Saturday, April 18, 2009

Something New.

Last night, for the first time ever...I went scrapbooking!!! I won't lie that I was completely overwhelmed when I first got there. I mean, these ladies know what they are doing. They are organized, have tons of supplies, and they get to work!! Of course, I was a bit intimidated because as a newbie, I came to the session with only some vacation pictures and a scrapbook kit I purchased earlier in the day.

So after having a snack and watching others, I began working on my own book. First, I want to say "THANKS!!" to my good friend, Katie. She helped me get things together and looking at her scrapbook really helped me focus.

By the end of the night I completed 4 pages!!! I'm so excited and I had a really great time! I kept thinking, "I can totally get into this!" And not only that, but I kept thinking of how I can completely incorporate scrapbooking into homeschooling...especially with our notebooking on history, lapbooking, and nature journals. The possibilities are endless!!

Anyways, thanks to all my awesome friends who helped me tread into new waters.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

School Room Organizing.

Ok. I'll admit that I'm slower than I would like to be when it comes to reorganizing my school room. And there really isn't so much to reorganize!! At this point it is mainly keeping it tidy. I have purged all the books that we don't need, changed our map, organized the bookshelves, and properly labeled our bins. My rolling printer cart has also been cleaned and purged of unnecessary papers and supplies.

So what's been the delay in my picture posting? Oh...mostly having 4 kids running around and actually working in the room!! But I finally have put the pencils away. The crayons and colored pens are no longer spread across the table, the book bin is actually holding our reading books (as opposed to them lying on the floor!), and my desk is somewhat presentable.

After much delay, I present our school room once again!! As you can see, it has changed very little!!

You can see our centers hanging on the far wall.


I removed a flip chart and our curtains. The room looks bigger now!


My bookcases are finally organized, along with the bins above them. You can see our brown, leather book bin next to the bookcase on the floor.


This wall now has our liturgical calendar as well as the map of the world. The other wall is now our word wall.

So yes, our school room is organized for another year...or semester...or summer! Oh, the joys!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Good Books. Alice in Wonderland.

We are continuing with our "Good Books" list and have finally come to reading Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. This was one of my favorite books as a child and I still have many of the poetry from the book memorized! I'm hoping that the kids will like it as much as I did.

Although I provide a link to Amazon under our First Grade Reading List on the left. I decided to go with the Junior Library's version that is illustrated by John Tenniel. You can find it on Amazon.com here.

I'm having the kids color some of the illustrations from the book as well. I found these on the Project Gutenberg website and I think they are wonderful! They are not copyrighted, so you are free to print them out freely, copy them, pass them out...whatever!

Easy to print out illustrations can also be found here.

If you want to read this great book and not stop at just the reading...here are several websites that will help you make whole lessons out of the book! I'm planning on using them as well.

Alice in Wonderland-An Interactive Adventure!
An audio version of Alice in Wonderland.
The Poems in Alice in Wonderland.

Happy Reading!!!!

**Also note that there is an Alice in Wonderland movie coming out in March of 2010 directed by Tim Burton (one of my favorites!). It will star, unsurprisingly, Johnny Depp!!

Let's Just Cancel Math!

Using Saxon Math has been great for us. I really like the layout and that it uses a spiral approach. Lately, however, I have found that I just want the kids to solidify their basic math facts so that they become second nature. I don't want much thinking to go into it...just spit out the answer!

Although Marco is doing well with his math facts, I want him to improve on recognition and speed. We do the timed portions from the book, but I really would like more of that same kind of practice. Isabella, on the other hand, is still working on doubles and only has half of them down. I would blame this partially on myself, since I haven't put too heavy a focus on it. She is after all, a preschooler.

But as the end of the year approaches, I really want the kids to be solid in math. So I have searched high and low for a supplement that will help them in recalling math facts. I came across several and finally decided on Calculadders. It seems like their program is what I was looking for...a daily dose of math problems that would make recalling math facts as automatic as breathing!

My only problem after purchasing and receiving their Master Pak CD, is that they don't progress through math facts in the same order as is presented in Saxon Math. This is actually not a problem for Marco, who is completing Saxon Math 2. But this is a problem for Isabella, who is in the midst of Saxon Math 1 (she hasn't come across all the math facts yet). So begins the hunt for math worksheets that will supplement the order of Saxon. Was I successful? A big fat...NO!

So I have spent an hour of my time creating my own math worksheets...starting with the doubles. So far it is exactly what I need for my budding mathematician. While Marco is beginning his daily dose of Calculadder's "Learning Vitamins," Isabella is working on her own Mommy-created math worksheets. I plan on keeping this up, especially with Isabella, until I feel satisfied with their speed.

I am posting the following links to two math fact worksheets I created. They offer only doubles math facts practice.

Doubles Math Facts Practice Sheet (This has only 25 problems)
Super Doubles Math Facts Practice Sheet (This has a whopping 70 problems on it)

I'll make sure to post more if I need to create them!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Sick.

