Category Archives: Homeschooling
Music is an important part of our family. My husband plays several instruments and is in a garage band (he was in a band when we met, too, so of course I couldn’t resist developing a crush), I sing and was a part of a musical group in college, my mother-in-law teaches piano and composes, and my dad sings and is in a barbershop quartet. One of my favorite things to do on a date with my husband is attend concerts. Music is important to us and so naturally, we want to pass our passion for music on to our children.
Not only will all three of our girls (eventually) learn an instrument, but I also want to develop in them an appreciation for different kinds of music.
One resource we have been using in our homeschool this year is The Story of the Orchestra.
The Story of the Orchestra is a hardcover book that guides you through each instrument typically found in an orchestra, along with a CD that contains samples of each instrument to listen to. The book also teaches about famous composers and musicians from different eras (Romantic, Modern, etc), along with a musical sample of one of their compositions.
How We Use It In Our Homeschool
One day a week, I read 1-2 pages (depending on the topic) to my daughters. We then listen to the music sample included on the CD. Often, we also search Youtube to find a video of a live orchestra playing the full song. Many of the songs are LONG (20 minutes or more) so we’ll let it play in the background as we continue on with our day. One way to draw in my little girls, ages 6 and 3, is I will search for the song in a cartoon. For instance, many of the old Looney Tunes and Disney cartoons relied on a lot of orchestral music as the background music for their cartoons. What a fun way to introduce orchestral and classical music to children without them even realizing it! And even if you are unsure if they are picking up the music, they ARE. My girls often will recognize a song that they’ve heard before, even if they cannot remember the composer of the song. I still call that a win!
There are pages about specific instruments, such as the cello. These contain historical information along with fun facts. If you look at the image below, you will also see (in the orange oval) directions on which track to play, along with things to listen for in the song and/or more information about the song.
There are also pages specific to composers. These contain facts about the composer, their musical style, and their compositions. (Did you know that there was almost a riot during one of Stravinsky’s concerts? Just one of many fun pieces of trivia throughout the book.)
My 11yo daughter was inspired by what she learned about this particular composer, Igor Stravinsky. She likes to compose her own songs on the piano already, and after reading (and listening) to Stravinsky’s unique style of dissonance, I later heard her at the piano experimenting with some dissonant chords. Score! (pun not intended)
How do you incorporate music in your homeschool? (Seriously, I will need some ideas for next year!)
*No Reimer Reason is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. I did not receive any free items for this post and the opinions are my own.
We recently had the opportunity to use the online program, Time4Learning. Our family embraces technology and online learning, so I was excited to see how it might fit into our homeschool day.
Time4Learning’s online curriculum includes science, social studies and language arts. I found the language arts for 2nd grade to be too easy for my daughter, so I changed her default grade level to be moved to 3rd grade. As a side note: all students have access to their default grade, as well as the grades directly below and above at all times.
My 7yo daughter really enjoyed her classes. The videos, games and characters made learning fun for her. She would often ask if she could “do school” with the program. How could I say no? 🙂
As a parent, I really appreciate that I have my own “dashboard” where I can not only control the types of lessons my daughter will use but also can see which lessons and quizzes she has completed and her scores. I also appreciate that she can use this program independently. With a new baby in the house and a busy 3yo, this is a big plus for our family.
My daughter was sad this morning when I told her our 30 day trial was over. We discussed it and decided to purchase a subscription. I plan on continuing to use it both as an incentive (since it makes learning FUN) and as a supplement / enhancement to our regular schooling.
As a member of Time4Learning, I have been given the opportunity to review their program and share my experiences. While I was compensated, this review was not written or edited by Time4Learning and my opinion is entirely my own. For more information, check out their standards-based curriculum or learn how to write your own curriculum review.
I’ve been invited to try Time4Learning for one month in exchange for a candid review. My opinion will be entirely my own, so be sure to come back and read about my experience. Time4Learning can be used as a homeschool curriculum, for afterschool enrichment and for summer skill sharpening. Find out how to write your own curriculum review for Time4Learning.
