Monday, April 27, 2009

2009-2010 Curricula

This is the time of year to start thinking about plans and curricula for the up coming year and I have been doing just that. Mulling, actually. I can't believe I am going to have a 3rd and a 1st grader!
We are going to be covering American History...starting with the 13 Colonies and ending with the Westward Expansion/Pioneers. I am going to be planning my own thing using various books, lapbooks, and notebooking pages. Here are some of the resources I plan on using...

Time Travelers History Studies from Homeschool in the Woods-I didn't really care for their Colonies unit, so I will have to find something for that, but I really like the American Revolution and the Early 19th Century units.

"If You Lived at the Time of the American Revolution" Lapbook from A Journey Through Learning-We really enjoy the "If you..." books so when I saw a lapbook for it I knew we had to have it! We are also going to complete the "If you Sailed on the Mayflower in 1620" lapbook and the "If You Traveled West in a Covered Wagon" lapbook.

Other lapbook/notebook activities will include items from these books:
Interactive 3-D maps: American History
Colonial America Make and Learn Projects
History Pockets
The Pilgrims, the Mayflower & More Easy Make and Learn Projects

Also plan on watching the Liberty's Kids Videos.

Here is a sampling of the great books we are going to read:
Exploration and Conquest by Betsy Maestro
The New Americans: Colonial Times by Betsy Maestro
A More Perfect Union: The Story of Our Constitution by Betsy Maestro
Liberty or Death: The American Revolution by Betsy Maestro
Struggle for a Continent: The French and Indian War by Betsy Maestro
A Pioneer Sampler: The Daily Life of a Pioneer Family in 1840 by Barbara Greenwood
Daily Life in a Covered Wagon by Paul Erikson
This Country of Ours by HE Marshall
George Washington's World by Genevieve Foster
Abraham Lincoln's World by Genevieve Foster

Magnus and Thane also enjoy listening to audio books. Here are a few we are going to listen to:
Story of the World Volume 3...Jim Weiss
Horizon's West: The Lewis and Clark Jim Hodges
Your Story Hour
American History Jim Hodges
Boys of Grit Jim Hodges
True Stories of Great Americans for Young Jim Hodges
True to the Old Flag...Jim Hodges

Magnus' literature selections will also correspond with our history study. I need to really research this part of my plan (and I purchased The Artner Reader's Guide to American History to help with that), but here are a few I know for sure:
The Landing of the Pilgrims by James Daugherty (Landmark Book)
The American Revolution by Bruce Bliven Jr. (Landmark Book)
I am also going to give Socratic discussion a try...once I get through my Teaching the Classics dvd course.

Like I mentioned, this is just a sampling of the resources we will be using. I hope to post my lesson plans/resources as I create them. I am really looking forward to planning and teaching History next year!

I'll be piecing together our science for next year too. We looked at the lapbooks and units available from Homeschool Share. I chose a few topics and I let the boys pick a few. Again, this is just a sampling of the resources we are going to use.

The Human Body:
Usborne's First Encyclopedia of the Human Body
My Body
Head to Toe Science by Jim Wiese (not be confused with Jim Wiess the story teller)
Easy Make and Learn Project: The Human Body by Donald Silver
The Magic School Bus-Human Body DVD
And other Magic School Bus books and DVDs

The Seashore:
Pagoo by Holling C. Holling
This unit from Homeschool Share
One Small Square: Seashore by Donald Silver

Real Science 4 Kids-Pre Level Chemistry
Periodic Table Lapbook from Homeschool Share
Fizz, Bubble, and Flash

Shark Lapbook from Homeschool Share

Meerkat Lapbook from Homeschool Share

Mr. Popper's Penguins Unit/Lapbook from Homeschool Share
Watch March of the Penguins and Happy Feet (maybe)

Crocodiles and Alligators:
Crocodilians Lapbook from Homeschool Share

Some of these topics might get dropped and others added as their interests change. That's okay. That is one of the reasons we homeschool! However, we are covering the Human Body, Chemistry, and the Seashore no matter what! Lesson plans are already written. I also hope to do more of a "formal" yet laid back approach to our Nature Studies. We'll be using Adrienne Olmstead's 'My Nature Journal' as somewhat of a guide as well as Barb's Handbook of Nature Study Blog.

