A large family, homeschooling, adoption, special needs, whatever strikes my fancy, sort of blog.

A large family, homeschooling, adoption, special needs, whatever strikes my fancy, sort of blog.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Our School Room

Back to school, back to homeschooling, school rummage sale... it was a perfect storm that resulted in me doing what Paul's been after me to do for the last 3 years.  I cleaned the school room.  And I don't mean I vacuumed and dusted.  I mean I deep purged.  Several boxes and bags, and 3 large Rubbermaid totes all went to the kids' school's rummage sale.  I had been saving a lot of things in case Katie wasn't our last child.  But Paul assures me that she is.  She's turning 10 soon.  It's time to let preschool stuff go.  Counting bears, all the "tot trays" stuff I used to post about, tray puzzles, stacking pegs... goodbye to all of them.  Once I got going, I ended up clearing out most of the K-4th grade curriculum, all the board books (I cried a little), all the Biscuit books Jack and I used to read together--well over a decade ago.  The end result is, the school room feels a lot lighter now, so I thought I'd do another School Room post.  I shared our school room in 2014.  Many things are similar, but there have been some changes, too. 

The wall of bookcases.  We still have a lovable hodge podge of books, curriculum, games art stuff, and assorted supplies, along with the random finished art projects, such as the Greek pitcher or the Egyptian canopic jar two shelves below the wooden rainbow I painted.  2 of the purple bins up top hold art supplies.  The plastic "shoebox" size bins in the right side bookcase hold things like index cards, paper punches, glue, pipe cleaners, pom poms, stickers, markers, colored pencils, etc.  The pink bucket has traditionally been where we keep loot from Staples crazy BTS sales.  We used to get multiples of all the good deals and set them aside for "later."  Well, it's later now, and we'll be using up the contents of this bucket instead of refilling it. 

Our school table was a Christmas gift from Paul a few years ago.  I like the wooden one much better than the folding Costco plastic table we had in here.  Under the clock is a wreath of apples my students made in the 2007-2008 school year.  They're all adults now.  Sigh.  Below that is a picture of my current students, Jack, Hannah, and Katie, from about 5 years ago.  The plastic drawers hold Sharpies, paintbrushes, and writing implements.  The top holds our pencil sharpener, hand sanitizer, and antibacterial wipes.  We're planning to have 2 extra students one day a week, so we'll be wiping down the table more often than usual.  Notice the open "windows" in this picture.  Those ledges have been storage for many years, but Paul prefers them cleared off (the black blob to the right of the monitor is our router, the only exception).  We'll be filling and smashing that pinata when we study Mexico this year.  I originally bought it for CNY--a couple animals back.  I'm better at coming up with ideas than actually executing them. 

Crayon bins on the left hold more art supplies.  We have a lot of art supplies.  Left bookcase is mostly chapter book series.  Right side of top shelf is our China section.  Stacked rainbow bins are currently holding foam stickers, flags, and 2 buckets worth of toob animals (affiliate link).  The crate to the right holds other years of MFW curriculum.  Atop the crate, the frog bucket holds 3 bottles of white board cleaner (oops), 2 erasers, and all the white board markers.  During my cleaning, I discovered that the white bookcase lost it's supports somewhere along the way, and the shelf was sitting on the stuff beneath it.  I'd cleared out enough things that we didn't really need that shelf any more, so the "middle" shelf is now under the stuff on the bottom shelf.  The bottom shelf holds our microscope and English manipulatives, among other things.  Moving right, the pink bookcase is laden with games, flash card sets, clipboards, and more chapter books.  The USA travel scratch off map will be coming down, and the world map will be going back up, but not until after the map pre-test the first week of school. 

I love that our school room has lots of natural light.  The pile on the "window seat" and the buckets on the floor to the left of the window seat are things I haven't quite found a home for yet.  The window seat is storage cubes that hold books, paper, and gardening supplies from our botany days.  I should probably go through those and "weed out" a few things.  Pun intended. 

I tried to do a panoramic shot, but I feel like that works better for landscapes than inside a room. 

That's our school room.  Learning happens here. 

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Summer Fun

It doesn't seem all that summery with no trips to the pool or other adventures, but we're still managing to keep things fun at home. 

Kitchen science!  I picked up some sprouting seeds and cheesecloth, and showed the girls how to grow sprouts.