I hope everyone had a great Easter!! We are currently recovering from a cold, which explains why I've been away. I'm hoping to start feeling better with the next coming days. I have many pictures to post and updates to give!

Enjoy the wonderful Easter season!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Memorization.

I know that memorization is an important factor in the whole classical homeschooling technique. Well, not even in the classical education sphere, but also for other educational styles such as Charlotte Mason. Unfortunately, I stopped requiring memorization of material for the kids last year. Meaning that we only did memorization during Marco's kindergarten year.

Perhaps I can defend taking this year off by saying that we were doing memorization. There have been math facts, new phonics rules, sights words, etc. But I do realize that nothing can replace the benefits of memorizing poetry or prayers. So with all that being said, I have finally chosen what we will be working on in terms of memorization.

I found the neatest website that helped me develop my own memorization system. It is based on Charlotte Mason's technique and I have a feeling that it will work wonderfully because it is neither time consuming nor cumbersome. The system is from Simply Charlotte Mason and it is a scripture memory system. However, you can pretty much use it for anything from scripture to poetry. It only requires a few supplies. Index cards, a box for the cards, and dividers.

I can detail the steps to organizing the system here, but I think that the website is done extremely well and is easy to follow.

What are we putting in our memorization system? Well, after much thought I decided that we needed to start off with two different systems. The first will be all religion. We have been reading from The New Saint Joseph Baltimore Catechism, but now we would like the kids to begin memorizing the questions and answers found in the book. Not only will this memory system include the Baltimore Catechism, but it will also include prayers, and perhaps scripture. The more we memorize, the more we can add!!

Another good way to use the memory system is to use it for poetry. I have a few selections in mind, but haven't finished writing them all down. Since you only review things for a few minutes each day, I'm thinking of scheduling them into our day. Religion memorization in the morning and bedtime. Poetry before lunch and dinner. I'm not concerned with memorizing things quickly, so no rush and no pressure.

I'm posting pictures of our religion memorization box, so you can see how easy it is to make your own!!


A simple index card holder, properly labeled.


Dividers labeled according to the instructions.


Our index cards ready to be filed!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Holy Week.

This week we are wrapping up our Lent Lapbook study. Actually, we are doing most of the work for the lapbook this week (the actual putting together of it). Last night, we made our Holy Week book and it was incredibly moving. Today we'll be finishing off our Stations of the Cross and reading some stories about the miracles of Jesus.

In the end, our lapbook is going to very simple. I didn't dedicate as much time to it as I would have liked, but the kids still learned in a fun way.

Here are a couple of links that we used during Lent.

  • For our Holy Week book, we went here and printed out the story of Holy Week.
  • Catholic Mom offered lots of our activities including Mosaic Crosses, Stations of the Cross, and prayers.
  • There are some coloring pages at this website, which I used during our reading times.
If you want to spend the rest of Holy Week making your own Lenten Lapbook, you can visit my old post for ideas on what to include.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Still Organizing and Planning!

Today is day 3 of reorganizing our school room. I must admit that I took LOTS of time off from this over the weekend, mostly due to the birthday of a little boy! But I did get to accomplish the task of organizing the books, bins, and bookcase drawers. For the most part, I only have to organize our printing area and rolling cart shelves.

I also plan on updating our map wall. We currently only have the US map showing, but I'll be switching to a world map. This will accompany our Liturgical Calendar poster as well. I was afraid of over-cluttering this particular wall, but it is the only space I have and the kids don't seem to notice (unless I'm pointing something out!).

Removed from our school room is our flip chart, extra chairs, piano, and mail organizer (this was such an eye sore!!). I am also moving our activity bins to a cabinet in the living room, but this is only to keep them out of sight...the younger kids tend to take them out when they are not supposed to. Having them in the living room won't make things any more difficult on me either, as there is a small play space by the cabinet. I tend to send the young kids there to play during school anyways, so it makes more sense to have their bins there.

As for the planning part of our organizational overhaul...I'm working on creating new binders for school work. These will be tested out as recommended by TWTM book. This would mean that we would have a binder for all the subjects. This includes spelling, grammar, history, writing, reading, science, and math. Since some of these subjects are done in a workbook, I will be omitting them for the time being (currently this includes spelling and grammar). I plan on keeping these binders through the grades and just adding dividers to separate the years. This would mean that our history binder would have tabs to divide ancient history, medieval/early renaissance history, late renaissance/early modern, and modern. This will all be trial and error, of course, so we'll see if it really works out for us!

In the mean time, I hope you hang tight as I work hard at accomplishing this monstrous task before me! Pictures will soon accompany the results!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Happy Birthday Marco!!

Today, my first born turned 7 years old!! It was an amazing day for everyone as we reminisced about how we first found out we were pregnant with this little miracle, to how fast he has grown!

Of course, the day that was supposed to originally include a birthday party got completely revamped to some bumps along the road. But Marco still had a great day!

