Apr 29, 2011

Looking Ahead to High School - Part 6

If you missed any previous parts HERE is a quick link to them.

Now that we have covered most of the basics, I have been going through my stash to fill in some other things and see what might peek KM's interest in the areas of Health, Physical Education, Nutrition and "elective" subjects. I tend to lump Health and P.E. together, because I feel as though they are one in the same and nutrition fits in quite nicely in that way as well. These are all things that we do and discuss on a regular basis, but KM does actually enjoy delving deeper into some areas.

I came across a kit that I got a while back free from the FDA called Science and Our Food Supply : Investigating Food Safety from the Farm to our Table. Now a majority of people would just take a kit like this and do one of two things, teach it as is without even and thinking OR throw it out the window because how on earth could a biased government agency give a clear and honest outline of something like this? WELL we are going to take this kit dissect it and use it to do our own research and see what we can find out. See how much truth there is to what they are "selling" and what kinds of choices we might need to make differently in order to better ourselves and our family. We are all about questioning and we are both very EXCITED to see what we uncover. 

Along these same lines we will also be looking into another free kit GET IT! - Global Education To Improve Tomorrow, that we got from a non-government agency Heifer International. We will use this program in the same way - dissect take in and research to make our own discoveries. 

As for the Physical Education and Sports aspects, KM is 95% sure that she wants to continue bowling through the summer and is considering doing a 6 week, 2 day a week intensive camp. We will also be continuing with Hiking, Tennis, Yoga, Basketball, Roller Skating and Ice Skating. She has no interest in taking lessons or playing these competitively - other than against me and some of her friends - but she does enjoy playing and doing them for fun. She has also really liked playing some of the newer dance games she has for the Wii which include Dance Dance Revolution Hottest Party 2  and 3 Just Dance 2, and Dance on Broadway which are a SERIOUS workout! I also got a fab new yoga and pillates workout game for the wii - New U Fitness First Yoga and Pilates - which is the first one that I TRULY LOVE and I think KM is going to enjoy it as well! 

As for the arts we are hoping KM will be able to continue with her incredible theater group. She also is really enjoying the PBS Art 21 Series which she is viewing through Netflix and she is going to be finishing seasons 3, 4 & 5 over the summer. For music she will be continuing her self-learning on the keyboard, strengthening her voice through the use of Voices 2 Go and the many singing games that she loves, and her guitar and band hero ~ you can see our music picks by checking out our curriculum picks page HERE

As for other electives at the moment the only thing she has decided on is to try the Spanish Conversation Demystified, but other than that we are going to wait and see what interests are sparked! FRENCH! After working through several Spanish programs, she has decided to give French a whirl! I have a feeling this is more about working on her accents, but that is fine with me. We have a few random CD-ROM language programs and games that have come with other sets that we have purchased throughout the years and I will probably order French Conversation Demystified with Two Audio CDs if I can't get it on Paperbackswap soon and French DeMYSTiFieD, Second Edition when it becomes available in June.

If you have any free resources or suggestions to add please feel free to leave them in the comment section! 

Apr 27, 2011

Try and Try and TRY until you get it!

I remember reading an article or blog post not so long ago about how much a parent really learns through home educating their children. This was not just about learning facts and figures in books or studying topics, but be aware of things that one thought they were not capable of doing and suddenly they get it. I mention this because over this past week I have had a break through - a momentous break through really!

A few years ago I taught myself to knit. I picked up the needles and book and figured it out really quickly. Shortly after this I tried to crochet, but just could not get it. I tried on several occasions and just could not get past a single chain. A few months later I decided to try to make an edging around a blanket that I made by crocheting and I figured out how to do that because I could identify where the stitches where because I had knit the portion I was now crocheting into. During that same week I tried to crochet a scarf again and just COULD NOT do it! I tried and tried and tried, but couldn't do it. Over the last few years I have picked it up several times to no avail. This past weekend I picked up an easy crochet book and was flipping through it thinking how nice it would be to make these projects. I flipped to a page with a really cute mesh shopping bag and said "Ya, know what I am gonna try again." -----

I can't tell you how many times I have said "I can knit, but I CANNOT crochet!" Well guess what I CAN now! If I had not been persistent and just given up I would never have been able to do it. Instead I kept trying and when it was the "right time" I just got it!

