Bugs Is Reading!

 Bugs, family, girls  Comments Off on Bugs Is Reading!
Mar 012011

Sunday was a very momentous day for us.

It started off fairly normal.  We were all at Grandma’s house.  We got up, girls had breakfast with Grandma, Hubbs and I stayed in our basement bedroom and got dressed up in our church clothes before heading upstairs. We get upstairs to find a dense layer of fog all over the area. My MIL wasn’t too keen on trying to venture out, so we did church at home. We let the girls color pictures of Jesus calming the storm, we watched that section of scripture in the Matthew Video series and then we made a storm with a cookie sheet and a boat, played the make the rain sounds game. The girls really enjoyed it.

Then, afterwards, they practiced writing their names on their papers.  Then the Bugs was handed a Phonics Ready Reader, and she read it. She read a second one out load and got two pages into a third before she decided she was too hungry and needed lunch.

It was incredible to sit and hear my 4.5 year-old reading simple phonics words. The look of joy on her face was priceless too. And she did it in front of her Grandma really made Grandma’s day also. My big girl is READING!!!!!! I can hardly believe it.  We’ve been working on phonics and sounding out letters this past school year. I haven’t been pushing her. She’s sounded out a word here and a word there, but to sit and read a few small phonics books, and not having to sound out several of the words was something I was looking forward to having happen, I just didn’t think it would happen this soon.

So, celebrate with us please! Our Bugs is reading! (as her rite of passage gift for this, we will be purchasing her a young reader’s Bible.  We aren’t sure of which one yet, so any suggestions would be fabulous.).

Curiouser and Curiouser….

 Beans, Bugs, curriculum, homeschooling, Reviews, TOS, TOS Crew, TOS Magazine  Comments Off on Curiouser and Curiouser….
Feb 112011

I was recently blessed with being able to review the Curiosity Files, Puffer Fish from The Old Schoolhouse Store. And I mean blessed! This was a great diversion during the doldrums of winter and a nice way to get back into the groove of homeschooling after the holidays.

The Curiosity Files with Professor Ana Lyze are a fun filled, easily adaptable unit study series by The Old Schoolhouse. They focus on the stranger and grosser topics of science (zombie fire ants and dung beetles anyone?) that seem to appeal to a wide variety of children. We selected to do the study on Puffer Fish due to the girls’ love of fish and a certain fish themed animated movie.

This study, while designed for children at about age six through middle school is very easily adaptable. My eldest is four and a half and doing kindergarten work, and was captivated by the topics regarding puffer fish in this study and was able to complete a lot of the projects. We did most of it orally and she did very well. Beans loved tagging along and seeing the puffers.

This unit study has everything you could want, from science (specifically zoology in this one), math (monetary conversion rates, other math problems), language skills (vocab, spelling, sentence combing and both print and cursive copy work), Bible (copy work and memorization), sociology (culture study with Japan) and even art. This study has TONS to do, and is easy to adapt to your needs by adding to it or taking away. We didn’t do the higher level math conversions for example (at 4 ½ we really didn’t need to). And we did most of our work orally. We discussed the vocabulary words and we talked about how and why puffer fish inflate. I think the girls (and I) know more about puffer fish than the average person….I didn’t know there were so many varieties!

The Puffer Fish study comes with embedded links to even more information online. There are pictures, articles and even videos of puffers puffing. The girls really enjoyed the videos (fair warning parents, look up all the videos and watch first. You would not believe what is out there on You Tube…) and still ask to watch them after we completed the work of the study!

There are tons of books at the library to add to your study. So if seeing a topic and freaking out because you personally don’t know anything about it is an issue, don’t let it be one! Each topic has a lot of resources that aren’t too hard to locate either online or at the library.

I was also very impressed with the fact that there were adaptions suggested for special needs students! I had yet to see very many ideas or alternative suggestions in curriculum I’ve looked at since I started homeschooling and researching curricula. I was very impressed with it, so if you have a special needs student, use the adaption suggestions as a springboard, you won’t regret it!

And the Curiosity Files are also on Facebook!  Feel free to go on over there and check them out!

