Wednesday, June 29, 2011

L is for Lesson Planning.

ABCs of Homeschooling

July is our off month from school work, however July is my planning and prep month and this year I have a lot of prep and plan...  I am still working on the classroom conversion to a resource room and sorting through all the wonderful things we have in our space. I am also working to plan out next year and make it a little more doable....   I still need to figure out where the boys' workbox folders will go and start getting the things together that will be in the folders.  I need to find brightly colored file folders or Pee-Chee folders, I hope to find them locally otherwise it is going to be online, I have found a couple deals...  I don't want to spend a fortune buying and I know classic file folders would work just as well, but I really like the large size of the Pee-Chees and my boys think the colors and sports figures are cool..

I went through and mapped out the lesson plans for the boys beginning August and Ending June 2012. We homeschool using a 4 day week and various short breaks.
Each of the boys will have 5 folders they are responsible for each day.  I am using a very eclectic mix of resources including: journaling/notebooking , hands on math (Math-U-See and Elephant Math), read aloud books, visual word walls and word games, old style phonics and grammar from McGuffey's, Creative Writing using Write Source from Houghton Mifflin, and Science from Real Science 4 Kids. We will also have various unit studies mostly from Hands of a Child; Bible lessons from Scripture Adventure,  Sentence diagraming using Montessori Print Shop, and whatever wonderful resources come our way during the year.
The boys will again be involved in Adventurer club through our church and our local homeschool Co-op for enrichment activities. I am considering swimming lessons at some point but that will depend on timing and finances.
The next step in the lesson planning is to select specific activities for Cameron's journals and Nathan's Morning Messages and begin building their folder activities. (I want as much of it done before school starts, at least 2-3 weeks per printed/ sorted)  We have a full month of activities in July so I am trying to start early .

Over the next couple of weeks I will post links and overview reviews to some of the resources I already have ready for the year... I am also hoping to find a screaming deal on primary composition books before school starts... I figure I will need somewhere between 6 and 10 for the whole year...

Girls for Change and Yahoo! Challenge

The following is a post sponsored by Yahoo! Every time someone clicks here to make Yahoo! their homepage, they're showing their support for Girls For A Change.

I was selected for this opportunity by Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity, as I do.

What a great opportunity we have as a web community to show our support for "Girls For A Change" in their mission to empower girls to get involved in social issues and community problems including  gang violence and  self esteem issues.  GFC organization works locally and nationally to help girls gain key things in their lives : self-efficacy, authentic relationships with volunteers/ coaches,  skills for social change, and confidence to make the changes with those skills.

Yahoo! has agreed to donate $10 for each person who goes to this link and follow the instructions to change their home page to Yahoo! before July 1st.

Will you join in the challenge? I did!

I was selected for this opportunity by Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity, as I do.

**This blog post is part of a paid opportunity through Clever Girl Collective, links and basic information was provided to me, however opinions are mine and mine alone.***

Monday, June 27, 2011

Review: Much Ado About Nothing : Sixty Minute Shakespeare

I received a copy of “Much Ado About Nothing” from the Sixty Minute Shakespeare Series to review.  “Much Ado About Nothing” is one of my favorite works from the Bard, so I was excited to read through this abridged version and see how it would flow and if anything was missing.

About the Series from Get Shakespeare
Sixty-Minute Shakespeare Series
A Series by Cass Foster

This highly acclaimed series makes Shakespeare very accessible and is found in all 50 U.S. states, all Canadian provinces, and 45 countries. 

The Sixty-Minute Shakespeare series is an ideal alternative for those who lack the time to tackle the unabridged versions of the world's most widely read playwright. Professor Cass Foster has judiciously condensed (without modernizing) the Bard's richly poetic language. He has skillfully retained the integrity of the text, allowing students to experience the thrill of the stories as well as the captivating imagery in the prose and verse. 

In addition, the author has provided helpful footnotes on nearly every page explaining the more arcane words and phrases to help the reader better understand and appreciate each play. 

You will find the practical suggestions clearly laid out for staging, pacing, and thematic exploration very useful. Scenes flow smoothly from one to the next, maintaining a continuity difficult to find in other condensed versions of the Bard's works. Each script is approximately 70 pages. 

