Monday, August 25, 2014

School Summary - Explorer Review, English Monarchs, & the Netherlands

The younglings got free tickets for the PA Ren Faire through our library's summer reading program. Bass has a co-worker with connections there so we were able to go for half-price.
 
A Summary of August 11-22

Doesn't it just seem like yesterday that I wrote our last school summary of the 2013-2014 year? How did our summer break go by so quickly?!?
Well, I kind of know where it went. In every spare minute between vacation and the pool and summer concerts and other summer activities (like the PA Ren Faire again), I was busy planning and preparing for this school year. I finally realized that the reason this year took so much longer to plan was because there are that many more resources available for this era of history. It took time to wade through all of them and decide what would be a good fit for us. I have layers of Post-It notes in my MFW teacher manual. :)
My original plan was to start with a week of just the 3 Rs and then add in everything else but plans, of course, change. We're planning to go to Williamsburg during the fall homeschool days so we needed to start with everything in order to finish studying colonial history before our trip.
Usually the first lessons are lighter anyway so it wasn't too overwhelming. Ready or not, right?
Here's what we did:

Things that were scheduled:
Math
Soprano started Saxon 6/5. We're also continuing to use Life of Fred Butterflies. She started with a lesson in chapter 6. Tenor picked up Saxon 8/7 where he left off last year. After two weeks, he's about 1/4 through the book.
Language Arts (Grammar, Reading, and Writing)
Soprano began with Rod and Staff English 5 while Tenor began English 7.
I gave Soprano one week off from reading but she started Sarah, Plain and Tall during our second week. Tenor needed to read Island of the Blue Dolphins our first week of school in order to be ready for his assignments. They've both done some vocab exercises; Tenor did a mapping activity and did a short report on California missions in the early 1800s.

Electives:
Typing, Greek (Tenor), Spanish (Tenor), Home Ec (Soprano)
A change from last year... simplifying! Can you hear my blood pressure go down? With our history studies this year, we'll be covering PA history (required for our state) as well as some government (counts as civics; also required). I'm going to add a little more map work to our history (using the Story of the World activity book) to beef up our geography. With all that we're already covering, we won't be doing anything extra there. I'm also not adding in any health curriculum. We talk about making healthy choices in our daily lives. I don't think adding in worksheets will be beneficial to us in any way.
They WILL be doing a few extras though. They need to make some more progress on typing so we'll continue with Typing Instructor. Tenor is super excited about continuing Greek and has agreed to take another year of Spanish because we'll be beta testing some curriculum. Soprano was not in the least bit interested in Spanish again so we're going to wait on foreign language for her. She'll be doing Home Ec for Homeschoolers volume 2 this year.
I'm hoping with less officially scheduled electives that they'll have time to pursue activities that they've expressed interest in like: computer coding, woodworking, leather crafting, swimming, tennis, photography, knitting, sewing, and geo-caching.
My Father's World Exploration to 1850
Here we go! I've been looking forward to teaching this era of history since we started homeschooling. I've enjoyed our other years though. I've learned so much along with the younglings. This year I'm more familiar with what we're studying but I'm sure there will be new insights and plenty of things I've forgotten I knew.


Bible: This year we're doing an in-depth study of the book of James and attempting to memorize the entire book.

Science: We're slated to study Zoology and Botany this year. We worked through 90% of the Botany book (AIG's The World of Plants) over the summer in order to be able to be outside and have better access to the plants, fruits, and veggies we needed for experiments. We didn't quite finish but set it aside to start AIG's The World of Animals as scheduled by My Father's World. We talked about days 3, 5, and 6 of Creation, when God made plants, fish and birds, and animals (including dinosaurs and people). 
I explained why we choose to study science from a Creationist perspective.
We also did lessons on classification and vertebrates and played a fun classification game online.
Tenor's mnemonic: Keep Penguins Cool Or Find Good Shelter.
Notebooking sheets I made for our science notebook
Our vertebra model
I wasn't able to get a fish backbone to look at but the grocery store butcher had a piece of pig neck with a good stretch of backbone that we were able to check out. No pics of that. You're welcome.
History: We started with a review of some North American explorers that we touched on at the end of last year: Leif Ericsson, Columbus, Cabot, de Leon, Balboa, and De Soto. 
Map work using MapTrek
Map Work from MapTrek
After that we jumped into the English monarchs and how their rules shaped the beginning exploration of America. We discussed Charles V
Instead of a written notebooking page, we used this coloring page from SOTW for Charles V.
read about William the Silent of the Netherlands and Mary, Queen of Scots and all of her opposition. I have a little more sympathy for all that she went through in her life. Marrying a not-so-great guy, being forced out of her country by power-hungry nobles, being imprisoned, and then having her son taken away from her and being forced to sign over her throne to him. No wonder she spent a lot of time on needlework. Clever gal though... she hid messages in her embroidery.
A paper version of a Marian Hanging. Notice her name (MARY S) hidden in the center of the design.

