science

My Curriculum Choices 2013: 5 year old 2nd grader

Part 1 of My Curriculum Choices discussed the choices for my eight year old. This time I'll tell you about the choices for my five year old.

Reading/Literature

NIrV Read with Me Bible Illustrated by Dennis Jones: I want to instill in my son the daily habit of reading his own Bible. I feel this Bible is written at the right reading level for my son’s current reading ability.

A Beka Book Second Grade Readers: These readers progress with difficulty at the same pace as the A Beka Book Language 2 that we are using. I like how they compliment each other and the Biblical characteristics and morals that are woven into the stories.

Honey for a Child’s Heart by Gladys Hunt: This is a resource guide for me that helps me select extra reading material for my son.

Writing

A Beka Book Language 2 workbook: I have used A Beka Book’s Language books in the past with my two oldest sons and have been pleased with them. I like the convenience of having a workbook that my son can write in. I like how it explains the language rules and then gives opportunities to practice them and review them throughout the book.

I will also be introducing my son to cursive handwriting this year.

Music

Alfred’s Basic Piano Library All-in-One Course for Children: I will continue this book with my children from last year. I like how this books combines lesson and theory into one simple book.

Math

A Beka Book Arithmetic 2: I have used A Beka Book’s Arithmetic books in the past and have been pleased with them. I like the convenience of having a workbook that my son can write in. I like how it explains things simply and then gives opportunities to practice them and review them throughout the book.

Science

Apologia Exploring Creation with Astronomy by Fulbright: We used Apologia’s “Exploring Creation with Zoology 1: Flying Creatures” by Fulbright last year and it was a good fit for us. This series is written from a creation perspective and I can use it with multi-level teaching. It is more in-depth than many other science books I have looked at, which works well for my analytical son and it has lots of simple hands on experiments and activities for my more hands on son.

History & Geography

All Through the Ages by Christine Miller: This is a resource guide for me from which I plan to select books on the Dark and Middle Ages and obtain them from our library system. This guide makes it easier for me to select quality books from these historical time periods for my sons that are safe from non-Christian biases. This is a multi-level teaching approach. I used this guide book in the past and it works well for us. History is one of my sons’ favorite subjects.

Geography From A to Z A Picture Glossary by Jack Knowlton: This cute book will complement our multi-level study of geography through history. It introduces new geography terms in an easy and fun way.

In my last post, part 1, of this series, I explained why I haven’t listed all of the subjects that I am teaching my children. If you the last post and are interested in why I did this, please check it out.

Also, If you did read the last post, you may have noticed that many of my choices for my second grader are the same as my choices for my fourth grader. Though they each have their own Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic books, for many of the other subjects their books are the same. I use a multi level teaching approach in these other areas. This saves me time, and I feel they learn more when they can share and discuss what they have just learned with each other.

What are your kids’ favorite subjects and what do you use in those subject areas?

My Curriculum Choices 2013: 8 year old 4th grader

In this first part of a two part series I'm sharing my curriculum choices for our eight year old who is doing 4th grade work.

Reading/Literature

NIV Boys Bible by Zondervan: I want my son to continue his daily habit of reading his own Bible. This bible has a few study notes presented in an interesting way to boys, that help my son understand what he is reading better. 

A Beka Book 4th grade readers: These readers progress throughout the year together with the Language Book we use. I like the Biblical characteristics and morals that are woven into the stories.

A Beka Book Read & Think 4: My son requested this book. He used Read & Think 3 last year and loved the stories in them so much that he requested that I get the 4th grade book this year. His reading improved greatly last year!

Honey for a Child’s Heart by Gladys Hunt: This is a resource guide for me that helps me select extra reading material for my son.

Writing

A Beka Book Language A workbook: The A Beka Book Language series works well for my son. I like the convenience of having a workbook. I like how it explains the language rules and then gives opportunities to practice them and review them throughout the book.

I will also be introducing my son to cursive handwriting this year. 

Music

Alfred’s Basic Piano Library All-in-One Course for Children: I will continue this book with my children from last year. I like how this book combines lesson and theory into one simple book.

Math

A Beka Book Arithmetic 4: We used the A Beka Book Arithmetic series in the past and they work well for my son. I like how it explains things simply and then gives opportunities to practice them and review them throughout the book. Though this is a workbook, I plan to have my son use it like a textbook and write his answers on a separate piece of paper so we can reuse this book in the future with my other children. He usually needs more space than is provided to show his work anyway.

