Sunday, August 30, 2009

Tapestry of Grace Year 3, Week 2

Here is an overview of my history plans for Nathan and Ryan this week.

Key Facts:

1. Louis XVIII
a. Palace of Versailles
b. Spent 23 years in exile and was exiled again with the return of Napoleon from Elba.
c. Charter of 1814 - France's new constitution.
d. Last French monarch to die while reigning.

2. Horatio Nelson
a. Joined the Royal Navy at 12 years of age.
b. Over the course of his navy career, Nelson contracted malaria, dysentery
and suffered from seasickness.
c. During the French Revolutionary Wars, Nelson lost an eye.
d. During an attack in the Canary Islands, Nelson lost an arm.
e. Battle of the Nile.
f. Battle of Trafalgar was Nelson's greatest victory and where he lost his life.
g. Famous last words: "Thank God I have done my duty. Kiss me, Hardy."
h. Famous Monuments.

3. The Continental System
a. Starving Britain of money.
b. Destroying British trade, particularly the re-export of colonial goods to Europe.
c. Berlin and Milan Decrees.
d. The Continental System backfired on Napoleon.

4. The Third Coalition
a. Britain, Austria, Russia, Sweden and some German states - striking back at France.
b. Napoleonic Wars.
c. Napoleon on the verge of being master of Europe.

5. Napoleon's Coronation
a. Elaborate ceremony lasting more than three hours.
b. Notre Dame Cathedral.
b. Two brothers (Lucien and Jerome) were banned from the service.

Unit Projects: Continue working on display board. Add information about Napoleon and Horatio Nelson

Geography: Review latitude and longitude.

Digging Deeper:
  • Review life and ministry of William Carey
  • Introduce Immanuel Kant
  • The Code Napoleon


Additional Activities: Create a french meal for dinner

Apologia Chemistry Labs

I'm starting a small chemistry lab group this year. David and two of his friends are going to work through their chemistry and micro-chem labs together. Although I don't really need to add anything to my plate, I absolutely love chemistry (even have a chemistry minor). So, I don't mind that they will be meeting in my kitchen each week. I'll be on hand to make sure that they don't start any fires and help if they have any questions. However, I'm hoping that it will mainly be a student led activity.

I have found a great Apologia Chemistry syllabus on, which should help keep the kids organized and on track. They will also be sharing a lab kit which will help keep it budget friendly :)

Chemistry Syllabus

They will be starting this week!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Saturday Scenes

Rock Climbing at Cherokee Rock Village:

Week Four Review

Wow, I can't believe it has been almost a month since we started school. We have been very busy. This week we added history to our studies. Did I mention that we are using Tapestry of Grace? This is the first year that I've used the curriculum. But, I finally feel that I'm at a place where I can edit or tweak a curriculum and be happy with it while not trying to do everything. Trust me, that would never work with Tapestry of Grace (TOG), because you just can't do it all.

There are a couple of free resources that we have started using on a regular basis. The first is called Spelling City. I just put in the weekly spelling list and the kids do the rest, including taking the test online. It's great for me and they are really enjoying it. Another is Kahn Academy for math. The boys have been watching short videos that correspond to their math lessons.

Next week I'll be adding in Latin and French. We will finally be schooling on our regular schedule. I think the only thing I still have left to purchase is the art book. I need to place an order for that.

Besides school work, the boys still managed to get in some play time. They are still enjoying our pool and practicing for the triathlon. This morning, we were able to get in some rock climbing at Cherokee Rock Village before it rained. Although it has been very humid here lately, there is a cool breeze in the air. I think fall is just around the corner.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Early Birthday Present

My Birthday is still several months away, but my parents have given me an early present. A six month subscription to Netflix! I'm so excited. I've already lined up some movies in my queue.

I had anticipated on getting a subscription sometime this fall, and even scheduled several selections in my lesson plans. Now, I'm able to take advantage of those and plan for more.

Earlier today we watched "19th Century Turning Points in U.S. History (1800-1813)." The boys really enjoyed it.

Now, I just need to save up for a wireless network adapter for the Xbox 360. Apparently, I can stream videos from Netflix through the Xbox onto our TV. Finally, a reason to get excited about their video game system! lol.

