Friday, September 26, 2014

Thought this was a good reminder...

I just read this article on Christianity Today and thought it was a good reminder about our internet clicking...

Walking Forward

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine was sharing with me about how she keeps waiting for that time when she'll be able to breathe and catch up.  Refuel.

I thought for a moment about what she said.  My kids are several years older than hers, but this past year I've really been waiting for that time that she was talking about.  It has never come.  It feels like there's been one thing after another.  I get very tired at times.

I have come to the conclusion that there might not be that lull in life that I long for.  But, instead, there are moments.  And it is the moments that sustain us and refuel us.

The moment in the car on the long vacation ride when Sami asks how much longer and Autumn tells her to call her.  Then Sami pretends to call Autumn on an imaginary phone and Autumn answers, "Hello.  This is the Estimation Station.  How can we help you?"  Sami then asks, "How much longer till we get there?"  Autumn responds, "Let me ask our Estimator, Eli."  Eli then gives his answer, "Ten hours." (It was only about 2 or 3 more at that point.)  My husband then calls in and asks, "How long will I live?"  The estimation station attendant:  "Let me consult the estimator."  The estimator:  "One hundred and forty years."

Laughter filled the car.

I'm starting to thing there aren't weeks or even days that will come that I will get to step back and refuel.  There are simply moments.

Last night, my middle daughter snuggled into my arms and I hugged her in the evening.

The librarian complimented my oldest daughter when she went to volunteer.  She makes me smile.  She's thoughtful and thought filled.

And my son, well, he gives me a hug every morning.

This is my time to love my kids.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Social Studies for 6th grade... on and on we go...

I'm working on my daughter's social studies for this year.  I've found several resources on the way.  I often ask myself, "Why am I doing this?  Why am I not buying a premade curriculum?"  I've read several books about homeschooling on a shoestring and lots of blog posts about it and realize that the money you save by not buying books, you spend in time.  So, there has to be some other reason...

I've come to the conclusion that I enjoy the search.  I enjoy thinking through a topic and getting on top of it before my children study it.  I enjoy developing a big picture of the topic.

Last year, Autumn studied the 1700s of American History.  This year, my goal is to cover the 1800s and 1900s.  So far, I have compiled up to 1850 and am working on the Civil War.  Here's a list of free resources I've found that I've liked.  I'm using a very brief book titled Kids' Guide to American History to give my daughter a brief (very brief) idea of the outline of American History and then we're going to dig into more specific events.

Oregon Trail Unit
Oregon Trail Game

Civil War Unit
I'm using pages from the middle school curriculum.  I don't have Microsoft Office anymore so I can't view the powerpoint presentations, but I still found some great activities and worksheets to use.
These are the pages I printed from the middle school curriculum:
from the elementary curriculum: 22-23,96-98

Additional Civil War Resources I'm using:
Slang of the Civil War:

For Reconstruction and Industrial Revolution, I'm using a book titled Everyday Life: Reconstruction to 1900 by Walter Hazen.
Bio of Jane Addams:
I'm asking my daughter to write an outline and one paragraph summary including birthdate/death, significant life events and significant achievements of Jane Addams.

Women's Rights Unit:
I like this unit because it uses primary sources.
Printed Letter from Phyllis Shafly:
Pro-ERA Points:
To end this unit, I am going to ask my daughter to write her own persuasive paper either pro or con-the ERA.

World War I has a list of activities for WWI.

The Great Depression

World War II
Great Readings on World War II!:

Civil Rights has some great readings.
Civil Rights Unit from the Homeschool Den.  There are several different and great packets on this site for elementary age.

John F Kennedy

Cold War
Types of Government:
Good selection of readings on

20th Century Summaries   I like these because they use key terms in short and easy to read summaries. They covered a lot of topics I wanted to address, but couldn't find printable readings on the web for.

Some Useful Maps

Great Timeline Worksheets
Scholastic has one online, but I like the ones on this page better:

Great Timeline Site

Stamp Activity
I printed pages 8 and 32 and some of the information from the first few pages to explain why we use stamps.  Then, I looked up and printed page 1 from here:
I am going to ask my daughter to circle which of the twelve guidelines she thinks she should follow in completing this assignment and then discuss it with me prior to designing a stamp for each decade from 1800-Present (the period she's going to be studying this year).  There's a lot of information on the art of design in this packet and it would be a great cross-curriculum art lesson from the postal museum!
I used this worksheet:, cut out two of the strips, made a new copy of this page on my printer, and then wrote the number above for each decade from our history we're covering.

Assessment Ideas  In putting together my materials, I found myself at a loss for some fun assessments and activities.  The lessons on this page gave me some great ideas that I could modify.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Starting School

New routines... New books...

The End of Summer.

I am actually thankful for this summer to end.  We frequent the community pool and I have so many different conversations over the course of the summer with many moms.  I've often heard as the summer comes to a close that the moms are ready for their kids to go back to school.  I never thought I'd say this, but I am saying it this summer...

This summer, I've heard it from myself and a few other homeschool moms.  We've shared with each other about how too much free time leads to bickering and less enjoyed play time for their kids.  The structure of the homeschool day can be a good thing.  There is a satisfaction for adults and children alike of having gotten something done.

But, is that all?  Not in my case.

Why am I glad?  Honestly, I had a horrible summer.  It was a very difficult one emotionally.  Grappling with my mom's illness and its impact on her, my family, and me became the catalyst for a very difficult time.  She's still adjusting and so are we.

I painted 4 closets (3 large, 1 small), 2 bedrooms (1 large, 1 medium), and my kitchen ceiling.  I injured my right arm which drew out the painting process.  I still have 1 coat left to do on my kitchen ceiling and the girls' room ceiling.