Science

Apologia Exploring Creation with Astronomy by Fulbright: We used Apologia’s Exploring Creation series in past years. This series is written from a creation perspective and I can use it with multi-level teaching. It is more in-depth than many other science books I have looked at which works well for my analytical son and it has lots of simple hands on experiments and activities for my more hands on son.

History & Geography

All Through the Ages by Christine Miller: This is a resource guide for me from which I plan to select books on the Dark and Middle Ages and obtain them from our library system. This guide makes it easier for me to select quality books from these historical time periods for my sons that are safe from anti-Christian biases. This is a multi-level teaching approach. I used this guide book in the past and it works well for us. History is one of my sons’ favorite subjects.

Geography From A to Z A Picture Glossary by Jack Knowlton: This cute book will complement our multi-level study of geography through history. It introduces new geography terms in an easy and fun way.

You may have noticed that I skipped a few subjects like Health & Art. It’s not that I’m not teaching my children those subjects, it’s that I don’t have specific text books for those subjects. Instead, I’m choosing to design my own plan for those subjects and other subjects I may be adding to the books that I’ve listed. Those areas not listed certainly aren’t forgotten.

Next week I'll tell you about my educational plan for my 5 year old who's doing second grade work.

Are you ready for this school year?

Grocery Shopping for Learning Opportunities

The grocery store seems to be an endless opportunity for learning. It’s amazing that so many of my children’s learning opportunities are tied into the grocery store in some way. I realized that I spend almost an hour there every week with my children. It’s hard to be with my children for an hour and not teach them something. It’s just not natural for me. My oldest child is only seven years old, so I’m sure that the teaching opportunities have barely even begun to be tapped at the grocery store.

Here are some of the lessons we have done while grocery shopping and a few extra that I plan to do in the future. Most of them only take an extra minute or two while shopping. They are mostly  preschool or early elementary related. It seems that whatever stage my children are at, I can tie it into something while at the grocery store. Oh, the possibilities are endless!

Counting

I can have him count the items as I put them into the cart. He can count how many eggs are in a dozen. He can count how many yogurt cups we buy today. He can count how many bananas are in the bunch. He can count how many different types of grapes the store sells. He can count how many people he sees in the store.

Colors

I can have him look for a certain color of food. The produce department is my favorite area for this game.

Shapes

I can have him look for items that are a particular shape such as a cube or cylinder.

Letters

I can have him look for a particular letter on signs or labels. He can find items that beginning with a particular letter (again, the produce department is great for this). To take this a step further, during my Letter a Week kindergarten curriculum, I even let the child pick out an item that started with the letter of the week. I would then incorporate it into our meal plan for that week. My boys really loved this! I have to admit, I did too.

Reading

I can have him read signs, labels, or anything in the store. Sometimes I make a grocery list in advance for my son and have him check off the items as we put them into the cart or read the items to me that are left on the list. I’ll ask one of my sons to get me a specific item such as sharp cheddar cheese. He can’t just look at the picture then. He has to read to figure out which cheese is the sharp cheddar.

Writing

I can have him write the items that I buy on a list.

Money

I can have him write the cost of items I buy on a list. He can calculate the total bill. He can round each item to the nearest dollar. He can then estimate the total bill (this is my method of estimating my total bill each trip to make sure that I don’t go over budget). This is a great still for him to learn! I can pay with cash and have him figure out how much of each denomination is needed to pay the total or how much change I will get back.

Other Math

I can talk about and show him different units of measure such as 1 dozen eggs, 2 pounds of bananas, 1 gallon of water, 1 quart of milk, or 2 liters of pop.

He can compare and contrast items by type or size.

We can discuss metric versus English measurements such as liters versus quarts. He can find items that are sold by English or metric measurements.

He can find items that are sold by volume or weight or quantity.

He can estimate the weight of bananas or other produce that we buy.

Social Studies

Where we live, we often see people from different ethnicities and speaking different languages. I like to teach my children a little about where they come from, or what language they are speaking. If I know, I’ll maybe even teach them a few words from that language (I can at least say “Hello” in a few different languages).

History

This one pops up occasionally and unexpectedly for me. Sometimes I’ll see something that was common in the past, but not common now, such as glass bottles of pop. I’ll take that opportunity to discuss with my kids how things are different now than they used to be when I or our ancestors were children. I can discuss with them how glass bottles of pop were common for Grandma and Grandpa and how they used a bottle opener to open them.

Sometimes my kids will ask questions like why an item comes in a certain type of container such as baking soda in a can. I can discuss the history of how that came to be (though I often have to look things like this up).

I can teach him the history of certain foods. We once read a book about bananas. We learned how they came to the US and how many different varieties of bananas there are. It was fascinating! Did you know there are bananas that taste like ice cream?

