Friday, August 11, 2017

#BraveWriter 2017-2018 Boomerang Book Selections

The following is taken from the Brave Writer website:

The Boomerang is the monthly digital product that features a classic work of fiction each month. These novels are used to teach the mechanics of writing (grammar, spelling, punctuation, and literary elements). In addition to the weekly passages used for copywork and dictation, The Boomerang includes 9 discussion questions which are designed to enhance a student's comprehension of the novel's themes and construction through discussion and writing.
Each guide contains the following:
  • Copywork/dictation passages
  • Grammar, spelling, punctuation, and literary device notes
  • 9 discussion questions
  • Book Club Party ideas
  • Access to the Private Facebook Group to discuss how you implement the Arrow
2017-2018 Book List 
AugustStation Eleven (Emily St. John Mandel)
SeptemberWalking (Henry David Thoreau)
OctoberThe Thing About Jellyfish (Ali Benjamin)
NovemberGeorges (Alexandre Dumas)
DecemberThe Westing Game (Ellen Raskin)
JanuaryThe Call of the Wild and White Fang (Jack London)
FebruaryNarrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass (Frederick Douglass)
MarchWhen You Reach Me (Rebecca Stead)
AprilThe Inquisitor's Tale: Or, The Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog (Adam Gidwitz)
MayAnne of Green Gables (Lucy Maud Montgomery)
Always review the books yourself and be certain that you are okay with the contents before giving them to your children. Some of these titles do contain adult language and themes.

#BraveWriter 2017-2018 Arrow Book Selections

The following is taken from Brave Writer's website.

The Arrow is the monthly digital product (like a magazine) that features copywork and dictation passages from a specific read aloud novel (novels listed below, not included with purchase). The Arrow is designed for children ages 8-11 (3rd - 6th grades) and is an indispensable tool for parents who want to teach language arts in a natural, literature-bathed context.
This year's Arrow Guides are brought to you by Melissa Wiley, well-loved children's novelist and Brave Writer instructor! Mary Wilson, popular blogger, is adding a page of Book Club Party ideas for each book this year as well.
Each guide contains the following:
  • Copywork/dictation passages
  • Grammar, spelling, punctuation, and literary device notes
  • Writing activity
  • 9 discussion questions
  • Book Club Party ideas
  • Access to the Private Facebook Group to discuss how you implement the Arrow
2017-2018 Book List 
AugustThe Bad Beginning, (Lemony Snicket)
SeptemberEsperanza Rising (Pam Muñoz Ryan)
OctoberThe Girl Who Drank the Moon (Kelly Barnhill)
NovemberJohnny Tremain (Esther Forbes)
DecemberWhere the Mountain Meets the Moon (Grace Lin)
JanuaryFinn Family Moomintroll (Tove Jansson)
FebruaryElijah of Buxton (Christopher Paul Curtis)
MarchFrom the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (E. L. Konigsberg)
AprilThe Red Pencil (Andrea Davis Pinkney)
MayThe Thing About Luck (Cynthia Kadohata)
Always review the books yourself and be certain that you are okay with the contents before giving them to your children.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Coffee and Co-op Planning 2017 Semester 1

This will be our third year participating in a Catholic co-op as a family. The first year I was a classroom helper and cafeteria cleaner. Last year I taught PE, Creative Writing and Drama. This year I feel like I'm getting the hang of things finally and will be teaching 5th/6th PE, 9-12 PE, and 5-8 Creative Writing one semester/Drama the next.

June was funky with my kids off at different camps and activities. July was funky with my husband working double hours. Have you ever tried to do homeschool planning with five of your own kids running around plus neighbors and friends? My brain was short-circuiting from all the stops and starts so I focused on organizing physical stuff like backpacks and bookshelves.

Anyway, last year I did a little too much seat-of-my-pants teaching and I don't want to do that again. If I have it all planned out for one entire semester of 16 meetings then I won't be freaking out the night before/morning of trying to figure out what to do. I don't feel this benefits my state of mine OR the kids and their learning. I know when I have things planned in advance that I'm excited to teach, I am a much more fun teacher. This goes for at home as well.

