The Sacred Sprouts Schoolhouse

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Week Two Confessions

It’s a whole lot of work to school two kids separately.

In fact, this last week was so much more work than I even vaguely anticipated.  Merging the two cores together has not gone quite as smoothly as I’d hoped.  And for most of the week, I felt like my head was going to explode, trying to keep track of what had and hadn’t been done yet.

So going into week 3, there are some changes afoot.

The first change being that when Zander is done with his school day, he is dismissed to do whatever he would like until Science time.  I was having him sit in and listen to Abigail’s history and read-alouds.  And you know what?  He finds it fascinating, but it’s just too much for him.  Plus, he’ll be getting it all again in several years anyway, I might as well let him go do something that will make him happy.

Abigail still wants to listen to Zander’s read-alouds, mostly because they are books she’s never read or heard before.  And that’s fine, but while she’s listening, she will also be working on something from her school day.  English and History projects fit the bill nicely here.

Both kids enjoyed school last week, but by the time the school days were over, I was exhausted!  I decided that things just couldn’t continue in the same fashion for very long, or we’d all go crazy.  So I came up with a plan. And spent some time working on this coming weeks plan, and I think I came up with a solution that will make things less frazzled.

Here is my picture:

I took my IG pages to the photocopier and made copies.  Then I punched holes on opposite sides of the page so that I can have my binder open to both kids lessons at once.  Right there, this is going to make a huge difference!  Zander’s is on the left, Abigail’s is on the right.

The biggest change for next week is that I am giving Abigail the reigns to her school day.  She can look at her page as well as I can and see what she needs to get done that day.   I’ve highlighted for her in yellow the things that her and I need to do together- mainly this week that will be Spelling and her Read-Aloud.  Everything else, she can see what needs to be done, and she can do it in any order she feels like.  The number one rule is that when something is completed, she needs to give it a big old “X” so we can see that task is done for the day.

We will still start out our school day together with Bible and then Handwriting for both kids.  But after that, Zander and I will tackle his day and Abigail can tackle hers in whatever way she chooses.  In fact, I’ve even suggested to her that if she wakes up in the morning and feels like starting school on her own, she is more than welcome.

We’ll see if this helps me to have a little more energy in the afternoon to, oh, I don’t know, do something constructive like laundry or make dinner.  This last week I didn’t want to do anything by the time we were done with school.

Bringing order to the chaos is our number one goal.  I’m hoping that giving Abigail a little more independence will work wonders for her, and I’m also hoping that I’ll be able to keep Zander on track by giving him my undivided attention for the first part of the day.

Good thing we’re flexible here!

posted by Erika in Lesson Plans and have Comments (2)

Tick-Tock, Tick-Tock

It’s finally arrived.  The Sacred Sprouts Schoolhouse goes back to school Monday morning.  Two days before the rest of the city around us, actually, but when I figured out our calendar, and explained to the kids that we wanted to be able to take a full three weeks (maybe four) off for Christmas, they agreed with the idea of starting a little early.

Our first few weeks are going to be a bit of an adjustment period, but I’m at least happy with the direction our first week should be taking.   The biggest thing I’ve been trying to figure out is exactly how to work the two different Cores together so that our day runs smoothly.  Well, for the first week, I’ve decided to not use one of our cores.

I know how Core 4 will run for Abigail.  It’s a smooth continuation from last year, and we’re all looking forward to it.  What I don’t know, is how our Core K material will flow for Zander.  So our first week will be Zander’s core only, with all the other go-withs added in.  We’ll get those first five days to adjust, and I’m hoping that as the week progresses, I will figure out the natural places to integrate Core 4 the following week.  Technically, then, Abigail will be behind by a week as far as the core work goes, but we had no problems last year condensing about six weeks total, so we’ll get back on schedule in no time.

Here is my plan for that first week.  Hopefully by actually getting my thoughts down here, it will make more sense to me- and I’ll see any errors before we get there.

We’ll start out our day with Bible and the Pledge of Allegiance together.   Following that, both kids will move to the table to work on Handwriting, which only takes a few minutes.  After that, we move on to Math.  Abigail should be able to work independently for the most part, allowing me to concentrate on working with Zander.  Although these first few weeks are going to be a piece of cake for him- I expect math class will take about 10 minutes or so.

