Monday, June 25, 2012

Curriculum Confusion Solved! Prairie Primer!

So the Most High has spoken. I recently attended a Used Homeschool Curriculum Sale put on by a local Church Homeschool Ministry. Its amazing that last year I was able to go on the last day and clean up but this year I got there like 30 mins after it started on the first day and it was packed like a Tuna can and it was hard to find all my stuff. So I still have to purchase a few things for math. But I looked down on one of the tables and there it was. I saw the Prairie Primer which retails for about $50.00 brand new for $20.00 and it looked to be in really good condition. So now I know why you are suppose to pray on what curriculum to use. Cause it really helps to lead you in your decision making. Especially at a big sale like that or even at those huge Convention halls. So I am so excited to begin our Journey using the Primer. For those who are interested you can go back and take a look at my post called Curriculum Confusion where I give the money breakdown and some links for the Primer.
I had a subscriber that wanted to know how was then going to fit CC(Classical Conversations) at Home into my schedule if we are going to start the Primer. Well I decided to leave the CC Foundations for Summer Session only. Each Cycle is 24 weeks. We are scheduled to hit Week 24 somewhere around October. We typically start new curriculum in September since we are year round homeschoolers but this year we will start The Prairie Primer in October after we finish our CC Cycle 1. And we will pick up on Cycle 2 in the summer coming. So it works out. Right now I am mapping out our resources needed for the Primer and planning my weekly schedules. I will defintely update you on that as I get it all together. I plan on including a Supplimental African American reading list to go along with the Primer which covers such history topics as The Gold Rush, Civil War, Lousian Purchase, Western Pioneers, Native American history, Woman's Suffrage, etc...
There are some awesome places and people to cover. I will share those in a separate post to come. I am still developing the list now.

One thing I can say about the Primer is that it is full of projects and lots of lessons. I am going to have to try not to do everything but pick just the things that will give us a basic overview due to my childrens ages. We can possibly revisit the Primer again in Jr. High or High School years for even further study. That is why I love Unit Study based curricula cause they are so easy to adapt for many age groups. In house with 4 children and counting(lol! Hey you never know) its good to invest in resuable programs or programs that span large age groups.

Here is a video clip of what I was able to get at the booksale. I forgot like 2 or 3 items in this one but you get the jist.

CC at Home Cycle 1 Week 2


What are the Classifications of living things?
(To the tune of Yankee Doodle)

The Song for this one is found on the same video I posted on Cycle 1 Week 1's Science Section.


Ten Commandments 6-10(KJV)

Thou Shalt...

not kill
not commit adultery
not steal
not bear false witness against thy neighbor
not covet

We used the same tune from last week but we didn't have a video for it. We just made it fit.


After reviewing the definition of a preposition I gave them the first set of prepositions to memorize.





Here is the video we used to help memorize the 3's and 4's skip counting.


This week we did Lesson 2 in Prima Latina by Leigh Lowe published by Memoria Press. For the sake of not committing copyright infringement I am just going to give a brief description of what we covered in there.
This weeks lesson focused on Pronunciation of Latin Consonants. It also went over Latin Diphthongs. For those of you who don't know a dipthong is sometimes two letters that have only one sound. But it was really interesting that by learning this concept in Latin my children who usually struggled identifying a diphthong before now understood the concept really well. I truly am starting to believe those folks who say the best way to learn English Grammar is to take a foreign language. I believe I heard Andrew Pudewa from IEW say that on an audio download before.
We also went over some new vocabulary words and the English Derivatives as well as starting The Sanctus Prayer.

A good resource for vocabulary drilling is this new resource I found in The Old Schoolhouse Magazine  article. FYI I read The Old Schoolhouse Magazine(Homeschool Publication) for free using an App download on my Droid technology smartphone. I think they have it available for iphones as well. But the resource is called Flash Card Machine. I searched Prima Latina and someone already did a series of flash cards for the lessons we needed. So I just used those. They can quiz and test themselves right there on the website. They have an App version for this also but it cost whereas the website is free. You can make virtual flashcards for anything you need. You can even add pictures and clip art.

