Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Curriculum Plan for 2014-2015

So Tristan on Our Busy Homeschool has made a linky for us to share our plans for the next school year, and I thought I'd go for it.  Some of the plans aren't totally figured out yet - but this may also help with that!

First off, we use AmblesideOnline (AO) for our base curriculum.  We do some Canadianizing by removing some of the US history and adding Canadian History and some Lit.  You can see those general changes elsewhere on the blog, so I won't go through them again.

AO includes a lot of our topics like History, Science, Geography, etc - and then has items where you choose your own curriculum - like Math or Latin.

Delta (grade 6) - AO Year 4.  I don't think we will do all the new things added in Year 4 for the entire year - I expect to add them 1 or 2 items per term. 

Echo (grade 4) - AO Year 3.

Foxtrot (grade 1) - AO Year 1

Golf (grade K4) - AO Year 0


I am looking at the Getty-Dubay handwriting series.  It is pretty similar to the italic we are already doing, and I've heard really good things about it improving handwriting.  I'm just tired of making my own.  I will probably add some copywork from readings or other sources as well to get the benefits that good copywork selections provide. 

Delta - Level F?

Echo -  Level C or D?

Foxtrot -  Level B?

Golf  -  none


Delta - possibly Rewards Secondary? 

Echo -  McGuffey's 2nd Reader

Foxtrot -  McGuffey's 2nd Reader

Golf  -  Teach your child to read in 100 Easy Lessons


We use RightStart

Delta - Finish Level D, Start E.  I am looking at 'Hands on Equations' to add some higher math concepts.

Echo -  Finish Level D, Start E

Foxtrot -  Level C

Golf  -  Level A (done as interested)

 A non-CM part of our day.  I'm debating between continuing All About Spelling or switching to Sequential Spelling.     We made some really good progress in spelling with All About Spelling - especially with Delta where nothing else seemed to be working.... but it is getting a lot harder as we go along to remember everything.  It also takes me 15 to 20 minutes a day each with Delta and Echo.  With Sequential Spelling, it would be maybe 10 to 15 minutes, and I could do Delta, Echo, and possibly Foxtrot together.  And if I was fortunate enough to get the DVD's it would be a something they could do independently.  (And it is a LOT less expensive!)

Foreign Language

Delta and Echo want to continue with German, even though we aren't getting anywhere.  I need a good program that we can use consistently.  Suggestions?

Echo and Foxtrot want to continue with ASL.  Not sure about Delta.  We need to find something a bit more than Signing Time, but a bit less than ASLU.  Suggestions?

Foxtrot has not been at all interested in German.  French would be more helpful here, and there are a lot more resources...  am I crazy enough to try yet another language?

Latin: AO starts Latin in Year 4, so that would include Delta.  I have heard a lot of benefits, and think we will give it a go.  I'm thinking 'Getting Started with Latin'

Musical Instruments

This is an area that really hasn't been going well.  And it is added into AO Year 4.  We have done violin but it just is NOT going well.  We own lots of instruments, but the kids just don't like to practice (common problem) and I just don't seem to have the energy to get them doing it.  But I do feel it is really important.  So do I try more on Violin?  Organ/Keyboard?  Recorder?  something else (we have a flute, guitars, harmonicas, etc.)


We have been using Drawing Textbook... but it is a little.... boring.  We own a couple of Draw Write Now books as well. I do own "Drawing with Children", but find it so intimidating.... 


Only Delta is at the age to start Grammar.  I'm going to try out KISSgrammar which is free online and that I've heard a lot about.


We will be doing AO's science in the years - but I am considering doing a family science - 

either one of the Exploring Creation Series by Fulbright... 
 or one of the Science in the series by Wile.


Everything else will be following AO rotations and years.

Monday, June 16, 2014

End of Year!

Well, another school year has come and gone.  I remember in September worrying about how in the world I was going to do it with 3 kids needing school, plus a toddler.  In the Fall, we were behind my planned schedule, and I was worried.  I made a few changes, and we have actually finished the year a it ahead of schedule!  (Ok, I have about 2 math lessons per child left....)

Mind you - I am panicking about the upcoming year.  3 children in 3 different AO years, and Golf moving up to the age that I generally start offering some instruction in the basics.  Not to mention that Delta is getting into a heavier year.  I'm sure that at the end of next year I'll be chuckling at my worries.

In the meantime, we have been enjoying ourselves during good weather with things like trips to the zoo.  Enjoy the pics!

