Saturday, March 31, 2007

High School Planning Form

High School, Oh My!
Maybe it's just the time of year, but everywhere I turn: HS group, e-mail loops, and the local conference brochure, I keep hearing about the advantages of homeschooling high school. I am so hoping to continue with a Charlotte Mason style education, but it seems a little trickier in high school for some reason.

A speaker came to our homeschool co-op to give a talk on her high school homeschooling experiences. It was encouraging to hear of her struggles and victories and receive word that transcripts CAN be simple to make. (!) Her talk was practical and straight forward, and she recommends tailoring the high school curriculum to the college your child will be attending. Makes sense! Also, later this month, Jay Wile is coming to MACHE and giving a talk on homeschooling the high school years. I think I will try to make it to his talk and see what he has to say.

I suppose I'm getting a little ahead of myself, since dd is going into 5th grade, but I believe in beginning with the end in mind. I need a clear idea of what we are shooting for in upper elementary and jr. high to get ready for high school. That way, we won't have to panic and try to do everything all the time, but can streamline toward our major goals. I did some research on the admittance requirements for the University of Minnesota and put it into a High School Planning Form for myself. Ahhhh! The comfort of forms and lists! LOL! Feel free to 'grab' it and tailor it to the particular needs of your child. Be sure to check your college admission requirements.

Since I am in the throes of planning for next year, why not just plan through high school while I'm at it? *wink* Just (mostly) kidding.

Monday, March 26, 2007

A Basket of Books
To require or inspire? Since I don't really 'assign' reading books, but let dd chose from our library basket, I thought it would be fun to publish what she has decided to read and view this year so far in our TruthQuest studies. They are a mix of chapter books, picture books and videos. We have a few weeks of history left, so she may finish another book or two -- but this is the majority of her history 'meals' from this year.
I have to admit that it was hard to let go of the control in the reading area, but the reading basket method has worked out extremely well at our house. No more assigning pages or chapter numbers, no more anguishing over which book is 'best' to assign, no more groans when a book is assigned! How freeing. I call it the Old Country Buffet History Method. In truth, more seems to be read when "inspired"than when "required." What a blessing to find a method that works with a more reluctant reader!

• A New Nation by Joy Hakim
• Liberty for All? by Joy Hakim
• War, Terrible War by Joy Hakim
• George Washington (CFA) by Augusta Stevenson
• Benjamin West and His Cat Grimalkin by Margeurite Henry
• Sightseers: Paris, 1789 (Kingfisher) - French Revolution
Sacagewea: Girl of the Shining Mountains by Roop
• Meet Thomas Jefferson (Landmark)
• VIDEO: Lewis and Clark (National Geographic)
• VIDEO: Sacagewea: Heroine of the Lewis and Clark Journey (Questar)
Oceola (CFA) by Electa Clark
Nightbird: A Story of the Seminole Indians by Kathleen Kudlinski
• The Seminole by Lepthien, Emilie U (New True Book)
• Native Crafts by Maxine Trottier
• Traditional Native American Arts and Activities by Arlette N. Braman
• Dolly Madison (Childhood of Famous Americans) by Monsell
• Robert Fulton: Boy Craftsman (Childhood of Famous Americans) by Margeurite Henry
• John Quincy Adams (Childhood of Famous Americans) by Weil
• South America (A New True Book)
Capyboppy by Peet
• Canals (A New True Book) by Elaine Landau
• Iron Horses by Nerla Kay
• Erie Canal: Canoein America’s Great Waterway by Peter Lourie
• VIDEO: Xavier in India (AIMS Multimedia)
• VIDEO: Religions of the World: Hinduism (United Learning)
• Story of the Trail of Tears (COF)
• VIDEO: How the West Was Lost (Discovery School)
• Welcome to Josephina’s World 1824: Growing Up on America’s Southwest Frontier (American Girls)
• The Story of the Santa Fe Trail (COF) - RA
• Jed Smith: Young Western Explorer by Olive Burt (CFA)
• Jim Bridger: Mountain Boy by Gertrude Winders (CFA)
• Across the Wide and Lonesome Prairie: The Oregon Trail Diary of Hattie Campbell-1847 by Kristiana Gregory
• Cowboy by David Murdoch (Eyewitness Books)
• Pony Express by Steven Kroll
• Pony Bob’s Daring Ride: A Pony Express Adventure by Joe Bensen
• Buffalo Bill by d’Aulaire
• Yippee-Yay: A Book About Cowboys and Cowgirls by Gail Gibbons
• Born to Be a Cowgirl: A Spirited Guide through the Old West by Candace Savage
Bufffalo Gals by Brandon Marie Miller
• Frederick Remington by Mike Venenzia
• Caddie Woodlawn by Brink - RA
Video: ‘Texas Legacy’ by Rainbow Education
• How I Survived the Oregon Trail by Laura Wilson
• Oregon Trail Cooking by Mary Gunderson
• West by Covered Wagon by Dorothy Hinshaw Patent
• Roughing It on the Oregon Trail by Diane Stanley
• I’m Sorry. Almira Ann by Jane Kurtz
• The Donner Party by Scott P Werther
• The Story of Gold at Sutter’s Mill (COF)
• Almost to Freedom by Nelson
• Who Owns the Sun? By Chbosky
• Under the Quilt of Night by Hopkinson
• Aunt Harriet’s Underground Railroad in the Sky by Ringgold
• Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt by Hopkinson
The Patchwork Path by Stroud
• Escape from Slavery by Rappaport
• A Picture Book of Sojourner Truth by Adler
• The Tales of Uncle Remus by Julius Lester
• A Picture Book of Harriet Beecher Stowe by Adler
• VIDEO: Uncle Tom’s Cabin
• Grace’s Letter to Lincoln by Roop
• Abe Lincoln: Frontier Boy by August Stevenson (CFA)
• Behind Rebel Lines by Reit
• The Boys' War by Murphy
• Who Comes With Cannons? - RA

