"For thus says the Lord: Lo, I will spread prosperity over her like a river, and the wealth of the nations like an overflowing torrent. As nurslings, you shall be carried in her arms, and fondled in her lap; As a mother comforts her son, so will I comfort you..." Isaiah 66:12-13

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Planning and Planners.

As you can see, I've done a marvelous job of keeping up with my blog and posting. Ahem. Well, at least, I've done a pretty good job keeping us on track in our schooling this year, despite it being a baby-year. He's cute, but demanding.

 I think it really helped that I took time last summer to plan out the books we were going to use, and figure out how many lessons per quarter we'd need to do in order to stay on track. History and science are really the main ones that we're a bit behind in and those I didn't plan out as carefully. So, lesson learned. When I was looking for a planner last year, I found this one, the Complete Catholic Homeschool Planner, which they have updated for this year. It's so much prettier now, but with all the great planning and record keeping forms that it had before. I can't wait to start using it!

This year though, I've also looked at Holy Simplicity planners (thanks, Cristie!). They're just beautiful and packed with lots of helps for daily planning for the home and school. I particularly like all the helps for celebrating the liturgical year that they include. The ones for students have chore check-lists and virtue practice checklists for the kiddos, in addition to the normal space for recording lessons. I love the student planner, and think I'll be trying it out for my 3rd grader next year. And it just so happens that they're giving away a set of the planners! Go here and sign-up for your chance to win them!

Monday, September 10, 2012

What we're studying this year.

Here are my curriculum choices for the year.  I suspect that they may be a bit ambitious for a baby year, but for now it's working and we can scale back later if necessary. We're already 8 weeks into the school year and I'm hoping to finish up the ninth week before the little one comes. This will let us take a nice break to adjust to having a little one around again. Of course, we'll still be trying to work do our extras - gymnastics/ballet, co-op enrichment day and nature study club. And probably some art and music, just to keep everyone happy.

2nd grade:
First Language Lessons - Level 2
English 2 for Young Catholics - Seton
Phonics 2 - Seton
Writing Our Catholic Faith / New American Cursive / Prima Latina Copybook
All About Spelling 2/3
Memoria Press Literature Guides - Beatrix Potter
Math-u-see Beta/Gamma
Maps Charts and Graphs Level 2 
Faith and Life Grade Two Online
Prima Latina


Together:
Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding - K-2
Connecting with History Vol. 2
Story of the World 2
Lingua Angelica - CD only 
Making Music Praying Twice
Art for Young Catholics
The World's Great Artists Unit Study

K:
Phonics 1 Part 1 - Seton
Reader Rabbit - 1st Grade
Kumon: Simple Addition, Lower Case Letters, Cut and Paste, etc.
All About Spelling Level 1
Math-u-see Primer/Alpha
Memoria Press Storytime Treasures
Getty Dubay Italic A
Seton Kindergarten Catechism

Preschool:
Little Saints Preschool
Kumon workbooks
Preschool Theme packs
Preschool circuit





Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Keepin' it real.

So yeah, remember that clean desk???

A dose of reality:


This after about 6 weeks of school. Looks like it's time for a do over. 

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Closet and Desk Reorganization - Part 2

I'm finally posting pictures of my "completed" desk and closet re-organization. Like anything around here it never will really feel done, until I have all the things filed and books put away. But that will not happen anytime soon, since we're still doing school. Still I have a better idea of what needs to be done and I've got a much better work area than before.

Coloring Books / Activity books:
I had the kids really go through these and take out those that were mostly colored in, then they could chose five each from the ones left. We kept all the paint-with-water books, most of the religious coloring books, and most of the activity books. I've since moved the bins to a little table near the windows where the kids can easy get them. I'm trying this for now, but I may start a rotation so all the bins aren't out at once. It's working well so far though, and Joshua in particular is really getting into coloring now.

