Posts Filed Under Homeschooling

As of today, July 25, 2014

by bosssanders on July 25, 2014 with no comments

I am thinking…

Hubby took us all to the drive-in movies last week for our date night (we shared it with the kiddos).  It’s my week again, and I’m thinking… go-karts and laser tag.  Or, wine trail.  Decisions, decisions.

I am thankful…

141.  For books.  I REALLY like books :)
142.  For friends who encourage.
143.  For friends who know me well enough to when I’m struggling and call me out on it.
144.  For ibuprofen.
145.  For the internet and the world of learning (FREE) that it opens up to us!
146.  Online shopping!  Our favorite diapers are from target, but we don’t have a target!
147.  Also…amazon prime.
148.  African drums.  I really love the sound…
149.  Dead mosquitoes.  Not live ones….just dead ones.
150.  Not being killed for my faith.

In the kitchen

I have a new recipe for y’all.  It’s one of our favorite (and EASY) breakfast casseroles.

Sausage, Egg, Crescent Roll Casserole

Ingredients:
- 2 cans crescent rolls
- 2 pkgs sausage
- 1 dozen eggs
- 8 oz cream cheese

Grease a 9×13 casserole dish.  Cook sausage.  Drain.  Then, combine room temp cream cheese and sausage.

On bottom of 9×13 dish. unroll crescent rolls and cinch along perforation marks.  Pour in sausage/cream cheese mix.

Whisk 12 eggs and scramble in pan.  Add this on top of sausage layer.

Cover with another layer of crescent roll dough.

Bake for 20 minutes at 350 F

I also made some cucumber sandwiches (1 cucumber diced, 8 oz cream cheese, 1/3 c mayo, 1/4 tsp garlic powder, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, and a 1tsp of dill – mix it all up and spread onto sandwich bread), cucumber “salad” (1/2 vinegar and 1/2 water to cover, a little sugar and pinch of salt –then in fridge for an hour or more).  We are using the cucumber “salad” for our Norwegian meal and we had cucumber sandwiches and bacon-tomato sandwiches today for lunch.

In my “cooking therapy” yesterday, I also put together a yummy new casserole.  It began as a squash casserole, but then morphed into a one-dish-dinner.  Not too shabby.

I am reading…

Hubby and I are still reading Kingdom Man and Kingdom Woman by Tony Evans together.  –definitely the type of book that makes me want to sit and read with highlighter in hand!

We/I am learning…

We just finished studying Norway.  Today, we finished up with some Norwegian candy and a geography review of Europe.  We’ll close our study up with a Norwegian meal this weekend – super excited!

Around the house…

Dreaming up ideas for our master bedroom…  to turn it into a lovely retreat instead of a dark cave

I'd love it if you stalked me (subscribe to my RSS feed). Thanks for visiting!

bosssanders

For Today, July 3, 2014

by bosssanders on July 3, 2014 with 1 comment

Say “Hello” to Super Little Red Princess No-Eyes!

Outside my window…
It’s a sun-shiney day!

I am thinking…

about date ideas!

Last week, we did this:

We headed to a studio to paint…

We both chose “Parisian” themes…  and set to work…

It was hubby’s first time EVER to paint.  He did a great job!  –And, we both had a lot of fun!

Last night, we had an impromptu date night… created a new recipe that ended like this:

It was… YUMMY!  No idea what I’m going to call it in my recipe journal… but, it’s definitely a new favorite with the whole family.

Then, we put the munchkins to bed… and the MR. and I watched funny youtube videos.  We laughed so hard and until our sides hurt.  It was a great and easy “date” for the week (no sitter needed!  And, FREE!)  If you want to watch some of our favorites, go HERE.

This weekend is HIS turn to plan a date, so I’m pretty curious to see what he chooses!

I am thankful…

118.  Fireworks – bright colors bursting on black
119.  Sweet smiles
120.  Being serenaded by the littlest…

“Momma, what song me sing for you?” – AJ

121.  My lovely husband
122.  $1 movies and pool with friends!
123.  A good book and cuddly blanket
124.  Sweet neighbors
125.  Naptime (Oh, praise Jesus for naptime!)
126.  Golden fields and rainbows
127.  Side-splitting laughter
128.  My little brother
129.  Story-telling with my sweet Grams
130.  Singing praises to Jesus at church with the doors open wide
131.  Fresh flowers on my table from a friend…

.
132.  A Summer Bath

In the kitchen

We’ve tried two new dishes this week, so that’s been fun!  Both were very well-liked!  Tonight is smothered beef and bean burritos per hubs request.  (Also, he’s cooking it.  Ha!  It’s the only way he can ensure it doesn’t have veggies in it.)

I am reading…

This:


And…still this:  I’ve been writing more than I’ve been reading, lately.  I’ve started writing over at www.faithfulservantministries.com and a few things over at www.gracefilledmarriage.com (it’s not spiffy-looking yet, but I needed to get thoughts out of my head, so…there it is.)

We/I am learning…

This week, we’ve focused more on life than schoolwork :)   Concentrated on hearts and little spirits.  HOWEVER, we have made a major switch in curriculum for the first graders… we are swapping out hooked on phonics first grade and doing MFW first-grade reading program, instead.  It’s working MUCH better for us!  (The kindergarten HOP was GREAT, but we needed a new direction after we finished it up!)

