Saturday, July 28, 2012

2012 - 2013 Homeschool Reading List

Last year I attempted to follow Ambleside Online's reading list. I printed out quite a few books and stapled them together with my handy dandy, heavy duty stapler. And then I made myself weekly schedules based on AO's suggestions. This is no slight against AO but I just did not manage to keep up with the reading like I thought I would be able to. 

After some self-reflection I have come to the conclusion that our schooling experience turns out the best when I put the curriculum together myself. For years I have started out that way but at some point I would doubt my efforts and switch to something that some "experts" had put together. My husband has been telling me this for years but I finally believe for myself that I am a great teacher to my children. 

There can be a lot of self doubt when you homeschool. I have definitely had my fair share of it. But I am done with that. I know that God has uniquely gifted me to make sure that my children get a quality education. I am the expert for my children. I refuse to doubt myself any longer. And that's the end of it.

What does any of this have to do with our reading list for this year? Well, this list has been compiled by me based on the tastes, needs, and beliefs of my family. We don't do fairies, witches, or magic in our house. So there are no books with any of that content (to my knowledge) on this list. And we love the Lord; so, many of the books mention God.

Most of these books can be found for free by doing a quick search on Google Books. Otherwise, I have provided a link.

Willie's First Lessons in Drawing

Aesop's Fables
The Child's Own English Book
The Play Grammar or The Elements of Grammar Explained in Easy Games 

The Boy Lincoln
Broad Stripes and Bright Stars
Fifty Famous Stories Retold
Hans Brinker
Letters from Colonial Children
Mary of Plymouth
Ten Boys Who Lived on the Road from Long Ago to Now

Everyday Number Stories
Living math books from the library
Number Stories of Long Ago

The Burgess Animal Book for Children
The Insect Folk
Seed Babies

Additional Reading
Toby Tyler or Ten Weeks at the Circus

Resources that I used to compile my list:
Accelerated Achievement book list

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Homeschooling High School for Free - 11th Grade

This year my soon to be 14 year old will be in the 11th grade. I am grateful to God for the years that I have been able to homeschool him. And I am a little sad that he is almost done. These years teaching him have been both challenging and extremely rewarding. But my intention with this post isn't to reminisce. I want to share the free resources that we will use this school year for my son's core classes. 

An Invaluable Website
Once my son started middle school I began purchasing textbooks for him because I had a hard time finding free resources for the classes he was taking. But in recent years, I have seen a plethora of great material become available online. My favorite place to use for finding upper grade courses is It is not the prettiest looking site but don't let that stop you from finding some wonderful resources there.

Here are the classes and materials that my son will use for 11th grade this year. 

I can't believe my son will be learning Calculus this year. It seems like only yesterday that I taught him how to skip count and made homemade flashcards for him so that he could memorize his addition and subtraction tables. But I digress... Last year we used MIT's open courseware for the first time for Calculus; so, we will continue on with a Calculus II  course taught by the same professor. The used book we bought last year for just a few dollars covers both courses, so no need to be buy another one.

In our homeschool, history and geography have always gone hand in hand. I taught my son to learn the geography of the locations that he is studying in history by using maps and atlases. But my husband feels that it is best that my son takes a separate, in depth geography course. Originally, I was going to use the Geography for the 21st Century video course along with the textbook which I was going to purchase from Amazon for under $10, including shipping.

But for the time being we are only able to access the Internet from my iPad. Apple doesn't support flash so we are unable to access any of's videos. So we will use the course outline and reading lists from one of MIT's geography classes. If we can't get the titles from the library then we'll make appropriate substitutions. 

Physics! Need I say more? Well actually, I probably should. The number one question I get when I share some of the high school classes that my son is taking or has taken is, how do you teach that subject? My answer is that thanks to the internet  I don't have to teach it. And I couldn't even if I wanted to because I never went above Earth Science or Algebra II/Trigonometry in high school. So once again, I am turning to a more-than-qualified MIT professor to teach physics in our homeschool. And I'll buy the least expensive used textbook from Amazon.

English/Language Arts
There is a McGuffey reader to cover every year of school. So, no worries there. And our Englsih classes are always heavily based on classic literature. So, my son will read several, quality works of fiction from the library, of his choosing. And he will be required to write a few book reports. Also, we will focus on quite a bit of essay writing.

Foreign Language
This year D is taking Spanish III. he will have a lot of conversations with fluent Spanish speakers and we will utilize the college text Poco a Poco.

