Tuesday, March 31, 2009
For those of you who don't know me personally, it's time to come clean about something :-). We own chickens, and we don't live on a farm. We actually live in a suburbanite neighborhood, and have discovered the joy of raising chickens!
Yep, you heard me right. How did this all start? Well, this city gal never realized that she had a farm girl lurking inside her (even though I've always loved animals and can be easily accused of having too many).
The children have always loved animals , so when they heard that one of our local farms was renting an incubator and providing fertilized eggs, they were all over the parents to hatch little chicks; being the sly mother that I am, I said "sure, as long as we can make it an educational process, and dad is ok with it"; thus began the science lesson on the life cycle of a chicken!
We started incubating our eggs and had baby chicks 21 days later! Yeah, it was so exciting! We incubated 18 eggs and had 9 chicks hatch, they were so incredibly cute! There were a few chicks that died within the first day, and that made darling daughter a little sad, but also served as a valuable teaching lesson on the natural process of death and animals (keep in mind, my children are tweens). Darling daughter has a very tender spirit when it comes to animals and small children, and is thinking about becoming a Doctor or Vet.
As the baby chicks grew, we became more and more attached to them and really did not want to take them back to the farm, but we also did not think we would be able to successfully raise them on our own. We prayed about it, counseled with dad (that means the children pleaded their case), and decided to keep 4 hens for egg production.
This has been a great chapter in discovering our world; the children learned a lot and we now have 4 chickens that are almost a year old, that lay eggs almost every single day (can we say yummy?).
If you are interested in learning more about the life cycle of a chicken, check out this site:
http://www.kidfarm.net (There is great information on this site, to include coloring pages for the younger ones.)
To learn about the incubation process, check out this site:
(ok I was going to put pictures of the chickens up, but alas, I have to figure out why they won't upload, stay tuned)
Monday, March 30, 2009
I know when we decided to begin our homeschool journey, we were over-whelmed with the large amount of options out there, but we knew it was something we had been called to do.
What kind of curriculum would we use: unit studies, boxed curriculum, online options, free worksheets?
There are many ways to approach this, but the most important thing to do is to take a deep breath, and relax, and know it's going to be ok. If you have decided to homeschool BEFORE your children have been exposed to the school environment, congrats... you are ahead of the game. For all of the rest of us who have struggled with the questions as to whether we were doing the right thing for our children, trust that you can do this, and know it's never too late to start.
The very first thing is to understand that just as this is a new experience for you, this will be a new experience for your child. There will be a period of transition, and they will need that important time to decompress from the stresses of the school environment.
I like to recommend unit studies for those parents who have children who love to read. Unit studies are a great way to ensure your child is covering all or most of the subjects they need, while enjoying a great read. The typical things you can cover with unit studies are: history, geography, writing skills (have them do a book report), spelling, grammar, science, etc. You can do fun projects like mummifying a chicken, putting on a reenactment of a particular time period, learning songs, matching biblical timeline with the historical time period you are reading about (this works well when studying ancient history).
You do not have to set your homeschool up to look like school (you can, and that is ok, but be careful about placing too much pressure on the child in the beginning to conform to what you think they need to know).
After I got over the craziness of buying all of my curriculum that I was so sure would work, I followed the advice of some great homeschooling moms who had been schooling longer than I....take time to get to know your child's learning style, this will save you a lot of time and money!
Understanding how your child learns is so important. If you have a child who learns best through kinesthetic or auditory means, throwing a textbook at them will serve to frustrate you and your child. If your child struggles with the physical act of writing, it may not be a great idea to have him or her start with heavy dictation work.
Unit studies, lapbooks, living books are a terrific way to ease into homeschooling. Check out some great unit study links in the useful homeschool links section. What are lapbooks and living books? Stay tuned....more to come.
Sunday, March 29, 2009
This is a great website with wonderful products that teach State History from a Christian perspective. The thing I really like about this site is the fact that you can customize your state Geography curriculum in whatever way you like.
