Monday, January 09, 2017

2016-17 Homeschool Curriculum Choices

I'm a little late on our 2016-17 curriculum choices, because I really have lost track of this blog since the littlest jibberjabber came along. Who knew adding one more kid to your arsenal would throw a person off so much! She's a two-nager now, by the way.
I found myself ordering curriculum for my 2nd grader and 10th grader. High School may seem scary to homeschool moms, but it really comes down to record keeping. Keep track of subjects, attendance (as always), and credits: make sure you have enough for your state's requirements.


Here's our plan (which is working pretty well):

2nd grade (Millie):
  • Language arts/Math- Abeka
  • Bible- Lifepac
  • Science- Apologia Anatomy & Physiology (her choice)
  • History- Bob Jones American history
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
10th grade (Jellyfish):
  • English II (Lifepac)
  • Geometry (Lifepac)
  • Old Testament Survey (Lifepac) 
  • Science- Apologia Biology (CD ROM)
  • History- Abeka American History
  • Spanish I- Switched on Schoolhouse
  • Fundamentals of Computer Systems- Switched on Schoolhouse
  • Physical Education- Switched on Schoolhouse
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
At this point, we are about halfway through the year. Things are going well, other than Jellyfish has some work to do on his grades. I will be doing reviews coming up on Apologia Science and Bob Jones History for sure.

I work one on one with Millie in the mornings. Jellyfish only needs my help periodically, and I field all Math and Science questions to his dad. :) I think its important to stick with the same curriculum in LA and Math from kindergarten through 7th or 8th grade, so that they get a solid education that is built upon year after year. We stick to Abeka in Math and Language Arts, but are flexible in other subjects. I always try to give my kids choices when picking curriculum. That's why we're doing Anatomy & Physiology in 2nd grade. No, she is not "getting" it all, but when we redo it in 4th or 5th grade, she will have a good knowledge base.

Hope your year is going well!










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Saturday, January 07, 2017

Review: Apologia Anatomy & Physiology

I had heard of Apologia for several years from other homeschooling families in our coop. I had always heard good things about them, and since Science is not my strong suite, I decided to give them a try. Their mission statement further convinced me this was the right decision. 

"The mission of Apologia Educational Ministries is to publish curriculum and resources and provide services that help homeschooling students and families learn, live, and defend the Christian faith." from Apologia website 

As a Christian homeschool mom, that is my objective also. To teach my kids to "learn, live, and defend the Christian faith." In this day and age, it is imperative that our kids truly know the Word of God, as people misinterpret and dilute it daily. 

Apologia presents Science (and other subjects) from a Christian perspective yet gives them a solid education in the subject matter. Here are some thoughts about Apologia Biology:
  • The Superset includes student text, student notebook, test & solutions manual, audio CD, and instructional DVD.
  • It's a little pricey (in my opinion).
  • Definitely a high-level course and requires seriousness to pass. They don't play around!
  • We ordered the Full-course CD Rom to save money...maybe a mistake...
Money really paid a major role in my decision to NOT buy the Superset. I did not have nearly $300 in my curriculum budget to spend on one subject. I generally prefer to have physical books as opposed to reading the computer.

This course was extremely challenging! The subject matter was intense even for a high school Science course.  The first few chapters cover the subject matter of micro-organisms, bacteria, fungus, and all the kingdoms. Jellyfish became bored with it and could barely pronounce the words, much less remember much about it. He passed the tests on these chapters, but I really don't think he comprehended much about it. 

The full course CD-ROM literally just has the text and few "on your own" mini quizzes. It also comes with a CD to print off tests, study guides, and chapter reviews (answers also included). I found some websites with videos and supplemental resources that help in the daily lessons and experiments. Most of the experiments require things that we don't necessary have available. 


This course was extrememly challenging. He is a pretty smart kid, but admittedly Science is not his best subject. Still, I think the subject was off even for a high level Science course. I probably won't order from them next year, unless I thoroughly review the scope and sequence.

Also, I admit it may have been easier if we had ordered the Superset, with physical books.

If you're looking for a challenging, thoroughly study of Biology...Apologia might be for you!










Wednesday, January 04, 2017

DIY Homemade Cleaners

For those of us who make our own cleaners, we all probably have our preferences. I am posting this today because I get asked from time to time what kind of cleaners I use and how I make them. And I also need a place to store my recipes!

