Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Starting the New School Year

Our family is getting ready for another school year.  We are putting together our curriculum and resource choices.  We are also planning outings for the new year.  In a few days we will be sharing our pics for the 2011-2012 school year, but would love to know what you use in your homeschools.  Please leave us comments to share with other homeschoolers as they too prepare for the new year!  Share your curriculum choices, websites, or other great resources that you think could help someone else.

Gratitude and love,

Dorcus

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Summer Break Reading Challenge Sweepstakes

Pizza Hut's Book It program is offering a summer reading challenge. Students who were in grades k-6 during the 2010-2011 school year are eligible to participate.  Students who read at least 5 books between June 15-August 15 will be eligible for the drawing.  Visit the website to read official rules and to print your entry form!

Portfolios

Portfolios are a great way to assess your child's educational growth each year.  In some states they are even required for homeschooling.  If so or if you're unsure, you should check with your local department of education before beginning.  You'll want to do this because some spell out specific documentation needed each year for submission.  Once you are aware of your requirements, if any, you can begin the fun task of creating your child's portfolio!

There are several things that could be displayed in your child's portfolio to demonstrate academic progress.  These include, but are not limited to, tests and grades, sample work, pictures of projects and/or field trips, certificates earned, reading lists, field trip lists, lists of learning objectives, and notes from instructors.  Be sure to include items from each subject.

After compiling what you would like to include you can decide how you want to showcase your portfolio.  You can begin simply with a three-ring binder separated into subjects.  You will want to display each subjects work in chronological order  to show progress.  I personally enjoy scrapbooking, but have very little time to do it.  The portfolio provides me with an opportunity to bring out my creative side and delve a little into scrapbooking.  Keep in mind that in my state, we are not required to maintain portfolios. I still maintain a portfolio just in case we move to an area that requires one and mainly because I enjoy reliving the moments spent with my children!

Here are a few samples from one of our portfolios:

1. Educational field trip photos:



2. Language arts:

3. History:



4. Math:


5. Science:


Here are a few more resources I found online with information on creating portfolios:

http://donnayoung.org/forms/planners/portfolio.htm
http://homeschooling.about.com/od/recportfolios/Records_Portfolios..htm


 I hope you have found this information useful. Let me know what you think.  Also let me know if there are any other topics you would like to discuss.

Peace and blessings,

Dorcus

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Interactive Neighborhood Kids

Homeschool Day at Interactive Neighborhood Kids occurs the first Tuesday of every month.  The next date will be on June 7, 2011.  Homeschoolers receive 1/2 off their regular price admission.  Hours are from 10:00 AM - 5:00 pm.  INK is located at 999 Chestnut St., Gainesville, GA 30501.  This is a fabulous and very interactive learning trip for elementary aged children.  We had a blast on our visit learning about careers and jobs.  Here are a few pics from our trip. Hope you enjoy!





Thursday, May 19, 2011

Atlanta History Center

Homeschool Day at the Atlanta History Center, tomorrow, May 20, 2011 from 1pm - 4pm.  Tickets are $7.50 for non-members, $5.50 for children of members, and free for adult members.  "Books that Changed History" is the theme for this event. Be sure to check their site for more details.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Tennessee Aquarium Home School Day

One of our favorite field trip sites is the Tennessee Aquarium.  They will be hosting their Fall Home School Day on September 26, 2011.  Discounted tickets are offered starting at $6.50 for students and $22.50 for parents on this day.  Check the site for the tickets best for you.  We will definitely be there!  Hope to see some of you there too.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Walt Disney World Homeschool Day

Disney Homeschool Days have been posted! The fall program is scheduled for the week of October 3-7, 2011. Classes are scheduled in various parks for all ages.  For those who live close by, take advantage of their Individual Enrollment Youth Educational Programs.  Package prices vary.  Check site for more details! 

Monday, May 16, 2011

Center for Puppetry Arts

The Center for Puppetry Arts, located in the Atlanta area, has several offerings coming up. Shows include Jack and the Beanstalk, Martha Speaks, and The Ugly Duckling.  Tickets are just $10.50 per person and include a performance, museum admission, and create-a-puppet workshop!  My kids loved it! Be sure to visit site for show dates and times!

Colonial Williamsburg Fall Homeschoolers Experience

Colonial Williamsburg will be hosting their Fall Homeschoolers Experience September 10 - 25, 2011.  Be sure to check out site for more details. 

Stone Mountain Park Homeschool Day

Home School Day at Stone Mountain will take place on September 30, 2011.  Hours will be from 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.  Home School Day Adventure Pass Tickets will be $17.00 + tax.  See site for more details!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Out With the Old and In With the New!

We have reached the point in our school year where it's time to say good-bye to our current books and make way for the new ones!  It is time to move on to newer and brighter things.  While we are excited for the new year, there were a few housekeeping things we needed to attend to first.

