Thursday, August 27, 2015

How a homeschool parent gets ready for school

Ways that a homeschool parent gets ready for the school:

1.  Shop for school supplies.  Go to the nearest store and wander around the school supply area casually grabbing the needed crayons, markers, glue sticks, pencils, and paper for the year all while watching the moms with the page long list of supplies that their kindergartner needs.  Giggle to yourself while that mom races frantically from aisle to aisle searching for that elusive item on their list.  Your cart totals $30 in supplies for three kids and hers is $100 for just one.

2.  Shop for curriculum.  Take a few friends for a girls’ weekend and head to the nearest homeschool convention.  Go out to eat, relax, sleep, and enjoy yourself all weekend long while public school moms are busy at home shuffling their angels from activity to activity trying to get everything done during summer vacation.

3.  Shop for school clothes.  Well, that really isn’t necessary since most days your kids spend in their pajamas so just stock up on some nice warm flannels and you’re done.  Meanwhile, the other moms are dropping a mortgage payment making sure that their children have the latest fashions so they are not picked on during the year.  You cruise in and out of the store while they circumnavigate the mall three times with three cranky children who never seem to find what they like.

4. First day of school-Gather at the window in your robe and drink your favorite coffee or tea. Watch all the kids and their moms gather at the bus stop.  New clothes, backpacks, sneakers, and everyone is smiling and taking pictures.  After the bus leaves, go rouse your children out of bed and start your first day by letting them wear pajamas for the day.

5.  Week one.  Watch the neighborhood kids get on the bus still smiling because they are enjoying their first few days at school.  You spend the day teaching your child about Michelangelo.  Then you tape paper to the bottom of the kitchen table and let them color and paint just like the Sistine Chapel.

6.  Week two.  The neighborhood kids are now miserable and tired at the bus stop.  The moms are racing after them bringing items that they forgot.  Other sleepy kids are munching on a pop tart.  Bagged lunches designed by pinterest ideas have been replaced by PB&J.  You still watch from the comfort of your window, sipping your coffee, and then rouse your kids after the bus leaves.  This week’s study is on the Oregon Trail and your children are making food that was made on the trail, playing the game on the computer, and packing for their own simulated trip in the house where you’ve set up problems for them to solve in each room.

7.  Week three.  It pours for two days.  Mom are sitting in running cars at the bus stop so their kids don’t get soaked, which unfortunately they do when they tried to leave the car to get on the bus.  You spend one day at the local science museum and the next day helping your kids research a scientist or invention to do an oral report.

If only this were true!!  We have as many struggles as public school parents. 

·        We sharpen pencils every morning only to have them sucked into the void the next morning. 

·        Planning is often difficult and ruined when the flu bug hits.

·        A run into the store after a field trip yields strange looks and the “why aren’t your kids in school?” question.  This produces an entire uninvited conversation on “don’t you worry about socialization?”

·        Most days we want to curl up into bed and pull the covers over our heads. 

·        Leaving the kids to do their school work quietly while you change the laundry around results in a full scale shouting match and eraser war.

·        There is not enough caffeine in the world to make it through the day

·        Pinterest lunch ideas are thrown out the window.  Open a can of ravioli and call it lunch.  Add an apple and you’ve added a fruit.

Best of luck to all my fellow homeschool parents!! 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

New Life

After finishing up a year of going online for my master's degree full time while trying to homeschool, I needed a break.  I still have a year to finish my degree but I'm taking some time off to refocus on my kids and the house.  Things got way to disorganized here and it was driving me a little batty.

This summer, I've been spending a lot of time getting ready for our new year.  Five kids in different levels means a lot of planning, but that's okay.  I'm enjoying the planning once again which tells me that I really really needed some time off.

