Monday, June 25, 2012

Summer school lesson plans

So we are back in school at least last week, this week is VBS so not so much school per-say.
Any way, I think I have our summer session mapped out

Math: Mix of Montessori activities, Math-u-See Foundations, and Math Essentials and Professor B Math (It might look like a crazy mess, but honestly we are reviewing 2 of these for the Crew and depending on how they go will determine if they stay on the radar)
Bible: Apologia Who is My Neighbor , also considering adding a Bible marking workshop for the family.
Reading: McGuffey's along with various other books for Summer Reading Program.
History: TruthQuest, Story of the World volume1, Knowledge Quest Maps, and Greenleaf History of the Old Testament along with various fun bits and pieces as we work our way through Genesis and Exodus over the summer.

I'm still working on a handwriting program for Cameron and putting the finishing touches on my version of Montessori grammar.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

IXL helping children excel in Math


Photobucket With 2 little boys learning math at different levels within their own grade I was so excited to try IXL math. Each child has access to a variety of levels of math. For instance Cameron , my now 4th grader is working on brushing up on 3rd grade skills he struggled with and adding 4th grade skills to the mix. While Nathan my 2nd grader is working on some 2nd grade skills but also stretching and working on a few 3rd grade skills.


IXL Awards and GamesThere is as ton of flexibility with this program and as the kids work through their various skills they earn virtual awards on their awards page for each of the grades we have worked on.  I really wasn't sure about another math website with "virtual awards" but something struck a cord with both boys and IXL awards are a hit with them. Neither of them mind the different pages for different grades. With the need for a variety of graded assignments IXL is a huge value for us  for a full year program. $79.00 a year for the first child and $20 for the second. I know most of the time it wouldn't seem like I would recommend this as a value, but when my boys are both excited about practicing their math skills even the ones they are struggling with it becomes a value, oh and as the parent I can even practice skills. The parent skills are recorded but still it is good practice especially when you are trying to explain a skill that a child is struggling with.
IXL Fee Buttons
IXL Family ReportsI am an an analytical person when it comes to figuring out what the boys need to work on so I love the reports the IXL provides the parents. I can see what the boys have been working on as well as where they need improvement and how much time they are spending on the various activities.
Check out IXL on Facebook

Disclaimer: we received a full year membership for both boys at no cost in exchange for our review of the program and as a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew.

You are welcome to read the rest of the crew's review just click on the banner below.


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Hip Homeschool Hop how I've missed you

Hip Homeschool Hop Button
I haven't done many homeschool hops this year. I'm not sure why, I just haven't. Well this week I'm a little later in the day then I had planned on, but I'm hopping with Hip Homeschool Moms.
Check out Hip Homeschool Moms on Twitter and Facebook  and even Google+
I am always blessed when I read Hip Homeschool Mom posts or tweets, so I would appreciate my friends showing them some love.

God's Creation Illustrated beautifully


Are you looking for a Christian magazine full of the beauty of God's wonder? I have been and I was so glad to finally come across Creation Illustrated. 
PhotobucketIn every issue of this quaterly magazine the editor starts out with 

Our Purposeis to share the wonders of God’s creation. By revealing fresh insights of His infinite wisdom, gentle touch, undeniable justice, redeeming love, and flawless design, pure truth shall bring renewed peace. Each part of this publication is offered as a reprieve from the daily rigor’s of life so that all can look to the future with unbridled gratitude and hope. 

christian magazine

Christian magazineSomething about just that simple statement really spoke to me.  THe magazine is beautiful put together, with amazing pictures and stories that are focused on seasonal elements.  The articles are well written and easy for even my children to read and appreciate with a little help. These make a wonderful family evening activity.  Every detail of the magazine is eye catching. Both my boys were immediately drawn to the covers opening the door for conversations about God's wonderful creation.  I am happy to say that is family magazine is a value at only $19.95 a year. You receive 4 full color issues spaced over the year.  Even better you can get a sample issue simply by filling out a form. 

disclaimer: As memebers of the Schoolhouse Review Crew we received 4 issues of the above magazine at no cost in exchange for our honest opinion. All opinions are that of this blog's author.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Homeschooling on a Shoestring or less

I was asked to present to our Homeschool Moms Group on how I homeschool on such a small budget. To collect all my ideas and thoughts I decided I would post it to my blog and share with everyone.
I love finding things for free even if it is just a sample lesson that I can glean information from.