Around the house…

This week has involved lots of cleaning!  Monday is our cleaning day, anyhow… so, we cleaned cleaned cleaned.  Tuesday, we had a fun day with friends, then came home and cleaned a little more.  Wednesday, we went to my parents’ house and cleaned together for a little while as a surprise gift.  I don’t know why my house isn’t sparkling by now!?

Favorite Things and Moments…


Dresses made by Mimi… and the sweet sisters in them…

Another one…

bosssanders

FAQ – The Homeschooling Edition, PART 2!

by bosssanders on June 24, 2014 with no comments

If you missed PART ONE, you can find it HERE!  Go on over and read the first part and I’ll wait here.

Okay, are you ready?

Here we go!

How do you weed through curriculum to decide?
I weigh several factors when choosing curriculum:

1.  The cost.  Also, what is the value of everything I’m getting?  If it’s a curriculum, is it priced in a way that is cheaper than if I bought it separately, and if the curriculum publisher wrote their own books, are they priced and of the same value as others I can get?  (Some families also choose materials with high re-sell value.  Personally, we don’t re-sell ours just because…I’m a nerd and …yeh.)  I don’t have a “that’s overpriced” amount…I just look at all of the things that are included and decide if I’m willing to/can pay that amount.

2.  Time to plan.  Some curricula require a LOT of planning and gathering.  Others are more pick up and go.  I prefer 80-90% pick up and go and 10-20% planning (in the form of special projects).  HOWEVER, I did more planning when we only had ONE child in school and I may be up for more (or not) when the kids can help a little more.

3.  Time to do.  How long does it take to get through a day’s worth of curriculum?  Again, I have 4 kids.  I can’t do 4 separate 8 hour days.  Mathematically, it just won’t happen.  I need a curriculum that VALUES my time and carefully chooses the BEST resources to help me teach them rather than lots of fluff and time-wasters.

4.  Does it fit in with our family values and beliefs?  We wanted something that would help us teach from a Christian background… THAT was important to us.  Whatever is important to you, make sure your curriculum fits in with that.

5.  Learning Styles – Does your curriculum utilize the learning styles of your children to help them learn?  We try to find curriculum/resources that bring in a little bit of everything.
- Visual (learn with pictures)
- Aural (auditory – learn with sound/music)
- Verbal (words in speech/writing)
- Physical (hands-on)
- Logical (logic/reasoning/systems/mathematical)
- Social (learn better in groups of people, with others)
-Solitary (self-study)

6.  Do you prefer a Charlotte-Mason or Classical approach?

7.  How does this Curriculum fit in with several kids in different grade levels (if applies)?  For example, some curricula are for ONE GRADE…so, trying to take 3+ kids through SEPARATE studies could be a lot.  Or, my favorite is the cyclical approach (like My Father’s World uses).  Go HERE for more info on MFW cycles.

8.  Do you need extra guidance to teach certain subjects…do you need teacher books that will tell you what to say verbatim?  Do you prefer certain subjects to be taught via online or dvd to your children?

9.  Do you want something “accredited?”  –This is not a big deal to us.  In our state, we are considered a private school and even if we choose to homeschool through high school, MANY colleges easily accept homeschooled kids.

10.  Do I have to depend on lots of library books?  Our library doesn’t have what we need by way of learning books MOST OF THE TIME…so, a super cheap curriculum doesn’t do me much good if I can’t get all of the (or most of the) books.  If you have a GREAT library and don’t mind being there a lot, this could be a great asset for you.

How much prep & planning does mom need to do 1) before each school year 2) each week?
Really, it depends on which curriculum you choose.  I’ve tried some where I planned more than I was able to teach (so we decided to only use certain activities to supplement and have fun with).  What we use now is pretty pick up and go.  For ME, the most planning I do before the school year is decide which curriculum I’m using, which major school supplies I need (paper, ink, new scissors, pencil sharpener, binder, etc), and I glance through their books.  I make sure I have everything I need and try to get a bit of a feel for how the books work (we also try to start a couple of weeks early to give us time to learn how it’ll all flow.  This way, we can take one week and do it over 2 weeks and nobody is stressed, and by the end of 2 weeks, we’re ready to ROLL!  Also, I look over the main points of what we’re studying…like, for this year, we are studying biomes and countries/cultures.  SO, I’m on the lookout for cool things related (think: fun things from EPCOT countries and asking friends to bring back a couple of goodies from their travels).  I keep a running list as I think of things.  OH!  Also, I pick a planner.  Which, I have a favorite one, that’s free … so, I’ll use that until she quits offering it FREE!  For each week, I simply look at the materials needed for the week and make sure I have them and sit down at some point to write in grades.  If I want to add any extra things in (hello, Pinterest!), I will plan for that, as well.  Again, though, this is because MFW takes much of the planning and does it for you (but easily modified).

