Monday, January 1, 2018

Moving the Blog

Happy New Year! One of my goals this year is to move this blog to a new host and I am happy to say that I am in the process of doing just that! I am moving posts over a few at a time since they don't seem to transport over with the same format...nothing can be easy, right!? So it might take me a while to get the content I want to keep over there, but I will be interspersing new content in with the old as I go.

You can now find me at: 

I hope you will join  me in my new space. I look forward to sharing our homeschooling journey in 2018!

Thursday, December 14, 2017

First Form Latin: A Little Review

A few weeks ago, I posted a little review of Prima Latina, which I am using this year with my fourth-grader. As promised in that post, I want to share a bit about First Form Latin, which I am using this year with my ninth and seventh graders. 

First of all, I am a huge fan of this program! I only wish I had found it earlier in our homeschool journey. We have been using First Form Latin for about ten weeks now and it is going so well. This program is very understandable and teacher-friendly even to me, someone with very little Latin experience! The lessons are clearly laid out and we were able to quickly develop a good routine for going through them, which I will share below. 

For First Form Latin, I purchased the "complete set", plus duplicates for some items. 

This includes the following:
  • Teacher's manual
  • Student texts for each of my boys
  • Student workbooks ~ one for each of my boys, plus one for me to work in alongside them
  • Teacher key with answers to the exercises and quizzes
  • DVD
  • Audio CD 
  • A booklet of reproducible quizzes
  • Flashcards
In addition to the above I purchased:

  • The First Form Latin schedule from Memoria Press - I love having a daily schedule; this one keeps me on track and tells me what exercises to do each day ~ and it has boxes I can check!
  • Desk charts (not shown) ~ I will confess I have not used these grammar helps yet, but writing this post reminded me that I should get them out!
  • Lingua Angelica set ~ I loved the idea of listening to Latin hymns as part of our learning so I also purchased this set, which includes an audio CD, teacher's manual, student workbook, and songbook.  We have not been using the workbooks at all, so in retrospect, I could have done without them. We just listen and follow along with the lyrics in the songbook.

So how do we do all this?

On Mondays (typically) we watch the lecture for our assigned lesson. I feel like this time gives me a little break and really, we could not do this program without "our" Latin teacher. Hearing someone else explain something really helps those words on the page sink in!

After we watch the DVD lessons (about 20 minutes) we head to the kitchen table and get out our textbooks. Each lesson contains assigned Latin grammar questions for us to go over, and Monday is typically the day we do this. This takes about 5-10 minutes. Next, it's on to the heart of the lesson.

Each FFL lesson contains several  components and I try to review each component each day we do Latin. We typically start with a recitation, then review the Latin saying and vocabulary for the week. Next we have "chalk talk" where we learn about conjugating various forms of the verbs and other grammar points.  We are usually told to conjugate a couple of the new verbs on a white board.  Then, on subsequent days we slowly work on conjugating the rest of the verbs on the white board.  Teaching the lesson takes about 10-15 minutes, on average, usually a bit more the first day.
Next, we do the assigned exercises (from the MP schedule). As I mentioned above, I purchased a student workbook for myself and I do the exercises right along with my boys. This has made a HUGE difference to me  in learning and teaching Latin! The exercises usually take 15-20 minutes to complete, after which we all check our answers together. I am not sure why one of my kiddos is working with a sock on his hand, but whatever works, right?

After we check our answers, we listen to our assigned Lingua Angelica song for that lesson - we usually listen to it twice.

On subsequent days, we review each lesson for about 15 minutes, then do our exercises. Typical exercise include filling in tense ending charts, working with derivatives, writing out the saying, and working on translations. And each day we listen to our assigned hymn. On Wednesdays (or the third day of our lesson) we use the audio CD to review. I try to do Latin five days a week, though we don't always get to it. 

On Fridays, we do the oral drill from the lesson and go over flashcards. Then, we all take the quiz for that lesson, and we are ready to move on to the next lesson.

I honestly cannot think of anything negative to say about this program - it is well-laid out and organized and makes Latin so much easier for me to understand and teach than other programs I have tried. My hope is that we will be able to continue on with Second Form Latin next year.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

You Are an Artist Chalk Pastels: A Little Review

Last week I shared a bit about the woodworking my boys are doing for their homeschool art this year. This week, I want to share about what my youngest Rose is doing. (In case you were wondering, my oldest daughter is planning to use Oak Meadow's photography program for her art course this year, but with one thing and another she hasn't quite started it yet).

