Sunday, September 14, 2014

Cleaning our Chicken Coop ~* Eglu Cube by Omlet

 It was beautiful outside today!! So I wanted to do a outside project. So I decided to do a quick cleaning of our Chicken Coop. My husband bought me this for my birthday, Anniversary, & mothers day all in one since it was not a cheap gift . I really wanted chickens for fresh eggs to feed our growing family. It has been a few years since we have had chickens. I did not want to go back to a wooden coop since they are so hard to clean. So he bought me a Eglu Cube which are made in England.
      Its Nehemiah chore to feed the and water the chickens. We have Plymoth Barred Rocks. They are my favorite I think they are beautiful.

 Everything comes out & opens up to clean. There are drainage vents. I just did a quick hose down since it was going to get cold tonight I wanted to make sure it could dry in the sun by night fall. Before winter I might power wash it or scrub it down good but for now I just wanted to spray it clean. It drys pretty fast.
 Here is what it looks like without the trays before I sprayed it clean.
 The Glug is the water dish. It comes with both a water dish and a food dish,
 The inside you can see the air vents & perches.The roof comes off and the back for easy cleaning.
 The poop trays pull out so you can easily clean it weekly and save the droppings for fertilizer.
 It also has an out door run. We move it as an easy way to clean the outside pen.It works great no matter where we put it in the yard they know that is where to roost at night.
The girls looking in at their new clean chicken coop. I love the green as it blends in to the yard. I originally was going to purchase pink or red but decided to go with something that will camouflage in the yard. They come in fun colors.
 That was my project for the day. It was a beautiful day and I was glad to be outside!!! I am loving these cooler fall days.
I purchased my Omlet from

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Titus turned 3 !!!

Today Titus turned 3 :) He wanted Leo the Ninja Turtle for his birthday. We also got him a Ninja Turtle cake. He loved his Leo stuffed toy & action figures he got for his birthday,

Friday, September 12, 2014

WEC Fall 2014 week 1~ homeschool coops through the years

      Today we began our fall semester which will last 10 weeks and meets every Friday. I have been apart of this coop since my oldest, who graduated highschool this year, was in kindergarten. Most of my children having been going here since the womb and today is our first day for the 2014-2015 school year.
       I am teaching three classes which I have been teaching as an average for many years. I am teaching Draw Write Now, Drawing Through History, and Answers in Genesis DVD series The Body of Evidence. I also offer the Scholastic Book Club to the co-op which I have been going for a few years now. My sons Joe and Daniel are going early before us to help the coop set up.
  There are around 47 families that meet together at this time. Since it is a coop mothers stay and teach, clean, or organize. Parents must stay all day and it is a Christian coop.I know the founder and original board which families no longer participate but the torch has been passed on.
       Along the years I have been involved with a few coops along with this one. One was a small beginning coop for families on the waiting list for WEC, writing coop called PEACH, and a Tapestry of Grace coop. I also was involved with a homeschool moms support group called PESHA or Pittsburgh East Homeschool Association. They met monthly and had children programs while the mother had monthly support topics. I would love to start something like that as I have a strong desire to support homeschooling mothers in there highcalling which is the only reason I blog and enjoy visiting other homeschool blogs.
       Coops have been a blessing through the years and at times they have been added pressure. Every year is new and each season changes so we take it semester by semester and keep it in prayer.Maybe someday I will begin to blog about how the coops were organized just in case someone wants to start one.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Original 1836 McGuffey readers~ and how we are using them

I am so excited! Our first week using The Original McGuffey 1836-1837 readers was a success!!!
I spent the weekend reading my Charlotte Mason Companion book by Karen Andreola to review teaching language arts the Charlotte Mason way. I then reviewed the posts and websites I collected on how others use the McGuffey readers. Next, I read through and looked at the lesson plans in The Original McGuffey's Reader Parent-Teacher guide from Mott Media written by Ruth Beechick, Ed.D. Finally, I wrote a weeks schedule.This is how I decided to use these wonderful readers. It may of course change.
I placed tabs at the top of the teachers guide so as I work with my children I can get to the book they are working in. Below is a picture of one of the books lesson suggestions so you can see an example. I do the lesson suggestions on Monday if they will work for the student. Extra projects like writing stories or researching a topic we may skip depending on the suggestions but anything that has to do with language arts we complete.