Pillow Fight

Nathan and Ryan decided to gang up on DH for an impromptu pillow fight. Well, everyone was having fun until Ryan was accidentally knocked into our bed.

A quick trip to the ER and three stitches later, he is good as new.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Early Works Museum

Great American Series: Meet Thomas Edison
September 23 - 25, 2009
"Anyone can become an inventor, all it takes is common sense, hard work and stick-to-it-ive-ness!"
Meet Mr. Edison as he tells tales of his days as a "newpaper butcher" and tramp telegrapher. Discover the inital and continuing influence his inventions had on our world. Inventions such as an electrical lighting system, the phonograph and moving pictures. Send your own telegraph messages and play with a phen thistascope, the forerunner of the moving picture.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Co-op, Week 2

We completed two experiments this week:

Experiment 1.2 - Atomic Motion
Mixing food coloring in hot and cold water to see the motion of atoms.

Experiment 1.3 - A Chemical Reaction
Vinegar plus red cabbage juice and baking soda equals a great experiment in chemical reactions. The kids loved this! The baking soda and vinegar mixture created the first chemical reaction, which was to bubble, fizz and inflate the balloon. The second reaction was a color change in the mixture from red/pink to blue/purple.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Tapestry of Grace Year 3, Week 1

Here is a quick overview of my history plans for Nathan and Ryan this week.

Key Facts:
1. George Washington
a. Political party - Federalist
b. Vice President - John Adams
c. His picture is on the quarter (since 1932)
d. Only president to run unopposed for both terms.
e. He declined to run a third term - setting a precedent.
f. Fought in the French and Indian War and the Revolutionary War.
g. First presidential veto blocking a bill to increase the number of U.S. representatives.
h. Issued a proclamation of neutrality that kept US out of French Revolutionary Wars.
i. Put down the Whiskey Rebellion by summoning militia of several states.
j. Prevented another war with Great Britain through unpopular treaty in 1794.
k. Washington lived in New York City and Philadelphia during his presidency.

2. John Adams
a. Political party - Federalist
b. Vice President - Thomas Jefferson
c. Signed the Alien and Sedition Acts
d. Revealed the XYZ affair
e. Signed a treaty with Napoleon in 1800 preventing war between U.S. and France.
f. Appointed several conservative judges during the last hours of his presidency.
g. Adams was the first president to live in the White House.
h. His Vice President was a political rival and belonged to a different party.

3. French Revolution (1789-1799)
a. Early French revolutionaries were influenced by the American Revolution.
b. Thomas Jefferson was the U.S. minister to France and was sympathetic to their cause.
c. Before the revolution bread cost more than a normal week's wages.
d. King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were out of touch with the common people.
e. During the Reign of Terror more than 18,000 people were beheaded.
f. The French Revolution marked the end of Feudalism.
g. July 14th: Bastille Day (French Independence Day)
h. There were only 7 prisoners at the Bastille when it was stormed by the people.
i. The French motto is Liberte Egalite Fraternite (Freedom, Equality, Fraternity)
j. The tri-colors of the flag: White (colour of the king), Blue and Red (colours of Paris)
k. The French National Anthem called la Marseillaise is a revolutionary song.

4. Napoleon
a. Born in Corsica
b. A brilliant military commander, known for conquering a large part of Europe.
c. Napoleon repeatedly defeated military forces superior in size to his own.
d. He created French kingdoms in Holland, Italy, Germany & Spain reigned by relatives.
e. The army assembled in 1812 by Napoleon was the largest yet seen in Europe.
f. Napoleon took Pope Pius VII's crown and put it on his own head.
g. He was defeated during the final battle at Waterloo
h. Exiled twice (Island of Elba and Island of Saint Helena)

Unit Projects: Start a unit display board. Complete presidential cards for Washington and Adams.

Geography: Make a salt map illustrating geography terms.

Writing Assignment: Write a letter with a quill and homemade ink.

Digging Deeper:
  • Reasons for studying history
  • Compare and contrast Christianity and Hinduism
  • Discuss the life and ministry of William Carey


Additional Activities: Make Hoecakes (Washington's typical breakfast).

