Friday, July 30, 2004

under a pile of papers

I am STILL trying to organize all my worksheets, lesson plans, etc.! I can't believe I have this much stuff. Lauren was teasing me that if I would throw out a few more things it would be a little easier. She says I hold on to everything. I don't think that's true.... well maybe just a little. I did come across some good stuff that I want Josh and I to use, so in the end, I guess this will be worth it. (at least I hope so LOL)

Josh made the Squirt AA travel team so that combined with all the hiking he does will take care of P.E. thank goodness.

I found some good ideas for a few books to read and a couple of activites to go along with them for the presidential election. He watched Edward's and Kerry's speech with us and gets involved in all the political talk that goes on in our house. Kate and I registered to vote here the other day. This should be really interesting to follow with Josh since we were learning about the Revolution last year and went into the Declaration and the branches and such. We'll see how much either of us remembers. He's got the better memory LOL and has to end up correcting me sometimes. I really think that because we discuss things so much that it why he tends to hold onto the information. In talking about things and telling back/sharing what he learns he "claims" the things he's learning about.

It's getting late and I'm bushed. I'll have to write more another time.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

some good websites

My great friend from Cinti, Jan, sent me the following really good websites that I wanted to share with everyone:

Hope someone finds these helpful. I found plenty. Thanks Jan.


Well Steve and Josh are gone to his last ice hockey tryout so I thought I would try and write a little more. I get more nervous than Josh at his tryouts so it's always best for me to stay home LOL.

The book that Josh ask me to read with him was The Flower Hunter: William Bartram, America's First Naturalist by Deborah Kogan Ray. Beautiful book. Well written and absolutely gorgeous paintings for pictures. Lauren even listened in on it. I love it that Josh still wants me to read to him. He says he loves my voices that I do when I read outloud. He does plenty of reading on his own so I don't mind obliging him. I think we were all inspired to try and sketch things in our nature journals.

Last night I began to read again to Josh the book Carry On, Mr.Bowditch. If anyone reads this post and knows how to pronounce this name I would love to hear from you. I have always said bow like in the bow of a ship. We had started this at the end of our last term but didn't finish it and had to give it back to the library. The other day when I was at the library I took it back out. Yesterday as I was browsing through it trying to figure out where we had left off Josh told me the exact spot we had stopped reading. I had to laugh. He remembered the last thing we had read of it over 2 months ago. He wants me to read a picture book in the morning and from a classic book at night before bed. I had been doing this during the year but when summer came stopped. That was dumb!

I have been cleaning out all my papers I have printed out from the internet with lesson plans, worksheets etc. I go crazy with all these ideas and want to do everything. I know that Josh and I both need some structure or it doesn't work for us but I would really like to read even more this year and not worry so much about the written documentation that he is actually learning something. I know he is and that should be enough!

I have recently began putting together a list of picture books that we use in our studies. I like to read them in connection with whatever we are studying. They make a very nice introduction to our topics and helped to expand on whatever we are learning in a short amount of reading time. They are so well written and many times the pictures that accompany them are beautiful. I have tried to find a resource that lists them by subject matter. The closest I have come is the A to Zoo reference book but this is not as encompassing as I want so I decided to put my own list together. I have even been toying with seeing if this is something that might be publishable. We'll have to see.


Haven't been here in a little while. Have been meaning to get so much done and haven't gotten there yet. This is one of my big problems that I am always working on. I have great ideas but it is putting those ideas into actual motion that is what gets me alot of the times.

