Monday, March 31, 2014

Homeschool Show and Tell: Resources and a Link-Up!



We will try anything if it's free. Really. Anything. Sometimes, that's exciting. Sometimes, it's a little scary. ;)

Even though we have been homeschooling for a quite a while, we are always on the look out for additional resources. If they are computer based, that's really great. If they are free, that's even better. 

Which leads me to this post. I wanted to talk about one of our favorite free (always free, no upgrade fee or "get access to more for a small price" kinda thing) resources. Learning Games for Kids. A website that is all about playing games to learn. 



Bailey was a little older when we discovered this site, but he's still played tons of the games over the years. As a matter of fact, he will still play on there every now and then. They have some US State games that he uses to learn a little more about each state. Mostly though, he just plays the 2 player games to play with his little brother. 

Braeden on the other hand, has loved this site for years! He even set up a shortcut on his desktop, wedged right between Minecraft and Roblox, lol. He has played everything from preschool games, to typing games (kid is fast...freaky fast for a 9 year old...wonder if that's my clue that he has a little too much time with his keyboard...), to his current 4th grade math games. If we are struggling with school work, or we simply want to have a light school day, he will always ask to play LGFK. Yep, ask

There really is some of everything on that site. Spelling, reading, science, health, art, animals, nature; if you want your kiddo to have a little practice with a subject, or if they need some reinforcement of specific content, you should definitely check out the site. 

The best part about all of it, is kids really don't feel like they are doing school work or homework. They are playing and having fun

WHILE LEARNING. :)

Again, this site is totally free. Nothing hidden. No account set up needed. Just go there and start playing. Love, love, LOVE it and can't recommend it enough!

I'm linking up with TeachingStars.com for this post. I'm looking forward to seeing what other fun finds and resources that bloggers are sharing. You should check them out too! Click on the graphic at the top of the post and you'll head over to the link-up. 

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Master's End of the Year...

Yep. Braeden wrapped up another year at Master's Academy today. The fine arts program held their end of the year performance and art show. He had a great year, and we really enjoyed the day.

Here are some of his masterpieces from throughout the year:






Instead of a traditional play, they did like a wax museum type thing...but the figures spoke and gave you a short monologue about themselves. It was really cool. There was Ludwig von Beethoven, Susan B. Anthony, the Bronte sisters, Edgar Degas and more.

Braeden was Alexander Graham Bell:

video

The video is a little hard to hear, but I hope you guys can make out what he's saying...

He loved wearing his suit, and he worked so hard on his little monologue. I was so proud of him!

This week sees me returning to the tax office six days a week, at least until around April 17th or so. I want to whine, but at least it will be over after that, lol. The boys have an archery class they are starting on Monday and Bailey still has his art class at Master's through May. We'll be able to return to regular activities with our homeschool group and we will head to Florida for our annual beach trip with the B's. Not unhappy about the end of tax time! ;)

In the midst of the fun, their school stuffs will continue on...so hard to believe that this year will wrap up our first year at the high school homeschool thing. I was so freaking nervous leading up to this year, but it hasn't been so bad. Thank God.

Okey doke. That's all I've got in me. Sleepy, sleepy, sleepy. And we have family movie Saturday to get to. Red 2? Ender's Game? Avengers for the 42nd time? :D

Have a fabulous week, errbody!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Yay Spring!

At least for this weekend anyway. Mother Nature is in the middle of an "episode" (episode of what though, I have NO idea) and in a few days it's going to get cold again. Boo. But, we'll enjoy the weekend at any rate. :)

This week went well. We had a laid back week, which was nice, coming off of the week of Bailey's play. Oh, speaking of...I didn't really record the show because Master's did and hopefully we will get a copy of that, but Tracy was able to take some video and get some stills. Here are a couple when Bailey (the sheriff) was on stage that I thieved from Tracy's FB page (thank you, Tracy!), lol:

The play was A Bad Year for Tomatoes, and was actually really, really funny!
All of the kids did a great job, and we were so proud of Bailey's first performance! Little funny...he's got his friend Q's sweatshirt stuffed in his shirt to make his belly look all poofy. :)

I had to work a couple of days at the office, but that was about it. We did watch the Veronica Mars movie. Yep, that's noteworthy. I have only watched the three seasons of the TV show about a dozen times. Revisiting Neptune was fabulous, and I LOVED it! The writing and acting really did give the fans what they wanted, as far as just more of what we loved from the show. By the way...I have always been and always will be Team Logan! ;)

This week is Braeden's last week at Master's (Bailey has finished Drama, but will still be taking his art class through May), and he will be working on his end of the year play. He is portraying Alexander Graham Bell, and is very excited. 

