Thursday, September 26, 2013

Parts of Speech Printable

After searching the internet for the perfect printable that would show the basic parts of speech, I decided to make my own.  I modeled it after a dollar store poster I purchased several years ago that had been long forgotten about but just resurfaced in a closet.  Yay!

Please feel free to download the file(s) if you're interested.  Just click on the image below or go to my Printables page to download it. :)


Monday, August 19, 2013

Weekly Reviews - Weeks 1 & 2

We started school much earlier than usual this year.  I always try to follow the local public school schedule since there are so many kids in our neighborhood.  The public school started a new schedule this year, shifting the school year up a few weeks.  Anyway,  this is much different than what we are used to, but the first two weeks went fairly well.

We started My Father's World 1850-Modern Times.  The first two weeks of history were spent reviewing some of what we learned last year.  Easy enough.  And, it was optional, so no pressure for the first couple of weeks.

We started science right away, using The World of Science and 100 Science Experiments.  What great fun we've had already!  I have to admit that learning about atoms, molecules, and elements wasn't my favorite in school, but, like history, my interest has grown over the years.  And it helps to do all these simple, but fun experiments along the way.  Each child is just using a spiral lined notebook to draw diagrams and record experiments.  I almost got fussy over this, wanting it to look like a work of perfection.  But, I let go of that quickly, and went with simplicity!  I feel so free!!!

We haven't done any art yet, other than the kids doing their usual crafty stuff that always leaves a trail of cut papers, markers, pencils, glue, and more recently, duct tape.  The gentle reminders to clean it up have transformed into stern demands at times, but I can't help but to love the imagination and creativity behind their projects.  :)

Reading has really picked up around here, which I am so pleased to report.  It's no secret that we have struggled with reading, so this is a celebratory time in our house!   Emily has read many books just over the past few weeks - I think she's making up for lost reading time.  Katie is becoming more fluent reading her Pathway Readers, and is doing well working more independently in her reading workbook.  Yay!

Math will begin this week.  I wanted to do math over the summer, but...  well, it was summer, and we enjoyed it!

My favorite part of the day is when we have Bible time.  MFW chose an excellent book to read alongside the Bible this year.  It's called A Young Person's Guide to Knowing God by Patricia St. John.  We read some in the evenings when Daddy is home, but we mostly start each day with it.  It really is a wonderful book.

Since the weather has been so nice, we have held school out on the patio on some mornings.  It just dawned on me (after all these years) that our patio doors are steel, so I can easily use magnets to hang our map for geography.  Love that!  As far as the CD of geography songs goes, my girls gave me the "you've got to be kidding" look when I played the first scheduled song.  But, it was such a catchy tune, that we learned the states in no time.  Emily already knew most of them, but Katie only knew a few.  So, this has been silly, but great! 

We will have a much busier year than last year.  Katie will be taking homeschool gym and swim classes at the YMCA, and she is joining a homeschool orchestra.  We will also be attending a co-op this year, with each of the girls taking three classes.  Well, one of Emily's is study hall, but she'll have plenty to do.  I'm very excited to see some old friends and make new friends.  I need more adult interaction with fellow homeschoolers!  Katie is very excited, too, and Emily is starting to warm up to it. 

I wanted to post pictures, but I haven't gotten them on the computer yet.  So, that will have to wait.  I'll try to get to it this week.  Hope it's a great one!

Linked with Weekly Wrap Up

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Organization: Just Keepin' it Real!

 We've been using My Father's World (MFW) for many years now.  Each year, all the books go on the bookshelf to be easily stored during the year.  Organization should be easy, right?  Yes, if that's all there was.  However, I have a plethora of books and supplies that go way beyond what arrives in our box from MFW.  (I was so tempted to say "we" have, but really, it's mainly me - ouch!)

So, I'm sitting here, taking a break from the organization process.  It's mentally draining and I really need this break!  What to keep and what to toss is mind boggling.  We have so many great books, and I hate to toss any of them!  (By toss, I mean part ways.)  But, do I really need them all?  There's only so many things I can assign each year, even though I would love to assign it ALL!  I would probably be labeled the worst mom/teacher of the year if I did that!