Geography

I can have him look on food labels to see where different foods come from. He can look up that county on a map when he gets home or even learn about that country from an encyclopedia. He can look for foods from a particular country that he has learned about at home or heard about in the news lately.

Science

I can point out different produce that the store sells. If I don’t know what something is, I can learn by asking a produce department employee. We can maybe even try the new food.

I can discuss how different plants grow such as carrots are roots, apples are fruit of a tree, or celery is the stalk of the plant.

I can discuss what is the difference between yams and sweet potatoes. When my children are older, I can even have them research these things on their own and write reports on them.

What learning opportunities have you discovered at the grocery store?

Next time I will write about the educational opportunities I create as I prepare for grocery shopping.

Staying Sane with Homeschooling During the Holidays

Around the holidays I can get stressed with homeschooling. I want to keep doing all of our regular school, but I also want to do special things for the holidays. Originally I tried to do both. That was a little too crazy and stressful for me (and the kids). More recently I’ve adopted a different two-fold method to manage during the holidays.

First, I plan ahead and lighten the load. At the beginning of the school year when I’m planning my schedule, I plan a reduced schedule (or extra time off) around the holidays. This way, I don’t have to stress about getting behind if we take the whole day off to bake a pumpkin pie instead of doing math that day.

Second,I incorporate holiday activities into our regular school schedule. During the time we would normally be studying history this week, we stop our normal history study (Greece this semester), and spend the week on Thanksgiving related history topics such as the Pilgrims, or how Thanksgiving became a national holiday, or we learn about our heritage. During our normal art time, we do Thanksgiving related crafts. During our normal time for science, we might learn about live turkeys, or how turkeys are processed to get to the grocery store (my 3 year old is really fascinated with this concept this year) or bake a pie. My holiday approach is similar to a unit study on the particular holiday. 

I find this method makes the holidays a lot more fun for the kids and myself and a lot less stressful. In fact, it’s even an enjoyable time of year to be homeschooling!

How do you stay sane with homeschooling during the holidays?

Doing Something You Didn't Think You Ever Could

There are many things we do as mothers that we never imagined we’d do. This summer, I had the privilege of encountering a new one. 

It happened shortly after we purchased a kiddie pool for our children. One day when we returned home from an appointment, we walked passed the kiddie pool on the way into the house. My children were in front of me. At the sight of the inside of the pool, my children starting making quite a commotion. Unaware of what they were all saying, since they were all talking at once, I looked into the pool to see what the commotion was all about. There, floating in our new kiddie pool, was a dead squirrel!

The squirrel had apparently climbed into the pool to get a drink and couldn’t get itself back out of the pool once it was done. I don’t usually like squirrels because of all the damage they cause, but seeing a drowned one floating in our kiddie pool, was a sad, pathetic sight to behold even for me. I considered leaving it for my manly husband to deal with when he got home, but it was morning and it just didn’t seem right to leave the dead squirrel floating in the pool all day long. Furthermore, until I removed, drained, cleaned, and refilled the pool, it was unusable. Since it had been so hot and dry that week, that just didn’t seem prudent. So, I sucked it up and got the pitch fork to remove the dead squirrel from the kiddie pool. I was going to immediately throw it into the garbage, but my curious children wanted to see it. So, as gross as it was, I allowed them to inspect the dead squirrel close up. 

My children learned some details about squirrels they hadn’t known before, just by being able to see one close up (live ones don’t seem to hold still long enough). It was also a very visual reminder of pool safety rules and the horrible effects of disobeying them. 

So, the moral of this story is that sometimes as mothers we do things that we never thought we would have to do (dealing with a dead squirrel). And in the midst of it, we need to be strong for our children (God will give us the strength we need) and make the most out of it. If I had danced around and screamed about how disgusting the dead squirrel was, my children never would have gotten close enough to learn the things they did about squirrels and probably would have developed some irrational fear.

Interesting footnote... Another squirrel that died in our pool on another day, was the focus an elementary dissection exercise. 

What is something you never thought you’d have to do as a parent and what was learned from it (by you or your children)?

My Curriculum Choices 2012: 4 year old doing first grade work

Part 1 of My Curriculum Choices discussed the choices for my 7-year-old. This time I'll tell you about my first grader.

Reading/Literature

”NIrV Read with Me Bible” Illustrated by Dennis Jones: I want to instill in my son the daily habit of reading his own Bible. I feel this Bible is written at the right reading level for my son’s current reading ability.

