Coming Soon . . .

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My Cowgirl

“Oh my darlin’ cowgirl, 

keep your head up

and your heart strong.”

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All the World’s a Stage . . .

Blogging has taken a definite back seat to life recently.  I realized that in trying to maintain my blog by publishing a few posts a week I was spreading myself too thin.  I’m honestly not sure what the future holds for my blog but for now it’ll be intermittent at best.

That being said, I did want to update you.  Life has been busy.  Good, but busy.  We’re schooling through the summer (partly because we’re switching to year-round schooling and partly because we took a ridiculously long Christmas break.)

Summer will be a lighter load than normal though.  I’m hoping to get to a lot of the fun supplements that I didn’t have time for during the school year.

I picked up this little gem at the Florida homeschool convention last month.  It’s the Greek Alphabet Code Cracker by the folks at Classical Academic Press.  I had originally toyed with the idea of teaching Greek but eventually opted for following through with Latin. This workbook caught my eye because I like the thought that we can learn the letters and phonetic pronunciation of the Greek alphabet without having to commit to a full language curriculum.

I figure all I have to do it show my girls this fun video and they’ll be begging to learn Greek.

Shakespeare In Bits

Another fun summer extracurricular for us is Shakespeare In Bits. This software allows you to watch animated reenactments of the plays while following along with the unabridged text.  It’s currently available at a substantial discount through the Homeschool Buyer’s Co-Op.  You have the option to choose their complete package which includes 5 Shakespearean plays: Julius Caesar, Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, MacBeth, and A Midsummer’s Night Dream.  Or you can purchase the plays individually.  Mira has such an interest in Julius Caesar that I thought this would be a neat way for us to experience Shakespeare together.

Shakespeare . . . plays . . . stages . . .

Oh! Speaking of stages- my girls had their first recitals last month.  (Warning -proud momma moment.)

Ironically enough Mira’s and Stella’s first ever piano recital happened to fall on the exact same day as Stella’s first ballet performance.  It was a chaotic month leading up to the big day; and recital day in particular required a lot of running around but somehow it all went off without a hitch.

Mira performed “When You Wish Upon a Star” beautifully and I was so proud to see my shy girl perform so beautifully and confidently on stage.  Stella performed “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” and handled a mistake so naturally by simply going back a few notes to replay the measure correctly.  No panic, no despair, just a perfect smooth recovery.  Oh, and did I mention she sung aloud as she played?  So freaking cute.  My youngest, Lyra, didn’t perform this year but was given a special little trophy for being her teacher’s youngest student.

Mira and Stella had worked so hard practicing their pieces, and I know that Mira in particular was a bit nervous about getting up in front of people, so I really wanted to surprise them with special gifts to mark the occasion.

I had Mira’s necklace specially-made from this beautiful Etsy shop, The Green Daisy. We’re big Disney fans here, which was a big part of the reason why Mira chose “When You Wish Upon a Star”.  I found Stella’s necklace on Ebay.  It literally came in the most adorable box with the words to Twinkle, Twinkle inside it.  And as Stella aptly pointed out, it even looks like piano keys on the box.

After their big piano recital, we had Stella’s big ballet performance at the local Opera House.  She was Little Red Riding Hood in the production of Sleeping Beauty.

Recitals are quite the thing though, huh?  I feel like I just tackled a beast and hit a new phase with my girls.  Mira is already contemplating which song she wants to learn for next year’s recital and Stella literally came off the ballet stage asking when she can get in front of an audience again.  Turns out Stella loves the sound of applause.  Who’d of thunk it?

What about you?  What fun extra-curricular resources will you be utilizing over the summer?

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And the Stars Look Upon Her

♪ ♫  And her soul walks beside her

An army stands behind her

Lyra, Lyra

And her face full of grace ♪ ♫

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Booking Across the USA and Create Your Own Search and Find State Map

Booking Across the USA Trip 2 created by growingbookbybook.com

I’m happy to be participating in this year’s Booking Across the USA project hosted by Jody from Growing Book by Book.  Last year’s event was a huge success and showcased many amazing picture books based on the individual states of the USA.  This post contains affiliate links. See my disclosure policy for full details.

