Living the Extremes, Finding the Balance

My homeschool journey has been just that, a journey.  It will take some time to tell the story of our journey thus far, but we’ll take it much like we take our homeschooling – a day at a time.

I have found that in our family, homeschooling morphs and changes as we seek out what works best for each child, each season of life, each home we live in, the mental state of the teacher (me!) and many other factors. As an overall theme though, our approach has seemed to swing from one extreme to the other. With my first 2 children, I sat them down and we learned. If they were ready to learn, if they were not ready to learn, WE LEARNED!

With my next two, I took a much more relaxed approach. So relaxed an approach that it caused panic among the relatives and friends: “He doesn’t know how to read yet?!” In time, he learned and with joy and happiness, in stark contrast to the tears and frustration experienced by his older brother. He learned quickly too, catching up to the same level as his tortured alumni with speed.

This year seems to be the leveling out and balancing of both extremes. The younger kids are being challenged and taught, but not pushed. The older kids are being pushed and challenged a bit more, but not enough to send them over the edge. I think if I had to label all of our methods I would label them thus: Textbook, Charlotte Mason, Well Trained Mind.

It feels a bit odd to be at this stage of my homeschooling and feel again like I am just starting out, just learning how to homeschool, just discovering my philosophy of education. It’s early in the year and I wonder where we will fall once the year ends, but for now I feel balanced and happy. The kids are learning, we’re doing fun things like launching hydro rockets and making rifle cartridges out of toilet paper rolls and flour. Our notebooks are not perfect, our science hypothesis sometimes read like this: “I think it will work.” There is room for improvement, but we just keep walking down this road trying to do our best.

Excited to share the journey with you.

~ Julee Huy

Alphabet Fun: ABC Coloring Puzzles

Here are printable coloring puzzles for all 26 letters of the alphabet. There are two puzzles for the letter X: one with words that begin with X and one that also includes words that end with X. The puzzles will also introduce some new vocabulary words to your student. Print the puzzles on cardstock for best results, color the pictures and cut apart the pieces.

These alphabet coloring puzzles are the first in a series of alphabet activity pages. Stay tuned.

Have fun learning the alphabet and beginning sounds with these printable ABC Coloring Puzzles.

ABC Coloring Puzzles, 28 pages

Labor Day Printables

The new Labor Day Printable Pages are up! The 7-page printable activity pack is perfect to remind us about the history of Labor Day. To many of us, Labor Day marks the end of summer and the beginning of the school year. But Labor Day is much more than that. The working conditions in America have come a long way in the last century thanks to the efforts of Peter McGuire, the “father” of Labor Day. How did he make a difference?

The 7-page Labor Day Printable Packet includes:

  • Door Hanger, Pencil Topper and Bookmark
  • Labor Day Tic-Tac-Toe Game
  • Labor Day Wordsearch
  • Labor Day Crossword Puzzle
  • Labor Day Multiple Choice Worksheet
  • Vocabulary Sheet
  • Coloring Page

Have a fun and relaxing Labor Day with your family!

Labor Day Printables, 7 pages

Back to Homeschool Wordsearches

Many homeschool families have already began their school year and many will be starting in the next few weeks. Here are a couple Back to Homeschool Wordsearches for you. I think the parents will enjoy the Homeschooling Wordsearch. I’ll add more printables to these when I return from vacation in a week.

Back to Homeschool Wordsearch

Homeschooling Wordsearch

Carnival of Homeschooling: Let’s Play School Edition

When I was a little girl, I loved playing school. It was my favorite thing to do. Surely I drove my sister crazy and when she didn’t want to play, I would play what I called “alone school.” I had imaginary students that I would make worksheets for, I had good students and bad students. I would play for hours. My neighbor had a shoebox filled with a toy school set that I absolutely adored. It had desks and little rag dolls and a chalkboard and a teacher. I loved when she brought that coveted shoebox outside and let me play. I think my obsession with playing school is why homeschooling felt so natural to me. My imaginary students came to life. Now, to be clear, I’m not suggesting that homeschooling is playing school, but I look back on both with fond memories. And now that my kids are grown up and graduated, I continue to “play” by making worksheets for my grandkids and your kids. 🙂

Welcome to this week’s edition of the Homeschooling Carnival and welcome to my new home at HomeschoolJourneys.com. If this if your first visit, take your shoes off and stay awhile.

Let’s start with some general homeschool issues and chatter.

In Homeschool Idea: Daddy Challenge Chair the Faughn Family of Four shares what they did to help keep daddy “in the loop” of what the kids are learning each day at school. I think this is a brilliant idea.

Lisa Nehring presents Homeschool Myth Busters over at Golden Grasses. She gives her perspective of five homeschooling myths.

In A Word to My Fellow People Pleasers… Jan Burt encourages homeschoolers to be true to their Lord and trust in Him alone as they walk the road of homeschooling. She says people pleasing is a common issue for those of us who homeschool.

As Rachel Noggle of Musings of a Reluctant Homeschool Mom sits on The cusp of school, she muses over the early start of local schools and is thankful to be able to start school according to her own schedule.

