Thursday, October 8, 2015

Service Day #1 - Baking For Heroes!


SEPTEMBER 11th 2015

We have decided to do a Service Day one Friday a month and our first Service Day fell on September 11th, so we wanted to do something in memory of our Police and Fire Departments.

Mackenzie made Chocolate Chip Banana Bread.

Katy made Snickerdoodles.

We made cards and everyone signed them.

The girls really had a great time preparing for this.
We also got to talk about September 11th and the significance of this date.

We visited 2 Fire Stations and our main Police Department.

The Firefighters at Stations 4 and 7 were so wonderful!
They didn't know we were even coming and still offered us a tour!

Hudson & Beckham were in awe of the Firefighter Lam.  
They also got to sit in the truck!

Our last stop was at the Olathe Police Department.

The Duty Officer was happy to pose for a picture with us.
Hudson was really taken with her.

We are grateful to live in a safe and caring community.  To have so many people who protect and serve our neighborhoods!  Our family appreciates all of our Firefighters and police and everyone of their families that support them in their jobs!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Homeschooling with Toddlers

Homeschooling multiple children is never an easy job, add to the mix a few toddlers and you can have a real circus on your hands.  It has not always been easy to find things for the littlest ones to do, to keep them intentionally occupied, not just busy.  But I have found that if you have a plan, you can make the days productive and pleasant for everyone!

We start out our days with breakfast and chores, then we have Bible study and Character Training with Character First.  Then I do schoolwork with the younger children and the older girls take turns working with the little boys.

We use learning tools that we have purchased and we use ideas for Practical Living, like buttoning buttons, zipping up zippers, snapping snaps.  Folding napkins, pouring rice or beans from one container into another, picking up beans or goldfish crackers with tongs, pouring water from a little pitcher into cups or bowls.  All of these tasks and a lot more are fun for toddlers and not expensive to do.

Here Katy works with the boys and their Counting Bears.

The boys love to count, sort and line up the Bears!

Here they are working on Sandpaper Letters.

Most of these learning tools were ordered from Amazon.  
They are Montessori based.

Mackenzie is going over the Magnetic Letters with them.

Madyson reading the BOB Books with the boys.

We also take them outside to run around.  In fact a lot of our mornings are spent finding ways to help them get their wiggles out!  
Little boys need to move their bodies about 40 minutes out of every hour!!

A lot of the ideas we use were found in the books 
"Teach Me To Do It Myself; Montessori Activities For You and Your Child" and 
"How To Raise An Amazing Child; The Montessori Way".

Thursday, September 10, 2015

New Curriculum for a New School Year!

I started this homeschooling journey in 2009, when I brought my oldest daughter Katy home for her 5th Grade year.  At the time I had four daughters in my home.  Two of them were also in elementary school and the youngest went to a pre-school/daycare.  I am a single parent, therefore I must work so I have an Accounting Firm which I am blessed to work in my home.  I specialize in Small Business and Taxes so I am fairly busy all year, but extremely busy during Tax Season.

I had intended to start homeschooling Katy in the 6th Grade, since I really didn't want her to go to Middle School.  But I changed my mind as we got closer to the end of her 4th grade year.  I had researched many different curriculum and i knew I needed one that had done all of the work for me!  I didn't really want to write my own lesson plans, plus I wasn't really sure how to start, so I knew I needed one that included everything!

I decided on Sonlight.  It is really great, so many awesome books and you can use each Core for multiple students.  We used Sonlight for the first 5 years.  I used Horizons Math for a couple of years and then we switched over to Teaching Textbooks, which I also loved!  I continued with Sonlight as I added each child to our homeschool classroom.  It was kind of a chore to keep track of all of the books, but I really had decided to keep doing Sonlight all the way through high school!  I mean, why would I change?  (I hate to change something!  I am totally the type of person who will stick with the same insurance company, cell phone provider, cable provider...toothpaste!  I just don't see why you need to change something if it is working!)

Then we hit 2015, and things started to change!  Our family was looking into another adoption, possibly adopting a large sibling group and literally doubling our family size!  So I happened to order Terri Maxwell's Managers of Their Schools.  In this wonderful book, Terri outlines all of her struggles, hard work, and tips for homeschooling a large family.  (They have 10 children.)

