Friday, August 23, 2013

Thoughts on Our Homeschool Journey

So its been a while since I have posted.  I meant to finish up my Michigan studies posts from two years ago.  Life just seemed to get in the way.  I suppose that is the case with lots of families that balance home, and homeschool and outside activities and family commitments.  I am hopeful that since I am teaching the same topics to our youngest this year that I can finish them up.

As I was looking back at my posts to review for teaching my Michigan unit again, I was stirred by a longing to write again and to try to be more diligent about it.  At the same time I have been asked by relatives from both sides of my Parents' families for information on homeschooling, especially encouraging stories, so I took that as confirmation I needed to get back to posting.

So to start with here are some thoughts I have had recently on where we are and why:

1.) I have three kids who have been homeschooled from kindergarten. The oldest two are now in the 5th grade the younger one is a first grader who does 3rd grade math.  The middle child is 8 1/2 and starting 5th grade and when I gave him the Saxon pretest for this year he aced it, so he is skipping to Saxon 7/6, could you imagine how bored they would be in school. I am forever thankful that I can allow them to learn at their own pace.  Just today I had a friend explain to her daughter that while Andrew may be 11 months younger because he is homeschooled his grade placement is different because he doesn't have to follow the schools rules. To me rules that hold kids back from learning make no sense.

2.) In a different conversation with the same friend she expressed concern about her kids teachers for this year. No concerns here, I know that all our learning comes with lots of love.

3.) She continued with the thought that she wished she had a desire to homeschool. I had to agree if there is no desire you will probably fail.  I think my passion for homeschooling is why we as a family succeed at it. it's the desire to see the kids not just learn, but to love learning and to see that as something we do as a family.

4.) Same friend same conversation: her biggest concern with even considering homeschooling is that she doesn't want to be home all day with her kids all the time. My response you don't have to stay at home to homeschool.  This seemed to be a new perspective for her.  My thoughts went immediately to co-ops and filed trips.  My kids would have mentioned the days we pack all our supplies and head the the Barnes and Noble cafe to do our work while sipping Lattes and Hot chocolate and eating cheesecake. The world is our classroom has never been a truer statement.

5.) There are so many good resources that make learning fun that are better suited to the small class sizes of one family than a school that I have a hard time staying on budget.  In fact after I went to my first convention this year I decided I need a much bigger budget so I found a new job, or at least started a job.  I joined the world of home party sales to support my addiction to curriculum supplements.  I sell Lindt chocolate, who doesn't love good chocolate, you can see see my website here.  Shameless plug but I have big dreams for laminated wall maps for next year where we can write the names of countries and continents. But seriously the best thing about all the choices is that there is something for every one once you figure out how your kids learn.

6.) Finally and this is important, I love being my kids' teacher.  It's the best thing I ever decided to do.  My kids love being homeschooled.  However that does not mean that I got it all right from the very beginning.  You will pick curriculum that won't be a good fit and there will be days you don't get it all done or the kids don't want to sit still.  Just remember the long term goal and keep going, because as the parent  you have more invested in them than any school ever will.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Michigan History Week: 13-14

So what was next for Michigan after they were finally free of the British, well statehood was the goal they wanted next. As we looked at how Michigan became a state we started with the Northwest Ordinance which our founding fathers wrote to set-up a system of government and a process for becoming a state, for the territory that would become Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin. We looked at the initial Territory and how is was restructured with each state that was formed from it.

We colored a map of the territory showing the states that were formed.

We also added a book on the Northwest Ordinance made from our Homeschool in the Woods, timeline figures.

We Studied the Toledo war, a disagreement between Ohio and Michigan regarding who owned Toledo.  This keep Michigan from gaining statehood until it was resolved.  In the end Toledo was given to Ohio and Michigan revived the Upper Peninsula. While at the time this seemed a huge loss we will learn later it was a great benefit.

The Michigan History museum offers a great map, which we colored showing the Toledo strip and the land we received in exchange for it.

We looked at the Erie Canal,  as it was one of the main ways people traveled to the state.  As part of this we read the book The Amazing, Impossible Erie Canal.  We then completed  a book on the canal listing facts, such as length, how it was made, cost to travel, etc. inside.  The book came from Homeschool Share.

