Archive for the ‘homeschool ideas’ category

Going on a Whale Hunt

September 24, 2008

My son is reading Moby Dick- or supposed to be.  I think there’s more protest than actual reading going on.  I found a great site to use to check that he’s read each chapter.  It also includes quizes, an end of the book test, and discussion and essay questions.  They have every book I can think of on the site!

Then, today I called my sister- in- law and she was on her computer watching this cool site.  This guy took a 7 day whale hunt trip to Alaska.  He took pictures at least every 5 minutes for the entire trip!  How cool is that?!  I will probably never go on a whale hunt trip to Alaska.  But, now I get to go for free.  And, even better, on his plane ride, he’s reading Moby Dick.  I’m hoping that seeing an actual whale hunt will inspire my son to actually finish the book.  Yeah, I’m not holding my breath either.  But, I can still have some hope!

High School- So Far, So Good

September 15, 2008

I just started week three of our high school journey.  For several years, I’ve been dreading the thought of teaching high school.  But, as the time got closer, I got calmer.  Everything seemed to click- in the planning mode, at least.  After 3 years of homeschooling, I’ve realized the right curriculum has to not only be right for my son, but also right for me.  I can find a curriculum that I think he would love.  But, because of everything else going on in our lives, I have to be realistic, too.  And, if there is a ton of planning involved in making that curriculum effective, I’ve realized it’s just a waste.  So, this year, I successfully found curriculum I think we will all like.  It has each day specifically outlined and he and I both know what he has to do.  I think this make us both feel better.

I, once again, created a goal book for the year.  I was actually proud of myself for keeping that up last year.  And, starting high school, it makes me feel better to be able to show what he has accomplished.  I think it’s good for him to see as well.  Some additions to the book this year are the weekly sheets.  My son actually created it the first week of school as part of his computer class.  Using excel, he made a list of his classes and the days of the week with boxes large enough for me to write his assignments in.  Although I love the homeschool tracker, it became a chore and not portable enough for us.  So, now I write his assignments in sometime the week before and he knows what he has to do each day.  There is a small box in the upper left hand corner of each assignment box.  He writes one line of an X when he finishes an assignment and I write in the other line when I confirm or correct it.  So far, so good.

So, as I said earlier, as the time was approaching, I was getting more confident that I was doing the right thing.  And then, a phone call confirmed it!  My friend has a daughter the same age as my son.  This summer, I borrowed her biology curiculum to give my son a jump on his classes.  Unfortunately, we weren’t able to do most of the experiments and only got half way through the book.  So, she agreed they could do the experiments together at her house each week- a true blessing to me since I didn’t know how I was going to get them done!  But, that left me one other subject to worry about- foreign language.  I really wanted to start him in Spanish this year.  But, the program I wanted was way too expensive for us right now.  So, I wasn’t sure what to do.  And then my friend called.  Her daughter was going to take Spanish from a friend of hers and she said my son was welcome to join them- free of charge!  I am so excited!  They aren’t starting until the end of September so that will give him time to get into the routine of everything else.  But, I am sometimes just amazed at how things work out.

So, is everything wonderful in the world of high school?  Well, not as much as I had hoped.  But, for a teenager with hormones and mood swings, we are doing pretty well.  He whines about this or that.  But, usually gets it done.  (If only he’d realize how short his school day would be if he cut out the whining and daydreaming!)  He has his regular subjects and then 2 electives- typing and computers for this semester.  He’ll be joining the YMCA once the weather gets too cold for him to be outside for recreation.   So, I think it’s a well rounded day. 

So, I’d have to say that so far we’re doing ok- pretty well, actually.  At least we will be once he finishes Moby Dick!  Why he chose to read it, I don’t know but now I’m determined to make him read it all the way through!  Don’t tell him I never read it!

Saving Over $120 a Month- And Counting!

