Thursday, August 7, 2014

2014-2015 Curriculum and other Homeschool Stuff

Planning, planning, planning.  As homeschoolers, sometimes I feel that my life is consumed with planning.   I plan our curriculum, our days, our assignments, projects, field trips.  This list goes on and on.  I know for some people this can be a tedious part of homeschooling but it's actually one of the parts that I really enjoy.

Lately, my plans have included:   curriculum purchases,  planning our school calendar for 2014-2015 and planning our daily schedule.   I think I have it about nailed down.

4th Grade:

Math: Teaching Textbooks 5
Science: Apologia Zoology (Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day)
***I choose this book because the previous books contained material that we basically have already covered.  Plus Idaho is a wonderful place to learn about birds.  Not far from our home is the Idaho Center for Birds of Prey.
History: Story of the World books 3 and 4.  We are half way through book 3 and will start book 4 later this year.
Geography: Maps and Geography of North and South America plus some global geography
Bible: Picture Smart Bible
Language Arts: Writing with Ease, First Language Lessons, Easy Grammar
Spelling: BJU Spelling book 5
Music: Piano Lessons
Foreign Language: Spanish (Rosetta Stone)
P.E.:  Homeschool Group at Local Rec Center
Art: Homeschool Group at Local Rec Center
Reading:  Novel studies, Vocabulary and Reading Journal
Handwriting: Handwriting without Tears

2nd Grade:

Math: Teaching Textbooks book 3
Science: Apologia Zoology (Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day)
Reading: Abeka Readers and Vocabulary
Language Arts: Writing with Ease, First Language Lessons
History: Story of the World 3 and 4
Geography: Maps and Geography of the United States and United States Regions
Bible: Picture Smart Bible
Phonics: Explode the Code
Spelling: Horizons book 2
Music: Piano Lessons
P.E. Homeschool Group
Foreign Language: Spanish (Rosetta Stone)
Handwriting: Handwriting without Tears
Art: Homeschool Group

This year I am also doing something that I haven't really done very well before-Plan my goals!  What are my goals for this year?  What do I really want my children to learn and achieve?  What do I want us to experience that perhaps is not part of the curriculum?   Inside of my planner I  put my list of goals for each child in the front so that I can easily refer to it throughout the year.

Sorry it's sideways!  I could not get it to flip the right way!  

 I also decided this year to design my own plan book  I have tried everything.....doing it on my computer.  On my Ipad. Buying plan books.  Nothing is ever really a fit for me.   So this year I used a really big spiral binding so that I can add more pages throughout the year and  put in all of the things that I thought I would need.  I can take things out or add things as need be.

Again, another sideways photo!  Sorry!  New computer....

In addition to the above, we will be learning Idaho State History this year.  To start that off, I had my oldest work on a report all summer on the state of Idaho.   As part of the report we visited the Idaho State History Museum which gave a wonderful glimpse of how Idaho started and where it is today.   We also visited several towns and areas locally (Eagle Island, Julia Davis Park, Boise State University, Northwest Nazarene University, Idaho Capital Building, McCall Idaho, Cascade Idaho, and Ponderosa State Park).   On his own, he read books and looked at various websites with Idaho facts. 

Then this week he gave his power point oral presentation to our family.  His report included interesting facts on our state, pictures of Idaho and a short video from the museum.

Still on our list of things to do this year:   Idaho Birds of Prey, Morrison Knudsen Nature Center, Idaho City and Silver City (old mining and ghost towns), Craters of the Moon, Boise zoo, Boise Art Museum.  We also would like to visit Shoshone Falls near Twin Falls, Idaho and hopefully the Idaho State Fair.  I really wanted us to visit a real working farm but so far haven't been able to make that happen.

I'm really excited for this year as I think it will be a growing and stretching time for all of us in our homeschooling.  I didn't even mention the travel that we have planned.....maybe I'll save that for my next post!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Welcome to Our Home

It's been 3 months since we moved from Bothell, WA to Eagle, ID.    I really can't believe it's been 3 months already.    Even though I haven't even really started to paint or do anything to the inside of our house....I thought I would give you a tour of our every day regular living space.  This past weekend I went to a party and one of the gals there was an interior decorator and my first thought was "Oh dear, I don't know if I could invite her over!  What would she think of my home!"  And then I realized how silly that was.  Each of us takes our space and makes it our own. Your home may look completely different than mine.  But isn't that what makes it fun?  We don't all want to be exactly the same do we?  So enjoy my little tour!

This is my youngest sons room.  I love that he has so much space!  He loves that he has so much space!  I never know when I walk in his door what will be spread out all over his floor.  But I do know by the sounds coming from his room that he's enjoying every minute.

This is our upstairs family room.  The table in the corner will be our school table this fall. 

This is my oldest son's room.  He was really concerned about leaving our old house because he loved his room.  However, the walk in closet and his own bathroom has helped him very much enjoy this space.

