Category: Planning/Organization

{Our Homeschool Classrooms} : 2014 – 2015

Our homeschool room has changed over the years.  Back in 2011, we started with a small table, a few supplies and lots of cozy sitting areas.  Then not even a month later I changed our homeschool area again.  Oh, and I changed it one more time two months later.  In 2012, I not only updated our school room again but I also made our homeschool mobile by having our classroom fit in a bag.  Last year as Thing 2 joined our school on a more routine bases, I moved from the bag to using notebooks.

As you can see as our homeschool has changed so has where we homeschool.  Well, this year we are in a new house with a lot more room and a whole new set up.

Like our school room in a bag and notebooks, I still like to keep our homeschool easily mobile.  We have moved from notebooks to large accordion files for each boy.  The boys are able to easily carry these and I can put almost all of the teachers manuals and such in each kiddos file.  For those things that don’t fit, I have a bag that I can easily put them in to take them with us.

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Since the main pieces of our homeschool is mobile, we like to spread out when we work.

Each boy has a desk in our playroom.

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There is also a bookshelf with reference materials and a place for them to store their accordion files.

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Next to my desk, which also holds the boys’ laptop, is the printer as well as paper, coloring books. extra supplies and the printer.

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Our playroom/class room also has a huge closet, which I have two bookshelves that hold past curriculum and manipulatives.

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They also have a desk of their own in their bedrooms.

Thing 1’s

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Thing 2’s

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Thing 3’s

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Thing 1 and Thing 2 also sit in their window seats to do some of their work.

Thing 1’s :And yes, he does sit on the swing to do school too.

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Thing 2’s

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I have also spent a some time creating a science and art lab in our basement.  I decided that the basement, which has a full kitchen  was the best place to let the kids create and to do messy science and art projects.  So using several shelves that were left in our barn by the previous owner, the boys now have easy access to all of their art and science supplies.

Painting shirts and science googles

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Science supplies, art supplies and paint supplies, from left to right.

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Recyclable materials corner.  Clean stuff that can be used to create with.

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Most of the room.

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When the weather is nice we also have come to do a large amount of school on our front porch.

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Where do you do your school?

 

 

Curriculum 2014-2015

We technically started our new school year back in April, however I never got around to posting the curriculum we are using this year.  While I may have a curriculum that we are following, I very rarely follow the curriculum the way it was designed to be used.  I am notorious for using curriculum as a guide, but creating the lessons on my own to better suit my boys and their interest.

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All Together :

Since Thing 1 and Thing 2 are so close in age and since they have similar interest in has made it easy for me to combine several subjects this year.  Thing 3 also joins us in many of these subjects.

Science : REAL Science Odyssey – Earth & Space Science

History : Story of the World Vol. 3 & Vol. 4

Geography : We will be focusing on the United States this year.  We will be using pieces from Road Trip USA by Erica at Confessions of a Homeshcooler, however most of it will be things that I have created.

Writing : I have created a simple writing curriculum to introduce them to the different types of writing.  However, we will be spending most of our time on creative writing.  Getting those crazy thoughts out on paper in some organized manner.

Art : Artistic Pursuits 1 & other fun arts and crafts that we do with the homeschool group I started here in Georgia.

Language : I will be introducing them to Sign Language and Spanish.

PE : The boys play golf almost weekly with Daddy Cameron.  I will be coaching both Thing 1 and Thing 2 in Soccer this year.  I also spend about 30 minutes a day introducing and playing other sports with them.

Nature Study : We now live on 11 acres, where nature study is as easy as walking out the front, back, garage or basement door.  We also have a couple of state parks with great hiking nearby.

Other : As I mentioned earlier, I have once again started a homeschool group here in Georgia.  So we will be doing activities at least 1-2 times a week with the group.

Also, now that all our summer travels are over, I am hoping to have the boys spend some time on a project of their choosing.  They may work individually or together.  I want them to work on something that is completely of their choosing.  They choose the topic and which direction it will go.

 

Thing 1 : 2nd Grade

Math : Singapore Math (US Edition) 3A & 3B.  We only buy the student workbooks.  I create and teach the lesson and use the workbooks as extra practice.

Reading : Thing 1 chooses the book he wants to read aloud to me or his brothers.  We also do family read alouds of the classics.  He will also reading some books on his own and telling me about them.