The Craft Closet:



The biggest thing that I did here was to remove some items to sell. I also moved things around a bit so all the paint supplies are near each other, etc. I wrote up an inventory of what's in here and I plan to type it up and put it in my planning binder. That way if I want to do a craft I'll know whether or not we have that item or if I need to run to the craft store (really, I can't imagine what I don't have in there). I'd like to do something else with the doors. We use the black magnet board on the right for spelling, but the letter are all scrunched up. I may have to purchase the larger board that is suggested, so that Maria can really see all the letters in two neat rows. Joshua uses the red board for his magnets, but I think I need to clean off the top part a bit.

 The School Closet:




I did the most work on the right side of this closet. Reorganizing the craft kits and puzzles on the bottom shelf and moving things around underneath the shelf. (Yes, there are more craft kits under there plus two sewing machines and a kid's pottery wheel. I will use them, someday!) The middle shelf has scrapbook paper, folders and plastic sleeves for binders, and all the kids workbooks. The close up shows all the workbooks in there bins - I just need to get out the label maker and label each bin by subject. I may also make an inventory of these, so that I don't forget what's in there and buy more. It'll probably take the kids a year or so to work through the ones we have. 

On the left side of the closet, the biggest change is the paper/sticker drawers on top of the filing cabinet. I'm hoping that the girls will now be able to get their own paper instead of waiting for me to get things out for them. Of course, they'll still have to ask for the fancier paper, but this is a good start.


The Desk:


I've only kept one file box on top the desk now. This one has a "To Do" folder up front with folders inside for laminate, copy, and type up. The next several are for worksheets and are extras or just loose, so I can easily grab them out to fill the girls' work folders each week. At the back is my planning folder, which holds brochures / flyers about places to visit and things to do. I plan to add various forms to the box, like a booklist sheet or other planning sheets.


Here I've hung a pocket organizer. Not sure exactly what will stay there, but for now it has my old copies of Mater et Magistra Magazine, so I can easily pull them out when I'm making plans. I highly recommend this magazine - it's always full of great articles and ideas for Catholic homeschoolers.

Underneath are my planning binders and ones for preschool activities. I'm still working on these, but there are laminated printouts like those found here, as well as other themed activities. And yes, I will be printing out the Star Wars themed pack, just as soon as I get more laminating sheets.


And here's the weird drawer. I'm thinking about storing my laptop in there, because it's the on drawer that no one ever opens. And it would be motivation for me to keep the desk clean enough to be able to open the drawers.  

Underneath you can just see the weird cabinet. I've decided to put my laminator and extra office supplies down there. Things that I don't use frequently, but won't forget about.



Now for the desk itself. "Inbox" to the right for the kids' work. Workspace in the middle, with three-hole punch in the middle. Old multi-flavor tea tin that holds binder clips, game pieces, rubber bands and other little things that would be lost in a drawer. I love re-using things, and even though I washed it out it still smells a little like tea, so it's like a little tea break to open it up. 

I still need to clear off the whiteboard and cork board but a least  I can reach it now. 


The other desktop still has some random books that need to find home, but now I can laminate things without throwing a bunch of stuff on the floor first.  I may even be able to use this desktop for my sewing machine.  Underneath are, uh, more craft supplies, lots of yarn and an extra file box. I plan to go through these basket and pull out more for the yard sale.





The only thing that I don't really have a picture of is my new desk chair, which will make it a much more comfortable workspace. Luckily, I didn't pay that much, just $12 at a yard sale. For that price I may splurge and buy a new cushion for it.







Monday, April 30, 2012

Closet and desk re-organization.

I've spent the last several days trying to find my desk and school closet. It's that time of year when I'm busily poring through catalogs and perusing websites in order to plan out what we'll be doing next school year. And this year, I'm especially busy, since we're expecting baby #4 in September. The start of the school year. Hmmm... this will be interesting.