Friday, August 21, 2009

Week Three Review

Well, another week has flown by again. We are continuing to ramp up our studies. This week we added grammar, logic and science (first full week of study with Co-op class). David also started his Political Science class at Co-op. Plus, I'm working on our history lesson plans, since we will be starting those next week.

It has rained here off and on this week, so the boys haven't had the opportunity to do much outdoors. All three boys did get in a little bit of swimming in our pool, but that's about it. Nathan and Ryan are planning on competing in a kids triathlon next month, so in addition to the swimming, they have been riding their bikes around the neighborhood. At some point I need to take them up to the track at the recreation center so they can practice running. Hopefully, the weather will improve next week.

As far as my projects go, I tackled the ironing last week. I was able to finish and actually found the bottom of the basket! Hopefully, I'll be able to keep it up. Next, I need to work on cleaning out the closets. This will probably take a few weeks to complete. But, it really needs to be done. Especially with fall just around the corner. Now, I just need to get motivated...

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Man vs. Wild Alabama

Finally, after waiting months since production wrapped, the episode filmed in Alabama is finally airing on TV. It is fun to watch Bear "surviving" in the same areas we frequently play around in on the weekends. The canyon, woods and cave system are all familiar to us.

DH even received a souvenir from the show - a torch...

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

First day of Co-op

Well, after spending most of the summer getting ready for my science classes, the first day of Co-op finally arrived! It was wonderful and chaotic, but the experiment was pure fun.

Our first experiment was about density in nature.

(look for the cork, ice cube, grape and rock)

I think we are going to have a great year.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Free Resources

I have added new links and updated my list of free resources at the bottom of my blog. Check it out.

Week Two Review

This week has flown by. In school, we continued with Bible, reading and writing while adding in spelling, vocabulary and math.

On Monday, the boys had their music lessons. Tuesday, we had our Co-op orientation meeting where I handed out the first assignment for my science classes. The assignments are to be completed by the first week of Co-op. So, Nathan and Ryan (who are both in my class) have also started their science studies this week. We are slowly but surely easing into our school schedule.

David went camping and rock climbing with some friends at Cherokee Rock Village. Nathan and Ryan have been playing with some neighborhood friends, swimming (in our pool) and playing disc golf.

While we are still schooling lite, I'm trying to catch up on some housework. At our house, as a general rule, when we get a lot of school work done, then the housework seems to suffer. And, if the house is clean, then we probably didn't get as much school work done. So, this week I've concentrated on finishing the never ending ironing basket. I feel like if I can tackle one project a week, eventually I will be caught up.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Man vs. Wild Alabama

Next Wednesday, August 19th, a new episode of Man vs. Wild, that was filmed right here in Alabama, will air. This is a show staring Bear Grylls and is shown on the Discovery channel. Our friends at True Adventure Sports were actively involved with the production of this episode. My DH was even involved with some of the pre-production work.

I'm excited to watch the show to see how the story unfolds.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

National History Day

What is National History Day?

National History Day (NHD) is a highly regarded academic organization for all students in grades 6-12. (public, private and homeschoolers)

Each year, more than half a million students, encouraged by thousands of teachers nationwide participate in the NHD contest. Students choose historical topics related to a theme and conduct extensive primary and secondary research through libraries, archives, museums, oral history interviews and historic sites. After analyzing and interpreting their sources and drawing conclusions about their topics’ significance in history, students present their work in original papers, websites, exhibits, performances and documentaries. These products are entered into competitions in the spring at local, state and national levels where they are evaluated by professional historians and educators. The program culminates in a national competition each June held at the University of Maryland at College Park.

In addition to discovering the exciting world of the past, NHD also helps students develop the following attributes that are critical for future success:
  • critical thinking and problem-solving skills
  • research and reading skills
  • oral and written communication and presentation skills
  • self esteem and confidence
  • a sense of responsibility for and involvement in the democratic process

Here is a video introduction to National History Day from the History Channel.

National History Day gives monetary awards in addition to medals to the top three national winners in each category.

  • Gold medalists receive $1,000*
  • Silver medalists receive $500
  • Bronze medalists receive $250

National History Day also recognizes one Outstanding State Entry from each state in the junior and senior divisions.

