August 24, 2007

Strange Children and New Template

I decided to update my template since it's been a while and I wanted something warmer-looking for the fall. We'll see how I like the 3-column look.

My friend, Kristie, updated hers too, and it looks so fall-ish and pretty! She has the cutest falling leaves at the top. It makes me want to go to the cider mill.

Yesterday morning I had some transcription to do, so I told my children to clean up the house while I worked. When I finished typing and came upstairs the house looked great, but I didn't see the kids. I finally found them in the girls' room:

Do you think the chicken mummies have had some kind of strange effect on my kids? Or maybe they've watched Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy too often!

August 23, 2007

Owl Pellet Dissection

We did an owl pellet dissection last week. It was so much fun! The kids really got into the project - I was surprised that it held their attention so long. You can see all of the pics here:


  • Owl Pellets (I bought these when Home Science Tools had a coupon - the large pellets are great)

  • Owl Pellet Examination Instructions (free PDF from Home Science Tools)

  • toothpicks or a teasing needle

  • my kids used forceps to help arrange their skeleton parts

  • newspaper or something to cover the table

  • bone identification charts (see below)

Free stuff for this project:


August 20, 2007

Beans, My Morning & Rockin' Girl Blogger Award...

... in other words, this post is a babble of mishmash!

I decided to soak a big bag of pinto beans in my crockpot Saturday, so I rinsed them and stuck them in it. Kim from Large Family Logistics says to squeeze some lemon in with them during soaking, so I had Allyson pull out the last lemon - it was bad. Oh, well! I had a couple of limes, so I decided to use one of those instead. So, I check on the beans a few hours later and they are all the way to the top of the crockpot (this is just soaking, not cooking yet)! I *thought* I had soaked 2 pounds of beans in there before - guess not! I stuck half of the beans in a large pot and added more water and lime. I was sick yesterday, so I just decided to let the beans soak the rest of the day. They were cheap ones anyway, and I like to let them soak a long time. Back to the beans in a bit...

I wake up at around 3:00 this morning and can't get back to sleep, so I decide to get up at 3:30. Why not? I make myself some coffee, wash a couple of dishes and decide to rinse and cook my beans from Saturday. I get the beans rinsed and back in the crockpot and turn it on. I decide I will go ahead and rinse the beans in the pan and cook them in there rather than wait for the other beans to get done, so I get them ready and put them on to boil before turning the heat down to low. The coffee is done, so I pour myself a cup and go downstairs to start a load of laundry.

Since I'm downstairs, I decide to print out the children's ministry lesson and memory verse cards for our church's children's ministry tonight. I figure I'd better get going on my medical transcription tape since I am already at the computer, so I begin typing.... The first load of laundry is finished. I switch loads and go upstairs for a second cup of coffee. What do I smell as I'm going up the stairs? It smells like... Oh, no! It's overflowing bean juice! Total bummer! I pull the pan off the burner and look inside - the beans aren't burned and there is still a lot of water in there. Whew! I'll wait until the pan cools so I can wipe the bottom of the pan before putting it back on.

Okay, time for the second cup of java. Then back to the basement, where I decide to finish designing the postcards for our very first Back to School Bash (which my friend, Kristie, is planning) before continuing my transcription. I have Rob check and okay the postcards (he is up by now) and I print them off - all 283 of them! Hopefully, we'll have a good turnout. In the meantime, Rob brings me a third cup of java and I get back to my transcription tape.

I have to open my Internet browser to check on a med for the transcription and I notice that I have a few comments on my blog. The transcription can wait for a few while I check them. Yeah! I got the Rockin' Girl Blogger Award from my very best friend in the whole world, Kristie! I've seen this award floating around the blogosphere and I really wanted it, even though I don't think I blog enough to deserve it. Kristie gave it to me anyway! Did I tell you that you're my very best friend, Kristie? Since I'm already on HSB and I'm totally cranked with caffeine and feeling weird, I decide to blog about my morning so far. I start this blog, but I really need to get back to work. Rob needs more coffee, so I run upstairs to refill his cup. Well, since I'm there, I might as well refill mine too, right? Cup #4.

Okay, back to the transcription. I finish my tape, print it off, fax my bill, change the laundry and take the laundry basket upstairs. I think I'll leave cup #4 up there, unfinished. I'm starting to feel a little funny.

I come back down and am now finishing this blog. It's 8:00 AM. I think I'll go take my shower now so that I can stay awake. I'd better get the kids up - why are they still sleeping, anyway? Check back later for the blog award info - I have to figure out what I'm supposed to do with it and I can't think right now.


August 1, 2007

Homeschool Open House 2007

I am so excited to participate in the Homeschool Open House 2007! What a great idea to get a peek into other homeschools. I am really looking forward to reading everyone's posts.

I decided that I will revise and update this post frequently rather than rewrite our schedule and curriculum plans when I have completed my planning for the year, so don't be surprised if you see quite a few changes. I will link to the curriculum and schedule in my sidebar when the Open House is finished.

My husband, Rob, and I have been married 15 years and have four wonderful children: two sons and two daughters. This will be our eighth year homeschooling; we homeschool all four of them. They are going into eighth, seventh, fifth and third grades. You can read this post if you want a brief synopsis of why we homeschool. This post explains how I organized last year's binders. I will be changing some things this year, so look for an update on this soon. If you would like to see how I used Tapestry of Grace last year, read this post. We homeschool year-round, but summer is very light and sporadic. This post details my 2006/2007 evaluation and 2007 summer plans.

