Thursday, November 20, 2014

Something Pretty... and how it affected our homeschooling.

As some of you may know, I scrapbook and make cards for our troops. I have taken some custom orders in the past and created some shabby chic baby keepsakes. You can see all related posts HERE as well as check on the right side bar for my most visited posts.

Now how is that related to homeschooling
Please read to the end of the post to find out. 

Last summer, I finished something pretty. J. contacted me for the first time a few years back and I made her a keepsake box to hold photos of the baby she lost. Unfortunately she went on to lose another baby after Phillips. But thanks to God she found a wonderful doctor who helped her finally get pregnant and deliver a healthy baby this past August.

A couple of years back, she had a stillborn baby girl and wanted an album to hold 100+ photos she had been able to get of her baby before burial. It reminded me of the beautiful box and prayer book I made for Julia. 

Today I am sharing with you the treasure I made for her. It's a comfort to us mothers that lose babies to miscarriages or other circumstances that we will one day see them again.

I have lost 3 babies myself. The last one was this past spring. I didn't share about it here because it's just so hard. Most people don't understand when mothers say that their arms feel empty and they have a house full of children. I didn't...until I miscarried this last baby. He was due this November. There should have been a brand new baby in my home right now. :(

Here is the album cover.... The album is 12x12" and filled with page protectors that hold 4x6" photos. I can't remember now but I put about 13 of them in there. There's room for 130 photos.

I added lots of details to the cover with chipboard frames, Prima flowers, rub ons and doillies.

It turned out very mixed media because I gesso the fabric cover and then used acrylic paint to create the background. I adhered a huge doilly (12") to the center and then painted over it. 

The dots were created using modeling paste. I don't own any stencils, but still I was able to create texture and interest with bubble wrap and modeling paste.

I recycled old books and corrugated cardboard to create this side of the cover.

White paint always goes a long way to make anything look shabby. :)

Lots of my favorite stamps.

Below I added the baby's name using white chipboard letters that I stamped over with a script stamp I had. Again added some white paint for the shabby look.

Inside there are photo protectors, each side has a 4x6" card that has been embellished with stamps, and images from Iralamija etsy shop. There you can find the most beautiful digital images. The 4x6" card can be used as a journaling place or just decorating the page.

Some of the digital downloads I used were Sentiment and BannersAdore TicketsSongbird Cards, Bella Rose Background, and Old Tickets
There may be others because I really love Beatriz' stuff.
Now how is this related to homeschooling?

For a week, after I lost my baby, I was basically bedridden. We don't have any family close (my parents live in Brazil) and my children and husband had to fend for themselves and take care of me while I recuperated from the miscarriage.

During this time, I was able to see how homeschooling provides the perfect environment for maturing and testing the waters within protective boundaries. My DD11 was able to cook and serve her siblings. My DS8 was able to help around the house more and read/ teach his sisters. My 2 youngest got to take care of Mommy by fetching water and bringing other items in the bedroom.

Everyone learned about what happened. We were able to talk about the preciousness of life, Heaven, Jesus, the Bible, our loving Heavenly Father. The kids got concerned about Mom. It was a lesson for us all to appreciate one another and not take for granted what we have.

I believe homeschooling is one beautiful thing in our lives.

I had wonderful friends who went grocery shopping for me; who brought meals; who prayed for me; who sent me flowers and a card; who babysat my kids so I could go to the doctor. My parents live far away, but God has provided a generous support group right here where I live.

There wasn't much desk work done that week but there was a lot of learning.

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. - Romans 8:28

As I finished J's custom order this summer, my heart healed. I still long for my baby but I know where he is. I am full of hope. As I worked on this album, joy flooded my heart again.

Have you lost a baby? How did you cope?



Friday, November 7, 2014

Learning Log of October 2014

My parents went back to Brazil on the 22nd of October. The month was full of park visits, picnics, last minute doctor appointments and new discoveries.
I shared about the new math curriculum called Mathematical Reasoning that we have officially adopted.
I tried canning for the first time and put to use lots of my homegrown jalapeno peppers.
Homeschooling is hard work but it's so worth it!

Read aloud Books

* Down the Long Hills by Louis L'Amour - We finished our first Louis L'amour book.

* Sing Down the Moon by Scott O'Nell - We really enjoyed learning more about Navajo culture and history. This book is really worth reading. We have added some picture books about the Navajo and other Native American tribes for the little ones.

* The Skin you Live In by Michael Tyler
* Shades of People by Shelley Rotner

Audio Books

* My kids, one time or another have the files below in their mp5s to which they listen to every night at their choosing: Fairy tales and classic stories , worship music, Story Hour files, The Piano Guys, Jonathan Park and The Brinkman Adventures, The Chronicles of Narnia and Story Nory (lots and lots of FREE audio goodness: Bible stories, Classics, educational stories even ones for non-English speakers wanting to improve their English. We love this website!).