September 10, 2008

     The economy has been on the minds of many Americans lately.  Either it comes up in campaign speeches and television ads or it hits closer to home with many families feeling the pinch.  Because I am one of those feeling the pinch, I got to thinking about what I have been doing to compensate for the change in lifestyle for our family.  And, then I started wondering what others are doing to help during this time of economic struggle.  Maybe someone else has done something that I can do to save a few dollars here or there.  And, maybe something I’ve done could help someone else.  So, here are my ideas.  Please share yours, too.  And, hopefully, together we’ll all get through it!

     I took a look at every bill I pay each month.  There were some things I really didn’t need- one organization I paid fees for that I had never used.  So, that got cancelled and saved $10 a month.  Then, netflix had to go.  Thank goodness we have a wonderful library that has anything i ever wanted!  That was another $10 a month.  Yesterday, I found a car insurance company that was $30 less a month for the same coverage I had before.  So, yes, I must say, I switched to Geico! 

     In April, I got a new car.  Although that sounds like spending instead of saving, I actually broke even.  Because I drive so much, gas and my new car payment is actually the same- or less- than what I was paying in gas every month.  So, I got a better car that will eventually save me a ton of money!  When I have an errand to run close by, I really try to walk or ride my bike.  Of course, as it gets colder that will change because I hate being outside in cold weather!  But, for now, it gives me some exercise and saves on gas.

     Lately, I have been making a huge effort to make a menu and shopping list for the week.  This saves me money and also keeps me from having to think at the end of the day!  The hardest thing to do for dinner at night is decide what to make.  So, this works well in several ways.  I’ve been able to stay under our $30 a week budget and make some tasty, well balanced meals! 

     We don’t go out to eat now.  We joined the $5 club at the theatre.  But, we very rarely go.  There’s always fun things to on weekends during the summer that are free.  When winter comes, we’ll probably have to work a little harder to find things.  But, I know they’re out there.  So, I cut out our $18 a week entertainment budget.

     On the homeschool front, I’ve had some luck- I call it God!  A friend has a daughter about the same age as my ds.  So, we’ve combined some classes, shared some curriculum, and been able to save money.  I also have some other people in my homeschool group that I am swapping curriculum back and forth with.  I think this is a great thing for homeschoolers to do- either as part of a homeschool group project or just as individual homeschoolers that know each other.  It can get expensive and most people use it and then it sits on a shelf or in a box and collects dust.  I’d rather see someone else get some use out of it.

     On the good side, evaluating how we spend our money has made me become much more aware of where it’s all going.  I have always thought of us as very frugal.  But, now that we are forced to live on my income alone- and are still eating with a roof over our head- I see that we could really save a lot of money away when my husband does find a job.  So, hopefully, this will all be good for us in the long run.

     I’m sure there are other things.  But, those are the main ones off the top of my head.  What have you done?  What are you planning to do?  How has the economy effected you?  Let me know your thoughts!

Going Off Autopilot

February 26, 2008

It seems my life is reflected in my writing.  I guess that makes sense.  But, it isn’t always a good thing. 

It’s been a long time since I’ve written a homeschooling blog entry.  And, that’s about how it’s been lately.  With everything else going on, we’ve pretty much been going on autopilot in that department.  But, I’ve been wondering lately if we’ve been flying in the right direction. 

So, last night when I couldn’t sleep- not sure if it’s the chocolate I ate just before bed or the mom panic that was setting in- I thought alot about our schooling this year.  It never fails that in the beginning of the school year I have a million ideas about what we are going to do in the new school year.  And it never fails that by December most of them have been  changed, ended in failure, or forgotten with the busyness of life.  So, I guess it’s about time to come up with some new ones!  Eventually, I should get it right!

So, idea one!  Remember my brilliant organization method for the school year?  It was a great excuse to go to Staples and get supplies!  I created a binder with a section for each subject that listed the state standards which I then used to create our goals for the year.  From now on, our goals will be the main focus of his learning.  Since these are the things I want him to know, these are the things we should be doing.  So, right now, all books and curriculum are going to be resources- not daily work.  I gave him the binder and told him to pick what goal he wanted to work on.  Some are short term and others will take him awhile. 

