31 May 2010


Motivation is a very relevant subject as a home educator.  Sometimes it can be more than a little difficult to keep our kids motivated in their studies.  We don't always have the external motivators (be they good or bad) that kids in traditional classrooms have such as peer pressure, public praise, report cards, or maybe even a set bell schedule.  This video is fascinating and definitely has some interesting implications that could easily be transfered to a homeschool setting.

Do you have problems keeping your kids motivated?  What motivates your kids?

28 May 2010


we are celebrating the end of our second year of homeschooling! 

Whether you are at the beginning, middle or end of your homeschool year, I pray you can rejoice and be satisfied in your labors! 

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

Colossians 3:23-24

27 May 2010


When I first heard about the kid's membership at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art I was very excited, but a little skeptical.  Free trips to the museum as long as my kids were under 18?  It sounded too good to be true! 

We recently made our first trip using our Nexgen membership cards and I can't stress enough how great LACMA's Nexgen program is! I highly recommend that anyone in the Southern California area take advantage of this free museum membership for kids.  In addition to one free adult admission with your Nexgen kid, there is a children's art gallery, where kids can create their own art. Free art totes and children's audio tours are available to check out as well. We hope to check these out on our next visit. This time we were too busy exploring!

On our recent trip, we went on a scavenger hunt to find the artists we studied this year.  We were able to see work from three of them:  Miro, Mondrian, and Klee.  My kids love to sketch at art museums.  It's a great way to make the experience a little more hands-on and lets kids practice their art skills just like real artists.

Homeschool Day at LACMA is May 27th.  Sounds like a fun end of the year field trip!

24 May 2010

Story of the World: Volume 1: The Ancients

Curriculum Choice Homeschool Review Blog
I am very excited to announce that I am now a contributing writer over at The Curriculum Choice!  I recently reviewed the first volume of Story of the Worldwhich is now posted here.  If you're considering this curriculum, head on over to see what I have to say about it!
The Curriculum Choice is a great place to get reviews on lots of different curriculum.  If you've never been there, go check it out!

Paul Klee Resources

Although they weren't very plentiful, here's what we did during our study of Paul Klee.

We had four of Klee's works on our art wall:

Miss Julie helped us create a Klee castle.

This project, a one-line drawing, came from Discovering Great Artists.

The real highlight of our Klee study was going to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and seeing some of his work in person.  To go to a real museum and see real art from a real artist that you've studied truly brings art education to another level and brings an excitement that little else can compare to.

20 May 2010

Reading Independence & Booklists

Gracie will be in second grade this fall, and most of the reading we've done has been together.  I want to start fostering some independence in her for next school year by assigning a book each month and completing a related project.

So why am I doing this?

1.  To make her an independent learner.
2.  To guide her reading selection. 
3.  To teach her responsibility.
4.  It's something she is excited to do.

What will she read?

I'm still narrowing it down.  I want to preview each book to make sure it will be a good fit and doesn't have any surprises!  The books that she doesn't have assigned as independent reading will still probably find their from the library to our mantel.

Middle Ages Literature
(aligned with chapters of Story of the World Vol. 2)

The Sword in the Tree (2)
Marguerite Makes a Book (3,11)
Viking Adventure (14)
Minstrel In The Tower (16)
A Medieval Feast (16)
Castle Diary: The Journal of Tobias Burgess (16, 19)
The Making of a Knight: How Sir James Earned His Armor (17)
The Door in the Wall (19)
Joan of Arc (26)
Columbus (31)
Leonardo Davinci (35)
Leonardo and the Flying Boy (35)
Good Queen Bess : The Story of Elizabeth I of England (38,42)
William Shakespeare & the Globe (39)
Pirates (Reading Railroad) (42)

Earth Science Literature
(aligned with R.E.A.L. Science- Life)

The Cloud Book
A Drop Of Water
Water Dance
Earth's Surface
Hill of Fire
The Magic School Bus Blows Its Top: A Book About Volcanoes
How to Dig a Hole to the Other Side of the World
Rocks & Minerals
Rocks in His Head
Rocks: Hard, Soft, Smooth, and Rough
Solar System
Starry Messenger: Galileo Galilei
Footprints on the Moon
If You Decide To Go To The Moon

I love finding relevant booklists, so I hope this is helpful.  I will post the finalized list as I make my way through previewing these books.  Anything you would add?

17 May 2010

Homeschool Chic with Books

I love books.


I have a library card.  My daughter has a library card.  The limit on each card is 30 books.  There are times when we can't check any more books out.

