Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Slow Start Back Week 1

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I wanted to make a slow start back to the books with the kids. Things to get them back in the swing of our schedule, & freshening up on subjects that might need such things all in an effort to help our first full week back go really smoothly. Especially since our first week back will only be 4 full days as we have a family outing one day in preparation for a wedding. It's also back to swim lessons & they are on a new day/time which means a slight interruption to our normal flow, but it'll be worth it.

So this past week we decided to pick up in a more regular manner our Bible Study, Science, & Maths. I have a really funny story about our first 2 days back, but they'll take up way too much space to share here. They are totally worth the wait, which Mr S can attest to as he had tears of laughter streaming down his face while I was trying to tell him about the off kilter day we had on Tuesday.

In the mean time, it was nice to get the kinks worked out & brush off the, "oh my goodness we're back to school all ready?" fuzzies out of the way now instead of on our first full week back.


As Jayden opted out of dino science I snagged the lovely 7 week mini study on Simple Machines that was available on special over at Spirited Autumn's Hope a few weeks ago. {It's still available, just not on special!} Winter Promise science is meant to be done in 1-2 days each week alongside your other studies. Because we aren't officially back to school I thought it would be fun to use the 1 day schedule for the 7 days it would take.


While we didn't accomplish as much as I'd hoped with it last week, what we did accomplish the kids loved. That's actually a hot wheel in one of their experiments riding down my baking tray. They are looking forward to getting back at it this coming week.


We picked back up our Bible Study, which was the ones we gave the boys for New Year. There's actually one of these studies that comes prior to cover the first portion of John, but I opted for the one in anyway. The boys have started marking directly in their Bibles which they really enjoyed. We had a great laugh because we use various coloured pencils. Well my black pencil was missing so I used a black pen to box something in & Jayden looked up horrified & screamed, "MOM! That's your BIBLE & you're using a PEN, that's like a forever kinda mark!" Yeah, we had a huge laugh.


It was back to MUS around here too. For the first 2 days I just had Jayden review his flash cards, but he showed that he's got them down pat so I started assigning a few problems from the book to be sure he hadn't forgotten anything he'd previously learned. I might have him jump into new lessons this week, but we'll see. Morgan was reviewing 3-5 lessons a day just to refresh himself as he was making huge strides through his book & I didn't want him confused or frustrated when he started next month.


He was really annoyed with me at first when I said that we'd review 5 lessons, but then when he remembered what the first 5 lessons in the book were he had himself a nice laugh. He actually did great, but we stopped at lesson 10 for a quick review as he wasn't certain of one of the steps. That was a confusing lesson when we went through that lesson the first time around. I love that Mr Demme gives you more then one way to do something, but I wish that after each step he'd instruct the children to stop the video & go try 1-2 problem using that step. We had to watch the lecture twice, stopping the second time after each of the 3 differing ways. This time we just refreshed ourselves on the way Morgan prefers & he was off & running again.

We also signed the kids up at the new indoor pool in town for their swim lessons. They are super excited to use the new pool, we'll see how they feel after they have to run laps. To move up to the next level they'll need to do 50m without struggling, all though I don't know that it'll be too hard for them. They use to swim laps for practice in a 25m pool & were able to go from one end to the other underwater without coming up for air. I'm really excited for them that because we can be accommodating & meet up with our instructor a bit earlier in the day they'll be having one-on-one lessons with their coach. All though in our situation I suppose it's two-on-one lessons.

We have one more slow week before we pick up full speed here. We'll be adding back spelling this week, or so goes the plan, on top of what we are all ready doing. It'll be a short slow week for us as we have company coming over on Monday & Friday, but that's okay still plenty of time to attend to a few things first.

Monday, January 27, 2014

2014 School Plans Grade 5

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Jayden is going into Grade 5 this year, all though I often, as I've said a million times, think of my children as strattling a variety of grades. Jayde's no different, all though I often think of him that way for maturity reasons more then anything else. His birthday falls in the middle of the year & thus he was obligated to start school a bit sooner then we otherwise might have chosen for him. Not that, at such a young age, school has to amount to much, but I digress..

This year, again, the boys are starting out the year with different Themes happening. Last year Jayden jumped ship from his main theme & joined Morgan for learning about countries around the world. It wasn't our original plan, but it worked & he fully enjoyed himself & gained a lot of knowledge out of it. Again he was allowed to select what he wanted to do. Did he want to join Morgan from the start or would he prefer to do boat school as he calls it? The choice was his.

He stuck with his plans of wanting to do Adventures in Sea & Sky, but dropped the idea of wanting to do Dinosaur Science. Of course he waited to confirm that until after I ordered the main book for his science, but I kept that to myself because he was really upset about telling me he'd changed his mind for fear I'd purchased everything all ready. I'm not upset at all about his choice, & for science his main theme is super heavy in that area all ready. So this year he'll be doing:

Winter Promise Adventures in the Sea & Sky -- He debated doing this one last year & at the last minute changed his mind about doing Animal Worlds instead. So this year I pulled it back off the shelf & he was very excited to use it. There were a few books, as we have the older version vs the recently updated one, that were out of print, but we had no issue tracking them down. We're still waiting on a few to arrive, but we have another week before we start back so we should be okay! I'm actually really excited to be using this theme as well, the notebooking pages & science experiments look amazing!

Math U See -- He'll also pick up right where he left off last year which was on lesson 21 in his current book. I've had him doing his flash cards for the current operation he was learning about as well as doing a few review problems to make sure he didn't slip backwards over the summer. He should be able to hit the ground running hard on our first day & be able to complete the book by the end of our first term! How exciting for him!!

Solving The Mystery Of Grammar -- I've also picked out a Winter Promise LA programme for him so that we can see how much of the grammar he's learned via other sources over the past few years is being remembered. He gets to solve a variety of cases along the way this year. I love the way that the WP LA books are broken down into 9-10 week booklets. This is perfect for our 10 week terms! He'll have the goal of finishing one book per term which will encourage him to stay on track.

