Homeschool Show and tell } fractions workbook

I like to open up my homeschool closet to share materials I find helpful in our homeschool journey, it's been a while since I've shared... Of interest to me lately are these nifty Math workbooks by Flashkids.


After a slightly confusing lesson on decimals -for test prep purposes, I went to our local Barnes & Nobles to find some help.  I found these great little flashkids workbooks on fractions, I loved how the workbook walks you through all the ins & outs of fractions in small, incremental steps with lots of practice.  I thought, Eureka! (Ca motto...learning moment, people!) and decided to buy the fractions workbooks and go home and order one on decimals... -which they don't make.  Cue unsmiley face.  I decided to skip that pesky section in the test prep workbook on comparing obscure, tiny decimals...problem solved. :)


So, this handy-dandy fractions activities workbook is small, at a non-threatening 9" x 7" size.  Each page moves you through understanding and using fractions in small non-threatening steps.  It explains what a fraction is, parts of the fraction, comparing sizes, common factors, adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing.  The only flaw might be the monster theme of the book.  I'm pretty picky when my kids are small, but after 2nd grade and up I don't think it would be a problem.  (unless you really don't want that in your house-which is why I am mentioning it, there are monsters, spiders, witches and vampires represented in silly manner).

This particular workbook is labeled 3rd grade - but we are using Math-U-See and my boys will not tackle fractions in that program till next school year, so for me, grade levels are kind of meaningless in Math.

This is a nice, simple workbook series that is great for test prep or introducing new concepts. Thumbs up :)

}I am linking up over at Learning ALL the time's Favorite resource this week. Click over to find some other great learning finds!

Favorite Resource This Week

*disclaimer: a totally spontaneous review of an item I purchased myself.

Science in the homeschool - what to do?

I'm in a quandry, I do not know what to do about Science.  I had a Science program picked out, it was a course completely done on the computer.  Well, we started an English program by the same company, and... it was dry, and I felt like I was dragging the kids through each lesson.  I congratulated  myself for the procrastination that kept me from ordering the Science program, at least I am not out money for it.  But now I have no Science program for my two 6th graders and my 4th grader.  (I prefer to teach this subject to them as a group).

I'm not even sure what my feelings about Science are.  As an adult, I actually enjoy reading Scientific articles -to a point (still love my fiction!)  but for some reason, though I enjoy learning, Science has never really been high on my priorities in homeschool.  It's been hit & miss around here, mostly Science explored by a topic and not usually consistently.  In the young years, natural Science seems to happen around here uh- naturally... We are big on animals and plants around here.

So, mostly Science is not forefront on my mind, when I think "education".  And yet, I do feel strongly about being well-rounded, and I do feel that American children are at a disadvantage compared to other countries- with the dismal educational expectations we have on our students in the areas of Math and Science.  When I think about it, I do think Science is important. (when I think about it....)

So, I am looking around and see programs like Singapore Science- a country where education seems to be happening...not so much here in the U.S. -and I decide to hit the 'buy now' button...but then I read about the books being on the thin side, because Science there (and in other countries) is teacher driven, the Science teacher (with a Science education) is the driving force behind the subject, the books just flesh out what is being taught in the classroom.  So...I'm thinking I won't be the driving force behind the subject, I am not a Science, now I am looking around for something to help me teach real Science. I want it to not waste my time. I want learning to happen and to drive what we do, not just slog through it, filling in the blanks of the question. I want integrated and deep...American PS text books seem to be a mile wide in subjects, 1/2 inch deep and distracting with colorful ADD boxes and graphs. Pretty but little content.  I want to see that Physical Science drives Chemistry, which drives Biology- that it all builds on each.  I don't want to have to buy 9 separate books (student text, workbook, lab book, teacher manual, test answers, etc..gag) and I really like some kind of worksheet to reinforce what we are reading and to reinforce our experiments.

too much to ask for?

Help!  I need something for Science!

I am about to push 'buy now'  for Science 4 kids.

Any other homeschool moms caught between wanting the best program out there - and the reality of what mom will actually get out and teach?

