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Homeschool 2013-2014

2013-2014 Homeschool Year at Cliffs of Insanity Day Academy:

{Teddy, my bonus student, went back to public school last school year.  Meg graduated and is attending her first year of college. (Yes, I homeschooled her all the way, K-12)  Josie auditioned for a performing arts high school (charter school) and will be there for 11th grade and 12th grade (unless she decides to come home, but she loves it so far).  This year, we are down to two students; Demi-Sky is in 8th grade this year, and Amie is in 6th grade.}  Here is a list of our studies and books we are using;

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Amie 6th grade

Math Mammoth light blue series     Aleks Math (online)           Piano lessons        Parkour classes (p.e.)

Science:  Aha Science -online, and a few Science 2 U classes (monthly themed classes)    Literature: independent reading

Test Prep: Buckle-Down Language Arts 6

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Demi-Sky 8th Grade

Math: Teaching Textbooks         Aleks Math (online)           Piano lessons      Lacrosse team (p.e.)

English: Intermediate Composition 8 with Biola Star (once a week class with a great syllabus):

*Teaching Writing: Structure and Style Seminar Workbook Institute for Excellence in Writing 978-0984099092
*Student Resource Notebook Pages IEW   *Word Web Vocabulary Workbook Vol. 1 Sage Education Enterprises, Inc.
The Witch of Blackbird Pond, by Elizabeth Speare
Johnny Tremain, by Esther Forbes
True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, by Avi
The Hiding Place, by Corrie Ten Boom
Miracle Worker, by William Gibson
Across Five Aprils, by Irene Hunt

Latin:  online Latin Class with Biola Star (twice a week)

*The Latin Road to English Grammar vol. 1 & 2

Oak Meadow Science 5                   Buckle Down Science Standards Review 8                Independent reading

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Together-Amie & Demi:

Veritas Press self-paced History: Explorers to 1850 (online)

Shurley English 4

Bible:  Who is God? -Apologia Worldview series

private art lessons

to get to 2nd semester, hopefully:

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Memoria Press First Form Latin set with dvds

Grammar of Poetry IEW

Fallacy Detective

The Ode less traveled; tackling the poet within -Stephen Fry

Philosophy for Kids

Logic of English: spelling (for Amie)

 

 

 

 

 

After-schooling with Josie -

Who is God apologia Worldview (independently and by discussion)

*Rosetta Stone French      *assigned literature -To Kill a Mockingbird, etc.

After-schooling with Meg-

Mere Christianity (reading together and discuss)

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Mom School:

Mere Christianity with Meg

going back to college, 3 unit Child Development class Spring semester

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We homeschool all of our kids, but our high school students take a few classes with a wonderful enrichment program. This year, Meg is taking Chemistry, British Lit and Economics outside the home, and Josie is taking Biology and General Lit and composition.  Which brings us to the current season we just survived, known as Science fair project time….

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It was high school Science fair time here at {Home}  which resulted in much angst/ late nights/ trips to the art store….flies in my fridge…you know, the normal types of stuff….

Meg leans towards life-science type projects, and she tries, mightily, to bring horses into the equation.  After the gold-fish training science experiment last year, I issued the proclamation that we would have no more Science fair experiments involving live subjects (after a whole batch of highly trained goldfish died two weeks before her project was due).  Famous last words!!!  Meg’s newest experiment involved mom using her credit card late at night to order 200 blue bottle fly pupae.

homeschool world is crazy world sometimes.

it gets better, they lived in my fridge for weeks.  In the butter compartment in the door.  I got to see them every time I opened the fridge.  good times.

So, her experiment involved testing the efficacy of different fly repellents.  She compared a popular insect repellent for families, an all natural insect repellent, and a horse insect repellent.  We had 50 flies in 3 containers, plus a control container, and then the fly repellents applied to fly paper on the bottom of the containers.  Meg researched the chemical make-up of each repellent and explained the process of how they worked on the flies.  It was interesting.  [minus the weekend she left and several escaped and spent several days loose in my house]

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Josie’s Biology Science fair project was a 3-d model of a red blood cell.  She constructed a model and researched/wrote a report.  She used wooden embroidery hoops, red mesh and pom-poms.

