Thursday, August 28, 2008

Smart Kid

Bubby (1yo) has learned to turn the TV in my bedroom on and off. He thinks he is smart when he does it. Tonight it was off and he turned it on. Obama was making a speech. He took a couple of steps back and said, "Uh-oh."

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

My 2008-09 School Schedule

Psalm One School's Eclectic Plan

This is my second year of making up my own curriculum. I try to stay a week or two ahead of the kids in my specific planning. Any more than that, and I end up making so many changes it's not worth it.

I will try to update every week or two, so be sure and check that out to see how it's going.

We have two children that are school-aged: "Peanut" is a 9yo girl and "Junior" is a 7yo boy. "Bubby" is our little one who will turn two in November. He is homeschooled too, but of course none of that is written down on paper. Sometimes we use Slow and Steady, Get Me Ready for him.

BibleDay-By-Day Kids' Bible. Read one day's reading each day of school.We are using various references as needed. For activities, we often use the book, 1001 Ways to Introduce Your Child to the Bible.We include hymns and choruses during Bible time as appropriate.
Memory WorkUsually a Bible passage. We try to use entire chapters as we are able, but do add some shorter passages, 1-2 verses at a time. We use the Simply Charlotte Mason system to keep up with what we're doing.
HistoryWe are following Heart of Wisdom's Year 3 schedule. We did Ancient History and Middle Ages with Sonlight 1&2, and were ready to move on. We are not doing "Explorers" as that was part of our last year's study. Heart of Wisdom doesn't really have a planned out "Year 3" to sell, but in their e-book, The Heart of Wisdom Approach, they give guidelines for planning your own lessons, so we are doing that.For the Colonial Era, we are using the unit study called "Colonial Times" from Homeschool in the Woods. We are considering using their Revolutionary War study.
Read-aloudsWe are using some Read-alouds recommended by Heart of Wisdom. I don't use Sonlight anymore, but I love the idea of doing read-alouds that go along with the era of history we are studying. Sometimes our read-alouds don't match up, but it's great when they do.
ReadersJunior (7) is using readers that we already had when we did Sonlight with his older sister. Peanut (9) is using various books that are on her reading level. Bonus points (for me!) when they correlate with the era of history we are studying. I got a good list from the Heart of Wisdom e-book I mentioned above, and I have also used some books recomended by Sonlight.
ScienceDelight-directed. The kids choose their own topics for study. Heart of Wisdom has a set of topics laid out for each year, but we've decided that at this young age, we do not need to check off a list of topics that have been studied.First, Peanut wants to do a project about growing plants on the moon, available from the NASA website. Second, Peanut wants to learn about the human body. Junior want to learn about the forces of buoyancy. We will use library books and do demonstrations.
MathWe use Singapore Math.
Language ArtsLearning Language Arts Through Literature (LLATL)Junior (7) The Red Book (old version)Peanut (9) The Orange Book (new version)
SpellingJunior (7) He was working in Sequential Spelling 1 last year, we will continue this year.Peanut (9) We are going to try a Charlotte Mason approach to spelling (copywork, dictation) this year.
MusicWe are planning 12 week composer studies per Charlotte Mason. Last year we did Bach, Handel, and Mozart. We will start that again in September. I am not sure which composer will be next.I am teaching the kids piano. We are going through as many primer books as we can find, as advised by my mother and another piano teacher. They say to stay in the primer levels to get really grounded in the fundamentals.The kids are also in beginner homeschool band. Daily practice on piano and band instruments is a part of our school schedule.
ArtCurrently, we are not doing anything formal
Home ArtsWe have a simple chore list and we are practicing being diligent with that.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

WFMW: Storytime Bears

A couple of years ago, I did something in my preschool Sunday School class that helped little ones settle down for a few minutes for storytime. The idea is not mine, it came from a taped seminar from Karyn Henley.

When it is time for storytime, give a little child a small stuffed animal to hold onto. Ours were specific bears that only came out for storytime. This gave little hands something to do for the few minutes that they were required to sit still to hear a story. Young children really do need something to "do" instead of being required only to sit. We told them to keep the bears on their laps and help them listen to the story.

