Sunday, December 21, 2008

Motherboard Books: Computer Science Pure & Simple

I have always loved technical things, expecially computers. Unfortunately, I still don't know much about how they work or the technical terms. So when I was told I was going to get this curriculum I was really excited! We were so blessed to get Computer Science Pure and Simple book 1 and book 2, and we also got MicroWorlds EX software (which is needed for this curriculum). This course is geared for 5th grade and up.

I absolutely love this curriculum. It is very well-laid out for the student. Actually, this is perfect for anyone who wants to learn about computer science. The lessons are not childish at all, yet they are not over your head (I'm talking over the parent's heads because we all know that kids these days know so much more than we do when it comes to computers). So I do the lessons ahead of the kids, not only so I can keep abreast of what they are learning, but because I want to learn it too.

In Book 1, they offer a comprehensive intro to HTML, how to use notepad and the other windows accessories software already on your computer. It also covers more about word processors, programming drawings, animations and games using LOGO language (which is found on the software sold with the curriculum). You will learn how to format a newsletter and how to work with a spreadsheet.
Here's a link to see a sample page from book 1:

Book 2, builds on book 1 and provides more work on programming using LOGO language, spreadsheets, and how to make a multi-page website. Your child can also create their own games.
Here's a link to see a sample page from book 2:

Each of the above mentioned books covers one year of computer science. You can purchase them seperately or as a set. Book 1 costs $29.99, Book 2 costs $32.99, and the set costs $161.98. Motherboard also offers computer courses for younger kids; LOGO Adventures(8-12yo), Let's Make a Webpage(8-12yo) and Let's Make a Webpage jr (for 7-9yo).

Phyllis Wheeler is the creator of this curriculum, she is a mechanical engineer who has taken a number of programming courses throughout the years. She created this curriculum so she could teach her children computer skills. With this curriculum she not only taught her children but taught at her co-op as well. I am very thankful that she decided to share this curriculum with the homeschooling world. Check it out for yourself:

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Schoolside Press: The Little Man In The Map

The Little Man in the Map by E. Andrew Martonyi, Illustrated by Ed Olson

When I heard that we would be reviewing this book, I was intrigued. A little man in a map that has clues to remembering all 50 states? How would that work and who or what is a little man in a map?When I opened the book and started reading I was shocked! The little man in the map has been in front of our eyes all this time and no one has ever noticed it before. The man in the map is literally comprised of 5 states in the middle of the U.S.

How cool is that?

This story is about a little man in the map (named MIM) who teaches children how to remember all 50 states through stories, clues, acronyms, rhymes, and pictures. Another nice feature is that they split the map into regions or smaller chunks, making it easier to memorize. There is a lot of information that is packed into this book, so it really could be done as a mini thematic study.

This book is a charming, imaginative story that would work well for most children learning about the states. My kids all enjoyed this story, even my older kids! After I read this story to my younger kids I left it sitting out on the table, just to see if any of the older kids would notice. I was pleasantly surprised to see my older kids each pick up the book and read it. They all thought it was a fun book to read, and they even said that they had learned something new from this book.

The hardcover book is priced at $19.95, they also sell a 38x22 inch laminated wall map for $21.95 . Also on their website they have coloring pages from the book that are free to download. Another book is in the works for learning the state keep an eye on for more information on their upcoming book.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

the Christmas Season

Well as the Christmas season and Advent winds its way into our daily lives we must add extra time onto our school day. It is only about an hour but their is so much I want to cover before this season is over. We have learned about different Christmas trees and then went to a tree farm and just explored so many different ones.

As we try and stay focused on our daily tasks. I try to have a fun activity to do at the end. Just a little something for them to look forward to. We are doing a fun unit in Social studies of Christmas's around the world. We have learn a game and a craft from the countries they chose and explored where it is on the map. We will also end our season with a birthday party for Jesus.

Christmas is also the perfect time to add books to our library so that is on the christmas list for our schoolroom we let the children make a list of things that they would like in the classroom and then Santa brings some.

Well, I hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas.

Spears Art Studio

When I found out that I was going to be reviewing an art curriculum I was so excited! This is one area that we often skimp on each year. I always wanted to teach my kids about art; art elements, perception skills, drawing, painting..etc. But I am no artist, and finding a curriculum that was geared towards someone who has no art background was difficult.

Along came Spears Art Studio and what a blessing this was for me!Spears Art Studio was created by Diane Shields Spears, who has an extensive background in education and art. She has taught in both private and public school systems.

I was fortunate to receive the Spears Art Studio High School Art Survey curriculum to review. Spears also carries K-8 art curriculum, calligraphy, and literature guides for 4 children's books. All of the curriculums are reasonably priced and can be purchased either in hard copy or on CD-Rom. All of the curriculums are taught from a Biblical World View.

