Showing posts with label Homeschool. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Homeschool. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Homeschooling with The Hobbit

In case you don't know, we are (by we I mean the Sun and I) huge fans of good fantasy fiction.  That's why I was so excited to see The Hobbit as one of the language arts offering from Memoria Press. As this is our first year homeschooling, I wanted to have some fun while giving him quality curriculum and I needed to see where he was academically on things such as writing.

With our love of all things Tolkien, this was a 
great starting point for the 7th grade year.  

 Now we are coming to an end and this week Noah has been working on a final project to present the study to us.  The project is primarily artistic in nature, though there is more to it such as copywork, as the academic portion of this work was completed within The Hobbit Student Guide.

As we worked through The Hobbit, I found some really fantastic resources through a Google search as well as on Pinterest.  It's funny, my bright 13-year old has enjoyed the study guide and the art and all that we have done with this book, but he still loves to color (don't we all?), so I have found some great coloring pages suitable for any age that we included in his book.

One of the things I love about the Memoria Press work is it is a full language arts study.  Comprehension questions, independent writing, vocabulary words, artistic instructions - you get the idea.  If you are not familiar with Memoria Press, I highly encourage you to take a look at it.  It is a classical Christian curriculum - for us the emphasis is on classical.   And, you can purchase Memoria Press in pieces.  You do not have to order an entire curriculum.  The student guide for The Hobbit is approximately $9 and the teacher guide is similar, though if you are a fairly well read homeschool parent, I don't know that you neccessarily need the teacher guide.  You can always order it later if needed.  If you are lean toward purchasing study materials that are not from curriculum companies, there are several available including:

  • A guide from 7 Sisters Homeschool (geared toward high schoolers, though I definitely think some middle schoolers could tackle it)
  • Teachers Pay Teachers.  If you have not been to this website, it's a great resource.  There are some free items and many from $1.99 to $5.00 which are worth that and more.  When we first began homeschooling, I thought I would make most of my own curriculum and found that while I am suited to teaching, there are many others who have created some great resources that I can take advantage of.
  • This unit study is from a teacher that has been so kind as to put his/her own study guide online.  It's really a true literature study that not only studies the work itself but discusses literary terms such as foreshadowing.  Very well-rounded!  (This unit is far too in-depth for elementary school.  It is suitable for middle to high schoolers with great comprehension and writing skills.)

In addition to a study guide, we added self-directed art and copywork to our endeavor.  Why copywork?  There are many reasons that copywork is used in curriculums that rely heavily on Charlotte Mason or Rudolf Steiner's teachings.  For us,

copywork reinforces spelling and improves handwriting.   

I have found that with my son, he tends to get sloppy when free-handing his independent work but reigns it all back in when doing copywork.  We found this great series of Hobbit copy pages from Walking by the Way and my son has really enjoyed reading through the quotes and copying them!

So, we have academics and copywork.  What about the art?  We have approached this several ways.  One is an art project for my son's room.  We found a map of Middle Earth that he loved, printed it and it is now adorning the wall in his Hobbit hole.  (It really is a room fit for a Hobbit!)  I do a lot of decoupaging and art myself, but stumbled across this at Milk and Cookies and knew he would love it as well. 

Finally is the book.  Ah....the book.  We have taken different art pieces that created while working with the Memoria Press Student Guide, the copywork, his coloring pages and a beautiful cover that he created and bound them together in this book as his final project.

Noah is a VERY well read child and has fantastic comprehension.  Working with The Hobbit was really more of an exercise of an academic study of a work of fiction.  By adding in the other components we created a well-rounded lesson that was also quite enjoyable for him.  And with that, I'll leave you with this:

"'Roads go ever ever on
Under cloud and under star
Yet feet that wandering have gone
Turn at last to home afar.
Eyes that fire and sword have seen
And horror in the halls of stone
Look at last on meadows green
And trees and hills they long have known.'"

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Great Examples of Education

I have long said that whatever your method of education your children, there are great examples.  Yesterday I came across a Washington Post article about Christopher Paolini, the best-selling author of the Inheritance Books.  I have known for years that Paolini was homeschooled and this article was a great one pointing out the possibilities for those educated at home. When I was part of the Waldorf school movement (since 2006 and I guess in some way still are a part of it), we had a list of who's who in the Waldorf world to show how Waldorf education cranks out the best and the brightest.  And, when visiting the military school where my husband's grandfather taught for years there was a wall of fame that could put any school to shame!  Many a general and statesmen were educated there. 

Today I was looking for a list of who's who among homeschoolers in the modern world and came across a page on the Pioneer Woman's website.  She said she is not a vocal proponent of homeschooling because educational choices are different for each family based on their circumstances and the needs of their children.  Well said.  I'm not sure what the future holds for my family.  We just moved into a new curriculum which we are all very excited about.  We are adding new activities.  The Moon is adding in additional time in the gym (girl loves to flip) and we are picking up climbing for our P.E. in January.

