The long promised post

The most daunting thing about home schooling was finding the curriculum that would fit my children’s needs most. I did a TON of research. I mean, it’s a lot of money up front, kind of like that time I decided to use cloth diapers (good idea, by the way.) I found a lot of great websites to use and luckily found an amazing group of veteran home schoolers, even if only for a year or two, that helped me out. So, please allow me to introduce our 2014-2015 curricula (cue the music!)

Monster S (Pre-K): I’m only using one curriculum for her. It’s totally interactive (puzzles, games and the like) instead of all book work. Confessions of a Homeschooler is incredible. I know I’ve talked about her before, but I cannot say how much we have enjoyed using this curriculum. I knew as soon as I saw the A Beka package that it wasn’t for us and I returned it. Gotta say I’m not too thrilled with their customer service. They’ve had the product back for a week and a half and I still don’t have a credit back on my card. But I digress. Her K4 Curriculum is so easy to use and for a much lower price ($15). It includes everything! Math, phonics, handwriting, Spanish (although we’re learning German), lesson plans. You end up printing A LOT though! I printed some in color and some in just black and white to save on ink. There are 34 weeks of complete lesson plans and although it takes some prep work on the parent’s end, it’s worth it! We also use her Letter of the Week Curriculum to fill in some holes where Monster S seems to have some problems. I think it was also $15.                                                        IMG_0483

Monster A: (Kindergarten) He’s got a lot of stuff…
Math: We’re using Math Mammoth in the Light Blue Series. It’s another print out, but I did it all in black and white to save on ink. There is an option to order a hard copy, but meh, I like instant gratification. I’m working on that patience thing. I was a little concerned about this because it seemed a little boring and maybe more advanced than I wanted for Monster A, but the price was good enough I decided I’d try it. He flies through these worksheets like they’re nothing. Seriously, 5-10 minutes at the most. It’s been awesome. It’s really 1st grade math, but he was ready.

IMG_0484Phonics: I’ve actually been using worksheets off of a website I found http://www.free-phonics-worksheets.com/. So far, I’ve found everything I’ve needed. He’s also using A Beka Letters and Sounds K5. I also got him the Number Skills K5 from A Beka but it’s too easy so I’ll add it to Monster S’s when she’s ready.) 

IMG_0486Logic: We’re using A Beka’s Think and Learn, which is probably my favorite thing from them so far. Honestly, I’m not impressed with A Beka for the most part. At least not for my kids. But of course, that’s where I got the majority of their curriculum. We’ll give it a shot. 

Science/Social Studies: Again, using A Beka but only as a supplement. I’ve ordered two subscription boxes for science and social studies. For science we’re using The Magic School Bus subscription box. We’ll get one box a month, which is great for my little ones. I’m also ordering the Little Passports subscription box which will also come once a month. I have no doubt that I can come up with stuff to keep them busy. 

Reading: Well, I still haven’t ordered an actually program. We just go to the library a lot and get easy readers. He actually finished his first book ever this week and was so proud of himself. I am so proud of him too. Reading is like breathing to me, so I hope I’m able to break it down into an easy format for him. 

Literature: He and I are actually doing the Classical Literature Vol. 1 Unit from Confessions of a Homeschooler (the site is literally on my “most visited” screen.) So far, we LOVE it!!! Okay, I probably love it more than he does, but he’s getting there. We’ll cover The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, Little House in the Big Woods, Charlotte’s Web, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and a few others. Again, an amazing price! We’ll make an awesome lapbook for each book!

Handwriting/Spelling: We went with A Reason For Handwriting and A Reason For Spelling. They’re great! They correlate with one another. All we’ve been doing so far is review but looking ahead, it looks like a great program. I’m excited about it!IMG_0487

 

So, this is it for now. We also have a Composer and Artist study but I’m going to wait for a little bit to introduce it to them. I’m not entirely sure that this list is what we’ll end up with at the end of the year, but it’s what we’re starting with. I’ll probably do reviews on each as time goes on and we get more familiar with each product. 

Alright, y’all. I’m turning in before I turn into a pumpkin. Good night!

 

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Weeks of Contradiction

Forgive the crappy pic. iPhones can only go so far.

