Monday, October 15, 2012


I've been lazy with the blog again. I've been so stinking busy I just haven't had much time to anything let alone keep up on the blog.
Let's see:
Started going to church again.
Called to be an assistant cub master.
Planning commission member for my city.
Taught Relief Society a few times.
Book group with ladies from church.
Training to run a 1k at Thanksgiving. Yea too chicken to do a 5k.
Baptism for a child.
Homeschooling 3 kids.
Helping a neighbor who decided to homeschool.
Dealing with an adult neighborhood bully.
Trying to get house clean.
Cleaning up the yard in preparation for winter.
Helping an elderly neighbor to move into assistant living.
Helping my mentally slow neighbors with everyday life.
Playing those dang iphone games late at night to destress.
Watching Gilmore Girls and The Closer later at night in an effort to destress.
Starting cooking lessons for half the ladies in the ward.
Taking dinner every night to a friend who is not in a good place right now.
Canning, baking, and just overall cooking for my family.

Man I've tired myself out just thinking of what I do.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

2 Weeks and counting

I finally decided we were going to follow, for the most part, the local school district's schedule. So school will be starting the day after Labor Day. We are giving it 4 weeks. If things just don't seem to be working out for us the kids will be heading off to public school. I hate to do it but maybe it's what they need. Anyway I'm being positive and looking forward to what I hope is a fun filled year.

I've been busy planning things and getting things ready. I really need to get pictures of the school room even if it's not perfect. I've decided on a schedule of when we will do things and I think it will work.

This year we are focusing on science. I have one child who LOVES anything and everything science. He may not be liking science by the time we are done this year. 3 days a week we will be using a "school" textbook and working our way from 1st grade through 4th in those. I'll be adding in readers and loads of science experiments along with vocabulary words. Also one day a week we will focus on physics. I have loads of fun things for physics so that should be a hit and the other day we will focus on chemistry. What's not to love about chemistry? Potions and such it should be a hit. And one day will have a focus on nature. I want my kids to start being aware of nature.

We are also focusing on USA geography this year along with the 3rd year of k12 history. I love k12 history and I just can't give it up. Also Nathan will be learning Utah history.

New this year is Game Day Friday. We will get a few things out of the way and spend the rest of the day playing educational games. Hopefully it will work out perfectly for us.

Instead of having grammar daily and everyone getting upset over it we will only do two days a week with grammar and I have some fun things planned for grammar.

If you look back over some older posts you will see a lot of my ideas and plans. I just wanted another post confirming what we are doing. Feel free to ask any questions.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Privacy Concerns

Due to a problem with a mentally unstable neighbor I am being forced to take this blog private. Feel free to ask for an invitation and I will provide you with one. If you know someone who wants to have access please tell me and I'll be more than happy to provide them the info to follow this blog. This blog will be going private in 48 hours. Thanks for understanding.

Sunday, July 22, 2012


I love this place. It's seriously addicting so I limit my time there. However the ideas I have discovered are too great not to use the boards.

Now if your already using pinterest skip a few paragraphs. this is to explain to someone what it is. Pinterest is like a clipboard to pin things you'd normally bookmark and then forget about or can't find in your bookmarks when you need it. Pinterest can be as simple or as complicated as you want. You can make albums for everything your heart desires and then some. When I first started I had three boards. Cooking, homeschool, and clothes. However I soon discovered I was overwhelmed when going back to look for something so I expanded my albums. I believe I now have close to 50 albums but here is a sampling of how I broke them down. I still have a general cooking album, chicken, beef, breakfast, lunch, dinner, pork, sandwiches, salad, pasta etc. For homeschooling I now have a general homeschool album, homeschool science, language arts, art, math, and history.

You can follow your facebook friends, strangers, or just about anyone who has an account. Several homeschool boards have threads where people post their pinterest page so you can go in and follow them. You can choose to follow just certain albums from someone or all of their albums. Then when you go to pinterest you'll see all the latest things your friends have pinned. If you want to search for some on your own you'll see at the top a place to either do a search or click on various subjects they have listed.

So you may ask what cool things have I found via pinterest. In the interest of keeping this homeschool related I'm going to link to a few fun ideas I have discovered via pinterest.

Teaching Art Headquarters Some fun ideas for teaching art.
Books about Fine Art If you wonder how I found some of those great books I posted about art well here you go.
Map Activities for kids
Lewis and Clark Unit Study
Continent Bags
10 best online Language Arts games for homeschoolers
Math in Children's Literature
Discovery Bottles

Here is a link to me on pinterest. I hope to see you there soon.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Dry Erase Boards

One nice thing about homeschooling is the ability to adjust to the child. I have three kids that scream, kick, and will kill not to actually do any writing if possible. One day I gave each of them an 8x11 inch dry erase board and let them do their lessons on the board. World of difference! They loved writing on the dry erase board. We got in the habit of using the dry erase board for spelling and vocabulary. Sometimes for math lessons and for handwriting practice. They are a hit and something we will continue to use. Utah Idaho School Supply has dry erase paddles on sale. I bought some and intend to use them for review games and the likes. At about $2.50 a pop you can't go wrong with the paddles.

Another way to bring the concept of dry erase to workbooks and the likes are to use some thick sheet protectors (if you didn't stumble across the dry erase pockets Target had a few months ago in the $1 ssection). Slip the worksheet in the protector and now the worksheet is fun because you can use dry erase markers.

Seriously this has been one of the best finds and purchases I have ever made. If your not using dry erase boards in your homeschool I highly suggest you run and buy some.

Friday, July 20, 2012

What concerns do you have as a homeschooling mother?