* DD11 is listening to Cat of Bubastes 
* DD9 is also listening to Cat of Bubastes
* DD7 is listening to Jonathan Park episodes on her mp3.
* DD4 is listening to Story Nory - Aesop Fables

DD7 reading to Grandpa while he eats breakfast.

DD7 independent reading list: 

DD7 did a lot of reading. She read to Grandpa and Grandma at any time there was an opportunity.
Continuing this month, DD7 is reading by leaps and bounds. Below her list of reading 100 books. She is also reading aloud  Read with me Bible to us all during lunch time.

81) Young Cam Jansen and the Lost Tooth by David A. Adler
82) Young Cam Jansen and the Baseball Mystery by David A. Adler
83) Young Cam Jansen and the Dinosaur Game by David A. Adler
84) Chickens to the Rescue by John Himmelman
85) Diary of a Worm by Doreen Cronin
86) Letters from a Desperate Dog by Eileen Christelow
87) Calvin and Hobbes comic books - DD7 found out she didn't have to read 100 books to be able to read Calvin and Hobbes. :)
88) Mildred and Sam Go To School by Sharleen Collicott
89) A Proper Little Lady by Nette Hilton

Listening and following along books on Storyline Online.  DD4 sits in and watches with her sister. :)

DD11 is conquering math with Mathematical Reasoning curriculum.

DS9 independent reading list:  

* DS9 is reading the Action Bible on his own. For a boy who likes comic books, this is as close to Heaven as you can get.

* Calvin and Hobbes - DS9 still his favorite choice to fall asleep to.

* Harry the Poisonous Centipede by Lynne Reid Banks
* Runny Bunny by Shel Silverstein
* Letters from a Desperate Dog by Eileen Christelow
* Jupiter by Elaine Landau

* Lunch Lady and the Cyborg Substitute - Book #1 by Jarret J. Krosoczka
* Sandra Boynton's Amazing Cows - the funniest book for kids.
Read Aloud to his sisters:
* didn't record the name of the books, but there were a few. It's part of my everyday routine to make him read to his sisters 1) to keep him still for a while, 2) to practice his reading skills and 3) just to serve. :)

Show and Tell about Pets.

DD11 independent reading list

* Shadow Spinner by Susan Fletcher
* The Mystery of the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks - from the Indian in the Cupboard series
* The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain

* The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner
* Lunch Lady and the Cyborg Substitute - Book #1 by Jarret J. Krosoczka
* Sandra Boynton's Amazing Cows - the funniest book for kids.
Easy breakfast: cottage cheese with fruit!
On the Kindle:

* The Blue Fairy Book by Andrew Lang -  a collection of fairy tales
* The Pink Fairy Book by Andrew Lang
* The Red Fairy Book by Andrew Lang
* The Lilac Fairy Book by Andrew Lang
* The Orange Fairy Book by Andrew Lang- Can you tell she loves fairy tales??? :)

** Take one or two or three (i.e. reading these yet again!)
* The Dragon's Eye by Dugald A. Steer - Dragonology Chronicles - Vol. I
* The Dragon Diary by Dugald A. Steer - Dragonology Chronicles - Vol. II
* The Dragon's Apprentice by Dugald A. Steer - Dragonology Chronicles - Vol. III
* The Dragon's Prophecy by Dugald A. Steer - Dragonology Chronicles - Vol. IV

* Wings of Fire series - The Dragonet Prophecy by Tui T. Sutherland - Book #1
* Wings of Fire series - The Lost Heir by Tui T. Sutherland - Book #2
Read Aloud to her siblings:
* Dancing Cloud - The Navajo Boy by Mary Marsh  and Conrad Buff
A typical homeschooling day: everyone outside enjoying the sunshine!

Activities at Home
* First time canning our jalapeno peppers. I use this recipe to make escabeche of carrots, onions and jalapenos. I also canned homemade hot sauce.

* DD11 still playing the Irish whistle. Her repertoire has increased to Amazing Grace and one of The Hobbit's soundtrack songs.
* Playing chess with Grandpa, reading to Grandpa; playing soccer; riding bikes with Grandpa.
*Planting spinach, collards, kale, cilantro, Brussels sprouts and cabbage. Cleaning out the remains of summer crops, but we are still enjoying tomatoes, eggplants, basil, jalapeno, green beans, bell peppers and okra because I refuse to take them down until the frost comes.

* We closed our pool for the season. It's always a sad event. :(
* Prepping to put up a new green house. Getting plants transplanted to pots to go into the green house.

* WE have been busy with the Grandparents and haven't added anything new to our list of things selling on Ebay.
* Cooking lots of Brazilian dishes like tapioquinha, bolo de milho cremoso and sagu. Grandma loves her a little sugar. :)

* Playing MInecraft. Playing a lot of Minecraft.This is fixing to end as soon as the grandparents leave. :)
Picnic at the Park in the middle of the week. :)

 Field Trips/ Activities Outside Home

* Homeschooling Meeting. Presentation about Pets. Playdate at the park afterwards.

