Thursday, August 30, 2012

If You Can't Be Deep, Be Funny!

Ladies and gentlemen, I am pleased to announce the new additions to the Mathis family! No, I have NOT had another child but I am Auntie and Momma this evening as I picked up my niece and nephew today. My sister and her hubby and flying to New York City!!! Repeat with me, I am not jealous... I am not jealous! Is it working? :)

I have my nephew (2) and my niece (4) until tomorrow when all five children (mine included) will be headed to Papa and Noni's! Needless to say, my house is full of giggles, running, shrieking, and playing. As a result, blogging will be a minimum today, pizza is ordered, and a movie is playing! So, I say if you can't be deep, be funny! Here are a few of my favorites from Pinterest!



And, lastly, one of my ALL-TIME favorites!!!!

Happy Blogging!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Tweet, Tweet, Blog Hop!

Good morning everyone! Angels Academy is finally back in full swing this week after sickness has swept our students and staff! ;) We are still getting over the final stages of it but man, oh man, it was a doozy! I am thankful everyone is on the mend!

Today, I thought I would talk about social media! To some, this word means an increase of traffic and great connections. To others, it is just something else to remember and keep up with! This week I found some great information about Twitter by Simply Kinder! She has also started a Blog Hop so that we can find each other in Twitterland! LOL (Is that even what you would call it?)

Twitter Linky

Anyhoo, I have found that Twitter is a great way to find new ideas and quickly share something I am doing or resources I have found without having to blog about it! I also have my facebook and blog attached to Twitter so that when I update my blog, all three are updated! Pretty cool, huh?

Maybe you would like to join the Blog Hop! Here is what you do! (You can also find the info at Simply Kinder!)

1.  Grab the blog hop code and post on your blog.  
(At the end of this post is "Get the Blog Hop Code.")
2.  Grab the graphic to put in your blog post.  
3.  Link a DIRECT LINK to your Twitter.  
(If you are a teacher without a blog, please feel free to link up as well!  Just skip steps one and two.)

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

NEW K, 1st, 2nd, and 5th Grade Resources!

Busy beaver... that would be my nickname. So, weeks ago, I promised to complete the Common Core MEGAPACKS which include checklists, assessment records, and posters for all of the standards in a particular grade! I am pleased to announce that I have completed K, 1st, 2nd, and 5th! Each individual subject pack is also available! If you like what you see, click on the pictures to head to my Teachers Notebook site. If you would rather reach my TPT site, click on the link below each picture. I hope they are something you can use! I will let you know when 3rd and 4th grade packs are complete!

Monday, August 27, 2012

A Day in the Life...

Many wonder what a day might look like when peeking into a homeschooler's home. Here is what Angels Academy looks like thus far!

~ 7:30 the Angels start rustling up out of bed. Mom has already prepared yummy morning muffins with oatmeal for a well-balanced meal. NOT! We are a cereal eating family, Frosted Flakes and Mini Wheats being some of our favorites.

~ Everyone must be completely dressed (sans shoes- the perks!) with their bed made, sitting in the living room for family Bible time by 8:00.

~ Family Bible time and prayer

~ 8:30 school starts! We begin with Math, Em works on a morning Math starter while I teach NatNat her lesson. While NatNat works on her Independent Practice, I teach Em her Math lesson. While Em completes her Math Independent Practice, I teach NatNat her Language lesson. (Dizzy yet? tehehehe)
I continue this same flipflop pattern during Language and Writing. Lastly, we complete Science which we get to do together. Throughout the day, I am able to snag 10-15 minutes segments to work with my Sunshine on learning activities. During the rest of the time, she has free-play and art.

Since we are doing a semester schedule, we are able to get finished with the day by noon. Woohoo!

~ After all school work and projects are complete, the girls read library books and get ready for their tests to earn points online (you can read about that here) while I prepare lunch.

~ Lunch

~ After lunch, afternoon chores are completed. They each have a couple of things they do every afternoon that helps keep the house running and keeps Mom from doing nothing BUT run! :) Also, Em asked if she could work with Sunshine at the end of the day on letters, numbers, and colors. Ummmmm, sure! I heart homeschooling!

