Friday, July 19, 2019

Let's Talk About...Math

Welcome back to week 2 of our Let's Talk About...Series!

Last week we talked about Science so this week we are going to tackle Math!  Eek!  I mean, as long as we are on a roll with hard subjects I figured we might as well keep going, right?!

Yep, full disclosure, I am not a math person either!

But I do know that Math is important to know and therefore I do my best to do it well.  Once again, this is a subject I jump around a bit with and have used a few things for specific children for specific reasons, hence the overlap in some grades.  As with our science picks, I have linked more detailed reviews I have written if applicable.  I am not getting paid to endorse any of these companies, they are just ones we use and love!

Here we go-

Saxon Math- Sorry, I know I heard some groans there but I LOVE the hand's on, manipulatives side of this program.  We tend to use it for K-4th grade.  It is pretty repetitive after a while, but if you can't stomach it for long, I would say try to use the first few years at least.  It is a great combo of hands on and worksheets (for goodness sake, just do the front of each page) and the spiral teaching is a great way to cement ideas.  Plus who doesn't like teddy bear counters, tangrams, and yellow clocks?!

Teaching Textbooks- At about the 5th grade level, child dependent, we switch over to TT.  The new version which in online and self grading is so easy to use and I love someone else taking over the teaching at that point!  With my oldest, TT saved us a lot of tears and meltdowns! (Talking to you, Ashton!)

Math U See Geometry- Math U See is just a more visual and hands on program in my opinion.  One of our children really benefited from taking a break from TT and using this program for Geometry.  Super thankful for this program.

*If your child is going into the STEM world, definitely check out Abeka or even BJU upper level math courses.  Even better, have them take math online through a college and dual-credit it!  You won't regret it, promise!

CTC Math and IXL Learning- These are great programs if you have a child who needs some extra practice!  You can supplement the program you are using or use it for extended summer learning.  The game like features keep the drudgery to a minimum.


Times Tales- The BEST way to learn multiplication in my opinion.  My son still says the rhymes and learned his multiplication facts faster than any of my other kiddos.

Learning Wrap Ups-Wrap ups have been around forever, but they are still a fun way to master facts.  We have been known to put these in the car with us and pull them out in waiting rooms!

Whatever you choose, find the best fit for your child and dive in!


Also in this series-

Let's Talk about...Science

Monday, July 15, 2019

34 Weeks of Clean 2019! Week 27- Clothes Storage

I know last week was kind of overwhelming, so let me encourage you for a moment.  You CAN do this!  I promise, if I can, you can!  Really - have you looked at some of my before pictures?  And this is the FOURTH time I have done this!!  This is a family that moved every two years or so for 26 years!  We carried a lot of "just in case" items with us from place to place and we are just now finally going through a lot of that stuff and purging.  I understand about storage rooms.  But know this- there IS such a thing as too much and we are working towards breaking the cycle and clearing things out.  So if you have not started or just haven't quite finished- KEEP GOING!  I am cheering you on and still working too.

In the meantime- this week we are conquering the clothes storage areas in your house.  That is going to look a little different for everyone.  For years we had storage bins with clothes that we passed from girl to girl, or boy to boy.  Now that they are all older, and because there is such a large gap in age and size between the boys, those no longer exist.  We also use to have different seasons of clothing to keep stored, but living in Arizona has made that a moot point, honestly.  It is either HOT or REALLY HOT here so there is not a lot of off season clothing hanging around.  We keep one winter jacket per person in an upstairs closet but for the most part, all of our clothes are in our closets.  The exception is one storage bin that we have for Colby of clothes to grow into that I couldn't part with.

I also use to buy off season sales, so anything I found I put into a bin for the upcoming season.  Again, not an issue for me due to where we live, but I know lots of people who save a lot of money doing so.  If that is you, make an inventory list of what the needed items are and attach it to the bin.  That way, when sales come up, you can easily reference your needs.  Not wants!

If you too have large gaps in the ages of your children, consider a few things.
  • Will the stuff still be in style by the time you get to it?  
  • Is it worth the space it takes up to save it?  
  • Could someone else be more blessed by the clothes right now?
Again, we finally decided that it was just better to bless others with the hand me downs they could use now.  By the time our youngest could use them we would have either hauled them around for years or they would have no longer even be worth wearing. Anything that was worn or terribly outdated went into the trash.  Things I thought just wouldn't get worn by the youngest (different styles, tastes, or body types) went into a Goodwill pile.  It only took a short amount of time and took about 5 large totes out of our lives.

So this week is pretty simple.

        Pick your favorite method of storing clothes- by gender or size or specific child, and get organized!

  • Go through the clothes storage you have, purge and re-sort if necessary.

  • Make a list of any items you know you need so you can take advantage of off season sales.

