*****Please note that there are days where I will post more than once. So, to find out all the latest happenings and "goings-on" in our family (or my random thoughts), be sure to scroll down.*****

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Caleb’s 5th Grade Curriculum Choices

Caleb and I have finally come up with a feasible game plan to tackle his 5th grade schooling.  Here’s a look at the curriculum we will be using and what his days will look like…
Reading – Caleb will spend 45-60 minutes reading books of his choice each day.  This is the time that I will use to work with Micah on his Kindergarten work.  Then, Micah will move on to independent learning, and I’ll focus my attention on Caleb.
Math Amusement Park Math; Math Warm-Ups; # of the Day (Pinterest Idea) – He will do Amusement Park Math every other week, and he’ll rotate the others on the off weeks.  I think this will give him plenty of variety, keep the fun level high, and make him use his math noggin.  We will more than likely take some weeks off from written math work to play math games, but I don’t have that scheduled out yet.  I want to be more flexible, so I do have a game plan, but it’s not set in stone. 
Language Arts – Spectrum Language Arts – I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t need to spend oodles of money on Language Arts curriculum because it repeats yearly, going deeper each year.  So, I went the cheap route.  This will be just enough to satisfy my need for Caleb to do something LA oriented each day.  I don’t think it’ll be too difficult or overwhelming for him, either.
Miscellaneous Skills – Maps, Charts, Graphs, & Diagrams; Dictionary Skills; Take Five Minutes:  365 Calendar-Related Editing Activities -- After taking the ITBS, Caleb and I discussed areas that were difficult for him.  Once he identified those, I asked if he’d like more practice, and he said he would.  I think it will help build his confidence in those areas, and he wants to improve.  I will choose one sentence for him to edit daily, and we’ll rotate weekly between the maps, charts, graphs, & diagrams AND the dictionary skills.  I am also going to add in some table of contents and index work throughout the year, too.
We will also add in daily Bible reading, and then Caleb will have plenty of time to have free exploration where he can learn and study more about what interests him.  This is a plan that Caleb and I have both agreed on, so I’m pretty confident that next year will be a smooth year.  We’re looking forward to lots of learning and even more fun!  I’m just crossing my fingers that schooling two children won’t stress me out too much.  Smile

Monday, April 29, 2013

What’s Cooking Week of April 28, 2013

We did much better at eating at home and sticking to our menu plans last week.  Here’s what’s on the menu this week…
Meal 1 – Spaghetti Meat sauce served over Spaghetti Squash (we’ve never tried this, but I figured it was worth a shot).
Meal 2 – Meatballs w/Gravy, Jasmine Rice, Steamed Broccoli (we didn’t get to this last week)
Meal 3 – Baked Chicken w/Stuffing Casserole, Steamed Veggies
Meal 4 – Grilled Chicken w/Salad
Meal 5 – Frikadellen, Noodles, Steamed Veggies
What’s cooking at YOUR house this week?  Have you ever cooked or eaten Spaghetti squash???  Did you like it?

Sunday, April 21, 2013

What’s Cooking Week of April 21, 2013

Well, it’s time to get back on the cooking bandwagon.  I’ve mentioned before, if I don’t plan the meals, we’re more likely to eat crap or head for take-out.  That’s just not a good idea any way you look at it.  So, I’m trying to do better with meal planning.  We also just placed a big order from our grass-fed beef provider, so the freezer will have plenty of meat that will need to be eaten.  Smile  Rather than post meals for a certain day, I’m just going to come up with 5 meals for the week…then, if life happens, we’ve still got flexibility.  Smile
Here are our five meals for this week…

Meal 1 – Beef tips in crockpot, rice, sauteed brussel sprouts
Meal 2 – BBQ beef in crockpot, coleslaw, corn on the cob
Meal 3 – Meatballs, rice, steamed broccoli
Meal 4 – Grilled chicken with salad
Meal 5 – Scrambled eggs, bacon, and biscuits

What’s cooking at YOUR house this week?  Are you a menu planner or do you wing it each night?