In Are You Ready for a New Puppy? Phyllis Sather shares the story of the loss of their dog a year ago and the purchase of their new puppy a year later.

Lorilynn Jones of 3 Partners in Shopping; Nana, Mommy, &; Sissy too! shares a couple of reasons why she believes that standardized testing is very wrong, a total waste of time and money in Another Great Reason to Homeschool Our Children.

Nebby presents The Goal of Education posted at Letters from Nebby where she discusses the different approaches to home education.

Curriculum and Resources

Christa Fairbrother of Mother of Discussionlinks to sources of Free Media for Homeschoolers such as audio books and sound recordings. Check out her Modern Pentathlon post – such fun!

In Back to School Plans, Part One: Changes to Dollygirl’s Grade Six Science, Mama Squirrel of Dewey’s Treehouse shares a review of The Great Motion Mission: A Surprising Story of Physics in Everyday Life.

For my post this week, I have a couple sets of Math Vocabulary Worksheets for you. The first set is basic arithmetic terms, the second is more advanced.

As a newcomer to homeschooling, Vincent Cate shares Computer as the Teacher at Why Homeschool. He is looking at having computers do most of the teaching for his two boys and possibly a small school.

Tea Time with Annie Kate reviews 101 Top Picks for Homeschool Curricululm by Cathy Duffy. She says like its predecessor 100 Top Picks, it’s the best book for beginning homeschoolers and for any homeschooler who is facing changes in family or homeschool.  She’s read it half a dozen times, at least.

Projects and Teaching Ideas

History:

Try this fun outdoor activity – Celebrating Lewis and Clark with To-Scale Mapping presented by Our Journey Westward. Even though it was meant for the older students, the younger student joined in.

Language Arts:

In Why Keep Reading Aloud – 5th grade, Monique of Living Life and Learning discusses the value of continuing to read aloud to your child even though they could read it themselves.

A Game for Making Your Own Oz Story includes instructions and cards created for a homemade board game made by Christy at Just Another Step to Take. They played it with another homeschooling family  as part of a unit exploring the book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

Nadene of Practical Pages shares some of the ways different types of puppets can be used to tell narrations in Narrations 103 Puppets.

Science:

Lindafay discusses nature journaling in Nature Journaling -Stage One continued posted at Higher Up and Further In. Do you have a child who just doesn’t seem to enjoy drawing in his nature journal? Does he draw his specimen in a few minutes and then is ready to go on to something else because this activity bores him? This is a normal behavior for children in the first stage of nature journaling. We must help them get past this initial phase or they may never learn to enjoy nature.

Nirvana Homeschooling shares Exploring Music and Science with a Wind Organ made from recycled plastic bottles. She says a wind organ will make music when the wind blows. Our wind organ did not make a loud sound, but you could hear it if you were standing about 1-2 feet away from the organ which was a nice treat when we were working in the garden. I had never heard of a wind organ before. Check it out.

In Chemistry Lab Camp Day 8 and 9, Janine Cate of Why Homeschool wraps of their Do It Yourself Chemistry Lab Camp. They look like a great group of kids and I love the funny face picture.

Out and About

In Important Fire Safety Tips – from the Professionals, Mindy Hoffmann of DenSchool shares about a trip to the fire station with some life saving tips to teach children about fire safety.

Ages and Stages

Jamie Gaddy of MomSCHOOL says homeschooling many children isn’t easy, and having little ones can be a challenge. In Keeping Your Little Ones Engaged, she shares a few tips to keeping them engaged.

Eclectic Momma shares some ideas on how they are doing Preschool this year. It looks like they’re having a lot of fun together.

Dee Trope discusses thoughts on when a child is old enough to be left Home Alone and safety measures for when you do.

In Homeschooling and Concurrent Enrollment in College posted at Harmony Art Mom, Barb discusses their experience with concurrent enrollment during high school and making sure to fit the action to the needs of the child.

In Conclusion…

With the 2012 Olympics on in the background and a 4.4 earthquake centered a couple miles from my home, I was able to stay focused and finish up the Carnival. I hope you enjoy the posts and try some of the ideas in your own homeschooling. The next carnival will be hosted at Under the Golden Apple Tree.

~ Beverly Hernandez

Chalkboard images by Scrappin Doodles.

Carnival of Homeschooling: Home Education Edition

I’ll be hosting the Carnival of Homeschooling here at HomeschoolJourneys.com for the first time next week. I’ve hosted many times from About.com, but I’m looking forward to hosting here at my new home. Please send your submissions by Monday at 6 p.m.

Now, on to this weeks carnival… The Common Room talks about the longevity of the Carnival of Homeschooling in this week’s edition of the carnival: Home Education Edition. She says most people have moved from this old-school style carnival to linkies.

Again, the next carnival will be hosted here at HomeschoolJourneys.com. Send in your submissions by Monday at 6 p.m. I look forward to reading your submissions.

Math Vocabulary Worksheets

Divisors, dividends, denominators… Here are two sets of math vocabulary worksheets to help sort out these terms and cement them into your student’s mind once and for all. The first set is basic arithmetic terms, the second is more advanced.

