Sunday, March 29, 2015

2015/2016 Homeschool Curriculum

Some of my curriculum - white box holds all the Apologia Science experiments!

I wanted to share my plans for curriculum for the 2015/2016 school year.  This is definitely earlier than normal for me to be deciding on curriculum for the following school year but there is reason for that.  I had applied for a homeschool scholarship through The Homeschool Foundation (children of single parents fund) and had to provide costs per child.  I found out on my birthday that my application was reviewed and accepted and received my check a few weeks later.  A huge thank you to The Homeschool Foundation!!!!

DiscipleLand Bible study materials

I chose to purchase majority of my curriculum through Rainbow Resource as they had equal or better prices then other sites.  I am using a few FREE resources and will be borrowing several items from other homeschool families.  It is possible to homeschool on a budget by seeking out websites with the best pricing, finding free resources, borrowing from a friend, or buying used through Homeschool Classifieds.  I also want to expand and share on some of the curriculum I have chosen and will do so at the bottom of the page. 

"Mooky" - 6th Grade:

Math - Teaching Textbooks 6 (borrowing)
Writing - Institute for Excellence in Writing Level A (borrowing except purchased Student Writing Materials)
Grammar- Fix It! Grammar: The Nose Tree (book 1) w/teacher's manual
Reading: Various chapter books (Cooper Kids, Red Rock Mysteries, The Lily series)
History - YWAM Christian Heroes: Then & Now
Science - Apologia Exploring Creation with Chemistry & Physics - with notebooking journal and science kit (borrowing text book)
Art - Art for Kids Hub (free online resource), How to draw books
Bible/Character Study - Pro2ge Summit: God's Greatness
Devotional: For Girls Only! Devotional
Music - Piano lessons
Friday School Co-op Classes

"Lover Girl" - 4th Grade:

Math - Math Lessons for A Living Education book 5 (free download!)
Grammar - Fix It! Grammar: The Nose Tree (book 1) w/teacher's manual
Reading: Various chapter books (Magic tree house, Circle C Ranch, Janette Oke's Animal Friends)
History - YWAM Christian Heroes: Then & Now
Science - Apologia Exploring Creation with Chemistry & Physics (with junior notebooking journal & science kit)
Art- Art for Kids Hub (free online resource), How to draw books.
Bible/Character Study- Pro2ge Summit: God's Greatness
Music-Violin lessons
Friday School Co-op Classes

"Sweet Pea" - Kindergarten:

Math - Math Lessons for A Living Education Book 1 (free download)
Reading - The Reading Lesson Book
Language Arts - Language Lessons for Little Ones Volume 1
Skills - Kumon Pasting and Kumon Mazes
Art - Art for Kids Hub (free online resource), How to draw books
Bible - DiscipleLand Amazing Old & New Testament Heroes (disciple guides only-2 Old Testament & 2 New Testament) and My Awesome God Storybook Bible
Friday School Co-op Classes


I have been hearing about Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW) for several years now.  But the steep price and what I felt was a confusing website always turned me away.  I finally took the time to really do my research and get a better grasp on the curriculum and I am very excited to be giving it a try.  Thankfully I am able to borrow the Teacher & Student DVD's from a friend but probably would have figured out a way to purchase if that was my only option. 

The idea behind it is compared to a student learning music for the first time. You wouldn't ask a beginner in music to compose/write their own music. Instead you put the best of music in front of them for them to learn from. So that idea is put into place with IEW. Instead of a child having to come up with writing out of thin air they are provided with good writing models. Every few weeks they watch the video presentation teaching any new concepts and then take 1-2 weeks to work through everything.

They are given a small paragraph and have to go sentence by sentence and pick out 3 key words from that sentence and write down those words. They do this for the entire paragraph. Then the paragraph is taken away and they just have their key word outline. From that outline they have to rewrite each sentence (so it's important they pick the key words that will help them remember the sentence).  It's not about trying to remember the original sentence but rather taking the words and writing the sentence in your own words. There are banned words like "said" where they have to use different words - "exclaimed", "cried", "shouted" etc... They also learn about "which" clauses where they can combine 2 sentences into 1 with the word "which". They are taught "dress up" words to enhance the sentences. So that is the basic overview.