Magnus-He will continue with Right Start Level C. I am planning to add the Addition Deluxe Kit from City Creek Press and the Basic Times Kit when he gets to multiplication. We'll also continue to supplement with Singapore's Challenging Word Problems. If you want to continue using these fabulous workbooks you will have to buy what you need NOW! They are going out-of-print. Apparently Rainbow Resource will continue to cary them through the summer, but I wouldn't chance it.

Thane-He will continue with Right Start Level B but then move onto Level C pretty quickly. He will also be using the same supplements as Magnus.

Magnus' Language Arts
Grammar-He will continue with Growing With Grammar Level 3 once he finishes Level 2. He absolutely despises this subject.

Phonics-He will continue working through the Explode the Code workbooks since he never really went through a phonics program.

Spelling-Yeah!! We finally found a program that works for him and that he likes! Amazing! He will continue to work through Phonetic Zoo Level A that is put out by the wonderful people of Institute for Excellence in Writing. We'll also be using a new product from Marie Rippel of All About Spelling fame. It's a workbook called All About Homophones. We will also continue to build our Sound City.

Writing-He will continue working through the Writing With Ease Level 2 Workbook. It doesn't directly teach him the mechanics of writing but I love it for the copywork, narration, and dictation. He will also be using the U.S. History Based Writing Lessons Volume 1 from Institute for Excellence in Writing. I am still working through the Teaching Writing: Structure and Style, but I can not say enough good things about IEW's products!

Vocabulary-I am on the fence with this one. I am not sure if I want to add it yet or not. If I do, then we will use English From the Roots Up.

Handwriting-Handwriting Without Tears Cursive.

Thane's Language Arts
Phonics-He will continue working through The Ordinary Parent's Guide To Teaching Reading and Explode The Code.

Writing-I am going to start him on the Writing With Ease Level 1 workbook.

Grammar-He will use Level 1 of Growing With Grammar. I am typing this, I am wondering if First Language Lessons wouldn't be better for him. He may need the slower pace, less writing, and constant repitition. I will have to give this some thought.

Reading Lapbooks-Thane really enjoys doing lapbooks. I have thought about just having him and I complete some on some stories we like. Homeschool Share has some we might try...
Time of Wonder by Robert McCloskey
Henry & Mudge

Magnus' Latin
He is going to move onto Latin for Children Level A from Song School Latin. There is a possibility I may be teaching it at our charter school.

I am also trying to fit in picture study, composer study, and poetry memorization.

I am not sure what classes will be offered at our charter school next year, but I hope to get both boys into drawing, PE, and music appreciation again. Magnus has been begging us to learn how to play the violin since he was 3. He would be able to take lessons at the school for free, it would just be a matter of finding him a violin for free too.

Yikes! This is a lot of stuff! I hope I will be able to fit it all in without overwhelming us all! We'll just have to see how things shape up. I am okay with dropping some things and/or taking a different approach.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Friday, April 24, 2009

Camping Therapy

This camping trip was planned months ago and it could not have come at a better time! We all needed it. Time to get away from the daily grind. Time with each other. Time to enjoy God's creation.
The first day we got there the weather was gorgeous! Bright blue sky, a gentle breeze, and warm temperatures. Our site was on the edge of a small cli
ff, over looking the beach of the Pacific Ocean. It was awesome...
Our campsite and the ocean.

Looking up at our tents from the water line.

After we all pitched in to get camp set up, the boys didn't waste anytime getting into the water...

Later, Magnus spotted something in the water. It was a whale! Turns out, there were at least 3 of them and they were Gray Whales. We spent a good hour watching them spout, breach, and play 100 yards from us. It was awesome! I couldn't get very good pics, so you will just have to take my word for it!

The night was a little rough as it dipped below 50 degrees and the wind pounded the sides of the tents. However, we woke up with a whole day ahead of us. We cooked breakfast and headed south on Hwy. 1. Our first stop took us to Pigeon Point Lighthouse.

We also enjoyed watching the Brown Pelicans fly by...

Then we traveled on to Santa Cruz. We took a walk on Natural Bridges State Beach.

This is a really cool fossilized leaf (at least that is what it looked like to us) we found on the rocks. Perfect teaching opportunity since we are in the midst of our dinosaur study!