We were going to do the paper mache puffer fish as the completion of our study. Unfortunately life got in the way (see the AWOL post…) and I didn’t feel like I could start a multiple day project last week and we’ve not been able to fit it in yet. I’m planning it for next week when Grandma is here for the Bean’s birthday. It will be lots of fun and I’ll come on and add pictures in a new post (and try to remember to link it….). The girls are so looking forward to the paper mache. In fact, when they saw the pictures and the directions for the art project, they were extremely excited and started begging to do it right away!

Our verdict: The girls loved this unit study! It was simple for me to pull off (I love simple planning), resources abound at the library and online to supplement it. It was so easy to adapt to what the girls can do, still challenge them and still hold their interest. You could take a week or two and only do the study, or do what we did and spread it out over the course of nearly four while still doing our regular school work. This series would also be great to do over longer breaks as an interest led study, like during the summer months when you want your children to still be learning, but you don’t want to do all school. I would also use this as week between quarters or semesters (depending on how you break your year up) and use this as a break from regular school for a week or two so you as the teaching parent can have some of a break, but still keep the students learning.

I highly recommend the Curiosity Files with Professor Ana Lyze to all homeschooling families. They are simple to put together, easy to do and are jam packed full of information. And what I love is that I can cycle back through this when the girls are a bit older and go even deeper yet into the topic! I learned more than I ever thought possible about puffer fish doing this study and found them to be more interesting than I thought. And no, I have no intention of ever trying one for food, they are poisonous you know.

The Curiosity Files are also very cost effective. You can purchase them singly. However, I suggest going the bundle route. You can now get ALL NINE of the studies in a bundle to save even more for under fifty dollars.  I don’t know of other studies at that terrific of a price! (cd for $49.00 or download for $46.00. I would personally do the download, instant gratification that way…).

I received the Puffer Fish study from the Curiosity Files with Professor Ana Lyze as a part of The Old Schoolhouse’s Crew. All opinions are mine and mine alone, and other than the product, no other compensation was received (it would be kind of difficult to review something without using it first, you think?) To see what my crewmates had to say about the Curiosity Files (and see the other topics covered), go visit the Crew’s blog here. Then go on over to the Store and get one or all for our yourself (and browse the rest of the store while there!)..

Oh the Weather Outside…

 Beans, Bugs, family, Homekeeping  Comments Off on Oh the Weather Outside…
Jan 312011

Is starting to get frightful.  In fact, they are actually calling for a blizzard in SW Mo…I’m actually kind of excited.  You see, I used to live in Grand Forks North Dakota on the air base.  We would get blizzards a lot.  It was great to sit at the window and watch it all come down. I haven’t seen a real blizzard in nearly 25 years. The girls are just excited it is going to snow.  Too bad they don’t realize exactly what they are calling for… At this point, they are predicting 16 to 18 inches and 0 visability for most of the day. That’s after midnight tonight with a great chance for thundersnow.  Yes, thundersnow.  It is like a thunderstorm, but with snow instead of rain.  Really cool, Swagbuck (or google) it for more info. Then, after this snow storm tomorrow (my husband’s boss called off work tomorrow already, he’s an ex-t.v. weather man and said in the very long time he did that down here, the words blizzard and warning never went together for this area.) we are supposed to be sub-zero temps until about Thursday.  Then, by Sunday we are supposed to be in the mid-thirties for it all to start melting off.  I’m sure by then I will be sick of it.  I normally don’t like snow.  At all since I did spend a lot of time growing up in North Dakota. But then, a lot of it is because the people down here have no earthly idea how to drive in it.

Bean’s birthday is in just over two weeks.  I can’t believe that my baby is going to be three! Grandma is planning on coming out for it and making her cake.  So far she’s asked for a chocolate butterfly cake, a polka-dot cake and a polka dotted, striped butterfly. The fact it is to be chocolate has remained the same. Grandma and I are thinking of a polka dotted butterfly and she can deal with it.  Beans is so laid back too compared to her sister.  When Bugs was turning three, she insisted for three months she wanted a castle cake.  So, Grandma came out and we put together a pink castle cake.  It took us four hours and two emergency trips to the store to get things to fix our mistakes. By the time we were done, we were both so high on sugar, it scared Hubbs.  He closed work that night, and was rather late.  He called to say he was on his way home, and I was laughing so hard from something we had messed up on the cake and the sugar that he questioned our sobriety.  He then heard his mom cackling in the background and sped home to see what was going on since I couldn’t make a coherent sentence.  It was sooooo funny. That poor cake looked horrid, but the Bugs loved it.