Handwriting : Handwriting is copywork, but instead of copying passages from books, Thing 1 dictates sentences to me that he then copies.

Grammar : First Language Lesson – Level 2.  We used First Language Lessons – Level 1 last year and had great success.

Other : Thing 1 also works with the WeDo LEGO Robotics set that he got as a Christmas present.

 

Thing 2 : Kindergarten

Math : Saxon Math 2.  Much like Thing 1 I create & teach the lessons and use the workbooks for extra practice.

Reading : Thing 2 has worked through every BOB Book over the last 8 weeks and then he will be moving on to early readers that he will get to choose. He also listens to the family read alouds.

Handwriting : Also like Thing 1, Thing 2 dictates a sentence to me which he copies.

Grammar : First Language Lesson – Level 1.  Thing 2 already knows a lot of what we are working on in this book simply because he listened last year, while I was working with Thing 1.

Music : Thing 2 will be starting guitar lesson, since I have finally been able to find a place that will let him start at 5.

Thing 3 : Preschool

Thing 3 goes through phases where he wants to do school like his brothers and other times he wants nothing to do with it.  So right now, he has no set anything.  I am just kind of going with the flow with him.  If he wants to do something “school like” I have plenty of games, workbooks, and stuff on hand to give him.

 

This list has changed since we started this school year in April, I am positive it will change again.  As we move through the year, things change, the boys change, our commitments change, interest change, so I have learned to be flexible and to go with the flow.  If something isn’t working I am no longer afraid to change it.  Homeschooling has definitely made me a much more flexible person.

 

What does your year look like?

Getting Back to Work

After nearly three months off from school the boys and I got back to school this week.  To be honest, I was a little concerned how this week would go.  Would I have to fight them to get some work done?  How much was I going to have to re-teach?  How far behind are we?

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However, I am happy to say that this week went great.  Thing 1 got straight to work and Thing 2 took about 10 minutes before he got to work.  Both boys were actually able to pick up right where we left off.  Yay!

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I also started looking to see how far behind we truly are in comparison to my original plan, which had us ending our year the first week of April.  Surprisingly we are only 5 weeks behind. This means that with a little shuffling and a little bit of hustling we are still going to be able to finish this school year as planned.  Instead of working only 4 days a week we will be working 5 days a week.  We will also lose the 2 complete weeks off that I had built-in to our schedule.    I think that we can live with that.

How’s your year going?

 

Big Kids Helping Little Kids

So…I know it has been a while since I have shared anything exciting, or at all here on the ‘ol homeschooling blog.  Yes, we are still homeschooling.  We are actually a little over halfway done with our school year (we started in May.)  Thing 1 and Thing 2 have been working hard on their respective school.  Thing 3 joins us every once in a while.  Lately he has been joining us a little less because I just haven’t had things ready for him to do.

Last October, while I was planning Thing 1 and Thing 2’s school year, I wasn’t sure what to do with Thing 3.  There were just too many variables.  Would he be interested?  What would his interest be?  What does he already know?  And so on.  You get the idea, because of his age I just wasn’t sure where and what to plan with him.  Thus, I didn’t plan much, which has left me scrambling to find activities for him to do, usually playing starfall or some other game on the computer.

This weekend I finally had a chance to prepare some activities for Thing 3 to work on while Thing 1 and Thing 2 do school.  However, I failed to come up with a plan for what would happen when Thing 3 needed my help (and has no patience to wait) and I am working with on of the older boys.

This morning Thing 1 was working on a spelling activity while I was working with Thing 2 on his math, pretty typical of our routine.  However Thing 3 was working also.  He had completed his puzzle and his size sorting activity.  The only activity left was a counting activity, which was going to require help.  Oh no, what am I going to do!?!

At this time I noticed that Thing 1 was just about finished with his spelling activity, so I asked him if he would help Thing 3 with his counting activity.  I took a quick 30 seconds and explained it to him and showed him what Thing 3 was supposed to do, then I let him teach his brother.

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Success!!!

Thing 1 loved teaching his brother this morning and Thing 3 thought it was cool to have his older brother helping him.  Honestly, he probably did the activity better with Thing 1 helping him than he would have if I was helping him.

This has been a lesson for me on learning to let go and having the boys step up.  I see this becoming a bigger part of our daily homeschool routine.