Forgive the crappy pic. iPhones can only go so far.

This last two weeks…wow! That’s really all I can say. Well, not really, because I’m long winded and can always think of something to say. It has been two of the best weeks I have ever experienced with my monsters (did not expect that) and two of the most frustrating weeks I’ve ever experienced with my monsters (I did expect that.) It has been more challenging than I thought it would be and less challenging than I thought it would be. In short, it has been two weeks of contradictions. 

Monster A. A little unsure about this venture.

Monster A. A little unsure about this venture.

Monster A is way further in math than I anticipated and is picking up things like crazy! He’s a little further behind in reading than I anticipated which is perfectly fine. He blows through a math worksheet in 5-10 minutes with very little help needed. Reading might take us 45 mins. I try to cut it off after that because he begins to get frustrated and honestly, so do I. So, we step back. Take a break. Play a game. And resume later. However, today I saw a light bulb moment. He finally did one of his phonics worksheets by himself! Was it completely correct? Nope. But it was close and I could tell he was trying and really starting to understand the concept. I don’t think I’ve ever been more proud in my entire life. I think reading is just such a natural thing for me to do (seriously, 2-3 books of regular length a week) that I forget that learning to read is HARD work. There have many times over the past couple of weeks that I’ve been frustrated and had to tell him to move on to something else and we’d return while I go get a drink or something to chill out. Plus, he’s a five year-old little BOY. He has the attention span of a goldfish. Focus. It’s something we’re all working on. 

Monster S. Not really sure about this smile she's got going on. She looks far older than her 4 years.

Monster S. Not really sure about this smile she’s got going on. She looks far older than her 4 years.

Monster S…wow. She is blowing me away! Seriously. We have some problem areas. Mostly with identifying lower case letters and their sounds, but compared to a week ago she’s come leaps and bounds already. I think I need to combine two of the curricula I have to fill in some gaps. I’m pretty flexible with her. If she seems to be ready to move on to something harder, well then, GO GIRL, GO!!!! She’s smart, but seems to have a better grasp of reading than her brother does which drives Monster A crazy. Especially when she’s working on her own thing and answers a question that I asked him. They’re about on the same level right now, which again, is fine. I haven’t got into any real math with her yet. She doesn’t seem ready. My new mantra this year is “It’s fine!” just in case you’re wondering. 

Part of our classroom. This took some tinkering. Including, buy another table and some new chairs.

Part of our classroom. This took some tinkering. Including, buy another table and some new chairs.

So far, I really am loving the flexibility we have. Not just with our school work but with the fact that we can go anywhere, anytime and it’s lesson. We had a lesson in the grocery store the other day. Monster A had to tell me what was less/more expensive. We have pretty healthy eating habits around here too so we had a lesson on what foods are better to put in our bodies. We go to the library for story time, which teaches social skills and promotes literacy. Cody’s off tomorrow so I’m trying to talk him into taking us to the Peace Gardens at the Canadian border. So not only a science lesson by looking at the flowers, but also a social studies lesson by discussing why the Peace Garden was created. This is awesome. We’re learning through living. Yes, worksheets and book work is important, but living is so much more important. I honestly never thought I could love being with my kids so much, but so far, this has been one of the best experiences of my life.  

Whatcha Doin’?

My day went a lot like this:

Monster A/Monster S: Mama, what are you doin’?
Me: Working on getting school stuff ready guys. 
Them: When are you going to be done?
Me: Soon. I promise. (secretly I’m thinking, “Never if you don’t LEAVE ME ALONE!)

Maybe this was my mistake. Trying to do my lesson planning on the weekend that Cody is in Minneapolis. Leaving me alone with the kids. Nah. It would have been the same had he been here. He tries but the kids would’ve found some way to break through the barrier. 

We’ve had a great couple of days here. The weather has been PERFECT so we’ve spent a lot of time outside under our big tree (my favorite feature of the house). 

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The Monsters adore being outside and so we have spent the majority of the past two days enjoying it. They were upset about the rain today because we had to stay inside. I explained that we are from Oklahoma. We do not complain about the rain. EVER! Tiger had to join us, of course. I’m pretty sure Otter is out there somewhere, too. 
10603272_773529329543_1685363572360859506_nMy amazing little Padawan is doing some review work out of a Star Wars workbook I found at Sam’s the other day. Have I mentioned how much I love that place?