I've also been busy with our garden this year.  It was the biggest ever but we still had some disappointments.  The carrots refused to grow and I planted them twice.  Not really a disappointment, but I have enough cucumbers to feed an army.  We have a ton of pickles left from last year so I definitely do not need anymore of those!  The tomatoes haven't really come in yet....a few a day.  Nothing to can with.  Its supposed to be cool here today and tomorrow so I'm not sure if these green tomatoes will ever turn.

so far this year I've canned:

7 qts of peaches
9 half-pints of peach jam
25 quarts of green beans
3 pints pickles
3 pints of relish
4 pints of salsa

And I've frozen:

Many many green peppers cut up
Lots of jalapenos to make fresh salsa this winter
3 quart sized bags of green beans
52 quart sized bags of fresh corn cut off the cob
8 bags of shredded zucchini to make bread this winter

and a ton of zucchini and eggplant diced really small to feed the chickens this winter. 

I still have peppers and green beans coming in.  The zucchini and eggplants are still producing.  The onions will be pulled when the tomatoes are ready to make sauce.  We've enjoyed 8 cantaloupes so far this year.  The only two watermelons that came up, my son accidently ran over with the lawn mower because he couldn't see them and we have about 8 pumpkins coming in. 

So, right now, I'm in the midst of canning and freezing.  The two pigs will be taken next month to the butcher so we'll have pork for the year.  My chickens were wiped out by a predator (probably a raccoon) this spring so I got a bunch of new hens.  They won't be laying for a while.  I was going to wait so I didn't have to feed chickens over the winter but it seemed silly to wait with the egg prices as they are.  And the cow will be ready to butcher this spring.  So very thankful for this little homestead!!

I promise to post pics later on.  Right now I'm just busy busy!  Enjoy your day!!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Three months later.....

I am so sorry for not posting in months.  I was taking two online graduate classes that took every ounce of strength and every minute of my spare time.  I finally finished them in February with an A- in my American Indian Wars class and an A in my American Revolution class.  

Since then, I've been extremely lazy.  I have tons to do and just now starting to get some ambition to do stuff.  Maybe because spring is finally in the air!

Here's what's been going on here:

  • TL tested for and received his red belt in taekwondo. Only brown, brown with black stripe and then black.  Can't wait for that one!
  • Our beloved Shadow had to be put down last week.  His legs/hips gave out on him.  We tried for a few days to deal with it but he wasn't eating either so we had to put him to sleep.  It was a horrible day.  THe kids took it hard and so did I.  Even now I'm tearing up.  He was so patient and caring.  We definitely miss him around here.
  • Bug-a-bug is also missed.  She went to grandma's Friday and we will pick her up on Easter when we go down for the day.  She's helping my sister-in-law scrapbook....graduation is in May and she's not ready with the pics yet.
  • I finally finished the wallhanging for the living room.  Now I just need to hang it up.
  • American Heritage Girls is coming to an end for the year.  I'm a little nervous for next year as I will become the coordinator.  I'm praying for lots of guidance and great leadership skills.  
  • I'm working on a Sunday school program for our 6th and 7th graders.  A tour of the year the New Testament and the next is the Old Testament.  I'm hoping that the kids will learn a lot and be ready to enter into our Remnant program for 8th graders with a little more knowledge under their belts.
  • I'm working on some geneaolgy.....just discovered an ancestor that was a life guard for George Washington.  I don't know much about the life guards so I hope to learn more.
  • Of course, looking at curriculum for the next year.  Our homeschool convention is in a few weeks and I'm looking forward to going.  I need to recharge my batteries.
  • And lastly, we took two seven month old pupppies in.  Brother and sister: lab/irish setter mixes.  Its been forever since we had puppies.  Shadow was nine months when we got him....already potty trained but still chewing.  Have to start everything with these two and train them to stay on the property.  They are adjusting well.  Oliver is loving and wants to please.  Jasmine is very very timid but very sweet.  I'm so pleased that we kept them together.  They were the last two and I don't know if she would have done well in a home by herself.  She lights up around her brother and is being more forward with us now.
So that's all that's been going on.  Really not much.  As I said I've been really really lazy....but that's okay.  I figure I deserve it!


Saturday, December 6, 2014


Its December sixth.  The cards are purchased (not addressed or mailed), most of the shopping and wrapping is done, the tree is up.....but that is absolutely all that is done.  I have boxes of decorations that the kids want to put up, hopefully we will get that done tomorrow.

