A Charlotte Mason homeschool......

A Charlotte Mason homeschool
with a sprinkling of Waldorf, a dash of Classical, and a healthy dose of rabbit trails.....

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


I keep forgetting to link back to the blog that started this  boot camp thing. Pam, over at Everyday Snapshots started the Homeschool Mom's Boot Camp.

I'm a little behind in meeting my self imposed deadline. I don't really mind, because I'm way ahead of where I would usually be. Saturday morning I was not quite ready to firm up my new curriculum choices. Then the day got BUSY. Sunday I knew we would be out most of the day, but I expected to be home late afternoon and knew I could work then.

Now, I'm not going to place blame or anything and really, I suppose I played a role in it as well. However, the one doing the driving (no names, but it wasn't me and it wasn't either of the kids) was, so to speak, in the driver's seat.

To sum it up, we got home about 3 hours later than expected. This involved a husband, a GPS, and four states. I'm actually pretty good at geography, but even if I wasn't, I would've been pretty sure we didn't need to go west to go home from New Jersey to Connecticut. Just sayin'........... I didn't think we needed to go home via Pennsylvania.

The Delaware Water Gap was pretty. Both directions. I'm not sure if we went though it two or three times.

Somebody (and it wasn't me and it wasn't the kids) got a bit grumpy. The rest of us actually held on pretty well. I don't think he appreciated how patient we all were. The kids thought it was cool......at first. I made some jokes and will continue to do so mercilessly for years to come.

He is officially fired from the position of driver/navigator for long trips. I'm not going to say what I might do to the GPS.  We're planning to go to Maine in the spring. Do you think we might end up North Carolina?

So, really,  that was the weekend and here it is Wednesday. Then, it is only part of the excuse.

Without further ado my curriculum additions:

For my younger son:
Classical Phonics    I think this should be enough, as his reading is really almost there. I am also trying not to spend too much.
More Storytime Treasures
Literature Studies--Although his comprehension level is way beyond this, I think this is a good level for him for now, due to his reading and writing skills.  We may move on to the second grade books later in the year.

For my older son:
Great Books Academy literature guides
He is in sixth grade, but there are quite a few good books in here which he hasn't read. I like the way the questions really make you think.  We already own the grade three guide, so we are starting with that. We will move on as we are ready to.
We will supplement that with:
Memoria Press literature study guides, sixth grade
Imitation in Writing--Haven't quite settled this: fables? fairy tales? myths?  I'm leaning toward the first two.

Together: Memoria Press Famous Men of Rome with the study guide.

Those are the main changes/additions, although there are some big schedule and approach changes in the works already. More on that in the next boot camp update.

Friday, November 9, 2012

This is why we have kids

because, you know, sometimes I do wonder. The thing is, they're smarter than us, wiser in that deep way that hasn't been messed up by life. They just know things that are good to know. Sometimes we know stuff too. You know, "because I'm older than you", "I've lived longer", experience and all that. Heck, sometimes we just are smarter. ;)  However, today my son showed me how wise he is.

Wrestling season has just begun. Both of the boys just started wrestling last year. In the world of wrestling, that still makes them newbies. The season last year finished in the early spring. Then they played baseball. Lots of baseball. Baseball in no way gets you ready for wrestling. Not only are you not practicing wrestling moves, baseball does not get you in shape. Envision Derek Jeter at short stop. He is waiting for the pitcher to pitch. He is waiting for a ball to come near him. Maybe he makes a diving catch. Maybe the inning ends. Then he goes into the dugout and waits some more. Sure they run, throw, catch and do other things that require energy, strength, speed, etc. If they tried to wrestle, most baseball players wouldn't get through the first period in a wrestling match. Even though E and K are just 12 and almost 10, it's no different. Wrestling is hard.

At any rate, they've had a few practices. There is a tournament this week. And I hear the competition is tough. It's a long drive (almost 2 hours). My younger son got his butt kicked, so to speak, at practice last night. They've had colds. It's not cheap to go to a tournament. There will be plenty more this year. They could do a tryout for baseball team they're interested in. They don't need to go (there's 6 days of tryouts and they've been to one). I could go on and on for reasons not to go. Mostly though, I was thinking two things. The baseball tryout sounded good and the weather will be so nice this Sunday. The wrestling tournament is far. And lastly, they're not ready yet this season. We're going to drive a long way for them to get really beaten. At least, I'm thinking my younger son will. The age group there is 4th-6th grade, which works in my older son's favor and against my younger son's favor. Did I mention it's a long drive? Did I mention the competition is hard? Did I say I think he's going to get crushed?

