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.