Exciting and scary all at once

We’ve just kicked off our 11th year of homeschooling. Our oldest will be graduating high school this year. In fact, in 5 years all three will be high school graduates.

Let’s just all pause a moment, and take that in. In five years, our wonderful homeschool journey will be over. I will have three high school graduates.

Honestly, if I stop and really contemplate that idea, I get overwhelmed very quickly. I have to just pull back and focus on this year.

Tho, my oldest, is taking the Math-U-See’s Stewardship course, which looks to be a personal finance course with a Biblical slant. Most of his courses in Switched on Schoolhouse again.  Language and Government & Economics are in SOS, as are the two half-credit Networking courses. He’s decided he wants to get into the cyber security field, so he’s got more than a few electives in computing this year.  Hacker Highschool looks to be the best course so far, as it provides alot of hands-on work with both Windows and Linux operating systems.  He’s also taking control of his own education, by finding podcasts and websites devoted to cyber security, and learning everything he can about the field.

Diva is starting 9th grade this year.  Most of her classes are in Switched on Schoolhouse as well, which is helpful because we already have most of the disks, so it saves us some money.  English 9, Geography, New Testament Survey, and Health are all SOS course.  Math-U-See’s Pre-algebra, PE, and Apologia’s Physical Science round out her coursework. She’s also doing some amazing digital art work.

Lt, AKA Tiimmy, has skipped up to 8th grade.  This is on purpose, as 8th grade is available to get high school credit for up to three course in our state & with our umbrella program.  So by skipping him up to 8th grade, he can take Apologia’s Physical Science with his sister, and get high school credit for it.  This way, they can work together on experiments, and when Biology rolls around again next year, I only have to supervise on more frog dissection.  His other courses include MUS’s Pre-algebra, and using SOS for Language and History.  He’s also doing very well with his swimming, and has already passed the deep end swim test!

No More Elementary Kids Here!

2016 Teacher Manuals

2016 Teacher Manuals

It’s so hard to believe how quickly time flies. Seems like it was only yesterday we began our homeschooling journey with our oldest son. That five year old is now fifteen! He’s just started 11th grade, and is on track to graduate a year early with an Honors Diploma. This year his coursework includes MUS Algebra 2, SOS English 11, SOS American history, Apologia physics, TeenCoder computer programming, and more.

He’ll also be doing year two of Spanish, but it’s the Spanish 1 Abeka course. He did Switched on Schoolhouse’s Spanish 1 course last year, but none of us liked it. The SOS Spanish 1 class seemed to focus more on the cultures of the various Spanish-speaking countries rather than learning to actually speak Spanish. The Abeka course is all language-driven, and needs much more supervision than the SOS course. The Abeka course is the one I took when I was in high school. It did take some time to create a lesson plan to work with just one student, as it’s a classroom-based curriculum, but the end result will be so worth it.

My Diva is starting 7th grade, and my youngest son will be in 6th. That means we have officially left elementary school behind. It’s a big deal, because so many homeschoolers give up and send their kids to the local public/private schools for middle and high school. The plethora of resources available to a homeschooling momma with elementary kids begins to dwindle once you hit middle school.  So far, homeschooling through middle and high school has been easier in some ways, harder in others.  It’s easier because the kids can teach themselves.  They can read the curriculum, do their projects, and even most of their science experiments with only minimal help and input from me.  It’s harder because I really need to keep on top of the grades and paperwork, to make sure I’ve got a paper trail to back up the transcript I’ll have to write should any of them decide to go to a college.  Honestly though, the biggest reason it’s been so smooth is the confidence we’ve all gained in the process over the years.  The grandparents have seen them flourish, and no longer have any reservations. Dad has always had my back, reassuring me that this was possible.  He’s pitched in to help whenever we hit topics of his expertise, like Spanish.  As for me, I still struggle with doubt and questions, but I have so much more confidence now than I did ten

2016 SOS disks

2016 SOS disks

The younger two are both using Math U See Zeta, but for science, history, and English class they’ve made the jump into Switched On Schoolhouse. The 11 year old has also taken on the KidCoder computer programming course in an effort to step up his Minecraft coding game.