This is the first year we have been able to pursue some activities at our leisure in quite some time.  We no longer arrive at the gym or Boy Scouts woefully unprepared or hungry or frantic from traffic.  There is rarely the screaming of "get your shoes on, we're going to be late."  I know this is a luxury for my family that many cannot afford.  There are single moms and families who desperately need two incomes that cannot choose this lifestyle.

For now, we are happy being among the who's who in homeschooling (in our own minds, of course) and will take each day as it comes.  Today happens to be a morning at the library then an afternoon of schoolwork followed by dinner and an early bed-time.

Whatever your choice of education is, know that you are in good company and among the "who's who" of that choice.

“Education is the most powerful weapon 
which you can use to change the world.”
-Nelson Mandela

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

3 Months and Counting - Homeschool Adventures

So, we are three months into this new adventure called homeschooling. There is no way when you begin something like this to know exactly what to do and exactly what you need. Homeschooling itself is not a difficult task. It's really not. Most kids are sponges. They WANT to learn. The key is finding out what motivates them to learn and in what style they learn. We began the adventure with pouring over every homeschool resource online and in-print that I could find. I studied catalogs and obsessed over curriculums. In the end, we purchased a few things from hither and yon and a subscription to a couple of websites that allow me to download what I need each day. We take a weekly trek to the library to check out books to support our lessons and we set out to...well...reinvent the wheel.

I didn't want to reinvent the wheel. It was NOT my purpose. But, I was hesitant to make a large curriculum purchase up front without knowing what we needed. Ha! What we needed, what I needed, was someone to tell me what to do each day. Not entirely. But, mostly. Last week, after admitting to myself and to my husband that I needed more guidance, we purchased the majority of the Memoria Press curriculum for both children. We already had a couple of literature items for our 7th grader and he and I both really enjoy working with it.

What came next was more pouring over the website, the catalog and forums and making final decisions. I pieced together the curriculum from the Memoria Press site, Rainbow Resources and Amazon and voila - a new curriculum that will carry us through the year.   If you are not familiar with Memoria Press, it is a Classical Christian curriculum with the emphasis on Classical.

So we placed the order and the books have been arriving for a few days.  Yesterday we began our new curriculum and our day went better than it has all semester.  We had already been reading such books as Beatrix Potter's treasury, but Memoria's study guides have helped us bring these things all together.  Today we have our weekly co-op and I'm a little sad that we'll be gone the entire day and not get to our new books.  But, tomorrow is another day and we can do spelling and math and literature and composition and so much more!

“Thank goodness I was never sent to school; it would have rubbed off some of the originality.” - Beatrix Potter

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Old School Math

After finishing my space saving blackboard / bulletin board project, Arwyn and I got down to business with some old school addition with carrying.  She said it's much more fun to do her math on the blackboard! So glad I could accommodate her and make math fun.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

A New Perspective

Part of our 7th grade work is perpsective drawing along with our study of the Roman Empire and the Middle Ages.

Though Greek and not Roman, Nashville has a great example of architecture right in the heart of the city in the form of The Parthenon.  

He completed a portion of the drawing.  We'll go back next week to complete the drawing.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Start of Something Good - Getting Organized

July 27, 2014

I’m fairly organized in a weird, loose kind of way by nature. My desk is not always the cleanest at any given moment, but my closets and shelves are organized. My car is usually neat and clean. I have a filing system…you get the idea. So, it has always been natural for me to use a planner. Actually, my friend Brian turned me only planners in college. He used a Franklin-Covey and it truly carried the contents of his life. (This turned out to not be a great idea as he was naturally forgetful and lost his planner on more than one occasion. Regardless….) I loved the idea of this and quickly found a planner that suited my own tastes. I’ve never like the big bulk of a leather monster that holds a forest full of paper. I have used smaller, preferably spiral bound, systems that are easy to use, easy to carry, and that reflect my own unique style.

I have used many different things and my favorite has been Erin Condren’s Life Planner. This year, after much obsessing, I decided to switch to her Teacher Planner to the tune of $72.50 with shipping. Obsess. Obsess. Obsess some more. Surely, I can find a system that suits my needs that I can print from home. Ideally, I would create my own (more on that later) but for now, I am going with a ready-made system. Okay, three ready-made systems. There are three that I found that I really like but not one that I truly love. They all have their merits and each have things that I dislike, making non of them perfect for moi. Obsess. Obsess. Obsess some more.

After church today I cleared my head, sat down, and printed the pages I liked and that I can use from each system. The systems I like are from Tina’s Dynamic Homeschool, DIY Home Sweet Home and World Avery.

Now you have it.  My current systems for organization.  Perhaps, one of them will work for you.

“Don’t agonize, organize.”  – Florence Kennedy

2nd Grade Curriculum

Look Who Cannot Wait

Boredom is the mother of invention, or so they say.  The moon was a little bored this afternoon, so she pulled out her microscope, gathered leaves and began a study of botany.  I gave her a new journal that I was saving for August 1st.  She gathered other supplies such as beeswax crayons and happily spent the next hour recording her “findings.”  Love it!  Hopefully we can carry this enthusiasm through the year.

