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Jul 192014
 

We’re gearing up to start our 12th year of homeschooling.

Or maybe I should say, I should be gearing up. I have purchased all our curriculum. It’s waiting on the shelf. And waiting. But I have not felt like starting to plan. I’ve enjoyed taking the summer off, and it’s hard for me to admit that it’s already almost the end of July. I really am not ready to get back into the daily grind.

So in case you’re feeling a little less than enthusiastic about starting the school year, here are 7 things (I call the UPDATED approach) to help you get motivated for school planning.

Refueling for the new school year

Photo Credit

Refueling for the New School Year

1.  Use momentum (gained at the end of last year)

It is always helpful to highlight the strengths of each of your children.  You don’t have to start all of your curriculum all at once.  Pick your kids’ strongest subjects and introduce them one at a time to get a great start to the new school year.  You can choose one subject added per week or two per week, or whatever it takes to get a good start to the new school year.  Sometimes we focus on our children’s weakest subjects because we know that they need to spend more time on those; however, if the school year doesn’t begin well, then that extra time may not be beneficial.  So start the year off with subjects that your students love, rather than the thing they struggle with the most.

2.  Plan for some review time during the year.

I am usually very good at planning things out at the beginning of the year.  I have good intentions.  My kids have good intentions.  But there are always little things (sometimes good things), and other outside activities that get in the way of the perfect plan.  Start your year off by planning for some review time for your kids.  Don’t wait to insert some time until later in the year. Do it early while things are still going well.  If students are on a roll, and don’t want to slow down too much, use this time to work on some fun interdisciplinary projects.  This is different than taking a complete break from school work (step #5) which we all need as well.  This can be a valuable part of reinforcing the learning that is going on in your homeschool.

3. Do something new.

It’s not good to constantly switch to the latest and greatest curriculum. But sometimes adding just a little something new is enough to bring enthusiasm and excitement to your school day. You might get excited about a new curriculum or a supplement. Your excitement as a mom can be contagious. The Homeschool Build Your Bundle Sale may be just what you’re looking for. You can find some new curriculum without breaking the bank.

4. Add some fun.

When my older kids were younger I realized I had trouble getting the fun projects done. I was pretty good at keeping us going through our math and English books, but making salt dough maps just wasn’t happening. At that time I instituted Fun Fridays. On Fridays we didn’t do our regular handwriting, math, and grammar lessons. Instead we made time for those hands-on opportunities I was too tired to do on other days by giving them priority. It’s something I’m considering trying again with William and Lizzie this year since I am once again struggling to find time for the “fun” things.

5. Take a break.

Hopefully, you’re doing that. I know schooling year round is popular with some, but we all need breaks. If you school year round, enjoy the shorter, more frequent breaks. If you take the summer off, be sure to spend some time relaxing. If you find the need for more breaks during the school year schedule them and make sure you actually take them! I have friends who use a Sabbath Scheduling Method. With my older children in outside classes I don’t know if it would be worthwhile for me to try at this point, but the idea is appealing.

6. Evaluate

Before you plan, look back at last year and think about what worked and what you’d like to change. Have you children fill out an evaluation too. I’ve created an evaluation form that can help you with this process.

7. Delegate.

If your kids are middle school age or older, why not have them help you with the planning? Have them look through their curriculum and tell you how many math lessons there are or how many science experiments. Let them make supply lists or book lists. Or give them a planner and have them figure out how to pace one or all of their courses. Keep them involved throughout the year as well. Have them help you evaluate how the year is going so far and add suggestions for improving the rest of the year.

 

So maybe you’re not chomping at the bit to get started on the new school year, but try this UPDATED approach to bring some energy to the new school year.


Photo credit: Graphic created from Creative Content photos by Greg Peverill-Conti and Rachel K on Flikr.com.

Disclosure: This post contains an affiliate link.

 


By Kristen H.
Jul 032014
 

It’s summer. We don’t have to do school, right?

Maybe not officially, but I like to make sure we’re still learning. Recently, I’ve had a great opportunity to sneak a little history into my family’s day.

Experience History Through Music

Experience History Through Music

I don’t know if your kids are like mine, but I cannot watch a video or play any song on my computer without everybody running to see what I’m watching or listening to. It can be annoying, but it does have its uses – like if you want them to watch or listen to something. It’s the perfect way to introduce the music portion of Experience History Through Music to unsuspecting children.

