My Garden Experiment Website

My Garden with garden stakes and no plants

http://www.mygardenexperiment.com

I launched a website to chronicle our journey through planting and harvesting our backyard garden.  Being the constant homeschooling parent, I turned this garden into a big experiment.  Can we grow, harvest, and consume our garden?  Furthermore, can we enjoy the fruits of our garden throughout the winter?

Come visit my new website:  www.mygardenexperiment.com a homeschool experiment!

Have a wonderful day!

Benefits of a Homeschool Library

Homeschool Books on Shelves in the Homeschool LibraryIn our community, we have a homeschool library. It has shelves of math curriculum at every grade level and almost every science curriculum. There are shelves of science equipment and even a sewing machine. You can find educational videos and SAT study guides. There are reading books and history guide books. Yes, there are even pencils and paper available. When you are homeschooling one child, you will buy curriculum one time for each grade. While this is great to have new books every year, it is also very expensive. Some years we do not have the luxury to buy new books. That is where our homeschool library has been a saving grace.

Recently, I was lamenting about buying my daughters curriculum. It was going to be more expensive than I liked. I had the budget, but we also needed a low cost computer for our homeschool, however the money would have to go to the curriculum first. I walked into the homeschool library after a used book sale at a local homeschooling conference. There sitting on a shelf were the brand new student books for history, science, and algebra 1 for next year. I was able to check out the books from the library, praising God for the blessing! The homeschool library is a huge blessing, but I like to use it for a couple reasons.

  1. Finding curriculum for the next year or even for the current year.
  2. Comparing various curriculum for purchase.
  3. Glancing at curriculum that I didn’t even know existed
  4. Finding older curriculum or reading books
  5. Borrowing science equipment for that one time experiment

You may be thinking, this is great, but you don’t have a homeschool library! Start One! Here are a few key ideas that I have noticed about ours.

  1. They have a good location, that is accessible to homeschoolers. Ours is in the church where our homeschool group has a co-op. Therefore, there is easy access to most of the homeschoolers in our community.
  2. Our community has a homeschool conference with a used book sale. After the used book sale, many people will donate the materials that do not sell. Plus, people donate curriculum.
  3. They have lots of shelves. Our library is pretty full, so have a lot more shelves than you think you need.
  4. They sort the books by the type of curriculum such as; math, science, language, etc. Then, sort the books according to type. For example: Language arts maybe broken down into; spelling, vocabulary, grammar, literature, etc. Finally, sort books by grade starting with youngest to oldest.
  5. Our homeschool library, has a honor system. We write down on a piece of paper attached to a clip board what we are checking out. When we return it, we cross it out. This is pretty low tech, but it works.
  6. Volunteers maintain our library. This is a great service project for a teens!
  7. Homeschoolers give back to the library. Donate your curriculum in good condition.

I have to admit. I am very thankful for our homeschool library, for the wonderful and generous donations, and for the giving hands that take care of the library. The homeschool library is one of the great ideas that has blessed many families in our community. Visit your local homeschool library!

The Long Hard Road to the Swim Championships

swimmeetIt was a long hard road, literally.  We drove across 3 state borders and many miles, to travel back and forth to swim practice and swim meets.  Each day, my daughter could not wait to go to swim practice.  Her hard work paid off at Junior State Championships.

I noticed that my daughter gained more than a chance at States or Junior States; she gained character. This has been a tough season for my daughter.  Through a sudden departure of a head coach, the exodus of friends, the increased injuries, and unscheduled illnesses, she kept going to swim practice.  She persevered through this year and I am so proud of her.

There were times she had to dig deep inside herself and muster up courage to face her fears. When her times were stagnant, she would say, “Well, you know what that means? I just have to work harder.” Yes, she gained so much this year.  Unfortunately, coaches and fellow swimmers will never observe most of what she achieved.  What she gained was confidence, integrity, and perseverance.

She gained so much more through the triumphs and the trials that abounded. The Lord has been with her through every step, every tear, and every stroke.  He knows her heart and her passion for swimming.  He brought her through this challenging year.

