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Friday, June 29, 2007

Finally! I've selected a Grammar program.

I have looked at samples, asked questions and finally I feel confident with using...Exercises in English by Loyola Education Group. This is perfect for grammar instruction only and covers punctuation and reference-skills I was looking for. It is a workbook but I'm not a slave to the curriculum so if I want to have copywork and dictation I can. I feel Exercises in English will provide the instruction in grammar that Classical Writing is lacking. I also feel confident we will move on to Analytical Grammar later on. Okay, I feel better now- even if you read this and think I'm nuts.

UPDATE: Using Language Lessons for the Very Young for first grade, Primary Language Lessons by Hillside Education for 2nd/3rd Grade and Intermediate Language Lessons for 3rd/4th. We'll use Junior Analytical Grammar starting in the 4th or 5th.


Independent Reads for 2nd Grade

I had the pleasure of being able to visit a homeschool group yesterday and I talked to a few moms about reading. One book a day, read alone for independent reading and then dd will read a section to me to see how she's doing. The whole quality/quantity thing has been on my mind lately. I think building confidence is more important than how many books she reads.

I've collected books (cheaply through various sources) for early reading. I choose books due to readability for her stage, with a mixture of reading ability, subjects are varied as well. In science and history, she will be reading books that are about the subjects we're learning, especially in history. I read A LOT last year and I should have had dd read at least one book each time we did history.

Here's her 2nd grade books that she can choose from at any time but at least one book a day but two if her selection is too easy:

  • Sacagawea and the Bravest Deal (Level 2 COFA, Ready to Read)
  • Madeline by Bemelmans
  • A Bargain for Frances
  • A Fish out of Water
  • First Flight (An I Can Read Book Level 4)
  • Oh, the Thinks you can Think! Dr. Seuss
  • Mouse Count
  • Bedtime for Frances
  • A Baby Sister for Frances
  • Thankful Together by Holly Davis
  • Angelina and the Princess
  • Little Chick's Story
  • Go, Dog, Go!
  • Green Eggs and Ham
  • On the Go by Ann Morris
  • Water's Way by Lisa Peters
  • The Statue of Liberty Step 1 book
  • Astronaut Living in Space Level 2
  • Eruption! The Story of Volcanoes Level 2
  • Animals in the Wild: Bear by Mary Hoffman
  • Baby Cougar by Beth Spanjian
  • A Silly Snow Day by Michael Coleman
  • Max and Maggie in Winter
  • Max and Maggie in Autumn
  • Why Do Leaves Change Color? Stage 2 by B.Maestro
  • Turtle's Race with Beaver by J. Bruchac
  • Hopper Hunts for Spring by Marcus Pfister
  • Bear by J. Schoenherr
  • How is a Crayon Made? by Oz Charles
  • What Makes A Shadow? by Clyde Bulla
  • Water, A First Discovery Book
  • The Little Rabbit Who Wanted Red Wings
  • Once in A Wood: Ten Tales from Aesop by Eve Rice
  • Shining Star Step 3, Step into Reading
  • Finding the Titanic Level 4
  • Solar System Level 2
  • A Wall of Names, The Story of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Step 4
  • The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams
  • Air is All Around You by Franklyn Branley
  • Moonwalk The First Trip to the Moon Step 4
  • The Caterpillow Fight
  • Oozey Octopus by Suzanne Tate
  • Uncle Elephant by Arnold Lobel Level 3, I think
  • Wild Animals by Roger Priddy
  • Sam the Minuteman reader, Level 3
  • Skeletons! Skeletons! All About Bones
  • The Big Balloon Race, An I can Read Book
  • What Time Is It? A Book of Math Riddles, Level 2
  • Dinosaur Dinners Level 2
  • The Day of the Dinosaur, Berenstain First Time Readers
  • Digging Up Dinosaurs Stage 2
  • Raptors! Level 2
  • Fossils Tell of Long Ago
  • Dinosaur Time by Peggy Parish, An Early I Can Read Book
  • Up Goes the Skyscraper by Gail Gibbons
  • Dinosaur Hunters Step 4 book
  • The Big Dipper by Franklyn Branley Stage 1 Reader
  • Hey, Al by Arthur Yorinks
  • Just the Way You Are by Max Lucado
  • Fred and Ted Go Camping
  • The Bedtime Rhyme by Walter Wangerin Jr. ***Beautiful book!
  • The Runaway Bunny
  • Teach Us Amelia Bedelia, level 4
  • Little Bear's Visit
  • Where does the trail lead? by Burton Albert
  • Froggy's Halloween
  • The Germ Patrol
  • Moja means one, Swahili Counting Book by Muriel Feelings (really tests pronounciation!)
  • Gregory, the Terrible Eater
  • The Fire House Book
  • Things that Go
  • Curious George Learns the Alphabet
  • Catch a Whale by the Tail, A Science I Can read book
  • Corduroy
  • Father Bear Comes Home
  • The Sword in the Stone Level 2
  • It's Valentine's Day by J. Prelutsky
  • Dr. Seuss's ABC Book
  • The Cat in the Hat Comes Back
  • The Ear Book
  • The Foot Book
  • One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish
  • Flossie and the Fox
I've read all these books with a few exceptions (like a few of the science ones) to her already. Some we've been reading since she was 3 or 4. My goal is to establish fluency and her quality of reading while slipping in some learning in there. *wink* My dd hasn't voiced an interested in what type of books she likes yet other than Disney Princess-which I will not use. The Dr. Seuss books are for rhythm of reading aloud, she knows most of these but I want smooth reading aloud. I printed this list out so I can cross them off as she read thems. I want to see if there's a trend to her selections.