After math, we move on to History and Geography.  This week it will just be Zander’s materials, and since Abigail’s math will take her much longer, I’m thinking that Zander and I will go over his materials together, just the two of us, and Abigail can join in when she is finished with math.   After that, twice a week we’ll also be working on map skills and geography- the kids will have fun with that one.  Monday will not be one of those days.

Next, we’ll do reading.  Abigail will zip off to read her book for the week, while Zander will read out loud to me.  Abigail’s reading will obviously take much longer, so while she continues reading, Zander and I will work on his Spelling and Language Arts together.  If all goes according to plan, we should finish that up about the time that Abigail is done, and then her and I will do her Spelling and Language Arts together.   Once that is all done, we will read any Poetry readings all together for the day, followed by our Read Aloud.

That sounds like a perfect week and line-up to me.    Wish me luck as I try to figure out where to work in a second Read-Aloud and a second batch of History and Geography readings the following week.  Science we’ll be adding in later on as it’s taking me longer to gather materials than I expected.    All in good time.  That really just makes it easier to adjust to back-to-school mode and get a good routine of sorts going on.

posted by Erika in Lesson Plans and have Comments Off on Tick-Tock, Tick-Tock

Weekly Planning

This past weekend I was told I need to update this blog more often.  I will try, because I know many parents and potential parents are wondering the same things I was wondering not all that long ago.  Can I really homeschool?  Can it be successful?  How hard is it- really.

Yesterday I did my weekly prep while we sat in the living room and visited with family.  A football game was also on.  My weekly prep time is a direct reflection of the curriculum we’ve chosen for our family- and I thought I’d share what I do, because it is so, so easy.  I know from talking to other homeschoolers that one of the considerations of a curriculum is time we parents need to put into it.

So the first thing I do, is I take out my giant Sonlight binder.

big binder

I learned the very first week of school that this binder is way too big to be hauling out every day.  So instead, I have a working binder that I change out every week.  This is working great!  I take out the old weeks work and put in the new weeks work.  I also check to make sure that I have the correct sheets for history, the reader, and our read aloud.  Language Arts has its own tab as well.

working binder

Here is what my blank week ahead looks like.  I love my instructors guide! It’s so neat and orderly.  Everything is carefully ordered for me- we’re using a five day format, but on the flip side of my pages is a four-day format for those so inclined.  The IG sheets list Bible, History and Geography, Reading, and Read-Alouds.  There are blank spaces to add in your math, science, and whatever else you are adding in.  The Language Arts IG is similar- it lists spelling, vocabulary, handwriting, readers, and daily LA work.  Had I ordered science from Sonlight as well, I would also have a science IG sheet.  Next year we’ll be doing SL Science.

blank guide

My task each week- which I do Sunday afternoon is simply to go through the week to come.  I make sure that I have the correct guidesheets for the history, readers and read-alouds.  Then I check what Zander will be reading, and make a weekly schedule for him- simply listing the pages each day.

Then I need to add to my weekly sheet.  I add sections for math for each child, I add science, and then I add in any extras we’ll be doing- our History Pocket work, DVD’s, music class and gym class.  It takes just a few minutes to plan out my week in each of these. Here is my filled out sheet.  I use pencil- because things are always changing.

filled guide

And that’s really it.  I look closer at the science to make sure I have everything on hand for any experiments, but other than that, my week is now ready for me.  It takes me maybe 30 minutes total to plan out my week.

Now each day, all we have to do is sit down together to start school.  Daily I make any copies I need, and each day at the end of the day, all our books go back on the shelf in the order we’ll use them the next day.

Next, I hope to share about our daily “schedule” and I use the term schedule very loosely.

posted by Erika in Lesson Plans and have Comments (3)

A Tentative First Week Schedule

The thing about homeschooling for the first time is that I really have no idea how long things are going to take.  How long is it going to take us to do daily math for example?  Or how long does that science experiment actually take to do?

I have no clue!

So for a first week schedule, I have a rough outline as to the order of the day.  To begin, it’s pretty much going to be the same everyday, except that we’ll alternate health and science, and then Friday we have gym class with the cousins.  As we get more comfortable with the curriculum, I’m also hoping to be able to make Friday a bonus day. What I mean by that is that when I look at our core curriculum pages, there are five days laid out for me.  If we are having an easy day, or Abigail feels like tackling extra work, she may work ahead within the week on a subject, to possibly eliminate that subject on Friday.  I expect she will readily do this with her reading, as I doubt she’ll want to stop with the pages that are assigned and may well read ahead.