After all school work and chores are completed, the day determines what we do next. Mondays will usually include errands and grocery shopping. If it is Tuesday, we go to the library after chores. If it is Thursday, we usually have to go down to the church to prepare for the evening service. Some days, we will just see where the wind takes us!

This is a link up with Not Back to School Blog Hop.

Buttoning Down the Hatches!

As the winds and rain start heading to our neck of the woods, I thought it might be important to ask for your patience should I lose my electricity or should it be dangerous to be on the computer. :) As I have lived in Florida most of my life, tropical storms and hurricanes are something to keep an eye on but not FREAK out about! It is always wise to take precautions and they are talking about flooding in our area. However, if there is one thing I have learned about these storms, they can do ANYTHING at the last minute! Today I am praying for my many friends and relatives dealing with the weather! As for Little Angels Academy, the jury is still out on whether we will have class tomorrow. My children would consider that a downside to homeschooling; we don't have to use hurricane days! Be safe everyone and if you get a chance, go check out my teacher stores! They are filled with new resources you won't want to miss out on!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Heart to Heart Sunday

Good morning friends!  As yesterday was a whirlwind of birthday fun, I was unable to sit down. At a computer to blog? Fahgetaboutit! The party was a great success celebrating my beautiful girls. Here they are smiling for Mom, AGAIN! :)

For this Heart to Heart Sunday, my heart is full of gratitude for my precious girls, NatNat on the left and Em on the right.

When my hubby and I married, children were not in the equation for a good 5 years or more. We made it 5 months before I found out a precious baby was on the way. To say we were stunned is an understatement. I can vividly remember the days of pregnancy, the HUGE belly and the difficult delivery. But I can also remember the precious bundle they placed in my arms that beautiful morning in August 11 years ago. Yes, I said 11!!

Three years later, Hubby and I welcomed another little girl into our family. I can remember the moment Hubby walked into the room with Em in his arms. Her Daddy brought her over to introduce her to the new addition and asked if she would like to give the baby a kiss to which she clearly replied, "No, she is all yucky." She asked for us to make sure the baby was nice and clean before giving any kisses! But from the moment the baby was placed in my Em's arms,  NatNat gained a second mother.  Now 8 years later, my NatNat is a funny and playful young lady.

The two girls in the picture above hold such a precious place in my heart. It reminds me of the Scripture from Psalm 127:3  "Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward." It took work bringing them into this world, and it takes work to do my best in raising them to be Godly girls, but they reward me everyday with their love, character, and devotion to God as well as their family. My heart is full on this Heart to Heart Sunday; so while I wipe away my tears of blessings and joy, I want to say, "Happy Birthday, Em and NatNat! Mommy could not be any more proud of both of you!"

Have a blessed Sunday everyone!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Reading and Writing Freebie Friday!

It is Friday and how this week has flown by! I am so pleased with how our first week has been going here at Angels Academy. I will post about our week in a glance tomorrow. Today, I wanted to offer a freebie to both homeschool families as well as school teachers!

Reading is a passion of mine and one of the reasons I became a teacher to begin with! I wanted to make students as passionate about it as I am! So, I decided to create a writing and drawing worksheet that allows students to respond to a story. The first worksheet asks them to write about the characters and setting, summarize the main events, and express their favorite part of the story. The second worksheet asks them to draw their answers. This would allow a student from any reading level to respond to the text. I hope you can use it!

*UPDATE* An error was found in the original document! This has been corrected and the new document has been uploaded! Thanks so much!

You can find it here at my TPT store and here at my Teacher's Notebook store. 

Freebie Fridays

You also won't want to miss checking out some of the other deals I have going on in my store. Posters, Common Core, printables, and more!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Calling in Sick!

Fevers, cough, asthma flareups... oh my! This is the kind of day we are having around here. :( My little Sunshine is sick and I am under the weather myself. So, today we had a half day. I was amazed to get up this morning, a little later than I normally do, to find my oldest two sitting at their desks reading a book. We then completed Math, Language and Writing before I had to call it a day. We were ahead in Science so this doesn't hurt us.