Today he completed 1 goal- know all states and capitals.  He also got a book of Edgar Allen Poe stories.  And, he got half of an algebra chapter done.  Since he sometimes has a hard time with change, I think this was a pretty good first day for him.  His incentive is that after completing 10 goals, he gets an entire day off.  That doesn’t happen much around here.  No snow days or teacher institute days for us.  Sometimes we even skip the holidays- actually probably most of the small ones.

And, I feel better knowing we are working directly on our goals and not just eventually getting to them.  I am sure by doing his research he will learn things other than the goals.  Also, some of them are pretty in depth and cover alot of information.  So, I now feel like we are back on track. 

The second thing of the day is this.  I was just researching to find study guides for Poe- not my favorite author (or even close!).  I came across this site and am amazed that this is all free!  http://www.sparknotes.com/ Most of the things I was finding were subscription things.  But, to find this many study guides and tests on so many subjects was amazing!  I am familiar with their books because I have bought several for my ds to use.  He loves the critical thinking one.  So, I am really happy to share this with you and hope you find it as useful as I have so far.

Thought number three.  I am so glad I am homeschooling!  Where else can I teach my son what I ant him to know and make sure I am teaching in a way he understands and retains the information?  And most importantly, where else can I change mid way through the year if it’s not working and still accomplish what needs to be done? 

And, with that, I’ll end. 

Living the Simple Life- Not Starting Out So Simple

February 3, 2008

     Inspired by several people close to me, I have started a process to make my life more simple and therefore, better.  Living in the busy chaos of life in these times seems to be unfulfilling at times.  So, maybe by going back to the way things used to be before my time- simple and focused- I can become more focused on the things I enjoy and have more time to spend with those I love.

     The first goal I had was to create a better budget system.  I used to do the envelope thing and I lovrd it.  Pretty much, at each payday, money gets put in each envelope which is designated for a certain thing- groceries, gas, entertainment, etc.- and then, when it’s gone for the week, it’s gone.  I loved this system because after the initial planning and aside from the weekly “stuffing the envelopes”, there is no thnking involved.  I know how much was spent or not spent and I know where the money goes each week.  Unfortunately, my dh didn’t really get into this system when I tried it after we got married.  But, thanks to his friends recommending it to him and the book by Dave Ramsey, My Total Money Makeover, we are trying it again.  This is week one.  We started Friday with my paycheck and the begining of the month.  it seemed to be the perfect time.  The only problem was my dh was having pizza cravings and cheap pizza just wouldn’t do.  So, $30 later, he had pizza- from a place he loves and I don’t like- and our envelopes were already off.  Trying to relax and understand this is going to be a hard thing to get used to, I wasn’t very successful at.  But, by later that evening, I had refigured the weekly envelopes to add up.  We’ll see how the rest of the week goes!

I just spent $20 on groceries for the week- $10 less than our budget due to the pizza.  When I make out a menu and really plan the list, I’m amazed that I can have well balanced, good meals every day for very little money.  When I don’t plan ahead, it’s amazing how much I spend on the junk I end up buying!  This week we are having chicken in the crock pot, burritos, spaghetti, pot pies, and taco bake casserole. 

The next project for the day is what I am sitting here writing to procrastinate for.  My cousing had the idea to eliminate so much laundry and clutter by limiting the amount of clothing for everyone in the house.  I am not that brave since I have to go to work every day and need to wear different clothes.  Also, I am not worried about the amount of laundry I contribute.  My son on the other hand has two very bad habits.  The first is that he would rather put clean clothes back in the laundry than folding them and putting them away.  This is one of my biggest pet peaves!  The second is that whenever he gets something out to wear, he gets every single thing out of his drawers!  I mean everything!  And, then it all gets thrown in a pile on the floor where it stays until we have to yell at him to clean his room.  So, by giving him only a fewn options of clothing, there will be a smaller pile on his floor and he will be forced to put it away or else have nothing to wear!  I am hoping this works!

My other project for the day is to update my son’s school work.  Usually this time of year, I am not in charge of his school.  But, due to my dh having heart surgery, he has not been keepng up with it.  So, today I am going to make sure things are on track and plan for this week of school.  It will be a review week- which we have periodically to make sure he is retaining the information.  Also, at the begining of the year I created our book of goals for the year and I really need to start checking them off.  I know some of them have been accomplished and others should have been accomplished and I really need to regain my focus on his studies.  Pretty soon, it will be springtime and school will not be as easy then- too many distractions!