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We purchased two sets of big wooden embroidery hoops (because each set has two different sized hoops so they fit inside each other- we wanted them to fit exactly the same size) and then she painted them red.  She used hot-glue to attach the red tulle/mesh purchased at the fabric store, and then put big red pom-poms inside to represent the hemoglobin, and a few of them had small white pom-poms attached to represent oxygen.  She labeled the different cell parts with little paper signs attached with toothpicks.   The only difficulty was making the distinctive donut-hole dimple in the center, she used thread, but it wasn’t very convincing.  If we had more time to re-plan, I think we would have used darker red paint to make a shadow look for the center, or maybe a darker material in the center.  We decided to leave it alone, we didn’t want a failed attempt on our hands right before Science fair day.

And so, whew!….done!

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Math woes

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So I’m in the midst of some Math angst here.  I didn’t plan at all, to move any of my kids over to regular school, so our Math choices were a bit unconventional, and I have to admit, I wasn’t in a real hurry to arrive anywhere fast with it.

I’m now in the midst of some Math panic….I went through this a bit at the end of last school year, and we switched the younger kids over to Horizons Math.  I looked seriously at Teaching Textbooks but in the end decided not to throw more money at my problem -it has a price tag that stings a bit.  Well, here I am at the end of April, State testing season is upon us and I am panicking again.  Here are the things I am looking at to bring our Math learning up to speed:

-Teaching Textbooks Algebra II.   I left upper Math in Sky’s hands this school year, but he has been really busy.  I’m not real happy about the retention Josie is showing, so I just ordered Teaching Textbooks and she will be going through this from now through the Summer.  >>>>look>>>> Timberdoodle has free shipping!!  The Timberdoodle catalog has been a great big love of mine for years, I am kind of sad that we seem to be aging out of it.

-Aleks Math:  we tried this with the 3 younger students a few years ago…maybe 3 years ago?  They didn’t really like it.  I did, though.  I liked how it was correlated to State standards, and you can see what the child needs to work on, and what progress they have made.  The site is also very clean and easy to use.  I’ve got Demi working on it right now, I can’t decide if I should add in Josie and Amie or one…or neither…  I’ll stew on it for a few days…

- Mastering Essential Math Skills: 20 Minutes a Day to Success, Book 1: Grades 4-5

I just ordered this, the price was right and a mom over at the homeschool message boards really liked it.    It says 20 minutes a day…I think we could add that to our regular work.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

Meg seems to be doing fine with Math U See Geometry, so I won’t mess with it.

So yeah, it’s going to be Math-ageddon here this Summer.

how is your school year wrapping up? What are the keepers in your curriculum?  The losers?

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The week in progress- Oak Meadow History

Our homeschool is much more productive when I type up weekly assignment sheets for the high school students.  Not that I always do, ahem…but I should.  Here is what they look like, not high-tech at all…

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I type them up on google docs (it’s in the cloud so I can move around on different computers) and I don’t mess with tables or charts, just type them in and add big, bolded o’s for the kids to put a check-mark in when completed.

This is Josie’s sheet.  She is on week 16 of Oak Meadow World History.  I simply look through the OM syllabus and through the textbook and decide what she should do for the week.  There is a lot of reading and information to cover in the textbook and we have to keep moving, so I try to keep the work not too-involved most weeks.  Her Biola classes also keep her very busy.  This week, I pulled the bolded words out of the text and asked her to make a definition page, this is not in the OM syllabus.  The OM syllabus has a list of great essay questions after the reading, so I did assign one of them, and then asked her to think about another (because I know she has a lot of writing to do with Biola already)  As I was looking through the chapter in the textbook, my mind keeps wanting to go down rabbit-trails…so I did add in two documentaries from Netflix, and some extra reading and short 2 minute videos from history.com  -because I just have to do the rabbit trails… {help me}  I made an effort to keep it simple so we could move on to the next chapter next week, but it was an effort…

She has gotten behind in her Math, so I am assigning two pages most days.  Her Biola class syllabus are pretty involved, so I just ask her to check and follow them, and then check mark that she did so.

My younger students just do what I tell them to, though some weeks, I do sheet for them, too…but not often, it’s just a bit too much for A.D.D. mom

I am really enjoying Oak Meadow, I like that it keeps me moving, and that everything is in the textbook…as long as I don’t get distracted!

how’s your week?