There are 9 levels of skill learned if you did IEW up through the higher grade levels. There are Level A, B, and C. But you don't go through Level A, then Level B, and then Level C.  Each level is essentially the same as far as teaching basic writing it's just for different age/grade levels therefore Level C would be more advanced than level A. So for example, you would go through Level A (if your kids are 3rd-5th grade) in a year and then do the "Level A continuation" which could last 1-2 years depending on how fast or slow you work through it. Then you would follow this with themed writing/high school writing courses. There is a Teaching Writing: Structure and Style DVD and this is an instructional video for parents to help prepare the parent to teach writing to the child as well as the student DVD's.

Fix It! Grammar

"Fix It! Grammar" is also by IEW. There are 6 books and they recommend you start with book 1 no matter your grade level if you don't already have a lot of grammar practice. Each book is a different story used, so book 1 is "The Nose Tree". It's the entire story spread out over a years worth of work. So each week you are given 4 sentences of the story that you have to edit and rewrite. By the end of the school year the child will have written out the entire story. Each week adds in new grammar & punctuation concepts. It only should take 10-15 minutes each day to edit and rewrite one sentence. There is a box at the top of the page that is like a check off list of things they need to address that week in the sentences (paragraph indent, capitalization, spelling, homophones, etc...). Once they make all the necessary corrections they rewrite it the right way in a notebook.

Art for Kids Hub

Art for Kids Hub is a FREE, really fun, easy to follow learning how-to-draw and art projects.  Rob does an incredible job in the videos teaching art to his own children and teaching the viewers as well.  The camera is set up so that it's looking down on a table and you can see his hand and paper and the hand and paper of whichever of his children he is working with.  He is very fun, upbeat, encouraging and positive.  If you subscribe you get updates every Monday for new art videos. 

Pro2ge Summit Bible

I'm always on the hunt for a Bible study for kids that 1) Is budget friendly 2) fun and engaging 3) is open and go 4) lessons are not too lengthy 5) and of course learn foundational truths of God's Word.  I am really excited about Pro2ge Summit: God's Greatness because it aligns with everything I listed.  It's the first book available in a series of 6 books, with each book being 48 weeks.  It's intended for 6-12 year olds.  You simply need the Summit 1 Guidebook for each child and a Bible.  There are 12 "Trails" and each has 4 weeks to it.  The "Trails" rotate between Bible Knowledge, Christian Character, and Faithful Conduct. 

In addition it incorporates Bible memory with free printables on the website.  For a younger child you can choose the Trail Key Verse, which would have the child memorize one verse during the entire 4 week "Trail".  Or for older children, the Trail Verses, which would have the child memorize one verse per week.

Another fun, optional, component is the Free Project Awards Program.  There are 3 categories: Outdoor, Home, and Community and then 6 sub-categories under each.  So if you click on "Outdoor" there are 6 sub-categories: Wildlife, recreation, camping, nature, Hiking, and survival skills. "Home": personal care, food & nutrition, family care, hobbies, life skills, fixing and building. And for "Community": field trips, citizenship, church, fine arts, health & safety, and technology. So that is a total of 108 different skills, projects, and activities they can choose from and work to complete. They do have an awards system where you can purchase badges and special coins for bible memory and project completion but I will just do my own rewards system.

So those are my plans for this next year! I feel very good about what I have chosen.  I'd love to hear from any of my readers what you have planned!!!

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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Meet Chime!

Is that not the sweetest puppy you have ever seen?!  Her nickname is Chime, but her full name is Carillon Belle Chime!  She is an Australian Labradoodle from Mountain Park Labradoodles
This past week has been one full of blessing upon blessing.  It literally has felt like God reached down and wrapped His arms around me in the warmest most loving hug.  And compared to all the heartache over the past 8 months I have to say it was a very needed hug! 
I have never been a dog lover...EVER!  The idea of me being a dog owner was not anything I ever aspired to be.  But when you have kids, most likely you are going to have them begging for a dog at one point or another.  Of course my girls begged, and begged, and begged but my answer was always a big, fat, "NO!!!!" Towards the end of 2013 I began to take a small interest in the idea.  Of course it was, "Someday when we move and get more property, then we'll THINK about getting a dog." 
That all changed the first time I met my sweet friends Australian Labradoodle, Jack.  I had never been excited about a dog until that point.  I loved the feel of his fleece coat and could literally sit there and pet him forever.  That wasn't normal for me.  He had such a sweet temperament which really got my attention.  My idea of dogs were those who bark incessantly, shed abundantly, smell incredibly, and are non-stop energy.  If I was going to give into this whole, owning a dog thing, it would have to be an Australian Labradoodle.  They are dogs bred specifically to be a companion dog, low to non-shedding, don't have the typically "wet" dog smell, and are great dogs to run with!!

