Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Lucky Charms Fun

For St. Patrick's day we used this cute printable from 2teachingmommies to graph and eat lucky charms!

Grace and Cian are always on board to participate too when it involved snacks!

Fionn was bummed she only got the oats and some Gerber puffs...

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Planning for a Homeschool Conference

Half way through my first year homeschooling, I attended my 1st homeschooling conference. I had already read Cathy Duffy's 101 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum cover to cover the summer before our first year homeschooling to choose my 1st year's curriculum -see it here. Then, that year, I was able to get a good feel for what we used and make any adjustments or changes when shopping at the conference for our 2nd year. I made a spread sheet of what I wanted to purchase at the conference and took it with me - you can see it here. 

For our 3rd year of homeschooling, I had a baby near conference time of the year, so I just picked all my curriculum over the summer and bought it online. PROS- not having to plan for the next year while teaching the current year!!! CONS- shipping costs, less discounts than at conferences, couldn't see new books in person. Here is that list (what we are currently using.)

I'm getting ready to attend a homeschooling conference again in a couple weeks! Here are my tips from what I've learned!

Tips for Planning to Attend a Homeschool Conference

1. Plan ahead

I am eclectic homeschooler, EXTREME ECLECTIC if I can coin a new phrase! Almost every subject I teach comes from a different publisher and sometimes even my subjects' publishers vary by kid. Most all-in-one, or even normal eclectic homeschoolers still need to allow some time before the conference you plan to attend to look over your current curriculum and decide what works and what you want to change. (I started planning 2 months out, but I also have 4 kids at different grades I am teaching and did I mention I am an Extreme Eclectic?! LOL!

2. Read Cathy Duffy's 102 Top Picks or Read reviews on homeschoolreviews.com

I did both! If you are considering a new publisher/course/book/subject etc.. it can be great to hear both a professional review and reviews from moms & dads like us.

3. Make a list of your subjects for the upcoming school year

After I have done my research and discovered what new things I want to include -either for my oldest (which would be my first year teaching that year in school) or for anything I want to change for a younger sibling, then I write it all out. I include each kid, each subject, and then fill in the blanks next to them. This helps me see what I still need to select and reminds me if there was something I didn't like or something that won't fit another child so I can go back to step two and find something new. Here is my list of subjects for the upcoming school year: Subjects 2015-2016

4. Take a copy of your Subjects list and figure out what you own and what you need to buy

It sounds silly, but at least once I had to stop and think, do I own that book already? If you have them saved, what I do is take my previous years' subject lists and check them to see what I have. Many times, if you have done a subject before you might not need the teacher's text again, but need a workbook if it was consumable. I make a list of all the things I need to buy for the upcoming school year.

5. Look up prices before you go! Compare prices while there!

I didn't do a good job of this the first time I attended the homeschooling conference. I made my pretty spread sheet of a shopping list, but I didn't even think to write down what the items sell for online at the publisher or at a (cheaper) bigger seller like rainbowresource.com or cbd.com

Another thing that shocked me at the conference was that sometimes the publisher didn't have the cheapest price! Even with discounts! (Most give NICE discounts if you buy at the conference and often free shipping too!) I bought a geography book at the publisher's booth only to see it at Rainbow Resource's booth later in the day for like $5 cheaper! Grrr! You'll notice on my spreadsheet above that I left room for vendor price and warehouse price. Whichever one I see first, I'll jot it down then either purchase at the other if cheaper or circle back. I have a friend who walks the entire exhibit hall before buying anything and after my geography book purchase I understood why!

6. Consider investing in a wheeling crate

Safco Stow And Go Cart, BlackI didn't have one my first year, just my backpack, and by the end my arms and back were killing me. The conference I attended was actually selling them the first day, but I couldn't justify paying more when I had seen them for WAY cheaper online. If you search the web, you can find them for around $23-$25 instead of $40!

7. Bring your backpack also

Don't get me wrong, my backpack came in very handy and even though I now have a cheap folding rolling crate, I am still bringing my backpack. I will have my personal items, snacks, a notebook and pen for taking notes etc.. inside my backpack.

8. Don't forget there's more than curriculum shopping to plan! Plan out what speakers you want to hear.

It is a really good idea to plan out what speakers and workshops you want to attend BEFORE you go. Most conferences will have the schedule out way in advance so you can decide who and what you want to hear. If you are like me, you will want to attend EVERYTHING which of course isn't possible! Lol! Prioritize and make a plan for the the ones you can't stand to miss. You also need to make sure you allow time for shopping for your curriculum. It will go faster with a plan, but if you plan to shop only on the breaks when there are no speakers, EVERYONE will be in there too! If there is a session you aren't interested in, you can plan to shop during that too. 

9. Bring snacks!

I wanted to hear so many speakers and had such a big shopping list I only went to lunch one of the 3 days of the conference I attended. Make sure you bring some snacks because food at the conferences is usually very pricey. I skipped 2 lunches to hear more speakers and have more exhibition hall shopping time so thankfully a friend had told me in advance to bring snacks!