We then looked at home life, women and children in the wilderness.  For this we did several then and now comparison activities.  I found a great one entitled Pioneer Life, on Homeschool Share.  Under the flaps we wrote where each item came/comes from. The left flap folds in and says Pioneer life.

Finally we added Michigan becomes a state, by repeating the Northwest Ordinance activity with the state timeline figure.

Our next stop in our history journey is Michigan's History with the Underground Railroad.  Hope you check back to see how it turns out.


Michigan History Week: 8-12

The British are coming!! Or at least we finally made it through a study of the conflicts between the French and the British.  It seems like the time it took to get through our history lessons grew exponentially during the months of November and December.  So far too January has proven little better.  So once again I apologize for the long delay between posts.

Anyway we had a chance to look at what happened when the British arrived in our beautiful state and took over from the French.    We had a chance to study the French and Indian War and Pontiac's Uprising. We learned what forts were surrenders and where they were located in the various conflicts.

This all lead into the battle for American Freedom and was a great way to introduce the topic of why the French helped the colonists.  We learned that while Michigan was not a key battle ground area during the revolution it did send soldiers to fight and Detroit natives ransomed prisoner that were being shipped to Canada, including Daniel Boone.

After the Revolution we learned that the British did not leave the Michigan territory.  We looked at the War of 1812 and its effects on Michigan. We looked at battles like the Battle of Fallen Timbers and its General, Anthony Wayne, who helped free Michigan from British rule.

Unfortunately we did not do any exciting projects like we did for the French explorers the best I managed was to add figures to our Timeline books.  Our Michigan books have a blank page where I hope to maybe add the people and events in later. (Sorry Christmas and Thanksgiving was just to much for us this year)

Once again I needed to make a few timeline figures of my own.  You can find them here. You will also note some cute fort icons at the end I had wanted to add a list for forts to our book as we studied them, so please imagine a cute fort pasted on a small book and inside the name, location, and date founded and by what country inside.

So until next time, when Michigan become a state, happy homeshooling,


Thursday, December 1, 2011

Creation vs. Evolution: Put to the Test

Recently we were given a gift certificate to Applebees.  We decided to use this last Saturday as we were traveling back from my Grandma's 80th birthday party.  We were all hungry we had been in the car for countless hours already and we were all ready to get out.  Little did I know what we would be faced with inside the restaurant.

So as we were waiting for our food, the kids as usual were working their way through the kid's menu activities. This one was based on the movie Dolphin Tale, and featured a true and false quiz on dolphins.  I have to say I was very impressed with my 6 year old, Andrew, as this started because he apparently knows things about dolphins that I don't.  Like the fact they talk through their blowhole, not their throats.  So we got to the last question and it says: True or False - Dolphins were once land mammals.  Well the answer on the little key I was reading along with is true, so I wait to see what Andrew will say and without a pause he's like false.

I think good answer, but say "OK the paper says it's true why do we know it to be false?"

He says exactly what I wanted to hear.  Because God created animals just the way they are.  Then I went on to remind him that evolution is just a theory and while some people believe in it, it's not a proven fact.   Well my little boy wants to know why anyone would believe a land mammal would turn into a flipper bearing sea creature, but can't believe into a loving God who created  this beautiful world.  That I can't answer.

As disappointed as I am in Applebees for blatantly pushing an unproven theory as fact.  I am very happy that through my efforts in homeschooling my kids they are growing up with a strong Biblical worldview and faith in God. Thank you Lord for leading me down this path.


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Michigan History Week: 6-7

Michigan History Week 6-7 - French Explorers and the Fur Trade

For the last few weeks we have been discussing the French explorers who discovered Michigan.  We started with Etienne Brule, who was the first European to step foot in our beloved state.  We saw that some explorers such as Father Marquette were missionaries and others were after land, gold and furs.  We covered RenĂ©-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, Louis Joliet and Antoine Cadillac as well.  This also covered the founding of cities such as Detroit, St. Ignace and Sault St. Marie.

We weren't very creative with our French explorer activities. Last year we started time lining using the History Through the Ages system from Homeschool In the Woods.  I did the Cd based books and printed my own, seen below.