Assyrian Empire

Red Sea
Persian Gulf
Black Sea

Here is the video for the song for this weeks.

We also did a project this week that went along with the Geography. We made a Mesopotamian Ziggurat. We got the instructions for the craft from a library book we checked out called "Passport to the Past Mesopotamia" by Lorna Oakes. We used recycled cardboard from some flat rate shipping boxes the post office sent to us for free a few months back and we never mailed anything out with it.

Here is a video of the finished product.

Science Project

This week we did Janice VanCleave's 201 Awesome, Magical, Bizarre, and Incredible Experiments #54 and 56.Experiment #54 was called Telegraph Lines. The purpose was to determine how a spider evaluates the size of an intruder. We also got to observe a web that was outside on our patio. So that was pretty creepy. lol! Here is a clip of doing #56 Belly Up which purpose was to determine why dead fish float, belly side up, on the surface of the water.

Art Project

This week theme was Mirror Image.

Warm Up
I found some great warm up sheets on mirror image at Donna Young's site and on Enchanted Learning.

Here are the young artist at work.

The Project was to do a Still life of some objects. The mirror warm up helped them to focus on looking at the symmetry of objects to make sure they draw both sides evenly. We also keep reinforcing the previous exercise on the 5 basic shapes to help them to draw there still life as well.
We got to visit an Art Gallery as well this week so that was another hands on that we were able to add. We tried to point out the 5 basic shapes in the work we saw. They really learned a lot.

Monday, June 11, 2012

CC at Home Cycle 1 Week 1

In our first week of doing Classical Conversations Foundations at home we had a lot of fun. The children really enjoyed getting up in the morning, doing morning chores, breakfast, math, and then sitting down together with out memory board to go over the weekly memory work. Keep in mind that I placed this info on our Memory board and we only spent about 30 minutes 4 times a week going over this information. It doesn't take up a lot of time at all. Now on the 1st day it can take a little longer cause we introducing new memory work so it might need a little more time and the children might have some questions about it. I also used this as a way to help the children in there non fiction book selections at our weekly library trip as well. Here is what we went over for Week 1:


What are the five kingdoms of living things?

We learned this to the beat of to the nursery rhyme "Brother John(Are you sleeping)"
Here is a great youtube clip of two little girls that are doing some great songs and jingles to Cycle 1's Science sentences. I have been using this a tool.


Ten Commandments 1- 5(KJV Version)

Thou Shalt...

  1. have no other god before me
  2. not make unto thee any graven image
  3. not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.
  4. remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy
  5. honor thy mother and thy father that thy days may be long upon the land that God giveth thee

Here is the youtube clip we used to memorize the commandments to.


What is a Preposition?

A preposition is a word that shows the relationship to a noun or pronoun to another word in a sentence.
(I did not use the definition from the Foundations guide. Instead we are memorizing the definition from First Language Lessons by Susan Wise Bauer cause that is what we are using as our grammar program for 1st and 2nd. I didn't want to confuse them by changing the wording of the definition after they already learned it the way I listed it.)


1's and 2's Skip Counting



We didn't do any special chant or song for these skip counts because they are pretty basic. I do have some cleaver little things for the 3's and beyond though. I will share that in the future weeks.


For Latin instead of memorizing the declensions that are in the guide we are doing our lessons in Prima Latina instead. So for this week we did Lesson 1 in Prima Latina.
Its separated into Practical Latin Phrase, Vocabulary, and The Prayer.

So for this week it was:

Practical Latin
Salve- hello(to one person)
Salvete-hello(to more than one person)


The format is the learn the Latin, English translation, and then the English derivative(this part really helps the children to make the connections between there own spoken language and its Latin roots. I totally love this part of the curriculum.)

ambulo- I walk - ambulance
via- road- viaduct
Deus- God- deity
toga- toga
luna- moon- lunar


Oremus- Let Us Pray

The lesson began focusing in on explaining the differences between the Latin alphabet and the English one. They also explained how to pronounce the vowels in Latin as well.


Fertile Crescent Area

Mediterranean Sea
Fertile Crescent
Euphrates Rive
Tigris River

Here is the video for the jingle to memorize this. As we sang we locate and place a treat(raisins, chocolate chips, Cheerios, etc..) on the locations. If you have older students you can have them draw and trace these places as well. Or make a labeled outline.

