Preschool craft all-in-one boxes

I went to buy my ds#1 a box of everything-in-one-box crafts for December and found that my source for the last several years was closed. Oh no!

We’ve been lovers of Shirley’s Prepackaged Crafts since dd#3 was about four years old and wanted craft activities several times a week. With other kids to worry about, I didn’t want to have to pull together my own ideas & materials, so Shirley’s all-in-one fit the bill exactly and the price was right for us.

When dd#3 aged out of the crafts, about the time when she started first grade, ds#1 stepped into the spot and started taking over the boxes. Since I don’t get to them as often as I’d like, we sometimes stop our subscription and take some time to finish up old boxes. We are getting to the end of our accumulated pile, so I knew it was time to get back on the list. But a note at her site saying they were closed sent me spinning.

Shirley’s Prepackaged Crafts has closed.

Thank you to all our customers. We will be sending out the November box the week of 10/21/13 and the remainder of your orders sometime in November.

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First Quarter Review

I scheduled this week off from school, knowing we’d need a break about now. It was also the end of our first quarter, so I’d theoretically have time to file some papers, do a little more planning for second semester, put together grade reports, and keep ahead of dd#1 in Latin. After reading Northwood Classical Academy’s First Quarter Review post, I was inspired to write my own.


– She’s got quite a full plate this year – 11 subjects. She is also pretty much working on her own. I start her off every day with some memory work, review of vocab/grammar concepts in her two foreign languages, and then answer any questions she has about her work in the other subjects. I’m only directly teaching her informal logic class.

– She is enjoying her math – although she won’t use the term ‘enjoy.’ This week while we were off, she continued to do math almost every day by her own choice. Part of that is her desire to ‘stay ahead’ of one of her peers who is doing the same math program. Someone remind me that she needs to take a week off when she finishes this book. She has a video teacher, but can ask for help (and does!) when it doesn’t make sense. She just finished the first semester of work and squeeked by an A in Pre-Algebra. Continue reading

Posted in A Beka, activities, curriculum, homeschool, Kids, school year, Story of the World, SWR | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Science & Memory Work

I’ve written before on how we use memory work in our little homeschool, but this year we’re definitely stepping it up a notch.

Our memory work usually contains poems, Latin chants, Catechism questions, and prayers. However, I decided to purchase Classically Catholic Memory (CCM) and we’ll be adding in some of their history & science memory work to serve as ‘pegs’ for all the information we’re studying.

This year, the “middle students” (dd#2 & dd#3) are going to be putting together lapbooks as part of their science activities. We’re studying Earth Science and I just couldn’t find a spine that I liked. We’d used Time’s Planet Earth before, but it lacks a conversational component. I knew I wouldn’t care for A Child’s Geography:  Explore His Earth, but I couldn’t help buying it to make sure. (Yep, definitely wasn’t my cup of tea.) I ended up pulling all sorts of things together – including quite a bit of the Science memory work from CCM. 

There are 17 different memory pieces to memorize in the first half of our school year just for our Earth Science studies. They range from simple (seven continents) to more complex (like listing the layers of the atmosphere by name). One is quite long:

“The tallest mountains on earth are all part of the Himalayas. The highest is Mount Everest on the border of Nepal and China, followed by K2 on the border between Pakistan and China. Mount McKinley in Alaska has the highest mountain peak in North America.”

That isn’t one from CCM. I added it because I thought it would be good for them to know.

Our topics will start out with an overview and some basic geography/map lessons (including blobbing!). The memory work for that includes a list of the Great Circles (Equator, Tropic of Cancer, Tropic of Capricorn, Arctic Circle, etc.). We will cover the continents, land-forms, and water forms (including memorizing a list of common ones).

Then, we’ll drop into the earth’s layers and hit plate tectonics and earthquakes, including memorizing the types of faults. That seems like it will lead right into mountains (types & the listing of the tallest) and volcanoes (types).

We will move to oceans (memorizing the common names of the oceans of the world) and that will lead into a study of the water cycle. We’ll touch briefly on wind, then swing right into a study of the earth’s atmosphere (memorizing the layers by name).

We’ll take a break to dig into rocks & minerals (types of rocks, samples of each type) and end with a weather study (types of clouds, things meteorologists measure).

Second semester is for Astronomy. We won’t have as much in terms of memory work as we’ll be using Apologia’s Astronomy book with Elemental Science’s Lapbooking Through the Solar System. I think the memorization list includes types of stars, names of the planets in order, and a few other tidbits (moon phases, maybe?).

