Thursday, September 24, 2009

Binders, Binders, Binders Everywhere!

I love binders. I mean, I really love them. I use binders for so many things. I have one for my business, with ideas for products, research for my products, what I want each product to cover, etc. I have one for my general homeschool info, with ideas, plans, possible materials to buy, field trip info, an inventory of our homeschool resources, etc. Two for the current school year, one for each child. These conatin info on what we're covering this year, what specific topics we're covering in each subject, what projects we have planned, what materials we're using, etc. I have one that contains all my research on Giftedness, ADHD, and Bipolar. I have one for Arts & Crafts, with ideas for crafts, directions for crafts I've found online, material lists for different crafts or types of crafts, etc. I have one in the kitchen with recipes I want to try. I have one that I call the Family Brain. It has a calendar with the family's schedule, bill info, info on home improvement & home decor projects, shopping list, and other info important to the family.

Now, I'm working on another one. This binder is my Holiday Organizer. There's a section for each season, birthdays, and each holiday we celebrate. I'm including lists of holiday and seasonal decorations, traditions, gift lists, card lists, lists of movies & books related to the holiday, and ideas for games, crafts, and activities. Christmas & Halloween are our biggest holidays, and we tend to celebrate for the entire month - watching movies, reading books, doing craft projects related to the holiday. This binder will hopefully help me keep track of all of our holiday stuff, what foods I need to take to family celebrations, which traditions, activities, games, books, & movies we enjoyed doing, etc.

I just love the flexibility that binders offer. They come in a variety of sizes, so I can get the size I need for whatever its use will be. They come in different colors & have different colors & types of labels. That makes it easy to tell them apart when they're on the shelf. I can use dividers to make as many sections as I need. I can use page protectors to hold pages I don't want to put holes in, or to save paper by marking the page protector with dry-erase markers instead of marking up the paper. Plus, they provide a great way to organize & store papers on a shelf, in sight & in easy reach.

File cabinets are great for storing papers you don't need to look at often. Tax info you only need to pull out once a year, the owner manuals for appliances, and home & car insurance plan info are great things to store in file cabinets. You don't often need to look at them, but they're there if you need them. Extra printer paper (especially the nice kinds you don't use often) and envelopes are also good things to store in file cabinets. Each one can have its own folder, and you don't have to search through the folder to get what you need form it.

However, things you need to look at regularly - the family budget/bill info, school info, grocery lists/weekly menus, etc. - are easier to access (and more portable) if they're in a binder. This is why binders are one of the best organizational tools available for dealing with paper clutter. I'd be lost without my binders. I can see myself one day having a bookcase of binders to organize all the different aspects of our life.

Did I mention that I love binders?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

6th Grade

Well, I said I'd post with what Dea is doing for school this year. So, here it is.

Math - Teaching Textbooks Pre-Algebra. She actually did this last year, but we're making her redo it. She HATES Math. She'll do just about anything to avoid doing her Math. So, she'll whine, cry, and throw a fit. Then, when she does it, she doesn't put any effort into it. Last year she handed in several assignments where you could tell that she hadn't bothered to read the problems before she wrote an answer. We decided to make her redo the course in hopes that it would get to her understand that that kind of behavior & lack of effort is not acceptable. She's so good at Math, too. That's a big part of why it's so frustrating when she doesn't put effort into the work.

Science - Power Basics Earth & Space Science. This is a High School Science textbook by a Secular publisher. The book has 4 units - Astonomy, Meteorology, Geology, and Water. It has a workbook to go with it, but we decided not to get it. We're using the textbook as a spine & adding in multiple projects for each unit. Also, she decided that she wants to write a book on each unit. So, we're using those as her assessments.

Latin - Oxford Latin Course Part 1 & 2.

Geography - World Geography & You

History - We're studying wars this year. She decided that she wanted to write a book about each war she studies. She started with the Crusades, then the Trojan War. Next is the American Revolution & the American Civil War.

Music - She has a guitar, but rarely practices. She sometimes practices her singing. We're trying to get her to practice both on a more consistent basis. For Music History & Appreciation we're covering a variety of genres & some musicians for each genres. We try to make sure to cover musicians that made large or important contributions to music. I know we won't be able to cover all of them, though.

