Tuesday, February 26, 2013

101 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum

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...not my top picks--I haven't been homeschooling long enough for that! I'm talking about Cathy Duffy's 101 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum.

When I was planning The Boy's kindergarten year, an earlier edition of this book was THE number-one best resource that I found. I checked out this new edition from the library as soon as it was available--partly because I wanted to use it to help me plan The Boy's next year, and partly just to see what's new.

The first few chapters of the book help you get yourself together--figuring out your homeschool philosophy, your learning/teaching style, your children's learning styles, and so on. I always want to skip those chapters, but I plow on...because the work you do in those chapters is important for using The Chart.

(That's just what I call it, capitalized like that. Because I love The Chart. A lot.)

The Chart is the next section of the book. It has each of the top picks listed by subject. The top picks are a pretty good mix of curricula I've heard of (Saxon Math, All About Spelling) and curricula I haven't (Genevieve Foster books?). And then The Chart rates each top pick, on a scale of 1 to 5, on all kinds of things--what learning styles it works for, which homeschool philosophies fit with it (told ya that you should do those first chapters!), how easy it is to use, how much writing it requires, whether it has religious content...and more.

After The Chart, you'll find the actual reviews of each of the top picks, with more details about how each program works. I've only read the first few chapters of this new edition, and I'm so excited to plan this next school year (our "year" starts in April) that I might explode or something.

Or...instead of exploding, maybe I'll just make myself a Super Nerd t-shirt and call it good. Hmm...yeah, probably that.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Kid Craft: Footprint Penguin

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Footprint Penguin Craft
I got this idea from Pinterest, and it originally came from Little Family Fun. Click through there to see the tutorial.

Although, really...you can probably figure it out from the photo. In which the penguin should look black, not gray. But whatever.

The Boy finished putting his penguin together in about twenty minutes, so this is a good, quick project for a boring winter afternoon. He only needed help with tracing his foot. (Word of advice on the foot tracing: if your kiddo is ticklish, make sure you have a good grip on that foot while you're trying to trace it!)

And on a related note: what the heck is going on with construction paper these days? I got a big pack of Crayola construction paper from Amazon, and it's super flimsy and the colors are faded. I thought it'd be better quality, being Crayola and all.

So, what brand of construction paper should I get next time? Anyone have a suggestion? Because I'm not buying this stuff again.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Bring Back the Home...

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(Found picture  here)

At the beginning of the year I decided to sign the girls up for an at home charter school. Essential we got funding to buy books through the program and funding for doing activities. I thought it was an amazing idea. We only had to report once a month and do a few other report things. Don't get me wrong, it's a good program that we are going to continue doing.

However, it feels like all we do is worksheets. And worksheets. And worksheets. My scientist has been telling me how bored she is, and honestly so am I. I've stopped preparing fun activities. Stopped spending hours getting excited for the next day. I've become as bored as my kids.

I was discussing this with my husband and he's noticed it to. School isn't fun. It's boring. Yep, it's as boring as public school.

So this next week or so, I'm going to start working really hard at bringing back the home to our homeschooling. I'm going to start looking things up, creating new fun games, and get the love back for teaching my kids. This way they will get the love of learning back.

My first idea that we are starting today are the smiley faces. Every time the girls finish a subject they get a smiley face. On the back of them there is an activity or something fun. Some of the ideas on the smiley's are: drawer, paint, pick 3 craft items and create, spin a dice and that's how much computer time you, 15 jumping jacks, draw with pastels, model clay, and etc. So far the girls seem excited!

What do you do to make homeschooling fun for you? and your kids?

Monday, February 11, 2013

Kid Craft: Embroidered Valentine Card

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Sounds fancy, right? It's really not hard, though.

This photo's been floating around Pinterest lately:

[photo by Red Bird Crafts]
Click on the photo credit link to go through to the tutorial. When I saw it, I thought, "Hey, The Boy could do that. Probably." The only way to know is to try, so we did.

Embroidered Valentine Card

The Boy caught on pretty quickly, and it didn't take very long to finish. The card turned out just like the ones in the tutorial. (Different colors, though.) I'd definitely recommend it, as long as your kid can handle one of those blunt needles. I think it would also be cute as a Valentine's Day decoration.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Yo, I Heard You Like Reading

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"Reading changes your life. Reading unlocks worlds unknown or forgotten, taking travelers around the world and through time. Reading helps you escape the confines of school and pursue your own education. Through characters--the saints and sinners, real or imagined--reading shows you how to be a better human being."

-Donalyn Miller

I just started reading Donalyn Miller's book, The Book Whisperer. I'm not very far into it yet, but I really like it so far. Especially that quote up there. Reading does change lives. I love that any kid can be inspired to be a reader.

Also...The Boy thinks it's hilarious that I'm reading a book about reading.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013


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So Andrea was talking about what she did for Handwriting. I thought I'd share what we do. We are using Handwriting Without Tears.. 

But. That's not what this post is about. We also do what I call "journals." Each day they have to draw a picture in their book about something that happened, or anything else they want to draw a picture about. Then they have to write a sentence trying to spell each word themselves. Then I write it the correct way. And then they re-write it correctly. It's helped my girls become a lot more cautious about their writing, and they try a lot harder to get it right the first time and make it neat. If they get it right the first time, they don't need to re-write it.  Here are some examples from our first few entries:
Homeschool Handwriting Journal
Homeschool Handwriting Journal

                                (Appletree is a place.. she wasn't talking about apple trees)

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