Week 4

I’m always talking about how homeschooling is so great because you set your own schedule and can take advantage of more opportunities that pop up. Well, we ended up taking a week off to spend some time with our family in Galveston and the kids also spent a few days at their grandparents house. They were able to spend time with their cousins, whose parents are missionaries and have been living overseas for over two years. It was a great opportunity we could not possibly say no to even though we had already started school.
This week we’re getting back into our regular school routine, which looks a little something like this:

Memory Verse: I, the Lord, speak truth; I declare what is right. – Isaiah 45:19

Poetry: The Days of the Months -Anonymous

Hymn: Blessed Assurance

History: Ancient Greece, gods and myths, the Trojan War

Science: The Sun

Five in a Row: Grandfather’s Journey by Allen Say (continuing study of Japan)

Read Aloud: The Secret Garden by Frances Hodges Burnett

Artist: Pierre-Auguste Renoir

Composer: Johann Sebastian Bach

A Few Photos From the Last Few Weeks:

Extra Fun Reading for History

First Completed Memory Verse

Beach Fun

At Nana and Grandpa’s

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Week 3

Memory Verse: He is the rock, His works are perfect, and all His ways are just. A faithful God, who does no wrong, upright and just is He. – Deuteronomy 32:4

Poetry: The Days of the Months -Anonymous

Hymn: Blessed Assurance

History: Ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, Babylonia and the Jews

Science: The Sun

Five in a Row: Grandfather’s Journey by Allen Say (continuing study of Japan)

Read Aloud: Boy of the Pyramids by Ruth Fosdick Jones

Artist: Pierre-Auguste Renoir

Composer: Johann Sebastian Bach

A Few Photos from Last Week:

We added the first timeline figure to our Book of Time, the Egyptian Pharaoh Menes.

Bedtime Reading on Ancient Egypt

This is our most recent idea for fun and creativity during mid-day breaks or when school work is done for the day. We just bought a bunch of PVC pipes and parts and let them go at it.

She’s proudly advancing through the next Explode the Code book.

Math

We’re continuing to add to her Apologia Junior Astronomy Notebook. She was supposed to come up with her own mnemonic for remember the planets (including Pluto, which is technically no longer considered a planet, but we still acknowledge where it is). “My very excellent map just sets us near pancakes” is what she came up with to remember their order. Ironically, she has a hard time recalling her mnemonic…we may need to go back to the drawing board.

This was our first project for astronomy. Our balloons represent the sun and the planets. The sun is obviously not accurately sized because it would be much too big. And the planets aren’t spaced accurately either, but their sizes are approximately proportionate and they’re in the correct order.

We tried Japanese hibachi for the first time, since Caroline has been learning about Japan and Elliot is also currently reading a book that takes place in Japan.

The kids both made very sophisticated choices, Elliot having the shrimp and Caroline ordering steak. We definitely don’t order those things for our kids very often! They both finished every last bite of it too.

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Week 2

Memory Verse: He is the rock, His works are perfect, and all His ways are just. A faithful God, who does no wrong, upright and just is He. – Deuteronomy 32:4

Poetry: The Days of the Months - Anonymous

Hymn: Blessed Assurance

History: Ancient Egypt

Science: Introduction to Astronomy

Five in a Row: A Pair of Red Clogs by Masako Matsuno (learning about Japan and weather)

Read Aloud: Boy of the Pyramids by Ruth Fosdick Jones

Artist: Pierre-Auguste Renoir

Composer: Johann Sebastian Bach

A few more photos from our first week:

Astronomy Notebooks

I’m organizing everything we memorize in a new way this year. Each of the kids have a memory work notebook so we can keep track of it all.

I’ve divided the notebooks into categories for Bible verses, poetry, quotes, and “other” for anything else that may not exactly fit into one of these categories.

At any given time we’ll be working on one Bible verse and one other selection, most often a piece of poetry. Right now we’re working on memorizing The Days of the Months poem. “Thirty days has September…”

First Picture Study for Renoir

This year Elliot is keeping a reading log and response journal. We’ve been keeping track of every book he’s read since January 2012 (he’s very proud of his current 140 books…) but never in a very organized way.

