Our first round of co-op

It has been a busy few weeks. Spring has finally arrived here,  and we had our first round of co-op with our homeschool group. It was such an awesome time.

Last year we joined a fairly large group of homeschoolers in our area, we already knew some of the members and the commitment to be part of the group was low enough or better adjustable for me to be able to deal with it. I don’t necessarily have a problem with committing to groups, I just know it can be overwhelming at times (for me). And I know myself and my kids, and we need our days of just being at home. As much as I love to be around people, go do stuff, adventure to complete new places.. I need time to process it all. I am an introvert, in many ways.

So with this group we were allowed to just pick and choose what we want to participate in, sign up, join the co-op or not join the co-op. It is only once a week for 6 weeks, and this happens twice a year. For us that sounded just right, and indeed it was. The 6 weeks went by in a blur.

A year ago I was strictly against joining a co-op. I couldn’t quite imagine how it would work, and I thought it would be too much like trying to re-create public school. Well our co-op sure was nothing like public school.

So you might wonder, why join a co-op ?

First of all I think it’s important to mention that no co-op is alike. Just like the rest of homeschooling, the possibilities are endless. Each co-op will have its own rules, age groups, the way they handle and organize it. Some co-ops happen in churches, others maybe at home or another open facility. Some cost money, some a lot, some hardly anything. What most probably have in common is that the moms will be the organizers and most likely the “teachers”.

These last 6 weeks, have brought me closer to our whole homeschool group. I was able to have some great discussions with all th moms from all the  different kids and really get to know everyone . I was able to participate in classes my own kids wanted to take and I also got some wonderful opportunities to bond with their  friends. I spent time with all age ranges of kids.
What still amazes me every time with homeschool groups, that when all the kids hang out together, they all get along. Watching the teenagers with the elementary kids and everyone getting along just makes me happy and it seems to be a somewhat unheard thing these days. Once on Facebook, I got into a heated debate on how kids could learn from each other, young kids and old kids alike, and I met several comments that completely disagreed with me..  😦 It makes me sad to even think that kids get separated just because of age.

We had some very fun classes this season, a literature class about Skippy John Jones, classes that made math come alive, native American tribes and Egyptians were discovered, cooking classes, science classes, writing classes and even introduction classes to engineering were held, just to name a few.

There’s a great variety of kids in our homeschool group and what I find wonderful is, that if a child does for whatever reason not want to participate, no one will get forced. Nobody will yell, get angry over a lesson plan not happening or being finished, everyone is there to make this a great, fun way to learn in a group setting for the kids . And while I know, that many teachers in public school wish to do the same and work hard to make it somehow possible,  in the end their hands are tied.

I think it is a giant difference when a group of MOMS organizes something like this. There is so much caring and understanding in the group that I haven’t seen at many other places. Also the kids are asked to make suggestions for the classes. Clearly no one wants to “teach a class” that no child is interested in.

For us this first round of co-op was simply amazing and while I wish it would go on, I try to remind myself that it’s a good thing to change things up. Life is open for adventure and we already have lots of other things planned with our group, and the co-op will return in the Fall, and by then I might even join to have my own little class 😉 !

 

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10 simple simple things that help a homeschool Mom

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This morning as I was writing my list for the week I thought how lucky I am with some of the things I have gained in the last year and was missing in our beginnings of homeschooling. I really think the start of homeschooling itself is the hardest. There are so many areas of life it affects, so many things to gain knowledge about, you just feel like you are up against the world. And while you are slowly making your steps, I do think there are some things that are definitely helpful in the beginnings. I was lucky to have my husband pretty early on my side and there was not much convincing to be done. And even luckier our family, pretty much was the same way. We don’t have much close family anyways, but it is nice to have the reassuring words here and there. Yes a support system is awesome to have and that’s why I think every homeschool mom needs a good homeschool group. And if you have not found it yet, don’t give up. Open one yourself. Look online. There are so many sites that have groups online now, and even if it is just online.. there are great friends waiting !

Along the journey through the first year of homeschooling there will be bad weather days. Do you remember snow days in school ? Public school closes and your kids are home, all day ? We homeschool moms smile a little about those days, well because… there are normal for us. Its everyday life. Even though we aren’t really always “stuck at home ” there are times the weather is awful and you will be just that, STUCK at home ! WINTER ! CAN BE VERY LOOOOOOOOOOONG !! So yes, good weather is a bonus for a homeschool mom !