My 7yo daughter’s homeschool co-op started this past week. She was so eager for it to begin again that she was counting down the days.
Now that she is in 2nd grade, we could choose the elective classes she takes. Here are the subjects she and I chose together:
1st Period: General Science
2nd Period: Computer Skills
3rd Period: Electronics
4th Period: Art
6th Period: Nature Crafts
7th Period: Kitchen Classroom
Doesn’t that sound like a fun lineup?
Here is our 2nd grader on her first day of her homeschool co-op. 🙂
We just completed our third week of school work here at home. Here is a quick list of the subjects we are working on:
English: Bob Jones 2 (with a concentration on writing, proofreading, etc. this year)
Math: Abeka Arithmetic 2
History/Geography: Sonlight Core C
Reading: Sonlight with 3rd grade readers
Literature: Sonlight Core C
Spelling: All About Spelling and BJU Spelling
Handwriting: BJU Handwriting
She also recently started taking a daytime gymnastics class. So far, she really enjoys it and is happily learning how to do cartwheels and is working on her balance on the balance beam.
One big change for us this year was the decision to stop going to a local Music Academy for her music lessons. Although my daughter and I both loved the program, it was difficult for us to make it to class on time every week. Since parent involvement was required and younger siblings could not attend the class, we had to rely on my husband to rush home from work (which wasn’t always an option for him) so we could leave our toddler at home with him and then leave to attend class. With another baby coming, I just didn’t think it would be a good fit for us this year. So, we are starting regular piano lessons instead. I have a friend who teaches piano and as an extra bonus, she comes to her students’ houses to teach. That sounds perfect! Lessons start next week.
So there is the rundown of what we will be working on in 2nd grade this year. Looking forward to another fun and busy year!
One of the benefits of homeschooling – impromptu field trips! 🙂
Scraplift of a layout by AnyaL, Kit is Zoe Pearn’s “Isn’t She Lovely”
When spring hits, especially when we have these mild Colorado days, we really struggle with Spring fever and the desire to be outside. Yet I keep looking at the calendar and comparing it with the number of lessons we have yet to do. Guess we’d better not play hooky for too many days. 🙂
We have gotten a couple of nice snowstorms already this winter, much to my 6yo daughter’s delight. My just-turned-two year old isn’t so impressed (yet). What a contrast these cold, snowy pages are to our mild 65 degree weather today though! I even have the windows open – such a delight!
The day after the girls played in the snow in the above layout, my daughter wrote a little story about it at her homeschool co-op “Fun with Language” class. I will have to include this in our scrapbook, as it is a lot cuter than my own journaling! 🙂
“I love my mom because she let me play in the snow. It’s my sister’s first day in the snow. My sister did not touch the snow.”
Both digital scrapbook layouts were created from FREE digital templates that I found online. The locations of both are linked up for you in the credits of each page so you can download them too.
In our science curriculum, Real Science 4 Kids Chemistry, we are learning about atoms and how they join together in different ways to create molecules. Adrianna particularly enjoyed the science experiment that went along with this chapter. We got to create molecules using marshmallows and toothpicks! And afterward, we got to eat our creations. 🙂
I often peruse through teaching and homeschooling blogs to find ideas to incorporate into our homeschool day. When I find something that I or Adrianna might like to do, I “pin” the idea to my Pinterest account. (Pinterest is a visual bookmarking system. I blogged more about Pinterest here.) One such craft that I recently pinned was an autumn tear-art picture.
At first, my little perfectionist was not too keen on actually tearing the paper to make her picture. So she cut the tree trunk and branches instead and I started ripping some leaves. After awhile, she loosened up and ripped some leaves too.
Here is her finished picture. I love how she made it her own by making it into a tree-house for Mario and Princess Peach.
I decided to use it as part of our autumn decor on our fireplace mantle.
Do you use Pinterest? (Be warned: it can be addicting!)
Things have been really busy around our house now that school has started back up. First grade is off to a good start!
We have a new desk from Ikea. Adrianna and I share the desk, which has been working out great. Although I do look forward to the day when she will be able to do more independent work.
We switched up some of our curriculum this year. Here is a sample of today’s workboxes:
For Math, we are using Abeka.