10550882_773533915353_5241894410709164047_nAnd my BEAUTIFUL princess is working out of a BrainQuest workbook. She’s been able to do EVERYTHING in the book so far with no problems. Watch out, Monster A. Little sister is gaining on you. 
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I’ve been working on lesson planning. I’m still waiting for curriculum to come in completely before I do a curriculum post, but I did get my super awesome Planner from Mardel’s! Check it out! I’m a fan. 

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I also got most of our posters, map, and our super cute owl calendar (all also from Mardel’s) and got them up on the wall. The room still needs some work but it’s shaping up and the kids were stoked to see everything up.

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I’d say we’re getting there. I’ve got a lot more to get planned but I’m in a holding pattern until I get the rest of the curriculum on Tuesday. So I’ll just keep gliding along. I think we’ll be ready just in time to start next Monday. WOOT! 

Now, just to get those pesky freezer meals done. 

Happy Mouth

I’ve been told, on more than one occasion, that the key to making home schooling and life in general successful is to have a plan. That’s what I’ve been doing a lot lately. Planning. EVERYTHING. Plan all the things!!!

I’m a cook. I mean, I absolutely LOVE to cook and, not to toot my own horn, but I’m pretty dang good at it. So what could I love more than a website that provides me with meal plans with incredible recipes (haven’t had a bad one yet), shopping list included? Well, some things come to mind but this is pretty high up there! The Unmeasured Scoop is, well, AWESOME!!!! We eat vegetarian about 60-70% of the time due to cutting cost here and there. This website is perfect for those of you that might eat a lot like us. The meat dishes that are offered are typically lean and still pretty veggie packed. For instance, I made some turkey mini-meatloaves last night loaded with spinach, carrots, and mushrooms. Monster A and Cody devoured theirs. Monster S, well, let me make a list of what she will eat. That will only take a second. Tonight was a chicken dish, Skinny Sesame Chicken with brown rice. We used asparagus with ours. There are no leftovers. That doesn’t happen often at our house. We’re all full and happy and I don’t have to find room in the fridge to stuff more storage containers. WHOO-HOO!!! Monster S even ate some of her chicken, Lord be praised! She even said <gasp> that it was good! The great thing is that all the recipes and shopping list are absolutely FREE! I bet that got your attention. You do have to subscribe by using an email address, but I haven’t seen any emails from the site since I subscribed. There are about 12 plans with 5-6 recipes each (we always have leftovers once or twice a week.) The shopping lists are affordable and the items attainable without using many processed items at all, if at all. I don’t need to make a million shopping trips for the items on the list. In fact, the commissary has had everything we’ve needed so far. Now, for those of you that don’t know, your selection can be a little limited at the commissary sometimes depending on how small your base is. Ours isn’t exactly the largest base around.

Anyway, as I get the hang of things, I may even start adding some recipes of my own to this blog. Right now I’m loving The Unmeasured Scoop since a.) we just moved and I’m still establishing a routine and b.) it’s just so dang easy.

Disclaimer: I have received no payment or services in kind for blogging about this site. I just want to help people by alerting them when I find good resources. 

Playing the waiting game…

…and printing. A LOT!

When choosing curriculum, I really wanted to try to get it all in hard copy format so I wouldn’t waste spend a ton of time printing and a ton of money on paper and ink. But, in the end, it’s all about what I felt was the best fit for the Monsters. I’m still waiting to do a complete review of what we ordered until the rest of it is delivered but we did go get so “essentials” this weekend in preparation for this upcoming shindig. 

Lets see, we have…(I like list by the way)

1.) Writing utensils. Highlights, pens, pencils, yada-yada…

2.) BINDERS. Lots of BINDERS. I’m lovin’ our new Sam’s Club membership, by the way. 

3.) Milk crates. We found a set of six of varying sizes for about $15. They’re not really permanent solutions for the kids work (we’re going to use the work box system by Sue Powers, but with our own little twist.) I’m waiting to find the set of drawers that I want to make it permanent. Of course, we got orange for Monster A and purple for Monster S. I’m going to stick with black. 

