Child, wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend

My photo
I love the Lord as much as a broken person can; love and loved by my husband; blessed by 5 amazing little people who have helped me to learn much about me; grateful to serve even more as God gives them to me; blessed every day to be a home school teacher; college student; I hope to change the world by loving as many people as possible, because there is nothing greater than loving another.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Lil' Mother's Photography Ode to Toby

She loves her sweet Tobias.
We all love that sweet tongue. Of course, we all talk to him in baby talk, so we say, we yuv Yobi's yino (rhino) yips...I just love that sweet pink tongue -- it's about a mile long. Why we talk to him in baby talk, I couldn't tell you!
Sweet, sweet Tobias destroys all toys in a matter of days. Lil' booger started devouring his new squeeky football by day two.  Oh, yes, he's on the trampoline. He likes it. He has also dug a monstrous hole under it. Someone once asked if it was sinkhole.
Then...this was our little puppy when we first got him. Now, he is officially over 100 pounds and has redefined BEAST in our house!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Week in Review July 26-July 30, 2010

Well, it's the final week of vaca and I have been putting the finishing touches on school while the children have enjoyed some play, time with friends, and afternoon movie time to avoid the heat. Here are pics of our school house. I say school house because we don't have dedicated school space, it has kind of taken over our home. Funny how it used to bug me to see school everywhere, now it kinda bugs me not to. My goal was to create learning spaces where any child could sit with their backs to the rest of the house and attempt to focus -- it gets kind of loud around here :)

  Lil' Mother helped me with the sewing of curtains, thank you Beautiful, and The Elder Brothers helped me move around furniture and connect electronics, thank you strong young men. It is a real blessing to have capable older children to help with the little, time consuming things. My babies bless me :) and the rest did a great job of playing outside and helping watch the A Bomb while I worked all summer. I am thankful for their faithfulness. 

Otherwise, I've entered our first 7-week session in my planner so I'm ready to go. I have a few finishing touches to complete this weekend, otherwise, it's onward and upward to a great 2010-2011 school year. 

up close of the floral curtain
Our new curtains that will remind me of all the seed planting and blooming we'll discover in the details this year!


Weekly book basket reading selections for science and history.

Piano basket with all music books.

Science discover basket with mini-microscopes, magnifying glasses, and stethoscopes.            
Work station with math focus, especially for grammar school kiddos. The toys, extra clothes and bible videos are nicely stored under or to the side of the table :)
Up close of math helps. We're memorizing math words this year as part of our memory work.
These two boards will be used for spelling and math practice and any kinds of races we have. One is a white board, the other is the chalkboard below. They are separated by a small peek through sun window.
Blackboard and cubby bookshelf for The Little League, with curtain cover ala Lil' Mother.  Notice my pretty baskets up top? Full of markers and magnetic letters for the wee ones. On the bottom of the bookshelf are family school supplies.
under the curtain :)
I removed a white board that was difficult to clean and put up some chalkboard paint. I hate the dust, but it is already an improvement form the tough to clean board. Notice the bookshelves below with curtains?
My "work station" includes our spines for science and history, library books, and my teacher's manuals. Notice my sweet little basket to match the curtains? It holds my markers and chalk. Behind it is my microphone/camera box and a timer. I live and die by those timers!
The Elder Brothers Desk. It is in a small space just off of the kitchen -- a bit quieter than the main room. 
The Elder Brothers Cubby space, still a work in progress. Bard is adding his stuff right now. One or the other of the brothers is generally at work there.
Kids computer work station. There is a strange little space in our house that fits a small desk or averaged sized bookshelf. I decided to make it the computer station, again seeking to give a quiet working space. I still have to buy a hanging light b/c the space is unlit, but the tiny spot is perfect for one person and will work wonderfully to complete their daily computer work. 
Well, now you know why I say school house :) I won't add my desk photos right desk is ONE HOT MESS at the moment! Enjoy your school year's friends.