I think most of my concerns are answered in my previous post but I'll take a stab at it.

Having my kids have friends. However so far this has not been a problem. They make friends anywhere we go. We went to San Diego a few months back and they had friends they made in the hotel. Social issues are NOT a concern however I always do worry in the back of my mind.

Am I giving them a well rounded education is another concern. I swear I ask myself this question daily. However when I compare what my kids do to other neighbor kids I realize they are on par or further ahead of the kids.

I also have concerns with how long I should homeschool the kids. I hated school as a child. I think I would have done better being homeschooled. However I don't for sure know that my kids wouldn't enjoy school. As usual we take homeschooling one month at a time. We all know the public schools won't turn down their chance to save a homeschooled child.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Library Pockets

I love library pockets. I have bought a ton of these over the past year. They look like those old pockets in the back of library books in the 80's where a checkout card sat. Anyway here is just a few ways I use the pockets.

I write the days of the weeks on them and then we have a cards on a stick that say yesterday, today, and tomorrow. A great way to teach the days of the week and the concepts of yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

Jeopardy game. Use the pockets to write the subjects and points and tuck in the questions into the pockets.

Tic Tac Toe game  
I used the game as a basis for trivia questions on things we have learned. You get the answer write you get to place a X or O.

Schedule. I list everything that the kids need to get done and stick them in a pocket. They move them to their done pocket when they finish them and I check on their work.

Use them for storage if you have file folder games with all those little pieces. You can fill the pockets up with all the little pieces.

I also use them for vocabulary word storage in science units. 

Learning place value in math. Make a pocket for ones, tens, hundreds, and thousands. Then use craft sticks for numbers up through 10. Then you can use them to learn place value.

Tracking for a reading reward. Combine the pockets with an old time library stamp card and you can track reading for rewards. 

I'm sure there are a million other ways to use these fun and cheap little things.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

What is the hardest thing about homeschooling?

This is a tough one as I think there are many things that are hard but to varying degrees. So I guess I'll touch a little on all the things I find hard about homeschooling.

1. Not spending quality time not teaching to the kids. I think this would be hard even if we weren't homeschooling though. Based on homework neighbor kids bring home I think I'd still struggle to find quality time with the kids that isn't school related. One way we've found fun quality time is Friday night movie night as a family. I make popcorn and we get takeout. We take turns picking out a movie we really want to see and we just snuggle and watch the movie. During the summer we do a Fun Day Thursday. We pick something that is fun and go spend the day doing it. Mostly this year it's been bowling as we found an amazing deal on bowling for the family but in the past it's been water parks, Boondocks, Lagoon, and stuff like that.

2. Being with your child 24/7. Some days it literally drives me nuts. Some days I wish I had more time with the kids. On the days they drive me nuts I notice it's usually a time for some down time for all of us.

3. Not knowing if I am educating them well. I struggle with this all the time. I worry they are behind their peers in education. However my fears usually go away around the time some of the public school kids come over to play and I realize my kids are either on par or ahead of their peers.

4. Money. I wish I was rich so I could take full advantage of all the wonderful programs out there. As it is I pick and choose and a lot of times select the cheaper things to do. However the farther along our journey the more I realize there are loads of free stuff to do to educate your kids.

5. Alone time. I think wow I'd have all this time alone if I sent them to school. Yes I would. Yes my house would be clean. Yes I could workout when I want for as long as I want. Yes I could do all the things my neighbors do whose kids go to school. BUT then I spend time with my kids and I realize how much I would be missing if I did have all that alone time. As my kids have gotten older the more alone time I have now and I am missing the I need mom all the time stage.

I'm sure there are more but I think this is a pretty good start on what is hard about homeschooling.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Kids Discover Magazine

This has been one of my favorite finds of the year. These magazines are amazing. Granted so far I only have a few of the American History ones but I plan on getting a few of the others too. These magazines are short and to the point and perfect for grades 3-6. Okay to be honest they are great for me too. Plus they offer free lesson plans on how to use the magazines.
American History
Earth Science
Historical Figures
Sale $1.99
And many other subjects

I just noticed they have a section for younger kids too.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Why Did I Choose to Homeschool?

I was asked why I chose to homeschool. Are you ready for a novel?  The funny thing about my choice is not long after my first was born I jokingly said I would homeschool to everyone. I never really meant it. Then came our experience which made us decide to homeschool.

By oldest was just over 2 and barely speaking sounds. Our doctor suggested having him evaluated for early intervention which would help him learn to speak. We had to undergo a huge evaluation where they tested him for delays in everything. Then the school district decided he had a delay in speech and qualified for speech help. This help came in the form of a speech therapist who came to the house once a month for 45 minutes. She would spend 15 minutes working with Nathan on speech and then spend 30 minutes going over things I could do to help him speak. Don't get me wrong I had no problems working with him on his speech but seriously a child can't talk and he only gets 15 minutes of therapy one a month? Moving on. After about 8 months of this he was going to age out of the program and move up into preschool intervention. Our speech therapist (loved her and nothing at all against her) suggested we have him further evaluated because he had certain quirks and issues with textures. Out came another therapist, can't remember now what type he was, and he decided he just was a quirky kid. Well Nathan turned 3 and we had the "big" discussion with the school district over his future. Keeping in mind our speech therapist said never in her 15 years of working with this program had she ever seen a child with Nathan's speech delays (at age 3 he was speaking on a 18 month old level) not move into the preschool program. She said plus if they factor in his quirks he was a shoo in. Well guess what?