As far as school goes, they will just do "the norm." A little T4L, some spelling, some reading and some handwriting. Game play will more than likely happen. Bailey is enjoying some brain games (logic, memory, etc.), and Braeden is Braeden...which means he will try and do the easy stuff, like music or typing games (kid types 60 words a minute already, sheesh!). Honestly, they are both doing well so I'm not going to sweat it. 

For now, we're off to do some shopping (groceries, blech) and get back so we can play outside. Have a great week!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

These are a few of our favorite things...

For my job, I spend a lot of time online. Forums, social networking, reading blogs, etc. In spending so much time online, I have discovered that when it comes to homeschooling, the "resource list" is one of the most popular posts/threads.

I thought I would share some of our favorite homeschool resources. Remember, we aren't your conventional "school at home/classroom" homeschoolers... :)

~ Wikipedia - Seriously. I know that many people say you can't take everything on Wikipedia as fact, but we LOVE this site. Every one of us has a Wiki app on our phones/tablets, and it's referenced daily. Daily.

~ Time4Learning - Shocker, right? ;) We have used this as our homeschool curriculum since early 2007, and we have used it in several ways. As a core, as a supplement to other materials and as a filler for an unschooling/interest led approach. No matter how I need it, it's there and it works.

~ Library - Yep. Even tech-junkies like us take advantage of everything the library has to offer homeschoolers. Our local librarian keeps up with homeschool/after school programs for the community. We can find pretty much any book we are looking for, even if we have to wait a little while, while it's sent over from a different branch. Also, you can get ebooks from many libraries now!

~ Usborne Internet-Linked Books - I know there are tons of different reference/educational books out there, but we have a few of these, and the boys love them! They are nice, full color books that touch briefly on a bazillion topics. Then, you use the internet links provided in the books to expand on what the book was teaching. You can also just use Google, and we've done that too, lol, but I like that the books give the boys a starting place in their internet searches.

~ SpellingCity - Well, it's VocabularySpellingCity now, but it was SpellingCity when we started using it. Bailey was older when we first started using this site, but Braeden...man, this was a HUGE thing for Braeden. He was struggling and we didn't have a formal spelling program we were using. We were able to use VSC as his phonics and sight word curriculum, and we all loved that. Game play and online lists were the key...writing weekly word lists made us ALL miserable. Oh, and also, they have an app. And if there's an app, my boys will download it and play. :)

~Minecraft - Really. Just take a look at this Minecraft in Education Wiki (What? I told you we love all things Wiki around here.) to see what you can learn from a computer game, lol. The boys are even a part of a Minecraft Club within our homeschool group!

~ Homeschool Groups - Speaking of...one of our best resources is our local homeschool group. The boys and I have made new friends and have been able to be a part of tons of fun stuff. Sometimes we just play, sometimes there are field trips, sometimes there are classes/instructional activities. I think that homeschoolers can so easily feel cut off from others, that a good homeschool group is almost a necessity. Doesn't have to be a "real life" group if you are unable to find one local to you. There are TONS of fabulous online groups/forums that you can be a part of! Just to have a place to go to chat and vent if you need to...get ideas for activities and curricula. A couple of the ones I love (to be honest, I mostly lurk in these, but I have still gotten some great info and ideas from them) are the boards at www.secularhomeschool.com and www.letshomeschoolhighschool.com (this one even has a student forum for your teens!).

I thought I would list more. Haha. Well, when you're happy with what you're using, even if you're not using too many different resources, I guess you won't have a lot to share. :/

Instead of me worrying about my short list of resources, why don't YOU add to it, by sharing your favorites in the comments? Pretty please? :D

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Squeezing Everything In

Photo credit HERE
These Ryan Gosling "Hey Girl" memes crack me up. Especially when they are homeschool related. Thought I would share this one because it makes me giggle. And because he's sooooo pretty. ;)

Oooohkaaaay. Movin' on. 