This site offers products that focus on each individual state, or all 50 states. We really like the 50 states under God workbook. This workbook:
- Presents the 50 states in the order of statehood! The lesson schedule (included) is combined with a time line and a progressive map study showing the chronological growth of our nation.
- Includes the most interesting and important things from all of the 50 state history textbooks to give your student, from a Christian perspective, the "flavor" of the early days of our country and to teach important lessons from history.
- Includes 4 quizzes and 1 test over the growth of the U.S. and the identification of states and capitals on a map (answers are included).
- Includes four pages on each state: a page of interesting facts, two fun work-pages on which your student fills in important data using information given in the appendix, and a historical highlight page.
The only downside: They don't have a workbook for World Geography (stay tuned, I'll have a review on a very nice World Geography curriculum)
click here to download free sample pages.
Some of these links may be posted in my useful homeschool links section, but many are not. To see additional homeschool links, please see the Useful Homeschool Links section of this blog.
Gateway Educational Materials
Educator's Reference Desk
Internet Public Library
Merit Badge Research Center
New York Times Learning Network
BBC Online Learning
Ask Dr. Math
Math Worksheet Generator
Imagine the Universe!
Kids Dig Reed
Life Beyond Earth
Neuroscience for Kids
Ocean Planet Home Page
http://seawifs. gsfc.nasa. gov/ocean_planet.html
The Electronic Zoo
The Franklin Institute: Learning Resources
The MAD Scientist Network
The Yuckiest Site on the Internet
Arts & Crafts
Art Lessons for All Grades
World Kids Network
How To Learn
Children's Literature Web Guide
CRAYON - Create Your Own Newspaper
Take Our Word.com
The Write Site
What Makes a Good Story?
Geography and Virtual Travel
Colonial Williamsburg: Electronic Field Trips
Global Online Adventure Learning Site
The Jason Project
Virtual Field Trips
Xpeditions @ National Geographic
Justice for Kids and Youth
K-12 Africa Guide
http://www.sas.upenn.edu/ African_Studies/Home_Page/AFR_GIDE. html
Lewis and Clark
Life in the Middle Ages
http://www.kyrene.k12.az.us/ schools/brisas/ sunda/ma/mahome.htm
New Perspectives on the West
States and Capitals
The American Civil War Homepage
The Canada War Museum
http://www.civilization.ca/cwm/ kidsection/ cwmindexeng. html
The Civil War Homepage
The Oregon Trail
http://scholar. library.csi. cuny.edu/ westweb/noframes /main.html
White House for Kids
Homeschool Learning Network
A to Z Home's Cool
The Well Trained Mind
I know that
http://www.iknowthat.com (my dc love this one)
Teach With Movies
The Smart Guide to Financial Aid
By Kids For Kids
Have you ever struggled with teaching math, or with a child who learns differently from your other children? I belong to a wonderful community of homeschooling moms and I know the biggest compliant that I hear all the time is the feeling that the kids just aren't getting what they need for Math. Of course there are many wonderful Math products available: Math U See, Saxon Math, Singapore Math and others, but I have to tell you, I have found this DVD series of a wonderful Math Instructor.
These instructional DVD's are intended as a substitute for a live tutor, and contain hours of problems, worked out step-by-step by a clear and patient narrator. Many basic and advanced topics of mathematics are covered, including fundamental addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division, fractions, polynomials, algebra, trigonometry, even calculus.
My darling children have greatly increased their mathematical abilities. This series is great! A couple of times a week or every day if you prefer, and you will notice a difference. Some people use this in place of instructing (it's like having a tutor in your home), some use it to reinforce the concepts learned.
I like it because it offers lots of examples, isn't dry and best yet... it doesn't break the bank!!!