Will you homeschool my kids? No, seriously, that’s the question.  :)
This seriously made me laugh.  Call me.  lol :)

Do you have any extra tips?
- pair older kids with younger kids as “learning buddies.”
- start a week or two early to get your “groove” on without stressing.
- Basics first.  Then, extras.  Do your math, language arts, history and science.  THEN the other stuff.  And, if it’s a really bad day… focus on the math and language arts.
- Don’t do anything for your kids that they can do for themselves.
- Have fun.
- Don’t compare.
- For more than one child, try giving one child an activity/work that they don’t need your help with while you teach the other child (math/language arts), and then vice versa.  It helps a TON in our house.
- Also, we really like spellingcity.com.  There is a free version PLUS an app (ipad).  It’s GREAT for 2nd/3rd graders and UP.  I plug in my 3rd grader’s spelling list once a week and she plays games all week to learn the words.  Then, at the end of the week, she does a test on the site (or, I give her one, depending on the week).  And, BAM!  Spelling is finished!

Do you have any tips you would give?
Have any questions?
I’d love to hear from you!

bosssanders

FAQ – The Homeschooling Edition

by bosssanders on June 23, 2014 with 2 comments

I was recently asked to write a FAQ about homeschooling – and, so …here it is!  This isn’t a “I have everything PERFECT – LOOK AT ME!” post.  This is also not a “Homeschooling is better than Private or Public Schooling.”  I have many friends who are educators in many different arenas and we have friends with children who are coming from all sorts of educational backgrounds.  It’s more of a … “This is how we do it and are mostly sane.”

Is homeschooling “hard”?
I struggle with answering this one.  It’s really complex.  Is it CHALLENGING?  Well, sure.  (Have you ever worked through reading with a first grader as they learned to read?)  So, if my “hard,” you mean “challenging”… then, yes.  If you mean “hard” as in… knowledge hard (beyond how do I not lose my mind while they take 10 minutes to read one word out of 100)… not so much (ESPECIALLY if you find a great curriculum).

What qualifies you to be a teacher?
Usually, this question is asked with a mix of snark and just plain rudeness.  They don’t actually want an answer.  In that case, my answer is different.  But, for those who actually want to know if they are “qualified” to teach their kids…
I’m their mom.  I live day in and day out with them.  I know what they excel at and what they don’t.  I can teach them and mostly not go crazy.  I am mostly patient (until I’m not).  And, I know how to do all of the things they’re required to learn from now until end of Senior year in High School.  –But, even if I didn’t… there are self-teaching curricula that you can buy.  My kids thrive with one-on-one teaching and have been able to maximize their potential.

How much does it cost to homeschool?
Technically… you could do it for almost free if you don’t count paper, pens, gas to the library, internet, and netflix, and possibly a printer/ink.  I’m too type-A to piece together my own curriculum, though.  Personally, I need to know I’m doing as good or better than what they’d be getting in public/private school (I have high expectations of myself)… I’m not saying this is what you should do…this is just MY personality (right or wrong).  For OUR family, we SPEND around $40 for 3 kids for regular school supplies and around $400/year for curriculum.  Plus, I add in a few extra books.  So, $500 approximately for 3 kids PER YEAR …and I can re-use everything except for a couple of cheap workbooks.  If we do field trips and what-nots, that’s extra.

Which curriculum do you use?
We use My Father’s World.   I’ve “experimented” with and researched others, but this is my favorite (so far!)  I LOVE all things educational and book-ish (so, if you are publisher and want us to review your curriculum, send it!).  The kids like, I like it… we’re all happy.  It has the perfect mix of hand-on and living books/reading and it really just gives you the best BANG for your time.  So, you learn more without doing ridiculous amounts of STUFF.  Also, it’s mostly pick up and go… which is important for our family.  We can take it when we go out of town or WHEREVER we go.  It also allows me to homeschool my children in “cycles,” meaning I don’t need a different curriculum for each kid.  They all learn science, history, geography, art, music, and the bible TOGETHER.  Then, we repeat this cycle in a couple of years, so it really “sticks.”  They have different leveled language arts and math books/workbooks that they work out of.
Currently, we are Exploring Countries and Cultures!

Which Subjects do you teach?
Depending on your state, you’ll be required to teach different subjects.
For us, we teach: Science, Math, Language Arts (Grammar, Handwriting/Cursive, Spelling, Reading), History/Social Studies, Art, Geography, Music, Life Skills, and Bible.

Don’t you worry your kids will be socially awkward/not socialized?
Um…no.  I know quite a few socially awkward people, but none of them were homeschooled.  I think a lot of it depends on their parents.  Anyhow, my kids have MANY opportunities to play with friends.  They even play on sports teams.  They practice manners and “socialize” with a HUGE range of ages very often…at least several times a week (if you don’t count the DAILY interactions required of being a family of 6).

Do you test your children?
Yes.  all the time.  Although, we don’t do the big standardized tests because they don’t give a full picture of where a child is.  They get quizzes and unit tests, though, so I can track their progress and see which areas we may need to spend more time on or re-visit.

What does your schedule look like?
We don’t have a “schedule” as much as we have a routine.  I tried using a schedule, but every time it got off-track, I’d feel like a failure…I just don’t like the rigidity.  SO, instead… We usually try to start school at 8:30 AM.  We usually do BIBLE, then MATH (because they are “freshest” in the morning)…then, LANGUAGE ARTS… then, HISTORY, GEOGRAPHY, and SCIENCE.  ART and MUSIC are generally last.  Typically, I get my 1st graders started on math and then get my 3rd grader started on her math.  As their math gets harder, I may have to do something differently so I can offer them help as they need it… like, let one read a school book or do easier practice problems or spelling work on the ipad while I’m teaching another child their math.  USUALLY… we finish up around noon or 1PM for lunch.  We eat, they take naps (or read in bed), then we do art, music, extra reading, geography games, or work on life skills in the evening.

