Thursday, August 16, 2018

Back to Homeschool

While the temperatures on the thermometer are still showing triple digits, summer is coming to a close and the public school students are heading back to school.  While the kids and I do our lessons throughout the year with multiple breaks in between, I do typically try to start our new curriculum in late August/early September.

This time around, we're not really starting new curriculum but instead we are re-visiting curriculum that we have started and put down temporarily for other items.  A number of these items are curriculum that you may recognize as review items - when I write that I plan on continuing using a particular item, I do truly mean it.. lol   We will be using a mix of both physical and digital curriculum this year.

Our 2018-2019 Curriculum



We will be using a variety of different materials for language arts this year. Since Garrett and Ashleigh are on two different levels, they will begin working independently from each other for the time being.

 First, Ashleigh will be picking up where she left off to finish Readers in Residence from Apologia.  She was really enjoying this particular reading curriculum when we were using it but we got side tracked with a few other projects and it got put to the way side.  She's actually very excited to be getting back into this one as she really enjoyed it and we would like to finish this book before Volume 2 is released. 

For her grammar lessons, Ashleigh will be starting IEW's Fix It Grammar.  We will be starting with The Nose Tree .

 Garrett will starting a new review item that looks like one that we will continue to use for the year and that is a new Level 3 Three-in-one reading comprehension, spelling and grammar curriculum from Reading Eggs.   (Expect a review early next month)

Garrett will also be continuing with Saxon Grammar and Writing 3.  He has done really well with this particular curriculum and I want to keep him with this and finish this book :)

Another item we are picking back up after a bit of a break is Linguistic Development Through Poetry Memorization from IEW.  The kids should move through the first section pretty quick as they still remember most of the poems they memorized previously.  Both kids will be working with this curriculum.

Finally, for writing, the kids will be using another IEW curriculum. We will be using All Things Fun & Fascinating using Structure and Style. 


For math, the kids will be starting Math Lessons for a Living Education Level 4 from Master Books.  We had started this book back in January but the kids just didn't seem ready for it yet,  and instead we spend the last few months going back and reviewing many of the building blocks that they needed to know before moving on to this level.  We will also be using a few different math workshops from SchoolhouseTeachers.com and extra practice as needed from Math-U-See Gamma.


My kids were VERY excited when I pulled out the first volume of Mystery of History and announced we would be revisiting it.  We covered this volume a few years ago but I honestly don't think they retained much of any of it.  This time, we will be supplementing the lessons with lots of short videos, movies, books and activities to really bring home what they are learning. 

Along with Mystery of History, we will be continuing to use the Bible Study Guide for All Ages.  These two seem as if they will work very well together .  I'll be placing an order for the next 26 lessons of this study soon.

Here's the completed student notebooks.. Thank you to Sarah from My Joy-Filled Life for providing the perfect setup for these notebooks..


Another one of our favorite companies, the kids have elected to being Exploring Creation with Zoology 1: Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day.  This is probably the very first book I bought when I decided to homeschool and somehow, we never used it.  Time to fix that :)  

We will also be doing many unit studies and nature studies along with our formal science curriculum and will share these as we work on each one.


Foreign Language

Garrett and Ashleigh have both settled in their choice of foreign language.  Garrett enjoys learning Greek while Ashleigh has done very well with her Latin Studies and so they will continue with both of these.  Ashleigh will be continuing where she left off with First Form Latin from Memoria Press and if she finishes it before the end of the year, we will be purchasing Second Form.   Garrett took a break from "Hey Andrew! Teach Me Some Greek!" during the summer but will be picking it back up after a review of what he already knows. Once he completes the book, we will be making a decision whether to buy Level 4 or if we might consider trying Elementary Greek from Memoria Press.

Both Kids will also be using Picta Dicta Vocabulary Builder from Roman Roads.. This is a program we are currently reviewing (expect a review next month) that is looking very promising for the kids and I think will be especially helpful for them, especially Ashleigh.


We will be starting back over with CursiveLogic..  I had the fun job of erasing all their previous work from their books so that we can start over from the beginning (I can't be the first parent to have ever done that, right??).  After they complete the book, we will then just start adding copy work 

With both kids we will be using The Master and His Apprentice for Art/Artist Studies.  However,  as Garrett does not care for Art lessons, Ashleigh will be doing Artistic Pursuits on her own to help learn more artistic techniques.  In place of art, Garrett will instead be learning computer programming starting with Scratch, Kodable and possible Code for Teens.