I found that this worked best for ages three and four. The two-year-olds did not quite understand what they were supposed to do, and the five-year-olds were a bit too old for it. They had more fun being silly with the bears.

If you have a little one that has trouble sitting quietly for a quick story, this might help you, too! For more ideas, go to Works For Me Wednesday.

The first two weeks - Part II

Thanks for bearing with me on the continued post.

History - We are using Homeschool in the Woods' Time Travelers Colonial Life unit study. The kids pick the activities that they want to do. We made some notebook pages and projects to go along with what we are learning. For one project, Peanut and I dyed cotton, wool, and linen samples using raspberries, blueberries, and red cabbage. She still wants to try mustard greens, so that is waiting for us this week. I am pretty sure the color will disappoint, though I haven't said anything. The other colors turned out pretty, however.

Language Arts - Right now, all we are doing is the copywork assignments from our unit study. They use Washington's Rules of Civility. For Junior (7), I just have him copy some of the words, as the assignments are a little heavy for a kid his age still working on mechanics. I try to have him do most of the punctuation, and write the words that I feel like he can learn to spell on his own soon.

Math - My kids use Singapore Math. This has been working well for us.

Read-Alouds: The first week, we read Pedro's Journal by Pam Conrad. This is a book about Columbus, but we missed this book last year when we studied Columbus, so this is a catch-up book. It was interesting to me, but the kids just tolerated it.

After that, we started The Warrior's Challenge by Dave and Neta Jackson. This started out slow, but it is picking up excitement. I am getting the feeling that it is going to be a sad book.

Reading: Junior read Hill of Fire, and started Nate the Great. He always reads them aloud to me. Peanut read Our Strange New Land from the My America series, and started on The Skippack School by Marguerite d'Angeli. Peanut enjoyed the My America book, it is similar to the American Girl books. The Skippack School is a higher-quality book. She did not like it at first, she said it was too hard. I don't think it is a difficult book, but it uses some dialect like German immigrants would use, and that may be what she was talking about. About three chapters in, she started liking it. I took turns reading outloud with her on this book, until she got more interested. She usually does her reading on her own.

We will start science in the coming week. We are delight-directed in science, so I let the kids pick their own topics.

Monday, August 25, 2008

First two weeks - Part I

We have completed the first two weeks of our new school year. Thought I would blog about how it's going. I need to split this post up into two parts, since it was getting rather long.

The home is not falling apart. There are moving boxes in the dining room, which I wish were not there, but other than that, things are staying decent. (We are not moving, nor have we recently moved. The boxes are for some things that will have to go up to the attic, but they just haven't moved yet. I guess I'm anticipating putting up summer clothes, but I think we are about a month away from that, so I should get them out of the way.)

We will be adding a few things in the next two or three weeks, such as science. I started with the "bare bones," to keep it simple while we started, so we will have to add some things as we go.

Bible Time: We are starting out with Bible time and allowing more time to really get into the Word. Last year we did more of a devotional or character trait each day. Now we are reading from The Day by Day Kids Bible. We read one day's reading per day, but we won't get through it in one year since we do not school 7 days a week. I read the selection aloud, usually pausing after each paragraph or two and alternate asking the kids to narrate back that portion. Peanut (9) is doing well with that, Junior (7) is not doing as well.

From my reading of other homeschoolers' experiences, I believe that is typical for his age. I try not to make a big deal about it when he is not able to. There is the natural competition between the two of them, however. My new plan is to read a longer passage when it is Peanut's turn, so she will be more challenged, and the differences between them will not be so obvious.

We have been using the book, 1001 Ways to Teach Your Child About the Bible by Kathy Reimer. This book was recommended by Heart of Wisdom. I am really liking it. One day we talked about how King Ahab prayed to Baal for rain. Elijah told King Ahab that he had made God angry by doing this, and that it would not rain for three years. After reading that story, we did a science experiment about how rain clouds form. Another day, we talked about how through Elijah, God helped a widow to never run out of oil and flour. We made a cake from a cake mix that called for oil. Not Biblically accurate, but fun!

Tomorrow I will finish posting about the rest of our first two weeks.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Gift of the month clubs

When you're looking for gifts, there are always those monthly gift clubs. You know, fruit of the month club, wine of the month club, coffee of the month club. I thought there were several of those. I just did a search online and there are more than I thought!