This is our patio.  Our house sits on 1 acre of land.  But most of that space is spread out pretty evenly around our house.  We are very fortunate to have wonderful neighbors on both sides of us too.
This is a view of our dining room from the kitchen.  It's a pretty informal space.  I originally wanted both an eating area off the kitchen and a formal dining space. But honestly, it was really hard to find!  Most houses these days are just not designed with formal eating spaces because people don't really use them.  And to be honest, we only used ours for holidays before.

A little more of a view of our kitchen. 

Our pool table room.  This room has a full wall of windows that luckily have blinds we can close to block the sun all day.  Through those patio doors at the end of the room, we will soon be installing a hot tub.

Our living room.....another very informal space.  I guess we are just informal people!

My school supply room and office.  The boys will do school at a table together or at the desks in their rooms.  So this is my space to store books, craft supplies, etc.  I also have my desk and computer in here where I can plan.    

Not shown:  3 bedrooms (1 master bedroom, 2 regular bedrooms, laundry room, butlers pantry, office, and a couple of bathrooms)

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Miller Homeschool

And so it begins!  The planning of another homeschool year.  Above is a recent sign that my son designed for the door of my planning room.    We don't really have a school room, but I do have a planning room where I can spread out and get materials, etc ready.  

Homeschooling this year feels different.  Free is the word I used recently to describe how I feel to a close friend.  I feel free from expectations from others, free from our daily normal way of doing things, free from co ops, rules and regulations.   The example I used with my friend was that I feel like I have been given a new journal.  A blank space to start fresh.  Oh, how lovely is that! 
And so the planning begins!  Lists of new books, new school supplies, new curriculum.
Last week I met with an old friend whom I haven't seen in over 20 years.  Actually old friend is an exaggeration.  She was not my friend when I lived here before.   She was the kind of person I said hi to in high school when we passed by in the halls.  She was the kind of person that I saw in youth group but didn't really hang out with.  She was the girl that I knew, but didn't know.   And know I feel as if we are kindred spirits in a way. 

   I ran into this new friend one Sunday at church and by Wednesday we were meeting for coffee.   And two hours flew by. 

  She shared from her heart her homeschooling journey and as I listened to her speak I realized that homeschooling looks different for every mom.  AND IT SHOULD.   I realized that up until now I was mostly public schooling at home. Mostly because I was a former public/private school teacher. We were very scheduled.  Very routine.  Very work book oriented and work sheet focused.  Now don't get me wrong.  I think there is actually value to workbooks and worksheets.  My boys really do learn and love them.   But I think we could do more.  I think our homeschooling could be more fun, more flexible and less public school at home. 

    That being said.  I'm opening my new blank journal of homeschooling and starting fresh.  Yes, we are still doing book work.  My boys like it and it has worked for us.  But we are doing more......more projects, more field trips, more reading and digging deep into subjects that we love.  

   My new "old" friend calls herself an unschooler.  I know that I will never be an unschooler.  But perhaps I can can borrow a few of her philosophies and create the schooling experience that I know my boys crave and deserve.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Real Meaning of Homeschooling

I haven't blogged in a bit. Please forgive me and allow me to jump back in as if no time has passed.

We have recently moved to Idaho.  To list the reasons for this move, I would need to start a whole new blog on my families spiritual journey this past year (hey, maybe that's a good idea).  However, this is my homeschooling blog and so I'm really going to focus on that part of our journey.

Ever since my boys were babies I have felt the call to homeschool.  It really was a call for me.  I felt a pull to read every book I could find on homeschooling-how it looked, how it worked, successes and failures. I wanted to know about every method-Charlotte Mason, Classical, Unschooling, etc.  I felt as if it was my purpose in life.  Even though most of my adult life I had worked in Promotional Advertising, I suddenly realized that my degree in Elementary Education (that I used briefly after graduation teaching 3rd grade and then kindergarten)  was not necessarily obtained for making a difference in the lives of children in public or private school, but instead was now a tool that God was going to use to make a difference in the lives of my own children.  I felt incredibly thankful that God was so much bigger than to steer me on the right path when I was 18 years old so that I could take steps to guide my own children 15 years later.  How awesome is that?

Since moving to Idaho I have really felt that God is asking me to be brave and trust in him.  To take a new step this year with our schooling.  My comfort zone is joining a co op and going with the flow.  We sign up for classes, we go every week, we do school at home, we supplement with a few other activities. Easy Peasy.  However, sometimes the greatest gifts from God are not obtained on the Easy Peasy road.  

Right before we left Seattle for Idaho, I received an email asking if I would be interested in teaching at a co op that was just starting.  They wanted me to head up their preschool program.  One week after we arrived, I met with the director and immediately liked her and I liked the concept of the school.  In that moment, I felt excited and was ready to sign on.  However, deep inside I felt a little voice saying "no!".  So I told them that I wanted to think it over and talk to my husband. I'm so thankful for a husband that talks me through situations.  He encourages me to listen to my heart and even though a teaching position would guarantee our children spots in the school, I felt it was not a right fit.  I turned them down and told God...."Okay, this is all in your hands".