Art Project

This weeks art lesson focused in on the Five Basic Shapes.

The Five Basic Shapes are:
Straight lines
Curved lines
Angle lines

We start with a warm up exercise and then follow up with a project.

Warm Up
Explore the five basic shapes by practice drawing different variations of the five basic shapes by sizes and length and whatnot. We used a blank piece of unlined paper to practice on. After that we practice making a figure that incorporated all or as many of the Five Basic Shapes as they could.
My oldest made a drawing of a little girl. My oldest son made a snowman.

We used Kids Can Draw African Animals drawing book and followed the diagram to create a Leopard out of Circles, Curved lines, straight lines, and dots.  Here is a video of them using the techniques that they learned.

Science Project

We did experiments  from Janice Van Cleave's 201 Awesome, Magical, Bizzare, and Incredible Experiments.

Experiment # 45 Baby Bean

We soaked some pinto beans overnight. The next day we were able to slip the seed coat off and break open the two halves to figure out what was inside. So it was basically a seed dissection with the purpose of dissecting a bean to identify the parts and learn the function of each part. They did a Scientific Log Sheet that was in the Appendix of the Foundations Guide but you can find some similar to at these links here:

Science Lab Sheet This one is very similar to the one we used.

Science Detective Report This one is for early elementary students.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Classical Conversations At Home

As you know from my previous post about Curriculum Confusion I was able to obtain a Classical Conversations Foundations Guide 3rd Edition on clearance a few months back. This was before the role out of the new 4th Edition that is why I got for so cheap. It was only $15 at the time and the orginal price was $50.

Well for those of you who don't know Classical Conversations or CC for short is a program started by founder Leigh Bortins(author of Echo In Celebration and The Core: Teaching Your Child the Foundations of Classical Education) to help support and enhance homeschoolers in their desire to classically educate at home. There are CC communities all over the U.S. where once a week the students get together and are lead by a CC Tutor in the weekly memory work from the foundations guide in the form of tunes, jingles, and chants. They also conduct a science experiment and have a fine arts portion which changes between drawing, tin whistle lessons, classical artist, and classical composers throughout the year. I have been to visit two different CC Campuses in my local area and I was greatly impressed with the program and set up. Although I totally love the program I was not sold on it for our particular family due to the cost of enrolling all my kids and also me not feeling like I could make the commitment to participate in a once week class every week for 24weeks with a two littles still(my 3yr old and my 10month old). So we were sad about not being able to give this a shot. But when I got a hold of the Foundations Guide I decided to give this a try at home instead.

What better time than this summer to start on Cycle 1 of the 3 cycle Guide. We started last week and if we continue through the summer we will hit Week 24 at the end of October. Which works out perfectly for our family cause our lease is up and we will be moving at the end of October. So we can just keep out the materials we use with the CC Memory Board that I made(pictured below) and our Math books so that I can start getting everything packed up. And then we can take a 2 week fall break and get started in our new curriculum for 2012-2013 school year. So it seems like this is going to work out great. I guess if this goes all well we will started Cycle 2 this coming Summer and Cycle 3 the following. Its turning out to be a great Summer Homeschool Curriculum.

Of course I want to share with you guys what we are doing each week and how we are tweeking it to fit our family and whatnot. So I decided to go ahead and do a weekly post called CC at Home Cycle 1 Week(whatever week it is). So be on a look out for that. I am so excited. The children really seem to enjoy it.

Other than the Foundations Guide we are using:

Drawing With Children by Mona Brookes- Fine Arts
Prima Latina- Latin( I didnt like the way the Latin was set up in the Guide and we were already working our way through Prima so I am just sticking with that.)
Kingfisher History Encyclopedia- History Sentence(Used to look up more information of the history sentence and the timeline sentences)
Janice VanCleave's Awesome, Magical, Bizarre, and Incredible Experiments- Science Experiments( The Guide uses a few experiments from this book so I borrowed a copy from the library and made copies of the pages I would need for Cycle 1.
We are also adding our Hebrew Studies Bible Memory Work in as well( I will do a separate blog to share those resources.)