My boys in front of the natural bridge. Apparently a large section that connected the seen rock with a rock to the left, forming a "natural bridge", has broken off. If you click on the picture you will be able to see a bunch of Brown Pelicans sitting on the rock.

These cool patterns could be seen all over the rock formations we were climbing on. They were amazing!

And of course, no trip to Santa Cruz is complete without checking out the local surfers.

On the way back to the campground, we stopped at my favorite beach...Pescadero. This place is rocky and has many great spots for tide pooling. The last time we were here we were able to observe many, many sea lions and hermit crabs. This time we were not so lucky. But we did find some of these...

And so...the sun sets...

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Tid Bits

This week has been a tough one.

I stepped out of my comfort zone, fumbled while being "out there", and a door closed. It was not easy. BUT...all is not lost. I learned a bit about myself through the process. Now, it is up to me to take that knowledge and do something productive with it. Some areas I see a need for growth and others just need a little pruning.

School...this week did not see much as far as quantity or quality, really. I was more focused on me and that is okay. Magnus and I have continued prepping for the standardized test he has to take in a few weeks. We've listened to the SOTW on cd, read a few books, and watched a couple videos. We did go on a field trip to The Sacramento Zoo with some friends on Tuesday. That was a lot of fun. I was able to get my mind off things. The boys completed a zoo "I Spy" booklet that can be found at

We've got some fun things planned the next upcoming weeks. Next week we are going to go camping at the ocean. I FINALLY get to see it again! It has been way too long. The following week our friends from MA are driving their RV across country and since they have no choice but to turn around in CA, we are heading to the ocean with them for a few nights of camping! Then the following week, Collin's parents are flying down for a visit! Guess where we all are going to spend Mother's the ocean!!! YIPPEE!!!!!

That about covers things. Be sure to check back next week for pics from our camping trip and the ocean!!

Sunday, April 12, 2009


"O God, who for our redemption gave your only-begotten Son to the death of the cross, and by his glorious resurrection delivered us from the power of our enemy: Grant us so to die daily to sin, that we may evermore live with him in the joy of his resurrection; through Jesus Christ you Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, on God, now and for ever. Amen"

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Weekly Report...Week 25

I could tell you that it was a full moon this week without even looking. My boys have been squirrely and not acting themselves. We are talkin', "What mother planet are you from?" kind of craziness. In spite of all that, we were able to get some school work completed.

History (Both)

You may have noticed the title for this section has changed. It no longer says, "Tapestry of Grace". Well, that is because we are not using it any longer. You can find out why here. So rather than continue with Y2 and start the colonies next (Unit 3), I am going to wait and cover it next year using some other resources. In the mean time, we have been enjoying our unit on Shakespeare. On Wednesday, we read William Shakespeare and the Globe by Aliki. It told of his life, how he came to London, how the Globe was brought to life, how it died, and how it was brought to life again by a man named Samuel Wanamaker. It was a bitter sweet story as the ending tugged at mine and Magnus' heart strings. gave Magnus a great idea. "Hey Mom. Can we build our own Globe Theater?" Yep...the rest of the day's lessons were thrown out the window. How could I say no to that? So, we got started on it. We have the stage made and only have the back part to finish. I will post pics of it when we are finished, but here is a little sneak peek...

As far as the rest of the year? Well, we are going to study Pirates. I found a great unit study from one of my favorite homeschool resources, Homeschool Share. If you are not familiar with this site, I highly recommend you click on it and check it out! I am just waiting for the copy of the book to come into the library.

Language Arts (Magnus)
We are still working through our test prep materials for the CA standardized test he has to take in a few weeks. You can read about my feelings on this here. He is doing remarkably well as we don't follow state standards.

Spelling...We started Phonetic Zoo this week. We got off to a rocky start, but by the end of the week he was asking to do his spelling. This has NEVER happened, people! NEVER. I posted about it here. He is even applying the rule we worked on this week in his other writing! He received 100% on his third attempt at the list. One more time and we'll be going onto the next list! Yippee, Magnus!

