Saturday, November 2, 2013

Spotlight On....

Today I'm starting something new as I try to get this blog going again and life back into some sort of order. Usually on the weekends I visit some of my favorite blogs for homeschooling ideas or find new ones and I look for advice from veteran homeschoolers who share their knowledge with those of us on the learning path with our kids. Since there are so many blogs and websites out there its almost impossible to have the time to find all the incredible ideas. Pinterest has helped in this area because its a lot easier to quickly scan through pictures than to read entire blog posts.
I'm however going to start a "Spotlight on..." series - of blogs or websites I've looked at during the week and think there's something there to share with others.
So, here are the first ones.....I hope you find them helpful or inspiring in some way....

1) Topic Jar - From Laughing With Aspergers

Fantastic idea for child led learning (or any learning) having your child or children choose the topics they would like to cover for the year and have them randomly pick them from a jar. It covers that "remember when I wanted to learn...?" and naturally you have forgotten it amongst the five-hundred other things thrown out into the air that you were supposed to catch and make a note of and you didn't and of course its the one thing he comes back to four months later and he can't quite get why you don't remember him mentioning it - nevermind that it was probably in the middle of you cooking dinner or doing the laundry and you were supposed to jot it down and well, frankly you just didn't have a pen and paper handy in the laundry room. (Not that my child would do anything like that)

2) Fall Seeds - From Blue Bells and Cockle Shells

This nature walk looking for fall seeds comes at just the right time as I'm about to take orange Halloween Pumpkins and harvest them for seeds for a backyard pumpkin patch for next year and storing and baking the pumpkin meat into pumpkin pies and pumpkin bread for the holiday's.
In this time of high food prices and lean finances, I find myself trying to make things stretch...therefore pumpkins were Halloween decorations and now a food source for us at home and for our holiday baking for friends.
Come back later this week for how to use orange pumpkins in your baking...Yes, you can bake with them no matter what everyone else tells you...'s my Pumpkin Bread Recipe. I'll be posting my Pumpkin Pie Recipe later this week as well once I check out a new recipe for making my own crust. The crust was the one thing that wasn't homemade in my pies and I'm working on finding just the right recipe.

3) Wondering what to do with ALL of that candy.....use it for lessons.
* Fractions using M&Ms  - free downloadable worksheet from TPT (Teachers Pay Teachers)
* Candy corn counting and math - cute fall tree cut out, easy number dots, with links for additional candy learning.
* Autumn mix candy sequencing - with templates - love the group idea on here too!
* Calendar project for halloween candy - great idea for calendar work with a reward for snack time!
* Halloween candy graph - a pin from Pinterest.
* 5 cool ways to use halloween candy - seriously cool ideas!

Trust me this is only a sampling of countless ideas on using that candy.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Quick Halloween fun - card game and cupcakes!

Its been ages but here we go....

Just in time for Halloween some of our new favorite things that we've tried out from Pinterest.

Pumpkin Life Cycle War Card game -
We tried this out for free at our homeschool library group (below) and everyone enjoyed it, as of this writing its still available for free download (you do have to sign up for an account but its also free) from TPT also known as Teachers Pay Teachers. It's quick to print out and have on hand.

And here is the link to go and grab it for yourself - Pumpkin Life Cycle War card game

Here are three great designs for pull-a-part cupcakes, we made the ghost one and the whole tombstone. Kids seem to LOVE  these things...and there's no right or wrong way to decorate them.

Curricula we use - Our spines

What we use for each grade level each year.
(***UPDATED*** 10/30/2013
The Red Ranger is now in 5th grade and we still use the same spines for our homeschool. We have added a couple and those will be noted below. )

I've been chatting online in many areas with new homeschoolers and I can remember how lost I was when we started as accidental homeschoolers. I decided to add a post about our spines, our starting points for our studies. Over the past couple of years its been hit or miss with some curricula out there but these work for us. Having said that, I'll warn you that not everything works for every student or family and to top it off each child learns differently even in the same family. The good thing about homeschooling is that you can find what works for each individual child instead of just using a blanket system for all.
These are just our base line we add lots of other materials both at home and online.
I'll also add links to future blog posts about how we use some of the below as they are written.
NOTE: If there isn't a link to a company website it usually means that those resources are out of print and must be obtained used. I find my used materials through Ebay, Amazon, PaperBack Swap and Barnes & Noble used sellers.

Complete Curriculum -
Learn at Home Series - /
available for grades kindergarten through grade 6. Gives you a weekly schedule/map to begin with and you can tweak it from there.

Flashkids Complete Curriculum - /
we use this with the Learn at Home series, they seem to compliment each other.

What Your ? Grader Needs to Know series - E.D. Hirsch / Core Knowledge Website

History -
Story of the World - History for the Classical Child - Volumes 1-4 - Susan Wise Bauer /
Story of the World - Well Trained Mind Website
Volume 1 - Ancient Times: From the Earliest Nomads to the Last Roman Emperor - 5000BC to 400AD.
Volume 2 - The Middle Ages: From the Fall of Rome to the Rise of the Renaissance - 400AD to 1600AD.
Volume 3 - Early Modern Times: From Elizabeth the First to the Forty-Niners - 1600AD to 1850AD.
Volume 4 - The Modern Age: From Victoria's Empire to the End of the USSR.

Each set has a text book of stories, an activity book, a test and answer book, audio tapes or CD's.
We use only the first three items for each era/age. Each Volume Set has grade levels associated with it, however prior to us starting The Ancient Times in January 2013 we've been using parts of all volumes for our history studies as certain days approached on the calendar or if we've done a unit study on a certain time period.

Math -
Math-U-See - Steven P. Demme / Math-U-See Website

English -  Language Arts - Grammar - Reading - Spelling - Writing -
Reading -
McGuffey's Reader's / McGuffey's Readers World/Ray's Arithmetic
Along with many books of choice and classics.
Language Arts and Grammar -
Easy Grammar & Daily Grams - Wanda C. Phillips / Easy Grammar Systems Website
Used along with the components from both complete curriculum books listed above.
Spelling -
All About Spelling - Marie Rippel /
Writing/Handwriting -
Handwriting Without Tears - Jan Olsen /

Geography -
Currently studying countries with Little Passports.
Little Passports / Little Passports Website
Great World Expedition - WebQuest / Brodie Education Consulting available through CurrClick - Brodie Education Publisher Page
Our Homeschool Geography Club

Daily Skills -
This is a daily warm-up or skill building review area that I've added using the following resources each day. Each day there are 3 or sometimes 4 sheets in this folder depending on the content from each source.
Daily Grams from Easy Grammar above - /
Daily Learning Drills - Brighter Child Series - /
Flashkids Summer Skills and/or The Summer Bridge Series - / Flash-Kids Products - Barnes & Noble
Carson Dellosa - Summer Bridge Activities

Please Note: We use for a lot of subjects. The site is searchable for many materials and also has some free materials each month.
We also use lots of supplemental materials for each subject and we also use online sites.