Thursday, August 21, 2014

Interactive Notebooking: Spanish Verb Conjugation

     Our goal, this year, is to have all four children speaking Spanish fluently. In order to reach our goal, we are incorporating Spanish into all of our subjects and into our daily lives. To help my children become more comfortable with Spanish verb conjugation, I decided to create a few foldables for their Spanish interactive notebooks. The packet contains foldables for Spanish pronouns,  Spanish tenses, and conjugation of -ar, -er, and -ir verbs. If you're interested in this product, visit our store over at TPT.


Saturday, August 16, 2014

Spanish Numbers 1-100 Activity Pack Freebie


     I've just completed a few activity sheets to accompany my children's Spanish number unit and wanted to share them with you for free. You can download a free copy of this pack from my TPT store.



Friday, August 15, 2014

Spanish Number Foldables 1-100 and Freebie

     My younger children are reviewing Spanish numbers so I decided to create foldables for them to add to their Spanish interactive notebooks. The set comes complete with a 100 numbers chart in Spanish and also contains foldables for all of the numbers. A total of 18 pages.  If you're interested in this product, it is listed in my TPT store for $1.50. As a special gift to our readers, you can download this freebie:
(Click on the picture to bring up in a separate window to print.)

Thanks for following along with us,


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Nature Study: Butterfly Lifecycle and Identification


Nature Study

Black Swallowtail Butterfly Caterpillar

     While walking through our garden, my son noticed that our fennel plants were being ravaged by a group of rather large caterpillars. Since we had extra students with us this summer, we decided to bring capture them for an impromptu nature study.  We carefully collected them and safely placed them into our butterfly garden kit. Afterwards, we provided them with fennel and kale leaves as well as long sticks to provide height and climbing structures for the caterpillars. For a few days, we watched them and observed their behaviors and then, this happened...

     It's amazing how quickly it happened and the children were so glad they were able to witness the moment. Our little caterpillar sat in its chrysalis for nearly 7 days. We were a little nervous after having witnessed the Monarchs, that we ordered, only take 2-3 days to emerge from their chrysalis'.  We were pleasantly surprised to see this beautiful Black Swallowtail Butterfly flapping around in the netting. We took a few moments to observe the new butterfly before releasing it into the garden. There is nothing like witnessing the beauty of nature!

    If you happen upon the opportunity to study the life cycle of a butterfly, here are a few resources that we have used and enjoyed:



Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Review: Key to Math and 6th Grade Math Schedule


    I wanted to share a quick review on the Key to Math Series and to also give a little insight into how we set up our math units of study. The Key to Math program is the one and only math program that my children have requested to use and they never complain about math lessons. It is a mastery based learning curriculum that is very thorough in it's coverage on the given topics. My children have certainly gained a firm understanding of the topics covered and I have been pleased with the results. The video below contains my review and also provides a look into our plans for 6th grade math for this year.

Block Schedule:
  1. Review of concepts- 3 weeks
  2. English Units of Measurement: Length and Perimeter- 5 weeks
  3. English Units of Measurement: Area and Volume- 5 weeks
  4. English Units of Measurement: Weight, Capacity, Temperature, and Time- 5 weeks
  5. Metric Units of Measurement: Length and Perimeter- 3 weeks
  6. Metric Units of Measurement: Area and Volume- 3 weeks
  7. Metric Units of Measurement: Mass, Capacity, Temperature, and Time- 5 weeks
  8. Percentages- 5 weeks
  9. Graphing and Statistics- 5 weeks
  10. Review of Concepts- 5 weeks


Physical Science 2014-2015

      My eldest daughter is tackling physical science this year and she's already decided that she will not be reading the Apologia Physical Science Text. That's perfectly fine by me! She has chosen to read books from the library as well as CK-12 Physical Science Textbook. Thankfully, nothing needed to be changed in regards to our block scheduling and projects. I'm currently in the process of assembling all of her needed supplies for this year's labs. Here's a quick look into her physical science schedule and projects for this year.

