Month: February 2012

Solution for "Everyone Woke Up on the Wrong Side of the Bed"

Homeschool Ideas
5-year-old painting a flower in the background; 22-month-old just painting!

With a family of six, it is rare that every single person wakes up cheerful and ready to conquer the day. One can expect that at least one person wakes up on the wrong side of the bed any given day…. often two people, rarely everyone. Rarely does happen, though, and it happened today.

After muscling through breakfast, teaching, and homeschool, the kids (and I) were clearly still in a bad mood. What was I to do?

3-year-old paints a boy on a bench


I mustered my energy, cleaned off the table, covered it with plastic, and let the children go free with their water and paints. To my great surprise, they were peaceful and quiet, seemingly reflective and meditative. They painted the pictures in their minds as though they had been yearning to paint them for weeks.

The rest of the day was wonderful!

…until in the evening everyone had the stomach flu. That is life in a large family…

Art, week 18 at Homeschool Co-op

Homeschool Ideas

This week students took what they learned last week about pointillism and applied it to water colors, trying to create an impressionism-era-inspired work of art. I especially liked the painting below by one of our 8 year-old boys. In case you cannot tell, it is a bridge with a sunset behind.The students used Q-tips and water colors.

As with all art classes, there were some more excited about the activity than others, but for the most part the students worked diligently and finished before our 30 minutes came to an end.
Now that my youngest is approaching 7 months old, I finally feel like preparation for our co-op is getting easier! He will be one year old before I know it!

Homeschool Support Comparison Chart: Catholic Schoolhouse, Classically Catholic Memory, Aquinas Learning, and Schola Rosa!

Homeschool Ideas

Chart Image
Homeschool Co-op groups across the United States are meeting now to decide how they are going to run their co-ops next year. Our group is no different than the rest, and we found ourselves wanting to compare and contrast these programs: Catholic Schoolhouse, Classically Catholic Memory, Aquinas Learning, and Schola Rosa: Co-op & Home Curriculum.

To see our Comparison Chart, click HOMESCHOOL CO-OP Comparison Chart (UPDATED: 01/30/2016)

NEW UPDATE (01.30.16): Schola Rosa: Co-op & Home Curriculum is selling  and is now publishing. Also, Schola Rosa now includes Math!

Science, week 17 at local homeschool co-op

Homeschool Ideas

This week students learned a bit of first aid. I began the class by asking them if they or any of their siblings had ever been to the emergency room. As expected, each family had at least one story to tell, and they all enjoyed telling their injury stories.

Then, we continued to talk about the types of injuries that can cared for at home if the right supplies are handy. The checklist given to students is based off one by theBoy Scouts of America. I explained each of the supplies in their first aid kits, and they assembled their own kits.
All first-aid supplies were bought at the local Dollar Tree or grocery store (butterfly-bandages). The plastic containers are just the right size for throwing into a back-pack for a hiking trip! Each student was very proud to have his name on the kit, too.

Art, Week 17 at local homeschool co-op

Homeschool Ideas

This week students learned how to draw 3-D objects and how to use various shading techniques. For the younger children, I had pre-drawn cubes an
d circles for them to shade. The students caught on very quickly, and even the less-motivated among them completed their cubes and circles before class was finished.

The main point they took away with them was that light shines in a direction, so the side closest to light will be brightest and the side farthest away from the light will be darkest. They were sent home to look for shadows and to draw objects this week using their new techniques.

Lent and Chores with Small Children

Homeschool Ideas

Just as my husband and I strive to perform our chores more thoroughly and cheerfully during Lent, we try to help our children to do the same. To do this, we came up with chores for each of the children and helped each child make his or her own “Book of Chores”. Simple, quick drawings were all that were needed, and they could color their own books. We were not necessarily gunning for permanence.