I found myself struggling trying to homeschool and go to college full time so I made a few changes.  I'm getting up a little earlier to try to get some of my reading done before I start their school day and I changed some of our curriculum.  As a history major, I love to design my own curriculum for the kids but it was seriously falling through the cracks.  They hadn't done history in about four weeks so I brought down and purchased a curriculum for them.  Not how I like to do it, but it will work for this year and next.  I just can't juggle it all.

It doesn't help that with popcorn sales in Boy Scouts, I've been really busy with that and thanfully this is my last year being the treasurer.  I'm done.  TL has one more year of scouts and I'll have volunteered for ten years on scouts.  The girls need me with their American Heritage Girls program so that will by my focus.  Christmas program practices have kept us busy also.  I'm hoping to spend more time with the kids but it seems like all I do is housework, laundry, homework, and homeschooling.  We've gotten off of our chore chart schedule so I'm making sure that we get back on track this week.  I'm planning on taking May off this next year (I have two classes right now that end in February and will take one eight week class in March through April).  I'll have five classes after that and will hopefully be done by April of the prize is in sight.  I just have to stay focused and pray alot.  I've been losing my patience with the kids when they interrupt me doing homework.  My other problem is that the little ones need to have a more structured bedtime.  If I get them in bed at a set hour every night I'll be able to do some homework then and not be too exhausted.  Unfortunately, as I get older, I'm finding late study nights are not my thing.  I'd rather go to bed and sleep a good eight hours.  

I'm off to bed for now.  Early day tomorrow with Sunday school.  Have a blessed weekend everyone!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Update on my crazy life

Things have been really busy here:

  • We were visited by our homeschooling blogging friends that we'd never met but "known" for years.  It was a wonderful visit and way too short.
  • The teen got his driver's license!!  WOOT!  WOOT!  I don't have to drive  him around anymore!  And at the end of the month he'll have his own vehicle.
  • Boy Scouts is in full popcorn swing.  I'm tired of it already.  As treasurer, I'll have a busy few weeks.
  • American Heritage Girls has started.  As an explorer leader and vice-coordinator, I'm really busy.
  • Last three weeks of this term for school.  I have two 12 page papers to write, ugh.  It wouldn't be bad except that I wasn't able to pick my own topic for the one class so I'm dragging my heels on it.
  • Canning is done for the year.  We've had frost several times and I didn't get as nearly as much done with the tomatoes as I wanted but sadly its over.  
  • We got a pig and a calf to take care of.  We're still getting plenty of eggs from the chickens so that's a blessing.
  • The heat is on already.  I had to do it because it gets down in the 30s at night and its just really really cold.
  • My dad and his wife have decided to sell everything and travel in their RV full time.  I'm very excited for them.  Should be alot of fun.
  • Homeschool co-op is going really really well.  The girls are enjoying all of their classes.
  • TL is taking Russian classes through Currclick and loving it.  The classes are fun and engaging and he likes his teacher alot.
I think that's about it for a quick update.  I'll have some curriculum reviews later this week.


Saturday, September 20, 2014

History plans Grades 6-8 Industrial Revolution through the end of the 21st century

History lesson plans Grades 6-8      Industrial Revolution through end of 21st century including a study of Native Americans
I am currently working on a master’s degree in history.  I wanted an inexpensive program that teaches history utilizing fiction, non-fiction, and biography while exploring maps and projects.  I do recommend getting Christine Miller’s All through the Ages book.
I believe in teaching history chronologically.  I know, you’re looking at this list and going well, the first few weeks are about American Indians and Immigration in the United States.  I know but these are topics that I didn’t think we’d sufficiently covered.  I wanted my kids to have a good overview of different regions of American Indians and also some important treaties, leaders, and wars.  Immigration plays a very important role in the latter half of the 19th century and early 20th century so I included a separate study here.
**My goal is to develop a plan that is inexpensive and utilizing books, lapbooks, notebooking pages, etc that I already have or can purchase inexpensively.  Any books can be substituted out here.  I just list the ones we have for my own records; it doesn’t actually mean that we will use them or even all of them.  Use books from your own shelves or go to the library.  I love history but there are so many books out there that it would be difficult and expensive to have an extensive library at home. 

