Saturday, August 22, 2015


Now, here I'll record my neat and tidy plans for curriculum this year.  This evolves during the year as I add things and scrap others, but this is my current plan.

Aiden 7th, Alex 6th, Riley 4th, Remy 2nd, Oliver Pre-PreK :0).

*We do these things all together during Circle Time.  We don't do all of the memory work or songs everyday.  We mix things up during the week.

SINGING and MEMORY WORK--Bits of CC Memory Work and Timeline Song
Memory work from First Language Lessons CD
Scripture Memory Songs from Randall Goodgame, The Harrow Family, Jamie Soles, Steve Green, and Nathan Clark George
BIBLE--Popcorn Bible Reading from the ESV
PRAYER--Prayer Box and Answered Prayers book
BIBLE HISTORY--The Old Testament Made Simple
The New Testament Made Simple
The Picture Smart Bible--If we get the OT and NT Made Simple done we might use this).
WORK--Usually it's some kind of manual labor like cleaning baseboards for 15 minutes.
READ ALOUD--I'm using Ambleside Online some to help me choose books from our collection to focus on this year.

*We work these in weekly or monthly.

SCIENCE--Supercharged Science--I'm still figuring out how to schedule this the best way, but we have tons of terrific experiments to do, lots of videos online to watch, and lots of great info to read on the website.
ART--Aiden Alex, and Riley are taking a drawing class and we also do art projects at home some and review flashcards from our Fine Arts year a while back.
MUSIC--Aiden, Alex, Riley, and Remy are taking piano and we listen to tons of good music all the time, and have hymn sings at church.
COOKING--It is a major priority of mine that my boys know how to cook by the time they leave my house and that I cook ahead as much as possible.  So, it only makes sense that I would cook with the boys to get ahead!  We will try to do this once a week in addition to my helper for the day helping me with cooking prep.  We have also enjoyed watching these cooking classes.
SERVICE--Raymond and Dorothy Moore describe education as a three legged stool.  The three legs are book learning, work, and service.  I love that model and here we look for ways to be hospitable or serve others in the church and/or community.
GEOGRAPHY--I'm going to spend one month making sure that my kids have a comfortable knowledge of the continents and oceans and some major landmarks.  I'll be using The Ultimate Geography and Timeline Guide and Geography Flashcards that you can buy here.
FIELD TRIPS--We will shoot for one field trip per month.  It's so nice to get out together and enjoy God's creation!

*Everyone does these on their own.  

MATH--We are using Math U See.  We switched from Saxon at the end of last year and so far I've been really glad that we did.  The kids are enjoying math a LOT more.  It has been a bit complicated switching over.  I tested each boy to see what level he should begin at.  Then I backed up one level from their recommendation and then had them zip through and do one page of the lesson work per day instead taking a week and doing multiple pages.  This way they could learn how he teaches (via DVD) and how he explains things and get used to the change at a level that they were comfortable at.  It would also be great review.  Now I am just watching their scores on math and if they start missing 1 or 2 then at that point I will slow down and help them get the info.  If they are getting everything right the first try then I am still letting them move more quickly.  I help them as needed, but the video of Steve Demme gets them started off right each week.  I have been supplementing with Challenge Math, but I'm comparing that with Mathematical Reasoning and Beast Academy (at the recommendation of a Math Counts leader) to see if those might work better for us.  Also, we are doing flashcards to make sure that their math facts are as normal as breathing :0).

COPYWORK--I write a new quote on the white board each morning.  So far they have all been quotes about the Bible by famous people.  It's been really fun finding these.  Now I am moving into quotes about personal piety.

NARRATION--Each of them narrates to me by themselves in the laundry room after our read aloud time.

OUTSIDE FOR 15 MINUTES--This has been a great addition to our flippers!  They can combine this with another subject by doing their work outside or they can just go play and have some recess. It's wonderful to get some fresh air!  Even if it is raining they can just go out on our front porch. And, of course, they can stay out longer than 15 minutes.