5-year-old Chores

  • Prayers
  • Cheerful Obedience
  • Make Bed
  • Fill adult water glasses at meal-time
  • Pull big chairs from table after meal-time and sweep
  • Feed cat and dog
  • Pick up toys after play
  • Fold cloth diapers and put away on wash day
  • School time

3-year-old Chores 

  • Prayers
  • Cheerful Obedience
  • Make bed
  • Eat food without complaint
  • Fill child water cups at meal-time
  • Clear table after meal-time
  • Pull small chairs from table after meal-time
  • Bring vacuum cleaner out for Mama
  • Pick up toys after play
  • Put away cloth diaper covers on wash day

2-year-old Chores

  • Prayers
  • Cheerful Obedience
  • Eat food without complaint
  • Throw trash away when found
  • Take small kitchen rug out after meal-time

Evening Check: After dinner, the kids take turns reporting to Papa with their books. He goes over each page with them, asking if they did the chore. They talk about how to do better the next day, and if fall chores were completed, they get a reward.

For some printable Good Behavior Charts, go here.

Review: Heritage History Curriculum

Children's Books ReviewedHomeschool Ideas

From time to time, my husband and I have used the Heritage History free, online archive as a resource. For adapted works from the Greek and Roman periods, especially, this resource has been invaluable. There are certainly some wonderful books to be found here, but they are not all equal.

Now, Heritage History offers a 9-CD curriculum developed with materials from their free, online archive (=100’s of books!). We have been asked lately what we think of these materials, so I thought I would finally write a review.

Overview of Curriculum: 9 Topics (as of February 2012)

For each historical topic, there are books (whole books) in a variety of genres and reading levels. These books were published before 1923 and contain not only beautiful illustrations, but a beautiful and robust language that is age-appropriate for middle-school-aged students and younger. In addition to this ready-to-use library for each topic, there are study guides, maps, timelines, and accountability sheets (in other words, progress reports for good record-keeping).

These materials can be printed and bound or placed in a 3-ring binder. In addition, if you are technically enabled, the books can be read with Kindle or Nook, making this a convenient option for many families. (I personally prefer the smell of old books, but we cannot always find nor purchase such old editions as provided here by Heritage History.)

My Notes and Caveats: The founders of Heritage History are remarkably nice people and are trying to provide a great service to the homeschooling community. The organization found in the study guides is impeccable, and the tips offered for using the curriculum in the practical day-to-day homeschool room are very reasonable. The method presented here is certainly worth replicating.  That said, my only criticism is that the Study Guides and several of the book introductions are written from a Protestant and modern understanding of history that does not give proper balance to the voice of the Church throughout the ages. There are a few Catholic authors included in the curriculum, but this does not make the curriculum Catholic or balanced.

If a Catholic is thinking about using these materials, I would recommend doing so only if you plan to provide a heavy degree of oversight and if you already have a solid Catholic history program. Even with a solid Catholic program in your belt, I would caution you not to allow students to read the study guides and/or books without first previewing them yourself. Be especially on the lookout for books that are about “Saints”; be certain there is a bishop’s approval of the book on the copyright page, for example, imprimatur, impressi potest, or nihil obstat.

For some Catholic history options, see the following:

Art and Science, Week 16 at Catholic Schoolhouse

Homeschool Ideas

Art: Mary Cassatt and a Value Study

This week in art students began to learn about value, not of things, but of light and dark. They were given a black-line print of The Boating Party by Mary Cassatt and were allowed to choose one color to use for the entire print. Their task was to focus on the direction of light and what things would be dark and what things would be light. They seemed to jump on board!
Science: The Human Body
We spent time exploring lung capacity this week using the CSH Science Curriculum; however, the activity seemed a bit too advanced for those students under 11 years of age. Since we only have a few who are older, it did not go over as well as it might have. The youngest students enjoyed being the “guinea pigs” of the older students, though!

Aesop for Children in German

Children's Books ReviewedHomeschool Ideas

We are listening to many books on CD right now! #1 and #2 are in constant debate over which book should be listened to first. Each has his or her favorite, and neither seems to share a favorite at the same moment.

#2’s top choice in the last week has been this 2 CD-book: Das Fabelhoerbuch von Aesop bis Heute (The Audio Book of Fables from Aesop to Today). Perhaps, he simply enjoys the seemingly random and absurd stories about animals. After all, what is a child to think about a frog blowing himself up because of his pride? #2 finds it hilarious! He wants to listen to them again and again, and after a few listenings, he asks “Mama, why did the frog explode?” Then, there is a virtue lesson for the day.

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