Each 5-page Mathematics Vocabulary Packet includes:

  • Mathematics Vocabulary Wordsearch
  • Mathematics Vocabulary Crossword Puzzle
  • Mathematics Vocabulary Matching Worksheet
  • Mathematics Vocabulary Multiple Choice Worksheet
  • Mathematics Vocabulary Vocabulary Sheet

Arithmetic Printables, 5 pages

Mathematics Printables, 5 pages

Here’s a trick I learned years ago to remember how to spell arithmetic: A Rat In The Hat May Eat The Ice Cream

More About Math:

Image by Scrappin Doodles.

Long Vowels Worksheets

“When two vowels go walking, the first one does the talking and says its own name and the second one goes to sleep.”

Learn the two-vowel rule and practice the long vowel sounds with these printable worksheets.

Long Vowels Printables, 6 pages

Homeschooling Physical Education: Let’s Get Moving Challenge

Meeting the physical education requirements for some kids can be a challenge if they’re not naturally active. Here’s a printable “Let’s Get Moving” weekly challenge form to encourage physical activity and to help kids set goals for themselves and keep track of their successes. I’ve also included one for the moms to challenge themselves to get moving and set a good example for the kids.

The 3-page Let’s Get Moving packet includes:

  • Let’s Get Moving – Boys
  • Let’s Get Moving – Girls
  • Let’s Get Moving – Moms

So, print your forms, set your physical fitness goals and let’s get moving!

Let’s Get Moving Printables, 3 pages

More Physical Fitness:

Choosing a Phonics Curriculum

Reading Eggs vs. All About Reading

In trying to decide on a phonics curriculum for my children, I’ve looked at many phonics programs and narrowed it down to two: Reading Eggs and All About Reading. To make my final decision, I’m looking at the pros and cons of each program. So, let’s have a look…

Reading Eggs

Teach Your Child to Read OnlineWe’ve used Reading Eggs for a year, although not consistently. It is a very fun program. Children are introduced to one letter and sound each lesson. They are also introduced to some sight words, such as I, at, am, etc. At the end of ten lessons, there is a quiz to see how they’re progressing. There is also a world where the children can play. There is no outside interaction in the world, which is a plus for me. Children can buy clothes for an egg creature that they design. They are also able to buy games to play. They earn money by playing lessons and are encouraged to repeat lessons. The money is easily earned, so the children are encouraged to earn things. If they find something they want, it’s fairly easy to earn the money for it. They even have lessons for older children that already know how to read.

In addition to the online program, Reading Eggs also gives the option of buying flash cards, activity books and beginning readers that match the readers in the program so your child can have the book in their hand.

PROS:

  • If the program gets too challenging, I can help her through it, but it won’t be me fighting her, it’ll be the program.
  • If I purchase a subscription for my 3 year old, he can also play it and begin to learn a few letters.
  • This is something we could continue to use for many more years.
  • My children love playing on the computer, so it might as well be educational.
  • She will want to work on this even when we are not doing school.
  • There’s no prep work, you just sit at the computer and get to it.

CONS:

  • She’s able to complete lessons without fully learning the letters. There is not a ton of repetition, if you just go lesson by lesson. This can be fixed by me sitting down with her during lessons and by using the flash cards more often
  • Most of the early readers are not books they can read, but more like Alphabet books: A book – apple, alligator, etc
  • It is subscription based, so you’ll have to pay monthly or yearly for subscription

All About Reading

Unfortunately, we haven’t used All About Reading yet, so I can only tell you what I’ve found out through their website and samples. This program consists of a teachers manual, student activity book, 3 readers, letter flash cards, word flash cards, and letter tiles. It is a hands-on curriculum.

Each lesson consists of 5 parts:

  1. Before you begin – This takes a few minutes and it includes learning the letter sounds, getting everything out, etc
  2. Review – You review with flash cards, the letters that the child hasn’t mastered yet
  3. New Teaching – the child will learn new letters using flash cards, use the tiles to read words and make new words, do activity sheets which sometimes include cutting & gluing, read fluency sheets or read from their readers
  4. Read aloud time – You are asked to read aloud to your child for 20 minutes everyday
  5. Track your progress on your chart

PROS:

  • Lessons are hands-on, which is good for the hands-on learners
  • Lessons start with review, there’s lots of repetition
  • We can use this program with each of my children, with no yearly subscription fee
  • The readers look like they’ll be interesting and hold the interest of the child
  • Setup is fairly quick and lessons are straight forward
  • There’s a lot of flexibility with the letter tiles, you can make and read any words you want

CONS:

  • I’m the one teaching the lessons, so if she struggles, I’ll be the one fighting her.
  • A little prep work is required.
  • Lessons will take a little longer than Reading Eggs lessons.

My Conclusion

I’m going to go with All About Reading Level 1, although it was very close. I’m pretty sure either curriculum would teach my daughter to read. The reason I’m going with All About Reading is because Alissa needs the repetition. I also think the hands-on learning will be helpful for her.