Just a couple days into the process, I made sausage & beans for dinner.  After soaking the beans overnight, I noticed that a few of them were sprouting, so I brought this to Hannah & Katie's attention and helped them understand that beans are also seeds, like the sprout seeds in the jar. 

Unfortunately, I was way more excited about growing the sprouts than anyone was about eating the sprouts.  :sigh:  I put them on a few salads, but about half the jar went to waste. 

Yellow ribbon up again.  Sam is deployed.  Eli will be going overseas (likely next month) soon, too.

One of the fun things we received from the "at home respite" program was Big Boggle (affiliate link).  I played with Hannah, Jack, and Brianna, and we had a great time.  (Okay, I had fun because I won, lol.  I love word games.)

Bri baked cupcakes and we all decorated them.  This was mine.  I was going for shimmers around the star with the red edible glitter, but it looks more like blobs.

Katie's swirly cupcake.

Grumman has been helping me plan the coming school year.  We've got some great ideas!

Since Katie was watching a movie and didn't play Boggle with us, I played Connect 4 with her the next day.  She beat me!

This was a group project.  (And a terrible picture!  I need to get a better one.)  This wooden kit came in multiple pieces.  Jack painted the blue piece, Katie the white background piece, Hannah the red stripe pieces, and I painted the bronze frame and stand.  I got the kit from Flags of Valor.  We glued it together and left it under heavy books overnight, and it looks pretty good now. 

I have another patriotic project in mind for this little corner honoring my boys who are serving, but we'll see if I actually get around to doing it.

Despite Grumman's "assistance" I've managed to sew some more masks.  I passed 570 recently.

Demand has finally slowed to the point where I might just finish up what's already cut and donate the rest.  I imagine the schools will need them.  I sent 25 off to the Tieks mask drive. 

I spotted this bag of M&Ms with "It's gonna be a loooooong week" on it, and it made me laugh.  Any bright spot in this silly pandemic, right?

These were another gift from the respite at home program. 

They remind me of the metallic markers I had as a kid.  I ordered a black paper sketchpad (affiliate link), and I think these will be really fun on dark paper. 

Still enjoying curbside pickup at the library.  Katie's really gotten into requesting titles she hasn't read yet from various series that we have a few books from. 

While waiting for the bags of books to come out of the library (we got there early), we powered down the windows, parked under a tree, and discussed the nature that we could see.  The girls learned that leaves don't make new trees, and the word rosebuds. 

photo by Josiah
J: Mom, can I make the s'mores?
Me: yes, but be sure to get a picture for me.

I like that I'm at the stage in life where I can put graham crackers, marshmallows, and Hershey bars on the shopping list, and the teens/adult children will grasp my intention and make s'mores happen with no effort or input from me.  I'll have to try putting English muffins, sauce, mozzarella, pepperoni, and sliced olives on the list, and see if they magically turn into little pizzas. 

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Curriculum Choices - Our School Year Plan

Parents all across the nation are making tough choices, balancing work needs, social needs, educational needs, personal convictions, physical safety, and other factors.  While it's heartbreaking to imagine the stress and fallout of COVID-19, I am encouraged that it's got us all rethinking education. 

For me, personally, the choice was easy.  School feels unsafe; let's keep them home.  Paul reminded me that we had valid reasons for putting them into school.  And it was the right choice at the time.  But our county has closed schools.  This feels like the right choice for now.  Extenuating circumstances and all.  So our kids will be homeschooling. 

Many families are choosing distance learning, but I'm seeing more parents pull their kids and do real, parent-led homeschooling, which I think is great.  This experience could have long reaching positive effects for those families. 

I'm in the thick of curriculum shopping right now, so I thought I'd share what we'll be using this year.  The Amazon links will be affiliate links, the other links are just for your convenience.  I'll be homeschooling 2 students, Hannah & Katie, who will be in grades 8 and 5.  It's looking like Jack will do BJU online, through the kids' private school, in order to earn credits for high school graduation. 

My Father's World
This will be our spine.  We will be doing the Exploring Countries and Cultures year from the 5 year cycle.  I taught ECC when I had Brianna, Eli, and Jack as my homeschool students, and it was one of my favorite years of homeschooling, ever.  I'm really looking forward to teaching again, and the fact that the material is somewhat familiar (7 years ago) is a nice bonus.  We already had most of what we needed, so I only had to order students sheets, passports, sticker books, a writing program for Hannah, and a few books that I had passed on to other homeschooling families. 

