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.


Saturday, October 1, 2011

Michigan History Week: 3

Michigan History Week 3:

For week three of Michigan history we have continued our study of the state symbols.

Monday was a look at the state stone the Petoskey stone.  I have to admit to a major fail here.  I was sure that I had a Petoskey stone stuck away from my childhood, either polished or unpolished to use with this lesson.  In fact I was king of thinking I had both.  I do have a small collection of rocks that I had as a child and have moved many times since being married.  So I dug them out the morning of our lesson opened the box and it was full of agates, a nice piece of amethyst and other shiny rocks we will use later when we do our study of geology but not one Petoskey stone. I spent hours on Lake Michigan beaches as a kid on vacation hunting these stones with my parents and apparently not one ever made it to the box. So my kids had to look at a poor picture of said rock.  Apparently I should have checked on this at the start of the summer before I visited my parents who do have some around.

This is the poor picture we used to teach with and added to our books.  This is Petoskey Pete from one of the Michigan History magazines I had found on-line.

Tuesday was better we looked at the state fish, the Brook Trout.

I have a Michigan coloring book so we used the page with the fish colored him and added him to our books. There were two fish on the page a large one and a small one.  I instructed the kids to use the smaller one.  This didn't go well as Andrew insisted the bigger fish was better and yummier looking, lol.

Wednesday we sang the state song, Michigan My Michigan.  we opted to not add anything to our books for this.

Thursday and Friday we looked at how our state government is set up.

We mapped the capital on a shutter fold book (from homeschool share) and also made a small book listing the three branches of the government.  For the executive branch we included the name of our governor, the legislative branch included how many senators and representatives are in the state government and the judicial branch simply stated that judges enforce the laws.  The shutter fold map is actually designed to map the Great Lakes, but I didn't think they would have enough room to write the names of all the lakes neatly so I adapted in for the capital mapping instead.

Friday we ended with a worksheet on voting from My First book of Michigan.  (seen here).

Week four starts our look at the Native Americans of Michigan, hope you stop back to see what we learn.


Monday, September 26, 2011

No Fast Food

Can we do it?  As a modern day family can we actually make it a whole month with no fast food?  I am very curious about this and since I desperately want to lose weight and even more since I want to save money I am willing to try this challenge.  What challenge is that? This one presented by my friend the Lazy Mom, she had challenged us to join her in no fast food for the month of October, yep the whole 31 days.  What classes as fast food can be decided by your family but loosely its defined as anyplace you don't have to get out of your car to get food.  For me I am willing to go a step further and say this includes all sit down restaurants that have the carside to go service. Unfortunately I will know this sets me up for immediate failure as we have a family birthday gathering in October which will mean one trip to Applebees, in this case I am amending to rule to include the exception of unavoidable family gatherings.  In this case its also because we meet in a town half way between where we live and the rest of the family.  So we are in, are you.  Willing to see what we learn and how we do? Either way it should be fun


No Fast Food Challenge

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Michigan History Week: 2

I must apologize I am a few weeks late on my next post here. Things have been a bit crazy around here but we are finally getting back to normal. But anyway finally here it is, lol.

For week two we continued our study of our state symbols.

Monday we looked at the state flower, the apple blossom. I found this worksheet at kidzone.  I really like how it explains what the flower should look like when colored.  It worked really well and my kids liked having the coloring directions right on the activity.

Tuesday we studied the state bird, the robin. This can also be found at kidzone.  It had the same format with the description of each part of the bird on the picture.

Wednesday we added the state tree, the white pine.

Unfortunately I can't remember where i found the cute little pine tree accordion book.  The kids colored the tree and wrote inside about the white pine. We discussed how the state used to be covered in them and that they were a major source of lumber during the states logging boom.

Thursday we added the state reptile, the painted turtle.  I found this cute little guy at homeschoolshare.  He is actually a diagram, that was a little more in depth than I wanted to go.  So I only used part of the lapbook.

Finally Friday we looked at the state mammal, the white tailed deer.  I found a deer shaped lapbook at homeschoolshare.  We simply wrote that the white tailed deer was the state mammal inside.  (The deer we used in found on page three of the PDF.)

Week three should be coming soon.  We will continue our study of the state symbols and finish with a look at our state government.  Hope to see you back next week.


Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Number One Reason Why Homeschooling Works, At Least for this Family

So many times as I talk to other parents about homeschooling I hear, "I am so impressed, I don't know how you do it all.  I could never make it work like you do".  Well my friends here is my little secret to success, I don't do it alone.  Nope, I have the very best helper in the World helping me, My Lord and Savior.  In fact the Bible says, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philipians 4:13.  So because of Christ I can do this because he will help me in my efforts.  However I don't think its quite that easy.  If by chance my homeschooling didn't glorify God then I don't think He would help me be successful.

However our homeschool does glorify God.  In fact one of our main reasons for homeschooling is to make sure that in everything we try to keep our focus on Him.  After all He commanded us to instruct our children in Deuteronomy 6:7, where it says "You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise."  That is exactly what we strive to do.  You see God is not just limited to a nightly devotion in our house or even a course of study for an hour a day.  He is there as we learn history, science, even spelling and grammar.   I admit math is a hard subject to bring God into, but how about thinking of it this way, we learn math so we can be better stewards of all God has given us.   Not just monetary stewards even but math helps us understand science and science helps us see the glory of god's creation. As a pastor I recently spoke with on this topic reminded me after all, it's about Him, all the other stuff just points back to Him.

This doesn't mean I am one of those homeschool moms that thinks all good Christian moms should homeschool.  He calls each family into what is right for them.  However I don't think any family should be afraid to try if they are focused on God.  It is my belief that He gives a special blessing on all those try to live out Deuteronomy 6:7 by teaching at home.

So for all my friends who wonder if you can do this.  I pray you find the strength to trust God to lead you into what is right for you.  For all those who already do, I pray God is the center of your school.


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Third Grade Curriculum

Third Grade Curriculum - Or What will Keep Anna and Andrew Out of Trouble

Yesterday I shared my choices for what Aaron would be learning this year.  Today I am sharing what the other two will learn.  I have always home schooled them together, for my own sanity, since they are so close in age.

Bible Lessons:

This year our Bible text will be from the Bible.  To support this we are using Hands-On History Activity Paks from Homeschool In the Woods. We will work our way through the Bible using both the Old Testament and New Testament activities to support our lessons.  Each Pak is sent on CD and you can run as many copies of each activity as needed for your family.  They activities when completed are complied in a lapbook.  The CD also includes writing activities for both Testaments, which we will not be using this year.  Also in some cases I found that a significant jump was made over a section of the Bible I wanted to cover so I will in some cases be adding additional notebooking and lapbooking activities.  I hope to keep you posted as we go on how these turn out.  So far the kids are loving the hands on activities.

Language Arts:

We will be completing our last year of phonics.  So as much as I am ready to switch to a whole book method of learning, we will do one more year of BJU reading.  This will reinforce their phonics skills and make sure their skills are strong before we move into more comprehension based work.  We are also using BJU english and spelling, as they all correspond.  Finally we have A Reason for Handwriting book C.  This is a full year of cursive, folowing last year's work on book T, or transition.


For math we are continuing our use of the Saxon program.  This year we are using Saxon math 3.


A brief description of our study of the State of Michigan can be found here.


This year we are exploring the topics of earth Science.  We have chosen the you the God's Design series from Answers in Genesis.   The first book we are using is Our universe. Followed by Our Planet Earth, then Our Weather and Water.  This series can be used with multiple grade levels so some of the material may be a little above their heads so I keep reminding myself to adjust as we go.  However the thrill of learning about space had them excited for weeks, lol.  Again I added notebooking and lapbook activities to most of the lessons, as a way to help reinforce the lessons.  I am very excited with what is planned for this subject.

So far we have found that completing all our language arts and math work in the morning while I work with Aaron has worked well.  This allows me to focus on Bible, history and science in the afternoon, after Aaron is done for the day.  I can then lead discussions of the topics and help with all the projects, without having to stop and help Aaron with his work.

Hope you stop back to see how it goes,


Monday, August 29, 2011

The Preschool Curriculum

The Preschool Curriculum - Or What Aaron Will be Learning

Disclaimer: I am calling my 41/2 year old a preschooler.  However as you will see the books we are using and our goals for this year are more on a Kindergarten level.  So with that knowledge here are our choices for this year.

Bible Class

This year I am using the Explorer's Bible Study series book. Bible Beginnings: Precious In His Sight. This will be one of our shorter classes of the day, concentrating on  a daily Bible story, prayer and music.  Occasionally I may add a project to reinforce the lesson. Most of the time we will be focusing on listening and comprehension skills.