Here’s hoping for a fun & brain-ful year!

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End of summer, back to school

My children are on a long-promised break from any school work right now. They will have three full weeks off before starting back up after Labor Day with a full school schedule.

Over the summer, they did swim lessons (dd#3, ds#1), went to camp (dd#1 & dd#2), swam at the pool (all), worked their way through some typing lessons (dd#1, dd#2, dd#3), played t-ball (ds#1 & ds#2), calculated their way through some math lessons (dd#1, dd#2, dd#3), participated in karate & a couple of tournaments (dd#1, dd#2, dd#3), wrote to friends via snailmail (mostly dd#2 with a couple notes penned by dd#3), participated in gymnastics (dd#2 & dd#3), memorized their times tables (dd#2 using Xtramath), and played outside a lot (all).

I’m spending these two weeks cleaning, decluttering, readying the school room, and getting those last-minute school plans in place. We’re also trying to get in a few more ‘summer’ activities like one more trip to the zoo, a playdate with friends, and some fun baking!

Hopefully in the next couple of weeks, I’ll post some highlights of what we’ll be doing this year. In the meantime, I updated our “What we use” and “About my kids” pages if you want to peruse them.

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Story of the World (with tag alongs!)

We began our formal romp through (world) history when oldest was in 2nd grade & dd#2 was in Kindergarten. Story of the World #1 (SOTW1 or “Ancients”) is geared for grades 1st-5th, so we started there.

I added the Activity Guide with its discussion questions, narrations, coloring pages, map work, and, as the title suggests, activities! While the maps didn’t really do much for dd#2 at the time, the story-telling way of learning history really did make an impression.

Fast forward to this year. Dd#2 is now in 4th grade and doing her “second round” of SOTW1. I had my doubts as to how much she would really remember from the first time through other than the double-handful of stories she brings up whenever something related pops up (like nomads, Dido‘s Cloak story, the story of how Alexander the Great got his horse BucephalusBull Jumpers, etc.).

I’ve been really amazed at the connections she’s able to make (between civilizations or what actions certain groups take because of what happened to them previously), the deeper understanding of the Big Picture (both geographically & chronologically), and the literary references she’s run across in the past four years that stemmed from something that occurs during this time frame  Her reading ability is obviously much better now, so she’s able to tackle books that I don’t have time to read aloud. This allows her to get more details of this time in history – whether it be non-fiction or historical fiction.

*in Best Infomercial Voice* But that’s not all!

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Quitting Cold Turkey — Thumb-Sucking

So, as I’ve blogged before, youngest is my one & only thumb sucker. As we’ve noticed his baby teeth bulging out somewhat and how the cuteness factor (for others) of thumb-sucking decreases with increased age, dh & I have discussed our options.

We purchased some Thumb Guards last summer and actually tried them briefly before he turned three years old. (The TG people say not to use them with kids under three because they are more likely to switch to finger-sucking or be able to get out of the guards themselves.) It wasn’t the right time to try them.

Fast forward to last month when we were trying to potty train the little guy. (I know, he should already be trained since he’s three. He’s not. Deal with it!) After a couple of days of almost constant success, he decided he really didn’t want the hassle of using the facilities. Continue reading

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Writing Magic – Creating Sparks

To give (me and) my oldest a break from Classical Writing Homer, we started this second semester with Gail Carson Levine’s Writing Magic: Creating Stories that Fly.

My dd#2 loves to write stories but struggles to finish them. There are other parts to the writing process she hasn’t grasped yet, so I thought she would like to join dd#1 for some writing.

Writing Magic is set up with 30 chapters, each covering a different idea, topic, challenge, or bit of advice about writing. It is not meant to be a book that read all the way through in one sitting. Except for the first one, each chapter ends with “writing time.” (The first chapter starts with writing time.) Sometimes there will be one writing prompt. Other times, there will be two (or more!) prompts and occasionally there will be an extra assignment on top of the creative writing.

Mrs. Levine says that she volunteers as a teacher of a creative writing workshop in her hometown. This book is her way to share what she’s learned from teaching those classes about writing and how it “gets into trouble” [pg 7].

