Saturday, April 30, 2011

Radical Unschooling- learning more

I have started this post over and over again. Not exactly sure where to start.  I am sort of at a loss for words in many ways ~ so I suppose I will just try my best to express my thoughts on this;

We attempted and ( from what I thought) gave unschooling a good try. I sort of tweaked things ( as I always do with so many things in our lives) to suit/meet our needs. It really never caught on with my boys, there were no sparks, no "aha moments" etc... that you hear from so many- how it totally transforms you lives and gives your children more control etc.. nope, not any of that.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Weekly Wrap Up-

Oh my gosh this has been such a busy week for us~ I think with the weather getting warmer it adds to the many more things we have to add to our daily/weekly to-do lists, don't you think?

We had a good week considering we were tired out from Holy Week and the Easter holiday weekend.  It was lots of fun but trying to get back into the swing of things can be really hard to do at times. We managed though.

I never got to the weekly lesson assignments for my younger son but did get to them for my older son, now to just have him remember to cross things off! It's like anything the first few weeks its great and then all of a sudden something happens~ nothing! lol

We worked our block schedule this week sneaking in our homeschool group outings and appointments.  This has been going very well and I am glad I made the switch for both boys.

In science; 
We have been working further on our Cell Unit ( I posted those pages for vocab and different types of cells earlier and you can find those over at Homeschool Launch of in my freebies section) its coming along very nicely my youngest is worried he won't remember all the information, I told him that's why we have the lapbook! He is really enjoying doing it this way. We read over the sections in his Lifepac and then for each section we create something with the information. I am using the folds we handmade and stored in page protectors and in a big binder. I label each page protector so I can just flip through to what we need - works great ( here is the archived post) and I love the flexibility I have of being able to adapt it right to our books we are reading or sections in the Lifepacs.  ( I always found the pre-made lapbooks too confining, lol )

In history;
We are working right along my teen with his book and written narrations ( I also made up some notebook pages for him for the first few pages of the book see my freebies sections for those) but I noticed today that he was not as enthusiastic with the narrations as he has been. I talked with him and we are going to be doing some Lap N Notes and some lapbooking for him also. The same way we work with my younger son. He would like to really give it a try and things it will change things up a bit. He tends to be very creative so I think when I mentioned to my younger son about maybe finding cartoons or funnies written in that time period during the war etc.. it sort of sparked his interest.  So they both will be doing lapbooking for both History and their Science.

I was thinking this would be in place of the written narrations. He will create folds and notes in place of all the narrations.  And for those working a program like the Lifepacs or perhaps a more traditional program you could use pose the questions and answer them using folds for your lapbook.

It got me thinking more and more about lapbooking for older learners. I have not been able to find too much on it~ I did learn about a yahoo group that I had joined but is not really active any longer. Also Lapbook Lessons just started a new group called Advanced Lapbook Learners so I can see what might be on there.

I really think that needs to change~ I hope to be able to work at creating some things for more advanced learners and share with others.  If I find more resources for older children I will be sure to share and post.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Grammar Supplements - Games

Its always fun to change things up and add some fun things into our days. Games seem to really help us do that while still practicing skills already learned.
Grammar seems to be an area that is a bit harder to be able to use games - at least that has been my experience up until now.

In searching through the EduPlace Students Site I ( grade 6-8) found some great finds! 
Here is a link for "Grammar Enrichment" from Houghton Mifflin English. This particular link is for grades 6-8. The games and activities on here look like real fun~ and are a great way to reinforce concepts learned!

Listed by grade level it gives you a pdf link to click onto so you can print out each activity/game.

The K-5 portion is set up just a bit different and also has some great things for practice in areas of English~  I am probably going to add a few of these also to my younger son's lessons for reinforcement and to help change things up a bit.

For a complete index of what Education Place has to offer click on this link here.  Some of these links are great to use as a supplement or enrichment while working on something.

We tend to use textbooks in a very non-traditional way~ We use these for the games, activities, pictures and things to print out for lapbooks and notebooking there are some great ideas we can use here.(example of spelling activities for printing here)


A "new to us" Book Series and Author- Lee Roddy

I am adding a few more things to my order list for our new year~ and am finding some gems -

Our youngest has always enjoyed a more traditional way of learning. I have found he enjoys very much the older book series like Box Car Children and many others~ I think that is why he enjoys Yesterdays Classics so much.  I have tried many times to encourage him to try the Magic Tree House Series or maybe Flat Stanley and others but he doesn't want any part of them ~

Lee Roddy is  a "new to us" author and I plan to pick up a book or two of his to show my younger son.

