Sunday, February 7, 2016

Planning out my whole year

To be successful, you need good tools. To plan out my WHOLE year, I needed (wanted) a year at a glance calendar. In walks the awesome calendar!

Beautiful right? I just love it. Really. I do. I am not kidding. Yes, it might be a bit sterile, but look at the 12 months worth of possibilities!!

I first saw this beauty at church. Kris had bought one to put all the church events on. Then it dawned on me- HEY! Our family needs one too! So, my sweet husband makes things happen. Sorta like I speak it into existence. He is so great. Back to the calendar...

This tool is extremely helpful, not just to me, but everyone in our home. We can quickly look months ahead and plan and see what is coming. No thumbing through a wall calendar or swiping my finger across a screen. It is all right there- all of it. It helps us to plan and expect. And I like expecting things. It is just plain old fun. 

In conclusion, yes, my year is in the process of getting planned. And I feel a small bit of the pride of accomplishment. Thanks Kris.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Simple Homeschooling

I struggled last year with homeschooling.

 Last year marked my 6th year of homeschooling. The change we had in our life ( a move, a death, a move again, and the addition of Grammy ) made it hard for us to find a rhythm. Even though we got it done, it was painful.

Things I learned from last year (2014-2015)

1. Stay at home as much as you can during the day. I say this because, my boys were in a parent's morning out program at our church. It was fun for them, but I was running around taking them and then picking them up. With travel time it sucked 2 hours out of my day. They only participated two times a week, but the damage was still done. This year we are not doing PMO, even though it was nice and the boys enjoyed it. We are doing so much better by just staying put during the school day.

2. Keep it simple. Before I was doing a writing curriculum, spelling, grammar, and phonics with my little girls. I felt like it never ended! So I created my own easy to do Language Arts curriculum. It has been FABULOUS!!! It is really working to reinforce all the above mentioned LA components in one easy to do package. So basically, find ways to make work smarter, not harder.

3. It's okay to use computer programs like Teaching Textbooks and SOS. Before, I really felt like I was less of a teacher if I wasn't slaving over lesson plans. That is just not so. There are really smart people out there who complied these programs to help our children to learn to become independent learners. That is one of the goals I have for our children. These programs have helped my daughter feel more in control of her school. Last year, it would take me forever to grade her tests and work. She would get frustrated, and then I would get frustrated, I though I could be wonder woman. No need to stress over doing it all. Let the experterts help. You still have a ton of control.

4.  Embrace change. When a major life events happens in the middle of the school year, slow down and focus on the needs of your people. It's okay to take time off. It's okay to sit on the couch and read good books. It's okay to have a bunch of learning trips out of the house (because every one needs a break). Sometimes, we have to just stop and deal with LIFE.  God has a plan for the events we are going through, and instead of kicking against the goads, roll with it.

I love these lyrics from Casting Crown song "Held"

Your worlds not falling apart, its falling into place
I'm on the throne, stop holding on and just be held.

Wow. That sums it up.

So this past school year has taught me that I need to do things simple. Life in general needs to be more simple. I don't want to miss the "best years of my life" because I am trying to hard. My worlds not falling apart, its falling into place.

What to do with 2016

This blog always looms over me like a black cloud. Probably because I don't make it my top priority, which I never shall. But I see others blogs full of clever tips, whitty antitdotes, and beautifully worded descriptions of their daily lives. I tend to feel the pressure of not meeting up to those bloggers standards, and I wonder how in the world they find the time to blog!!! I will spend 30 minutes just mulling over one paragraph. Oh, and my pictures are horrific, which I could blame on my phone, but it is probably the operator. So I am left feeling defeated by the black cloud of this blog.

So I am done feeling defeated and I am done caring about my blog versus other blogs. Who really cares?? I blog for my posterity, not the unfaced masses. So this year, I am working toward blogging for my children more than ever. Things that will help them in their future. And also to scrapbook more of our lives and adventures. This blog has always been my "outlet" for that, so I need to stop thinking it is more than that. I am releasing all of the clever, whitty, beautiful words to those who God has given the gifts too. As for me and my blog, we will keep it simple and stick to the basics.

I feel better already.

So for 2016. What will I do with it? Hmmmmmm.

1. Read more! No real goals, just to read more (aside from kids books-  I am a connoisseur
 of fine children's books).

2. Blog more. No goals. Just more.

3. Plan out my WHOLE year. Starting now. I am already in the works on this one.

4. Grow spiritually. Desire God. Always

5. Become meeker and kinder and more gentle. That is a hard one.

6. Pray more. Pray more. Pray MORE.

That's probably enough. I will not reach all of my goals. I am prepared for that. But, I have goals. Goals will push and shove and whisper to me when I need a little motivation. I like goals. They are our friends.

Yay 2016! I look forward to your visit.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Creating your own Language Arts Curriculum from Children's Books

Necessity is the mother of invention, right? So here goes.

I wanted a Language Arts curriculum that included literature, handwriting, grammar, and spelling. It is out there... for a price. And I just wasn't willing to pay that price- nor did I really know if the curriculum would do what I wanted it to do. So I made my own.