Aside from planning for some summer schooling, I'm trying to re-organize and declutter in preparation, so when the little one arrives we can take the time off to enjoy the baby-moon. Luckily, I've hit the second trimester energy spike and the nesting spring cleaning urge has hit. So far, I've tackled my bedroom and my son's bedroom and sorted through tons of clothes. And I have an ever growing pile of stuff to sell at the yard-sale (whenever that will be).

The schoolroom however is one place that always needs to be organized and never ever stays that way for long.  Especially my desk, since I don't usually sit there for long and the closet(s) which are easy to chuck things into and forget about them. Or not forget about them and want them, but I can't for the life of me find them! So frustrating.

I'm hoping that my new organization will fix this. I'm not done yet, but I thought I'd post some pictures of the process for your amusement and edification. "At lease I've never let my desk look like that."  Go ahead, it's ok. But maybe you'll find some ideas to help you organize too.

The Desk.

I try to keep this clear so I can work and plan here. But it's not a desk of my choosing - it came with the house. It has a weird storage area underneath, which is pretty much an oubliette - highly inaccessible and often forgotten. I had all these great preschool/kindergarten workbooks in there, and am just now bringing them out. Hopefully my workbook loving preschooler will still do them, or I'll have to wait for Josh to grow into them.

Another weird feature is the drawer that can't be opened. Or at least it can't be if there's anything on the lower desktop in the way. So another place to put stuff and lose it. And I'm pretty sure that the desktop actually has some kind of clutter magnet imbedded in it - because as soon as I clear it - poof!, it's buried again. That's my theory anyhow.

Closet #1 - School and Craft Supplies

Actually it doesn't look to bad in this photo, because I neglected to get a shot of the floor and all the random stuff making it nearly impossible to enter the closet. I'd done work on this area at the beginning of the school year and purchased shoe organizers (bottom shelf) to act as shelving for all the puzzles, games and craft kits. 

You can see our paper organizers on the right, all my yarn books to the back and my mostly unused filing cabinet on the lower left.  I opened it up to discover the past two years of the girls work, filed by name and school year, but not culled. So there's a whole drawer full. Next project will be to make "portfolios." for them and get rid of the extra stuff.  The top drawer has their work from the beginning of this year - so I at least started to file it, before I forgot that I'd started a file. The rest is on the desk.

 This is the other side of closet #1. Mostly ok with this side. I like my little baskets, but there are a few that just have random stuff, so it would be helpful to re-categorize a bit. I've used old plastic formula containers and wipes containers to house crafty things, like foam shapes, craft sticks, pom-poms, felt sticky letters. Now I just need a list of all I've got so I actually start to use some of these things.

Closet #2

Well, I forgot to take a before of closet #2, because I didn't think that I'd be getting in there much to move anything around. But I should have known better, since I always end up expanding any project and closet #2 has mostly preschool stuff, but also lots of craft supplies - some of which had migrated into closet #1 and had to be returned. Once closet #2 was opened, well... I had to do something with it. I started by making the kiddos narrow down their coloring books. So they got to keep 5 each, plus all the mostly uncolored religious ones, most of the "activity" books and all the ones I deemed "educational - art coloring books, sealife, states, etc. So really a lot of coloring books, but at least they all fit into the bins I have for them. Except the activity books, but I'll find somewhere for those. 

Day 2


Some progress on the desk. Lots of thing thrown out, recycled or put in the sell/donate pile. You can see the oubliette cabinet underneath the desk, with just the box from my Kindle in it. On top you can also see the bins of workbooks / idea books. Yes, I have alot. But now there are organized by subject - Science/Nature, Geography, Language Arts, Preschool, Critical Thinking, Math, Art.

The brown box on the right is my inbox for the kids work. It's usually overflowing with things to be filed. But I've removed all those things to the filing cabinet. Still unsorted, but not on the desk anymore. Yay! All the other papers are on the floor here:
This is how I work. Spread out all over the place. Luckily, my hubbie was able to keep the kiddos occupied while I worked. These were all the things that just needed to go "home" or have a "home" made for them. Used worksheets that can be used next time around, ideas for field trips, booklists, maps, things for the preschool binders. I had to break out the file folders and label maker.