Wordless Wednesday 7-28-10 My favorite flower, The Mexican Petunia I'm late and it's Friday, but I took these pics on Wed. Does it count?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

An Honest Evaluation

A week or so ago, I read a personal evaluation on one of the blogs I follow. I remember reading the part that encouraged me to do the same and at the time I thought, "I'm too busy planning next year to even think about it, besides, I wouldn't even know where to begin."

Well, the time alone I had last week, actual all alone time of about an hour and a half, was a great time spent in the presence of the Lord, having a very nice talk about school, life and our relationship in general. Here are the things I've seen and heard about our recent school year and the one to come.

Overall, 2009-2010 at Gilbert Academy was about the Big Picture. We spent a lot of time preparing for the big picture of high school. Honestly, that meant a tough year (two years really) for my oldest boys. There were some places I felt like I didn't cover well enough, so I thought it was time to pick up the pieces and make sure they were ready for the whole of high school. In a way, the same applied to the rest of the children, as I reevaluated some past choices and filled in a few gaps before they grew into chasms. So, for the Elder Brothers, we dug deeply into Science, finishing Zoology, General Science and Chemistry in two years time -- that about sums up Big Picture science for them. They will have to audit physics and anatomy this coming year, but I suspect at least the physics will be fun b/c it's very hands on. They still love to build, so that should be a nice break in their upcoming day. The anatomy was briefly covered in Gen. Sci, but they enjoy listening the Fulbright books and the Magic School Bus, so as I read aloud and we watch videos online, they'll join us for good measure.

We also spent a lot of time talking about time management and what to expect in high school and college. College comes quickly around here, as we intend to fully enroll by 11th grade. Free college is a plus for our family and something that my dear husband will appreciate when we are without the burden of college expenses. We also worked really hard on time management skills. This was a tough practice to get in the habit of, especially for Bard, who like his father, is NOT about scheduling, but rather spontaneity. I love that about them, but still find order a must, we'll keep working with him.

I also found math that fits :) That is a relief words cannot express. Finally, we're in a comfort zone in that last area where doubt lingered. WE DID IT!

Finally, as they grow older and we can enjoy some more mature subject areas, we spent a lot of time comparing the World to the Kingdom. This was so joyous, no kidding :) We have listened to more music than one might imagine (love YouTube for this) and talked about serious issues of dating, marriage, life long commitment and working toward a love of life and job and how the two can sometimes combine and sometimes not. We started really watching for their strengths and weaknesses, making them aware of both and showing them how to grow as people and students. We expanded our boundaries and really started nurturing a relationship as people and not just parent and child. It was very fulfilling, if not a little sniffle inspiring. My boys have become young men. I am proud of who they are and pleased and thankful to have spent their entire lives with them as their parent and teacher. I truly look forward to enjoying them as humans and watching them grow into amazing men, husbands and fathers. May God grant me that pleasure, I'd be ever grateful.

Although we spent much time struggling through hormones, I'd rate my end of the year a B+ with the boys. I might have made the A, but I discount points for not handling some topic areas sooner, but don't completely shoot myself b/c I caught the spots and we've fixed them. Since we worked so hard in Latin (finally), I feel like they are pretty ready for high school. We will spend a semester on some middle school logic, but otherwise, they're moving forward at the speed of light, growing taller than I and deeply singing our morning hymns. They are working quite well independently and seem able to tackle the increased workload and level of understanding required for the years to come. Most of all, I've grown as a parent. It's strange the parallels between toddler and teen, yet the requirements of the parent are quite different. I feel like I grew up a bit this year as Mom and Teacher.

As for my girls, I give myself a C. I didn't spend enough time with Diva. She's so darn smart, I tend to rush through her lessons and send her on her way. She deserves much better than that and I miss her. She, like her mother, feeds on people time and I don't feel like I provided enough time for her. That will change this coming year, if it kills me. We plowed through the Phonics Road so I can put here in what I consider the best Language Arts program ever. We're smack dab in the middle of Year 3 now, so we'll move forward very nicely as we enter, gulp, middle school (5th is middle school around here). I can't believe my Skootchie is almost 11. Where did my sweet, rolly baby go?

