Sunday, August 13, 2017

Our 2017-2018 Homeschool Classroom and Curriculum


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We will be starting our 2017-2018 on Monday, August 14!  Where did the summer go?


I am grateful we have a room in our home that is designated as the "classroom", but when we first started homeschooling in 2005, we used our dining room table in our previous home and didn't have a room just for school. (And really a "homeschool room" is not a necessity to have a successful and thriving homeschool experience.) In reality school work is done all over the house and even outside.  We just have all our school "stuff" stored in one room.

Not much has changed through the years with how our room looks and how I organize our homeschool books. If interested, take a little tour of the room and an explanation of our book baskets and foam boards where our curriculum is stored and stays organized .  I must say I struggle finding the "perfect" system for many things, but our book baskets have worked for us for several years now so that's one thing I'm not changing (yet).  Maybe it will inspire you and be helpful!



In year's past I have spent most of my summers discussing, contemplating, discerning, feeling sometimes a bit overwhelmed about curriculum decisions and praying about our upcoming homeschool year.  This summer I didn't spend as much time researching and looking at curriculum options because I have soooo much stored in boxes from the past 12 years of homeschooling.  So I spent time looking through my storage boxes. :)

I don't buy a "box curriculum", but rather I pick and choose from several different companies of what I think will work best for each of my children's learning styles and needs.  That's one of the beauties of homeschooling..being able to meet each child's needs with curriculum choices that I hope will help them thrive and become successful, but most importantly will help them grow closer to our Lord and His Church.

If interested, here are posts from previous years of what I selected for each child:

2010-2011 Homeschool Curriculum (my kids were 5th, 3rd, 1st grade and a 3 year old) 

2011-2012 Homeschool Curriculum (my kids were 6th, 4th, 2nd grade and a 3 1/2 year old)

2012-2013 Homeschool Curriculum (my kids were 7th, 5th, 3rd grade and a 4 year old) 

2013-2014 Homeschool Curriculum (my kids were 8th, 6th, 4th, and Kindergarten grade and I just had Baby #5)

2014-2015 Homeschool Curriculum (my kids were 9th, 7th, 5th, 1st grade and a 1 year old)

2015-2016 Homeschool Curriculum (my kids were 10th, 8th, 6th, 2nd grade and a 2 year old) 

2016-2017 Homeschool Curriculum (my kids were 11th, 9th, 7th, 3rd grade and a 3 year old)


In this post I will just list the curriculum for each of my children with their ages, but I'm still tweaking things. I'm still working out all the scheduling details, but it may look similar to our daily routine from 2015 with some changes, of course.)

*I use baskets and foam board dividers with subject headings to organize each child's books as explained HERE.

*I use one basket for all the Teacher Manuals for the various subjects and the foam boards are used to divide each child's Teacher Manuals so that I can quickly grab them when checking over work.

 * Family Morning Time
After breakfast, we will continue to do things as a family on our living room couch before we head upstairs to start our other school work.  Here is an outline of Family Morning Time:

- Couch Catechism
- watch CNN Student News (free, daily, online 10 min. news briefs that my children look forward to watching each day, Mon.-Fri.  I know CNN is not a favorite news source for many families (including mine), but I really do like how CNN Student News shows are geared toward middle school/high school aged kids.  Note: you can always preview the shows before showing your children.)  
- Couch Conversations (if you have heard of "Morning Baskets" this is what "Couch Conversations" time is just with a different name that I made up.) :)   Here are some of the books I plan to use with our Couch Conversations.
The Harp & Laurel Wreath (learn poetry together)
The Story of the Orchestra

Now onto the curriculum for each child...

Daughter, Grade 12 (Senior Year!!!!!!)

Religion/Theology
* Couch Catechism with Mom and siblings
* Various service projects throughout the year with our homeschool group/church youth group
*  Daily Mass on Thursdays and Adoration on Fridays
*  Once a month Confession
*  Tea Times where we spend time as a family reading over the Gospel readings for the upcoming Sunday Mass and have a fun snack

* Celebrate the liturgical year with faith, food and fun
* Following Christ into the World by Anne Carroll (Seton)


Math:
* My daughter will be taking a Math course at our local Community College in the Fall and Spring with their dual enrollment program.  So her math class will count as both high school and college credit.  Juniors and Seniors in public/private/homeschool may apply and test into this program.  This will be a big change for my daughter and for me!  But, it's exciting too!