Other MFW: 
Music: Our composers for this year are Schubert, Mendelssohn, and Chopin. We started with listening to a biography about Schubert.
We're also going to be studying and learning about 15 hymns this year. We started with "This is My Father's World."
Art: Art started our second week. We are continuing with our 3rd year using God and the History of Art. We read about Peter Brueghel from the Netherlands and Hieronymous Bosch. Bosch had a very, um, imaginative style.
 
Extras:
Web:
I spent a lot of time looking for videos this year. I didn't want anything boring or anything with poor quality music. I found some great options that will help my visual-learner younglings really cement what we're learning about history, science, music, and art. I found videos for all of the hymns we'll be learning too, in case other users out there need them. 
You can see them all in my Youtube playlist for weeks 1-14.
Other videos we watched:
Leif Ericsson
Drive Thru History: the Discovery
The Animal Kinds (part 1 and 2)

Videos:
Vikings in America by Nova
Explorers of the World: Vikings by Schlessinger Media
Columbus and the Great Discover by Learn Our History 
Explorers of the World: A History of Exploration by Schlessinger Media
Explorers of the World: Spanish Explorers by Schlessinger Media
Explorers of the World: English Explorers by Schlessinger Media
Explorers of the World: Cortes and Pizarro by Schlessinger Media
Getting to Know the World's Greatest Artists: Rembrandt (based on the book by Mike Venezia)
Rembrandt: Fathers and Sons by Devine Entertainment
The Name Game by Moody Video
Favorite Books: 
I, Columbus by Peter and Connie Roop
Land Ho! Fifty Glorious Years in the Age of Exploration by Nancy Winslow Parker
Montezuma and the Fall of the Aztecs by Eric Kimmel
Pish, Posh, Said Hieronymous Bosch by Nancy Willard
Rembrandt by Mike Venezia
You Wouldn't Want to Be Mary, Queen of Scots! by Fiona MacDonald

Sunday, July 27, 2014

If you give a homeschool mom... Homeschool Room Redo

 
The schoolroom gets a lot of use during the year. We like having a space where a majority of our books and supplies stay corralled and a space where I can shut the door and not have to look at it all the time. I think if we were to homeschool in the dining room and had to clean up books and papers everyday to use the table, I would go nuts. We're not chained to the room but it's definitely our best place to work and spread out. (Here's what it looked like before the current redo.)
However with all that use, it was seriously grungy. I try to do a thorough cleaning at the end of each school year (cobwebs, scrubbing desks, dusting each shelf of books) but it really needed some help. I started the process and realized that the walls needed some touching up. Perhaps, just maybe, because some of the people who use the room (*cough, cough* the younglings) like to put their dirty feet on the wall when they read. Can you see the grunge?
 
We also had a crack where the paneling had been pushed on. Bass tackled that with some spackle. (This is not a "finished" space. It's in our basement... so concrete floors, open ceilings, cinder block exterior walls. On the other side of this wall, the former owners had built in a big brick wall with closets on one side and a brick, working fireplace on the other end. We use that as our family room. This room was a 'bedroom' or den of sorts with old 70s era paneling on all the walls. We're just working with the existing elements until someday we can afford to reframe the whole space. Which is probably never. You can see before pics here.)
The floor was pretty grungy too. We used concrete paint when we set the room up at the beginning of our homeschool journey but it seemed like it never cured properly. It was weird and kind of spongy and impossible to clean.
So my plan was to give everything a thorough cleaning and touch-up. Well, it needed a lot of touching up and I didn't have enough paint on-hand. So the annual summer cleaning snowballed into a whole project.