God Schooling (A Homeschool Crew Review)

I have been homeschooling my kids now for five years.  Throughout that time, there are days that I wonder if I'm doing the right thing. I am constantly bombarding myself with questions about their education. Are they learning enough? Am I doing enough? What level should they be working at?  There are days as a homeschooling parent that I can really use some encouragement, a voice that has been there, done that.  So I was really excited when I was asked to review God Schooling: How God Intended Children to Learn by Julie Polanco.

About the Author

Author Julie Polanco is a mother of four homeschooled students with a past history of teaching education. With more than 15 years of homeschool experience as well as early childhood education, Ms Polanco has been featured in The Old Schoolhouse Magazine and has had many articles in various homeschool publications,

About The Book

God Schooling: How God Intended Children to Learn (ISBN 978-1-68350-863-2) is a 163 page trade paperback with a matte laminate cover.  

The book is divided into two parts.

Part 1:  Dispelling Myths
Chapter 1:  Biblical Support for Natural Learning
Chapter 2:  Motivation & Excellence

Part 2: Practice
Chapter 3:  Thoughts on Teaching Children Under Age Eight
Chapter 4:  Thoughts on Teaching Children Aged Eight to Twelve
Chapter 5:  Giving Teens the Wings to Fly
Chapter 6:  Spreading the Banquet
Chapter 7: Getting Started
Chapter 8:  Some Q & A
Chapter 9:  Record-Keeping and Structure
Concluding Remarks
Part one of the book focuses on the Christian reasoning for homeschooling children and the myths that surround them.   Secondly, the book argues against using a strict schedule or timeline for teaching children but instead allowing learning to come naturally, the way that the Lord designed them to learn.

Part two of the book focuses on the best ways to each students at each age of development, starting with students under the age of eight years of age, from eight to twelve years of age, and during the teenage years.  The author gives suggestions for each of these groups while backing up her suggestions using research from various sources from experts in child development and homeschooling education, as well as giving personal examples from her own experiences with her children.

My Opinion

At 163 pages, I expected that I would zip though this book within a matter of a few hours.  Instead, I found that this is not a book that you will read quickly but instead will want to take your time and really absorb what is being said.  I often brought this book with me for a long soak in a hot bubble bath while I enjoyed some relaxing time by myself.

Another place I enjoyed taking this book was to the gym, where I could read it while doing a mindless activity like the elliptical.  It gave me something else to focus on beside the time readout and I could work on enriching myself mentally as well as physically.

Like any book of this particular genre, I don't necessarily agree with everything that the author says, and that's okay.  With any book that I read, there will be information that I can relate to or can learn from and there will be things I don't.  However, there's enough in this of the positive in this book to far outweigh those things that I disagreed with.  I often found myself shaking my head in agreement, recognizing my son or my daughter in many of the examples given.  While I'm not a proponent of Unschooling, which the author supports as God's intended method of teaching our children, I did find lots of helpful information that helped me understand the psychology behind how my children learn and how to approach and tailor their education better for them.   The chapter in regards to teenager has even been very helpful in regards of my oldest daughter and has led to discussions in regards to certification programs and trade school as opposed to traditional college.

Overall, this has been a nice book full of great moments of encouragement.  Those who are new to homeschooling, those struggling in their homeschool journey, and those considering switching to an unschooling style educational setting will find this book to be most helpful. 

#hsreviews #GodSchooling #ChristianUnschooling #RelaxedHomeschooling

For more information about God Schooling as well as other books by Julie Polanco, be sure to visit the author's website.  You can also find more information from the following social media sites;

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/juliepolancobooks/
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/jpolancobooks/

God Schooling: How God Intended Children to Learn {Julie Polanco Reviews}

Monday, August 13, 2018

Branch Out World (A Homeschool Review Crew)

For one full week, the kids and I worked on the Paddington Bear  literary study from Branch Out World.

About Branch Out World

Branch Out World is a business based in West Yorkshire, UK started by a homeschool family who wanted to share their love of great children's literature with other homeschool families by creating unit studies for other parents to share with their children.  While all their studies feature books that have some sort of tie to the UK (written by a UK author, the setting is in the UK, ect), these studies feature selections that any child will love.   

About the Paddington Bear Literary Study

For this review, we received a PDF digital version of the Paddington Bear study.  This 69 page study
takes up 4.4MB of space and is suggested for students aged 5-10 years old.  This study uses the picture book Paddington (not to be confused with the chapter book A Bear Called Paddington) written by Michael Bond and illustrated by R.W. Alley.

In addition to the picture book, the study also suggests other resources to use during the course of the study.  While our library was limited, we found a really nice book to use to learn about Peru as well as the chapter book that the picture book was based on.