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Our 2006-7 Curriculum Choices

4th Grade

Math-U-See Delta

Christian Light Sonrise English Grade 4 (All inclusive program includes grammar with sentence diagramming, spelling, punctuation, usage, penmanship) Click here: Christian Light Samples

Daily Memory Work

Rod and Staff Bible followed by Discover 4 Yourself Series Boy, Have I Got Problems: Book of James by Precept Ministries

mix of Bob Jones science kits, Janice Van Cleave books, and Adventure In Science Kits (3-8) kits

Ambleside Online - read-alouds, poetry, fine arts

Elementary Spanish At Home at United Streaming

United Streaming subscription for enriching science, history, and health videos
Everything worked out pretty well this year, so we're stickin' to it! My favorite find was United Streaming. Love, love, love the Spanish program! Dd loves watching the enrichment videos -- and they help stimulate interest in history and science. Check out united streaming video -- the first month is free!

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Hooray for History

Ok, I'll admit it -- I detested history when I was in school. Studying American History year after year with a dry textbook and uninspired teachers was as exciting as left-over meatloaf. In truth, I was never taught a shred of world, ancient or medieval history in all my years in schoool! Suddenly, Christopher Colubus appeared out of (apparently) nowhere each year. As far as methodology, we learned facts and dates from our textbooks and took a test to make sure we 'retained' the material. *Blech*

When we began homeschooling in 2001, the only thing I knew is that I wanted to look forward to learning each day, and not dread it. Not wanting to face a stack of workbooks each day, I poured over homeschooling method books, and was attracted to several styles: unit studies, classical and Charlotte Mason. We chose and began with Unit Studies (Five in a Row) for Preschool.

We modified FIAR to include only a single reading and expanded on daily reading with related books from the library. Both dd and I loved Five in a Row! The FIAR art, geography, and literature ideas are some of our fondest memories of HSing. We (well, actually more mommy than dd) did a bit of lapbooking with our FIAR studies, added a little phonics and math, and had a delightful year. We read many good books, learned world geography, made lots of artsy tartsy messes, and had some cute lapbooks to show friends and family. Back to my comment on our delightful year... I will clarify that while the FIAR was delightful, our phonics and reading lessons were another matter that I will save for later. Take heart if you have a reluctant reader -- it does get better! ; )

Next we delved into KONOS and did much of Volume 1. Dd still talks about our KONOS 'Horse' study to this day, and asked for a repeat study in 4th grade (a request which I gladly granted) All of the activities were fun for dd (of course!) and required some planning to make it come together each week. The pro's of KONOS, in my opinion, are the character focus, the activities to encourage a love of learning, and the flexibility. KONOS is great for active youngsters! I liked KONOS and loved our time with it, but decided that the following year we would begin a more literature, not activity, based year. Knowing my dd, I wanted to encourage a habit of reading and study, not an expectation of 'fun' and activities every minute of the day. I suspected the activity focus would be hard to train out of her in later years.