My thoughts on the book:
I am working on adding more Ambleside books and units to our curriculum and was happy to see “Much Ado About Nothing” on the schedule for the coming year. Reading through this book excited me as a former theater student and literature major, the overall story is intact and very well abridged. I really didn’t feel like I was missing anything at all. I love Shakespeare’s voice and am always looking for ways to incorporate the Bard into our homeschool plans. With the book I can easily incorporate the play into a unit on theater, Shakespeare, poetry, history, and many more.  I am already writing a unit study based on “Much Ado About Nothing” using Sixty Minute Shakespeare as the main text.  By using various resources and letting the kids see the script in this simple format, Shakespeare becomes something that even my young boys can take hold of the play. We are creating our own stages out of pizza style boxes so that they can do the abridged version of the play based on this book. It is so important to continue the tradition of theater and Shakespeare and this series is allowing me to do that with my boys. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Summer Reading Program at the Library Begins

 The boys are once again involved in the summer reading program at our local library.  This year the theme is ‘One World, Many Stories’ and includes a morning entertainment act and an afternoon craft activity from a different country for the kids.
This morning the boys enjoyed a fun magic show put on by Angel Ocasio.  The boys laughed and watched with a large group of kids from Dayton and the surrounding area. Each of the boys completed their first reading log and received their book bags for their efforts.  This is Cameron’s third year and Nathan’s second and both boys are eager to read and listen to stories together. 
Tuesday evening Cameron read 3 Dr. Seuss read-a-louds before bed time to add to his reading log and Nathan listened and helped read “Green Eggs and Ham”   I have set a goal for them of at least 5 hours a week of reading quietly or together with Mommy and Daddy.  I am not including the Scripture Adventure reading in their logs as I want them to set aside time to be in The Word that is not worldly. I know that may seem weird but I needed the separation for them to. We are heading back into town this evening for a concert in the park to celebrate the summer reading program with other friends of the Mary Gilkey Library here in Dayton, Oregon. I hope to post a couple of book reviews for books we read during the program this year to share our love of reading with the blogging community.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Warrior Prayer for our Sons day 4 and 5

Obedience is a strong idea. We must be obedient to our Lord while expecting our sons to be obedient to us as well as the Lord. It is a heavy burden for children to understand and as a parent it is my job to help them understand that the burden is has been carried for them through Christ but they still are to be obedient. 
The study questions on Obedience really made me think and consider not only my children but also my husband and our obedience.  Understanding the power of the foundation we lay for our sons and how they will become men of G_d and Godly husbands in their adult life.
Discipline is a weak area for me with the boys; I have always been reactionary rather than proactive. This past week we implemented a new system using poker chips, the boys can earn, lose, and use the poker chips. So, rather than reacting to issues we setting the boys up to be positive and reward them for positive behavior.

The difference between boys and girls is subtle but so important.  Growing up my mom had 2 girls, and we really didn’t think about the differences until I had 2 boys and Grandma began watching the boys realizing how different boys are then girls.  I can so relate to so many moms with boys especially when other moms talk about blended or girl only siblings.  The journey of parenting boys is exhilarating but also flat out exhausting. Trying to keep up with their constantly changing moods and full energy lifestyle is amazing.
I now understand that the way I was working with the boys was behavioral rather than spiritual and I need to change that, it is going to take hard work and a lot of time on my knees in prayer and really getting down on their level. I was blessed this past week, my oldest spent 3 days at Grandma’s house while the youngest stayed home. That one on one time with my 5 year old gave me some real insight and helped me to see my goals a little better. 
The idea that we are potentially nothing more than “white-washed tombs” is really eye opening. A wake up call, what we are on the inside is more important than our appearances. We still need to be aware of what we present to the world, but we really need to be concerned with what we are to G_d and how our children see that.
I hope you are learning along with us during these 21 days of prayer. It is so important for our sons that we grow in this journey so we can help them grow in their love of the Lord.