Here are the goals I wanted to accomplish.
1. My child can read the book without much trouble. (Not every single one though- some are read alouds)
2. The handwriting, spelling, and grammar were taken directly from the book. It all comes full circle. The connection was made on several levels and I wasn't reinventing the wheel for literature, spelling, handwriting, and grammar.
3. It sticks. Its easy. It uses what I already have. I can use books my children like, but aren't poplular to the rest of the curriculum world. I can incorporate seasons and holidays easily and not double up on a subject just because a seaon has changed or a holiday is upon us. Example: One book in September is a book about apple picking. A book in October is about Autumn. Two birds- one stone. More like 5 birds- 1 stone. Fabulous!

Here is how it works.
(This is designed for an early reader but can be adjusted for any level)

1. Pick a book you want your child to read or that you will read aloud to your child. Not a chapter book, but a basic story book.

2. For an early reader use Dr. Seuss books to start with. Then move up the reader book chain as they improve in their reading.

3. Go through the book and pick out words they need to work on spelling. Start with 8-10 words.
For example using Inside, Outside, Upside Down by Stan and Jan Berenstein.

Inside, Box, Upside, Down, Town, Outside, Truck, Off

4. Teach some basic language. Suffixes (go-ing, fall-ing, come-ing which you drop the e before adding ing) Compound words (up-side, out-side, in-side) Nouns and verbs, and so on.

5. Handwriting becomes the spelling words and copywork of short sentences from the story.

Now phonics I will supplement with a workbook (Explode the Code) and I will also use Shurley Grammar to teach more detail in the grammar department.

So here is a sample lesson plan

If you Give a Mouse a Cookie
By; Felicia Bond
30 minutes




He'll                    he will
He's                     he is
Explain what an apostrophe does and how it works

Activity on Pinterest

Make cookies with milk
Cookie Collage

Read the book on Day 1-3
Day 1: Read book. Introduce spelling words. Teach a chant to go with each word and practice it several times to get down the rhythm of the word.Write each word on an index card and keep together to practice and add to. Play games on spelling city.

To remember your chant, video yourself on your phone or computer and make a folder on the computer your child can access to practice the chants on their own. Also hold up a index card with the word written on it as you chant.

Day 2: Read book. Teach contractions. Start a list of contractions in notebook. Chant spelling words.Give book cover copy to color and add to notebook. Give this sentence for copywork.

If you give a mouse a cookie, he will want a glass of milk.

Type this out to be copied. Circle any spelling words. Make note of commas and end marks. Note that the first letter of a sentence is always capitalized. Grammar Lesson- so simple!!

Day 3: Read book. Chant spelling words. Write words using color pencils, markers or pens. Write 3 times each. Grammar Lesson

Day 4. Give worksheets from spelling city. Chant words. Test over words. If any are missed test again on Friday.Grammar Lesson

Day 5.Test again if needed.

As I start to use my new method, I will give any updates to this process.

So, all in all, using children's books and poetry, you can easily come up with your own Language Arts curriculum. Yes, it does take prep time, but if you plan you can easily come up with your curriculum on a weekly basis, with little time spent.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Quilt Machine

For the past few years, I had convinced myself that my dad should sell it. It is a mammoth. It takes up a whole room in his house. But my mother was proud of that thing and she loved to quilt.

I had convinced myself that I would probably never use it again in my lifetime, nor would I ever have the space for it. It is enormous, you know.

But a need arose in my house. I needed two blankets for the boys room. I just couldn't find a good reason to spend money on some rough, cheap, big box comforter. Not when I have a gold mine back at my old homestead.

So, a few weeks back I started to concoct a plan in my head to find a few quilt tops that were stashed away in the old metal cabinets back in Florida. And they were there. About 6 of them. My mother didn't make these though. A friend of hers made them, and she has since passed away. Her friend would make quilt tops out of any material around giving them a very vintage feel. I dare say, some of the fabric is rather old, but I can't prove that.

I found two beautiful quilt tops. The first is the perfect size for a twin bed. The second, was a full size "Around the World" top, but was easily modified to fit a twin.

Now came the tricky part. Could I, would I, remember how on earth, the process went to quilt these tops??? Thanks be to God, my memory didn't fail me. It was like riding a bike. All the steps came back to me, just like I had done it yesterday (not 6 years ago).
Lord, PLEASE help me remember how to thread this thing!

The sweet part was having Klaire, Karoline, and Jay want to "pump" the machine when I had to roll it to the next section. They had never seen me do this, and Klaire questioned me several times as to if I knew what I was doing.

On day two of my quilting, Klaire came meandering in, waiting to pump the machine. She said, "Mom, I bet Mimi is up in heaven watching you. I bet she is really proud that you can do this." What a sweet child. That was a bit of encouragement I needed to hear. Then in my, overly theological way, I explained that Mimi probably wasn't concerned about me, but was praised God. Hahaha. I really know how to kill a mood- right? Sweet of that Klaire though.

So now... I think I might could find room in my upstairs for that quilt machine. That mammoth. That enormous hunk of metal. Maybe not this year, but maybe next year.

For the time being it was nice to remember that I can do these things. Create. Make. Fashion. My mother taught me well.


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