2007/2008 Curriculum Plan

I am still working on studies for this year, but this is basically what we will be doing. Just in case you think I am some kind of slave driver, we don't do everything every day! I use Homeschool Tracker Plus to schedule everything, and I love it!


I will try to outline a typical day for us, but I have to admit that we don't always have "typical" days! I have a basic schedule, but I keep myself flexible so that I don't get overwhelmed and worried about "not getting everything done." Our homeschool day generally lasts from 9 AM to 2 or 3 PM. However, that doesn't mean that we are all working the entire time. There are also some days when we get involved in projects (like this one) and go later. These are basically the times that I make myself available for homeschooling, meaning I don't answer the phone (except for prayer requests) and I try not to get too involved in housework or other projects. Many times there are exceptions, like when we are involved in large church projects, but we have enough "typical" days that everything balances out. Here is an ideal typical day in time blocks:

Kids rise, make beds
feed dogs and fish
breakfast/read Bible and pray together
kitchen clean-up
morning hygiene
kids have personal Bible time

Spelling Wisdom: Jordan, Allyson
Wordly Wise: Nathan
Handwriting Without Tears or copywork: Kathryn


independent TOG work for the day (we spread most of this out over the week, so it isn't as much as it looks):
~ timeline for Nathan & Jordan: M
~ mapwork: M-Th
~ writing: M-Th
~ history reading/questions: M-F
~ literature reading & worksheet: M-F
~ hands-on activities for Allyson & Kathryn: M, T, Th, F
~ worldview when scheduled for Nathan & Jordan: T, Th
~ history & literature discussions with Nathan & Jordan: F
piano lessons for Allyson & Kathryn: W
lunch prep for mom

Trial and Triumph read-aloud: M
TOG read-aloud: W, Th, F
kitchen clean-up

group studies:
~ group math activity: M
~ Bible Study/notebooking: M, W, F
~ science/notebooking: M, Th
~ TOG hands-on activities: Th
individual writing instruction as needed for next week: F
art class 1 day/month

Kids: chores, typing, computer time, instrument practice, free time
Mom: church work (M, T, W), medical transcription (Th, F)

dinner prep
last-minute house straightening
feed dogs and fish

kitchen clean-up

Evening ~ church or other activities, free time, family time, etc.
Remember, this is a typical ideal day with no instrument lessons, church functions, sports, etc. Not every day of the week will look like this; this schedule shows our most productive days. Most weeks we have 2 to 3 days like this. We work on chores, laundry, housework and cooking throughout the day.

My schedule is necessarily somewhat rigid because of other commitments. I work about 6-10 hours a week as a medical transcriptionist. My husband and I coordinate a weekly children's ministry and a few annual children's outreaches. We also lead our church's youth ministry. I am only adding this because I don't think that such a stringent schedule is necessary for everyone, and I wouldn't want someone to try to replicate it in lieu of a more relaxed schedule just because it looks good. As homeschoolers, I believe that it is very important to prayerfully consider our time commitments and schedules and seek God for what is best for our own families.

Location of Studies & Materials

Our front room is set up with lots of bookshelves, a couch, a round table, chairs, an old laptop and a white board. I guess you could call it our "school room," although we don't do a lot of school work there. I call it the library because I've always wanted one. A couple children usually do math in there while the others work in the kitchen. We usually read the Bible at the kitchen table or in the family room (back room). Read-alouds are in the family room. The kids do some work at the library table, kitchen table and even their bedrooms. I also have a round table set up in our family room. I am hoping that a couple kids will do worksheet type work out there so that I can keep the kitchen table clear. We'll see.... The majority of our school books are in the library, but not all of them. I recently installed wall shelves in the kids' rooms (my new favorite for saving space). I also have some books in the basement that I go through and pull out when needed. I have a craft and sewing area set up in the basement.

Here is a written picture of the bookcases in the library from left to right if you are interested in how I organize them:
1 ~ History series books, history spines that span more than one time period, a master binder of some notebooking page templates, some miscellaneous history resources and a cupboard at the bottom of the unit that holds games.

2 ~ Nonfiction history books and historical fiction organized chronologically.

3 ~ Geography, science, nature study.

4 ~ Math textbooks, literature, games and manipulatives; art supplies and art books; some science supplies in plastic drawers.

5 ~ Bible study materials, some homeschooling books, one shelf of picture books.

6 ~ Language arts materials, including phonics, grammar, spelling and foreign language; reference books; some titles from "The Harvard Classics;" and a cupboard at the bottom of the unit that holds games.

7 ~ This bookcase is dedicated to current curriculum. The top shelf has my TOG curriculum binders (these will begin to go into a second shelf this year). The second shelf has books that we are using for the current unit. The third shelf holds the kids' TOG binders, writing binders and any other notebooks or binders that they are using. The fourth shelf holds library books. Right now the bottom shelf has the overlay maps that Nathan was working on last year and my master binder of last year's work. (Oops! I have to get that stuff filed!) I need to work on this shelf and get it organized for our upcoming studies.

8 ~ Miscellaneous literature: fiction, fairy tales, poetry and anthologies.

Teaching Style

In the early years, I focus heavily on reading. As soon as my children can read, they begin to be independent in many of their studies. I usually have to explain math topics to them. I also teach them whatever writing topic they are working on for TOG. They do their history, literature and geography with little help from me. I try to go through everything that they have done independently daily, or at least weekly, depending on our schedule. We do Bible, science and some read-alouds together. Now that Nathan and Jordan are both in "junior high," I will be doing history discussions with them together. I guess we use a combination of instruction, independent work, group activities and discussion in our homeschool.

You've probably read more than you want to know about how we homeschool! Feel free to ask specific questions - I can always use material for future posts!