Monday, August 24, 2015

Homeschool First Grade: Looking Forward

School is coming around again! We're going to start a little earlier than the area schools, on August 31st, so we can get a head start! This will give us the chance to take a few extra days off as needed, and still finish mid-May. First grade, here we come! :-)

My school books and supplies, in the corner of our living room. 

This year, I am using all ABeka. There are many reasons why I really love ABeka, especially for these early years. I am probably going to switch things up in years to come, especially for history, science, and math. But for now, for this year, I am looking forward to ABeka! One thing I did this year was to spend HOURS buying my curriculum. I made a spreadsheet, compared prices, and sourced almost everything used. And then after all was said and done, I realized that I saved about $30-60. So next year, guess what? I am saving my TIME and buying directly from ABeka! I feel like individually, I got really good prices on everything. But collectively, I did not save a substantial amount of money!

The basket full of flashcards! Everything fits in one basket.

...and fits nicely on the shelf.

 I love ABeka! Have I said that already? K5 was super user-friendly. And then I went to organize everything in my school cabinet for 1st grade. Let me tell you, I had some moments of panic and frustration. It shouldn't be that hard to organize books! LOL I guess I just wanted everything in the perfect place! To help with organization, I did something that I am hoping will be a big help throughout the year. I took my three teacher manuals to Staples and had them cut the bindings off. Two of them had holes already punched, and the other one I brought home and punched myself. Now all three are in one big binder, which stands up nicely in the cabinet. We'll see if this helps or not!

As I mentioned in a previous post, we are not continuing on with Classical Conversations. We had our daughter registered and I was planning on being a tutor. The decision to pull out was kind of a last minute decision that has been in the works for almost two years. One thing that "clicked" with me this year at the training seminar was that Classical Conversations Foundations (the program for the younger children) is primarily to lay the...wait for the upper grade levels. This is probably abundantly clear to many people but it is something that I hadn't fully comprehended about the program until the training seminar this year. Since we have no intention of taking CC to the upper grade levels with our daughter we decided now was the best time to leave CC. 

I found this whiteboard for only $6.99 at Aldi. Perfect for our little school area!
School-wise, I'm content with what we have in place. What I'm still praying about is the social aspect that we lose by not doing CC. I'm wanting to sink back into our homsechool days and enjoy learning at home together. I had planned on attending a group for girls twice monthly but just got word that it is canceled this year. I was disappointed, and at first had thoughts of creating my own group, but I feel strongly that this year is to be a year of rest for us. And creating and running a group is not restful! So instead of frantically searching, I am going to be praying for the right opportunities for us!

Even though I was homeschooled (5th-12th grades), in many ways I am learning along with my daughter. We're learning what works best for not only our daughter and our home, but for her teacher: me! It's all a work in progress! I am personally looking very much forward to first grade. My daughter is not quite as enthusiastic about school as I am, but I'm hoping that her attitude will improve and she'll catch my excitement! :-) 

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Homeschool Kindergarten: Classical Conversations

We wrapped up Classical Conversations for the year last April. I was glad we did it again last school year. The first year was so hard. Sooo hard. If I had it to do again I probably wouldn't start with my daughter so young. However, I'm glad we did it because there were benefits.

This year the tutoring was SO MUCH easier. I knew how to do preparations ahead of time, and so I spent about eight hours or more working on things over the summer, which helped immensely.

I liked CC for my daughter for the following reasons:
:::great overview of history (through the timeline and history sentences)
:::the skip counting (counting by 2's, 3's, etc.) is a great base for multiplication
:::the fine arts and science experiments and projects are good exposure and provide memory pegs for later learning.

As with almost anything in life, there were downsides to CC for our family:
:::my daughter didn't always want to cooperate with learning the memory work at home, and learning to behave well in a classroom situation continued to be a struggle for her the first half of the year
:::in so much as it is very part time, tutoring is still a job and while I enjoyed it, it did take time every week to prepare for.

And if you've noticed the past tense of my statements, it is because, while we truly enjoyed and found benefit from CC, we decided not to continue in CC. I'll write more on that in my "looking forward" post.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Homeschool Kindergarten: Curriculum Choice

For our Kindergarten year, I used the following:

:::Classical Conversations

Beyond that, we started out every morning with a time that included Bible stories, singing hymns, Bible verse memory, and me reading aloud from a chapter book. During our school year we read: Little House on the Prairie, Little House in the Big Woods, Betsy-Tacy, Betsy-Tacy and Tib, and Farmer Boy. This was my favorite part of our homeschool day. I loved just sitting on the couch next to my girl and going through these things.

I will admit that we didn't "do" much with the Classical Conversations (CC) curriculum at home. I focused on phonics and math for most of our school time. We did the memory work for CC, most of the time. What I found best for implementing the memory work into our homeschool was to listen to the memory songs during lunch. The focus on memory work wasn't there (my daughter just didn't do well with the "Let's listen to our memory work and memorize everything" approach), but my daughter still picked it up quickly. Of course, we attended every week at CC, which gave us science experiments, fine arts projects, and class time.

I love ABeka, especially for their great phonics program! It is so good. I loved how my daughter progressed in her reading skills. I feel like it is such a good base for reading. It is a structured curriculum. I know that some of my fellow homeschoolers would rather pick their own curriculum and make choices based on each subject. I understand, but at the same time for me personally, it just took a lot of the guesswork and piecing together a curriculum away - I bought the curriculum set and worked through it day by day and voila! my daughter went through Kindergarten. ;-)

This was a year of simplicity in our curriculum. Nothing fancy. Nothing extra. Just straightforward letters, sounds, phonics, reading, writing, numbers, math. It went fairly smooth. My daughter complained some. I imagine if she were going to school anywhere she'd still complain, so I'm not changing my curriculum based on her whining!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Homeschool Kindergarten: Homeschooling an Only Child

I've had several homeschool posts recapping Kindergarten sitting in my draft box and I wanted to post them before next school year starts. Some of them got a little long, so I'm attempting to edit them down a bit! But still, I broke them into several posts so it wouldn't get overly long. As I post them, I'll update this post with links.