Thursday, March 26, 2009
I don't know about any of you, but when I first decided to homeschool, I went out and bought all of this expensive curriculum that I just KNEW my children had to have! Sadly, many months later (and many dollars later), I came to the conclusion that my children have different learning styles and the curriculum I bought was not the best fit for the children! What do you do in a situation like that? Go out and spend even more money on something you hope and pray will work?..... Ney, not I! I decided that the best thing for me to do would be to research the web and find some sites that might have things that I could use in my teachings. I had NO idea there would be so many different resources from me to pull from! To make life easier on you, I have compiled an extensive list of homeschool resources that I have found that I think may help some of you. The list is pretty extensive, so I will break the lists into parts and post as I can. Here's the first list:
http://homeschooling.gomilpitas.com/methods/UnitsFree.htm (free unit studies)
What is the best way to teach science? I'm sure plenty of people will chime in with their own opinions, and I'd just like to say that there really isn't any right or wrong way to teach it. I am what my darling daughter pleasantly calls a "science geek". I subject them to long walks in nature where we find cool bugs like this plant hopper.
Kitchen science which includes making makeshift volcanos out of baking soda and vinegar, making our own rock candy, and doing a study on bubbles that we make in our kitchen sink. The most important thing is to inspire children to have fun exploring the world around them, and that includes science. My niece called me a few weeks ago, and ok...I going to just say it...once again, the school systems have just squashed her imagination . Ok I'll explain what I mean.
My darling niece is in the 6th grade, and she calls me for help with her homework (what she really wanted was for me to answer the questions ). We started talking about the various questions and how to best answer them. I directed her to get some common household items she had and we did various experiments to solve the answers. She then says to me: Aunty this was so much fun. I hate science at school because all we do is read the textbook and take tests, we don't even have labs
What????!!!! Since when have they done away with Science labs? The schools today are so busy teaching to the test that they have killed the love of learning!!!
Ok, I am getting off of my soap box now. If you prefer to teach from a textbook, I REALLY have to say that I LOVE the Exploring Creation series by Jeannie Fulbright. They are put out by Apologia Publishers. We did Astronomy and Botany last year, and zoology 2(swimming creatures) this year. What wonderful books to teach young children very advanced concepts. I highly recommend.
Whichever way you choose to teach science, I recommend the following websites to help you in your journey:
http://msnucleus.org/membership/html/k-6/uc/index.html (secular site, so parents please screen carefully. Many nice activities)
I will be pasting many more links in my homeschool links section soon.
Well, a little about us: We are a blended homeschool family of five, our oldest and youngest are homeschooled and our middle child attends public school, We believe in Christ as our Savior and strive to live our lives glorifying his purpose for us!! The children would probably describe their Mom as a person who's sole purpose is to make them completely WACKO, but that is truly only ONE of my goals !
This is our third year of homeschooling, and I have to say I really admire those who have homeschooled from the beginning. It's really difficult having to de-program and de-compress children who have been taught outside of the home (any of you moms out there know what I mean?) I have always been convinced that I was called to teach the children at home, but didn't always feel the circumstances were right to pursue it (where was the trust?), but after being beat over the head time and time again by the spiritual hammer, my hubby and I finally decided to listen and keep the 2 who live with us full time at home. This has been a wonderful (and frustrating) journey of rediscovering the world through the children's eyes and I have noticed such a change in their personalities, academics and demeanor since we made the decision to bring them home.
We have a pretty eclectic style of learning in our household (after trial and error and figuring out what DID NOT work). I like the Charlotte Mason philosophy and tend to take a more relaxed approach (ok,ok, I'm WORKING on trying to take a more relaxed approach ) to learning. We combine the concept of keeping lessons short, outside play, nature studies, living books, unit studies and lots of hands on projects, and Mom really tries to get a grip on reality that I don't have to make them do 8 hours a day of learning sequestered in a classroom in order for them to learn (no offense intended at all to those who choose to teach in that type of setting).
We are looking forward to continuing this journey. Please keep us in your prayers and God Bless each and every one of you (...sounds a little like Tiny Tim... sorry! )
Michelle - somewhere in Maryland
I will do my best to post on a weekly basis, but I will make no promises :-) . I will periodically add new links that I find that may benefit some of the readers. Please take a moment to subscribe to my blog, you'll receive all my updated homeschool links automatically. I hope you enjoy reading.