* Lunch and visit to a friends' house.
* DD11 and DS9 had their first visit to the orthodontist and I was so very pleased. Thank you Jesus for always providing above and beyond what I can think or ask for.
* Lego Club - Grandparents got to take them to this one. DH and I went on a date!
* Soccer practices and games.The kid's team participated in a soccer tournament and was out after the first game. Soccer season is over!
* Taking Grandparents to the airport. Seeing them off as they return to Brazil.
* Our first Book Club meeting geared toward Middle aged homeschoolers. We will be reading The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and using the study guide by Progeny Press. Look out for a review post coming soon!
* Playdates at the park.
* Visit to the eye doctor
Enjoying the Fall weather with other homeschoolers!

 Websites/ Links we found and used/ Apps

* - Used this site to study vocabulary words for Singing Down the Moon. Fantastic resource for creating your own vocabulary/ spelling lists or perusing others.

* Inspirational Christians - Missionaries, Pastors and Christian Workers' Biographies. Short and concise biographies, perfect for a quick research or just to know more to find out if you want to read more.

GF Pumpkin Pie: no sugar, no wheat! :P
* Council of Indian Nations - a wonderful website full of information on different tribes, their culture and history. We used it to complement our reading of Sing Down the Moon by Scott O'Nell.

* Khan Academy - We watched videos on exponential numbers; long division; multiplication and division with decimal point. DD11 and DS9 are also learning code on the site.

* Minecraft - we purchased the game and the kids are now fully capacitated to create their own worlds, and play in adventure maps and servers. Will they ever do anything else but minecraft???? :(

* Easy Peasy Website -  DD11 is doing the 6th grade curriculum. DS9 is doing the 4th grade and DD7 is doing the 2nd grade one.

* Storyline online - DD7 leads the way logging on to this site to listen to a read aloud story read by actors. Everyone else will join in. Who can resist a read aloud book?

* Online Academy of Irish Music - DD11 decided to learn Irish Flute and she is using this site to learn to play. She can play Amazing Grace, Are you sleeping, Brother John? and a song from the movie The Hobbit.

The 4 y.o. artist!!!
TV shows/ Videos/ Movies/ YouTube

*MOms' Night Out!

* Rio 2

* The Boxcar Children - animated movie on Netflix

* The Little Men - episodes of the series on Netflix

Books, blogs and other things I am reading...

 * The Lost Boy - A Foster Child's Search for the Love of a Family by Dave Pelzer  

* Master Your Metabolism by Jillian Michaels

* Teaching Self Government dot com - Nicholeen Peck

* The Hidden Children by Howard Greenfeld

* The Brainy Bunch by Kip and Mona Lisa Harding - I don't agree with everything they say, BUT (and that is a huge but) if your kid is ready for High School level work why wait?? Why wait until 18 to go to college, when you could do it at 14 or maybe at 15??? Take a look. There are many YouTube videos on the family. Check them out. We will be changing the way we do school because of this book. Thank you, Harding family!

What new discoveries have you made this blessed fall?? Share in the comments below.



Friday, October 24, 2014

What To Do When Your Math Curriculum Is Not Working? - A Math Curriculum Review

The easy answer is: you try something new!

Today I want to share with you a Math Curriculum that is working for us at the moment. We have used it on and off for the last year and a half with success. So in June, we decided to fully commit to it and adopted Mathematical Reasoning as our Core Curriculum for my 4th and 6th graders.

Before I tell you the pros and cons, it's important to realize that we are an unique family. What might work for our family, might not be a perfect fit for your family. Then again, what I share here today may be just what you needed to hear to have the courage to implement some changes and see your children finally enjoying math.

If you are new here you might want to read some of my Learning Log posts to see how eclectic our home education is. 

My Learning Log posts are shared once a month and contains a list of sort of the resources we use in our home education. I list the books that all my children are reading or listening to. I list the curricula we are using, if we are using one at all and for what subject. I list the websites we use as math, science or history. I list the books I am reading. The resources I found that are new to me and the kids. The unexpected websites the children are using to learn music or computer coding. The activities we are participating in.

My Learning Logs could be a great resource for your family. 

Consider subscribing to my blog to be notified when I post my Learning Logs. (I really got the idea for it, a few years back, from Christina Pilkington. Check her blog out!)

As you can see we, as a family, peruse the internet a lot. We have 4 computers, 3 tablets and 2 Kindles. My DH (dear husband) is a self taught computer geek – our own personal IT. :) We are not very traditional in our school at all. 

I would say that the most consistent and traditional part of our homeschooling is our math curriculum.