**The gold medal winning projects in the senior division individual and group documentary categories receive The History Channel Award of $5,000 in place of the National History Day $1,000 prize.

The 2009-2010 NHD theme is Innovation in History: Impact and Change.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Book It! Program

The BOOK IT! program (for grades K-6) motivates children to read by rewarding their reading accomplishments with praise, recognition and pizza. This program is sponsored by Pizza Hut.

My kids have always enjoyed this program and look forward to it each year. This will be the final year for Nathan and Ryan. It's too bad the program doesn't continue past the 6th grade.

Here is a link for the reproducibles:

Sunday, August 9, 2009

First week review and reflections

We have finished our first week of school, and are doing well. We schooled lite, only concentrating on Bible, reading and writing. Next week we will add in vocabulary, spelling and math. We also have a Co-op orientation meeting on Tuesday.

Besides our academic studies, we have had plenty of time to enjoy several outdoor activities. In addition to rock climbing earlier in the week, David went to Six Flags with some friends to use his free return ticket from Homeschool Day in May. He also spent time teaching some friends how to roll a kayak in our pool. Saturday, DH took Nathan and Ryan to swim at Blue Hole in Little River Canyon National Preserve. I stayed home to finish some planning for my science class while David completed his chores. This afternoon we plan on going to Cloudland Canyon State Park to play Disc Golf.

David practicing his kayak rolls in the pool.

Video clip of Ryan on a rope swing.

Video clip of Nathan jumping from a tree.

They find this to be more fun than just going out in the backyard and swimming in our pool - go figure :)

Friday, August 7, 2009

Photo Friday

A few pictures of David rock climbing earlier this week at Cherokee Rock Village:

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Daily Schedule

Our daily school routine is rarely the same each day, which of course, is one of the perks of being homeschoolers. But, we do have a general schedule we try to follow.

On days that we are home all day, this is our general plan: (I don't keep an eye on the clock most of the time, so these times are just a rough approximation)
  • 7:15 - Breakfast (Nathan, Ryan and myself)
  • 7:30 - Quick logic puzzle (just to wake up the brain)
  • 7:40 - Bible devotion/study
  • 8:00 - Language Arts (alternating with one-on-one time)
  • 9:00 - Math
  • 9:30 - Morning Break (chores and snack) / Meet with David
  • 10:00 - History
  • 10:45 - Languages (Latin -2x/wk & French - 3x/wk)
  • 11:15 - Science
  • 12:00 - Lunch
  • 1:00 - Elective studies, independent reading & project work (Nathan and Ryan)
  • 1:00 - One-on-one time with David
  • 3:00 - Music practice
  • 3:30 - Free play (Nathan and Ryan)
  • 4:30 - David finishes school work, I finish daily grading
  • 6:00 - Dinner

On short days, when we have outside commitments, we focus on the core studies. Everything else still gets done, because I have extra weeks built into my school year.

So, how do I create their schedules? Basically, I divide out their assignments, creating weekly and daily schedules. Although I love to plan, it's not complicated.

First I create an Excel worksheet. This worksheet is a general overview and has tabs labeled for each week of the school year (usually 38-40 tabs or pages, because I tend to "school lite" for a few weeks at the beginning of the school year). Each worksheet page serves as a week at a glance, with projected dates inserted. I have columns for each day of the week and rows listing each subject/book. Next, I look at a calendar and mark off holidays and planned vacations, so I don't try to plan lessons for those days. I also note days that will be short because of Co-op classes, field trips or Dr. appointments that I already have scheduled. This worksheet is just a guide and remains very flexible. I usually print off the current week and keep it in my master work file, just to make sure we are staying somewhere close to my overall plan.

As I purchase curriculum for the upcoming year, I divide the lessons or activities into days and weeks, then enter them into the Excel worksheet. This way I can see how the lessons are matching up with each other (common themes) and how much school work I'm trying to accomplish every day. It also keeps me from trying to schedule too much in any given day, week or month.