Coming Soon: - our rough plans for next year!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

More Scouting!

The last week or two has been even more scouting.  Most of it has been pretty exciting though....

First, on Saturday,  the Scouts and Venturers had a Lego Mindstorms Workshop, and the last-year cubs were invited. This involved making various lego robots, and then programming them.

Building the Robot

Delta has a sense of humour - his caption for this is
"You thought you were having a bad day"
Almost done - this robot has a sensor to detect colours.

Will Delta's robot follow a black track?  I'll never tell!
In the morning, they made robots from a selection of plans.  In the afternoon, they could build one from their own design.  Some of the older kids took up the challenge to make a robot that could climb a rope.  Delta chose to make a fighting robot instead.

The Finished product

Delta downloading the program he wrote to the robot

Next came the scout meeting and.... Archery!  This was Delta's first chance at this sport, and he discovered that Legolas makes it look a lot easier than it is.

Legolas makes this look so easy.....
A couple of days later - it was the cub meeting night.  This one was a special meeting though, as the third year cubs were leaping up to Scouts.  

Saying goodbye to the Cubs

Changing uniform under the parachute....
Getting invested as a Scout

Mom gets to put on the Woggle (Neckerchief Slide)
Welcomed to the Troop!

My Scouting Kids

Great selection of Scouting Uniforms in our family!
(Looks like Echo is getting eaten by the Wolf!)

 Then the next Saturday,  the Scouts (including Delta) were selling hot-dogs and Chocolate Bars to make money for their summer camp in the States!   Meanwhile, the Cubs and Beavers were getting pledges for Scoutrees, where they get pledges to plant trees.

 And coming up.... Tonight Delta goes to cubs, and I get to receive a Scouting Award from the Lieutenant-Governor for service!  Later this week, cub meeting, more chocolate bar sales, and so on....

And yes - we are still doing Homeschooling.  Delta is up to the first-quarter test in Math (he started a new level in February) and Echo is close behind.   Spelling is going fine.  And we are on about week 30 of 36 weeks in our AO years.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Duke of Edinburgh Award, Hug a Tree, Lots of Scouting, and more

Life has been SO busy recently - I'm sure you have all given up reading my blog because of the lack of new posts.

I've been really busy with Scouting Recently.  Besides the meetings and activities, I've been taking some training.  That has included working on the WoodBadge II training for Leaders.   I've already earned it years ago as a Scout Leader and a Rover Advisor - now I'm taking it as a Cub Leader.

Temperature for the Klondike Derby!
Delta and Echo were outside for about 5 hours that day...

Echo and Delta starting out on the Klondike Derby
One of those activities was the Klondike Derby - where Scout troops and Cub packs compete at 10 various 'towns' doing things like building bridges, starting fires, and riding a zip line.  Our pack usually has a 'dog sled' (pulled by the cubs) - but it was frozen in snow this year, so they used backpacks to carry their provisions.

Big Brown Beaver's Birthday Cake
Part of my Woodbadge II training was held at the same camp as the Area Winter Beaver Camp.  As this year is the 40th anniversary of Beavers in Canada, it was a Birthday Party theme.  This cake was too good not to share.... well at least the picture of it.

See the Beaver in the 3rd slot?  That is Foxtrot's Beaver Buggy

Foxtrot got to start a race!  (Cars are already down the track)

Golf got to start a Scout Trucks race!

Foxtrot, Echo, Delta, Golf with their Cub Cars.  (Golf has Delta's from last year)

We also had the Cub Car rally this month with the church,  Although the church doesn't sponsor Cubs, Foxtrot came in uniform with her beaver buggy, and she got to run her buggy with the Cub Cars.  There were also Scout Trucks running.

I have also felt it was a good idea to be trained as a mentor for the Duke of Edinburgh Award.  This Award is available for youth ages 14-25 in various (if not all) Commonwealth Countries.  It is quite challenging, but works well with Scouting - and is often included with scouting in Venturer Companies and Rover Crews.   One thing that is cool is that my province has a semi-unofficial challenge for youth ages 11-13 which Delta will be able to start this fall.

As well as that, I also took training to be able to present the "Hug-a-tree" program.  I was actually trained years ago when it was run by the RCMP, but it is now run by a not-for-profit organization, and there have been a couple of updates to the program.   This program teaches youth ages 5-10ish how not to get lost in the woods, and what to do if they are.  (This program almost perfectly completes the Cub level 'Trailcraft' badge....)