This is always a time of the year that I am always questioning how we homeschool. I read So MUCH of how everyone else is doing things that even after 7 years I still find myself wondering if Josh and I could be doing this a better way for him. We follow such an eclectic path that the responsibilty of pulling it altogether sometimes can seem daunting. I admire and agree with so much of Charlotte Mason's theories I like to use this as a basis. Then we add in Ampleside Online (AO) ideas which actually just implement her theories. I really want to follow even more a literature based curriculum. Josh and I love reading and love learning in this manner. If we want to find out something on a topic we generally hunt up a book to read on it. My biggest fear that I am having a problem coming to grips with is the documentation part of what he is learning. He has a tremendous memory and  advanced verbal communication skills. His weaknesses are in his written communication and this is what I worry about. I am always amazed at the depth of his knowledge on many topics but is this enough? He really doesn't show a motivation in the written part of things. This is not the area where he gets all excited. I hear moans and groans. I think he recognizes the importance but I want to help him develop an interest in this area and not the reluctance he has shown. How to do that is the million dollar question right now for me LOL.

We never did get to watch that show on Nova that I wrote about earlier. Maybe we can catch it in reruns. We have watched various other shows as we always do. They are just a part of our life. Last night we watched Edward's speech at the Democratic convention. We will be talking and reading about the electoral process more and more as the election gets closer. He already listens and participates in discussions with all his siblings. These are really interesting to listen to many times.

Well it looks like I am going to have to cut this short. Josh is asking me to read a book I got out at the library on a naturalist and he is hungry so I will try and write more later.


Tuesday, July 20, 2004

another day

Well thanks to the help of Kate's brilliant boyfriend, Jason, the computer guru, I have links on the side of my blog!!! Thanks Jason. These are some sites that are mainstays in our homeschooling.
This past week I have been reminded that ours is truely a family that enjoys learning for the fun of it. Josh found a 3 hour special on the History Channel the other day that was on the Vikings, Goths and Mongols. Very interesting. We have studied these before but found out a few new things.  All the kids have been discussing/debating politics and recent world events. Lauren and Kate are still talking about George Orwell's 1984.
This past weekend Lauren and I went to Learning is Fun. I got my new lesson plan book for the year and also found an interesting activity book for Greece and the Olympics. I'm going to use some of the activites for the month of August since the summer Olympics are being held in Athens and start soon. They have some myths, cooking recipes, history etc that will interest us.
Josh is totally into Spiderman now. He has seen the movie 3 times and has now developed an interest in the comic books. I always love to see what his new passions turn into. He was into the Hardy Boys and playing detectives for awhile and now it looks like it's Spiderman. He'll play for hours with his spiderman action figure imagining him in all sorts of situations.
Tomorrow Steve and I are going to Green Valley Library. They are having early notification for homeschooling at the branch there for the new school year. I planned out our yearly outline of studies and Steve typed everything up this past weekend. I filled out the other forms and so after I make copies  we'll be ready to turn everything in. It makes it so much easier when we file early like this and get it out of the way.
We really do need to get on the ball about reviewing some math and doing copywork for his cursive. I have not been as diligent in this as I had wanted to be.
Tonight Nova is having a program called Lost at Sea: The Search for Longitude. It chronicles the 17th century journey to determine longitude. I have looked up a few books that I will be getting from the library to read after we watch the program. These include: Seagoing Clocks: the Story of Longitude by Louise Borden, The Man Who Made Time Travel by Kathryn Lasky and The Longitude Prize by Joan Dash.  I may get out Carry on Mr. Bowditch by Jean Lee Latham again also. We never did finish reading it at the end of the year and both of us were enjoying it. I should just by a copy at the bookstore. It's such a good story.

Thursday, July 15, 2004


Ok. It looks like the link works if you click on the title of the post. For instance on the last post click on the title and it will take you to Ambleside's home page. I still need to figure out how to put them on the sidebar. Boy do I wish they had computer classes when I was younger.