Write From .. {Ancient History & Modern History} -- Jayden will also be using these lovely books for copywork, narration, & dictation practice on & off through the year. I love that the author has found wonderful quotes or stories about people through history that are turned into simple writing lessons. I'd like to match these lessons with what he's studying in Sea & Sky, all though sometimes he prefers to request "battle" stories or "more action" stories. It all works!

All About Spelling -- Again, he'll simply pick up where he left off in his current book which is only 3 lessons away from being done. Our plans of finishing it off before Christmas came to a grinding halt with our move & the insanity that ensued with that. I've warned the boys we'll pick up spelling next week even though we aren't officially back to school until February. The idea being we'd spend next week reviewing & if they are ready we'll just dive into the next appropriate lesson. I'd like to see Jayden clear the book he's in & at least the next book before the end of the school year.

Writing With Ease -- We may also mix & match this with the Write From books. We own both & he's really enjoyed his time with WWE before we discovered the Write From.. Series. I like to use what we have on as it works for each child.

Exploring Creation With -- His current theme has broken down 3 different science topics over 36 weeks of learning. Jayden had hoped to do Zoology 3 over the summer while hanging out at the beach. It didn't happen, & at first he was a little disappointed, but I reminded him that his first 18 weeks back to school would all be about ocean science. So, we're aiming to try & work this book in during that time. I had hoped the author would have the audio of it released by now, but it doesn't look like that's going to happen. For the second half of the year we thought we'd try using Astronomy as we also own that particular book & it will tie in nicely. Honestly, if these books don't happen I'm not going to stress he'll have more then enough science with his main theme this year.

Latin -- We were given Latin Alive! to review & I accepted the offer because Jayden was super keen to learn latin. It wasn't on my to do list, but considering his love for zoology & botany I think it will serve him well in later life. Having said that I didn't quite pay attention to the age range on the book when I accepted the offer. It's actually for Grades 7 & Up, so while we've checked it out & tried our hands at if for a review, we need to obtain the next level down to use regularly for him.

HWOT Cursive -- Jayden has been begging me for a year or more now to teach him Cursive, but my answer is always the same. You have to be able to print nicely first. He worked really hard on his handwriting last year & I decided to surprise him with a book for cursive this year. He mistakenly thought it was only for Morgan at first, but once he quickly realised there was one just for him he became very excited & screamed, "YES!! About time!!"

Discover 4 Yourself Bible Studies For Kids -- We do these together & I have a few flagged for the year, but won't be purchasing anymore until the one we started is completed. I love that the author guides the children to finding their own answers & hearing what God is telling them. We've also got some other Bible studies he'll be doing via his current Theme for the year as well.

Morning Basket -- this covers a lot of things, but if you're interested you can check it out over here. Keep in mind the basket's contents are constantly changing, we've all ready added a few things here & there!

Of course we'll be delving in art, encourage him with typing, weekly swim lessons, & other fun things throughout the year. It's filling in pretty quickly all ready!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Australia Day 2014

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Australia Day always starts the same in this house. The long discussion on the excess use of incorrect vowels in saying certain words like orange & squirrel. Which leads to the debate of the 5 sounds of a, which always ends up with those who have Aussie accents attempting American accents & vice versa. And if you haven't heard an Aussie attempt an American accent you're really missing out because the only thing funnier then watch Mr S or his brothers attempt it is watching the way their jaws looks like they might pop out of joint.

It's funny though because in Australia we're accused of having an American accent, or Canadian depending on who we speak to at any given time, & when we're in America we're accused of sounding Australian & using all sorts of funny words. One can't win for losing sometimes.

Not that it matters, we'll enjoy our family barbecue, board games, & all the hilarity that ensues as we celebrate being Australian & what it means to each of us. Stay safe, enjoy the day, & don't forget the sun screen!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Australian History, Again

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There's still a smidge of planning & gearing up happening here in our house as we ready ourselves for another year of fun & learning. The big thing I need to finish off is our Australian History for the year. Everything else is done & dusted & just waiting for final bits to arrive or the day on which we can crack open our gear & dive in!

All but the Australian history. The thing is I've yet to see a curriculum I'm totally in love with, one that follows our general love for literature combined with wonderful spines. Which was the exact problem I had last year when I began creating our own thing. I'm still working on that & while it's not unfolding entirely as I'd hoped it is coming together.

Truthfully I'd love something all ready done for me that mixes & matches all the lovely historical fiction our country has to offer with the spines that balance it all out. But if such a thing exists it appears, for now, to only be a figment of my imagination.

Which is why last year I started pulling things together ourselves. We did enjoy what we covered last year, but we moved at an extraordinarily, for us, slow pace. This year I'd like to pick up the pace, a lot, while still maintaining that balance. It's not an easy task, & with the compounded knowledge that each child is using a lovely literature based programme this year all ready I knew that my idea to speed us up a bit was going to have to be carefully constructed.

And while most of us, myself included, will admit that all good ideas come to you in that 30 seconds before your children realise you've secretly locked yourself in the bathroom, this one did not. It came to me in the local book store. It's not a very ingenius idea considering I'm all ready doing it for all our other subjects, on long adventures in the car, or even as a family on a dreary winter's night.

We're adding in audio books. See, I told you it was simple. I think the biggest reason the idea alluded me before is that as members of an Audio Club we often obtain the majority of our books that way. Except that I've never considered looking for a lot of Australian Historical Fiction there, just like I don't generally make much effort to look for American Historical Fiction in my local public library. That's not to say that each place doesn't offer some, because they do, but rather to say that I never expect them to offer much of what I'm after.

This week I was in my local book store, yes the new one not the used one, when I stumbled upon Seven Little Australians on cd. I've made mental notes of which books we aim to read that I see on cd at our local library but this wasn't one I'd spotted in that fashion! I was very excited & then had a long chat with the clerk all about audio books & the woes of coming across one with a foul narrator.  I think we scared another customer off with our chatter, but I scored the book in the end!

Oddly enough my audio book club actually has this book for sale at about half the price of what I paid locally for it, but that's okay I really don't mind. In the mean time it's reminded me to check my local library for many of the books I've flagged for our Australian Studies to see which ones are available to listen to.