6th Grade Curriculum

Once I'm happy with the way the Excel worksheet looks, I input the individual lesson plans into Edu-Track (Nathan and Ryan only). I usually enter their lesson plans in 6-9 week chunks. This makes it easier to make changes as I go. Changes will happen, but I can always look at the Excel worksheet to see if I'm still on track for the year. I also print off daily to-do lists from Edu-Track for Nathan and Ryan. I place these in their weekly notebooks behind the daily tabs.

In addition to the Excel worksheet, I create two Word documents for David. The first contains a course syllabus for each subject/class. The second document outlines his weekly assignments broken down by subject/class. The weekly outline is flexible, so I only print it out one week at a time, making revisions as necessary. I only enter lessons into Edu-Track for him as he completes the assignments, because he lays out his own daily goals.

That's about it. Although I like to use several different mediums for planning and scheduling (Motivated Moms, Excel, Word, Edu-Track), I think they work well together - at least for me :)

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Files, Folders & Notebooks - Organizing School Work

Juggling three children and their school work shouldn't be an overly complicated task, but since I'm a little obsessive/compulsive, I tend to make it harder for myself than is really necessary. I've always enjoyed organizing my files and getting ready for each school year. However, I have delayed blogging about it because I knew if I actually wrote it all down, people might think that my paper trail is crazy. Oh well, for those who want to know, here it is...

(file cabinet)

To begin with I have a two drawer file cabinet that holds my files. In the top drawer I have files for school registration (cover school forms), progress reports, transcripts, Co-op forms, 4-H, volunteer/service hours, physical & outdoor education, field trips, college info., school orders and blank files for future use.

The bottom drawer has my weekly work files. I have a file for each week of the year. I have a master work file out on my desk at all times (because I'm constantly working from it). It holds my daily to-do check lists (Motivated Moms), weekly menus, anything I print from the computer (research, etc.), coupons, and anything else I'm currently working on. Once I finish with something during the week, it is moved from the master file to the corresponding weekly file in the drawer. Then, at the end of the year, I go back through the files making sure that I didn't forget to record something in Edu-Track (for the children's progress report and transcripts) and check for items that need to be kept for the next year. (holiday ideas, menus, vacations, wish lists, etc.)

Along with my master work file, I keep a monthly at-a-glance calendar. The calendar helps me look ahead and schedule school assignments with consideration to any outside commitments we have made. (church, Co-op, music lessons, volunteer/service projects, Dr. appointments, field trips, vacations, etc.)

(calendar and master work file)

Nathan and Ryan each have a daily/weekly notebook. Here is how it is organized for them:
  • In the very front of the notebook is a pencil pouch where they can keep pencils and erasers, making it very portable.
  • The first section holds a copy of the Mastery Club list. That way they always know where it is and don't forget about it. However, they use a spiral notebook to actually record their research activities.
  • Next I have a divider with a double sided pocket. In one side of the pocket they keep copies of current 4-H project paper work. In the other side of the pocket they keep current Contenders of the Faith project/badge requirement info. I have found that "out of sight, is out of mind", so I keep this information in the front of their notebooks so that they are constantly reminded of their on-going projects.
  • The rest of the notebook has five tabbed dividers, one for each day of the week. Behind each tab, I place any daily work that I've made copies of, or that I printed off of the computer. (This is not all of their work, only the worksheets or assignments that are not in text books or workbooks.)

They really enjoy the way this is set up. If they get stuck on something or get behind on a worksheet, they can go back the next day and finish it. On the flip side, if they finish early, they can work ahead. In the end, all of the work must be finished and turned in on Friday. I go through their notebooks every day and grade what they have completed and check to make sure that they are staying on track.

(Nathan's notebook)

Since David is in high school, his notebook is set up a little differently. I want him to be more responsible for himself and his time in completing his school assignments. Here is how his binder is organized:

  • The first section contains a syllabus for each class.
  • The next section outlines current weekly assignments per subject (Word document).
  • Next I add a blank week at-a-glance calendar. This way he can work out his own schedule for the week. (school assignments, Co-op, church activities, volunteer/service hours, club meetings, work schedule, etc.)
  • Next I added a double sided pocket divider for any on-going projects.
  • The rest of the binder just holds notebook paper for him to use on his daily work. Although, he uses the computer for most of his work now and backs up all of his files on a flash drive.
Every Monday morning David and I have a meeting to go over his schedule and discuss how he plans to accomplish his weekly goals. He is then on his own to get his work started. I do schedule one-on-one time with him everyday to go over discussion questions and to help him if he is stuck on anything or needs further instruction. I grade his work as he completes it and then enter it into Edu-Track.