English

* My daughter will also take an English course in the Fall and Spring at our local Community College

  History:   
* My daughter enjoys history and reads various books through the year on different historical topics

Extra-Curricular Activities:
* Piano
* Cross-Country with homeschool league
* volunteer at local library
* sing in girls' choir and play bells at church
* member of church youth group and youth board 

* baby-sitter for a mom at our parish

* My daughter just got her first job at a local grocery store near our home!!!!! (This will count as a Life Skills/Time Management/Economics/Accounting course ;) ) 

Son, Grade 10



Religion/Theology
* Couch Catechism with Mom and siblings
* Various service projects throughout the year with our homeschool group/church youth group
*
Daily Mass on Thursdays and Adoration on Fridays
*  Once a month Confession
*  Tea Times where we spend time as a family reading over the Gospel readings for the upcoming Sunday Mass and have a fun snack

* Celebrate the liturgical year with faith, food and fun
* The History of the Church with workbook (Didache Series)


Math:
* Teaching Textbooks, Geometry


Literature:
* World Literature (Seton)

Writing/Cursive 
* IEW US History-Based Writing Lessons (With 13 year old sister. We didn't finish the book last year so I'm just carrying it over to this year)
* Continue with daily cursive practice using Seton's Better Handwriting for Young Catholics 2011 workbook edition

 History: 
* Christ the King Lord of History text with workbook
* Continue putting in dates and timeline figures in their "Record of Time": Timeline Notebook Binder (from Homeschool in the Woods) as they read about world history.

Science: 
* Physical Science or Chemistry (with a homeschool co-op group, still working on the details) 

Foreign Language:
* Spanish course with Rocket Spanish 


Map Skills:

Extra-Curricular Activities:
* Piano
* Soccer team with homeschool league in the Fall
* altar server at our parish
* member of church youth group 

*mountain bike team in the Spring

 Daughter, Grade 8

Religion:
* Couch Catechism with Mom and siblings
* Various service projects throughout the year with our homeschool group/church youth group
Daily Mass on Thursdays and Adoration on Fridays
*  Once a month Confession
*  Tea Times where we spend time as a family reading over the Gospel readings for the upcoming Sunday Mass and have a fun snack

* Celebrate the liturgical year with faith, food and fun
* Read various Saint books and apologetic books (ie: Saint Kateri: Lily of the Mohawks, The First Christians, Did Adam and Eve Have Belly Buttons? )

Math:
* Teaching Textbooks, Pre-Algebra


Literature:
* Various Literature suggestions in All Ye Lands-World Cultures and Geography

Writing/Cursive 
* IEW US History-Based Writing Lessons (With 15 year old brother. We didn't finish the book last year so I'm just carrying it over to this year)
* Continue with daily cursive practice using Seton's Better Handwriting for Young Catholics 2011 workbook edition

History: 
* All Ye Lands-World Cultures and Geography text with workbook
Continue putting in dates and timeline figures in their "Record of Time": Timeline Notebook Binder (from Homeschool in the Woods) as they read about world history.

Science: 
* Finish Nutrition Science Complete Set from last year and Reignite Glow with Physical and Spiritual Health (my daughter has an interest in Nutrition Science and Health so we chose curriculum to match her interests)

Foreign Language:
* American Sign Language (ASL) course (still researching which curriculum to use)

Map Skills:
Maps, Charts, Graphs

Extra-Curricular Activities:
* Travel Soccer team with local league

* member of church youth g
roup 

Daughter, Grade 4
Religion:
* Couch Catechism with Mom and siblings
* Various service projects throughout the year with our homeschool group/church youth group
Daily Mass on Thursdays and Adoration on Fridays
*  Once a month Confession
*  Tea Times where we spend time as a family reading over the Gospel readings for the upcoming Sunday Mass and have a fun snack

* Celebrate the liturgical year with faith, food and fun
* Jesus Our Guide (Faith & Life 4)

Math:
* Rod & Staff 4


Reading:
* Pathway Readers

Writing/Cursive  
* Draw Then Write

 
* Continue with daily cursive practice using Pictures in Cursive Book B

History:
* Read aloud A Child's History of the World
* Continent Study Bags that I bought from a friend
Continue putting in dates and timeline figures in their "Record of Time": Timeline Notebook Binder (from Homeschool in the Woods) as they read about world history.

Science: 
* a friend of mine who used to teach school gave me a whole bag full of The Magic School Bus Science Club science kits on various topics so we are going to try to do these kits again throughout the year .

Foreign Language:

Map Skills:
Maps, Charts, Graphs

Extra-Curricular Activities:
* Gymnastics classes
*
sing in girls' choir at church

Daughter, Age 4
* My Little Patron Catholic Preschool Printables from SaongJai
* Letter of the week activities
* Various workbooks
* Read-alouds
* She will be going to the Good Shepherd Montessori program at our church one day a week for a few hours.
* I'm in the process of planning activities for her to do independently and with her older siblings as I work with my children on a rotating schedule. I've been looking through these books for ideas:
Catholic ABC's from Catholic Icing
The Preschooler's Busy Book
A Year of Fun Just for Three's 

I am currently sketching out our schedule with the curriculum I have chosen.  I've been busy jotting down notes and schedules as rough drafts trying to figure out what will work best for our family.  But, even when the best plans are made and laid out, it doesn't always go as "planned."  So we will see how it all goes.  

On the first day of  this 2017-2018 homeshool year, we will continue with our new homeschool year traditions that includes morning Mass, a Sacred Heart cross cake, draw on their "We've had a T-riffic summer paper T-shirts", measure everyone's height and fill out All About Me sheets.  So I'll be doing a post about these traditions that we do this week!

May you have a blessed 2017-2018 school year whether you are called to homeschool or not!