*We have tried Noeo Science - did not like jumping around and the experiments did not work out so well for us.  *Didn't like jumping around with Sonlight Science either.   Did Apologia's Exploring Creation with was enjoyable, but a bit soft and ramble-y.  I really enjoyed Abeka's style of Health readers- a reader and workbook in one book, but their Science is not set up that way.!

So, what does Science look like at your house?  Are you happy with what you do?  Any recommendations? 

our homeschool 2011-2012

Not set in it ever, really?  But, here are our plans for the 2011-2012 homeschool year; known in my head and in certain circles as

The Cliffs of Insanity Day Academy and St. Jenn's School for Exceptional Teens...

Amie age 9, Demi-Sky age 11, Teddy (bonus student) age 11 {together}

Bible: Possessing the Land (5th grade) Positive Action for Christ Curriculum

Sonlight History Core D  intro to American History (was called Core 3) [History, Geography and literature]

Wordly Wise (vocabulary)                                  Abeka cursive handwriting

Writing with Ease 2 by Susan Wise Bauer

R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey Chemistry level 1- Pandia Press

outside art class - 1 semester

Sonlight Curriculum


Amie age 9 {her own studies}

*Math: Math-U-See Gamma level     *Horizons Math  *Mad Dog Math (multiplication)

MCT Grammar Island , Sentence Island, Practice Island, Music of the Spheres (poetry) etc.

Fiction reading cards-teacher created resources

Irish Dance class, Piano, art class

Demi age 11 {his studies}

*Math: Math-U-See Delta Level               *Horizons Math

*The Harry Potter Series -outloud w/mom    *The Mysterious Benedict Society w/mom

Fiction reading cards-teacher created resources

*Chinese -Rosetta Stone

martial arts, piano, art class                           MCT Grammar Island, Sentence Island, etc.

Teddy age 11 (auditory processing disorder, etc.) {his studies}

*Math: Math-U-See Delta Level                     *Horizons Math  * Mad Dog Math (multiplication)

Fiction reading cards-teacher created resources

various reading books, phonics games        Linda Mood Bell phonics workbooks w/tutor

MCT Language arts (Grammar Island, etc)    *modern dance  *art class

Josie age 14 Freshman, High school

Bible: Route 66-travel through the Bible (middle school) Positive Action for Christ Curriculum

Math: Math-U-See -Algebra I      Switched on Schoolhouse H.S. English  (minus essay assignments)

Switched on Schoolhouse HS Earth Science

Intro to Composition: Biola Star Program

Teaching Writing: Structure and Style Seminar Workbook Institute for Excellence in Writing Portable Wall Institute for Excellence in Writing Word Web Vocabulary Workbook Vol. 1 Sage Education Enterprises, Inc. 1692927004 The Witch of Blackbird Pond  by Elizabeth Speare Yearling 978-0440495963 Johnny Tremain  by Esther Forbes  Yearling 978-0440942504 True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle  by Avi Harper Collins College Division 978-0380714759 The Hiding Place  by Corrie Ten Boom Bantam Books 978-0553256697 Miracle Worker  by William Gibson Scribner 978-1416590842 Across Five Aprils  by Irene Hunt

Fencing, Piano studies, Art

Meg age 16 High School Junior

Bible: Positive Action for Christ (high school) *haven't decided which book yet

Math-U-See Algebra II                                                     Rosetta Stone Russian

Biola Star Program:Biology

Biology: God's Living Creation, Student Text, 3rd Edition A Beka Catalog number 92878 Biology: Field/Laboratory Manual, 3rd Edition A Beka Catalog number 92932 Biology: God's Living Creation, Student Test Book, 3rd Edition A Beka Catalog number 163457 Biology: God's Living Creation, Student Quiz Book, 3rd Edition A Beka

Biola Star program: Torrey Academy

The Inklings class:  (English composition/Literature/Humanities)