I’ve included a list of 16 questions to respond to about the book he’s currently reading. Each week he can pick whatever question he’d like to answer

In the back of the journal I’ve included information on the different literature genres, elements of a story, and literary devices, as we’ll be discussing those things with regards to what he’s reading and it may also help him answer some of the questions.

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Week 1 of 2013-2014

We’re back at it after a fun and relaxing summer! Here’s what we’ve got going on, as well as photos of our first day.

Memory Verse: He is the rock, His works are perfect, and all His ways are just. A faithful God, who does no wrong, upright and just is He. – Deuteronomy 32:4

Poetry: The Days of the Months- Anonymous

Hymn: Blessed Assurance

History: Creation and Early Man

Science: Introduction to Astronomy

Five in a Row: A Pair of Red Clogs by Masako Matsuno (learning about Japan and weather)

Read Aloud: Aesop’s Fables (We’re starting a book on week 2 that goes along with what we’ll be learning in history, so we’re just reading fables until then.)

Artist: Pierre-Auguste Renoir

Composer: Johann Sebastian Bach

No first day jitters for us!

Math

This is a picture she drew of a seed she’s spouting as a part of her math lesson this week.

Map and Flag of Japan for her first day of Five in a Row.

He’s telling me his name sign language, which we’ll be practicing at the lunch table this year

The Letter ‘C’ is a piece of cake.

‘E’ is somewhat trickier.

“Mabes”, as we affectionately call her, was overseeing our entire day, ensuring a quality education was being received by all.

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Our Summer

Our eight weeks of summer vacation have been eventful and exciting. We’ve enjoyed swimming, days at the water park (this was our first year getting season passes), lots of reading for the library summer reading program, summer movies at the theater, playdates with friends, Vacation Bible School, and many other family adventures. We’re fully satisfied and ready to get back to our schoolwork next week!

Success!

Hawaiian Falls

Summer Reading

Science Museum

Blueberry Picking

Go Rangers!

Pottery Painting Date with Daddy

Swimming

Me and My Love

Go-Karts

Vacation Bible School

Wrapping up the Summer in Style

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Homeschooling Myths: Busted!

When we started homeschooling, it was not because I had any proof that I could provide a superior education for my kids. I was taking a leap of faith that I could do it, with God’s help. Over time, I’ve collected up a good amount of “arguments” for homeschooling, and not just the “theories” but also factual information that has only fueled my passion for homeschooling even more.
When I was at the Teach Them Diligently Convention in May, one of my favorite sessions that I heard was one about “debunking” all of those common homeschooling misconceptions. It was really fascinating to me to hear so many statistics that flat out disprove what a lot of people assume about homeschooling. For instance, I’ve heard plenty of people say they put their kids in school so that they’ll get the best education. That would be based on a bigger overarching misconception that a better education can only come from “qualified” educators. Furthermore, I’ve had plenty of people tell me they’d love to homeschool their kids but they can’t, either because they have no background in education or no college education at all. So is any of this based on fact? No, it’s really not, in fact when you look at the data, it demonstrates something completely contradictory.

I recently came across this article, titled America’s Best Educated Kids Don’t Go to School which reminded me of what I learned at the convention. When homeschooled and public schooled students’ standardized tests scores were compared in 2007-2008, it revealed that homeschoolers were scoring significantly higher than public schoolers across the board. Homeschoolers were in the 89th percentile in reading, 86th percentile in science, and 84th percentile in language, math and social studies, compared to public schoolers who were scoring around the 50th percentile in all areas. What’s even more interesting, in my opinion, is that homeschooled students whose parents both did not attend college still scored much higher, around the 83rd percentile, compared to public schooled students. So if you think you are not “qualified” to teach your children successfully, think again! You don’t have to know everything your child will ever need to know, you simply have to be able to show them how to retrieve information for themselves. Homeschooling tends to place a lot of emphasis on independent learning, and I think that contributes to its success.