Yup he didn't qualify for the preschool program. Why? Because all though he could not really communicate with anyone he could understand and hear and that's all that was important at his age. Really a 3 year old speaking about 20 words was normal?? I asked what happens at age 5 if he wasn't still talking. I was told he'd be pulled out of regular kindergarten and moved into the developmentally delayed program. I asked again why could they take action then but not now about his speech and again was told in our school district he couldn't qualify because he understood what he was being asked. I left the meeting in tears. Our speech therapist just happened to walk into the building as I was leaving and she stood there stunned when I told her he didn't qualify for anymore help.  She gave me the number for PCMC outpatient therapy and suggested I contact them. I figured our insurance wouldn't pay a dime for speech therapy and just let the issue drop. I worked with Nathan for another 4 months before he was hurt and our doctor couldn't get him to explain what hurt and how it happened. He was extremely worried about his speech delay and suggested I contact the school district. I pulled out the paper the school district gave us stating that he did not qualify for more help. He decided we had to go to PCMC and at least see how much it would cost for therapy.

Turns out our insurance covered an initial evaluation so we had it done. They took me back alone at first while Nathan played behind an one way mirror. They asked me all sorts of questions about him. After that they spent 2 hours doing evaluations. At the conclusion I was told it would be 2 weeks before we would have the results but he definitely needed speech therapy. Somehow they were able to code or get the insurance to approve treatment and he started going to speech once a week for one house. We noticed a huge difference within a month. Also they told us they were able to figure out why he had "quirks." He has a sensory integration disorder. His main issues were in the oral (speech and feeding) and touch (all the problems with clothes, and such finally an answer). Because of this he qualified for more therapy. All of this it turns out was noted by the school district but they chose not to share it with us nor help us with his problems. Nathan started speech, feeding, and other therapies that helped. We spent 3 hours a week at a clinic working with him. 6 months later my child went from a 3 year old who barely spoke on a 18 month old level to a 4 year old who was on level with speech.

But really the thing that really made my decision was a phone call from the school district in April about kindergarten round up. Since Nathan had a "flag" on his name he would need to be evaluated to determine if he qualified for "normal" kindergarten. I felt ticked off. Why did it matter now when it didn't matter two years before? I told them he would not be going to public school. I made the choice in less than 5 minutes.

In the years since I've discovered our local school is just horrible. They have a student turn over rate of 70%. Meaning in one year 70% of the students change schools. A neighbor kid has loads of homework every night because he is one who changes school so work to advance him goes home as homework and during school he just reviews stuff he already knows. In 3rd grade he had on average 2.5 hours of homework every night. Last year as a 6th grader in averaged 4 hours of homework every night. I just don't feel that is right. Elementary aged kids should not be doing that much school work on a nightly basis. Where is their chance to be a kid?

I hope that answers the question and I hope I didn't bore anyone with this novel.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Curriculum Review Kumon Workbooks

I love the Kumon math workbooks. They are great for reviewing math and expanding their knowledge in math. They are simple to use and overall a pleasant experience. It's one of the few workbook things we are keeping this year.

Each part of math has a separate book and they go by grades. Here's a sampling of what I mean:
Grade one has
geometry and measurement
word problems

Grade two has
geometry and measurement
word problems

Grade three has
addition and subtraction
geometry and measurement
word problems

I love the word problem books. I've never been one to "get" word problems but I've learned between this and math mammoth.

You can get these books almost anywhere. I order either from Barnes and Noble or Amazon. I hear Rainbow Resources has them. They run about $8 a book.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Utah Idaho Supply Store

I recieved a small catalog from them in the mail this week. They are having a sale that starts Friday the 13th and runs through August 25th. Anyway I found a few nifty items featured that I think I am going to try to pick up.
Of course I can't find anything on their website so I can't link you but here are a few of the items I am interested in:
Dots on Turquoise library pockets I love library pockets. I use them for so many things. I may have to make a blog post about library pockets. Remind me if I forget. These are really cute. $4.49 for 36 of them.
Fadeless Paper Rolls. On sale $7.49. LOVE these. Seriously awesome paper.
Answer Buzzers Okay these look like so much fun. It's a 4 pack for $17.99. I can totally see my kids loving school with these.
Dry Erase Answer Paddles only $1.34-2.69 depending on size. Again I can see these being a hit with my kids. A fun way to play games. And who doesn't love dry erase boards? Again should I make a blog post just about dry erase? LMK.
62 Dice Games $9.99. I love using dice to teach math. No one realizes they are doing math when using them.
All manipulative s are on sale. Who doesn't need more of these? Again should I do a post just about manipulative s?
Most scholastic bulletin boards are on sale 10% off.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Ask me anything

I'm taking a break from curriculum today and letting you my reading audience ask me questions. Ask me anything. Homeschool, family life, twins, gardening (yes my garden is freaking huge this year), cooking (yes I have not been the cook I have been for months now), or pretty much anything. Only one thing is off limits and if you've known me for a while now you'll know what I'm talking about. Anyways I'll get to questions as they come up and in between some other things.

BTW I love the schedule button that google has. I've turned into a blogger again because of it. If they had it before I totally missed it. I love that I can schedule a post, work on it for awhile, and have it magically show up on the computer while I sleep. I wrote this blog post about 4 days before it will post.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Utah History New Subject for this Year

Well if Nathan was in public school he's be entering the 4th grade. I can't believe he's that old nor can I believe I have homeschooled this long. I never thought I'd homeschool in the first place nor did I ever think I'd stick it out this long. I have to say it's been an amazing journey.  I have made friends I probably never would have made.  I have upset people along the way because they don't agree with homeschooling. However for us it ha worked so far. And I know the public school is right there if we never need it. I know that they will never turn down a student. Entering 4th grade in public school you learn about Utah history. I hated Utah history both in the 4th and 8th grade. It was boring. What do I remember besides how boring it was? Not much. I know we memorized all the counties but I can't name them all now. We did a field trip to This Is the Place Monument but really the only thing I remember from this field trip is a kid getting really lost and butter on my sandwich the school provided. That's not what I want my kids to remember about Utah History.