Week one through week three-Native Americans
This is an overview of the Native American tribes within the United States.  The Northeast, Southeast, Great Plains, Northwest, and Southwest Indians are discussed.
Books used:                       North American Indian Stories by Gretchen Will Mayo
                                                Southwest Indians by Mir Tamin Ansary
                                                …if you Lived with the Sioux Indians by Ann McGovern
                                                …if you Lived with the Cherokee by Peter and Connie Roop
                                                …if you Lived with the Iroquois by Ellen Levine
                                                The Encyclopedia of Native America by Trudy Griffin-Pierce

** I know the If You Lived Series is geared towards younger children but they do have wonderful information for research

See the attached lesson plan called Native Americans grades 6-8

Week four-Immigration

Books used:                       Immigration by Peter Benoit (Scholastic-Cornerstones of Freedom)

Week five-Industrialization Revolution
Week six-Industrial Revolution
Week seven-Topics covered:  Spanish American War, Boxer Rebellion, US President McKinley assassinated, Wright Brothers, Panama Canal, San Francisco Earthquake, Triple Entente
Week eight-Balkan Wars, Russia: October Revolution and Tsar Nicholas II,
Week nine-WWI
Week ten-WWI
Week eleven-WWI
Week Twelve-WWI ends and League of Nations formed
Week Thirteen-US Prohibition, Palestine, Europe: Mussolini, Soviet Union established, West Germany occupation, Stalin rises to power
Week Fourteen-Charles Lindbergh, US stock market crash triggers Great Depression, Pluto discovered
Week Fifteen-Great Depression
Week Sixteen-1920s survey of music, crime….leading up to Al Capone’s imprisonment
Week Seventeen-FDR New Deal, Europe, Hoover Dam
Week Eighteen-Hindenburg, War of the Worlds, WWII begins
Week Nineteen-WWII
Week Twenty-WWII
Week Twenty-one-WWII
Week Twenty-two WWII
Week Twenty-three-US Marshall Plan, NATO, Israel, Germany and Korea
Week Twenty-four-Cold War begins, Korean War
Week Twenty-five-Korean War
Week Twenty-six-Elizabeth II, climbing Mt. Everest, US: Segregation ruled illegal
Week Twenty-seven-Rosa Parks, Warsaw Pact, US Civil Rights struggle in South, US and Russia launch satellites into orbit
Week Twenty-eight-US: Alaska and Hawaii introduced as states, Fidel Castro established as dictator in Cuba, Berlin War, Bay of Pigs
Week Twenty-nine-Cuban Missile Crisis, JFK assassinated, MLK: I have a dream speech, South Vietnamese government overthrown by coup
Week Thirty-Vietnam War
Week Thirty-one-Vietnam War
Week Thirty-two-MLK and Robert Kennedy assassinated, Northern Ireland tensions, space race
Week Thirty-three-space race, Roe v. Wade, Watergate Scandal, St Helens erupts
Week Thirty-four-Space Shuttle’s first flight, Gandhi assassinated, Gorbachev becomes Soviet leader
Week Thirty-five-Challenger blows up, Mir Space Station, Chernobyl explodes, Berlin Wall comes down
Week Thirty-six-Persian Gulf War, Waco Texas
Week Thirty-seven-World Trade Center explodes, Mandela elected president to South Africa, Rwanda
Week Thirty-EU formed, 9/11, tensions in gulf

For a printable version of this go here.