The lessons in the High School curriculum are very well laid out and written to the student. I really liked the fact that they list the materials needed for each lesson at the beginning of each lesson. There is also a full list of materials that would be needed for all the lessons, making it easier for you to gather all materials (or those hard to find ones) at the beginning of the year. In the High School Art they cover art elements, perception skills, drawing, painting, visual memory exercises, scripture connections, and much more. You can check out samples of the high school curriculum here:

Some other great things about Spears Art curriculums are that they are non-consumable, the K-8th is all in one package, and the high school level can be easily stretched out to two years....which makes it well-worth the cost.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Our homeschool Christmas Party

We had our homeschool Christmas party last night.What a blast about 10 families and about 30 kids.Everyone either brought an appetizer or a dessert.I brought sausage cheese balls and the disapeared FAST!!!

One of the most important thing for homeschooling moms i feel is getting together with other homeschooling moms and last night was wonderful.I got to see friends i havent seen in awhile as well as some moms i've recently spent time with.

The kids are also making new friends within our group as well.They got to decorate gingerbread cookies and also make ornaments with glass balls and pouring paint into them then shaking makes such beautiful colors and is such an easy craft.We will be making some here soo i have a feeling.

The kids also got to play a game which li'l J won and got a 15$ gift certificate to Target.It seems like my kids are always winning something within this group but i guess when you have 6 kids its all about the odds.

So yes we have a wonderful homeschool group and i love it.I hope all of you and yours enjoy this christmas season.

Monday, December 8, 2008

A Sense-ible Season

What a perfect time of year to do a lesson on the 5 senses! Our younger 2 "students", ages 5 and 3, started a lesson on the 5 senses this afternoon. We started by reading a Usbourne book about the senses. They learned new terms like nerves, receptors, and spinal cord.

After reading and discussing all we could about hearing, feeling, seeing, tasting, and smelling we ventured to the kitchen for our big project - Gingerbread Men. Gingerbread men are a wonderful teaching tool for this topic. They have dry, wet, and gooey stages. They have strong smells and a very distinct taste. You can use so many colors to decorate them. Gingerbread men are just an exciting part of the Christmas season!

The boys had to use their ears to listen to directions. They smelled each of the spices as we needed them.
They also tasted each ingredient before we measured it and put it into the bowl. When the recipe called for cold water, we all went to the sink, where they had to figure out if the water that I turned on was warm or cold by putting their hands under it.

Then both boys described how they received the information from their hands to their brain. They also had the chance to touch the sifted flour and the gooey dough before it went into the frig to chill. While the cookies were cooking we read the Gingerbread Man story. The part of the project that they found to be the most fun was the decorating. They shared that task with all of their brothers and sisters. The very best part, of course was tasting!

Colors, sizes, textures, tastes, listening skills,& smells. It's all there in one cookie recipe. That one recipe not only brought about a learning opportunity but also gave our home a warm holiday feel.

For more Gingerbread lessons check out these links:
Gingerbread theme Lesson Plans
Gingerbread Mini Unit
The Gingerbread Baby
Teacher Vision: Gingerbread Man
Gingerbread Man Lesson Printables and More

Scientific Cake Making

One of the things I love about homeschool is that schooling is not on a set schedule. Mind you, we endeavor for a set time every day, but since the home setting is more relaxed, our weekly learning can extended into the evening and on weekends. Also, there is a lot of impromtu learning. Now, I am proud to say that we have always been in the mindset that learning never stops. Even when our kids were in public school, we used every opportunity we could to talk about things and enrich our children--and there were teachers who even commented that they could tell we did. However, now that we are formally focusing our learning at home, that has expanded.

We were making a gifts for family recently. Cake in a Mug. It's a pretty simple recipe and you can find the details HERE. I have learned the hard way that you should always try a recipe first before serving it to others. So, with that in mind, we set out to taste-test the gift recipe. What should have turned out to be a 1-2-3 thing, ended up turning into much more.

First of all, the original recipe was off time-wise. The 2 minutes noted was far too much and we ended up with a burnt batch. Then there was a question as to the ingredients and some modifications I had made. In order to assure we were giving our family and friends the best gift, we realized that the recipe would have to be tested, and all the variations tried, as well as some variations we weren't planning. As we set out on this mission, Jim started telling the kids about the scientific method. He explained that while this was cooking, the same principles applied. I suggested that we should make a formal chart and record our progress. And we did.

We ended up doing 6 different versions of the recipe, altering different aspects. Jim kept track using a makeshift chart, which you can look at here. In the end, we determined that test-recipe #2 was the best. However, it was really helpful to have all of the information in front of us, and the kids learned a lot. Not to mention they had a lot of fun.