This year will be filled with loads of field trips to various areas. One being very important to Nathan is the Price area. Why you may ask? Well two reasons really. It's the actual town his favorite author and book series was based in and many people from the book are buried in the town cemetery. I've promised him a trip there and we will walk the town from JD's eyes. Second the dinosaur's that have been discovered and their museum. He is in love with dinosaurs right now. Other sites on my list include the Natural History Museum, This is the Place Park, state parks, hikes in different areas, the 4 corner area, Daughters of the Pioneer museum, Church history museum, and many more.

I found this book at the Utah Idaho School Supply store. Yes it's for a public school BUT it's full of fun things to learn and do. Trust me this will be handy for a homeschooler. Don't buy from Utah Idaho School though. Order from the publisher at the link. I got both a student workbook and the teacher guide (necessary I believe if only for the links and things to do) for the price of one at Utah supply.

Other books we plan on using:
60 Hikes in 60 Miles
BackYard Birds of Utah If you haven't met this man in person (he owns a bird store in Layton) you must. He is amazing. I swear this will be the year I take him up on his offer to do a homeschool bird walk.
My First Book about Utah
A is For Arches
Utah off the Beaten Path
And loads of odd little books I've picked up at various Utah museums, which by the way are the best for buying really fun books. I can't find many of them anywhere online and while they may be more money at the museum then I usually spend on a book they are treasures. Look around the next time you are at one.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Favorite Places to Shop for Homeschool Items

Am I boring everyone with all these posts? If so I'll stop just let me know.
Taking a break from some of the other posts I've been asked where I shop for items in our school. First off I can answer I do not shop at Walmart. I have issues with the company and they way they do their business so I boycott them. Yes I am one person and I don't really make a difference but it's the fact that I know I'm not helping them that makes me feel good. Okay moving on.

Costco: Seriously. You'd be amazed at what you can find in there. From school supplies, snacks, movies, books, and workbooks. Here are a few of the amazing things I've found there in the last year... Course the links won't be to Costco as they probably don't have them anymore
You Wouldn't Want to be series 3 nice size books with about 6 of these stories in each book. Cost me $7.99 a book. Those same books individually sell for $9.95 on amazon. I figure I saved about $155.
Grammar Tales Amazon has the set for $35. I paid $15.99 at Costco.
Phonics Tales Amazon $65 Costco $18.99 and they have them in stock as of July 3rd.
Alpha Tales $40 on Amazon. Costco has these right now for $18.99
And Costco has a few other of the "Tales" sets right now for $18.99
I've found many other treasures there too. Take a look around the next time you are there.

Target I love Targets $1 section. I have found many many things I can use in school there. Dry erase markers, books, charts, sheet protectors and more.

The Dollar Store Again like Target you can find some really nifty stuff for school there. And locally the Dollar Tree has a small teacher section.

Barnes and Noble Their discount books in their store are great. Yes sometimes you don't find anything but eventually you will. Plus they do clearance discounts with 50% of the discounted price at times. I scored a really nice chess set for $15 at a 50% off sale. Regular price $125.

Local thrift stores. Again amazing what you can find in there. 

Amazon of course.

Rainbow Resource Center And if you have never received their catalog go order one now.

I know this isn't a huge list but it gives you an idea of a few places we shop.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Curriculum Review Elemental Science

I have officially bought every single one of the science programs she has out.  I love the idea behind the program but not exactly the way it is done. And what I don't like others may love so don't discount this program without really getting into it. If your into following the classical style of homeschooling this is a program for you. If you love sticking to one part of science for the year this is the program for you. If you would prefer to touch upon all parts of science and expand the knowledge every year this is not the program for you. Now I wish I had though this through a few years ago when I first discovered this program but I think the ideal way to use this program would be to buy all aspects to being with and then work all of them into each year expanding yearly if that makes sense.

Preschool/Kindergarten uses Exploring Science. This program has changed some since we first used it. However I loved how it touched upon all the parts of science. A great beginning program for the younger grades.

Biology this is for grades k-2 but she now has an older grades one too. This covered animals, plants, and the human body. To be honest we never made it to the plants so I can't comment on how the program worked for plants. Animals just seemed to take forever. However my kids can still tell you about the animals they learned in this program. We rushed through the human body section quickly as we were running out of time. I wanted my summer off.

Earth Science/Astronomy she lists this as grades 2-3 and again she has one for older grades too. We loved this program. We did everything in this program. We loved it and learned a lot. Overall this has been our favorite one to date.

Physics and Chemistry We will be incorporating this into our science this year. I can't give you a review yet but what I've seen I've liked.

This program involves a lot of writing or as I did I had the kids dictate to me and I wrote for them. There are lab sheets, coloring pages, books, experiments, and two schedules. One a 5 day a week schedule and one a 2 day. This year we are combining physics and chemistry with one day dedicated to physics and one to chemistry along with three days of another type of science.