As for Lil' Mother, we had a great year -- A+. I helped her focus on history discussion and reading speed. What a difference in the beginning of the year to the end. She moved along nicely in all her topic areas and improved as  a student. She did well, I taught her well, and the year was great. She and I are a great team. She has all my good habits and all of dh's good ones too, so she's quite an impressive young lady to me. She's helpful and generally  a lovely person. I hope to really know her as an adult...really know her. She's an excellent student and I'm so grateful because honestly, she makes my life easy. If we have an easy one, she's it...she deserves her own red button :)

I think my favorite part of our year, with both girls,  was learning to mother. The addition of the new Little Leaguers brought the opportunity to grow two Mommy's Helpers in our home --- an answered prayer, really. I always wished for the chance and they always wanted me to have a baby. We now have both and free weekends ;) They have learned how to provide general care and most importantly, they're learning patience and true love for the little people in their lives. It's beautiful to witness and blesses my heart. That's worth many bonus points :)

As for the Little League, Ax Man and The Ant had a fantastic year. We get a A+. Honestly, we kicked butt! Tackling a new student was something else. I'll just sum it up like this...did they do anything in public school Kindergarten? Poor Ant musn't have learned a thing. We fixed that right up, though. I wasn't sure if I'd make it, but by the end of the year, he's on par and striving in Language Arts (his gift, not my teaching). Between Ax Man and The Ant, we moved through PR1 and 1/2 of PR2 and they are both spelling and reading wonderfully. We burned through tons of math with great retention and did a boat load of science and history. We produced not only amazing notebooks, but also retained so much more than I could hope for. I think, in part, I'm just a much better teacher now. They get the benefit of experience. They will have no gaps :)

So, let's hit me up! eh....I really need to work on both of these things. Sometimes, I am not as gracious about their lack of understanding as I should be, so I'll give my behavior a B-. I really need to improve, but still, I handled 6 students successfully and added two littles in December with a short adjustment period. I am amazed at the strength of God that flowed through me and pleased because I can honestly say, I did it. I had a great school year, worked really hard and blessed my family.

So, B+, B+,A+, C, A+, A+. somewhere in the B range. I'll take it and drive my over achieving self towards that A for next year. Diva will get my best and I will add another on the beginning. Next year's theme will be in the details. Details. The one place I know I can improve. I've redecorated the school room with lots of flowers....details will bring the blossoms...the Lord told me so :) I can't wait to smell the roses!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Giving God the glory

I'm a happy person. I am so very grateful for the wonderful family and true friends God has given me. It's a far cry from my childhood and something I take very seriously. I work my tail off home schooling because I want to honor God and offer myself a living sacrifice for His Glory, whereby my walk and not my mouth is my greatest testimony. In the mix of life, I sometimes forget to be still and know He is God and begin to wander in my busy mind about too many things that are truly out of my control: mainly finances and the state of my husband's peace of mind.

We've never had much money, especially compared to American standards, but we've always been rich where it counts most. That leads me to this post. God takes good care of us even though there's no money in the bank. This week, God has blessed me in tiny little ways that have encouraged me that He does and will provide all my needs, down to the tiniest things like removing the binding from school books. I know this, but sometimes, my mind is so busy, I tend to forget. He once told me I was Israel -- wandering the desert, unhappy with my manna, and forgetting He is God. I still struggle with being Israel, but at least for today, I remember who He is, and I am so thankful.

If you don't know Jesus as your savior I can offer this: being under His wing has brought me peace beyond understanding and a sense of wholeness like no other I've ever known; truly, His love reaches far and wide and is indescribable to the point of no words...if you spend time on my blog, you know that "no words" is rather uncommon for this daughter, wife, mother, and sister. May you know Him deeper if you're already acquainted and may you know Him today if you don't already.

