Fun Family Homeschool

Are we having fun yet?

The 2018-19 plan….So far

I am not sure that I ever planned out a whole school year in advance before. I am still not sure if that is what I have done here.  But something is coming together and it feels a lot like a plan.
My specialty is last minute, creative fun.  Long term, advance planning is not at all how I am wired, mostly because I have decidaphobia ( which I recently learned to be a real thing).  There are too many possible things to study and learn and way too many ways of doing it that I get overwhelmed and end up choosing nothing… and throw all my energy into a fun new project that can be done right now.  Usually art or something related.
Planning each new week ahead on Sundays nights served me very well last year and I will resume that practice once I can plant my feet firmly in one place for more than two weeks at a time.
But there was one notable drawback, I still ended up with decision fatigue from constantly having to think about what we were going to study each week, trying to provide a balanced diet of necessary skills and inspiring ideas.
I tried to ease the load by choosing a history program that should have lasted all year as an open and go program, we enjoyed it for a few weeks but then I came across chapters that I disagreed with and lost faith in the program, so I dropped it. Leaving us with no history plan. Thankfully Ronald Dhal wrote a gripping biography that really brought some recent history to life.  And we read a couple historical fiction books.
All this to say that putting all my trust in one publisher for any topic is a risky endeavour, so this year I am taking a different approach.
HISTORY AND SCIENCE
I ordered a couple book bundles from Beautiful Feet books.  Each is box of book titles from different authors and publishers (many are award winners) along with a guide book with discussion questions and more book lists on the subject. The bundle is called The History of Science and it came with more than a dozen ‘living books’, each about a different figure who contributed to science in some big way.  There is no particular order that the books need to be read in (the guid book goes chronologically), and if a book in there is just not meshing well with us, we can drop it and pick up a different one. These are not dry textbooks but exciting narratives that will make the accounts come to life, that’s what a ‘living book’ is. Something I learned by looking into Charlotte Masons writings last year. So that makes up both our science and History for this year.  A time line was included but we may make our own and do some of the experiments outlined in a couple of the books. Roman is also interested in nuclear physics, so there will likely be a deep dive on that subject.

Character Building

Building Character

The other bundle I ordered is called Teaching Character Through Litterature. It is a collection of award winning and diverse fiction novels that will introduce the kids to challenges and situations they have likely not faced yet but may someday and give them food for thought to help them prepare in advance how they might act themselves. Or that’s the hope at least.
(There are a handful of companies offering similar programs.  Book Shark and Sonlight are the other names that come to mind.  If you know of others please mention them in the comments so that readers can look into them as well.  Some are Christian but Book Shark is secular. )