Warrior Prayer: 21 Days of Prayer for Sons Day 3

WOW, in Warrior Prayers e-book Brooke really hits home with the idea that how we raise our sons really does matter. G_d takes the raising of children very seriously. To think about the impact the way we raise our sons , is almost overwhelming. Really makes me consider my actions and reactions where my boys are concerned.  I didn’t think this processes would impact me in quite this fashion but am blessed that it has.
As I sit in the park writing to you today, I watch my boys playing and enjoying each other.  Nathan actually came and told me “brother is fun!”. That is huge for him as most days they are at each other’s throats fighting with each other.
Today’s study questions for page 11 of the e-book:
1.       Did your parents raise you in a Christian home to know and love the Lord? What kind of impact has your up bringing had on the way you parent your sons?
I am grateful for being raised in a Christian home, while not a overly conservative home it was Christian and that gave me a strong baseline to grow on and a strong foundation to raise my sons with.
2.       How does it make you feel to know that a godly man, such as Eli, could fail to raise his sons to know the love the Lord?
None of us can truly know what our impact is, to know that a Godly man like Eli could fail in such an important task makes me realize that I have to work that much harder to really
3.       Have you ever thought about the importance of raising sons from the perspective of this story? What kind of response does this create in your heart?
I never really paid much attention to that story until I read it here, but now it really hits home with a strong message. I watch friends with older children and see this kids leaving their churches and pray that I can keep my boys in the church.
4.       Do you believe G_d holds us responsible for the way we train our children?
I think we are given  our children as a gift from G_d with the mission to raise them the way they he has instructed us to. It seems simple but is really a great commission task.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

#Classroom Clean Up and Repurposing

Our Homeschool classroom was one of the fails for the year... I am not as well organized as I would like to think and the boys would rather do school work on the kitchen/ dinning room table, so the classroom collected stuff and continued to collect stuff most of the year...

Last week I received the first few boxes of materials from a retired teacher with the knowledge there was more to come. I also found another retired teacher who wanted her stuff to go to a new home so I accepted this treasures with plans to incorporate some into our classroom , some into our co-op library, and some into the hands of homeschool friends and teachers. Thus began the repurposing of the space formally known as our classroom. The boys and I decided the room would be a library/ resource center/ activities center.

Step 1; clear out.. Below are a few of the before pictures.

So the desks came out first, then we started sorting out the garbage and the keepers...  And yes, the classroom is/ was in the laundry room, the door in the bottom picture leads to the mudroom and then outside.. Someday the mudroom will house the washer and dryer but for now this is how it looked.

Next we started moving some of cubby boxes around , the game bench moved across the room and a literature rack moved in.
Empty Binders to be filled with unit studies and planners and whatever else needs a home.. the CD player on top is shared between this room and the boys' bedroom until we get another one for this room.

 Literature Rack full of resources, workbooks, planners, lesson, etc..  under the pile of other books is the bench that houses board games from now.

 The cubbies in the above picture are full of various phonics/ grammar activities. I used Target itso wide trays and Avery Name Badge labels for 2 of the sets (I have 2 more ITSO trays coming) 

Finally our magnetic wipe off board. I have a list of sub projects written on the board for us. The white chart is actually part of a set from Primary Concepts it is a word building activity and I hung it there as an example for the boys (they are excited to try out the letter tiles) This was one of the many wonderful resources we received this past week .

The garbage can is full, the goodwill bag is full and 2 piles are ready to take to the co-op library in a few weeks. 
This coming week we will finish sorting and cleaning up the floor, build a bookshelf or bookcase, and arrange books  along with set up the math cubbies and begin planning for the new school year... (We are still 1 1/2 weeks before this year ends...)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