Glory to God in the highest, my great Jehovah Jireh.

Sometimes, I'm just hungry

Generally, I follow a pretty solid routine of 3 squares and 2 snacks, and generally, those meals are around the same time every day; but every now and then there is something I just yesterday. All day, as I worked at my desk, preparing for the upcoming school year, I was thinking about mashed potatoes, gravy, and black-eyed peas. I owe my love of southern cooking to a foster parent, Patti. This woman could cook some southern food, let me tell you! She made the meanest cast-iron skillet fried chicken I've Ever had -- even better than Mrs. Winners! She'd then scratch out some buttermilk biscuits, mashed potatoes dripping with butter, and then some sort of tasty greens. MMmmmmmm mmmmm. So, I made a 4:30 run to the store yesterday and had to make some potatoes, gravy, broccoli, black-eyed peas and thinly cut steaks. It was so.very.delicious. So much so, that I had it all, save the steak, for breakfast this morning (insert shy smilely) with a slice of garlic bread and a glass of orange juice. I'll tell you this much...I won't need that morning snack today, that's for sure. Here's a toast...o.j. glass raised, to all you southern cooks out there. God has richly blessed this nation with the vittles of the south. May we eat in peace forever!
p.s. what does it say about me that I have a "tag" on my blog for food...uh-huh...gorda chica!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Physic Unit Study Materials K-8

This isn't quite everything, but you'll get the idea. Some things everyone will use, while others will be used as age appropriate. 
Thames and Kosmos Physics Workshop
Real Science 4 Kids
DK Encylopedia
Usborne Science Encyclopedia
Kingfisher Science Encyclopedia
Magic School Bus Videos
A variety of living books and biographies of famous physicists. 

Boy Scout Camp

My boys had the great pleasure of attending Boy Scout camp for the first time. They traveled by bus to North Georgia for a week in flap tents, surrounded by woods and mountains and boys...lots and lots of boys! The enjoyed archery, canoeing, white water rafting, camping, wood carving, finger-printing and horseback riding merit badges and some good, clean fun with their fellow troop mates. I have to pause for a momma brag. Of the 1100 scouts at camp that week, some 110 or so scouts participated in archery; of those scouts and a few leaders/instructors about 10 people received a "Golden Arrow." The Golden Arrow is awarded to those completing 5 bulls eyes in a row; of those approx. 10 people, 2 of them were Gilberts (INSERT huge proud grin). Bard and Book devourer was narrowly defeated by an instructor for the highest qualifying score by just one point and received not one, but two Golden Arrows. I couldn't be prouder. Rockin' Out Guitar Dude has begun a campaign to go back for 9 weeks next summer as an instructor...we'll see...9 weeks is a long time away from home. I'm not sure either one of us could handle it yet...well, at least me, anyways. Overall, it was one more experience that ranks tops for this family and their love affair with Boy Scouts. We are so fortunate to enjoy our troop and so very thankful for its outstanding leadership. I'm feeling inspired to derive a BSA science program to use in school and for the troop. Time will tell, b/c you know me, it's not like I don't have enough to do already :)

Blog with a Substance Award

Linda at Training 6 Hearts 4 Him and Jesse at Orange Marmalade Mama have kindly bestowed the Blog with a Substance award. This is very complimentary, as both of these blogs are wonderful resources and places where these ladies share a loving heart to serve their families and work hard to well educate their little home schoolers. Thank you both for the props :)

There are two rules:

Sum up my blogging philosophy in 5 words: serve, encourage, educate, explain, appreciate 