Apr 23, 2011

Things you do to be a Citizen Scientist!

She committed to counting today and she stuck to it!!! For more info on celebrating urban birds see our post here!

Apr 22, 2011

Organization - The Key to Saving

As I have continued to think about the coming years and our plans, I keep finding resources ALL OVER my house that I bought and stowed away! Videos, thematic units, workbooks, flocabulary study guides, reading books, magazines, free kits, kits she received as gifts....the list just goes on and on. As I stumbled upon the Hip-Hop U.S. History: The New and Innovative Approach to Learning American History (Flocabulary Study Guides) this afternoon I felt the urge to post a message... 


Some handy tips to live by - 

  • Pick a location to keep all of your resources and force your self to store them all in one location - ESPECIALLY if it is something you are fairly certain you won't use for awhile.
  • Before you purchase something new check that location to see if you already have it or something very similar to it - I can't tell you how many math workbooks I have gotten and then realized "OH that's why it looked SOOOO familiar!" 
  • Check with your library before you buy to see if they have it, borrow it and then IF you like and you will use it for longer than you can manage to get it checked out for using yours, your spouses, and all your children's library cards then buy it. 
  • Check with a friend to see if they have or have had this resources and what they thought - if they have it are willing to let you borrow it - GO FOR IT!!!
  • Think long and hard about how much time your child is likely to actually spend on a particular topic. Although it is really great to have options TOO many options can be overload and cause the child to run and hide just from the mere thought of having to USE ALL of the resources you have obtained!
  • Check PAPERBACKSWAP!!!! - I have saved thousands of dollars getting guides, living books and textbooks through this site - it is not just for paperbacks!

What tips do you use when organizing resources? 

Apr 20, 2011

Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution - ABC.com

I watched the first season and was astonished at what was going on in the schools, but this season I can't believe that they won't even let him in!!! This is disturbing to me. How on earth can this go on?

I took the pledge to spread the word! The health issues in this country due to the diet of our population is disgusting! The unknowing parents trusting in a system to provide what is best for their children is appalling. 


Schools saying NO BAGGED LUNCHES is for the betterment of the child, WHAT???? People need to be aware of what they are putting into their bodies. They need to know where it is coming from. They need to understand what it is being done to their children. You must break the cycle and rip the blinders off! Schools have taught all of us to NOT question, to FULLY TRUST them, and to BELIEVE they are doing what is BEST for us! IT IS ALL LIES!!! From the food they are putting in to the children to the ridiculous test taking skills they are teaching them. NONE of this is what is BEST for any child!

If you haven't watched yet you can see the full episodes on-line here - Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution - ABC.com  

Celebrate Urban Birds - Great Nature Supplement

This is a great way to become a citizen scientist and help gather research to help scientists better understand birds and their habits! Sign up today!

Apr 19, 2011

Looking Ahead to High School - Part 5

If you missed any previous parts HERE is a quick link to them.

This is the third year that KM has been participating in an incredible theater group that focuses on Shakespearean plays. She has been in Romeo & Juliet, Midsummer Night's Dream and is currently working on Much Ado About Nothing.

The fab director that we are so lucky to be able to work with has reworked the original plays, keeping the original language and pentameter, but making them approachable and suitable for this age group. She has learned so much about the language and of course theater skills, but has now asked to learn about Shakespeare and to read the original scripts, so she will be doing a thematic unit on Shakespeare next year which will include his life, sonnets, Romeo & Juliet, Macbeth, Much Ado About Nothing, Hamlet and Richard III.

We will be utilizing the following resources a free Shakespeare Kit - Shakespeare in American Communities  and the Shakespeare Thematic Unit from Teacher Created Resources as spines for this study. KM really likes and responds well to these interdisciplinary units. We are also planning on watching several versions of each play, other movies that follow the story lines of these plays, and are hopeful that she will be able to continue working with the theater group!