Monday, January 20, 2014

2014 Planner For Sale

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The 2014 Planner I shared earlier is up for sale at a meagre $5. It includes a few pages of information in order to help you print it out so everything lines up correctly, so before you print you might want to read through it!

The planner is designed for those of us in the Southern Hemisphere in mind, thus running from January - December, but obviously works for those who wish to homeschool year round or like a planner that runs alongside the months of the year. Print as much or as little as you want, & the cover is completely customisable. I even included the links to find the free monthly pages which are editable if you use Adobe to open them up in.

If you purchase one, please be sure to read the information before closing your windows after paying in PayPal. The download link is there as it's not set up to be emailed to you! If you have any troubles though feel free to drop a line so we can help sort you out.

You can purchase the planner here, for $5 AUD or $5.55 NZ. And of course, a Big Thank You to anyone does choose to purchase one.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Setting Up Winter Promise Notebooks

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After we finished unpacking around here it was time to dive headfirst right into getting school set up for the coming year. We, here in Tassie, start back in February. Considering it's all ready the middle of January, shockingly enough, there was no time to waste!

Morgan is entering 7th grade, which around here means highschool. To continue him forward on the road to working independently I knew we'd need to keep the schedules, notebooking pages, & worksheets he'll be using this year very organised so he could easily find what  he needed to keep moving.

We often bind up our Winter Promise Themes, but that can also mean, at times, flipping around & flagging various areas that need to be referred to from time to time. While this doesn't bother me as long as I've remembered to flag things with different coloured post-it flags, I knew this would be harder for Morgan to keep up with. So instead I went to the office shop & picked up a gigantic notebook & 200 page protectors. And I'm not talking the flimsy ones either, I'm talking the ones that clearly stated heavy duty on them!

Then I piled everything up in front of me by subject & stared filling those page protectors up! It wasn't too bad considering the guys wanted to watch a movie anyway. And, filling up shiny new page protectors is something I enjoy anyway, I'm weird like that. By the time I was done just about everything he needs is inside that great big notebook!


I don't always print out covers from our digital products, but this time I did. I also printed out a few tips, helps, & other bits of information I might want to refer back to over the year. If we need more room in the notebook for anything I can always remove them & put them in my own binder.


I included all the planning ahead pages in regards to upcoming activities this year. Last year I presented the page to Morgan & he was on the lookout all year long for the items he'd need for projects. This will be flagged with a post-it tab so he can refer to it & tick things off as he goes. We have a cupboard in the kitchen where he puts the supplies he needs, & heaven help the person who recycles the cornflake boxes instead of putting them in there. He takes his supply list very seriously. Behind that page is also the list of activities for the year ahead, we'll go through it this weekend & highlight the ones we'll chose to do, or rather the ones he feels he can do on his own.


In most themes, Winter Promise includes a list of DVDs & when they'll be needed. Unfortunately, we've yet to find a single one with our video club, a local video store, or even at our library! That hasn't stopped us from scouring the list & looking! I'm debating purchasing a few this year or seeing if Netflix might have them.


Most of Morgan's spines this year are available in at least one audio form. This is wonderful for him because his eyes still tire quickly, not to mention we're still waiting on his new glasses to arrive! One of his main spines this year is Mystery Of History Volume I, which MOH sells as cds or MP3s. They also have a free pdf printable of the lessons & track numbers directly on their website. I printed out what we needed & loaded them into the notebook. While we have the MP3's & they'll go on the ipod touch, I know sometimes we both need the visual!


Now we're getting into the meat of his notebook, meaning now we've hit the actual lesson plans, schedules, notebooking pages, & more. Each week with Quest For Ancients there's a lovely cover page like this giving us an idea of what the week is about. There are questions that I can ask about the history books he'll have read for the week, all though I often don't need questions for him. He generally comes & narrates his lessons all most word for word. 


After his intro page I've got our Sonlight Science Schedule. Now that probably sounds a little weird, but this year for science Morgan is using Apologia General Science. Sonlight has done the work for me breaking it down into bite sized bits each day. It was worth the $15 to have it done for me! Everything is on the schedule, from what he needs to listen to all the way down to which supplies we need next week. 


Next is his LA schedule. This year we're using Winter Promise's programme, this is the first time we've used a true grammar programme so it should be interesting. Despite the amount of information on the page he'll only be using a portion of it. Behind each schedule is a Writing Mission, or rather behind each schedule is the accompanying Writing Mission if possible. Some missions carry over a couple of weeks & some weeks have none. 


I've also thrown the workbook style pages in that same page protector, just facing the other way. At the end of the year he can bind up the pages or we'll put them in an envelope in the file box. Either way the pages he needs for each week are located right behind the schedule so all he'll need to do is pull them right out & keep moving. We picked this particular course because the entire thing is written as though you are on a space mission, so everything is referred to in space jargon, he's going to love that!


Next up are his Adventure Quest pages & Make Your Own Notebooking pages. Yes, these come before the schedule, but you'll understand why in a minute. They are all in one page protector. He won't need each page each day, it's scheduled when to use which page & he'll just pull out the one he needs, use it, & then file it in his Timeline Notebook. Pretty simple! Some of those pages are pretty full & may end up having a paperclip or bull clip on them to be sure we don't lose anything, but I'm not overly worried about it. The idea is for this giant notebook to lay open to the week he's on & not move from that location.


Then we're finally at the history schedule for the year. This one tells him what to read when, which websites to visit, which books he's reading, & how much. Notebooking pages needed for the week & so on. It's all pretty straightforward because you simply run your finger down Day 1 or whatever day of the week you happen to be on.


Another unique thing about the curriculum is that Winter Promise offers an Independent Study Guide page. This is a schedule set up directly to/for the student. If you purchase the pre-printed ones you're given permission to run copies for your immediate family. If you purchase the digital ones you can now type directly on them if you want! That really got me excited, all though I won't be using that awesomeness this year. Instead I have this page laying right next to the main schedule so Morgan can view both. He will be doing this theme largely on his own & thus he'll need to see both schedules at the same time. Most of the information on it is the same, but not all of it.