10. Have fun! There is no right or wrong way!

These are just my tips and things that help me. If they help someone else, awesome, but some people are the opposite of me (mega planner!) and just prefer to "fly by the seat of your pants" and that's cool if that is what works for them. Also, remember there is no perfect curriculum! You will hear lots of vendors spouting how their materials are the best thing since sliced bread. If you research some before-hand, you'll have a better idea what your looking for and can go seek it out. Most importantly, have fun! It can be overwhelming because there is so much to hear, see and do, but if you can just try to have a plan and enjoy it it can be so fun and such a great experience. I cannot wait to go back to one! Not that you can tell by all my planning.... ;-)

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Subjects 2015-2016

This felt SOOOO early to do be doing this in February and March, but I've been preparing to attend a homeschool conference in a couple weeks, so I have put together next year's subjects for the 2015-2016 School Year:

Subjects 2015-2016
(updated 7-2-15)

Grace – 6th Grade

Religion – Image of God Grade 6
Math-   Teaching Textbooks Grade 7
Grammar- Easy Grammar - Grade 6
Grammar- Editor in Chief A1 (2nd half)

Spelling/Vocabulary – Word Roots A1 
Vocabulary- Wordly Wise 3000 Book 6
Poetry- included in her writing program

Reading/Literature- Drawn Into the Heart of Reading
Reading/Literature- Classic 6th grade books (see list here)
Reading Comprehension- Reading Detective A1 (2nd half)

Reading Comprehension- Jacob's Ladder 2
Writing/Composition-  Jump In
Typing- Jump-Start Typing CD-ROM- making this optional and as time permits this year
Science- Science Detective A1 (2nd half)
Science-Apologia Jr. High Exploring Creation with General Science

History- From Sea to Shining Sea
Geography- Map Skills E
Spanish- Rosetta Stone Homeschool version

Critical Thinking- Building Thinking Skills Level 2
Critical Thinking- Comprehension Cliffhanger Mysteries

Art – World’s Greatest Artists Volume 1
Art- Homeschool Art class

PE- Tumbling & Dance classes
Music- Piano & Voice Lessons

Cian – 4th Grade

Religion – Be My Disciples 4 (RCL Benziger)
Math-   Singapore Math 4A & 4B
Grammar- Easy Grammar - Grade 4 Michael Clay Thompson Grammar Town & Practice Town
Vocabulary- MCTLA Caesar’s English CEE1
Vocabulary- Wordly Wise 3000 Book 4
Poetry- MCTLA Building Poems
Spelling – Building Spelling Skills 4
Drawn Into the Heart of Reading
Literature- MCTLA Classics: Alice, Peter and Mole set
Reading Comprehension - Reading Detective

Reading Comprehension- Jacob's Ladder 2
Writing- The How to Write Book MCTLA Paragraph Town
Journaling- 145 Wonderful Writing Prompts from Favorite Literature

Typing- Jump-Start Typing CD-ROM
Science- Noeo Biology II
History- From Sea to Shining Sea
Geography- Map Skills E
Spanish- Rosetta Stone Homeschool version
Health- Developing Good Health

Critical Thinking- Building Thinking Skills Level 2
Critical Thinking- Comprehension Cliffhanger Mysteries

Art – World’s Greatest Artists Volume 1
Art-  Homeschool Art class

PE- Tumbling & Dance classes
Music- Piano Lessons

Zoe – 1st Grade

Religion – Be My Disciples 1 (RCL Benziger)
Math-   Horizons Math 1Phonics/Spelling/Language/Reading- McRuffy 1st Grade SE
Spelling – Spelling City with McRuffy words
Reading Comprehension - Time Magazine for Kids Comprehension and Critical Thinking Grade 1
Vocabulary- Wordly Wise A 
Handwriting – McRuffy 1st grade
Journaling – K-2 writing prompts

Science- Noeo Biology I (waiting until next year) Magic School Bus Science (by Homeschool Belle)
History/Geography- Explore the Continents
Spanish- La Clase Divertida 1 (this year or next)
Health- Horizons 1st Grade Health

Critical Thinking- Mind Benders
Art- How to Teach Art to Children

Art- Homeschool Art class
PE- Tumbling & Dance classes
Music- Piano lessons

Ellie – K4

Religion – Stories of God’s Love Ages 4/5
K4 Learning Packs by theme (various creators) and K Literature Based units (1+1+1=1)
Sight Word Work: Reading the Alphabet (1st semester) from This Reading Mama
Sight Word Work: You Can Read –(2nd semester) from 1+1+1=1
Sight Word Work: Sight Word worksheets in D’Nealian (TPT)
K4 (some materials) from Confessions of a Homeschooler

Supplements- My Kindergarten Learning Book & various K workbooks
Reading- Let’s Go Read CD-ROM & Phonics readers
Reading- Starfall: Learn to Read, Reading and Writing Journals, and ABC Printouts

Journaling- My First Journal (from TPT)
Handwriting – D’Nealian K
Math-   Total Math K

Science- Noeo Biology I (waiting until next year) Magic School Bus Science (by Homeschool Belle)
History/Geography- Explore the Continents
Spanish- La Clase Divertida 1 (this year or next)

Art- How to Teach Art to Children
PE- Tumbling & Dance classes
Music- Boomwackers and Songs

Fionn – Tiny Tot School