Friday, August 31, 2012

Thank You For Your Inspiration and Support!!

Today officially ends Summer session for us here. Next Tuesday we continue our journey as Fall arrives and brings a new rhythm for us. Fall is my busiest time of the year. I wanted to take some time before the busiest sets in to let you all know how much I appreciate your comments and inspiration, it truly makes my day and it is just what I needed to hear at the end of the day when I may be ready to throw in the towel. Blogging here has been an exciting task and I never knew how much joy I would feel from hearing from all 92 of you!!  Let me know if you have followed this blog and I missed following you back, I really would like to get to know you better. I love visiting your blogs and just hang in there for a moment if it seems like I haven't been commenting on your blogs lately. When I first started this blog I intended to just document our journey so that the kids could come back here when they were older and have fun browsing looking at things that they were once interested in doing or still enjoy doing. Now my blogging has become a hobby that I look forward to doing everyday, thanks to you guys.

This weekend we are going shopping for a birthday present for their grandmother that is in September, she lives in Washington. Last year I completely forgot to even send a card due to this busy season of mine and the kids have not let me live it down, fortunately Grandma forgave me:)  Mistakes like this have allowed me to recognize when it is time to slow down. So we will be having a staycation this weekend. Away from home where the phone never stops ringing, but close enough that we can still care for our dog. I still will be somewhere in blog land, because like I said it is a hobby. The kids are looking forward to relaxing in a indoor swimming pool all day and being catered to by room service. We are gearing up mentally and physically for our Fall session and I hope that you are too.  Have a blessed weekend!!

See you back here next week:)                                                                        

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Things That Make Them Say "WOW"

I try sometimes to look over materials before the children see it, unfortunately it is difficult to do unless I stay up after they have gone to sleep. I got antsy last night to look over some materials and when I rolled out the The Time Line of Life you would of thought we were getting on a plane to go to Disney. LOL. All three of them were wowing(is this a word?) over it.

 It is too long to get in one photo. The bottom time line is the working model

 The picture die cuts for the children to use with the working model.

 Corresponding books that will help them learn more about the specific time periods.

 Informational cards about the time periods, and animals or plants that lived during the time period.

The manual I will be using to give presentations regarding the Time Line of Life.  

Michelle was beyond excitement when she saw this. Again this type of information is what is missing from the public schools that she attended. I was pleased to see her emotions over this work. Michelle is quite advanced and it has been very difficult for me to create a "curriculum" for her. I don't think we are going to have any dull moments in the Cultural department. All of the materials were purchased from Alisons Montessori
I am linking this post to the History/Geography Meme hosted by All Things Beautiful

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Reflections On Our Past School Year

Last school year we did a whole lot of deschooling and it was very necessary. In DJ's case it was coming from the angle that Yes, school is fun and you should be able to learn about whatever your heart desires. For Ken it was more for building self confidence, and to get her to understand that we don't learn everything we need to know in a day. It frustrates her that she doesn't really understand Long Division yet. Just like adults, kids can fall into the comparison trap. Ken loved school, but the way lessons were presented sometimes just went right over her head, math particularly. Ken felt she was falling behind in school(her last report card was all A's and one B) and asked if she can be home schooled with DJ.

I shouldn't of giving them everything!! Last year as I reflect the children were bouncing from one interest to another not really able to get deeper into their work. There were a few projects that they did follow through, but more than half of them were started and quickly pushed to the side. Why was this happening? Isn't this something you said you wanted to do? I would ask them.  The answer is simple, I gave them everything! If they said they wanted to learn about Space, I quickly went out and brought a science kit about Space. This went for everything. It was fun to see that they were busying themselves, and again we were deschooling. What's my point? I gave them no room to create, no room to wrap up a project because before they finished one I found another one for them to start. I'll be straight forward, I meddled in their business. I am sure this was a turn off for them. Now that I have been deschooled I can see what we can improve on here in the schooling department. I specifically purchased new materials this year that I am 100% certain that will foster their creativity and allow them to grow into. Also it prevents me from impulse shopping at the Teacher store, which is the wrong message to send to kids. This is another reason why they jumped from project to project. Mom is an impulse shopper( thankfully not anymore:)

They love worksheets(colorful ones), science(especially if it involves mixing things up:), math, reading, learning about where people live, figuring out how did this world come to be, drawing with different art mediums, listening to music, and speaking in different languages. Did I miss anything? Reluctant Learners they are not, Thinkers they are!! They get really ticked off when they share an idea with me and then I take off with it as if it is my own.