PIANO--Our 4 big boys are taking piano so they each have to practice every day.  We have a piano upstairs and a keyboard with headphones downstairs so that helps.

READERS--I used Ambleside Online to choose some of the books we already have as readers for the boys at their appropriate reading levels.  I require them to read 30 minutes of their assigned book.  After that they are free to read other stuff.  I just told them this week that I might be changing the required reading to an hour.  After all, I am picking awesome books for them to get into and they usually end up loving them!  Some of the books are Michael Clay Thompson's Literature Trilogies.  These are terrific!  If have never heard of them...check them out!

*Aiden, Alex, and Riley are doing these things:

MICHAEL CLAY THOMPSON LANGUAGE ARTS--I finally took the plunge (after looking at it for about 5 years!) and bought this curriculum this year and I am so pleased!  It begins in 3rd grade and covers Grammar, Writing, Vocabulary, Practice and Poetics.  I just started Aiden, Alex, and Riley all on the first books and I am zipping through them with Aiden and Alex and taking it slower with Riley.  I can't say enough about how accessible he makes grammar and vocabulary.  He really boils it down and makes it so simple and thoroughly enjoyable!  The vocabulary in this program is very advanced and the end goal is to be able to write an MLA style paper so the kids will be ready for college.  This curriculum is a bit hard to explain, but do some research if you are interested.  There is quite a buzz about it around the web!

GREEK--Aiden, Alex, and Riley are all using Hey Andrew Teach Me Some Greek.  Jeremy did just find a curriculum that teaches Koine Greek by having them listen to it spoken.  He has heard some rave reviews about it and so we might be switching over to that soon.

*Aiden and Alex are doing these things:

FRIDAY ESSAYS--  This year I am having Aiden and Alex do an essay for me (due each Friday) about current events.  We get World Magazine and then we have a few sites that they can go to for research online.  This is nothing fancy, but we are working up to more sophisticated writing.

*Remy is doing these things:

Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading
I read picture books to him.
He is still doing Prescripts Handwriting and Explode the Code

*Oliver is doing these things:

I read picture books to him.
One fun activity every day.
Outside for 15 minutes every day.


To recap a different way, I will list the flippers we use.  These are small laminated cards that the kids and I flip over when we have completed the subject listed on the card.  I absolutely love this system!  The subjects listed here are fleshed out above.

Our Family Flippers:

Memory Work
Bible Reading
Bible History
Read Aloud

Once or Twice a Week

Aiden's Flippers--7th Grade:
Before 9:00
Challenge Math
Grammar Island (Michael Clay Thompson)
Outside 15 Minutes

Alex's Flippers--6th Grade:
Before 9:00
Challenge Math
Spelling (I just take misspelled words from his essay and other work, have him study and copy them and then test him on them each Friday)
Grammar Island (Michael Clay Thompson)
Outside 15 Minutes

Riley's Flippers--4th Grade:
Before 9:00
Challenge Math
Grammar Island (Michael Clay Thompson)
Outside 15 Minutes

Remy's Flippers--2nd Grade:
Before 9:00
Reading Book (Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading)
Challenge Math
Read to Me (I read him at least one picture book.)
Handwriting/Explode the Code
Outside 15 Minutes

Oliver's Flippers--Age3:
Outside 15 minutes
Read to Me

There you have it!

Friday, August 21, 2015

School SCHEDULE Post 2015

So...this is how we are scheduling things this year!  I'm pretty pumped because we are finally getting in a groove with some things that make our day go much more smoothly!

Right now my kids are ages 12, 11, 9, 7, 3, and 10 months.

The kids get up at 7:00 and they do their "Before 9:00."  This is the list:

Read your Bible.
Make your bed.
Clean your body.
Get dressed.
Reset your flippers.
Do morning chore.

*Current chores are: Aiden puts all the clean dishes away. Alex carries all dirty laundry downstairs and sorts it. Riley matches socks, puts them in people's bins, and carries all the clean dishtowels up to the kitchen. Remy takes out all the trash in the house (except for the two big kitchen trash cans).