I do have to admit, after all of the testing, I didn't want to see another bite of cake for a while! Still, as we were having fun making gifts for our family, there was a great deal of satisfaction knowing our kids were learning in the process. I know that those kinds of things should be a given in homeschooling, but they still bring joy, and remind us that what we're doing is good and valid. Particularly when some of us face such criticism, to have moments like that are priceless.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Staying Motivated

As the holidays approach, I think one of the hardest things about homeschooling is staying motivated. There are certainly enough distractions with holiday plans, gift-giving (or gift making), baking, parties, and decorations. Getting the kids, and yourself, focused, can be a chore.

I know this is also a problem for public school teachers too, so I guess I shouldn't feel so bad. Most schools are very happy and excited about winter break, because by then it truly is a much-needed vacation from schoolwork. The kids usually come back much more recharged.

So, how do you get that recharging when you are already at home? In our first full year of homeschool, that is our current challenge. My solution has been to mix things up a bit. We are incorporating more computer work, utilizing educational programs and some great websites. We are doing unit studies incorporating the holidays, so the kids can get festive while learning. We are doing a lot of unschooling, in the sense that we are talking a lot, turning free moments into learning moments. Still, sometimes the kids just aren't up to it, and neither is the teacher.

All of that said, I had always viewed the first few months of homeschooling as a "getting our feet wet period". For such a big change in our lives, I'm really happy with the way it has turned out. But, I also realize that when the holidays are over, we'll need a bit more structure to our day. Taking a cue from MOTH (Managers of Their Home), I have put together a formal daily schedule. We've already used it a bit, and I'm excited. I feel that after the holidays it will really allow us to shake things up in our homeschool yet again!

When talking to the teacher of my autistic son, she said that she often felt like she strapped on her roller skates every morning and would just see where the day would take her. I think that really describes homeschool. There are days that go way off course, and there are days that go perfectly. The balance is simply accepting that is how it is and accepting that's okay. As we review what we have learned and take various tests about the material my kids have learned over their first 3 months of schooling, I am excited how well they are doing, and that they still are eager to continue learning. It's very heartening, even when the holidays throw you a bit of a curve-ball.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

No School Today!

From all of us here at the Homeschooling Lots of Kids Blog, and from the family...

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Juggling Extra-curricular Activities

We have 6 children who are, officially, being homeschooled this year. Each one has their own different needs (duh, right?). I love this about them, I really do. But, it can get really crazy around here.

Usually, when a parent asks advice for how to weed out activities and simplify their life, they are told, "limit it to one activity per child per semester." Hey, that's actually good advice. No denying that. BUT, having six different activities to juggle between two parents is STILL asking a lot. And, for me, I cannot count on DH to be here to help. His schedule is as flexible as a Chinese acrobat - only completely in his boss' favor and determination! It's nice when he can be here to help, but I cannot plan for it. So, we have to find a balance that lets everyone have experiences without running me ragged!

To start with, we have an age limit. They do not have an 'outside' activity prior to 7years old. This year that meant four who were eligible from summer-Nov. Now there are five, but so much has already started, his options are limited.... A little tricky, but still perfectly "fair". ;)

Next, we try my best to combine activities. If we can get TWO children in the same activity/class it lessens the load. If we can get MORE.... all the better. A few years ago all of the girls were in 4H. The monthly club meetings included everyone and had activities for the younger children. They each had their own interests and activity within 4H, but those were done at home and did not involve GOING all the time.

In addition, we have it worked out where we can have 'activities' come to us! The music lessons for the younger children are in our home. We have piano and guitar taught in our home. On the same day as those music lessons we have an art class. My DD is teaching this art class to her younger sister and a cousin. We also have science labs at our house.

My next secret.... carpooling!!! Many of our activities are planned to coincide with family or friends activities that are in the same place around the same time! :D So, I may drop off my eldest for her music lessons, but she is brought home to me afterward by a cousin who has a lesson after her. We also have a carpooling deal where my aunt will drop children off at the activity and we will bring them home.

We do say, "no" to activities. I hate to do so. When the children show an interest I want to cultivated it and encourage them in what they want to explore. But, I can only do so much. Usually, we can ask one of two questions to sway the child into giving up on it themselves. "What are you willing to give up in order to do this?" and "are you willing to pay for this, yourself?" If they continue to show an interest and are willing to make sacrifices, they may have to wait, but, we try to work it out so they can do it.

I realize this issue is not unique to homeschooling. I think we, as homeschoolers, have the additional concern of making sure school work gets done as well. The homeschool community can offer some really great opportunities - ALL DAY LONG! These things are rarely frivolous, and can be very tempting. I could sign up my entire LIFE to the things our nearby homeschool groups have to offer.... lol. After the weeding down process already mentioned, we have to insert a filter. Good, better, best.

Plenty of things are good. And, they are good for varying reasons, too! Some things are even better, and more geared towards our interests, desires and skills. But, those things may not be the BEST for our family, at this time. We have to make sure that the activity is really the best, overall.