We have 36 weeks set up like that, as the Winter Promise curriculum is made for 36 weeks or 144 days. So once we're through all the weekly schedules I've slipped in the eReading Schedule. While I don't have the ebooks, this was part of the LA package, & allows me to see at a glance when which books are meant to be read. It also includes a lovely page I can type into what books to read when if the schedule provided doesn't quite fit our needs, perhaps one can't get all the books, etc.


Then we have the great Timeline Section. There's often a game of some sort {or two} included in the Guides for use with the information you've learned during the year. This year it's a timeline style game, I'm pretty that's what's in the other history themes we've used too. There's instructions, cards, & boards to use for the whole thing. I've printed out the instructions for us because we're debating slipping the cards into our Memory Box as another way to remember what happened when. We're also looking at turning them into a Wall Timeline, but we'll see what happens..


We're using the HSITW Creation To Christ timeline figures this year. We now own the cd of all the time line figures I decided it would be wise to print out the list of which figures are where should we not be able to quickly spot on. There's also a list for the additional 80 Bonus figures included on the Cd. Not sure if that's a new addition or not, but it excited me.


Finally in the back of the notebook are all the timeline pieces we printed out. I printed them all on sticker paper, it makes it so easy to simply cut out & stick down in their notebooks. I've used a plastic envelope that fits in a 3-ring binder. I didn't want them in an open page protector where they'd eventually spill out, the envelope velcro shut & this way when we start cutting them out it's okay if you throw the loose ones back in. He can also remove it from the back of the notebook & move it to the week he's on if he needs to.

In the front of the notebook I have a main list of all the supplies we'll need for science. Most of the items are things we'd generally have on hand, but there are a couple we'll have to make an effort to hunt down before they are needed. Keeping it at the front means he'll mention it to me daily so I don't forget to keep on looking & gathering.

So what's not in the notebook? His math book, the literature he'll use with the guide, Writing With Skill,  & his science book & notebook. These items are always at home in his backpack except the literature which sits in his book box on the shelf. I also didn't include the GreenLeaf Press Bible reading schedule, I debated putting it in there, but opted out for a variety of reasons. The biggest being we'll probably read it together as a family in the morning anyway. Thus the schedule will land in our morning basket.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

2014 School Plans: Grade 7

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Back to school is creeping closer around here, especially as we slowly start to get back to schedules & books easing into a new year of learning. This year Morgan is in Grade 7, don't ask me when that happened, but it did. In Tasmania that means Morgan is in his first official year of highschool, which is unreal to even consider, & yet he is.

I'm still finalising plans & schedules, but I thought I'd type up what the tentative plans are here because on top of writing things in my planner I need to remember, I write things on my blog I need to remember too.

Sonlight Core W {2009 version} -- I decided to go with an older used version because I really preferred the book selection. The udpated version is probably just as awesome & wonderful, but this is what I felt was best for us.

Winter Promise Ancients Quest -- I've debated this long & hard, lamented to friends, yapped to Mr S about it who stares blankly at me wondering what on earth I'm worrying about. The truth is we love Winter Promise's hands on approach & after much debate we'll be this theme alongside all our lovely historical fiction from Sonlight. They do offer a shorter 9 week study of this course at their sister site, but then you don't get the plans to use Mystery Of History with it which I'd really like to do. This means we'll probably take 2 years with Core W, but that's okay we're not in a rush.

Math U See -- Morgan will simply pick up where he left off which is somewhere in the depths of Epsilon. He's been moving very quickly through it & thought we'd hoped to finish the book before Christmas I decided to pack them away & let the kids have a break. He should easily finish that book & Zeta in this year. Math is something he's very good at & tends to move quickly through.

Writing With Skill Level 1 -- We'll finish this book off, or so is the plan, this year. We laid it aside in Term 4 last year in order to put other skills to work, but we're eager to get back into it this year! It's a 4 day schedule so it's generally a great fit for our weeks.

Story Starters -- This was a book we intended to use last year for creative writing, but we never quite got to it. I still have plans for making it work, but we'll just have to see how the year unfolds. It might be something we enjoy using on the weekends or between term breaks.

All About Spelling -- Again he'll pick up where he left off & keep moving forward. I'm not sure that all 7th graders need spelling work, but this is remedial work for Morgan now that his vision problems have been addressed. He recently had his lenses changed again & was shocked by the difference in the new colour & said that some of the issues he'd been noticing had vanished.

Apologia General Science -- We'll be using the Sonlight W/H schedule for using this which means we attack it in small bite sized bits. I love that, in general, it lines up with what he'll be studying history wise this year too. He'll be listening to the lectures via audio, watching some of the labs on the computer, & using the apologia provided notebook as well. He's pretty excited that he'll have experiments again this coming year!

French 1 -- It's not mandatory where we live for the kids to do a foreign language, but we're keen to do it. We had a huge debate for a year or two running about which language we'd tackle. We each had our own opinions & few of them matched with others. When we were told about a Rosetta Stone mega sale last year we finally agreed on French. Morgan & I will both be doing this, but I think Jayde & Mr S have decided to sit it out. We actually have 5 levels of it, so we'll see how far we get this year.

Winter Promise Exploring Word Pictures -- This is their Grade 6 Language Arts programme. My children have never done a formal LA programme before. They've done spelling, copywork, dictation, etc, but nothing formal. After finishing up both Word Spy books last year I thought it might be good to put everything they've learned to use. I chose the 6th Grade LA programme because while putting everything he's used to work he'll also be working on solving a mystery throughout the year. I figure that alone will appeal to him.

Grammar Ace -- We may dabble with this a bit this year, the boys are pretty solid with parts of speech thanks to our lovely time with The Word Spy books, but I like to keep things fresh for them too. Grammar Ace pairs up with Schoolhouse Rock.

A Child's Geography Of The World Vol 1 - 3 -- As mentioned in a previous post we'll be using this in our Morning Basket. The idea being to read through this a bit at a time. I don't plan, at this stage, to use lots of the unit study ideas as we'll have other geographical things going on this year too.

Trail Guide To World Geography -- This is a pretty simple thing, all though you can go pretty in depth with it. That's not my aim. I want to keep it simple just keeping the kids geography skills from last year fresh. Basically one question a day to seek out the answer to & locate places on the map. Easy Peasy.

Type To Learn 4 -- He used this some last year & then the desktop Mac crashed. We finally got a temporary one set up & he picked up where he left off. So this is just one of those things that he'll continue plucking away at.

HWOT Cursive -- He all ready knows cursive & did a lot of practice work on reading it last year because he was struggling with differentiating between the various letters based on how they linked together. No idea if it was part of his SSS or just part of learning the ropes with Cursive. Either way, he wanted to brush up on his own Cursive handwriting this year so we're using the HWOT version.

Greenleaf Press Guide To the Old Testament -- This was available for free earlier this year or late last year or something like that. A Sonlight Friend shared it with a few of us & I was quick to snag it knowing it would be lovely for use this year as we travel through the Old Testament with our history studies.

Discover 4 Yourself Bible Studies -- We're aiming to do a couple more of these this year. Morgan enjoyed doing one of these last year & we have another one flagged to do as a family with a few more potentially marked for the rest of the year.

Other Bible -- We have a few more things rounded up for Bible that aren't listed as we sort out how/when/if we'll be using them. Core W, for instance, has a few lovely resources that we're keen to use. MOH is Biblical History so it'll be interesting to read that alongside the reading of the OT.

Art -- We'll continue with varied projects from Art Projects For Kids, but I also picked up a used copy of Artilier Art that we were going to try our hands at. I always get nervous about art curriculum because it's really not my foray, but the boys enjoy it & tend to be quite good with it so I might just turn them loose with it!

Write From Ancient History -- These were given to us by the author in exchange for a review, which is forth coming soon to The Curriculum Choice. The books are wonderful & I purposefully chose Ancient History knowing what our studies would be in history this year!

I think I've jotted down everything. Mind you it does seem like a lot, but he wouldn't do everything every day. He's also reached that point where he can tackle a lot of things on his own, & I just need to guide him along the path. There's also the whole reminding him that there's no need to panic. Do your best to accomplish your goals for the day, but if you don't reach them let's look it over & find out why. Last year he'd stress, big time, about how much time a subject might take him to accomplish. Often it was Bible & he worried he might be spending too much time on it. So we had a chat about how there was nothing wrong with spending 20 minutes with his Bible study each day, & that stressing over it was a bad thing. We'll see how this year unfolds!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Updating The Memory Box

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Each year we add verses to our Memory Box, some years more then others. It often depends on if we remember to use the box daily or if it sits, for a few weeks, & collects dust at times. The Sonlight Curriculum we use comes with 36 weeks worth of verses, poems, or famous sayings to memorise. We don't usually memorise all of it.

I usually print out the Scope & Sequence from their 3 week sample so I can edit the life out of it to match up with our other studies, books, & of course our Memory box. First I look up all the passages for the year that they've listed for memorising. If I'm content with them I move on to the next one, but when we come to one I want to skip or save for later I simply x it out on my paper. This is why I choose to use the 3 week sample page, so I can mark it all up & move my final notes/ideas to my hardcopy.

Many of the passages are full chapters, often expected to be learned over the course of a few weeks this also effects what I choose to keep & what I don't. As an example this year some of the selections included Psalms 15, I Corinthians 13, & Exodus 20:1-8. I chose to keep all of Psalms 15, most of I Corinthians, & removed the passage from Exodus for us this year.

Once I've made my final choices on what we'll be studying for the year I pull out some blank index cards, preferably the ones lined on both sides, & my Bible so I can start copying the verses out. For the longer passages that are more then 1 verse I still try to keep them contained to as few index cards as possible. I skip 1 line between each verse & put the number in front of each verse. We do not, however, when reciting or memorising it say Verse 1, Verse 2, etc. We simply memorise it as a whole. We may only work on one or two verses a week, but we get there eventually.

One year we concentrated on learning Luke 2:1-20. We learned it one verse at a time, & once each verse was mastered I slipped them into the days of the week slots. Once each verse from the passage was known in full I moved the whole group into 1 day of the week. This works for some, but not all passages as you'll find some verses have half the sentence while the next verse has the other half.

Thing left to do is decide which order I'll pop them in the Memory Box in regards to which verse{s} we'll learn first. This year I removed several large passages & replaced them with single verses & then left other weeks open for some of the longer passages we are aiming to memorise. I like to start with a single verse in order to get things rolling too. This year we'll be starting with Galatians 6:9, a verse I use to quote often to myself when my boys were toddlers & find myself quoting again as we hit the emotional teen years.

I thought it a fitting verse after hearing, one too many times, "But why do I always have to do the right thing? Shouldn't he have to once in a while too?" Or, "I'm trying so hard not to shout at him right now, but he's pushing all my buttons at one time!"

Thursday, January 9, 2014

New Years Eve Fun

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I'm a bit late, but we really did have fun on New Year's Eve welcoming in the new year. As is our tradition we had Nana over & opened bags hourly in order to keep ourselves occupied until the new year had arrived.

We had unexpected guests come into town the night prior, but we didn't mind. It's nice to see family & the boys were keen to convince their Uncle that mattress surfing is even better then mattress sliding. Ahh yes, I'm just glad we don't have a small landing before the final few stairs this time around.

Our guests didn't leave until lunch time on the 31st so that delayed our normal start time. We also had to run by the old house & make sure everything was in order so we could drop off the keys with a local business. It's always a little bittersweet saying good-bye, but I have to say we were simply relieved to be done this time. A month of moving tends to do that to a person!

By the time we collected Nana, procured the NYE game & had bags filled it was 5pm, 4 hours later then we normally start with the kids! However, I was absolutely determined that we would have our normal fun considering we skipped many Christmas traditions this year.