Apr 14, 2011

Looking Ahead to High School - Part 4

If you missed 12, or 3 be sure to check them out!

For History next year we are going with a series by one of our favorite storytellers, Joy Hakim! We completely enjoyed the Story of Science and after all the rave reviews for A History of US we are really looking forward to it. After much discussion we have decided to take two years to do US History, so we are hoping to get through books 1-4 next year and 5-10 the following year. 

In addition to reading these as a spine she will be supplementing with the following resources - 
If you know of any additional resources that might of interest - PLEASE let us know!

Additional Commenter Recommendations -

FREE Books From Scholastic & Kumon - Learn And Earn

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Apr 13, 2011

Soul Surfer - The Inspiring True Story of Bethany Hamilton - In Theaters Now

Sometimes timing is everything! I was just mentioning to KM that we should go see this movie this week and when I went to my computer to look up where it was playing this email was sitting in my inbox so I thought I would share -

Dear Homeschool Leader,

Have you heard of Bethany Hamilton? She's the young surfer who lost her arm when she was attacked by a 14-foot shark.

Amazingly, she was back in the water a month later, and surfing competitively within a few months ... All while bodly living out and sharing her faith in Jesus Christ.

Her inspiring story is now a major motion picture in theaters now and features an all-star cast: AnnaSophia Robb and Helen Hunt, with Carrie Underwood in her film debut, and Dennis Quaid.
Click here to view a clip from Soul Surfer including Bethany's upbringing as a homeschooler.

Please help get the word out!
Buy tickets here!
You can:
"Like" the Facebook page
Visit the Soul Surfer website to sign up for updates and get inside information.
Thank you for supporting family-friendly films and for getting the word out about Soul Surfer!

We went to see it this afternoon and it was an INCREDIBLE story! It was so inspiring to see this 13 year old girl overcome such a horrific situation with a poise and grace far beyond her years. Our family is not religious in anyway, but we are spiritual and to see how this child's faith brought her through was amazing. We were both in tears several times!

Apr 12, 2011

Looking Ahead to High School - Part 3

If you missed 1 or 2 be sure to check them out!

So we had no problem deciding on what KM will be using for her core text for Biology next year - Biology Demystified - she is very excited in trying this series out so that she can direct her learning fully on her own with these self-teaching guides. However we are working out the logistics of it being considered "high school" level if we leave out dissection labs. KM wants nothing to do with dissections, either in real life or virtual dissections with computer animated animals. She doesn't want to watch videos on it or anything. I completely understand and respect her position on it, so we are looking into other ways to get the concepts and ideas that dissections are suppose to be getting across. 

Here is a rather interesting essay/article that we read on the whys of dissection.

I am trying to compile a list of alternative resources and some that I found so far are -

If you have any to add please feel free to add them to the list or email! 

Apr 9, 2011

Looking ahead to High School - Part 2

If you missed part 1 be sure to check it out HERE.

As I continue to think about and discuss with KM what the upcoming years will look like, the biggest thing that she would like to avoid is redundancy. Her biggest pet peeve is repetition and I can totally understand why she would feel that way. If you have already learned something - truly learned it - why on earth would you want to keep going over it again and again and again. I know that there are times when you might forget something and need a refresher to get your brain on track again, but if you actually know it then you don't need to relearn it, you just need to brush up on it.

With this in mind I have been looking at a lot of areas in which things might be repeated and one of the most common areas is language arts, grammar to be specific. Now I have mentioned about a bazillion times in past posts that writing is really a difficult area for us, but when it comes to grammar KM has things down pat. She knows parts of speech, can diagram sentences, knows all the mechanics, and can easily edit other people's work - this really blows my mind since she struggles so much getting her own words down, but hey whatever. So I am thinking that since I have a few more books from the Straight Forward Advanced English Series - that I have stockpiled from Paperbackswap! -  that I will have her take the assessment test, if she passes them with an 85% or higher then I am going to give her credit for completing them, just like you would get on college level entrance tests. If she scores below that we will focus on the areas that she had trouble with and she can retest. This seems like the most logical time efficient course of action.