Speaking of, all three of the kids have learned so much about computers, programming, the internet, and even some business skills – just from playing Minecraft this summer.  They found a cool server to play on, and a guild of kids (mostly made up of a group of middle-schoolers from California), and started posting “Let’s Play” videos to YouTube. The youngest really latched on to this idea, and ran with it. The other two are now playing catch-up. They’ve learned how to record, edit and post their videos. We use OBS Studio for recording, and Sony Movie Studio 13 for editing.  So if you’ve got a Minecrafter in the house, check out LtVv111, Capt740, and OmegaVaporeon, aka my Diva, on YouTube.

So that’s how our year is shaping up.  What about you?  What’s your plan for the upcoming homeschool year?

2015-2016 School Year, Already in Full Swing!

So last year was our first year back in Maryland. It was much easier than I’d anticipated, mostly thanks to the wonderful folks over at Calvary Gospel Home Educators who made it a breeze.  The hardest part about the whole year was keeping up on the paperwork.  However, that same paperwork will make it extremely easy to create a transcript for my high schooler when the time comes. It also helped that my husband made an excel version of the grading report that does all of the weighted grading for me. Nice.

So this year, we actually started back on July 6.  I felt really strange, because for once I was fully prepared for the school year to start. I had almost everything planned, printed, and scheduled a few weeks before we actually started.  The younger two are both working on a 5th/6th grade level.  English is once again a mix of reading and Easy Grammar. Math-U-See Epsilon is proving challenging already for my Diva, while Lt continues to easily grasp the math concepts.  After going over several history options with them both this summer, they both decided they wanted to do Mystery of History. Apologia’s Exploring Anatomy rounds out the extent of my curriculum for the younger two.  They are constantly doing art, not just with pen and paper but also in their Minecraft builds, photo editing, digital drawing, and LEGO creations. I just periodically grab a few screen shots or copies for their portfolios.

My Diva is struggling some to grasp the math, but that’s normal for her. Once she gets these first few concepts under her belt, she will fly through the book.  Same goes for the language.  She is teaching herself history & science, only joining her younger brother & I for the experiments.  She likes to work at night after her brothers go to bed, because it cuts down on the noise and distraction.  She’s the biggest night owl in a family of night owls. She likes to do her school work, then often reads until 2 or 3 am.  Her current favorite are the Warrior Cats series. When she wakes up, her time is spent hanging out in the LEGO friends gallery, making edits, drawing animals, creating things with LEGO, blogging, and playing Minecraft.  She’s also the one behind the dog’s blog, Peanut’s Paws.

We’ve done a lot of work with Lt over the past school year. He was officially diagnosed with both dysgraphia and dyslexia last year. I also discovered his mild hearing difficulties, and synesthesia. Last year we used All About Spelling to jump start his reading, and work to train those pesky letters.  Just reinforcing letter sounds has made a huge difference.  His reading has taken off. He does still get tired after a while, and that when he struggles with reversals and missing or changed letters.  He’s been reading his school lessons to me whenever he can, as well as learning and researching new ways to code in Minecraft.  His downtime is often spent on Minecraft, playing with LEGOs, or on the Xbox.  He also blogs occasionally.

The oldest is in 10th grade this year.  I can not believe I’m old enough to have a 10th grader, even if he is working ahead of grade level.  He uses Switched On Schoolhouse for English II, Geography, Spanish I, and Old Testament Survey. Science is Apologia’s Biology course on CD.  We got the microscope kit and the dissection kit from Christian Book Distributors.  Math is Geometry by Math-U-See. Honestly, he’s almost completely self-taught at age 14. Every curriculum he’s using is either self-explanatory, or comes with a teacher on DVD.  He only ever comes to me when he needs help. Sure, he has times when he misinterprets the lesson and we have to go back over things, but overall, he’s doing really well.  I’m kind of in awe of how well he’s doing on his own at his age.