*A quick note about clothes.  Please keep in mind that one of our goals in this series is to declutter our homes and lives.  This includes clothes.  Just as we did with our own closets, we must evaluate what we need and what we don't.

Do not confuse needs with wants.  There is a difference.

Face facts, we can only wear one outfit at a time.  Having closets and storage bins with clothes popping out of them is not needed.  Be honest with yourself and evaluate if you are not only being good steward of your space but also your money.  (Trust me, I am preaching to myself here, I have a clothes issue.)

So how did you do with last week's assignment?  We always love seeing your progress!

And homeschooling moms- next week is just for you! ;)

Friday, July 12, 2019

Let's Talk About...Science

I know for some of you the only thoughts you have on your mind right now are pools and summer camps and picnics.  It's summer, I get it!  But for homeschoolers everywhere the new year is quickly approaching, or has already started, and curriculum is consuming their brain space.  Ask me how I know this!

After 21 years of homeschooling, I can honestly say I have seen a lot of curriculum come and go through this house.  Well, multiple houses, but you get the point.  We have used A LOT of stuff.  Being a reviewer of said curriculum just about doubles that on any given day.  There have been a few that have fallen flat in our eyes, but for the most part let me just say there are a lot of good resources out there to help you educate your children.

Because I have been doing this homeschooling gig F-O-R-E-V-E-R (trust me some days it feels like that!) and because I am passionate about helping newbies to this lifestyle get started, I get a lot of emails and texts about curriculum and what we use and like.

For the next several weeks we are going to talk curriculum- one subject at a time.  

Most I have used, all I would recommend.  I am not getting paid by anyone to endorse their products, though some I have reviewed in the past and then decided to continue using.  These are just my thoughts and experiences, and I will link the individual reviews when that is applicable to give you more details if you need them.

How can I recommend several products for the same age group?  Because every child is different and learns differently.  What might work well for one child might not for another- my kids are a perfect example.  Sometimes we start one thing to find it is not the best fit and we have to change things up.  Needless to say, having a closet full of curriculum has its advantages!

So first up- SCIENCE!

Let me start by saying I am not a huge science fan.  Actually, that is particularly true.  I like early-ed courses, but the high school level makes me cringe.  Labs and such overwhelm me, often seem pointless and too messy, and well, I am a boring mom.  I am also a mom who firmly believes school should be FUN not drudgery, especially in the early years.  You will see that reflected in my top choices!

Nancy Larson Science- This came to us at the perfect time!  I was worn out teaching and needed an all inclusive, easy to use curriculum.  It is pricey, but worth it!  It comes with  everything you need for labs, has booklet type reading material, and uses workbook pages.  My son adored it for several years.  It covers the basics well, but is not from a Christian specific worldview so proceed with caution.

Jeannie Fulbright's Exploring Creation series- Yes, we have used them all!  If you do not want to study one thing all year, look for something else, but otherwise these are great books and the newer notebooks you can buy to use are top notch and are available in two levels.  We have done some fun projects with these books and The Human Anatomy and The Solar System ones are our absolute favorites if I had to pick the top two.  A beautiful Christian perspective of God's Creation for elementary and middle school ages!

Abeka Online- I mention this because we used this for a year with a lot of success.  It would not be how I would normally teach a child because I am not a huge fan of online programs, but it filled a need for us and my son loved it.  It is an old classroom feel complete with memory drills and recitation and old fashioned quizzes and tests, but learning from someone else and taking you out of the teaching equation sometimes has its advantages.  If you child likes that type of thing, I think ABeka online is the best place to start and is available at all levels.

The 101 Science Series- This is another example of needing something different for a different kind of learner.  After trying multiple products for Chemistry we landed on this one with our third child and liked it.  Read here- managed to understand everything and not be at war with my child daily over science!

Geology for Kids- A Biblical Approach to Earth Science and Earth History- This is obviously Geology specific, but I can't not talk about this program.  We loved it and learned so much and it is HARD to find a Geology program with a Christian worldview.  Patrick makes learning fun and the rock kits made my son super happy.  There are several sets available and video courses as well.  A great addition to your curriculum, I promise!

Friendly Biology- OK, this is one I have not used, but it is in my que to review soon for Timberdoodle Co.  I have heard good things about it and am looking forward to checking it out.  I will let you know what we think.  Luckily we are still a few years out of our last child having to take Biology, but I know we are in need of something different so I am hopeful this will fit the bill.

*A quick word about high school level sciences- If possible, sometimes it is easiest to have your child take a college science course and dual-credit it.  Colleges are looking for science courses with labs, sometimes as many as 3, and we have had some issues with homeschool labs not fitting their parameters.  (I know, don't even get me started!)  That being said, I would just advise you to be vigilant with your record keeping and ask questions of your state's laws and college requirements.  (Especially a state you randomly move to in your child's junior year that has rules that differ from those you have operated under, just saying)

Are there other Science programs out there?  Absolutely!   And equally as good, I am sure.  This is just what we have used and been successful with.  The best advice I can give you is know your student, do your research, and don't be afraid to try multiple products if needed.  The right fit is out there just waiting to be found!