21 Days of Prayer for Sons : Day 2

Today is officially the beginning of this blessed challenge.  Today I want to share some of my answers to the study questions in the ebook.  On page 9 of the e-book Brooke presents the first set of Study Questions.
1.       What is your current relationship with you sons?  My boys are younger (ages 5 ½ and 8 ½) so I am with them most of the time as a home school mom.
2.        Think back to when you first relazied you were having a boy…. When we found out our first was a boy I was relieved, I really felt like a girl would be more than I could handle… When we found out our youngest was a boy I had mixed emotions relief that it would be 2 boys, mild disappoint that my husband wouldn’t have the little girl he wanted, fear as to what was I going to do with 2 little boys.
3.        Are your boys typical rough and tumble? That is an understatement… Nathan our youngest has no fear and will try everything.  It is has wheels it must be riden on and crashed at least once.  Cameron is slightly more reserved but not much… They love to wrestle and race. They are all boy through and through.
4.        Do your boys have good role models? My boys have a wonderful role model in my father (their papa) , their Father, and their uncles. We are also blessed to have several male role models in our church communities that have had a wonderful impact on my boys.
5.       How have you prayed for your sons in the past? Unfortuneatly inconsistent is the best word I can come up with right now… We do have our night time prayer we do together (I usually pray it for Nathan). I love the idea of praying the Word of G_d for them although it is new it is a wonderful idea.  Below I am posting our version of the Good Night Prayer.

Now I lay me down to Sleep
I pray the Lord my soul to keep,
May Angels watch me through the Night
And Keep me in their Blessed Sight

And the version I pray over them;

Now I lay him down to Sleep
I pray the Lord his soul to Keep
May Angels watch him through the Night
And Keep him in their Blessed Sight

I hope this journey is a powerful one for you and your sons.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

21 Days of Prayer for Sons: Day 1

I'm posting this Tuesday evening as I am getting ready for bed.
Thank you for joining in the 21 Days of Prayer for Sons. If you are a mom of boys you know that they need our prayers every day.
If you don't have the book yet Amazon has a Kindle Version or the pdf version.
The Facebook page for the Main Challenge   or  our blog's FB page.

Honestly I haven't read the entire book but a couple of passages have struck me and are great reads as we begin. First, in the introduction the study questions get right to the heart of it all. (No I'm not going to list them here, I am going to list them in a later post as I share my answers).  Second in Chapter 1, Brooke nails it down and tells it like it is. I am so grateful for the fact that this book is in your (my) face and doesn't mess around. Straight forward honesty all the way. Finally, (well for tonight) the end of the book Brooke shares a wonderful prayer, "the Prayer that started it all", with the pure heartfelt love of a mother for her child.

I hope you will share your thoughts along with me as we journey together through this challenge. God Bless our sons and give us the wisdom to know their needs.

5 things we tried and didn't work for our #homeschool

As part of the 31 days to a better blog #31DBBB I am participating in we had to do a list post... I posted over at Unvlmom's Spot a list of our pantry Essentials. I decided to do a list here of the things we had tried and didn't work for us. This is by no means a negative about particular products or styles, it is just what we have found did not work for the boys' learning styles, our format, or Mom's teaching style..  Feel free to share things you've tried that maybe didn't work the way you thought they would as well.

5. Traditional school desks: I got 2 old style school desks for the boys thinking that it would give them a place to keep their supplies and would be a fun way to work on their work. We arranged them in different ways hoping that would help, but nothing really did... The desks are still in the classroom collecting piles...  (I'm going to clean them up and possiby sell them at a garage sale or craigslist them..)

4. Traditional Workbooks: I have a small collection of workbooks that Cameron just won't use.. He doesn't like workbooks and fights me on every attempt. Oddly enough Nathan likes to work in some workbooks. I am still holding on to the books as I'm not 100% sure they won't come in handy for Nathan.

3. Coloring Books: Nathan absoletely hates to color... I have a stack on colorbooks as Cameron and I enjoy coloring but Nathan won't do it... we have even made sure his co-op teachers know he hates coloring... give him a pencil or a pen and let him draw the picture..

2. Full Schedules:  sounds simple but we have found that a full schedule such as 12 workboxes or even 8 workboxes a day doesn't work for us... We are a lot better off with a unit study together, our math folders, and our phonics books.   I tried several ways of doing but came up with less is more for us... In August we will continue with workfolders rather than boxes and will add a subject or two to Cameron's work.

1. A set schedule:  with 2 different boys who work better at different times of the day , we found that it just works better to relax. They both know what has to be done in the day (before dinner time). We do work to have together time at the table working on like subjects (Math and phonics) but other than that our day begins when everyone is up and showered. Occasionally, I let Cameron take a longer shower and do school work with Nathan.

Some people say we are too relaxed but I want the boys to enjoy learning and to feel like life is learning, not just sitting at a table or desk but everything we do is learning.