Do you realize what that means?

I love books.

I also have a two-year old. 

He also loves books, but he loves books in a different way than I do.  He loves to walk on them and throw them, and sometimes lick them.  Why else do they put pictures of food in books?  He's learning.  But I still don't necessarily trust him around 60 a lot of library books.

Many of the books we borrow are specifically for "school" so I want them to visible and accessible rather than shoved away in a drawer, protected, but unused.

My solution to this dilemma will never make it into Better Homes and Garden or the Decorating Hall of Fame.  I use my fireplace mantel as a book display.  It keeps the books up and inaccessible to a 2-year old, but visible, accessible,and even appealing for a 6-year old and sometimes a 4-year old.

And really, is decorating with books so bad?

13 May 2010

Curriculum review 2009-2010

We're just a few short weeks away from the end of our school year, so now seems like a good to time to look back on the first grade curriculum we've used this year.

 First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind (Vol. Level 1) (First Language Lessons)

This definitely was a slow book.  I was forewarned of this in several reviews I read.  I think it helps being prepared for something that could be an annoying flaw.  We weren't in a rush, so it suited us just fine.  I adapted it by skipping some of the lessons that seemed overly repetitive, and replaced a few of the poems for memorization with poems by the poet we were studying at that time.

Verdict:  We'll be completing the second grade portion of this book next year.

Explode the Code 3 through Explode the Code/Book Six

I must admit, I have very neutral feelings about this curriculum.  my daughter is a strong reader, so I have her do a few pages out of each lesson more out of a sense of obligation than anything else.  I do want her to know the rules of phonics, and this curriculum has been a success.  Book 4 did take a strange detour away from word families and vowel sounds and spent a good chunk of time on syllabication.  My daughter wasn't quite ready for that, so we'll revisit Book 4 next year.

Verdict:  Only 2 more books left (plus Book 4).  Hopefully we'll cruise through these fairly quickly to make room for another subject.

Math 1: Homeschool Kit (Homeschool Math Grade 1) & Math 2: Home Study Kit (Homeschool Math Grade 2)

We took our time with Saxon K last year and built a really strong foundation of  math concepts, so we were able to finish Saxon 1 a few months ago and get started with Saxon 2.  (Don't you love the freedom of being a homeschooler?)  The more I use this curriculum, the more I like it.  I can see how they very gently introduce concepts, often using manipulatives, so they will be ready for them. For example, we've been exchanging dimes for pennies not just to learn the value of money, but in preparation for borrowing and carrying in multi-digit operations. 

Verdict:  We'll finish Saxon 2 next year.

Daily Word Problems, Grade 1 Math

This has been a great supplement to Saxon.  I originally ordered it because I had heard Saxon was rather weak on problem solving.  So far, I haven't seen that.  This is a fun book anyway and provides plenty of opportunity to think through some tough problems.

Verdict: I ordered Daily Word Problems, Grade 2 for next year.

Calvary Chapel Bible Curriculum

This has been a great to read through the Bible in a kid-friendly way, skipping all those non-PG stories (ahem, Bathsheba) and questions I'm not quite ready for.  We're on 2 Kings and just over 100 lessons.  Oh, and did mention it's fee?  Be still my heart.

Verdict:   Sticking with it.

R.E.A.L. Science- Life

This was a really great book.  I absolutely love the recommended literature lists.  They are a huge time-saver!  It is so packed with activities and experiments, that I doubt that we even made it to half of them.  And because of this book, we now have a fish.  (Be forewarned!)

Verdict:  We already have R.E.A.L. Science-Earth & Space on our bookshelf, ready to go.

Social Studies:

The Story of the World: History for the Classical Child: Volume 1

We had so much fun with this!  I found myself on the learning end more often than not.  I have very little recollection of learning ancient history as a student.  (Thank you, public schools!)  The most ringing endorsement I have is that history is now my daughter's favorite subject. 

Verdict:  I'm already reading The Story of the World, Volume 2.  Vikings, Samurai, and Knights, oh my!  It's going to be a fun year.

So there you have it. There's a lot not included in this list, but these are the biggies.   Have you noticed that it takes a lot for me to change curriculum?  A person could spend a lot of time acclimating to a new curriculum series every year.  It seems wiser to me to just adapt what you already have. I did make some changes over the summer when I compared this list to the preview for first grade that I wrote last spring.

So how did your school year go?  Are sticking with the tried and true?  Are you getting rid of any stinkers?  I'd love to hear about it!