Blocks and Projects:
  1. Intro. to physical science- 3 weeks
    • Lab- Gummy bear scientific method
    • Project- Lab equipment identification
  2. Matter- 5 weeks
    • Investigation: States of matter and their properties
    • Lab: Density
    • Lab: Physical and chemical changes
  3. Atoms, elements, and the periodic table- 5 weeks
    • Presentation- periodic table of elements 
    • Model- atoms and molecues
  4. Chemical compounds, formulas, and reactions- 5 weeks
  5. Intro. to motion and forces- 3 weeks
  6. Newton's Laws- 3 weeks
    • Presentation- Newton's Laws 
  7. Work, power and energy-5 weeks
  8. Heat and simple machines- 5weeks
    • Lab- Conduction, convection, and radiation
    • Project- 6 simple machine project
  9. Light and sound waves- 5 weeks
    • Lab: Exploring light (reflection, refraction, color mixing, etc.)
    • Lab: Exploring sound (singing glass, liquid sound waves, dancing oobleck)
    • Project: Water and sound experiment
  10. Magnetism and electricity- 5 weeks
    • Lab- Static electricity
    • Lab- Properties of magnets
    • Lab- Insulators and conductors
    • Diagram- Types of circuits
    • Project- Electromagnets
    • Project- Motors
    • Project- Batteries
    • Project- House wiring project
    We will be sure to add more detailed accounts of our experiences as the year progresses so stay tuned!


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Homesteading Homeschoolers

     Over the past few years, we have been experiencing lots of lifestyle changes.  During that time, I took a break from regular blogging. Things were just too busy after the move and I wanted to give my family the time that they needed from me. We had just moved into a new home and a new state. We also began to create our urban homestead.

     In the past, we dabbled a bit with gardening, but after settling into our new home, we wanted to take things a step further. We began our transition during the fall of 2012 and began incorporating homesteading into our homeschooling lifestyle. We've learned so much through our successes and our failures. This video was created to give you a glimpse into the beginning of our homesteading journey. We have a long way to go and look forward to being able to live a sustainable lifestyle in the near future! Hope to see more and more families taking the steps to sustainable living as well. Take a look and let us know what you think.

Peace and blessings,

Monday, August 11, 2014

Earth Science 2014-2015: Curriculum, Planning, and Preparation

     Here's a quick peek into the Earth science curriculum I chose for my younger children. I've also included a look into our block scheduling and a list of projects for each topic. All lab projects have been assembled in advance and are ready to go! Now, if I can just finish up the other science labs, I'll have more time to focus on the really important stuff!

Blocks and Labs:
  1. Intro to Earth Science, scientific method, and lab safety and equipment- 3 weeks
    • Lab- Gummy bear scientific method experiment
    • Project- Lab equipment identification
  2. Earth's resources (Rocks, minerals, fossils, and renewable/nonrenewable resources)- 5 weeks
    • Lab- Growing crystals
    • Lab- Mineral identification
    • Lab- Shapes of mineral
    • Lab- Jelly bean rock cycle
    • Lab- Rock identification
    • Lab- How fossils are made
    • Project- Solar oven
    • Project- Solar powered water heater
    • Project- Solar powered mason jar lights
    • Project- Solar powered radio
    • Project- Creating hydroelectric power
  3. Earth's structure (Layers, plate tectonics, and continental drift)- 5 weeks
    • Model- Layers of Earth
    • Diagram- Earth's plates
    • Lab- Convection currents and plate boundaries
    • Model- Plate boundaries
  4. Earthquakes and volcanoes- 5 weeks
    • Diorama- Parts of a volcano
    • Lab- Volcanic eruption
    • Presentation- Types of volcanoes 
    • Lab- Seismic waves
    • Project- Measuring earthquakes
    • Lab- Earthquakes and building structures
    • Lab- Tsunamis
  5. Weathering and soil formation- 3 weeks
    • Lab- Soil layers
    • Lab- Changing Earth's surface with weathering and erosion
  6. Fresh water, erosion and deposition- 3 weeks
    • Lab- Effects of erosion on air, soil, and water
  7. Oceanography- 5 weeks
    • Diagram- Oceanic zones
    • Diagram- Earth's Ocean currents
    • Lab- Movement of ocean water
    • Lab- Salinity and plant growth
  8. Weather and climate- 5 week
    • Lab: The water cycle
    • Lab: Earth's atmosphere
    • Project- Jr. Meteorologist: Weather tracking
    • Project- Hurricane tracking
    • Tornado in a bottle
  9. Astronomy- 2 blocks- 10 weeks
    • Our solar system, Earth cycles (lunar and solar)- 5 weeks
      • Lab: Moon phases
      • Model: Solar system
      • Diagram: Earth's rotation and revolution
    • Stars, space exploration, the universe- 5 weeks
      • Presentation: Star life cycle
      • Project: Jr. Astronomer: Space observations
Well that's all! My daughters have already expressed their excitement upon seeing all of their science experiment kits. All of the hugs with "Thank you, mommy" really made this labor of love so worth it. I love to see them excited about learning and can't wait to dive into all of this year's topics with them.