I love FREE resources (one reason we use the internet a lot) and have a hard time actually buying curricula. Don't get me wrong. I love curricula. I just don't have enough money to spend on all the curricula I would like to try. I have a hard time committing fully to only one curriculum when there's so much good stuff out there. (I love to change things around. A lot.) So I usually research a lot, and sit on my decision for months, sometimes years before making the jump.

I received my first Mathematical Reasoning book, level D, grade 3, for free from a friend. She had bought it for her son as a supplemental resource and really never used because he was doing well on Singapore Math Curriculum and really didn't need any extra work.

Mathematical Reasoning book, level E, grade 4, was given to me by CriticalThinking Co. as a complimentary copy in exchange for this review.

Mathematical Reasoning book, level F, grade 5, I purchased on Amazon for a discounted price. I think I saved $5.00. Yes, I like to save as much as I can. :)

Below you will find a list of reasons why I actually spend money on this math curriculum and it's making all the difference in our home education.

Here is my list of pros:

1) The books are full of illustrations and color. 

They might even remind you of one of those supplemental books used by public school students that are sold at Walmart. (I have nothing against these either. They are a great resource and have used them with my kids before. I believe you can use anything to teach your kids).  However, Mathematical Reasoning books are more elaborate and for the visual learner they are paradise!

We tried Saxon Math at one time and the gray pages were a complete put off. I know that the newest editions might have a bit more color. But usually it's one extra color besides the black and white. This is ideal for the logical learner who is no nonsense and wants to stick to the point of the subject of math. 

But for the visual learner, colors all over your page is a boost to his energy and thinking processes. For this, Mathematical Reasoning was a win win for my creative visual learner children.

2) The problems presented in the book are very close to real life situations.

Diners, yard sales, football games, cookie and pizza sharing are all situations that will cause you to use math. Because many of the word problems are presented in this format, my children can see quickly how math can be useful in their daily life. An extra bonus is that those word problems are illustrated with colorful charts and pictures.

3) Puzzles and games throughout the book.

My DD11 had a collection of Mathmania books that she would work on in her free time. As an unschooler wanna be and an eclectic MOm, I know there's no such thing as free time. 

Every experience is a learning opportunity.

The time she spent playing games, calculating prices, figuring out puzzles and challenges she was practicing her addition, subtraction, multiplication, division skills and so much more.

Mathematical Reasoning books are filled with challenges, puzzles, games, crosswords (using numbers) that entice and challenge my children to do one more page. Some of those games are Balance Benders style pages (like the one pictured above) which are basically algebra concepts being taught in a fun way.

4) Mathematical Reasoning teaches critical thinking.

Another huge bonus of this curriculum, is that it teaches critical thinking instead of just exercising the kids in math drills. For me, more important than memorizing mathematical definitions or facts is knowing how to use them. Many times we know how to do something but we have no idea there's a name for it. (think cooking skills, gardening etc) That is much more valuable than knowing definitions and theories but having no practical skills.

"These highly effective activities take students far beyond drill-and-practice by using step-by-step, discussion-based problem-solving to develop a conceptual bridge between computation and the reasoning required for upper-level math." from the Publisher's website.

I want my kids engaged using the skills they learned not busy wearing themselves out doing math drills. My Dad said it rightly, "If he knows how to solve this problem, after 4 or 5 he's done. There's no need for him to do 30 of them."

I have used repetition before, as punishment, with a child that was making mistakes due to inattentiveness. The goal was for him to practice focusing and paying attention at what he is doing. But once he proved to me he was focused, we moved on. We don't fill out pages just to say we finished the book.

5. The material is presented in a Spiral concept.

I have used another Math Curriculum that I loved but unfortunately it did not have the spiral concept. 

What is the spiral concept? Nothing more than presenting the same topic over and over again so that the student will not forget it.

Now because Mathematical Reasoning is full of games and challenging puzzles, this way of doing math is not boring. My children are not doing another fraction drill, they are solving a pizza sharing situation or comparing who has eaten the most pizza slices if the pizzas were cut into a different number of slices.

Because the topics are spread throughout the book instead of divided into units or chapters, my kids are even allowed to skip that topic completely (Gasp!) if I know they have mastered it.

6) Affordable price and compact material.

Each book is about $40.00

That is not bad for a curriculum you will use for a whole year!

Everything you need to do math is in one huge book (about 300-400 pages). No extra workbooks, quizzes, textbook, manuals or answer keys.The answers are at the end of the book.

Of course, no math curriculum is perfect! (Although Mathematical Reasoning is close!) 

Here are the cons I found with this curriculum:

1) The Binding is not strong enough!

What? Am I complaining about the binding? Yes!

Mathematical Reasoning books are THICK. The level D book, grade 3, has almost 400 pages. My then 8 year old son was not gentle with this book. He dragged it around the house. He worked on it on the floor, the desk, on his bed... and the covers fell off.