The library, is such a great place. We can borrow up to 50 books at a time, we seriously go with rolling cart to the check out. Let’s not speak about the fines.. those are our secrets 😉

The automatic pencil sharpener…? I did not think it was necessary at the beginning and just a few weeks ago, my husband surprised me with one ! It has CHANGED OUR LIFES !!! 😉
The crockpot falls into that same category. Some days are busy, and the slowcooker helps so much to be ahead in the game.

The Internet. Well, who would want to be without it ? The Internet can be your friend and enemy. Your kids will learn to be more independent and do more research and exploring on their own, which is awesome but can also be troubling of course. Yet there are so many great resources online, I wouldn’t want to miss it !

Patience and Understanding.. hahaha.. yeah it’s a funny thing when people tell us, they would not have the patience to homeschool. Seriously, we don’t always have it either but we learn to get better at it 😉 Living and learning together all the time !
Being open to change and new things has always been something important to me and something I still try to get better at as well ! Change can be hard and scary. But most times good things will come out of change.. remember the three C’s of life… Choices, Chances, and Changes !

So what did I miss from my list above.. oh yeah.. the positive attitude… Well, it something we can all benefit from. If you try to have a positive attitude things will be easier. Don’t fight every battle, smile, make new connections with friends, laugh a little more often about the little problems and don’t worry all too much. The first years of homeschooling can be crazy. An extreme rollercoaster, but it is one that you will want to keep riding if you just get over the fear !

Have a blessed weekend,
XOX

Why choose a literature based curriculum

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I just wanted to share this little article that I wrote for our curriculum MBTP, that was published yesterday. I am so excited and thrilled that they decided to share it on their website !

I really love our curriculum and am so thankful we found it. I know each curriculum doesn’t work out for everyone, but this was our match and I am glad we found it early in our homeschool life. I don’t know if we will always stick with it, but for now we are loving it and it’s working out pretty well.
Anyways, if you have questions about it or need more info, I would love to help !

Also the SPRING FLING, the best SALE of the year should be coming up soon, so sign up now, then you won’t miss it !!

Here is the link to the article, if the link doesn’t take you directly to it, check under the blog section !

 

http://www.movingbeyondthepage.com/articles/why-choose-a-literature-based-curriculum/

Or you can just read the copy from the website right here 😉

When my family first began homeschooling, I was introduced to dozens of previously unknown curriculum strategies. There was classical education, core curriculum, common core curriculum, Waldorf, Montessori, and unschooling. I even learned how to align curriculum based on learning style. In just a few days I felt overwhelmed by the possibilities. The curriculum choices seemed endless.

As I began searching for the right curriculum for my family, I came upon the termliterature-based. Literature-based curriculum utilizes real literature and books for students’ studies instead of textbooks. My children love books, so when I first heard about literature-based curriculum, I was intrigued. I definitely wanted my curriculum to include lots of fun books. I also knew that I wanted things to be “hands-on,” and the combination of the two of these led us to Moving Beyond the Page.

Things I Like about Literature-Based Curriculum

Through a literature-based curriculum, my children are exposed to a broad variety of literature. Most literature-based curricula will include a large number of the “classics” as well as modern novels, poetry, and biographies. Children will get introduced to some masterpieces by marvelous, timeless authors, authentic documents from history, and thought-provoking poetry. They will also begin to learn through connecting multiple subjects and themes. These books will often connect to language arts, history, social studies, science, or other subjects. Your child will be engaged and learn multiple subjects just by reading one book.

Stories make our brains come alive. They make learning easier and more fun. Our brains build more connections when those connections are intertwined with story. When I first considered Moving Beyond the Page, I mainly looked at the list of books that we would go through for each level, and we all got really excited about the selections. I like to include my kids with the decisions about choosing a curriculum whenever I can. It gets them excited, and being excited and curious are important parts of learning.

What I love most about a literature-based curriculum is all the possibilities it gives us. We have so many wonderful opportunities to discuss a variety of subjects that come up in every book. We often discuss moral values and character traits, and I can tell how much it helps my children in learning the process of reading, thinking, writing, and connecting it all. The possibilities and activities are endless. We will do an author study here or there or “travel” to different countries where different authors lived and possibly even learn about their time period’s history.

A final benefit I can see with a literature-based curriculum is that it is easier to include different age groups of children together. Having multiple kids and trying to have them all work on different curricula can be a daunting task. Even though I opted against grouping my own two children together, I know plenty of families that make this work well because they can change up individual activities for each child while the family reads the same base material together. Even kids that might not be able to actually read yet will be able to listen and answer comprehension questions and with that get a feeling of being included. Activities in general leave a lot of open space for creative work. While reading stories, the kids get inspired in many ways — they can draw pictures, act things out, or even work together on bigger projects in groups. Students can pick and choose to work in ways that they enjoy most.