How do your big kids help your little kids?

Our Work Notebooks

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I know that many homeschooling families love workboxes.  I even used workboxes for a little bit in our homeschool, but ultimately decided they weren’t for me.  I was not a big fan of having to refill them every day.  I also didn’t like that our schooling was truly limited to our school room.  We like to be mobile.

See…there is a picture of our workboxes from October of 2011.

Last year, I ditched the workboxes and moved to using notebooks. I had a notebook for each boy, although Thing 1 is the only one who did school the entire year. In each notebook I had a  folder for each week.  Then in each folder I would paper clip together the work for each day of that week.  This allowed me to have 4 weeks of work all in one notebook.  You can read more about it {HERE}.  This was a great fit for our family.

These notebooks allowed me to put our entire homeschool in a bag and take it anywhere.  You can read more about it {HERE}.

However, this year was going to be different.

  1. I was going to be working with all three boys, which meant I would need three different notebooks.
  2.  Thing 1’s materials (workbooks) are a lot bigger than they were last year, thus there was no way they were going to fit in the little notebooks or the little bag.
  3. I wanted Thing 1 to become a little more independent in his work since I would be working with all three boys.  I wanted him to know what to do next, if I was busy.
  4.  Thing 3 was going to be joining us, but some of his materials would be smaller and cut up, thus they would fall out of the folders that we had.
  5. I was planning the entire year before the year started, instead of 4 weeks at a time.  Thus the way in which our folders were used, was not going to be applicable anymore.

So, this year I have modified our notebooks a little bit.

Each boy has a 3 inch notebook.

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Inside each notebook, are 8  to 12  clear 1 inch expandable, resealable folders, depending on the boy.

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Attatched to each folder with velcro dots, are a number and a label telling the boy if this is an individual assignment or something they do with mom.

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Inside each folder is the weeks worth of material for that subject or the workbook for that subject.

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Also, inside the notebooks I have placed a small whiteboard.

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A pocket containing markers, pencil, and dry erase marker.

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I also added in a few blank sheets of notebook paper.

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Along with a notebook, each boy has a small bucket that I put anything that is too big for the notebook.    When we are home and can quickly go and pull out what I need.

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If we are on the move, I pack up everything in the Large Utility Bag from Thirty One and head to our location.

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If we are going to be gone long-term I can also take my smaller tote that I used as our schoolroom in a bag (picture above) that is now filled with hanging folders that contain any printouts I would need for our entire school year and head out.

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What do you use instead of workboxes?

 

{Mommy Thoughts} : Finishing Up the Year

This week marks our last official week of school for the year!

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As you may remember, we started our school year in May.  Yes, I know it was a crazy idea, but it was perfect for us.  It allowed us to do “school” through the triple digit heat months here in North Texas, when most people flock indoors during the afternoon hours, and then take some breaks during the fall when the weather started to cool off.  It is also allowing us to finish and have time to enjoy the cooler spring temperatures in April, before it starts to heat up again in May.

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While we will not be taking time completely off, we will be only focusing on the basics during April.  Thing 1 will continue to read and focus on his math.  Thing 2 and I will continue to work on beginning reading skills like letter sounds and Thing 3 will continue to work on basic skills and trying to do what his brothers do.  Also, all three boys and I will work through Thing 1’s science curriculum.  Science some what fell to the side as it became to hard for me to do science experiments with Thing 1, while Thing 2 and Thing 3 “insisted”  doing it too.  Needless to say that didn’t work out too well.  However, they are both in a better place to participate now, so we will be doing lots of science during April.

I will be using the month of April to make final preparations for our next school year, which will start in May.  I have been working pretty steadily since Thanksgiving on choosing, preparing, and gathering materials for this next school year.  Thing 1 will be a first grader.  Although Thing 2 is not technically a kindergartener, I will, for the most part, be treating him like one.  Thing 3 will become an official preschooler.  This means that I will have a lot more to juggle this next year, and I want to be as organized as possible, so  that I don’t stress out too much.  🙂

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Over the next few weeks, I hope to start sharing some of our fun science experiments, our curriculum, my planning for this next year and my thoughts over our first year of homeschooling.