I like the thickness of the book. I had rather have a big thick math book, than a book split into many unit books. But the binding design needs to be revisited. Maybe a spiral binding would work. I don't know. I know that the one they have now, it's not working.

My DD11 has been using her book for the last 3 months, has completed 1/2 of the book and it's already showing signs of wear.

2) There's no Teacher's Guide or lengthy explanations.

Before I explain this con, I need to say that this was really NOT a con for ME, but I see how it could be for another parent.

I hate Teacher's Guides or any manuals that give a parent a script to read when teaching her child, or a manual of how to or what to do next. I never buy them. I never use them. I know I may sound weird but I had rather have the freedom to choose what's the best way to learn than to use a script. A manual robs me of the joy of teaching and learning.

All that to say that the explanations in the books are minimal. More like examples to follow than an elaborated explanation of the concept being introduced.

Most of the time, they were enough for my children. When they couldn't grasp the concept I used other resources. But I have done that with other curricula so I don't think it's a flaw of Mathematical Reasoning. I think it's a flaw with the parent or child.

Some parents may find Mathematical Reasoning a challenge if they don't like math, don't understand it or are afraid of it. This curriculum is very parents' hands-on. You might have to help your child work out some of the puzzles or challenges. You may find yourself explaining how to factor a number or reduce a fraction.

If you skipped why our family is unique at the beginning of the post, you might want to read it now to understand why Mathematical Reasoning worked and is working for us.

3) There's no HOW TO to solve puzzles and challenges.

Sometimes I found myself cornered by not being able to solve a problem. The book does provide answers but not HOW TO solutions.

Because I enjoyed the challenge, we kept working on a a puzzle for a couple of days until we found the solution. That just helped fixate the knowledge or concept being taught.

Again if the parent has low mathematical thinking skills or interest, this book might be a challenge for her.

4) There's no Mental Practice allotted in the book.

Unlike Singapore Math and Saxon, Mathematical Reasoning does not include mental math in their books. BUT that doesn't mean you, as parent, can't turn some of their exercises into a mental math practice.

Just like we did with Singapore Math, sometimes I turned word problems or exercises into oral drills or quizzes.

And here I come to the end of this review. I hope this post was useful to you.

Overall, I really like Mathematical Reasoning curriculum because it is very flexible, colorful and engaging.

My DD11 and I have finally stopped fighting over math. She's finally realized she can do math. This is a great and important step for a child to engage into doing a skill. If the child keeps failing, it's difficult to find the motivation to continue.

My DS9 can do his math as quickly as he likes. I actually let him pick 4 pages to do a day. Some days he picks more, some days I sit with him and choose the pages for him.

At the time of this post, both children are half way through their books. DD11 is working on level F (5th grade) and DS9 is working on level E (4th grade). We will probably be heading to 6th grade level math together in 4 months.

I hope you try it out if you are looking for a curriculum for your visual and creative child. Or for your math aficionado that loves to play games and puzzles in his free time.

Please let me know your thoughts in the comment section. I will be glad to answer any questions.


I received one complementary Mathematical Reasoning book in exchange for my review. This blog is my own personal opinion.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Learning Log of September 2014

 September was a busy month. My parents came from Brazil for a 40 day visit and we spend a lot of time just being together. Schooling was reduced to just math, reading aloud, chores and field trips. Of course, the kids still used/ played computers, as well as played chess, helped with cooking, listened to audiobooks... Life went on as usual and lots of learning happened.

We went to US Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, AL and it was phenomenal. 

The kids also began soccer. Our local annual festival happened at the end of the month and the grandparents got to finally enjoy it with the grandchildren. 

My Mom, my oldest daughter and I ran a 5K.

Read aloud Books

* George Muller - The Guardian of Bristol's Orphans by Janet and Geoff Benge - Finally finished. George Muller was a great man of faith.

* Panda Kindergarten by Joanne Ryder
* Rah, Rah, Radishes! A Vegetable Chant by April Pulley Sayre

* Alone Yet Not Alone by Tracy Leininger Craven - Their Faith became their freedom. Based on a true story. Turned into a movie.

* Down the Long Hills by Louis L'Amour - Our first Louis L'amour book! The kids enjoyed it as we learned survival skills and delighted in this fast paced adventure. More coming soon.

Audio Books

* My kids, one time or another have the files below in their mp5s to which they listen to every night at their choosing: Fairy tales and classic stories , worship music, Story Hour files, The Piano Guys, Jonathan Park and The Brinkman Adventures, The Chronicles of Narnia and Story Nory (lots and lots of FREE audio goodness: Bible stories, Classics, educational stories even ones for non-English speakers wanting to improve their English. We love this website!).

