After five years in school, will homeschooling be a fit for our family? Walk with us as we try to find out!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Still Getting Ready

This morning the kids returned my announcement that they would be spending the day with Papa and Abuelita again with delighted shouts of "yes!"  Today was Day 2 of Operation Get Ready to Homeschool and I had another solid five hours to plan and prep.

And plan and prep, I did!  

I started by ordering the rest of the school supplies we need for this experiment.  There are one or two small things left to purchase but I need to go to the store and see them before I pick them out.  This post helped me with items I had not thought of but realized after reading it that they would be useful.  From the ideas in it, I purchased a laminator, the twistable colored pencils and the color pens.  

Our lab is almost complete.  I am hoping we can get an overhead light in there this weekend or next.  I also need to clean out and organize that cabinet in the corner which will house supplies and reference materials.  

I spent most of the day continuing to prepare the materials for our history curriculum, Tapestry of Grace.  I finished printing and three hole punching the maps and the evaluations for Unit Two of the curriculum.  

All that printing and I did not run out of ink!  However, I  did run out of time before I was able to get them into the binders.  That should be a fairly quick project I can get to soon enough, though.  

I also assembled one of the lapbooks for Unit One of TOG.  It was an intimidating project that took more time than I had hoped.  Here's what the dining room table looked like at the start:

And here it is midway through the project:

And now for the finished product:

Phew, did I ever heave a sigh of relief when that was done!  As you can see, I decided not to assemble the lapbook completely.  I thought it might be more fun for our dear test subjects to put them together as they go along.  I only had enough time to assemble one of the Unit One lapbooks.  I hope to do the other before school starts.  I'll leave Unit Two's lapbooks unassembled for the time being.  Maybe the boys will want to do it themselves???

The Math-U-See manipulative blocks are now bagged, organized and in a basket in the boys' reach.

I also spent time today tweaking the lesson plans I had worked on a few weeks ago.  I finally had some time to sit down and start playing with this fun tool!  After I tweaked the lesson plans, I entered them in the planner along with lots of other information such as important dates, field trip information, etc.  All of it will eventually go into a binder for easy reference.  

A few more things to buy, a little more organizing and then it's go time!  I'm feeling really excited and a little anxious.  While they are not really excited about hitting the books again, the boys still are excited about this experiment of ours.  It's starting to feel more real to all of us, I think. 

As for RA, she is beyond excited to start Kindergarten.  We have her uniforms all hung up and ready to go.  A new lunchbox and backpack are on their way.  We are still waiting to hear who her teacher will be but we can't go wrong with either choice, really, so we are waiting patiently.

How are your back to school plans going?  Are your children excited for another school year or dreading the fateful day?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Well, Wouldn't Ya Know

That Homeschool Planner I've had my eye on is on sale today and tomorrow only for $12 when you use the coupon code: BACK2SCHOOL.  So, I bought it!  And I wanted to share just in case you've had your eye on it as well.  Happy Back to School Shopping!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Planning and Peace

Since my moment of panic a couple of weeks ago, I have been diligently working on preparing and planning for our great homeschool experiment.  In little pockets of quiet time during the day and after the kids have gone to bed for the night, I have accomplished quite a bit.  So far, I have mapped out the first two weeks of lesson plans.  For now I am sticking with the sheets I printed from the websites I mentioned in my panic post and not ordering a formal planner.

I ordered the rest of the reference books and materials we will need to get started and have a short list of the remaining supplies I need to purchase.

I've been thinking about white boards.  I don't have a white board.  I don't want a white board.  After delving deeper into the curricula as I plan, however, I am starting to think that I may need a white board so I am going to look for one that can rest on a easel and be stored without too much trouble.

As far as each subject area goes, I've made some progress here, too.  All the maps and evaluations we will use in the first unit (20 weeks) of our history program, Tapestry of Grace, are printed, three-hole punched and placed in each boy's history binder in the order they will work on them throughout the year.  I also completed the daunting (for me, anyway) task of combing through the weekly reading and assignment lists for TOG and deciding what each of our dear test subjects will be working on for the first two weeks.

Today was a gift!  I spent the better part of 5 hours hitting the books in an effort to prepare for the first few weeks of homeschool.  TS1, TS2 and RA spent the entire day at my parents' house- something they LOVE to do.