more yearly organizing

Today I went online to Ambleside's website to organize the subjects we follow using their suggestions. This is a free curriculum based on the philosophies of the 19th century educator, Charlotte Mason. This list includes:
School Year 2004-2005
Josh - 5th grade
Term 1
Shakespeare - The Taming of the Shrew
Plutarch - Crassus
Artist - Mary Cassatt
Composer - Antonin Dvorak (18880 Late Romantic)
Poet - Rudyard Kipling
Folksongs - Blow the Man Down
Nature Study - trees/insects/invertebrates
Term 2
Shakepeare - Much Ado About Nothing
Plutarch - Timoleon
Artist - Giotto and then Masacchio
Composer - Early Music/Medieval
Poet - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Folksongs - The Fish and The Sea
Nature Study - climate & weather
Term 3
Shakespeare - Othello the Moor of Venice
Plutarch - Aemillus Paulus
Artist - Homer and then Eakins
Composer - Aaron Copland and then George Gershwin
Poet - John Greenleaf Whittier and then Paul Lawrence Dunbar
Folksongs - Rhyme of the Chivalrous Shark
Nature Study - garden flowers & weeds
I divide up our studies into 3 terms. The first term runs from September to November, the second term from January to March and the third term from April to June. I do not follow Ambleside for History, Science, Math, or Language Arts.  These I do on my own. In the beginning of each term I decide what topics we will cover during that term for each subject and then make out my weekly plans from there. I try to stay somewhat flexible and we generally end up covering pretty much everything we needed to by the end of the year. We use the summer months then as an informal review, mainly with math, writing and reading. Each of the subjects that I use Ambleside curriculum for generally will be visited once a week although if there is a special interest we will do another day. For instance, when we studied Plutarch's Pericles this past year, Josh was so enthralled by him he often ask for us to read on more than one day.
Much of what is used on Ambleside can be found online in the form of etexts. There is also a yahoo egroup for their curriculum which is awesome. A tremendous amount of support and ideas are shared. Charlotte Mason does have a christian base but as I do not practice any organized religion at this time I just leave out what may not apply to us.
During our formal studies terms, we generally take about 3 hours each day to cover what needs to be done. It's amazing the amount of work that can be done when you are one on one with a child. There are times too when his older brother and sister will particpate in a discussion or so which adds a wonderful dimension to our studies. 
I'm hoping the link works. If not I will keep trying or end up having to yell for help from one of the kids. LOL

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

organizing for the new school year

The other day I began to get organized for the beginning of next school year. I went through Josh's binders and cleaned everything out. These are three ring binders for each subject and I have broken each of them up into several categories as described in The Well-Trained Mind. Our topics do not correspond exactly, I set things up to suit our needs. His World History, American History and Science papers are each put into large three ring binders at the end of each year so that in the end he will be able to access all his information from his studies of each year. I also just keep adding to his Language Arts binder topics of grammar and spelling rules so that he can use these sections as reference material each year.

I also cleaned out my own large binder that I keep lesson plan ideas, worksheets etc in for the year. I need to pick up a new lesson plan book. I like to use the Creative Teaching Press one so hopefully Learning is Fun will have it.

I began to put together the information needed for notification as they are having an early notification sign up at a library branch in a few weeks. It makes it so much easier to have all this done then. I use Home Learning Year by Year written by Rebecca Rupp as a guideline on what we will be studying. Some topics may be repeats so we will skip these and concentrate on something else. For example, in her book she lists 5th grade World History topics to cover including Ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome. We have done these subjects to death it seems so I will substitute something else.We also use the Core Knowledge series, What Your --- Grader Needs to Know. I use these as a spine. A few years ago I found on the internet worksheet questions that are very well done by a homeschooling family. We use these occasionally for a few subjects.

I need to go to Ambleside Online's site to see what is listed for this year. I use their composer, painter,Shakespeare, Plutarch, and Nature Study schedules as a guideline for these subjects.

Julie Bogart, a writer and homeschooling mom, has a fantastic language arts subscription program called The Arrow for ages 8-12 that I am going to use this year. She uses the practices of copywork and dictation which are practices of Charlotte Mason which are already a part of our studies.She also uses real literature which is a main stay of our homeschooling also so things should work out nicely for us in this area.