Language Arts

For Language Arts we will be continuing our study of phonics with the Sing, Spell, Read and Write program.  We started this last year and started book one of the kindergarten program, All Aboard. However due to low attention span of the then three year old we have ten letters left to complete this year.  We will start with the last ten letters doing them one per day, rather than the suggested two per week, because I have found that Aaron loves this faster pace.  Then rather than start book two of the K program we will do book one of the 1st grade level, Off we Go, for more letter review.  Then we will go back to book two, On Track, of the K level for beginning reading skills.   Then next year we will work through book two, Raceway, of the 1st grade level, which I think will be a much better approach as I found book two rather long and too fast with my other two kids.   We are also using A Reason for Handwriting book K, as we start learning to write.


Aaron did work through Saxon math K last year, so we made the decision to move to Saxon math 1 this year.  So far so good, except we need to work on neatness skills, like staying in the lines and handwriting.
Math is his favorite subject.  He especially loves the manipulatives we get to use.


This year we are using Christian Liberty Press's Our Father's World.  I am using this as a base of study and adding lots of notebook and lapbook projects.  My goal is to compile a science notebook of what we learn this year.  Having completed week one I am happy with our start.  Week one concentrated on the seven days of creation.  We have completed a notebook page on God Created Me and we made a seven days of creation matching game.  I found this at Christian Preschool Printables.  We spent several days playing this game.  In fact Aaron even played it after school was over.  We lay out the seven day cards in order, bonus we get to work on sequencing, then match the picture of what God made to the day is was made.  After this one week Aaron can tell me from memory without the cards what was made each day. I am very excited to see how our other projects work.


Our last subject is history.  For this class we will be using Christian Liberty Press's History for Little Pilgrim's. I used this for my other two and love how it introduces history as "His Story".  I will add projects to this book as well as I  find them.

So far he seems to love it all and I am praying that continues, lol.


Monday, August 22, 2011

Michigan History: Week 1

We have joyfully completed our first week of school for the year, and along with it our first week of Michigan History.  I will make it known here though that the first week was light on history, as we are working on Michigan geography and state symbols first.

So here is a recap of what we have done so far.

Our first activity was discussing Michigan and locating it in the United States.  You can see the activity in my post here.

On Tuesday we what states boarder Michigan. We used an activity found in My First Book about Michigan. The activity consisted of following  a map key to color each state a required color.  We then cut out the map and attached it to the lapbook page I made for our Michigan Notebooks.

Wednesday's lesson was also from the My First Book.  On Wednesday we compared the size of Michigan to the other 50 states.  We learned that Michigan was 11th in size, with 10 larger states and 39 smaller states.  We completed questions on this and the page was filed for inclusion in the notebook.

Thursday was a mapping lesson.  I used a general outline map of Michigan and we located major cities and marked them on our maps.  I liked this as it gave us some good practice with map skills.  We learned that city areas were marked in yellow and the larger the yellow area the bigger the city.

Finally Friday we started in on symbols.  We colored a copy of the state flag and talked about its design.  We also covered the state motto.  The flag page I found from kidzone and it included meaning behind symbols on the flag.  We pasted this paragraph down first and pasted the finished flag over it "lift-the-flap" style.

The next set of lessons will cover the state bird, flower tree, etc.  However we have decided that we are taking this week off even thogh we are only a week in.  It is VBS week at church and since this is the first VBS our church has done in a long time and since I hold the position of Nursery Coordinator I have decided that I have enough to do this week.  Hope to see you back in two weeks.


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Our Students and Staff

I had so Much Fun last week with my first link up on the Not Back-to-School Blog Hop.  That I decided to do it again.  I have to say I love the homeschool community and all the love that was shown through comments.  I also enjoyed seeing everyone else's rooms and got some great ideas for the future.

This week we are sharing about our students and staff.  So here we all are.

Student Number One: Anna Elizabeth

Anna is a classic first born.  She loves to mother her brothers hates to be wrong.  In fact one of the main problems we have in school is that she doesn't like to get things wrong and hates being the last one done.  She loves to read, draw and wants to learn piano.  She has told us she hates math.  How this is possible I still haven't figured out.  She is just starting the third grade.