My husband's work hours went back to normal, it's Saturday, so I checked the calendar and it looks like a great (rainy) day to head to somewhere with Wi-Fi and coffee and knock out some planning. Parents and kids like a good syllabus, and I'm gonna give one (well, three) to them.

I have the basic layout of the syllabus so I know how many days/slots to fill in so I can get my topics and activities organized. I'm finding I have a lot of fun to be had with poetry, something I personally didn't think I enjoyed but am finding I really dig. And if I dig it, I know I can get the kids to dig it!

Heading out to fill in those slots, which will hopefully turn into an hour a week of homeschool co-op enchantment and discovery and enjoyment. My biggest problem is that I'll be in Florida for a couple of weeks and don't know what I can give up for my helper to teach. I just want to do it all! If only I could be in two places at once :-)

Check back for my Homeschool Co-op Creative Writing Syllabus for grades 5 through 8 (yes, quite a spread but we'll make it work).

I'd love to hear about your planning processes, successes and challenges!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Using Reward Charts in Your Home and Homeschool

I love Target's cheap aisle that's right in the front when you walk in the door. Starting in the summertime they always have fun teacher things and they run out fast! I picked up these reward charts that came with cute apple stickers to try to motivate my kids to get into some good habits for a reward.

I'm getting tired of hounding the kid, but a Pokemon booster pack speaks for itself loud and clear.

The booster pack Sam wants is about $4 so I am doing the same type of reward for Callie. She will fill up 2-3 of these charts doing her math, so she can save up and get a $12 piece of jewelry instead. She is way behind in math and I'm trying to get her caught up. We only have one PC and 5 kids running around the house, so getting her math done can be a feat sometimes.

Supercute reward stickers.
I'm the kind of mom who believes in doing things that make mothering more fun and easier and fosters the relationship I have with my kids. I don't want to JUST be the dictator homeschool teacher; I want to have fun with the learning process. That can't happen all the time, obviously, but I give it a shot. So, yes, I believe in bribes and I believe in rewards. And we don't do that all the time. When I get compliments on my older kids I know I have done something right and I just need to keep up the character-building work with my two youngest kids even though I am getting exhausted during this parenting journey (wink).

Monday, May 15, 2017

A Simple Plan Homeschool Planner from Mardel & Coupon 30% Off Through May 20, 2017

I've been buying A Simple Plan homeschool planner for a few years now and love it. It really helps me when I'm doing my own thing or when I was doing virtual school for the last two years. Venturing out onto our own again this fall and have a high schooler (eek!) and using this planner yet again!

I feel like I can be laid-back as a homeschooler and not a stressball because I have a planner and I can get the thoughts and plans out of my brain and onto paper. Also, I often write things in the planner AFTER the fact. And I never feel like I have to fill in every blank. I assume each blank stands for about an hour of schooling, so 6 hours a day. That's too much for my younger kids. Their blanks also sometimes get filled in with activities like Scouts and also playdates. The pool in the summer for 2 hours counts for PE. We get it all covered :-)

When I highlight something, that means it's been done. I also use Pilot Frixion pens because I hate the mess pencils make when they rub off on other pages and love things in pen, yet these pens erase like a dream.

This planner is normally priced at $19.99 normally through Mardel here at this link. When there was free shipping I grabbed a student planner for my kid who is starting 10th grade in the fall of 2017. His homeschooling and regular lives didn't all fit onto 6 measly lines in A Simple Plan for 2016/2017 so he really needs his own planner. There are coupons on Mardel's website quite often, like this one for 30% off only through May 20, 2017.

This one is mine for 2017-2018
This one is Joel's for 2017-2018

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

A Captive Audience: Read to Your Kid While They're in the Bathtub

My 9-year-old went through a period where she loved to take showers. Then she reverted back to wanting to take baths. I shouldn't say "revert" like it's a backward step ... I still take baths sometimes because they are relaxing, after all!