So, K says to me, "Mom, you get better by wrestling better wrestlers. I see this as a chance to get better. To learn. And a good way to get me back into wrestling."

I was humbled.

And here I was thinking about his losing. How do you lose if you're going to learn?

He's already a winner.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

First up at Wild Roots boot camp: change up some curriculum.

As a homeschool mom, it's hard not to have our heads turned around by all the sexy, exciting curriculum. Some of them just look so good. You know, the kind of curriculum you'd just like to curl up next to, run your hands over their catalogs, read all their books, do their activities. You just know this is the curriculum you've been waiting for. Where you been all my homeschooling life, you want to ask. What happens sometimes, is if you actually commit to one of these, sometimes it is great. However, sometimes you find out, they don't do their dishes and do leave dirty socks out. They don't even listen well........oh, wait....I was talking about curriculum. So, okay, they aren't always what you want them to be.

Really, this isn't my problem this time. (Of course, I've been there more times than I can count. Hence, the huge pile of stuff I have waiting to be sold.) This time, however, it is more a mental shift in approach. I have been reading The Latin Centered Curriculum. I am thinking I want to have a slightly more classical approach. Perhaps I will shift it slightly this year and more next year. I have been looking at Great Books Academy and Memoria Press.  At first, I wanted to jump in and change it all. That was the answer, but no, I see they are bits and pieces of each I may use. And again, I may make more of a change for next year, but for now these are the changes I am leaning towards:

For my younger ds, whose reading ability is almost there, but not quite:
Memoria Press Classical Phonics
Memoria Press More Storytime Treasures
Memoria Press D'Aulaire's Greek Myths studies

For my older ds:
Literature study from Great Books Academy (I own grade 3 already and quite frankly, I think it's a good place for him to start even though he is in sixth grade.)
Memoria Press literature guides for sixth grade (I may add these in later or alternate with the Great Books guide.)
Writing--I am trying to decide between IEW Fables, Myths, and Fairy Tales or Imitation in Writing Aesop's and then their Fairy Tales book.
I have debated  whether I would add anything to history for him, though I don't think he needs more. And really, he is enjoying what he is studying now(modern history.)

I am setting this Saturday as my deadline for all these decisions. I can really dawdle over this kind of stuff, researching, reading, asking questions until  I raise my head up again and realize it's February. Um, no. Not going to happen this time. I am, after all, in boot camp.

So that's it for today. I've actually figured some of this out pretty quickly, for me. I'll let you know when I firm up the decisions.

Thanks for stopping by and keeping me on track!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Homeschool Boot Camp

The Challenge: Pick one area of your homeschool or life that needs work. Make a plan. Commit to it. Work on it over 2-3 weeks and blog about it. Let people you've never met In Real Life hold you accountable. At the same time......share this with the world (or the 2 or 3 people who actually read my blog.)

This is a bit daunting because:
1) The list of things in both my homeschool and my life that need work is huge. It's hard to pick one or even prioritize because there really are so many important changes that need to happen.
2) I've been really bad about blogging.
3) I'm pretty disorganized, a bit lazy, a procrastinator and well, this is just going to be hard.

But, I've signed up for the Boot Camp and I'm determined to make some changes.

First up, I've made a (huge) list of areas that need work. I'm still in the thinking this over stage. I'm going to write what areas I am leaning towards because otherwise I might stay in the thinking stage longer. (Here is where the public embarrassment....cough...I mean accountability.....comes in. If  I share it here, I'm more likely to move on to the next stage. Which is??

 Talking out loud (would that be typing out loud?) here.......

1) Figure out what the problem is, or in my case which of the many I will address
2) Assess what is contributing to the problem
3) Make a plan based on #2

Some of the changes that I am considering~
           ~starting our school day earlier and being more disciplined (me) about a start time
           ~adapting our schedule (I am thinking of moving to a block schedule. Also (long story) we have
             come  to a point where I generally have the kids do the main portion of their school work at  
             separate times. I would like to have most of the work done  at the same time.)
           ~have checklist/schedule for both boys ready consistently before Monday a.m.
           ~add in regular project time
           ~change some curriculum

Just writing that out was helpful. So, what I see are two main areas. One is the change in curriculum. The other is developing a solid working schedule and I guess I have to add in being consistent and disciplined. Eek. Where do I start?

To be continued.......I will update my progress as I move along.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Enjoy the ride.....