Another sneaky thing I like to do is leave interesting books lying around. Especially if they have an interesting cover and photographs on the inside. The saying about not judging a book by its cover is good advice, but a good cover is definitely a plus. That’s how I got my 14 year old daughter to read Musical Memories of Laura Ingalls Wilder from cover to cover without even asking her to. It’s also why I’ve seen my 12 year old son flipping through the books and reading sections from time to time. That works until they disappear into my daughter’s room so she can try out some of the songs on her violin.

 

There are three books in the Experience History Through Music Series:

America - Heart of a New Nation
Westward Ho! - Heart of the Old West
Musical Memories of Laura Ingalls Wilder

Books

I love the format of these books. Each contain a 1-2 page illustrated spread that tells the story behind a song. These stories typically give both specifics about the history of the song, and a more general description of the events in history that the song pertains to. The short length of each segment makes it easy to either very quickly read a small portion, or as time allows, to continue reading multiple sections.

Sheet Music

I also love that the books include simple sheet music for the songs. In our home, my older daughter plays the violin, and my middle son plays the piano. Both are able to (fairly) easily play the music in these books.

CD’s

The accompanying music cd’s are professional, high quality recordings. They are a vitally important part of this study. It seems pointless to study about a song without listening to it! We honestly don’t listen to a lot of music in the house, but these are going to have a rotation in the car once we start back to school with all the short trips we make to classes, lessons, etc.

Content

America – Heart of a New Nation includes many familiar songs like Yankee Doodle, the Star Spangled Banner, and Oh! Susanna. It focuses on the time period beginning at the American Revolution through the Civil War. Westward Ho! has some overlap in time period with America – Heart of a New Nation, but its focus is on songs related to westward expansion like the Oregon Trail, cattle drives, and even sailing songs (Before the railroad, many goods were transported west by sailing around South America). I wasn’t familiar with any of the songs in this volume except for Home on the Range.  Musical Memories of Laura Ingalls Wilder also overlaps the Westward Ho! time period, but it details specific songs and facts related to the life of Laura Ingalls Wilder.

I enjoyed reading all these books, but especially Musical Memories of Laura Ingalls Wilder. I have loved everything Little House on the Prairie since childhood and have a collection of various books and videos about Laura Ingalls Wilder. I have also visited the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum in Mansfield, Missouri and hope to visit some of the other home sites and museums in the future.

These books would make a fantastic addition to any homeschooler’s library. They could be used to supplement any American History curriculum, as stand-alone unit study spines, or as inviting coffee table books.

The books are $18.99 each and are available at from DianaWaring.com. For the month of July, you can purchase all 3 books for $50.

Don’t miss this fantastic giveaway to celebrate the release of Experience History Through Music. It ends tomorrow!

 

Diana WaringAuthor of Beyond SurvivalReaping the Harvest and Diana Waring’s History Revealed world history curriculum, Diana discovered years ago that “the key to education is relationship.” Beginning in the early ’80s, Diana homeschooled her children through high-school—the real life opportunities to learn how kids learn.  Mentored by educators whose focus was honoring Him who created all learners, and with an international background (born in Germany, university degree in French, lifelong student of world history), Diana cares about how people learn as well as what they learn.  Audiences on four continents have enthusiastically received her energetic speaking style.

 

Disclaimer: I received the complete set of Experience History Through Music in order to write this review. I was not compensated for this review. All opinions expressed are my own. 

 


By Kristen H.
Jun 202014
 

Throughout the ages, every culture has music. As Americans began to find their own identities in their new nation, this was reflected in their music. Diana Waring has put together a set containing 3 books with CD’s to Experience History Through Music. The books are Musical Memories of Laura Ingalls Wilder, Westward Ho!- Heart of the Old West, and America- Heart of a New Nation. Included are the fascinating stories behind the songs as well as sheet music for musicians young and old to play and sing along. We’re in the process of reviewing this program and enjoying it very much. My full review is coming soon.

 

Diana and Friends Giveaway

To celebrate the release of Experience History Through Music, I am joining members of the Diana Waring Launch Team for an amazing giveaway. Friends of Diana have joined in and as you can see, someone’s homeschool is going to be greatly blessed!

Here’s what you could win!

From Diana Waring Presents

american history -- never this funExperience History Through Music – set of 3 books with CDs ($50/set) Diana Waring Presents is about to bring back into print the BEST folk music you have ever heard, combined with the fascinating stories they represent in American history!   The Experience Music Through Historyseries includes: America - Heart of a New Nation, Westward Ho! - Heart of the Old West  and Musical Memories of Laura Ingalls Wilder. The musicians are amazing, every instrument is real, lots of great vocalists, and more toe-tapping music than you can imagine! The books tell the stories behind the songs.  Together, they bring American history to life through it’s music!!With fascinating history books and toe-tapping folk music CDs, American history has NEVER been this fun!