I think he will be very interested since it seems like it fits his style and personality and interest level as a 12 year old boy.  Here is a link to Lee Roddy's books.
photo credit

Initially I heard about Lee Roddy from the IEW email loop list.  It was a suggestion given for a book he had written entitled "How to Write a Story" and also the other "A Guide to Writing Your Novel".

My list is getting longer - how is yours going or should I say growing?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Geography - How the States got their shapes

We had seen bits and pieces of this last year on the History Channel but plan on trying to watch this in its entirety this year~ we really liked it and found it very interesting with facts and information. Here is a listing of the states from the History Channels site.

Check your local listings for this great show~ and here is a study guide to go along with the show - (you will notice the dates show October that is when I believe it aired the first time our local listings  show airs this Wednesday)
You can also purchase the DVD here and there is some more brief information about it.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Our Science Learning~ some thoughts and shifting

We have been doing pretty well with our science but I really would like to add more zest to our science. I have been looking at how we have been working further in our history and see that that even though it is helpful to use a program as your guide, it still can zap some of the enthusiasm out of the whole learning and exploration process when it comes to science.* updated*

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A Summer Project- organizing my bookmarks

I was recently looking in my OneNote at some of my pages and wanted to add a divider for lesson planning. Our lessons are going so much smoother having things planned out a bit more, especially in the area of science and history because we use so many resources for our topics.

With the lesson planning I can make better use of my saved resources, books, maps, and online bookmarks.

I was in my Diigo this evening and realized WOW I have so much information in here. I really need to go through and organize these much better. Sure I have folders but I also have tags and I think I became very lazy in organizing these gems I find on the internet. So I am taking this summer or late spring to try and spend a bit of time re-organizing things.

A new site resource - eThemes

Sometimes certain resources are just TOO GOOD not to share. eThemes is certainly one of those resources. Whether your a homeschool parent, classroom teacher or parent of a child who has a report due in a specific area this site has so much to offer it is just terrific.
Broken down by grade level and then by alphabetical order there is no end to what you will be able to find here for different areas of learning.  I think this is a great addition to any homeschooling method and can be a great addition to your personal book marks for lesson planning~


Monday, April 18, 2011

Outline of American Literature- an online text

Here is an online free book we may explore over the summer. Its called Outline of American Literature.

It starts at Early American and the Colonial Period through Contemporary American Literature.

I thought this might be very interesting to read as our teen begins to dive deeper into literature and literary analysis.  A real history lover, I think he will be able to appreciate this and may be great for some practice essays as well.
*other books you may find interesting to check out;
Outline of US History
Outline of US Government

Cells lapbook - next section added

In trying to get a few things out of the way for our week back to school I had created the next section for our lapbook on cells. We are also making our own folds for our lapbook as well as we read material. For example, when reading about the two kinds of microscopes we decided to make a side by side match book fold with a venn diagram on the front explaining the differences and similarities for them. 

These pages I have created are for more vocabulary words and then also different kinds of cells "folds".

As we finish up this lapbook I will be posting pictures and these pages will be found in the freebies section.

Changing Plans and New Notebooking Pages

We just decided this morning, after looking over our schedule for Holy Week that it is probably best to take the week off. We were planning on taking next week off ( we usually do for a Spring break so I can begin some Spring cleaning and get their papers in some sort of outline for the portfolios for the following month but I think this will work out better for us this year since our week became increasingly busy with things going on.)


I also had a chance to start some Notebooking Pages adapted from my teens book he is reading "A Patriots History of the United States". I have added these to my Homeschool Launch page and also the freebies page.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

A great time saving history resource-

Why should we have to re-invent the wheel? Sometimes we need to create things for our home learning and yet at other times we find such great things others have created ~ that we are then able to enjoy what someone else has created and save ourselves so work! this is one of those sites~

I remembered this really great site I have not looked at for some time and wanted to share it with my readers- Highland Heritage Forms.

What a really terrific site. With LOTS here for you to look through for all kinds of ages.

There is also a yahoo group to join and be able to share more pages etc..

One favorite section- history and wanted to share this part of the site that I had overlooked previously. I found so many things here I can use its just great! You can click on Creation to the Fall of Rome  and then Fall of Rome to the US Constitution. These have been adapted from the "Tapestry of Grace" curriculum, which we do not use, however many of these pages can be adapted to other kinds of programs.  Be sure and check it out if you have a chance!