This year I had the pleasure of reviewing a book from the Travels with Charlie series by Miles Backer and illustrated by Chuck Nitzberg.  Blue Apple Books published this four book series about a dog named Charlie and his travels across the states:

 

Since my family lives in the warm and sunny state of Florida we reviewed Travels With Charlie Down South.  My daughters were immediately drawn into the colorful illustrations filled with fun details, history, and trivia facts.  

As a homeschooling mom, I really appreciated the book’s layout.  The playful illustrations are engaging and draw children’s eyes.  The main text of the page is simple enough for young readers to enjoy and its search and find format combines a fun blend of looking and learning.  Additionally,  the “Did You Know” section in the margins of the pages are perfect for older children or for parents to read and relay to younger children for adding a deeper layer of information on each state.

While enjoying our book together, my oldest daughter Mira made a request.  She asked if we could draw our own map of Florida.  I can only assume her passion in maps is stemming from our attempt at learning how to free-hand draw a world map. (You can see my short how-to video tutorials here.)  We’ve made some strides on that front and have recently moved from “blobbing” the continents to actually trying to draw accurate depictions of the world’s large landmasses.

Create Your Own “Search & Find” State Map

So when Mira asked about drawing a map of our state, I was only too happy to comply.  I grabbed our copy of The Shaping of a Nation by Terri Johnson over at Knowledge Quest in order to pull a reliable map of Florida. You could also do an internet search on your state to find a map that works for you.

Next I used our Light Up Tracing Pad which allowed Mira to easily trace Florida.

Then she created her own Search and Find map by adding the landmarks of places she loves.  (After taking this picture, we added our home and Nanny and Grandpa’s house. Because those are our favorite places!)  You could easily add favorite parks, museums, and even stores and restaurants.  Personalize your map as uniquely as you can for your family.  Another fun way to add to this lesson would be to add the places you hope to visit one day.  We added the Everglades to our map even though we haven’t been there yet.

We enjoyed this book so much that I’m determined to pick up the rest of the books in this series to complete our set.

Travels With Charlie is definitely parent, child, AND dog approved!

Enter for your chance to win the WHOLE set of 4 Travels With Charlie Search and Find Books!

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The Homeschooler’s Guide to the Galaxy

Space.  The final frontier.  Are you getting ready to tackle astronomy and study space in your homeschool?

Don’t Panic!

I bring you the Ultimate Guide To Studying Space!  I’ve compiled some of the most commonly referenced and recommended astronomy resources from a variety of homeschool circles.  I hope this list of resources and links helps inspire your imagination and ignite your journey into the cosmos.

**Please note-although I have tried to include as many resources as possible, my own knowledge of materials stem from a secular perspective.  However, in the course of our homeschooling journey I have personally found that I’m able to utilize many Christian resources by tweaking them to work for my family.  It is my belief that some of the secular resources in this list can be utilized by those with a biblical perspective by catering it to their needs as well.  As with all resources, preview it before sharing with your children.

In trying to compile a listing of both secular and biblical perspectives I have reached out to Christian friends to ask for their personal recommendations.  I would like to thank Jay Ryan from Classical AstronomyDr. Wile from Science in the Beginning, and John Wilkerson from The Wired Homeschool for taking the time to share with me some of their favorites. 

**If you have suggestions for a curriculum that you feel should be included in this list, please leave a comment.  

When applicable I will note whether the listed resource is secular or from a Christian perspective. However, those hoping to know which resources are from a Young Earth viewpoint will need to do further research into the individual Christian resources for clarification.

Homeschool Astronomy Curriculum

 Astronomy Reference Books for use with younger students

Astronomy Related Picture Books

Astronomical Reference Books for older students/adults

Astronomy Documentaries

 Astronomy-Related Websites

Online Astronomy Courses

Planetarium Software for real-time 3D visualization of Space

Telescope and Binocular Sellers

Dark-Sky Observing Site Directories

Astronomy Apps

You Tube Channels

Astronomy Related Music

*Please keep in mind this guide in no way way reflects EVERY resource that’s out there.  Feel free to email me or leave a note in the comments if you have a favorite you’d like to see added. 

The universe is immense and so are subjects that the ladies over at the iHomeschoolNetwork have compiled into Ultimate Guides.  Be sure to check out the {almost}infinite assortment of topics available for this year’s iHN Ultimate Guide collection.