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Friday, August 4, 2017

A Unicorn Cupcake Cake for our 4 Year Old!


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We celebrated her birthday on her actual birthday, July 30th, with a Unicorn Cupcake Cake and some fun beach time with family and friends. 


I've made a similar cake for the Horse Cupcake Cake party for another daughter in 2012.  For this unicorn cake I just had to add a sugar ice cream cone, ice it and roll it in rainbow jimmies to make the unicorn horn. 

The chocolate cupcake recipe came from the Hershey's Cocoa can that I have used many times in the past with many of the other cakes I've baked.  I put the cupcakes on a flat mailing box.


Then I wrapped the flat box with gold glittery wrapping paper, then decorated the cupcakes with homemade cream cheese icing that I first made when I iced another daughter's soccer cake. The pink and purple sanding sugar was used to decorate the mane and tail and we found small paper pink and purple flower embellishments that were used just for decoration. I added more cupcakes with unicorn clip art on toothpicks for the toppers, an idea I have used often for past parties.  

Here's the before and after Unicorn Cupcake Cake....


Close up of the head and mane...

One of my daughters made the cupcakes, while 2 other ones helped me ice and decorate the cupcakes. 

We had the party at a local beach with family and friends and it was a beautiful evening filled with fun, food, sun, surf, sand, beautiful weather and a beautiful sunset!



Happy 4th birthday to our littlest "Cupcake"! We love you!








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Sunday, July 30, 2017

A 4th Birthday Tribute to our Sweet One



Dear Sweet One,

As I spent some time gathering photos for this post, it brought back memories of your eventful, long, and exciting birth 4 years ago and I can't believe another year has gone by!

You have grown and changed so much since your 3rd birthday celebration and now we are so joyful and happy to celebrate your 4th birthday!

This past year you continued to LOVE gymnastics and do all sorts of crazy moves.  You are super flexible and just about everyday you practice hand stands, rolls, back bends, splits and your dance moves!  You really have no fear!



You continue to love to read with Daddy and Mommy.


You love the beach and swimming at Nana and Grandpa's pool and you are getting really good at swimming.  So much so that you have taken off your floaties to swim!  And you love to spin around and I get so dizzy too easily! :)


You love hanging out with your big brother!  He is so good to you and all his sisters!


I love when you wake up in the morning and come and snuggle with me. 


And at Halloween in 2015 you thought the yucky pumpkin guts were quite funny and it made you very silly. :)

You still love to wear all types of shoes including my black boots!


I love this photo of you from our trip to Charleston, SC at one of your sibling's soccer tournament in Nov. 2015 because it shows just how your hair gets curlier and curlier!


You loved the new kitchen and accessories you got for Christmas 2015...


You love playing dress-up and with your sisters and being silly with them!



Your big brother loves to snuggle with you, but you don't always want to sit still enough for his hugs.  You happened to fall asleep on his shoulder so I quickly took a photo of this rare moment where your brother got some snuggle time with you!

You love to roller skate with and without help!


You love going to the park and swinging, climbing and sliding!


You love to help out in the kitchen and you are always pulling up a bar stool to get close to the counter as you exclaim often, "I wanna see! I wanna do it!"   Here you are helping out with our traditional Easter resurrection cookies. 


You've been talking up a storm, learning your ABCs, counting and doing school work like the big kids.  You love to sing your ABCs and you always ask us to write out the alphabet by saying "Do an A."  This past year you do really well writing the letter "n" over and over again. :) 


Recently you loved going on kiddie rides for the first time at Knoebels Amusement Park


And you went down your first water slide!


You are growing so fast and tall that you can already touch the ceiling!  Well, you can at least touch this ceiling with help from Daddy.


You have grown so much and have gone through so many changes this past year!  You don't take regular naps anymore, but occasionally you'll find Mommy and Daddy's bed to sleep in during the day or you will walk downstairs at night and come and snuggle with us! For a little person you sure do take up a lot of space!

This past year you loved to say the "Hail Mary" and "Our Father" prayers even more and during family prayer time you tell us who is next to recite the prayers.  We love that you love Jesus and kneel during Mass and sing the "Alleluia" at just the right time.  All of us are also amazed that you walk up to communion at daily Mass with your little praying hands folded and bow before the Eucharist, though it is still some time before you can actually receive our Lord at your First Communion.  Here you are kneeling at The National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton in front of her final resting place.


We pray and hope that you will always love our Lord and grow deeper in love with your faith and look up to Him and our Blessed Mother as your best role models and friends.


You play and love hard and sometimes you fall and scrap your forehead from playing so hard and then fall asleep from all the playing.


You still love to dress up and this past year we saw you in this outfit a lot!


You love your family and we love you!




Happy 4th birthday sweet one!

We love you!

Love,
Mommy, Daddy, and your 4 adoring siblings

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I'm Tracy. I love my faith, family and on most days, homeschooling my 5 blessings. When I'm not busy baking cakes for my family or making memories in real life or dreaming I had a housekeeper or professional chef, I enjoy documenting a slice of Smith life in blog land.

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