The rest of my day is being spent snuggling my Sunshine and trying to rest. This day did get me thinking about how other hoomeschoolers handle days like today. Do you prepare a sick day lesson plan? Or, does the "school" get an impromtu holiday? Over the last few years, I have used video curriculum that helped through this type of day. But now that I am their full-time teacher, I would like to have a plan. What do you do? Do you have any tips to share?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

NEW K, 1st, and 5th Grade Resources!

I have been missing in action from blogging today as I have been working on two separate projects! First, I have been working to expand my Common Core resources. I have now updated my TPT store with the Kindergarten and 1st grade Reading CC standard packs! As always, each pack includes "I can...." checklists for students, a standards checklist with notated standards for the teacher, and posters to hang in your classroom! Currently, there are three themes available: Zebra/hot pink (a favorite), beach, and apple print. These packs match the Math CC Standard packs already available! I am now working on the Language Arts pack to complete the sets for Kindergarten and 1st grade which I will also sell separately and in a MEGAPACK! So, stay tuned! If you are interested in any of these packs, just click the pic!

Lastly, by special request, I have created a 5th grade MEGAPACK that includes all of the Reading, Math, Writing, Speaking and Language Arts CC Packs that are available in my store but for a discounted price! This would offer a great way to record student progress and post CC standards throughout the day.  This will be the first MEGAPACK that I have put together and I am very excited about it! Let me know what you think! If you would like to check it out, click the pic!

My second project is preparing for a double birthday party for my girls! My two oldest angels are going to be having a party this Saturday. They were born two days apart so this is an expensive time of year, which by the way, gets more expensive every year! We are going black and white zebra, with pink and turquoise accents. Of course, Pinterest has been taking up much of my time as I am looking for inspiration! Oh my... so many fanstastical ideas! I will post pics of the party this weekend!

Do you have any birthday ideas to share??

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

New Common Core Item for 5th Grade!

Since I have been in homeschooling mode for a couple of weeks, I have put some of my educational resources on hold. However, at the request of a follower, I decided to put together a common core math packet for 5th grade. This reader is wanting a rockin' music theme and I was happy to comply!

The packet includes:
~self-assessment record for each student (Perfect for Math Journals)
~Math Standards checklist
~ a student assessment record with correlating standards for your records (Perfect for Portfolios) This form also includes a way to notate dates of instruction, assessment grades, and dates of remediation.
~Math Common Core Standard signs that can be posted during the lesson to identify the objective of the lesson and give the students a method in noting their own progress in their Math journals.

I hope it will be a use to all of my teacher friends in the 5th grade! Currently, I have Common Core Standards packets for Kindergarten through 2nd grade, and now 5th grade. I will by working on 3rd and 4th grade this coming up week. If you have a specific theme that you would like to have, please send me an email or comment! I can work on it for you as I did for my Rockin' reader!

Here is what one buyer wrote about the Common Core Standard packets on Teachers Pay Teachers:

"I love this item, it fit in perfectly with my zebra themed classroom. I cut out, laminated, and now post the standards I am working on that day under my objectives. I am also using the checksheet for the students in their data folders." tmett78

You can find these packets here on TPT and here at Teachers Notebook. Enjoy!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Angels Academy Pictures!! (Such as they are...)

(This is a blog hop by ihomeschoolnetwork! Since I was unable to post pics last week, I am doing two weeks together! I love, love, love checking out other homeschool pictures!) 

Okay, so I probably deserve the Mommy fail of the year. I cannot find my charger to my good camera. So, we have had to just settle for phone pictures for the first day of school. *sigh* Oh well, it will at least give you a glance into our day! The entire day was smooth and the girls actually begged to keep going but the teacher put her foot down for the first day of school. I know that there are going to be many days they will be PRAYING to stop! teheheehehe

The lessons were completed without pain and I am really pleased with the semester approach I am taking. You can read more about it here and here. Our days are not as long and laborious. The girls were up, dressed and finished with morning chores thirty minutes ahead of schedule. Family Bible time was fun. The hubby decided to read the story about the man from the Gaderene tombs.  My three year old Sunshine got this out of the story: "There were pigs and they died!" Hey, at least she was listening! That is a feat for my toddler.

