Oct 262011

I decided that this year I was going to do something new. We finished 9 weeks of school and are taking a whole week off. Unfortunately, it’s already Wednesday and I’m just getting around to making a post about it. I wish I could say that I’ve spend too much time relaxing. Yesterday morning we had 5 dentist appointments. Plus a not so happy baby to entertain the entire time.

I made a list this morning of everything I hope to get accomplished in these next 5 days. It’s scary. I think I need to take 2 weeks off. Or maybe 3!

My list is a mixture of school planning, catching up on some reviews, and some fall home tasks. I’ve got some fun things like decorating. I’m trying to figure out how to do our thankful tree with my mobile little guy so into everything! Some of my other chores aren’t so fun, like washing windows. I think I’ll enlist the help of my children for that.

Do you take a fall break? Any hints for accomplishing my mile-long list?


Aug 192011

We are starting Tapestry of Grace Year 3 next week! At the end of last year I did some thinking about our accomplishments for the year and one of the things we didn’t do very well was history. (That’s really an understatement. But I did have a baby, so I’m trying to be generous.) I thought about  trying a new history curriculum, but I kept coming back to TOG. I love the way it integrates history with literature, Bible/Church History, and geography. I like the hands-on activity ideas. But I really had failed to implement it well in our home last year. (Honestly, we hadn’t done so well the year before either.)

So I made a deal with myself (and my husband). Before I went looking for a different curriculum for us, I was going to give TOG one more shot. A really good shot. I was going to plan, plan, plan this summer. I was going to get EVERYTHING figured out ahead of time. I wanted to do this because it certainly had not worked as a “pick up and go” curriculum for us.

But, summer has a way of flying by. I blinked and it was August. It was time to get serious about this planning stuff. I have been working hard this week, and I am very happy to report that I have thoroughly prepared for Unit 1. Here is what I’ve done.

(I purchased the Digital Edition (DE) for the first time this year. These steps include printing the pages I desired to have printed.)

1. Read through the Year Introduction.

2. Made a spreadsheet with all the resources used in year 3. (Downloaded from the website.)

3. Highlighted all the books on the list that I already owned.

4. Went through the list again and checked the on-line library catalog highlighting all the books from the list available from the library.

5. Printed the Teaching Objective, Weekly Overview, and Reading Assignment pages for every week of the year plan.

6. Placed all of the above in sheet protectors.

7. Read through the Weekly Overview and Reading Assignment pages with Sharpie in hand, marking the books that we had or could borrow from the library.

8. Determined which resources we should buy. Marked those on the pages.

Starting here, I’ve just done the first unit.

9. Went through each week in Unit 1 and typed the reading assignments I have selected for my dialectic students. (Yes, they could just use the notebook, but I use some alternate resources, and throw in some upper grammar assignments instead of dialectic ones so it can get confusing.)

10. Cut and pasted the assignments and relevant questions (adding space to write the answers) from the student assignment pages into the same document as the reading list. Printed out copies of the list for each student.

11. Printed page 1 of the Student Assignment pages for the first 9 weeks.

12. Printed the maps for the weeks that we are using them.

13. Printed the Lower grammar literature worksheets that we are using.


That’s where I sit. I need to decide how to store all the pre-printed papers. I don’t want to 3-hole punch the maps, so I’m not sure what I’ll end of doing with those.

That’s my Wrap-up for this week! Be sure to visit Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers for more weekly reports.


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Aug 102011

I’ve posted several different times on how we organize our homeschool supplies. We don’t have a school room, but we do school mainly in the dining room and kitchen. We also use the living room for reading and my older daughter likes to work at her desk in her room.

Over the years I’ve used several different systems for holding my children’s workbooks. We started out with these boxes under the baker’s rack in our dining room.

Then I changed to these hanging file folders in file boxes.


But last year I won a Guidecraft library cart from Homeschool Creations. I really, really love it.

School Room

So here is my library cart. It’s mostly organized to start school. On the top shelf on the left are my oldest son’s books. The right side has my oldest daughter’s books, and there is a box to hold items to be checked in the middle. On the second shelf are boxes that hold my 2nd son and 2nd daughter’s workbooks. The bottom shelf has various manipulatives and educational toys. One the top shelf in the back are my teacher’s guides. The second shelf holds books that we will use for Tapestry of Grace during the year.  I have a basket to store them in the living room while they are being read. (I have reworded this sentence over and over, but I still can’t get it right!) The basket holds them when we’re not actually reading them, but I don’t store books we need very often on the back of the cart.