Writing Checklist for Kinds of Writing-

I just finished a writing checklist  ( added to my freebies section) I will be following for my teen and then a bit later my middle schooler. I thought perhaps some might be interested in using this for their own writing at home.

*I would like to give a shout out to my good friend JenB from Special Needs Homeschooling  for encouraging me to do this*

 We are working through an Essay Course now and after that I plan on running down this list and having him practice different kinds of writing.

For my younger son we are working IEW and their layout follows a similar pathway and is outlined as follows:
types of writing are encompassed in the units.
Unit 3: narrative
Unit 4/6: expository
Unit 7/8: persuasive, compare/contrast, letter, cause/effect, literary
analysis‹most of the essay types including term paper
Unit 9: critique (book report)
So his is just a bit different but as you can see, he is working these types of writing.

Once this is complete I will be using the Elements of Language model list to go over and do any others we have not done yet. I plan on making a check list for this as well, but I thought this would get us started. I was so happy to have learned about this site and where I have very visual, literal learners this is excellent for them.

The list I created is adapted from the Write Source 2000 writing handbook. (those are the pages I refer to on this list) and the tutorials are from the link Great Source iWrite.

Happy Writing!

Composers Timeline -

I subscribe to a great blog called The Resource Site and have found some really great things to use for our learning at home~

This week they have a pdf download for a timeline with composers that I thought was really excellent and so I thought I would share- I added these to my Arts Page. Also the timeline learning cards are really neat too.

There is lots more here to check out as well I really like this site~

Happy Learning!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

A new reading blog-

I just found out about this neat blog and thought I would share. This blog has great direction and information on teaching younger learners to read.  It is called Teaching Reading with BOB Books. The blog author provides daily lessons for teaching reading with the blog books. I also was impressed with her New and Improved Binder System - Good Stuff! 

If you notice Brandy has a "Are you New Here?" tab that helps you get started with the lessons.  Enjoy!

Weekly Wrap Up-

We had an incredibly busy week ~ I think this week we had every dentist appointment scheduled, doctors appointments and much more.  The boys enjoyed Nerf Club, a park day with our new homeschooling group that is just starting up, yard work with the weather getting nicer and our snow FINALLY melted away!

In between all of these things studies had to get done since I wanted to get as much done as we could this week due to Holy Week coming up for the next week.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

A Weekly Wrap Up -

                                                                  Notes on our week- 




 Our younger learner - 
A fairly productive week - our youngest is doing really well with his new math book and things are finally looking more as though consistency is settling in with his new skills learned and old ones practiced, thanks to our new math notebook system we are using ( 3 components daily; review, lesson, correct/teach me).

I think for our youngest it will take some time for him to get used to using the Learning Assignment Blog I set up for him, this is fine with me since I only did this for my own sanity and not as much for him right now. We can work on more and more independence as he gets older and doesn't look to mum as much.

Our Gym Days have now been days our youngest looks forward to, where before he would dread them. He is now feeling better about his abilities in the gym and his speaking with his friends ~ and I am very pleased about this.

He really seems to be enjoying videos more and more and so I am tapping into the internet much more now for more enrichment with his studies in all area of math, grammar etc... another reason I am so happy I began the learning assignment blog for him since it helps me to be able to take better advantage of the resources I find for him.

Our teen -

This week was fairly smooth sailing for my teen also - his learning assignment blog is PERFECT for him to gain the independence and control of time management he needed. He is able to learn how to balance things more between his social things and his studies. I am so glad I started this for him. I would highly recommend doing something like this if your homeschooling for highschool.

Math also is going much better now that we are incorporating the internet more in our learning - videos for various concepts and new lessons really seems to help my guy. I really want to look at a few of the math video learning programs to see which one will be a good fit for him. Right now I am looking at Tenmarks, Adaptive Learning and Mathtutor DVD's.  Not sure which I will choose but will keep you posted on what I find most helpful.

We started that new history book I had posted about and gosh does he like it! I think primarily because it goes into such depth and isn't bothered with all the political correctness so many texts worry about these days. It is really an interesting read so far, unlike any history text I have read in years. I hope to be able to either make some notebook pages of some things to go along with these chapters we are working on. Will share those if they get finished.

The weather has been gorgeous here in New England, finally most of our snow is melted and the boys have been able to get their bikes and skateboards out and get used to using them again!  We will cross our fingers for NO MORE SNOW - usually by this time of year we are storm free, but in New England you just never know!