At the end of the week, any work that the kids still need to turn in is put in their folders on top of my file cabinet (this is my inbox). This includes worksheets, reports, essays, and any other completed projects. Workbooks and research notebooks are also turned in for grading, but then I give them back so they can continue to work in them. Once all of the grading is finished, all of their work in placed in quarterly portfolio binders. I usually end up with three portfolios per child, per year. I go through all of these at the end of the year to compile one annual memory/portfolio book for each child.

(The boys files - my inbox, is in the background. A paper tray is in the foreground.)

This may seem excessive to some (remember, I warned you), but it works rather well for me. Once I have everything set up, our school year just seems to run more smoothly.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Mastery Club

This is something that I started last year for Nathan and Ryan. Basically, it is a list of facts for kids to learn by researching the answers for themselves. This is the website that I ran across that inspired me to start this last year:

I took the original list and tweaked it for use in our classroom. Here is my list:
Mastery Club

I also printed off some of the free worksheets (see the bottom of my blog) and sorted them into a file box by category. They always had the option to pull out a worksheet, complete it and have it count towards their stars.

By completing several activities, the boys could earn a small reward. Last year they earned a prize for every ten items they completed off the list. The prize was usually something like an ice cream cone, milk shake, Redbox movie rental, or a trip to the Dollar Store. At the end of the year, I printed off a certificate with the total number of "stars" that they earned over the course of the year.

Monday, August 3, 2009

1st Day of School

Hurray! Today was our first day of school. Here is what we did...

First, I gave my younger boys their Schultuete's. Inside Nathan and Ryan's cones I placed packs of new pencils, markers, colored pencils, scissors, glue sticks, rulers and erasers. I put all of my older son's school supplies in a small gift bag because he doesn't care about all of the "fuss" and games my younger boys enjoy. His gift bag contained mechanical pencils, extra pencil lead, erasers, pens, highlighters, white board markers, Post-It flags, White Out Correction Tape and a Thumb Drive.

I didn't have time this year to decorate their cones as much as I usually do. However, the boys didn't mind, they just really enjoy the tradition.

After they went through their school supplies and looked through their new school books, I sent Nathan and Ryan on a treasure hunt. This year all of the clues were written in riddles. They had so much fun running around the house searching for the clues that lead to the treasure.

The treasure included a Fingerprinting Kit, Thread Art Craft Kit, Mentos Geyser Tube, Touchable Bubbles, along with a couple of new books (Homer Price, The Great Brain and The Shakespeare Stealer).

After working on a few reading and writing exercises, they spent time playing detective by going around the house "lifting" fingerprints and trying to figure out who they belonged to. They also had fun with the bubbles by putting the wand in front of an air-conditioning vent and watching the bubbles fly around the room, and then run around and try to catch them.

Later the boys went outside to test out the mentos and diet coke experiment. It is one of their all time favorite experiments and they never seem to get tired of it.

Lunch consisted of hotdogs and hamburgers followed by ice cream. After lunch, the boys finished their chores and attended music lessons. Then they spent time playing with their neighborhood friends. It was a busy day, but I think we are off to a great start.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Penny paper sale!

It's that time of the year again. Our local Staples has packs of loose leaf paper on sale for a penny. There is a limit of five packs per person, per transaction. Hurry, the sale ends on Wednesday.

Homeschool Expo

I had the pleasure of attending the Southeast Homeschool Expo in Atlanta on Friday. I had a great time perusing the isles, chatting with the vendors and getting an up close, hands-on look at the books and resource materials. I took a list with me and stuck to it fairly well, but I found a great deal that I couldn't pass up. I bought Financial Peace Jr. for Kids, by Dave Ramsey. I think my younger boys will really enjoy it. Now, I just have to figure out how to incorporate it into their already full schedule.