This lit study takes 5 days to complete (although this can easily be expanded to a longer study period by following rabbit holes).  Each day, students read the story and then focus on one aspect of the story:

Day 1 – Exploring the Setting
Day 2 – Exploring the Words
Day 3 – Exploring the Pictures
Day 4 – Exploring Science
Day 5 - Exploring Maths, Crafts & More

All maps, print outs and instructions are included with the study, which also includes a lapbooking project.   This particular study contains 30 different activities covering a wide variety of topics.

How We Used It

Day 1 invites students to explore the setting of the book where they learn about England where the story takes place, as well as Peru in South America, where Paddington Bear was from.  I really enjoyed teaching the kids this particular lesson because it covered migration and about what Push and Pull factors were in regards to migration.  This lesson also included both map work as well as a research activity over both England and Peru.  Finally, we learned about when the story was written and discussed other historical events that were happening at the same time.

 Day 2 has students focusing on vocabulary words used in the story that they might not already be familiar with.  We also learned about the author, Michael Bond.  The kids were really shocked to find out he wrote the book 60 years ago but he died only last year.

In addition to learning about the author, we also discussed themes covered in this book.  Being an Air Force family, one of the things the kids have learned is "Service Before Self" - so they quickly recognized the theme of "helping others" and they were able to tell me many examples of characters in the book helping others.

Finally, on this day, there was a discussion in regards to how dialect affects the way an author might write a character speaking in their books.  In the book, a taxi driver says "Bears IS extra" instead of "bears are extra".. The kids thought this was hilarious and I have been hearing "bears is extra" ever since. 

Day three focused on the illustration aspect of the story.  We learned a bit about illustrator R.W. Alley and then the kids took time to study one of his drawings from the book and then try to remember minute details of the illustration. 

They also learned about Victorian style architecture and some of the details that were used in that style, such as balusters, fenestrations, lancets, and quoins.   The final portion of this days lesson focused on art techniques which Ashleigh enjoyed but Garrett, who hates to draw, decided to sit out for.

By Day Four, the kids were reciting portions of the book to me while I was reading.  This particular lesson focused on science.  Ashleigh really enjoyed learning about the Spectacled (Andean) bear which is the only bear found in Peru. Because the kids knew that Paddington had come from "Darkest Peru", they deduced that Paddington must be a Spectacled bear. Ashleigh, however, was quick to point out that Paddington looked nothing like a Spectacled Bear which brought us down a rabbit hole in regards to artistic license.

This paricular day had a few experiments, one that discussed the various properties of shaving cream. Two other experiments involved making both an edible and non edible foam.  The edible was a meringue made from eggs and sugar.  The kids have helped to make meringue on a few different occasions when helping make pies so we were going to make the non-edible version, which uses yeast, hydrogen peroxide and food coloring.  However, we were disappointed to find that we were completely out of both yeast and peroxide, so we ended up skipping this experiment as well.   We did, however, have fun writing our names in the condensation on the mirror while learning about steam.

Day 5 focuses on simple math skills, such as drawing parallel and perpendicular lines as well as grouping and numbers.  The kids already know these skills very well, so we did skip those particular activities. Instead we focused on learning more about Tablas de Sarhua.  This turned out to be a really cool rabbit hole for the kids.  We found several videos and photographs and learned a lot about the history of these painted boards.

Each day, the kids worked on various activities, whether it was mapwork and coloring flags or putting components into their lapbook.

Overall, this was a really neat little unit study that introduced the children to many things that they hadn't been exposed to before, such as the architecture  elements and the Tablas de Sarhua.

#hsreviews #BOWresources #projectfuntolearn #PictureBookExplorers

For more information about the different offerings of literary studies from Branch Out World, be sure to visit their website.  You can also find more information at the following social media platforms:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/BranchOutWorld
Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/belzibow
Instagram: www.instagram.com/belzibow 
Twitter: www.twitter.com/belzibow

Paddington Bear {Branch Out World Reviews}

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

The Picket Project

We have a new banner for the Picket Project.  There's not much point to having anything about release  when Picket is perfectly happy where she's at with no desire to go out the door.  So, instead, the Picket Project will instead focus on the adventures of her growing up.

Today is Picket's birthday, btw.  Well, not her annual birthday, but her monthly birthday. At least, we suspect it is, although it could have been yesterday.  Either way, she is now officially three months old. Tomorrow will be her three month "Gotcha" day, making it three months since I found her in the middle of the road.  To celebrate, I gave her a nice piece of banana which she thoroughly enjoyed.