Homeschool Kindergarten:
Homeschooling an Only Child
Looking Forward

Homeschooling an Only Child

The choice to homeschool is a very personal choice and one which I'm glad we have the freedom to make. Michigan is a great state to homeschool in. As of right now, there are no barriers to homeschoolers. There are many homeschool programs and classes to choose from in our area.


So. We have an only child, and we're homeschooling. I think anyone on the outside would say, "but what about socialization???" but then they haven't met my daughter! She is very articulate and loves to socialize.

For 24 weeks of our school year we attended Classical Conversations once a week. She also attended our church's weekly Wednesday night program, which involves games, a lesson, and learning verses.  She enjoys these things. The thing I need to work on more is unstructured play with others. This one is a harder one for me because it means having others into our home and doing so on purpose.


The big super plus about homeschooling an only child is that when you are done for the day you are done for the day! There's no juggling of lessons to accomplish. My daughter gets my entire attention for her school and then it is done.

On the "con" side of the equation, the cost of curriculum is higher because I am only able to use it once. However, I have found that the curriculum does somewhat hold its value, and is resalable. If I turn around and sell it as soon as I'm finished, I am still selling the current edition, so I suppose that is a plus! Also, I don't feel like I have the wiggle room to try different a curriculum if one isn't working, as it just wouldn't be cost effective. So far, I've been happy with my curriculum so this isn't a problem I've encountered thus far, but I can see how it could become an issue.

Life Outside the Home

As far as other homeschoolers are concerned, I personally have a hard time feeling as though I "fit in" at most homeschool events. This is not to say that others are unkind to me or make me feel unwelcome! It is just really hard to relate to someone who has six children under the age of 10. (I've met at least three people with this scenario.) Most of the moms I have talked with on a more personal level have been very gracious. A few months ago, I was at an event and ended up standing in line in front of a mom who was expecting #6. As we chatted, she was quick to point out to me that though she is busy, she could only imagine the unique challenges of having just one child - because there are no built-in play mates for my daughter. It was sweet of her to be so understanding! She knows how long her children play together and realized that if she had just one child she'd have much more "entertaining" to do.

I'm SO thankful that we have the opportunity to homeschool. If I struggle with anything related to homeschooling it is really just not having time during the day to myself (to do the fun things like, you know: dishes and laundry). And I'm sure this is something that most homeschool moms have a hard time with anyhow.

All in all, I truly love homeschooling and couldn't imagine school any other way!

Thursday, August 06, 2015

52 Projects (Project 19)

Men's Apron

I've had the pattern, fabric, and notions to make a sturdy men's apron for about 8 years now. If I recall, I spent around $13-15 for everything. Recently, I decided to make it as a gift for a male family member.

After cutting it out, I thought about adding something "more" to it, but couldn't figure out what. I didn't want it to look cutesy, so I finally settled on contrasting topstitching. It is kind of hard to see in the pictures, but in person it shows up very nicely.

At the fabric store, I picked out thread specifically for topstitching, and then headed over to the needles. On my way, I asked one of the employees if I needed a different needle for topstitching. My correct question should have been, "Will you help me find a topstitching needle, since your store has about 50 different needle options and it's all so confusing?" but I just asked if it was necessary. And she, being the hard-working person that she is(n't), looked at the thread and said, "no" in a very "meh" sort of way. She's not my favorite employee anyhow, she once told me not to shoplift. Do I look like the typical shoplifter??? And where did the fabric store come up with so many incompetent employees that neither sew nor care what happens to other people's projects?


I was standing staring at the needles and along came a very helpful employee who showed me the exact needles I needed and told me exactly how to use them. (Bless her!) And for the record, if you use topstitching thread you will need a topstitching needle! It has a longer eye to accommodate the thicker thread.

The topstitching isn't perfect but I'm happy with it. It adds a little decorative punch without being too over the top! My machine didn't super love the combination of the heavy fabric and thick thread, but I soldiered through it.

It's hard to take a good picture of something so large! (Gah! Are those dead leaves already falling? Summer is passing too quickly!)

The cost of the thread and needles was $5.92.

Cost: $5.92
Running Total: $51.05

Saturday, August 01, 2015

52 Projects (Project 18)

Two Skirt Makeovers

My daughter loves to wear skirts! So when we were given a skirt and it was too short for her, I figured out a way for her to still wear it. Without altering or cutting the skirt at all, I added a ruffle from fabric in my bin:

Then, when we were shopping at Goodwill, she found a skirt that she had her heart set on. It was size 6 but the waistband was too loose and it was not adjustable. She pleaded for me to buy it, and I caved. :-)

One afternoon about a month ago, I tackled it with my seam ripper and scissors. I took off the elasticized part completely, leaving the rest of the skirt intact. 

And today I added a contrasting waistband with elastic that fits to my daughter's waist. The fabric isn't the same but it goes quite nicely with all the other fabrics used on the skirt!

I'm happy with how these skirts both turned out. Since I used material scraps and a piece of elastic that I had on hand, the cost of both of these skirts together was just under $1.60! Not bad for two garments!

Cost: $1.58
Running Total: $45.13