As I stood on the swim deck timing the 500 Freestyle, tears of joy filled my eyes for her courage and her love for her sport. Yes, my daughter, you are a champion in more than a swim meet; you are a champion of the heart.  Congratulations, my dear daughter on 5 out of 6 best times at the Junior States Championships!

5 Productive Swim Practice Ideas for Parents

Swimming

I spend a lot of time at swim practice and meets, waiting for and watching my daughter.  Since we travel over an hour, it does not make sense for me to go home.  As a homeschooling swim mom, I find there is an endless stack of items to do. Over the years, I have found some ideas to keep myself productive during swim practice.  I will break them into 5 groups.

 Reading and Reviewing School Work

I like to pre-read books that my daughter is going to read.  I try to use swim practice time to read books.  There is never enough time to read books before my daughter is clamoring to read them.  Unfortunately, it can be loud when the coach is shouting across the pool to the swimmers.  Therefore, I try to choose books that are not complex requiring thought.

 Exercising

This is a wonderful time to exercise.  Our facility has exercise equipment to use at an additional fee.  If this is not possible and the neighborhood is safe, going for a walk is a great way to move those muscles. Walking, around the parking lot a few times, can get those muscles moving.

 Crafts

This year I have decided to knit hats for my family for Christmas presents.  Many swim practices, I divide my time between paperwork, reading, exercising, and knitting.  Knitting and other fiber arts are great for keeping the hands busy while watching your child or talking to other parents.

 Conversation

We are truly blessed with a wonderful swim team family.  The parents are a joy to spend time chatting in a good way.  However, I do have a few suggestions when chatting.  Always remember to chat, not gossip.  This is so important.  In addition, your child or children are yours to worry about.  It is not for you to talk negatively about other children.  When mentioning other kids, I am careful to say positive things.  They are kids and do not need any additional pressure from parents.

 Paperwork

I do not know about you, but I have a lot of paperwork or little catch up items to do.  I have been known to balance a checkbook, pay bills, make phone calls, arrange a doctor’s appointment, clean out my purse, buy some goggles online, and yes, admittedly, I have purchased Christmas gifts during swim practice.

 

Sports are a wonderful activity for children to build character. As parents, maintaining positive reinforcement through our actions and activities helps our children as they explore their sport. Spending our time productively demonstrates to our children, that we are good time managers, so that we do not waste time!

Have a wonderful day!

7th Grade Homeschooling Curriculum

Updated February 22. 2014

Don’t you feel great when you finally decide on the homeschooling curriculum plan and schedule for the next year?  I know that I struggle with each subject and the multitude of choices.  I always ask the question…Is this the best for my student?  Does the curriculum cover the subject fully with clarity?  Do I need to supplement the curriculum?  Will she be bored or excited with the curriculum?  Did I choose one too challenging or too easy?

From February until May, I spend countless hours reviewing each curriculum option, including the scope and sequences for my student.  I compare these to the typical subjects expected at her age or grade.  Then, I pray for guidance, clarity, and yes, the funds to buy the curriculum.

When looking at our curriculum choices, it is important to remember that we homeschool year round with our year starting in June.  We take breaks throughout the year, rather than taking the summer off.  Following this year-round schedule, we find that her math, grammar, and writing tend to remain at a constant growth and achievement.

In addition, I believe in having a primary curriculum combined with a less intensive supplemental curriculum.  Granted this may seem like a lot of material to cover in one year, however I do believe that it is important to learn subjects from two viewpoints or presentations.  For example, we use Saxon Math along with Life of Fred.  While Saxon Math is thorough, my daughter simply enjoys math with Life of Fred and thinks that Fred is the most adorable math whiz! The result is that she enjoys math.  I have listed our main homeschooling curriculum or resources as ‘Primary’, with the supplementary curriculum as ‘Supplementary.’

***Update: We have made some changes to the curriculum for 7th grade.  Deleted changes are in Red and additions are in Green.