Art - Every 2 weeks she studies a new artist, does a small biography on him, and does a project in the style of the artist or using the same mediums as the artist.

Writing - Writing Strands level 4

Grammar - Power Basics Basic English, textbook & workbook

Spelling & Vocab - She has a notebook dictionary, organized by Latin & Greek roots. Each day, she's given a new word, has to look it up, write the definition, and use the word in her daily writing assignment and/or conversations.

Reading - I allow her to read pretty much whatever she wants. If it has content that I feel is too old for her, I won't let her read it. Occasionally, I'll require a book or two. Other that that, it's up to her. She's pretty good about choosing good quality books, as well as fluff.

Well, that's her 6th grade year.


Jay is in Kinder this year. I thought I'd post what we're doing for the year & what materials we're using.

Math - We're using Mastering Mathematics. It covers 1st - 6th grade Math. It's set up for the mastery approach instead of the spiral approach used by public schools. The program is split into 6 workbooks - Attacking Addition, Subduing Subtraction, Mastering Multiplication, Defeating Division, Perfecting the Point, and Finishing Fractions. Each workbook focuses mainly on the title topic, but also covers additional topics such as time, money, etc. The program also comes with flash cards, games, self-checking fact wheels, etc. He's currently working in Attacking Addition. We do one page a day. Each day, we also go over all the flash cards for the facts he's learned.  Two days a week we play games for review. He gets to do the fact wheels whenever he wants.

Reading/Phonics - We're using Explode the Code & Beyond the Code. We've got books 3-6 for Explode the Code & 1 -2 for Beyond the Code. ETC is still just review for him, so I don't make him do all the pages. He does about half of each lesson, then moves on. BTC is pretty much just review as well, so he just reads the stories & answers the reading comprehension questions. We have Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, but don't use it for instruction anymore. He got bored with it last year. He does sometimes pick it up & read the stories in it, though. He also gets on Starfall & PBSIsland a few times each every week. Starfall has interactive books & PBSIsland has reading/phonics games. Of course, we also read together every day.

Logic - He's been using Lollipop Logic, but has already finished it. We don't have anything else planned for this for the year. Maybe I'll find something, though. Since I know how much he enjoys doing it, I'll know to order more than one workbook next year.

Science - For Science, we're using a lot of materials I create & lots of hands-on activities. We've already covered The Senses, Animals & Habitats, Food Chains/Web, and Life Cycles. We're also studying the Seasons. We school year-round, so we're covering each season during that season. We've already done Summer & are currently doing Autumn. We still need to cover Winter, Spring, and the Water Cycle. After those, we'll do some nature studies, and I'll introduce a few other Science concepts like electricity & magnets. We do a lot of hands-on work in Science. He's made posters & collages, experimented with the senses, and did a tri-fold display board on animals & habitats. We also read books on Science topics that interest us - some from the library, some from our own collection. He really enjoys watching Science DVDs like The Magic School Bus, Bill nye, & Eyewtiness. He's even learned some cool Science facts by watching Mythbusters DVDs.

Social Studies - This is another subject with a lot of hands-on work, library books, educational DVDs, and materials I create. So far, we've covered Community Helpers, All About Me, and learned the Continents. We're also studying Holidays. Like with the seasons, we study them around the actual holiday. We've already covered Independence Day & Labor, and are about to start on Halloween. In addition to the other holidays we'll study this year, we still have Fire prevention (during Frire Prevention Week) and the Ice Age. After that, maybe we'll do some cutural studies or start a few of the Ancient Civilizations.

Art - Really we're just doing fun art projects. Next year, I'll start introducing him to different forms of art.

Music - At this age, we just expose him to a variety of music styles & genres.