**There's a lot more than this, especially in our individual subjects which we'll get from the library.


Displaying Posters and Charts

Get a chart stand that expands like this one, the cheapest price I've seen is at Discount School Supply for $32.97. Or if you want a cheaper solution, you can get a laundry rack which is the same thing but used for a different purpose.

I suggest using laminated posters and charts and then grommet them. You can have a print shop laminate and grommet your posters for you or attempt it yourself. The grommets will extend the life of the poster. The chart stand has rings to attach to, this is easier if you use grommets. Or put two holes in your wall and just hang your posters there, change them out as you wish. One space, two holes.

Just sharing ideas. I like using the chart stand with a flipchart for our longer memory pieces.


Creating Copywork Sheets

Super simple, instead of typing out the handwriting lines, just use handwriting paper. Simplicity can be a good friend.


Marriage in Ministry Statistics

I received an invitation to a seminar in the mail yesterday and although I know that marriage while in ministry is sometimes a rough road, even I was surprised with the statistics!

Those in ministry "are equally likely to have their marriage end in divorce" as general church members.
(Harford Seminary study of 10 Protestant denominations -4,400 people) Ministries Today, Sept/Oct 1995

Second highest divorce rate among all professions.
("The State of the Pastor"- Injoy Ministries- Partners in Prayer Report.)

77% of pastor's wives are dissatisfied with marriage.
("The State of the Pastor"- Injoy Ministries- Partners in Prayer Report.)

Only 24% of pastors have received marital counseling.

80% of pastors believe ministry negatively affects the family.

33% of pastors believe ministry is downright hazardous to marriage.

50+% of pastors wives are severely depressed.
(Dr. James Dobson) and (Pastors at Risk by H.B. Londn and Neil Wiseman)

I think I want to go to this seminar! I'm not one for volunteering to sit in a room for however many hours and listen to someone unless I really want to hear what they have to say. I definitely have an interest here and an interest to have my dh listen too. There's a reason being a pastor's wife is commonly called "living in a fishbowl" - and being a younger pastor's wife with young children is a task in itself.

Any doubt you have about your ability to raise your children is highlighted continously, every church function, every Sunday morning. We used to sit in the very back pew so that I could excuse us from service without everyone's eyes but I move to the front pew so that I wouldn't have to be aware of those turning their heads to look at us (dd7, ds3 and I). Danny and I excuse ourselves almost every Sunday to have correction. I am constantly aware of how we are perceived by church members and I have even had comments filtered through the grapevine, including-"You know why so and so isn't here today right?" A lot of times there is a veiled "dissatisfication" in someone's judgment of either my dh or me in those comments.

My etiquette awareness is more heightened than most around me, I think this is a side-effect of the ministry. Our marriage, hmm. Yes, that is stressed more times than not. I think we'll go to this seminar.


Thursday, June 28, 2007

Grammar Curriculum, Aaaah!

Nothing makes my head spin faster than trying to decide on a grammar program for Camille (and later Danny). We're currently using First Language Lessons which has first and second grade lessons in one book. First Language Lessons 3 is about to be released and it has a workbook- I like that. I don't know why I can't just say, we're doing FLL3- I have no particular reason why I'm still looking, strike that I do know- what if there is something out there that we use longer than just 3rd grade?

Currently we use these for language arts:
Once a week
Spelling Workout C
Evan-Moors Report on Books Grade 1-2

3x a week
First Language Lessons

Cross curriculum shared reading aloud
Daily 30 min independent reading time
I read aloud daily about 1-2 hours including science and history reads

I want to use Classical Writing starting in 3rd and we'll probably start Tapestry of Grace then too. Tapestry of Grace suggests Easy Grammar. These are the programs I have looked at and my thoughts:

First Language Lessons: I like it but it doesn't extend further than 3 which just prolongs the agony of picking a program. It would be my first choice for 3rd grade because I like copywork, dictation, narration, and poetry that is combined into the program.

Rod & Staff: It may be the most thorough program out there for grammar but I feel like I'll tire of it quickly and not feel motivated to do it, which may influence my children. I don't know what it is that I don't like, I have the R&S 3 book on loan from a dear friend so I'm going to look at it more. This is highly recommended all through the homeschool community, maybe it's an authority issue. Lol.

Voyages in English: I really like this, Camille would too but I'm not sure about the workbooks being split between grammar and writing. I really don't need a writing program since we're going to use Classical Writing and others have said it has been hard for them to use.

Character Quality Language Arts: Oh, I was thrilled with this! Character education based on Biblical teachings that covers all language arts! After printing it out and working through the lesson, I don't like it. Sigh.

Learning Language Arts through Literature: So far I like this, Cathy Duffy likes it too. I'm going to look further into this. I would only use this until 8th grade though.

Junior Analytical Grammar: I like the concept of this program, but it's for older students. I want grammar now because we're going to start french grammar in 4th and latin in 5th or 6th, I want to have a strong english grammar base of knowledge.

Abeka Language Arts: Their cutesy graphics annoy me, I'm going to try to get a copy of the language arts student book to see if this would work for us. Good solid program, others say.

Too many programs! Urgh. Why can't I choose?


Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Thoughts on tearing up workbooks

This is a workbook type curriculum that we use, Spelling Workout. Horizons Math is another we use that is self-contained in a workbook. Self-contained. This past year we used these as is and there were times when Camille would feel overwhelmed and procrastinate. I wonder if this is because I kept the workbooks together instead of providing daily sheets for her.

I asked her and in her soon to be 7 glory said, "Having a daily folder would be great Mom!" Now I'm wondering about the wisdom of tearing up these workbooks. I could set up file folders for each day of the week and on the weekend fill her daily folders with the pages she'll need to do for the week. On the positive side, providing a daily folder might help in the long run- in it I could put:

In the left pocket
- Daily nobility record
- a copy of the week's lessons or each day a copy of just that day's lessons
- book report form for the week (only 1 a week)
- reading log form, she's to read two books a day and record title/author

In the right pocket
- Daily work for her lessons

If I did this, this is how I THINK it would work. I would remove all the workbork pages and 3 hole punch them, the Spelling pages would be put into our Language Arts binder, which I'll talk about in another post. The math, hmm. There's no reason to do anything with the math but once a week rip out the pages from the workbook and hole punch them.

Each week as I sit down to plan our lessons, I'll put the corresponding workbook pages in the a file folder for each day: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. We are adopting a 4-day schedule so Friday is sort of viewed as an extra day. In each day's folder I would put (which would be transferred to her daily folder):

- a copy of her Explorer's Bible questions
- math lesson worksheets
- whatever is needed to complete grammar/spelling
- science or history notebook pages as it applies
- classical music notebook pages as it applies
- french work as it applies
I can see how this would be "easier" on the eyes for her and have that sense of "I'm almost done with today's work or I don't have that much to do". But is this going to be an organization nightmare for Mom? I could have her put her work back in the daily file folders after completion and then file them all away on Friday. If I wanted to get really creative I could "grade" her papers every night and give her a progress report each day. Nah. It would give me a chance to really see where we need improvement though.

What do you think? Is this a good idea? I have a feeling it is but I also feel rebellious for ripping up the workbooks! I know public school teachers do it all the time, I even have a friend who encourages her children to throw away their worksheets after she checks/corrects it.

UPDATE: I did it. I took Spelling Workout C and torn out the pages, 3-hole punched them and put them in our Language Arts binder. I am going to do the same for Horizons because there are extra worksheets for practice and I want to go ahead and put them with their lessons to truly make it "do the next thing." Guess what, I think this is going to be great and even though I held my breath while I ripped pages from their spine- it felt GOOD! Lol. Thank you all for your encouragement, many blessings- Jessica


Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Earth Science/Astronomy Copywork

This copywork is intended to go with the Earth Science/Space lessons that I created, however use them how you would like. I'm putting the lesson # and subject so that anyone can use them. We do science copywork once a week. The Earth Science lessons are free to download on the right under Lesson Plans.

Earth Science

Lesson 1: Geology
Geologists know Florence Bascom (1862–1945) as “the first woman geologist in this country.”

Lesson 2: Eclipse
Lunar eclipses can only occur during a full moon. Solar eclipses can only occur during a new moon.

Lesson 3: Hemispheres
The word hemisphere means half (hemi) of a sphere.

Lesson 4: Continental drift
The first detailed theory of continental drift was put forth by German meteorologist and geophysicist Alfred Wegener in 1912.

Lesson 5: Lightning
Lightning is a giant discharge of electricity accompanied by a brilliant flash of light and a loud crack of thunder.

Lesson 6: Minerals
A telephone contains over 40 different mineral materials, a television set has about 35, and an automobile about 15.

Lesson 7: Volcanoes
Volcanoes are like giant safety valves that release the pressure that builds up inside the Earth.

Lesson 8: Monsoon
The word monsoon comes from the Arabic word mausin, meaning season, because the storms return year after year at the same season of the year and are essential for crops.

Lesson 9: Avalanche
About 250,000 avalanches occur each year in the Alps, a mountain chain in Europe.

Lesson 10: Tides
Competition between the Sun and the Moon is what causes tides, the rise and fall of the ocean and other large bodies of water.

Lesson 11: Deep Sea
The deep sea is the largest habitat on earth and is largely unexplored.

Lesson 12: Caves
Caves harbor rare animal life, fragile mineral formations and irreplaceable archaeological objects.

Lesson 13: Deserts
Most deserts lie along the Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn, imaginary lines that lie north and south of the equator.

Lesson 14: Grasslands
Grasslands would become a forest they received more rain. If grasslands received less rain, they would become a desert.

Lesson 15: Rainforest
A single rainforest reserve in Peru is home to more species of birds than are found in the entire United States.

Lesson 16: Arctic
In 2001, explorers Ann Bancroft and Liv Arnesen made history when they became the first women to cross Antarctica.

Lesson 17: Recycling
Recycling an aluminum can saves enough energy to run a television set for three hours or light a 100 watt bulb for an entire day.

Lesson 18: none


If you’re using the book Spinning Worlds from the lessons I created, you can use the quotes in it for copywork instead of these.

Lesson 1 : Moon
The key to a blue moon is having in the air lots of particles slightly wider than the wavelength of red light (0.7 micron), and no other sizes present.

Lesson 2: Sun
The Sun's temperature is 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit at the surface and 27,000,000 degrees Fahrenheit at the center.