Yesterday I received an email that there was a spot for us in another co op. Co ops down here are very very hard to get into.  A month ago the waiting list was 60 families!   My first thought was, God must want us in this co op.  This is His plan for us!  But I looked at the class list and not one class was a fit for us.   No matter how I looked at it, I could not find a class plan that would be good for my boys.  And the deep inside, the whole time I was looking I thought....this is not what we are supposed to be doing next year!  So I'm going to turn them down. 

For the past year I have lived on this verse "For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future".  Jeremiah 29:11.  So much of our year has been unknown.   God worked out each piece and the end result was better than I could have ever imagined!   Now I am trusting this verse again in regards to our homeschooling.

I don't know what God's plans are.  I don't know what our year will look like.  But I'm excited to find out and hopefully do better at my blogging and take you all on the ride with me! 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Making a Puzzle

 We've been all about puzzles at our house lately.  After dinner we gather around our puzzle table listening to music, chatting about our day and working on our current puzzle.

So it was no surprise when my 2nd grader, who likes to create things, decided to make his own puzzle. 
First he drew the picture.

Then he photo copied puzzle piece shapes to the back so that he knew where to cut-and create the puzzle.  And then we laminated it and cut out the pieces.

Then I had the honor of putting it together for the first time.  It was tough.....let me tell you-he had me puzzled a few times!  Next time we will put the puzzle onto cardboard or card stock to give it a little more stability. 

The finished product!  

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Scenes from the School Room

This week we started learning about the election process and what makes a good president.  

Here is what my 2nd grader wrote: 

"I think the President should believe in God, should make good choices.  He should be brave and have good ideas.  He should have a plan.  He should stop pollution.  He should be honest."

Here are some scenes from our school room this week:

Reading these fun books on elections.
The ballot 2nd grader created.  He's sending these to friends and family and they are returning them.  Then he will count up and declare the winner! 

Pumpkin Art by my kindergartner.

Pumpkin Art by my 2nd grader.

Seasonal Art

Spooky Art

Some block creativity.

A little Life with Fred......

A rare moment of sitting still !

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Books, Books and More Books

I don't know any homeschool family that isn't obsessed with books.  We get gitty around libraries and bookstores.   Book shopping can become a social event.  We share favorite books as our status on facebook (and yes, Annette I'm talking about you!)  Books are the key to what we do every day in our choice to educate our children, so the more books we surround ourselves with the happier we feel.  

Recently I spent 4 days visiting an old friend from college.  We are kindred spirits when it comes to books.  In fact, that is one of the only things we have in common!  People often are puzzled by our relationship because we are as different as night and day.....but after 20+ years we still enjoy drinking coffee, sharing our favorite books and browsing around dusty old bookstores together.

 On this last trip I filled my suitcase with books I found for $.25 at  various yard sales and bookshops.  My hope is to snuggle up with my boys and read these aloud before bed each night. 

 And are you familiar with Little Pear?  My friend Kristen told us about him last year and I put him on my list of books to read.  Had I known back then what a true treasure he is, I might have read him right away to the boys.   Instead we waited until this fall to coordinate with a unit on China that we are doing.  Little Pear is such a delight that it's difficult for us to put him down.  However......there are many books by this author and our plan is to tackle each one.   (please forgive me as I talk about my books as if they are we read that is exactly what they become!)

 Were you a fan of the Hunger Games?  To be honest, I was and I wasn't.  I enjoyed the first one (kind of) and actually read it in one day.  But I never read past the first book.   However, I really really liked the movie.  It's kind of put me in the mood for futuristic type novels.  So I just finished this book, Birthmarked by Caragh M. O'brien.   I read this in in less than 3 days.   It was fascinating!  I can't exactly say that I loved it, but I was so intrigued that I could barely put it down.   One night I actually couldn't sleep because I kept thinking about the story line.......  And so, I'll be honest now and admit I started Catching Fire today (sequel to the Hunger Games).  I need to be ready for the second movie when it comes out.

 And this stack?   It's my 7 year old's stack of library books.  He checked out 8 books yesterday and has already plowed through 2 of them.   They are silly little chapter books about a mouse that solves mysteries.  He's also in the middle of Frindle by Andrew Clements and Wagon Wheels, my mom's 4th grade reader.  

And what's on my kindle these days? 

A Room of My Own by Ann Tatlock.   Have you read her books?  Fabulous! Thank you Annette for this wonderful recommendation!

Or if you want a good mystery-I'm loving Cheryl Bradshaw these days.  Her Sloan Monroe books are quick and easy reads. 

I would love to know what you all are reading!  I'm always looking for new authors for me or the boys.  So please share.