Today I was able to watch the first teacher and the first student DVD of TS1s writing program: Teaching Writing Structure and Style/Student Writing Intensive from IEW.  (Why IEW post in the works!)  It seems like a wonderful curriculum and I am excited to delve into it.  I learned quite a bit already and was able to tweak what I had originally planned for writing a bit based on what I learned.

I also watched the first DVD lessons for each of TS1 and TS2's Math-U-See curricula.  I read the first lessons in the teacher text for each level as well as skimmed the workbooks and test booklets.  This turned out to be very important for my plans with TS1, which have changed quite a bit today.  I realized that because Math-U-See is uses different language and models for teaching math, I am going to have to back up to the beginning of the Delta level so TS1 can get the hang of the language and how the manipulatives are used.  Once he masters this, I think we can fast forward to near the end of the Delta level and then finish up the year somewhere in the Epsilon level of the curriculum.  

There is much more to do and I know that once we get into the day to day schedule, things will change.  But today was a gift and I want to celebrate it!  I am grateful for parents who are willing and able to be hands on with their grandchildren.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Where the Magic Will (Hopefully) Happen

Joining Amy from Heart of the Matter today for the:

About a year and a half ago we repurposed a little sitting room off our living room from a basically empty room with a piano no one played to an all purpose homework room:
It was used for home work and crafts for the rest of that school year and all of last year.  

This little room has been transformed once again.  This time into a laboratory for Our Great Homeschool Experiment.  Allow me to show you around:

The bookshelf- there is another row below the bottom one pictured here with more canvas and woven baskets.  Here is where all our curricula is stored.  The canvas baskets hold paper and school supplies while the woven ones will hold books and assignments once school starts.  

My Teacher Guides

TS1 & TS2's Workbooks and Binders
                                                                  History and Literature Books 

That little cabinet in the far corner houses more school supplies, workbooks for sweet RA
, and reference books.  I'd love to get it painted white to match the rest of the furniture but I highly doubt that will happen.

This little nook is actually off our kitchen.  I wanted the computer to be away from the seat work area so that when one TS is doing his computer work, the other will not be distracted by the sound or visual of a computer based activity.

And what homeschool would be complete without the easy button because it is going to be so easy, right?!?

Thank you for joining us on this little tour.  Any questions?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Planning and Panicking

Five weeks from today will mark the official first day of school for RA and first day of homeschool for TS1 and TS2!

In the next five weeks, we have VBS for 5 days and a family vacation for 5 days.  We also have plans for at least one day each weekend between now and then.  When I realized this yesterday, I had a panic attack and texted the details of it to my friend Andrea (who recently declared her love for texting to the world wide web).  She reminded me I will never be "ready" to homeschool and I felt better- I think.  

Then I tried to get ahead anyway by printing out the maps and evaluations that are part of our history program but my printer would not cooperate.  

Then I called my friend Deirdre to obsess about whether or not I needed to buy a planner for homeschool.  I've had my eye on this reasonably priced option but really don't want to spend the money unless I know I will use it.  I decided not to- yet.  So I googled, homeschool planning pages and I found these two resources that I really like:  Donna Young and That Resource Site.  I am going to use a combination of printables from each to make my own planner and assignment sheets for the boys.  

My planner will consist of the following sheets:

  • An Attendance Form for each of our dear test subjects
  • A Curriculum Key which will simply list the abbreviations I will use in the planner for the various curricula.
  • A Weekly Planner Form for each week listing my plan for each of our dear test subjects 
  • An Event Calendar where I can document special events and field trips
  • A copy of our state mandated year plans and quarterly reports
Each morning the boys will get one of these adorable assignment sheets to fill out and work through.  I am not sure how to get them filled in- do the boys copy their assignments from my weekly planner?  do we meet each morning and fill them out together?  do I e-mail them their daily assignments to print?  I guess we will try each method to see what works.

Each of our dear test subjects will also have a Reading Log folder in which they will keep a running log of their reading for the year.

I have this three drawer in/out/file box that I am thinking of repurposing to handle the paper flow.  I thought each boy could have a drawer where they retrieve their assignment sheet, reading log folder  and any other loose worksheets they need for the day.  The third dwawer would be for me.  They boys would return their completed assignment sheets, loose worksheets and reading log folder here each afternoon for my review.

So, tell me, dear readers, am I missing anything?  What has worked for you in terms of planners?  Do you even use one?  How do you handle daily assignments for the kids?