FUN”.  If its not fun its a turn off for the boys.  My children actually look forward to doing art on Friday now.

Science

Up to fourth grade, science has been a mixed bag of various science books.  But  I have discovered Janice Van Cleave’s  series of science books for kids.  They are written in my opinion for fourth to sixth graders.  She has an individual  book for each area of science and lots of books with experiments.  We just got one for studying the human body and it is so great.  I will get more as we need them.  I actually cut her book apart so I can make copies of the pages we need to read for the week and have the boys read them out loud.  Then we discuss what we’ve read and work on a lapbook.  Her books have simple illustrations and some questions (with answers).  The children cut the illustrations out and incorporate them in their lapbooks.  Type her name in on the Amazon.com website and you will find a long list of books she’s written.

History

This has become one of my favorite subjects to do with the kids.  My history background was quite embarrassing and especially for having a college education.  I was not well rounded in respect to history at all.  I absolutely blame the public school system for it’s boring approach and lack of importance given to the subject.  I intend to do right by my children and give them a proper historical education.  So for my third and fourth grader, they study American history and geography twice a week  and World History and geography twice a week. 

I have found that history needs to sink in.  You have to really mull it over, think about it and spend time reading about history in many forms such as historical fiction, true accounts, children’s books, even watching some of the great shows on history channel.  We must make and spend time on historical events in order to place them in perspective.  So that is why I spend many weeks on each subject.  It takes longer to get through a period of history but it sinks in and is easier to remember. 

American History:  We have studied American history up to the civil war at this point.  I have used the History Pockets series with my boys to cover colonial times, the revolution, and westward expansion.  In addition to that we made our own lapbook covering the Spanish settlement of North America and are now creating a timeline of events to compliment and compile all that we have learned so far and to further discuss the importance of the constitution.  Their have been countless books involved with our learning experience.  Historical fiction, Factual books, children’s books, and biographies have been on our reading list.  Many I read aloud and some I assign for reading.  Scholastic Books has contributed a great deal to our history library. 

Last year the older boys learned their states by heart and capitals. This year they learned all the presidents by heart.  They are required to recite all of these once a week this year to burn it into memory.  Not surprising, my first grader also learned his presidents by listening to his brothers practice.  We also memorized the preamble to the constitution and the Star spangled banner.  I say “we” because I am learning this stuff to and they get a kick out of beating me at the capitals game we play.  For geography they complete two maps each week.  One map is to fill in the state abbreviations  and the other is to label the major landforms, rivers and oceans of the USA (that was new for me to).  All these things amount to a whole lot of gained perspective when learning American history and if you tackle it all in baby steps you will be amazed at how much their brains can hold.  And boy are they proud when they can hold a conversation with one of  the neighbors and are given a big compliment for knowing their history!

World History

World History is very simple for us.  Story Of The World is popular among homeschoolers and there is a good reason.  It is soooo well put together.  Talk about a god sent to the busy homeschool mother.  It is easy on the budget and prep time.  What you get when you buy it is a chapter book, student pages, and teacher’s notes.  The teacher’s notes include questions to ask your children, other suggested reading, activities, worksheets, map work and historical clarification for timeline purposes.  Since the book was so cheap I splurged and got the cd which is the book read by Jim Weiss the famous storyteller.  The kids love listening to his voice.  To get my third and fourth grader off on an independent note this year I actually take about 15 minutes each week and type the questions to ask the student  on a page and give it to them with a clipboard to answer while they listen to the cd.  I hear them rewind and stop the cd to answer the questions so there is no doubt they are listening. 

We also have supplemented this text with historical fiction books like the Odyssey for the Greeks and Pompeii for the Romans.  It has taken us two years to complete one book.  Again spending time on the subject helps make it tangible.  I have also found lapbooks on www.homeschoolshare.com to make while we read this book.


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