We usually do a chapter each day (four times per week), but when there is an extra assignment or multiple writing prompts, we’ll take two or more days. We only spend thirty (30) minutes on this daily, so our in-class writing is limited to about twenty (20) minutes. This isn’t always enough, so I encourage the kids to go back to their stories later to finish them up. This is hard to do, so if you plan on using this book, you might want to schedule its use when they have plenty of time to write afterwards.

We just finished Chapter 17 – Stuck!. The idea behind this chapter is so you know writing will never be perfect, not to expect to be great at it when you are just a beginner (corollary:  it takes practice to get good), and give you ideas on how to get out of a situation where you don’t know what to do next. The writing prompt gives you a story set up where the main character has a perfect life. Your job is to write twelve (12) possible disasters that can set her off on an interesting story. Then, pick one (or more) and turn it into a story.

This turned into something of a family affair. My darling husband overheard me reading and got in on the game. Here are all of our ideas — the good, the bad, the silly, and the insane. (You may borrow any of them. Just send us a copy of your published book!) Oh! I should mention that there were details to this person’s perfect life & what was going on. You’ll be able to figure those details out when you read enough of the ideas.

1) Car accident on way to graduation.
2) She meets a cool boy at camp.
3) She pees herself on the stage and dies from embarrassment.
4) Her father has a heart attack and dies during pictures after graduation.
5) Her mother meets an old friend at graduation and is never seen from again.
6) Her parents have big news:  they are pregnant.
7) During the graduation, the Chinese invade the USA.
8) At camp, she is thrown from her horse and breaks her neck.
9) Her boyfriend quits talking to her.
10) While at camp, her house burns down.
11) On the way to graduation, her father reveals that he lost his job months ago and they can’t afford camp.
12) Drawn in by a recruiting poster, she joins the Navy.
13) The Greek god Zeus steals her from the graduation stage.

1) She falls off her bike at camp and breaks her leg and back.
2) Her boyfriend dies.
3) Her boyfriend gets taken hostage.
4) Her parents divorce.
5) She forgets her suitcase.
6) She gets captured.
7) She becomes a thief.
8) Her friends get sick and later move away.
9) She gets sprayed by a skunk.
10) Her boyfriend likes another girl.
11) Camp gets cancelled.
12) At her graduation, she gets mortally embarrassed.

1) She gets blown up by a bomb.
2) The boyfriend says she has dumb hair.
3) When she gets home from camp, her parents have another child and don’t want her anymore.
4) Her clothes fall off at graduation and she’s so embarrassed, she dies.
5) A giant toad wants to marry her.
6) A giant brick falls on her head.
7) She goes crazy.
8) She is put in a pit full of lions and devoured.
9) She runs in a race and trips.
10) She acts like a pig and then a butcher with bad eyesight kills her and her mom & dad eat her as bacon.
11) She “passes gas” in front of her boyfriend and he is pushed two feet off the ground.
12) She grows a pig nose.
13) She goes on stage and forgets her line. She turns and runs.
14) All her adult teeth fall out.

1) She is caught picking her nose and fired from her camp job for being a bad influence. When she calls home, she finds out her family has rented out her room for the summer and doesn’t have room for her anymore. The story has spread and no one will employ her in her hometown. her boyfriend claims he knows no one by her name.
2) Camp has a fire the night she shows up and all evidence points to her having set it.
3) She is walking across the stage to graduate and breaks her leg. She can’t do camp that summer.
4) When she’s driving to camp, her car runs off the road and she has to hike to civilization. The camp figure she’s a no-show and goes on without her. she’s gone for months and no one misses her. Her boyfriend figures she’s moved on without him and gets a new girlfriend.
5) When she’s driving to camp, she picks up a hitchhiker who kidnaps her.
6) Her parents announce they are divorcing and there will be no “home” to come back to at the end of the summer. Mom is going to Europe. Dad is moving to India. She gets to camp and finds out it has been cancelled. No way to contact parents for three days and no home to go to.
7) Gets lost on the way to camp and ends up taking a spaceship to Mars.
8) Truck breaks down on the way to graduation. She doesn’t make it in time & school won’t give her a diploma. Camp won’t let her work there without it.
9) A tree falls onto car on way to graduation and kills parents. Seriously wounds character.
10) Tornado during graduation. Separates family & destroys camp.
11) Bags get mixed up and she has to do camp with old lady’s fat clothes.
12) World War III breaks out during graduation. Bombs drop. Chaos ensues.

There has to be at least one that has promise in that list, right?

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