When he isn’t doing schoolwork, Capt740 can be found on Minecraft, in the middle of a pile of LEGOs, or reading anything he can get his hands on. He blogs on the rare occasion.

So that’s the beginning of our school year, even though we are already half way through the first quarter! I can’t believe how fast time is flying this year.

Llama, Llama, Duck! & Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer.

Science for the younger two today was a lesson about Camels, Llamas, Deer, and Caribou. So of course, we had to play the Llama song.  Enjoy.

 

Then during our discussion of Caribou, we learned that it’s the females that have the antlers! That means Rudolph is a girl! We also learned that Rudolph wouldn’t have needed his shiny nose, because caribou have innate radar that leads them home.  My 9 year old then chimed in with, “But if Rudolph didn’t have his shiny nose, NORAD wouldn’t be able to keep track of him! Even though he’s fake anyway.”

Climate & Currents

Via NASA

Via NASA

Read pgs 9-12. Discuss Climate (aka weather) & Currents & their affect on the continents & each other. What factors can affect our climate? Why is it helpful to understand the oceans’ currents?

This is a tough topic to research online, because so much of what is out there buys into the myth of global warming.  (More on that later).  But NASA has a good video here:

Here is a pretty cool experiment to try.  We haven’t tried it yet, so I can’t say if it works as advertised, but it looks easy enough, so let’s give it a shot:

There is a pretty neat website, WeatherWizKids, with a lot of good information about weather and such, however, it does include the global warming myth, so keep that in mind.

As far as global warming –

Climate change itself is already in the process of definitively rebutting climate alarmists who think human use of fossil fuels is causing ultimately catastrophic global warming.  That is because natural climate cycles have already turned from warming to cooling, global temperatures have already been declining for more than 10 years, and global temperatures will continue to decline for another two decades or more.

That comes from an article from Forbes magazine written in 2012. There is another group that has documented how the locations of the stations NOAA uses to collect temperature data are compromised by things like parking lots & exhaust. They’ve documented their efforts at Surface Stations, and there is more at WattsUpWithThat blog. In fact, WattsUp does a great job debunking the Al Gore/Bill Nye CO2 experiment as well as a plethora of other information debunking global warming.  If you still doubt that Global Warming is a myth – go google “Global Warming Emails” and read up for yourself how the “scientists” in charge of this hoax conspired to push an agenda.

The Loom of Doom, & so much more.

So week 2 came and went.  Way too fast I’m thinking, especially since here it is, Monday morning of week 3, and I’m just now remember to post about last week!  So much went down… Lets see…

Click to embiggen

Last weekend (Aug 21-22) I spent making a DIY loom for us to use with BigBoy & PinkDiva’s history lesson.  It turned out awesome!

The loom itself is made from a Cross Stitch Frame, the kind you can use to turn your fabric into a scroll.   The frame was too short to make an effective loom though, so we cut the bars in half and attached them to small pieces of scrap wood.  The rigid-ish, and I say “ish” because there is a lot of flex & bend, heddle is made of two pieces of plastic canvas, cut and stitched together.  The shuttle in the picture is made of cardboard, but DH has since made a nicer one out of thin wood for us to use.

Click to Embiggen

BigBoy was thrilled to give weaving a try.  ThePinkDiva had tried weaving in a class at the Cultural Arts Center last year, and fell in love with the art form.  BigBoy is still a bit young, and doesn’t quite get the hang of it…  but PinkDiva loves to weave.  This time we’re making a small green blanket.  But now that we have a loom, I see plenty of doll blankets in our future.  Pinkdiva is even talking about stitching a few pieces together to make a bigger blanket.  Should be fun.

Thursday, thePinkDiva began vision therapy.  I don’t think I’ve ever explained that one anywhere online, so it really needs it’s own blog post.  Soon.  I hope.

Click to Embiggen

Friday was spent at the Podiatrist’s office.  Because I messed up my foot. Everyone got their Math tests done, and that was it.  I was too worn out/in pain to do much else.