* DD11 listening to Jonathan Park episodes as well as Cat of Bubastes by Henty.
* DD9 is listening to Cat of Bubastes as part of the Easy Peasy History curriculum.
* DD7 is listening to Sparkle Stories, Story Hour and Jonathan Park episodes on her mp3.

DD7 independent reading list: 

Continuing this month, DD7 is reading by leaps and bounds. With ease she is reading through her Abeka readers and keeping on reading her 100 books.

72) Ling and Ting - Not Exactly the Same! by Grace Lin
73) Ol' Mama Squirrel by David Ezra Stein
74) Miss Brooks Loves Books! (and I don't) by Barbara Bottner
75) The Best Fence Painter - The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
76) The Magic School Bus Flies from the Nest
77) Bumblebees by Emily K. Green - World of Insects - Blast off! Readers
78) Fireflies by Emily L. Green - World of Insects - Blast Off! Readers
79) Young Cam Jansen and the Ice Skate Mystery by David A. Adler
80) Young Cam Jansen and the Pizza Shop Mystery by David A. Adler

Listening and following along books on Storyline Online.

DS9 independent reading list:  

* Calvin and Hobbes -DS9 reads a few strips at night before falling sleep.

* The Trojan Horse - How the Greeks Won the War by Emily Little
* Kidnapped by River Rats - William and Catherine Booth by Dave and Neta Jackson - Trailblazer books.
* Shelterwood by Susan Hand Shetterly
* Johnny on the Spot by Edward Sorel
Read Aloud to his sisters:
* The Adventures of Thor The Thunder God retold by Lise Lunge-larsen
* Scaredy Squirrel by Melanie Watt

DD11 independent reading list

* Reading a chapter of Proverbs everyday and highlighting and copying the verse that spoke the most to her. She has now a wall covered in post it notes. 

* The Shakespeare Stealer by Gary Blackwood
* Mythical Beasts by Doug Marx 
* Thimble Summer by Elizabeth Enright

* YOuTube - The Company and its Founders by Rebecca Rowell - Technology Pioneers
* Pixar - The Company and its Founders by A. M. Buckley - Technology Pioneers 

* Chicken Soup for Kid's Soul - 101 Stories of Courage, Hope and Laughter for kids 8-12

* Star of Light by Patricia ST. John 
* Treasures of the Snow - Illustrated Edition by Patricia St. John
* Escape from the Slave Traders - David Livingstone by Dave and Neta Jackson - Trailblazer Books 
* The Mayflower Secret - Governor William Bradford by Dave and Neta jackson - Trailblazer books
* The Golden Goblet by Eloise Jarvis McGraw

* The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich 

* Farewell to Manzanar by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston and James D.Houston - DD11 started this book, but didn't finish.

** Take one or two or three (i.e. reading these yet again!)
* Autumn with the Moodys by Sarah Maxwell - book 2
* Winter with the Moodys by Sarah Maxwell - book 3
* Spring with the Moodys by Sarah Maxwell - book 4
* Summer Days with the Moodys by Sarah Maxwell - book 5
* Autumn Days with the Moodys by Sarah Maxwell - book 6 
* Winter Days with the Moodys by Sarah Maxwell - book 7
Read Aloud to her siblings:
* Dolphin Adventures - A True Story by Wayne Grover
* A Green Kid's Guide to Composting by Richard Lay

Activities at Home
* DD11 decided to learn the Irish whistle. So we bought one and she has been practicing and learning it on her own with help of YouTube videos and AIOM website.

* Playing chess with Grandpa.
* Training for a 5K with Grandma. Practicing soccer and volleyball with Grandpa.

* Enjoying the last days of swimming with the grandparents.

* Gardening; harvesting okra, greens, herbs, green beans, tomatoes and more.

* Cleaning, decluttering, and selling our stuff on Ebay.  
* Making videos for YouTube
* Editing Mom's videos
* Making Stop motion videos.
* Trying new recipes like Chicken pancakes and Flaxseed Coconut Cereal for breakfast. Mom is doing The Plan and is teaching the new concepts to the children. 
* Playing with homemade playdough.
* Riding bikes. Practicing soccer.
* Playing MInecraft. Playing a lot of Minecraft.

 Field Trips/ Activities Outside Home

* Homeschooling Meeting
* Lego Club - the kids worked on making stop motion videos. Since my children had already made a few, we uploaded a couple more to my YouTube channel and they worked on helping the other kids to build their sets, storyline and videos.
* A day trip with the Grandparents to the US Space Rocket Center in Huntsville, AL.  We watched the Mysteries of the Unseen World in the 3D theater. Fantastic!
* Grandma, DD11 and I ran a 5K on a Friday at midnight in our town during an annual festival. It was my daughter's and my first 5K and it was exhilarating. I can't get enough of running now.
* Going to our town annual festival and enjoying a crowded town and traffic jams.
* Carnival - the children enjoyed the games and rides during a fair in our town.
* We also watched a re-enactment of a Civil War battle.
* Soccer season is here!! DD11 and DS9 are playing soccer through the city team. Games and practices weekly.
* Shopping trips with grandparents.
* Going to the dentist for the first time for cleaning. No cavities. No issues. :) Yay!
* Eye doctor appts.