First of all, start saving your bottles, especially the cute ones. Also, save those sprayers, even if you throw the bottle away. If you have a cute bottle without a sprayer, just match up a sprayer with your bottle. It's really simple! Here is a list of basic, cheap ingredients to keep handy. I buy the cheapest possible supplies at the cheapest prices! 
  • 2 cups good smelling, cheap hair conditioner (Suave works great)
  • 3 cups white vinegar
  • 6 cups HOT water (I use a little less water to thicken it a little)
Mix conditioner and hot water, then add vinegar. Mix it well, and store in a container that is easy to pour. I use about 1 Tablespoon per load. (I store mine in an empty Purex Crystals container. It has a pourable spout and I HATE Downy bottles.)

  • 1 part vinegar
  • 1 part water
  • 1/2 lemon (or substitute a few drops of essential oils; I use tea tree oil because of its antiseptic qualities)
Mix well and use on just about anything. I use it on all of my surfaces including the patio table and chairs! Use a dark, glass bottle if using essential oils. This one is $10 bucks (free shipping) at Walmart.
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•2 Tbl. Rubbing Alcohol
•2 Tbl. Vinegar
•1 Tbl. Cornstarch
•1 ½ cups hot water

I used hot water and a whisk to mix it all up good, then pour it into my chosen spray bottle.

Important: It does not take very much of this to get your surface clean and clear. Spray a little on your mirror (or whatever) and rub until its gone. If you have a trouble spot, just spray a little more on your rag and wipe. I was so impressed at how clean my windows and mirrors were!  The cornstarch is the key! I hope you love it as much as me.


  • 1 box Borax
  • 1 box Washing Soda
  • 1 box Baking Soda
  • 1 box Oxyclean or All-color Bleach
  • 1-2 Containers Purex Crystals
  • 2 bars Fels-Naptha or Zote Soap (optional)
Mix it well in a large paint bucket that has a tight lid. Mine lasts about 6 months, but that all depends on how much laundry you do! I do 20+ loads a week. I tweak this recipe from time to time depending on what I can find in the store. If you don't like a particular ingredient, substitute it for something else! This is really a versatile recipe & I only use about a tablespoon per load.


  • a few drops of Dawn dish soap (or use your favorite brand)
  • Water
  • Scrub brush with empty handle (similar to the one pictured)
Mix well and place in the shower. It makes it easy to just pick up the brush while you're showering and scrub things down.
My floors are a mixture of tile and wood laminate flooring. For several years, I bought swiffer refills until their prices kept going up, and I got tired of spending the money. I love my Cedar O mop because it is refillable with any thing you please, and the pads are washable. 
 Multi-purpose cleaner
Click to buy Gain
 Cedar O
Click picture 

I just fill the container with water then add a few drops of my favorite all-purpose cleaner (Gain) or add some of my homemade stuff. Gain is my weakness; I love the smell. It lasts a long time because I literally only add a teaspoon of Gain per refill.


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Thursday, September 10, 2015

2015-16 School Year

Our 2015-16 school year officially started on August 24.  We weren't completely ready, plans were a little sketchy, and we were still waiting on a few books, but we started anyway. One of the first objectives: get into a routine. This year I have a 9th grader, a 1st grader, and a 1 year old.  Whew! I'm tired just thinking about it.

1st grade curriculum:

  • Abeka....pretty much all the way. They have a good solid phonics program that I highly recommend!
  • Piano lessons from mom
  • Gymnastics class

9th grade curriculum:

  • Bible-New Testament Survey (Lifepac from Alpha Omega)
  • English I (Switched on Schoolhouse)
  • U.S. History to 1877 (making our own curriculum; preparing to take the CLEP exam)
  • Algebra I (Saxon)
  • Physical Science (Abeka)
  • Spanish I (Instreamia.com then switching to Switched on Schoolhouse) 
  • Piano and Guitar lessons 

The kids have a list of things they have to do before school starts each morning. Having these things done makes our day easier to get started.