End of day 2 - Close-up of puzzle and craft kit shelf.

 I'll still need to do an inventory here, so that I don't forget what I have, but I'm happier with the placement of the items. When the kids put things back, things are jammed in weird and sometimes just dropped onto the floor. I was able to select a few things from here to put in the sale pile, and I'm hoping to actually do a lot of the craft kits this summer. The kids were pretty excited watching me, because there are things in here that they had forgotten about and now are eager to use. So far so good.  I'll have to take more pictures and update tomorrow on days 3 & 4.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Farming anyone?

Going through my drafts folder and found this link to a farming community. According to the site, you can help with the farm or just sit back and enjoy the view. Not sure how that works; do you still get all the organic produce if you don't help farm? In any case, I like to think about this type of thing sometimes. Living off the land, away from all the crazy-busy in the suburbs. But I think I like the mall too much and pizza delivery. 

Monday, October 10, 2011

Published!

So the Archdiocese switched from a newspaper to a magazine and Jim and I were asked to write for the parenting journey column.  I haven't received my copy of the October issue yet, but it's online so I thought I'd post the link here.  It's pretty cool to see our words in print and cute picture of our family next to them.  I will note though that I didn't think the kiddos would be included in the picture, so I didn't fix there hair or try to dress them up or make them match us.  What you see is pretty much how they look all the time, messy hair and all.  I did make sure that Joshua had a clean shirt on though.

Enjoy the article and let me know what you think.  Oh, and if you're on FB be sure to stop by the Phaith magazine page and click Like!  (You could also say how much you liked that parenting journey column and what a nice family and all that - but don't tell them I said that. :)  )

One lost in the drafts folder.

End of the school year wrap-up.
It's been while since I posted here, though I've written several blog posts in my head over these past months.  Maria has finished her Kindergarten year and has spent most of her summer thus far reading.  She going though books so fast that she's pretty much read all those that I got for "summer reading".  Looks like we'll be spending a lot of time at the library this summer.

Surprisingly enough, Amelia's reading too.  Somewhere over this year, she taught herself just by watching me work with Maria.  I had done a few lessons with her, but not enough for her to read as well as she's reading.  So I think that this will prove to be a challenge for the fall.  How to work with my reading not quite kindergartener.

Joshua will also be a challenge I think.  He loves being outside, but can't be trusted in the yard by himself.  But if he doesn't get outside time he starts running around the house like grunting and thrusting "swords" at everyone, chasing the girls and make them scream.  Not sure I can handle all the boy energy.  There are a few things that he likes to do though, like taking all the DVD's out of their cases and inserting them in the slit between the door to the tv cabinet.  This is very fun, especially when you open the tv cabinet and get hit with a DVD avalanche.

I have nearly all my books already for next year.  Now I just have to sit down with them and figure out a realistic schedule for working through them.  I think this year I planned to do too much.  So I'll be tweeking things a bit for next year.  Including doing science more consistently.  We do a lot of nature study - we don't even have to leave our school room to do it most days.  But Maria is interested in doing experiments, so I'm going to try to include more of those next year.  I'm just really bad about gathering all the supplies ahead of time so that it doesn't take half the day to do one thing.

For now though, my main concern is re-organizing the school closets, finding my desk and maybe doing a mini-portfolio for the girls.  I saved pretty much everything that they did so I at least want to go back and pull some of the best work out, just to get the papers to a manageable level.  I've been watching a lot of "Hoarders" on Netflix so I'm pretty motivated to deal with the clutter before it eats me.

I'm hoping to post here more often in the next few months since, presumably, I'll have more time to do so.  Though I'm beginning to see that homeschooling moms don't really get much of a summer with all the paperwork, curriculum shopping, planning, re-organizing and deep-cleaning (that didn't get done during the school year).  And I love that Maria is enjoying her break and reading so much, but I am a bit jealous of her, because I remember when it was my summer break and I got to do this: