The Road Ahead: Curriculum for 2016-17 Year

20160815_080425 (640x480)Choosing curriculum is time-consuming, sometimes fun and always hard. I usually end up doubting myself and wondering if something would work better. This year was a little different . I didn’t have the big “What have I done?” moment this time around and feel happy with the choices the kids and I made together. I guess that is the difference this year…the kids helped pick their books. Grade level gets harder to pinpoint each year too. The longer we homeschool the wonkier our grade levels turn out and I’m not sure the distinction is necessary in home education. But for those who need to know– Oldest is in seventh and Sparkles is in fifth. The younger two are straddling grade levels with Middle Boy a fourth-ish fifth grader and Littlest a Kinder-first grader.

BFB guides

BFB guides

Naturally, we chose to stick with Beautiful Feet Books for our history, literature selections and writing projects. We love BFB and the family behind the company. The guides and the books always lead to “big juicy conversations” (a Brave Writer term). We may be discussing history but we also talk about choices, morals, character, religion, politics and the struggles within human nature. The guides and the chosen books always inspire me to come up with projects. I build plenty of margin space for these history inspired

lots of BFB books

lots of BFB books

projects into the yearly calendar. Littlest will use Primary Early American History and the middle two will work through Intermediate Early American History. Oldest is using Early American and World History and next summer the older three will study through the Western Expansion guide. Littlest will take a couple of years to complete the primary guides for American History and Character.

some of our history projects for this year

some of our history projects for this year

Language Arts was absolute drudgery last year. This year they will all begin IEW’s Fix It for grammar. The kids all approved of this curriculum and since we started at the beginning we could fly through the first few books…if we wanted to. But we do not and there really isn’t a need to do so. On occasion we’ll pick up an Arrow or Boomerang from Brave Writer during the year for fun and a little

first day of school

first day of school

change of pace. We’ll continue with Poetry Tea Time and freewriting from Brave Writer as well and I plan to enroll them in another online class in January. This year Littlest joined in with the freewriting topics by dictating his thoughts to me. He loves to see his own words on paper. The older three are continuing the poetry and composition courses from Blackbird and Company. Littlest is using Foundations from Logic of English to learn to read. I could not be happier with this curriculum for reading instruction. The crew is also working through MENSA’s Year of Living Poetically. This was started last month and they are already memorizing their second poem.

first day candy bars

first day candy bars

Everyone has their own math. Littlest is still working through MUS’s Primer. He also has geo boards, tangrams and other geometric manipulatives to keep his hands busy during read aloud time. Middle Boy is using Christian Light Education and supplementing with Beast Academy. Sparkles is using Math Mammoth and Oldest is finishing up Christian Light Education sixth grade math. He is ready for pre-algebra and is trying to decide between MUS or Math Mammoth. I’m considering Math Without Boarders for the high school years. Everyone will need a new level of math by December.

20160815_183139 (640x480)I had a hard time finding science curriculum. I just wasn’t happy with most of the available selections. I do like Dr. Wile and ended up sticking with his books. The younger crew love his elementary science books and Oldest started with General Science. We’ll also watch a ton of science documentaries and I plan to get Curiosity Stream on ROKU too.

For Christian studies we are working through Pilgrim’s Progress but I haven’t decided what we should do after we finish toward the end of September…

20160815_183000 (640x480)We added art and music appreciation studies from Simply Charlotte Mason. We’re listening to Bach and studying the art work of Botticelli, Giotto and Van Gogh. We’re still working through Barry Stebbing’s Nature Drawing and Journaling course but will finish it up soon and move onto ArtAchieve.

projects

projects

At certain points during the year we will set all academics aside and work through projects together. Oldest is going to make a stop motion movie and possibly move on to robotics afterward. Middle Boy found a Minecraft STEM and art project book that he plans to use and Sparkles is going to learn to sew. Our group project is knitting and we will all be making hats, scarves and socks this year. I’ve

art

art

been on YouTube learning all of the various knitting stitches by making coffee cozies. That way I’ll already have a clue when the kids pick up knitting needles for the first time.

Everyone will work on their keyboarding skills and Littlest will be introduced to the computer. The older three are still taking piano lessons and Littlest is showing a bit of interest in learning piano too. He’s working on a little song right now and trying to remember the location of middle C. Once he does that he’ll be way ahead of me…

That’s our year in a nutshell. I’ve left white space in our schedule for bunny trails and whispered moments of inspiration from the homeschooling muses.

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Review and Giveaway: HCSB Apologetics for Students Study Bible

20150806_135654 (480x640)I recently received the HCSB (Holman Christian Standard Bible) Apologetics for Students Study Bible to review. To be precise I am just going to review the additional articles, study notes and physical appearance of the book.

The Bible is a nice comfortable weight and size. It has indented tabs which I really like. Old Testament tabs are black and the New Testaments tabs are red. The pages are very thin, making the print on the back page visible. All of the pages have very light gray curved designs and print on the pages as well. I did find these designs to be distracting. My daughter liked the designs. The HCSB is not my favorite translation. I’ve always found the bold print of Old Testament quotes in the New Testament to be distracting. My oldest son said he preferred the bold type to the foot notes. I also felt the margin space should be larger for a study Bible. My kids couldn’t imagine why anyone would write in their Bibles. All that to say I think this study Bible is spot on for the intended market and not for old people like myself! Ha!

20150806_135615 (480x640)I did enjoy reading a few of the articles and book introductions. There are interesting archeological and historical asides called “Bones and Dirt”. These are usually little bits of the historical record that confirm the Biblical narrative. Another set of little notes called “Tactics” are simple apologetic teachings in response to common statements from non-believers. There are also sections titles “Twisted Scripture” throughout the text. These point out Scripture that some groups have misinterpreted (depending on your beliefs). I would like to point out if you are a Jehovah’s Witness, from the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints (Mormon) or in any way a New Age Christian then these notes will offend you. I’ll also point out the articles take a middle road view on the young earth/old earth argument. Strictly young earth Christians will not be happy with the shared viewpoint in the article. Some personal accounts are scattered throughout the text showing how individuals dealt with hard issues in their own lives. I also enjoyed reading some of the many (I haven’t read all 120 yet!) articles. The articles are about issues facing Christianity today as well as subjects younger Christians will find interesting.

Through out the summer the “gift of confident faith” is being celebrated with a sweepstakes and a teaching video series from Sean McDowell. The kids and I watched a couple of videos for our Bible devotion time together. I plan for us to watch all of them together. The videos are quick (just over three minutes) teachings over common questions like having doubts, treatment of women, why does God allow evil and so on.

Overall I like all of the features of this Bible. I’m very interested in getting my hands on a copy of the non-student version! What I really love about this Bible is that my kids are excited to get their hands on it and have been begging me to get this review over with so they can have the text!

I’ve been provided a copy to give away. Please leave a comment below or on my Facebook page for a chance to win by August 13th.

“Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post. Giveaways are valid only in the USA and Canada.

Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

Weekly Wrap-up: Mommy School

preschool graduation

preschool graduation

Today, Littlest said goodbye to preschool. Every morning for the past three weeks he has been counting down the remaining days. He’s been a pretty happy boy today…unless you try to take his picture…then not so much. The moment he received his certificate he cheerfully announced, “No more school forever!” Once the ceremony was over he sat in my lap and repeated several times “only Mommy school for me”. Mommy school…I love the sound of those words in his voice. So sweet. Maybe I should change the name of our homeschool to Mommy School…no…not really. Wouldn’t that be funny on a transcript!!!

donut shop

donut shop

After the ceremony we went to lunch together. The only thing Littlest wanted for graduating preschool was a trip to the donut store. He wanted to pick out his own donut and enjoy it in the shop (we usually get everything to go when I am by myself with the crew). I let everyone pick out two donuts. Littlest loves the strawberry glazed variety. I decided to walk on the wild side and picked out a maple glazed donut with bacon crumbles! Those are really tasty! I thought about getting at least a couple of hours of school in but since today is National Homeschool Teacher Appreciation Day (I learned about it on Facebook this morning), I decided we could take the day off. We

love my boy

love my boy

played outside, cleaned out the bunny cage and I managed to take a little nap while cuddling Littlest and watching Wild Kratts.