Our first bag was supplies for baking a gluten free, dairy free, sugar free cake. Or as Mr S likes to call it, "An everything free cake, kinda like air, only it tastes like chocolate!" Ha, our toppings weren't sugar free as we made typical icing & added some lovely colourful sprinkles to the top. The kids were hoping for a little more Red 40 in them since learning that I'm excessively sensitive to the stuff & spazz out on it.



Bag 2 was suppose to be making pizza, but the guys were hungry now & decided ordering pizza was a better idea. The local place was having a lovely sale that put the pizza at 50% off plus free delivery, so I agreed that we could order pizza. We expected them to call considering we had gluten free cheese free pizzas in the tank, & that normally causes them to ring & say, "You forgot to select cheese, was that an oversight?" Maybe their use to the oddity of our pizza orders..

Bag 3 had our NYE game in it: Risk. And it took us an hour or more to play the crazy thing too! Mr S & Nana battled it out over Asia for far too long while I conquered Europe & Morgan conquered Australia. Jayden procured Africa for a while before Mr S came took over that country, but in the end Jayden won, quite by accident too. To which Mr S declared, "No more Mr Nice Guy when we meet again my friend!" Seriously, the phrases coming from the guys during this game were hilarious. My favourite being when Jayden beat Nana for one of those Asian countries & he said, "I'm sorry Nana, but you've perished, get off the battlegrounds!"

Bag 4 had new devotionals for the month/year ahead. I really love Kay Arthur's inductive studies & the boys each did one last year. I thought starting off the year with one together would be a great way to begin. I tossed & turned over which one to purchase, but in the end was very happy with my chioce.



Bag 5 told us to go watch fireworks. Our local town does fireworks annually down over the water. They also light beautiful lanterns & float them on the water. It's really is a beautiful sight. In the past we've taken the time to drive down & fight the crowds for a parking spot that's close enough for Nana & then tried to procure a place on the ledge that isn't filled with intoxicated people or someone smoking. This year I told the guys to put on their walking shoes & we walked around the block to watch the show. The shows start at 945 & again at midnight. But I totally mistimed it & we were 40 minutes early. Thankfully a neighbor told us it wasn't for another 40 minutes so we went back home until the right time. We had a prime spot at the end of our block & no one else was there to overwhelm us!

Bag 6 held new calendars for the year. Morgan recieved his typical Bible Society calendar, Jayden obtained a new Veggie Tales calendar, & the family got the Bible Tails calendar. I stated that next year I was buying a few of the Bible Tails calendars to pass around because family members love checking out the new picture each month. It's always good for a fun laugh.

Bag 7 instructed us to go watch a movie, which was trickier then normal. Jayden still prefers happy-go-lucky movies while the rest of us are often up for a bit more. The movie we wanted to watch he vetoed for fear of being scared & having bad dreams. Mind you he vetoes every movie we picked & by the time I finally selected one I thought everyone would enjoy {this is why preselection is so important!} Nana was very contentedly sleeping in the arm chair.

Bag 8 had balloons for decorating the house with. We could not find the New Year banner anywhere. Funny thing is we had it before we moved & when Morgan saw it he asked if he could put it in a safe place so we'd find it in the new house. I made the mistake of saying yes. Have I ever shared the story about Morgan putting the house keys in a safe place? 4 hours after trying to go out he finally remembered that he'd shoved them in a sock that was rubberbanded to the table leg. His theory was that if a robber broke in he'd never find the keys to get back out. The banner is still missing..



Bag 9 found us dashing out the door to shoot off party poppers & light giant fireworks. Our neighbors enjoyed watching us from their second story window along with the second batch of fireworks that the city was setting off. I'm sure everyone screaming Happy New Year had a lot to do with the funny stares we got, but as soon as I turned off the outside light their curtain closed. Good times friends, good times!

We wrapped up our evenings with mugs of hot cocoa & sleeping in an extra 30 minutes before people wanted to know when the traditional New Year pancakes were going to be ready. They were not gluten free but they were dairy free. Those that could eat them deemed them as good as ever, all though I totally forgot to get the toppings for them. There's this thing about moving house, kinda pushes everything else out of your brain!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Morning Basket

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Last year sometime, during one of those late night internet strolls one tends to take, I saw a post from a family who celebrates a weekly tea time. Now, the idea of a weekly tea party isn't really my thing. Which is only in part because I don't drink tea, the other part might have a lot to do with the guests who might be present at my tea party. They'd expect a lot of special treats, a pitcher full of something besides tea to drink, & would proceed to laugh themselves silly. All fun, of course, but not exactly what I'm trying to accomplish.

So I took the idea & transformed it into something I can use, or I hope to use. Hope, being that I'm setting it up & preparing to start using it in the next few days. We'll see how it unfolds. So my idea is, that rather then a tea time basket we'll simply have a Morning Basket. Of course, when I explained it all so non-chalantly to the kids I told them that even though I keep calling it a Morning Basket it doesn't mean it won't become the Afternoon Basket or Lunch Basket or Dinner Basket. You get the idea right?

Now, you might be wondering why on earth I don't quiet the silliness & just label it a book basket, ahh well there in lies the problem doesn't it. You see we all ready have a few of those. So when I say, "Please go to the book basket & get.." I hear a lot of huffing, puffing, exasperating sighs & finally, "Would you tell me which book basket?" Apparently mind reading it not a specialty my children were born with, who'd thunk it!

The choices of what to put in the basket itself were pretty easy for me. I gathered up all sorts of books that I've been wanting to get to with the boys & for one reason or another we haven't. Or perhaps we have, but they got shelved & we never finished them up. I even threw in a few that we've read when they were considerably younger & they don't remember much about it, or in some cases Jayden was young enough he doesn't remember any.

My plan is not to schedule the books out, but simply to have them in the basket nearby. If I schedule them out I'm going to be fussy about tackling them, where as if they are nearby I'll just pluck & read, or tell a child to pluck & read. We'll work through the books each month, some longer, & then I'll swap for new ones. Curious what's in our basket?

Currently we have the following inside:

The Creative Writer -- Morgan wants to tackle some non-fiction writing this summer & this is the book I've obtained to help him along. It's in the basket because that means we'll remember it daily. We won't finish it before the end of summer, but seeing it in the basket might mean he'll tackle it a bit on the weekends or during term breaks too.