 

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Homeschool Show and Tell Link-Up #1

Welcome to the first week of Homeschool Show and Tell.  Here you can share the fabulous finds and fun resources that you utilize in your homeschool.  Sure, you can share curriculum if something is truly rocking your world, but I’m envisioning the primary focus of the Show and Tell to be on those little items and resources that you stumble upon that make the educator in you squeal with delight.

If you blog, feel free to grab this image for your post.  It’s not necessary in order to link-up but it’s available for those that want to link back.  If you don’t blog I’d love for you to share your resources in the comments section or by using the hashtag #HomeschoolShowAndTell on your favorite social media outlet.

 My Show and Tell item:

Laura and Grandpa – Discovering Science Together books

You don’t have to adhere to a Charlotte Mason educational approach in order to appreciate living books.  Homeschoolers just love living books– books that are written by someone with a passion for a certain subject; books that grab your attention with their narrative storytelling versus the traditional dry text-book style of other resources; books that educate AND entertain.

Recently my girls and I attended a Family Night at a local museum and met the author of one such living book.  Dr. Robert H. Krupp has centered his life around his passion as he strives to instill a love of science and a sense of awe for the marvel of our universe into those he meets.

His series of children’s books, Laura and Grandpa Discovering Science Together, are his attempt to foster in children the desire to ask and ponder the whys, hows, and whats that surround them.

   

By using a story telling format and adding in easy experiments that families can do together, Dr. Krupp has creating fun and engaging science books for young children.

My girls and I were lucky to be introduced to his books at the museum where stations had already been set up so we could complete some of the experiments outlined in the books.

But perhaps the greatest perk of this particular series is that it gives us a chance to make our own grandpa the central figure to our day’s learning.

Now It’s Your Turn!

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Why We Switched to Math•U•See

Back in January I posted a painfully honest post about how math was just NOT working out for us.  The stress, agitation, and anxiety I was feeling must have connected with some of you because that post garnered tons of comments and emails.  In fact, that post still gets a steady stream of traffic.

I appreciate everyone’s words of encouragement more than I can adequately say.  It was such a rough time for me – floundering around like that without a true sense where we were heading.  My fear of failure in math rapidly metastasized and infected all aspects of my homeschooling life.  I won’t say I was on the verge of giving up; but I would be dishonest if I didn’t admit I questioned my decision to homeschool more at that time than ever before.

I’ve had a few readers ask me what exactly about Singapore Math wasn’t working for us and as much as I try to pinpoint it, I can’t.  I’ve stressed that I’m not mathy; I needed more hand-holding.  In any event, as a natural consequence to my faulty planning and presenting of the material, my daughter struggled with grasping and retaining the lessons.

Here– A picture is worth a thousand words, right?  In a couple pictures I’ll show you how I knew we HAD to switch.

Mira likes to draw.  During school, she’s perfected the ‘doodle’.  Seriously, ALL of her workbooks and papers have some stick figure scene or unicorn party drawn into the margins.  Sometimes it’s related to the lesson but, more often than not, just some random doodle.

Here’s a glimpse of her Latin and phonics workbooks:

Cute, huh?  I swear if she quit doodling during her lessons our school day would be done in half the time.  I used to try and make her stop but she likes it, and if a couple minutes added to each lesson help us get through our day happily, then doodle away my dear daughter.

And sometimes, as in the case of the doodles in her Singapore workbook, they serve as warning signs:

There are pages of these sad despondent faces in her Singapore books.  When these faces became the designated doodle to her math lessons– that, my friends, was when I knew with certainty that something had to change.

So after researching tons of curricula and even hosting a Currriculum Chat, I finally settled upon our next course of action:

Math•U•See

Mira’s Math-Man

We’ve only been doing it for a couple weeks now so I’m not going to attempt a detailed review at this time. I can’t say with certainty whether or not this is going to be the sought-after math curricula of my dreams. Already there are a few things about it that I don’t care for, but we’ve only just begun so we’ll stick with it and see how it plays out in the long run.

For me, the DVD video lesson component to Math•U•See is worth its weight in gold.  Mira likes to see Mr. Demme interact with the students in his videos and she’ll race to answer a question before the children in the video.

So Sad-Face Singapore has been replaced with Math-Man.  A creation Mira came up with while I was loading up the DVD lesson for the day.