Today was also a shopping day to pick up some staples for her.. This included a box of grape tomatoes (her absolute favorite) a bag of mini peppers, a bunch of bok choy, and bananas (she was given a pice of one and the rest are being made into banana chips for her).   The raisins are for my kombucha that I'm brewing - she can't have them as they are high in sugar but aren't nutritionally dense.  And I needed some diet coke and almond milk, so those aren't for her..  But, this is what a typical bunny food run looks like.. (I had run out of tomatoes yesterday and she made it clear she was NOT happy with that fact!!) I'm sure she was disappointed to see that there also were not any gummy worms in the basket when I got home either.. lol

This is what a bunny salad typically looks like.. Lots of cilantro and parsley on top of a mixed bed of romaine and bok choy, sometimes some kale, along with a mini pepper, a couple of grape tomatoes and a small amount of pellets.  The key is to keep foods that are high in sugar or calcium down to a minimum as sugar is unnecessary and calcium can build up in their bladder causing what is known as bladder sludge.    This above is a typically day meal for her to nibble on all evening along with tons of fresh hay.

Ever heard of a bunny flop??  Well, THIS is a bunny flop!!!

Excuse my mess, I was sitting on the floor folding laundry and I had to hide my empty coffee cup from the lil turkey because she likes to try to drink my coffee.. Even without coffee in the cup, she will lick the inside of the cup hoping to get some of the residue.  LOL

After the bunny flop comes the bunny 500..  This has been really hard to get a video of as Picket LOVES the camera and will come running to me every time I try to video her.. LOL    Case in point, I tend to get a lot of videos that feature close ups of Picket's nose..

I did, however, manage to get a video of the Bunny 500 using a GoPro.  After watching this video, you'll understand why I had to hide my coffee cup from the bunny!!!  Trust me, she doesn't need any  caffeine. 

If you notice on my bed, we keep a table cloth over our bedding (not that it does much good when she starts the 500 laps).. Hopefully we will be able to start working toward potty training Picket to use a litter box, making the need to cover the bed unnecessary.  She has already shown signs of being ready to learn to use the box, so we will be starting that with her in the next week or so.

She has also learned, much like the other animals in this house, that sitting next to mom's bed and looking sweet equates to treats..  I had to laugh when I saw this view next to my bed.. All of them waiting on treats..  I keep bags of pet treats on my bookshelf next to the bed - they all know that's where treats are and that starting at me ends up getting rewarded.  LOL 

Picket has been given more free reign of the house lately, however, she is very uncomfortable with the tile on the floors in the hallway, so she tends to avoid walking on those if at all possible.. Most of the time, she goes straight from her hutch to my bedroom where there's plenty of carpet and she feels secure..  But she does like to venture to the living room and has made herself at home on the lounge chair.

She's also become quite attached to my husband.  If he comes into the bedroom and leaves and shuts the door, both her and Kenny will sit there and start at the door until he comes back.

And she's always gotta have her kissed from her daddy when he comes home from work..

And she will scratch on his back if he doesn't pay attention to her right away.

Of course, she always gets what she wants!! 

So for this weeks Jack Rabbit lesson, I thought I would show you why Picket is called a black tail jackrabbit.   When observing a black tailed jack rabbit, they tend to keep their tail held upright, against their rump, especially when they feel threatened.  It helps them to blend in with the desert brush.  Fortunately, Picket almost never keeps her tail tight, so it was very hard for me to get a photograph showing it.  Instead, I had to wait til she was asleep and position the tail for a photo. But you can see that the fur looks very coarse and prickly (although it isn't) and would blend in with desert brush very easily.   The fur of this side of the tail is called Agouti, which is pretty much the same as the rest of her body (exception being her belly which is a creamy white color and the tips of her ears which is black). 

 However, the top side (dorsal side) of her tail is a mix of agouti along with a very dark stripe of black. Starting at the tip of the tail, this strip of black goes up to the start of her rump and then abruptly ends.  Outside of her ear tips, this is the only black on her. 

Here's a photo that shows not only the black tips of her ears but also the abrupt end of the black strip at her rump.
And that is why they are called black tailed jack rabbits.  There is also a white tailed jack here in the United States that has, as you can imagine, a white tail.  They are much bigger in size then Picket will get (and not nearly as cute lol)

White tailed Jackrabbit (picture from Wikipedia)
 Adult white tails weigh between 5-10lbs where Picket will end up weighing in somewhere between 3-6lbs.  White tailed Jackrabbits are also get a bit longer, being close to 30 inch from nose to rump where Picket will only be around 24 inches.

She's still got some growing to do :)
Well, there is the latest update on our favorite bunny girlie.  I should end this now because she has shown great patience in waiting while I write this, however, she keeps letting me know that I need to put the computer down so she can lay on my chest for her nap.

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