We make sure it will not cut into study time. We verify that the need for it isn't already being met in some way or another. We look at the schedule of other things we're already doing to look for overlapping or otherwise conflicting times. We also have to consider how the activity will affect the rest of the household. We examine our motives for desiring the activity. And, we bathe the matter in prayer to beg for direction and wisdom to the best choices.

I still, frequently, feel as if I am running constantly. But, I know that we've minimized it as much as we are comfortable doing - for now. We also keep in mind that everything we do is optional and can be dropped if it becomes too difficult, or expensive!

Homeschooling a blended family

Never in my life did i think i'd be homeschooling a blended family.I knew i'd homeschool,but throw in the words "blended family" and you've reached a whole new ball game there folks.(we won't even go into the fact that i have 2 public school teachers in my new family)

I think the biggest concern or problem that arises when you're homeschooling a blended family is the trust factor.I mean the other parent that is no longer in the family has got to trust you enough that you're going to teach their kids and not just let school days go by without doing any work.For me my ex husband had seen me homeschool he knew i was perfectly capable of doing it,but the ex wife well that was another story. I remember her asking Jerry "well what kind of credentials does she have?Does she even know what she's doing?"

Jerry assured her that yes i did know what i was doing that it was a way of life i was used to,but no you did not need credentials to teach at home.He assured her that i take my job very seriously.For me I knew it would just take time to prove to her that no worries, i was not messing up your kids by homeschooling,in fact i was raising one of your sons reading levels,and decreasing the stress in the other ones life.We had all agreed upon giving me a trial period till Christmas of last year.Funny Christmas came and went and no one said a word.In fact the next month the oldest child won the spelling bee in the 4th-8th grade group,him being in only 4th grade.The next month I received a call from the boys mom telling me how amazed she was at all the kids were learning.This summer i approached her with wanting to school the kids year round i was surprised with a very enthusiastic "go for it"SO yes she trusts me,not only to raise her kids,but to school them as well and to teach them the things they need to know.

The second biggest thing a blended family may encounter is not about anyone else except for the homeshooling is the constant questioning of one self.I know every homeschool mom goes through this but then you throw in the factor of outside parents and it really gets tough.For me I am always worried "what if their mom doesn't like what they're learning this year or the way i'm teaching it"Lucky for me she very rarely asks about school she just kind of takes the kids word for it.I am still under constant pressure though because of us Waldorf schooling that she'll think i've totally fallen off my rocker or become too relax with the kids,instead of her seeing that this is one of the most natural ways for a child to learn.I haven't exactly used the word "waldorf" with her just told her we're taking on a much more hands on approach.She seems happy with that.But still in the back of my mind i am constantly questioning myself...i mean i know the kids are learning.One of the reasons i homeschool was so my kids wouldn't have to "prove themselves" to others constantly but yet here we are.I can only hope that she sees all the kids have learned and the good that is coming from this experience.I mean her kids more so then my own have told me numerous times how much they love homeschool or how they'd never be able to do certain acivities in public school that we get to do at home.

I have come to a point where i know she trusts me so i am trying to let go of the little voice in my head that doubts myself.I need to look at why i believe homeschooling is the best option an number one on my list is Sense of Security.I want them to know that their house is a place where they can always feel secure.Not go out and try to fine that somewhere else.I actually had one of my old highschool teachers tell me when she found out i was going to homeschool our brood

"oh no wendy they need to be in public school so they can feel secure and talk to people they trust while they're going through this adjustment of becoming a blended family"

ummm anybody else see something wrong with that sentence?I firmly believe that a child's sense of security should come firstly from his family not from a teacher or a school counselor.This is their house if they cant find security here where else will they find it?In a school setting where they're told if they don't do they're best on a state test they'll be held back,which causes that extremely bright kid to be sick for a week because he is worried he will not pass?(i've seen it happen to my oldest stepson ) How is that a sense of security?Or should he find it in his home where he's allowed to move at his own pace and excel in areas he wishes.Where he can talk openly about things he loves or what he is thinking without any of the other kids teasing him.

Homeschooling a blended family is a big job.But for me i have already seen so many of the benefits of it.i have gotten to know my stepsons as well as my own children so much more deeply then if they were gone from me for 6 hours a day.The children have made stronger bonds with each other as well.We have more time to be a family because they're not coming home from school and working for 2-3 more hours on homework.I get to see that spark in their eyes when tey finally "get" multiplication or are intrigued by the ancient mayans.I get to hear them tell their mom or dad all the things we did in "school" today and here the excitement in their voice.How wonderful is that?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Homeschool Thanksgiving

We are in the midst of learning about Thanksgiving. I think this was a subject we went over every year in school, and we learned pretty much the same things. This year I wanted to get deeper into the subject with my kids. Much like most of our homeschool, we are very ecclectic in our approach, sampling a little bit of this and that, and letting the kids choose what elements they want to focus more on.