Student Number Two:  Andrew

Born just 15 months after his sister, Andrew is my quiet, sensitive child.  In fact we have to make extra effort to not forget him as his siblings can be way more demanding than him.  He is definitely our little engineer.  He is happiest when playing with Legos, Lincoln logs, an erector set or building something in the garage.  Yes he has his own workbench and tool set.  while we call him a second grader he is completing third grade work just like Anna.  He may also be the reason Anna hates math as he flies through it and needs little instruction on new concepts.  He also has a photographic memory which aids in spelling where he can not only remember what words look like but where he has read them.  Wish my brain worked like that, lol.

Finally we have,

Student Three: Aaron

Yes he is still in PJ's.  This is the child that like to challenge me.  He likes to pretend he doesn't remember what he has been taught, he also requires lots of extra "help" and will not stay focused unless he has all my attention.  Unfortunately he knows he's my baby and I melt at the site of his big brown eyes. He is technically a pre-schooler and we are using curriculum at a variety of levels.  He is finishing learning his letters and sounds but working on first grade math as just an example.  He is one of the reasons I love homeschooling because he can learn at each level as needed.

Our Administrator: Engineering Dad

 He is responsible for all school repairs and is our main source of school funding.  He has in the past acted as substitute teacher, but by request of the students has been asked not to return.  apparently he writes EVERYTHING on the white board and the kids do not like this.  I think it made the day much longer and way more boring, lol. He is however welcome to join all field trips.

Finally the Teacher: Me- Engineering Mom

This picture is actually three years old, apparently I take all the pictures so there are no new ones of me, except when we are camping and those I am not sharing, lol. I of course do the teaching.

Hope you have enjoyed meeting us all.


Monday, August 15, 2011

Michigan History

This year for our history class the Engineering Dad and I decided we wanted to teach the two older kids Michigan history.  This will be a study of our home state, this was a history subject that I really loved as a kid and I am very excited about what we will be learning.  However as I began to look for something to teach with I was stumped.  When I was a kid learning MI history twenty some years ago we had a text book.  However I have learned that the state no longer uses a text book. 9or at least the parents I talked to have kids that don't use one)  They have some basic lessons on the MI DNR website (link attached) under the state history museum.

So began my adventure is compiling a MI history curriculum.  I started with the lessons I liked from the state website and a timeline of events from the same website.  I started researching  the people and events.  Some where I was blessed to stumble across a state school district which as a scope and sequence with lesson ideas and excerpts of The Mitten, the Michigan Kids History magazine.  So of course I printed them off and used them for the bulk of my teaching material.  They look like this:

I have to say most of the lesson ideas were not things I really want to teach my kids.  So I then went on to find activities for each lesson that would help them remember the main events and people of history.  I will be using a variety of lapbooking, notebooking, mapping and time line activities.  It is my hope to update you each week with what we have done so you can see our progress.

Day one was where is Michigan, we also talked about Michigan being a peninsula and  the Great lakes that boarder the state.  Our activity for the day is a where is Michigan lapbook from Homeschoolshare.

 I sorted my material into sixteen units of various lengths.  Material for each unit is stored in a file folder and the lesson outlines for each unit are in a binder.

Above you will notice we are also using Michigan from the Hello USA series.  Its an ok book if you want a general overview of the state.

Our sixteen units are as follows:

Unit 1: Michigan Symbols and Government - Where we will be looking at our state symbols and who are leaders are

Unit 2: Native Americans of Michigan

Unit 3: French Explorers, Mssionaries and the Fur Trade

Unit 4: The British Arrive and the Resulting Conflicts (this goes through the Revolutionary war)

Unit 5: The Road to Statehood

Unite 6: The Underground Railroad

Unit 7: The Civil War

Unit 8: The White Pine Era - Lumber

Unit 9: Mining History of the Iron and copper Mining Communities (Note we used this as an intro this summer to the topic of Michigan history while on vacation in the UP and we toured a copper mine and several mining museums)

Unit 10: Shipping - Life on the Lakes

Unit 11: Life in the 1880's - Growing up on a Farm

Unit 12: The Auto Industry

Unit 13: The Great Depression

Unit 14: WWII

Unit 15: The Mighty Mac

Unit 16: Paddle to the Sea - A look at the Great Lakes water ways using the book

I have to say that our kids are very excited about this topic and I am really looking forward to what we will learn this year.  Hope you come back and enjoy the journey with us.


Monday, August 8, 2011

The School Room - My Favorite Room in the House

So today I cleaned our school room in preparation of fully resuming classes.  The kids are currently at grandma's for the week so I took advantage of this time to clean and purge without my little helpers.  It also reminded me of why this is my favorite room of the whole house.