Peace and blessings,

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Personal and Family Finance


     My eldest child decided to take a Personal and Family Finance course, online, through FLVS.  The course is a ten week course and he started it around the first week of June. After he enrolled in the program, we began by looking over the topics and skimming through the lessons/assignments. The program covers topics ranging from making a budget to managing investments. Although we loved the variety of topics being discussed, we weren't as thrilled with the lack of application of the lessons.  Rather than removing him from the course, we opted to find material to supplement his learning of the topics.  Thankfully, we were able to find lots of free resources over at Finance in the Classroom  and some awesome resource over at TPT by Personal Finance for Teens Unleashed. We also added a little game play with Cashflow for Kids. With these additional resources, we have been covering topics such as:
  • How to read a paycheck
  • Calculating/evaluating paychecks expected/received
  • Vocabulary terms related to income
  • How to fill out a W-2
  • Comparing employee benefits
  • How to write/read checks and money orders
  • Comparing financial institutions
  • How to make and manage a personal/family budget
  • How to manage a checking account
  • How to file taxes and fill out tax forms
  • Comparing credit cards
  • Comparing and obtaining automobile insurance
  • Comparing and obtaining health insurance
  • Purchasing a car
  • Purchasing a home
  • Career planning
  • Saving money
  • Understanding investments
So far, the combination of resources have been working beautifully. This is an important topic and it is a life skill that the children need to have before they go out into the world on their own.



Friday, August 8, 2014

Product Review: Typing Instructor Platinum 21

     One of the most important skills to have, these days, is keyboarding skills. Typing a paper, searching the web, and learning to code, all require basic knowledge of the keyboard. Being able to use the keyboard efficiently, only helps to complete those tasks and many more. Although keyboarding is a valuable skill to have, it is not always viewed as "fun"to learn. After reviewing our options of resources, we decided to utilize Tying Instructor Platinum 21 for our 3 girls.


    Typing Instructor Platinum 21 has met and exceeded my expectations. Our eldest child had taken a keyboarding course online, through our local virtual school, and it was a chore to keep him on task with the course. The lessons were dry and monotonous, failing to keep him engaged. Typing Instructor is just the opposite. Although the program does cover major keyboarding skills, it does so while keeping the learner engaged.


       The program can be used for multiple learners on the same computer. If the download is purchased via Amazon, you will be able to download onto multiple computers for multiple users as well. This was important for me, with 4 children using potentially utilizing the same program. After installing the program, your child enters their name and picks a program option. The parent/student can pick a customizable lesson plan or choose from one of the 20 plans already available. There are 3 travel themes that are available, with a total of 36 destinations to travel to while learning. As the child learns various skills, they earn stamps that are displayed on their passport.

     Prior to beginning the program, I recommend having your child watch the how to type videos that are available within the program. They cover proper body positioning and give a quick intro to the keyboard. The first lessons include the keyboard and show the correct fingers to use with each key. You can choose to remove this option in the settings menu. Typing Instructor Platinum 21 is complete with over 300 lessons included in the program. Tests and games are also included to break the monotony of the typing lessons.  The games and tests are spaced throughout the program. If you choose to customize your plan, you can leave these out if desired. I find that the occasional trips to the game area help to keep my children engaged and encourages them to practice, independently outside of class time. The lessons are progressive and tests are given at regular intervals to assess keys that have been learned.


     The program quickly and easily displays a summary of the child's learning. Along with a list of completed activities, the summary page displays the average words per minute, adjusted words per minute, peak words per minute, as well as accuracy. The results can be filtered to include items of choice and all results are available to print. Our state requires portfolio reviews so this feature is great for our documentation. As the child progresses and meets the programmed measures, they also earn certificates which can be printed out for the child. 

    Finally, one of our favorite places is the practice portal. They have the option to play arcade type games and practice lessons. The two options that I favor, are the dictations and magazines. The dictation zone allows them to practice typing dictated paragraphs. The magazine area allows them to learn about various topics while typing the printed text of the magazine articles. 

All in all, we have been very pleased with the program and all of its options. The children are not only learning a needed skill, but also enjoying the time they spend using the program. I couldn't ask for more than that!




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