Thursday, August 30, 2007

Simplification is the Name of the Game

I went to Starbucks the other night with a fellow homeschooling mom. I don't have many friends here that homeschool so getting to really talk about struggles, successes, tips, and tricks was a treat. Whenever we get together we stay 'til they kick us out (who heard of a Starbucks that closes at 9:00, anyway?), then stand outside and talk for at least another hour. Total bliss!

Anyway, one of the things we discussed is the need to keep it simple. I believe that as homeschoolers we get so caught up in the "neat" stuff we could do that we lose sight of our goals. Since one of the things Stephanie and I talked about that night was learning US Geography, I'm going to use that as an example.

I'm ashamed to admit how many different US Geography curriculums I've bought. It's at least 3. Maybe 4. My current process is to spend time every Friday on US Geography. I read from a book about the state (stories from its history, etc.), then we fill out maps and information sheets. 6 sheets for each state. 6!!! It took us 2 Fridays to do Rhode Island! Am I absolutely nuts?!

After my night at Starbucks, I started thinking about my goals for studying the 50 states. For each state, I'd like for the kids to know name, location, and capital. That's it. The rest is gravy. Neat gravy, but time-consuming-making-this-way-too-complicated gravy. Do I really care what the highest recorded temperature in North Dakota is? NO! (Sincerest apologies if you're from North Dakota. To be honest, I don't care what the highest recorded temperature is in Texas, either.)

So, I'm simplifying. Tomorrow is Friday. We are going to cover 1-2 states, depending on how long it takes. We'll need 2 maps for each state - a map of the US with that state marked and a map of the state with its capital and surrounding states marked. We might (might!) do a color sheet of the state bird and flower just because that would expose the kids to the names of more bird and flowers. Each week we will cover the names of all the states and the capitals of the ones we've learned. We will work our 50 states puzzle. They'll play with their Leap Pad that has a US geography game. That's it!

Ahhhh.... I feel better already.

And it's a wonderful thing.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

There Are Different Kind of Intelligence

My son is pretty smart. Really. I'm not just a proud mama. Sometimes, though...

Saturday night, on the way out to dinner.

Robert: Hey, Mom. Hey, Dad.

Me: Hey, Robert.

Robert: What?

Then, again, Sunday morning...

Robert: Uh, Mom?

Me: Uh, Robert?

Robert: What?

He's a smart kid. I promise. Really, he is.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

A Couple of Links

After a not-so-great day yesterday, we've got to get focused around here. I have a couple of post ideas brewing, but they will have to wait until later. So, I'm sending you off to visit other, more wiser blogs than mine. I hope you find something you enjoy!

The Homeschooling Carnival is up at The Common Room (one of my favorites!). Don't miss it!

Do you ever feel invisible as a mother? Then don't miss this. (HT: Real Learning)

That's all I have for now. And I just realized I only posted a link yesterday, too. Ugh.

I apologize from the depths of my heart. I'll do better in the future. I promise there won't be a single link in the next post. Wait. Is that good or not?

Monday, August 27, 2007

Online Watercolor Painting Lessons

I have wanted us all to learn how to paint with watercolors, but haven't wanted to spend the money on books (or lessons!). I did find some books at the library and have requested them. However, a few nights ago I had the brilliant idea to google it (duh!) and came across this web-site. It seems to be just what I was looking for.

You just gotta love google. When you remember to actually use it, that is.

Saturday, August 25, 2007


Have you seen this? I originally saw it over at Our Journey With Him. It's just wonderful.

Watching the Mailbox

I am a member of Paperback Swap. I love, love, love this site. If you're not familiar with PBS, be sure to check it out. I also love used bookstores, and frequent them often, but I have found quite a few books through PBS that I can never find used around here.

I have gotten a lot of great books through there, but I still have a wish list a mile long. For some reason, several of my wish list books have come available recently. Here's what's currently heading to our house, and the reason I'm stalking the mailman.

Animal Habitats -- On Land, Ponds, Rivers, Oceans (Draw Write Now, Book 6)

I thought this would be great to have for our science studies this year (ocean creatures).

Celebrate America: Learning About the U.S.A. Through Craft Activities

I originally put this on my list when were doing Sonlight Core 3 last year. I thought about not requesting it when it became available, but I figure we can use it for American holiday celebrations this year, and we'll get back to American History next year. I'm always in need of art/hands-on projects.

Say Goodbye to Whining, Complaining, and Bad Attitudes... in You and Your Kids

ahem... No comment.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Our School Schedule

I blogged here about using Ambleside Online this year. I showed examples of our first week's work here. I thought I would share how we break up and schedule the work from AO. Keep in mind that we are doing a combination of Year 1 and Year 2.

