NOT Back to School!

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When Ani decided to be homeschooled again, one of the first things she said was she’d get to have a not back to school day again on the first day of school for the local kids. That’s been our tradition since she started homeschooling at 4. It was really sad last year to actually send them to school on that day and not do something super fun.

NOT Back to School!

So this year we didn’t just do one not back to school day, we did two! We got a great deal for one night and two days at Schlitterbahn. I guess we made up for last year.

NOT Back to School!

We all really liked the torrent river. They take the lazy river idea and make it crazy. The weird thing is a day later we were all kind of feeling like we were being tossed around by the waves and a little seasick.

NOT Back to School!

Most of the time Cameron was off on his own riding the slides or going around and around and around in torrent river.

NOT Back to School!

Adrian brought his froggy along. He won’t swim without it yet.

NOT Back to School!

Fritz got a little sunburned, but he sure did love being there. At the beginning of summer he wouldn’t put his face in the water. Five weeks of swim lessons later and the boy is part fish!

NOT Back to School!

Jamie got more than a little sunburned. He was pretty much a lobster by the end of the second day. I reapplied sunscreen often because after two sunburns this year (I swear the Texas sun is a different sun!) I was determined not to get another one. Jamie wasn’t so diligent.

NOT Back to School!

My friend’s family (also homeschoolers) met us there and Ani spent her time with my friend’s 16 year old daughter. They had such a great time together. I think Ani was swooning over this red velvet funnel cake.

NOT Back to School!

A rarely seen picture of me. I’m not usually a fan of swimming, but a mini vacation with a night at the resort and two 6+ hour days at Schlitterbahn to end the summer/start the school year was totally awesome and fun. We just may have to do it again next year!

NOT Back to School!

Scripture Mastery Clothesline

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Every year in seminary, there are 25 scripture mastery verses the kids are encouraged to memorize. This year, the boys are going to try to memorize those scriptures along with their older sister. I decided we needed a way to keep track of who has memorized what and came up with our scripture mastery clothesline now hanging on the dining room (aka place where all the school stuff is) wall.

Scripture Mastery Clothesline

I googled and found an outline of a t-shirt. Then I opened it in PhotoShop Elements and added a list of the kids names and added squares next to their names check off when they have the passage memorized. I made 25 t-shirts, each with a different scripture mastery verse written at the top.

Scripture Mastery Clothesline

I printed them out, cut them out, and used little alligator clips to attach the t-shirts to string like they are hanging on a clothesline.

School Books by Me

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Two projects I’ve worked on this summer have been books for Cameron and Fritz for language arts this year. I had them printed using Lulu.
School Books by Me

First I did Fritz’s Dictionary. I read the seven books Fritz will be reading this year. As I read them, I came up with comprehension and discussion questions and also wrote down all the (many, many, many) vocabulary words I want him to look up. I came up with a vocabulary program for him using those words.

He will look up the assigned words in his dictionary before he does the assigned reading each day. I made the dictionary with those specific words because then I could have the exact information I wanted him to learn in there. Each definition has the part of speech and definition (as used in the book he’s reading) and also the language of origin. He will write down the part of speech and then write a sentence that shows that he clearly understands the definition. I decided to skip copying the definition because he’ll be doing copywork through Writing With Ease, plus some of the days have quite a few words to look up. He will also make a tally mark for the language of origin. At the end of the year, he’ll use that information to make a bar graph showing the language of origin frequency for all his words (#1 will be Latin and #2 will be French).

School Books by Me

Additionally, I made him some 3-part Montessori cards for most of his vocabulary words. He’ll be matching the original word with its language and what the original word meant with the current vocabulary word(s). I want him to see a little bit how words evolve.

For Cameron, I made Cameron’s English Book. I found a free font called OpenDyslexic that is supposed to make it easier for dyslexics to read. I used it throughout his book. We’ll see if it helps.

The first section of his book is 25 2-3 page author biographies that I wrote. The authors range from the early 1600s to the mid 1800s (we’re doing Renaissance to Early Modern this year). Each one is just basic information such as when they were born and died, major works, and anything interesting that happened during their life. He’ll be reading novels and poems by some of the authors. The rest of the book is some of the out of copyright poems and fairy tales he’ll read during the year.