Math, Language, and Writing were fun today and I am relishing the newness of it all. While I was balancing the 3rd and 6th grade teaching, I also had my Pre-K student to keep busy. WOW! We went from writing on the white board, building blocks, and coloring within 12 and half minutes. I confess she went to watch an *educational television show* while I taught Math to my older girls. Don't judge me! But, we were able to accomplish "sewing" to increase eye/hand coordination, numbers, and writing. For that I am proud!

So, without further ado, here are the beautiful students of Angels Academy! I am sorry for the grainy pics... *sigh*

My Musician

My Writer

They have my heart completely! Here are a few pictures of our first day back to {home}school!

Here are pictures of our classroom! We are decorating with a western theme this year by the request of Angels Academy students. :)

Thanks for checking us out!
Have you seen our curriculum for this year? You can read more about that here and here

Check out other cool homeschooling families here!

Not Back to School Blog Hop

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Heart to Heart Sunday

"But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble."  Matthew 6:33-34

I am not sure what is going on in your universe, but this Scripture has been a needed reminder for me lately. With all that is taking place in my hemisphere, sometimes it is hard to look into the future and not feel anxiety. This morning I am having to preach to myself about what trusting God actually means. Trust does not come into play when everything is smooth and without struggle. True trust is evident when one looks into the eyes of difficulty and refuses to give way to fear. 

You see, I have learned over the years that God has my life in the palm of His hand. This trust did not come without having to face a few trials. In fact, it came because I faced the trials and God came through for me. Did that mean tears were not shed? No... but the trust kicks in when we have been given the opportunity to see how faithful our awesome God is to us! We can then look back to the past and gain faith for the future. So, my goal is this: seek God and let tomorrow be taken care of by the One who holds the universe in His hands. I am sure my concerns do not worry the God of all; rather, it is an opportunity to once again show me how much He loves me. That is an amazing God! 

Happy Sunday everyone! I hope that you were able to put God first today. :) I will definitely need Him to help me with our first day back tomorrow! School will officially be back in session! I think a new box of Keurig K-cups and a chocolate bar are in order. :)

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Special Delivery!

It was delivery day at Little Angels Academy!! I absolutely LOVE new textbooks and I was so excited to get their first semester books in so that I can make my plans. As a former teacher, it doesn't take me too long to write my lesson plans when I have my materials in front of me. So, I sharpened my pencil, grabbed my lesson plan book and got to work! Does anyone else do lessons the old fashioned way? When working at the public school, they began making transitions to electronic lesson plans and I happily complied. But, there is something about writing out plans in pencil. It makes you feel prepared, yet flexible. 

One challenge that I had with these plans was the fact that I am working in a semester framework rather than a yearly framework. We are doing the Language book and Science book only for this semester. I was a little concerned at first but then figured out a way to make it happen! As I explained here, we are doing Apologia Astronomy which is set up to work two days a week. I simply doubled that so each lesson would be completed in one week instead of two. Looking through the Science book and notebooks, I am really excited about this subject!

A harder challenge came in with the Language since it is created to last all year. However, I made a discovery that helped me out. I had already planned to make Writing our Focus for this semester. Call it a special area if you will. While looking through the Language book by Bob Jones, I realized that every other lesson was built on a writing genre. Each chapter could stand alone and did not have to follow the one before. This makes it ideal to do all odd numbered chapters in Language period, and all even numbers through our Writing period. One book will cover two areas! By planning it in this way, we will only be two chapters shy of being finished at Christmas break. Each chapter takes a couple of weeks so we will only need to do it through January and start our next semester the beginning of February! Whoo!! Did you get all of that? LOL 

Anyhoo, to make a long story short, my semester plan is doable! Yay! We will just see how it goes in practice. One of my favorite parts about creating our own homeschool schedule is knowing that I can plan for breaks when we need them. For instance, my hubby and I are going on a cruise in September. I am planning for the girls to have that week off as well! I am also planning for a week at Thanksgiving and three weeks at Christmas. :) Love it! 

