Tuesday, July 30, 2013

How Do You Plan?

We, at Country Homeschool, have already started our new school year; however, I know that many are still in the planning process. So, to backtrack a little bit, I am going to explain my planning and scheduling process for our homeschool year and I will be sharing some of the documents I have created.

I started the planning process by creating our school calendar. Last year, we pretty much went the entire year with very few breaks and by March/April I was feeling the burn-out and I know the boys were, too. So, I am going a different route this year. We are going to be in school for about four weeks at a time with a week long break in between. This will allow us to schedule appointments, field trips, and just a bit of a breather to REALLY evaluate how things are going all while being able to address some vital "me" time!

We decided to try out the Sonlight Curriculum this year. This has allowed me to have a lot of planning already completed. Yeah! However, it did leave me with four separate planning pages (core, science, LA 2nd grade, LA kindergarten), plus math, extra-curricular, and the extras that I will be throwing in. So, I decided to create an all-in-one form where I can plug in our Sonlight lessons along with everything else. Here's a freebie of my lesson plan form!

As for documentation, in our state we have to document hours in the core subjects (language arts, math, science, social studies) and total learning hours. So I created a daily time log for each subject and labeled the core subjects and I also created a log for our weekly hours. Here is a sample of that:

Weekly Hours

2nd Grader
Core Subjects



Life Skills


Total Instruction for the Week

Pretty simple! I love that I have been able to free up a lot of time by having almost everything planned in advance. It takes a little bit of nothing to make a few copies and finalize our weekly plan which means I have more time for fun and family. Love that! I hope that my ideas for planning can help you out a bit, too. 

God Bless!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Ancient Egypt, St. Bernadette, and My Family ... What Do They Have in Common?

What in the world could Ancient Egypt, St. Bernadette, and My Family have in common? Well, they have all been a part of our second week of homeschool - that's what!

I'll start with Ancient Egypt. Our history and Bible stories coincide pretty well with each other. The first week we learned about Adam and Eve and how the first people would have lived, hunted, built homes, and traveled. This week our Bible stories expand to Ancient Egypt with the story of Joseph (and coming up - Moses) and his coat of many colors. We have also learned about how the Ancient Egyptians lived and dressed and about pyramids and mummies. Of course the boys were fascinated to learn about mummies! The house was filled with loud "ewws" and "that's disgusting" and "awesome" when we read about the mummification process and how the insides were removed and placed into jars. This discussion led us into examining King Tut's death mask. We drew and painted our version of his death mask. Check them out, they turned out so GREAT!
That's Sweet Pea's (5 years old) on the left and Boogie Man's (7 years old) on the right. I'm very impressed!

Moving on to St. Bernadette. We will be learning about a new saint each week, last week was St. Ann and this week is St. Bernadette. We watched portions of youtube videos from The Song of Bernadette and a video tour of Lourdes, France. We will also take a trip to a local church which has a depiction of Our Lady of Lourdes.

Finally, Sweet Pea has been working on family words and has mastered the recognition, spelling, and reading of his name, his brother's name, and Mom and Dad. I created a My Family book for him to read using our own pictures. The text is as follows: (brother) plays. (himself) plays. Mom smiles. Dad smiles. I love (brother). I love Mom. I love Dad. I love me. He really loves reading this book and looking at the pictures. I'm looking forward to creating a new book for him to learn next week using his new words.

We have had a very adventurous and fun-filled week! This is why we absolutely LOVE homeschooling!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Our Homeschool Classroom

It's about that time! Time for a new school year! Last year we used a spare bedroom, the dining room table, and the living room as our classroom. I didn't like the clutter that school was throwing into our regular living space. So, this year, we remodeled a basement room to suit our classroom needs. It will be handy because I also have my at-home business (candles, soaps, and other handmade products) set up in this same room.

Here are some photos and descriptions of the areas pictured.

 Our computer area with printer. The drawer system stores paper, printer ink, and miscellaneous supplies.
 A few from the outside access door. You can see the computer area in the bottom right corner. The colored totes hold some language arts supplies and the green tote on the top contains prizes (I love the Target clearance aisle!) My Sweet Pea 5 year old will be learning to read, so he will get to choose a prize when he masters an emergent reader or a sight word list. My Boogie Man 7 year old will get to pick from the prize basket for mastering math facts. In the back of the photo you can see our desk work area.
 This is another photo from the outside access door. Just to the left is my sewing machine work area and just the right - beyond the half wall - is a kitchen area that I use for making soaps and candles. The double doors at the far end lead to a messy play area.
 The two storage drawers in the back hold math manipulatives. The front storage drawers hold my desk supplies (sharpies, post-its, staples, etc.). Look at that! You can see a BOB Books box in the basket. We love those!
 Maps, flags, crucifix, copies of the Morning Offering and Guardian Angel prayers, and copies of the Pledge to the Cross, and the Pledge to the Flag.
 We made a fun trip to the fabric store - at least it was fun for me! Boogie Man chose Lightening McQueen for his chair cover and bulletin board cover, while Sweet Pea chose Batman.
 This is my work area. I have my laptop, teacher books, my plan book, and binders for storing documentation. The shelf underneath stores the read alouds that came with the Sonlight Curriculum.
 Here is the work area for the boys. They have a folder for each day of the week and will get a checklist of things that need to be completed each day. Sweet Peas work will require a lot of intervention on my part, but Boogie is more capable of working independently.
 Here is another display area. This area is just behind our work area. The bulletin board on top shows our weekly Bible verses and the Saint of the Week. I imagine that this will hold additional things in the future! Next is our dry erase board and pocket chart. You can see to the left that we also have a TV and DVD player.
Finally, additional storage. I have a ton of teacher resources, so on the shelf are some random books that I felt may come in handy this year. The drawer system holds extra markers and glue sticks, our construction paper and cardstock paper, and sentence strips. On top of the drawer system we have tubs with markers, crayons, glue, glue sticks, scissors, and colored pencils. You can see a bathroom on the right side of the picture. 

Well, that's it. Our new homeschool classroom! 

God Bless, 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

We Love BOB Books!

You know those little emergent reader books - BOB books - we LOVE them! I think I probably have every title, plus maybe doubles of some. Between teaching and parenting we have definitely went through these books. Why do I love them so much? Let me count the ways! Each book has a letter - sound focus. The books introduce and encourage sight word reading and consonant-vowel-consonant words. Some of the books introduce punctuation. The books are great for working on fluency. I've even used them to do running records. And, finally, they have great pictures that go along with the story and help with comprehension and decoding.

It is absolutely amazing what you can do with one little book! Therefore, I am excited to present to you a packet that was designed to go with the BOB Books Set 1: Beginning Readers. You can find it here. This is a 70-page packet that includes the following for each book in set 1: a sound chart, upper and lower case letter search, short vowel fill in the blank, consonant fill in the blank, phoneme segmentation, phoneme blending, and sight words: read, highlight, copy the sentence, and illustrate the sentence.

I hope that you will check it out and find it as useful as I have! Like I've said, I love them and the possibilities for incorporating them into a reading program are practically endless!

God Bless