Phonics (Thane)
We are moving right along. I have found some readers that he loves reading. I think it is part of a whole curriculum, but we are only using the books. We also played some games from Happy Phonics and

Math (Both)
Magnus...continuing with the test prep. I am getting a little worried, as so far in Right Start we have covered addition, money, time, some measuring, greater than/less than, and little subtraction. This test is going to cover addition, subtraction, multiplication, fractions, and some simple division. I have been explaining it to him as we come to it and he is catching on really well so I guess we'll just see what happens. Like I said, I just want him to feel confident when he goes in and feel good about how he did when he comes out. I don't care about the score.

we worked on partitioning 100's, place value, and quadrilaterals. I think I could double up the lessons we do a day, but I don't want him to finish Level B too fast. Magnus has yet to start Level C due to the test prep and I am not sure how he would like his younger brother working in the same level as he. I gently remind both of them, "God gave you strengths in different areas." And if you know my boys, I know you agree!

Science (Both)
We are still working through our Dinosaur unit. This week we were Paleontologist. We read Digging Up Dinosaurs by Aliki. Magnus tried to thwart my plans again by talking me into building a volcano for a diorama he is planning to build. This boy is never short of ideas! I did say no to this one. I didn't have it in me. Remember...full moon! They did do a fun interactive game on the internet and we completed some booklets for our lapbook. Oh, and they worked on a report on the T-Rex.

Latin (Magnus)
We did it! We completed chapter 10!

We also did a fun art project using watercolor crayons. They were mimicking the fresco paintings found in the Minoan society.

P.A.C.T. Classes
Well, our charter school is on Spring Break this week and next so there are no classes. I know...I am a slave driver. No matter. We will get a break when we go camping the last two weeks in April!

Well, that about covers it. This weekend we hope to catch a UCDavis baseball game.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Spelling Project

If you have been reading my blog the past few weeks, you already know that spelling has been a thorn in my side.

We were using All About Spelling and I have nothing but good things to say about that program. It is fantastic. However, Magnus was not absorbing the rules like I had hoped. And I will admit, I may not have given the program enough time, but I just needed to try something different. I do think it'll be a perfect fit for Thane when the time comes.

Then, I thought to give Spelling Power a try. I liked the looks of it and the idea of only studying the words the student doesn't know. But, then my charter school approached me to check out a different program they are looking into providing. That is where Phonetic Zoo from Institute for Excellence in Writing comes in.

I was a little apprehensive in trying this program since it is recommended for grade 3 and up. After watching the DVD Spelling and the Brain and the How To Use This Program DVD, I was a little more comfortable with the idea. So, we started it this week.

I introduced Magnus to the rule and to the animal card the rule applies to. I explained it to him and we went over some of the words on the list. I set him up with headphones and he completed the lesson. I would like to say that it was perfect and he didn't fuss at all. It was a struggle. He does not like the guy's voice who says the words and sentences and the guy's reading went too fast for him. Apparently this is a bit of a problem for most students when they start the program. However, I think I have won him over. I purchased a MP3 player for him to use for spelling (and other recorded school materials). I am also letting him choose 2 different colored ink pens to for his lesson and one for correcting. It's the little things.

Also, we started our own "Sound City". It is a concept that Andrew Pudewa described in the Spelling and the Brain DVD. The idea is to create a city of sounds on paper that the students can refer to and add to. It'll work well for the visual/spatial type learners. I think our pics will give you the idea...

This is our "zoo". In here is where Magnus is going to place his small phonetic zoo cards with the pictures of the animals on one side and the rule on the other. I have encouraged him to take the card from the zoo and read the rule as often as he would like.

Here is the "playground" for our city. Here is where we write the words that follow the rule: "when 'a-y' says 'a' as in 'jay & portray', it comes at the end. See 'decay and delay'."
"Playground" may not have been the best word to choose, but he understands that "play" is the root word or the first word in the compound word so it actually does follow the rule.

Here is Sound City's "Train Station". This follows the part of the rule that says:
"When 'a-i' say 'a' as in 'claim & chain', it comes in the middle as in 'train & pain'."
Again, not sure if "train station" was a smart choice due to "station" having the long 'a' sound and it not following either rule, but it's alright.

The tree you see to the left will be used for words that have the long 'e' sound and are spelled 'ee' as in 'tree'.

The rest of the rule is as follows:
"Don't let suffixes betray you as in 'decayed'. The root never changes. See 'playful & played'."

The boys were both very excited about this on going project. I think the key to keeping their interest is letting them "own" it. I will help them come up with the parts of our city, but I am going to let them draw them. This is hard for my perfectionist tendencies.

Anyhow, I will post more pics of our sound city as we do more!