Friday, April 19, 2013

Fourth Grade Week 37

We are finished with another week, and here’s what Caleb was up to…
How To Be a Genius:  Your Brian and How To Train It by DK Publishing
Math for All Seasons by Greg Tang
The Grapes of Math by Greg Tang
DVDs/Movies The American Bible Challenge – GSN
Deadly Dozen:  Australia’s Deadly Dozen – Netflix
God of Wonders – Netflix
Beakman’s World – Netflix
Deadly Dozen:  Asia’s Deadly Dozen – Netflix
River Monsters
Myth Busters:  Exploding Toilet – Netflix
Myth Busters:  Deadly Straw – Netflix
Myth Busters:  Ancient Death Ray – Netflix
Games Tri-ominos
The Allowance Game
Animal Jam – PC
Monkey Quest – PC
Activities/Projects park time – rode bikes at the park
email – I used this to teach Caleb Language Arts skills.  I would send him an email, and he had to complete the task/objective.  Some of the things we worked on were identifying verbs/nouns, making words plurals, synonyms/antonyms, capitalization/punctuation, and writing.
domino building – Caleb used the dominos and Tri-ominos to do some building.

This was Caleb’s rendition of Stonehenge…he took the picture, tooIMG_0269
random towerIMG_0271
# of the day – Caleb chose to do a # of the day, and his # was 567.  This is where he has to do certain tasks with his chosen #…write it, rounding, adding, subtracting, etc.
vet appointment – both of our dogs had vet appointments, so Caleb accompanied his dad to these appointments.
magnet kit – Caleb and Micah had some fun playing with magnets
salt experiment – This was an experiment we started weeks ago, but it took FOREVER.  We put table salt and water in one cup and epsom salt and water in another.  The water mixed with table salt evaporated within a week, but it took a long time for the water mixed with epsom salt to evaporate.  The table salt crystals grew up and out of the cup; however, the epsom salt crystals did not…they stayed in the bottom of the cup.  This was a very interesting experiment, and Caleb enjoyed watching it over the weeks.  Here are the results…
We only have about 8 more days of school…YEAH!  Then, it’ll be summer break for a bit.  Smile  We commence with 5th grade (and Kindergarten for Micah) on June 4th. 

Sunday, April 14, 2013

What I’ve Learned…

I’ve learned quite a bit along our deschool/unschooling journey.  Granted, we’ve only spent about 6 weeks on this journey, but it has been a very eye-opening experience.  We still have a few more weeks left, but I thought I’d go ahead and share what I’ve learned.