In our one year with Moving Beyond the Page, we have gotten to experience all of these things I have mentioned. We have gotten to know many wonderful, inspiring novels and met some amazing authors. We have made several great crafts and cooked incredible recipes from forgotten nations or from old historic times. We have written plays and acted them out and drawn many wonderful pictures. I am thankful that I get this precious time with my children and get to discover some of these amazing books with them together. It is a time that I will forever cherish and remember. We have made a connection through the books while talking about them. Laughing about the funny quotes from The BFG, learning about Ben Franklin through a little mouse, and cooking pioneer meals with Laura Ingalls Wilder have made this homeschool year unforgettable!

Julia Goss is a homeschooling mom of two kids. She has used the Age 5-7 and Age 8-10 levels of Moving Beyond the Page. Your can follow her blog athttps://beyondthebookshomeschool.wordpress.com/.

The BFG ( part 2 ) Unit 3 | Concept 2

Last week our little adventure with the The BFG ended already. Sometimes it amazes me how fast we zoom through these lessons. This was seriously an incredible fun unit and another book I was just as excited to read as my daughter was.  Roald Dahl has written so many wonderful books, including Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and James and the Giant Peach, just to name a few others. I know we will end up adding many more from him to our library.
I have already posted a little about the BFG before, when we started the unit the other week ( see here ) and we really enjoyed having our giant in our room,I will be so sad to see him leave. It was worth the extra time and will hopefully keep me creative for more little  things for our adventure room.

So what did we do during this unit ?

We got to explore and study England and especially London a little bit. After our trip to London last year, it was fun visiting again through the story. A short introduction how the British government is different from the US government was also very interesting and I felt that it was brought to us in a great way that we could easily understand it.

In another activity we learnt about the giants favorite drink. This must have been by far my daughters favorite chapter. She laughed so much, just reading about Frobscottle and Whizzpoppers. When I told her we would actually try to make some, she was of course once again very excited. We had a little trouble finding the raspberry syrup, but we opted for frozen raspberries instead. We also made the cold version and added some ice cream so that it almost ended up being a milkshake root beer float kind of drink… It would be awesome in the summer months !!

The book itself handles multiple different themes, one of them being  dreams. For this we  got to create our own  dreams in different ways and also had a great chance to talk about nightmares, which was a great conversation starters to talk about some subjects that can be rather difficult. We even talked about symbolizing dreams and how there are ways scientists say you can influence your own dreams.

Reading through the book we collected many great quotes from the big friendly giant, I believe some of those will stick with us forever, and make us laugh out loud in days to come. Overall this unit was a lighter unit. It was heavy on the creative side, more drawing, creating but a bit less writing, which is totally okay every so often.

Along with the BFG went science, or more specific an introduction into physics and the laws of nature. We learnt about gravity, pressure and motion. We discovered Newtons’ laws and met some other wonderful scientists that changed our world. We had a lot of additions to our timeline !

We managed to accomplish quite a few experiments and had some very fun afternoons. Our favorites were playing with marbles ( we remembered the old school marble game which went along perfect with the study) and the balloon rocket was also extreme fun !

The Alka-Seltzer pressure experiment towards the end of the unit was our icing on the cake 😉

If you would like to check out these units, look here . As always thanks for stopping by and we hope you enjoyed exploring with us !

( soon you can add the new movie to end this super fun lesson)

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Homeschooling on a rainy day

Texas weather is crazy. In the last few weeks we have experienced every season possible. We had temperatures above 70 degrees Fahrenheit and also temperatures around 20 degrees with ice and snow combined. We hit records of snow for our area, and were completely iced over on some other days. After nearly 10 years living in Texas, I know things pretty much come to a screeching halt, just by the thought of snow and ice. Schools start closing or don’t open at all, roads get shut down and stores close. I can’t blame them, after all this doesn’t happen all that often and most cities just aren’t equipped with all the necessary tools to clear the roads and such.

Well, what does this mean for us homeschoolers.. By now you have hopefully understood that most homeschoolers, really don’t spend so much time at home. But I must admit, yes the winter months can be a bit harder and we do in fact spend more time at home. But then again, wouldn’t you want to ? When its cold and dreary outside ? We sure enjoy our days in front of the fireplace . In fact it is even our kitties favorite place in the house lately.

