Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Curriculum I Love: Year 1

              Hey--it's been a while!
Okay, we are into our second year of homeschooling.
It is hard but also really fun.
We are all learning alot.

I thought it would be fun to share what curriculum we used last year, and then I will do a separate post on what I am using this year.
I LOVE looking up homeschool curriculum.
There is amazing stuff out there, and I have $1000 to spend each semester on pretty much whatever I want (unless it mentions creation, Jesus or God--you can't talk about those crazy things on public charter's dime, silly!).

So here's what I did our first year of homeschooling:

 Oak Meadow Grade 1:

Oak Meadow is a full, Waldorf curriculum.  I thought this would be perfect for my very right-brained child.  It was nice, but it was also quite simple.  There were lots of fairy tales to read, and they all had kind of similar endings, which she got bored with. Also, she was not interested in the recorder or learning to knit, which is a big part of the curriculum.  The curriculum is very relaxed, and I was looking for a bit more rigorous math. There are a lot of nature walks and nature crafts, which didn't work for us desert-dwellers.
On the plus side, this is beautiful, slow-moving curriculum that you can really expand if you want.  We loved the science aspects and really loved the art! I chose not to use it again, because it was a bit too slow--but I would love to try it as a summer enrichment program!

Moving Beyond the Page, Ages 8-10

I can not say enough good things about this curriculum-in-a-box.  It is such a good set-up for a first-time homeschooler.  It is a literature-based curriculum, which I love! We didn't get through the whole year, since there is so much reading.  Each book is paired with either science or social studies.  For example, we read the Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe and talked about good/evil and heroes/villains in history.  I just love this stuff!  The science is amazing, too--they send you everything you need for your experiments, down to paper clips and tweezers!
My only complaint is that the language arts was a little weak. It does include vocabulary but not too much sentence or writing instruction, which is why I chose not to use it this year.
Bonus--I read all the books out loud to all my kids, so it worked out well.  My 1st grader did the science along with us.  We read so many good books and did so many neat projects! 
My favorite was the homemade teepee we made after reading Sign of the Beaver.
Or maybe it was the borax crystal snowflakes while reading Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe?
Love love love!

 Singapore Math, Standards Edition, Grade 3

I love Singapore Math--it is rigorous, but also such a fun format.  There are lots of word puzzles along with math.  Cash learned alot from it, and I am starting Coco on it this year! Singapore has the best math scores in the world, so this is the American adaptation of the curriculum.  I do not use the Common Core edition, since I don't understand most of it! 

For health, we used this book, which my kids loved. At the beginning of the year, we traced outlines of their bodies, and then each week, we would add one or two body parts and talk about them. KidsHealth.org has corresponding short videos on Youtube that we supplemented with. My kids loved this!

For geography, we learned about the fifty states.  We used this coloring book to talk about the states.  Each page has information on its population, state flag, bird, etc. We also learned this song, which was fun.

For spelling, grammar, and reading, we used www.k12reader.com  It's a free website that has weekly spelling words for each grade, along with coordinating reading comprehension pages and grammar sheets.  I also use a lot of www.education.com and www.teacherspayteachers.com 
for free worksheets.
We also memorized about five poems.
I didn't really latch on to a history curriculum last year.  Instead, I made a "Hero Wall" on our living room wall, and each week, we would add a few heroes' pictures and write why they are important.  I liked that approach and want to do something similar this year.  I am all about visual learning!
We also did lots of animal explorations, where we chose an animal and learned all we could about them.  My kids love to do this and will make posters or books about animals.

My kids also took piano lessons.  Coco started horseback riding mid-year, and Cash participated in a kung-fu class.  Both kids also did book club and homeschool sports days. Hands down, I think the most important and successful thing we did last year was read aloud and do activities to go along with the books.  My kids love this!
I look forward to reading a lot with them this year, and I got a ton of new curriculum that I'm super excited about and will share soon!

Friday, March 13, 2015

Things that are making me happy this week!

    It's Friday!
I had a really great week, thanks to a new couch and lots of sunshine!
Here are some more things that made me super happy this week!

1.) The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

 This is a new show on Netflix (produce by Tina Fey and her husband) about a girl who gets rescued from an Apocalypse cult after fifteen years and adjusts to a new life in New York. I actually find a huge part of the show really annoying (her gay, super dramatic roommate) but love how positive Kimmy is in every episode and all the bright colors she wears. Just a fun twenty minutes, and I love the flashbacks to how they entertained themselves in their underground shelter.