When does your school-year begin?
Depends on when we get out of school.  USUALLY, we start the beginning of JULY.  This year, we finished up early May so we started back up last week (mid-June).  It gives us a HUGE buffer for when things come up (like trips or sicknesses or life changes).  OR, if we come to a subject that the kids just really want to dive deeper on, we have time to do that, as well.  We can take off all of December, if we want and on our birthdays…which is pretty cool!  (There is a minimum number of school days required by the state and we MORE THAN cover those…usually we have about 50% OVER the minimum.)

How do you teach 4 kids?

I have a toddler, two 1st graders, and a 3rd grader.  Technically, the “toddler” isn’t really taught beyond practicing fine/gross motor skills, counting/alphabet and trying to keep him from dumping things out of boredom/anger.  My 3rd grader is a pretty fluent reader, so she helps her younger siblings practice reading.  She can also help them with math.  It’s a win-win for all of us.  They love it, she loves it, and mommy loves it!  We have a basic “buddy” system in general that helps with everything else… the oldest girl is paired with her younger sister and the oldest boy is paired with the youngest brother.  (Also, I mentioned the “cycle” system, which helps a TON.)

What do you do over the summer?
Over the summer, we don’t really have a set routine (other than when we start our day, nap-time, and meal-time ranges).  This year, we kept working on reading and math workbooks.  I also asked all of the kids to give me a suggestion of what they’d like to learn about (ex. whales, castles, snakes, etc.)  Then, for each week, my goal was to focus on one subject (using library books, websites, documentaries/youtube videos, movies, etc) AND one life skill AND a creative play activity.  It’s been pretty freeing and lots of fun!

How do you feel good enough?
Ah, well… how do we ever feel good enough about anything?
Honestly, for me, I give it all back to God.  Every morning, my husband and I pray together that I would have peace and patience and that God would make sure our children will get whatever they need from our homeschool day.  Second, I really feel comfortable with our curriculum.  Third, my husband and I both agree that I can’t homeschool AND vacuum/clean house at the EXACT same time.  AND, when we are home ALL day, we make bigger messes.  Which means… we have to expect less.  I can teach our kids OR I can clean.  Granted, I do clean and cook many nights (via crockpot and fast/easy meals that I post on here), BUT the house isn’t spotless.  We both agree that our kids’ hearts come before the chores… and because we are in agreement, it’s easier to not feel like I’ve failed.  As far as feeling “good enough” to teach your children?  Let me just say this, dear mama.

You ARE good enough.
I’ve had some really great teachers and some that were not great at all.  You know what the difference between them was?  It wasn’t how smart they were or how many facts they knew.  It was how much they cared and how much effort they put in to making learning special for me.

They worked their bums off, and I knew it.  They cared about me.

Who else is more QUALIFIED than a child’s mother to LOVE them and teach them to love learning?  –I have some GREAT friends who are teachers, and THIS is why they are great… because they LOVE their students and help them to LOVE learning.

Don’t worry about doing it all or not doing enough.  Choose a curriculum that you feel comfortable with and have researched and then just trust God.  The first few weeks will be the “figure it out” weeks, as I call them.  They are the ones where you begin to learn to balance your homeschooling schedule/routine.  After that, you will slowly learn how to add back in the other things like cleaning/cooking/life with homeschooling.  Stick to the basics FIRST and once you’ve got those down, THEN you add in the art/music/field trips/pinterest ideas/crazy science experiments.

YOU CAN DO THIS.

Do you have any other questions not listed above that you’d like to ask?
Or, do you want to link your own FAQ up in the comments?
I’d love to hear from you!

bosssanders
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For Today, June 17, 2014

by bosssanders on June 17, 2014 with no comments

“Mom, I just don’t know how to listen to you, sometimes.”  You’ve made that very clear, dear…now, get out of the sandbox.

Outside my window…


It is warm and we are back home (YAY!)  Today, we had some soapy water play… one of the kids’ FAVORITES!  Next time, I’ll put them all in bathing suits and we’ll call it a BATH!  I love multi-tasking!

I am thinking…
That life is an adventure.

A friend of mine recently remarked that she wishes that she could live with us because we have so many adventures.  And, it’s true… but, the truth is… we all have adventures.  This life…it’s an adventure.  Some adventures are less fun, but they are still adventures!

We’ve lived some pretty crazy extremes… we’ve had years where we didn’t know how we were going to buy food for the next week and adventures where we were blessed to go on a couple of trips in one year.  We’ve had adventures where we’ve seen amazing love and terrifying hate.  We’ve seen life, we’ve seen death.  We’ve been built up, we’ve been stretched thin.  We’ve had adventures where we have brought new life in the world while separated by oceans (deployment).

Life seems so much more amazing when we look through the lens that EVERYTHING is an adventure.  There is beauty in the mundane and the hard, too…if we’ll just look hard enough.

This last week, we were invited to tag along with hubby for a business trip.

There was a mix-up on the hotel room.

6 people.  1 week.  This.  (This is the WHOLE room.)