MATH

Life of Fred Math

Math is actually my favourite subject. No, seriously, it is.  Nothing scares me about teaching math. But I like to have a plan here too because even fun desicions can be exhausting. I love Life of Fred, as goofy and silly as it is, the stories makes practical application all along the way and the kids remember what they have learned. Very short reviews takes the drudgery out of practice.  We also love Bedtime Math books.  I adore the short interesting stories and the way there are 3 levels of math questions plus a bonus. So all my school age kids get their own question to answer.  This is great at lunchtime. I plan to include more math games to help solidify the multiplication table and addition. King domino is a personal fave but also Yahtzee and our homemade version of Shut the Box.  I also use the occasional the worksheet to hone in on specific math functions,  I reserve these for 1:1 times and we will do a few problems a day until I feel they have grasped it or that it is over their head enough to drop it and come back another time. Also MathAntics on YouTube to intro or review concepts. He’s great.
WRITING
Writing is my least favourite subject to teach because, even though I love grammar, I would not know where to start or what to cover and when.  We had used pages from the Complete Canadian Curriculem in the past but they are tedious and not retained.  Last year I discovered Brave Writer and my whole homeschooling univers blew open and ‘then there was light!’ I am still limping along, trying to master the art of teaching the lessons without reading it directly from the guide.  But honestly, the entire ‘Brave Writer Lifestyle’ is what I had already been doing with my kid back when we started out and homeschooling was fresh and magical to us. Julie and her team have provided fabulous webinars that really instruct us how to use the products in any circumstances. So I trust this one particular program provider for our writing instruction.
 So we will be using  The Wand and Jot it Down and some arrow guides this year, with a focus on getting into a routine of daily writing practices.
The boys will continue to practice cursive writing and integrate it into copy work.
ARTS
My husband and I are artsy so I don’t worry here either.  I have purchase a membership with Masterpiece society and there is likely enough there to give us directed projects for when we lack our own inspiration.  Specifically, we will take some water colour lessons and try the mixing with the masters and drawing lessons. I want to include a weekly picture study this year too, where we may learn a bit about certain artists.
Music and theatre are important to me but we are currently traveling too much for lessons with a teacher.  I am encouraging the kids to keep finding YouTube tutorials and practice at will.  I have added a weekly song to our morning worship.  I draw out a different musical aspect from each song and give a brief lesson, then we practice singing it. I am drawing on my own experiences from choir and music lessons from my own schooling.
PHYSICAL EDUCATION
The big boys are still enjoying trampoline so we will continue taking classes once school starts up.  Dars and juju get their lessons at the drop in classes.
I would like to start a morning workout routine using YouTube videos, I feel that Pilates or a form of yoga stretches may be beneficial and calming…which is desperately needed.  I am normally a ‘do it alone with no one watching’ kind of person so we shall see how this goes.  Also, now that the littles are bigger, regular hikes are high on my list. The forest near us is amazing and I want them to get to know it like I have. I am putting off swim lessons until Juju is old enough to join. Last term was too hard with two time slots for lessons and him not able to swim until open swim after the lessons, made for a 3 hour swim trip, on a meeting night.  We might alternate open swim and trampoline on weds.
GEOGRAPHY
We are currently reading Paddle to the Sea. I have other books like it lined up in my amazon cart. Activities to go along with the book will be map work, learning more about tides and currents, field trip to Wye Marsh or Tiffin Centre or Bear Creak Eco park.  The big boys are loving online games that involve a lot of maps so that counts as map work.
SOCIAL STUDIES
I like to pullarticles from Complete Canadian Curriculem book or news stories and have Discussions. Kids love being part of grown-up conversations
NATURE STUDIES
Aside from trying to be outside tons and tons, we will watch documentaries, YouTube videos like Jonathan’s Blue World and Smarter EveryDay. We started nature journals, gonna try to keep that going.
Am I missing anything?
what is your plan this year?
comment below

Free Activity Guide

Here it is! The Memorial Week Activity Guide.   

Specially created to help families with children have fun with their kids while reading passages for Memorial week.

The week of the Memorial is the anniversary of Jesus’ final week of life on Earth.  This guide contains an activity for each day to correspond to the biblical account of that day’s events.

Download the free PDF below:

Memorial Week Activity Guide

I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed putting it together.

Best Wishes,

Eleasha

Eric Carle Art

Following an idea I heard on a Podcast (I think it was Readaloud Revival with Sarah Mackenzie), we have started working through the Alphabet In the picture book section of the library. What that means is: starting with “A”, we select multiple books by an author whose name begins with the letter we are on. (The next time we go, we move to the next letter. )Then we read the books and look up the author online and chat a bit about their style.

We are on “C” and grabbed a variety of Eric Carle books to take home. We also watched a couple YouTube videos about him. After some discussion, we all agreed that his talent lies more in his art than his stories. Sorry Eric.

His method, however, is simple and fun so I decided we would do a project in his style. Here is our adaptation of it, it is a 2 day process:

Materials:

-acrylic paints

– white paper, Eric uses tissue paper but I thought it might be too thin and fragile for my crew (ages 2-11) so we used large pieces of white copy paper. Regular printer paper would work just fine.

– paint brushes and small cups or trays

– various textured items such as a comb, bubble wrap, sponge, plastic bag.

– cutting board or matt

– exacto knife or sharp blade

-white glue or glue stick

Directions:

Day 1

– give your child only one or two colors at a time, the idea is to layer, not blend.

– add a few drops of water to a dolop of paint in a cup to thin it.

