Archives For K through 12

Our Schoolroom!
Not Back to School Blog Hop

Hi all! Welcome:) This week’s theme in the Not Back to School Blog Hop is Our Schoolrooms! This is a fun one for me as I love to see others schoolrooms and get ideas to use in my home.  Join In by visiting Heart of the Matter and linking up.


I hope you enjoy this peek into my home. I am usually very private but I thought this was a fun, easy way to share, using the video. (Excuse my voice, earache, sore throat going on here!)

Anyway, if you do not homeschool, come on over to our side, we often have cookies, and coffee and I am enjoying getting to know my children so much!

Honestly, homeschooling may sound odd, or at least difficult~but it is a very nice way of life for our family. I encourage you to consider it. I like passing on my world views, my love of books, my time to my kids. They are a blessing, indeed.

Now, for full disclosure {grin} I do have children in public school as well. Honestly, I wish they were home as well. I got into this homeschooling thing way after the pioneers, and I made the choice to only homeschool some of my kids (pretty much the one the public school was failing). Once I began, I then continued with my younger child.

So, its a busy place around here, with two highschoolers in public school, one homeschooled highschooler and an elementary homeschooler.

I tell you what, the time is going by so quickly!

Not Back to school hop

Curriculum 2011-2012
Not Back to School Blog Hop

11th Grade Curriculum, Nick

1st Grade Curriculum, Emma

Additional Resources to include: The ADDitude magazine, The OldSchoolhouse Magazine & Resources, Nutrition 101, Keys for Kids, Educating the WholeHearted Child — Third Edition

*Subject to change and evolve:)

* I have included affiliate links when I could.

Pearson Education Review

Heather —  May 23, 2011
Comforts of home and a colorful school text

Comforts of home and a colorful school text

My most recent review for the TOS crew was unique for me, in that I was reviewing a textbook that has been developed specifically for the public school system.

While this may not seem really unusual, because many software programs and some select curriculums are a bit interchangeable and can be used for either homeschooling or traditional schools, for this textbook, it made a difference in my ability to use the text because I did not have access to all the parts I felt I needed to really teach the textbook.

Now, that being said, I did like the textbook I received: All Together, a Social Studies text for first graders from Scott Foresman, an imprint of Pearson Education.

The book itself is a sturdy hardback book of 300+ pages, with high quality printing and binding. The book is designed to engage children and allow teachers to teach with a minimal amount of planning. It is not text heavy at all and incorporates loads of colorful photos and graphic elements.

When I first thumbed through the book, I thought the content seemed slim. But, after reading it and watching how my daughter worked through it, I have to say that the concepts covered are extensive and useful. The book is divided into sections, and supposedly is designed to let a teacher cover essential Social Studies concepts, such as:

  • Citizenship
  • Map and Globe skills
  • Communities
  • Earth’s Resources
  • History
  • Symbols (Flags, Landmarks, etc)
  • Leaders of the Past

There are six main units which each end with a review section and project and then assorted reference materials, mainly to introduce kids to what reference materials are: an Atlas section, Geography terms, Picture Glossary and Index. Teachers and students can access additional information by going to an online resource for the book as well, http://www.sfsocialstudies.com/ .

Overall, I liked the setup of the text and my daughter seemed to love reading through it. We just read a bit each day and discussed the chapter and answered the questions. Reading through it, I liked the security of knowing I was covering the same things she would get in school. However, we were finished with it within a month. I know from the website that there are additional teaching materials, plans and cds and such that teachers must use to extend the chapters through the year, but I did not get access to those items and the costs are prohibitive for a homeschooler. The textbook I received retails at: $43.47 while including some of the cool teacher resources could cost over $1,000.

All in all, it was a neat experience to look at this. I try to check out state standards so I see what is expected from students in our state (and when), but, I do like the freedom of an eclectic approach.

If companies like Pearson come up with packages more specifically designed for homeschoolers, I would be interested.

See what my crewmates have to say about Pearson Education.

I received the Scott Foresman Social Studies book, All Together through the TOS Crew for review purposes. I have given my honest opinion.

I love it when our homeschooling is moving ahead with everyone pretty confident about their coursework and content with their schedules.

But, the reality of teaching several kids at different stages often translates into learning curves for all of us as we go through the year.

While most of our curriculum is working this year, I noticed a few things that needed tweaking. Two things stood out to me:

  1. Nick needed more English—especially Grammar practice
  2. Emma was bored with her Math

As I did not want to change up my major curriculum choices, I was not quite sure what to do. Luckily for me, I happened to get a chance to review some homeschool curriculum from Timberdoodle and The Critical Thinking Press.