Focusing on taking better care of myself is on the list.  But, as most of you mom’s know, it usually doesn’t ever make it to the top of the list.  I hear people always saying you should take time out for yourself.  But, what do I take that time out of?  I get up and go to work early.  No high maintenance or prep time for me, it’s usually the get up and go look.  So, doing anything in the morning only takes time out of sleeping.  Does that sound like a good idea?  I’m thinking no.  But, then there’s the evening when I get home.  Ok.  I admit it.  I’m lucky to get dinner made before I colapse for the night!  But, I guess that seems to be my only option.  But, it just seems that since I come home so tired, I am setting myself up to fail by planning to excercise then.  But, I’ll keep you posted.   

I had thought several weeks ago about having weekly goals to accomplish.  Two weeks ago, they were to eat at the table more and to play games more as a family- or at least with my son.  I’m making an effort on both of these but fell a little short this week and didn’t make any new ones for last week.  This upcoming week here are my goals.  Although they sound easy, sometimes, they are not easy in my world.

Goal 1- excercise 3 times this week

Goal 2- keep up with schoolwork checking

Goal 3- continue the first goals- dinner time 3 times a week and game time at least once

So, I believe these are all good things- things to make life easier.  But, getting them started- making myself do them- sometimes seems to be a hurdle I’m not too sure about!  

Time For Mom

October 30, 2007

A friend from my homeschooling group had a great idea.  Every once in awhile, we have a mom’s night out for the mom’s in the group.  Several of us felt we were ready for one- SOON!  I think it’s just that time of year.  You know, in the beginning everyone is excited to start something new for the year.  But, a few months in and everyone is ready for a break!

Anyway, she decided to host one and spent some time coming up with a theme.  She came up with a great idea!  What mom doesn’t have stress?  What mom doesn’t put herself last in the time category- this one needs her to this, that one needs her to do that, etc.  So, we are going to spend a few hours taking time out for mom.  We’ll discuss what stresses us out and ways we can destress. 

I am in charge of coming up with some ideas for our discussion.  So, here I am at my trusty resource- the Internet.  And, you all are my first stop.  What do you do to relax- to avoid or relieve stress?  I’m interested in your thoughts and ideas.  I’ll also share mine as I find them.

So, comment and let me know!

Autumn Goodies- Treats Without Tricks

October 29, 2007

With fall comes the change in temperature, the changing of the leaves, and Halloween.  With Halloween only a few days away, here are some fun ideas for some sweet treats!

My favorite Halloween treat is a yummy cake made to look like a pumpkin.  It’s really easy and really does look like a pumpkin.  All you need is a bundt cake pan, two yellow cake mixes, and white frosting mixed with orange food coloring.  Make both cake mixes in the bundt pan.  After they cool, put the flat sides of both cakes together using some frosting to hold them in place.  Then, frost with your orange frosting.  You can frost using a knife or spatula in an upward motion to make the lines on the pumpkin.  Use whatever candies you would like to decorate the face of the pumpkin.  Some ideas I’ve used are candy corn, gumdrops, or chocolate kisses. 

For an extra fun time, before putting the two cakes together, put in a few surprises- spider rings, toy skeletons, etc.  Your family and friends will love it- after they realize they aren’t real!

Looking for something a little more healthy?  This is a great time for making apple crisp.  There are some really good mixes that make it really easy.  Calhoun Bend Apple Cinnamon Mix is great.  calhoun

Just slice up the apples, put them in your baking dish, and follow the mix directions.  In a few minutes, you have a yummy apple crisp.  I’ve even had it made in the microwave and it still tasted really good!

Be sure to check all candy before your kids dive into thier treasures.  If you think anything looks suspicious or anything is unwrapped, get rid of it.  The other good thing about making sure you check the candy first is that then you get to grab all the good stuff!  Do you really want them to have all of that?  You’re really just helping them out.

halloween