Until next week~

Re-Orgainizing our Schedules - our update

"The answer is a balance between structure and non-structure. But this balance must be reached after a consideration of various factors. These factors include the age of the student, the learning ability, the best learning style for the student, the teacher-mother's ability, and the subject matter itself." Mary Kay Clark, Catholic Home Schooling


Flexibility with structure can be a difficult balance at times. While working with two different ages/stages and abilities it can be a tricky for sure~ after five years of homeschooling we have now found that balance and it is a wonderful feeling~

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Working through our American History -Thoughts on Methods

We have been working on American History and using our AOP Lifepacs as a kind of "spine". However, I plan to coordinate this with lots of living books and wanted to share a series we are going to be  starting this coming week. 

My younger son enjoys and was asking to listen and sit in on our reading of the book my teen is reading from called "A Patriots History of the United States" -we are really enjoying reading this almost into the second chapter and I am learning right along with them. It gives much more depth and my sons really enjoy this.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Current Updates - Facebook an invitation~

I wanted to mention to my readers that if you enjoy reading the blog posts you may want to stay updated with things by joining the LAH facebook page.

Here is where I add my personal thoughts, share many links I learn about and add updates on things we are doing or trying.

For example this morning I just added a "note" to update everyone on our first day with our LAH Academy Blogs. If interested you can find LAH here.  
You can also see my page below~

My reason for using LAH Facebook a bit more often is to not over burden your email boxes so you can read and enjoy at your leisure, so if your on facebook~ please join me! :)

Monday, April 4, 2011

Learning Technology Through Doing- creating a website


I had an idea just this morning. I had been talking with my teen idea~ and we  might be looking at starting an online site for his teen group. A place they can go to "hang" share music videos, game reviews, articles, links etc.. on things they are doing or are interested in.. we may also have a forum on the website also.

I thought this would be a great way to use this as a teaching tool for technology. We can both share in the efforts of creating the site and he can be more a part of things and monitor things on the site.

We have not yet started it yet. It is still in the planning stages but I thought this would be a really innovative idea. I am thinking of using either Weebly or Free Webs for our platform, but am  not positive. I want something that is easy to manage so any other suggestions would be very appreciated. ~

I would like to have a calendar in it also so that the teens can refer to it for events that will be coming up, meetings we will have and group activities. ~ here is to adding yet one more thing to my list ~ :)

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Thinking about ART -

You know the saying about the contractor whose home is falling to pieces yet he/she does beautiful work building and fixing other peoples homes. For me it isn't much different ~ and I have to chuckle, even though I am a freelance artist and have an at-home studio my boys art appreciation and art exposure have been lacking. 

Perhaps it might be my long nights they remember with mum having paint on her hands at breakfast and the old studio shirts spattered with all different colors and the work that paintings can involve, who knows- but I do want to help the boys tap into their artistic side much deeper and so instead of using lesson plans I have for my own students I decided to take a back seat and search for someone else to teach my boys.

I am still in the gathering of information stage and plan to email and/or contact some of these resources I am finding but thought I might share them with my readers. 

In searching I found this one site called Free Online Art Classes by Lois DeWitt. Here is a video she offers:




                            " Information Rich Art Instruction"

I have much more reading through her site to do but really like what I see. I think the boys and I can have lots of fun with these courses. You can check out here classes and then email her and ask her for the classes. I also plan on checking out her other resources she mentions about Homeschooling as well.

I am also planning to find out more about "Art with a Purpose" books and see if these also might be fun to do. 

I also stumbled upon the Gluck Method site and was looking at these dvd's and liked these also very much. I think the boys will like them to. 


Here are some more resources:
Incredible Middle School Lessons
Art Graphics. Net - free online art tutorials in different mediums
Kinderart - a large selection of art/craft projects ( check out "lessons" )
National Gallery of Art/NG Kids Homepage - interactive art you can make online, I think my teen will really like this one!
Ten Free Online Art Lessons - painting landscapes 


Art Blogs: 
Art Projects for Kids - K - 5
Sketch Tuesday - popular many homeschoolers take advantage of this blog, I have yet to attempt it. But I think we are now going to hop on and get going with it.
Art Lessons For Kids
TeachKidsArt - this is another I really liked.
Creating Art with Kids


There are so many more it is impossible to list them all but a quick google search brought me to many, many areas for teaching and learning about art.  If you wish you can see more of a list that I added to here at my art diigo page. I do plan on adding more as I find ones I find suitable.




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