At 8:00 we all stop working for a bit and come together to eat breakfast.  After we are done everyone takes their own dishes to the sink and rinses them off.  They put their cup (with a colored drink band on it) in the drainer by the sink to use throughout the day and their other dishes go in the left side of the sink (ready to go into the dishwasher).

At 8:30 Aiden and Riley finish cleaning up the kitchen (until the table is wiped off, counters are wiped off, things are loaded into the dishwasher or hand washed and the sink is empty).  Aiden, Alex, Riley and Remy finish up anything left on their Before 9:00 and often get a few things crossed off of their school list.

Also at 8:30 I am spending time with Oliver and Olivia.  We usually go to their room and play with plastic food or go out on the front porch and say the color of the cars that go by.  Oliver loves having this time!

At 9:00 we all come together in our school room.  I have a small pack n' play right by my desk and Olivia plays in there.  Oliver has a seat at the half circle table that we use.

First, we sing lots of songs.  We do a mixture of genres.  We use preschool songs and Sunday School songs.  Oliver loves that everyone sings his songs in a funny way with him and I love that it keeps the big kids from taking themselves too seriously.  They get into it!  We use Classical Conversations History Sentences.  We use a variety of Scripture memory songs.  We also chant grammar lists at this time (like a list of the prepositions).  Lastly, we do poetry set to music.  We were doing Hymns using this terrific book, but needed to cut some things out so now we do that at night during Bible time.

Second, we read the Bible popcorn style.  This has been terrific.  Oliver listens some, but I also get out play dough or some other little thing for him to play with or sort during this time.

About this time (9:45 or so) Olivia is tired of the pack and play and tired of sitting on my lap.  It's nap time!  I tell the boys to finish up and then sit quietly and wait for me to get back.  I go and rock Olivia for just a couple of minutes and then put her down in her bed.  The key here is to wait until she is quite tired so that she starts sucking her thumb and goes out quickly.

Third, we have a short prayer time.  We made a prayer box with 3x5 cards in it.  Each card has a prayer request or praise.  I hand 1 car to each person and we pray for these things.  Even Oliver does it.  I just tell him what to say.  Then we put those cards at the back and write down any new requests.  We also have a book of answered prayers.  We just jot answered prayers in there as a reminder to us of how the Lord has heard our prayers!

At this point (around 10:10) I take Oliver to my bedroom and put him on my bed with lots of picture books.  This is his time to play by himself for about 20 minutes.  This is a skill that he needs and it really helps me to be able to give my undivided attention to the lesson I'm about to share.  When I get back to my big boys I often tell them to stretch their arms and do Simon Says type movements with their arms while they are sitting in their seats.  It's funny and we get some wiggles out.

Fourth, we study the Bible.  This year we are learning Bible history for our history.  After all, the Bible IS history!  I am using an amazing resource called The Old Testament Made Simple by Melton Short.  We read through the simple material and work together to commit the outlines of the OT to memory.  It is very user friendly and the kids are really enjoying it.

Now it is about 10:30 (all times are very much estimates!).  We head downstairs and I give each boy a coffee filter with animal crackers or graham crackers and some bottled water.  These snacks are always handy and ready to go.  Two boys share a bottle of water so it's not much of an expense.  They sit and eat their snack in a circle while I read something about history or science (like this).  Then they can play quietly with K'Nex (or some other building toy) or cuddle up with blankets while I read from a fun fiction read aloud book.  So there are two phases to this read aloud time: the first focused for content and the second laid back for some fun reading.  After we finish I take one kid at a time into the laundry room and they narrate one or both of the books I just read.  Sometimes I sort/fold laundry during this time, but often I try to look them straight in the eye and give them my undivided attention.  That is very helpful when trying to make sure they feel loved on (see How To Really Love Your Child).

At about 11:30 Olivia is usually waking up so I go and nurse her.  Then I get to fixing lunch.  While I am doing that Olivia is in the highchair snacking, Oliver is running around being cute, and the 4 big boys are working on any other bits of school that they can cross off on their own.