This is our first term's schedule (12 weeks). Some books change after that, so I will post the next term's schedule when we get there (and I've actually set it!).

I have highlighted the the things we do together. I try to alternate things that will require individual attention. So, while I help Robert with math, Ruth works on Bible and copywork. I also alternate things that require them to read the same book. Believe me, having them read the same book at the same time would not work. :)

I have found as we work through the schedule that some of these things don't take as long as I have scheduled. However, I like having the wriggle room for things that end up taking longer, so I'm just leaving it as is for now. Any changes eventually made will not be drastic.

Afternoons are for physical activity, reading, chores, instrument practice, any art projects we may do, and other things along that line.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Word Problems for the Morbid

We are using Christian Light math this year and really liking it. One interesting thing about their curriculum is that all the word problems for a particular Light Unit (17 lessons, including 2 quizzes and a test) are centered around a theme.

I was grading Ruth's math yesterday and came across the following two word problems. The theme is the ocean.

  • A shark is not a good mother. After giving birth, she may eat some of her babies. If 9 mother sharks had 50 babies each, how many baby sharks is that?
Ohh - kayy... But then, even better...

  • Those hungry mother sharks gobbled up 27 of the babies before they could escape. How many baby sharks were left?
I'm probably weird, but this just cracks me up. It must appeal to the slightly-macabre sense of humor I have. Where is that ROFL smiley, anyway?

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


I received Jane Eyre in the mail from Netflix today. I liked Ciaran Hinds in Persuasion, so I can't wait to watch it. It may be a few days, though. I have a meeting tonight and church tomorrow night. Maybe Thursday night...

Even More Wildlife

You may be tired of the wildlife posts, but just bear with me. I'm a city girl, so seeing this kind of thing in my yard just astounds me.

Typically, the only wildlife we see (aside from when we are actively trying to catch them) is this variety. Some people think they're a big pain, but I think they're adorable.

Imagine my shock at seeing THIS outside my window this week.

I know they're around (as evidenced by the above referenced post), but seeing one roaming freely through our backyard was just weird. I feel like I'm living in Over the Hedge.

Sunday, August 19, 2007



I'd love to take the credit for the changes here, but it is totally the work of my new best friend at Life With My 3 Boybarians. Isn't it wonderful? Isn't she wonderful? She's having a contest right now, too. She's volunteering to do a blog makeover for someone. Read about it here.

Well, I've got to hurry and post this so I can sit and stare at my pretty blog for awhile.

Small P.S. - I do claim the picture. I took it while on a cruise in February.

Pardon My Dust

I'm messing around with the template, and since I'm pretty clueless, this could be a dangerous thing.

Friday, August 17, 2007

School Days, School Days

Good old golden rule days...

I think that song goes through my head at the beginning of every school year.

This was our first official week of school. I am very, very pleased with how it went. We are not up to a full load yet (we still need to add in science and Latin, and I need to add in some art projects), but we still did quite a bit. I thought I'd do a show-and-tell of our first week. (Click on any image to see it larger.)

I chose a "just for fun" read-aloud - The Penderwicks. It is a wonderful book and we are all loving it.

For history, I made a notebook with sections for all of our AO books. When the kids read a chapter, they will narrate to me, then write a few sentences and draw a picture. I got the idea for the notebooks here. I already had a comb binder, but mine isn't nearly as nice as hers. It works, though.

Here's a page from Robert's notebook for Our Island Story. Yes, those are palm trees on the island of Great Britain. I have yet to convince him that even though it's an island, it's not tropical. We'll keep working on that. :)

Ruth wanted to share her page from the book Trial and Triumph. It's also a very good example of her drawing style - very Anime.

For our music portion of Fine Arts, we are using these CDs. I can give more details if you would like. Basically, they are a CD of Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherezade, an a capella CD of hymns, and Wee Sing America for folk songs (which I confess we did not do this week). Obviously we are studying Rimsky-Korsakov for our composer. I couldn't find a biography, so we read about him on Wikipedia. Our hymn was "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross".

For our artist study, we are learning about Mary Cassatt. We read this biography and studied the picture "Woman in Black at the Opera". The kids looked at the picture for a while, then took turns describing it without looking. You can see that it's a 4x6 picture. I plan on making them artwork albums as described here.

We also got math and grammar done on assigned days. Yea!

For fun, Robert did a science expirement involving water, oil, and food coloring.

Things to improve on:

literature readings - they didn't get done this week
folk song - also didn't get done
art projects - figure out a way to make this work for us

For a break down of what we did each day, check out my other blog Our School Days. It is nothing fancy. It's just an easy way for me to track what gets done.