Brief Wadsworth Handbook, 6th Edition, 09 MLA Update Wadsworth Publishing 978-0495797524 How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth Gordon D. Fee & Douglas Stuart 978-0310246046 Genesis (ESV) (any publisher) --------------- Mere Christianity C. S. Lewis 978-0060652920 The Great Divorce C. S. Lewis 978-0060652951 Descent Into Hell Charles Williams 978-0802812209 Orthodoxy G.K. Chesterton 978-0385015363 The Weight of Glory† C. S. Lewis 978-0060653200 Letters to a Diminished Church† Dorothy L. Sayers 978-0849945267 The Inklings Coursepack, 2011 Edition Torrey Academy ** The Abolition of Man C. S. Lewis 978-0060652944 That Hideous Strength C. S. Lewis 978-0743234924 The Gospel of John (ESV) (any publisher) --------------- Gaudy Night* Dorothy L. Sayers 978-0061043499 Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retold C. S. Lewis 978-0156904360 A Severe Mercy Sheldon Vanauken 978-0060688240 Lord of the Rings  J. R. R. Tolkien 978-0618640157 How to Read a Book Mortimer Adler & Charles Van Doren 978-0671212094

Irish dance, horse care/riding, Violin studies

 Not Back to School Blog Hop

Mad Dog Math - our Summer of Math begins

Today was our 1st day of Summer homeschool.  Teddy was out for a week vacationing with his grandparents, so we took the week off, also.  Now that he is back, I started in on my Summer plans for learning.  First up:  Mad Dog Math.  This is a program for learning your Math facts.  We are working through the multiplication/division series, but an addition/subtraction series is also available.

I purchased the homeschool binder edition.  Also available is a homeschool computer program and then a School program- both binder and computer.  I kind of like paper and pens ;)

I set myself up for some angst when I first brought it home- and kept putting off opening it till I had a chunk of free time to sit and read through the instructions and time for photocopying the drills.   

Sheepish admission here...when I did pop it open (late at night during an asthma breathing machine episode for Demi..I figured, hey, I'm awake...!) I realized that no prep work/time/reading was needed.  I was happily disabused of that notion.  I didn't really need to make copies, either- the drills are intended to be worked with handy wipe- off protectors and a dry erase pen. :)

Today was our first day.  We spent the morning reviewing our 2 times tables, using the flashcards that came with the program and then I had the kids write them out a few times, and we chanted them.

Next came the timed drill.  Demi and Teddy made the 2 minute club, Amie had a bit of trouble, so she will be working with me tonight on them and then doing a slightly different 2 times drill tomorrow.

Tuesday, the kids will move on to the 2 division facts.

Summer of Math, Math, Math...

 A Full review coming soon after we have used the program a few weeks, promise!

*disclaimer: I purchased Mad Dog Math at a discount in exchange for my honest review here  -keeping it all so real and legal, blog friends ;)

homeschool soup

So much of what I do is pieced together.  I would love to be able to say that we've used such-n-such curriculum for so many years.  I'd love the safe feeling of having one curriculum to fulfill all our needs; one program to follow year after year-insuring no learning gaps.

I'd love to be that together.  Okay, I'd love to seem that together.  But I'm not. {obviously}

What I am, it seems, is eclectic.  And meandering.
And rambling. 

I was contemplating the other day on how my homeschool life seems to be one of making homeschool soup.  We use a bit of this, a bit of that,  the recipe this year might taste great, but next year I will change it up a bit.

We just started using Writing With Ease by Susan Wise Bauer for writing with the 3 Littles and for Josie.  This is week 2 and I'm loving it, still.  That 's a good sign, right?

I love the philosophy behind her method, I love that she is a college writing professor, beside homeschool mom- and that she obviously knows what she is writing about.  I love that the directions are in the front of the book, and I can tear out worksheets at the back.  -remember my worksheet lust?

A review will be forthcoming, after I've used it a few weeks, promise. :)

Here are a few other stand-outs in our years of making homeschool soup:

  • Five in a Row.  -gentle.  If you are starting out with littles, I encourage you- do this, a smidgen of Math and that is all!

  • Headsprout phonics -online!  Because I am too tired/bored to teach phonics. again. -and my boys won't sit still.

  • Growing with Grammar - I was a diagramming fool in Jr. High. Diagramming makes me happy and squishy inside. -nerd much??

  • Math U See.  the lesson each week is on video.  Each week is predictable, we do a page a day and then a test. :)

  • Sonlight.  -this has made homeschooling my elders much simpler. I love the books.  The lack of worksheets brings me seriously down, tho.  -I tweak, I stir, it comes out good...