 Then summer of 2014 came, and our family went through a major crisis and it seemed that getting a dog would now be an impossible task, considering the average cost of this breed is $2500.  But I have seen the Lord do the impossible before in my life and knew I had to pursue this.  I was a mama on a mission to make our "doodle" dream a reality!
A few things I did in my efforts included, starting an online fundraiser and applying online for several guardian family programs.  The guardian program allows families to bring a puppy into their home at no cost (or a small refundable deposit), however, the breeders have all breeding rights to the dog until she is retired from breeding.   
In the meantime, the girls and I spent lots of time reading about dogs, talking about dogs, praying about getting a dog, and watching online videos about training a puppy!  But neither of these two efforts, online fundraising or the guardian program applications, seemed to be getting us any closer to actually getting a dog.  It seemed that every door for the guardian program just kept shutting in my face.  It was discouraging but I just surrendered it before the Lord.
Several months later, on Saturday, February 28th, I received a very unexpected email from Debi at Mt Park Labradoodles.  She was inquiring to see if I was still interested in the guardian program because they had a puppy, whom they had named Carillon Belle Chime, needing to be placed in a guardian home.  She had gone to live with a VERY sweet family, who unfortunately, after one week of having her had to return her due to unforeseen circumstances in their lives.  She needed someone as soon as the following afternoon!!!!  There was a refundable $500 deposit, which would be reimbursed after Chime is retired from breeding (about 3 1/2 years).
I was beside myself!  In fact I kept saying, "God are you serious?  What in the world is going on here? Is this really happening?"  The reason I was so amazed and bewildered is because that whole previous week had been already full of some amazing blessings and now this was the cherry on top!
And so it was on Sunday, March 1st, I drove to Debi's home and picked Chime up.  The best part was my girls had no idea and later that evening I was able to give them the biggest surprise of their lives!
Moments after meeting Chime!!
The blessings have continued pouring in even after receiving Chime. 
  • The notice to get the dog was so short I literally had nothing for a puppy.  However, the previous guardian family chose to bless us generously with everything they had purchased for Chime: a crate, bed, shampoo, ear cleaner, carpet stain & odor eliminator, a comb, treats, dog food, toys, Nyla bones, a leash, and puppy spray. 
  • In addition to this, remember the online fundraiser I mentioned?  Well I raised $170 through it, plus another $150 given to me, for a total of $320 which I used toward my $500 deposit. 
  • A dear friend wants to take the girls and I shopping for any remaining smaller puppy items we need as a belated birthday present.  
  • Another friend messaged me and wants to send a small monetary gift to help out as well!
I am so incredibly grateful and soaking every bit of it in.  God sees, He knows, and He cares about every detail of our lives....even our silly "doodle" dreams!  What a testimony to my children that miracles do happen when we put our hope and trust in the Lord.  He is a God of the impossible and His timing is always perfect!  I won't go into specifics but there is major significance to the date of March 1st, which is also the day I picked Chime up from the breeders.  Just another way God was giving me a huge hug and reminding me of His love for me. 
Chime has brought so much laughter & joy, giggles and slobbering kisses.  I've always heard dogs can be therapeutic but now I am living proof that they are.  She is a sweet companion for all of us!
As a guardian family we are required to do dog obedience classes, purchase a specific high quality dog food, and transport Chime multiple times a year to vet appointments (pertaining to breeding) and to the breeders home, which will be about 1 1/2 hour drive each way.  I also have the remaining $180 deposit to pay the breeder and need to fence in one side of my back yard.  I know God will provide for these extra expenses one way or another, but if you feel led to donate please go to: Go Fund Me 
Trip to the pet store

Chime's favorite spot in the car!

Enjoying the sunshine!

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