The other problem is that our bookshelves are loaded with many things.  They house the telephone book (like I really need that, right?), a hodgepodge of spiral notebooks (some used, some new), readers, boxes of CDs, glue, and other supplies, magazine boxes filled with misc. papers (yes, I need to weed those out), some magazines, games, and a small wealth of resource books.  I keep telling myself to use it or lose it!  But, it's not working this time.  You see, I'm down to the nitty gritty here.  I cleaned these shelves off a while back and filled two good sized boxes with stuff we weren't using and stuff I knew we weren't going to use.   Now, we're down to the harder decisions.  Can anyone relate?  Does anyone else want to keep it all, but you know it just isn't necessary, and it's just consuming valuable space?  Does anyone else suffer from MNIS (Might Need it Someday) syndrome?

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Hello Summer!

Our formal school year is officially over.  Overall, we had a great year, and for the first time ever, we finished before June!

We finished strong, learning about the California Gold Rush in 1849.  Just a few days before studying it, I stumbled upon these little bags of "gold" at the store and couldn't resist buying them.

These chewing gum nuggets unexpectedly furthered our lesson.  Since gold is so strong and can be hammered flat, I used these nuggets as an object lesson about gold.  We all put some in our mouths and took note about how the "gold" didn't break apart, rather it flattened out.  Pretty cool, huh?
The girls got to paint on canvas on our last day.  Katie painted a tree (haven't taken a picture of hers yet), and Emily painted a hedgehog.  They both turned out very cute.

Emily made homemade chocolate chip muffins to celebrate our last day.  Very yummy!


Our last day was on Thursday, so we had Fun Day Friday and went to Kings Island.  It was a beautiful day!

Friday night, the girls were doing simple experiments on their own.  They made a mixture with vinegar to clean pennies, and put Ivory soap in the microwave to see it expand.  Katie even explained to me how it happens.  After they pulled the soap out, they crumbled it into a bowl, and now it's ready for me to use with my homemade laundry detergent.  Bonus for me! :)

We will be doing some math and language arts over the summer.  I say this every year and we've never met my goals.  But, after all these years of spending too much time in the fall reviewing, I'm going to work harder at sticking with my plan this summer.

My plan is to start My Father's World 1850 to Modern Times some time in August.  We are making some changes in math and language arts but I haven't nailed them down just yet.  I'm leaning heavily towards using Teaching Textbooks for math.  We've always used RightStart, and I still love the program.  But, it's teacher intense.  Need I say more?  I might also add Life of Fred as a supplement.

I plan to use some materials from Queen Homeschool Supplies for language arts.  I'm pretty sure we'll use the vocabulary, and maybe some copywork.  But, I haven't nailed that down yet either.

For now, we are all looking forward to summer and the warm weather it brings!

Linked up with Weekly Wrap-Up

Tuesday, May 14, 2013


While I was doing dishes today, I was thinking about how many times I've heard Christians (including myself) say they wish there were more good, quality shows on TV.  I had no idea why this thought even came to mind.  I really don't watch much TV myself, but I do have those veg-out moments.  God spoke to me in a very clear and real way.  And that's when I realized the meaning behind my thoughts.

God doesn't want His children to waste so many precious hours watching TV, even on "good, quality shows."  That might be like spending all of our time in church and never going out to tell the world about Jesus.  Serving Him and helping others is what God wants us to do!  If there were more good, or dare I say great shows on television, we might be more inclined to sit and watch rather than get up and do.  Let's face it, television, and other electronics, make us lazy.  I don't want to be a lazy Christian.

So, the next time I flip through channels in an unsuccessful attempt to find a quality show, I hope and pray that I remember this revelation, and will do something to serve God instead.

"If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also.  If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him."  John 12:26

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Reading and Copywork with McGuffey Readers

I'm so glad we finally started using the McGuffey Readers on a regular basis.  It took way too long to do this!  Since we have some reading struggles, we are taking it slowly.  So far, the results have been very positive. 