Our homeschool ran fairly smoothly this week. We love our new Bible study so far. I think this Bible Road Trip is going to be a good fit for us. Sunday morning I sought out our pastor for advise on reading material. I know my kids are going to ask tough questions…they always do. There are days I wish I had a theologian on speed-dial! I needed a good seminary level survey of the Old Testament…just a little something to help me understand our study better. I came away from his office with an amazing list of books. I really love that the list he shared with me come from many denominations. He

Oldest and Middle Boy playing with bunnies

Oldest and Middle Boy playing with bunnies

even shared a few books for my own personal use and spiritual growth. I’ve already found most of these online and will make my order next month. We decided to start a Scripture memory box with this study. I love this easy to assemble system from Simply Charlotte Mason. We start our homeschool day with our Scripture box.

We’ve enjoyed out first week of Sonlight’s human anatomy course this week too. The instructor guide suggested I ask the kids about what they want to learn this year. So, naïvely, I asked my crew.

DSC08277 (640x445) (640x445)

science books gift

Oi! Why! I knew better than to ask such a question!!! I will spare you their requests and speculations on the answers to their questions. It was one of those few moments in my life  when I laid my head on my lesson planner and asked God…”Why? Why am I here? Why are you doing this to me?” I kinda wanted to cry so I laughed instead.

Speaking of science. This week a friend gave us a huge bin full of science books!!! Several of these books were on my wish list! The box included a few experiment kits and everything you would need to put together an elementary science program. A few of the books are ideal for middle school. Wow! What a gift!!! Thank you

Only Mommy school, only Mommy school!

Only Mommy school, only Mommy school!

my sweet friend!!! As much as the kids and I treasure these books we would gladly give them back if you did not have to move away. I pulled several of the books for Littlest for his Kindergarten year. He is so excited to begin. Today he went through his new science books and put them in the order he wished to work through. He based the order of the books from favorite to least favorite color.

This past weekend was the first Top Gun Classic Car Cruise In of the year. So it finally felt like spring to me!

 

Linking up with Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers

Weekly Wrap-up: A Beautiful Life

crew at Homeplace

crew at Homeplace

Last Friday was a beautiful autumn day. So lovely that we decided to pack a picnic and head out to Land Between the Lakes for a “field trip”. First, we followed the slowest truck ever through Amish country. Eventually, (after forever) the truck turned off and we made our way to our favorite Amish country store and stocked up on bulk supplies of flour, popping corn, sugar and spices for the winter. Afterward, we travelled out to Hematite Lake and grilled hotdogs (my stomach was mad at me!) and watched the kids play. A few classes from one of the local schools

time to grill

time to grill

had the same idea for a field trip at Hematite Lake too. Our crew stopped for a moment to watch them all double file past us to the lake. Later, we headed out to the Homeplace. The kids got a lesson on the usefulness of dried corn stalks and watched the ladies carve pumpkins.

Over the weekend my awesome husband repurposed some old school desk we had been given into chairs for our school room. The fold up chairs we’ve been using the past few years are falling apart. He cut the metal bar off the chairs and disconnected the desk tops. I wanted to keep the desk tops for art and outdoor lap desks. Dismantling the school

at Hematite Lake

at Hematite Lake

desks saved us some cash and cleared up some storage space. Middle Boy spent a bit of time pulling chewing gum from under the chairs with a screwdriver on Monday morning.