Here's our whole "If you give a mouse a cookie..." saga:

If you give a mom a homeschool room that needs to be spruced up, she'll want to repaint.
(The daughter might suggest blue instead of brown.)
I went with a semi-gloss finish this time to hopefully help with next year's cleaning.
If you give a homeschool mom new paint for her room, she'll probably want new flooring.
It's in a basement so we went with a vapor barrier and a foam underlayment. It wasn't terribly expensive so if we do end up with serious water issues, it won't be the worst thing ever. We're hoping that it will last though.
If you give a homeschool mom new flooring, she'll probably want baseboards to hide the gap between the flooring and the wall.
Bass dug through his wood pile and then hit the Re-store to find most of the needed pieces for super cheap.
If you give a homeschool mom new baseboard, she'll probably also want trim to finish off the door that didn't have any.
and if you have the saw and nail gun out, she'll probably want that goofy spot without paneling to get filled in
We had a few pieces of paneling in the woodpile so Bass planned and calculated carefully to be able to fill in a weird hole that was by Soprano's desk and fill in above the main entry door.
If you give a homeschool mom freshly painted walls, new flooring, new trim, and fixed paneling, she'll probably want to replace all of the ugly, 70s dark brown outlets and covers
Bass had most of what we needed in his electrical stash.
If you give a homeschool mom new outlets and covers, she'll be happy for awhile but then she'll want to put the furniture back in.
When she goes to put the furniture back in, she'll probably want more cube shelves.
I was thinking of getting the Ikea Kallax shelves (Kallax just replaced the Expedit) but for less money, I could get 3 sets of their Bitrade 2x4 cube shelves instead. I'd link to Ikea's site but I don't see them listed online anywhere.)
If you give a homeschool mom new cube shelves, she'll probably quickly stuff them with books and curriculum
If you give a homeschool mom a fancy new space with lots of books, she'll probably want to set-up spaces for her kids to learn and work
Tenor's desk. Same set-up as previous years.
Soprano's desk. Same set-up as previous years.
If you give a homeschool mom spaces where her kids can work, she'll probably want to hang things to help her visual learners retain info.
This is new!! And I'm excited about it!! Can ya' tell? I hung their on-the-go storage clipboards and our yard and meter sticks. Then on the door I took some clothespins and used Command strips cut in half to hang them on the door. Each set of clips hold an education placemat that I got at a local Education store. The top shows the systems of the human body, U.S. presidents are in the middle, and the solar system on the bottom. We studied anatomy and astronomy last year so these are up for reference/review until we get to this coming year's topics.
The white board was on the other door. I moved it so the placemats would be more visible (plus that door is always closed.) This is our main entry door to the family room space so the white board could be facing into the family room. We'll use this for IEW brainstorming this year.

 If you give a homeschool mom space to hang things, she'll probably want to add a little music.
Getting our music list to work easily has been a frustrating issue in the schoolroom. Bass finally talked me into this little hamburger speaker that we can use with the iPod. The speaker was fine last year but the cord kept slipping down behind the desk. This year I have the speaker on my teacher desk sorter and the wire secured with a binder clip. It will slide in and out easily so I can plug, play, then put away. Stress-free, right?
 If you give a homeschool mom a fun speaker to pop in the iPod so they can all listen to music together, she'll probably want her own desk space on which to set it.
The desktop computer we had in here went out to the family room. Tenor has been using it more so we wanted it in a more visible location. Now that I have a laptop and am not really using the desk in the family room, the space is free for the desktop machine. Bonus, this table where we do joint work, read together, and I correct their work has a lot more open space.
And if you give a homeschool mom her own work space and a "brand-new" room and new cube shelves and places for her kids to learn and work, she'll probably want a cozy reading nook chair to collapse in.
This is pretty much the same, although a little cozier than before since the new bookshelves take up more wall space. I framed our two posters to make it look a little classier. :)
Soprano has come dancing in several times saying how much she loves the blue paint and the new space. Tenor sans dancing has been in a lot just working on little projects at his desk and rediscovering books on the shelves.
I'm just thrilled that the floor will be easier to clean! :)

How about you? Do you have a dedicated room, or do you spread out on the kitchen table? Do you have any organization tips to share? Or organizing trouble-spots?