Here's what it looks like and why I LOVE it so much.

I love that it has this big window which lets in lots of sunlight in the Winter.   It's always cheerful in here with the yellow walls and the natural light.  In the Spring it can be a problem as we get to much sun and there is a half round window with no covering but we have learned to adjust.

Under the window you will see the basket I use for the kids to place completed work in before I sort it and store it in boxes in the basement for recorded keeping. I love this as any loose papers are placed here and we don't lose any important work.

I also love the large cabinet in the corner.  My husband built it before we married and I have always loved it, as it holds lots of stuff.   The top cabinet part stores beach towels and paper products, after all I still need storage for my home too.  The drawers keep all our school supplies and learning toys neat. Like this:

Side Note: No one needs that much glue.  We go to a birthday party every year where the mom is a extreme couponer. She hands out school supplies, including glue as party favors.  After this the third year we have more glue than we can use, lol.  I am sure we will use it all someday.

I also love my giant white board.

I also had Engineering Dad put up a bulletin board for me to use.  It holds our hundred's number chart, our Sing, Spell, Read and Write letter poster and several maps.  Wouldn't it be cool if this whole section of wall was cork board?  Wonder if I can talk Engineering Dad into that?

We also have a wall full of book cases.  In fact I filled up the first two we bought, so we got another one .  That one is also almost full.  There is one that was dropped off to our house by some great friends of ours. It needs new shelves which Engineering Dad has cut but not glued into the frame yet.  Once I have that one we will have four shelves on the back wall.  We also want to take out the lovely chest under the window and put in a built in book case there as well. If only there was more time and money, lol.

I like the height of these book cases because it gives me a shelf to store our CD player and other learning tools.  The yellow barrels to the left are our buddy barrels.  The two older kids use this to collect money for mission's each month. The basket next to the Cd player holds CD's (of course), while the basket on the right holds our Sing, spell, read and Write learning games.  That mess in the middle is some math and science stuff like clocks and prisms and coin cups.

The shelf on the right holds on the kids work books and text books for this year on the top shelf.  The bottom two shelves hold coloring books and drawing sets.  The shelf on the left in this picture holds our Bible library on the top shelf and then has two shelves of literature and reference books for topics such as, geography, science and history.

Then we have the larger shelf:

The top of the shelf has containers of math manipulative s. the top shelf holds classic literature and poetry, the second shelf teacher's guides, the third shelf  workbooks and texts I have pre-bought for years to come and the last two shelves are reading books we will be reading over the next couple of years.

Finally we have our storage closet. It looks like this:

It needs more shelves, but I have learned to be creative.  The garbage bag hanging on the left holds empty oatmeal containers, tp and paper towel rolls and other things I have saved for crafts.  The boxes on the floor on the left is my sewing stuff and the stuff on the right is vacuum attachments and extra paper. The top shelf which is hard to see holds extra containers and my wedding dress (it had to go somewhere). The shelf on the top right is all paint supplies, to the top left a stack of magazines, a box of stamps and ink and rolls of paper. Down the center we have paper and craft supply storage,  The bottom holds an erector set and a kit for making hydraulic machines, yes these both have been used by my six year old, it looks like engineering blood runs true.

Hope you enjoyed my tour.  Happy schooling everyone.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

How it All Started

So a big question I get, a lot, is why do you home-school? Sometimes I wonder this myself.  Its not like I woke up one day and said I'm bored guess I'll home-school my kids.  It was more of a process or series of events that lead to Engineering Dad and I making this decision. So f here is how we ended up where we are.

When my first child turned three I began looking at pre-schools.  After all I am an engineer and according to all the mommy magazines it seems like the thing to do is to give your kids the best start in learning by making sure they have all those pre-school classes before they get to kindergarten. As an engineer my brain just seems to want to follow all the steps so that's what I did.  I choose a tuition based pre-school through our local school system, figuring that would have the best program for reading my child for school, since they were the school.  All sound logic right? Well as it turns out, in our case anyway, not so much.