  • Make bed
  • Get dressed/brush teeth
  • Pick up room/Take care of dirty clothes
  • Eat Breakfast
  • Feed cat and dog

I also have some goals to accomplish before school starts in the morning. I try to check emails, start laundry, unload dishwasher (with help from kids), and grab breakfast before I start school. We normally start about 9:30, although nothing is set in stone- the joys of homeschooling! We are very flexible, but generally work until noon, then take an hour break. We reconvene about 1:00 and work until done. Millie (1st grade) doesn't have much to do in the afternoon, just a little reading and Social Studies. The baby will play for a while, but we do a lot of running after her. She is climbing and getting into everything. I normally don't allow TV while we're in school, but the baby will watch Sesame Street and that helps me finish work with the other two. 

Things to think about:
 
  • Yearly Portfolio-it's better to start this right away. It is much harder to keep up with everything if you wait (don't ask me how I know).  Keep up with field trips, art projects, sample work, grades, etc.
  • Grades, attendance: find a program to use (I use Homeschool Helper). There are several to choose from. Or you can do it the old fashioned way...pen and paper.
  • Number of weeks: figure out a tentative schedule for the year. Consider holidays, breaks, and days off so you know how many days/weeks you have total. This is helpful when planning curriculum.

Here's a peek into our school year so far. Ignore the destruction in the background...we live here!




Thanks for stopping by, 
Laurie

Monday, October 27, 2014

Where Are We?

So it has been a while since my little blog got some attention. It seems that mommy's attention is quite the rare commodity these days. I feel like I'm running in circles most days, and can't seem to accomplish half the things on my ever-growing list.

This little gem is partly the reason. And she is SOOOO worth the trouble. 
She was born August 25th (via c-section) and after a week in the NICU, we came home and it has been cah-razy every since. We didn't start our homeschool until October. My type A, planned-out, bordering on psycho personality is on vacation this year...replaced by the somewhat crazy, fly by the seat of my pants, take it a day at a time twin. 

Millie has started Kindergarten and is doing great! Jellyfish is in 8th grade and has answered the call to preach. We are so excited and feeling very overwhelmed by God's blessings. 

Yes.....my house is a hot mess most days. The laundry basket miraculously fills up like the widow lady's oil vessels in II Kings 4. No.....we haven't done any cute fall crafts yet this year, and the thought that Christmas is only 59 days away scares me senseless!

My motto this year:
Forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before. I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 3:14)

When I have a bad morning, I am trying to put it behind me, forgive myself and everyone else, and move on to a GREAT afternoon. Keep on trying...pressing toward the goal!



Friday, July 18, 2014

Weekly Highlights: July 18th

This week has been incredibly nice with below average temperature and humidity. We usually don't have these temps in July, but we're in a pattern of having a hot week, then a cool week. I love it!
Jellyfish and daddy went fishing Tuesday and caught enough to have a family fish fry that night. Yep, Jellyfish caught the BIG one and dad caught some little ones.  We had fried catfish, hush puppies, and french fries for supper! 

Unfortunately, Jellyfish got sick later that night and was puny the rest of the week with a nasty stomach bug. I will probably have to take him to the doctor because he doesn't seem to be able to shake it. Millie's allergies have been on the rampage, I'm sure because of this crazy July weather.

I am working this week to get ready for our fall start of school. I have lots of new Kindergarten resources coming up, in addition to my new Kindergarten tab at the top of my site. I am currently working on a Kindergarten SCIENCE curriculum guide that will be complete with printables, experiments, posters, and much more! I can't wait to share it with you!
Scenes like this one, full of office supplies, make me happy. I can't wait to go school shopping for glue, crayons, and other stuff. I'm goofy like that. Here's another shot to leave you with...
Have a great week!

Don't forget to check out my new page: Kindergarten Resources.


Monday, July 14, 2014

Kindergarten Resource Page

I am working on getting organized for next year.  With a baby coming at the end of August, I know it's gonna be tough to get going afterwards! Millie is starting Kindergarten, so I'm trying to get ready. I have been thinking about ordering a box curriculum for her, but I realize when I look at the scope and sequence, she is already a few months into the curriculum. Anyway, I'm gathering links, supplies, ideas, and so on....to do kindergarten. I will adding more to it throughout the summer, so check back often!

I have added a new Kindergarten tab at the top of my website! 

It has links to printables assessment pages, GLE's, goals, sight words, free curriculum resources, and much more! I am doing this really for myself, but I'm sure there's someone else out there in my boat too!

I hope you will check it out, and please message me if you know of a good, cheap or free, resource I am missing.