Anyway, today she was in the tub and she likes for someone to stay with her, which usually means me. I like to use that chance to catch up on homeschool reading ... today it was Catholic Heritage Curricula's Science 2. I've owned this book for a long time and have read the stories over and over to the kids over the years. Now I'm trying to get them all read to my three youngest kids. I'm sure I'll read them again to my 7-year-old sometime, maybe next year even.

I love my little captive audience. She listens and asks questions and it's great one-on-one time, which is rare in a big family.

Then she got out of the tub and went to "play school" ... getting out her co-op backpack and putting on her jacket and making her "school lunch" ... and I love these rare days that are unhurried. I love them even more probably because they are so rare. Did I mention she made the pantry her locker?

Where do you like to read to your kids? Do you read to them even when they get older? I bet you they still enjoy it even in their teens :-)

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Do Homeschooled Kids Go to College?

Why, yes, they do.

I get asked this a lot. "Will your kids go to college?"

My answer: Sure, if they want to and they know what they want to do. We are junior college people simply because of the cost and the belief that 18-year-olds don't need to go to another state to party and do stupid things. Call us crazy.*

*If your kid got a scholarship to an out-of-state college and is doing well and not being incredibly stupid with drinking and sex, pat yourself on the back. It does happen. A scholarship is a different story, too ... partying on my dime is not gonna happen.

So here's what we are telling our high schooler now.

Work hard because you'll probably need to take the GED and also if you take the ACT your scores will help determine any scholarships or other help in college.

If you aren't sure what you want to do with your life at age 17 or 18, for God's sake don't spend $30,000 on college. I don't have that kind of money and I'm not going to take out loans for it because I need to RETIRE and DIE IN STYLE someday. And if you take out loans for that amount, I will laugh at you every time I see you.

I am not raising my kids to be in debt just so they can appear "normal" and like everybody else who goes that route.

Case study: My husband. His parents weren't going to pay for college. He worked. He went to college at age 26 and got a degree to be an engineer at age 29 WHILE WORKING FULL-TIME. It cost him $30,000 total in school loans and he's now a working engineer. We paid off the loans within a few years before having children.

Case study: Me. I went to junior college over the course of TEN YEARS to get a 2-year degree and paid for it myself. I now have an AA degree which doesn't really help me with my writing and proofreading career but it's nice to say I have it. I don't know how much it cost me in the end but I wish I had saved all that time and invested the money instead :-)

Case study: My father. No college. Worked as a letter carrier for enough years to retire at age 55. In the meantime he was traveling to Hawaii and other fun places in the USA. He will be 67 this summer and is still doing just fine.

Case studies: Some family members. All three kids went to college and their parents paid. If you can afford that, congrats, but make sure you have saved for your OWN future because there is no guarantee that your kids are going to help you out later. If you can't afford that, WHAT THE HECK ARE YOU DOING GOING INTO DEBT FOR YOUR KID, WHO IS ABLE-BODIED AND ABLE TO WORK? Two are teachers, which you need a degree to be. The other would have had a promising banking career but he fell ill. This is a case where the kids did it the "right" way and honored their parents in the process. I often say you won't appreciate it unless you pay for it, but I do every now and then see someone who appreciates it when it is given to them. Of course, these are MY family members, so they have that Swedish grit and they rock, obviously.

Lawyers, doctors, licensed therapists, chiropractors, pharmacists, engineers, vets, etc. Yes, please get a degree. Pay a lot for it with or without your parents' help and then pay back your loans quickly using your decent-sized paychecks.

Be who you are, kids. If you are one of those rare kids who wants to be something major, go to college whenever you want. There is no rush, though. If you want to work for a while, that's cool too. If you want to live at home for a while and go to junior college and save money while you also work, then you are obviously one of my children and you will not be going into debt. Congratulations.