Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Yay, my blog is pretty now!

Thanks to another blog I read, I discovered some beautiful blog backgrounds at http://blo64rt.blogspot.com/

The backgrounds are so unique and wonderful, all kinds of styles and types. I found the perfect one and I love how my blog looks now. I was tired of it looking rather blah and not like "me". Someday I guess I should make the time to learn html and make my own. But until the time when the day can extend beyond 24 hours, that isn't going to happen. ;) I must rely on the expertise and talent of those that do such wonderful work.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Getting the show on the road

It's that time of year again, time to get things going with a new school year. We do school year round, but we go lighter in the summer, not as formal as we do during the rest of the year. I usually spend the summer having the boys work on the basics (math, reading, writing, etc) while I  spend the time researching curriculum, making purchases, making lesson plans and getting the school room organized. Since we are taking a different direction with our teaching methods this year (switching to the Charlotte Mason style), that demanded some projects on my part. Well....okay, I'll be honest, I WANTED to do some projects. ;)

Since we will be doing lots of notebooking/journaling this year, I got the idea to create a notebook for the boys for geography and nature study. Sure, I could've just purchased a binder and filled it with paper. But what's the fun in that? No, I had to go dig through the craft stores for travel and nature related scrapbooking paper and stickers. I had the idea to cut out rectangles of cardboard then glue on the paper and stickers to make covers, followed by punching holes in the covers and using binder rings to make "books". My mom had done this a long time ago when she was a nursery director for church, she had made a story book for the children and they loved it.

I just completed the projects today after spending all day Tuesday printing up piles of free notebooking pages, cutting and gluing and getting pretty irritated with the whole process. It didn't turn out just how I wanted, but the boys love their books and I guess that's all that matters in the end. I'll post some pictures when I get a chance to take them.

I'm really looking forward to using the nature study books. I found some nature scavenger hunts that I printed up and included in their notebooks, they are looking foward to doing those. I was hoping to find some gardening related pages as the boys had planted a late season garden at their grandparents' house, but couldn't find any free pages. Someday I'll have to find the time to sit down and create my own pages. I did find some pages for weather watching, bird watching, sky watching, nature walks, leaf/tree/flower identification and just general notebooking pages. Fall, winter and spring are so wonderful to see in our area, I know the kids will get lots of use out of their notebooks.

Probably the single most exciting aspect of our new school year is that our daughter will be joining her brothers in school and start doing some preschool activities. She'll be 3 on the 14th of August and can't wait to "do school" with the boys. What makes this exciting is our daughter will be the first of our children to be homeschooled from the beginning. Both her brothers had gone through a few grades of public school before we had found out that we could homeschool them despite their disabilities. The boys are very excited to have their little sister join them. We'll see how long that really lasts, lol!

I will end this entry on that note and get myself back to the task of completing lesson plans, chore charts and getting the school room organized. I have a beautiful stack of brand new school supplies just waiting to be put in their proper places. Once I get everything set up and ready to go...I give it a full week before the place is trashed. ;)

Must be my lucky day. :P

I am not at all technically-inclined. I can operate technology, but that's the limit for me. If something goes haywire, it's time to put in a call to my brother (who is a computer tech) or my husband (who has a nack with fixing technology). I can search help forums and FAQS until I can't see straight anymore and I still won't be able to find a solution to the issue.

So it was with great suprise (and a little bit of pride) that I was able to figure out, all on my own, why I wasn't able to leave comments on other blogs.

Yes, folks, I am just a bit pathetic, lol!

Friday, January 28, 2011

A Quick Look To The Future

Always in the back of my mind is which direction to lead the kids with their schooling. I'm always keeping my eyes and ears and mind open to the possibilities of what's out there and what may fit the boys better. On top of this is the nagging reminder that our daughter's third birthday is drawing ever closer, which of course means *gasp* we will have a preschooler to teach as well as our elementary age children. Goodness, another thought has hit me...our oldest son will technically be a middle-schooler come fall!!!! Yikes, when did this happen, lol!

With three children to teach, Josh and I have taken a good hard look at the options available and first of all, we know that we are definately going to continue homeschooling. Public school is not an option at all and due to it's cost, neither is private school. So with our hearts and our minds firmly set to continue down the homeschooling path, next decision is which direction to go. Do we continue with the eclectic mix of curriculum publishers and hope it works? Do we go with a "boxed" all-in-one curriculum/single curriculum publisher? Do we go with a "free" curriculum, utilizing our public library and home library and any and all online freebies we can dig up? In addition to these questions is the question of which method do we use. Do we go classical, Charlotte Mason, unschooling, unit study, or something else entirely?

We decided to follow the Charlotte Mason method and chose to follow the online curriculum Ambleside Online. We like the layout of the curriculum, the booklist, everything. I have read some, not yet all, of Charlotte Mason's books and her ideas and methods click with me. I have not had any questions as I've read her works, it all makes perfect sense and it is exactly the way I want to teach our children and I feel they will thrive, special needs and all.

So the joy of searching for the various resources began. I am a paper person, I like to have a written or typed copy of things in my hands to make notes on and referrence back to without having to rush to the computer every single time I need to look at something. This meant a trip to the store for a new black ink cartridge as I was out. I printed out the booklists for Year 0 and Year 1 then the weekly schedule for Year 1 and last, but not least, the corresponding schedules/lists for nature study, composer study and artist study. I found a good sturdy binder in my supply box downstairs and a set of brand new index tabs. My AO binder is now put together including a notebook for additional notes and thoughts and ideas, also for writing down price comparisons for books and whether or not a particular book is available at the library or not.

Next is the search for what I can find at the local public library and what needs to be purchased. So far, our public library has been a dissapointment. The vast majority of the recommened/required books are classics and our library has very few of them. It's very sad that public libraries today are setting aside classic literature for current trends and fads. I guarantee I could find any number of vampire and werewolf books, but good luck finding a copy of Aesop's Fables or Grimm's Fairy Tales. I have taken to scouring the local thrift shops in search of good old fashioned story books for my kids as they are just no longer available at the library. Even when our younger son was in public school, he was having a hard time finding books about things he wanted to read (he loved non-fiction books more than anything) and good classic stories rather than the latest popular series. Now, I have nothing against reading the current popular books, everyone needs to have some fun and read something silly and enjoyable. I mean, we enjoy watching the modern cartoons as much as a good documentary. But I want that to be a treat, not a steady diet.

I was lucky to find one book for free for my Nook. And many of the books are available for free online and as they are public domain books, you are allowed to print them off for your own enjoyment and use. This will be helpful, although I will admit to wanting to get my hands on my own copy of some of these. As I said before, I am a paper person. I am getting used to my Nook, but I still love the feel of a book in my hands. I have been a voracious reader my entire life, to use the Nook somehow just feels like cheating.

So I have my list of books I would like to have and the adventure begins to search the thrift stores, library sales and yard/garage sales for these books, as well as a continual search of Ebay and other options. The hunt has begun! Though it may be sidelined for a short time as I have now discovered the fact that laser printers have become very affordable, lol!