In 2003, we found the answer to our history dilemma: Story of the World by Susan Bauer. Using the activity guide, we were able to focus on the narrative story and literature, and not miss out on the activities that we were used to with KONOS/FIAR. Story of the World is the best blend of the activity approach of KONOS and the literature method! We worked through SOTW 1 and 2 over a couple of years and added in literature read-alouds, fine art, and poetry from Ambleside Online. It was a perfect fit for an active, hands-on child. My only complaint with SOTW is that a world history text jumps around from country to country so much that it is hard to get the flow of any one country's history story. Being more of a unit study family, we did rearrange the SOTW topics to go a bit more country by country. Studying China for 2-3 weeks all together gave us more time to add in literature, art, projects, and the like. I have found that we prefer to cover more depth than breadth. I would rather cover fewer topics WELL. Of course, there are pro's and con's to this too!

In 2005, we were torn between doing world history with Story of the World 3 and going with an American History focus with a different curriculum. Each side has merit, but in the end we decided to go with American History for this history cycle. We chose TruthQuest American History for Young Students as our base, Joy Hakim's series as our spine, and off we went! Both World and American history will be the focus when we cover it again in later years.

I am sooooo glad we ended up going the American History route. There are oodles of delicious American history books for elementary children! Rather than selecting particular titles for dd to read, we chose the “History Basket” method for the year. Using the TruthQuest Guide and checking our library system, I fill a big basket with worthy books for 2-3 weeks at a time. The KEY thing is to never put books in the basket that you, as a parent-educator, don't feel are worthy. The child seems to have a way of picking the ONE book you think is a waste of time! Choose the best books and put them in the basket. Then, schedule reading time each day and discuss informally. That's it! It is so low stress and enjoyable for all. We do read-alouds in the evenings, often from AmblesideOnline. ; )

We stayed with TruthQuest for 2006-7, and are at the end of AHYS II. The only difference from last year is that dd is less interested in doing history projects and more interested in 'real' handicrafts such as crocheting and sewing. She is getting past the activity/project phase in her schooling. Dd has also taken off in her reading ability, and will read at least an hour or two every day – which I consider to be a miracle of God's grace! (She is a former reluctant reader who hated both reading and phonics, so we did it in extremely small, regular doses, Charlotte Mason style.) I am a firm believer in short lessons in easy reading for reluctant readers, rather than dropping lessons altogether. Practicing bit by bit slowly turns reading from an exercise in laborious decoding to an enjoyable pass time!

At this present time, we are finishing up AHYS II and we look forward to completing our American History studies by continuing with TruthQuest next year. We have found the literature approach of to be extremely enjoyable and thorough. We can add in activities anytime we want, but our studies don't DEPEND on them. There is flexibility, challenge, a myriad of choices, and freedom. Truly the best of the best that homeschooling has to offer. There are so many awesome curriculums out there: My Father's World, Tapestry of Grace, Sonlight, Mystery of History, and on and on! What is really important is that we find something that works for our family, and then go forth boldly, without second-guessing our choices. Enjoy the pageant of His-story as it unfolds for your family.

History studies offer the opportunity to learn from the past, apply Biblical principles, and study villains as well as heroes. These things are recorded that we and our children might learn from them and not repeat the sins of the past. We dare not squander the opportunity to to go forward with greater wisdom learned from the lessons of antiquity!

Our prayer and hope is that you may find inspiration, wisdom and joy in one the many excellent history choices available! Thank you if you made it all the way to the end of this loooooong post....LOL!

Hooray for History!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

HOT Resource -- Hands-On History: Civil War

In Praise of Projects

We have always been fans of projects, field trips, and any other legitimate reason to put aside the books for a while. Over the years, we have found that projects are the memory-makers and motivators. When our darling daughter talks about her memories of a topic, she almost always brings up something she made. "Remember when we made the sugar cube pyramids or the illuminated manuscripts?" Projects serve to cement ideas and facts in our minds, while giving an outlet for creativity.

Today's project is making a fold-out "Road to the Civil War" timeline. Below, she is planning the project layout. I was impressed that she decided to get out a ruler for accuracy.

Next, she is drawing the rough outline of the "road" and "stops" along the way. This project combines handwriting, research, drawing, history, and design. Gotta love the way projects can streamline subjects!