As we become more comfortable, we are also going to be adding more in.  Music and Art are on the agenda, and we’ll also be adding Life Skills, which is just what it sounds like.  Life Skills will be (at this age anyway) an introduction to household chores.  Laundry, cooking, cleaning, organizing , all worked in to the day on a regular basis.  Of course, I also have aspirations of adding even more to our days- I’d love to learn a language as a family, and while we’ve decided to start our science year with Astronomy, I’m also eyeing up some other options to add in.  I’m trying really hard to not go overboard. :)

So here is our tentative Monday thru Friday schedule:

Monday:

  • Bible
  • Math
  • Reading
  • History/Geography
  • Language Arts/Spelling
  • Science
  • Read-Alouds

Tuesday:

  • Bible
  • Math
  • Reading
  • History/Geography
  • Language Arts
  • Handwriting
  • Health
  • Read-Alouds

Wednesday:

  • Bible
  • Math
  • Reading
  • History/Geography
  • Language Arts/Spelling
  • Science
  • Read-Alouds

Thursday:

  • Bible
  • Math
  • Reading
  • History/Geography
  • Language Arts
  • Handwriting
  • Health
  • Read-Alouds

Friday:

  • Bible
  • Math
  • Reading
  • History/Geography
  • Language Arts/Spelling
  • Science
  • Gym

This entire schedule is subject to be changed and tweaked.  AND this is just Abigail’s schedule.   As we slowly add in Zander’s curriculum, I hope to be able to figure out how best to work the two together so that I am spending enough time with each child.   We’ll likely end up doing Bible and Science together, but everything else will be a careful ballet of balancing individual schedules and needs with independent work.

posted by Erika in Lesson Plans and have Comments Off on A Tentative First Week Schedule

Under Way With Summer School

Tomorrow morning is the first official day of the Sacred Sprouts school year.  I’m a bit anxious to find out how the dynamic of Mommy-as-Teacher is going to work out.  I am optimistic that we’ll figure it out over time, and am hopeful that this summer school time period will give us a chance to work things out before the full-blown school year starts up.

I’m taking it easy on the kids as far as summer school goes.  I’ve given Abigail a full four weeks off of any learning whatsoever to let her manage her days however she wants.  It’s very, very interesting to note that I’ve let her literally do whatever she wanted, both kids actually.  And yes, that has meant a great deal of video game time and computer time, but there has also been a lot of outside play time as well, and overall, it’s been rather nice not being nazi mommy and letting them do whatever they want.  What’s really interesting though, is that this week, I’ve noticed that they are tired of doing whatever.  They’re ready for something different, and ready for a change, so this is a perfect time to whip out a few weeks of summer school.

For summer school, I’ve decided to give the idea of Workboxes a try.  If you haven’t heard of workboxes, it’s an interesting tool to help organize your school day.  There are many methods to using workboxes, but the idea is that it gives a visual of what each child needs to accomplish for the school day.  If you do a google search on homeschooling and workboxes, you’ll see all kinds of wonderful examples.  With two children schooling, I think that workboxes may be a good way to keep both kids on task and give them small goals to reach throughout the day.  Of course, the workboxes can be used for fun as well.

For our workboxes, I am using simple cardboard magazine file boxes that I bought at Ikea.  For summer school, each child will have four workboxes which I will load up the evening beforehand, so they are ready to go right away in the morning.   Here’s a photo of Abigail’s first three workboxes:

abigail-1

In her first box, she has two math workbooks, one on fractions and one that is multiplication and division.  In the second box there is a notebook, an envelope, and instructions to write a letter.  In her third box is a chapter book, and in the fourth box, which is not pictured, is Wii Sports, with a note to play for 20 minutes.  Here are Zander’s boxes:

zander-1

In his first box, we have two of our Rod & Staff workbooks that we’ve taken a break from.  We will continue on the A book and work on writing his numbers in the C book as well.  In his second box are two easy reader books for him to read to Mommy.  In the third box is a book of mazes, with instructions to choose three to do.  In his fourth (again, not pictured) box is the computer game I Spy: Fantasy, with instructions to play for 20 minutes.