Also, Canadian Scouting is going through a review and redevelopment.  They are just starting to pilot some of the changes now, and the pilot programs will continue through next year.  The new program will be implemented Fall 2015 if things go as planned.  I have been attending various meetings about the new program, and hope to become a Mentor for Cub Packs that are doing the pilot, and for the implementation of the new program in 2015.  There may be many interested people though, so not sure the likelihood of being selected.  It looks like it has a lot of potential (besides, it is better to be on board with change that is definitely coming rather than drag your heels...)  I hope that the program turns out to be great!

Here are some pictures from the last couple of months.
Foxtrot figuring out a problem involving hats and shoes - using Tiles

Foxtrot and the Geoboard - Finding all the lines of symetry I think...

One of those homeschooling moments
The Sword in the Stone being reenacted just because they wanted to

 Well, I hope to do better at keeping this blog up....  I hope you enjoyed the pictures!

Friday, February 28, 2014

Working for me - Spelling Bees...

Ok, Mike has been teasing me about how easy it is to read my blog - with only a post or two a month.  It just seems like life is so busy now!

Anyway, I wanted to share another "Working for Me Thursday" (even though it is Friday) with everyone.

What is working is - Friday Spelling Bees.

We are using All About Spelling for our spelling program, which has been working well.  Most steps in the program have a list of words for extra practice.  I use these words each week to have a fun spelling practice by having an informal spelling bee.  I use ANKI (with the extra words in their own deck) set to bring the cards up randomly.  Each student gets cards from their own lists, so it is fair.

It gives a chance to see if they are internalizing the rules, and not just memorizing the main words.

Still Working For Us

SkedTracker - working great - more work is getting done each day since we started!
- All About Spelling - still works well!

Not Working For Us Anymore

Children's Miracle Music - well, I just use this now and then anyway.... it works as a once-in-a-while item.
Sassmannshaus Violin - I'm frustrated.  I just am tired of the fight to get kids to practice.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

January 2014 Review - Mom's a Proud Mom!

Ok - I admit it - Today's post is about things I'm proud of my children about - plain and simple...

Back Row -  Delta, Foxtrot, Echo.  Front Row - Golf  - See our new eReader!
As you know if you read my blog, our family is very active in Scouting.  A part of that involves doing fundraising.  This Fall we participated in selling Scout Popcorn - which we did as a family.  We were fortunate to have sold enough popcorn, not only to help fund our scouting program, but to be entered into some draws for awards.  Christmas Eve I received a phone call that Foxtrot had won a Kobo eReader - which is working out nicely for our little homeschool.  I was proud of all the hard work they had done, and happy that they got a little 'extra' out of it.

Then in January Echo was baptized.  It is so hard to think that another child is already 8!  I was quite proud that she had decided she wanted to be baptized.

Echo's Baptism Day

I had another proud moment one day when we were doing math.  Echo is working on Fractions, and as such is using the Fraction chart/puzzle.  Well, Golf was right there like white on rice....  and boy, she is good at puzzles... she was finding the right fractions and putting them in the right spots for Echo.  I suspect Golf will enjoy math... every school day she asks to do a "practice sheet" (for her, just drawing on the white board) - and to sing "Yellow is the sun"....    I was also proud with the patience Echo was showing on letting Golf do the puzzle with her.

Echo and Golf

And then this month with just a little 'poking' Delta finished up the requirements for a few more Awards in Cubs.  There are 10 Awards (when you include the World Conservation Award and Religion in Life Award) - and now Delta has earned all 10.  He earned his 6 star award last year (which has a plaque to recognize this accomplishment) - but each of the Cub Awards require a star, generally a few badges from that activity area, and a few more requirements.   There are a few more badges that Delta will probably earn (there are a couple he doesn't have planned for the pack to earn together yet) - but he is now eyeing the scout program.  He will officially move up to scouts in a couple of months - probably April - and can attend some of their meetings now as well.  

Delta in his Cub Uniform - all Awards

 This last month has been very busy - and a few things have been difficult - but it has been a month with my kids doing things that would make any mother proud!

Friday, December 6, 2013

What Works this Week - Dec 6th

So, what is working for us this week?  (Hm, seems like I'm just talking about different programs - but hey, they are working for me....)  This week - what is working is - All About Spelling, along with ANKI.

Yes, this isn't a Charlotte Mason method of learning.  In Charlotte Mason, spelling is learned through a progression of Copywork, Transcription, and then Studied Dictation.   Studied Dictation starts at about age 9 or 10, so often CM students seem behind in spelling when compared to students of other methods, including public school.  Many CM students just blossom in spelling when they start Studied Dictation - but a few don't.