First on the list was to take care of the record keeping.  Each state has different rules regarding this.  Some states require nothing at all, while others require attendance records, testing, and/or other types of evaluations.  It is always a good idea to check your state requirements to ensure that you are in compliance. There are also several different forms of  record keeping and how you manage your home school will guide you into the ones that  will work for you.

For me, I decided to combine two forms of record keeping.  The first is a Homeschool Cumulative Record. This file folder has slots for you to keep up with your child's progress from first grade through high school.  It also provides areas to track testing, achievements, and extracurricular activities.  Each year, I record the subjects we covered and the final grade.  If it is a required testing year, I also include the name of the test and the date taken.  Inside of the folder, I paperclip the current report card, attendance records, declaration of intent, immunization records, and any applicable testing results.

Why did I choose this method? Simple, for consistency.  I wanted an easy form of record keeping that I knew I could follow all the way through high school.  I did not want to have to change record keeping style later on.

We also make a home school portfolio.  These are a lot of fun!  I love scrapbooking, but barely have the time to do so.  Making portfolios allows me to preserve samples of my children's work as well as pictures of memorable moments each year!  And I get scrapbook while doing it!

In our portfolios, I include samples of work from each subject.  I make sure to pick samples from different parts of the year in order to show progression.

After the record keeping was completed, it was time to clear out the school room.  Each year, we get rid of things we do not need or cannot reuse.  We take pictures of art work and things they did that year and include in the portfolio. The rest has to go.  As much as I would love to hold onto everything, the fact remains that we don't have the space.  Whatever curriculum is being reused is filed away.  This year we made a few changes to our school room in order to make things easier to find.

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  This was supposed to be the living room!

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We used crates to store all of my teacher editions and lesson plans away by subject.

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All of the kids supplies were separated by subject for easier access. We used simple crates from Target for $3.

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These are our science resources separated by subject matter. To make this, we used two wire cube shelving units.  We just stacked them on top of each other and and labeled.
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Entertainment center used as storage for school supplies, laminating machine, printer, and other things.

Well that's that.  We're done with all of that and getting ready for next year.  Time to make lesson plans and see what cool field trips are available!

Peace and Blessings,
Interactive Homeschooling




Thursday, May 12, 2011

Getting Organized!

It's been several days since I've been able to post information here.  We are getting organized for the new school year.  Once we get things together we will share some organization tips.  Will also share our curriculum choices and new resources with you. 

Hope you all are having a wonderful day in your homeschools.

Peace and blessings,

Dorcus

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Working and Homeschooling!

Three years ago, our family began its homeschooling journey.  It was not an easy decision to come to because I wasn't quite sure how to juggle working and homeschooling.  You see, I had this marvelous vision. I envisioned myself providing the children with a lively learning environment that would be completely engaging.  And while I was doing this I would somehow cook three-square meals a day, keep up with all of the housework, get the kids to all of their activities, squeeze in some fun time with them and the hubby, and manage to work full-time as a labor and delivery nurse!  Boy, was I so wrong.  I was headed for failure.

In the beginning, everything was cool.  As time went by, it began to take its toll.  Keeping up with school, the house, and working twelve  hour shifts was getting to me.  Laundry had piled up and I was making lesson plans late at night after working all day.  I began to feel like I wasn't cut out to be a homeschooling mother.  That was three years ago and we are still here, homeschooling.

We are still here and the children are learning and growing so much.  They are enjoying their activities.  We are traveling together and visiting places we have read about.  Does that mean that everyday is a perfect day, no. 

What I've learned is that if we get all of the laundry done and the house is spotless then that's great.  But if not, then that's o.k. too.  You see, it is not the laundry that defines us.  Our children do.  From the thought of conception, they define us.  When we chose to teach them at home, they defined us.  Our children define us with every new lesson they learn and milestone they reach.  They are what makes us homeschooling mothers and I am proud to say that I am one of you!

Set your priorities and let them guide you into finding the right balance for your family.  Doing this may take some time, but keep at it.  Don't give up.  Keep trying different things.  Find a support group where you can talk with an older homeschooling mom who's learned to juggle it all.  Most importantly, remember that you are not alone. 
 
Peace and blessings,

Dorcus

Friday, May 6, 2011

Six Flags Over Georgia Homeschool Day

Six Flags Over Georgia will be hosting their spring home school day on Friday, May 13, 2011. On this day the park is only open to homeschoolers.  It will be closed to the general public. If you plan on attending this event, you must purchase tickets in advance.  These tickets will not be available on the day of the event.  See flyer for more details.