I was inspired by the bright colors and entertaining artwork of The Critical Thinking Co. books. I liked the theme of challenging kids to think–developing critical thinking habits is an integral part of all their products.

And, I liked the idea of supplementing our current schedule with some items that would appeal to the kids and filled an important need in our curriculum.

As I was able to choose some books to fit the children, I chose Math Reasoning Level A (kindergarten) for Emma, and Editor In Chief C2, for Nick.

The book for Emma was an instant hit and totally solved our “boredom with math problem”. She loves this workbook. I was also thrilled with the colorful, sturdy pages that introduce and explain new math topics very well.

Bright graphics and positive reinforcement really motivate

Bright graphics and success really motivate!

The 250 pages reinforce many beginning math concepts without becoming dreary, as the authors introduce a concept, work on it for a few pages and then move to something else…and come back around.

For the first time ever, Em liked doing the number lines

For the first time ever, Em liked the number lines

This method of spiraling through many concepts gave Emma lots of practice while never leaving her frustrated and mathematical reasoningbored—the authors seemed to know exactly when to take a break and when to keep going! I began allowing Em to do as many math pages as she wanted each day—some days she will do at least ten without any motivation from me.

As the title suggests, the book teaches reasoning and problem solving skills, with topics including: addition, bar graph, calendar, capacity, coins, count, fractions, language, length, likelihood, match, number line, odd/even, order, pattern, real world problems, shapes, subtraction, time, weight, and whole numbers.

There is an answer guide included in the back of the book and this level can be used as a core math or a supplemental. We began using this as supplemental, but I soon felt that this book could easily be Emma’s complete curriculum for this level.

Look at some sample pages from the book.

We did not fare as well for Nick’s experience. But, it was not because the book wasn’t creative and just plain challenging. Our problem was that it was too challenging!

editor in chiefYes, I made an error in judgment on what level to get for him. While this level is recommended for grade levels 9th-12th, it is a serious grammar study—fun, yet the exercises cover some complicated concepts. Attempting to work through this book really forced us to decide to regroup and focus on grammar at an earlier stage–because Nick actually wanted to do this book, as it was entertaining, it showed me that he was not just lacking in motivation.

We liked the idea of the book, Editor In Chief. In these books, your child basically acts as if they are an editor and as they search for grammatical errors, they are truly analyzing the materials and thinking about correct grammar, punctuation, spelling, capitalization and more.

The 130 page book includes an editing checklist, 33 lessons, answers, even a guide to grammar, usage and punctuation.

They do have five other levels for this book. See which Editor In Chief Book might be age-appropriate for your kids, here. We will be getting another one, so we can have a bit of fun, too.

See a sample page.

Are you looking to fill a void in your curriculum? Looking for Math curriculum? Language Arts? Check out Timberdoodle for tons of educational items, including complete curriculum kits. I so enjoy their catalog!

Click to get their free catalog!

Click to get your free catalog!

You can even get fun updates on the Timberdoodle Facebook page.

As a member of Timberdoodle’s Blogger Review Team, I received a free copy of these books in exchange for a frank and unbiased review.

The Write Foundation Review

Heather —  November 10, 2010

How do you approach teaching your child writing? I generally teach writing as a portion of our literature studies. My son loves to read and so I try to use that as a jumping off point to get his attention and then incorporate things like grammar and writing structure.

I received The Write Foundation curriculum to review and I immediately noticed that they stress the actual writing process as the base for their teaching approach. It is almost an about face from how I have done it. They say:

“Many writing curricula focus on the different types of writing, such as creative writing, story writing, poetry writing, persuasive writing, argumentative writing, informative writing, descriptive writing, book writing, fiction writing, novel writing, but the basic foundation of writing is assumed. The Write Foundation begins with the writing process, how a student formulates a topic, then a thesis, then supporting points, and by incremental teaching drills in the basics. In most grammatical subjects, we have found that failure is almost totally because the basics have not been learned.”

I appreciate this angle and felt that this review might help my son go back and reinforce some writing skills.

I requested Level 2: Paragraph Writing   Suggested Ages: 12-15.

About Level 2, (From their site):

  • Lesson plans formatted in an easy-to-follow system
  • Begins with steps to writing the basic paragraph
  • Improves sentence structure with basic grammar and figures of speech
  • Teaches different styles and techniques each week
  • Teaches the organizational process of  brainstorming, outlining, rough draft and editing.
  • Progresses to writing two-, three-, and four-paragraph papers
  • Introduces the five-paragraph formal essay
  • Creative poetry writing
  • Guidelines, checklists and correct structure
  • 30 lessons with lesson plans for either a one- or two-year format

See a syllabus for this level.