And here is a photo of the boxes lined up on the shelf, waiting for tomorrow.  They’ve been there most of the day, and the kids haven’t even noticed them yet, silly kids.

system

I also wanted to share an idea I have for leaving instructions in the workboxes.   If you look in the boxes, you’ll see a notecard paper-clipped to the front of the books.  On this notecard is written the instructions for the day- how many pages to read, who to write a letter too, and how many minutes to play.  Except these are not just notecards.  This is a pack of flourescent blank notecards that have been laminated.  I wish I could take credit for these, but Abigail brought them home on the last day of school because her teacher was getting rid of them.  I was on my way to toss them in the garbage, when the idea of how to use them came to me.  I can use a dry-erase marker to write instructions on the notecards, and then later on I can just wipe them off and re-use the notecard a hundred times over.  I think it will work very well- especially if we continue with the workboxes.

supplies

I confess I have no idea how much it would cost to laminate a package of notecards, but honestly, we could use these things for years and years, that it might be well worth the cost for lamination.

And so, our school year officially begins tomorrow morning.  I will be sure and report back as the week goes on.  Wish me luck!

posted by Erika in Lesson Plans and have Comments Off on Under Way With Summer School

Preschool Schedule: “Z” Week

So why continue with the preschool?  Well, Zander is really enjoying learning right now, and I just really feel like I need to keep it going.  While we are immensely sad about the early end to his preschool experience, it gives both of us a chance to dip into the world of homeschooling and see how we take to it.  I have no doubt there will be a lot of adjusting over the next two months, but hopefully we’ll get into a rhythm that suits us well.

For our first two weeks of homeschooling, we have a sort of outline to follow already to help us get our feet wet.  During the course of formal preschool, Zander has been learning a letter a week, and there are two letters yet that they have not gotten to yet- Z and Q.  So this first week we will be exploring the letter Z and the second week will be devoted to Q.  I am also going to stick with the three day format, although our actual school time will certainly vary.

Since finances are an issue for us this time of year, I’m going to be relying on books we have already, our library, and internet resources.  One such resource is The Learning Page.  I discovered this back when Abigail was in kindergarten, and have always loved it.  It’s  a free resource that even schoolteachers can use- all you have to do is sign up for it.  What I like it for is the worksheets, many of them tie together, so you can easily put together a little workbook for just about any preschool and early grade school subject.  I also found this week as I was perusing that they do have lesson plan guides, which I found extremely helpful when planning what to do with our letter Z.

So for this week, here is my tentative lesson plan.  All told, learning time should only be about an hour.  The projects may take it longer, and with some built in computer time as well, who knows how long our actual school day will take.

Tuesday:

  • Read and Learn Bible: “The First Seven Days” pg. 3-8
  • Alphabet Adventures Workbook: pg. 32 “Z” and pg. 51 “Zany Play”
  • Song “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah”
  • Numbers 0-31 Workbook: pgs.18-23 “circles, squares, triangles”
  • Read Zebra by Caroline Arnold
  • Craft: Large white paper Z to glue on black zebra stripes
  • Computer time: Mighty Math Zoo Zillions
  • Read-Aloud: Geronimo Stilton

Wednesday:

  • Read and Learn Bible: “God’s Garden” pgs. 9-13
  • Z Writing Worksheet
  • Numbers 0-31 Workbook: pgs. 24-27 “cylinder, sphere, cube”
  • What is ZERO?
  • Read Zella, Zack and Zodiac by Bill Peet
  • Zoo habitat matching worksheet
  • Make Zebra Stripe cookies
  • Computer time: Clifford’s Reading
  • Read-Aloud: Geronimo Stilton

Thursday:

  • Read and Learn Bible: “A Sinner Is Saved” pgs. 398-401 (Zacchaeus)
  • Song: “Zacchaeus Was A Wee Little Man”
  • Zipper writing sheet
  • Numbers 0-31 Workbook: pgs 28-31 “cylinder, cone, sphere, cube”
  • Read Zip Goes Zebra by Richard Hefter
  • Reading Comprehension worksheet
  • Zebra cut-outs, make camouflage paper habitat
  • Computer Time: Thinkin’ Science
  • Read-Aloud: Geronimo Stilton
posted by Erika in Lesson Plans and have Comments Off on Preschool Schedule: “Z” Week