Then, on Saturday, Soccer Season officially kicked off.  One night a week for practice, and then games on Saturday.  Should be fun.  BigBoy is thrilled because this is the first year he’s actually part of a team, instead of the “Tots”.  Geekboy discovered at least 3 friends from last year’s team on his new team.  So even though he is the shortest guy on the team, and playing in the 10-12 division (he’s only 9, but they didn’t have enough 8-9 boys to make a team in that division), he’s looking forward to a great season.

One week down.

So, yea.  We officially started “school” last week.  Really, since the learning never ends here in Casa Del Yuriar, all it means is that we cracked open the math books again, and tried to get our “school” routine started again.  The first week or so is always a bit rough as we settle into a routine that works for us.  They may have argued and moaned, PinkDiva may have done her Poltergeist impression a few times (you know, head lifting up, spinning 360 before settling back down again), but in the end they loved it, and even learned something.


PinkDiva talks Photosynthesis.

Curriculum time is here again!

After spending the better part of the last month alternately researching curriculum ideas, and procrastinating, I’ve finally finalized… well, mostly finalized our school year.

Math is going to be Math U See for all three.  GeekBoy is starting in Delta, but he’s already whizzed through the first 3 chapters, and that only took him 5 minutes!  So I have Epsilon standing by, and fully expect to be using it by middle of the year.  As much as the Geek claims to hate math, he is a math whiz.  ThePinkDiva is starting Alpha this year, and BigBoy won’t be very far behind.  He still has a few chapters of Primer to finish before moving on to Alpha.  The little guy is hoping to catch up to his big sister.

For Language, GeekBoy is still working through the Easy Grammar 4/5 book we found halfway through last year.  Its been working well for us, so we will keep going.  Since discovering thePinkDiva’s vision difficulties, we will be ditching Hooked on Phonics this year.  I’ve decided to give Spell to Write and Read a try.  It’s supposed to be good for dyslexics, which she is, and BigBoy will be doing this also since he really wants to learn to write.  ThePinkDiva will also be continuing her work in Explode The Code online.  She’s been doing pretty well with it, and I’m considering getting a subscription for BigBoy as well.  Especially since I can get such an awesome deal on the program via Homeschool Buyer’s Co-op.

GeekBoy’s writing progressed quickly once we worked on correcting his posture and grip.  This year we will continue working on “Pull, not push” to get him forming letters from the top, as well as lowercase letters.

History will be different this year.  GeekBoy has informed me that he has trouble concentrating when thePinkDiva goes off on a word-association rabbit trail.  Since she does this a lot (it’s her way of processing information), GeekBoy will be having his own history lesson, using Mystery of History.  ThePinkDiva and BigBoy will be doing year 2 of the American Heritage Studies by BJU. I’m planning to do time lines with each “class”.

Science was a hard one.  As much as I love the Apologia books, they seem to be just above the understanding of my younger two, and there doesn’t seem much in the text that interests my oldest.  So this year we will do things a bit different.  I got a subscription to AHA Science via Homeschool Buyers Co-op.  The kids adored the sample lessons, and we are looking forward to accessing the games and seeing what else the program has to offer.  I’m also planning to pull random experiments out of this book Gramma gave us, 101 Cool Science Experiments.

For art, I have GeeArt.  We’ve had the program for some time now, but I’ve never managed to get it together enough to get the projects done.  I’m hoping to overcome my own fear of messiness and allow the munchkins to get messy, and maybe even get messy myself.  But the biggest thing they will learn in the category of “art” this year — how to clean up their supplies!

It should be a fun, busy year.
Not Back to School Blog Hop

Doin’ a Favor

I know. It’s been a while. I’m working on that, trust me. Meanwhile, a couple of local homeschool moms have gotten together for the second year and put on an awesome Science Fair. As a big thank you to all the companies who sponsored a bunch of homeschoolers and their scientific pursuits, I’ve copied (with permission) the sponsor information from Lydia. Please support these homeschool-friendly businesses.

Thank you to the following homeschool-friendly businesses for supporting the GUESS Homeschool Science Fair and the young scientists of Hampton Roads!