As we began this program, I had a hard time adapting to a different approach. I had trouble incorporating the lessons into our daily life. I read that the lessons were originally developed for a coop setting and I do think that the presentation of the teaching materials could be improved.

Overall, I think the program needs some tweaking to make it easier on the Homeschool teacher to teach. That being said, I think the concept of using a more foundational writing system for a curriculum is sound and can really help an unenthusiastic writer, especially. I give it a 3 out of 5.

I do like that the program is written from a Christian perspective and I hear that the customer service is great for this company. In addition, there is a Write Foundation Yahoo group.

See samples for all The Write Foundation Curriculum

Find ordering information here. Costs vary a bit depending on how fast you work through the program and your choice of materials, but range from $65-$100.

See what my crewmates have to say about The Write Foundation

I received materials from Write Foundation for review purposes. I have given my honest opinion.

Gratitude Challenge

Heather —  November 4, 2010
Aquatint by Francis Jukes (1745-1812) of Mount...

Image via Wikipedia

Today is Day 4

One of my quiet and faithful TOS crew leaders, Brenda, over at Garden of Learning, is doing a Gratitude Challenge for the month of November. I am pleased to join in and should be posting something I am grateful for each day.

For today, I am grateful that we are going on a homeschool field trip to Mt. Vernon tomorrow!

I meant to write something really profound today. So much for that. But, I really enjoy our homeschooling lifestyle and fieldtrips are really the icing on that cake. Last Spring, we went to Monticello on a homeschool field trip and had such a great time!

We have been studying the American Revolution and Emma is pretty impressed with General Washington in the Liberty Kids on Netflix…this should be fun. (Now wish me luck for the drive. I hate driving near D.C.!)

Join in the Gratitude Challenge

cranberrybag2smallUpdate from The OldSchoolhouse Store–TIME SENSITIVE–FRIDAY ONLY

The crisp winds of autumn have blown TWO special deals into the Schoolhouse Store for ONE DAY ONLY!

Both options will give you the Cranberries & Cream Homeschooling with Heart tote bag FREE!

The choices are below. Just click on the art and then choose “Specials” on the TOS Site.

Option A:

Just $19.95 for The 2010-2011 Schoolhouse Planner. Plus, receive the gorgeous Cranberries & Cream Homeschooling with Heart tote bag for free!

You save 63% in all–for ONE DAY ONLY.

OPTION B:

Only $19.95 for the May 2010 Expo To Go OR the Fall 2010 Expo To Go, and receive the Cranberries & Cream Homeschooling with Heart tote bag for FREE.

Select from the May 2010 Expo To Go or the Fall 2010 Expo To Go!

You save 43% in all–for ONE DAY ONLY.

But you have to act fast-the wind is changing and this offer is only here for one day!

You can't go on field trips everyday...what do you do for fun in lessons?

Are you good at making learning fun? I am not, really. I just do not have that “creative gene”. I know this because my mom used to be the most fun science teacher…ever.

I, on the other hand, I tend to get focused on our work and straight reading and such. I could just use textbooks all day long and be happy. Not so my kids! I know my kids learn much better through games and hands on activities.

In reviewing my curriculum last year, I found that Mystery of History and Illuminations from Bright Ideas Press really helped me spice up my lessons….and, once I had a clue what I was doing got going, I had a great time with these lessons. And, I got to be the fun teacher:)

This year, I see that BIP is offering many items that complement The Mystery of History and Illuminations and some that even stand alone, like Literature Guides. They have some great titles, like Phantom Tollboth, The Canterbury Tales and many others. Another thing–BIP has curriculum for multi/all ages.

While you may be all set for much of your curriculum for the year, adding in a couple Literature Guides and Folderbooks might be fun and simple…even for the teacher! Another good thing about these is that they are all immediate downloads–so you can quickly add these into your day and not pay for shipping, etc.

I have signed up for BIP’s monthly newsletter and I get an email with teaching tips and updates…and special coupon codes each month. (I recommend signing up!) Anyway, here are some of their new releases, from my BIP email:

  • Challenge Cards–these go with Mystery of History (MOH). They offer 3 questions and answers for every lesson in the MOH text. They currently have cards for MOH 1 and MOH 2. MOH 3 to come. Get these in a digital download deal at $14.95 for each volume.
  • Folderbooks—Kind of like lapbooks for MOH. But even cooler. They are on sale now.
  • Literature Guides—I used these from the Illuminations curriculum last year. They take great literature titles and create a unit study. I adored these. They are fun for the kids, but also in-depth studies. Last year, you had to purchase Illuminations to get them, but now you can buy them individually!

I am an affiliate for BIP. I think they produce worthwhile curriculum and I like sharing information about them.