Thanks for swinging by! I hope to have pictures up soon but I must find my charger to my camera. Ahhh!!! I just had it! Don't you love how something can disappear?! Happy blogging!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Midnight Serenades and BTS Shopping!


You will have to excuse me! I was up for quite a while last night as I was serenaded from my window. Oh, yes! Be jealous! My slumber was kindly interrupted by the beautiful singing of our cat. o.O Now, if you have never heard a cat sing, you would not know of the beauty of it's screams, shrieks, wails, song. I was just waiting for my daughter to come busting into my room terrified that her precious kitty was being torn apart, bit by bit by some menacing animal. Um, no dear, that is just the neighboring kitty. :D

Anyhoo, on a brighter note, we were able to go Back to School shopping yesterday. I always print out school supply lists for the girls and my father takes us all out to shop! Back to school shopping is a bit of a tradition since I was old enough to attend school. The girls had a wonderful time and it was all so precious to watch my little Sunshine (who will be in K-3 with Mommy this year) carry around her list, eagerly throwing things into the buggy. She has explained to everyone that she is having a Snow White school. ????  How is Mommy pulling that off? I guess we can count the princesses and name the colors of their dresses. LOL Gotta love homeschooling!

In further news, our classroom is now complete and looks like some rootin' tootin' fun! We are having a western theme this year and it turned out great. Our school books come in today and so I will be spending the weekend preparing schedules and organizing materials to prepare for..... wait for it..... OUR FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL on MONDAY! Yeehaw! Round 'em up pardners, it is time to learn!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Running from the Comparison Bug!

"Look at her! How does she manage to look amazing AND raise kids?!"

"Wow, her room is amazing! Why can't mine look as awesome?!"

"She is such a fantastic writer! If I could only have a blog like hers!"

"I wish I could insert talent here like she can! I am just not good enough."

How many times do we allow these types of thoughts to race through our head? We are constantly bombarded with perfectly attractive people on television, fantastic Moms or teachers online, and uber-talented craftiness on Pinterest. We see amazing talent in our churches and sometimes feel unequal to others. The side-effect is that we begin to compare ourselves to the pictures we have in our heads. As a result, we become a mathematical genius using such signs as

I don't know about you, but this can be an exhausting process! Living our lives to continually become someone else is wearisome and counterproductive. The most amazing thing I have ever done is find my completeness in Christ. But even still, I have to fight the urge to compare myself with others who are more talented, better speakers, or (dare I say it!) more beautiful! But this is what I had on my heart this morning, and what I hope to keep in my mind! Comparison is a spiritual killer. When one looks at another to compare, it will only serve to lift up up in pride or destroy the confidence we have found in Christ. There will always be others more talented, likable, or attractive. But, the wonder of being a part of Christ's body and a part of this world, is that we are not SUPPOSED to be like another. We have been created to fill OUR role. We were made uniquely for this role and no one can do it like we can! 

There is great freedom in deciding to become the best me I can be, rather than the best copy of someone else. Today, I choose to run from the comparison bug! I will look for ways to continually move forward in my own journey without trying to jump onto someone else's path! I choose to leave the Math for finances, because comparison is a never ending staircase to a completely unsatisfying prize. 

Keep your chin up! As one of my favorite authors once wrote, "Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You!"

Happy Blogging!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Upside Down and Inside Out!

My schoolroom is topsy turvy today but I am beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. The girls now have their classroom library set up and that is what I am most excited about! I am a book nut! You can throw away just about anything; but never, ever, never throw away books! So, as a result, I have them coming out of my ears!

I am so pleased with how the room is coming together. I still need to finish organizing the paperwork, OH MY! I also need to get all of the cutesy western decorations up but I think it is going to look awesome! I hope to have the room completed by this evening. I would love to have it all up so that I can link with iHomeschool for their classroom pictures... ummmm... that is my goal anyway.