 Websites/ Links we found and used/ Apps

* Book Worm Adventures - A fun spelling game

* Khan Academy - great resource for anything math. DD11 and DS9 are still using it for  learning code on the site.

* Minecraft - we purchased the game and the kids are now fully capacitated to create their own worlds, and play in adventure maps and servers. Will they ever do anything else but minecraft???? :(

* Easy Peasy Website -  DD11 is doing the 6th grade curriculum. DS9 is doing the 4th grade and DD7 is doing the 2nd grade one. We stopped it all this month with my parents' visit.

* Storyline online - DD7 leads the way logging on to this site to listen to a read aloud story read by actors. Everyone else will join in. Who can resist a read aloud book?

* Online Academy of Irish Music - DD11 decided to learn Irish Flute and she is using this site to learn to play. She can play Amazing Grace, Are you sleeping, Brother John? and a song from the movie The Hobbit.

TV shows/ Videos/ Movies/ YouTube

* Frozen - still watching it. :)

* Gravity - too intense for the kids; too many extraordinary situations that are really impossible to happen in space. Still an interesting movie.

* Pink Panther videos

* Unstoppable with Kirk Cameron - on Netflix. I watched on my own. I thought it was not appropriate for children under 12 y.o. Deals with suffering and God.

* Tap vs Irish Dance - fantastic video that will delight anyone who loves dance.

* Ken Davis - funny comedian. Watch Fully Alive on Netflix. Read the Book here. We watched with the kids.

* God's Not Dead! - we watched this movie together as a family. There are strong scenes like a beating and a car accident. Otherwise the movie is fantastic as an example of defense of the Christian faith.

* October Baby - watched with my parents during their visit. If you haven't seen this movie, it's a good one dealing with the issue of abortion and forgiveness. My personal opinion is that this movie is NOT appropriate for kids 14 y.o. and under.

* Ransom of Red Chief
* The Great Elephant Escape
* The Adventures of Ragtime

* Ninjago Rebooted - Battle for New NInjago City

Books, blogs and other things I am reading...

* Spelling and the Brain - you got a child struggling with spelling? YOu got to watch this video.

* Hedua Media: Need to know more about different homeschooling methods or lifestyles? Take the time to browse and peruse this channel on YouTube. It's a wealth of information.

Conceived by Rape - Fantastic argument against abortion even in the case of rape. Documentary available for FREE at the link or purchasing the DVD at the same link.

* Fields of Mudan - a short film about children brought into slavery.

* Teaching Your Children Healthy Sexuality by Jim Burns - I have yet to find a book geared for homeschoolers. Although this book was written from a Christian point of view, it's clearly for kids that go to PS or have been exposed to general culture and media. I prefer the author's books written for younger children.

* Self Regulation and Brain Development -  Dr Regalnea Melrose is  neuroscience and childhood stress and trauma expert and talks extensively of how the brain work and why things are the way they are with our children. If you are experiencing struggles with your children, check out her videos to learn more.

* I Beat the Odds - from Homelessness to Blind Side and Beyond by Michael Oher with Don Yaeger - A must read! There's hope for everyone. All we need is to WANT out!

* The Boy on the Wooden Box - A Memoir by Leon Leyson - How the impossible became possible... on Schindler's List - A fantastic book! A great read for anyone who likes biographies and history. I think I see a book review post coming soon.

* A Child Called "It" by Dave Pelzer  

* Master Your Metabolism by Jillian Michaels

* Teaching Self Government by Nicholeen Peck - This is another great resource for teaching kids self government and instill obedience and the desire and heart motives for it. The author's family participated in a BBC the STrictest parents on Earth and they did a fantastic job. You can watch the episodes on YouTube.

What have you been up to??

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

How Unique is your Family? A little about our Homeschooling Style.

I will be doing some curriculum reviews soon and I wanted to give you some background information about me.

I think it makes all the difference when reading a review knowing a bit about the reviewer. So here goes... :)

I do not have a degree in Education. I have a Brazilian college degree in International Business. My first language is Portuguese. I speak English and Spanish fluently and have taught them both as foreign languages.

When I was a teenager, I lived in California and went to public school there. I went to 7th, 8th and 9th grades. I know first hand what it's like to go to public school in the US.

My Dad is an Engineer so I grew up having long math tutoring sessions with him. He loved math and would explain it to the details. I remember hating those lessons then. I really didn't have the patience. Today I appreciate those times so much because they helped me grasp many mathematical concepts.