  1. My son NEEDS boundaries and guidelines when it comes to screen time.  I know there are many unschoolers out there who will say that your child will learn to self-regulate and won’t want to watch TV or play games ALL day.  However, I just don’t think that’s true with EVERY my child.  He has proven to us on numerous occasions that he will sit and play Animal Jam (insert another PC game or Wii game) for hours on end.  So, for his sake and mine, there has to be guidelines in place to monitor his screen time.
  2. I can’t completely let all control go when it comes to math and language arts.  Again, I know there are unschoolers who will tell me that if I’m still breaking stuff down into subjects, then I’m not truly unschooling.  I, however, believe differently.  In my heart of hearts, I think there are many rungs on the unschool ladder.  I don’t think you have to unschool every subject or even ALL of life.  For us – it’s just not what is best.  I’m not saying I have to use a set curriculum, but Caleb needs to do some sort of math and language arts each day.  I’m perfectly content letting HIM choose what he does, but he will have to do something.  It’s my job to provide all sorts of materials and experiences for him, and I’ve been building up our home library and homeschool supplies with math and language arts choices.  I’ll share more about these in another post…I’m hoping Caleb finds them useful and intriguing.
  3. My son is quite capable of unschooling himself when it comes to science and social studies.  Caleb LOVES these two subjects, and when left to his own vices he will usually gravitate towards an informational text.  He will also choose a science or history show on Netflix or on TV the majority of the time.  So, I’m completely comfortable not having control of these two areas…he has proven he knows where to find information for these topics, and he does it without my assistance.
  4. This goes back to number 2, but I’ve found out by visiting various unschool groups on Facebook, that not all unschoolers agree with my philosophy on the matter.  Like I mentioned, I think it’s perfectly fine to have some sort of structure to your day regarding some school subjects, but then release that structure for other areas.  However, most unschoolers will tell you that this is not unschooling.  It goes back to my thinking of “you have to do what is best for YOUR family.”  I don’t think there’s a wrong way to unschool…however, unschoolers will certainly disagree with me.  That’s okay…I’m fine with that.  They will say that what I’m doing is relaxed schooling…not unschooling.  While that may be true to them, I don’t think it really matters what the label is.  If I want to call what we’re doing for everything minus math and language arts “UNSCHOOLING”, then that’s what it’ll be called.  The main thing I learned from all of the books that I read is you have to make UNSCHOOLING work for YOUR family in the way that is best.  Unschooling in my house doesn’t have to look like unschooling in your house for it to be called the same thing.
  5.  There are advantages to making notes of what my son reads, watches, plays, and accomplishes along the way.  While this isn’t necessary for all folks and some would think it’s tedious, I have enjoyed being able to mark down what Caleb does in a week.  It allows me to see where his interests are, and it also works as an accountability system if you live in a state where that matters.  It’s also nice for folks like me who enjoy blogging about their homeschool weeks.  Smile 
  6. You need to stop and take time to assess how what you’re doing is working, and get your child involved.  I think this is true in all areas of life, but it’s especially true when it comes to homeschooling.  If you are schooling a certain way and things aren’t working, then it’s okay to change them.  If your child isn’t happy or is frustrated with the current method, then TALK with them.  Get their opinion and ask them what their goals are when it comes to their education.  This is obviously easier with an older child, but I feel that you can ask a Kindergartener what they’d like to learn each day.  Ask your child how they think they’d best learn math, language, or whatever else.  Give them the opportunity to make decisions and then give them a chance.  You’ll eventually know if it’s going to work or not…then you can always continue or tweak the system again.  We’ve changed our method of schooling many times, but I’ve learned that Caleb needs to be involved in the decisions just as much as I am.  He has a voice, and I need to listen to his opinion. 
So, there you have it…that’s what I’ve learned.  I’m sure I may learn more over the next few weeks, and if so, then I’ll come back with Part 2.  We’ve got 13 more days left of 4th grade, and then we’re going to take a break.  We’ll start back with 5th grade in June, and there will be some changes.  I’ll share those later…I may learn more by then and change my mind again.  Smile

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Fourth Grade Week 36

Wow – the 4th grade school year is almost over…I think we’ll even finish earlier than I had originally planned, and that’s fine by me!  This was a very different week as Caleb attended an art class 3 mornings this week.  So, that threw us off a bit, but we still managed to make it through the week.  Here’s what Caleb was up to…
Books – Guinness World Records 2013
Scholastic Encyclopedia of Animals
by Laurence Pringle
Animals – A Visual Encyclopedia by DK Publishing
Great Americans by Flowerpot Press
DVDs or Movies – Wonders of the Solar System
The American Bible Challenge – GSN
National Treasure 2:  Book of Secrets
Pilgrim’s Progress
World’s Weirdest:  Oddities – NGW
World’s Weirdest:  Freaks on Land – NGW
National Treasure
Games Played – Animal Jam – PC
Minecraft – iPhone and iPad – I’m going to let him try it out a bit before I purchase the Desktop version.
Projects/Activities – Barry Stebbing’s 3 Day Art Class – Mr. Stebbing is the creator of How Great Thou Art, and this was a 3 day class taught by him.  Caleb LOVED it.
Treadmill – Caleb walked on the treadmill a few days this week.
Park – We spent some time at the park, so Caleb was able to ride his bike and his scooter.
Johnny G’s – this is a fun place here in town, and we had our Classical Conversations end of the year party yesterday.  Caleb had fun playing laser tag, spin zone, and other games.  The boys LOVE this place.
Well, that doesn’t look like a very eventful week, but that’s okay.  I think he learned PLENTY from that 3 day art class.  We only have about 4 weeks left (really only 13 days I think to reach 180), so we’ll finish up 4th grade REALLY soon!

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