One thing I have focused intensely on in the first few years is reading because of the goal I have for my kids to be able to learn whatever it is they need and want to learn. I’ve worked hard not only at developing the skill of reading, but also the enjoyment. My kids have come to associate reading and learning new things with immense joy and satisfaction. It’s a lot of work in these early years, but I can already see it paying off. When I walk into Elliot’s room during his free time and he’s sprawled out on the bed with a variety of books around him because there are so many different things he’s gotten drawn into, I can see the drive to learn more and more developing in him.

I’m not posting this to glorify our decision. I know it’s not for everyone. I just think it’s important that people know the facts regarding the educational options that are out there. It’s simply a false statement that a parent cannot educate their child as well as a teacher could. A loving parent who cares enough to diligently invest the time and effort is completely capable of providing their child with a great education!

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A Few of my Favorite Things

If you’ve ever been to a homeschool convention, book fair, or even a homeschool book store, you’re probably very aware of the vast amount of products out there geared towards families who educate their children at home. Even though I often feel like I’m nothing more than the target market for these companies who just want my money, I still believe there are A LOT of great products out there that are worth the investment. Sometimes I get overwhelmed just because there are so many things that look great, yet I don’t have the time or money to try everything available. I’m a huge fan of books and audio products as a means of entertainment instead of television, so I’m definitely always on the lookout for stuff like that. Over the past year or so I’ve discovered quite a few book series and children’s products that have turned out to be been huge hits for us, so I thought I’d share some of those.

Focus on the Family Radio Theatre Dramas
We’ve been listening to Focus on the Family’s Adventures in Odyssey since Elliot was about three and Caroline was…well, basically since she emerged from the womb. We absolutely love it and currently own probably about 100 CDs. So when I learned that Focus on the Family also did theatre-style audio stories, I was really excited about trying them. Unlike a regular audio-book, these are like listening to movies. They have all been very good, but our absolute favorite has been Anne of Green Gables. Caroline is now in a hurry to read the Anne series with me because she has been so enthralled with the radio theatre version.

In Grandma’s Attic Series
I scour lots of book lists online looking for quality books to read with the kids, and I’m especially partial to older books. There’s just something about them I love. They seem more “wholesome” and better written than a lot of the more modern books for children. I saw this series listed several places, described as an “old favorite”. Up until pretty recently they were hard to find, but in 2011 new editions were published making them easily available once again, so we took a chance on the entire series. I was pleasantly surprised by the incorporation of faith, prayer, and family values throughout the books. These books are excellent! Caroline and I have read through all four of them and look forward to reading them over again sometime.

Maestro Classics
I came across the Swan Lake Maestro Classic at the library when we were studying Tchaikovsky. By the end of the first time we played it, the kids were singing along and wanted to play it over and over again. Who doesn’t love a good story accompanied by classical music? I’m sure we’ll be collecting a lot more of these.

Greathall Productions Audio Stories
“Intelligent Entertainment for the Thinking Family” is the tagline for this product and I’d say that is a good description. These are classic stories told by Jim Weiss, who is really able to draw you in and hold your attention from the very beginning. In addition to the classics, there are also a lot of selections that would be great supplements to a variety of history studies on things such as ancient Egypt, Greek myths, the Renaissance, American explorers and pioneers, etc. They are available as CDs or MP3′s, so they couldn’t be easier to acquire and listen to.

Puffin Classics
Puffin has been publishing classics for a long time, but not long ago I discovered their most recent editions of them and I’m completely addicted to collecting them. I love building up our home library and it’s been my goal to find a nice set of classics since I’d like to read as many as I can to the kids. As far as I know, most all of these are complete and unabridged (all of mine say so on the back) so they are not watered down versions. The covers are charming and colorful, making them very attractive to children. The text is large enough to read pretty easily, compared to other versions of classic books I’ve looked at. I love everything about these! So far Elliot has read Five Children and It, and he also read Alice’s Adventure’s In Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass to Caroline. I read The Wind in the Willows to both of them this summer, and though is was a more challenging read, we enjoyed it. I can’t wait to read more of these.