Friday, July 13, 2012

I am Enjoying Read Alouds with the Children

A mom reading to her children

The children and I finished with our first two read alouds, Willie's First Lessons in Drawing and Number Stories of Long Ago. And you know what? We are hooked! Of course, the children have always like to be read to. So I guess I should say I'm hooked. Because really, the only one who was a bit  skeptical of the whole process was me. I like to read to the children but I tire quickly of the books that we get from the library. Particularly since there almost winds up being a favorite that I am asked to read over and over and over again.

But I am finding out that living books are so interesting that they draw you into the story. Even books that are written specifically for young children are still quite amusing to me. At the moment one of the books we are reading is Grammar-Land. It was definitely written for little ones but both my 13 year old and I are finding the book to be very comical.

For the past few days I have been compiling a reading list for our upcoming school year. I know that reading aloud will continue to be a success in our homeschool as long as I utilize the following guidelines for myself.

Pick books that I find interesting.
There is no sense in trying to get through a book that I find boring. After all, I am the one who is doing the reading. There's no way I will be able to read a book with expression or enthusiasm for very long if it doesn't appeal to me. Just saying...

Only read one chapter a day.
This is for the children's sake and for mine. I don't burnout from doing too much reading; and, the children are left hanging  waiting for the next chapter. Charlotte Mason explained that this sparks additional interest in our children. If the chapters are too long then I will divide them up over a couple or a few nights. But, I haven't encountered that yet with the few books that we have read so far.

Allow a moderate amount of "on topic" discussion.
I don't mind if the children ask questions as I read or if they add a few relevant comments along the way. If they start saying something that is clearly unrelated to what we are reading then I remind them that we need to stay on topic. Or I might tell them to save what they have to say until we are completely done with our reading time.

Read at certain times a day.
I will definitely need to establish a routine in order to make sure that we get all of our reading in. Right now I am working on establishing reading times before breakfast, before quiet/nap time, and before bed. The Word is always our morning selection. So that leaves room for us to read two living books at a time. 

Monday, July 09, 2012

Menu Plan Monday - Week of 07/08/12

I know that by Jesus' stripes I was healed of all sicknesses. By faith I know I'm healed and I am resisting all diseases knowing that illness has no choice but to flee from me. Today I found a great website all about believing, claiming, and receiving healing. I know that God has done His part and I will continue to do my part by taking care of the body that the Lord has blessed me with.

I had a great week of eating mostly plant based meals. I did have some homemade gluten free pizza at a friend's house on Friday. And on Sunday the children and I ate at the new Popeyes that we had been waiting to open near us. And you know what? I'm fine with that. I enjoyed delicious food with friends and family. But the rest of the week I ate the way that I prefer to eat.

I also exercised last week after not doing so for over a month. I walked a mile to a Leslie Sansone video on YouTube. This week I am moving up to 2 miles. Slow and steady wins the race.

(Mostly) Plant Based Meals (for breakfast, lunch, or dinner)
  • Salads with mashed avocado and lemon as dressing
  • Black bean soup
  • Guacamole
  • Black bean burgers
  • Egg, veggie, and bean scramble
  • Microwaved sweet potato with nuts and raisins
  • Crustless vegetable quiche with nutritional yeast (cheese substitute)
  • Fish and veggies steamed in the microwave 
  • Tuna salad in a corn tortilla
Dinner for the Children - served with vegetables and bread (as needed)
  • Loaded baked potatoes
  • Cheese pizza
  • Hot dogs 
  • Taco bake
  • Spaghetti
  • Hamburgers on homemade buns, French fries
  • My version of chuck wagon chow, where I use ground beef instead of steak and put all of the ingredients in homemade gravy

I have been missing my Honey who is in CA; and, since we have been staying with friends I haven't had much desire or drive to make any bread dough by hand. I've only done it twice in almost 2 months. But I WILL make some this week for the pizza, hamburgers, and sandwiches for lunch. Praise God for a kitchen to bake in regardless of whether it's mine.

Friday, July 06, 2012

HEBuddy Summer Reading Program - 2012

I found out about HEBubby's Summer Reading program in 2001 when I moved back to San Antonio from Virginia Beach. That year I only had one child participate. But by 2007 that number had grown to 4. And we have participated every year; except, there was that one year when the t-shirts awarded were of HEBuddy dressed as a wizard. The children still did a lot of reading that summer but we skipped sending away for that prize.

With moving from our house almost 2 months ago, my husband going to CA, and us staying with friends waiting to join him, I had completely forgotten about the reading program this year. I must really have a  lot on my mind because I usually start talking about summer reading before school is even over with. Thankfully, a few days ago my children spied a stand at the front of  HEB that reminded us. So we picked up 3 submission forms and went on our merry way. Sadly, my eldest who is now 13 feels that he is too old to wear an HEBuddy shirt. How did that happen?

