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Posts Tagged With: curriculum

The Logic of English– No Really

If you’d have asked me I would have said I was taught phonics as a kid.  I vividly remember being sent to the hallway to finish my paper because I couldn’t decide if I should circle “p” or “d”– was it a dog or a puppy!?

So when homeschool curriculum contained most of the phonics I remembered I never questioned it.  Then a friend shared her recent discovery of The Logic of English.  I’m pretty sure my first reaction was to laugh.  Like there is any logic in English!

Turns out I was wrong.

English follows many rules.  The problem was I just didn’t know them.

My review of the Logic of English curriculum.

He loves spelling now. Who loves spelling?

Immediately upon learning these rules, however, I knew it was exactly what my struggling reader needed. He thrives on logic.  Case in point, our second (or was it third?) curriculum I tried with him taught students to memorize “the,” pronounced as “thu”.  Months later he still struggled with “thu”.  But when The Logic of English taught him to pronounce it “thee” and gave him a rule for why, he was fluently reading the word within days.

My review of the Logic of English curriculum.

The company I buy the rest of my curriculum from has a simple program for reading that doesn’t include a kit with bells and whistles.  While it’s true that reading may come naturally to some, and buying all the extras might not be necessary for all families, I would recommend this program to anyone.  We use the teacher’s textbook which gives you word for word instructions, teaching tips, extra games, multi-sensory ideas, etc., and the workbook which is simple, colorful, and very, very doable.  We also purchased the phonogram cards and two sets of the game cards (one cursive, one print).  I use the doodle boards (see the first pic of Brett) from my usual company since they are much cleaner than dry erase markers! 😛

My review of the Logic of English curriculum.

There are also lots of little pieces, like the fluency word cards and game boards from the workbook, that I laminate and use over and over, so I bought this plastic box from Target to hold all of our stuff.  I love it.  I call out “time for Dragon book” (because now on our third, or is it fourth? curriculum my kids despise “phonics”) grab the box and we all gather on the carpet.  I did book A with both kids together (ages seven and four) but Brett is ready to move quickly now and Anna is, after all, only four, so I let her listen to book B and then review old lessons.

My review of the Logic of English curriculum.

Snuggling on the carpet with hands-on cards, boogie boards, laminated readers, and the occasional race is now a family favorite.  Handwriting and spelling are included in the curriculum so I get to check off three subjects from my daily planner.  LOE also offers the choice between print and cursive and as an added bonus we are also learning with better handwriting because, who knew, cursive is easier for kids, fine-motor wise.

I’m also amazed at all I’ve learned while teaching this curriculum.  I’m actually a better speller, and we haven’t finished the second book! (Admittedly it wouldn’t be that hard to make me a better speller…)

In fact, if you asked me now I’d say no.  I was never taught phonics as a child.

I’m so glad I can teach it to my kids.

 

(In fact I’m so glad I’m writing this post just because.  I received nothing from Logic of English.)

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Categories: Homeschool | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

How We Begin Our Homeschool Year

If you’re thinking it’s a little early to be back in the classroom you might be right, but I wouldn’t change the way we start off our homeschooling year!

As a public school teacher there is something of a shock when you go from working in your classroom whenever you want to the day the students arrive and suddenly you’re on a SCHEDULE.  That shock times ten best describes my transition as a homeschool mom.

How we begin our homeschooling year.

Getting my kindergarten classroom ready for the year was one of my favorite things about teaching public school. I still love preparing a bright, clean room for learning at home!

I think the adjustment is harder for me and my kids because we’re at home.  (Hence homeschooling…)  Our environment hasn’t changed, our behavior has to.  And there is no one to oversee that but me.

How we begin our homeschool year.

Like most homeschool families we make do with what we have. My craft desk doubles as a teacher’s desk. Not every teacher has a sewing machine! 🙂

I also hear this as a common fear from parents who want to try teaching their kids at home.  “I’m just not sure I could make us get the work done.”