Linking up here:
Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers

iHomeschool Network Not Back to School Blog Hop 

Monday, July 21, 2014

2014-2015 Homeschool Curriculum Choices

Year 4 here we come. They say the first three years are the hardest so this coming year should be awesome. Right? We've definitely found our groove and a lot of things that work for us. Here's what we're planning to use for the 2014-2015 school year:

Tenor is going into 7th grade. He'll be working through
Saxon 8/7 and then Algebra for math
Rod and Staff  English 7 for grammar
Rod and Staff Spelling 7 (Although I'm debating on whether or not we'll use it.)
Progeny Press for literature (We've had great success with Across the Centuries but I found three volumes at Salvation Army for $0.99 each and Tenor was interested in trying them.)
For his electives, he'll continue with Level 2 of Hey Andrew! Teach Me Some Greek! We're also looking into some computer and technology courses through Alpha Omega (Switched on Schoolhouse) or code.org/learn.
He's also interested in geocaching, robotics, computer animation, and will be taking guitar lessons.

Soprano is going into 5th grade so she'll be doing
Saxon 6/5 and Life of Fred Butterflies and Cats for math
Rod and Staff  English for grammar
Rod and Staff Spelling 5 for spelling
Across the Centuries for reading comprehension. She will work through 3 books.


For her electives, she'll be doing Lessons in Responsibilities for Girls, Volume 2.
She's also interested photography, sign language, and jewelry making.

Together they'll do My Father's World Exploration to 1850.
My Father's World incorporates Bible, history, geography, science, vocabulary, music, and art altogether for multiple grade levels. This is the 3rd year of the 4-year history cycle and the one I've most been looking forward to. This year covers the age of Exploration, the Colonial Era, the Revolutionary War and up to the Westward Expansion plus world history of the same time period. Our science this year is life science: animals and botany.
Our main texts for the year.
PA History will totally be covered with our regular history studies this year so I'm not adding anything additional for that. Since we'll also be doing lots of map work (I'm incorporating activities from the Story of the World Activity Book and MapTrek) and studying the early government of the U.S., I'm not adding any civics or geography either.

They'll also both be doing Institute For Excellence in Writing - U.S. History Based Writing Lessons for writing (which will correlate with our history). Having them both do the same book will lighten my load because we'll work through the lessons together.


The only other things we have to cover are fire safety and phys. ed.  Phys. Ed. will be covered by doing Tae Kwan Do. I'm also looking into swimming, tennis, and horseback riding lessons. We'll see how far the budget can take us.

Our field trip ideas this year include a trip to Williamsburg/Jamestown/Yorktown (during homeschool days this September), the William Penn House, Philadelphia (historical sites as well as the zoo), hopefully Boston, Longwood Gardens, the PA Railroad Museum, the Lancaster Symphony (free open rehearsals), PA State Museum, and the Daniel Boone Homestead. Our local library has free passes to some of the museums, there's Smithsonian Museum Day in September, and Charter Day for PA in March so a lot of those will be at no cost. I'm sure we'll find some library or local conservation center programs to go to as well as concerts. We are blessed to live in an area where the arts abound, and there are lots of free or low cost opportunities.

Sounds fun, right? We'll start in early August so I need to finish all my prepping and planning! It's coming up quick!


Linking up here:
Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers

iHomeschool Network

Friday, July 18, 2014

Twinkly Summer Decor

Summer heat makes me want to lighten up the layers in the house. I try to keep the summer mantel and decor simple and airy looking.
 
 
 My favorite part... the twinkly lights.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Make a Card Monday - Electric Guitar Thank You

So I posted a pic of Tenor's guitar birthday card last week. The thing with the acoustic guitar that we gave him is that it was a yard sale find. I got a great deal on it years and years ago. It had just been sitting in a closet gathering dust. I knew it needed to be tuned up and cleaned but not being a guitar person was a little out of my element. A guitar-playing friend (who is an awesome guitarist--classical, acoustic, rock, and worship leader) answered my plea for help and offered to restring the guitar for me. We had dinner with his family and he got the guitar all set for Tenor. I wanted to send a guitar themed card to say thank you.
I wanted to use the sunburst background and had enough to make two cards so I varied the style.

After creating the sunburst base, I used an embellishment piece from the paper pad to stamp the sentiment on. I cut the guitar shadow (Cricut Quarternote) from the gray cardstock and then cut the top layer from a gold patterned paper. I used gold Stickles to add the little knobs on the guitar body (yeah, no idea what they're called) and highlight the tuning pegs.

Details:
cardstock: gray cardstock base (Recollections), white cardstock sunburst base and interior (Georgia Pacific)
patterned paper: all sunburst pieces and guitar top (Recollections "Route 66")

embellishments: Stickles (gold)
color: Charcoal ink (Palette)
tools: Quarternote (Cricut)
stamps: Rock On (PTI)
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