Some of my favorite sites for freebies:
Homeschool Freebie of the Day
Currclick's weekly freebie
Hands of a Child's current Freebie
The Old Schoolhouse Digital Magazine App
Simple Schooling
An Old Fashion Education 
The Homeschool Buyer's Co-Op
Ambleside Online
Math Worksheets

These are just a few I use.
I also am a big Facebook Fan. I love to follow various curriculum companies on their Facebook pages to learn about deals and samples.

Here are just a few of the purchased curriculum companies I use:
Math-U-See: We are still using the Classical series, but I love to print practice pages for the boys or have the boys do the drills online.
CreekEdgePress: I purchased a set of cards this year that we will be able to use over the next 2 years and then again when we repeat our history cycle
TruthQuest History: We reviewed the American History for Younger Students this year and will be borrowing the Ancient Egypt and Ancient Greece Books from a fellow Homeschool Mom. (I'll talk more about that in a moment)
Knowledge Quest Maps: I first learned of Knowledge Quest Maps during an online conference 3 years ago. If you follow her on Facebook or subscribe to her mail lists, she is very generous with freebies and samples. I watch Facebook for newer freebies as well as their already extensive library of classics.

What about borrowing books?
The library can be a good resource but for my family I have to get creative because we live outside the city limits and I can't afford to pay for the full service library card. Our boys each have a card and can check out children's books and videos so that helps. I am in charge of our homeschool co-op library which has a growing collection of books to loan and has already been a HUGE blessing for our family. My newest borrowing idea stems for the group I am presenting to tonight, sharing among local homeschool families. Many of us have books we cycle through and don't use every year, so sharing with your fellow homeschoolers is a great way to save money, especially for books where you will be buying the consumable components but really can't afford the textbook portion of the bundle.

Other sources of curriculum for my family:
I have been blessed over the past year to be a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew and have received many great products to add to our library of resources.  I have also found a wonderful network of homeschool families that buy and sell used books among the crew.
That brings me to the next piece, used curriculum sales. This time of year local homeschoolers and conventions all seem to have a used curriculum sale. This is a GREAT way to find pieces you need for you family and save a lot of money.

Yes we buy school supplies. No I don't pay full retail. I stock up during back to school and after (in the clearance section). I watch Goodwill often and I have a teacher card to the local teacher supply stores.I also love the Dollar Tree and Staples  I also have a wish list in my notebook so when family asks what to get the boys I can suggest a few supplies to add to a gift (a pack of pencils makes an ok gift topper)

Field Trips: Local parks are a great place for field trips, deal days at the zoo or children's museum are great especially during the year,  get a group together to get a better deal at local attractions, and check with local manufacturing companies to see if you can get a tour with a small group (tell them you are homeschooling and put together a smaller than classroom size group)

Where else?
I watch freecycle, craigslist, and local Facebook groups so teachers that are retired and wanted to move their stuff. I have been greatly blessed over the last 2 years to find some amazing retired teachers that have given me tons of books and supplies that I then sort and distribute to people I know as well as our homeschool co-op library and our family library.
I also don't follow a specific science curriculum as I can't afford one right now and the boys have had a lot of hands on learning based on kitchen science, gardening, shop activities with Daddy, etc.... I know eventually we will have to add a science set up to our world but since they are still young I'm ok.

A couple other things... Don't be afraid to get creative. If you are a blogger look for blogger groups and review products. If you and a couple other moms get together buy in bulk. I only have 2 kids so I don't need a classroom pack of pencils but if a few moms got together and bought a classroom pack and divided it up.
I will always look for deals but there are a few things I can't bring myself to skimp on.. I only buy Crayola brand crayons and markers (I'm spoiled that way). I don't mind used books and if a textbook has a notebook with it, I will often have the boys write their answers in a spiral or composition book.

So this is just a glimpse, I will share more over the coming months.

What creative ways do you homeschool on a budget?

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Staycation, School , and Adventures

Schoolhouse Review Crew

Are you staying home this summer?
 Do you school year round?
 Are you looking for adventures this summer?
 If you answered yes to any of the above I'd like to share some ideas for some fun, simple, and some affordable field trips for this summer.
My boys love nature hikes, even ones in our own backyard are fun. If you have a local nature preserve or a nature park these are great field trips especially during the summer, take a notebook and coloring supplies and draw what you see. 
Local museums are always a great thing to check out, but what about your local historical society? Are there interesting local mysteries or myths. Historical society museums are a great field trip and sometime even if you have lived in the same area for a long time you might learn something new. 
Letter boxing is a great summer activity for the whole family. You can search online for local hidden boxes so if you don't or can't travel far you can still have fun. 
Another fun stay-cation type field trip is the local library. We like to make a scavenger hunt or "I spy" game out of it. I will tell them I am looking for a book about_____. and then let them find it, it sounds simple but we have found so many rabbit trails because of this activity. The boys will spot a book while they are searching for the one I asked for and want to read it or ask a question about something the see on a cover.
Check out local children's museums and water parks. Many tourist destinations also have group rates, get a group of friends together and save money on many field trips. 
Play tourist in our own county by checking out all those travel brochures usually found at the visitor information centers in rest stops, you may even find something new.