I will admit.  I didn’t feel particularly adventurous after a whole day in the car and THIS being the room we walk into (after expecting a suite).  In fact, I walked straight into the closet to cry.  And then, after the front desk told us that nothing else was available, I begged to go home or buy duck tape and anti-anxiety meds for the week.

There wasn’t even room for pallets on the floor for everyone.

But then, the hotel changed it’s mind and gave us a room with 2 small doubles.  It wasn’t perfect, but we could work with it!

Then, this:

Turns out, limos are cheaper than cabs for big parties.  So, we rode in style for a week!

We browsed the American Girl store and got a quick treat.  Then, we went to the lego store to play with legos :)

We stayed up past our bedtimes and had slap-happy laughter…

We ate chicago-stuffed-pizza and…

were photo-bombed by a zombie.

Mommy was TIRED and WORN OUT, but there was fun to be had!

So, we went to the zoo…

and had our faces painted… (and, if you squint, it almost looks professional and worth the $16 each)

We went to the park, (girls) learned to sew, and…

went on a death-defying ferris wheel.

Then, mommy came home and slept for 2 days.

I am thankful…
85.  For chocolate coffee
86.  Little bubbles, flying
87.  A husband who is willing to wake up at 6 am to mow the yard
88.  …and, go to the grocery at 9 pm
89.  …and feed the kids supper because I was too nauseous to eat what I had fixed
90.  To the sounds of the littles and their daddy practicing their “crazy” laughs
91.  Watching littles break into dance on dance floors at weddings
92.  lego creations
93.  Excitement on little faces as they learn new things
94.  The smell of honeysuckle
95.  For a husband who defends me and has my back
96.  For love-letters from my darling La
97.  Sweet tears from La because she just can’t stand being away from me, sometimes (because she is just overwhelmed by love)
98.  For nightly “dates” with my hubby, watching our favorite shows all snuggled up
99.  fireflies – little orbs of light dancing all around
100.  The sweet fragrance of honeysuckle floating on balmy breeze
101.  Warm concrete, cool grass
102.  Sunflowers, outstretched petals
103.  Refreshing rainshowers
104.  Clover – white polka dots on blankets of green
105.  Clear blue skies
106.  Colors, crisp and bright
107.  Swinging high, legs pumping, wind through my hair
108.  Relaxing in the hammock with a good book
109.  Star-gazing
110.  The windchime’s song
111.  Butterfly waltz
112.  The joyous sound of the ice cream truck coming around the block
113.  Running through sprinklers
114.  Fellowship with friends
115.  Walking on the beach
116.  S’mores over campfire
117.  Farmers Market

In the kitchen…

Mini quiche from yesterday (see FB page for easy recipe HERE!)  <— be sure to like our FB page for fun updates and funnies.
Tonight, we are having chicken pot pie (recipe HERE)

I am reading…

I’ve been writing more than I’ve been reading, lately.  I’ve started writing over at www.faithfulservantministries.com and a few things over at www.gracefilledmarriage.com (it’s not spiffy-looking yet, but I needed to get thoughts out of my head, so…there it is.)

We/I am learning…

This week is our first week (officially) of school.  We school year-round, which enables us to take breaks as needed.  Plus, we don’t go backwards on any of our learning.  Technically, though, the kids have been working on math and random learning-stuff even on their break through May and half of June.

Currently, we are learning about the RAINFOREST (one of my favorites!) and South America.  The big 3 have all selected 2 animals and a plant from the rainforest and will be researching them and giving a short presentation as to what makes them special.  They are SUPER excited!  Of course, Ro chose the flower that eats things.  :)

Also, we accidentally killed our venus fly trap babies.  Well, technically… they were seeds.  And, they took too long to grow.  There are a couple of tiny shoots, now, but keeping the lid on (as instructed) created more of a mold emporium than greenhouse since the seeds took FOREVER.  So, if you know of a great place to buy a venus fly trap that is actually a decent size… let me know.

Around the house…

Today, I cleaned out the fridge.  Penicillin, anyone?

Oh, also unpacked, cleaned out the microwave, and wiped down the cabinet doors.  Nothing creative in the works right now.  Just trying to get back to “normal.”

A favorite quote…

“Mom, I like you more than a cat.” –La

Um, thanks?

bosssanders

2013-2014 Homeschool Year: What Worked And What Didn’t

by bosssanders on May 28, 2014 with no comments

What Worked:

  • I may be way behind everyone else, but we just discovered Ticonderoga Pencils this year.  And. They. Are. Awesome.  The cheap and cutesy pencils are NOTHING compared to these.  They are just awesome.
  • My homeschool binder.  I’ve used binders/notebooks/planning that I’ve spent some good money for, but my favorite SO FAR is this FREE one (click link).
  • My Father’s World – we use MFW for the three oldest kids.  Three of them do science/history/art/music/geography together.  Language Arts and Math, they do separately.  We buy the deluxe set from MFW and like it pretty well.  There were a few books that were above our age level (see the What Didn’t section).  But, for the most part, I really like the pick-up-and-go nature of MFW.
  • For the Kindergarteners – we used Hooked On Phonics for Kindergarten Reading
  • For the 2nd grader – we used Primary Language Lessons and Singapore 2A and 2B math.  They both worked really well for us.
  • We discovered that doing Math FIRST THING works best for us.  It’s our “brightest” hour, apparently :)
  • Another fun discovery this year was that the “big” kids are great learning buddies to the littles.  I have “helpers” that help the little ones practice reading and math, which helps me GREATLY.
  • Also, scheduled mommy time for math/language arts with each child.  (see more below)
  • Beginning school in July and ending early May.  It gives us a month or month and a half off and LOTS of time available for sick or vacation days without having to stress.  We take off a couple of weeks in December and keep doing math/reading (30 min a day) through the summer to help keep us “fresh.”