These are usually a bit expensive, but when you think of it as not really one gift, but twelve gifts, they are not that bad.

Has anyone out there ever done your own? I have seen that idea several times as a sort of "make-your-own" gift idea. For example, you could make a different kind of cookie or brownie each month. Or you could make a craft or get something to add to their collection, whatever that might be, each month.

It would take a lot of committment, that is why I am wondering if anyone really has done it. A six-month committment sounds more practical.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Double-sheeting: reposted

Double-sheeting my kids’ beds has made life a lot easier for me. I have talked to some moms who don’t know how to do this, so here is how:

You will need the following to double-sheet the bed: Two waterproof mattress pads and two fitted sheets. Put a waterproof mattress pad over the mattress, and top with a fitted sheet. If you are not working with baby bedding, go ahead and add a flat sheet and a folded pillowcase. That way you have a complete set underneath.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Now top with the second mattress pad, and finish making the bed as usual.
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Now, whenever you need to, you can quickly remove the fitted sheet and top mattress pad to reveal clean sheets! This has helped me on so many levels. When my babies were small, I sometimes found myself standing at the crib with a sleeping baby in my arms. I would look down and see a drool ring on the sheet (or a worse ring!) In that case, the crib sheet and pad could be taken off with one hand before putting the baby down. It worked so well that I kept it up when they got older. It worked during night-time potty training, but it has been most helpful when a child gets sick in the night. I won’t be graphic, but you know what kind of “sick” I mean. This is usually accompanied by crying and chills. By double-sheeting, you can quickly remove the mess, and the sick child can crawl back into a nice, clean bed.

Another bonus: We use Peanut’s bed for a guest bed when we have overnight company. Since I double-sheet her bed, there are always clean sheets ready for the guests. I just take hers off to wash and put the blankets and bedspread back on.

This concept has worked so well for me that I often use it for a baby shower gift. I type the directions up on a nice card and attach it to my gift of a waterproof crib mattress pad and fitted sheet.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Beginning Hard Drive Organization.

We started school this week. This will be our fifth year homeschooling.

I have noticed that with four years under my belt, my computer's hard drive is getting a bit congested. I heavily rely on my computer for homeschooling, as I suppose many others do. I have many, many free files that I have downloaded, as well as some ebooks that I have purchased.

Now I am finding it necessary to organize some of this stuff into a more usable system. For me, group of folders for each different topic is going to be the easiest. I can start with some general areas and use sub-folders to organize into more specific categories.

My basic subjects will be: History, Math, Phonics, Literature, Music, Grammar, Handwriting, and Art. I am sure I will have to add some as I go.

I am going to put .pdf documents in the same folders as my MS Word documents, and sometimes I might even have .mp3 files along with them. That should work best for us.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Handprint Frame Tutorial

One of the things I wanted to do last year for Christmas gifts is to make handprint frames, using my one-year-old's handprint.

I got sticker shock when looking at the kits. They were approximately $17 for a brushed aluminum hinged frame, with space on one side for a picture, and the other side for a handprint.

It took me a while to figure out how to do this. Even though I wasted a package of clay by making a mistake, I was able to finish two of these for less than one kit would have cost me.

To make a frame, you will need:
1 hinged frame, at least 5x7 for a one-year-old. For older children, you might like a larger size.
(Hinged frames were difficult to find last year before Christmas. I ended up buying matching 5x7 frames instead.)
1 package of air-drying clay
(The pic shows a large package, but one small package should be plenty for a 5x7 size. You can find different colors. I recommend white or ecru color, but a pale pink would be sweet for a baby girl.)
Rolling pin
Waxed paper
Marking pen
Acid-free pen
Exact-O knife, or craft knife (not shown)
Cutting surface (not shown)

1. You will need a guide to show you how big to make the clay tablet. The backing part of the frame is a great choice. First, you want to use this to mark a rectangular area on a piece of waxed paper. The area should be an inch bigger than your guide on all sides.

2. Turn the waxed paper over so the marking is on the bottom. You do not want to get ink on the clay. Make sure your waxed paper surface is very clean. You don't want little dust pieces and lint anywhere.