And the baby may have to spend a lot of time in the laundry basket this year for us to get anything done!


Jul 212011

Time flies when you’re having fun, and I have been having fun planning our school year. I am still far from finished, but I have gotten a lot done.

We’re going to be using Tapestry of Grace Year 3 for our History, Geography, Literature, and Church History studies next year. This is my first year using the Digital Edition (DE). I think there are some real advantages to the DE. For one thing, it doesn’t take up near as much space as those 4 giant notebooks (per year) for the printed version. It’s also easily searchable. If you have no idea where something is, it’s so much better to let the computer do your searching! Finally, it costs less and is available immediately, so no need to stalk the UPS man.

But I am finding that I can not effectively figure out everything we need to buy, borrow, or check out from the library next year without printing a few of the pages. And even though relatively speaking it’s just a few pages from each week, a few pages (6 to be exact) times 36 weeks is more than a few.

planning tapestry of grace

So I’ve been printing and page protecting. I really love sheet protectors. They allow me to use brightly colored fine-point Sharpies. Which also makes me happy. I know. I’m very weird.

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Jul 142011

I’ve updated my curriculum page with what we’re planning on using next year. (I don’t have all the links done yet though.) As I read through it, I get a little very nervous. It is going to take some serious coordination on my part to accomplish these goals. The two oldest children do most of their work independently, but my 3rd grader needs a lot of supervision. My K will need some supervision too of course. And that’s not mentioning the baby who will begin crawling and walking during the upcoming school year. Going to go hide now…

If you’re like every other homeschooler I know, you’ll want to visit Training Up Children for Christ and Talk Curriculum!


Jul 122011

I’m a nut for freebies.

I’ve been downloading really great free homeschooling resources for years.

And forgetting to use them…

I hope I’m not the only homeschooler who has freebie amnesia.

This afternoon I went through the files on my laptop and my external hard drive and I dug up some real gems that will coordinate with our studies this year. The big reason I don’t remember to use things is that I download something thinking it will be great when we study the Civil War or astronomy or whatever and then I forget to look when we finally are studying that topic. Hopefully since I’m looking now, I’ll actually remember to use these!

Everyone (minus baby) will be studying the years 1800-1900 using Tapestry of Grace Year 3. Here’s what I found to go along with that.

(I’m linking to most of these products at CurrClick. These are affiliate links. The products are no longer free. But you can see the real value in collecting freebies!)

In the Hands of a Child – Slavery in North America

In the Hands of a Child – Christian Missionaries to Know

In the Hands of a Child – Thomas Edison

A Classical Copybook Covering Early Modern History (This looks like a revised version of what I have.)

Learn the Presidents in Order

Great Civil War Projects You Can Build Yourself

Great Pioneer Projects You Can Build Yourself

For science for my younger children I plan on focusing on nature study. I purchased Considering God’s Creation for my oldest daughter and am planning on picking topics for my 3rd grade son and K daughter that coordinate with that.

I found some more great lapbooks on my hard drive for science.

In the Hands of a Child – Butterflies

In the Hands of a Child – Bees

For my Kindergartner, I found:

Song School Latin Coloring Pages

Simple Scissor Practice (This one’s still free!)

In the Hands of a Child – The Big Snow (This is the current freebie at In the Hands of a Child.)

In the Hands of a Child – The Girl in the Rag Coat

Enough of the stalling. It’s time to start the serious school planning! (I hope I’m not the only one who suddenly decides to tackle a big seemingly unrelated project when I should be doing something else. I always seemed to have a sudden desire to clean out my closet during finals week!)

Do you have freebie amnesia?



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May 312011

It’s the day after Memorial Day. I know from my Facebook page that school is out in some places. In our area, public school students have 2 more weeks of school. We do too. Having a baby December 29 really delayed our school year. (But I can’t think of a better reason to delay it 🙂 )

We are winding down. The big kids have finished their grammar curricula. I’ve put a hold on Greek anyway because we were just spinning our wheels. They’re going to work 2 more weeks on math and Latin and they will be finished. We will be taking our history studies into the summer a bit. And my oldest son will be taking an extra week to finish his science book. (I started the year trying to read his science with him. Not a good plan. He’s made much better progress when he didn’t have to wait for me to be ready.)

I had a whirlwind trip to the NCHE bookfair on Friday evening. We had to do all our shopping in about 90 minutes. Thankfully I had my list. I found a great deal on Second Form Latin for my daughter. I got to look at a couple of resources that I decided not to purchase. I’ve purchased everything I need for next year with the exception of Tapestry of Grace. Since I’m getting the digital version of that, at least it won’t have to reside in the pile of curriculum that is currently beside my bed!