My kids love them and I try to add all famous people and events from all our subjects into them every couple of weeks.  (Although we need to be a little more proactive on this)

So for our French explorers we simply added them to our time line books and also a set to out Michigan History Notebook.  Unfortunately the French explorers we covered are not included with the CD of figures from Homeschool In the Woods.  I then searched the internet for photos of our explorers and added text and sized them to match our other figures.

The kids were greatly saddened to learn that one of the most profitable ventures in  the new land was the fur trade.  They said beavers were to cute to kill and be made into hats.  We also discussed the barter system set up by the voyeurs for trading with the Native Americans, based on the "made beaver".  I had found a neat little chart showing what various furs are worth, from the state department of history.   Since it's no longer on the state site.  Here is a look at the chart.

Type of pelt                    Value in Made Beaver    
Large Beaver                               1                          
Small Beaver                               ½                          
Bear                                         2                           
Deer                                            ½                           
Mink                                           ½                           
Otter                                            2      
Trade Item                   Price in Made Beaver    
1 sack of wild rice                      3
1 sack of corn                             2
100Whitefish                             7
15 lbs. bear grease                     4
30ft. canoe                               25
Gun                                         14
Hat                                            2
Blanket                                     4
Trap                                          5

We had a lot of fun discussing what we could get for each animal.  They were also surprised that a deer which should be larger than a beaver was not as valuable.

For our next lessons well let's just say "the British are coming"

So until next time, happy learning.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Michigan History Week: 4 & 5

Michigan History weeks 4 & 5

For weeks four and five we have moved into discussing the Native Americans of Michigan.  One of our first activities was to map the native american tribes of Michigan.  We located the areas each tribe was specific to and noted them on our outline maps.  For more specifics on this please check out the state history site here.

Next we focused on the Anishinaabe tribes which were local to our area of Michigan.  We learned that the Anishinaabe were made of of three tribes which formed a council known as the Three Fires.  We drew on knowledge we already had from the exhibit we have visited several times about the Anishinaabe at the Grand Rapids Public Museum. We discussed characteristics of their life style, including housing, religion, foods, clothing, travel etc.

 We added a Native American lapbook page to our Michigan Notebook showing what we had learned.  My kids were surprised to learn that not all Native Americans lived in tepees and wore feathers in their hair.  We learned that Wigwams were a domed shaped house made of mud, twigs and deer hides. We also learned that the Huron or Wyandot tribe, which we also discussed lived in a long house.  For food we discovered the importance of the three sisters, corn, beans and squash.  We also learned that wild rice was a very important part of the diet of Michigan Native Americans.

When we got to the religion segment, we heard the legend of the sleeping bear and used this to discuss the beliefs of the Native Americans in contrast to what we know to be true of God.

We then discussed the function of canoes, canoe routes and what portaging was.

Some pictures of our lapbook.  These I found on hslaunch.

Finally My favorite activity involved a set of woodland Native American paper dolls.  We colored both a boy and girl doll and dressed them.

In the coming weeks we will learn who the first European explorers were and how this will affect the Native Americans.


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

No Fast Food: How We are Doing Week 1+

So I wanted to write this last Saturday and here it is Wednesday and I am just sitting down to write this.  Such is my life, there never seems to be enough time to get everything done.  With that in mine here is an update of how we are doing with the No Fast Food Challenge.

We are 12 days into this as I write this and still fast food free.  In fact after the little tantrum thrown by my youngest on the way home from Church Sunday morning I am considering extending this longer, lol.  It should not be heartbreaking to not eat out for a week, lol.  I didn't even think we ate out that often, although Sunday nights are hard and I do love to stop for dinner when its 7:30 and my kids are hungry and should be in bed in half an hour and we just got out of church, you get the idea.  To combat that weakness I have been planning ahead.  On Saturday or Sunday as time allows I will make a pot of soup or some other meal that will last for several days.  This gives me a go to meal when I am really busy, or we get home late.  The first weekend it was split pea soup and this last weekend was chicken noodle.   So far this has worked for us.

Finally I am already beginning to see some payoffs.  I no longer wonder if I can afford the extra stuff like piano lessons for my kids and I have lost a few pounds already.  Both make me really happy.  Here's to three more weeks of  No fast Food.