Lesson 3: Mercury
Mercury can only be seen just after the Sun has risen and just before the sun sets.

Lesson 4: Venus
Venus is the only planet in the Solar System to turn clockwise.

Lesson 5: Earth
Earth has more exposed water than land. Three quarters of the Earth is covered by water!

Lesson 6: Mars
Mars has seasons like Earth. This is caused by the tilt of the planet's axis, at a similar angle to the tilt of Earth's axis.

Lesson 7: Jupiter
Jupiter's famous Red Spot is in fact a great storm that has raged for at least four hundred years.

Lesson 8: Saturn
A year on Saturn would take almost thirty Earth years.

Lesson 9: Uranus
Uranus' pale blue colour is caused by the methane in its atmosphere which filters out red light.

Lesson 10: Neptune
Triton orbits Neptune in the opposite direction to the planet's rotation. It is the only large moon in the Solar System to do this.

Lesson 11: Pluto
Pluto was found in 1930 by Clyde Tombaugh, an astronomer looking for "Planet X"

Lesson 12: Comets*
The famous Bayeux Tapestry, which commemorates the Norman Conquest of England in 1066, depicts an apparition of Comet Halley.

Lesson 13: Asteroids*
There are more then 100,000 asteroids in the belt between Mars and Jupiter.

Lesson 14: Space Exploration*
The history of space exploration started with the invention of gunpowder over 10 centuries ago by Chinese inventors.

*These lessons are not planned out in the lessons that I shared which are on the right under Lesson Plans.

If you're curious to how I'm using these, I'm printing them directly onto handwriting paper and place them in our science notebook.


Sunday, June 24, 2007

Weekly Lesson Plan

Finally! With all the little details that I've planned out for our 2nd grade year, I finally have a workable plan. Credit for this goes to a homeschool mom friend (Brenda), who graciously shared her Excel file and I just modified it for us. You can click on the picture to get a full size view or click here.

I've struggled with this because I kept putting to many details under each subject, but now I think I've got it. Each week I will print out a new schedule instead of doing 4 weeks at a time. This way if we don't accomplish something, I can modify the schedule without having to change too much. This will be posted on our bulletin board each week.

Camille will also have a weekly folder where I will put all of Monday's work in the Monday folder, Tuesday's work in the Tuesday folder, etc.

I'm starting to feel like the pieces are all coming together!

*this was updated 8/18/07 to reflect a readjustment to our schedule.

Update: 2/2008 We are no longer using this but I'm keeping it up as a reflection of where we've been and so it might help others who are looking to create their own system.


Saturday, June 23, 2007

In our science notebook

Pages out of our 2nd grade science notebook

I. Specific scientists biography pages, we're using History Scribe's Scientist biography pages.
II. Science career profiles as we read about them (field trips planned).

  • Geologist
  • Seismologist
  • Volcanologist
  • Meterologist
  • Astronomer
  • Conservationists
Let's Learn About ____________:
What does a _______________ do?
What special tools or instruments does a _____________ require?
Why do we need _______________?
What is the hardest part of their work?
What is the easiest part of their work?

III. Science vocabulary worksheets
These contain word scrambles, fill in the missing word from the definition, define this word, match this word to its definition and word synonymns.

IV. Narration pages which are just handwriting paper, one per week.
V. Copywork, on the same handwriting page as the narration- one per week.
VI. Experiment pages to document our experiements.
VII. Geography section with handwriting paper and experiment pages.


Friday, June 22, 2007

Comfort Zones & Humbleness

Lately I've been in a planning, organizing state of mind. I have been decluttering our house, setting up household systems and preparing our 2nd grade year. I learned so much our first grade year and I realize the mistakes I made and now that I have a clearer vision of our goals, I've been trying to translate those goals into workable solutions for our family.

I've shared what I've done for our family, not to seek adulation or praise from others but just for the sake of sharing. It's my way of sharing our blessings, I don't create schedules, routines and all the things I've done for anyone else but for our family. So I feel very selfish when others praise me highly about what I've done and I don't feel worthy of such praise. In fact, I end up feeling down on myself because my purpose in sharing wasn't to receive kudos but to put it out there for others to use as they want. It's not that I don't appreciate the praise and feel humbled by it, I do- but I feel uncomfortable.

When I first started blogging I did seek the approval of others, I wanted to feel justified in the choices I was making for our children, so much so that it inflated my ego. I desired to be a Power Blogger, one that others said- "Hey, did you hear what Jessica over at Trivium Academy said about that, she's right." I think as people we want others respect and admire us and have a primal need for it but God changed my heart when I started blogging here at Blogger.

I share all this because I recently blasted a fellow homeschooler for asking a question on a message board. I didn't know why I did this until I prayed about it more. I've apologized to her but it still weighs on my heart so I'm offering my confession here. It had nothing to do with her or what she said in her post, I did it to sabotage myself. Unconsciously, I wanted others to stop praising me so I sabotaged myself. It worked, others board members appealed to me and some even shared their personal opinions about me and gave me the kick in the butt I did not realize I was asking for. I didn't realize all of this until I prayed about it and after I offered my apologies to the woman I offended.

Now that I realize why I did what I did, I have no idea what to do with this knowledge. I know I need to be come to terms with being complimented but I just don't know how to do that. I just don't know what to say when someone compliments me and I feel "thank you" is just so trite. Everything I did for God's glory, not mine so I feel uncomfortable when I get the credit.