– spread paint all over the page randomly

– use back of paintbrush or textured items to draw lines, swirls and designs in the paint.  You can use buble wrap or even little hands to stamp into one color and overlay onto another.  Try not to leave much white area.

– make several sheets using different color schemes on each.

– allow to dry completely

Day 2

– using a marker, draw or have your child draw a simple animal, object or picture (ex: butterfly, flower or house with tree). Draw it big, on a standard piece of printer paper.  Keep in mind that each segment of the drawing will be cut out from your painted papers and glued to a new paper so sections should be fairly big and basic. Limit yourself to 5-7 big sections for little ones and 10-15 medium-sized sections for older kids.

-make a copy.  This is one of those times I use my beloved copier! If you don’t have access to a copier, trace your drawing onto a second piece of paper so that you have two copies.

– start cutting: *make sure you have a cutting board or cutting mat uder your working area! Adults should do the cutting for little ones and closely suppervise any big kids that they trust to do their own cutting. *

-lay one of your painted papers onto cutting surface, place one copy of the drawing over top, ligning up the segment you are cutting over the colour area you desire.

-using your knife or blade, carfully cut through both layers.

– You now have a coloured piece to match one segment of your drawing, move it to the matching spot on your second copy of the drawing.

-continue cutting out all your pieces, changing colored pages to achieve a mix that you like.

-arrange the pieces onto the un-cut copy and glue them down. Little ones can paint glue on using a brush (or use glue stick) and match the shapes as they go.  Older kids can use copy as a reference and glue pieces to a blank piece of paper if they do not want any lines to show through their work  (none of my kids cared to try that challenge this time).

– allow to dry and enjoy!

I would love to see your finished products! Tag me on Instagram @fun_family_homeschool

Please leave a comment to let me know if you enjoyed this project and want to see more like it or if you have any tips to add to it.

Happy Homeschooling,

Eleasha

 

 

 

An Ode to my Photocopier

The ever useful printer/copier

big, black, bulky box

Expensive aging beast

you scanned/printed/copied once

But now you like to sleep

the network thinks you ‘re dead

It says you are offline

but I see you there, your lights are on.

In some ways you are fine

 

Your reception is sporadic,

you cannot send a scan

Still, I keep you fed with pricey ink

because of what you CAN (do)

 

copies are consumable,

my kids consume a ton

from cursive sheets to copywork

math, music, art and fun

Black and gray or colours too,

I would not want to homeschool

if I did not have YOU.

 

Okay, so it’s no Halmark card but I really do depend on my home office printer/copier.  I often don’t have time to make fancy charts and worsheets using a computer program, but I can draw one up quick wth a marker and copy it before the kids know what I am up to.  This is a big deal because if I have to spend more time designing and prepping an activity than the kids are going to spend working on it then I get discouraged and burn out.

I tend to photocopy math and handwriting pages so I can keep the work books to reuse with each kid.  I have copied pages from novels and song books so they can mark up the pasages for gramar or copy work. Last year I used it to copy planning pages every week.

I now have two printers, one that copies great but is old and struggles with day to day wireless network scanning and printing, and a small cheapy on my desk for printing from the computer.

Big bertha has most of my fave features in a printer: 1) a cassette tray for loading paper means you can load lots. 2) a flatbed scanner and  a page loader for scanning and copying , 3) hands-free 2 sided printing  4) photo quality colour printing with a seperate tray for 4X6 photo paper. 5) seperate ink tanks for each color

More than once we have photocopied our own drawings.  Once my son drew a terrific chameleon for nature study, so I made a copy for each kid to colour their own way. Another time, my to older boys drew maps and vehicles and had me copy the pages so they could make a game.

If you find yourself on the market for a new printer, consider one that can make copies quick and easy (not needing the computer), they are available in every price range.

Canadian Online Homeschool Conference

http://Canadian Homeschool Conference

I happened upon this amazing conference last year, deep in the trenches with four kids and no sleep and no local homeschool conventions anymore for encouragement and inspiration, there had been one in our city but it has stopped indefinitely.