A Beka Book “First Grade Readers”: These readers progress with difficulty at the same pace as the A Beka Book “Language 1” that we are using. I like the Biblical characteristics and morals that are woven into the stories.

“Alpha-Phonics” by Samuel L Blumenfeld: We started this book last year and are going to continue it this year. It is very simple. The lessons are short which is important since my son is still young. It is reusable which is important because I have younger children that I plan to homeschool in the future also.

Writing

A Beka Book “Language 1” workbook: I have used A Beka Book’s Language books with my older son and have been pleased with them. I like the convenience of having a workbook that my son can write in. I like how it explains the language rules and then gives opportunities to practice them and review them throughout the book.

Music

Alfred’s Basic Piano Library All-in-One Course for Children: I introduced the keyboard to my children last year with this book. I plan to make it a weekly experience this year. I like how this books combines lesson and theory into one simple book.

Math

A Beka Book “Arithmetic 1”: I have used A Beka Book’s Arithmetic books with my older son and have been pleased with them. I like the convenience of having a workbook that my son can write in. I like how it explains things simply and then gives opportunities to practice them and review them throughout the book.

Science

Apologia “Exploring Creation with Zoology 2: Swimming Creatures of the Fifth Day by Fulbright: We used Apologia’s “Exploring Creation with Zoology 1: Flying Creatures” by Fulbright last year and it was a good fit for us. This series is written from a creation perspective and I can use it with multi-level teaching. It is more in-depth than many other science books I have looked at, which works well for my analytical son and it has lots of simple hands on experiments and activities for my more hands on son.

History & Geography

”All Through the Ages” by Christine Miller: This is a resource guide for me from which I plan to select books on Greece and Rome, and obtain them from our library system. This guide makes it easier for me to select quality books from these historical time periods for my sons that are safe from non-Christian biases. I used this guide book last year and it worked well. History become one of my sons’ favorite subjects!

Health

A Beka Book “Health Safety and Manners 1”: I like the Christian perspective and short, simple approach to this topic.

“Before I was Born” by Carolyn Nystrom (God’s Design for Sex series): I like to review this book yearly with my sons to encourage a healthy Christian perspective of sex education.

In my post last week, part 1, of this series, I explained why I haven’t listed all of the subjects that I am teaching my children. If you missed last weeks post and are interested in why I did this, please check it out.

Also, If you did read last weeks post, you may have noticed that many of my choices for my first grader are the same as my choices for my third grader. Though they each have their own Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic books, for many of the other subjects their books are the same. I use a multi level teaching approach in these other areas. This saves me time, and I feel they learn more when they can share and discuss what they have just learned with each other.

If you have multiple children, do you use a multi level teaching approach? I’d love to hear why or why not?

My Curriculum Choices 2012: 7 year old doing Third grade work

In this first part of a two part series I'm sharing my curriculum choices for our 7 year old who is doing 3rd grade work.

Reading/Literature

"NIrV Read with Me Bible" Illustrated by Dennis Jones: I want to instill in my son the daily habit of reading his own Bible. I feel this Bible is written at the right reading level for my son’s current reading ability. 

A Beka Book "Readers": These readers progress with difficulty at the same pace as the A Beka Book Language book that we are using. I like the Biblical characteristics and morals that are woven into the stories. 

Classic Books such as The Boxcar Children series by Gertrude Warner: I have selected a few classic books for my son to read this year in addition to the A Beka Book Readers. I want to expand his reading styles and introduce him to some classic literature. 

A Beka Book "Read & Think 3": The goal of this book is to improve my son’s reading speed. I like this book because the stories that it uses are often historical.

Writing

A Beka Book "Language 3" workbook: We have used A Beka Book "Language 1" and "Language 2" in the past. They seem to work well for my son. I like the convenience of having a workbook that he can write in. I like how it explains the language rules and then gives opportunities to practice them and review them throughout the book.

Music

Alfred's Basic Piano Library: All-in-One Course for Children-Book 1: I introduced the keyboard to my children last year with this book. I plan to make it a weekly experience this year. I like how this books combines lesson and theory into one simple book. 

Math

A Beka Book "Arithmetic 3": We used A Beka Book "Arithmetic 1" and "Arithmetic 2" in the past and they seem to work well for my son. I like the convenience of having a workbook that he can write in. I like how it explains things simply and then gives opportunities to practice them and review them throughout the book.

Science

Apologia "Exploring Creation with Zoology 2: Swimming Creatures of the Fifth Day by Fulbright: We used Apologia’s "Exploring Creation with Zoology 1: Flying Creatures" by Fulbright last year and it was a good fit for us. This series is written from a creation perspective and I can use it with multi-level teaching. It is more in-depth than many other science books I have looked at which works well for my analytical son and it has lots of simple hands on experiments and activities for my more hands on son.