What are your favorite summer field trip type activities?

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Sunday Scripture 6/17

We took a week off from school so the boys didn't have to copy the text but did have to read it.

O Lord God of hosts, who is a strong Lord like unto thee? 
 The heavens are thine, the earth also is thine: as for the world and the fullness thereof, thou hast founded 
them. Psalms 89:8a ,11

Pearson Homeschool's Reading Street a new location for learning


PhotobucketI am always looking for reading programs that will help inspire the boys to love reading and help give them a strong foundation in the basics on reading, phonics, and grammer, so when Pearson Homeschool came up as part of the Schoolhouse review Crew I was immediately drawn to the idea of the full year reading curriculum. especially after reading the info From their website: Build the reader in your child through motivating and engaging literature, scientifically research-based instruction and a wealth of reliable instructional tools. The Scott Foresman Reading Street program prioritizes skill instruction at each grade level, so the focus is on the right reading skill, at the right time, for every child.

I will start by mentioning this product is a bundle and includes a DVD-Rom , a CD, a teacher's guide, and 2 student books (volume 1 and volume 2) and will retail for $124.95 during the 2012-2013 school year. While it is a complete program since the worksheets and other teacher resources are a the media discs there will be quite a lot of printing involved in using this product, so that is something to take into consideration when looking at the price. 
We currently use old school McGuffey's readers so this was something totally new for the boys. I decided to let Nathan try the worksheets and some of the reading even though he is only starting 2nd grade. I went ahead and let Cameron read and do many of the worksheets as he just finished 3rd grade but was a late reader.  We were able to read the stories and extras in the textbook and use the various worksheets which included fun activities as well as the traditional dry worksheets.  
I printed up a set of various worksheets for the First Unit weeks 1-5 and we began our journey. I put all the worksheets into a file folder and would pull from that. I also printed the word lists and flashcards only I printed them at 1/2 and 1/4 size so the boys could make collages from the words. 
Overall, the boys didn't mind the program and given that I was able to use the program with both the boys was a nice bonus. I can see using this throughout the rest of the year and even into next year for Nathan as a way to break from the norm a little bit as the stories are fun and engaging for the kids.  I am considering put some of the teacher resources on my laptop (especially the flip charts) so we can use them without printing them. I can also see having the flash cards on the laptop as a way to flip through the flashcards on the screen.  The fun word search worksheets were a hit with Nathan so I will most likely go through and print those first since these are harder and above his grade level.
The program is secular but I didn't find anything in the first volume that would be an issue. My boys are use to me creatively adjusting time lines when it comes to evolution within a text book, it has actually become a silly thing for them. Honestly, I can't say if I would have purchased this program, the price is higher than I would consider reasonable for our budget, but if I look at the life use of the program I could see value there. 

Pearson Homeschool has a variety of curriculum in a variety of grades from elementary through high school and covering Math, reading, science, and social studies.  Their website also has links to state resources if you are unsure where to find your state's guidelines. The site is still under some construction but has a lot of information. I also enjoyed searching other online sources including Teacher's blog to see how others were using the program. Since the edition we reviewed is the newest edition the lesson didn't always line up with what I was finding online, but I was inspired to think outside the box a little and see how fun we could make it.


disclaimer: As a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew I received the above product bundle for free in exchange for my honest opions, unless mentioned within the post all opinions are my own.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

No Bully Here Thanks to Captain McFinn

Sand Dusty Reef
Meet Captain McFinn he use to be one of the worst bullies on Sand Dusty Reef. now he is Captain of the Undersea Friends where he and his sea friends teach kids about bullying, how to spot it, how to react, and most importantly how to not be a bully.