Green Olive Tree is an internet company based in Portsmouth, Virginia and owned and operated by a homeschooling family. They offer a broad range of internet services, from reliable web hosting to corporate infrastructure solutions and server administration.

SKS Science supplies homeschoolers and other educators with all the science supplies you need to turn your dining room table into a proper laboratory. Browse their site for test tubes, bottles, face masks and other lab supplies and books.

Book Exchange is the largest used bookstore in Eastern Virginia. Unlike most musty and confusing used stores, this one is clean, bright, inviting, and has a huge selection of used homeschool books. There’s always an interesting curriculum find on these shelves!

Folkmanis Puppets makes the most delightful animal puppets available outside Santa’s workshop. Meet their most unusual creations like llamas, Chinese dragons, ostriches, flying squirrels. Unusual materials create realistic textures, and they all move in very realistic ways. Irresistible.

The Happy Scientist, Robert Krampf, hosts an online wonderland for budding scientists. With online science lessons, experiments to try at home, a science photo of the day, and new content added all the time, you’ll love setting your kids loose on this site.

Mad Science is Hampton Roads’ premier provider of science enrichment classes for children. Summer classes include “Crazy Chemistry” and a space camp developed with NASA! New homeschool science classes are being offered in Norfolk and VA Beach, with more planned for fall. (**I can totally vouch for the good folks at Mad Science.  My son took a Mad Science class a few years back. The teacher was awesome, and even let the little two join in.  Plus my kids learned a few German phrases from her. Bonus!)

Moore Expressions is a homeschool bookstore in Virginia Beach, VA. They sell used and new homeschooling curriculum, host a support group, and publish a newsletter called the Bayith Educator. They are the premier source for homeschooling books in the Hampton Roads area. (** Again, this is a great store! Dangerous for me to go into as I always wind up spending more than I planned! But they have soooo much good stuff, and you can trade in your old, didn’t-work-for-us curriculum for store credit. Awesome.)

Norfolk Karate Academy offers classes in Tang Soo Do (Korean karate) and Gracie Jiu Jitsu (Brazilian grappling and self-defense). With classes for children, teens, and adults, it’s a great way for anyone to get in shape and kick things in a socially acceptable way!

Brooks Systems offers standalone software and web applications that check legal compliance in all municipalities in all fifty states, and create truth-in-lending documents for residential lenders. Using Brooks for your automated mortgage compliance, you can be sure your loans are safe.

eScienceLabs creates boxes of joy for science loving homeschoolers. In each kit is a complete science experience — from individual lessons to full years of high school labs. Hands-on science kits are the answer to your laboratory woes. Everything is in there: test tubes, goggles, and fun.

Mariner’s Museum has amazing programs for homeschoolers learning about maritime science, history, and even pirates! Their spring homeschool series features lessons about the Civil War. Visit Mariner’s Museum for historical exhibits and educational programming. (**This is a fun place.)

Virginia Air and Space Center was host to the homeschool science fair this year, and delivered awesome science classes for homeschoolers from their education department. The VASC is the educator resource center for the NASA Langley Research Center.(**Another really fun place. We’ve been many times.  They also have Free Admission for Military Families Days. Rawkin’)

via Little Blue School: Steal This Post.

Venus & Amerigo.

Week one went pretty ok.  Yea, we had a few bumps…but over all it was fun.  It generally takes about 2 hours to teach 3 different grade levels.  Wednesday we did a science project that involved pouring melted butter over a plate of flour to watch the “lava” carve it’s own paths.  Thursday, the weather was soooo pretty, that we declared a “Nice Weather Day” and the kids played outside, all day.  It was great!  Friday, we whipped through lessons in record time and even had time to get ready for Daddy’s birthday party.

We’ve got a full week ahead.  GeekBoy has soccer practice on Monday – yes, on labor day.  Hopefully most of the team will show up, because we only have one practice a week, and last week was rained out.  That means we will be heading into our first game next Saturday without ever having a full practice. Not a good position to be in to start the year.