In our homeschool, we have 2 core groups of learners. My 1st and 2nd graders work together, and their work is more age appropriate. Then I have my gifted 4th and 7th graders, who have their own grade-level work (such as for math), but for social studies and other like subjects, they work together. We really try to create a group learning atmosphere, where whenever there is a subject that is covered by all kids, the older kids sit in with the younger kids in their lesson, then go off on their own more advanced work. Then, the older ones come back and give the younger ones some "additional information" they found. This has worked very well for us, and really gives the kids a broad sense of group learning.

There is a ton of stuff available on the internet to learn about Thanksgiving. I'm going to link a couple of my favorites. There's only 9 more days to American Turkey Day! Here's to hoping your family has a great holiday.

Thankgiving Tradition and History -- This is a neat site in that they suggest you take their Thanksgiving quiz before you read the history. Then read the story, and take the quiz again at the end to see if you found the answers to the questions you first missed.

Billy Bear 4 Kids Thanksgiving -- Lots of fun games and crafts for your younger learners.

Thanksgiving Unit Study -- This article from Gifted Homeschool features ideas and links to site which feature information on how life really was for the pilgrims during the first Thanksgiving. This is an 11-day study, which is a bit late if you start it now. But elements can be used to create your own plan. Lots of great information.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Benefits of theLocal Library

I have been meaning to post this for a few weeks but school and children have been consuming most of my time lately. I have home schooled 10 of my 11 kids so far and one asset to our home school was and is the local library. We make it a part of our school week to get new books. I also require all my kids 10 and under to read for 30 minutes each day.The older ones are willing to read independently. Daily reading helps in many ways. It has helped educationally in their ability to read,and to improve their comprehension skills, and also with their creativity in writing. It also helps to get my non-readers to read more, due to it being mandatory in our home. I know life is busy but I believe 30 minutes a day helps in so many ways.

Helpful Blog Stuff

I've been making my sweep of the LOK Blogs this morning. If you're a regular visitor of this blog, you'll notice that our sidebar has been beefed up. You can now view our contributor's personal blogs, subscribe to our feeds, grab a badge to link to us, and much more. Another addition is a blogroll of our other blogs at Lotsofkids, so you can easily see what's going on elsewhere!

Thanks for your support of Lotsofkids and the Homeschooling Lots of Kids blog!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Lapbook Learning

We finally delved into the wonderful world of lapbooks and let me tell you, it really is wonderful. A friend passed along a link to a great, free election lapbook and so we decided to try it out.

We brought out the big foldup table from the garage and put it in the middle of the livingroom. We all piled around it and went to work learning vocabulary, who the major players were in this presidential election and what their platforms were.. finding the similarities and differences. We wrote mini books with the youngest student given the topic of "If I Were President" and the oldest given the topic "The Importance of Voting." They learned about the symbolism of the donkey & the elephant, what the electoral college is & how it works, as well as the timeline of the presidential election process. All of the folders included a map of the United States. As we watched the evening news coverage of the election, the children colored in the states - red or blue, depending on if John McCain or Barack Obama won that state. It made for great dialogue all night long.

Our 15 year old son was a bit on the older side for this project but still seemed to enjoy helping our 5 year old put it all together. There was so much info and so many different activities, that I had to actually cut some out since we only had the one day to work on it. It was a wonderful way to have family fun and "school" at the same time. The cost was very small since it was a free lapbook design and the memories and learning that went on that day were huge.

The kids all voted and it was unanimous that we make lapbooks a new & frequent part of our learning experience.

If you haven't tried lapbooking before, here are a few sites to get you started.
Lapbooking on a Shoestring
Notebook Learning
Homeschool Share - Free Lapbooks
Homeschool Helper - Free Lapbooks
Lapbook Lessons

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Knowledge Quest's Homeschooling ABC's

When I was told that one of the products that we would be reviewing was basically a ‘how-to’ guide for first time homeschoolers, I was a little concerned that I wouldn’t be able to ‘get into’ this review. I mean, I’ve been homeschooling now for 7yrs, what more can I learn about homeschooling? I was pleasantly surprised by how well thought out this product is....Terri Johnson really packed a lot of information into these lessons, but in bite sized chunks.

Some of the topics they cover are:

  1. The basics of homeschooling
  2. Finding your philosophy of education
  3. Organizing your space and schedule
  4. Finding your child’s learning style and how to implement it into your home school

Some things that they also offer are:

  1. Free samples of curriculums; downloadable forms, and organizational tools
  2. Resources for other books that will help you to delve deeper into a specific topic
  3. Website links
  4. Ideas and suggestions from well-known homeschoolers and publishers

And so much more!

As a homeschooling mom to six children, I really don’t have a ton of time to be reading ‘how-to’ books. With Knowledge Quests’ Homeschooling ABC’s I didn’t have a problem with reading through the lessons because each lesson was short, but meaty in content.

There are 26 lessons and each lesson comes once a week, directly to your email. So you have a whole week to read and apply what you are learning to your homeschool. Along with the lessons, Terri has assignments for the parent to do, which really helps to reinforce what was discussed in that week’s lesson.