This year they are ready to take on new skills and goals as long as I agree to allow them to do it. Sounds simple but it really isn't for me. You may see some science kits( I have a addiction to those:) but they were sought out by them and made to be an independent work that will  help keep my hands away.

Michelle is doing great! She loves her freedom to pursue her interest. As school gets closer she is really not into being home schooled anymore. I don't think it will last past the first semester, we'll give it a try. If it doesn't work she will return back to school. This isn't a disappointment for me at all, I follow the child. If Michelle isn't feeling it, then we need to move on to what she is feeling. I respect her honesty and I don't home school my children because that it is something that I want to do, they asked me to and I obliged. For Michelle this is something that she wanted and she may still want this, maybe she is missing her friends:) Any way I want her to be excited, especially while learning and if that is at school then so be it.

So this year the goal for me is stop giving them everything and stop meddling in their ideas. I will continue to prepare their environment the best way I know how. Most importantly, I will follow them and not take the lead.

I already have the Magic School Bus Chemistry kit on the shelves. This should help me control my addiction at least to Christmas(fingers crossed).

Notable Novelists: A SchoolHouse Crew Review


We received the game Notable Novelists made by Calico.  The object of the game is to collect the most literary sets. There are 18 Literary sets in the deck. Each literary set contains three cards. You collect the cards the same way you would play GO FISH. You need all three cards to make a set. The cards are broken down by Author Card, Literary Card, and Bio Card.


The instructions were written on letter size paper. I really appreciated this, in the past when I played a card game the instructions were written on a card in small print that made it difficult to read.

We also adored holding these beautifully illustrated cards in our hands, that were just the right size. The first time Michelle(14) and I played the game we had so much fun! It was a rainy day and I opted to let the kids
eat lunch and play at McDonald's Play Land.
It  is a perfect game to play anywhere. I got huge points for being prepare with an activity for someone who is too big to play at McDonalds:) Michelle was learning while having fun too.

 Michelle was so excited when she successfully completed her first literary set. I love the strategy of this game it brings back memories of playing Go Fish, and the learning opportunities are incredible. Michelle and I learned some names of some new to us authors. I also was reminded of some authors that I have enjoyed reading their novels in the past and was able to learn new things about them. Michelle was thrilled to be able to know who Faulkner was while he was referenced in our reading of Farenheit 451. To get a list of the names of the Novelist included in the game go here.     

 The game is intended to be played by 2 or more players, ages 12 and up. There are 54 playing cards included. When Michelle and I just played the average time was about a hour. A fun hour of learning!! When my younger two children played with us, it was about a half of an hour. My kids(14,11,8) get the strategy of Gold Fish so it was easy to include them in this game, and yes they loved the learning component of this game too.

There is an alternate way to play that offers a bigger challenge. Instead of playing the Go Fish style, you focus on the Author Cards, and read the Bio Card or Library Card the first player to identify the author by the information keeps the card. Then you replace the Author card with a new card and then it keeps going until all the Author Cards are won.                

The cost of the game is $10.95. You can purchase the game here

Calico the creator of the game recommends this product to
1.Book Lovers
2. Game Lovers
3. Parents wanting an educational game that introduces their children to literature and is fun for the whole family
4. Educators
6. Someone looking for a nice gift at an affordable price.  
I couldn't agree with them more!! We definitely have been playing this game and it even won the vote to play instead of Monopoly among the kiddos one day.              