The Wonderland of Nature -- This is sold by a few Australian companies as an Australian Nature Book. I was pretty excited when I first heard about it & obtained it, but after reading a couple of chapters I shelved it to hide my extreme disappointment. The book is Nature & because it was written by an Australian it is Australian Nature, but don't buy it under the pretence it will hit on specifically Australian anything. I'm pretty sure people living outside of Australia could easily use the book as well.

Jesus-Awesome Power Awesome Love -- The boys each received a copy of this book for their New Year devotional. My hope & plan was to work through them, with them, over the summer break. I had it timed out so that they would finish those before we started our new school year when we have other Bible stuff planned. We'll see what happens.

Parables From Nature -- This is exactly what it sounds like. We've read from it in the past matching up the parable with character issues or even science lessons. I thought it was time to dust it off & pull it back out again. I'm not sure we've read every story inside & this time I think we'll work from front to back. I can't be certain, but I thought I remembered one of those open org places having this book up for free now..

Ten Boys Who Changed The World -- We own a few in this series & used then when Morgan was in Grade 2. Jayden wouldn't have been doing much school at that time, & I thought it was a lovely way to keep reading about Missionaries as we did last year.

Nature Studies In Australia -- This amazing book is sadly out of print now, but it's amazing. It covers just about everything & has both coloured drawings & sketches inside. The version we own we picked up used inexpensively a year or so ago & it happens to be revised from the original.

A Bush Calendar -- Yet another out or print Aussie Nature book, but this one is available online for free! It breaks things down by the month of the year to know what to look for where.

Read Me -- We read this poetry book faithfully all last year alongside our other poetry books, & we enjoyed nearly all the poems inside. So I thought I'd tuck it in this basket & we'll read it in the afternoons, or whatever time we tackle the other goodies inside.

Jesus Calling For Kids -- It's a lovely little devotional Morgan received for the New Year a couple of years ago. I thought I'd pull it back off the shelf & tuck it in the basket to use again. We really enjoyed using it when he first got it, & considering it has 365 Devotionals there's bound to be a few we missed last go around.

Igor Stravinsky -- I purchased a few books in this series late last year with the grand idea that every other week we'd do a bit of art study. Life happened, homeschool events built up, & we never seemed to get the opportunity I had planned. So rather then leaving them on the shelf I've pulled them out this particular composer to read about this month.

Picasso -- This book has the same story behind it as the one above. The little schedule I purchased to go with it also came with some hands on ideas for trying your hand at a bit of art like Picasso did. So we may, or may not, do the same when we read the book. We also have a few other art books that might have some fun suggestions inside..

Great Australians -- Rather then saving it for our Aussie Studies I tossed it in the basket & decided we'd read about a new person each month & when the kids came to them in their studies it might mean a little more to them then. You know like the whole meeting up with an old friend theory.

Prime Ministers Of Australia -- Again, this is the same as the above idea. Our copy of the book is missing at least 2 Prime Ministers, but it'll give us plenty to start reading about considering it goes back to the first Governor as well.

I Grew Up To Be President -- I actually chucked this book in the basket first & then decided to add in the Prime Minister book. I figure if we read about a president a month we might be through them all by the time the next election happens, we'll see. We have a few other presidential resources around the house too that we can pull out when come to certain people, sadly I won't find any resources for this at my public library for obvious reasons.

Drawing American Art Volume I -- We were given this for free in exchange for a review a year or more ago now. We adored it but never finished the book! Morgan asked if we could please include this book in the basket, & you know I thought it was a wonderfully lovely idea so in it went!

A Child's Geography Vol. 1-3 -- I picked 2 of these up on special via CurrClick earlier this year & was delighted to do so. While I would prefer the hardback copies the ebooks fit nicely on my kindle, so I'm happy with that too. Volume 1 is basic Geography, & will be mostly refresher stuff for my boys after last year. Volume 2 talks about The Holy Land which I thought would be a wonderful tie in with the Ancient studies this year. Volume 3 speaks specifically about the Ancient cities so I ended up swinging full price for the e-version of that book to put on my kindle as well.

Morning Exercises For All The Year -- Another out of print book, but I really love books that have a new reading for each day. Am I the only one who happens to be a little addicted to books set up like that? Anyway, it has a little reading each day, most of which I've read is often based on a historical event and/or a character trait. Because this is a book that was set up for the US school year it starts in September, if like us you're using it starting in January you have to flip through a good portion of the ebook to locate January!



I have a stack of books, both owned & wished for, to add to it down the road as well. I'd love to have a book of famous scientists in there & we have one flagged for mathematicians as well. Once we finish the Aussie people books we have in there I have another one about famous Aussies that I'd like to add, & we have several on Bush Rangers that are always flipped through while someone is chanting, "I'm a big bad bush ran-ger!" The ideas are pretty endless for what you could slip in there to be honest!

2013 Ornament Swap

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For many years now my guys have participated in an ornament swap in relation to the Five In A Row Curriculum. This year, like last year, we've been extremely tardy in sending out our ornaments. I really hate when that happens, but there's this thing about moving that really tends to take over. Especially when you crazily pack up half finished ornaments & all the craft supplies. Yeah, I'm that kinda nerdy.

Regardless the boys really enjoy discussing which book{s} they'll represent & what they'll make based on it. This year we have 3 ornaments going out, but the propellers were also made last year. We always make a plethora just in case we need to send out extras for any reason. So this year being on 2 lists we cross-checked them with our lists from last year to be sure no one got a repeat ornament. Then moved forward with making fresh new designs as well.

The propelled represents the book The Glorious Flight which is a story about a French man who makes the first successful flight over the English Channel. This book was really special to the boys when we first read it for a variety of reasons, but we pulled it out to read again last year after visiting a museum & seeing a model of the plane on display! The ornaments are made from foam. Our name, year, & book title are on the back.