I'm really not all that important, I'm just one woman trying to do her best with her children in order to honor God. Every original idea I have comes from God. It's for His glory, not mine. I'm out of words now, I've said my peace.


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Student Checklist for 2nd Grade

My goal was to create a little planner for Camille to help her own her work and to set up her to transition to independent work by 4th grade as much as possible. My brain turned to mush as I tried to figure out a way to set up a checklist for her, was it to be detailed? an overview? only focus on independent work?

I enlisted other homeschoolers advice and many of them shared their children's planners generously. Unfortunately, it left me confused. I printed their samples, look at them, wrote a list of what I think I'd like to put on it and printed that. Then Marcia Somerville's words echoed in my head, "grammar years should be spent on character education". Then my brain started working again, firing those neurons. I opened my coveted teacher book and looked at our selections for character education this year. Edgar Guest's True Nobility caught my eye and I remember why I chose this poem to focus on this year.

True Nobility
by Edgar Guest

Who does his task from day to day
And meets whatever comes his way,
Believing God has willed it so.
Has found real greatness here below.

Who guards his post, no matter where,
Believing god must need him there,
Although but lowly toil it be,
Has risen to nobility.

For great and low there's but one test:
`Tis that each man shall do his best.
Who works with all the strength he can
Shall never die in debt to man.

I looked up what nobility meant in the dictionary and of the definitions for noble is "having or showing high moral character, courage, generosity or self-sacrifice", and another definition is "worthy of admiration". I want to instill these qualities in my children and so I decided that "Rise to Nobility" would be our theme for 2nd grade. I put these words up on our wall with die-cut letters and right away Camille asked, "Mom, what is nobility?" And Mom says silently, gotcha!

Here's Camille's 2nd grade daily nobility record, it is to be used in a multiude of ways- for praise, for setting character goals, for establishing routine and responsibility. Click on the picture to see the full screen version.


Monday, June 18, 2007

Incorporating Tapestry of Grace

If you read this blog then you know I've created customized lesson plans for our SOTW Vol. 2 year (2nd grade) that incorporates our own books and uses History Scribe's biography and narration pages. See it here: Our Tailored 2nd Grade History

We've decided to use Tapestry of Grace for at least 5th grade and up and leave the option of using it open before then. It contains a lot of features that I feel we're missing from our history studies and it's how I wish to teach in the long-term. I've already done all the work for 2nd grade but I plan to use TOG's Redesigned Year 2 to start bridge the gap between using SOTW and TOG.

GEOGRAPHY. We haven't done geography the way TOG does but for 2nd grade we will be using The Geography Book by Caroline Arnold within our earth science studies, so I will be making sure that as we study geography we will define the geography terms TOG has. We will also use some of TOG's geography suggestions as we move along in SOTW, like creating salt maps and distinguishing geographical areas in the places we are studying.

HISTORY. I personally will be reading the teacher's notes from TOG as we move along with our history studies to learn on my own and be able to highlight certain subjects for Camille. I will also choose between SOTW's and TOG's discussion questions as they seem appropriate. My main goal is to be learning on my own at a higher level as we study history on Camille's level, this way I will be prepared for later studies with Camille. I will be reading the scripture references for grammar level as we move through our studies but I will not restructure our history studies to fit TOG for this year. We will read SOTW Vol. 2 straight through as already planned and add in TOG elements. I will also use the People section of TOG to guide our biography pages which may require more reading on our part so this element will be determined as we go.

LITERATURE & READ ALOUDS. The whole point of creating our tailored history plans was to use the books we own instead of being dependent on the library. This has freed us tremendously to spend as much time as we'd like on a certain subject or time-period. We will borrow Tapestry of Grace's literature selections for lower & upper grammar as they fit our studies. I hope to use the worksheets for certain books that TOG has because I feel they are great for this stage! If nothing else, I will recreate them for the books we already have to be read.

FINE ARTS & ACTIVITIES. I am very impressed with TOG's activities and I will pick and choose what to do throughout the year while still using Artistic Pursuits (which is used in TOG) and Harmony Fine Arts (which is perfectly tailored to TOG).

SCHEDULING. One of the main features of TOG is preparing children to own their studies, which includes providing a weekly overview for their lessons. This is something that I have rebelled against but understand the importance of. I will prepare a weekly schedule for Camille with her and allow her to start owning her studies. This will also allow both of us to be prepared for our studies and provide attainable expectations and goals.

I am quite pleased with our decision to move towards using Tapestry of Grace in our studies, we may transition fully next year but no matter the decision, we'll utilize elements until we're ready to fully transition. I may come back and add/edit this post but I think I have it all- at least as far as I have thought about things! : )


Sunday, June 17, 2007

If we owned this house...

this is what I'd like our learning room to look like!
The space in between the two windows would be a bookcases like these customized to fit the space from the ceiling down. The current couch would go to accommodate bookshelves but we'd have oversized beanbags for comfort, and of course the couch in the den for reading. The baskets would be replaced with BOOKS!

If we couldn't use these, I'd have someone custom build them to fit the space. Or buy the power tools myself and do it!
On the opposite wall, I'd like this (pictured below)- one side for Camille and one side for Danny for notebook storage, independent reading selections and other individualized materials. I also like the wall pockets pictured but I think I'd rather have the wall space for a very large dry erase board that extended the length of these bookcases. I wouldn't use the baskets for this one either, although it does look nice.