2.) My first grader is studying Sea Life and was coloring a picture of a manatee.
She asked me what color it should be, and I grabbed a random grayish crayon from the box.
Look what the color was called!

So perfect! What timing! We all got a big kick out of that :)
3.) Mustache Baby
We got this book from the library last week, and I have read it to my 3 year old at least a few times a day since then.  He has it memorized, so it is so cute to hear him read along with me. This book is adorable!

4.) My 1 year old's third word is "Batman". It is the cutest..he says it after his siblings  sing the theme song.

5.) My 8 year old's first book hangover!  My oldest son has been tearing through the Underland Chronicles and has read all 5 in the past two months.  I let him read as long as he wants in bed (homeschool perk!), and he came into my room late last night having finished the series. All day today he has kind of moped about wondering what he should read next. Underland is written by the same writer as Hunger Games, so he thought he would stick with the same author and read her next books. Um, no, never. 
It still makes me happy to see that he is experiencing the kind of mild sadness you get after finishing a really long, great book. 

So many good things! Spring is coming!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Reading Challenge 2015!

I love to read, but I tend to read the same things over and over:
a.) Food memoirs 
(other people's business plus recipes? Two of my favorite things!)
 b.) Books by my tried and true authors (like Dave Eggers or Elizabeth Berg)
c.) Novels that are getting lots of hype 
(the best ones seem to be by first-time novelists)
d.) Cooking/health/parenting books
e.) Books about to be made into movies 
(I will read pretty much any book so that I can justify overly criticizing the movie)

Books I don't usually go for:
Philosophical, non-fiction, murder mysteries, Jane Austen and similar classics, books with disturbing subject matter (obviously), and biographies
In an attempt to branch out,

I can think  of a few books already.
Book I should have read in high school? Frankenstein or Scarlet Letter
Book my Mom loves? Walden 
Book everyone has read but me? Outlander or Unbroken

Take this challenge with me...or maybe recommend some books that would work?
  The fun begins!
Saturday, January 3, 2015

14 Things I Loved about 2014

      I know I haven't blogged much lately, but I just love New Year's roundup posts. I definitely do NOT want to have 15 resolutions in 2015, but I thought it would be fun to look back at 14 things that made me happy in 2014!

1.) Having a baby! Arthur Conan came on Groundhog's Day and Super Bowl Sunday and has been my squishiest, easiest baby yet. He is such a cuddlebug--2014 was daily baby love fest!

2.) And more babies! I got two more nephews and a niece this year. They are all adorable.

3.) We started homeschooling! We are still finding our rhythm, but I have loved having all of my kids with me everyday.  We are doing lots of science, reading, and exploring. We are going through a homeschool charter school, so my kids still participate in activities like horseback riding and martial arts. It has been so fun!

Coco making butter after reading Little House in the Big Woods
4.) My bed! I was going to say that we are in a rental house after living with my parents for 2 years, but all I really care about is that we have a king sized bed!  Considering at least one child ends up in bed with us every night and the fact that we have slept on a full-size bed for the past 3 1/2 years--I am so so thankful for a big bed! 

5.) My serger! This was the one thing on my wishlist for the past 2 years, and my hubby got it for me for my birthday. I love it so much--I use it every time I sew, and it is super fast. This pretty much changed sewing completely for me!

A serger finishes all your seams--if you look inside your clothes, they were all finished with a serger. Less ironing, hemming, and folding. Perfect.
6.) Our van! We got a used Toyota Sienna last January, and it is so nice to have a running, working vehicle that fits all the car seats. I love it.

7.) Seeing lots of family and friends this year. Obviously :) The blessing of living in California is that we have lots of loved ones here.

8.) Children's Book Club. We started having kids' book club with a few other families, and it has been so fun.  Before this, I never finished reading a novel to my kids, but now, we all love reading time.  As a result, we watch much less tv, and the kids think of little projects to "show and tell" for book club time. So far, we have read The Borrowers, Matilda, Gregor the Overlander (reading now), Danny the Champion of the World, and the Mouse and the Motorcycle.