For the most part school was uneventful this week. The crew worked hard and we are currently on schedule…except for science labs. We are still trying to get caught up from when we lost our lab books. Tuesday morning was a bit different. We spent about an hour and a half on Bible lessons because Middle Boy unloaded a ton of questions. He wanted to know about Baptism, if he wanted to be Baptized did it have to happen in front of the whole church, why don’t we all go to the river Jordan to get Baptized, does he have to go all

learning uses of corn stalks

learning uses of corn stalks

the way under the water, is Pontius Pilot in hell, would God forgive Satan if Satan repented, did everyone who lived before Jesus go to hell…and so on. I answered him as best I could but…I could really use a theologian on speed-dial some days. I started to get a bit upset because we really needed to get math done and I had hoped to finish our book on Sir Isaac Newton that day. Then I set all those thoughts aside. We have plenty of time. Isn’t his relationship with Jesus far more important than fractions and optics?

Sparkles made biscuits this week

Sparkles made biscuits this week

I lost sight of one of the privileges of homeschooling. Studying Scripture is important. It isn’t just a subject to be checked off a daily list…no subject should be treated that way…no. Somehow, recently I had slipped into a “get everything done on my checklist” mode of living. That’s no way to live a beautiful life…my purpose for being is not a checklist.

Today, we went out to the dam. We had hoped to see the eclipse this afternoon but clouds suddenly rushed in and obscured the sun. We ended up taking a walk and watched a crane do some fishing and saw a Bald Eagle fly ahead of us.

Linking up with: Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers

Weekly Wrap-up: Curriculum Edition

fun with friends

fun with friends

For a July in Kentucky we’ve enjoyed some near perfect weather…though we could do with a bit of rain. Despite it being our second week of school we’ve spent some time outside this week enjoying the mild weather and friends. So, naturally, we are not exactly on schedule. This time last year I would have been flipping out over the schedule. Not now though. I’ve learned to relax over the almighty schedule (sort of). Actually, I (hopefully) worked out a way to keep us on track by making allowances in the schedule for unexpected (and planned) interruptions. This year I am only planning for a

Sparkles and friend...they are nonconformist in their table usage

Sparkles and friend…they are nonconformist in their table usage

four-day school week with one light work day (usually Friday) reserved for enrichment projects, outings, or getting caught up.

Today, after a half day of school we joined some friends at the playground for birthday cupcakes and fun. We’ve also went swimming twice this week! Oldest has also gone blackberry picking a couple of times this week but the harvest is starting to slow without any rain. Blackberry season is about over.

"Catch me, Big E!"

“Catch me, Big E!”

On a sad note, Oldest learned this week his guitar teacher is moving away. His last lesson will be this coming Wednesday. My poor boy is truly heartbroken. I’m sad for my son and grateful for the time and mentoring his teacher invested in him.

Here are our curriculum choices for the 2014-15 year…

Group Subjects:

my convention purchases...note the pile of receipts in the corner!!!

my convention purchases…note the pile of receipts in the corner!!!

Music Appreciation from Zeezok Publishing. Wow! We are loving this curriculum. The kids especially enjoy the lapbooks and the music CD’s. This week we made German brown bread and started an oxidation experiment while learning about Bach.

Science: This year we are working through A History of Science from Beautiful Feet Books. We’ve only completed the first few lessons but I’ve already caught a couple of the kids looking through the books. Right now we are learning about Archimedes and will work through some buoyance and water displacement experiments tomorrow. This year will also be the first time they will keep proper scientific journals and will learn about the scientific method by performing the steps. To this study I added: Thames and Kosmos’s Milestones in Science kit, Isaac Newton by J. H. Tiner, A Piece of the Mountain by J. MacPherson, The Mystery of the Periodic Table by B. D. Walker, and Michael Faraday by C. Ludwig. Once a week we are watching the BBC six-week series called The Story of Science (on YouTube). I also found a program about Tesla on Netflix and am looking for a few other shows to add.

Bible: Right now we are working our way through Christian Light Education’s Bible 400. This is a continuation of the Gospels from last year. We’ll finish up by Christmas and will then begin Apologia’s Who Is God course and notebooking journals (I won this set on a blog giveaway last year!).

Spelling: The crew is using level 3 of the new SpellingYouSee curriculum. Oldest is a fantastic reader but his spelling is terrible. They all love the curriculum and never complain about spelling work anymore. I’ll love it if I see progress!