Lamplighter Ministries
This is my favorite find of the year! Lamplighter’s tagline is “Building Character…One Story at a Time.” Mark Hamby, the founder, has been searching out old books since around 1994 and republishing them so that today’s families can enjoy them. They would otherwise be pretty hard to come by. He edits them just enough to make them understandable now (but in my opinion, they still have that neat old antique feel…they are definitely not modernized). All of the stories have an underlying christian theme, with a lesson that builds character. The themes include things such as obedience, self-control, salvation, peer pressure, perseverance, diligence, choices and their consequences, etc. They also have mad many of their most popular stories into audio dramas. We’ve found the quality of the audio dramas to be excellent, just as good, if not better, than Focus on the Family Radio Theatre. We have quite a few of the audio dramas and I’m working on collecting up some of the books as well.

Seeds Family Worship
Okay, so I didn’t just discover these. We’ve been listening to Seeds for years and our memory verses last year were based mostly on songs from the CDs, but no list of my favorite things would be complete without Seeds. I can’t say enough about the value of these CDs. My kids know SO MUCH scripture because of these catchy songs (that are enjoyable for adults as well…these are not your average Bible songs). When I was at the Teach Them Diligently convention, I stood in line at the Seeds booth just to talk to someone to confirm they’d be making more. I was glad to hear they are working on it as we speak! As long as they keep making these, we will keep buying them. Period.

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The End of Our School Year- Week 35 and 36

We’ve been super busy these last few weeks, but I told myself I was going finish what I started with my weekly (or sometimes semi-weekly) blogs and manage to make my last update of the year. We’ve done a lot of fun things, including a trip to Nashville to attend the Teach Them Diligently homeschool convention.

Hymn: Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee

Artist: Leonardo Da Vinci

Composer: George Gershwin

Five in a Row: Roxaboxen by Alice McLerran (studying the desert)

Pre-K Literature: The Bravest of Them All by Marsha Arnold (learning about tornados)

Read Aloud: Tornadoby Betsy Byars

A Few Photos From the Last few Weeks:

Josh and Elliot spent the night at the Ranger’s Ballpark for the fan sleepover. They slept on the outfield. These guys are true fans.

We went to go see The Musical Adventures of Flat Stanley at the Dallas Children’s Theater. It was super cute. We can’t wait to go back for another show sometime soon.

We went with a group from our co-op. What a great group of kids!

The Teach Them Diligently convention was held at the Gaylord Opryland in Nashville. It’s such an amazing place! I didn’t see even close to all of it because I spent most of the time hearing speakers, but I was really blessed by all that I experienced there among so many others who desire to give their kids a great education and to bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

The best part of the convention was spending time with my sister-in-law, Annie, who came all the way from Africa where she and her husband are missionaries. I hadn’t seen her at all in two years, but she has always been an encouragement and support to me when it comes to parenthood and homeschooling.

These two LOVED the Gaylord and have been talking about how much they miss it ever since we left. It was such a fun experience to be in such a cool place, surrounded by a ton of other families just like us!

This week we’re finishing up Roxaboxen, our 50th and last Five in a Row book. Wow, what an awesome journey it has been to learn new things with these wonderful stories! I’ll be starting back at the beginning again next year with Caroline for her Kindergarten year.

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Week 33 and 34

Memory Verse: For all men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever.-  1 Peter 1:24-25

Hymn: Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee

Artist: Leonardo Da Vinci

Composer: George Gershwin

Five in a Row: The Raft by Jim LaMarche

Pre-K Literature: Give her the River by Michael Brown

Read Aloud: Paddington at Large by Michael Bond

A Few Photos From Last Week:

We took the rest of last week off after we returned from our trip and were able to enjoy the beautiful weather we’ve been having. We went with some of our friends to go pick strawberries and we had a great time. We couldn’t stop picking all those beautiful berries and came home with quite a basketful!

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Austin and San Antonio Trip

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