I loved that I could put my kids to bed then log in and listen to the wonderful participants as I wash dishes, folded clothes and drank wine in my PJs!  I was so moved by one presenter that I bought her video series explaining in detail how she had done to homeschool her many children with a very strict budget and through periods of severe illness. That series cost me about $30 but ultimately shifted how we school and the tears dried up over-night.

If you need a boost, register for free here ( disclaimer: this is an affiliate link, and I will receive a small % of any purchases made, but you don’t need to buy anything to listen to all the great presenters).  If you are new or struggling with homeschooling right now, I fully recomend the $35CND all access pass that will give you long term access to the presentations as well as oodles of discounts and freebies valued at $120CND.

I just know you will love it, go check out what sessions have been lined up. And enjoy the conference from home!

Eleasha

Why I’m sending my kid to school. It’s not what you’re thinking.

Today, I watched as my 11 yr old boy trodded off to the bus stop with all the other neighbourhood kids…for the first time ever! Since I am and have always been a die-hard homeschool advocate, why on Earth am I sending him off to enter ‘the system’?

There are a lot of totally valid reasons I could be doing it:  burnout, frustration with his stubborn refusal to do school work, to teach him a lesson on appreciating what he has here at home, to catch up on learning what he has perhaps been missing here.  To get him out of here so he can’t pester his siblings all day. These are all reasons for which I have threatened to send him in the past.

But in the end, the simple reason is this: He wants to try it.

Our homeschool philosophy has always included faclitating our child’s interests, because they learn better that way. We are also big on real life experiences and hands-on learning.  Curious about the water cycle?  Go explore streams and lakes.  Love coins? Visit the Mint and start a coin collection.  But what do you do when your kid is super interested in school?

I suppose it’s my own fault, I read him books like Boy and Farmer Boy (where the  bording school headmasters would beat bad boys with canes) and watched movies like Matilda and Bezzus.  Most of his friends go to school and they have fun stories too. I think the school of his imagination will differ from reality.  There is only one way to find out.  He need to go investigate.

A year ago, I would have thought this painted me as a homeschool failure, putting him in school. And I dreaded registering him because it officialy ends my freedom to educate him without having to answer to anyone else for it ( in Ontario, if your child has never been registered with a school, there is no obligation to ever inform any ministry or school board that you intend to homeschool, you just do.  Once registered, a letter must be written every year if you intend to homeschool that child).  It has been a year full of podcasts and book reads for me and I am grateful that those who have navigated this Homeschool Jungle ahead of us have left maps to guide us by sharing their experiences. People like Julie Bogart of Brave Writer, who has succesfully homeschooled all her kids, and that included some time in school for some of them. Also Rebecca Spooner of Hiphomeschool.com who herself was homeschooled but spent a year or so in school and survived it! And so many others.

I have chewed over the pros and cons for over a year and am now fully convinced that this will be an exchange-student-type of experience that broadens his horizons, equips his coping toolbox and satisfies his trust in us as supportive parents.  He will get opportunites to defend his faith, work in peer groups, have a strict schedule ruled by bells and time slots. Naturally we worry about bad associations but at 11, he is branching out into the world so this is a threat no matter where he is.

We have a short term in mind, some think we should aim for the entire second semester but I can’t see myself forcing him to stick it out till June ‘just because’.  When a curiosity is filled, it is time to move on.  So we have an agreement and when the time is up if he chooses homeschooling again, I will not hesitate to write my first Letter of Intent to Homeschool. And his mind will be released and able to pursue a new interest.

wish us luck,

Eleasha,  homeschooling mom of 4

 

 

10 Minute Molly Maids

Of all the chore systems we have tried, this one has lasted the longest and had the most success. It’s basic, easy to remember and quick but most important, it provides a reminder to work with and train my kids how to do the jobs well.  Here is how it works:

We take 10 minutes either in the morning or right after lunch to tackle a task.  These are basic areas that need regular attention but would be neglected if I did not have a schedule.  Now that I have older kids, I send them to one area of the house while I train the little ones in another area.

Monday is Mending and Maintenace. That means if a button has fallen off a shirt or pants have a ripped knee, we practice sewing and mend it.  If a light bulb needs replacing or a gash in wall needs spackle, we do it then.  We don’t need to cross every item off the list, just work at it for 10 minutes and get done what we can… together.