We had a chilli cook-off at church on Sunday.  I took some chilli but I didn’t place.  That’s ok, there’s always next year.

Today, Bugs and I made some Sausage Pancake Muffins.  I highly recommend them. I got the recipe here from Heavenly Homemakers.  We made some two weeks ago nearly and they didn’t last very long at all.  So I made a double batch today. Nearly ran myself out of eggs doing it, so Hubbs had to stop at the nearly stripped bare grocery store to get us some more.  All they had left was some packages of 2.5 dozen. He grabbed one.  And another gallon of milk…. I also highly recommend that you make these pop tarts. Believe me when I say they are delicious and I have no intention of buying pop tarts ever, ever again.  And I’m needing to make more graham crackers.  Yes, you read that right, graham crackers.  I’m out of parchment paper and no way am I gong to make these without it though.  And I will not buy graham crackers after eating these.  They are so yummy! I plan on trying out more of Laura at Heavenly Homemaker‘s recipes in the near future.  Well, after we get dug out of this snow that’s coming and we the stores get more food in them….

Well, I should go and schedule a few posts in case we lose power in the next few days.  We’re praying we don’t.  And that the roof holds.  Buildings down here aren’t built for this kind of snow..

Jan 312011

Sheesh, to say that making these decisions was a hard thing is an understatement.  I started looking at options for next year back in October….Yes, I really like to plan ahead so I just have to tweak things as I go.  And I guess I’m what could be called a curriculum junkie.  I love getting curriculum catalogs in the mail and reading them from cover to cover for hours on end.  Yes, I really do that, just ask my husband 🙂

Anyway, after much research, deliberation and prayer on the matter, I believe I have finally put together what we will use next year.  Yes, this is a change in curriculum from what we are currently using.  Don’t get me wrong, I love Sonlight, and I love my consultant (Hi Heidi!), but for what the Bugs is doing academically I would have to tweak Core 1 too much for it to be cost effective (this is after skipping Core K and she isn’t emotionally ready for Core 2). After adding up what I wanted to do with it and what I would have to supplement it with, the total about made my eyes pop out of my head.  When I broached the cost with my husband, he couldn’t believe it either and told me to find a cheaper option.  Bugs isn’t your normal four-year-old.  She thinks and processes like a lot of the seven and eight-year-olds at church do. Most of her friends at church are older than she is because that is where she is operating at mentally.  Yes, it is scary from a parents’ perspective.  Also, with Sonlight, there were a few books in the Core 1 package that I really didn’t want. Not to get into a discussion of what I think is appropriate at the moment, but some just don’t quite fit into what I would deem necessary for a first grade level homeschool child.  We may return to Sonlight in a few years, but then we may not.  That is one of the glorious things I love about homeschooling.  We can tweak what we have to use it better for us, and change totally if the need arises.

Now, on to the decisions of what we are planning for next year….(like you were all holding your breath in anticipation for this…)

Again, as with the post about what we decided on for the Beans, I’ve just linked to the website product description that had the best picture and description of the item.  I am not affiliated with any of these sites so clicking on the hyper links won’t benefit me in any way (now, if you feel like you wish to send money for our curriculum fund, I sure won’t turn you down 😉 )

I had a hard time deciding on what I wanted for Bible.  It seems like a lot of the stuff out there is fluff for the low elementary and younger crowd. I don’t want repeated rehashings of Bible stories.  So, it was with great joy and excitement that I found Who is God and Can I Really Know Him? from Apologia Press. I’ve linked to CBD’s website for it because for some reason I can’t get a good view of Apologia’s website with my browser.  I really also want to get Leading Little Ones To God, The Jesus Storybook Bible and Mighty Acts of God.  I’ve also recently been given a head’s up on Herein Is Love and it looks really good too, and I wouldn’t mind owning it also…

For Language Arts, I’ve settled on Language Lessons.  I’m still trying to decide if I want Language Lessons for Little Ones 3 or Language Lessons for the Very Young 1.  Part of it will depend on where we are at in our phonics lessons around May. I plan on continuing with The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading. We love it!  And for handwriting, I’ve chosen A Reason for Writing K. It teaches writing with the copying of Bible verses.  I really like that! And it is very economical too.