12:00 lunch time.  Then Alex and Remy clean up the kitchen.  This routine has been harder to get to stick because people are often going different ways working on school stuff around lunch time.  There is not as clear of a beginning and ending so sometimes I have to call people back to clean up their mess.  When they are done they get back to school and I am usually able to help a kid or two with some of the subjects that they need me to sit down and do with them.

1:00 (or 1:30) Rest time.  I put Oliver in his toddler bed, and Olivia in her crib right next to each other.  They each have a couple of pieces of play food and they just chat and then go off to sleep.  When this started working for me it was SO helpful!  My 4 big boys are on their beds during this hour.  They can "Read, Sleep, Think, or Pray."  They all have to read a certain amount for school so many of them do that during this time.  I really try to have this time by myself.  It makes me a much better mom in the afternoon if I can have some downtime.  I also try not to be on the computer or phone.  Ideally I am doing one of the options that the boys have "Read, Sleep, Think, or Pray."

2:00 I get my big 4 up and take turns helping them with whatever they need while Oliver and Olivia are still sleeping.

3:00 It would be nice if we were done by now, but we usually aren't :0).  We have only been at this for a few weeks though so hopefully we will get better.  But I would much rather get done at 4:30 and have some rest and fun built into the day than to get done at 3:00 and miss out on those aspects.

A few random notes.

I keep meaning to get a bit more organized about the big kids playing individually with Oliver or Olivia at certain times.  However, I think the more relaxed way we have been doing it is working fine.  If I need help with one of them I just ask one child to go and play with one of them.  Even though my kids are on a general schedule you just can't predict when a 10 month old or a 3 year old are going to need a bit more attention!

Sometimes I will ask an older child to help a younger one with his math.

I have a little wheel with the first 5 kids names on it.  Every day I rotate it so that a new child's name is lined up with "TODAY!".  That day that child is the one that I ask to help me cook, or I focus on a little bit extra.  That child gets to do his school stuff with me first.  That child is the one I make sure to focus on in other areas besides just school.

After school they are pretty free unless I need them to do a random chore and then I just ask.

We eat at 6:00 (if it's ready by 6:00 Ha!).  After dinner all the boys clean up together.  Sometimes Jeremy and I pitch in and other times we are getting Oliver and Olivia ready for bed.  Then the boys get ready for bed and we gather downstairs for Bible Time.  Right now we alternate between Seeds Family Worship DVD's with hand motions, Then Sings My Soul (read 1 page about background of hymn and then we sing it), and Sunday School type songs.  We are reading out of The Child's Story Bible by Catherine Vos.  Sometimes we will recap for Daddy the things that we learned from The Old Testament Made Simple.  We also chase many rabbit trails if they come up and answer lots of questions.  Then we have prayer time and the boys head off to bed.  If Oliver or Olivia get too tired before we are done then I just take them up and get them settled in.

Well, that is the outline of our day.  It has been so encouraging to me to have a general flow that I can count on.  Of course, no two days are ever the same, but we can usually figure out what comes next since we have been creating a pattern.

Next I will post lots of links to the actual curriculum that I am using this year.  I just love all this school stuff!

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Checking In


I was just referring back to this blog to find info about what I had used for school in the past and I thought it might be time for an update.

The biggest change since my last post is that we have a daughter!  She is so much fun!  It is funny how early you can see her little girl personality come out.

My boys have gotten so much bigger too.  It is a real joy to have older kids!  The conversations are really interesting and they are a huge blessing to me in so many ways.  Parenting does get more complicated as they need help thinking through deeper issues.  I'm very thankful for the Lord's guidance as we seek to give these kids wise counsel!

I am having lots of fun nailing down what we will use for school this year.  I hope to get a post up soon listing my plan.  That way I can look back here in the future and see it all laid out so nicely :0).  I always mean to do a post later in the year telling what really happened, but I guess I get too busy living life and chasing kids and I forget to actually write the post!