Bible:

  • Bible – Primary
  • Heaven for Kids – Primary

Math:

  • Saxon 8/7 – Primary
  • Life of Fred – Supplementary – Deleted – We are continuing with Saxon 8/7 
  • Added: Saxon Algebra 1/2.

Science:

  • BJU Life Science Grade 7 – Primary
  • Apologia General Science – Supplementary – Selected chapters only

Logic/Critical Thinking:

  • The Fallacy Detective – Primary – Deleted.  I think this would be a little better when my daughter is older. 
  • Red Herring Mysteries – These do not always fall in the school day.  We like these as puzzlers when driving somewhere or waiting for an appointment.

Language:

  • BJU Grammar and Writing – the Grammar section only – Primary
  • Holt Elements of Language – the Grammar section only – Supplementary

Writing:

  • Writing with Skill Level 1 – Primary – Deleted
  • Replaced WWS with IEW Medieval History Based Writing Lessons
  • Assorted research papers, writing projects, presentations, and models throughout the year

Spelling/Vocabulary:

  • Spelling Power – Primary
  • Vocabulary Cartoons – Primary
  • Word Power – Duke TIPS

Health:

  • BJU Health – Postponed 

Reading:

  • Sonlight H – Primary
  • Reading lists – Supplementary
  • Added – BJU Literature 7th grade
  • Added – C.S. Lewis Narnia Series

Latin:

  • First Form Latin

History/Social Studies:

  • Sonlight H including Story of the World – Primary
  • Chester Comix – Supplementary
  • Classical Conversations Timeline Cards

Music:

  • Piano Lessons
  • Composers and Orchestra

Art:

  • Thomas Kincaid Drawing Basics
  • Architecture Camp

Sports:

  • Swimming

Classes:

  • Classical Conversations
  • Summer Camps

*The subject bolded are the core subjects covered each day.  The remaining are scheduled throughout the week or year depending on the length of the course or curriculum. 

Ultimately, I do not schedule all the subjects at the same time.  Some of the subjects and curriculum are not a year-round curriculum.  Therefore, we may do one to two lessons a week thus spreading it out over the year.  My daughter, while challenged, is not overwhelmed.  That would be counter-productive.  I carefully schedule things and adjust as necessary.  Although we have an active academic schedule, my daughter has friends, activities, church, family, and sports to keep her busy and happy as well.  Finding the perfect curriculum does not guarantee a successful school year.  Nuturing the love of learning, does!

Have a wonderful day!

Updated February 22, 2014

 

Christian Non-Traditional Homeschool Curriculum Review : Sonlight

DSCN6994HomeschoolingOne is continuing the Non Traditional Homeschool Curriculum review of four Classical and Literature based curriculum on the market.  Sonlight is the fourth of these reviews.


Sonlight


Sonlight is a popular Christian based literature curriculum on the homeschooling market. Sonlight offers a Curriculum Guide called Instructor’s Guide (IG) along with a selection of books and materials for each Core package.  There are packages for every age group. The Core packages are divided into historical time-periods with suggested age ranges.  For example, Core B is Intro to World History for a 6, 7, or 8 year-old.  The basic Core consists of the Instructor’s Guide, History and Geography books, Bible, Read Alouds, Readers, and Language Arts.  Many of the Core curriculums have a Science curriculum associated with a specific core.  However, this is an extra cost.  The parent adds math, science, electives, and handwriting.

If a student is in the Sonlight program for K-12, they will review World History and American History/Government three times.  The curriculum is easy to use with a choice of 4 days per week or 5 days per week schedule.   Sonlight combines award-winning books with reprinted previously out-of-print texts.  These are some of the best books.  A second grader would read Amelia Bedelia, The Sword in the Tree, and Greg’s Microscope with read alouds including Detective in Togas, Mr. Popper’s Penguins, and Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle.  There is always an emphasis on missionaries and people, who have explored the unknown by land or by science.   The average 7th grader explores World History in Core G with an appropriate level of understanding into some of historical events in the difficult periods.  The 7th grader would read The Bronze Bow, Mara, Daughter of the Nile, The Phantom Tollbooth, and Leonardo da Vinci.  Even in 7th grade, Sonlight encourages parents to read aloud book which helps the student in diction and pronunciation.  The Core G read aloud books include The Golden Goblet, God King, and The Shakespeare Stealer.