What do you use and love?  We would love to hear from you!


Wednesday, July 10, 2019

What's on the Agenda?

I know we just finished up our school year a few weeks ago, but yes, we are a week into our new year.  This year things are going to look a little different for us.  My 17 year old is a senior and will be taking British Lit with me, but everything else he will be doing online for dual-credit.  If all goes according to plan, he will have completed all of his general college classes when he heads to college next year!

So this year is primarily me and the youngest!

Our summer schedule is a bit lighter and allows us to play in the pool or with friends in the mornings, and then school for an hour or so after lunch when it is too hot to be out in Arizona.  It keeps him from getting bored and losing all the skills he learned the previous grade.  It also allows for a lighter schedule by the end of the year when we are growing weary.

7th grade here we come!

As usual we have several tried and true programs on our list, as well as a few new to us ones.  I am very excited about it all- 7th grade is typically a fun year!  I will let you know what Colby thinks after we get started!

Here's our plan-

Math- Teaching Textbooks Grade 7
Science- Masterbooks General Science 1: Survey of the Earth and Sky
History- Masterbooks The World's Story 1: The Ancients
Literature Sonlight 7th Grade
Grammar-Writing- Hake Grammar and Writing 7 and Wordly Wise
Geography- Memoria Press Geography II
Spanish- Classical Academic Press Spanish for Children A
Bible- Sonlight and Proverbs from The Nelson Kids

*This will be our first year using Masterbooks for History and Science.  Colby just finished a 5 year course from Veritas Self Paced History that we adored and needed to find something to fill in for this year.  I am wishy washy about science for 7th grade, and so that being said, I thought I would take a leap of faith and try both.  We have used several other things from Masterbooks lately and been pleased. I love how the daily guides are set up, so I will let you know how it goes.

Since we have embraced homeschooling year-round, we took off a few weeks of June to allow for a little regrouping time (mostly for me!) and then began back July 1st, with just three subjects.  We will add a subject every few weeks until we are back full swing by the end of August.  Again, the slow start allows us to go easy at first and adjust to new curriculum, but also allows for an easy end of the year when we are tired and ready for a break.

No matter when you start school or where your kiddos learn, I pray you will have a beautiful school year filled with much leaning and wonder!


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Monday, July 8, 2019

34 Weeks of Clean 2019! Week 26:Storage Areas and Attics

Confession time! I have not done this week's assignment in advance.  Yes, I normally work ahead of the assignments I post, but my mom has been in town and we have spent time just being together.  Didn't want to make her work during her visit- we want her to come back, after all.   So while you work this week you can pretend I am working along side of you.  Just a few states away.  And not in the attic, you are alone on that one because I have no attic.

I share this confession with you to say, things happen.  Life happens.  Not even the Queen of Clean, whomever she may be (not me!), leads a perfectly clean and organized life on a perfectly organized calendar.  I know, can you believe it?  So while we are doing our best to take back our homes, we must also give ourselves the grace to just do the best we can.

BUT, no excuses.  Let's do our best!

On that note- today we are tackling those pesky storage areas and attics.  Well, today and maybe a few more days this week! ;)

So storage rooms and attics, here we come!

  • If at all possible, take everything out.  If that isn't possible,  concentrate on sections at a time.

  • Sweep out the area!  Don't forget the cobwebs in the rafters if you are in the attic.  Boo hiss on spiders!  Have I ever told you I am afraid of spiders?

  • Go through everything BEFORE you put it back.  Get rid of things you do not need (no hoarding), do not use, or are no longer useful.  Remember the "Do I use it? Would I buy it again?" rule!

  • Make a plan!  Please don't skip this step.  Think about where you want to put things BEFORE you do so.  It will save you time and energy.  Ask me how I know this.

  • Be creative in storage!  Not everyone has a separate storage room or attic.  Use baskets or containers you already have.  Is there an extra closet you could use?  How about a dresser that is empty?  Try not to buy things to organize stuff you really just need to get rid of.

*If you have clothes storage in these ares, hold off on that- it will have it's own dedicated week...promise!

Unless you are in transition, I would honestly have to tell you that if you do not have enough room to store your "stuff," you may have too much "stuff."  It has always been my dream to not have anything in storage areas with the exception of seasonal things like clothes and Christmas decorations. Now that we have stopped moving that is getting closer to reality.  One day soon, maybe!  The only thing we can do in the meantime is keep the stuff to a minimum and remember that our joy does not come from things, but in God alone.

And maybe a newly cleaned room! ;)