  • Marco was up at the crack of dawn, showered, and dressed for church.
  • Dad eventually made it home and brought the birthday boy some donuts. This replaced the birthday cake!
  • After our morning together, Marco made a special trip with his Dad to the hospital to check out his office and lab.
  • We then had lunch together, followed by a trip to the movie theater to see Monsters vs. Aliens.
  • It was then time for a birthday gift from Dad...the Monsters vs. Aliens Nintendo DS game.
  • With so much outdoor play time squeezed into the day, it was time for dinner. We headed to the restaurant and finally made it home in time for bedtime!!
  • Mom never wants to be left behind in gift giving (birthdays are so special, after all!!) and I gave Marco his birthday gift from me! An Eye Clops magnifying toy!!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MARCO!!! WE LOVE YOU!!!!













Saturday, April 4, 2009

Organizing our School.

So every few months or so, I revisit The Well Trained Mind. Not because I forget what it says or recommends, but because it motivates me. It is, after all, the book that finally convinced me and my hubby to homeschool our kids.

This week has been my Well Trained Mind week. I've been re-reading, re-evaluating, etc. Even my hubby sits by as I read him excerpts from the book. This is greatly reassuring to me since I know he is supportive of me teaching the children 100%; and that makes such a big difference. I know that I don't have convince him of all the wonderful benefits of homeschooling or why it's best for us. He knows. BUT...he also wants results. Results that can be seen in our kids' behavior, attitudes, and most importantly...academic achievement.

Because TWTM gives you tips on organizing school work, it got me thinking that my school room has to be in order first. So, today I decided that it's time to reorganize our school room and learning areas. Because the little kids tend to get rowdy during certain times, we created 2 additional learning areas in the house. These are great for independent work and for one on one. Besides the school room, which holds the majority of our supplies, we have added the new study spaces on the second floor of our house. A table is now in our bedroom and another school table in the alcove. We also moved a cubby upstairs which will hold some additional supplies and books.

In our school room (you can see pictures here), we currently have all our homeschool books. Unfortunately, this includes books we are not currently using, activities that aren't needed frequently, empty binders, etc. All this has caused LOTS of clutter!! So my new goal for the weekend (perhaps I should make it for the week!), will be to declutter our school room and move all our unneccessary supplies and books downstairs to our playroom/supply room/school extension room. I'm hoping this will make life a little easier for everyone.

I will most definitely post updated pictures once my project is done. Why do I bother? Because I myself love looking at how other homeschoolers organize their homes and especially their school rooms!! I just want to satisfy anyone's curiosity too!

I'm off to organize!

Holy Family Homeschool Enrichment of the Triad is Open for Enrollment!

Holy Family Homeschool Enrichment of the Triad is officially open for enrollment! I am extremely excited as we had an awesome spring semester. We are currently in planning mode for the fall 2009 semester with our first planning meeting scheduled for mid-May.

Anyone can access information about this wonderful Catholic co-op at www.holyfamilyhomeschoolenrichment.com. We currently serve families in the North Carolina Piedmont Triad Area. This includes Winston-Salem, Clemmons, Lewisville, Kernersville, Advance, Greensboro, High Point, Mocksville, Salisbury, and surrounding communities. Being centrally located in Forsyth county is a huge advantage for those who don't want to travel too far.

We currently teach classes ranging from preschool to elementary school, but plan to include a middle school group this upcoming semester as well. With a fully stocked nursery, babies and toddlers have their own space to crawl and play. Recess and play time are enjoyed in the playground, while lunch can be had in the nearby shelter if weather permits.

Our scheduled day begins at 9am with Rosary in the chapel. Students then go into their assigned classrooms and rotate through different classes as needed. The entire group reconvenes for the praying of the Angelus before lunch time. With recess and playtime following soon after lunch, kids are then returned to their classrooms to complete the remainder of the day.

This co-op is a blessing to the Catholic homeschool community and I'm excited to be a part of it!


Babies and toddlers enjoying the nursery.



The preschool class has lots of hands-on fun!



Students working on their projects for Catholic Arts & Crafts.



Having fun in the sandbox!



A student posing for the camera out in the playground.



A visit with Our Lady.



Moms chit-chat during recess.



Diligently working during class time.


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Rainy Day.

It's been a bit rainy and I usually send the kids out anyways. But today I didn't feel like cleaning muddy boots or shaking off wet rain coats, so I kept the kids inside and made them some home-made play dough. Since Christian would not want to be left behind in shaping and playing with dough, I made a kid friendly (as in it's ok if they eat it!!) dough. And yes...Christian DID eat a bunch of it!

Here is the recipe:

Oatmeal Clay
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup water
1 cup oatmeal

Mix everything together. It the dough is too sticky, keep adding flour. I tripled this "recipe" to make enough for all the kids. You can also add food coloring into the mixture to make it more fun!

Mixing, patting, and playing.



Isabella makes a taco.


Marco making pizza and tossing it up in the air.


This is before the eating of the dough.


Anthony worked hard at making it nice and flat.