Another goal that I have is to create the girls' lesson plans. Because I am going by a completely different schedule, it will take a bit of thought. I am really excited about the semester scheduling rather than yearly scheduling. But, it still needs to be put into practice successfully. This is what our year will look like:

The first question you may ask is: "Why aren't you doing reading all year?" My answer would be that while they are completing their Language and Writing program as well as their electives, they will be doing plenty of reading. The girls will also be using reading programs to earn points. They will just not have a "reading textbook." For the Spring semester, they will get the opportunity to use what they have learned in Language Arts and Writing from the Fall to complete research papers, book reports, and other projects correlated with their reading.  

Math will be all year long as well as Spelling and Vocabulary which will be built off of their Science or History for that semester. By splitting Science and History into two semesters, I am hoping to streamline their learning and make it a much deeper learning experience. 

Have you ever used a semester schedule? What did you feel were the perks or downsides of it? Share your thoughts below!

BTW, for all of you who read my post from yesterday which you can read here, The CHAIR won! I have it cut shorter than I planned and the cutest highlights. What can I say? I was no match for the power of the CHAIR! :)
Happy Blogging!

Monday, August 13, 2012

The Power of the Chair!

Today, I have made an appointment for the all important hair cut!  I am way past due and am starting to look a little shaggy. I made the appointment a week ago and have been debating on what I want to do. I seem to always have a plan until I sit in THE CHAIR! It seems that when I sit down, my plans leak from my ear and I am like, "Hey, let's try that!"

I have very fine hair that makes it difficult to have volume if it is long. So, lately I have been cutting it into stacked layers in the back that graduates into a bob in the front. I have also recently went back to my dark hair color after having highlights. I am still on the fence about getting color again. Do you see my problem?! The minute my fanny hits that padded black chair, I am already starting to wonder about doing something different. *sigh* What is worse is my hair dresser is always giving great ideas! Today will be a battle between "The Plan" and "The Chair!" We shall see who rises from the ashes as victor in a couple of hours!

I will keep you updated! I am also planning to link up with iHomeschool Network to show pictures of our schoolroom as soon as I get the last few things finished. Hopefully, this evening! Toodles and happy blogging!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Congratulations! Amazon Winner!

Happy One Month Anniversary To Me!! I know this doesn't seem like long, and well it isn't. BUT, I am a firm believer in celebrating the little things! It makes life fun and interesting! If we take joy in the little things, the big things are even that much more special. Large goals are met by meeting a string of smaller goals. A journey is made step by step, and a song is written note by note. 

So, as an anniversary celebration, I have been running a little giveaway and I am pleased to announce the winner! The winner of the $20 Amazon Giveaway is...

drum roll please...

Congratulations Mindy! Check your email for verification!

Thanks to everyone that took part! I look forward to walking this journey with all of you. Happy Blogging!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Blog Series: Curriculum Walk-through Part 1

Don't Forget!! Today is the last day to enter the $20 Amazon give-away! Click here to enter! I will be announcing the winner in tomorrow's post!

As a homeschool parent, I love researching curriculum and reading about what other homeschool parents have chosen to use. I also like to glimpse into the rationals of WHY they chose what they did. So, I decided to begin a Blog Series that would explain the rationale of WHY I chose my curriculum for my kiddos. I hope it is a help to you as you create your own journey.

First UP: Science!

Okay all! I am going to be honest today: Science is not one of my favorite subjects to teach. I know, I know!!! Why wouldn't I like it with all of the cool experiments and projects?! It has just never been a subject I was excited about, even in school. I would learn what I needed long enough to ace the test and then move on. I think it was the fact that growing up, Science could be very boring... packed with information in HUGE textbooks. Even for a child that loves to read, Science just didn't excite me. This was a problem that I had last year with my girls. There was sooooo much information packed into their books and they had to travel through it so fast, they couldn't retain all of it! So, this year I have decided to change curriculum.