 After I spent the weekend researching & reading I came up with this as a weekly schedule for the kids to follow week after week. Since our homeschool coop start tomorrow our school week at home is cut down to 4 days a week. So I removed one day to adjust to the 4 day school week but when we are not doing the coop we will do all 5 days.
   I am amazed at the fruit for one week using these readers!!!! They were ok with the copywork, vocabulary words, answering questions, and even the dictation but when it came to the written narration they gave me a fight. To my surprise after we fought through it they actually enjoyed it!!! After we completed our dictation today everyone of them told me how the enjoyed do language arts this way. I have already seen fruit so I can't wait to compare thier work to the end of the year.
  Dictation is the joy for the teacher because that is their test without questions. I go over their mistakes with them and we end with encouragement practice makes perfect and next week we will try more so there are no grades but instead looking at the ways to improve themselves doing it all for Christ.Again, I look forward to comparing the dictation from the beginning of the year until the end.I will be able to see how their spelling & grammar has improved.
     The narration will show me how their writing skills and  the  use of vocabulary has improved over the school year. When my daughter was struggling with not wanting to narrate I explained to her this is how Benjamin Franklin taught himself to write.He read top quality literature..did written narration...compared ...and repeated until he had all the vocabulary, style, spelling, etc.  When she was done she could see the fruit which now gives her a purpose not just something mom wants her to do.
 Another important part of the McGuffey readers is reading out loud and saying the words properly. Here is a picture of Angel reading to me. After a weak of studying a lesson or story it imprints on you which is something that is very different than any other type of literature program I have used. The best part is not only quality literature imprinting on you but Christ centered character building stories.
   Here are some samples of this week. I love not having to print anything out for the next week. We simply open and go to the next lesson following the same routine. All they need is paper and a pencil :)

 I do not check the grammar, spelling, etc. for the narration this is just for me to see what they remember, vocabulary they use, writing style, etc. I do check the copywork & dictation. You don't need a teachers answer key all you need to do its compare it to the original. My highschool kids check their own while I check my younger students with them because this gives me a chance to teach them punctuation etc. I also write down words they have trouble spelling choosing the most common used words.If they have those down then we work on the higher spelling words. There is also a spelling book that comes with the Mott Media McGuffey set if you purchase it as a book set to assist you.

I just love this set of readers!!! I am still researching McGuffey himself & the other edition of  readers so I will be posting about them to compare and share.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Last Wednesday Kid's Summer Bible Study

It is hard to believe summer has ended! My husband taught the kid's Bible study this summer. He used our favorite book the Children's Institute 2000 Living Legends by IBLP. We love the stories and how they teach a Biblical truth.  I remember when my kids were young and ATI young adults got together and did a yearly institute for the local homeschooling conventions. They used the Children's Institute materials which my kids enjoy.This book is hard to find so we will continue to tape the loved book. Once my hubby completed all the Bible lessons he then began using the Character sketches. This is another IBLP product my kids enjoy.

After Bible time we had game time.  My oldest son helped us with game time this summer. Each week we played different games some AWANA team games. Gaga, dodge ball, etc. We truly enjoy these kids. They are from Godly homes and are a joy to teach. Today is our last day next week we start Kids Club.All of my young adults will be leaders. Its a joy seeing my children want to serve the Lord as their own choices and a  heart that desires to serve the Lord.

 Psalms 100:2   Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing. 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Flexibility: a Character Trait a Homeschool Mom Must Have to Survive!

        One of the things that happen as the school year starts is changes to make your day work with the needs of life, the teacher, and the students. I want to encourage you to not get frustrated with your school but shape and mold it using the tools you have to make it work for your family. Flexibility is a  character trait that a homeschool mother must understand. Check lists, curriculum, plans, & goals are all good but they are just tools used and you are the master of the tools.Each year may look different and what works for one homeschool mom may not work for another. That's ok we are all created by a creative God for His purposes.
            My goal as a homeschool mom is to find the recipe that works for my family. I think kids do best on routine so I am working towards finding what works for my family while still being flexible.Its also so much easier on the teacher and student when we do find something that works and stick with it especially in Math. I am looking for tools that I will return to year after year. While I am working through the bugs finding what works, ( as a veteran mom I have tried many different types of curriculum or created my own unit studies etc.) I know I must be flexible to adjust to what I am using or make a complete change. Each year I have more children to teach so that adaption causes changes too but being flexible still doesn't change my goals.
              Our goals are to find a Christ centered education that develops Godly character  as our top priority. Second, I have found that the mastery approach of learning works best for my students for example  grammar and math. As far as style goes the Charlotte Mason style of homeschooling affects what tools I use and how I use them. For example our history, science, & language arts are taught in the way Charlotte Mason suggests. This narrows down my choices out there from experience knowing the different types of curriculum ,and what did not work for our family.
          I also want tools that are open and go so that's less work on me as a teacher. Finally, if I can avoid printing or searching for literature guides, notebooking pages, laps books, etc. that is a also a time saver. Finances is last since we consider homeschooling a tool to disciple our children we have agreed as husband and wife these eternal souls are what we are investing in not things that rust and fade away. However, we are to be good stewards so I do try to be wise with my purchases. If we don't use it we sell it and we are looking for wise buying choices in curriculum.
       So from the beginning of the school year we have made some changes to what we are using or how we are using what we purchased. I am happy we have found some long term keepers that fit my goals and some things like highschool science I am still in search of even though we keep using Apologia highschool because our co-op does. I am not a fan of Apologia highschool but like the elementary series.
      So here is our current daily list. We just started the McGuffey readers this week as an example of a change hoping for the better from our original plans this summer for the 2014-2015 school year. Time will tell but I think its is going to work for our family. I may make changes in time how I use them as I get experience with them but I really like using them at this point. I will talk about that more later in another post.