How We Use McGuffey Readers

We start off by reading a story in the book. Katie reads from the McGuffey Primer.  Although some may think she is too old (10) for the Primer, I chose it so that she would gain more confidence in reading, and give her more practice in handwriting, spelling, and grammar in a very practical way.

After she reads the story, I then have her read all the words from the word list that follows the story.  We use a separate spelling program, otherwise I would use the McGuffey word list for spelling.  Often times, words from her spelling book also appear on the McGuffey word list, so this provides great review and practice.  Once she has a good grasp on reading each word on the list, she then copies two sentences from the story and draws a picture about them.  We repeat this nearly every day until she has written the entire story.


You can modify what we do to suit children that are less or more advanced simply by reducing or increasing the amount of copywork.  The McGuffey Readers are so flexible!  If your child is not quite there yet, just work on a portion of the word list until that portion is mastered, then move on.  If your child is beyond this, you may want to move on to the next reader. 

Note: When we move on to McGuffey's First Reader, I do not plan to assign every sentence as copywork since the stories are longer.  Can you imagine how daunting that might be?    So, I plan to choose the sentences that I believe would be most beneficial, and maybe allow Katie to copy her favorite sentences as well.  I'll gage that by her level of interest, progress and time.

Katie never complains about her McGuffey assignments.  I believe she enjoys them because they are practical and creative (drawing).  Next year, we may use the McGuffey Readers for spelling rather than using a separate book.  The boxed set includes a Progressive Speller too, but I haven't put much effort into looking at it yet.  With some prayer and research, I trust that God will lead us down the right path for us.

Now, if I could just sharpen Katie's math skills, I would feel much more balanced!

Monday, April 8, 2013

My brain is about to explode!

It's late, and I don't think any of my friends or family would appreciate a phone call from me at this hour to release all these thoughts racing through my head!

We've been away with Hubby on a business trip that took us to southern California for ten days.  It was beautiful.  We enjoyed great weather and sunshine, unlike the cold air and snow we left behind.  Swimming, hiking, shopping, and painting pottery are some of the things we did while we were away.  I'll save the details and pictures of all the fun we had in California for another post.  Right now, my brain is focused on school.

As soon as we returned from California, I took a three hour nap after flying the red-eye, and headed to the homeschool convention.  I had big plans to attend some speaker sessions, and browse through the vendor hall.  I ended up going to just two sessions, of which I only sat through part of each.  Why?  Because I was so exhausted that I had a hard time focusing.  Hmm, how might we relate that to our children and school, whether homeschooled or publicly/privately schooled?  We all need adequate sleep to function well.  Anyway, I had the same problem as I browsed through the vendor hall.  I could not maintain focus long enough to accomplish much of anything.

The next day was much better.  I went back to the convention (later than I wanted to, but at least I went!), attended a couple of sessions, purchased CDs of sessions I wanted to attend but didn't get to, and browsed in the vendor's hall.  My time was short and I was trying my best to stay focused.  I ordered our books for next year, and found a few other goodies along the way. 

My thoughts began to race when I attended a session given by Cathy Canen who talked about reading and writing to help kids learn better in all subjects.  After the session, I spoke with a mom who sat next to me and found that we struggle in the same areas.  After talking for a few minutes, I think we both felt encouraged and better guided.  I went to Cathy's booth, which happened to be Writing Strands, little did I know!  We use Writing Strands and really like it.  Interesting how God keeps bringing me back to the same things!  I now plan to purchase Reading Strands, and possibly the Writing Evaluation book.

At the close of the convention, I finally found the ONE BOOTH I wish I had seen much earlier!  Queen Homeschool Supplies.  This company developed their own Charlotte Mason style materials, and I love it!  I didn't just stumble upon this booth.  I believe God led me to it.  There was a speaker session I wanted to attend that was given by one of the ladies from this booth.  I didn't get to attend that session, but when I read the description of it and visited their website, I knew I had to see their stuff!  By the time I found the booth (after jotting down the booth number incorrectly, and spending quite some time searching for it), they had begun packing up.  NO!!!  They gave me a catalog, of which I've been pouring my eyes over for hours since.  It's not your typical sales catalog.  It's full of wonderfully useful information about Charlotte Mason's methods, and detailed descriptions of the materials they sell.  This is one catalog I will not toss into the recycle bin!