To see other Crew Members' reviews of this product go     
 I was given the game Notable Novelists to review as a member of the SchoolHouse Review Crew in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own!!                                                                            

Monday, August 27, 2012

A Day In The Life

Impossible! I tried so hard to do a photo journal of our school day. It. Just. Is. Not. Going. To. Happen.

Most days I get up at 5:00 a.m to be able to greet my first child. Two children arrived today at 6:00 a.m. It was their first day!!  At first it seemed that the day was going to be a whammy, but all of a sudden they calmed down, fell asleep, and our habitual routine was able to kick in

I wake the three kiddos up at 7:15 and tell them it is time to start our day. The first one ready is Michelle we start reading and the day unfolds.

 They rotate while eating breakfast and reading to me. This has worked out really well. Everyone is enjoying the stories that they are being read. I know this because they all comment on each other's read aloud.

They know that once we complete reading I head up stairs to see if the beds are made, the sink is washed in the bathroom. This all takes about ten minutes if done right! We all do the same morning chores everyday! We have learned that cleaning everyday is better than cleaning once a week. I am border line OCD. I got it bad!! If there is disorder it feels chaotic to me. This goes for everywhere in our house, except my junk drawer:) LOL

 DJ is to feed our dog Coach in the morning and also take him outside to do his thing. This allows DJ time to run before things require deeper concentration.

About 8:45am after breakfast, reading, and chores are completed they refer to their planners. This is preparing them for what they are going to work on during their three hour uninterrupted work period.

Ken chooses to start with completing her introductory Write Shop I lessons, writing concrete sentences.
     Michelle is working on her project to make a Ball Jointed Doll.                                                                                    
   DJ is working with his Lego Robot Invention Kit.

Yeah, it is 9:00 and my assistant arrives.
In a matter of two minutes other children arrive and now my basement accommodates 11 children ranging from 10 months to fourteen years old. I take a potty break, because coloring is occupying most of  their time for the moment.                                                

After everyone has been busily working to about 12:00 we prepare for lunch and then outside time is where the rest of the afternoon was spent. We are not starting out Fall schedule until next week, that goes for the preschoolers as well.

If this was a school week on Monday....
Ken does a lesson of Write Shop 1 required
DJ does a required Math Lesson
Michelle would of completed a lesson using Teaching Textbook.
All of them would of did a Latin group work lesson with me.
These activities would of taken place after lunch break and they would of continued until 2:30pm, again just like reading rotating the kids except for group work.

Tuesday ....
DJ  Write Shop Junior required
Michelle Language Arts/Teaching Textbooks
Ken required Math Lesson
 Unit Study/Elections group work
            *** It is a pattern so on Wednesday Ken would do Write Shop and DJ would do math lesson,etc
The same day of the week is when group activities and  presentations that follow the Montessori Method take place.

Wednesday is Botany/Zoology day
Thursday is History/Geography day
Friday is Art/Music day

At any given time during the uninterrupted work period they may choose from any subject to work, also request special lessons from me.

Today we still had to pick up the four elementary children from school at 3:00pm
We ate fast food:(
They did their afternoon chores for Michelle this is sweeping and mopping. Ken cleans the toilets and bathroom sinks. DJ takes out the garbage and runs the vacuum.

The day is over at 6:30p.m They go to bed at 9:00 how they spend their time between afternoon chores and bedtime it is all up to them.

Today they played outside with the schoolagers until 7:30pm. I brought the schoolagers in for quiet time. Everyone but one child left at 8:00p.m and my last child just left at 10:44 p.m.

What a day! It all happens all over again tomorrow. It is definitely the same schedule, but it will look totally different.

Friday nights are grocery shopping day because my memory serves me best. I am able to know exactly what we ran out of, and the list was made on Thursday night. I won't lose the list !!
Saturday we sleep in and go to a movie or have movie night at home. I may stay up later working on upcoming lessons if I didn't get to them during the week. Every other Saturday I work 10:00a.m until 3:30p.m we go to the library on those Saturdays and come back home for a nap with our preschooler friend. On Sunday it is early morning church service, play games, and then I strongly encourage everyone to spend alone time with themselves!  We always enjoy a restaurant dinner, they need to practice etiquette skills in public. Plus I don't want to cook !!