History & Geography

"All Through the Ages" by Christine Miller: This is a resource guide for me from which I plan to select books on Greece and Rome, and obtain them from our library system. This guide makes it easier for me to select quality books from these historical time periods for my sons that are safe from non-Christian biases. This is a multi-level teaching approach. I used this guide book last year and it worked well. History become one of my sons’ favorite subjects. 

Health

A Beka Book "Health Safety and Manners 3": I like the Christian perspective and short, simple approach to this topic. 

You may have noticed that I skipped a few subjects like Spelling & Geography. It’s not that I’m not teaching my children those subjects, it’s that I don’t have specific text books for those subjects. Instead, I’m choosing to design my own plan for those subjects. For instance for Geography I’m planning on using a computer game called Seterra for part of our curriculum. My son will also be writing reports about different states he studies. I’ll even incorporate current global events and ethnic nights into our geography curriculum. So even though I haven’t listed a text book, those other areas certainly aren’t forgotten.

Next week I'll tell you about my current educational plan for my 4 year old who's doing first grade work.

Have you started your school year? What is your favorite subject to teach and how are you teaching it?

The Miracle of Birth: Guppies and Purple Finches

Recently one of the female guppies in our fish tank gave birth to a school of fry (baby fish). Guppies are one of the few species of fish that give birth to live young instead of laying eggs. She started delivering during lunch (our fish tank is next to our dining room table), so we noticed right away. My children were able to watch the miracle of birth. I must admit that I was fascinated myself at how a fry can be born curled up and start swimming before it even completely unfolds after birth (a few seconds). 

A few days after our fish gave birth, I noticed a purple finch building a nest in a hanging flower basket on our front porch. I took the basket down once a day to show my children the progress-an empty nest on day 1, a nest with 1 egg on day 2, a nest with 2 eggs on day 3, and so on. When the hatchlings (newly hatched baby birds) started to hatch, I was amazed to see the changes in them daily!

My kids learned a lot about life in the real world. More than they could ever learn from a book. I was amazed at how much I learned from watching these two miracles of birth this spring. What a blessing from God for us to be able to witness both of these miracles of birth so close together!

We live in town, so we are not allowed to own many animals. One of the reasons that we have guppies, is for this very reason-so that our children get to witness the miracle of life in the real world. There is nothing that compares to witnessing this first hand. If your children haven’t seen the miracle of birth in some form in real life, I encourage you to find a way to give them this opportunity. Here are a few ideas of how to facilitate this:

  1. Get a pet that is capable of giving birth. This could be a cow or a dog or a mouse or a guppy fish. Taking care of an animal is also a great way for a child to learn responsibility.
  2. Build a habitat for an animal in your yard. It could be a bird house, or an area for a rabbit to make a nest. This could be a research project as well to determine what a particular animal likes to encourage it to build its nest where you want it too. 
  3. Cooperate with a friend that has animals. See if they will notify you when their animal is about to give birth. Even if it’s in the middle of the night, it could teach your children that birth is not something that we can control and sometimes isn’t convenient.
  4. If it doesn't conflict with your values, have your kids present when you give birth (if you’re still having kids). This is something I have not done as I have three boys and my daughter is just too young.

For those of you that have witnessed the miracle of birth with your children, how were you able to give them the opportunity? What is one thing they learned from it?

The Unusual Pursuit of Squirrel Trapping

We have an abundance of squirrels in our yard. My six-year-old son really wants to catch one. He says because he wants to provide food and leather for our family. We have never used squirrels for these purposes before, but this is my son’s pursuit regardless. I think fun is the more likely reason for this pursuit, but the reason is not the point.

The point is that even though this is not a typical pursuit for a six-year-old (or maybe it is, I have no comparison since he is my oldest), I am not only allowing it, but encouraging it because he has exemplified several good qualities through this pursuit.

Homeschool Doesn't End When Summer Starts

If you are like me, you probably recently finished your school year or are almost done. I admit I’m calling it the end of the year. My children are excited to be promoted to the next grade (before they even put down their pencils after the last assignment), but we aren’t really done. Learning is such a part of our lives, that I just can’t stop teaching them. We enjoy it. I see summer as a wonderful opportunity to do more hands-on-learning such as field trips and science experiments and math games. I feel like we have more time for fun learning during our summer days because we aren’t doing as much book work. Yes, I meant to say “as much”. 

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