So, that's pretty much Jay's Kindergarten year. We do a lot of hands-on stuff, watch educational DVDs, play games for review & practice, etc. We have some things planned for him to study, but he's also allowed to follow his interests. We keep school fun & interesting to encourage his love of learning, instead of crushing it out of him. We let him learn at his own pace, instead of only allowing what the BOE believes should be covered at each grade. I firmly believe that using a child's age to determine what they should learn or know is ludicrous. We say Jay is in Kinder because that is the grade he would be in if he was in public school. That has no bearing, however, on what he learns or what grade level work he's doing in any subject. It's simply easier to say they are in whatever grade the public school would have them in, than to explain the different levels of work they are doing in the different subjects. My kids have never been at the same grade level for all subjects. So saying they're in whatever grade kids their age are usually in is just easier & faster.

I'll post later with what Dea is doing this year for 6th grade.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Beef stew is not a finger food!

I never thought I'd have to tell my kids that beef stew isn't a finger food. However, I had to tell them that at dinner tonight. Jay was digging through his stew to find the chunks of meat. Then, I look at Dea, and she's holding a piece of potato in her hand. When did beef stew become a finger food?

Anyway, our day before dinner was good. Jay did a page in his Math & his Math flashcards. Then, he did 4 pages in Explode the Code. While he was doing those, Dea did her Language Arts & Latin. Then, I went over Dea's work with her while Jay did Lollipop Logic. He loves that workbook. I think he did about 6 pages of it while Dea & I went over her work. By the time we got done with that, it was almost 11am. So, I let them take a break. Dea played & Jay did a puzzle while I got dinner started, put lunch together, and did some dishes. While they ate lunch, I let them watch a show. After that, Dea hopped on the computer to work on Science. She's doing High School Earth & Space Science this year. The textbook we're using as a spine has four units. She has decided to write a book for each unit. Right now, she's doing Meteorology. While she worked on her book, Jay and I read. We read some books about Autumn, his current topic in Science. Then we read a few Halloween books. Once we were done with that, the kids painted Jay's Solar System model. After the Solar System was painted, they watched a DVD about Ancient Egypt. While they did that, I folded & put away the laundry, finished the dishes, straightened up the living room, and got the library stuff together.
Dea still has to do her History & Math. she'll work on her History in about 30 min. She's studying Wars this year & has decided to write a book on each war she studies. Her current war is the Trojan War. After she's worked on history for about an hour, she'll get her Math done. Then she'll read for awhile before bed. While Dea does History, Jay will do a puzzle, play, or read. Then he'll head off to bed.

After they've both gone to bed, I'm going to curl up with my book and read for awhile. I've been reading this series by Jack Whyte. It's the Camulod Chronicles. The series is a take on the Arthurian legend. It's more realistic than most. The series starts a few generations before Arthur & Merlin. I've finished the first 3 books and now I'm reading Uther. Uther isn't the 4th book, I think it was actually the last to come out. However, it happens during the same time as the 3rd book, just from a different view. The 3rd book focuses on Merlin's life as he was growing up & into his twenties. Uther focuses on Uther's life during the same time. So, you get to see how their lives were similar & how they differed. Plus, some of the same events are covered in both books, so you get to see them from two different views. Since Uther takes place during the same time as the 3rd book, I figured I'd read Uther before starting the 4th book. It's a really good series. I wouldn't let my kids read it anytime soon, but it's a good read for adults.


I'm a homeschooling mom of two amazing kids. My daughter (Dea) is 11 & my son (Jay) is 5. Homeschooling them (well, raising them) is a challenge. They are both gifted, both have ADHD, and Dea also has Bipolar. That combination makes for an interesting time. The Bipolar was just diagnosed earlier this year, so we're still learning about it. The kids are always on the go. Even when they ask to watch tv & pick the show themselves, they rarely make it through the episode. Life is definitely not boring with these two.
Right now, they're watching a Goosebumps DVD that we borrowed from the library. This is my hour of TV & relaxation before the day kicks in to full gear. At 9am, we'll start school. We wait until then so that the kids can sleep in if they want, we have plenty of time for breakfast & showers, and we have time to veg out a little. That way, our day starts calm & refreshed, not groggy & irritable.
It's cloudy today & is going to rain. That means we'll get little, if any, time outside today. Maybe we'll do a fun craft or activity today, something to break up the day a bit. Jay has a Solar System model he's been wanting to paint & put together & Dea has a dissection kit she's been wanting to do. Maybe we'll do one or both of them today.