Thursday, April 23, 2009

Farmgirl's ABCs

I just saw the cutest idea for making the alphabet personal and real- it's beautiful and a great way to encourage your kids (and yourself) to pay atention to the world around. We're going to get started on our own version right now. Take a look here:
Only we don't have a farm or any girls, so ours will just be called "ABCs All Over the Place" or something like that. Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Middle of the night nursing the baby and thinking about organizing school stuff, I came up with this great idea. Well, it's not implemented yet, so I'm not certain it's brilliant, but it seems to solve at least some of our problems: wasting school time running up and down the stairs to get supplies, having to carry stacks of stuff back downstairs again at the end of the day, my refusal to turn the main living areas of our little house over to plastic bins and utility shelving, the boys' difficulty with self-scheduling.
I already print off for Avery a schedule each week, so that he can cross off each lesson as he completes it, but he seems to need something more... physical, maybe.
So here's my idea: it hinges on these great, sturdy, big baskets from IKEA. We have one already, and I love it, though it's just full of play instruments right now. $19.99 for another big, matching basket is a small price to pay for a workable homeschool system!
First I thought I could just put each day's work in each basket, but I already do a variation of that, and I think sometimes seeing that big stack is just too daunting. I want school to be easy to start, easy for the boys to be able to find their next task, easy to keep materials for each lesson together, easy to take the lesson around the house so that work can happen while I'm folding laundry, nursing, cooking, sewing as easily as at the dining room table. Now I'm planning to sew up a BUNCH of simple drawstring bags, like these bandanna bags, so that each lesson can go in it's own bag, in the basket.
I could easily label the bags, or maybe create magnetic labels to slip in the bags, so that as each lesson is completed the kids can put the label up on a magnetic chart. I like being organized, but I'm thinking labels might be overkill. I'm in the process of making our daily chore lists into a magnetic chart, so maybe I'm just confusing these ideas into some sort of Franken-school-monster too complicated to function well in the real world. I'm aware of my problems, you don't even have to say anything. Really.
Anyway, I'm hopeful for this system, attractive baskets I won't mind having upstairs but are easily moved downstairs if space or company dictate it, an easy way for the kids to choose appropriate activities, and help themselves organize their days, at least a little bit.
How do you organize your home school?

Saturday, April 18, 2009

4th Grade Planning

Wow! Suddenly it's spring! It snowed last week after a teaser spring peek, and now the weather has turned and winter is finally over. I had a flu bug to celebrate, and sent Avery off for a sleepover for a couple nights with his best friend. Which gave me time to cuddle and read stories and stay in my nightgown with the little ones, as well as lots of time to do my favorite school activity- plan for the coming year. Yay! It's such a perfect spring thing to do- review what's worked and not during the current school year, plan out the schedule and supplies for the next year, think about special projects, start making all of those lists. I usually end up with an order list of thousands of dollars that gets whittled down to some puny fraction of the original, but it's all fun, and if I've done a good job USING those supplies next school year will be fun for Avery and for me.
So... in case you're dying to know, this is what I've got so far:
Language Arts ($133.00)
Reading McGuffey Eclectic Readers set $47.95
Grammar Word Play $11.75; Didax Editing Skills grades 5-6 $9.50
Writing Writing Strands 3 $16.75; Evaluating Writing (WS) $17.99; Penpal; Journal
Spelling McGuffey Progressive Speller $10.50
Poetry (taught as a main lesson block) Poetry All around Me $16.95
Mathematics ($208.00)
Lab work Mathematics Made Meaningful wooden $35.95; Cuisenaire rod track $3.25; Puzzlers
Skill development Key to… complete series with keys $138.50; Calculus by and for Young People CD-ROM with worksheets $29.75; MEP math curriculum
Science ($228.00)
Nature Nature journal; stories; newspaper; Tom Brown’s Field Guide to Nature and Survival for Children $14.00
Spectrum Complete Book of Science g3-4 $10.50; Complete Book of Science g5-6 $ 10.50; Math Science Nucleus
Lab work Thames and Kosmos “Milestones in Science” lab kit $58.36; Home Science Adventures Kits (microscopics/light/birds/insects/astronomy/magnetism) $134.00
Zoology (taught in 4 main lesson blocks) ($83.00)
The Human Being and the Animal World $6.95
Mammals: We are NOT getting a dog or a cat, a horse or a rabbit- don't even ask!
Reptiles: Minn of the Mississippi (HCH); maybe a chameleon? Do they have the same e-coli risks as turtles?
Amphibians: Planet Frog habitat $21.95
Birds: Home Science Adventures-birds; Seabird (HCH)
Fish: perhaps we'll attempt goldfish or a beta
Insects: Butterfly Pavilion $29.99; Home Science Adventures-insects
Arachnids: Savage Spiders kit $12.00; maybe a hermit crab habitat
Mollusks: Slimy Slugs kit $12.00
Health/Anatomy ($63.00)

331/2" human skeleton model $62.99; How We Work; The Human Body
Vikings (taught in two block lessons)($52.00)
The Norse Stories and Their Significance $13.95; D’Aulaire’s Book of Norse Myths $19.95; Children of Odin: Northern Myths $7.75; Eric the Red and Leif the Lucky $5.25; Sword Song $4.99
United States History ($156.00)
Spectrum Geography grade 5 USA $6.95; The American Story $34.95; Landmark History of the American People $31.55; Making of America: History of the United States (National Geographic) $23.25; Minn of the Mississippi (HCH); The Tree in the Trail (HCH); Paddle-to-the-Sea (HCH); Thomas Jefferson’s America CD (Jim Weiss) $12.99; Yo, Millard Fillmore $7.95;
Cut and Assemble the Mayflower $7.95; Made for Trade game $22.99; Arrow Over the Door; Between Earth and Sky: Native American Legends of Sacred Places $7.00
Geography ($71.00)
World Geography and You hardcover text $38.30; WGY teacher’s guide $13.28; Earthsearch: A Kids’ Geography Museum in a Book $19.99; Tom Brown’s Nature and Survival for Children
Foreign Language ($445.00)
Lively Latin Big Book 1; Rosetta Stone Homeschool Edition Spanish 1,2,3 $445.00
Form drawing (taught in two blocks) ($30.00)
Creative Form /drawing Workbook 1 $30.00
PE ($18.00; $250.00)
Homeschool gym class 2 sessions @ $60 per session =$120; Homeschool gymnastics 20 weeks @ $6.50 per week = $130; Physical Education for Homeschoolers vol 1 $12.50; Beyond the Gym grade 4 $4.95; Yakima Youth Soccer Dues $65.00; Cones; Double jump rope; Whiffle ball set
Music ($960.00)
Guitar lessons 12 months @ $80 per month = $960
Artistic Pursuits Modern Art; Watercolor (weekly); modeling beeswax; plastalina
General ($32.00)
A Journey Through Waldorf Homeschooling grade 4 $32.00;
Total $1519 curriculum; $1210 lessons
I'm still over budget, and once I add in the things I haven't priced out yet- shipping costs, and the general supplies that need buying,what I'll get for Miles-I'll have to whittle it down quite a bit, I expect.