Friday, July 8, 2011

Homeschool planning, curriculum, and helpful links

For the next few weeks leading up to the start of the 2012-2013 school year, I will be doing a series of homeschool posts on Fridays. In each one I will share my own experiences and any helpful information or links I have found while planning for the school year. Please join me for School Fun Fridays and leave in the comments any helpful information you would like to share!

Being a 2nd year homeschooling family, we (I) still have so much to learn about planning and organization as the new school year approaches. I was a classroom teacher for a few years, and have taught 7th, 8th, 10th, and 11th graders, but it did not prepare me for school at home. I had no clue (until last year)  the home organizing, meal planning, schedule-juggling, pre-schooling, all-subject teaching, service project incorporating, habit building, life-skill modeling, scripture memorizing, Bible studying, nature walking, music playing, story-reading, extra-curricular participating, and just plain fun-having that need to be a part of our learning at home. Whew! It makes me tired when I read that list. But I also had no idea how amazing it would be to spend the days with my children, watching them learn a new concept, seeing their enthusiasm for a particular story, sharing their laughter over a funny character or strange fact from history, watching them bond together as a sibling unit (since bringing Anderson home), and just spending more time getting to know them.  It is not all sunshine and lollipops, and some days are difficult. But I truly love teaching my children. And the confidence I have in this endeavour is not confidence in my own abilities or knowledge--it is confidence that God is faithful to provide what we need when He guides us to a new endeavour.  I know that when I have asked God to give us wisdom to teach our children and to guide our choices for everything we learn and do, He has been faithful this far and He continues to give grace for each moment of each day.

As we approach the new school year, I am trying to be more diligent about planning and scheduling so that we can develop consistency and routine. My focus has been to put together a general planning grid for the year. From that, I will do my weekly plans based on the books, workbooks, etc., that we are using. Right now, we are doing some reading and math assessments to determine what levels to begin the year for my 2nd and 4th graders, we are finalizing curriculum choices for both of them, and I am putting together preschool activities and hands-on learning experiences for my youngest. So, I wanted share some of the scheduling tools, printables, information, and "just for fun" things I have found during this time of planning.

1. Lapbooks - I plan to use lapbooks as supplemental activities for our main curriculum rather than as the core for our school work. Because I am not super creative, I love the premade kits you can purchase and instantly download. I found some of my favorites here. If you are asking (like a was just a couple of months ago), "what in the world is a lapbook?", you can your answers and much more here. I even found a free Lego study lapbook unit for my oldest son. If you have a lego-crazy child, I highly recommend it.

2. Preschool activities - I love all of these printables and am going to use several of the alphabet printables to teach my preschooler his letters this year. I also like these ideas for letter of the week crafts. The preschool crafts listed on the same site look really fun for anyone with preschoolers, not just for homeschooling families. I have also found more awesome ideas for more toddler activity bags, (a few of which we did for Anderson with his OT last year) and for preschool activity bags, both of which are portable and super fun!

3. File Folder Games - Because we live in a small home, I like any game that can be "filed away" and take up minimal space. So, I have enjoyed seeing so many creative ideas for games created from simple file folders like the one you see here and one I plan to recreate here. There are tons of samples, freebies, and even packs you can purchase to make the games, but I am still trying to use the examples I have found to put together my own games based on the subjects we will be covering. I hope to have some pictures to post soon, once I have a couple of them made.

4. Scripture Memory  - I found this system at Simply Charlotte Mason and am so excited about using it! There are free tab printables at the bottom of the page to get you started!

5. Curriculum - I am still finalizing my curriculum choices but here are links to what we are using for most of our "core" subjects.  1)Sonlight for History, Literature/Read Alouds, and "little girl's" reading. 2)Singapore Math for both big kids . 3)R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey Earth & Space for both big kids.  I am still undecided but leaning toward All About Spelling for my 2nd grader. My 4th grader is an advanced reader, so I am also still working to put together a reading list that will challenge him and be manageable at the same time. 4. I will also use "Drops In the Bucket: Reading Level A" workbook for my daughter, who loved the exercises and learned so much from this great tool.

Any of you who have sage advice, tips, links to great (and even better, free) curriculum or supplemental materials, please feel free to share. Hope you find some helpful tools, ideas, and information from this post.

Here are some of the verses that I pray will guide me as I prepare for school this year and as we learn together each day--because life and learning are all wrapped up together, and we are wrapped in the amazing grace of the God who created us to live, love, and learn.

"If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you." James 1:5

"So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God."
1 Corinthians 10:31

"Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity." Colossians 3:12-14

Loving and Learning,

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I love Jesus Christ, am a seeker of beauty, and am a grateful child of God who would be lost and hopeless were it not for His grace. I am learning to walk in love, see interruptions as divine appointments, and value people and relationships above agendas and results. I pray my life is grace-filled, and brings joy and encouragement to everyone I know and meet. We are a family of 6, built by God through love, birth, and adoption, living in the beauty and the struggle that accompanies parenting kids from hard places. Got questions? Email me at

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