For History/Geography/Social Studies, we are using Sonlight again. Their Usborne books are still on my favorites list and Adrianna really enjoys them too. She has really been getting into the Peoples of the World book shown below.
For Reading, we are trying out Bob Jones (BJU).
Spelling, Phonics and Handwriting are also BJU. Here is a sample of the spelling.
For Bible, we are using Sonlight. When I sat down on the floor to read this to Adrianna today, Bree spotted the book in my hand and immediately backed up her little hiney and plopped right down into my lap. She loves colorful books.
For Read-Alouds, we are also using Sonlight. Their read-aloud selections are another reason I chose to use them again this year. This is the poetry book we are reading out of. (Warped after a quick stint in the water table, courtesy of Bree.) We are also currently in the middle of Charlotte’s Web, which we usually read at bedtime rather than placing in a workbox.
I found this next book at the homeschool conference in June and, knowing Adrianna’s keen interest in maps, I thought it would be a great addition to our year. It has really been a hit so far and she likes coloring the maps after we are done.
For science, we are going to try out Real Science 4 Kids’ Chemistry curriculum. Hopefully it will arrive in the mail soon!
Bree is pretty good about entertaining herself during school, at least part of the time. Since our school room also doubles as the playroom, she happily toddles around pulling toys and books off of their shelves and generally creates a big mess. My little tornado.
One (of the many) things I love about homeschooling is the opportunity to tie history or world events to our family and personal histories. Or being able to tie them to experiences that I know Adrianna has had. Not only does it make school more real and fun, but it also helps broaden her world view so she can see how it relates to her personally.
For instance, today in History we discussed World War 2. Part of the discussion was about how the Germans began to bomb London so many of the children were sent away, for their safety, to live in the countryside. Tie in: the reason the kids in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe were in that big mysterious house in the country at the beginning of the story. I love watching the wheels turn in her mind as she puts those two pieces of information together. Another tie in in regards to the Nazis and the Holocaust that I was able to remind her of: the Twenty and Ten story we read a few weeks ago.
In Social Studies today, we had a true story about C.F. Klassen and how, right after World War 2, he helped many Russian Mennonites (who spoke Low German) immigrate to safety to Canada, the U.S. and South America. Tie in: my husband’s family has a Mennonite background, his grandparents speak Low German and his grandfather has done translation work into Low German for Low German speaking people in South America. I was very excited to be able to talk about these pieces of family history right along with our Social Studies story.
Now obviously, not every day has such obvious tie-ins but it is so nice getting a firsthand look at everything Adrianna is learning and being able to point back to school things that come up in everyday conversations. Also today, she was coloring a picture online of a castle that had a moat. I was able to remind her of the castles we learned about in History a few months ago that had moats as a form of protection from enemies and also refer to a book we read (The Magic Tree House: Knight at Dawn) that also had a moat in it. Repetition, repetition.
*If* Adrianna does make it into the charter school down the road for the next school year and *if* I decide to send her, I am going to be sorely tempted to ask the teacher for a syllabus just so I can stay actively involved in what she is learning and continue to look for opportunities to tie it to our everyday lives. (Do elementary teachers even have syllabuses?)
For our Math curriculum, we are using Saxon Math. The recommended assignment for Friday was to create a Winter Activities pictograph, graphing favorite indoor vs. outdoor winter activities. When making my lesson plans the night before, I decided that it would be a lot more fun for Adrianna to make a Super Mario pictograph instead.
In her work box, I put 8 squares I had cut out of some light blue card stock. When she opened that drawer, she was instructed to draw 8 of her favorite Mario characters. (I did not include the chart I’d made for the project nor did I tell her what we would be doing with the drawings, as I didn’t want to skew the results in any way.)
After she had drawn 8 characters, I gave her a glue stick and the chart and told her we were going to make a pictograph and that she needed to graph out the “good guys” on the first line and the “bad guys” on the lower line.
Final result – Good Guys 5 (Mario, Princess Daisy, Luigi, Princess Peach, Toad) vs. Bad Guys 3 (Goomba, Bowser, Magikoopa).