4.) Tabbed file folders. Monster A and I are going to do the “Classical Literature Vol. 1” curriculum from Confessions of a Homeschooler and it involves a lot of really awesome lap books. Erica has some amazing ideas! I have really enjoyed going through her website for the past week. We’re actually going to use several of her curricula, but that’s the only one I’m sharing right now. That’s the one I’m most excited about!  

6.) Page Protectors. Not much to get excited about here. They’ll mainly be used for their daily workbook pages. Gotta love dry erase markers. 

7.) Table. We bought a table for the kids to do their work on. Yippee!

But my absolute favorite thing, so far, is this……

7.) Our new HP Touchscreen PC. We I have named him Harry Potter. I mean he is an HP and all. I’ll take a picture of him (yes, I’m well aware I sound like I have adopted him as a part of our family. Maybe I have.) when I have better light. Maybe with the Monsters using it or something. 

So, now I wait. It’s always hurry up and wait around here. I want to get started but maybe I should, I don’t know, write up my lesson plans or actually have our curriculum in the same state as us. Sounds prudent. I got Monster A a “Star Wars” activity book to use as a review for the next couple of weeks and got Monster S one as well (not Star Wars) hopefully she’ll use it even though it doesn’t involve any princesses. The plan is to start two weeks from today. I think we’ll be able to shoot for that. I think getting them involved with the co-op has got them in the right spirit. Hopefully, I won’t drive my husband crazy in the interim until we start. Not holding my breath though.

 

Have I lost my mind?

Hi. My name is Kyla and I think, just maybe, I have lost my mind.

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I have decided, rather quickly I might add, to home school my four and five year-old. Alright, to say quickly is an understatment. It’s always been in the back of my mind and my husband, Cody, has always been on board with it. So what pushed us over that edge? Well, let’s see…

1.) We’re a proud USAF family currently stationed in North Dakota. The kids and I just arrived a little under a month ago. Monster A was enrolled at a wonderful, small, Lutheran private school for Pre-K last year. He thrived. The kid is scary smart, ya’ll (I’m from Oklahoma, by the way. Get used to the “ya’ll”s.) When I started researching the ND schools I was shocked to find that you’re not even required to have any kind of education until you’re seven. Huh? So, where does this put my five year-old who had a hard time staying out of trouble caused (mostly) by boredom last year? Do I put him in a class that will basically repeat EVERYTHING he just spent the last year mastering? I think not. His sister, Monster S, is also incredibly bright and since there’s not a Pre-K program at the schools here I might as well throw her in the mix. I don’t want to push them too hard, but I know they’re capable of more than what they’re offered.

2.) Cody has different reasons. Well, not really different because I believe them too. It’s just not my primary reason for taking the route. We’re a Christian family, like the majority of home schooling families, and we want to have more control over the influences in our young children’s lives. I think it’s a good thing to have them interact with people of all faiths or lack of faith. I just want them to be well equipped to know what they believe. Also, I don’t trust the parents of other kids sometimes. I honestly believe that teachers and administrators do the absolute best that they can do (in most cases) but with the rising number of students being shoved into classrooms, it’s no wonder kids get lost in the fray.

3.) I found an amazing group of home schooling families on base. They have a co-op that meets on a weekly basis. Sometimes even more than that. I don’t think I would have ever made the decision to home school if it hadn’t been for the support of that co-op. People worry about the socialization of home schooled children. Well, between the twenty kids that were at the co-op and ballet and other sports, I think they’ll be just fine. Plus, they need to interact with all ages. Not just peers their own age.

There are actually many reasons why we decided that this was the right path for us. Those are just a few of them. I’m sure in the coming months we’ll find even more reasons that we love/hate home schooling.

My main reason for starting this blog is just to encourage other families and to share resources. Also maybe to document the losing of my mind. In the coming days I’ll be discussing the snags and triumphs of our adventure. As soon as I have all my curriculum delivered I’ll have a better idea of how to proceed. We are dedicating an actual room of our house to be a classroom. It’s a work in progress and will continue to be for a while. That’s okay. As long as we have the essentials, I’m not too concerned.

P.S. The thought of not having to get them to school in the ND winter doesn’t suck either.