Pass this award to five others. 
  1. Julie at 4 Sweet Sisters really does just what her tagline says; she offers a place to create, learn, love and grown and her blog always encourages me that home schooling is about more than academics and how much it matters to manage my home frugally, with love, and for the preparation for my girls as they may someday become wives and mothers, too. 
  2. Jay and Tanya at Take Two Sailing inspires me dually. First, they are both talented writers. I simply love to read everything they write and it soothes my soul because I can "hear" Tanya with each post. This couple and their four wonderful children inspire me with their dedication and sense of adventure -- two things they must sustain while journeying and living on their boat. Lewis and Clark would have loved the adventuresome spirit that lives and breathes in the Hackneys. The only thing I don't enjoy about their blog is the purpose of their blog --- to share their sailing experience --- that means my dear friend is seaside and not nearer to me. Love and miss you, T.
  3. Tracy at 4 Funny Boyz always blogs about the fun stuff. What you might not find is just how rigorously she home schools. She is my local encouragement to reach for academic stars, but to enjoy the journey. She balances her personal goals and family life with finesse, joy, and a deep rooted dose of love and commitment to her 4 funny boyz and her hard working husband. To know her, is to be inspired. 
  4. Laughing Lioness at Golden Grasses is truly the domestic engineer she claims to be! This strong woman of God spins many, many plates and does so with intellect and eloquence. Her blog also reminds me to tend to my own mind -- something I oft' forget and then return to after reading her blog. 
  5. Camille at Little Ducks doesn't even know how much I enjoy her blog and admire her adventures. Ever thought of starting farm life midway through life's journey? Well, Camille and her family are doing it and accomplishing amazing things. Whenever I read her blog, I feel led to the earth, ready to put my hands in the soil and produce. I live secretly imagining I might someday do the same. 
What fun this was! I hope ya'll will find the same joy!

    Sunday, July 11, 2010

    Book suggestions, especially for history lovers.

    A recent thread on the differences amongst history books led me to examine more deeply the variance of lessons in history throughout the history of America. I read first , History in the Making by Kyle Ward From the cover, "What you learned in school about American history is not what your parents or grandparents learned. In this fascinating and illuminating new look at how and why the past itself changes over time...compares how two hundred years of history textbooks have looked at the same historical events in completely different way...Kyle Ward cleverly juxtaposes short excerpts sample from dozen of textbooks -- including those used in the earliest years of the American nation and across the intervening centuries, right up to the present day.  This unique approach draws us back into familiar stories from new and unfamiliar perspective, and introduces a completely new way of thinking about he past."  I enjoyed not only revisiting American history, and was fascinated at the social commentary that one perceives by reading the "standard" set forth in academics over the years.

    A great companion, History Lessons How Textbooks from Around the World Portray U.S. History, also by Ward and fellow historian Dana Lindaman, offers the same format; however, the perspective is that of other nations, over time regarding the history of America. Imagine reading about World Wars from the state standard of Germany -- very intriguing. You'll find different approaches and styles of writing and some interesting ideas that are quite different from the American perspective. In addition, you'll note the differing theories behind educational presentation, necessities, as well as, the influence of a variety of Motherlands on their colonies.

    Truly, a social study of history just as much as a factual one, reading both books will not only bring enjoyment for history lovers, but would also serve as excellent companions to any high school American history study. It will also give perspective on the dumbing down of textbooks over time as you explore the eloquent speech of 19th century America and the simplified versions of modern textbooks.

    As an added thought and user of TOG, I can joyfully and confidently reassure you, TOG is doing an excellent job of painting a solid worldview of American history. These books will surely lend themselves nicely to your TOG studies and will affirm your decision to use a literary, versus textbook, approach to history. Some of the textbook selections are as dry as the Sahara; nonetheless, the overall demonstration of history through the years was a great read and kept me awake far too late into the night.

    Friday, July 9, 2010

    Week in Review July 5-9-10

    Still planning away over here. My summer planning sometimes includes "teacher reading." Basically, that means books that will encourage me to grow in my profession. Today's selection is, The Country Diary of An Edwardian Lady by Edith Holden. It's a beautifully illustrated nature journal full of poetry and wit. A lovely read and a fine example of nature journaling. I will spend an hour or so looking through it with my rising high schoolers so they can see how amazing a nature journal project can be.