Before I began a search, I sat down to consider what I wanted it to look like. I knew that I wanted to find a curriculum that focuses on one area for an extended period of time. This would help enforce and promote retention. It would also create an opportunity to "dig" into the topic. I also knew that I wanted something that would be hands-on as well as textbook oriented. I like a combination. Lastly, I wanted there to be some writing involved to reinforce their language art skills. I plan to pull words from their Science to help create their spelling lists.

After figuring out what I wanted, I started to look for what was available. I am one that loves structure in the classroom. Chalk this up to the schoolroom teacher in me but I don't want my child's education to be hit and miss. I researched Christian curriculum and secular curriculum.

The curriculum that I chose is written by Apologia Educational Ministries.  (Disclaimer: I have not been compensated for any of this. I am just writing about personal experience.) They offer great resources for other subjects as well but I am starting with their Science curriculum this year. I am so excited! For the elementary age, there are six topics: Astronomy, Anatomy, Botany,  Flying Creatures, Land Creatures, and Swimming Creatures. I decided to let my children choose what they wanted to learn about first and they chose Astronomy! They will have a textbook and Journal dedicated to Astronomy. I love that we can do this together and my girls will each have their own journal for projects. I have heard many wonderful reviews about it and look forward to using it this year!

I have also decided to split the school year into two "semesters" kind of like what you would see in College. For the Fall Semester, or from August till December, my kiddos will work through Science. For the Spring Semester, January through May, my girls will work through their History curriculum. This is a new approach and I will let you know how it goes!

So let me ask... Have you ever used Apologia? What did you think?

I have linked up with an Apologia Blogroll at My Joy-Filled Life! I am excited to meet others using this curriculum!

My Joy-Filled Life

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Reading is the magic key...

Reading is a love, a passion! I was the child who would stay up till the wee hours of the morning trying to finish her book with a flashlight or sometimes by the light coming through her window!! I have the glasses and poor vision to prove it! As my girls have grown, I have tried to pass this on to them as well, maybe not my obsession but at least a love. I would like them to be able to see when they get older!

Both of my girls are great readers, but I want to make sure they understand what they are reading! I want to know about their comprehension skills and not just fluency. This probably stems from my experience as a public school teacher. In the classroom, I often used assessment to ensure that my students were gaining ground in their reading abilities. As a homeschool parent now, I wanted a way to measure their growth and monitor their progress but I had to go looking for ways instead of the assessments being handed to me. Here are just a few tools that I use in our reading program to encourage and assess their reading! (Disclaimer: I have NOT been paid by any of the following programs. I am just simply noting personal experience.)

Book Adventure is an online program sponsored by Sylvan Learning. It works similar to Accelerated Reader in the public school system. My kids can look up books on the site that are in their grade level. They have so many popular choices. They then read their book and take a test to assess their comprehension. Good scores earn reward points! They can then use these points to receive a reward (from a list that I have chosen for them). I love the control that I have as a parent and my ability to track their reading. I can print out reports that will let me know what they have read, taken tests on, and earned. Love it!

Did you know that the Book It! Program is available to homeschoolers?! I was so excited to see this as it is a program that I used in my classroom. The kids LOVED earning their cetificates each month for a free Pizza Hut pizza. Now I can use this at home for an incentive! I have already ordered my pack and am eager to get our charts set up!

Lapbooks are another great way to assess comprehension of a book or series. The picture above links to Homeschool Share which has many great lapbook templates for free. Basically, a lapbook is made out of folders stapled together that fold out and create an interactive book report. Each lapbook template is different based on the book and is a way for students to showcase what they have learned through the literature. For instance, a lapbook about Little House on the Prairie might include places to note how they would have dressed, what they would have eaten, etc. It would also note important action sequences as well as the plot. Lapbooks can vary and are very easy to implement. The girls loved putting them together. 

I have noted just resources I use to encourage reading and track growth in my reading program. Of course, reading curriculums and guided questions are both important as well. However, I love the fact that I can use these methods with their favorite topics and stories, not just with a reading textbook. 

Do you have a great reading resource to share?? Comment below!

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