EncouragementCollage2Encouragement for Homeschool Moms Collection ($25) Every mom needs that word of encouragement from someone who has been there, who has grownup children and can speak with assurance about the journey. Homeschool moms have an extra portion of the journey to navigate, and often wish for an extra voice that will offer direction but without nagging or prodding. Diana Waring has that voice.

 

From A Journey Through Learning

Logo New 300 trans$50 Gift Certificate $50 to spend in the A Journey Through Learning store, applicable toward any digital download purchase.

 

From Homeschool Legacy

westward ho I 300x400Westward Ho! Part I ($19.95) Load up your wagon! Discover the extraordinary times of adventurous frontiersmen and brave pioneers as you travel cross-country along the Erie Canal,  Oregon Trail, and even “remember the Alamo” in Westward Ho Part I.

Westward Ho! Part II ($19.95) Continue the exciting saga begun in Westward Ho! Part I as you journey with the forty-niners, ride the rails of the Transcontinental Railroad, experience life on the prairie, and discover the exciting era of cowboys and cattle drives in Westward Ho! Part II.

 

From Knowledge Quest Maps

HardcoverCD_ecover_croppedMap Trek: Atlas and Outline Maps of World History ($55) Map Trek is a historical atlas plus outline maps that allow you to teach geography alongside history. This is a resource that any homeschool parent can use with brilliant success, even if you don’t remember a thing from your history or geography classes in public school.

 

From Home School Adventure Co.

PAPS-R-96dpi shadowPhilosophy Adventure™ Digital Download ($39.95) Philosophy Adventure™ is designed to help students 6th-12th grade cultivate and defend a biblical worldview by teaching them how to write skillfully, think critically, and speak articulately as they explore the history of ideas.

 

From Heidi St. John (The Busy Mom and Real Life Press)

fpf3-bundle-covers-180x180Firmly Planted Family Devotional Digital Volume 3 ($39) The Firmly Planted Family Series is divided into ten-week studies and is your key to making sense of the Bible—even if you’re learning right along with your children. Each lesson provides a core idea, a simple narrative, memory verses and discussion questions for children of all ages. And the companion student workbook is filled with age-appropriate, full-color, reproducible activities for children of any age!

 

From Raising Real Men

RRM-Mom-Dad-300x295Free Registration to Boyhood Boot Camp or Boot Camp 9-12 LIVE webinar series (winner’s choice) plus Mom & Dad Special Raising Real Men (Book for Mom to read in the bathroom + AudioBook for Dad to listen to on the commute) ($62-69)

My-Beloved-and-My-Friend-Cover-Border-201x300Free Registration for Marriage Retreat Online plus His & Hers Special of My Beloved and My Friend: How To Be Married To Your Best Friend Without Changing Spouses (book + audiobook), ($65)

 

From Institute for Excellence in Writing

logo$50 Gift Certificate $50 to spend in the IEW store, applicable toward any purchase.

 

From The Old Schoolhouse Magazine

ST-Affiliate-300x300_zpsb38aa8aeSchoolhouseTeachers.com ($139) A one year membership to the curriculum arm of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine. Nearly 100 classes for Pre-K to High School, taught by expert teachers, and lots of extras including the Schoolhouse Planners, Schoolhouse Expos, monthly free ebook downloads and more.

Big-Book-14-Cover-113013-e1392516063206The Old Schoolhouse Magazine 2014 Print Book ($15) Be encouraged, enlightened, and educated with the all new 2014 Annual Print Book published by The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine.You’ll get a year’s worth of homeschool support in almost 300 pages in this full color one-of-a-kind print magazine for homeschoolers, by homeschoolers. This is a magazine you’ll refer to again and again.

 

From Writing with Sharon Watson

the-power-in-your-hands-front-coverThe Power in Your Hands ($53.96) With The Power in Your Hands: Writing Nonfiction in High School, they’ll learn what they need to know for high school and will be prepared for college writing.

69276_1454187188126914_157492202_nWriting Fiction [in High School] ($35) Are you raising the next C. S. Lewis or Jane Austen? Help your students develop their fiction-writing talents with Writing Fiction [In High School]: Bringing Your Stories to Life.
To enter the giveaway, use the Rafflecopter below. Residents of the U.S., age 18 and older only. Other Terms and Conditions can be found in the Rafflecopter.