    The children continued in their independent studies, with one break through shining through. The Ant seems to be moving along much faster in math facts these days. Hallelujah! Sometimes, what seems like an impossible situation just needs a little time to blossom. He's a blooming math flower right now and the fragrance is everso sweet!

    Happy summer and schooling everyone.

    Thursday, July 8, 2010

    Inexpensive and easy to use Vocabulary idea

    I use a Webster's Vocabulary Skill Builder in this way:

    1. Introduce origin and definition of 4 words of the 8 given in each section. Dictate or copy work for origin and narration.

    2. Narrate or copy sentence I get from the book.

    3. Narrate of copy sentence I create.

    4. Student creates an original sentences for each word.

    5. Student creates an original sentences for each word.

    Test every 2 weeks, as provided in book and use quizlet for flashcard practice and games.

    We'll also Vocabulary Cartoons for some visual fun and the free online visual vocabulary from the website. I'm trying to serve all my learning styles, break the monotony and hopefully make vocabulary as fun as it can be...however fun vocab. can be :)

    Michael Thompson has the top 100 words in classical literature list, which might be wonderful. You could easily divide the words, have him look them up and test on Fridays or follow the model above. We are currently using this list for one of my children who is very strong in humanities.

    Saturday, July 3, 2010

    Keeping Balance in raising a variety of ages and teaching to your hearts content

    It never fails, there are scores of posts about how to manage little ones while educating everybody else. Rightfully so! Few things require as much attention in the home as cooking and toddlers! Babies sleep and we thank you, Dear Lord, for that; but, toddlers go and go and go and go like the Energizer Bunny. You really can't take your eyes off of them. So, we come to the question, "What can I do with my little ones while I'm teaching?" Here are a few things that have worked for me and for my friends.

    Confinement :) Yeah, yeah. Doesn't sound all sweet and probably somehow, very politically incorrect, but in truth, the gentle ideas I'm about to share are all about confinement.

    The booster seat or high chair is your friend. While you're having lessons with one child, put your toddler in a booster and give nominal, time taking tasks.
    • Cherrios in a cup - give a pile, give a cup, give instructions to take them, one at a time, and put them in the cup. If they eat them, no worries. It will keep them busy for a brief lesson. M&Ms or any snack will do, so long as it can be picked up by 2 fingers :)
    • Coloring during lesson, only if the child won't eat the crayons.
    • Water colors clean easily and provide much fun. Fingers work better than brushes for these little hands.
    • Finger paint, better yet, washable finger paint.
    • Play-doh
    •  Textured items like sandpaper, velvet, anything that he can touch and feel the difference. Use the same items during one-on-one time with him and he'll repeat the process on his own.
    Blanket time - train your child to sit on a blanket for as long as you need him to and play with 3 chosen toys. Even a toddler will do this if they understand they must. Period. Firm - yes, harmful-no. Twenty or thirty minutes for a toddler to learn to sit and focus on a few toys, in a small space is a valuable lesson. You may to grab and return many times over and for several days, but the few days of effort will prove valuable. A lesson you'll appreciate when she starts school. Place the blanket about 3 feet from you so you can smile or touch between math problems. It works well.

    Practice whispering this, "Shhhh Mommy's teaching a lesson, we'll talk later. You may not interrupt me now."
    • You really can teach a toddler to sit in circle time, hands in lap, and be quiet while we read this story; or sit and look through your book while I read; or sit and play with your toy while it's story time.
    • As soon as a moment presents itself, acknowledge the little one, but train them to be good listeners and respectful toward the studies of their siblings school time and the conversations of others. It is honestly amazing to see how capable a 2 year old can truly be.
    Mid-morning play time - take everyone out, or at least elementary school aged children out for a 15-min recess mid-morning. Play chase with them, jump rope, climb slides and trees, trampoline, or walk around the block --- not a stroller time! Get that energy out with smiles, laughter, pure joy! You can do anything for 15-minutes! Come in, wash up , get a snack and after a total of 30-min. you have given everyone a nice break, a good laugh, and time together. This will all thrill your little one!