While there, I remembered visiting this booth at the convention last year!  I remembered liking their materials, especially the language arts and copywork.  And I wondered why I never purchased them.  Then I remembered thinking that I could create something similar.  Ha!  Could I create it?  Yes!  Of course I could, but when would I have time?  Well, obviously, I never did have time, and had even forgotten all about it.  I think God wanted to be sure it would stick this time because I haven't been able to get this stuff off my mind for two days now!  And here we are again with God bringing me back to the same place.  Can you tell that I don't always get it the first time around?

I'm most interested in the language arts, vocabulary, spelling, and cursive.  They also sell Life of Fred, which is a math series.  I really didn't know much about it until I read about it in Queen's catalog.  Now, I want to check it out.

Queen offers two other math books that would make great supplements to any math program.  Magnificent Math is a book of real life math in the form of word problems.  Math Facts for Copywork is a book that helps students to memorize the math facts by writing them down.  After all, Charlotte Mason strongly believed in accuracy through careful work and repetition to avoid incorrect information from being locked into the mind (whether it be math, spelling, or other).  Read that sentence again, and let it sink in.  If your brain is trained to only see the correct rather than consistently seeing the incorrect, then you will know, without a doubt, what is correct.

Queen has many other materials available, including games (Manners for Mealtimes is something we could use!), history, geography, science, and living history books.  The Living History Readers set would be a nice collection to add to any library.  I'm lucky enough to have one of the books in that set, given to me by my grandma.  My copy is a very old copy, printed in the early 1900's, and one I would not turn loose to my kids without my close supervision.  The title I have is American History for Little Folks and I love it!  It's a great addition to any American history program.  This one (and probably the others) is available as a free download on Google Books, but if you're like us, we like to have an actual book in our hands!

Since my mind is racing, and I can't seem to grab hold of all my thoughts, I suggest that you visit Queen Homeschool Supplies for yourself.  Request a catalog, and try not to stay up too late drooling over all that you discover!

God Bless!

This is just my personal opinion of things I have learned and discovered.  I have not been paid by anyone to write a review.  I just wanted to share my findings with anyone who might stumble upon my babble and actually read it!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Revolutionary War Wrap-Up


We are finally finished with our study of the Revolutionary War.  We spent extra time on it because we did so much with it.  Honestly, it was too much!  Oh well.  We sure did learn a lot.  We read lots of books, printed and cut lots of lapbook pieces (many haven't made their way into the lapbook yet), started assembling a lapbook, wrote notebook summaries, made a fun timeline, watched some Liberty's Kids videos (and others), and made berry ink.  In addition, we had mild illnesses and dentist appointments that held us up a bit, and we had a snow day.  My head is spinning!

Making berry ink and using the quill pen was a challenging activity for both of the kids.  But, once they got the hang of it, we all enjoyed it!

The timeline turned out great, and we included some important Revolutionary figures along with it.  These free printables are found here.


Our plants are off to a good start.  I hope the growth continues.  I'm new to this light hut/greenhouse thing.  We've kept a plastic cover over the flat and don't know how long to keep it on.  I suppose that will require more web searching.  :)

In the process of finding great educational websites and free printables, I decided to create Pinterest boards to help me organize these sites by subject.  I just love seeing pictures and descriptions of these sites, along with my personal notes about them.  What a time saver!

I'm hoping this is our last snow of the season.  At least we built a nice snowman!  (Actually, I think she's a snowgirl!)


Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers

Friday, March 1, 2013

Reading : Finding Books that Work

It's no secret that reading has always been a struggle in our house.  I personally love to read for pleasure.  I'm slow, but I enjoy it.  Hubby, not so much.  The kids, not so much!  I often wondered if we just hadn't found the right type of literature that suits each of the girls.  We tried a number of different types of books for our oldest, and nothing really stuck, except for the American Girl series, of which she still enjoys reading.

Learning to read has been a very slow process for our youngest.  I tried anything from the Scholastic Readers to Bob Books to Dick and Jane to the McGuffey Readers.  Of those, the Scholastic readers would be on the bottom of my list.  They just didn't do much to help with learning words and fluency.

Bob Books were great in the beginning.  They are simple, and are phonetically written, which helped Katie in the very beginning.  She read all the ones we were able to borrow from the library.

BOB Books Set #1: Beginning Readers

Dick and Jane was a flop.  Katie quickly got bored with those stories, as did I!

My sister in-law gifted Katie a book that turned out to be a favorite:  Biscuit.  She loved this book!  It was a hardback that had many stories compiled in one book.  It even came with a CD of the audio book, but Katie never used it.  She just loved to read about Biscuit.


Google Books has been a great resource for downloading old books for free.  There's a reader I found to be very effective called Work A Day Doings by Emma Serl.  Since Katie prefers to read an actual book, I printed each story and made short story books for her.  Sometimes, she dreads reading these stories, but she always enjoys them once she starts.  These short stories use animals as main characters - very cute!

This brings me to the McGuffey Readers.  Wonderful books!  We have the original McGuffey Readers, which differ from the revised version.  I've read that both are wonderful, but are quite different.  I do have the revised version in e-reader format (free from Google Books).

Anyway, these books are great for teaching new words, and have a word list with each story that could be used for spelling and/or vocabulary, or not used at all.  Since we have always used separate spelling books, we have always just used the word list to practice reading.  This may change after this year though.  I'm a believer in learning spelling through literature - reading and writing.  But, that's another post for another day.

As great as the McGuffey Readers are, the books that have enhanced Katie's reading the most are the Pathway Readers, which contain stories about family life on an Amish farm.

Interestingly, these stories also engaged Emily a couple years ago.  Reading short stores within one book was less intimidating to her than reading an entire novel.  These books are simply written with engaging stories.  In the lower level readers, repetitive words have really helped Katie to actually learn the words, and read with fluency.  She was so happy tonight when she completed a book.  She is ready to move on to the next book, and I think she may be developing a love for reading.  Oh, how I hope so!

There are workbooks that accompany Pathway Readers.  Sometimes, I use the workbooks for Katie, but I pick and choose which pages to complete.  There is nothing attractive about the workbooks.  But, this leaves more to the imagination and reduces distraction.

I pray for anyone who has struggling readers.  It's not easy to find quality books that contain decent stories.  Let's fact it.  Some books are just dumb!  So, when I find good ones, I want to share them with others.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Weeks in Review

Yep.  Weeks.  Not just one.  Who knows how many!  I promise to keep it as short as possible.  Mostly pictures.  Maybe.


We've been using Apologia Botany in science, and it's been great.  The projects are doable, fun, and have been relatively quick.  The only one that took a little more time is the light hut for growing plants.  I'm hoping we'll benefit from it!  We sowed a variety of flower and vegetable seeds.  We already have some emerging seedlings!

As we sowed the seeds, we made a chart so that we know what is what.  We placed a sticker on the left corner of the tray, and one on the bottom left corner of our chart.  This is in case our planting tray gets turned around, we know which way to look at it to compare to the chart.


Of course, there was a failed science experiment.  If I had a dime for every failed experiment...

The carrot was supposed to grow new leaves, but clearly it just shriveled up to look like Beetlejuice!

We are also working on our bean growth chart to see which bean will grow the largest: the one taped to a sunny window, the one inside a dark drawer, or the one in the cold refrigerator.  So far, the one in the dark drawer has the others beat by a long "shoot."  (haha) 

Here, the girls are experimenting with paper towels to see how non vascular plants absorb water.