The cost to join Knowledge Quest's Homeschooling ABCs class is only $10 a month for 6 months (with a 60-day money back guarantee). That's only $2.30 per class session. Which is a pretty good price. If you still aren't sure you would be interested in this, they also have a 5-day mini class.

The creators of Homeschooling ABC’s have really thought these lessons through….there are so many tips packed into this product that even I have learned something from them (see you can still teach an old dog new tricks LOL). So, I would say that this product would be good for any homeschooler no matter how long you have been homeschooling.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Our lessons in November

Well, for us November is very traditional. I don't know aout other people but there is so much I want to teach our children in the month of November and December. So I have to pick and choose. We now take our field trips on the weekends in these months so that I can fit all I want to do in our class activities. Some of our favorites are learning about the pilgrims and the indians that helped them. This is ongoing for the whole month of November with it ending in the kids celebrating the first Thanksgiving. They draw out of a hat to see who get to be Indians and who are the Pilgrims. Then We dress up like them and have our own little feast. I also love the historical pocket book about the Pilgrims and Indians and the Mayflower. It is so much fun to learn about them this way.The girls have learned how to make pots in the American Heritage girl groups and they came home and taught the others how to make their own and we are even trying our hand at making paints out of berries and such to paint them.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

As if we didn't already have enough reasons.

While making my daily rounds of Fox News and CNN to get my dose of what is going on in the world, I came upon this:

Kindergartners Sign Pro-Gay Pledge Card

As most people know, Californians are on the verge of a major vote to decide if the ruling allowing gay marriages will stand. I'm not here to talk about that. I have my feelings on the issue, but that's not what this is about. The article shows that a kindergarten teacher brought in cards which the kids were required to sign, which made them pledge "not use anti-LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) language or slurs; intervene, when I feel I can, in situations where others are using anti-LGBT language or harassing other students and actively support safer schools efforts."

This is just so wrong on so many levels. I can only imagine the mother of the child who found this card and how upset she was. Whatever your feelings on the subject of gay marriage, the bottom line is that the school itself acknowledged this was entirely inappropriate for the teacher to do. This topic and commitment to action is simply not suitable for kindergartners, regardless of what side of this issue you are on. I think the article sums it up best: "How do you teach a 5-year-old to sign a pledge card for lesbian, gay and transgender issues without explaining what transgender and bisexual is?"

This is just yet another example of how wrong our schools have gone. Admittedly, teachers have a right to create their own lesson plans and the administration doesn't necessarily have to see or approve it. Still, the fact that a teacher feels it is okay to allow her 5-6 year old students to be educated on and sign this card is a sad statement as to the direction many teachers feel they can move. A direction that is promoted by the public school systems desire to be "all-inclusive." This boils down to the fact that schools are prime locations to influence the youth. Spreading an ideology is easier when introduced at a young age, and as certain movements get more forceful, the age of those they wish to endoctrinate lowers. Whether it is religion, or gay tolerance, or whatever, the decision to educate our children on those subjects rests solely with the parents.

There are so many wide and varied reasons people homeschool. Some simply do not like the poor quality of education which is being doled out, others want to keep their children free from the negative over-competitive/bullying atmosphere. This story shows us starkly yet another reason: our desire to shield our children from being exposed to certain things before they are ready for it, or that we simply feel they should never be exposed to.

My reasons for homeschooling are many. There are moments I question my decision--particularly when you have a day where things just don't go right no matter what you do. The majority of the time, I am very confident in my choice. Certainly reading about situations like this makes me even more reassured of my decision.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Redoing Our Dining Room/School Room

The older boys have been really resisting homeschooling lately.I dont think it's homeschooling in genera i think it's more of resisting school in general!!!our dining room is where i do the bulk of the little kids lesson and then in the living room i'vebeen letting the 2 oldestwork.But they'd rather pick their noses or have a tickle fight then work.So i was trying t figure out how i could make the dining room functional fr us all without any one haveing to sit on the floor to work unless they wanted to!!

This is where we id most of the schooling before at our dining room table

we had an area for the white board easles but it was als the junk corner too

So I cleared out that corner and moved our dining room table over there then put to use this other table we've just had lying around for awork station for the older boys



Hid the cubbies under the table and will soon et a tablecloth.Then used the old white shelf i found to put our sewing stuff and coloring books where the cubbies used to be.

the finished project ended up looking like this

I'm so happy with ho it turned out and now that i can have all kids in the same room for schooling and for redirecting!!!

Thursday, October 23, 2008


HSLB is a unique online store. Unique, in that, not only do they carry new and used books, but some of those titles are out of print books...and the prices are very reasonable.There are many other wonderful features about this store. Not only do they sell books but they also have a: fundraising program, membership program, helping hand program...and much, much more.