I started off the summer with several play dates on the calendar, but lost steam as the summer wore on.

And then...the bickering.  I watched as my kids bickered more than they do during the school year because they had more idle time.  The words "There's nothing to do and There's nothing I want to do." entered our home in a way they had never before.  It is my goal to banish these words from our family's vocabulary this school year!

What I learned in the process...

1.  When you enter a conversation with anyone that portends to be a difficult one, think ahead about (if possible) what your goal is.  Realize that the other person may or may not come to see your point of view.  Be ready for the best and worst case scenarios.  Be willing to walk away if the conversation is not a wise one to have.

2.  Realize that when stressful events are going on, SIMPLIFY!  Don't complicate.  I was sharing with my friend's mother on Saturday that when military families are getting ready for a deployment, stress is high in families.  They know to expect this.  So, many wives and husbands try to simplify those days and make sure to make phone calls to extended family several days before rather than the night before.  One friend shared with me how upsetting to me the phone calls her husband was required to make to his family the night prior to one of his deployments were.  She had no time with him.  

I have found that a similar sensitivity is needed with medical procedures.  It is wise to allow extra time and not squeeze things in the days and hours before unless they are needed.

3.  Do not expect people to be understanding of the stress in your life.  Do not expect grace.  It is a wonderful thing to receive, but often people are unable to give it because they are focused on their own perspective and unable to see what you are going through or how what they have done affects you.

4.  Keeping my kids busy is a good, GOOD thing!  I have given them many more chores this summer than I have in the past.  I have worked, but so have they!  Summer is a good time for me to teach them things like changing batteries and more cooking.  I have more time and patience than I often do during the school year.

5.  Be realistic with myself.  Next summer, I'm going to plan on piano lessons every other week.  To aim for every week is simply unrealistic.  We don't get enough practice in weekly to justify weekly lessons during the summer.

6.  Get outside whenever possible.

7.  Make adjustments.  Look to others and consider what their needs may be.  The phyical changes for my mom have required big adjustments for her.  My girls are now rotating every other week cleaning her apartment because it is difficult for her.  It is good for them to help and it is good for my mom because it helps her.

Well, it is 7:30 am and that means it is time to get all my children up and going!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Unit Study Database Website

My big project that needs to be done this week is to compile the worksheets for Autumn's American History this year.  I've found several great sites along the way and today I found this one:

It's a database of lots of unit studies on the web. Yay!  I love anything that makes my searching simpler.  Some of the links aren't active, but many are.  1 of the 3 I tried didn't work.  But, it is a place to start!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Scientific Method Worksheets

I was very excited to find these tonight!

I am compiling my 6th grade daughter's chemistry curriculum.  I couldn't bring myself to spend $140 on Noeo's Chemistry 2 curriculum, so I'm compiling my own.  (The books I bought cost $39 altogether.)  It's a little bit of work to plan it out, but I'm enjoying the research as I discover what makes up the study of chemistry.

Last year, I tried to use Christian Kids Explore Earth and Space with my children, but they disliked it.  I found myself filling in the blanks and the big jumps the authors made between topics.  I have struggled with science for several years.

As a Christian, I feel that I need to help my kids develop a Christian worldview of creation and science.  But, the curriculum I've loved most is HSP Science from Harcourt.  My eldest daughter did Singapore's kindergarten science, then HSP science for 1st-3rd, Considering God's Creation for 4th and then HSP science for 5th.  My second daughter did HSP science for 1st and 3rd.  She is going to use HSP science for 4th and 5th grades.  At this point, my plan is for my son is going to do HSP science for 1st -5th grades.  I've looked at many other curriculums, but I like it.  In Middle School, I want to bring in a Christian perspective in a much more deliberate way on science and I have been pondering what that is going to look like this next year with my oldest daughter.

I am concerned that I have tried to cover too much content and have sacrificed the enjoyment of studying science.  So, I am hoping to do more of that will all of my children this year.  I'm adjusting my expectations of how much to cover so that we will have the wiggle room and space that we need to do experiments.  I haven't liked the lab sheets from the workbook, so instead I am excited to have found some great worksheets here:
There's one worksheet that has all the steps of the scientific method on it and there's another set of sheets with one sheet for each step.  I'm going to laminate the main sheet with all the steps together and post it on the wall.

These are the books that I'm pulling from for Autumn's science:
1.  Christian Kids Explore Chemistry:
This will give the big umbrella that I'll branch off from.
2.  Super Science Concoctions (a Williamson Kids Can Book)
Experiments with stuff already in my house that Sami and Eli can observe and join in with.
3.  Fizz, Bubble, & Flash! Element Explorations & Atom Adventures (a Williamson Kids Can Book)
I will focus on the elements for one quarter.
4.  Chemistry for Every Kid by Janice Van Cleave
5.  Teaching the Fun of Science by Janice Van Cleave

I like Janice Van Cleave's books and the Williamson Kids Can books because they use materials that are around the house already.  This makes the experiments in these books much more affordable.  Last year, I read from the CKE book I used.  This year I am going to have Autumn read from it and record her answers to the questions in a notebook.  We will highlight the main points in the passage together and then I will teach her to write down the key vocabulary in her notebook from the text.  The problem with CKE is that it is a teacher text, but I think it will work well as a student text for 6th grade instead.  I just ordered the CKE book tonight and will get it in a week or so.  When it arrives, I'm going to sit down and evaluate how much we can really tackle from the book and how many experiments I can pull in from book #2, #4, and #5.  By no means do I plan to do all of the experiments in all of the books! ;)

So, that's my plan.  It's a work in progress right now...