Thursday, June 29, 2017

Preparing For a New Homeschool Year

While we haven't technically finished up last school year ~ looking at my two olders who still have several math lessons to go ~ I am definitely thinking about next year and trying to squeeze in a bit of planning time each day.

Here are the things I am hoping to get accomplished in the next few weeks:

  • Finalize basic curriculum plans for each child
  • Consider online classes for my oldest - I'm thinking about Bravewriter
  • Decide on a family art and music plan for the upcoming year
  • Place curriculum orders
  • Plan for and sign up for extracurricular activities
  • Create a 36-week plan for each child 
  • Order a teacher planner and fill out the first week ~ I love Plum Paper for this
  • Set up my working teacher binder
  • Order student planners ~ possibly from Plum Paper as well?
  • Submit samples and plans to school district for review
  • Check supplies - pencils, binders, notebook paper, etc. and make a shopping list
  • Purchase art and lab supplies needed for whole year
  • Clean off school shelves, file all papers, store or toss curriculum, restock for a new year
  • Pre-read Sonlight Core 300 history & literature 
  • Deep clean the house - I always want to do this and usually don't get very far, so we'll see!
  • Plan Five in a Row for the year
  • Read some inspiring books
  • Plan a routine for next school year - how our days & week might (ideally) look
  • Set up a fall meal plan - meal planning takes me too much time; I'd like to try to do it ahead
  • Update chore chart 
  • Update (by which I mean start!) high school transcript for my rising 11th grader

In addition to these things, I really need to get in gear about late highschool/college. I keep putting this off and really just need to put my head down and get going. So be expecting a second list detailing my checklist for that...after I research, talk to Grace, and wrap my brain around things a bit. I keep telling myself no one said this would be easy!

Thanks for visiting!

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Homeschool Summer Reading List

Row of Books in Shelf

It's summer! I am excited to actually have time built into our schedule to make it to the library. During this past school year, library trips just didn't happen often enough. But this summer we have some convenient gaps in our schedule between picking up one kiddo and dropping off I am planning a weekly library day! That means a library list is in order.

My own summer reading list includes some just for fun books. I read Wolf Hall during our recent vacation and was pretty excited to learn there was a sequel. And I loved the first Grantchester book so I definitely want to read the next two of those.  Middlemarch is one I have had sitting on my nightstand for months.
I also have some books I am reading in order to be able to discuss them with Grace next fall. She will be continuing to read through Sonlight's Core 300 (secular-friendly books only). She will be starting off on week 12 with that Core next fall. I have found that reading the same books makes all the difference in being able to discuss. I can't read all of the kids books, obviously, so I am focusing on high school literature. Christopher is officially a high schooler next fall too, but thankfully I have already read most of what he will read.

I also want to read some books about homeschooling or learning ~ for inspiration....

Next up I have a list of books to search out for the kids or suggest to them if they are stuck ~ some elementary/early middle grade for my youngers...

Some later middle grade/young-adult titles for my olders....

Rose just started reading the Story Thieves series and she absolutely adores it. She literally sighs as she reads and tells me it is "the best book ever!". I know the kids won't necessarily like all (or even most) of my suggestions, but I think we're off to a good start. I'd love additional summer reading suggestions if you have any!

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Homeschool Summer Fun Kit

I still haven't finished my homeschool planning for next year, but I have switched gears for a bit.   The weather has been hot and summery and we are wrapping up our school year. So it's time to make some fun summer plans!

I love making a giant list of things I want to do with the kids over the summer. However... I have to reign myself in a bit, because our summer is super busy with sports. We don't have a lot of lazy summer days around here anymore. And we don't have much time to do awesome summer field trips, as much as I'd like to. So, my kit is focused on things we can do at home.  I had so much fun putting this together!

Here's what I am going to include:

 Big bubbles ~ Because these just look really, really cool....

Prodigy Math ~ I signed Rose up for a free account and she adores it! I wanted an easy, painless way for her to review math over the summer and this math-masquerading-as-video-game is right up her alley. James will get an account just as soon as he finishes his math. My older two will continue to work on their Teaching Textbooks levels throughout the summer.

Match a Pair of Birds ~ My kids still love memory games, but our original memory game is getting too well-loved. All the various dings and stains make it a bit easy to "remember" where the cards are. A new challenge is in order.

Food Anatomy: The Curious Parts and Pieces of Our Edible World ~ My kids loved talking food and cooking food, so I think this will be a popular read.

I chose a few mind-challenging games too, namely....Set, Spot It, and Mastermind.

State birds & flowers puzzle ~ I try to get a new 1000 piece puzzle each summer. We keep one set up on the sunporch for anyone to work on when the urge strikes. I often choose one that sneaks some learning in, because I'm like that. I especially love the puzzles made by White Mountain because they have gorgeous detail.

Meatless Cookbook ~ My girls want to eat mostly vegetarian - for the summer at least.  A new cookbook to inspire us all is in order, but I have found that my kids really only enjoy reading cookbooks with tons of pictures. Hopefully this one will fit the bill. 

Klutz Lego Chain Reactions Kit ~ We have so many Legos in our house! But my kids seem to be losing interest in them lately. I am hoping this book/kit combo will reignite that building spark. 

Liberty Kids ~ I have heard so much about this series over the years, but for some reason we've never watched it. Next year, Rose and I are going to be reading though BookShark's American History, so I thought this would be a fun little intro for us.