You can search for books by several ways: by curricula companies (Beautiful feet, Five in a Row, Sonlight, tapestry of Grace and many more), by subject (science, history..etc), by region, byage, and alphabetically.

Also if you join to be a member (which is free) you can earn book points for purchases made, for referring a friend, and linking them to your site….15 book points is equal to $1 in your account to be used towards future purchases. I thought that was a pretty cool idea.

And what is even more exciting is that this month they are having a BIG BLOW OUT SALE!!!!!! They have bins marked at $1, $2, $3, and $5. You can find hundreds of books marked down from the regular prices. And you should check back often because they keep adding to the bins.

If your a book junkie like I am you better go check out Homeschool Library Builder.....

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Child led Learning

I love it i'm so happy!!yesterday my soon to be 4 year old came over to me and asked me to sit down and do the alphabet with her.She brought the stool over to the White board and we started with her singing the song and telling me which letter came know A B C ....then she'd shout D!!Well by the time we got to O Holly said let me do the rest. So i would show her with my finger how to do the next letter and she would write it down.The only letter i had to help her with was R she was so proud of herself and i was so proud of her too.You know the best part?She asked me to help her with it and she did it with a willing spirit!!!


ok she looks like she has a bit of an attitude in the picture but really she was quite happy.This is her tough face!!!

Friday, October 17, 2008

the oldest apple tree

Hi all. Hope everyone had a terrific week. I try to end our week with a little field trip. Today we went to see the oldest Apple tree in Washington it was planted back in the 1800's. It is believe to be the oldest tree in the northwest. The children could have been a little more enthused but they did leave with a little more history of our great state and this field trip is leading into another trip to Fort Vancouver. As this is where the seed that grew this tree came from.

Do you find that taking one field trip covers so many subjects and it is a nice change of pace from set curriculum. We came home and I bought some apples on the way home so we could examine the inside and look at the seeds and think about how long it took for this tree to grow as big as it is from such a tiny thing as this seed. This also showed me that my 6 year old was paying attention in religion as she said to me that it isnt such a miracle as God can do anything. That comment made me smile and think sometimes we dont think they are paying full attention but really they are.

Well I hope everyone has a terrific weekend.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

my Intro

Just thought well I had some spare moments I would introduce us. We our a homeschooling family from Washington. We use a catholic curriculum thru Seton homestudy school.

We have an 11th grader, first grader, kindergartener, pre k, and a toddler left that we are teaching. We also have a dd that is in college studying to be a vet and 2 older sons 1 married with a lovely wife and our first granddaughter and another young man that is 25 and has disabilities.

For the month of October our school month is really busy as we do lots of field trips pumpkin patch, firestation, oldest apple tree around here and then to a old Grist Mill for a good old apple pressing. Well, ciao for now.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Public Schooling on a Penny

I was reading one of the many articles that have been written about the deepening financial crisis of our country. I have to admit it's scary. For a long time I was worried about our own plight, dealing with unemployment and limited resources. Now I terrified about the broader picture of how our country will get out of this.

Anyhow, in my reading I came upon this article:

Govenor Weighs Cutting Critical Needs

This story is about the state of Maryland, but it is being repeated in other states as well. States are having to deal with the financial crisis too. With shrinking tax revenues and the inability to borrow money to fund projects, govenors are looking at ways to cut costs to make up the shortfall. As is often the case, the first target is education.

We are already at a time where funding of education is secondary to just about everything else. At least for the immediate crisis, I can't really blame states for this. If there is no money, there is no money. But it's disheartening to see education come into the crosshairs first. Ask most public educators--it's hard operating on the limited resources they have. Having funding cut is just going to make a bad situation worse.

So many homeschoolers get criticized that their children are getting an inferior education and their childrens' needs cannot be met in a home setting. Yet we have further proof that the public system is not necessarily the better option. If not for its poor structure and setting, but the fact that it is underfunded and will only be moreso if things continue on the way they are.

I have relatives and friends working in the public school system, and some of my kids still attend. This is not a cut against the good teachers who work and try to educate our children, or the schools that really try to do the best for our kids. However, this crisis is further showing the flaws in a much broken system, that is limping along, and will continue to until changes are made. Problem is, there is little money to do that, and the coffer is shrinking fast.

It's not a pleasant situation, but it is one more argument in favor of homeschooling.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

The Way of the Waldorf

Hello everyone this is my first post over here on the LotsOfKids Homeschooling blog.I'm so happy to be here. I'm Wendy homeschooling mother to a blended family of 6. We are starting out second year of homeschooling as a family of 8 but before this me and my kids homeschooled.