Cost

Sonlight is expensive at first glance.  The Core B is $459 for 5-day program and Core G is $495 for the 5-day program.   The parent receives many books for their money.  For example, the Core G includes 40+ books plus the Instructor’s Guide.


Author’s Opinion


We have used Sonlight for 4 years.  My daughter is an avid reader and loves the books from Sonlight.  For the student who is a prolific reader, this is a great curriculum.  I do read the books and at times find something that we need to talk about before she reads a particular book. However, this is rare.  We add Math, Science, Latin, Grammar, Health, and Fine Arts.


The Bottom Line


This is by far the best literature based curriculum out there.  If you are looking for a Traditional or even Classical program, this is not the one for you.  Although the books can be used in a Classical program, there is not an emphasis on the stages of learning such as Grammar, Dialectic, and Rhetoric.  However, we combine Sonlight and Classical Conversations together very nicely for the literature portion of the comprehensive Christian Homeschooling program.


Summary


In the end, there are high quality diverse homeschooling curriculum packages providers that deliver terrific books, curriculum guides, and activities to make the homeschooling journey a bit easier.  It is so nice to know that there are Christians and Christian companies, who are willing to help you find that homeschooling package just for your student!  Have fun, relax, and enjoy the process of finding that right fit as you journey down your faith walk!



Have a Wonderful Day!

Christian Non-Traditional Homeschool Curriculum Review : My Father’s World

HomeschoolingOne is continuing the Non Traditional Homeschool Curriculum review of four Classical and Literature based curriculum on the market.  My Father’s World (MFW) is the third of these reviews.

 

My Father’s World

My Father’s World combines the best of Charlotte Mason, Classical Education, and Unit Studies all in one.  They segment their offerings by Discovery (younger ages), Investigate (through 8th grade), and Declare (High School).  In their Investigate series, they have a five-year curriculum series; Geography, Ancient History, World History (Rome to Reformation), US and World History to 1850, and US and World History from 1850 to Modern Times.  My Father’s World provides a combination of their curriculum guides and books from various publishers assembled into a package for their customers.  Following the general guide that a student may start with the geography segment, the Exploring Countries and Cultures includes books such as Heroes Tales, Christian Heroes Now and Then, Properties of Ecosystems, and Living World Encyclopedia.  They have a reading list available for the parent to use at the library to supplement the student’s reading at their level and ability.  Based on the five curriculum series for grades 2-8, a student would get through the series almost 2 times.

 

MFW does adjust for the student’s level of comprehension by adding in progressively more difficult language arts, writing, math, and science.  The language arts early years are based on an old text of Primary/Intermediate Language Lessons, Spelling Power, and Writing Strands. At 7th grade, the language arts changes to Progeny Press along with Spelling Power and Writing Stands.  The Math is based on Singapore Math until 7th grade when it changes to Saxon.  The Science is built into the basic curriculum through reading books until 7th grade at which it changes to the Apologia Science series starting with Apologia General Science.

 

Cost

MFW is very reasonable with the Exploring Countries and Cultures priced at $279 and 1850 to Modern Times at $351.  Although there are some reading books in their curriculum, they do encourage the parent to visit the library for additional books.  The prices do not include Math and Language Arts.  The parent would need to supplement this package with additional cost.

 

Author’s Opinion

We have never used MFW, but wished we had reviewed prior to this stage of our homeschool walk.  We like many of MFW concepts including the rich selection of books to enhance the understanding of history and the world around us.  It is interesting that the publishers offer Read Alouds and suggest going to the library to supplement the curriculum at the student’s ability.  They are aware of the price and trying to help the parent select appropriate material for the student along with not burdening with a high cost.