 Naturally, we have other resources and things lying around for the kids to do this summer. But sometimes it is just nice to bring in a new batch of things to inspire everyone. I definitely could have added more to this list, but I wanted to keep it (fairly) inexpensive. In addition to all of the above, there will be lots of books. We have had a hard time making it to the library this school year, but summer will be easier in that regard. I am planning to put together a list of books I want to have on hand for the kids to read over the summer, and that list will hopefully be the topic of an upcoming post.

  Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Seventh Grade Homeschool Plans

James will be in seventh grade next year! Here is my tentative plan for him.

Our Seventh Grade Homeschool Plans


History & Literature 

Language Arts

Foreign Language

Art, music, critical thinking, and science will be group subjects this year and I will post separately about them as I figure them out. If you want to see my previously posted plans for my rising fourth grader they are here. Now onto my rising ninth grader!

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Our Ireland Trip Report

We recently returned from a ten day trip to Ireland ~ hence the rather long silence on the blog! Here's a little photo tour from our trip, which was just fabulous - Ireland is a beautiful country and there is so much to see that I fear we only scratched the surface.

A few notes: We decided to divide our nine night trip into three parts. We stayed four nights in the Midlands region, three nights near the Ring of Kerry, and the last two nights near the Cliffs of Moher. We have been using VRBO for several years now for our vacation accommodations and have yet to be disappointed in the homes we've stayed in.  Hotel rooms are too expensive (and too small) for us with four kids, so vacation home rentals have been the way to go! We can also cook some of our own meals, which is a nice bonus. The first few nights we kept things simple by eating out for lunch and then having "tea" for dinner. Our kids are foodies, and they love going to the local grocery store wherever we are traveling just to see what they have that is different. We picked up some bread, Irish butter and cheese, local jam, and local fruit and had that with our tea.

 My basic plan for this trip was to have one major activity or outing each day, with the rest of the day for meals, travel, and hanging out at "home".

First stop: Clonmacnoise, the ruins of a monastery on the banks of the River Shannon. It was founded in 544! This is a gorgeous site, but we only did a quick tour since it was our first day and everyone was pretty exhausted.

Second Stop: the Belvedere House ~  a large estate house built in 1740 for the First Earl of Belvedere. Where things get  interesting is that this particular guy had his wife locked up for many years because she cheated on him with his brother. He was also jealous of another brother who built a nearby estate, so he had a faux castle ruin erected in an attempt to block out the view. There are several other ornamental ruins or "follies" spread throughout the grounds of the house. It was a misty afternoon and we had the place pretty much to ourselves. We did a large loop around the property and woodlands and everyone tried the zipline before heading back home.

Third Stop:  Newgrange ~ a 5000 year old passage tomb built by Stone Age farmers. We did a tour of both that passage tomb site and Knowth. First we had to head to the visitor's center. We arrived an hour after opening and only had to wait about 45 minutes for our first tour. We used that time to eat lunch in the cafe, which was so-so. Then we headed out, first to Knowth and then to Newgrange. The tour guides were awesome. I don't usually love guided tours, but they were a necessity to see these sites at all and I am glad we did them. In retrospect, we could have just done Newgrange and had a fine time, but I don't regret taking the time to tour both. The views from the mounds were incredible! We were allowed to head into Newgrange with our tour guide, but we could not photograph inside. Going into the tomb was an awesome, if a bit claustrophobic, experience. 

Fourth Stop: We spent our fourth day touring Trim Castle. We had a choice of several castles in the area to visit, but I thought Trim would be nice for the kids because you are allowed to go inside on a guided tour and climb up into the keep.

I definitely recommend the guided tour at Trim - the guides are very enthusiastic and really bring everything you are seeing around you to life. Rose and I had recently read Castle Diary for BookShark 2 and it was fun to actually see and hear about some of the castle features we'd read about - we actually knew what a gong farmer was before our guide explained it!

Fifth Stop: The Rock of Cashel ~ we made a quick stop here on our way down to the Ring of Kerry area. We did a self-guided tour of the Rock and walked over to the ruins of Hore Abbey, across the road. Both were really fun to explore on our own, but if we had more time we would have done the guided tour of Cashel.

Sixth Stop: We spent a  day driving around the Skellig Ring and Ring of Kerry area. There were beaches to explore, ruins to clamber around in, cows and lambs to photograph, and a great chocolate factory. We were even able to get a glimpse of Skellig Michael, where part of The Force Awakens was filmed. I had originally debated taking the boat tour out to the island, but chickened out after hearing how rough it was. I am quite prone to seasickness. Another time maybe!

Seventh Stop: Killarney National Park ~ Here we visited Ross Castle and Muckross House (just looking at the outside of the castle and touring the gardens of Muckross). We also walked to the ruins of Muckross Abbey and had fun exploring all the nooks and crannies there. 

Eight Stop: Cliffs of Moher ~ We were fortunate to rent a home for our last two nights with an absolutely fabulous view right on the Cliffs of Moher. I think seeing the Cliffs was my favorite part of the trip. We could walk right down to them and they are absolutely spectacular. On our last night we saw several puffins, which was a wonderful end to our trip. 

Ninth Stop: The Burren ~ What a neat place! We parked far from the tour bus crowds and spent an hour or two clambering over the rocks and admiring all the gorgeous wildflowers. Not too mention the ocean! We had quite a bit of rain on our trip, which we expected, but we had long clear patches each day and on the whole we were quite happy with the weather. 

And the next day we went home, but we hope to go back one day. Thanks for reading!