Monday, July 25, 2016

Ch-ch-changes! Year 4, coming soon.

     This is usually the time of the year that one big box is delivered to our home and the kids get to preview what we'll be studying for the year, much like last year.  Not so this year.  We bought some things from our local homeschool convention, bringing it home with us.  Some of our curriculum was digital, downloaded onto the computer which I'm currently sitting at.  Others came in at different times because one was delivered to the wrong house while the other was apparently damaged and never made it off the truck.

     Thus, I have no lovely pictures to show you.  I can, however, tell you what we're using and the changes we're making to our school year.

     The biggest change is using Mystery Of History instead of My Father's World.  We loved MFW.  I can't give anything but a positive thumbs up for that curriculum.  The deciding factor for us switching to MOH this year is because I officially have a HIGH SCHOOLER *gasp*.  I needed something that I could teach both kids at their respective levels and while MFW's Creation to Greeks goes up to 8th grade (and my son would probably find it challenging even at that level) I figured this would be a good time to give Mystery of History a try.  My daughter is still young enough that I can switch plus MOH gives me options at both the middle school and high school level; giving me the opportunity to gauge how much work my son can handle and what kind of work he'll produce.

     The other changes we're making is adding an official Language Arts program (English Lessons Through Literature).  We had used Level 2 a couple of years ago, taking a break from it last year.  We're also using Writing Rhetoric for our writing program.  Basically, last year the kids had so much copywork that I knew we didn't need an official program to cover grammar and punctuation.  We were using IEW's Bible Heroes, which my daughter loved but my son struggled just a bit with it toward the end.  Hence, the change in our writing choice.

     Also, since Mystery of History obviously does not include Science I let my kids pick from Apologia's science books at the convention.  I'm not sure how I feel about it yet.  I've heard great things about Apologia, but looking at the books at the convention didn't quite convince me.  Still, it's well-known amongst homeschoolers and gets rave reviews.  My kids will let me know whether or not they enjoy it.

     As for organization, I still have everything in their lovely pink folders labeled by the week.  I will not be putting their history work into sheet protectors in order to create their spiral bound books at the end of the year.  I will simply file their completed work in order in the correct folder and pull everything out once our school year concludes.

     We're also trying our hand at homeschooling year round.  I had discussed this with the kids last September and they were fine with it.  We break for a week roughly every 6 weeks, our way of honoring the Sabbath; taking a longer break during the holidays (a month!) and still taking a good chunk of the summer off, though not 3 months.  I think it turns out to be 6 weeks off in the summer, which gives me just enough time to put the previous school work and books away and prepare the new stuff.  This will still allow them to participate in a few summer activities as well.

     One of the great things about homeschooling is that I can change what we use and how we use it, anytime.  That doesn't mean that the second my child says they don't like something or if they struggle with it that I'll immediately find something else.  That's not how I roll.  I will teach them to persevere, to try a different way to find the solution/solve the problem/complete the task.  Whenever my kids say, "I can't" I tell them, "There is no 'I can't' but there is 'How can I do this differently?'".  They may sigh, but they continue on and as I observe them, I'll see their faces light up after a few minutes when the answer comes to them.

     We're just a few days away.  I'm almost ready.  Almost.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Farewell Year 3!

     I'm writing this just a week away from the beginning of Year 4!  How can that be, you ask?  Well,  my kids and I discussed the different schedules we could take on for the new school year and settled on one that we think will add more flexibility.  I think; but I'll write about that in another post.  This post is about how our third year went.

     First off, we LOVED, absolutely loved My Father's World.  It was well organized, well put together, easy to follow and all of us enjoyed the activities and readings planned (so many great books!)  It is a wonderful, truly God-centered curriculum.  Now, with that said.  We will be changing things up and I'll explain that in another post as well.

     What did my kids learn with My Father's World this year?  Well, they can name the majority of the countries on each continent (better than I can).  They've learned about the different ecosystems, terrain and animals on each continent.  They got to try A LOT of food from different countries and learn about the different cultures throughout God's creation.  They heard stories of missionaries serving our Lord and others with nothing but faith.  They learned to see things, to see God's creation, through His eyes.

     In addition to what they learned in My Father's World, they memorized prayers in Latin, they learned how to create an outline and write a paper based on that outline; they learned a number of spelling rules along with Latin word rules.  My daughter mastered her addition and subtraction facts while my son received an A- in his math curriculum.

     We read plenty of great books, too many to name and such wonderful ones that it's hard to pick a favorite.  Reading aloud to my kids is still one of my favorite things to do any day, homeschooling or not.