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Curriculum Confusion!!

Okay for those of you have been following me for a while you all know that I have been loosely following a Classical Homeschool model for the last two school years. I have been very satisfied and happy with my choice up until very recently. I have feel in love with something new. It's the The Prairie Primer(A Year Long Unit Study Based off The Little House Series by Laura Ingalls Wilder). Yet in still I was considering delving further into the Classical Method and truly and exclusively doing Classical.

So you see my dilema is I have basically two directions I could take us in next year and not sure which one is the right one. So let me just break down how I was planning to impliment each path and hopefully it will help me sort through it all to see it written down in front of me. Maybe this could help someone going through a similar issue. I just wanted to take a moment and be transparent and show that I don't always have it all planned out nor have it all together. I think it brings comfort to some of us to here that sometimes.

Lets start with what I was considering doing if we stayed the Classical path first. Here is what we are currently covering this year:

7yr old(girl) 3rd grade
Hebrew Studies/Bible
Math- Singapore Math 2A/2B and intensive practice
Reading- Pathway Readers grade 3
Spelling- Sequential Spelling Level 1(Didnt finish from last year)
Grammar- Rod and Staff English 3rd Grade
Handwriting- Handwriting Without Tears 4/5th Grade Cursive
Latin- Prima Latina Memoria Press
History/ Geography- Finishing African History Study from last year. Almost on to Asia(Note that this is the one area that I tweek that makes our Classical considered Eclectic. But we still studying within the continent study chronologically. But I am considering going the more traditional Classical Path with this as well and doing the 4yr History Cycles.)

5yr old(boy) 1st Grade
Hebrew Studies/ Bible
Math- Singapore Math 1A/ 1B
Reading- Pathway Readers Grade 1/2
Handwriting- Handwriting Without Tears Grade 1/2
Grammar- First Language Lessons level 1
He shares Science and History/ Geography with his sister.

If we stick with this method I wanted to add in Art Study, Music Appreciation and Beginning Recorder, Map Drawing, Formal Writing, and Martial Arts. I know I dont have to do everything every day but with this current schedule trying  figure out how to fit new things into it seems overwhelming. I did purchase a Classical Conversations Foundations Guide that helps to schedule out the extras like Music, Art, and Drawing on a weekly schedule that can take away some of the stress of planning. Recently Leigh Bortins of Classical Conversations updated her Foundations Guide from the 3rd to the 4th edition. So they cleranced out the old ones for $15 each and I took advantage of that. For next year I really find myself wanting to use a really cool curriculum called Mapping the World by Heart for geography. Here is the video on it:

Now this curriculum retails for about 69.99. I just recently missed a 25% discount on Homeschool Buyers COOP a few weeks ago but I was not ready to purchase. Hopefully if we decide to go with it they will have another deal.  I was going to use Rod and Staff for Music Appreciation and Usborne 1st Book of Recorder. I already own the Rod and Staff muic books and the Usborne Recorder book and some basic recorders shouldn't cost me much at all. We already have the Home Instructors Guide for all of next years Singapore Math. So all we need to do is buy the workbooks and textbooks. No matter what method we choose I am going to stick with Singapore cause I am very happy with it. It took a while to find our groove in Math. For our next cycle in Science we should be moving on to Chemistry. I am deciding between Christian Kids Explore Chemistry and Real Science 4 Kids Chemistry level 1.  For latin we will just move from Prima Latina to Latina Christiana I. We have truly enjoyed Prima so far. I have learned just  as much as my daughter. We would stay with Rod and Staff for English 4. They are not hard to find used around my area. The only big purchase that I have to still consider carefully but can be used for years to come is Institute for Excellence in Writing Teaching Writing: Structure and Style curriculum by Andrew Pudewa. I have listened to so many free audio and youtube clips of Andrew Pudewa I feel really sold on this writing program. Instead of making writing a separate subject it shows you how to intergrate the writing into the subjects you are already teaching. It comes with a manual but it is DVD based which is good cause sometimes its easier for me to listen and watch than to read up on something. I already have the Art books that we didn't get around to using this year. The books I still haven't cracked open are Drawing with Children by Mona Brookes and Discovering Great Artist by MaryAnn F. Khol and the Classical Conversations Foundations Guide uses Drawing with Children within the lessons too.  I am not all the way satified with our spelling program so I have to keep looking around for that one. So many people I know have been suggesting that we try All About Spelling or AAS but from what a friend has let me see of hers it is way to teacher intensive for what I had in mind for Spelling. I guess I can still look into Spelling Power  or Spelling Workout which was a suggestions in one of the later editions of The Well Trained Mind. I was also going to start Handwriting Without Tears with my Preschooler and some Phonics as well. But mostly just keeping with the Montessori activities and adding in a few worbooks for Preschool/ Kindergarten by Rod and Staff.