I need to spend much of my time this summer planning our school year. I have learned that I do much better with clear direction during the school year. There are a few new things that I’m excited about. I’ll be sharing more about those later.

Do you take summers off? Do you have to encourage your children to keep learning in the summer?

May 262011

It’s the homeschool curriculum junkie’s dream day.

I’m going to browse the book fair at NCHE!

I look forward to this day every year.

In preparation I make a massive spreadsheet. It has columns for each of my children. Then I list on the subjects that each of my children will be studying on the left. Next to each subject, I list the materials I am thinking about using and the best price I have been able to find. If I already have the resource, I highlight it orange. If I’m unsure about it, I highlight in blue. The items that I’m definitely buying are unhighlighted. At the bottom of each column, I have the total cost for just the definites, as well as the total if I bought everything in the column. That is done for each child (shared resources costs are just put in the oldest child’s column). Finally, I have a grand total.

This helps us as we go shopping at the book fair. We have the prices so we know if the convention price is a good deal. We can take into account the savings on shipping. (However, that’s usually off-set by the addition of sales tax at the convention.)

This year I’ve got a lot of things already decided on. There are several items that I can’t even buy at the conference. But I’m going anyway. Handwriting Without Tears also has a booth and offer the best price at the conference. I like to be able to buy directly for the vendor if it’s not too much extra.

I need to decide on science for my daughter and want to be able to look a couple of different options over. When we did our homeschool evaluation, she expressed an interest in studying botany. I want to look at:

God’s Design for Life: The World of Plants

The World of Plants – Great Science Adventures

Considering God’s Creation

The last one isn’t plants specifically, but from looking at the samples, I think she would really enjoy it. Plus it is something I can use with my younger kids too.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

May 252011

I decided to clean out the entertainment center.

Yikes! What a mess!

I reorganized all the CD’s and DVD’s into clear plastic containers. I used my label maker. That makes me happy.

But now I’ve got piles of VHS tapes that I want to get rid of.

In the living room floor.

So I took a hidden mess and brought it into the open.

Maybe I’ll be inspired to get rid of it now. I am not putting it back in the entertainment center.

Apr 302011

In Evaluating Your Homeschool Part 1, I explained several things that I had decided to do to evaluate our homeschool. We have completed our yearly achievement tests, and I am in the process of getting the records up-to-date and assessing our progress in this year’s curricula.

In Part 2, I shared the questions I was giving to my older children so I could learn more about their likes and dislikes.

But I have failed to report on how the survey went.

As expected, there was a bit of trouble getting my children to fill out the survey. My son was unable to come up with answers for the majority of the questions. A lot of this has to do with his extreme dislike for getting anything wrong. My daughter did complete the survey but not in great detail.

So we improvised and used the survey questions as a guide in a meeting that my husband and I had individually with each child.

Here are my conclusions from the surveys and the discussions that followed. Some things were surprises, others were not.

My daughter’s favorite thing about homeschooling is Latin! (That was a surprise.) She listed history as her favorite subject and science as her least favorite. She would like to study American history and Botany next year. She thinks she learns best by reading and has been disappointed in my lack of reading assignments for her. I quickly rectified that situation by giving her dialectic level reading assignments from Tapestry of Grace.

She is not happy with her math program (that also was a surprise) because she feels like she is not learning anything new. I’m not sure how to fix that problem because she’s learned all the operations with fractions, decimals and percents and I don’t know what else there is. She is not ready for Algebra. I told her she could try out Life of Fred and she has started on the Fractions book.

The 3 things she would like to learn to do next year are sew, knit, and crochet. That’s going to take some figuring. I crochet well and can probably teach her that. However, she’s left-handed and I’m right-handed, so that might be a problem. But I’ve never really got the hang of knitting. I can sew, but I don’t know that I can teach her that either. I do have a friend who teaches sewing classes so that may be an option. The same friend also knits so maybe she can teach both of us!

My son’s favorite thing about homeschooling is not having to go to school. Not exactly what I was looking for. His favorite subject is math which was no surprise. His least favorite is Greek. He wants to study physics in science. He’s scheduled for Physical Science next year so that will have some physics. He also does not like history. Really. So I’m pondering and looking at different options. No history is not an option, but I don’t think that Tapestry of Grace is a great fit for him.

So I’ve been looking and thinking and asking questions about history programs. It’s not a place I expected to be. I’m sure this topic will be continued…