What Didn’t:

  • I don’t need TONS of planning pages.  Writing down our day-by-day activities and pages are a little much for us…at least, for now.  So, I did away with daily planning pages because I just felt like crap for not keeping up with the “planning” part of it (even though I was doing the “doing” part of it).
  • We tried workboxes for a bit and tweaked it so that it worked in tote bags.  Unfortunately, it takes a LOT of planning.  Well, not a lot, but more than I’m willing to give.  I like to enjoy my kids and keep my sanity, ya know?!  BUT, I did like the concept that each kid has “scheduled” mommy time for school subjects.  It keeps from having three children all vying for mommy’s attention at THAT EXACT MOMENT and helps them learn to work individually until I can get to each of them (and it helps them KNOW they WILL have their time).
  • I want to be better at planning all of the fun activities I have in folders, but not to the point of stressing.  I need to come up with a way to plan for those.

What worked and what didn’t for you this past year?

bosssanders

Fun With Water Beads

by bosssanders on May 23, 2014 with no comments

We’ve been enjoying the fun that is WATER BEADS!  These little guys are hidden gems that have been around quite a while in the floral department.  Right now, they are getting lots of attention for creative play.

The ones I bought look like these (at Walmart–they were a little over $3 each):

I only used one pack.  I added the water per directions, but separated the water and beads out into 4 separate bowls and added FOOD COLORING!

The photograph at the top of the post is what we got!

A couple of tips, though…
If you color them, use a LOT of food coloring or they’ll be too pale.
If you mix them together and let them sit, they will begin to change colors…we ended up with green.

We have had lots of fun over the past week playing with our water beads!

You can:
- smash them
- add measuring cups and little toys (animals, little people toys, and tractors are all fun options)
- set them in the sun and watch them shrink and then add water to watch them grow (science!)
- freeze them (they will smush really easily once they thaw.)
- add colored water and watch them soak in the colored water ( you could even make blue and yellow and then watch them change to green when put together overnight)


(the kids taking turns at “creative stations” – water beads and making cards for Pa’s birthday!)

bosssanders

Homeschooling and Adoption

by bosssanders on April 5, 2014 with 1 comment



“Z” has been home in the US with us for 21 weeks and 2 days.

I remember searching the internet for clues on how to school a child who does not speak your language, how to catch them up quickly.  I remember the search for materials that could help us, help him, and help us help him!  I remember finding next to nothing.  I remember calling schools, frantic, asking what they could do for my son (turns out, beyond Spanish students, there’s not much for older children from different languages when it comes to integrating them into school.  Their solution?  Stick him in a Kindergarten class with children 2 years younger than him and leave him there so that he’d always be 2 years older than the other kids.)  It felt like everywhere I turned, people encouraged me to put him in the hands of our local schools… they didn’t believe I could do it.  Heck, I wasn’t even sure I believed in me… so why should they?

I’ll admit… taking a child who had NEVER had any formal schooling and couldn’t speak our language…and trying to “catch him up” was a daunting task.  Terrifying.  I homeschool 2 of our other children, but we’ve never encountered barriers like this.  They are EASY to homeschool.  They are motivated and quick-learners.  It wasn’t until I was told that they’d simply “stick” him in Kindergarten to sink or swim that I decided I could AT LEAST do that.  I could AT LEAST get him to Kindergarten, if nothing else.  And, I could give him more than 30 minutes of one on one time that the school was offering.  I could do that much, I knew.

And, 21 weeks and 2 days later… this is what I’ve learned:

- You don’t have to catch your child up to where they need to be in the first year.  If the schools in your area aren’t the best option for you (I know some schools do this VERY WELL and have experience with older adopted children transitioning in…or, at the very least… are willing to TRY and WORK CLOSELY WITH PARENTS).  I kept thinking… must catch him up to 1st/2nd grade in the first school year (which only had 6 months left in it).  It felt and looked like a mountain.  It felt impossible.  But, the truth is… we homeschool ALL.DAY.LONG.  We may put the books away, but we keep learning.  He has siblings that are eager to teach him all they know.  We don’t have to take snow day breaks and our summer breaks will be filled with learning, too.  And, when you have a classroom of 4 children, you can get MORE done in a shorter amount of time.  (We have gotten through 1.5 grade levels in ONE school year before and another .5 during the summer.)

- When “Z” first came home, he didn’t know his alphabet, colors, English, numbers, or how this world worked.  Needless to say, basic etiquette, how to eat in public, safety rules, etc… all BRAND NEW!  EVERYTHING was new.  I wasn’t prepared for that to this extreme!  (I’m not sure why!  It makes COMPLETE SENSE!)  So, we began with PRE-K and toddler lessons.  The difference, though, was that he has the CAPACITY to learn quickly and deeply (unlike a toddler).