Art: We still have several Bible Stories DVD’s to work through from last year and they have ceramics from Art In History that ties in with their History studies. We are not doing much with art this year since we are working through music appreciation. Next year we will have a proper art curriculum.

Music: My crew will continue piano lessons with the fabulous Mrs. Melody!!!

Math: We will be working through the first four books of Life of Fred.

Geography: We did not finish our geography study from Beautiful Feet Books over the summer break (life got kinda busy) so we will work through the rest of it on Friday’s until finished. We should be done before Christmas break.

Curriculum for third grade:

working oh history notebooks

working on history notebooks

History and Writing: The Story of the World Volume 3.   Sparkles and Middle Boy are using notebooks for keeping their maps and coloring images. I reduced the size of the images to fit in their notebooks. For writing I just combined the techniques from Writing With Ease 3 into their history work. Right now they are narrating (they dictate their narrations to me) one section of the chapter each week. After our second term they will begin narrating all of the sections in the chapter each week. During our last two terms I will transition them to writing their own narrations into the notebook. They also have to read through some history encyclopedias and write down interesting facts.

Math, Language Arts and Reading are all from Christian Light Education. The kids love these workbooks. We switched to their math over the summer. I just wasn’t happy with MathUSee. It just wasn’t challenging enough for them. I had to drop everyone a grade level in their math but they should be caught up by Christmas time. By the end of the school year they will have completed two years worth of math! They will also be keeping reading response journals that I mentioned two weeks ago.

Curriculum for fifth grade:

working on ancient history

working on ancient history

History: Oldest is using the Intermediate Ancients guide from Beautiful Feet Books. He absolutely loves this study but it is currently kicking his behind! He is a lesson behind at the moment. He isn’t crazy about the Streams of Civilization history book and chose to add The Story of the World to his reading schedule. I also tracked down every extra book mentioned in the guide that I could find. I plan to get the Drive Thru History DVD’s on ancient history to go with this study and watch some old movies like Ben Hur. He is also starting a timeline this year and is using the beautiful book from Homeschool in the Woods.

Writing: He is working through the first level of Writing With Skill by Susan Wise Bauer. Writing is his least favorite subject and I can tell after these first two weeks that I am going to have to really work with him. I learned at the convention that some consider this book a bit too tough for fifth grade and to only expect him to get through half of the text. Well, I didn’t tell Oldest that or he would use it as an excuse to slack off. I know I will need to coach and push him through the work. He did flip through the book and learn that if he completes the course he can receive a signed certificate from Dr. Bauer. For some reason Oldest really wants that certificate…I call it motivation!

Language Arts, Reading, and Math: All of these subjects are from Christian Light Education.

Pre-Logic: Building Thinking Skills from The Critical Thinking Co. This book was recommended in The Well Trained Mind. He thinks it is fun.

Typing: He is using Typing Master Typing Tutor. I found it on Amazon.

I think that is everything…

Linking up with: Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers

Upcoming Bible Study

I am teaming up with my friend at Future Flying Saucers for a Bible study on marriage starting next month. The book is called Enhancing Your Marriage by Judy Rossi. We teamed up last year on the Made To Crave study and I am looking forward to another study with my friend. I’m not sure exactly when we are starting but I wanted to let you know in plenty of time to get the book (if you want to) and join us in the study. The tag line on the back of the book states “enhancing your relationship with your husband…begins by enhancing your relationship with the Author of Marriage-Jesus Christ.” Wow! What a line! I can’t wait to dive in and begin our study. Details about the study will be posted soon.

Christ of the Mountains

I grew up in two worlds…in various military towns and in my grandparents home in the Appalachia foothills. We moved frequently from Washington to Louisiana and many places in-between.  I loved the mountains because everything remained as it was between stays. My early years were with my grandparents…up until about three and then off and on through the years depending on events I have little knowledge. I spent all my summers and winter breaks in the foothills and moved in again at about the age of ten.