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~1~

This was Josie’s first formal dance; Homeschool Winter Formal.  She went with Meg and two friends.  I heart the girl-power!!  I also loved the photo opportunities :)  They had a blast, the dance was at the hotel at Knott’s Berry Farm.  The girls got ready at our house, and then I took them out for photos.

Josie is on the right in burgundy, and Meg is on the left in cowboy boots {of course}

~2~

I have admitted my adult-A.D.D.-ness, and will try some home remedies first, like green-tea.  I already self-medicate with diet coke and dark chocolate… I think it might be time to discuss this with my Dr. I spend so much of my time spinning my wheels aimlessly, it is very frustrating.

~3~

Sky thinks I should start drinking coffee, since coffee has more caffeine then green-tea.  (the A.D.D. thing) I’m just not willing to go over to the dark-side.  Sky is a true coffee-snob, he drinks french-pressed coffee.  Right now, his favorite blend is one he picked up on San Juan island.  I am about to experiment with bullet-proof coffee for him- basically it is good coffee blended with almost a stick of grass-fed butter.  I’ll report back….does sound kind of yummy, though, doesn’t it?

~4~

I have abandoned my much-loved MFW curriculum and switched over to Oak Meadow.  This is related to #2 above.  I wrote in an earlier post how much better following a simple spine-text works for me and realized I needed to live this truth and simplify things.  *Using spine-texts for homeschooling

We are now using Oak Meadow 5 History/English and Science texts with Demi & Amie, and Oak Meadow High school World History for Josie, and Oak Meadow High school U.S. Government for Meg.

~5~

So, I started Demi and Amie with the second half of week 5 in OM…not exactly where we were in MFW, but I didn’t want to skip reading about Jamestown, so this is where I decided to pick up at.  Sooo, I look through the text and see that it centers mostly on indentured servants and relates that to slavery, but I really want to delve more deeply into Jamestown, so I look through my MFW books still on the shelves, then rifle through the student worksheets I have for MFW, looking for something on Jamestown.  I don’t find anything, so I pick up Hakim’s Story of US vol. 2 -(I love this series) and find a chapter on Jamestown.  Perfect!  Not quite satisfied, I also search online and find a neat animated journey through Jamestown history on National Geographic for kids.

The next day, after all this searching, I realized I just failed the whole A.D.D. thing, didn’t I?

~6~

Meg just started a class for Economics at Biola Star.  I am really, really glad I don’t have to teach this one!

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special owl-delivery from Hogwarts

~7~

Amie started a Hogwarts for Muggles class.  It is a wonderful/creative class and so fun! Down-side? It is a one-hour drive from here.  She was jumping-up and down excited about it.  I figured, she is almost 11 years old and this is probably the last time a totally magical world can excite her and fuel her imagination, so I decided to go for it.  It’s a 12 week class!  She is having a blast, and doing some really creative things, so it is worth it.

*7 Quick Takes happens on Fridays at Conversion Diary blog, hop over and link up!
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homeschool winter days

violinshop

We are finally getting back into a routine since the upheaval of Christmas vacation.  So far this week, homeschool has consisted of:

  • shopping for a new full-sized violin for Meg.  She grew out of her 3/4th size and has been playing on my old, cheap violin while we saved up for a new one.  Monday she and I went to the music shop and tried out several.  We took one home on trial, to let her teacher approve of…and she didn’t like it!  I guess Meg and I flunked “tone” class…!
  •  Getting the kids used to working harder on our studies.  I’ve let them all slip into a routine of easy/lite work. Things are a changing here now.
  •  Meg and Josie resumed classes at Biola Star.

buckledown

  • I started test-prep with Amie and Demi-Sky.  I’ve used Spectrum test prep workbooks before and for some reason I turned up my nose at the Buckle Down workbooks.  I can’t remember what I didn’t like about them now…except maybe that it has no answer key (I think you have to go online or something for it) but- we started using them and I kind of like them.  I am really liking the conversational tone and all the test taking hints/strategies they are pointing out/teaching.
  •  We are doing “Farmer Boy” as a read aloud
  • Demi is still busy with lacrosse.  They actually didn’t take much time off during the holidays.
  •  Josie is neck-deep in graphic-arts work right now.  She wants to- kind of suddenly- apply to the local performing arts charter school.  She has to submit a small portfolio for round one of consideration.  It is really rather wonderful to have her so immersed in something she is passionate about.  It is kind of wonderful to have her totally “own” it all herself, nothing for me to do but encourage her and offer supplies.
  •  It’s also a little terrifying for me.  I worry about how she will feel if she doesn’t get in.  I worry about her getting in and not being here homeschooling.  I really, really worry I will screw something up and not get the right paperwork in or miss a deadline.  I’m on the verge of little mini-panic-attacks a few times a day over this…on the verge, not real ones. Yet.   Sometimes being Bridgit Jones is a hard burden… kidding. not.