9.) My husband has started strumming! I have had a guitar for 11 years, and this year, for the first time, my hubby finally decided to learn some songs on it! It makes me so happy to see and hear him strumming away and watch as he learns new skills (and super happy that I can teach him a little). Music is a huge part of my life, and I grew up always hearing my Dad on his guitar--so this brings me great, great happiness :)

10.) This movie. It's rated R for what? 4 f-words (which I hear when my neighbors are talking outside soo..) I loved it. The music is perfect; the ending will make you cry with happiness; and the main actor looks like my little brother.

11.) This book.  This was probably my favorite this year--I just loved it and loved the ending, which might make me a bad person? You'll have to read it to see...

12.) This quote. 

13.) This makeup.  Nothing make you feel better than lip stain you get for $1 at the drugstore that you actually love!! (not sure why it's so expensive on Amazon...)

14.) This soundtrack. We went and saw Into the Woods, and the soundtrack is kind of charming/kind of annoying...but when your two year old walks around the house singing, "I wish to go to da festi-baal!", it is the cutest thing ever.

So goodbye 2014! Thank you for all the little joys :)
Saturday, November 1, 2014

Watch, Read, Listen!

So turns out that 4 kids means way less time on the computer :)
 I am okay with that--I have been reading a lot more than usual lately, and I am patting myself on the back for getting un-hooked from the Internet.
Now only my husband is addicted to Pinterest .
Here is some good stuff that I've been loving!


     I can't find any good shows!  And I can't stay awake through movies! Boohoo. So here is my ADD short-clip watch list on Youtube: Good Mythical Morning, Studio C, and Jimmy Fallon clips like this.
Here is a good one from Studio C :)

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes.  I love this book! I don't buy books, but I would buy this one just to read it over again (and I don't re-read books).  This is marketed as a romance, but I actually think this book is a Beauty-and-the-Beast-best-friendship-type story, if the beauty is a neurotic, immature English girl and the Beast was a grumpy quadriplegic.  It's a little controversial in that a main topic is assisted suicide, but I really loved the ending and the writing.  It gave me the warm and fuzzies!


Nico and Vinz's When the Day Comes.
The music video is 6 minutes, but it's probably the best music video ever.
The actual song is about 3 minutes, and I like to play it in the mornings to start our day.


Monday, May 12, 2014

Pattern Testing! : The Alder Skirt

              Last week, I got to be a tester for Imagine Gnats' new skirt pattern, the Alder Skirt!

 Why yes, I will show you cell phone pictures taken by a 5 year old in the bathroom :)
(Where is my camera?  I haven't seen it since we went to the beach!)

This was a really fun, fast sew!  I made it up in a kind of heavy cream corduroy I had, and I like the weight--but it would be so awesome in something much lighter weight, too.
I sewed a size 8, which fits perfectly, and I love how the back has some shaping with back darts.  The pockets are my favorite, though.

I have been wanting to sew a lot, so pattern testing gives me the deadline I need to get something finished.  It is really really hard to pull out the sewing machine--not because I have a 3 month old (he is a great sleeper and goes to bed now at 8)...but because I hate lugging my sewing machine onto the kitchen table and spreading stuff everywhere. If I ever get a table just for sewing, I have a feeling I would get a lot more done!
On the plus side, less sewing means more reading, so I guess there's that :)

Anyways, you can purchase the pattern here.  I highly recommend it!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Watch, Read, Listen!

I haven't done one of these for a while, and I love reading other people's...so
here are my latest media loves!


  Our latest Redbox rental was: The Way Way Back, which I liked!  I love Sam Rockwell, and he plays a great role in it--so I enjoyed it.  The movie is a little sad throughout but has a good ending.  It is a teenage summer/family drama.
  Also, I have watched this sketch a lot lately--so funny! (Be careful clicking on any other Key and Peele clips, though, as some are really vulgar.)


  I jumped on the bandwagon and read Divergent.  I loved it.  I was sad when it ended.  I watched the movie trailer like 5 times.  I started the second book the next day. It is your very-popular violent-female-protagonist-in-a-dystopian-society teen fiction.  Such good brain junk food!  And, I thought, much better than the Hunger Games.


    I really like cover songs, and this one by the Gregory Brothers is my favorite lately:

Plus, it is done by brothers, which is awesome! 
On a side note, Quincy's favorite song lately is Shakira's Waka Waka, which is equally awesome but is getting less and less awesome the more I am begged to play it.


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