The cost for this program is really good. Even though I didn't like the program exactly as laid out you can see I still decided to use it again this year. Yes I'll be doing some adjustments to make it work for us but I still think it's a great program.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Homeschool Rooms

I never really thought I wanted a room dedicated to just school but as the kids have gotten older and we are getting into more schooling it's become necessary. Last year I cleaned out the "dump" room in the basement. Doesn't everyone have one? It's the room where everything you don't have a place for or you just don't want to deal with it goes. Seriously am I the only person with one? Well I cleaned it out and set it up in a way I thought would work by Christmas time we weren't using it. So I've been on the hunt for a perfect set up for us. It's a work in progress and when it's all done I promise I'll share pictures. However for now here is one spot I've been using for inspiration.

Btw I am a believer that you can school without the perfect room and homeschooling can take place anywhere in the house. However I'm not the perfect housecleaner nor am I an organized person. So for me the purpose of the school room is to have everything needed in one place, organized so it can be found, and to keep the main areas of our house clean. If we actually use the school room for schooling an added bonus. It's in the basement it gets cold down there in the winter. Hence the reason it was moved up stairs around the holidays. 

School Room Week
Homeschool Ideas
And pictures from where I set it up last year.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Curriculum Review Math Mammoth

Let me start my saying I love the Math Mammoth program. It's easy to use. It's cheap. And I've learned math that I didn't know how to do before. Overall I'm happy with this program and plan on sticking with it. No it's not fancy, no it doesn't have someone else teach the lesson, no it's without it's struggle but it's pluses far outweigh the negatives.

Math Mammoth is a mastery sort of spiral program. What I mean by that is you master a topic but within learning that topic you get a small review of what you've learned previously. This becomes more apparent as you go through more than one year. You will see the spiral more as you move through the grades.

It teaches using the mental math approach. Sort of a Singapore approach but a little different.  Much of the teaching is how to break numbers down, round to the nearest 10, then subtract, etc. So, it is not just rote learning.

It's a simple approach to the page. Not a lot of color or unnecessary pictures. Yes there are a lot of problems per page but the student isn't expected to do every single problem. We start a new topic doing all of the problems for about 8 problems. Enough that I know my child gets it well. If he gets it we go to do doing every third problem. If he gets it but needs a bit more practice every second problem. If he really needs practice we do every other one or all of them. It's very adaptive to your child.

It's divided into sections so you can start basically where you want. If you don't want to do measuring in the middle move it to the front or the end. Want to start on multiplication sooner move it to the front of the pile. 

Story problems. I dreaded them as a child. I feared them as something I would need to teach my kids. I no longer fear them. Her story problems are complicated at times but easy to figure out if you have the math part down. 

I love that she includes links to internet pages with games to practice the things you are learning. If your kids are like mine they love to play computer games and she provides games that are fun yet teach them math without them realizing they are doing math. On their website is an online worksheet maker if you need more practice in areas.

The cost. Without a sale, which she does several times a year, it's $34 for a year. However if you have more than one child and you buy the download that means your paying $34 for all your kids for one year of math. A bargain. She also offers just workbooks (again available as a download) so if you just want some practice those are available. 

I have not received anything for this review. This is just my love for the program.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Favorite Fiction

A list of books we have read that have been well loved in this house.

The Great Brain Series I loved these books as a kid and I'm thrilled that my kids love these books now. It's small town life in the late 1800's in Utah. The story is told from the perspective of JD the younger brother of the great brain. These books are just a gold mine of fun for everyone. If you have never read these books I highly suggest you jump and get started on them today.

Fudge books No not the candy but a kid nicknamed Fudge. Again this was a series of books I loved as a kid and introduced to mine. And again it was a huge hit. Fudge is the younger brother of Peter and he wants to be just like Peter as much as Peter wants nothing to do with him. In the first book Fudge swallows Peter's pet turtle.

Ramona series Are you seeing the theme in these books? It appears my oldest prefers books that aren't fantasy and can really happen in real life. Again these were books I read and now my kids are reading. Ramona is the younger sister, again seeing a theme, of Beezus and makes Beezus's life hard because of her antics.

Judy Moody series I did not read these as a kid but for some reason they are a hit. My kids LOVED the movie about Judy Moody so reading these and liking them is really no surprise.

Stink series Judy Moody's brother. Need I say anymore.

Mrs. Piggle Wiggle series I had never heard of this book until the librarian suggested them. These are not something that really happens in real life but they are so silly my kids love them. I've even found them to be very entertaining.

Henry Huggins series A boy and his dog. Why wouldn't three boys love these stories?

Flight of the Doves I was introduced to this book as a 3rd grader. I loved this book. I don't know why but it's a book I saved money for a bought a copy of my own as soon as I could. The story is about two kids running away from their step father to their mother's relatives in Wales. Their journey involves loads of people who help them and them running away from thugs their step father hired to bring them back. It's a cherished book from my childhood and one my kids liked too.

The Wolves of Willoughby Chase Another book from 3rd grade that I loved and still read to this day. This is sort of a dark story so if you have kids who are sensitive you may want to read it first to see if it will work for you.

Mr. Popper's Penguins We read this before the movie. My kids thought the book was much better than the movie. I agree. The book is just full of adventure from beginning to end.

Well there are a few of the books we have read and enjoyed. I hope I've introduced you to something you haven't read yet. I'm hoping to do a post on books we want to read this year.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Non Fiction Books

We love reading here in this house. For this post I'm going to talk about some of the nonfiction books we have read or are going to read this year. Nonfiction can sometimes come off as boring it seems but I've been really lucky in finding worth while reading for the boys in the nonfiction category. And to be honest some of these might be fiction but I'm throwing them in here just because.

Children of the Bust Bowl  An excellent book about the time period of John Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath. I love GOW as a teenager and didn't feel it was appropriate to read to my kids at this time however this book gives them the feel of Steinbeck's book without the adult content.