When Delta turned 9 last year, we tried to start studied dictation.  I came to realize though that I had tried to skip the transcription step though, as Delta struggled with it - and of course the studied dictation was a disaster.  Even the simplest words seemed too hard.... we moved back to transcription but even that was too hard.

This took me into looking for alternatives.  I tried out a couple of different things, including some older public-domain texts.  But still, I saw no sense of spelling at all.  In doing research, I came to realize that Delta might have dyslexia, even though he was reading fairly well.  (He is struggling a bit with reading as well.)  It was actually the All About Spelling website that clued me in that poor spelling could be a sign of dyslexia.

I don't have any examples of Delta's early spelling mistakes - but they were right out there.... even with 3 letter words.  You couldn't see how he came up with them at all.  Here are some examples of dyslexic spelling from another website (longer words) just to give you an idea...

"... for example substance spelled 'sepedns', last spelled 'lenaka', about spelled 'chehat', may spelled 'mook', did spelled 'don', or to spelled 'anianiwe'.
Yes, although we were working on easier types of words - that was what I was seeing in Delta's spelling and attempts to write.

I might have put things off for another year, trying to move the copywork up to transcription - but Delta was aware of his inability to 'write' from other activities, and was frustrated and feeling badly.  He was asking me to teach him to write.   I decided to try All About Spelling.

We got All About Spelling, Level 1 last January or February.  I started both Delta and Echo (who had a few similar symptoms, although she was younger).   At first I used one method to track cards - I used a pencil and lightly wrote their initial when they started a card - and when it could be moved to mastered I put a small star sticker in their colour on it.  (Of course when they both had it mastered, it also moved into mastered.)  I did their lessons separately, so they could progress at their own rate.   This was working "ok", but I decided to use ANKI instead.

I've written a blog post about using ANKI previously, but briefly it is a smart flashcard program that tries to determine the optimum time to show you the flashcard to give you the best chance to remember it, while not showing it to you too often and wasting your time.  It provides for more review than All About Spelling, and I can have the same "cards" for the kids.  I can use my tablet, or the computer, or even use the internet on my phone - they all sync together.

The change has been remarkable.  Delta has finished level 1, and is a little way into level 2.  He gets the words he has learned through the program correct most of the time - but even better, he gets similar words correct too.

Generally how we do a lesson - I set a timer for 15 minutes... that is how long we do a day.   We start with the review words using ANKI and using tiles.  The number of review words can be as low as 3 or 4, in which case we move on, or could be larger like 20 or 30, such as on a Monday (reviews build up on the weekend) and/or when we have added new words after a 'step' (about 10 new ones for each step)   If there is a large number of reviews, we will do the reviews for 5-10 minutes, depending on the child's focus.

After doing the reviews, we proceed to working on the steps.  Generally we have some phrases (or sentences) to write - but we might just be up to writing the new words on paper.   If it is writing the words, then we do all of them, and that is generally the end of the lesson (we may do a few more reviews if there are still some.)  If we are up to writing phrases or sentences, then we will do from 3 to 6 of those.  If there is still time left, I may start teaching the concepts in the next step - leaving the rest of the phrases or sentences for the next day.

So in general, we do reviews, some writing, and some working on the next step.  When we get to the new words in a step, those are added to the reviews, and the 'review' portion of our lesson is a bit longer - until ANKI is showing those words as learned.  It generally works out that we are ready to start the writing portion of a step nicely after completing the writing portion of the previous step.

It sounds more complicated than it is - but it did take me a while to work out the working on the next step while doing the writing part of the previous step.

On Fridays we do a spelling bee with the "More Words" for each child (also added to ANKI).

And - how do I know it is working?  Delta is more likely to write things now - not long things - but stuff up on the white board, or in a drawing.  He sometimes asks me how to spell a word - and he does at times spell incorrectly - but he is willing to try.  He spells so much better than he did, and I think his reading has improved as well.  Echo is spelling better as well (she hasn't quite finished level 1).

I don't know if we will do ALL the levels of All About Spelling - but for now it is working great!

Still Working For Us

SkedTracker - working great - more work is getting done each day since we started!
- Sassmannshaus Violin - although they don't argue to do practices first anymore.... expect an update soon!

Not Working For Us Anymore

Children's Miracle Music - well, I just use this now and then anyway.... it works as a once-in-a-while item.