Weeks one through three: Native Americans

Native Americans Grades 6-8
This is an overview of the Native American tribes within the United States.  The Northeast, Southeast, Great Plains, Northwest, and Southwest Indians are discussed.
Books used:                       North American Indian Stories by Gretchen Will Mayo
                                                Southwest Indians by Mir Tamin Ansary
                                                …if you Lived with the Sioux Indians by Ann McGovern
                                                …if you Lived with the Cherokee by Peter and Connie Roop
                                                …if you Lived with the Iroquois by Ellen Levine
                                                The Encyclopedia of Native America by Trudy Griffin-Pierce
** I know the If You Lived Series is geared towards younger children but they do have wonderful information for research

Week one
Vocabulary terms:  treaty, compromise, wampum, clan, surrender, reservation, warrior, squaw
Study the Northeast, and Southeast Indians in detail.  Make notebooking pages or lapbooks answering the following questions:
            What were their traditional dwellings?
            What were their family/clan relationships like?
            What were their clothes like?
            What did they generally eat?
            What were their customs in warfare?
            Name five different tribes that is located in this region

If you have the Enclopedia of Native America read the following:
            Northeast: pages 27-32
            Southeast: pages 49, 55-59
Read aloud: North American Indian Stories
Activities:        Plan a Native American meal
                        Make a cornhusk doll
                        Design a village for the Northeast or Southeast Indians
Week two
Read Aloud:  Soft Rain
Watch:  Dances with Wolves
Study in detail: Plains, Northwest, and Southwest Indians.  Make notebooking pages or lapbooks with details such as
            What were their traditional dwellings?
            What were their family/clan relationships like?
            What were their clothes like?
            What did they generally eat?
            What were their customs in warfare?
            Name five different tribes that is located in this region

Activities:        Make a dreamcatcher
                        Make a diorama of an indian village from one of these regions
                        Make a todem pole

Week three:
Project week!
1. Pick two of the following people and design a notebooking page or poster with information about their lives such as when/where they were born and died, what tribe they were with, what interesting thing they did in history, and any other facts that you find interesting.
                        Crazy Horse
                        Red Cloud
                        Red Eagle
                        Sitting Bull

2.  Pick two of the following wars and write short reports regarding the details of the war, who is was between, the years, the outcome, any treaties that were made as a result, and what eventually happened to the treaty.
                        Wounded Knee
                        Red River War
                        US Dakota War
                        Ute War
                        Little Big Horn

Watch:  History Channel Code Talkers

*****When doing research online, DO NOT use Wikipedia.  It is a bad habit to get into. Anyone at any time can go in and change any information that they want on this website.  Colleges generally do not allow usage of this website so do not start using it.  Use websites that are .edu or .gov; .com websites are generally not sourced and not confirmed.  Always be sure to be watching your child while on the internet to ensure that they are not connected to a website that is questionable.
 For a printable version of this Native American study, go here.

Week four-Immigration

Day one
Read Immigration by Peter Benoit (Scholastic-Cornerstones of Freedom) pages 6-19

Day two
Read Immigration pages 21-43
Read about the first person to arrive at Ellis Island

Day three
Read Immigration pages 45-49

Day four
Watch the virtual field trip of Ellis Island

Notes from the reading and study guide for quiz:
1.       What did U.S. President John F. Kennedy call the United States? ____________________________________________

2.       Define immigrants: ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

3.       Define indentured servant: ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

4.       What were some of the reasons that people immigrated to the United States?

a.       _________________________________________________________
b.      _________________________________________________________
c.       _________________________________________________________

5.       Define ethnic enclave:

6.       Define refugee: ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

7.       Which continent has the greatest number of immigrants to the US? ______________________

8.       Why do you think that nation has the largest number of immigrants? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

9.       Which decade in the 1900s had the most immigrants? _________________________________

10.   Why do you think that is? ________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________

11.   Why do you think that there was such a decline in immigration during the 1930s and 1940s? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

12.   Where is Ellis Island located? ______________________________________________________

13.   What was the purpose of Ellis Island? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

14.   What years did Ellis Island operate? ________________________________________________

15.   How many immigrants were processed during those years? ____________________________

16.   The Statue of Liberty was given to the United States in _________________ by _____________.

17.   Engraved in the base of the statue are lines from Emma Lazarus’ poem “The New Colossus” which reads:


18.   Who was the first person to arrive on Ellis Island?  How old was he/she and where were they from?  ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

19.   What did that person receive when they arrived on Ellis Island? _________________________

20.   In what year was Ellis Island opened as a park? _______________________________________

 For a printable version of week four immigration, go here.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Geography-Travel the World Series

Almost ten years ago was that terrible tsunami in Sri Lanka.  I'm embarrassed to say that my hubby and I huddled around the globe to locate the tiny country that received such devastation.  We had a general idea....but that was it.  