Thanks,




Friday, July 11, 2014

Weekly Highlights: July 11

My week started with a check on our baby girl. I got a good report even though I've been feeling crummy! It's just the baby taking up lots of important space in my mid-section.  Not a lot of fun....only 6 weeks to go!
My kids are going stir-crazy. The heat has been back to our normal summer "Mugglies"! The humidity can be overwhelming here in Southeast Missouri. My kids stay outside for a few minutes then they are back inside and smell like little doggies. They have been in the pool quite a bit.  We're gonna have to revisit some of those field trips I've been writing about or find some new ones. Jellyfish is working on his blog as a summer project. Like mother, like son...hopefully he's a lot better at it than me.
I am currently reorganizing my house to prepare for baby and fall homeschool, which will tricky after my C-section. I have been stalking Pinterest for new ideas. Even when we order a "box" curriculum, I always like to keep it fun and exciting for my kids (and me). Some things I have been looking at this week: 


Has LOTS of anchor chart ideas for upper grades. Here's one of her charts:
I also love this idea. We do a lot of anchor charts, but once we move on to another topic, we are stuck with this "beautiful" chart that really is in the way!  Teaching my Friends gave us a great idea for storing them and keeping them for later use. Check her site out!
Teaching My Friends
Oh, and I also pinned the "Best Nacho Recipe Ever"...which has nothing to do with anything...except this pregnant lady has been craving Mexican food all the time! We have it so often the hubby says our baby's gonna come out saying, "Hola!" I remember eating something like this years ago, so I'm def gonna try this one!
The Best Nacho Recipe
Link: http://reluctantentertainer.com/2014/07/the-best-nacho-recipe/
We are finishing up the week with a birthday celebration for my mother-in-law and more swimming!

I hope your summer is going well! I would love to hear from you....

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Favorite Homeschool Things

As a homeschool mom, I find myself collecting lots of "things" that I just know I will use for homeschool. Especially with my little one...I am always making games and activities for her. The Dollar Tree is my friend! There are some things I have noticed are staple items that I cannot imagine homeschooling without. If you get a chance to purchase these items, I highly recommend them!

Laminator Love
I have a Scotch laminator like this one and we use it all the time! We use it for games, lessons, projects, and even household items. I can't imagine homeschool life without it! You can buy laminating sheets at Sam's Club for about $20 for a bunch (like 500).  They are not Scotch brand, but work fine!
iPad
This is definitely one of the more pricey homeschool items we own, but totally worth it. We use it for educational games, Homeschool Helper (for mom), reading free books on the Kindle app, and more. It is handy to take on trips and use just about anywhere.

Kodak Printer
We made the switch from our HP a couple of years ago and I could not be happier! Kodak has some of the cheapest printer ink in the industry and as homeschoolers, we use a lot! It saves us money in the long run instead of ordering lots of extra activity books. I can get a cartridge of ink at Walmart for $10. Also, if you ever have trouble with it, their customer service is fast and friendly.

Crafty items

These are def the most used items in our house and it seems like I am constantly buying replacements. Both of my kids LOVE to draw, color, make things...and make big messes! Here are some staples we cannot do without.

The Crayola dry erase activity center was a find at the beginning of last year. We use it so much. Here Millie is doing some addition strategies with blocks from the dollar tree! The activity center comes with several laminated card stock sheets, but you can use your own papers easily. This saves a lot of printing for my little one. We have to keep plenty of dry erase markers around for this also. We use dry erase crayons for writing on regular sheet protectors, another printer-ink saving idea!  I made my preschooler a book of activities (writing name, number practice, calendar fill-in, etc.) she had to do everyday...all inside sheet protectors which were erased daily.  We found that dry erase markers are harder to get off the sheet protectors.
 

Sticker Love!

If you make crafts, lapbooks, games, or anythings similar for your kids, a sticker machine is wonderful!  We used to use elmers glue, but it leaves your pages wrinkled and we like to keep our lapbooks around to look at for a long time. I have used it for labeling totes for storage, yard sale items, kitchen labels, and lots more. We have both of the ones pictured above, because sometimes just need a small sticker. The cartridge for big machine is about $10 at Walmart, but lasts a long time. I forget to mention TAPE, because our walls look this this most of the time:

Yep...I finally had to hide the thumbtacks!
I hope you get the chance to invest in some of these products! I always look for products that might save me money in the long run. I truly love these products!
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