Busy Notebooks

After the first of the year, we joined two new home school groups, since our group is disbanding.  Anyway, both of the groups are a little further away, which has meant a little more time in the car for my boys.  Although we have a DVD player in our car, I don’t necessarily want the boys watching movies every time we are in the car.  So yesterday I created each boy a busy notebook.

Each boy has a 1/2 inch notebook of their very own, with their names on them so there is no issues.

Each notebook contains:

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A closing folder that holds crayons, a pencil and a big notebook that they got for Christmas.

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Behind the closing folder is assorted coloring pages, mazes, and color by numbers.  Since all three boys are really into angry birds right now, they each have an identical set of angry bird pictures to color.  Then each boy has a few other coloring pages that are more their interest.  For example, Thing 1 has train coloring pages, Thing 2 has Jake and the Neverland Pirates and Thing 3 has tractor coloring pages.

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The last pages of the book are just plain pieces of paper.

Simple, easy and super effective.

I had intended to use these notebooks only for our longer car trips, however, today Thing 1 had a doctor’s appointment, so I thought I would bring the new notebooks along just in case. Well as we waited for the doctor each boy sat relatively quietly and colored their pages.  Another mom in the waiting room, the doctor and nurses thought it was a great idea.  Also, since they were so occupied, it made it super easy to talk to the doctor.

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How do you deal with regular long car trips?

 

Where Have We Been?

I know we have been missing in action for a while, but we have still been here doing our school at home.  I just have not had a lot of really interesting school or kids crafts stuff to post or I have forgotten to take pictures.  Ooops!

Also, I have been busy working towards planning for our next school year.  Since we started in May, we are more than halfway done with our school year and it is time for me to start looking ahead.  I have learned a lot so far from our first official year of homeschooling, thus there are some changes coming to our home school.

But don’t worry, we have some fun stuff coming up that I am planning to post (with pictures) in the future.

Learning with the Cameron Clan!

Using Evernote in our Homeschool

I have never been a big technology person.  I have never cared about having the lastest gadgets, computers or phones.  However, over the last few weeks I have been on a mission to make things a little easier on myself, which means introducing more technology into my life.

My most advantageous technology discovery so far has been Evernote.  Oh and it is FREE!

You may have read about our homeschool in a bag.  We like to be extremely mobile in our homeschool.  Until I found Evernote, I would simply print out a copy of each week’s lesson plan and put it in our binder.  However, for one, I really hated to waste paper each week doing that, espeically when I was throwing them out after I copied my notes onto my computer version.  Also, as I would have to change and move things around, I would have to print out a new and accurate copy.  Some weeks I printed out 3 or 4 different copies.

Also, there were times we needed to use the computer, like for listening to Spanish pronouncations of words.  In my lesson plans I have a link to the site we need meaning I would need my computer or kindle to get to the links.

With our homeschool being a mobile operation, I wanted a way to be able to access each boys lesson plan from whatever device I had present, whether it is my laptop, kindle, or phone.

Evernote has allowed me to do just that.  I can store a copy each boys’ lesson plan on Evernote and read it from my laptop, kindle or phone.  All our links are right there and we can watch them immediately.  I can quickly make notes onto any lesson plan on any device and then when I get back to my computer I can save an updated version back to my computer.

Staying on top of attendance is easy, since I can immediately go into my attendance document and take attendance.

Not only do I use Evernote for homeschooling, but I have started to use for my daily to do lists.  I can sit on my laptop in the evening and write out my to do list for the next day.  The next morning, as I am reading blogs and email on my kindle, I can also quickly check my to do list.  If we are out and about I can check my to do list on my phone.

Same thing can be said for my grocery list or anything else I want to remind myself about.  There is no more trying to remember to write something down, and fogetting.  I can pull out my phone and quickly type  note.

Evernote has become a huge help, and not to mention paper saver.

You can even organize your notes by creating different notebooks.  Adding tags to your notes so that they are easily searchable.  You can do voice messages and so much more.

I currently have a notebook for our daily schedule, our homeschool, the homeschool group I run, my menu and grocery list, blogging, and field trips/activities to do with the kids.

You can even choose to share your notebooks with other people.  I could see using this when my boys are older as a way for me to see papers they are working on, or give them input on things like research papers.

The possibilities seem endless.

Have you tried Evernote?  What do you use it for?

I am in no way related to or receiving anything from Evernote.  It has just been a huge help to me over the last two weeks and thought I would share.

 

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