- We began with colors, ABCs, words, safety rules, manners, and numbers.  We bought picture dictionaries (like what you’d buy for toddlers) and Richard Scarry’s books.  The kids and my husband and I (and other family members) would take turns going through it with him, pointing out things and practicing naming them in English.  We role-played for manners at the table and other places.  We sang ABCs and practiced writing those and numbers.  We put on ABC songs and ABC/counting dvds and practiced naming a new color each day.  I had a sheet of paper that i tracked his new words (so I knew what else to work on with him) and in 3 weeks, he could say his ABCs and count to ten and name his colors.  He could communicate at a basic level with words with us.

- Then, we began the Leap Frog letter factory DVD to learn his letter sounds.  Each day before nap-time, the kids would watch it (even our 2nd grader and toddler still liked it!)  We kept teaching new words, practiced writing letters and numbers.  In about 1.5-2 weeks, he knew 90% of his letter sounds.

- At approximately 5 weeks, he “graduated” Preschool level!

- Next, we began Hooked On Phonics for Kindergarten, level one.  At first, it went TERRIBLY slow.  He could sound out the letters S-A-M, but then would simply say HAT!  We were really confused and felt like the wonderful progress we’d made had come to halt!  (Our four year old was speeding through and seemed to be able to identify letter sounds so we weren’t sure where the disconnect was coming from).  We kept trudging through for a couple of weeks with no real progress on that part.  Then, we realized his “best time” was in the morning after breakfast and we were trying to read in the evenings.  So, we changed the time and then had his older sister help him practice.  I’m not sure if it was just extra time, the difference in the time of day, or having someone to compete with that made the change (or all 3)… but, soon… he was on a ROLL!  (We do notice in the evenings, when his brain is FINISHED… he’ll resort back to having difficulty taking anything in.  I can SO relate!)

- We began some basic math … “You have 2 cookies, I give you 1 more, how many do you have?” sort of thing.  We used wooden pattern blocks and pattern animals to help learn problem solving.  (He caught on FAST!)

- With a good foundation of English, we began putting him in more situations where we could teach him how to interact with others in different settings.  AWANA – where he began to learn and memorize scripture.  Prayer group.  Playgrounds.  Stores.  Parks.  Theatre.  Restaurants.  Church.  He was a quick learner!  He went from a place where “anything goes” to some pretty specific rules and he did GREAT!

- I used the World Book Typical Course of Study (google it)and a few other curriculum guides to help me be intentional of things to prioritize to learn (jobs in community, family members/roles, farm and zoo animals, etc) for each grade.  Some things, I know he’ll pick up as we go… others, I spent some extra time on.  Some things, I had to wait to teach because he didn’t have the normal experiences an American child would to pull from (ex., He’s never been to a zoo.  Explaining zoo animals vs. farm animals is HARD when you’ve never been to either.  So are a lot of other things!)

- At 21 weeks… a little over 5 months… he’s finished Pre-K and almost half-way through Kindergarten!  We are focusing mostly on Reading and Math for Kindergarten while we try to catch him up.  He is learning science and Geography with his sisters from our My Father’s World Exploring Countries and Cultures set (3rd grade + level but adjustable for younger/older kids)  He can identify the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Africa.  He knows who God is and why Jesus was sent to Earth.  He can listen to simple stories and tell you what happened.  He can say a few words in Spanish and sing “Let it Go” from Frozen :)   His English vocabulary has grown SO much!  (Because MFW goes on a “cycle,” we put our kids in together for whatever the oldest is learning for science, geography, Bible, and history.  IF he didn’t have an older sister, I would’ve probably started him in their K or 1st program and fast-tracked through.  Example — the kindergarten curriculum can be done in 1/2 the time for an older child.)

- Next, he will begin the 2nd book for Hooked On Phonics (Kindergarten)  and continue to read Bob Books.  We will continue learning about countries and cultures, together.  Soon, we will begin 1st grade math and then first grade Hooked On Phonics.

UPDATE!! – 34 weeks
We finished the Kindergarten Hooked on Phonics back in May.  He can now read Bob books like an average 1st grader learning to read.  We are now going through the first grade Hooked On Phonics book and learning about Countries and Cultures via My Father’s World.  We have also started the “Complete Book of Math” workbook from amazon.  He’s doing really great!  He’s on target for early first grade in reading and math, but is enjoying learning the other subjects with his 3rd grade sister.  Right now, beyond MFW Exploring Countries and Cultures curriculum, HOP – 1st grade, and his Complete Book of MATH, most of the other books we use with him are books he can look through from the library.  And, still bob books.

Items we used and found helpful:
- Colors, shapes, and counting DVD like this one.
- Richard Scarry’s Biggest, Busiest Storybook Ever (HERE)
- Children’s picture dictionaries like THIS and THIS and THIS
- Hooked On Phonics – Kindergarten (Here) Also, check out the Hooked on Phonics Website to see if they are running any deals!  I bought mine on sale!
- Bob books (HERE)
- Letter Factory DVD (HERE)
- World Book Typical Course of Study Lists (HERE)
- Pattern Blocks and Pattern Animals (HERE) and (HERE)
- My Father’s World Curriculum (HERE) – We are using THIS ONE.
- This Math book (HERE)

For those of you who have adopted older children, which resources did you find most helpful for learning?  Please tell me in the comments!

bosssanders

Around the world – MEXICO

by bosssanders on April 1, 2014 with 1 comment

We’ve had so much fun studying about Mexico!