We have beanbags I just didn't put them in the picture when I photographed our learning room, but I would love to have this table! It is perfect for my 7 and 3 year old! It also seems perfect for a homeschool table for the three of us for when they get a little older by removing the butcher roll of paper. I really like the drawers!

Other things I would do is get these roll-up maps and mount it in the large doorframe that separates our formal dining room from the formal living room (our learning room). I would place two quotes above the doorframes of the room, one from the Bible (the greatest commandment) and another inspiring quote- probably Muriel Strode's quote about creating your own path.

In the corners of the room, I would install corner shelves to accommodate manipulatives and games.
I thought about adding a tv/dvd combo but our tv in our den would be fine to use.

Around the dry erase board, I would install corkboard to display anything we wish without damage to the wall: posters, timeline, artwork, memory work, etc. I would keep my computer where it is but use a different desk, maybe one like this.

Do you see how wonderful this would work with corner shelves above?
Love it! The only problem would be the huge printer I have would ruin the elegance of this simple desk.

The formal dining room we have would be changed too, I would take the back wall and line it with custom built bookcases possibly with cabinets at the bottom, but keep a table in there for eating with larger groups of people.

Check out for the playroom pictures and the desk is from

Well, a woman who lives in a parsonage can dream can't she?


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Getting It Together: Meal Planning

I know you may think I'm super-duper organized and I have it all together. Well, I've struggled for the last year while homeschooling. I didn't have the foresight or the discipline to "schedule" our lives, I felt that if I did that I would be choking any joy out of our lives or I would feel like a slave to the schedule. Come to find out, I like being scheduled and disciplined! I like getting the work done and feeling satisfied instead of guilty and depressed because, "I should have, I could have.." and procrastination!

I've put together a cleaning schedule in a post prior and this week has been great. Our house is picked up, the kids are learning responsibility, dh is even pitching in more! I think part of our problem was not knowing what to do and when, and I was thinking, "don't they know to do this?!?" Lol.

Okay, meal planning. First, let me say something about websites and programs out there- you do not need them. They are selling a product and they want you to buy it, or it's a free website- get what you can out of it and leave the rest! Don't bog yourself down if you decide to take this project on. As mothers, we already do a lot of the leg work that the free websites want you to rethink. We have meals we make, groceries we shop for, the only questions is how efficiently are we doing this?

I made a list of all the (dinner) meals I currently make, organized by what meat is used in the meal because meat is the most expensive ingredient and an area where money is wasted from month to month.

Then we decided how many dinners we want to eat out each month, which for us is 3-4. Next, I figured out how many nights dh might be home alone for dinner, which is about 3 nights a month and how many nights I would like to try a new recipe, which is two nights. I setup a spreadsheet for 7 days across and 5 weeks down.

Then I put the meals on the spreadsheet trying keep the meats different, dh really dislikes having chicken back-to-back. I left vegetables to be determined on the night because it will depend on what is available in our fridge and what produce we buy for the week. We are once a month grocery shoppers because we get paid once a month but produce, milk and eggs are what we buy from our local overpriced grocery store. The produce selection isn't great either, I buy the bulk of our produce at the beginning of the month.

From the meal plan, which is only dinner because we have limited options (predictable options) for breakfast and dinner which don't require any planning, I wrote out a grocery list. I took this very basic grocery list and went around my house and added to it. Once I had everything that we purchase for our house, I typed it into a spreadsheet too. This is where I get annoying.

I listed items under headings. Household: Bath Items, Laundry Items, General Items, A/C Filters (put their sizes), Batteries (put type), Pet Items, Storage bags (by type), OTC Meds, Outside Items. Meats is another major heading. Dairy, Other Grocery: Baking Items, Spices, Fruit/Vegetables, Frozen, and finally Breads. I put the list in a useable way for when I am actually walking through our grocery store, grouping like items together. Sickening, huh?

The idea is to take stock of what I need each month. I will walk through the house, crossing out items we don't need and put the quantity of what we do need. From this, I will create a grocery list and include any extra ingredients I need for trying those 2 new recipes each month.

The goal is to save time and money and teach my children about home management in the process. We won't buy ketchup because will know that we have 2 bottles in the pantry and we'll buy exactly what we need, nothing more. On the meal plan you may see I have only 3 nights designated for Eating Out, that's because there is one night that we may want to. We're not going to choke ourselves with this, if we have functions and what-not that provide dinner, then we'll have a dinner for the next month.

I have spent no money putting this together, I don't have a "program" that I'm following, this is 100% prayer and just getting it together. I hope sharing this helps in some way, I know it would have encouraged me to read it at another's blog.



Monday, June 11, 2007

Cleaning Plan of Action

Tell me what you think, I've been contemplating this for a while and I've even tried some other tactics but I'm at the point that we HAVE to establish a routine or we're a lost cause.

Chores are for Monday-Saturday with Sundays off. Dh argued that the Sabbath is actually Friday sunset until Monday sunrise, I told him Sundays are off. Only Sundays.

LAUNDRY. I hate laundry. I really hate laundry. I want someone to come wash/dry/iron/fold/put away our clothes. It isn't going to happen so I have to get real. Instead of doing the procrastination thing and letting it pile up, I've decided to do ONE LOAD a DAY.