Six Flags Over Georgia Homeschool Day!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Grammer

GRAMMAR

It took us two years of trying different programs out but we've finally settled on a program that all of my children have come to love.  (This is very rare since they are all so different.)  The program is called  Easy Grammar By: Wanda C. Phillips.  This program is taught using the prepositional approach which was very different from the other programs we used.  Taught by grade level.  It After a few weeks, my eldest child asked me "Mom, why didn't we get these along time ago?"  Priceless coming from my un-medicated  "ADHD" child. 

The program comes with the teachers edition which also contains student workbook pages.  If you chose to you could simply copy student pages, but I wouldn't recommend.  The student workbooks are affordable and cheaper than the ink.   I would also recommend the daily review book that accompanies this set titled Daily Grams.  This gives a one page, daily review lesson on various grammatical topics.  We love it!





Geography

Geography

 Each year, I found myself copying the same old pages of maps and other worksheets for my children.  Africa was still Africa and a mountain was still a mountain, just on a different sheet of paper and printed with another cartridge of ink!  I began searching for ways to integrate geography for each of them.  Also wanted to cut back on printing costs.  This is how our "Big Geography Book" was formed!

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When you open it up completely, it looks like this...

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And it easily folds up to be stored like this...

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Each continent has its own pocket which was made with 2 pieces of thick  12x12 card stock, laminated side by side...

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Then the sides were stapled to create pockets...

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It contains political and physical maps for each continent that were laminated and bound.  This way they could practice with dry erase markers again and again, from one year to the next...
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Created a cover page for a  vocabulary folder, filled with notebook paper and added divide tabs.
Notes folder was also added...
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And lastly, a section on landforms.  The cover page was created...

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And worksheets were also created...
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Each of these folders were attached to the pockets using velcro dots.  This way they could be removed with ease and returned when done...
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And there you have it!  Our "Big Geography Book"!  
Here are a few of the resources we use for practice and projects:
 
The Wold Reference Maps & Forms  By: Jo Ellen Moore
Beginning Geography  By: Evan-Moor Publishing
Children's Illustrated World Atlas  By: Rand McNally and Company
Africa   By: Jo Ellen Moore
Europe  By: Jo Ellen Moore
South America   By: Jo Ellen Moore
Noth America   By: Jo Ellen Moore
Australia   By: Jo Ellen Moore
Asia  By: Jo Ellen Moore

Websites:
http://www.reachtheworld.org/geogames/Play-GeoGames.html

http://web.mit.edu/~jmcmicha/www/globegenie/


http://geography.mrdonn.org/landforms.html


http://jimspages.com/States.htm


Hope you find this helpful.  I will be adding additional links to resources soon!

Day 3

This is day number three of our  new blog and this experience has been exciting for me.  I have learned so many things and anxiously awaiting future leaning opportunities.  Soon you will find links to various resources on our homepage.   I have posted new subject tabs to share the resources we are utilizing in our home with you.  As of this post, I have added new content to the science, language arts, and resource pages.  Stay tuned because there is certainly more to come!

Dorcus

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

School Without Walls

I'm sitting here, at a park table, watching my children play.  It is such a beautiful day, too beautiful to be spent inside.  These are the days we look forward to.  Where we can pack up the books and the laptops and just go.  Go to the park, to the lake, to a museum, the zoo, botanical gardens, or anyplace else we desire.  You see our classroom has no walls.  This view is what feeds our very interactive approach to learning. 

Our approach to learning is very hands on.  This is what excites and drives my four, very inquisitive, children.  On any given day you will find some experiment or another that one of them has decided to conduct.  Another may be up on the couch with a laptop, engrossed in one of the learning sites stored on our sitemark page.  You will also find my children playing lots of learning games together in the middle of the floor.  You see, this is their preferred method of learning.  That's not to say that we don't utilize curriculum, because we do.  We simply enjoy the freedom of not being bound to it.

See the learning opportunities in all that you do.  Take your classrooms outside both mentally and physically.  The world has so much to offer.  take advantage of it.

Sincerely,

Dorcus Ethridge 

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Introductions

Hello everyone and welcome to my new blog, Interactive Homeschooling!  I am a homeschooling mother of four and we are completing the third year of our homeschooling journey.  It has been an amazing, and thrilling, roller coaster ride so far and I'm sure there is much more to come!

This blog was created with two purposes in mind.  First and foremost I would love to share with fellow homeschoolers.  I believe that we homeschoolers have a lot to share both within our homes and with one another.  Secondly I enjoy gaining knowledge from others as well. Whether it be lesson plans, book recommendations, or our favorite web sites, we stand to gain so much from each other.  Lastly, I would like this blog to simply follow our family along our homeschool journey.

I invite you to follow us as we travel along this homeschooling adventure.  I hope to provide information that will prove useful to you and I hope to make it a very interactive process for all!

Thank you,
Dorcus Ethridge

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