Homeschooling is a journey, not a destination. Just like many things in life, you often don't know just where you'll end up. So, you need to enjoy the sights along the way, because truly, that is what it's all about. Either that or the hokey pokey; I'm not sure.

"Do the hokey pokey and turn yourself around. That's what it's all about. Hey!"

I remember seeing a bumper sticker once that read, "What if the hokey pokey really is what it's all about?"

I digress......

In my homeschooling (or perhaps I prefer the term learning) journey I am often continually seeking. I guess I might've been satisfied and left well enough alone if I had easier going kids. My older son is a squeaky wheel. Sometimes he squeaks very loudly. Whatever it is, it does get my attention. This year his attitude has seemed to be, "I don't like school. It's boring. I just do what I have to do and get it done so I can go do something fun." I guess this is an improvement over years when he whined, "Why do I have to do school at all?" Or, when he got past that and resigned himself to doing some school work he still railed at certain subjects. Okay, so maybe this year is an improvement. But still.......I felt like I had somehow failed in my homeschooling. I don't expect it all to be greeted with "Wheeeeeeee!!! I can't believe we get to do this!" But some of this should be fun, interesting, at the very least better than public school. Or else, why am here? I could do something else with my time other than torture my kids with boredom and then babysit the rest of the day.

So, to that end, I am embarking on several new learning adventures. It would be easier if I started one or two small new things at a time. Like maybe just focusing on flossing regularly and drinking more water perhaps? I thought, however, that maybe I could swing those two and start several new directions in our learning.

One that I am just beginning to learn about is called Project based learning. While this term may mean different things I am referring to the approach as laid out at Camp Creek Blog. We haven't started anything yet as I am just now learning about it. I will jump in before I get it all figured out though, because I have decided that doing something imperfectly is better than waiting to do it perfectly (which of course would be never.)

In a somewhat related style, we are starting inquiry based science. We have been having a rather lengthy discussion on The Well Trained Mind message boards on this and I am learning from several people there. I have set up a question board and it is surprising how many questions are coming up. One question my younger son had was, "Why can you see fog when it is farther away (he pointed down the road) but you can't see it up close? This would probably be a research question-one we will need to read about to find the answers.

My other son is passionate about juggling and read something about the rate of speed at which balls drop. He said that if a ball is dropped from 2x the height it's falling time is not increased 2x. I'm not sure if the why can be answered by experiment, but I felt that we should first check to see if this statement is true.

We decided we needed to drop from higher places in order to really be able to time it and see if there is a difference. Tune in next week to see us on roofs and in trees.

We're also doing some fun science--you know: exploding things. I found this project several places online. But only at Steve Spangler Science did I find it explained. I mean sure, it's fun to blow up a bar of soap in the microwave. I, however, like to know why it does this. Sometimes I can figure things out for myself, sometimes it's okay just to be told. So, I'm telling you, if you want to do these fun things and understand a bit about the why of it all, Steve Spangler is a good place to go.

We also started a Five in A Row book. I'm not quite organized with this yet, which is not good, but we did have some fun. We read Madeline. We made crepes. Then we learned a bit about Paris, during which Mommy imparted important information about things like pastry shops and cafes in Paris. It's so helpful to have actual experience in a subject. The boys did these paper cut outs of Paris.

We discovered that building with sugar wafer cookies and vanilla frosting is harder than it looks. Ah, two sides to the Eiffel Tower would have worked better.

E, who is 11, might be considered old for Five in A Row. I view it as adding some fun to our week and getting him to do some writing and research in a low key way. I realized this week that he was kind of lost on how to summarize. How is that possible after several years of narrating a la Charlotte Mason? Well, he was never a big fan of narrating, but certainly capable. I could just tell him to narrate on paper instead of calling it summarizing or tell me about the story. Since he hated narrating, though, I'd rather not draw that connection. I walked him through it this week and I'm glad we've started this way. E also read a National Geographic article on Beneath Paris, which covered the history of the city as well as some interesting bits about what goes on now underneath the city.

We still have more to do with Madeline, but I don't want to drag it out too much. I feel that we've missed key aspects though and more importantly, we haven't been to the bakery yet! This will carry on into next week.

As to the usual subjects, K is still working on reading. He is really rounding the corner to becoming a reader now. It is so exciting to hear him read aloud, unstilted, and to continue beyond where I said he could stop.

History fell by the wayside this week as I tried to stumble back into our learning time. My husband has been around more and I'm trying to make changes, both schedule wise and approach wise, so it's been a bit bumpy.