     This year, as suggested by another mom using My Father's World, I carefully saved their work and then spiral bound them to keep as mementos and references:

     Their Geography work is located in the Geography A-Z book while the sheets provided by My Father's World is in the one labeled Exploring Countries and Cultures.  The other one with Philippians 4:8  on it contains their scripture copywork, Hero Tales copywork and their writing work from IEW's Bible Heroes.  I created covers for each book and brought everything to our local office supply store for binding.  I think it only cost about $25.00 for all of it.  Well worth the price and since I had everything organized, it was easy to put it all together.

     All in all, it was an awesome year and I can't wait to start the new school year.  Only a few more days away!

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Year 3: Exploring Countries and Cultures, Kumusta Philippines!

     This is the penultimate post for our 2015-2016 school year.  Penultimate...I think I've said it before, it's one of my favorite words and this time of the year is when I get to use it.  I think in many ways it's almost like seeing the finish line just ahead (I've ran a half marathon so I know how that feels).  After this post, I take a quick break then make plans for the homeschool convention and then our new school year.  Seeing that finish line, while exciting because we can take a short sabbatical, it's even more exciting for me as I get to plan, set new goals and dive into teaching/learning once again.  Before we get there, let's wrap this up.  Shall we?

     The obvious choice to us when we were deciding which country to add to our curriculum was the Philippines since my kids are half Filipino (I being the source of their Filipino DNA).  Plus, I think we all wanted Filipino food!  I probably should have squeezed this in during our tour of Asia, but the kids pleaded that we end with the Philippines.  Wish granted!

     Thanks to, we had sheets for the Philippines just like the ones provided by My Father's World.  If you're on Facebook she's a wonderful source of information and inspiration for anyone using My Father's World as their curriculum.  She created the sheets and shared them in the My Father's World, Exploring Countries and Cultures group.  We're so grateful for her time and effort, not just in these sheets, but also in answering questions for newbies and experienced MFW users alike.

     I found a few books from the library that contained Filipino folklore (the sheets Christephi created had a selection of books, but most were not available at our local library).  My kids really enjoyed Asian Children's Favorite Stories, but not just for the stories from the Philippines.  They enjoyed all the stories we read.  It's one that I should have purchased, given how much we studied in Asia, but I just borrowed it from the library whenever we needed it.  Actually, I may go ahead and purchase it anyway so that it's on our bookshelf whenever they'd like to read it again.

     With only two official weeks in our school year left my Little Toughie decided she wanted to begin learning cursive.  I had hoped she would wait until the new school year started but she insisted and I wasn't about to stop her:

     We're using Teaching Cursive! which I picked up for my son at last year's homeschool convention.  While my A380 could already write in cursive there was room for improvement and this book helped A LOT.  I kept it knowing that my daughter would someday use it.  The picture above was taken shortly after she began her lessons, perhaps lesson 5.  As you can see, she's making quick progress.
     It's no surprise that we made sure to wrap this journey up with food.  First, we started with making Pastillas de Leche, a Filipino candy that my siblings and I would make with my mom frequently when I as a wee one.  When I first mentioned it to the kids and called my mom for the ingredients they quickly pointed out that it was similar to the Brigadieros we made while in Brazil.

     I didn't add butter to mine as some recipes called for and perhaps I should have because our's would not hold their shape.  We tried cylinders at first and then tried balls.  We ended up having to place them in mini muffin tins and store them in the fridge.  Then they finally held their shape.  They tasted yummy, just like I remember them!

     There was plenty to pass around so we shared with our neighbors.  Our kids love walking around our block and sharing food.  They must get that from their dad; he likes to share his food.  Me?  Just call me Joey!  (You're awesome if you get that reference.  If you don't, you're probably just on the verge of being awesome and you need to learn what I'm referring to to get there *wink wink*).

     Now, I could have cooked a Filipino meal but let's be real.  We were approaching the end of our school year and I was starting to wear out.  Plus, we like to try everything possible and I was not about to cook 5 different dishes.  Additionally, the kids wanted to stock up on some of the sweets we don't often get (the closest Filipino restaurant is still a drive for us).  So, we loaded up the car and made our way to the restaurant.  We had the usual suspects, Pancit and Lumpia Shanghai, but then for dessert my husband ordered this:

  It's Ube ice cream sandwiched between a warm brioche; an ice cream panini of sorts.  I thought it was a strange combination until my hubby gave me a bite.  It sort of made me wish I had passed on my Halo-halo that my daughter and I shared:

      See that huge scoop of Ube ice cream?  That ended up being my daughter's favorite part hence she spooned what she could into a different bowl and enjoyed every bite.

     After our meal we walked next door to purchase Lumpia wrappers and of course a container of Ube ice cream.  Thus, ending our first year with My Father's World and my third year homeschooling.

     It's been a wonderful adventure.  I'll share a summary our year and our plans for the new school year in another post.  Until then, have a wonderful fun-filled summer!