For us, it’s a darn good exchange and I’m hoping Math-Man is here to stay.

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Dude, Where’s My Puppy?!?

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I Love Latin and You Can Too! – Teaching Latin to Elementary Students with Song School Latin

Latin with young children?  Why- elementary, my dear Watson.  At least it can be- with Song School Latin!

When I started our homeschool journey and contemplated the idea of foreign languages I felt rather unmotivated until a chance encounter with Classical Academic Press – the makers of Song School Latin (SSL)- piqued my interest.

Maybe it was the exoticness of Latin or the fact that I already had humdrum personal experiences with French and Spanish from my own school days.  Whatever the reason I grabbed Song School Latin 1 a few years ago and it’s been smooth sailing ever since.

We’ve been using Song School Latin since 2011.  I loved their first book so much that I waited (rather impatiently, I might add) for SSL2 to be released and stretched my daughter’s lessons from SSL1 to try and fill in our time until 2 came out.

It was so worth the wait.

Honestly I love Song School Latin 2 even more than Song School Latin 1; and I already LOVED Song School Latin 1.  My preference probably stems in part from the fact that 2 slowly introduces more grammar concepts and begins conjugation work versus the more vocab-centered SSL1.

What I Love About Song School Latin

  • Song-based – The SSL CD is filled with kid-friendly songs with your choice of Classical or Ecclesiastical pronunciation.  What kid doesn’t like to sing?  Why not sing in Latin and learn a thing or two?
  • Ease of Use – Nothing makes me happier than having a solid resource that’s not only fun but easy to implement.  SSL requires minimal prep time.  Just open and go!
  • Extras Not Needed but Recommended- It’s possible to give your young child a solid introduction to Latin using nothing but the Song School Latin Student Workbook. The lively CD is included and the workbook itself is gentle enough that parents with no Latin background can still easily teach their students.  If frugality is steering you right now, stick to the basics.  However, if you have a little extra to splurge on you can easily give your child a fuller immersion by adding on SSL’s bells and whistles: DVD, Monkey Match Card Game, and Teacher’s Manual which includes additional activities and worksheets that work great for delving deeper or using as review.
  • Make Connections – With their Grow Your English and Famous Saying sections, SSL makes it easy to connect the dots in your child’s education by giving
    relevant tidbits and facts that you can use to reinforce your other subjects.  We started a classical co-op, Classical Conversations, this year and SSL has helped my daughter immensely with the Latin memory work the co-op throws at us every week.  Song School Latin 2 introduces Latin conjugations and it was amazing to watch my daughter’s face light up as she realized she already knew the conjugations and was able to ‘see’ with SSL what’s happening to a verb when you conjugate it.

 How To Implement Song School Latin with Young Children

  • SSL is gentle introduction to Latin grammar geared to early elementary.  However, it can be made even more gentle by starting off using just the CD and holding off on the workbook.  You can read about how I did this with my pre-k children here.
  • Be sure to utilize Classical Academic Press’ supplemental website Headventureland.com where you’ll find free coloring pages, games, and videos.
  • Grab your SSL CDs the next time you get in your car.  Our SSL songs are a staple of our car rides and a fabulous resource for carschooling.

See?  Latin, my dear reader, can be elementary after all.  Be sure to check out Classical Academic Press to see the wide assortment of resources they offer for multiple languages and subjects.

Play With Your Latin With These Fun Supplements

Now that you know about all the fun your children could be having with Song School Latin, how about a chance to win your very own full program!!!  Thanks to the very generous folks over at Classical Academic Press one lucky reader will win their own complete package set of Song School Latin 1 OR School School Latin 2!  Winner’s choice!

*  * *And that’s not all!  Classical Academic Press is offering my readers 20% off everything in their store.  Use the code TS20 to receive 20% off your entire order. It is good on all products, except online classes and Singapore Math, and expires April 5th, 2014.  Classical Academic Press offers resources in numerous subjects: Latin, Spanish, Greek, Logic, Writing and Rhetoric, Bible, Poetry, Reasoning and Reading, Art and Drawing!

Me?  I’ve had my eye on these “Dare to be Wise” shirts for awhile.

Follow the Rafflecopter Widget below to enter!  Good luck!

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