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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

National Homeschool Book Award

National Homeschool Book Award  
Here is something interesting I found in my Clickschooling newsletter! This was started by three homeschool mothers "to recognize and celebrate current juvenile fiction that explores learning experiences occurring outside the traditional classroom setting and that resonates with homeschool readers." The selections, which are geared for middle grade readers, are up on the website now.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Bee Green: The Great Sunflower Project

If you are looking for a way to study bees, take homeschool science outdoors, or work gardening into your life, consider participating in The Great Sunflower Project! Learn about how you can get involved by planting Lemon Queen sunflowers and doing simple bee counts this summer. Another child-friendly way to help bees is by doing the  “add a yard to your yard” challenge.  Block off a square yard of ground and plant pollinator- friendly plants with long blooming times.  Some of the plants they recommend are Echinacea, Bee Balm and Cosmos, which are all pretty easy to grow.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Magic and Melting Ice

Magic wakes up from an afternoon nap.

The last of the ice on our pond.
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Saturday, March 12, 2011

Monday, March 7, 2011

At Last

Under snow two days ago

Sedum. To me these little "cabbages" should be called Spring Joy

Originally Donut, Now Little Bit. Picked on with no mercy.

The Flock
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Our 8th Grade Curriculum with Update

Eighth Grade.  When I pulled my son out of First Grade in December 2003, I remember feeling a combination of exhilaration, awe, fear, relief, possibility and rightness. I was already homeschooling, I discovered. I had been  helping my child follow his passions since birth.  I had been supplementing his Kindergarten and First Grade experiences because he was bored out of his wits. That first year was lonesome in certain ways as we discovered that some friends were not going to feel comfortable with our choice. I knew only one other homeschooling family personally, though I had been interested in educational alternatives since my own childhood. When asked how long we might homeschool I would tell people what I still tell them.  It is a year by year decision. Here we are nearly seven years later. I have never regretted this decision.  I will not lie. At times this takes every bit of creativity, patience and mental flexibility I can muster.  But that is what parenthood itself requires of engaged parents anyway, right?

  What follows is a framework for academics for the coming year. This is definitely subject to change! Our lives are so full of choices now, that that is the most challenging part of homeschooling. There are so many options out there that it boggles the mind.  My son and  I have pulled the following together from Amazon, the Rainbow Resource Guide, conversations with other mothers, Google searches, Half dot com, the Homeschool Buyers Co-op, the library, and course of study statements from public and private schools.  Because my son is a BIG reader and loves the computer, our choices are geared to those preferences. We have been in the relaxed, eclectic category for years but this list seems much more like school at home.
German: We chose Auralog (www.TellMeMore.com) German, purchased through Homeschool Buyers Co-op. This is an interactive program that comes with a headset and enough German for several years of study
Math: Life of Fred Pre- Algebra with Biology, Painless Algebra, Mastering Essential Math Skills Geometry
United States History: A History of US series by Joy Hakim with assessments, Painless US Government; selections from American Literature (The Crucible, Johnny Tremain, Huckleberry Finn, etc.)
World History: Continued reading of The Story of the World by Susan Wise Bauer on his own
Writing: NANOWRIMO, Journaling, continued Free Choice writing. He enjoys writing fiction on a laptop using Word. Blogging.
Reading: Continued Free Choice. Past experience tells me that this will be a lot of science fiction and fantasy. Muse magazine, National Geographic, Mental Floss, Popular Mechanics and other magazines and newspapers.
Science: Plato middle school interactive Physical Science (on line subscription), continued reading of books such as Biophilia and A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson (science through reading), hands on experiments, continued discussions about health, safety and self care
Martial Arts: continued study of Combat Hapkido 2-4x a week (working on his Black Belt second  don) and helping out with the younger kids.

We will also include volunteering and work with his dad in the family business.  I will try to update this as we go along with more information about what ends up working well and what does not.

UPDATE 3/2011

In January we started taking our son to North Star (Self-Directed Learning for Teens), one day a week. This filled a real need for opportunities to hang out with kids his age and older. Unfortunately for him, he is among the oldest of the homeschooled kids we see on a regular basis.He has always enjoyed the company of adults and older  teens.  Our son was talking about entering public school for 9th grade and I believe that was due to his need for an older social group. While the decision about school has not been made, North Star has definitely helped my son find an older social group and allowed him to join other teens who are learning in an unschool environment. I have been searching for educational alternatives for years. Not many exist in my area.  North Star is one of the most interesting truly alternative alternatives I have found.

What has not worked well:
The German program we bought.  My son worked at it diligently for months but stopped in December saying that it was just not suited to his learning style. I will look into Spanish classes for next year. NANOWRIMO. He got a good start and then petered out.  We'll try again next year if he is interested. 

What is working especially well: 
Life of Fred Pre-Algebra 1 with Biology and Life of Fred Pre-Algebra 2 with Economics.  Supplemented by Pre-Algebra Concepts, by Richard W. Fisher. The Life of Fred series is a blessing if you have a verbally gifted child who is an independent learner.  My son has always disliked math but he adores Life of Fred and often reads me funny and interesting parts of the lessons.  I suspect that if your child loves Muse magazine, he or she would enjoy Fred.
Plato Physical science, an online program combining middle school physics and chemistry, is a hit.  The only downside is that having completed their Earth Science as a precocious 5th grader, and their Life Science in 6th grade, he is tiring somewhat of the repetitive structure of the program. Still, I would recommend these science classes to middle school kids and gifted elementary students without hesitation.
A History of Us is going well, but at a slower pace than I'd hoped for.
What we have added:
A "class" I have yet to name! Computer Skills? Digital Creativity?  He has spent much time this year designing and redesigning blogs, designing logos and creating art on Paint.net, customizing whatever can be customized, jailbreaking and restoring his Ipod, writing about computer games on his blog, troubleshooting computer issues for family and some friends, making movies and putting them on You Tube, taking digital photographs, installing various operating systems (right now he is trying to get Linux to work) on his computer, and researching anything he does not understand using the internet or by finding people who can answer his questions.
Volunteering:
Aside from helping out in martial arts classes for younger kids, he just did 9 hours of community service for the local arts center and got some experience waiting tables.

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