If I decided to continue on with the Classical route that we have been doing it would be easy as far as finding used materials and I have already been doing it. But the downside is as the children get older I am running into issues trying to figure out a Classical Education Schedule that wont overload us. The Cost for next year if I go with this plan would be about $500.00 brand new plus the expense of Martial Arts Classes. But I still have an opportunity for savings at my local Homeschool Conference Used Book Sale and a few local Book Sales.

Now on to my next Choice which is The Prairie Primer. Since it is Unit Study based it will cover things like Bible, some Language Arts, Science, History, Geography, and Art. I would just have to continue on with my Math and Grammar curriculum but everything else should be covered. The plus to this would be the fact that I am teaching multiple children. I feel on love with the Prairie Primer after the children and I listened to Little House in the Big Woods and Little House on the Prairie on audio format in the car a few months back. I was like wouldn't it be great if their was a curriculum that went along with these books. And sure enough as I did an Internet search I found the Prairie Primer. I also found this wonderful blog called We Love the Prairie Primer with a woman who did the entire Primer with her daughters and documented the whole thing and had lots of pictures and supplemental ideas. I also found out they had a an active Yahoo Group as well. The activities in the Primer are truly geared toward the spirit of self sufficiency and old fashioned ways that our family has been moving towards in the past year. So it would definitely enrich our lives to give the children an educational experience rooted in Preparedness and Old Fashioned living. Their are some financial benefits to using this curriculum as well. For all the books, primer, and basic materials it would cost brand new somewhere around $250.00 for the year. So I could stand to save half of my original budget. But knowing me I would probably spend that on extra materials for more hands on projects or an out of state field trip to one of the Laura Ingalls Wilder historic sites. So it really might just even out.

I have got some pondering to do. But I hope make a decision within the next few weeks. I will keep you guys updated on the choice.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Lesser Known Black History: York of the Lewis and Clark Expedition!

Happy Black History Month! This year we have decided to try and focus on lesser known African American contribute rs to the American Story. Well one my relatives sent me an email last month of a video clip with Bill Cosby from a long, long time ago. lol! Well here is the clip:

In this clip one person in particular caught my ear. That person was York from the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Growing up in public school I was never taught much about the significance of the Lewis and Clark Expedition to begin with let alone that William Clark brought along a man servant/slave named York who was instrumental in helping build relationships with the Native tribes as well as being a Master hunter and list of other things. You can find out more about York Here.

If you look at this famous photo here you will notice how he has been there the whole time hiding in the shadows of history. Wow! This is why I love homeschooling. You never stop learning. I love it when my children and I can discover new things together as a family. Its wonderful.

This statue of York's likeness was is erected in Louisville, Kentucky at the Belvedere Plaza overlooking the Ohio River. I find the placement of this statue very significant in the fact that is lies on the Kentucky side of the Ohio River which was the side where there was slavery. He is looking over to freedom on the other side of the River.

I was able to find a few book titles at my Public library on York:

I Am Sacajawea, I Am York: Our Journey West with Lewis and Clark by Claire Rudolf Murphy
In Search of York: The Slave Who Went to the Pacific With Lewis and Clark by Robert Betts
American Slave, American Hero: York of the Lewis And Clark Expedition by Laurence Pringle
York's Adventures with Lewis and Clark: An African-American's Part in the Great Expedition by Rhoda Blumberg

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Living Books The Way I wish I had Learned!

