Monday, December 30, 2013

Holiday Making

We made some fun "melted snowman" cookies for our friends.

Can you believe we're still using up Halloween candy for decorations?

Thing Two has been doing a lot of hand sewing. He made some catnip mice for our cats.

He made a doll for his new cousin. All of his friends came over one day and wanted to learn how to make one, too!

by the way, she loved it!

We have a Reader!

My older son, aka Thing One, was a very early reader (before age 5). He has always been a voracious and strong reader.  I never had to teach him to read, nor persuade him to read for pleasure, he just did!

Now, Thing Two just turned seven. He has been a much more reluctant reader. I shouldn't say reluctant, he was just not interested! He's my spatial learner, and he's always been too busy building and making to want to read.

In the past year, he has finally broken the reading code! Only in the past month, he has started expressing interest in independent reading, and joy in reading for pleasure. He's sitting down on his own with chapter books and feels so proud of himself!

It has been so hard for me (and for my husband) to not push Thing Two about learning to read. I have tried to be encouraging without being pushy, and I feel so proud of all of us!

Interestingly, his interest in independent writing has developed along with this new interest in reading. He writes stories on the word processor, or in his sketchbook!  I just love seeing him explore his new skills.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Books for Boys

I recently posted a list of kids' books with strong female leads on Facebook. A couple of friends expressed that they have more trouble finding books with strong male leads that are not graphic novels nor full of potty humor.

Here's a list of ones my boys have enjoyed. Many are part of a series.

The Adventures of Tintin
Nate the Great
Henry and Ribsy
Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing
The Invention of Hugo Cabret
Mars Needs Moms
How to Train your Dragon
The Great Brain
The Mad Scientists’ Club
Magic Treehouse Series
Chronicles of Narnia
A Wrinkle in Time
Kenny and the Dragon
Jimmy Zangwow’s Out of this world Moon-Pie Adventure
The Wednesday Tales: The Palace of Laughter
Gideon the Cutpurse
Harry Potter
The Wonderful  Flight to the Mushroom Planet
The  Boy Who Could Fly Without a Motor
Beast Quest series
The Mysterious Benedict Society
Deltora Quest Series
Encyclopedia Brown
The Secrets of Droon series
George’s Cosmic Treasure Hunt
Have Space Suit-Will Travel
Bernie and the Bessledorf Ghost
Larklight Series
An Accidental Adventure series
The Sherlock Files: The Beast of Blackslope
The Boy Who Loved Words
Odd and the Frost Giants
The Kane Chronicles
Percy Jackson series
The Indian in the Cupboard
The Code Busters Club
Flat Stanley
Whales on Stilts (Pals in Peril)
The Clue of the Linoleum Liederhosen
Horton Halfpott: Or, The Fiendish Mystery of Smugwick Manor; or, The Loosening of M'Lady Luggertuck's Corset
The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series
Falcon Quinn and the Black Mirror
The Ashtown Burials series
The Strictest School in the World: Being the Tale of a Clever Girl, a Rubber Boy and a Collection of Flying Machines, Mostly Broken
The Castle in the Attic
100 Cupboards
The 39 Clues
Aliens on Vacation
The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict
The Slippery Map
The Bears on Hemlock Mountain
The Picture of Morty and Ray
Dark Life

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

How I Use Goodreads in our Homeschool

Goodreads: Book reviews, recommendations, and discussion

Do you use Goodreads? It's a social network for readers. I started using it to get good recommendations from friends about books.It enables me to make a list of books I want to read, and to rate and recommend the books I have read for others.

In the past three years, I have found other uses for this versatile site. It has become a very useful homeschool tool!

On the Goodreads site, you can list a book as "want to read", "currently reading", or "read."  You can also create your own shelves.  I started writing reviews for kids' books under the shelf name "books-for-boys".  I asked my sons to rate books we read, and if they had comments, I would type them in as a "book report."  As my son got older, he could type in his own ratings and book reports. These reports are printable so you can include them in a portfolio. I set up other shelves like "read aloud" and "audio" to indicate how we used the book in our homeschool.

I try to enter books into my Goodreads list once a week or so. Right before we make a library trip is a good time to do it.

One day, I had an epiphany when a reviewer asked me for a list of books my son had read that year. Goodreads allows you to sort by shelf (or multiple shelves) or you can sort by date. I set up a shelf for my son called "E third grade" and one called "H first grade".  As we read a book, I enter it and add it to this "shelf".  You can add one book to multiple shelves, for instance I can enter a book as "books for boys, audio, E third grade" at one time.  I can print a page at the end of each school year listing all books my son has read, with the date and type of book (audio, read aloud, or independent) listed, and stick it straight in the portfolio.

bookshelves (edit)

all (913) 

Not Back to School!

Our first day of fourth grade....

and first grade!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Tips for Attending a Homeschool Curriculum Fair

I went to a a large curriculum fair today, for the second time in my life. Here are a few tips I have learned, some from others, some the hard way.

If possible, preview the vendors and a map online before the event. Have at least a general idea of items your family will need in the upcoming months and years. Spend some time reviewing the vendor list and familiarizing yourself with their products. Spend a little time looking online at prices so you can recognize a good bargain when you see one.

Bring a friend (or two). It's nice to have someone to chat with on the drive. It's nice to have a sounding board for ideas, or a second opinion. It's nice to have a second pair of eyes looking for that one item you cannot miss. I like to leave the kids at home.

Bring pre-printed mailing labels with your name and address on them. It's nice to have these to stick on forms for mailing lists, instead of writing out all your information over and over.

Know your budget. Bring some cash. If you use a debit card, and you are traveling to the fair, give your bank a call so they don't freeze your card for suspicious activity. Bring a backup credit card or checkbook.

Bring a tote bag or backpack, or rolling crate. You will need something in which to carry all your purchases. If possible, carry some outside to the car sporadically.

Always peruse the used book stalls and ask vendors about scratch and dent books. Ask about bundling. Haggle. Those folks want to carry home as little as possible.

If you can't get what you want at the fair, ask about any deals for ordering at the fair. You may get a hefty discount, or free shipping.

Take your time and have fun!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Portfolio Review Preparation

Here's a quick post about how I prepare portfolios for our county homeschool review.

About two to four times per month, I sit down with a stack of papers like this.

My first step is to sort the papers by child.
I end up with five stacks: one for each child, one of school printouts that will not go into portfolios, one of weird miscellaneous stuff that doesn't belong with school papers at all, and recyclables.

For the next phase, I grab my planner, date stamp or pen, hole puncher, and a pair of scissors.

Sometimes, my kids don't date stamp their work. The planner is helpful to remind myself what we were doing on what dates.  The scissors are for cutting off this stuff.

I take out anything that cannot be hole-punched and put in the binder.

Doesn't this stack look much more manageable already?

These odd sized things go in the front pocket of the binder.

After everything has been date stamped, I start adding things to the binder, in chronological order. I include an example per week from each subject. If the subject isn't obvious, I make a note on the top of the page.

I add photos by pasting them onto computer paper, adding a caption or date if appropriate, and add it to the binder.
I like to include photographs of our workspace, classes outside our home, social time, art projects that don't fit in our portfolio, our garden, travel, and pictures of the boys doing some of their work.

Anything that doesn't go in the binder goes into the large paper portfolio. I have one for each child. This is  also where any oversized projects get stored.
Repeat for next child!

I hope this helps someone else keep all this paperwork organized!