My parents were agnostic at the time and eventually my father became more atheistic. He really hated God so I am not sure you could really call him a non believer since you have to believe in something to hate it so much…sadly my brother has followed him into the same nonsensical conclusion. At this point I honestly have no idea what my mother believes…if anything. Well, all of this background is to let you know that my grandmother took it upon herself for my religious education and training. I didn’t mind because she and Papaw were the closest I ever had to a home until I married my husband.

I believe the church she grew up in was called an Old Regular or some would say Primitive Baptist. I liked going to church with Granny and Papaw when I was a kid. Papaw always sat on the back pew very close to the door. I remember being scared to death for him one Sunday when the preacher told us that Old Satan always sat on the back row. I don’t really remember the point of that preaching but I tried several times to get Papaw to sit on the next row up. Granny always sat on the third row from the front, on the left side next to the isle. She said only “show-offs” sat any closer. I liked sitting there because the Candy Lady always sat in front of us and I got a piece of cinnamon gum every Sunday. Granny said “show-offs” always had candy to give away too…

Preachers are different in the mountains. Most of the preaching I was exposed to was not from seminary trained professionals. The mountain preachers had other full time jobs and were not paid by the congregation. (Granny always told me to never trust an outside preacher without a real job.) Usually a plate or hat was passed around after the service for the preacher or sometimes preachers. Sometimes there were more than one preacher and those meetings (we didn’t call them services) could get really long. One of my favorite times was when we’d sing the preacher down. Singing the preacher down was when someone in the congregation (usually a Deacon) would get up while the preacher was talking and start singing. Then someone else would join the deacon and then the rest of us would sing along. These would usually be in the style of shape note singing (I think that is the name of the style). A hymnal wasn’t used  when this happened. Most of the time these happened at the big mountain top graveyard but occasionally during a meeting.

The preaching sounded different too. I’ve never heard the sing-song chant style outside of the mountains. Some even held the Scriptures to the side of their head in order to better hear the Holy Spirit’s message. Most of the sermons were about either hellfire or the Lord’s triumphant return in the final battle when everything will be made new and the dead will get up out of their graves. Some of the sermons I remember were about the dead waiting in their graves for new life and the sound of the victorious trumpet to awake them. I wandered what that must be like for the dead and eventually for myself…all that waiting.  I asked Granny about it once and she told me the good souls went to Jesus and the bad souls waited in their graves for the Great Judgment Day. I still wander about that when I visit graveyards today. Mostly I just stay away. Such thoughts and beliefs made it easy to believe in omens, dreams and visions which were common discussions on the front porch as summer evenings settled into night. Some nights Papaw would tell us a ghost story…

The Jesus I came to know as a child is very different from the Jesus I’ve come to know in modern churches. The Jesus my Granny taught me about was fierce, terrifying and wild. I often imagined Him with flames in His eyes and carrying a flaming sword. He could not be tamed or understood by us regular folk. Looking back it seems I must have heard many sermons on Revelations. Jesus loved children and repentant sinners and He had a dreadful knowledge of right and wrong. I understood that I had to walk the line when my childhood was over because He wouldn’t love me anymore unless I was repentant. I remember very clearly the day my childhood was over but that is a story for another time.  God was very real when I lived in the mountains and we sang hymns while working in the garden and feeding chickens. When I returned to the modern world with my parents I kept my Wildman Jesus a secret. I wasn’t allowed to go to church or ask questions about God. Eventually, my father found my Bible and I never saw it again. But I still remember my Bible. It had a colorful picture of Jesus with children on it and it zipped shut.

I like the modern church I attend now even though it would be nice to “sing the preacher down” sometimes. Jesus seems very friendly and personal in modern churches…so much so that I think we can forget He is Deity. But no matter how Jesus is preached in these modern churches I will always remember He cannot be tamed by anyone…modern or mountain.

Yeah, this post is kinda long and different from my usual sharing. I miss my grandparents and am sad to know that their ways are becoming distant memories, forgotten and stereotyped by shows like Justified. Life and death were hard and faith was breath but it was a good life. Fall is around the corner and that is when I really miss my mountain home…something that is only in my memories now.