We actually took this route with Geography for next session. I had planned on having her do a Geography workbook over the summer to brush up on it since we haven't been getting into the map skills as much with Volume 3 & 4 of Story of the World as we had with the earlier volumes. I had gotten The Basic Not Boring World Geography - also through Paperbackswap - and when KM took a look through she said quite confidently "I know this stuff" and I replied "OK, show me." She took the final test at the back of the book and scored a 98%. The only thing that she stumbled on was some landform identifications, but really what is the difference between a bay and a gulf? or a strait and a channel? This showed me that there was no need for her to work through another book, when she knows the information.

I think testing out is going to cut down on a large portion of her academics and will allow her to explore more delight driven areas. Only time will tell how this will work out, but I have high hopes!

Apr 6, 2011

Looking ahead to High School - Part 1

KM is finishing up the tail end of her 8th grade year and I have been thinking a lot about "high school" lately. So many families are putting such a huge emphasis on buckling down and hitting the books through these years, but I am just feeling that is not the route we want to take.

For those of you who know me, I am a researcher. Put a topic on the horizon and I am going to find out everything there is to know about it. I am going to dissect it and view it from every angle. That is just me and the high school topic is no different. I have spent hours upon hours listening to podcasts and webinars and reading book after book about how to homeschool through high school, but as with everything else in our life there is nothing that feels as though it is just going to FIT for us. I don't want to do "school" just because my daughter is at the age she would be entering "high school."

I want the upcoming years to be filled with the same type of delight driven learning and fun activities that they have been. I want to keep her engaged and interested in the topics that we cover and not just cover things because "that is what you do in high school." I want her to still have time to spend with friends, go to the movies, play piano, draw, play video games, and whatever else she wants to do and still learn in a way that she finds intriguing.

I have heard over and over again about all the things that kids NEED to get into a good college, well I am not 100% sure that she wants to go to college. I am not willing to force her into a box set of guidelines in hopes that she will get to where she needs to be, when she can just be now and we can work on a way to get her into college if that is what she wants to do when the time comes.

Another thing that we have been thinking about when it comes to high school and college is her age. When KM started kindergarten we lived in a district that had a cut-off date of Sept. 30th, but our current district's cut-off is Aug 31st, so according to our district she is ahead a year - in all actuality she is all over the place on several different levels, but I don't need to go into that right now. Anyway, when looking at it this way and taking her personality into account we have seriously been thinking about stretching her high school out over 5 years rather than 4. This would allow her to be an older 18 rather than a much younger 17 if she decides to attend college at that age. It would also allow a much more relaxed timeline and more time for her to discover and work on her own passions or to get a job if she wants without the added pressure of heavy academics.

When I mention to people I am thinking of going this route I am often confronted with some rather odd looks and astonished remarks of "what do you mean IF she goes to college?" So many other families with middle schoolers are buckling down and hitting the books as if that is the only option in life. There are so many career paths that do not begin with college, but begin with learning what you are interested in, what you are passionate about, what brings you happiness. I know far too many twenty-something graduates who are doing NOTHING that has to with what they went to school for. They are so far in debt and have no direction in their life because they were hustled through the system and led down the path without having any idea what THEY actually WANTED. They were just told go to college, get a degree and all will be well, but that is not quite so in our world today. More and more companies would rather employees have life experience than college degrees.

I also know many thirty-something career driven people who HATE their jobs. They have degrees and work in the fields that they went to college for, but they hate it! They go to work because they have become accustom to the life that their path has allowed them to have, but they are miserable. I would really like KM to be happy in whatever it is that she chooses to do. I would much rather that she learn about a wide variety of things as they come up in hopes that something will spark an interest enough that she may want to find a career in it, but I would also like her to know enough about other things that if she finds that she isn't happy in the choice that she made that she can switch things up and try something else.

Maybe I am being naive or too wishful, but I really think this is the route we are going to take - five years of relaxed delight directed academics.

I would love to hear others comments or thought on this, so please feel free to share.