Black Potatoes The Story of the Great Irish Famine Another excellent book that gives kids a chance to understand the time period and the trails the people went through. An excellent fiction book to read with this book is Nory Ryan's Song. Also read Journey of Hope after reading this book. It tells of the Irish immigration to America during this trying time.

Kids on Strike Another excellent book on real history. My kids were shocked to hear how their lives could have been if they had grown up during this time period.

We Were There Too A story of about 70 kids who lived through important times of our country.

We Are the Ship An excellent story about the Negro Baseball league. You won't be disappointed.

What the World Eats An excellent book on what others around the world eat and the cost of their food. Along with a glimpse of their daily lives. There is an adult book called Hungry Planet that has more countries and such. Either one is an excellent option.

Through My Eyes Excellent book about a time in our history that really wasn't all that long ago. Another one is The Story of Ruby BridgesThe Forbidden Schoolhouse is a little darker. However if your kids can handle the darkness its another excellent book.

Martin's Big Words An excellent book on Martin Luther King Jr for elementary kids.

Dear Miss Breed A story about the Japanese internment during WWII.

Growing Up in Coal Country

Where Poppies Grow A book on WWI

The Little Ships Another book on WWII. A little dark so skip if your kids aren't ready.

Christmas in the Trenches Excellent book on WWI.

Always Remember Me A book on how one family survived WWII.

Candy Bomber

Amelia Lost

Charles Dickens and the Street Children of London

These are just a few of the books we've read or are on our reading list. I hope you find one you like too.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Homeschool Change Other "Arts"

Just a few other books that somehow we will be adding into our studies this year. Not sure how often but I think some of these sound like fun things to learn.

A Child's Introduction to Ballet
Poetry Speaks to Children
Poetry for Young People series
A Child's Introduction to Poetry
Shel Silverstein
20th century children's poetry
Be Glad Your Nose is Your Face
For Laughing Out Loud
Hip Hop Speaks to Children
Knock at a Star
Sing Me a Story
Bravo Brava A Night at the Opera
Show Time!
On Stage
Funny Bones
Lights on Broadway
How Does the Show Go On

Along with attending our local plays. This summer we will be seeing Give My Regards to Broadway, Alice in Wonderland, and One for All and All for one.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Homeschool Change Music

Let's see like science and art music has taken a back seat. I hated music in school. I don't know why but I just plain hated it thus the reason I've had no desire to do anything with it in our school. However in this year of change I am going to learn to love music and teach my kids in a fun way about music. So here we go with thing I plan on using this year.

The Story of the Orchestra I love this book. Half is about musical instruments and the other half about famous composers. It also includes music pertaining to all the instruments and composers. I highly recommend this book. You will not be disappointed.
Those Amazing Musical Instruments
Carnival of the Animals
The Jazz Fly Book
Jazz Fly 2
Peter and the Wolf
Beethoven's Wig
Beethoven Lives Upstairs and all the rest of the collection
What A Wonderful World
Sunshine on My Shoulders
Blowin in the Wind
Take Me Home Country Roads
Charlie Parker Played Be Bop
Music and Art Blog

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Homeschool Changes Art

Like science art has been ignored in our house. We are going to actually do art 3 times a week even if I have to literally drop other subjects to do it. I hated art when I was in school. I'm not nor ever was artistic in any way. I never developed a love for art and I don't want my kids to not enjoy art. I want them to experience the fun side of art and to develop an appreciation for fine art. So I've found a few things to help us on our journey through art.

How to Teach Art This is bare bones basic but I think it's a good place to start. It teaches lines, shapes, colors, and a few other elements. Nothing fancy but its the basics.
Art For All Seasons Again another basic art book but full of fun art ideas for the seasons and holidays.
Discovering Great Artists I bought this one. It's a little more in depth on different art styles and artists. I'm not sure if we will be using it this year. It almost seems a little harder than I am ready for but who knows we may end up using it and liking it.
Art Lab for Kids Seems to be very popular right now with the homeschooling crowd. I have not received my copy yet but I hope I like it better than the Great Artists.
Great American Artists for Kids
Smart About Art Series The link is for one book however there are many in the series. It introduces you to an artist and their works.
Art Explorers This has to be my favorite thing of the above books. This introduces you to a style of art and then has you create your own masterpieces using that style. So fun.
DickBlick My new favorite place to buy art supplies. Trust me if they don't have it you don't need it.
Katie Books I love these. They are books about a girl named Katie who plays around in some of the most famous paintings of all time. Seriously the paintings come to life for her and she learns about the paintings. So fun.
Art and Music Blog

Monday, July 2, 2012

Homeschool Change Math Books (not curriculum)

Again in an effort to make schooling fun when learning new concepts in math we are going to start using books and games that link to math. Here is a list of a few I have found. I'm sure there are many more I can find as we work our way through the year.

If You Were a Fraction
Fraction Fun
Mummy Math An Adventure in Geometry
If You Were a Minute
If You Were a Times Sign
If You Were a Divided By Sign
If You Were a Plus Sign
If You Were an Even Number
If You Were a Minus Sign
If You Were an Odd Number
Math Start Series This series has three levels 1,2, and 3. Each one gets progressively harder.
Sum Swamp
Think Fun Math Dice Jr
Think Fun Math Dice
7 ate 9
Totally Tut
Pizza Fraction Game
Dino Math

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Homeschool Change:Science

This has been one of those subjects loved by the boys, despised by me, and just not getting done. In an effort to make school fun our focus this year will be on science. Oh I have many resources to use in this adventure and hopefully science turns out to be loads of fun with learning happening too. Here are a few of the resources we will be using. I'll provide some commentary on them but mainly you'll be getting links because I have not received everything yet to review just from looking at the items.