  For now our daily schedule:

  1. Wisdom booklets (Bible & all subjects throughout the month)
  2. Bible passages relating to history lessons
  3. Math U See
  4. Easy Grammar
  5. McGuffey readers: language arts includes: spelling, copywork, narration,literature, dictation, grammar, vocabulary, and phonics.
  6. reading through a book usually from history.They just orally narrate so I hold them accountable to what they read.
  7. Science Apologia
  8. History: Mystery of History and Biblioplan
  9. writing~essays and notebooking from history lessons
  10. Foreign language Rosetta Stone Italian 
We do 1-2 as a family together in the morning
5-8 I work with the elementary students
5-8 is done independently by my highschool students.
7-9 is done after lunch

    It seems like a lot but it really is the perfect fit for our family. The lessons are short, mastery, and building on the next so they are able to do it without frustration because they are learning and not feeling left behind! We are both able to keep up. I am able to prepare, work with them daily, and check their work while they are able to reach the goals daily completing their work. And still getting done in the early afternoon as their reward when working diligently. 
   This is only week 5 so I will know at the end of the school year what will continue or try to find something that's a better fit. We are not using the Illuminations much at this point so it will be something I will not continue or purchase next year.
 So don't get discouraged but instead be flexible allowing God to lead & guide you as He directs you to what works for you and your sheep.


Monday, September 8, 2014

Doing the Apologia elementary series daily & preparing for the next week.

 We are using the Apology journal notebooks with our Botany study. I love having these so I do not have to spend time printing or finding notebook pages.

   Originally I was going to follow the schedule in the notebook but I found when only doing the lessons two days a week there was a lot of reading to do in two days. So we now do short lessons usually focusing one one topic a day. This makes for nice short lessons as Charlotte Mason would recommend but we are still covering all the material just in 5 days verses two.This is working very well for us.

   This is how I prepare for the next lesson. First, I look at the schedule and circle the first notebooking page and last notebooking page for the week. Then I write down the pages I will be tearing out of my notebook. Yes, I tear them out to organize my self. My kids have ruined and lost notebooks so when they are done they go in my completed draw for my portfolio samples.This way I will have their samples of completed work. They are good at returning their journal to their workbox when they are done but they have also misplaced or left them outside :/

After I tear the pages we are doing for the week I trim off the messy ends.

   I glued a folder in the back of the kids journals where I place the pages we will be doing for the week. This is a good way for me to choose what pages we will be doing and helping me navigate what we will cover during the week. From there we just read through the book and work daily on our notebooks until they are all completed.
     They recommend reading through the lesson one week then doing the notebooks and projects the next week. For my family I like to work through it using the Charlotte Mason approach. Short lessons then narrating in written form in our notebooking journal daily. We also answer the questions only a few questions at a time covering the material we read about. We do this before we narrate that helps them get ideas what to write about.  We then finish the lesson after covering all the notebooking pages with review journal pages like the crossword puzzles etc. and activities at the end of the lesson following the weekly schedule.

 I wanted to mention in each lesson there is a page that you glue colorful mini-books etc. in the notebooking journal pages. They are found in the back of the book and the lesson they coordinate with is listed on the bottom of the page. When I am preparing for the week if there is a page with a mini-book I make and prepare the page before placing it in the back of the folder for the coming weeks work.
I just wanted to share what is working for me that is a little different than the recommended whey of following the schedule and working through the notebook. I love doing Science daily instead of the recommened twice a week and this system makes it easy for me to prepare for the next weeks lesson. 

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