3. Take a lump of air-dry clay and roll out on the waxed paper to about 1/4 inch thickness. You do not have to make a perfect rectangle, but make sure all corners are covered. You are going to trim this later.

4. This is the time to put the child's hand on for the handprint. I do not have any tricks here. This may take two or three tries with a little one, so be patient. It helps have someone help you distract the child. You will want to gently press on their hand to make sure you get good contact with all the fingers. Try to keep your pressure over a large area, rather than each finger individually. Small children have flexible joints, you won't be hurting them, but if you hyperextend their finger joints, the print will look funny.

(In this picture, I have trimmed the edges of the clay. That is not necessary, this clay shrinks a bit and it is also very easy to trim when dry.)

5. Wash the child's hands first, then let him go play, while you touch up the clay. You might need to lightly rub to erase stray fingerprints and knicks from the little struggle you just had. I even had to rub out the area where his shirt cuff pressed into the clay. My non-imprinted surface did not end up being paper-smooth. It was slightly bumpy-textured, but this looked fine.

6. Set the clay aside to dry. The clay will shrink a bit, this is why you rolled it out bigger than necessary. The clay also will want to curl up. About every eight hours, I would flip the clay over, so that it wouldn't curl too far one way. It might take two days for the clay to completely dry.

7. When the clay is completely dry, lay it face-up on a cutting surface. Take the guide that you used in the first step, and use it to tell you where to trim the edges of the clay. The Exact-O knife is a good tool here, and you might want to use a straight-edge to make it easier.

8. Use that acid-free pen to mark the child's name and age on the back of the clay. Don't forget to do this, this is a keepsake that will last.

9. Remove the glass from one side of the hinged frame if you haven't done that already. Repurpose it, you won't need it for this project. Place the clay tablet in the frame and replace the backing to hold it in. Put a recent photo of the child in the other frame. You are done!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Dermatologists again

I currently don't have teenagers, but I remember all to well those years in my life. One think I remember is my acne problems. I never had terrible problems, but I can find a couple of scars on my face that are little reminders of the skin problems I once had.

I tried many acne treatments, and I ended up going to a dermatologist where I was given a very expensive antibiotic, which cured the worst of the problems. From time to time, I still have a few adult acne spots, which are actually very different than the spots I used to have. I clear them up with Clean & Clear Persa-Gel. I have had the same small tube for five years, so you can see that my blemishes are not much of a problem.

One thing I have found, just keeping your face clean is not a deterrent for acne. I knew that in high-school, but there are still cosmetic salespeople who will tell you that if you will just clean your face with their products, your acne will magically disappear. This is hardly ever true. In fact, some of their products can make the problem worse if you happen to be allergic to the "all natural" botanicals and fragrances they use.

Simple Appliance Repair

A few years ago, the clock on my stove stopped working. I could have gotten by without it, I think, by using a kitchen timer. It was just a simple LED clock, it didn't have any connection to turn the oven on and off. However, I had gotten spoiled to having that clock in my kitchen. The best part was that it could be seen in the dark, and it was the only clock in that part of the house that could be seen at night.

Changing the electronics on your kitchen appliances is not as hard as you might think. I was nervous about it at first, but I wanted to see if it was simple to repair, as we didn't want to pay for a service call for something that didn't affect the function of the stove. I was able to remove the old clock by lifting the lid and removing a couple of screws. To find a new clock, I visited They have a very nice search function on their website that helps you find the parts you need, including pictures of each part so that you can make sure it matches.

When I received the part in the mail a few days later, it was easy to install. It just had a little plastic plug, I did not have to rewire anything.

I don't know how much a service call costs these days, but I am sure I saved about $75 dollars by doing the job myself.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Making Gifts and Learning

The kids will be making gifts again this year for family members.

Since our first unit this year will be Colonial America, we are going to incorporate some gift-making while we are learning. I think the colonial crafts we are looking at might make a good gifts.

One thing we are going to do is to make punched tin candleholders similar to these.

Another idea might be these framed silhouettes. I think a grandparent would love to have them, and I might need to have the kids make two a piece, so that I won't be envious!