I'm working on scheduling, organization, cleaning up our spaces, and incorporating new approaches to our learning. I guess I keep thinking that things like scheduling and organization should be a destination and I should finally arrive. Shoot, this has been a long journey. But if I just stuck with what I made up at first, I would've missed so many amazing things along the way.
I'm wondering if my kids are learning half as much as me?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

New Year

New year....fresh start. I rearranged our learning rooms and it really feels better. The first picture is a shot of my older ds' desk and the bookshelves. This desk is ridiculously small, but E insisted he wanted to keep it. He's since decided he needs something bigger, which either means a trip to Ikea or a trip to the grandparents who have a desk they're willing to part with.

Next to the bookshelf I created a little nook which I'd like to turn into a comfy reading space. I need a big floor pillow, a chair, or a bean bag chair, but it's not really the best time for shopping.....

The picture below is our new science/art table. I set up the bookshelf next to it and was thrilled to be able to put all our science books together, as they seemed to be in at least four different places. However, it turns out, I can't put all the science books there as we have too many. I also wanted a space for some supplies and art supplies on the bottom shelf. On top of the table to the left is our question board. We are jumping off into inquiry based science, but more on that later. Actually, we are jumping into all kinds of science, largely inquiry based, but also just plain fun.

This last picture shows my younger son's desk and shelf.

I'm also changing up some of what we do, how we do things and when we do things. Prior to Christmas, our school time was getting later and later in the day, or at least inconsistent. This was due, in part, to our being out three nights a week and all of us being just plain tired and lazy in the morning. However, I'm working to change this. It's been a tough couple of days, getting back into the swing of things, particularly trying to change it at the same time.

First up:
Five in A Row
I started using this program very lightly in the fall with my younger son (who is actually considered old for it). Okay, the truth is, as much as we loved our first "row", it was our only row. We also read Cranberry Thanksgiving and Papa Piccolo, but didn't really do any activities with it. We did read other books to go along with them, but that was it. So, I decided we would pick this up again this winter, but I am also folding my older son into it. He is 11. I'm using the books as a jumping off point for him and I think we'll do at least a few of the FIAR titles before moving onto Beyond Five in a Row. I am having him doing additional research, reading, and writing.

Inquiry based science:
I learned about this approach to science from The Well Trained Mind message boards. It really resonates with me and I have been trying to learn more about it. Nurturing Inquiry: Real Science for the Elementary Classroom is one of the books that lays out this approach. I will post about this in more detail and cover my journey toward creating this in my home.

I have been covering both world history and American history. As we move into the new year, I am picking up Winterpromise: American Story 1.
I have had this for several years and used it a bit with my older son. My younger son seems to have missed out on things we did several years ago and my older son still needs more American history, so we're pulling this back out.

It seems we have done plenty of ancient history and yet......we never covered China, Africa, or the Americas. We covered Greece and Rome, but not in much depth and again, my younger son was too young to retain much. So, I am doing an abbreviated ancient history this year. I'm approaching it TOG style. Of course, without a Tapestry of Grace guidebook, it doesn't even come close. I won't claim it to be TOG at all. Just TOG style--with history core reading, in depth history readings, related literature, focus on famous people, etc. geared to each child's level.

History notebooking--this is something I'm trying to incorporate, but with all the other changes it may be awhile.

I'm still up in the air on this. I'm leaning towards trying some Bravewriter: Arrow units. I'm also considering Writing with Ease, Igniting Your Writing, and The Creative Writer.

All in all, trying to just get back into the swing of school and change things up is hard. I think the changes will be good, though.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

I have been working on something for next year. I'm planning an integrated geography and culture study. I am adding in a bit of history, science, and literature. I have tried to use resources I already have and books or dvds from the library. There will be some new things, but I am trying to keep that to a minimum.

Really, most of these ideas are not my own. I'm borrowing bits from the Sonlight Core 5 program as well as a modified version of SL5 that someone sent to me. Also, I'm including ideas on earth science from Mater Amabilis. I only take credit for blending from many wonderful resources. This is still a work in progress.

This week, however, I have been trying to create a template to use as a weekly schedule for this program. For the technically challenged as I am, this is more difficult than it should be. I wanted to share what I've come up with so far, which is just the basic schedule form. It doesn't include the books or breakdown of the weeks. Even sharing this form was a challenge for me. At any rate, here it is.

Geography and cultural studies schedule form