 “You can teach a student a lesson for a day; but if you can teach him to learn by creating curiosity, he will continue the learning process as long as he lives.” -Clay P. Bedford

7th Grade Curriculum

July 15, 2014

I guess it was inevitable. The questions. Why are you homeschooling? What curriculum are you using. My cousin uses (fill in the blank), are you using that? Oh, you are piece-milling it. Not using a complete curriculum? I could go on. After months of researching and planning, making spreadsheets and placing orders, I give you our 7th grade homeschool curriculum (with 2nd grade coming soon.) Please note than unless otherwise noted with the name of a supplier, we will be using the library as a source for books.  (Click on the image to see the full-size version)

Source Links:

Calligraphy of the Middle Ages
Copybook Cursive

6th and 7th Grade Literature Guides

National Geographic
Elementals Science

Teaching Textbooks

I've Arrived...and Now I'm Leaving

April 21, 2014

Have you ever woken up and realized that you have “arrived”?  What happens if you realize your destination is not really where you want to be?  You set things in motion – often times many years prior – and one day you wake up with everything you’ve ever wanted but knowing something about picture is wrong.  Do you stay on the path or do you take the road less traveled?  If you are me you take the road less traveled.

It all began about 20 years ago when I sat in my advisor’s office.  She asked me what career I saw myself in and I said “non-profit fundraising”.  Yep.  True story.  Fast forward to a year a half ago when I remembered that conversation and was reminded that I am capable of manifesting anything in my life (it’s sort of the whole “be careful what you wish for” idea).   When the call came to work for an organization I had volunteered with for several years (that also happened to be my kid’s school), to be honest, I hesitated greatly.  I did not apply for this job- I had applied for another.   It was quite a daunting task to raise money in a Waldorf school.  But, I took the leap.  Something continued to nag at me.

By the end of the school year I relocated my children, one who had been at the school for seven years, to other fine educational establishments.  The organization went through significant growing pains and I made the decision to stick around one more year to help them ease into the next phase.  By Christmas I realized I should have considered other options.  But, had I done that, had I not stayed through the year – this year – we might not have come to the wonderful place we are as a family.

You see, we have decided to take back our family.  I am ending my commute.  The kids are giving up the uniforms.  Though Nathan wills still be making that daily trek, he’ll be much less rushed.  We.  Are.  Home.  Schooling.  There.  I said it! We’ve been sitting on this news for many weeks and now I can shout it to the world.

So, if you see us out and about, no, we are not playing hookie, no one is sick.  We simply have taken down the walls of the classroom and expanded our thoughts on education.
"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference."

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Homeschool Harvest

Last weekend I celebrated a little known festival from the British Isles called Lammas. It's one of the cross-quarter dates in the old ways and was recognized by many names all across much of Europe. For many, it's significance is the first harvest. Each year, around this time I sit and contemplate what I'm harvesting in my life and this year the harvest is varied and great. There is the obvious harvest from the vegetable garden that sits outside my kitchen window. There is more squash than I can shake a stick at, 15 tomato plants loaded with what promises to soon be ripe tomatoes, okra, swiss chard, beans, flowers and more! Yesterday, between bouts of dealing with a stomach bug, I canned several pints of peaches for fall cobblers that were part of someone else's rich harvest for which I am grateful.

But, to me, the bigger harvest came from the many hours sitting with the children as they devoured their school work leaving me both excited and nervous about the school year to come. I received several emails, phone calls and Facebook messages wondering how our first week went and decided to share the triumphs (and failures) with you. I'll begin our tale on Monday, August 4.  The Sun, Moon and I all sat down promptly at 9AM to have a little fun.  One of the components of the 7th grade curriculum that I have pieced together is the art of the illuminated book.  Though Arwyn will not be doing these to the extent that Noah will be, I decided to let her join in the fun.  We read a children's book called Marguerite Makes A Book which was definitely young for Noah, though he loved it just the same.  Fast forward three hours and we had one happy little homeschool family.

With day one such a smashing success, I knew that surely that surely nothing could go wrong and that the remainder of the week would sail by!  I guess it was all just too easy.  We spent Tuesday morning searching the neighborhood for a missing cat and by Wednesday afternoon I was fighting a full-blown stomach virus.   I managed to pull off several hours of school all three days and we took Friday off to relax at Nashville Shores.

I spoke to my friend Natalie at some point during the week and she wisely pointed out that there are lessons to be learned in these hiccups for the kids that surely could be examples of homeschooling!  At some point I gave up searching for them and instead adjusted my expectations for that first week and am living in the glow of what we accomplished, including gradually adding in all parts of our curriculum including math, geography and history.

 There is a part of me that is profoundly satisfied in this path we have chosen and have been silently considering this harvest of our lives.  We are definitely in our "honeymoon" period and there will certainly be challenges along the way.   But, the harvest continues.

"The true harvest of my life is intangible - a little star dust caught, a portion of the rainbow I have clutched..." - Henry David Thoreau