School Books by Me

I made 3-part Montessori cards for Cameron as well. His are Latin and Greek roots. He’ll be matching roots and the language they are from with what the root means. He’ll be keeping a list of words that use each root he studies. Fritz may work through some of the roots matching cards as well.

Getting There

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Our first day of school for the 2014-15 school year has been moved to the 27th so we have exactly 2 weeks to go. And I am slowly getting to the point of being completely ready!

I’ve never printed out everything before the start of the year before and decided this would be a great year to start. Lots of paper, ink, toner, and time later and everything is printed, sorted, and, if necessary, hole punched.

Getting There

Side note: I now have hole punch muscle soreness. That is a lot of hole punching.

My next project is to do a bunch of laminating and cutting. I already know I’ll have to order more laminating sleeves. I wish I could remember where I ordered them from last time (a few years ago) since I got them incredibly super cheap.

I still need to move the bookcase downstairs and organize the papers into whatever they will go in to be used during the year and finish my lesson plans. And order a couple chemicals for the big kids’ chemistry set. And see what (if anything) I need to add to history for Cameron. And pre-read at least Cameron’s first book of the year. And probably some other things I haven’t thought of yet but will need to do before the first day of school.

Meanwhile, Ani has been working on her lesson plans. They are looking great. She’ll have a fabulous year!

2 1/2 Weeks to Go

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All week I’ve been thinking that we only have one more full week before school starts. Imagine my excitement when I realized this morning that we actually have two full weeks left of summer.

I’ve been printing (and printing and printing) this week. That’s on hold for now until Amazon delivers my new toner cartridge tomorrow. I do have some color stuff I can print in the meantime using the other printer.

I gave Cameron the placement test for Spelling Power today. No surprises. I expected he would test into Level C. He tested into Level C. He’s at the upper end, though, so the first few weeks shouldn’t be too difficult for him. Fritz is also in Level C. Halfway through since that’s where he started back in January. Cameron is awesome, though, and isn’t the least bit upset to be starting spelling behind his much younger brother. He said he knows why so it’s no big deal.

I made a dictionary (on lulu.com) for Fritz using just the vocabulary words I pulled out of his seven reading books. It arrived today. I love it! I also made a book for Cameron with the 25 author bios I wrote and then some of the poems and fairy tales he’ll be reading this year all printed in the free dyslexic font I found (that one hasn’t arrived yet). I don’t know if the font will help him in his reading, but it’s worth a try.

Fritz finished the Life of Fred Language Arts series this summer and he’s been learning to write in cursive. He’s learning the capital letters now. He’s my first kid to really take to writing in cursive.

Last week I sent in the letters to withdraw the older two from school. We got the certified mail return receipt from the high school. The one from the middle school hasn’t arrived yet.

So I’m down to 2 1/2 more weeks (but that’s better than 1 1/2!) to finish getting ready for the school year. I need to print more, do some laminating, put together notebooks, move a bookcase downstairs… Start date: August 26th.

Educational Table

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A long time ago I saw the idea on a blog somewhere to make a changeable educational table. I filed it away in the back of my mind to use someday. I finally got around to doing it last week.

Educational Table

We have a really big table (seats 8) so we had lots of space available to fill. I got a tablecloth that matches the walls in the dining room for the bottom and a hemmed plastic table cover about the same size as the tablecloth for the top.

Educational Table

On one end is a world map. It fit the end of the table perfectly.

Educational Table

In the middle are two periodic tables (since we’re doing chemistry this year) facing opposite directions so whichever side of the table you are on you can read them. We’re still waiting for them to finish uncurling since they came rolled up.

Educational Table

On the other end is a US map. I searched for one the size of the world map, but couldn’t find one the same size. This was the best I could find without being too wide.

Already we’ve had conversations sparked by what’s on the maps and periodic tables. I figure we can change what is under the plastic (at least in the middle – the maps may just stay forever) depending on what we are learning in school.