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By Kristen H.
Jun 192014
 

Third Grade Curriculum

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

It is hard for me to believe that my baby girl will be in the 3rd grade this fall! Lizzie is, for the most part, a cooperative student. She grasps new concepts quickly, and she doesn’t mind writing things down. She liked having her own school desk in the living room this year and did well with most of the curriculum, so we’ll be continuing on with much of the same for her third grade curriculum.

Third Grade Curriculum MathMath

She is a natural at math and enjoys it. Singapore and Miquon have been a great fit for her. She’ll be working in Singpore 3A and 3B as well as the final two Miquon books: Yellow and Purple.

Third Grade Curriculum Language Arts

Language Arts

I love All About Spelling. It’s super easy to use and works well for both the natural speller and the struggling speller. Lizzie will be using Level 3 this fall.

I have fallen in love with Memoria Press Literature guides. She worked through most of the 2nd grade ones this year and will be starting with Mr. Popper’s Penguins in the fall. Then we’ll be using Farmer Boy, The Moffat’s and Charlotte’s Web. All great books!

For handwriting, she’ll be using New American Cursive 3 also from Memoria Press. She has done amazingly well. This is the first time I’ve strayed from Handwriting without Tears. I like the appearance of New American Cursive so much better!

Rod & Staff English is a favorite in our house. With her literature lessons and Latin studies, she really doesn’t need the complete course. I’ll be using it as a supplement though.

Third Grade Curriculum Latin and BibleLatin

I have become a fan of Memoria Press Latin series after initially rejecting it for my oldest son. (I’m still not sure that was a bad decision. Different children learn best with different approaches.) I like the no-nonsense approach of Memoria Press. Lizzie finished Prima Latina this year and will be moving on to Latina Christiana I.

Bible

I’m trying something new this year. We’re starting Classical Academic Press’s Bible curriculum called God’s Great Covenant – Old Testament 1. We haven’t started of course, but I think Lizzie and William are going to like it.  I’ll give a more thorough opinion after use.

Now this leaves the things that I have really struggled with getting done. History and science require more time and effort from me. I really like the resources that I own and I want to give myself another chance to make it work. I am planning on making these as low key as possible, but I don’t feel like I can continue to ignore these subjects with my younger students. I hope to keep these as simple as possible.

Third Grade Curriculum History and ScienceHistory

We will be reading The Story of the World Volume 1. I own the audio version as well, so I may not actually be doing the reading. Along with that we’ll be using the activity guide for note booking exercises and I am hoping to implement a “book basket” with related resources for independent reading time.

Science

I’m sticking with my old favorite Apologia Elementary here too. We’ll be working through 1 or more of the zoology books next year. I will have a book basket with more titles there as well.

 


By Kristen H.
Jun 062014
 
Thoughts on Homeschool Kindergarten Curriculum

I had the opportunity to talk with a friend at church who will be beginning to homeschool her oldest son for kindergarten this fall.  She was interested in hearing my recommendations for homeschool kindergarten curriculum. In my opinion, kindergarten should be kept simple. For formal school I recommend phonics, handwriting, and math. This conversation occurred [...]

May 282014
 
Freedom from Distraction

Distraction As I set my goals this year,  I started by thinking about some of what I had been struggling with during the previous year. I was frazzled. I felt pulled in all directions. I lacked focus. I wasn’t paying enough attention to any of my children during “school time”. I was exhausted. I determined that there were [...]

May 102014
 
Benefits of Outside Classes for Homeschoolers

Whew. Did you hear that big sigh of relief? We finished up the last of our outside classes on April 30. It was a great experience for David (10th) and Anna (8th), but it did make for hectic Mondays. A level of hectic that I’m not used to since we’ve always homeschooled. I’m glad they’re [...]

May 052014
 
OverlapMaps - Fun Geography Resource

Have you ever wondered if Australia would fit inside the state of Texas? (It doesn’t) What about Brazil? I’ve always thought it was smaller than the continental US. It turns out it’s very similar in size. I have just been introduced to a fun geography website: OverlapMaps.com. OverlapMaps is a very simple, entertaining, and educational [...]

Apr 232014
 
Compass Classroom Sale

Don’t miss the sale on all Compass Classroom curriculum! Read my reviews or ask me about any of the following products from Compass Classroom. Visual Latin, Filmmaking, Economics for Everybody, and will be using the Dave Raymond’s American History course in the fall.   If you’ve been thinking about buying, now is the time! By [...]