The storm cloud represents Storm In The Night. The book is about a little boy & his grandfather sitting through a rather loud thunder storm, we always believed the book took place in the south, but that might have a lot to do with the thunderstorms we weathered while living in Tennessee. Regardless it's a book we've not seen represented over the years & so we brainstormed how we could do it. We decided upon clouds, lightning bolts, & rain drops. Unfortunately we only had white foam for the clouds so the boys coloured them over with grey crayon, & while you can't see it in the picture above they do look like grumpy storm clouds. Then we added glitter glue so they'd twinkle with the Christmas lights. Again these are made from foam, all though we did sew the raindrops on by hand. Glitter Glue for added effect, & a bit of glue to hold the lightning bolt which is pulled through the cloud.

Lastly we have a little candy jar. We have one family on both our lists this year that was on both our lists last year. Thus this person couldn't get 2 storm clouds or a propeller. Jayden really wanted to represent the book The Finest Horse In Town. I thought that would mean he'd want to do some kind of horse, which didn't appeal to me as we have lots of horses & owls from some of the story books others have represented. But no, he waned a candy jar just like he'd seen in the pictures of the store the sisters owned. Oh you have no idea how this caught me off guard, but he proceeded to draw it out & then we came up with some ideas on how to manage it. So this family will be the only ones this year to obtain the lovely little candy jar. The rest of those ornaments will be saved to go out to people next year!

2008 Ornaments
2010 Ornaments 
2011 Ornaments
2012 Ornaments
Other Ornaments Over The Years

Thursday, January 2, 2014

My 2014 Planner

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I took a day off from unpacking to finish printing & assembling my lovely new planner. I had all the pieces ready for it back before we moved, but thought it best to wait to print until we were moved in so I didn't lose the crazy thing. Some pages are ones I made from scratch & others are ones I found & edited up to fit my needs. The cover is one I made. I was going to put one photo on the front, but I liked how it looked with an assortment instead, all though the pictures are all from 2013. I really love the colourful stripes, all though I'm not entirely sure why the last two look purple they are actually grey. Maybe next year I'll make them purple!


This is another one I made. I really like to be able to peek at the whole year at once when we're looking at terms or holidays down the road. I printed out a second one to hang by the computer desk for now, we generally have an abundance of calendars but I've misplaced one so this works nicely!


I had a planer version of this nature calendar made up, but when I decided to put it in my planner I decided to add some stripes so it blended in. The calendar is based on my state & location within Australia, & the ideas were taken from a lovely, very old, Aussie Nature Book we picked up second hand. We have a few plans for this little page this year.


All the calendar pages are free & can be found here. I did not make them, but they are editable so you can edit the dates & add holidays or what not to it if you desire. The only bummer is that they are made for US sized paper so they don't quite fill up an A4 page. However, they were free & saved me the effort of making them!


I added one of these per month. The space to write in is quite large for my handwriting so I figure I can add to it throughout the month. I made this page up last year & struggled putting one in each week because it made my planner huge, then again I used slightly heavier paper last year too. Either way I'm pleased, thus far, with just having one page per month to work with.


I slipped several of these pages in the back. We read a lot of books in a school year so I wanted a page to keep track of them all. It's just a simple page I made up where we can tick off the books as we finish them. I added extra pages so I can keep track of what the kids read through the year. I often just put initials on my main planner pages for what people read each day/week. This allows me a place to write out the full title so I can refer back to it should I forget what the initials mean.


I like blank pages to scribble notes on, doodle on, or jot down the name of something so I don't forget it down the line. It's also where I can jot down ideas for next year when they come to mind, that way I don't lose them. Yes, I made the page, can you tell by the quote? Whenever someone in this house is thinking, this line comes up complete with tapping of the chin. It'll make me laugh to see it there each time I jot something down now.


After my planning pages I included some pages for around the house. I was going to originally post them in a totally different planner, but they easily fit in this one so I have the household stuff in the back & the school stuff in the front. This was a free page which can be found here.


A few years ago I used the Motivated Mom's Calendar, quite regularly, around the house. It's one of those simple little things that helps you remember all the big & little tasks. I stopped purchasing it because I felt I was in a good routine & was going to make my own based on that routine, but then we moved {2 years ago} & things never happened. So upon moving into our new Forever Home I decided I'd repurchase the MOM calendar for the year. It's in the back of my planner as well. One of the week pages {last picture} is beside one of the MOM calendar pages {above}. I scratch things off that we don't need to worry about & add other things on where they fit in. No, I'm not an affiliate, & yes I know you can get their planner digitally, but I much prefer paper planners. I went with the simple black & white week per page with Bible reading version.


The tabs, oh how I love the tabs. The only thing that makes me crazier then planners & notebooks are tabs in/on them. Poor Mr S had to stand down an isle in the Big W last year when we made a trip down south while I oogled over little notebooks with tabs in them that were just perfect for my Bible Study. As for these tabs though.. They were free from here & totally editable. I'm on a Mac so I pushed the command key + e & changed the font to Markus The Cow. I had to adjust it to black & then upped the size to between 35-40 depending on what I wrote. I have a tab for each month, chores, book lists, at a glance calendar, nature calendar, weekly x2, notes, etc. I have a blank tab because for some silly reason I forgot to type May on a tab.

The tabs told you what to print them on, but as I can't obtain that in my area I decided to do my own thing. Instead I printed them on a full sheet of A4 sticker/label paper. Then I laminated the front. I couldn't find my laminate paper so I had to use contact paper. Then I used my scrapbook circle punch {I think it's a 1", but it might be bigger, I'm not sure..} to cut out each tab. Each tab is backed with an identical tab. So you'd need to print out two sheets of tabs, laminate the fronts of 2, & then use the circle punch on 2.

You can stick them right to the page in your planner you want, but I picked up some dividers that I used in my binder. They were perfect for my needs. I stuck half the label onto the divider once it was in my planner & then flipped that over & stuck the second one to the backside. Super simple! And, because my dividers were plastic"ish" I was able to adjust them if I didn't like their position.

I used a repositionable heavy-duty post-it tab for my Weekly tabs. I just stuck them over the coloured/writeable portion of the post-it tab. That way I can move them each week from the school & chore section to the newest week. Perfect!