So this time of year is when a lot of homeschooling families get all wiggy about making sure they have everything done for their school year. Are they on track to finish a grade level? Are they sure they are covering everything their kids need to know to progress? It can be a pretty stressful time for so many...

But not me. Not anymore. 

How'd I get so lucky? 

A butt-ton of stress and a few nervous breakdowns. 

Heh.

When we were first getting started with homeschooling, I was so focused on recreating a classroom at home. Even though I finally started realizing that that wasn't necessary, it took a really long time for me to let go of "school year expectations." 

We technically follow a year-round school schedule, but I have long since let go of having a time frame for either of my boys to finish their year. They have never gone more than 14 months in one grade level (and that was honestly a while ago), so I just let them finish when they finish. They're happier that way, and I'm happier that way. 

There will always be those that say that's a lazy way to homeschool, but until they spend a day in my homeschool, and meet my kids, they can just suck it. ;)

Instead of worrying about what school work we still need to fit in, we are going to focus on what fun stuff we can throw in, before the scorching GA heat starts to get here. We want to get the boys to a live baseball game. We have our annual beach trip coming up. We want to hang with our friends, and visit a couple of museums. 

That's what we are going to be squeezing in. :)

What about you guys? What are you trying to make sure gets done before the end of your school year? 

I'm linking up again with the Let's Homeschool High School Blog Hop. You can too!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Homeschool Matchbox Swap!

You know me and picture taking...it's a rocky relationship that takes a lot of work. I'm trying. 

I really should have posted this LAST month (whoa...when the heck did March get here?!), but I kept forgetting to take pictures, and didn't want to do the post without the visual aids. 

The boys participated in their very first homeschool matchbox swap. It's like pen pals, but with more stuff, lol. My fabulous co-worker and fellow blogger, Joy (Who's Learning? Who's Teaching?), added us to the Facebook group after her kids enjoyed it (check out her hubby's post about their matchbox swap: TechDadz - Homeschool Matchbox Swap). Each month has a different theme, and you can choose which months you want to swap. Your kids fill a matchbox sized box (think the kitchen, strike anywhere matches) with things relating to the monthly theme. Hence the name, matchbox swap. :D

Last month's theme was Favorite Book. Sounds super exciting, and it ultimately was. But we are a family of readers. Picking one book turned into a traumatic experience. Fortunately, no one completely fell apart, and each kiddo picked a book. 

Now, here is where another one of my parental failures gets a chance to shine. While I knew I was going to take photos of the boxes the boys received, it never crossed my mind to take photos of the boxes the boys were sending. Sigh. 

Bailey chose Heir of Novron, by Michael J. Sullivan. Braeden chose Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone. They both worked on drawing scenes from their books, they made little clay figures of something important (Bailey made a sword/dagger, Braeden made the Sorting Hat, lol) and they made a puzzle from a photo they printed. It was really cool. 

Here are the boxes they received...

Braeden:

Braeden's box was A Dog's Life: Autobiography of a Stray, by Ann M. Martin.







Bailey:

Bailey's box was The Lord of the Rings. And his came from Canada! He thought that was really cool. :)







We probably won't be able to do the swap every month, but we are looking forward to participating again!

Starting this week, my tax hours are cut to just three days a week. Woot! Looking forward to getting caught up on stuff around the house and getting back to our normal-ish schedule of activities. 

This week is our monthly trip to Elachee for the boys' nature science program. I have been so pleased with how much they both are enjoying this, and at this point I'm pretty sure we will sign up again for next school year. I registered them for Master's next year too, so that's good, to know that we have that done. 

The schoolin' is going well. They've pretty much got a routine down. It's funny...as long as we've been homeschooling, we've been pretty eclectic and relaxed. We still are, for the most part. But with Bailey's high school courses, we can't be as relaxed. In setting his schedule, Braeden ended up with a schedule too. I like it! ;) Things are going smoothly, and it's fairly stress free. I have the occasional moment of "ARGH" when I discover that Braeden spent an entire afternoon working on 2nd grade science worksheets, instead of 4th grade math/spelling/social studies activities, lol, but those are few and far between. He likes his science. And he likes it easy. WhatcanIsay? 

Alrighty. Off to enjoy the rest of my beautiful Sunday with my guys. I heart my guys. 

Leaving you with these, because the hubs quickly snapped them and they are so damn cute. ;)