Captain McFinn and Friends meet Coral Rose (SB)
With our local library Summer Reading Program kicking off, this book came to us under perfect timing. The boys and I read both Captain McFinn and Friends books and enjoyed listening the  the fun CD.
The Legend of Captain McFinn and Friends  and Captain McFinn and Friends meet Coral Rose are written by Phyllis C. Cafaro and are designed to engage children as they learn. Not only where the books beautifully illustrated but their stories caught the boys' attention and held it the whole time we read, even when the book was pink and featured a girl character.
If your child is being bullied or has a problem being a bully these books are a fun, light hearted way to approach a very serious and hard subject.
Both books, the fun musical CD, and the activity books can be purchased online at Captain McFinn's webpage.  You will also find a fun activities page as well as various resources for parents and teachers and much much more.  Parents and Librarians may also be interested in following Captain McFinn's Blog
The Legend of Captain McFinn and Friends (SB)The books retail for $9.99 for the softcover or $17.99 for the hardcover. The CD is available for $9.99 , there is also a printed activity book that retails for $5.99. Everything is available on the Captain McFinn website as well as Amazon
Come Along with The Friend-Ship Band CD
Not only did we receive copies of the CD and books to read and review here on our blog , the author was gracious enough to donate 5 copies of each of the books and a CD to Dayton Library's Summer Reading Program; the donation of books and CD will be added to our books for kids to take home during the summer reading program to inspire reading. What an amazing gift to our little community, we are very grateful to Mrs. Cafaro for her generous gift.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of each book and cd listed in this post in exchange for my honest opinion, no other monetary compensation was received. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

BRAVE behind the scenes #DisneyPixar

The boys are crazy excited to see this movie and even more excited that I am taking them to the movie theater for this event.

Get Ready for Summer with Summer Reading


Unionvale School Boys watching a fun performance  June 2011
It is summer and unless you are like us and school basically year round then you are probably looking for something to do for the kids over the summer.  Well, the last 2 years we have participating in the local library summer reading program.  Our local program runs once a week for  6 weeks and covers the beginning of the summer vacation in hopes that it will inspire the kids to keep reading over the rest of the summer. 
Last year we had so much fun at the various activities and met lots of other kids each week that they boys jumped up and were excited to register and start reading as soon as they could.  

Summer Reading Log 2012
So June 1st we went to the library and got the boys registered. Cameron has already filled 2 reading logs ( 5 hours for each log).

#PostCFK boxes of cereal donated 
This year we are especially excited as we were able to get 10 copies of the Captain McFinn Books donated so that kids in the community can learn more about Bullying and not being a Bully. We also worked recently with Champions for Kids on the Post Bowls of Hope Simple Service Project and will be donating over 25 boxes of cereal so that families in the community that need them can each have a box of cereal on the opening day of the Summer Reading 2012
We love sharing our love of reading with kids in the community and hope that a sharing a little love along with a little extra help we can inspire others around us and keep the summer reading excitement going strong. 

Check out the rest of the The Blog Cruise Posts about Summer Reading

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

BRAVE coming soon , try these recipes in the mean time

The boys and I are going to see Disney / Pixar's BRAVE at a special screening and can't wait to tell you all about it, in the mean time check out these fun recipes and think of some fun lesson plans you can do to tie into the movie this summer


Living History: Korean War part 1

The boys got to do a living history lesson with their Papa about the Korean War. I printed a blackline map for them to label and color while listening to stories and looking at pictures in their Papa's scrapbook. Cameron really enjoyed the lessons and talked with Papa for 25 minutes about the pictures and stories. 
I had the boys label the 38th parallel, The Pacific Ocean, Seoul, Uijongbu, and South Korea. Papa added 1 more to Cameron (on the right side of the picture) , Pusan.
I will post more when I get the picture of the boys and Papa together (Gamma has the CD).
But for now, they were pretty lucky little boys to spend their school day learning about Modern History from their Papa

Friday, June 1, 2012

Camp Sunny Patch from Melissa and Doug

Camp Sunny Patch from Melissa & DougMelissa & Doug is thrilled to announce the launch of our first-ever virtual summer camp: Camp Sunny Patch!
All season long, our blog will feature exciting original play ideas to help you add a little bit of structure and a whole lot of fun to summer vacation. Each weekly camp activity, written by our favorite bloggers, features a creative new way to get your kids moving their bodies and using their imaginations in the great outdoors . . . and you never have to leave your own backyard!
Just check out the weekly activity online to get inspired, then get outside and start having a blast. Download a weekly badge for each session your kids complete, and you can paste it on the printable Camp Sunny Patch poster (available exclusively on our blog and to our email subscribers!).
We’ll have special camp-themed surprises throughout the summer for Melissa & Doug Facebook fans, too. Remember to sign up and tune in to get the latest on giveaways, albums, contests and more.
Best of all, camp is just around the corner–June’s activity calendar will be available in just a few short days. It’s free. It’s fun. And it could be the start of the best summer ever.
See you at Camp Sunny Patch!
***This post was copied and shared from the Melissa & Doug blog as part of their blog ambassador program. I received no compensation for this post***