To see other home schoolers'  A Day In The Life post please visit the "Not" Back-to-School Blog Hop: Day in the Life                                                                                                                     

Friday, August 24, 2012

Great Lessons Books

My children absolutely enjoy hearing the Great Lesson story " God Who Has No Hands". In our second week of school last year I presented the story to them , I shared this will you all here. I cannot tell you enough how sharing this great story really pulled my children into a whole new world of science. Through out their year last year they kept coming back to me after completing various science experiments and related the information to the story. This year is no exception!!  I shared this story again and again through out the school year, and I am happy that they actually have it memorized. I wanted to add a new twist to the beginning of the year that included the Great Lesson Story but wouldn't take anything away from it.
While browsing at the Waseca site I found these books written by Jennifer Morgan, and illustrated by Dana Lynne Andersen. I quickly checked to see if my local book store carried them. The books were not in the store but they ordered them for me. As soon as they arrived I knew that these books would become mine and my children's  favorite resource for extending  the Great Lesson Story leading them right into the The Timeline of Life. There are three books in the series.

 Example page of book 1. I was really impressed by the drawings in all of the books, and I especially liked how the story is written to the child from the Universe.

 Example page from book 2. In the back of the books there are additional stories and scientific discoveries that tie into the main idea of the book.
 Examples of Book 3. Also all the books have glossaries. I  know that my children will be using these books as reference materials and inspiration for extension activities.

I am really thrilled to be able to add these books to our home library. I highly recommend these books to all who will be introducing The Great Lessons to Fall. All children enjoy great pictures and story lines that keep them asking for more so if you are are looking for a series that will get your kids excited about our Universe and how it all came together I would purchase these books too. On another note, I will offer this tip. If you have a Barnes& Noble or a Schuler's book store in your area they will order books for you for free. When the book arrives you have no obligation to buy. The reason I love this so much is because I was able to save over fifty bucks in shipping while doing book purchases for our homeschool this way. It is a savings we so needed. Schulers I found I only had to wait two days no matter how many I ordered. However, Barnes & Noble has an Educator Discount that I can take advantage of that gives me an additional 15% off each book, another reason why I love to order if I have to from the book stores.

I am linking this post to Favorite Resources hosted by Learning All the time!!
Also to Montessori Monday.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

By Special Request

Ken asked if we could start Write Shop 1 today. It was actually a good idea for her to start her Language Arts before the other two. The first lesson is an introduction to the program that I have chosen to do in two days.

Ken did a following directions activity to stress the importance that each activity in the program has a specific purpose, reviewed what makes a complete sentence, read examples of topic and closing sentences and we read a short description about what makes a good paragraph.

Ken enjoyed the following the directions activity the most. I, however was pleased that Ken now knows how using a Thesaurus can improve her writing.                                                                          

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Reading Logs and Project Work

We added in our read alouds today.

This year the kids will be completing reading logs after we read together each day. I got the logs from the Activity book that goes along with Write Shop D. I can't wait until we start our Write Shop lessons! It took maybe two minutes for each one of the them to complete it. I am still brainstorming how they will be kept. I just love the fact that they are recording information about what they have read ( a great way to check comprehension). Also the logs will be a  great pay off for them at the end of a completed school year to look back at.

 Ken finished the dress she started sewing yesterday. Yes, she has pink hair!! This is a side effect of having a daughter interested in hair styling and fashion designing. I am learning to pick my battles here. Most importantly she feels good about herself.

Without prompting from me, she recorded documentation of her project work in her planner.

 DJ worked on a sketch of his future robot. He wanted to add some work to his project board.
 He also learned more about the basics of RCX programming. He asked me if I would like to join him in one of his training missions. While completing his planner DJ asked me" Is this how you spell read, as in I read the user guide today". Good stuff!