OUR STUDY OF MEXICO

- We found Mexico on the map and learned some fun facts about Mexico (We used online resources, Children’s Atlas of God’s World, Classroom Atlas, Window On The World, A Trip Around the World, Children Just Like Me, Material World, A Life Like Mine)
- We learned about and colored their flag
- We learned about deserts and the plants/animals there
- We painted sombreros and tunics
- We learned some Spanish words
- We listened to fun Spanish music from Wee Sing and Boca Beth
- We watched some traditional folk dances online

-We grew cacti
- We dissected a cactus
- We made tissue flowers, tissue paper banners, and a pinata
- We had a fiesta with our decorations, Spanish music and dancing, Mexican food (a burrito/taco bar) and our pinata!

- We made string art
- We learned how to draw a cactus
- We watched Dora the Explorer
- We did some “sight-seeing” here and here
- We watched The Perfect Game on Netflix Streaming
- Watched The Three Cabelleros

See more photos here!

bosssanders
filed under Homeschooling

Today, March 12, 2014

by bosssanders on March 12, 2014 with no comments

Outside my window…
And…it’s cold again!  But, I’m so thankful for the nicer temps this week, that I don’t care!  And hey, maybe it’ll kill off the mosquitoes!  (Actually, probably not, since apparently our region is home to approximately SIXTY different species of mosquitoes!  And… some of those species’ eggs can lay dormant in ice and then hatch as soon as the weather is okay!  Are you SERIOUS?  Yesterday…day 2 of consistent nice weather… and mosquitoes already had begun to flog us!  Crazy!  (This is where I now beg for you to tell me in comments your favorite methods of keeping those things AWAY from us and our babies and yard!  GO!)

I am thinking…
About the new “Ban Bossy” campaign.

For those who are unfamiliar with it, it’s a campaign backed by Girl Scouts and some others to ban the word “bossy” as they feel it has negative implications and makes girls not live up to their potential.

And, while I’m all about affirming others, I’m having a hard time getting behind this thing.  I’m wrestling with why that is and trying to put thoughts into words.

First, I think there is a big difference between being bossy and being a leader.  Bossiness is when you TELL people to follow you (or else).  Leadership is when people CHOOSE to follow you.

Second, while I know words can hurt and wound pretty deeply… I think saying that one word CAUSED you to not go after your dreams or reach your potential… has more to do with you than that word.  Everyone has their own story, their own hurt, their own mountain they’ve had to climb.  We ALL have had a choice … we either climb the mountain or we don’t.  And, while I don’t condone mean-spirited name-calling, I think that our focus should be on AFFIRMING girls (and boys) in their strengths and helping to work through their weaknesses rather than just “banning” a word we don’t like because it messes with how we see ourselves.  And, just being honest… if a word like “bossy” can break us…probably so could many others.  Perhaps we should learn how to raise strong children who can embrace their strengths and weaknesses and know who they are Who it is they were made for (God).

I am thankful…
62.  For a Savior who died on the cross to cover my sins
63.  Beautiful weather and science lessons outdoors
64.  Tiny bubbles floating through my kitchen, bouncing prisms from the window light pouring in

In the kitchen…

Roasted carrots, cabbage, and chicken pot pie…

I am reading…

Here’s the synopsis:

With the twenty-first century just a distant memory and the world in environmental chaos, many people have lost the will to live.

Business is brisk at The Suicide Shop. Run by the Tuvache family, the shop offers a variety of ways to end it all, with something to fit every budget.

The Tuvaches go mournfully about their business until the youngest member of the family threatens to destroy their contented misery by confronting them with something they’ve never encountered before: a love of life.

We/I am learning…

Z and Ro are learning to read and doing a great job!
The three oldest munchkins have begun out journey into GEOGRAPHY!  First, we learned about maps and the many different functions they can have (climate, landscapes, political, etc).  This week, we began with North America — United States.  In science, we are learning about biomes (forests, lakes/rivers, oceans, deserts, etc) and habitats and animals that live in different places.


We made a compass with magnets and experimented with different magnets and what they could do…


This was Z’s first time for this activity and he was a natural!


We went to see a great play: “How I Became A Pirate”

Collecting worms (Look at La’s face!)


“Mom, I’m ready for class!”


Checking out their worms in their new habitat…

Around the house…

For Lent this year, we made a crown of thorns .  Under it, is a crimson bowl filled with stones with “sins” written on each (there are 40).  For us, the bowl represents Jesus’ crimson blood and the “crown of thorns” the crown that Jesus wore.  The rocks represent our sins and the “crown of thorns” is over them because He died to cover our sins.  A purple candle in the middle reminds us of His royalty (and thus, our adoption into royalty) and that there is HOPE.

Each night, we pull a stone out and read what the Bible has to say about each one.

A favorite quote…
“Don’t make a PERMANENT decision for your TEMPORARY emotion.”
and
“What other people think about you is not YOUR business.” – C.Althoff

One of my favorite things…

These are super fun!  Chopstick helpers!  You can find them here.

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bosssanders