Monday ~ Jeans
Tuesday ~ Towels
Wednesday ~ Whites
Thursday ~ Khakis
Friday ~ Dark Colors
Saturday ~ Light Colors & Sheets

Okay, so Saturday might be two loads, that's fine with me. Sheets are easy! No folding, straight from the dryer to the bed awaiting them and I think it would be a nice way to start Sunday. Clean, fresh, soft sheets- just enough to make you want to sleep in. Lol. Yeah, right.

My solution for socks. First off, the kids have plastic bins in their top drawer to keep their socks separate from their underwear and other items. Camille's socks have gray heels and toes, Danny's socks have Hanes written in blue, and dh's and my socks are easily identifiable. When sorting laundry to be laundered, I am putting both of the kids' socks in a zippered net bag (like a lingerie bag for washing) and dh and mine in another zippered net bag. This way, Camille can match up just hers and Danny's socks and I will do dh's and mine. I've eliminated 1/2 of the workload! Any socks that do not have matches still go in the person's drawer and hopefully they will meet their mate soon.

If not, the orphaned socks will be put into cleaning detail! Do you know how much help the kids are around the house with socks on their hands?

Socks + kids + pledge = dusted furniture
Socks + kids + windex = clean glass and mirrors
Socks + kids + PineSol = clean walls, baseboards, counters, sinks, wash the car, etc.

Just put the socks on the kids' hands and spray with whatever desired cleaning product and let them clean away! Put some fun, dancing music on and boogie throughout the house. I wouldn't suggest this for any child that would stick their sock in their mouth but Danny had a blast today cleaning the wall, dusting furniture and washing windows. I think I'm going to throw away all sponges and just use socks from now on. They can get into tighter spaces and when we're done, into the laundry they go! No worries about germs, mildew and bacterial growing in them like sponges. The only drawback is that it requires a little more elbow grease.

Daily, Weekly and Monthly Chores
I've taken each room and decided what needs to be done daily, weekly and monthly to keep our home under control. MrsCleanJeans' Housekeeping with Kids by Tara Aronson helped a lot with this and so did which has free chore charts and more. I've put this in a spreadsheet for our family's use but I'll go room by room here. The daily chores will be divided amongst us and we will tackle the weekly chores for each room on a certain day every week.

Monday ~ Kitchen Weekly Chores
Tuesday ~ Den Weekly Chores
Wednesday ~ Bathroom 1 Weekly Chores
Thursday ~ Bathroom 2 Weekly Chores
Friday ~ Learning Room & Dining Room Weekly Chores
Saturday ~ Bedrooms & Hallway, Outside Weekly Chores

I've left room for modification, we could easily combine the bathrooms on one day instead of two. Saturday may have too many chores to be accomplished but we'll see. Each day the daily chores will be done plus the weekly chores of one room, seems managable.


  • Empty/Fill Dishwasher
  • Wipe Counters
  • Sweep Floor nightly
  • Set up coffee pot
  • Empty trash after dinner
  • Replenish Paper Towels
  • Feed Dog

  • Clean out Leftovers
  • Sweep/Mop
  • Clean Microwave
  • Wipe Cabinets
  • Clean Trash Can
  • Wash Dog bowls
  • Check Expiration Dates

  • Clean Fridge Inside and Out
  • Wash kitchen window inside and out

  • Toy Pickup (before lunch, before bedtime)
  • Put away books
  • Put movies back
  • Vacuum if needed

  • Vacuum/Mop
  • Dust Furniture
  • Dust Ceiling Fan
  • Dust Lamps
  • Clean TV screen
  • Spot clean walls
  • Dust/Clean Baseboards
  • Clean under furniture
  • Vacuum under cushions

  • Wash blankets
  • Wash curtains

  • Wipe Sink/Counter when finished
  • Stock Toliet Paper
  • Put clothes in hamper
  • Hang Towels
  • Put Toys Away
  • Squeeze/hang washcloth

  • Empty trash, preferably Wed. (day before Trash Day)
  • Clean tub/shower
  • Clean sink
  • Clean toilet
  • Clean mirrors
  • Sweep/Mop
  • Wash cabinets
  • Wash baseboards
  • Dust lights
  • Restock TP supply in cabinet
  • Replace towels

  • Wash blinds
  • Wash windows
  • Clean out drawers
  • Clean out cabinets
Learning Room & Formal Dining Room
  • Books & Supplies Tidy-up
  • Toy pickup

  • Vacuum/Mop
  • Dust furniture
  • Dust chandelier
  • Dust lamps
  • File papers
  • Spot clean walls
  • Clean baseboards
  • Clean under furniture and under cushions

  • Replace A/C filter
  • Dust China
  • Dust drapes
  • clean windows
  • Purge school items


  • Make Bed
  • Put clothes away
  • Put toys away nightly

  • Clean sheets
  • Sweep/Mop
  • Dust
  • Clean mirrors
  • Clean baseboards
  • Spot clean walls

  • Clean out closets
  • Wash blinds
  • Purge Drawers
  • Dust drapes

  • Water plants and yard
  • pick up toys

  • Dog Poop Detail
  • Wash dog
  • Clean carport and drive (leaf-blower)
  • Wash car inside and out
  • Weed garden areas

  • Seasonal responsibilities

Here's the spreadsheet: Click Here

Okay, menu planning is next!


Cleaning & Remodelling

I have Mrs. CleanJeans Housekeeping with Kids and I have reading and rereading to figure out how to whip my family into shape in sharing the cleaning responsibilities in our home. Once I'm finished creating our Plan of Action I'll share it here. I highly recommend this book though, it's more than just about cleaning with kids, it also has cleaning tips, organization and sanity tips!