I will try and link sites etc of the things I mention as soon as I figure out how to upload links. LOL

I am hoping to put together a small unit of books etc on the Olympics as they are coming up soon. Some of our topics will be the history of the olympics (really just a review), some fiction books, some non-fiction on Greece itself, Greek myths. Since Josh is so into hiking and mountains I am thinking we will do some geology etc when we read about Greece. We just received our worry beads that I purchased on ebay. It was exciting for the both of us to know they actually came from Athens Greece. I was amazed he knew what they were from reading one of his Hardy Boy books. I still have to read it because I told him I was interested in seeing how they played a part in the story line. Enchanted Learning has some neat booklets etc on the Olympics. I am going to be subscribing to their site to access these. They have some fantastic stuff that I have used in the past. I went to Barnes & Noble the other day and was really disappointed that they didn't even have a display up on the Olympics. When I worked at Little Professor in Cinti there were always wonderful displays on the various events/holidays going on during the year.
I need to get to the library to pick up some books I found on the Olympics.

Well I best get back to other things.


Tuesday, July 13, 2004

the next day

It is cloudy today here in Las Vegas and maybe that is why I am feeling befuddled. I'm not use to this greyness as we usually have total sun. I keep feeling as if I should just curl up on the couch with a good book LOL but I did want to get more up on the blog.There is so much I want to share and I am having a hard time trying to decide where to start.

As I said in my intro we have 4 children ages 10-21. All have been homeschooled at one time or another. My youngest has never been to school. This is our 7th year of homeschooling.

We are very eclectic in our approach.We have some structure, some unschooling, some child-led studies, some guided by mom and various scope and sequences. With all this I have to say that the most important aspect is the ability to be flexible. We use something if it works for us, in a way that works for us.

I have researched many educational philosophies and take from them what works for us. One of my favorites is Charlotte Mason, an educator in the latter part of the 1800's. Her ideas are as appropriate for today as they were many years ago.Ambleside Online is an amazing yahoo group that also has a website that shows how to incorporate her ideas into a usable cirriculum. I also have used ideas I have gleaned from The Well-Trained Mind by Jessie Wise and Susan Wise Baurer, a classical approach to education.The Core Knowledge Series by E.D. Hirsch has been a great resource for us.I have used unit studies, lapbooking, notebooking and many more ideas at various times in our studies.Some of the best resources out there are the local library and the internet. We borrow books, both fiction and non-fiction, videos, DVDs, CDs, attend lectures/programs offered, all for free! On the internet there is a whole world out there waiting to help. There are many, many sites for lesson plans, worksheets etc. There are wonderful educational shows on your own tv.

Learning is a way of life for our family. We read a tremendous amount. We watch the History Channel and Discovery Channel for fun LOL.We talk and talk and talk some more. There is a tremendous amount of discussion/debate/interracting that goes on in our house from the youngest to the oldest and each one in between.

When I first started homeschooling I read in various different places that it was important to decide on an educational philosophy. It was important to know what you wanted from this journey. I kept thinking that I must be wrong because mine was so simplistic. More than anything I want my children to LOVE learning and to never lose that love no matter what age they are. I want them to know how to teach themselves. If they are interested in a topic I want them to have the tools to follow through with that interest. I think Galileo said it best, "You cannot teach a person anything; you can only help him find it within himself."

I need to check on laundry for now but will try to write more later.


Monday, July 12, 2004

first day of blogging

Well, we'll see how much I can accomplish since I am creating this blog when everyone else is asleep. I usually have to call the kids to help me out when I'm doing something on the computer LOL after all they are smarter than their mother which is sometimes scary since I'm supposed to be the teacher too. Well, good thing they don't mind.

I wanted a place to share our journey of homeschooling so here I am. Really I LOVE talking to anyone about it and on here I can at least pretend there might be lots of others interested enough to listen. If not then I'm just talking to myself which I am rather good at after all I am a mom to 4 kids LOL

I'll try to share about how we homeschool and some of the things we are learning about as we go along but all that will have to wait as it's almost midnight and I need to get to bed.

I'll write more tomorrow.