DonQuixotebook

  • We started reading Don Quixote before the holidays.  It is a wonderful illustrated version recommended by Susan Wise Bauer in Story of the World- which is one of the resources we are using in MFW this year.  Funny, I studied this book in A.P. English in High School but we didn’t actually read it.  I am finding it hilarious!  Meg and Josie read parts of it at Biola Star in their text book, but they got caught up in it when I was reading it out loud the other day.
  • Today, (Wednesday) I took the show on the road and we did Math and read-aloud time at a local bagel shop for lunch.  I forgot how much fun, and how re-energizing doing homeschool out and about is…I will for sure have to set aside more time for outings that include study time.
  • Art class and piano classes, and violin class have all resumed.
  • homeschool winter days are full days.  How about you, are you getting back to a routine?
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Using “spine” texts for homeschooling

homeschool books

I am 13 years into this homeschool journey.  One thing I find myself coming back to, again and again is the use of a “spine” text for our studies.  If I could go back and do it all over, I would trust more in a spine text- to keep us moving, and then branch off into creativity as mood and time permitted.

I’m an eclectic homeschooler – loving a little bit of this and that and not afraid to try different things.  I am unorganized, creative- when my lack of organization doesn’t hamper me, and lately- I think I might have A.D.D. -which I joke about, but only because if you don’t laugh at yourself, you’ll just cry, or be a grumpy head…  I wish I had realized my A.D.D. problem years ago, I think knowing I had a problem would have prompted me to lean harder on books/texts that work for me.  Strict schedules, I already know from failed attempts, over and over through the years- don’t work for me.  A road-map, though, seems to work best.

I’ve gone back, over and over, to The Story of the World series for History.  Even when I have ventured into the world of boxed curriculum, with their beautiful and enticing schedules, I have chosen programs that utilize STOW because I realized, years ago, that this text simply “clicks” with me.

I think the magic of The Story of the World series is that it centers on a text that “gets it done”.  The kids love the narrative, that is a big plus, but the magic is the fact that despite whatever chaos/boredom/lack of organization/ crisis  I am in the midst of (and believe me, it’s a rotating string of events for me) I can pick up a volume of STOW and just read what is next.  If life is perfect and the stars are aligned, I can branch out and add in library books listed in the activity guide, or even do some of the activities.  At the very least, when chaos reigns supreme- I can read aloud, have the kids narrate and do a map page.

A thing of beauty.

I wish I had been more faithful to this method, I just didn’t realize the genius in this structure- genius at least, for this A.D.D. mom.

At the tail-end of my homeschooling journey, I finally looked into the “What my ______ grader needs to know” series.  It is part of the Common Core series, which, to put it simply, is a set body of knowledge (or a scope and sequence) proposed for the entire country to use in public schools.  There is much debate about this idea, but you can see the advantage it could have for testing purposes and for families moving to different districts or different States.  This series by E.D. Hirsch follows the idea of the Common Core.  I started looking through it last week, and realized it could have worked for me in the same way that STOW works for me, by providing a spine or road map I could follow- to keep me moving instead of standing still.  Looking through the series, I saw good content for History, Literature,Culture, Geography, Science and the arts.  The content for Math and Language Arts, I felt, was not presented in a teachable way.  I think this series could be a really good spine for a homeschool family, and very economical too- a viable choice instead of the expensive boxed curriculum sets we all love to lust after.  (raising my hand- guilty here!)  I am thinking about using this series with Amie and Demi for geography, culture, Literature, Science and maybe the arts.

The beauty of a spine is the ability to slow down and branch-off when you want to delve into a subject more thoroughly or more creatively.

-just some thoughts, from a mom who is looking back now…

Do you have some favorite tried and true texts or programs you come back to over and over again?

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