So here’s what I do.  We start the first full week in August, but we don’t jump in with both feet.  Today we’ll be doing calendar, our first phonics lesson in two months, attempting a short handwriting session, reading together as a family, and playing with some of the “toys” that come in our curriculum for critical and hands-on thinking.

How we begin our homeschooling year.

This is today’s workload. A light schedule helps all of us transition to a full day of school!

Next week we add history, since we had the most trouble finishing this subject by the end of the school year in first grade.  I’ll also throw in two of our “daily” workbooks, geography and word problems, which are 5 minute daily practice lessons.  The third week we’ll begin math, add the daily writing lessons, and begin our religion read-aloud.  By the last week of August we’ll add science (it has the fewest overall chapters) and specials like art, music, and PE.

It means we’re doing a full workload about a week after most of Missouri’s public school are back in session, but we’ll have more total hours since we’ve been at it for three weeks already.

This is how we begin our homeschool year at my house.  What works for you?

Categories: Homeschool | Tags: , , , , | 10 Comments

My Journey for the Perfect Homeschool Curriculum

Be still my beating heart- our homeschool curriculum for next year has arrived!  As a mom, foster parent, and former kindergarten teacher you can be sure I have opinions on education–  if you’re not homeschooling, hang in there, I have opinions on games and toys too. 🙂  My first year homeschooling I created my own stuff.  I have a degree in early childhood, I’d taught kindergarten, and I was pretty confident I could handle it.  Yes, you may all laugh.

My Journey to find the perfect homeschool curriculum.

Mommy wasn’t the only one with a happy smile when our order came!

We had a great kindergarten year, but honestly first grade needed structure.  But oh my, there is SO MUCH stuff!  You can school online, or just on the computer with CDs, or you can read aloud to your kids all day, or you can give them workbooks, or you can sit down and cry because of all the overwhelming decisions.

I don’t want to know how many countless hours I spent researching just the right program.  What I do know is after filling most of a notebook and downing three quarters of a bottle of tylenol over a two-month period I had pretty much decided to use a different company for each subject to get the critical thinking, phonics foundation, hands-on approach I was looking for.

And then I found Timberdoodle.

My Journey to find the perfect homeschool curriculum.

A friend reviewed their Block Builders set on her blog.  I clicked around for a while until I found their first-grade core curriculum.

It had everything I’d already picked out for my son.

My Journey to find the perfect homeschool curriculum.

It was tempting to bang my head against the desk in frustration of all the wasted hours, but I was too thrilled to be angry.  In addition to the math, reading, history, and science they also had fantastic extras.  The Block Builders, but also mazes for building fine motor skills and games for memory retention.  I ordered Thinking Putty for my kinesthetic learning to use while listening and beautiful books of illustrated history.  I added writing and geography, which I hadn’t planned but have been favorites all year.

I ordered Christmas presents, Easter gifts and birthday surprises for my kids, niece, and nephews.  We had a great first grade year and I can’t stop looking at the pile of stuff for second grade!  I even ordered most of the kindergarten kit for Anna.

I’m not on their blogging team and can’t be till I can secure 26 more followers (if you can help with that…), so this really is just my opinion.  I’m sharing because if you order a core curriculum before April 15th you get a free Boogie Board, which I never would have spent money on but here’s the pic of us about two seconds after we opened our box.

My Journey to find the perfect homeschool curriculum.

Boogie Boards were the first things to come out of the box and held the kids’ attention well enough I slipped the Easter gifts out and they never knew!

So I just wanted to share, in case anyone is questioning the millions of choices for the perfect homeschool curriculum.  Order from Timberdoodle.

Categories: Family, Homeschool | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

What’s in the Bible?

Yay!  I’m pretty much bouncing up and down because its here!  We’ve been waiting for almost three years for this moment and its finally here!  The final DVD of “What’s in the Bible?” is available!

What’s more is that I have just been approved as an affiliate for “What’s in the Bible?”– meaning I get to link to their stuff on my blog (and if you click it, I get a commission!).  When I started this blog two years ago that was one of my goals: share about life on the farm, post great lesson plans and activities, and have a link to “What’s in the Bible?” ;-). (Yes, there are two. I’m excited.)