I agree with MFW in the Science selection especially at the 7th grade level.  Students at that level do need to be moving a little more into the higher science if they are headed toward a science degree in college.

 

Christian Non-Traditional Homeschool Curriculum Review : Memoria Press

HomeschoolingOne is continuing the Non Traditional Homeschool Curriculum review of four Classical and Literature based curriculum on the market.  Memoria Press is the second of the reviews.

Memoria Press

Memoria Press presents a combination of Memoria Press written Classical books and workbooks including Logic, Literature Guides, Latin, Composition, Christian Studies, and Classical Studies with other curriculum vendors.  Memoria Press provides full curriculum packages for each grade from K-12.

Many people are familiar with their curriculum through their Latin series, Prima Latin, Latin Christiana I and II, and First Form Latin series. While much of the curriculum is their own, they do use Rod and Staff Mathematics, market available literature, Story of the World, and various science books.  Some of the literature books for the Second Grade level are Little House in the Big Woods, Mr. Popper’s Penguins, and The Courage of Sarah Noble.  The seventh grade literature includes The Wind in the Willows and Robinson Crusoe.

Cost

Memoria Press curriculum is reasonable with the 2nd grade priced at $370 and the 7th grade at $475.  This included everything you will need for the year.  One thing that was very nice about Memoria Press is that they offer a package for families who have already bought previous grades.  Therefore, you only buy what you need.

Author’s Opinion

Little House in the Big Woods, Mr. Popper’s Penguins, and The Courage of Sarah Noble are all books that are well within the reach of an average 2nd grader.  In addition, The Wind in the Willows and Robinson Crusoe is also well within an average 7th grader.  For the family with avid readers, you may explore supplementing the literature with additional reading.

A side note: We used the Prima Latin curriculum and found it to be the perfect start to Latin.  Although I found the videos dry, my daughter enjoyed them very much and asked to do Latin.  While I do not like the price of the First Form Latin of $115, we will probably be purchasing this Latin curriculum this year.

The Bottom Line

Memoria Press definitely fits a need for many homeschoolers with their Classical approach.  There are so many great curriculum choices, Memoria Press is among the top choices.  They provide a full curriculum for all age and grade levels.  Take advantage of supplementing the reading with books from the library!

 

Update:

 

We bought the First Form Latin!  We can’t wait to get started on the curriculum! We found the curriculum for $109 at Christianbook.com and combined it with a free shipping coupon.

Have a wonderful day!  Smile

 

Christian Non-Traditional Homeschool Curriculum Review : Veritas Press

This homeschool curriculum review is the first of four reviews regarding Christian Non-traditional Homeschool package curriculum suppliers that use more than just their own books and materials. The four homeschool reviews will be Veritas Press, Memoria Press, My Father’s World, and Sonlight. Veritas Press certainly is attractive to the parents of an advanced student, due to complexity and comprehension available at younger ages.  It has many options for the family that would want a varied curriculum for different ages and abilities.


Veritas Press

Veritas Press offers an advanced Christian classical curriculum guide and books using a variety of vendors including Saxon for math, Memoria Press for Latin, and Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW) for Writing, and Shurley English for Language Arts.

Veritas Press has three options for their curriculum:

  • Self-paced online
  • Live online
  • Parent taught.

This review is based on the parent taught option.  Veritas Press presents a five-year rotation through history based on their History Timeline curriculum.  This curriculum is separated into historical time:

  • Old Testament and Ancient Egypt
  • New Testament, Greece, and Rome;
  • Middle Ages, Renaissance, and Reformation;
  • Explorers to 1815;
  • 1815 to the Present.

In Veritas Press curriculum, the literature books focus on these history categories.  For example, the Second Grade curriculum includes a choice of the Old Testament, Ancient Egypt.  Within that category, the homeschool parent may choose a variety of books.  Some of the second grade books included is Kingfisher History Encyclopedia, The Cat of Bubastis, The 5,000 Year Old Puzzle, God King, The Golden Goblet, Mara, Daughter of the Nile.


