July 29, 2010

These are a few of my favorite (homeschool) things

We are (sort of) coming to the beginning of the school year. It's the right time to think about what worked well this year and what needs to change. Recently, a friend emailed me with some questions about homeschooling and that got me thinking. I always enjoy hearing from others who school at home, because their experiences help me to determine what curriculum might work for us. What worked when I had one first grader and two toddlers won't necessarily work with a fourth grader, two second graders, barely kindergarten, and a toddler. Life changes over time! We have used Sonlight, Story of the World, and Tapestry of Grace. I've used exclusively Sonlight and then became crazy brave enough to build my own curriculum. By no means do I have it all figured out, but here are a few things I thought I might share.

Since my list of favorite things has grown I'm going to do a few installments.

Websites and Blogs:
Homeschool Share this is a neat resource for lapbooking--all free.
Dianne Craft I'm always looking for a new way to teach Ella. We haven't been able to discern what happens when she's learning, but traditional methods aren't that great. I bought Right Start Math for everyone a few years ago thinking that was the solution, but it wasn't. Dianne Craft's website has lists of ideas and tips that have helped me understand what I'm doing wrong (ie. Saxon just won't work for her) and how to fix that.
Nature Study I *wish* I could be this habitual about being outdoors.
Art Projects I am far from an artist. I wouldn't hesitate to say that I'm pretty far from creative. When I stumbled onto this website--an art teacher and her projects--I was delighted. It encouraged me to take on several projects that I wouldn't otherwise (paper mache and pastels to begin?).
Practical Pages I *wish* I could be this focused and organized! She uses Charlotte Mason's methods and has all sorts of wonderful downloads that are...well, wonderful. Studies of artists, projects, templates, timelines...all of those things you would like to put together if you were talented and had time. She does!
Homeschool Freebie of the Day Sign up, it's just what it says. FREEBIES. They send out an email at the beginning of the week listing freebies for each day. Audiobooks, e-books, cool websites...the freebies never end!
Spelling City Spelling is so. Boring. I use Spelling Power, but it's nice to have something else for practice. Free, easy to use, my kids think they are playing since they are using the computer...
Vegsource It doesn't make sense, perhaps it's a well hidden homeschool secret. This is a vegetarian website that has a homeschool forum for selling stuff. Used stuff that you buy right from that lady a few states over that used it and liked it but doesn't need it anymore so she's willing to sell it for CHEAP.
Curriculum Sites that I continue to visit (though we are using Tapestry, doesn't mean I stick strictly to their stuff, I *love* Sonlight's book lists...)
Tapestry of Grace
Well Trained Mind
Vision Forum
Veritas Press
Ambleside Online (this is a very cool group, free--seems to be a returning theme--curriculum based on Charlotte Mason's methods).

When the catalogs for these guys come, my boys sit down and circle everything they want.

July 14, 2010

In My Own Backyard

She makes the quiet statement about a boy who has been spending his days in our yard. "I don't like him."

It's obvious she's been thinking about what she just said. She's visibly upset, her eyes fill with tears as she finishes her thought, "He said he didn't want to play with me. I have this skin. Brown skin. He doesn't like brown skin."

She's pointing to her arm with disgust. The emotion I see is so strong and terrifying that I hug her tightly and start sobbing with her. I have no words that can undo the hurt she feels.

On the kitchen floor.

Cradling our six year old in my lap.

Both of us crying.

I can't believe our daughter met prejudice for the first time swinging on her swing set.

July 11, 2010

Happy Birthday Sally!

A far cry from the little girl who, two years ago, was not interested in opening presents or eating cake. "Looks nice, but tastes so...unfamiliar." We have ruined our Ethiopian beauty! She turned six and had a list of friends, party activities, and desired presents. I think she hoped for a more 'Strawberry Shortcake' cake than the big strawberrish shaped cake I produced. It even tasted weird.

Squirt guns, water slides, presents, and cake...overall the birthday diva had a blast.

July 1, 2010

On God and Panties

Sometimes Sally dips into Ella's drawers and borrows her clothes. Ella isn't much of a diva and doesn't mind. She would probably prefer wearing the same outfit day in and day out while allowing Sally to forage through all the rest of her wardrobe. Except in the case of panties. Sally has always snatched a pair here or there. It doesn't matter that I've labeled undergarments with "S" and "E". It doesn't matter that we've discussed panties not really being something you borrow from your sister. There is a difference between a t-shirt and a pair of panties.

, are we even having this discussion?

The girls and I put away their clothes before bath time and Sally's 'unders' drawer was busting full. As I finished tidying the girls took their things into the bathroom. I could hear the ensuing discussion, "Sal, you have lots of panties. You don't have to borrow mine. You know, God sees you all of the time."

A pause for effect.

"Sally, God knows about the panties."

Sally responds with absolute pity as if Ella is has no clue what she's saying, "Ellaaaaa, God does NOT wear panties." Deep sigh.