So, what is this great DVD you ask?

Just my family’s favorite kid’s program.  Possibly ever.

These thirteen DVDs walk you through the entire Bible and take a look at the big picture of God’s message to us.  The show is hosted by puppets, namely Buck Denver, and the man behind Veggie Tales, Phil Vischer.

The puppets do get a little carried away from time to time, but the slightly over the top drama is easily outweighed by a show that is enjoyed by our four and six year olds as well as my husband and I.  And I can’t believe how much I’ve learned from a puppet.

When Brett started kindergarten I looked for a religion curriculum for him, but found nothing for his age group, definitely nothing that I liked.  These DVDs have been great because he doesn’t need to be able to read or write, we all love watching them together on Sunday nights, and I can print coloring pages, memory verses, and other stuff from whatsinthebible.com.

We also took the DVDs to junior high church camp and the 12-14 year olds loved them too.

Try them– you’ll love them.  And if you click through with one of my little links,  I’ll love you too. 😉

Categories: Science | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

6 Steps to Consider If You’ve Ever Wondered How to Begin Homeschooling

It can be totally overwhelming.  Public school is mostly straight forward.  You sign the kid up, they assign you a bus number, your gargantuan task is getting them out the door on time.  But if you’ve ever wondered how to begin homeschooling your child you may be at a complete loss.

Well, there is good news and bad news.  The bad news is that you will need to make seemingly thousands of major decisions about your child’s life-long education by yourself.  The good news is you can watch the bus pick up the neighborhood kids while yours are still in their pajamas.

So, if you’ve wondered, here are a 6 steps to begin your homeschool journey.

6 Steps to consider if you've ever wondered about homeschooling  {DaddysTractor.com}

1.) Google your state’s laws regarding homeschooling.  I can easily find mine by typing “Missouri Homeschool laws.”  Look for a resource provided by your state– with a (dot)gov address probably.  At some point I highly recommend paying for a membership to HSLDA, (Home School Legal Defense Association).  They have a page for each state and all the laws and lots of other resources available to members.

2.) Find a friend.  Seek out homeschoolers either in real life or here in the virtual world.  I belong to a few Facebook groups and we love nothing more than to help with questions from those who are thinking about teaching at home.  The local cooperative we attend on Fridays is my most valuable resource.

3.) Decide on a budget.  Almost any homeschool materials are a fraction of the price of private school, but you can spend as little as the cost of a library card on up.

4.) Choose your curriculum.

I think your best bet is to purchase a curriculum set– meaning a box comes with pretty much everything you need to teach a certain grade level.  EVERY homeschool mom will have her own opinion on what to use, but since this is my blog, I’m telling you Timberdoodle.com is the best.  Its reasonably priced and gives you FANTASTIC resources; more than just a math workbook or a science text.

For the first-time homeschooler I’d unequivocally recommend just buying their “complete curriculum package”.  As a former teacher I drove myself batty (no comments please) trying to choose from more than 50 math companies.  Which one was perfect for my son?  In the end everything I bought is offered by Timeberdoodle.  Someone there must already be batty…

Also, if you need to bounce around a little (my son does 2nd grade science, 1st grade math, and K phonics) you can buy the pieces you want.  Tailoring the learning to your child’s specific needs is the best part of homeschooling.  I’d already started teaching Brett D’Nealian handwriting (pre-cursive), so we chose another book for that study.

5.) Organize. Create a binder.  Figure out your weekly schedule.  (Some core curriculum packages come with one.) Choose a space in your house and design a storage solution.  Most importantly here, decide how you will be complying with your state laws regarding record keeping.

6.) Make it your own!  Homeschooling doesn’t need to look like a classroom to be productive.  Work outside.  Read aloud after dinner.  Arrange lessons so you can be gone all day on Thursdays.  Make karate your PE class.  Do what’s best for You.  Your kids.  Your family.

Veteran moms– any other advise?

Categories: Family, Homeschool | Tags: , , | 5 Comments

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