I must say, I am loving the colonial/revolutionary time period!  The kids enjoy most of it, too.  Some library books that we really enjoyed reading include:  Benjamin West and his cat Grimalkin and Sybil Ludington's Midnight Ride.  There was also picture book called The Boston Tea Party that my kids loved because it had little cartoon mice on each page, doing their own thing that related to the story.  They just thought that was hilarious!  Unfortunately, I don't remember the name of the author.

We made Johnny Cakes one day.  Katie and I liked them; Emily did not.  Nothing unusual!  We put homemade chunky applesauce on top - YUM!

We completed a Daniel Boone lapbook, which I will write a detailed post with pictures on that when I get a chance.  And we have all the materials ready for an American Revolution lapbook, as you can see here!

Something I thought would be fun is to get a chest of some sort, and put various history related things into it, when appropriate.  The idea is that the girls would open up the history box and pull out a piece of history, so to speak.  After looking all over the antique mall, I ended up finding the box below at Hobby Lobby.  So, it's not really old, but it looks like it could be, and it was way cheaper than anything I found antique shopping!

So far, the girls pulled out a draft of the Declaration of Independence, Colonial money, and lapbook elements.  I may drop a book or two in there from time to time - whatever will fit that goes with our lessons on a particular day or week.  I just love this idea and hope it evolves into greater things!  I'm even thinking that some sort of large clay pot would make a great botany project pot!  And if you're learning different countries in your history lesson, why not get a suitcase to put fun things in?

We are plugging away at other subjects, too, but those aren't as much fun to show & tell!  Really, how many pictures do we need of our kiddos doing math and doing language arts?

Last Friday, we went to a production of Rosa Parks, which was well done and very educational.  The weather was a little sketchy that morning, but cleared up before we left.  I'm so glad we got to go!

And Friday night, we went to Winter Jam!  We got to hear 10 Christian music artists do their thing for God, and tell their stories!  It was truly amazing.  I wish I had gotten pictures of the girls there.  I don't know why I didn't think to take at least one of them. 

Hopefully, I'll get my act together and blog on a regular basis.  I really do enjoy writing, and reading other blogs!

Linked with Unsocialized Homeschoolers Weekly Wrap-Up

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Best Unplanned Valentine's Day

 "We love because He first loved us." (1 John 4:19)

I don't think my kids will ever know how unplanned this day was.  Somehow, I managed to pull all sorts of goodies out of the magic hat, or shall I say heart?

Last night, I scanned my Valentine board on Pinterest, and found a few ideas I knew I could pull off last minute.  One thing that was super quick and easy was a free printable that I placed in a frame on the piano before I went to bed.

This morning, before the kids got up, I made a batch of puppy chow and mixed in some Valentine M&Ms and sprinkles.  I placed it in pink mugs on plates that were hiding in a closet.  Perfect!

For breakfast, I made heart-shaped pancakes colored with red food coloring.  The kids thought they were the best ever!

In the pantry, I found a strawberry cake mix and just the right ingredients for homemade icing.  So, I made cupcakes.  The big ones went on the cake plate my mother in-law gave me.  It was a wedding gift they received many years ago, and now I get to enjoy it.

The baby cupcakes fit nicely in an old metal heart-shaped pan that I found at an antique mall a few weeks ago.


I couldn't stop there.  I made a quick trip to the store for a pack of Reece Cup Hearts (hubby's favorite), a bag of caramel hershey kisses, and some strawberries.  You might have guessed that I made chocolate covered strawberries.  Don't they look pretty on my vintage/antique (?) crystal plate?

I remembered having two Valentine tins tucked away, and paper doilies that I've had for years.  I put the doilies inside the tins and filled the tins with goodies for the kids.  Hubby's treats went into a red bowl.  I made the chocolate hearts out of the leftover chocolate from the strawberries.  For the hershey kisses, I stamped some small Valentine images, punched them out with a 3/4" circle punch and glued them to the bottom of the kisses.  I also punched some zebra striped paper.  How fun is that?


And here's the entire Valentine treat spread.  One would never know that none of it was pre-planned!

 Happy Valentine's Day!