And Terri said they used Alpha Omega's LifePacs!  Textbooks?  I would never use Textbooks!  Those are boring, lifeless, too structured, did I mention boring?!  But you know what?  They are not boring, they are not lifeless...yes, they are very structured, but isn't structure a good thing too?  Especially when you are homeschooling 12 children at the same time?

So we ordered the Alpha Omega LifePacs!!  10th Grade, 7th Grade, 6th Grade and 2nd Grade!!  And we LOVE them!!!

Katy loves them because she likes to work independently!

Mackenzie loves them because of the Self-Tests and questions about everything she reads, she said she likes to be accountable!

Madyson loves them because she can do her lessons FAST!

Ava Marie loves them because she gets to work with Mommy still!

And Mommy loves them because they are making my girls smile and we are moving along awesomely!  Change can be good!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

First Day of Homeschool 2015-16

Can you believe the new school year is already here?

This year we have four in school and two in Pre-School.

Katy is now is 10th Grade.

Mackenzie is in the 7th Grade.

Madyson is in the 6th Grade.

Ava Marie is in the 2nd Grade.

Beckham & Hudson are going to Pre-School.

We started the morning with breakfast muffins and fresh new School Supplies at the table!  Who doesn't love new pencils and brand new notebooks!

I love how ready everyone was to get started on this day!  We were able to really get into the new schedule.
Getting up at 7 am, breakfast, morning chores and ready to start lessons at 9am!  Love it!

This is a good view of our homeschool area.  The girls at the big table and the little boys at their table.  The boys will be home all day on Monday and Friday, and will attend a morning pre-school on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

Happy fist Day of school to you too!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

To Co-op or Not to Co-op...

At the end of the last school year, as I contemplated having all of the girls home with me, I worried about the transition from public school days to homeschool days for Mackenzie.  

I also had some worries about our science and math and even writing curriculum for Katy who would be entering the 9th grade in the fall.  I always knew I would homeschool her for High School, and I did not have any second thoughts about that.  But I wanted to be sure that all of my children have the correct classes and knowledge if they choose to further their education by attending college.  (I have an idea for a blog post about college that I will do in the future! *Smile*)

So I started investigating Co-ops in the area.  A Co-op is an enrichment program for homeschoolers that basically involves the parents getting together to teach some extra courses to a number of students.  They pool their energy and talents and work together for one or two days a week.

I found a Co-op called Mighty Oaks Enrichment Center that met two days a week, Mondays and Wednesdays from 9am to 2pm.  They could accommodate children from Kindergarten to 10th Grade.  (The founders of the center had daughters in 10th grade, and each year as their daughters got older they added another grade level.)

Ava Marie is in their First Grade program, she has 5 other children in her classroom and there are 2 First Grade classrooms.  She studies Reading, Science, Art, History, P.E. and Writing.

Madyson is in the 5th Grade program, she has 6 other children in her classroom.  She studies the same things that Ava Marie does with Speech  & Anatomy, additionally.

Mackenzie is in the 6th/7th combination class.  There were more of each of these classes, but not enough to add a complete new 6th or 7th Grade classroom.  She studies History, Physics/Chemistry, Writing, Speech, Art, Choir & Drama.

Katy is in the 9th Grade program.  She studies Physical Science, Drama, Writing, Art and World View Discussions.

My original idea was to have the girls attend on Monday and Wednesday and then do our Sonlight schoolwork at home on the other 3 days.  I also enrolled the twins at a little pre-school down the street for the same days the girls would be gone.  That way I would be home alone for 5 hours on two days and would use that time to meet with clients or work in my office!  Great plan, right?!!

Alas, it has not turned out as planned.  First of all, the Enrichment part of this idea is not like that at all.  I imagined that the girls would learn a lot of things, but that the classes would be more supplemental to what we were learning at home, not too heavy or too much work, just extra.  Not so much, it turns out these are full blown classes...with homework!!  Yuck!

Katy has so much homework for her Science class that she spends almost all of her days home working on that one class!!  There are additional books to read, projects to work on and papers to write for all 4 of my girls!  I have been pulling my hair out trying to keep up!!

So last week I finally had a breakdown/breakthrough!  Since the girls love the interaction with the other kids, and I don't want to just quit, we are going to stick it out this year.  In order to make it work, I have basically put away almost all of the Sonlight...(insert sad face here!)  

At home we are doing Bible, Math and Reading.  It is definitely NOT how I wanted the year to be, but we are trying to make the best of the situation.  I figure that when Tax Season rolls around, I will be grateful to not have to do as much work at home and everyone will be pretty independent!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Getting Ready for a New School Year

*I actually did all of this back in July, but I am just now getting around to writing about it.*

This will be our first year homeschooling everyone!  Mackenzie is coming back home and Ava Marie who went to half day Kindergarten last year at out local public school will be a full time First grader here!

I will admit now that I am pretty scared!  I have never had all of them home together for school except on Snow days or public school holidays.  But I am led to do this by the Lord and I know He has my back on this!

So, back to my planning sessions:

1.  Check in all of the books from Sonlight.
2.  Set up all of the Binders.
3.  Put away last years curriculum.
4.  Put this years curriculum on the shelves.
5.  Write Daily Schedule for our homeschool.
6.  Put together 12 Busy Boxes for the Boys.

We always buy new binders for each year.  This year we bought Aqua Blue for Katy and Mackenzie and Lavendar for Madyson and Ava Marie!

Can I say this is one of my favorite parts of homeschooling?!  I am such a Binder Nerd!

Katy and Mackenzie's books for 9th and 6th Grade.  They are both studying Core G History of the World Part 1.

Ava Marie's books for 1st Grade.  She is studying Core B History of the World.

Madyson's books for 5th Grade.  She is also studying Core B History of the World.

Now that the books are all organized, I need to focus on my Daily Schedule and the Busy Boxes for the Boys!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Curriculum for 2013 - 2014 Homeschool Year

I ordered our curriculum for the new school year back in April and got it right away!  I don't care how many years you have been homeschooling, I think it never gets old when those boxes arrive!

We order from Sonlight and most everything I use comes from them.  We received 2 boxes this year, one with Katy's and one with Ava Marie's books.

Katy - 8th Grade:

CORE F - Eastern Hemisphere which includes the Language Arts and the Bible Study this year.
Science G - Geology, Physics & Origins
Math - Teaching Textbooks
I am also using Keys to Good Language 5

Ava Marie - Kindergarten:

CORE A - Intro to the World: Cultures which also includes the Language Arts and K Readers.
Ready, Set, Go for the Code
Math K Workbooks - I picked up several at Costco.
Reason for Handwriting K

Can I say how excited I am for this!!!  I pulled all of the books out to make sure we received everything, and we did!  I check them off of the list and make little piles on the table.  Then I pull out the binders we will use.  We buy new binders every year and I let the girls choose the colors.  This year Katy chose Teal and Ava Marie chose Pink!

Then I put all of the Instructor's guides into the binders for me, I get 2, one for each girl's core.  And then I use 2 binders for each girl's core for her.  I divide them up Week 1 - Week 18 and binder 2 is for Week 19 - Week 36.  This way they are not as heavy.  I put the Activity Guides in their binders along with any worksheets.  Each week has the Weekly Activity Guide for the Core, then the Guide for the Language Arts, then the Worksheets for the Language Arts, then the Guide for the Science, then the Worksheets for the Science.  At the end of the week we pull it out of the front of the binder and place it at the back of the binder.  On week 5, for example you will open the binder and the first tab you will see will be Week 5.  By the end of Week 18, the book will be back to how we started, but all of the worksheets will be completed.

This year will be a little crazy, because Ava Marie will be attending our local public school for the mornings.  I decided that since she is prone to a bit of mischief, it would be better for me to have her in public school for the first half of the day.  Then she will come home, have lunch with us and then do her homeschool work in the afternoons.  The twins should be asleep by that time and I will be able to give her my undivided attention so we can get her work done.

You may think this is too much school, but the reality is that in a half day kindergarten program at the public school there is a lot more play than school.  I am not saying they won't teach her things, but it will definitely be different than what I am teaching her,'s all good.

This way she will also have time to make friends in our neighborhood and since 2 of her sisters are there also, I know she is safe.

Can't wait to get started!  Only a couple more weeks left to go!!