    Focused school during naptime - baby or toddler sleeps, you teach reading and math, or whatever else requires your deep attention and no distractions. Face it, you can train a wonderfully behaved toddler, but you have to keep your mind and eyes on them all day, so do the tough stuff during nap time!

    Potty Train during breaks - It's too important to drop either school or potty training, so don't do them at the same time.

    Special Toy Box - keep a box of schooltime only toys. It makes them feel special and like a big kid!

    Reinforce quiet time for older children, not yet in school, particularly those who no longer nap. Put a timer on for them, allow certain books or toys in their rooms or beds only and they must be quiet. If you can't leave them in a room alone, put them on the couch or a blanket where you can watch. This age group can enjoy all the activities I listed above for toddlers. You can add puzzles to the list. When my daughter was 3, she became a serious puzzle doer. She loved them! Still does, btw and she just turned 12!

    Big Kid Breaks - sorta :) have a middle schooler take the little one(s) out back and play outside for a play break while you work with the 4th grader on math, etc. Everybody taking a break will be happy.

    Big Kids in Life Skills - take a year to teach the life skill of cooking, use your actual cooking time, a special class during school time is not necessary...think Charlotte Mason in the kitchen :) Breaks like summer and holidays are great times to ramp this up. Teach them how to make specific items, you know, the ones you make all the time for lunch and during school days! Then you can say, "Daughter dear, can you please start the noodles for spaghetti for me?" and you have the chance to finish up that reading or spelling lesson. All chores apply to this thinking. Sometimes, having a big kid help out means the difference in enjoying your day and being swallowed by it. 

    Recently, my two oldest asked if they could start doing their own laundry, as the no longer wanted to wait for my laundry day for certain things (teenagers sometimes care what they wear, remember that?). AMAZING what a difference not washing for two children is. Amazing! The burden of laundry has been lifted from me and I'm still washing for five people. Amazing! Learning these life skills prepares them for the real world, taking care of others, self-reliance, etc. You know the saying, "Give a man a fish, he eats for a day; teach a man to fish, he eats for life." or something like that..too lazy to look it up right this minute.

    Anyways, I think my immediate thoughts on the subject are done. I hope these ideas help someone keep more peace and balance in their homes.

    Friday, July 2, 2010

    Teaching Outlining

    Teaching outlining doesn't have to be progressive. When teaching older children, say grades 5+, a little boot camp could be the ticket. Here's my experience.

    I read WTM and added encyclopedia outlining. I was expecting too much from my children, as well as, finding encyclopedias hard to outline. I find they're written so briefly that many points are brought up in every paragraph -- too hard to narrow down. We also tend to narrate much more than one idea, so maybe its just how we learn. Anyways, it was a total disaster. We all hated it, so I dropped it.

    Fast forward, I suddenly had a 5th, 6th and 7th grader who couldn't really outline all that well, hardly, in fact, so here's what I did. I told them I screwed up. I told them in learning about home schooling and trying to put all the pieces together, I neglected to teach them outlining and we needed to have a little boot camp. If they could give me a couple of weeks of hard work, I could show them how easily they could acquire this skill.

    I pulled out a one page essay they had written on a history topic and applied their knowledge of grammar and writing in reverse. I taught them to write a paragraph using a sandwich analogy a couple years earlier. Slices of bread for intro and closing and lots of yummy stuff inside. A good sandwich has meat, cheese, lettuce, tomato, etc. Each edible should be a detail in the paragraph, otherwise, it's just boring meat and bread. Reminding them of their sandwich, I asked for the topic sentence from the first paragraph of the essay and when they told me, I wrote it down on the board as

    I. Topic Sentence (I wrote the actual sentence, although looking at this post, writing the Subject Titles may work nicely alongside the sentences)

    I asked for the first supporting detail and did the same, then the second, and finally the third. I wrote them down, too. Finally, I placed the closing next to the Topic Sentence

    I. Topic Sentence/Closing Sentence

    • A. Supporting detail sentence.
    • B. Supporting detail sentence.
    • C. Supporting detail sentence. (Sorry about the bullets, its the only way they'll stay over enough to look correct)

    I pointed out the structure of the outline and how everything lines up by simply writing a straight line over the words, using a different colored marker.