I tutored math in High School and College but I do not consider myself a math expert or a genius. I like math today, but it wasn't always so when I was in school. I always viewed math as a puzzle sort of a game. Sometimes I wanted to play. Sometimes it wore me out.

I was pretty good at it. I studied Algebra, Geometry, Trigonometry even Calculus. While I loved the first three subjects, I got lost in Calculus and really can't tell you much about it.

I have homeschooled my children from birth. Not one has gone to school. You can read my Learning Log posts to see what our months look like.

I cannot tell you that I have taught them all they know.

They do a lot of learning on their own. But I do guide them, instruct them and facilitate their daily studies. On the date of this post, we have 4 children between the ages of 4 y.o. and 11 y.o.

I would say our learning style is eclectic or relaxed homeschooling. I used to think we were unschoolers but not anymore. While we do NOT like school or schoolish settings of any sort, Mom likes to be in charge or at least pretend she is in charge. :)

We have routines and some "rules" to our activities so I am really not a Sandra Dodd unschooler type.

However, my kids do tell people that we don't do school and that we unschool. I have told them for so long that the learning we do at home is completely different from school. So in their minds we unschool. 

The term was coined by John Taylor Gatto and he came up with it out of frustration for the public school system.

All my children have different learning styles

At least 3 of them are very much verbal. They need to talk to learn or to remember what they are learning. 

Can you imagine these children in a classroom? 

We have arguments at home because of so many interruptions. I have to constantly listen to my children regurgitate information they are learning because it helps them to process it. I have to look interested too. :/

I would say all four are visual learners. I have a couple who are also kinesthetic. They move all the time even when they are doing workbooks. 

One for sure is also an auditory learner. She is teaching herself how to play the tin whistle. Two are very social and two are very solitary in their learning. 

How does a Mom homeschool with so many learning styles?

Flexibility is key!

From the beginning my goal was to find out who my children were and facilitate their gifts and talents. Although I cater to their strengths, we work on their weaknesses too.

We change our routines constantly. We use all sort of media to learn. We use many different curricula. Sometimes we don't finish a book/ textbook. We do lots of hands on activities. We are very social. There is music and noise at my house everyday. We are not a quiet home. 

We use computers. We watch TV. We have cable. We read our Bibles too. :)

We also read a lot. Lots of different genre. Poetry. Biographies. Historical Fiction. How to books. Scientific books. Magazines. Comic Books. Take a look at my Learning Log posts to see some of our reading choices.

I hate routine. I don't like to do the same thing everyday. I tell my kids the only routine we have is 3 meals a day, and a set bedtime. Everything else is subject to change in our house.

Many times we begin with a routine of reading out loud everyday after lunch. Within 4 days we are doing something else. We might read again before bedtime because the book is so interesting. (We did that yesterday as we read our first Louis L'amour book) Or we might not pick up the book for a few days.

I believe we are learning all the time. Our brain does not stop absorbing or processing information because we are not doing a workbook, reading a book or listening to a lecture. 

Everyday life experiences are learning experiences!

We are a curious family. Hungry for knowledge and experiences.

We "school" year round. Sometimes we will stop whatever curriculum we are using and play, read, watch documentaries for 30 days. Then pick up where we left off like nothing happened.

We endeavor to do "school" (workbooks, projects, Easy Peasy work load etc) in the morning and be done by lunch time. So math, individual reading, grammar, history and/ or science readings/ videos, Bible are all done in the morning in about 2 hours. Afternoons are left for reading alouds, hands on projects, free computer time, music/ craft lessons and anything else that the kids fancy.

Our journey in homeschool began with my husband's desire to home educate our children. He did not enjoy his time in PS as a kid and was bored most of the time. He was not challenged at all and was picked on for being smart. Also, as a Christian, he wanted to be the main influence on our kids' lives. He feel it's important to teach our children God's principles and guard their hearts.

I had no clue what homeschooling was, but always felt in my gut that it was just wrong to have to send my children somewhere else to have a stranger teach them and enjoy their victories. I wanted to spend time with my children. I wanted them to be close. Homeschooling is the perfect fit for us! We get to learn together and be the most important influences on their lives!

I also felt I wasted a lot of time in PS. I wanted to give my kids free time to explore, think and develop their gifts and talents. I spent a lot of years lost until I discovered my gifts and Jesus! :) (not necessarily in this order)

I hope this information helps, as you read my curriculum reviews. 

It's really important to know the uniqueness of your family so that you can choose the resources that fit your style and your goals.

We are all different and sharing those differences can be helpful in our self exploration as we go on our homeschooling journey!

What sets you apart? How unique is your homeschooling style?

Share in the comments' section.



" To believe in unschooling is to believe that true learning happens best when it arises from the experiences and interests of the learner, not from an imposed curriculum or a teacher or a parent.  As unschooling parents, we don’t act as teachers, but as facilitators and partners." - Jennifer McGrail

Here's more on Unschooling and Christianity.