I have had a complete epiphany! Living books are truly awesome. In the homeschool community we have lots of popular buzz words from Unit Studies, Learning Style, Lapbooks, and Living Books. For the longest time I thought I had a clear understanding of what these terms meant in relation to homeschool methodology. Well boy was I wrong. It wasn't until I recently decided to include more read alouds into out homeschooling as I saw that we were lacking since the children started reading independently that started searching for ideas on how to fit all of this reading time into my already packed schedule. That is when I rediscovered the teachings of Charlotte Mason. Charlotte Mason an innovative educator from the 1800's believed that children should be exposed to Living Books and that lessons should remain short and to the point. She believed in exposure to high quality literature no "Twaddle" as she called it.

I was so overwhelmed by idea of adding in all these extra read alouds. At first glance it just seemed like I would be spending the whole day telling the kids  to be quiet and still while we try and plug through all these books. How was I going to do it. I decided to take a step back and just start slow instead of diving in head first and just do audio books. Hey us homeschoolers spend enough time in the car right? LOL! I thought this would be a great way to get something in while on the road and I wouldn't have try and get them to listen cause children stuck in the car are always a captive audience. What else is there other than picking a fight with there sibling cause they touched something on there side of the car.

So what exactly is a Living Book you might be asking. Well until the big Ah Ha moment I use to think it was simply a Classical work of literature. I even thought it was biographies at one point like The Autobiography of Fredrick Douglass or George Washington. Well it is and it is much much more. We started our car audio read aloud session with good old "Little House on the Prairie". Got to love that Laura Inglles Wilder and her adventurous tales of the untamed journey West for the American Pioneer. They Ingles family faced many challenges on there travels and settlement in the new Western Frontier. They encountered everything from raging rivers, malaria, wild panthers, neighboring Native Americans, and scarce food resources. As we listened to the story being told it was almost like we got transported there. I could see the sights, hear the sounds, smell the smells, and even feel the weather. That is when I realized what a Living Book was. It is a telling that takes you exactly to that space and time of which the author has written about and lets you experience life through the eyes of the characters. How I wish I was taught this way in school instead of the dry snippets in my textbooks. Can you imagine how much passion could have been ignited in me at an earlier age had I been taught through living books. I would have been able to make so many connections as to the WHY of certain events in history had I had the back stories and side stories of the folks who lived it and not just the dates and places that left my head as quickly as they entered just long enough to pass the test. Now I am not speaking ill of memorization cause I am a fan of creating memory pegs. But I teach that way with the intention of filling in those pegs with the appropriate explanations and information later on.

So after our whistle was wet with Little House on the Prarrie we moved forward with Little House in the Big Woods. It also became a big hit with the children. So I wanted to seek out more information on those who passionately believe in the use of Living Books. That is when I came across the achieves on The Homeschool Channel of Shirley Solis. She is a Homeschool Convention Speaker and owns a Business Lifetime Books and Gifts  which has lots of good information and literature. Another resource I found about is a book called "Honey for a Child's Heart" by Gladys Hunt. There a are dozens of Living Book resources. They even have a website that has living book resource suggestions for Math called Living Math. Jim and Sheila Carrol founded an entire curriculum program based of living books called Living Books Curriculum(LBC). They have a free newsletter that I signed up for in which I have received great articles on how to do narration and even some audio story links. They had an audio out around Christmas that told the origins of St. Nick. It was really interesting as I have never heard the story before. I also was looking into some more free resources of living books on the Internet since most of them are public domain and came across a few good sites that have some well organized.
Here is the list:

Project Gutenberg
The Baldwin Project
Rosegate Harbor
Librivox(Free Audio Library)

Of course there are many more but these are just the ones I have found. I also want to make clear that although I am changing things up a bit that lean towards more a Charlotte Mason style does not mean that I have totally abandoned Classical Education. I have stayed true to philosophy since the beginning. We have always been Eclectically Classical. I firmly believe in molding things to fit you and not molding yourself to fit a education style. There is lots to learn as far as how to learn best. There are many ways to accomplish your goals. You just got to pick one that speaks to your heart, your children, your lifestyle.
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