Michelle was at the church helping in the office during project time today. I think we are just sticking to projects and read alouds this week. Thursday and Friday we are out of the house a bit, which would just cause too many interruptions. Well wait to leave until after project time                                                                

Monday, August 20, 2012

Projects 101

I have nominated this week Introduction to Projects 101. Today the kids started their projects. This week I will introduce them to documenting their steps in their process, getting familiar with their planners, goal setting, and anything else that comes their way as they work on their projects. It was so much fun after observing for awhile I got started on my own list of projects:)

 Ken is still into fashion designing so I just purchased her a kit made by Crayola that came with everything she needed to design clothes for Barbies. The kit even included fabric paper that you can create designs on using the computer and then print.  Ken also plans to create magazines that illustrate her designs.
                                             Reading the directions in the sketchbook.                                                                            
 Designing. In the past Ken has been a bit intimidated by patterns, not today. I think it had a lot to do with taking time to read the directions, and the patterns being a whole lot smaller than usual.    
This is a dress that she started to sew today.

Michelle has already jumped ship from collaborating with DJ with the Mindstorms, now it is creating Ball Jointed Dolls. I was prepared for this. To me it is just part of the deschooling process. Still not comfortable with being able to have a block of time dedicated to what her heart desires. It is something that may take a while to get use to.

 Once she decided that she really wanted to create Ball Jointed Dolls she got busy.

DJ was thrilled today to be able to do some computer programming.

Reading the User's Guide. I had to slow him down while doing so, because he was so anxious to get on the computer.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Language Activities and Ideas Link Up

Over at my other blog some time ago I tried to start up a weekly link up of sharing Reading and Writing activities. My other blog is geared toward mostly preschool age so maybe that is why not too many people were interested. Or it could be that I didn't stick with it long enough. I thought I would give it a try over here. All levels of learning, and styles are encouraged. I have some cool ideas that I would like to share, and I know you guys do to. Just thought it would be really nice to have the ideas gathered in a place where we all could easily reference to. Also it would help to organize my planning of post to come. Does this sound like anything anyone would be interested in? If so what day of the week would be best for you?

Saturday, August 18, 2012

I Am So Excited!!

First up I finally made the decision to connect to other homeschoolers in our area. I truly wanted to do this not just for a support network, which is a bonus in itself . I wanted to connect with other homeschoolers for Michelle so that she can get to know other teen homeschoolers, and possibly make friends that share her interest. I prayed and then I searched not for long. Guess what? I know the director and I him really well.  We brought our house from him through renting to own. Yes my former landlord is the director. I had totally forgot when I was searching that his family was a home schooling family. Their kids are grown now and even two have graduated from college. One of their children is a business owner. Good news! So inspirational.
The kids are excited about getting involved in sports, well mainly DJ.  DJ already made the decision that Soccer will be his game in the Fall. They are already picking out their outfits to go to the Back To School picnic in September.

Did you know that home schooling can become contagious? Well it is around here. This Fall we will be having my niece join us who is entering fourth grade, a kindergartner who is actually a previous preschooler that I worked with before. On Monday I find out if the preschoolers' second grade sister will be schooling with us too. Their mom will be working as my full time assistant in the Fall. Their mom is amazing and a mother of five!! The more the merrier right, especially when all the parents work together and share the same goals.

The planning is in full effect, but so much fun!! Most importantly I feel like the best mother in the world that my children are willing to spare their space and their mother's time.

Friday, August 17, 2012

For The Lego Lovers

Thanks to Ebay and an awesome seller we were blessed with the Lego Robotic Invention Mindstorm kit along with many other extension kits. It was like a birthday party for DJ and Michelle who will be collaborating on projects that will teach them computer programming, Lego designing and much more.

They have plenty of materials to keep their projects going all year!! Pray for me to keep my mouth closed and hands off. It can be very difficult for me to do this. I must remind myself that this is their project not mine. I know by me staying away it will actually be of more help to them . As a wise woman so eloquently put it "Never help a child at a task that he feels he can succeed"- Dr. Marie Montessori

This month Lego celebrates their 80th anniversary. They have created the video below to share their history. So grab your babies(whether big or small) put them on your laps and enjoy!!