I really enjoy seeing samples of what others are using in their workbox system. It was blog posts by other homeschool moms showing how they used their workbox system in their school day that inspired me to want to give it a try. I also am hooked on seeing what curriculum and creative ideas others use with their kids.
So, here is my first “What’s in the box Wednesday” post. Except the day I took the photos was Thursday and I am posting it on a Saturday. Oh well, it still will provide a glimpse of our school days this past week.
The Usborne Book of Living Long Ago: I love this history book and its illustrations. Even I feel like I am learning as I read it out loud to Adrianna. This week, we read about “Chinese Ways” from 500 years ago.
The Usborne Children’s Encyclopedia: Like the book above, this is another amazing book from Usborne. It contains science and history. This week we read about Ming China around 500ish years ago. This book also has a website with many linked resources to supplement and enhance whatever subject you are studying. Adrianna and I used google to search for images of the Great Wall of China.
I Can Read It! Book 1: This particular subject (reading) tends to be one of our most difficult to complete each day in terms of motivation on Adrianna’s part, so I always try to put it towards the beginning of our day, basically so we can get it over with. I also try to sandwich it between two books that I read out loud to her so that the subjects before and after are easier for her.
She is doing well with her reading and can read or sound out consonant-vowel-consonant words pretty easily when she wants to.
The Light at Tern Rock: A fiction read-aloud book that we read through this week. She wasn’t as into it as some of the other read-alouds we’ve done in the past with the Sonlight curriculum.
Explode the Code 1: Our writing curriculum which basically is a workbook of activities to get her thinking, reading and writing vowel-consonant-vowel words. She usually does very well with these.
For math, one thing we are currently working on is learning how to tell time on both regular and digital clocks. So far we have worked on the full and half hours. These worksheets I found for free online and are not part of our normal curriculum. We also practice identifying the time using a whiteboard, on which I write a digital clock time, and by moving the big and little hands on some clock faces that came with our Saxon Math curriculum as a manipulative.
Weather: For science right now we are learning more about the weather. This week we discussed how animals adapt and survive different weather by their fur coats changing color or by migrating.
National Geographic Kids Magazine and Great Migrations Map from the National Geographic Magazine: We recently subscribed to National Geographic and also National Geographic Kids. I was so excited to see the first kids magazine that we received talked about animal migrations since that lined up with what we talked about in our Science class. And even better was the fact that one of our recent National Geographic magazines included a map of animal migrations as well. Love it! So these made it into a workbox to expand upon animal migrations this week.
Arts/Crafts: I try to include some fun projects or even small dollar store toy incentives in our workboxes from time to time. Adrianna loves to paint, so these new paints and brushes were a big hit.
With our new paint, we painted Adrianna’s hand and made a turkey out of it. I found the idea on Itsy Bitsy Learning. My little girly-girl decided to add a crown, a bib, and jewels at the ends of the turkeys feathers.
For more workbox ideas, you can visit Confessions of a Homeschooler every Wednesday.
As a new homeschool mom, I have been frequenting many homeschool blogs for ideas, tips and any other helpful information I can find. One thing I have noticed is a lot of buzz surrounding the “workbox system”.
Our first six weeks of homeschooling went well overall. But although our Sonlight curriculum breaks everything down daily/weekly for me, I was still feeling a bit disorganized. It doesn’t help that we are currently on Week 8 for History and English, Week 5 for Reading (our most difficult subject), Week 3 for Science (which we added after we’d already started our school year), our Math isn’t broken up in the same way by weeks and I enjoy adding a lot of supplemental worksheets and tasks I find online.
After reading this great post on workboxes by Confessions of a Homeschooler, I decided I wanted to give the workbox system a try. So a couple of weekends ago, Greg and I visited one of my favorite stores, The Container Store, to see what they had that could be used for a workbox system. I ended up deciding to get some elfa metal drawers similar to the ones that we had bought earlier this year to organize our large Lego collection.