Do you ever find yourself trying to prove to other's that your kids ARE learning enough in homeschool?That you're just not lyeing about the house all day watching tv and reading comic books. This was the fear that held me back last year as I began homeschooling my 2 stepchildren as well. Add in the fact that there are 2 public school teachers in the family one being an uncle and the other being my MIL and i was a nervous wreck for my stepsons last year. Always afraid at a moments notice that my Mother In Law would decide they werent leanring enough and yank them out of the home and put them back in public school. So much of last year was spent well trying to prove that my kids could learn at home and they did. But was the stress worth it? Not in the least. I spent this summer re evaluting each childrens learning style,what they enjoyed most,and what i enjoyed most. No one even bothered to ask me if i was going to continue to homeschool and this gave me the green light to have fun with it this year and to try a WHOLE new curriculum......We chose to go the way of the Waldorf. Ok we're still using a boxed curriculum from Oak Meadow but no workbooks, no long tedious reports (although we do learn HOW to write them) lots of discussions in the household throughout the day and LOTS of hands on acitivies.

I have watched the kids blossom into a love of learning even more just in this least 2 months since we started school. The older boys are doing 5th grade and studying American History we just wrapped up reading together The Witch of Blackbird Pond and they really liked it we learned about stocks, and pilloaries, and whipping posts. About all the jobs and expectations younger kids had put on them then. They got to make johnny cakes one night for dinner that wer pretty yummy and they made Hard Tack one day for a snack (a food sailors used to eat). That was well......not so yummy. Their favorite thing to do so far though has been cross stitching. They both wrote out their initials and then filled them in with cross stitch and they enjoyed it so much they've done more on their own.

I have been spending a lot of time with the younger kids outside...and we've been working on our writing as well. I love this curriculum because you read a story or poem and then you get to draw a picture of it then you write a summary of the story. It's nice simple and easy and gets the point across. We've been slowly learning our times tables(which for 2nd grade is not bad) and really focusing on HOW a word is spelt without doing any formal spelling. I really think the kids favorite time we spend though is outside. SO as you read this i know it's really just a quick introduction to our homeschooling world, but i encourage you to think about what you and your kids enjoy doing together. Soon enough the weather will turn cold and we'll all be stuck indoors. Get out play some games ,have some fun,heck even pack up and do school outside for a day. Try to remember what i lost sight of last year....Homeschooling is not school at home it's opening the eyes to a whole new way of schooling.

"Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire. "-- William Butler Yeats

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Guitar Lessons on a Penny

It's kinda funny, because I was looking for something TOTALLY different on Google, but came upon this very cool site. Free Guitar Lessons. There is a lot of information on the site, but one of the neatest things is the author has videos to accompany the course. So you can actually see and hear how to do the chords. For those of you with kids aspiring to be guitarists, this site is a great--and inexpensive--beginning.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Italic Writing on a penny

I think one of the harder things about homeschooling on a penny is that you have to do more footwork. When you buy a pre-packaged curriculum, even for one subject, it's usually laid out for you. More than once, I have been discouraged when looking for something in particular and being told that a curriculum is free, only to learn that it in fact requires me to buy a workbook or CD. I mean, I will admit, there is a lot of good, inexpensive stuff out there. But ONLY $9.99 is not only when you don't have the money.

My older kids have been through public school and they simply did not learn to do cursive well. Thing is, they would much rather print. This is strictly from a preference point of view. Problem is, they can't print fast, so thus their work is very hard to read. I considered simply drilling them on cursive, but realized that is not going to help. So, I decided that italic writing would be the best next step. So, I went looking, and of course found lots of stuff, all with a price tag. This actually caused me to cry.

I will say that if I had the money, I would probably go with the Getty-Dubay system. Though the one by Christopher Jarman is a close runner up (and would be good for our UK visitors). Honestly, I think there are some things that if you have the opportunity and means to purchase, you should. Certainly it will be easier for you if you have a workbook and teacher's guide. But, since I don't really have the money, I had to piece together a system on my own. As promised, I will share my journies with you all in the hopes someone else can benefit.

Here is what we are using:

Jarman Site - This is the site of Christopher Jarman, who developed an italic writing course for schools in the UK. There is lots of good general information on this site, as well as downloads of his Jarman and Jardotty fonts, which can be used to teach your children italic writing.

12 Rules of Good Cursive Writing - This page can be of benefit to anyone, italic and standard cursive alike. It is good for kids to review since it graphically give some general rules that should be followed with respect to all writing.

Jarman Parent's Guide - This is not really meant as a substitute for the program, but if you really need some guidance, there are some excerpts from the parent's guide for the Jarman series that can give you some guidance in instruction.

Jarman Fonts - This is the page where you can download the Jarman fonts. More significantly, you can also download animations of how to make the italic letters, which can be very useful in your instruction.

Italic Writing - This site has a lot of information on italic writing in general. Lots of examples and general information on how to teach it. This site also a zip file of numerous italic worksheets.

Italic e-Book - This page offers several e-books on italic writing. Not really textbooks, but they could be incorporated into a program using the other resources listed here.

Handwriting Success - This is the resource page of the Getty-Dubay website. It has some free resources that may help.