The Cost

Veritas Press is challenging to price due to the customization available to parents.  A basic second grade curriculum without music and Bible costs around $300 + $99 for the Scholars Lesson Plans(first student, then $49).  One could increase the price rapidly with interesting additions found on the Veritas Press website.


Author’s Opinion: 

We have used the history timeline cards for years and loved them.  The cards have a historical event on the front with a detailed explanation of the event on the back.  Along with a song, my daughter was able to memorize and recite all the history cards timeline events in one year.  This serves as a great foundation to not only history, but a deeper understanding of current events, as well.

Veritas Press is known to be at an advance level.  Some of the literature books, I would feel uncomfortable reading to my child at second grade level such as Mara, Daughter of the Nile, due to character qualities. These same books are found in Sonlight’s Core G for 11, 12, and 13 year olds. Veritas Press does provide many choices for literature.  As with all literature, I do recommend reading your children’s books.  If I do not have time to read the book, I usually check homeschooling discussion groups for any concerns regarding a book before investing in a library of books.


The Bottom Line:

I like Veritas Press for their advanced approach.  They fill a niche for the advance student with challenging books, materials, and curriculum lesson plans.  I highly recommend their history timeline cards.  Consider either laminating the cards or placing them in a binder to reduce wear and tear.

  • Laminate the cards to improve their durability if you have multiple children or you plan to use them for years.
  • Buy the 5×8 3-ring binder in different colors with the sheet protector inserts.  Place one card in each insert.  Each color binder contained a different timeline sequence.  This made it easier for us to retrieve the correct binder quickly.

There are many choices in Christian Non-Traditional Curriculum.  Veritas Press is a good option available to families.


Have a wonderful day!

Christian Non-Traditional Packages: Classical and Literature Curriculum

 

Are you having a hard time choosing a Christian curriculum?  It is that time of year, when homeschoolers are actively looking for curriculum.  Many will review the various curriculum packages and choose one for all their subjects.  However, many others will choose a more customized approach, selecting Reading with Publisher A, Math with Publisher B, and Science with Publisher C.  There are curriculum providers to meet those needs that specialize in assembling homeschool curriculum packages.  This can save hours of researching, planning, budgeting, and lesson building.

Homeschoolers are as busy as the next person, raising and educating their children.  In general, homeschoolers dedicate their time to providing an excellent education, well-managed home, and active community life including church.  There are many of us, who turn to package curriculum, in order to help assemble well-planned curriculum for our children.  Early in our homeschool, we started out purchasing a single publisher traditional packaged curriculum for three reasons.

  1. New to Homeschooling – Homeschooling for the first time can be overwhelming especially when this was not your original plan for educating your child.  Starting with a Grade level package is a great way to make sure that all the subjects are covered and to assist the parent in lesson planning.
  2. Gain Confidence – Although I have multiple college degrees and many years of experience, I was nervous about homeschooling.  I was breaking away from the conventional education to educate my own child.  That first year of using a traditional grade level package helped me gain confidence in my own abilities to teach my child.
  3. Private School material – I chose the same curriculum that private schools in our area provided for their students.  In the back of my mind, I thought.  If this did not work out, my child would not behind. It was my Plan B.

Throughout the years, we have moved toward an eclectic program with Classical, Literature, and some Traditional curriculum. Although our homeschool curriculum worked well for us this past year, I always re-evaluate each subject during the springtime.  It provides a closure the end of the year and a bridge to the next year.

This year, I spent time reviewing Veritas Press, Memoria Press, My Father’s World, and Sonlight.  I wanted to highlight a few of the Christian package curriculum providers that do not produce all their own material thus supplementing with additional curriculum producers.

  • Veritas Press
  • Memoria Press
  • My Father’s World
  • Sonlight

Author’s note: When purchasing any of these homeschool packages, please review the material.  The curriculum complexity and student’s depth of understanding does differ between vendors.