Friday, December 17, 2010

School Express

 I love the idea of thematic units, especially with homeschooling.  It is fun to pick a topic and take off with it.  It works well with learners of various abilities because everyone can study the same topic while each learner takes away their own little bit.  Our family uses one set of curriculum for language arts and math and studies almost everything else thematically.  One of my favorite websites has become School Express.  If you sign up for their free newsletter, they will email a link each week for a thematic unit.  I have received units on topics such as beavers, climate, and Christmas.  Each packet is about 20 pages long and includes word searches, info pages, spelling sheets, and coloring pages.  We use the packets for bonus activities - long car rides, waiting for appointments, sitting at restaurants, etc.  The website also has thousands of other free resources and pages to print for your children.  For a small annual fee, you can gain access to many other units and activities on the site.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Everyday Teaching: Grocery Shopping

Like everything else in our family, grocery shopping is a family activity.  My husband gets paid every other Thursday.  That is our big shopping day.  The other Thursdays are our in-between shopping days.  We keep a piece of paper on the fridge at all times and when someone knows that we need something, it is written on the paper.  The day before we go shopping, the girls and I brainstorm menu ideas and plan the meals for the next two weeks.  As we plan each menu, we write the items needed for each meal.  We then survey the cupboards and cross off anything we already have.  The items still on the list are transferred to the shopping list.  The repetition is good practice for spelling and handwriting.  We then go through the shopping list and write a dollar amount next to each item and estimate the total amount we will spend.  If we are over budget, we decide where cuts can be made to bring our spending down.  When Thursday rolls around, we load into the car and head to the store, list in hand.  Usually our middle or younger daughter carries the list and crosses things off as we put them in the basket.  Our oldest daughter helps choose which item to get, comparing price and quantity.  When items are crossed off, we make a note if the estimated price is higher or lower than our estimated amount.  If we run higher than budgeted, we make cuts at the grocery store.  Of course, as we shop we discuss things such as what produce is in season, quality of products, getting what you pay for, and any other topic that may arise.  After checking out and getting the groceries home, we race to get everything put away before moving on to the next item on our agenda.  Our in-between trip is pretty much the same as our big trip except for one difference.  We only buy necessities such as milk or anything else we can’t wait until the following week to buy.  This shopping trip has become a practical lesson for the kids in needs vs. wants.  Sometimes, just to throw in another component, I have the kids plan a balanced menu for a given dollar amount.  Whatever task they are assigned, the girls enjoy participating in shopping from planning to putting away.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

1st Day of School

The first day of the school year is still strange for me. We never really stop teaching and learning, so when does one year stop and the next start?  In the past we marked the first day of the local school calendar as our first day of school.  This year, we went to California for the summer and missed the first day of school.  I arbitrarily picked yesterday as the first day of school.  It wasn't a great day to pick, but we made it work.  My oldest daughter had a doctor's appointment that resulted in lab work, x-rays, and another appointment later in the day.  The other two girls weren't exactly in the mood for school and it was a trying day for all of us.  If nothing else, I was reminded that we can always work things out and make the best of what we have.  My primary goal this year is to work on character and Bible lessons and we accomplished those assignments as well as a few others.  Today the girls all got right to work when they rolled out of bed and we accomplished more than yesterday with less stress.  I'm looking forward to tomorrow ad all that it holds.

Monday, August 2, 2010


I am a homeschooling mom to 3 girls, ages 10, 7, and 5.  We love to learn, but not always in ways you would expect.  I like to do things around the edges of the box and my girls barely come into the box.  We use a mixture of my public school teaching background, homeschool curriculum, and everything in between and around.