We are still working on this project as I write. I'll try to add a pic of the finished project when it's done, which may not be today. The weather is so warm, we plan to take a walk at a nearby duckpond. We'll see how far we get.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Just Showed Up For
My Own Life

I saw Sarah Groves at the 2006 Hearts at Home Conference. Expecting light entertainment, I was shocked by what Sarah shared. While she could have just sung a few songs and left us "happy," she chose to relay the reality of human suffering that she saw first hand last year. This talented woman is choosing to respond to human tragedy in the world and teaching others to do the same. She showed a video clip of a film that documents her relief work: Sara Groves : Nomad: Just Showed Up For My Own Life DVD by Nomad. She shares her inspiring story of moving from a fearful, complacent suburban mom to a woman of purpose and action. I highly recommend her DVD for a jolt of reality. It is so easy to bury our heads in the sand, but Sarath and others are leading the fight to raise awareness and show real compassion for the world's oppressed. She is involved with an organization called International Justice Mission and IJM is one of many great places you can go to begin to educate yourself. Please visit International Justice Mission today!

In our homeschool, we have made a family project out of raising awareness about worldwide human and child slavery. I was horrified to learn that there are 27 million people in bondage around the world -- and half of them are women and children. Human trafficking is on the rise! Trafficking in human beings may soon bring in more revenue for organized crime than illegal drugs. Did you let that hit you? When we look the other way, we are part of the PROBLEM. Take a few minutes right now and watch this video:

So, what can we do to help end the sale of human beings? Here are some ideas from The Amazing Change

Ten Things You Can Do

  • Sign the Petition. Become an abolitionist by signing The Petition to End Modern Day Slavery. Click Here To Print a Petition. Take the petition to your school, church, family, friends, et al., and then send it to us (mailing address provided on petition)
  • See Amazing Grace. This film is a great introduction to the work of William Wilberforce, an original abolitionist. Learn how you can carry on his legacy.
  • Educate yourself. Use the resources on the site to learn about the horrors of historical and modern day slavery.
  • Create a Clapham Circle. William Wilberforce was part of a group of friends and neighbors called the Clapham Circle. They met regularly to discuss ways to advance the cause of abolition. You can form your own Clapham Circle. Have weekly meetings with friends or neighbors in your community to discuss the issue of modern day slavery. Download tools from this website to facilitate your discussion.

  • Blog. Write about modern day slavery and The Amazing Change in our online community or on your MySpace, Xanga or Facebook profile. Include a link to our website so friends can learn how to get involved.

  • Ask others. Talk to leaders in your community, school or church about The Amazing Change. and encourage them to become involved.

  • Read More. Read books about modern day slavery like Not for Sale by David Batstone.
  • Volunteer. Pass on the legacy of William Wilberforce and donate your time to The Amazing Change by joining the street team, creating a Clapham Circle, or fundraising to free slaves.


Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Hidden Treasures

This is my first official blog entry. It has been so uplifting viewing others' blogs, I thought it would be fun to take a crack at blogging myself. Who am I? By His grace, I am first of all a follower of Jesus Christ, a wife to a great husband, a homeschooling mom to a vibrant 4th grader, a student of the Scriptures, and a part-time preschool teacher. Today's blog entry is based on Colossians 2...that all wisdom and knowledge is hidden in Christ. NOT man's philosophy, NOT in American culture, NOT in homeschooling, NOT in material possessions, but in Christ.

...that their hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together in love, and attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God's mystery, that is, Christ Himself,
in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge....Colossians 2:2-3

A dear friend and I have been working through a Precept Colossians study, and it has been amazing. If you have never done a Precept study, may I heartily recommend finding a class in your area or a friend to work through a study on your own. We are really learning to dig into the Scriptures!

Currently in our homeschool we are beginning a study of the American Civil War using a Living Books approach, and TruthQuest as a guide. I went to the library last night and found a few excellent books, videos and audio books. The Boys War, A Nation Torn, Lincoln: A Photobiography, and Behind Rebel Lines all look like excellent reads. We will also listen to Little Women on audio and watch the Ken Burns Civil War videos. I can't wait to get started! Lately, I have been working on some TruthQuest history schedules, as well as some easy downloadable notebook pages. I will be uploading to my blog soon!

For my own education, I am reading a book myself on the topic of women in the Old South called Within the Plantation Household: Black and White Women of the Old South (Gender and American Culture) by Elizabeth FoGenovese. It looks a bit heavy-handedly feminist in perspective, but I expect it to be an interesting read.

OK, that's enough for my first post. I'll be back soon. Be sure and check back!