Sunday, August 28, 2011

Our First Week Back and Heart of Dakota Recap

This last week was our first week 'back to school.' We are using the Heart of Dakota (HOD) curriculum. I'll be honest and say that the first day was a little disappointing. Avlyn just didn't seem that interested, and she especially showed a lack of enthusiasm for both the history read aloud and the poetry. I don't know if it was just back to school blues or a lack of 100% preparation on my part ( we had just gotten back from Florida the week before, so planning for the first day kind of slipped me by), but by Wednesday we seemed to have a good flow, and she seemed to be enjoying the curriculum. This is the first year I'm recording hours, so that was something I was trying to figure out too. I am going to have plenty to blog about this year. Every weekend I plan on posting a recap of our week, since I know other HOD users like to see what other families are doing and how they're implementing the plans. Plus, those not familiar with HOD can see if it's a curriculum they may enjoy. Here's how our week went:

Math - HOD recommends Singapore math, and that's finally what I decided to go with. This week was basically a review of numbers, number words, and also sequencing up to 10. Friday we started with number bonds, but I'm just learning about those myself and plan on dedicating a post to it soon. I think we will be sticking with Singapore math for the long-term.

Science - This week we learned a bit about the ocean and whales/dolphins. We did two science experiments. One was creating a current in a sink of water using a dropper and the other was using peanut butter (instead of the suggested Crisco) to simulate the blubber on a whale. She covered two fingers with 'blubber' and dipped both hands into ice cold water. We then discussed why the peanut butter covered fingers weren't cold and how blubber protects ocean creatures from freezing.

Social Studies - Heart of Dakota is very Christ-centered and very history based. We read quite a few pages out of our history book and created our timeline. We chose to use a large poster board rather than a piece of paper. I have it attached with velcro to the wall for easy removal when it's time to work on it. This is her project completely. I don't write any of the stuff for her. I write the information on an index card and she copies it onto the timeline and then draws a picture representing the event.

Reading/Language Arts - I am using two things outside of the HOD curriculum, and those are Phonics Pathways and Explode the Code workbooks. We are just continuing with these until reading skills are solidly cemented. We also started the assigned poetry, which was Sara Coleridge's "The Storm." I printed out a poetry sign and also a picture of the author and poem to hang on the wall. Printing the picture was my idea since the poetry is so classic. I thought it would be good for her to relate that the picture was the person who actually wrote the poem. I am having her create a poetry journal also, so that at the end of the year she has all of the poetry she's learned in a nice journal. We are also working on sight words and minor grammar implementaion. This week it was sentences vs. sentence fragments.

Bible - She worked on Psalm 4:8 this week "I will lie down and sleep in peace. Lord, you alone, keep me safe." We are using an NIV kid's bible for our verses. I am also having her create a Bible verse journal. She writes the verse and then creates an illustration above it. We are just using the writing/drawing journals from Walmart.

Art - This week she created a shield of faith out of posterboard, tin foil, and paint. She decorated it with a rock, a picture of the Lord, a house, and a few other personal things. This related to another Psalm assigned in our curriculum. She LOVED, LOVED this project.

Overall, we had a great week. I'm enjoying the flow and material of the curriculum. We're looking forward to a great year. Happy homeschooling!!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Homeschool Freebie of the Month - August

Summer is almost over, and most of us are gearing up to start school. We started this week, and I think we're really going to enjoy the Heart of Dakota curriculum. I'm going to post a weekly review on our lessons at the end of each week. This month's freebie comes from Taste of Home and Ziploc. All you need to do is input 2 UPC symbols from any ziploc products and you get a free online back to school meal planner. These look to be quick and easy recipes, including slow cooker recipes, which will come in handy once your schedule becomes full with school projects and lesson planning. Enjoy and happy homeschooling!

On a side note - Scholastic is having their yearly teacher clearance sale. Homeschoolers can take advantage of the teacher store by simply inputting that you homeschool when you order. I saw some great bilingual science readers for little ones marked down from $20 to $6. I've ordered from Scholastic in the past, and it's always shipped quickly and in good shape. This back to school clearance sale usually runs through the beginning of September, so you may want to check it out.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Back to Homeschool Celebration

As we prepare to start our new school year tomorrow, I've run across a common question on the message boards. Many parents want to know what to do to make the whole going back to school thing more exciting for a homeschooler. Many kids have a back to school party or get to go clothes and school supply shopping right before school starts. But what does a homeschooled child get to do that makes going back to school fun and exciting? Just because you educate at home doesn't mean that you can't build up anticipation for the first day. For those that school year round, you could choose to have a party or celebration at the conclusion of a large unit or before moving on to a higher math program. Below is a list I've compiled from suggestions and ideas from other homeschooling families, along with what we do to celebrate another year of homeschooling.

  • We have a back to school pizza party the day before and she looks through her books and helps me organize some stuff for the first day. I also take a picture of her on the first day and we compare it to what she looked like the year before on the first day.
  • Bake a cake together the night before and have a cake and ice cream party on the first day. I saw some suggestions that do cake and ice cream for breakfast , while others do it for lunch or after dinner.
  • Write a nice card from you to the kids, sharing your excitement to start a new year.
  • Plan a big breakfast or brunch to celebrate going back to school. You can go out to eat or work together and make a meal at home.
  • Purchase a few new school supplies such as paint, colored pencils, glue, scissors, and colored paper. Kids love seeing a collection of unused school supplies and can't wait to use them.
  • Write down what you need for the year. Create a small list for each child and have them help you shop for the supplies, giving them personal choice on items such as folders, pens, pencils ect...
  • Go on a small field trip the day before or on the first day after all of the work is done. This can be something simple such as a trip to the beach or the park, or you can plan something more elaborate such as the zoo or a museum.
You can do one thing or many to celebrate the beginning of a new school year. My daughter's personal recommendation for celebrating back to school is to go outside and watch all the kids on the schools busses drive by on their first day of school and then head back home and be glad she doesn't have to get on the school bus. She's a nut! :) No matter what you do, remember to celebrate our freedom of educational choice as many countries are still struggling to gain the right to home educate. Happy homeschooling!