For history, I had to think, debate, decide, change my mind, change my mind again, again and again back and forth between two different products.  I settled on Mystery of History and the activity guide.  It is a providential view of world history that starts with creation and moves forward in history chronologically.  I really like that a lot.  It goes with the Classical Education I am wanting to give the girls.  You go through world history in four years with the Classical model and repeat it again twice, each time going more in depth.  I’m looking forward to it, but then I am kind of a history geek. I will be getting as many books to supplement MOH from the library.  I’ll be working on the book lists over the summer. And to go along with history, I figured that  we should add some geography and I found these two items: Beginning Geography and the Beginner’s World Atlas.  Geography isn’t a daily subject, and I’ll throw a lesson in once every week or two. But we may as well start on it.

For science, we’ve settled on using Apologia’s Exploring Creation with Astronomy.  Bugs has been begging for months and months to learn about the sun and the stars and the moon.  I’ve heard nothing but good about this program. I also will be getting the notebook to go along with it.  It looks like it sure will be a lot of fun.  Now, if someone has a telescope I could borrow or buy cheaply, let me know (or, you know, it would make a great birthday present for the Bugs for her birthday in September, or for both the girls for Christmas, hint, hint.)

Math is a fun subject (ok, not for me. I hated math in school. I much preferred language arts and I adored history). I think I want to use Horizons Math K. It looks like I can teach it, and it doesn’t require the use of video tapes (I have a math program, but it uses VHS tapes which we can’t use due to our lack of a VCR.  And for various reasons, we don’t want to invest in a VCR). And this program looks like it will fit the Bugs better anyway.

And finally Home Ec.  Yes, I plan on starting early on Home Ec with the girls. I want to use Little Keepers at Home to start. It looks pretty good and I like how it is separated into small projects.  Training to be future homemakers should start early in my opinion.

So, there you go. That’s what I’ve pretty much decided on for next year. If we do find something isn’t working for us, we will change and find something that does. If you have any suggestions on curriculum, feel free to share.  Or just tell us what you are planning in the comments or link to a blog post you’ve written..


 Beans, Bugs, homeschooling  Comments Off on Blech
Jan 262011

So I didn’t get the weekly house status up. And this week’s homeschooling status is in jeporady too.

We’ve been frantically rearranging and I about have things where I want them (well, until I decide it is time to rearrange again…) and the massive purging and simplifying is going well. Well, it was all going well until this morning.

Beans woke up sick this morning. She crawled into bed with us as the sun was coming up and didn’t get up until going on nine. All she wanted for breakfast was a glass of milk. She took two swallows and I found myself getting to bathe her, all her clothes, an afghan and scrubbing the couch while trying not to lose it myself (which is strange, puke never used to bother me). After an hour, I gave her some lukewarm tea and she at least waited a half hour before that came up. We just tried some lunch (she got a pink popsicle and after that remained for five minutes she decided she was starving so she got one scrambled egg and then she wanted more popsicle so hopefully….) So, since she’s puked twice now, she and I shall be staying home from church tonight. We’ve been working hard on sharing in our family, but this is something that shouldn’t be 😉

I also woke with a roaring sinus headache and feel generally horrible. So, since I have no subs, school is called off for the day which isn’t too big of a deal, but so is the rest of organizing the living room. I’m annoyed as I am so close to getting my living room just the way I’m wanting it, even to moving some pictures around on the walls. Oh well, guess it can’t be helped. I know If I push myself, I’ll feel bad longer.

So today is movie day in our house. The girls don’t mind.

I’m going to write up what we’ve finally decided on for school next year. I’ve been flip flopping repeatedly on two choices for history and I’m not sure on our Bible yet but I’ve finally found something I like. In fact, I’ve found three somethings I like, and possibly a fourth.

Yesterday, I went out for the mail. And both girls asked me if they got any (that’s a daily occurence anymore). I only got a magazine and my coupons for free soy milk. Bugs asked if she got mail, I told her sorry but not today. Then the Beans asked if she got mail. I told her sorry, not today for her either. She asked me what we got and I showed her my magazine and told her the envelope had coupons for free soy milk. To which she started jumping up and down, clapping her hands and exclaimed “Yay! I love free!!!!!”  I think she is learning well and is embracing my love of couponing.

Well, I’ve got to get started on that post of our school choices for next year. I’m stuck typing on my phone since the girls are watching movies on the laptop today (the one drawback to not owning a television)