**give it a stir...

{soup's on!}
What are some of your very favorite materials? 

The Odyssey of Homer-several different approaches

We have been studying The Odyssey for the past few weeks. Tapestry of Grace had a book about Troy scheduled for the lower grammar students (my youngest 3 ) and a portion of Story of the World Vol. 1.
Josie and Meg were assigned first, Black Ships before Troy, and then The Wanderings of Odysseus. Meg so enjoyed these that she asked to read the original Odyssey, so I ordered the Norton Anthology scheduled in TOG for rhetoric students.

So, those were the assignments from TOG, but then I had to include this;
The Adventures of Odysseus by Barefoot books. It is a simplified, but poetic retelling of
The Odyssey for children.

and the artwork is wonderful, beautiful, inspiring, artistic...I could go on and on about this book.
(actually, I already did so, read my review *here)

..and then, I found this Wishbone episode, "Homer sweet Homer" at the library. Unfortunately, Netflix did not carry this one, but one of our library branches did.

The kids loved it. I have to say that the attention to detail in this show was pretty impressive, right down to the bed carved out of a massive tree. Raise your hand, who can tell me about the symbolism with the bed? Anyone, anyone?...Bueller?

The actors were really good, too.
Unfortunately, when we came upon the very stirring scene of Odysseus revealing who he is to his son, Telemachus-who he hasn't seen in like 19 years...

-having the big, strong actor playing Telemachus turn very emotionally towards Wishbone the dog- calling out, "Father!" ...was just too much for my young audience. They shouted with laughter.

And I had to pause it, because we had all lost our concentration, we were laughing so long and hard. And then I had to rewind and play it again. And we laughed some more. It was a vicious cycle... and then we had to replay it yet again, because it was such a good laugh...

Okay, and then I found this book for Demi, it is part of a graphic novel series. What young boy wouldn't gobble these up? (We own 3 of these, and the Beowulf was stellar!)
And then, someone stop me!...I also found Mary Pope Osborne's Tales from the Odyssey, which includes 6 unabridged books, an audio collection...

It's becoming glaringly clear why I cannot get through 1 week in TOG in one week, isn't it?

I can't resist adding on books. I love the hunt.

We are going to have to move on this week. Meg will have to finish The Odyssey on her own. This includes mom, too. I have to pre-read ahead of her...sobbing/Sabine women and all (quick, name that movie!..okay, wrong ancient civilization, but you know what I mean...)

Last parting thought,

Extra-curricular activities around here include building a better hen-trap. This one was supposed to be self-activating.

a good path

The Sonlight catalog proudly proclaims, "The way you wish you'd been taught. Guaranteed." I have to admit, when I browse through the listings of books in the catalog- I would have loved to be schooled this way. I am a book lover, and listed in the catalog, beside great history reads, I spy many favorites from my childhood.

This claim kept running through my mind as I weighed my options for homeschooling next year. While I have enjoyed the history program we are using-and my first aim in looking elsewhere was not a lack in the program, but a lack on my part in getting through the material at a respectable pace...I had to admit upon reflection, that my kids don't beg me to keep reading a history read aloud, and I don't have to lock up the books lest they devour them ahead of schedule. A big part of the lure of Sonlight for me, were the daydreams of children begging for one more chapter, begging to start school early, and having the dilemma of whether to put away the literature out of the kid's reach- because they would read them all ahead of schedule-or to just let them have at it.

The first week into our Sonlight language arts 2 adventure, I had one of 'those' moments..I could not find our reader for the day, "The beginner's Bible"...and I found it in Demi-Sky's bed, where he had taken it the night before to read.

The first day into our second week, I sat down to do some 'catch up' reading with Amie. She is able to read the book, but is tiring quickly. I let her quit the readings early, and so we were a few behind. She read out-loud for a respectable amount of time, and I bookmarked the page, ready to let her go. She begged to keep reading and finish the chapter. And then, she begged to keep reading and read 2 more chapters.

Demi is enjoying the extra, "intermediate" readers he is reading, along with the regular reader's schedule.

I think we are unto something.