It’s good to have a running list of items that need doing so that you can delegate a small job and help with a bigger one.  This does not mean that we leave every maintenance and mending job for Monday’s,  it just means that once a week, we are prompted to look around and care for things that need our attention.

Tuesday is Tubs and Toilets.  Pretty self-explanitory but while we are in the bathroom cleaning those fixtures, we do the sink and mirrors too, because, why not?  We have lots of bathrooms so we spilt up and I rotate which one I help with so that each one gets a really good clean every few weeks.  I do not inspect the bathroom being cleaned by the older kids, though I work along side them often for refreshers. The point is to be done in 10 minutes and move on with the day.  It is not an exam, it’s a contribution made to the household.  Somedays they give their best, other days, not so much. That’s life.

Wednesday is for Windows and Walls.  I have these amazing cloths called KAWOS (kleen anything with out streaks) you get them wet, wring them well and wipe ANYTHING! No streaks! So everyone gets one and we spread out, washing windows, doors, doorknobs, marks on walls, door jambs, ect…. fun and done! Moving on….

Thursday is to Tidy Thoroughly, putting all those items that are not where they should be back in their propper place. Stuff just seems to migrate through the house. I am an offender too.  Remember 10 minutes only!

Friday is Floors.  Vacuume carpets, sweep and wash what you can of the rest in 10 minutes.  I often do a good sweep and vacume with the kids during this time, then wash the floor once the littles are in bed.

Sometimes we miss a day, but we get it the next week so it is still better than what happens when we have no plan at all.

This is not an exhaustive list of all the things that need doing in the house every week ( dusting is not on the list and never gets done….I should really add it in somewhere, what day rhymes with dusting? 😂) And I do often have to clean a toilet between tuesdays, but the point is that the kids are learning that these jobs are easier when done regularily and that they are not all that hard to do, even the little kids can help.

By using alliteration to assign these tasks, I dont need to take my list with me when we travel, we all know what needs doing each day, no matter where we are in the world.

Whats your cleaning schedule? Any tips to share?

Eleasha

 

Homeschooling Through Loss

We recently lost a very dear family friend.  She was 61 and essentially an adopted grandmother to my kiddos, though she was like an older sister to me.  Unmarried and childless, she gratefully joined in on any activity we invited her to, from swimming at the community pool to gymnastics class to going to the zoo.  She was one of my foremost homeschool supporters.

Though she fought hard against multiple myeloma (cancer of the bone marrow) for 6 months or so, it was her kidneys that gave out in then and sent her into a rapid downward spiral.  Through all the doctors apointments and hospital visits and extra help with shopping and around the house, we put on our brave faces and tried never to complain about the inconvinience.  I would be lying if I told you that I never thought to myself: ‘it will be easier once she dies’.  I thought it… but I was dead wrong!

Losing a loved one may release them of their suffering but it also releases you of the need to put on that brave face, and the trapped emotions just might come crashing in on you all at once. The guilt, the anger, the blame, the sadness.  And when your children are suffering the loss too, it is all multiplied.

It might seem to make perfect sense to throw out the homeschool schedule for a while and ride the wave of grief.   And for some, that may actually work. But I want to offer my personal experience so that others may benefit from considering it.

Aimlessness and sorrow can get into all sort of trouble when they chum up.  If everyone in the family is feeling stung, then having no purpose in your day will likely lead to fights and chaos and anarchy…which will lead to more pain, of a different sort.  Don’t pile hurt upon hurt.

If you are fortunate enough to get a heads-up that a loved one is dying, have a plan for your own family to carry you through the storm. There are a few things I wish I had known to do:

1) Prepare freezer meals. I have not only found it hard to think about food, or what to make, but have also felt overwhelmed at the thought of having to grocery shop.  Think comfort food.

2)Have babysitters lined up. Friends or family who will take the kids so that you can have some time to process your own feelings, or so that you can devote time to helping with nessesary tasks after the death of your loved one without feeling like you are neglecting your kids.  Little kids are resilient, they need to get back to playing and can seem unbothered by the loss, which can almost irritate older kids and adults who are processing dificult feelings. I sent my littles to daycare for a couple days and it was a nice break for us all.  I only wish I had lined up an overnight or two as well, bedtime routine was harder than usual and I would get quite cranky with them.