Pardon my messy workspace.  It's been mask making central the last few months (577 so far!) but I set aside masks to do a couple of Cricut projects, including making the cover for this years planner/record keeping binder.  I'm wishing I'd used tan instead of brown on the globe.  The contrast would have been better. 

My Father's World is unit study based, and covers Bible, history, current events, science, art, music, and more.  But what about the other subjects?

When I thought about homeschooling again, my first thought was to kick myself for getting rid of all our Math U See curriculum.  I thought that's what I would use again.  I went to the MUS site to do placement testing for the girls, and discovered they don't have the same placement tests online any more.  Instead they take you through a series of questions about your student's abilities.  So I fell back on good old www.schooloftomorrow.com (we used their curriculum for years) for placement testing.  And I discovered gaps.  Now, some of those might be the summertime I forgots.  But, knowing that MUS is incremental, but ABeka is spiral, I started rethinking things.  As it happens, I've been cleaning out the school room.  3 Rubbermaid totes, plus boxes and bags of books, K-4th grade curriculum, preschool manipulatives, marbles, puzzle, games, dinosaurs, and more (the dinosaurs didn't go extinct; they were hiding in my school room!) have all gone to the rummage sale the kids' private school is holding soon.  I happened across the teacher book for ABeka Pre-Algebra, which is what Hannah would be in this year.  I went to the ABeka site to see if it's still the current edition (meaning I could buy a student book and they would work together) and was pleasantly surprised to discover that not only is it the current edition, but that ABeka is much cheaper than MUS.  So, the long and the short of it is, both girls will be doing ABeka math this year. 

Language Arts
Hannah will be using Writing With Skill, as recommended by MFW.  I haven't used this before, so I don't know what to expect there, but Timberdoodle carries it, too, so it must be good. 

Both girls will be using Essentials from Logic of English.  We reviewed this program 4 years ago, and I was impressed with it.  Hannah worked in level B last time around.  I'm going to have both girls do level C this year. 

MFW does have some science included in it.  But it suggests additional science for 7th & 8th graders, and we've used Apologia science alongside MFW before.  We enjoyed their Botany and Astronomy books, so I decided this year we'd do one of their Zoology books. 

I haven't ordered everything I want to do this year, but I've ordered all the basics.  Boxes should start trickling in next Monday, which is always very exciting.  We're about a month out from the start of school, which should give me time to get everything ready, and finish up the school room.  I'm hoping to do a school room post, once it's finished.  If you have school aged kids, I'd love to hear what your plan is for the coming year. 

Monday, July 6, 2020

Creative Pursuits

We're embracing summer laziness around here, but we're still doing some creative things. 

Josiah led the girls in another craft. 

Rock painting! 

This is Katie's carrot pizza face.  She insisted I take a picture.

I sewed something that wasn't a mask!!!  Fireworks peasant top for Hannah, using up some of my abundance of 1/4" elastic.

Funny story, the only peasant top pattern I had was a 4T.  Hannah wears a 12.  So I upsized it a bit.  I love the way my serger just trims off whatever didn't quite fit together.  I was kind of holding my breath until she tried it on, but I figured if it was too small, at least Katie could wear it.  Really glad it worked out okay.

Katie has been doing a lot of LEGO play lately.  Hannah and Jack have been watching Star Wars stuff together, and Hannah and Brianna have been watching Marvel stuff together, so Katie's been doing her own thing a bit more.  I'm really happy to see her creativity blossom with LEGOs.  This piece is a van.  She also did quite the house recently.

This is actually one of 3 parts to the house. 

Remember Push-ups ice cream treats?  We got a couple boxes of them recently and used empty TP tubes to make the plastic parts into little cars. 

Colored pencil, marker, washi tape.  

And the obligatory Father's Day coloring page. 

Lots of morning light coming through, even with the blinds closed, sorry.  The girls got a new Lego set as part of "respite at home" from an adoption group.  It was great fun for them to receive a new toy just because. 

COVID-19 numbers are spiking here, and I'm really feeling like we'll be homeschooling in the fall.  I spent some time planning things out yesterday, and I'm starting to get excited about it!