We ended up buying two more of the elfa metal drawer systems. The one on the left with the 10 shallow drawers will be used for our homeschooling. Since our school room also doubles as my office and the playroom, the drawer set on the right is going to house popular toys, such as dress-up clothes, Duplos (yes, we have a lot of Legos AND Duplos), kitchen set supplies and toy animals.
We decided not to buy the particle board tops to the drawer systems that The Container Store sells. Instead, Greg made me one out of some leftover wood, stain and varnish he had in the garage from when he made me my kitchen island. I love that the top he made me is one solid table top instead of two separate ones like the store had because I can easily put some school supplies and my printer on top.
Using our new drawers, we started our own version of the workbox system last week. What a difference it has made in our school day already! I am able to easily plan out our school day the night before (using a spreadsheet) and put each subject or task into its own drawer. When we start school, my daughter and I can both see how much schoolwork we have left before we are done for the day. Another bonus: we are actually getting more done in the same amount of time we had spent previously on our school day. I love this system.
Right now I am only planning one day at a time and that seems to work fine for us.
An additional benefit I hope to glean from this system is for my daughter to become more independent with some of her schoolwork. The Sonlight curriculum is literature based and since she is only now learning to read (she is in Kindergarten), that means that much of my time is spent reading to her. When we do have worksheets or other work that she could do on her own, she often wants me to sit with her and basically look over her shoulder as she completes the assignment and asks me lots of questions instead of trying to figure things out on her own. What I am working toward is have her work on her own, when it makes sense to do so, and turn in the assignment for me to grade later. I will be available for questions but I don’t want to be her crutch; I want her to try to figure things out on her own.
Here is a picture from our workboxes today. You can see that we have already finished our first two assignments, as the drawers have already been emptied.
I do not do the subjects in the same order each day. My only loose guidelines (so far) are that I put reading near the top since it is our most difficult subject and I try to intersperse independent or fun activities so we don’t feel too bogged down by too many read-alouds in a row, etc.
The beauty of the workbox system is that it is so customizable. Do a search for the workbox system and a lot of homeschool blogs will come up, each with their own version of the system. I have also joined some Yahoo groups that are just for workboxes and sharing ideas and free printables. How in the world did people homeschool before the internet? 😉
Do you use the workbox system or another organization system in your school day? Link me up in the comments; I would love to come check out how YOU do school.
This is a scrapbook layout of our first science experiment as a part of our homeschooling.
In science this week, we have been discussing the atmosphere and air. We found an easy little science
experiment where we could create carbon dioxide using baking soda and vinegar and have the gas that is created blow up a balloon.
First, we filled up a bottle with vinegar. Next, we made a funnel so that we could pour baking soda into the balloon. Then we fitted the balloon on the bottle and let the baking soda fall in to meet with the vinegar and create the gas, carbon dioxide, which blew into and inflated the balloon.
After we finished with our experiment, Adrianna named the blue balloon “Bluey” and the pink balloon “Pinky” and drew faces on them and enjoyed playing with them for a few days.
This is my first year of homeschooling, and I am really enjoying it. My daughter is in Kindergarten. Our current curriculum (Sonlight) is very literature based, with lots of reading aloud by me. Many of the books are Usborne books, which I have fallen in love with. Usborne also has a website that offers many links to fun activities to go along with what we are learning in history or science.
I have decided that the internet, Google and a printer are a homeschooling mom’s best friend. There are so many resources available, many of them free. I also have a few blogs that I follow, written by other homeschool moms, that have been a source of valuable information and fun ideas. Almost every day we have incorporated a worksheet, color sheet or something else I find online to supplement, review or expand upon what we are learning in our actual school books.
Today, my daughter did this fun turkey math project. (At least I thought it was fun!) I found the turkey and the feathers online at File Folder Fun (free), printed them out and cut out all the feathers last night. Each turkey had a number on it. Each feather had a math problem. She had to glue each feather to the appropriate turkey which contained the correct number/answer to the math problem on the feather. And isn’t it fun that it is a turkey since Thanksgiving is coming up? Thank you, internet!
Okay, so this picture doesn’t have anything to do with the fun turkey math project, I just liked her cool hat that she made at her homeschool enrichment class on Tuesday.