You see I had in my head this idea of what my child would be learning, things like letters and numbers.  That bubble was busted during orientation, before we ever had our first day of classes.  That's the day I learned that three year old's learn shapes and colors.  It didn't matter that my daughter already knew these things that's what they would be learning and I was ok with that.  So I sent my child to a whole year of pre-school in which I came away wondering what she was learning, but figured oh well its just the first year and I enrolled her again the next year.  This year I thought for sure she would learn letters.  After all she would be going to kindergarten the following year.  Well  again I was wrong she learned all the letter sounds and she learned these cute little hand movements for them  and she associated all of them with an animal.  The animals even had names.  But she couldn't recognize the letter A. Well ok maybe the B, since A is in her name and I had taught her to write her name over the summer. So I did what any good engineer does when they feel their project is behind schedule, you work overtime to get it back on track.  In this case we did an hour or two of school at home after we got home from school.  In which we did all those things I thought she should have been doing in school, like letter and number worksheets, matching and counting activities.  My kids loved it too.  That's right kids, my middle child is 15 months younger than my daughter, he was three but couldn't go to school because he wasn't three in time to meet the deadline, however he was ready to learn just as much as his sister.  Added bonus!

So here we were at the point where I was teaching two kids more than the school I was paying money to every month to teach one child. The final factor came though when I helped in my daughter's classroom during Valentine's Day.  The kids started their party day by coloring a place mat.  Nine kids came in scribbled for  few minutes and went off for free play. One child sat and colored by herself  for a half and hour.  Now it could be her engineering blood that won't let her color outside the lines or it could have been that she had learned to concentrate and take her time and complete her picture, but in any case I was impressed that she showed a desire to learn and create over play. So imagine my surprise when the teacher suggested I place her in pre-k the following year, not because she wasn't ready to learn but because she was so small for her age.  That my friends clinched it for me.  My child would not be coming back for another year, I was going to be the teacher because it had become apparent to me that I was the one who cared the most about what my child was learning and making sure she was continually learning.  Now I am not advocating home schooling just because you don't like a teacher or the way schools teach, you have to be committed and want to do it yourself for it to work, and that's what I had learned during my daughters years in pre-school, that I could do this and do it well.

Now I know my experience may have been extreme and I am sure some of you love your children's teachers.  So I am curious what do you love and hate about schools and what would you love to change if you could? Have you ever been frustrated by what they are or aren't learning?


Friday, July 15, 2011

Learning in Our Own Time

I was reminded of one of the joys of homeschooling today by my daughter.  Anna is seven and has wanted to learn to sew all summer.  So to get her started I taught her the beginnings of how to crochet.  This is partly because I need to have a little repair work done to my sewing machine and partly because well Anna is very short for her age and I don't think she could reach the foot pedal and the machine at the same time, so crocheting bought us some time.

It also brought a new challenge because her hands are also so small she had a hard time holding the yarn.  However she was determined and has been practicing with all her heart on chaining stitches.  The best part came today when I looked over and she was wrapping her chain of stitches into a ball.  She must have made three feet of perfect little stitches in her chain.  When she wrapped it up she had a ball about the size of a tennis ball and a huge smile on her face because she realized that she had mastered the first step in learning a new skill.

Which reminded me that on of the joys of homeschooling is seeing your child's hard work and diligence pay off.  It also reminded me that because I home-school I can give them all the time they need to learn the skill. I set the schedule and I can adjust the schedule as needed. So just like it took Anna three months to learn her chain stitch, I learned that we all learn in our own time if given time.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Thinking Outside the Box

Welcome to my Blog.  I have decided to write this Blog to share our experiences in Homeschooling as we begin to think outside the box. By  thinking outside the box I mean we are going to change the way we homeschool.  We are currently have completed K through 2nd grade with our oldest two children and they have become bored with our current approach.  Since we have to this point used a traditional text book approach I have to agree school is boring. So at the request of the kids we are going to begin our transition to a whole book style of learning, with notebooking and lapbooking projects.

While this may not seem like a big deal to many homeschooling families out there this is a big deal for our family because well both my husband and I are engineers.  Or at least I was till six years ago I walked away from my career to stay home with my children.  For those that  haven't had much interaction with engineers we can be kind of slow to change and we like to have a set approach and see measurable results.   So I have been researching (another thing engineers love) different things we can try.  I then had to convince engineering Dad that its OK if we don't have a workbook.  Which meant answering questions like how do we know they are learning and will they cover everything.  But in the end he agrees that what's the point of homeschooling of we do school just like the public school systems.  So here we are today getting ready to think outside the box and school in a whole new way.  At least for us.  Welcome to our journey.  I hope you check back to see how it goes.