The parsonage committee has decided to redo ALL of our floors- so for the next couple of weeks our home and lives will be very hectic. Hopefully after the dust settles we'll have new beautiful, easier to manage floors! We are getting hardwood laminate and the 20+ year old carpet is outta here!

The parsonage committee has also going to be doing some other improvements around the house, I am SO grateful!
I'll post more later. I have a lot of things to post about, I'm just waiting for some things to arrive at our house so I can share about them.

: ) Jessica


Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Limbo Anyone?

For once, there is nothing I feel I need to "research" or read about. I don't know what to do with myself! Second grade is planned and ready to go, our dinosaur unit study month had a smashing beginning today, I know what curriculums I want to use for 3rd grade and further except for ones that I have to wait and see about.

I have absolutely nothing to say.

Well, I guess I do. I can tell you that I've been saving all my craziness about Tapestry of Grace for message boards with seasoned professionals, lol. Tapestry of Grace is amazing...a-m-a-z-i-n-g with a capital A. I overlooked it before, in fact many times because I had read too many statements of faiths and somehow they all mixed together. When I tried to figure out how Tapestry of Grace worked, I couldn't the pieces would not fit inside my head. I know now that God has been readying me this year, forcing me to realize what exactly I believe and pushing me to realize that I need to have solid goals for our children's education. I've been whopped on the head a few times this year, mainly because I didn't I have these things in place.

I want my children to have a multi-cultural education that honors Jesus' teachings, "love others as you love yourself." I want them to understand respectfully the differences between religions, beliefs and cultures all around the world. I want to develop a loving attitude towards others in them, a forgiving, compassionate heart that works hard to do the right thing instead of what feels good.

I want to equip them with an education that will free them to think logically, communicate effectively and persuasively when speaking and writing. I want to equip them with the knowledge and beauty of God and all that He provides so that if they decide to run away from Him, they will know exactly what they are running away from so that they may return.

I want my children to experience the beauty of this world with their eyes open wide to the horrors and injustice. I don't care if they become prestigious, rich or even if they go to college because if I give them a
fraction of what I desire for them, I will be a satisfied mother.

And God has equipped me, inspired me to move forward with purpose. Decisions about curriculum, how to proceed are easier, clearer and more satisfying. I am humbled at his grace and my answered prayer. However, I'm in a new place- a bright, shiny new place.

Now back to Tapestry of Grace. I want to use this curriculum for my children, the only decision to make is when and I'm not truly even stressed about that. Our 2nd grade year is done and ready to go- I don't feel one tinge of regret about what has been put into place. Suddenly, I just don't feel like talking about it now. Lol. Sorry, I'll come back and post about it later.


Sunday, June 3, 2007

Teaching the Teacher

I know that when I decided to homeschool I worried whether I would be an effective teacher for my children, whether I could actually provide for them the necessary components a teacher at the public school could provide. At first I was a little confused with what those components were, I provided a wall calendar, I had all these ideas on how to make our "learning room" look more like a classroom- a place where it is fun to learn.

I realized pretty quickly that I cannot be the public school teacher, my child was in front of me- not someone else's child, my child. Their heart and mind open to the person they trust the most, their mother expecting to be taught. We had behavioral issues at first and I became discouraged (especially that first day) but the more I teach, the more I learn. I learn about my individual child's strengths, my personal strengths and weaknesses, I understand a little more each day how my child's thinking processes happen. I can anticipate when they will want a break, a drink or just need more explanation about what we're learning. I try to stay intune to my children, it's not easy with all the other distractions- cleaning, cooking, errands, time-constraints, etc. Ultimately, I decided to homeschool because I felt I could provide what the public school does plus more (and minus a lot more). I take being my children's teacher seriously, sometimes too seriously- I want to know about educational methodologies, scope and sequences of curriculums, emotional, academic, and physical milestones to anticipate in my children, and I want to know what the end goal while trying to accomplish the smaller goals.

The more I teach, I realize I have a lot more to learn. We have homeschooling books that help us, provide models of learning and teaching and we are blessed to have them. Very blessed. I guess I'm on a "teacher" kick recently because I want to read just about anything I get my hands on about being a good/great/better teacher, even if it is geared towards classroom learning. I've been reading books about how best to teach a child a foreign language which has spilled over into all academics.

  1. The Art of Teaching by Gilbert Highet
  2. Marva Collins' Way by Marva Collins
  3. The Paideia Proposal by Mortimer Adler
  4. Teaching to Change Lives by Howard Hendricks
  5. Developing Minds: A Resource Book for Teaching Thinking by Arthur L. Costa
  6. Little Big Minds by Marietta McCarty
It's not that I think reading these will create me into this great, wonderful teacher but I realize reading these will plant those seeds in my head that will grow when the opportunity arises. I've already started using a few Socratic discussion techniques that I read about in Little Big Minds with Camille and it was the most rewarding narration we've had. I find I have more patience with her when I understand a little more about how her brain works. I don't know much about Developing Minds: A Resource Book for Teaching Thinking, I just thought the title sounded good so we'll see. I can however recommend the other books whole-heartedly! Especially, The Art of Teaching which I'm having a hard time putting down. I'm learning so much that I want to take notes!

I've been on vacation but I am home again, it's good to be home.