We will be completing our reading and have our reading lists mailed in pretty quickly in hopes that we will still be in town when the t-shirts arrrive. In the past, it has never taken more than three weeks for us to receive them.

The San Antonio Public Library system also has a summer reading program each year ending with a big library party. I used to let my eldest participate in those but the themes changed from cute and kid related to magic. I tried to ignore it the first year and let my son do the reading so that he could pick out a free book. But surprise, almost all of the choices were books about magic. Maybe they have since changed their ways, but we decided to just stick with HEB's program.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Learning to Draw with Living Books

Last week I read the children a book called Willie's First Drawing Lessons: Simple Lines of Nature. I like how book titles were so self explanatory back in the day. It is a small book of approximately 40 pages. But despite it's length (or lack thereof), it is a great living book that teaches children some important basics for drawing. 

This is what is stated in the beginning of the book:

This little book has been written chiefly with a view to interest a young child in Form by associating its instruction with familiar objects; but it has further been attempted to render the attainment of the first ideas of drawing more easy, by classifying all lines into two kinds only.

****Random fact**** I have to mention that the book is written by "A. Lady". How cute is that? ****End of random fact****

By the time we finished the book the children knew that basically drawing comes down to straight lines and curved lines. Willie points out these shapes in his everyday surroundings to his mom and dad. The book came out in 1857 so in Willie's day that meant nature, steamboats, Bricklayers, and Milk Maidens - to name a few.

Straight Lines
The above illustration is used when Willie explains to his father the four types of straight lines. The children and I learned that some lines had different names 150 years ago. What we know as vertical lines today were called perpendicular back then. And diagonal lines used to be called oblique. Who knew?

Curved Lines

Willie explains to his father that a curved line "is a line which does not go the shortest way between two points, but sweeps evenly out on one side or the other." Circles are touched on a bit as well. 


Even though angles are really just two straight lines that meet at a point, the book does dedicate a chapter to them. Acute, right, and obtuse angles are illustrated and explained in a way that isn't confusing to little ones.

Short and Sweet
The beautiful illustrations and the quaint story kept the children very interested. Also, I just read one chapter a day before Quiet Time in keeping with Charlotte Mason's belief that short, concise lessons are best to keep the children's attention. 

Drawing Lessons
Willie's First Drawing Lessons and Teaching Children to Draw compliment each other. TCTD gives practical application to the concepts that Willie explains.

Carnival of Homeschooling

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Menu Plan Monday - Week of July 2

About a month after I became lax with my eating habits I started having some health challenges. I prayed and asked the Lord what to do. And I was reminded of what I already know is right - eating right and exercise! So, I am returning to cooking with NO: milk, cheese, refined sugar, wheat, red meat, pork, oil, or salt, bleached or white grains and flours.

Easy Breakfasts and Dinners
So this week I actually have 2 menus. One is for the children and the other is my plant strong eating plan.  Because of the additional food prep I will keep breakfast and lunch for the children very simple. Breakfast will either consist of hot or cold cereal; or, it will be my easy - yet delicious - eggs, potato and toast. And lunch will be various kinds of sandwiches on homemade bread served with a fruit or quick pizza.

Plant Strong Anytime Meals - served with additional  fruit or veggies (if needed)
  • Microwaved sweet potato with raisins, nuts, and sweet potato spices
  • Slow cooker beans
  • Stir Fry - without oil, with tofu
  • Tuna on a corn tortilla 
  • Mashed bean tacos with nutritional yeast
  • Salad full of nuts, fruits, and veggies - with mashed avocado and lemon juice or hummus in place of  salad dressing
  • Steamed fish, baked potato
  • Fruit and veggie smoothies
  • Homemade granola
  • Scrambles eggs with veggies and beans (one of my faves)
I have never been big on "breakfast foods" vs. "dinner foods". I will eat whatever strikes my fancy any time of day. So that is why I called these anytime meals. I will eat variations of the foods listed above plus snacks like: air popped popcorn sprinkled with nutritional yeast, raw fruits, and veggies dipped in homemade hummus without oil and without tahini.

Dinner for the Children - served with bread (if needed) and a vegetable
  • Baked BBQ chicken
  • Chicken fajitas
  • Honey BBQ ribs
  • Pinto beans and rice
  • Bean and cheese tacos
  • Homemade cheese pizza
  • Hotdogs on homemade buns