Okay, on to the pastels! Rose (9) specifically requested to work with pastels this year and I was fortunate enough to stumble across an absolutely wonderful resource ~ Hodgepodge's You Are An Artist. This site offers video art tutorials and art e-books. I chose to go with the e-books both for my budget and my sometimes spotty internet connection. Both of us have been so thrilled with this resource! So far, Rose has completed A Seasonal Start in Fall Chalk Pastels and has been working through Chalk Pastels Art At the Beach. Tomorrow she will begin A Simple Start in Christmas Chalk Pastels and she is very excited to get started creating some fun holiday art!

What's included ~ When you order a chalk pastels e-book you receive a link to download your e-book, which you can either print out or use right from your device.  I save all of our e-books to a folder set aside specifically for our homeschool downloads so they are easy to find later. I print out each e-book, because pastels are messy and I think it's easier to work from a printed page.  I print out just the cover and the project pages. To save ink, I don't print the introductory material about how to work with pastels, though I definitely recommend reading through these, especially if you are new to working with pastels. There is a lot of good information in there.

What you'll need ~ To use the chalk pastel e-books you'll need pastel paper, pastels, and baby wipes. I order pastel paper from Amazon; it's much cheaper than at the craft store.  For pastels, Rose uses the Prismacolor brand, which we have been happy with. FYI, if you are new to pastels, they will break and look all messy like ours do ~ but they still work just fine! Using baby wipes for clean-up is a trick I learned from the e-books and boy does it work well! I just bought a tub of inexpensive baby wipes and keep them right with our supplies. They clean up both hands and any lingering dust on the table easily.

How to do it ~ Rose usually does her pastels on Friday morning. I have her spread some newspaper over her work-surface before she begins. I keep all of her supplies together in a basket so she can  grab it and cart it out to the kitchen table. For reference, Rose is 9, and she can do these projects entirely on her own. The directions are written to the artist and have a lovely, chatty style that she really responds to and understands. There are plenty of illustrations as well, making it easy to follow along. I spray each finished pastel work lightly with hairspray to keep the pastels from smudging. After it's dry Rose either hangs it up in her room - she has quite the gallery - or gives it away to a lucky recipient.

You Are An Artist Chalk Pastels are a huge hit in our homeschool this year! If you want to try it out,  there are free sample lessons at the website.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Monday Musings

For the week of November 28th....

A few plans for the week

Our usual roundup of sports and outside classes :: adding a second ballet class and a contemporary dance class to Rose's dance schedule ~ plus she has her first performance this weekend ~ so much excitement! :: a trip to the vet for a cat check-up :: going to see The Underwater Bubble Show with my girls 

Noticing the season ~ some things I'd like to do this week

Watch The Rockefeller Tree Lighting on television :: get our Christmas tree :: make a batch of Christmas cookies :: set up the Christmas book basket :: listen to Christmas music in the car on our way here and there :: have cranberry orange pancakes on the weekend :: light the first Advent candle :: start our Advent calendars :: decorate the house :: start amaryllis bulbs

Homeschool notes

We've been on a light schedule the past couple of weeks, this week we're back to our regular routine ~ at least for a couple of weeks. I'm starting a new read-aloud with Rose, The Secret of the Sealed Room, and continuing to read The Silver Branch with James. Grace is hard at work finishing up her first dual enrollment class ~ she has just a few weeks left. Dual enrollment has been a great experience for her and she'll be taking two classes in the spring. I plan to row The Salamander Room with Rose ~ this may be our last Five in a Row book! We have done all the books we could from the first three volumes and I am not sure if we will continue on with Volume 4, mainly because we don't own it and it's expensive.  We "rowed" several books from Volume 3 recently that I never got around to taking pictures of....mostly because our rows lately have been very simple. We've  just focused on enjoying each book and discussing things from the FIAR manual. So we haven't been doing as many of the hands-on things that lend themselves to photographs! But I do plan to do a post about our row of The Salamander Room when we finish in a couple of weeks.

Out of doors

We spent time winterizing the yard this past weekend ~ things like taking in the outdoor furniture, storing the grill, taking apart the we're ready for snow now! But, I won't be disappointed if it waits a bit. 

In the kitchen

My two girls are vegetarian as of a few months ago and we are finally finding a new weekday kitchen groove. Once a week we do a vegetarian chili night,  but I do it different ways. Sometimes we have it straight up, with black olives, cheese, and avocado on top. Other times we serve it over corn chips (my boys favorite) or on top of spaghetti. Another night is "quick pasta" night ~ this recipe for broccoli fettucine alfredo is a current fave!

Watching & reading

We started off our Christmas movie watching season with A Christmas Story and continue to watch Lost Season Two with our older three. I'm currently reading The Child after finishing The River at Night (which was a quick read for me, but I didn't love in the end).  I am really, really looking forward to reading Christmas picture books this week!

A photo from the weekend

Our Thanksgiving table

I have posts in the works about our fourth--grade art program and First Form Latin, so I'll be back soon.... have a wonderful week!

Friday, November 24, 2017

2017 Advent plans

Here are our 2017 plans for Advent ~ my goal is to have one (sometimes more) seasonal activity to do each day, starting right after Thanksgiving. My aim with all of this is not to check boxes, but to make sure we are noticing and enjoying the season each day. Naturally, we will have days where the chosen activity just doesn't happen, or has to be rescheduled, and that is okay! Even though it rarely happens just as laid out, I still love going into the season with a plan and any necessary supplies at the ready.

  • November 24th ~ Put together our gratitude chain and hang it up; start making a centerpiece for our dining table to include our Advent candle ~ I'll share a photo once we have it together!
  • November 25th ~ Get out the Christmas CD's and start playing them around the house and car
  • November 26th ~ Go see a local production of A Christmas Carol
  • November 27th ~ Set up the Christmas book basket
  • November 28th ~ Plant amaryllis bulbs to bloom around, or shortly after, Christmas time
  • November 29th ~ Watch the Rockefeller tree lighting on NBC tonight
  • November 30th ~ Take down any remaining Thanksgiving decorations
  • December 1st ~ Start chocolate and Lego Advent calendars; start reading Christmas picture books with Rose each day; make jam thumbprint cookies
  • December 2nd & 3rd ~ This is a busy dance weekend, but I hope to get a Christmas tree, put it up, and start decorating the house. We'll also plan to have cranberry-orange pancakes one morning for breakfast and light our first Advent candle on the 3rd!
  • December 4th ~ Decorate a tree for the sunporch
  • December 5th ~ Set out shoes for St. Nicholas morning; make cherry cookies
  • December 6th ~ Happy St. Nicholas Day! We started celebrating this day years ago when doing a "Christmas Around the World" unit study and it stuck with us. The kids will find a few treats and surprises tucked inside their sneakers this morning.
  • December 10th ~ Light the second Advent candle; have eggnog pancakes for dinner (because it's a horse show day and there won't be time at breakfast!); hopefully make gingerbread houses
  • December 11thOrder calendars for the new year; the kids each pick one, but when they come I put them away until New Year's Day)
  • December 12thDo the Christmas cards & mail them out
  • December 13th ~ A day off from Christmas preparations to celebrate Grace's 17th birthday!
  • December 14thPeppermint Day! We plan to make peppermint cookies, peppermint bark, homemade marshmallows, and hot chocolate. Then, we'll spend the afternoon watching a Christmas movie if we can and go see a local lights display
  • December 15thMake eggcup topiaries - a little piece of floral foam in the bottom of an eggcup can hold little holly and pine springs, or any other found greenery
  • December 16thBake fruitcake (I love the fruitcake kit from King Arthur Flour)
  • December 17th ~ Light the third Advent candle; have gingerbread pancakes for dinner (another horse show morning!)
  • December 18th ~ Go gift shopping for the pets
  • December 19thField Trip Zoom's Christmas Traditions program; leave a gift out for our mail carrier
  • December 21st ~ Happy winter solstice! Make birdseed ornaments and drive around to look at Christmas lights
  • December 22ndMake pomanders with whole cloves and oranges
  • December 23rd ~ Set aside the day to watch Christmas movies and wrap gifts; catch up on any activities we didn't get to
  • December 24thChristmas Eve ~ Prep a nice breakfast for tomorrow; bake & decorate sugar cookies; order Chinese food for dinner; kids get new pjs before bed:); light the 4th Advent candle
  • December 25th ~ Merry Christmas!
  • December 26th ~ Boxing Day ~ We hide a small gift box in the house for each kiddo to find. Inside: a big chocolate marshmallow, a package of special hot chocolate mix, and a small surprise
  • December 27th-30th ~ Spend time planning some fun food and activities for New Year's Eve, and generally just try to relax as much as possible 
  • December 31st ~ New Year's Eve ~ We'll do a big appetizer spread and watch a movie or two, decorate "champagne" glasses, make a banner to welcome the new year, and countdown to midnight by popping one balloon each hour. This year, Rose is dancing in a local New Year's event, so we'll squeeze in our usual traditions around that
  • January 1st ~ Happy New Year! Everyone gets their new calendar today to hang in their bedroom (I like to wrap them up & put them at their place at breakfast) and we always eat red beans and rice, collard greens, and black-eyed peas (all supposed to bring good luck for the new year).
We'll be trying to keep to a regular homeschool schedule until the week of December 18th ~ with our Christmas activity always taking priority each day. Then, from the 18th through New Year's we'll be on break. I hope to pop in often during Advent to share photos and thoughts about all of our doings.