Elemental Chemistry and Physics mainly for some help getting started and we will probably venture out from things as we find stuff we like.
Textbooks from public school. Mainly to use as a guideline and starting points for other subjects.
Knex Intro to Simple Machines Gears
Knex Intro to Simple Machines Levers and Pulleys
Knex Intro to Simple Machines Wheels, Axels, Incline Planes
Snap Circuits
The Elements: A Visual Exploration of Every Known Atom in the Universe
Solar System: A Visual Exploration of All Planets, Moons, and other Heavenly Bodies that Orbit Our Sun
Fizz Bubble and Flash
Gizmos and Gadgets
The Usbourne Science Encyclopedia
Nature Log Kids
Read and Found Out Science books
Bird Log Kids
The Nature Connection
Take Along Guides
One Small Square
The Kids book of weather forecasting
Janice VanCleaves' books
Kid's Easy to Create Wildlife Habitats
Awesome Ocean Science
Leap Into Space
The Klutz Guide to the galaxy
Explorabook: A Kids Science museum in a book
The Field Guide to Dinosaurs
Te Field Guide to Polar Animals There are many many more of these books
Acorn Naturalist this is by far one of the coolest catalogs I have ever received. I have to narrow my choices down and place an order soon.
Homeschool Nature Study This is one seriously cool blog. If your the slightest bit interested in getting your kids into nature study you should check out this blog.

I'm not even sure I have everything listed we plan on using this year but this gives you an idea of what are doing. Hopefully I have included something here you haven't seen before and might be able to use in your homeschooling adventure.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Learning Resources is having 40% off clearance

And I ended up buying a few things. Go take a look if you are interested in a few fun games cheap. Here are links to what I bought:
Spill Your Guts only $12.50 after discount
Which Way Cafe only $7.19 after discount
Mummy Math only $2.16 after discount
Step Right Up only $10.80

If you don't go through their main page you need to the code. It's HOORAY4.


After hearing the neighbor kids argue over where France was on a map and looking over and seeing that none of them knew I knew geography was going to be a huge focus this upcoming year in our homeschool. These kids were current 4th, 5th, and 6th graders and they could only place 3 countries in Europe correctly on a map.

I haven't really stressed geography much so far. We do maps with our history but never much more than that. I've attempted several made for public school geography programs and well to be honest they weren't that exciting. We've done Me on the Map and made the really cool book that most homeschoolers do but I'm ready to really work on geography in a bigger sense. We've also done the GeoPuzzles which have helped my kids a lot and are loads of fun to do. We've also played the 10 Days in .... and loved them.  Okay moving on from what we have done and moving on to what we are going to do.

First up this year is a book called A Child's Introduction to the World: Geography, Cultures, and People. This books seems to be a really nice introduction to geography. There is loads of info in here and it all looks to be easy to understand for elementary school students. It starts with basics and moves up from there. It has some fun ways to do hands on projects to make geography come alive.

Second up is a book I discovered in a university class on teaching kids social studies without a textbook. I loved this book and have kept it all these years. I'm so excited I found it and plan on using it this year. It's called EarthSearch A Kids Geography Museum in a Book. It appears to be out of print but amazon has some used dealers who have it and I highly suggest you get it if you plan on doing geography with your kids. It starts with an introduction and it has loads of fun facts. It's not your typical geography book but it has a way with kids. Fun hands on projects to teach geography and loads of fun little facts. Trust me your kids will love this book.

Lastly we are touring the USA with this last curriculum in geography this year. It's Road Trip USA from the blog Confessions of a Homeschooler. Hopefully we will like it. I like what I've seen so far and other than a few tweaks to make it work for us I see us doing this.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Curriculum Review: Geography from A to Z

I stumbled across this book a few years back at a yard sale. I bought it thinking it might come in handy. And yes it has been very helpful in learning the names of different geography terms. In fact when we are doing history and we learn about a new term the boys run to get this book so they can look up the new term.

It's written for grades 2-5 I would say. It's simple and easy to understand and includes pictures of the terms. All my kids take turns reading the descriptions out loud. Now the pictures are drawn and not real and a few pictures have some geography that typically wouldn't be together but I think the pros outweigh that con.  Descriptions are not long but short and simple to maintain a young child's interest.

Overall I highly suggest adding this book to your library if you have kids under age 10. I think for kids over 10 this book would be far too simple for them.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Homeschool Change: Learning Money

I don't know about you but my kids are obsessed with money. Money money money. Some days all I hear about is money. And they don't understand the concept of once money is gone it's gone until you earn more. We've been doing allowance in hopes of teaching them about money. It's worked for one child. He has a savings and has been throwing most of his allowance in there for over a year. He has close to $200. The other two as soon as they get it they spend it and then cry about how I don't buy them anything ever. So this year we are going to learn about money and finances.

First up the Allowance Game.  This is a game from Lakeshore Learning. A kids version of PayDay. What I like about this game? It teaches kids to count money, handle money, and make change. Yes my kids will not be the ones at the store who stand there totally confused and lost when they mess up the money and can't figure out change.

Second up Monopoly Junior. What better way to learn how to count money then monopoly? And this one is set up as an amusement park so that should draw the interest of my kids.

Third The Kids Money Book. A book that talks about budgeting, saving, donating, and investing. It may be a little over their heads up it's easy to adapt to their levels.

Fourth Alexander who use to be rich. Who doesn't love this group of books? My boys love them. This is good since Alexander is just like the twins.