    On that day, we practiced this together for the entire essay, five paragraphs.

    Day Two:
    We took each of the sentences and pulled out the main phrase or idea of each sentence and re-created our outline, maintaining structure and substance, but taking out complete sentences and leaving phrases.

    We did this for all 5 Roman Numerals.

    Day Three:
    See if you can break down phrases even further to single words.

    Practice this routine together with as many paragraphs, from any writing or book or subject material until they're comfy. It won't take long for them to understand how, then you put it into practice by assigning outlines for their core/spine reading regularly.

    At some point, when they are comfy, consistent, and not finding outlines work (work and not liking are not the same thing, i.e. "It's easy I just don't like it" attitude) you show them that in the same way you tore down their paragraphs in order to learn outlining, you'll now build paragraphs up, coming from the outline.

    You can show them single word or phrase outlines are great for note-taking during lectures.

    Anyways, I hope this makes sense. It's as easy as assigning an outline, once your kids get a couple practice lessons under their belts. Really, it won't be that hard for any of you. Over time, and it took me a while to learn, there are some things that I can teach much quicker than waiting on a program or starting in tiny chunks and staying there for a while. Sometimes, just teaching the whole to an older kid is just as easy as incremental or progressive steps throughout grammar school...some things, not all

    FWIW, I introduced outlining using Phonics Road 2 this year. Some days, we use it instead of narration or coypwork, It makes for a nice rotation of activities and has completely taken any drudgery or fear out of outlining. This go round, I'm using it in parts to whole, instead of whole to parts Trying to grow where I'm planted, ya' know!

    Week in Review June 28-July 2, 2010

    This week has continued our summer lite program of one math lesson, quiet reading, and games. My 2 eldest are jammin' at Boy Scouts, so the house is quieter than usual. I decided I had better kick my lesson planning into high gear, so I've dropped AtG's reading instruction for a couple weeks. We're still reading Moncure, however; I MUST get physics for 4 students planned or I'm gonna be in trouble in a few short weeks! EEK!

    Here's something I love about summer lite ~ more child led learning. It's easy to be so free when I don't have so many subjects to cover. Here's a sample of a beautiful child led morning this week.

    Alexander the Great asked, "Miss Tina, wouldn't it be cool if we had a giant blueberry in the backyard?"

    "You mean like the one from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory?"


    "We could go right out back and take a bite. That's a log of blueberry."

    "Someone could be very big and eat it in one bite."

    "You mean, like a giant?"


    "Their used to be giants on earth, you know."

    "Real ones? Like in movies?"

    "Real people taller than our ceiling.  David fought Goliath and Goliath was a giant."

    I pulled out 1 Sam and read all about young David and Goliath. We calculated just how tall Goliath was and all laid on the ground to see how we were not-so-tall :) It was sweet.

    During breakfast, I showed them the seeds of a banana on its last leg. they were just beginning to brown, so they could really see the seeds. We have been talking about birds carrying seed, dropping poop (boy humor is beloved, Lord help me!) and that there are other ways of seed dispersal since we discovered a vine covered in berries earlier in the week. I pulled out Apologia Elem. Botany, read about seed dispersal. They listened at the edge of their seats.

    This isn't how we always school, but when one day just flows so nicely, you have to stop and love it.

    May you all have wonderful school times where teaching and learning is a pleasure and may we all continue educating ourselves so we can have the confidence to teach best.


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