3) Stock snacks. People may come visit to consol you, be ready to receive them with tea and cookies. It may even be that tea time is what your kids need more of too. Or perhaps you will welcome the distraction of a playdate, snacks would be good to have on hand.

4) Discuss what roles you may be called on to fill, post-mortem, with with the ailing party so that you can be prepared.  If you will be asked to say a few words at the funeral, start writing things down now.  If you will be asked to help file the taxes and claim insurance, know where the paperwork is.  Etc…

5) Prepare several weeks of school lessons ahead.more on this in a bit.

6) Prepare how you will explain death to the little ones. Continue reading

Dominoes for preschoolers

Dominoes are great for toddlers and pre-schoolers. They help with grasping the relationship between numbers and amounts, and importantly, the quantity of zero. Depending on the set you have, they are great for teaching colours too.  I have a Cardinal set that uses a different colour for each number of dots.  The other thing I love about dominoes is that most sets have great tactile value.  The ones we use are pretty heavy,smooth and shiny.  I love fiddling with them.  They make a lovely “clack” sound when they touch each other. I have seen metal sets and wood sets that would also be awesome for this reason.

Here are a few activities suggestions:

1. Make a train track. Work together to line up the tiles end-to-end, making a long ‘train track’ then drive a little train along it.  The Cardinal set I have came with little trains but they could be a choke hazard so whatever safe sized vehicle you have on hand will do just fine.  Preschoolers might be able to work at matching the amounts of dots/colours as they make their line (don’t insist, let it be fun)

2. Train station.  Gather all the dominoes that have no more than five dots on either side. You will have 21 tiles.  Put one of the ‘doubles’ into the center and show how to pull the matching pieces into the ‘station’ . Choo choo! You can use the little starter piece from the set or just pull the tiles up to the double. Its great for  visual quantity recognition.

 

 

3. Sum sort. Write the numbers 1-10 (or start with 1-5) on a piece of paper spaced out. Count the dots on both ends and add them together.  Place the domino in front of the number that shows the sum.   Continue until all the tiles are sorted .

4. Build a Castle.  Dominoes are fun to just build with too.  Great for hand-eye coordination and balancing.

 

5. Let’s not forget everyones favourite thing to do with dominoes….

A double twelve set of dominoes will run about 20.00  so they are a fantastic math manipulative and fun family game.  Happy playing!

 

Master Shopping List

IMG_5998

Ever write your shopping list… do the shop… then return home only to realize there were items you forgot to buy because you forgot to put them on your list…because your forgot that you needed them?

That is pretty much how every one of my shopping trips went until I tripped over a Life changing Pin in the meal planning category.  It took me some digging to find it again but credit ought to go where it belongs.  Check out the Resourceful Gals Monthly Meal Planning post to see the whole amazing system.  I hope to implement more of it someday, but for now I have fully adopted the Master Shopping List concept from them.

I have adapted the idea slightly.  The Master Shopping List is essentially a full list of every consumable that enters my home, including things like toothpaste, toilet paper and diapers, but mostly food.  I found it easier to start my own Excel spreadsheet and make adjustments as I went along.  For example, I would do a shop but if I realise there were items missing from my master list, I just jot them down on the list and when I get home I take a moment to edit the spreadsheet and add them.

It works like this: print the list, then take inventory of all the items on it.  Highlight what needs to be purchased with a highlighter and, if needed, indicate how many need to be purchased.  When unpacking groceries at home, take a moment to circle items you were unable to get and keep the list in your purse for weekly errands, perhaps you can get those items while out and about. Eventually, I changed the print color for all the items I typically buy at Costco to blue.  That way, if that is the store I am headed to, I only have to check my current inventory of the items in blue on my list.

Interested in seeing my list?

Here is the shopping list and ere it is as a PDF

I hope you found this helpful.  You can leave a comment or send me an email using the Contact Us form .  I’m new to this blog thing so please let me know how I am doing and what I need to work on.

Happy Shopping!

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