At that moment, I decided that my children would learn better geography skills than I possessed.  So I've come up with this study program for them to do.  The wonderful thing is that this program can/will be used for years as they can do as many levels each month as they wish.  

I have a blank world map hanging on the wall that we use to test with.

Each month, I print out the sheet corresponding to that month's study and then I give them a blank map to fill in themselves.  It gives them ownership of what they are doing.  I designed the program to go over countries, capitals, vocabulary terms, oceans, lakes, rivers, mountains, deserts.  Here's a look at month one and two.  September is a short month because we're getting into the swing of things so that only has two levels.  If your child knows these already you can move onto level two.  I've designed a ten month program.  

Month one
Level one – Back to Basics
North America
South America

Level two
Atlantic Ocean
Pacific Ocean
Artic Ocean
Indian Ocean
Southern Ocean




Month two-North America

Level One
United States

Level Two

Level Three
British Columbia
Northwest Territories

Level Four
Lake Superior
Lake Michigan
Lake Huron
Lake Erie
Lake Ontario




There is a printable version of this here.


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Organization is key

So many of you are talented enough to just go with the flow of the school day and remain calm, cool, and collected.  I would love to be like you.  I am not that way at all.  In fact, when I'm not organized with copies ready to go, lesson check off list printed off for the kids, and my desk cleaned off......well, let's just say it isn't pretty.  I'm not...that is.

I cannot function this way.  Perhaps its because I have so much on my plate between homeschooling, full time college, American Heritage Girls, and Boy Scouts?  Probably not...I've always been this way.  Making lists checking things off.  I've even done things for the day not on the list and then written that item down just so I can check it off.  I know, I'm pathetic.

With homeschooling I struggle to juggle five different levels.  I have two that need one on one time for all their lessons and two that work independently that need one on one time for certain things and one that is almost exclusively independent.  And of course, they are all clamoring for my attention at the same time.

This year I made a very organized detailed schedule.  Listing what happens when and if mom is needed for the lesson.  Now I do answer questions or give directions as needed but the kids know that I am working with someone else and are pretty patient for a few minutes until I get to them.

One saving grace is Homeschool Tracker.  I love that I can plan out lessons for the entire year for each subject and each grade level.  Once the lessons are in, I just use the scheduler button to plan out each week and I can even include a time for the subject to be started and completed.  A lot of times, the girls are done ahead of schedule so they just move onto the next subject. No problem there.  Several times during the day, I grade their work (with the girls its usually after each subject) and mark it completed.  The program records attendence, grades, and books for me.  I have purchased a yearly plan of $60 for the online version.  I used to use the Plus program but when the computer crashes there goes your lesson plans.  I enjoy having access wherever I am at.  It also saves lesson plans for me to use for the kids that are moving up so I don't have to replan or retype or rewrite in plans.  What a blessing!  I can even type in goals if I wish.  I'll do a more in depth post on the tracker program later this week.

On the homefront, I'm canning up a storm.  I did eight quarts of spaghetti sauce, 6 quarts of chili, and 3 quarts of pickles in the past week.  I still have to do relish, salsa, and the carrots.  I've already done the green beans and the apples will be ready in the next week or so.  We still have apple butter left from last year so I'll do applesauce and some apple pie filling recipes.  I'm hoping my friend will let me have access to her pear tree which is loaded with pears and they don't plan to use.  That would be a huge blessing!  And of course, tomatoes are still coming in so I'll be doing more spaghetti sauce and chili.  I already pickled beets for Kevin.  I think they're yucky and so do the kids.  Peppers and onions are all in.  We now have 12 quarts of bread and butter pickles so I'm pretty sure we're set for the year with those.

Have a wonderful week!