And the following resources:
The Penny Pot
The Coin Counting Book
One Cent Two Cent
Pigs Will Be Pigs
Eyewitness Money
What Can You Do With Money
The New Totally Awesome Money Book for Kids
The Young Investor
The Richest Kids In America
US Mint
And finally the original Pay Day Game.

Last but not least I will buy each kid at the end of the school year a coin set. I remember collecting these as a kid and I still have them. I also collect a few over the years as an adult. I really think my kids will love having these.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Curriculum Review: Elemental History

I so wanted to do American history with the boys last year. So bad in fact I did the medieval world and American history.  Turns out it my boys love history so two history programs wasn't bad. However I can't say I loved this program. I loved the concept, sort of story of the world meets American history, but it didn't go as planned. I will say I liked the program and recommend it to anyone wanting to touch on American History lightly in the early years.

First what I loved. I loved adding literature to the lessons. I love reading and my boys love listening so having books that correlated to the lessons was wonderful. I love the idea of doing a craft that corresponded to the week's lessons.  I loved the fact her summary pages were just interesting enough that it made my boys wanting to know more about the events. I loved the fact she included additional books for reading and readers for the kids to read. Overall a great program for early elementary or someone just wanting to touch upon American history. And the price was a great deal.

Second now for what I didn't like. Honestly I think this program is geared towards girls. Most of the read out loud books were with girls as the main people. Not that it's a bad thing but for 3 boys they were starting to get antsy cause the boys weren't represented. Plus sometimes the read out loud books seemed out of place for the topics being covered but I realize that just happened because of how long some of the books were. The coloring and crafts again seemed more geared towards girls than boys. We did NOT like the learn the states that was included. I can't even answer why we just didn't like it and dropped it around week 3.

Overall if your looking for a curriculum that's easy to use and cheap I'd for sure buy this.  If you have girls I highly suggest this. If your looking for something more in depth, or geared towards boys I suggest you look else where or plan on doing some research and adapting the program to work for you. I used this program with 3 boys, my oldest who was 8 when we started and 9 when we ended and twins who were 6 when we started and 7 when we ended.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Homeschool Changes

As you can tell I have not kept up on updating this blog or my cooking one. Life has gotten unexpectedly crazy busy. However my goal for July is to update this blog at least 3 times a week and the cooking blog at least once a week. I haven't finished posting pictures from our vacation and I promise I will get a few more posted at some point but I am moving one for now.

After a very rough year homeschooling last year we gave some serious thought to sending the boys to a charter school or the local school. Well after taking yet another tour of the local school I knew that was not an option at this point. Have you ever been seriously concerned about your local school? I am. The turnover rate in kids is high. The principal said only about 25% of kids who start the school year end the school year there. As such their test rates are quite low. Now I"m not all that concerned about test scores but when your soon to be 2nd grader can do math and science that the 6th grader who goes to the local school hasn't learned yet it makes you wonder. So for the time being we are homeschooling again.

Which brings me to change. What we have been doing is NOT working. I hate school, the boys are hating school, and some days only the basics are getting done. So I have completely changed the way we will be schooling for the upcoming year. We will be focusing in on science (which has been thrown to the curb and not done much) and history (which seems to be loved my the kids). Yes we will still have math, reading, language arts, spelling, grammar, and all the other requirements to learn. But I will be folding them into science and history as much as possible. Another thing I really want to do is have the boys together for as many subjects as possible so I'm not spending two hours with Nathan, two hours with the twins, and another two hours with everyone together. Hopefully this works well for all of us.

First item on the change list is writing. We don't write much because we never seem to have time. So I am buying a game titled Create a Story and Friday's we will be playing the game and getting started on a story. I plan on giving them until the next Thursday to work on their stories and Friday's before playing another round of the game we will be reading the stories out loud. Hopefully this will add some "fun" into writing and school and give us some of the fun we need to get school done this year.

I'll be sharing another change hopefully tomorrow or Thursday.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Day 4 of Our Vacation Part One

Legoland! The kids were so excited to go to Legoland. They loved it but I'm not sure if they want to go back. It wasn't what they were expecting I think or maybe they were somewhat tired I'm not sure. They had fun while there but they haven't talked about much since. I think Sea World was a bigger hit. Anyway we did both the park and the aquarium. I don't really think the aquarium was worth paying for but it was included on the tickets we got from the base.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Day 3 of our vacation

 Sea lion looking at Noah since Noah could imitate the sounds they made.
 Heading over to get Noah back behind the fence since he was jealous that Noah was out of the exhibit.
 Sea lion show. The did a spoof of CSI.
 I think this was the spoof of Survivor.
 Penguin at the front of the exhibit.
 Noah soaked after the Shipwreck Rapids ride. It was cold.
 Nathan managed not to get as wet but Zach is soaked.
 The boys on Shipwreck Rapids ride.
 Penguin exhibit.
 Polar bear.
 Polar bear den.
Shamu show.

So day 3 was Sea World. I have to say Don and maybe Zach were the most excited about this place. The rest of us were just okay I guess we will go. I ended up liking it and wouldn't mind going again in the future. However if we ever go again I know I will find a better map to the park then the one they gave us cause it stunk. We were lost 99% of the time we were there. Workers were no help for the most part. I almost felt like I was bugging them asking how to get somewhere. We saw the Shamu show. Of course the boys wanted front row in the soak zone. Me never. I sat on the very last row of the soak zone on the end so I could run if it looked like we might get wet. The boys were soaked. Water never hit me. My kids favorite parts of the day, other than seeing the animals they love (penguins, sea turtles, and sharks), was the Sea Lion show. For sure get to that one early as the preshow entertainment was great. My kids are still talking about the show. We were dead tired by the end of the day.