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Luckily we have an awesome library and some wonderful book stores and we are always ready to start another book adventure. This was one of her latest ones. I am just a few days behind on posting and she has already finished it. It took her less than a week and it really isn’t a small book. She really loved it and we will add a review later on. But check it out, it is an amazing book.
The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell
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So while it was icy outside, { window completely covered in ice }
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We dusted off some more board games. One of our favorite ones from last year is Catan Junior. Many of you have probably heard of the settlers of Catan. This game is for kids 6 and up but our youngest has been playing since she was 4 years old. It is very fun, and teaches strategy in an easy way and we really love to play it over and over again. You really can’t miss with a fun pirate themed game.
Catan: Junior

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Another thing I haven’t been able to blog about is, that we recently joined our Homeschool groups co-op. We only have it a few times a year, and unfortunately.. well can you guess.. because of the ice and snow.. yeap… it got cancelled.

So more ice and snow… and more time inside.. Luckily still I had a few ideas left. We even had an untouched Lego project on the shelf that was just waiting to be built.
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This was a pretty small set. But I must say, the LEGO® Architecture Brandenburg Gate 21011
was very fun to build. Since we actually had visited it last year in Berlin, it is a special memory that is attached to it and my daughter loves having it in her room. I think there will be many more sets added to this one.

For the longest time I had also promised to work on more sewing projects with her. So, since we were stuck inside we got busy… This was another project from one of the books she had gotten for Christmas. I can only recommend this book over and over again ! She has learnt all the sewing vocabulary, she is able to set things up on her own and pretty much start and finish her project all on her own. She just recently got the sewing machine into her room and is now able to work even more indendently on her little ideas.

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Rainy days, really aren’t so bad….. 🙂

Learning creatively

wpid-img_20150228_102710.jpgAfter reading Sir Ken Robinson’s book Out of Our Minds: Learning to be Creative  I started wondering again if I teach my children enough creativity. DO I give them enough room to let them discover ? Do I give them enough chances to be as creative as they can be ?

Can you teach creativity ?

Sir Ken Robinson has great thoughts throughout his book and says yes, you can help and teach people to be more creative, but they have to be able to have the right opportunities to use them. And I am sure, most of you I do not have to tell, that we certainly have these possibilities throughout homeschooling… They are endless !
We have been with our MBTP curriculum for almost a year now and the longer we use it, the more I really see how good of a fit it is for us.  I think it is very creative, artsy and hands on. It won’t be a good fit for all  but as we all know there is no such thing, and that is simply good… !

My older daughter is very artsy and throughout her few public school years she was very frustrated about some specific things, like not being able to color the way she wanted to. She wasn’t allowed to use the material she wanted, she wasn’t allowed to even use the colors she thought would be best. Most often she was told to copy it the way she was told. What frustrated her most, was that she had to hurry up and most often couldn’t even finish the works. So it became pointless to her and she didn’t enjoy it at all anymore .

To an artist there is no time limit. Their creative works flow. And it flows best when uninterrupted. When we lose track of time and just have fun, that’s when we do our best work. Not when the bell rings. Creativity can also come in waves. One minute you have the best ideas, and a wave of inspiring thoughts. 10 minutes later they can all be gone.

Creative work often doesn’t happen in one day. Often there are stages. You work on something for a while, take a break, get new ideas, scrap it all and might just start over….  In the end it is the artist, that calls the projects finished !

Unfortunately even at the beginning of homeschooling, I still made those mistakes. I rushed through some of our work, just to finish them, and I told my daughter to hurry up when my daughters creative flow was at it’s best. But we learn as we go. Homeschooling is really a journey. Even if you would try not to learn something new one day, most likely you and your children will learn lots, even if it just might be about each other.

We try to get our plain academic work done fast. Like math, even though math can be done in very creative ways too. But we leave that for another post. Some kids need more creative outlets in some areas more than in others, too.

I try to leave lots of room and freedom for the creative work. If something from the curriculum doesn’t inspire her we try to think of ways to change it and make it more appealing. If the worksheet has limited space on writing, we take our journal or other separate paper.

Displaying their works throughout the house has also helped. We hang up finished or unfinished works in their rooms, hallways, school room or our little kitchen board. When Daddy comes home he immediately sees some of the work they want to share. Also they are always able to pick some  back up and add thoughts and ideas to it, if another wave of creativity  hits them.

We are all born with creativity, we just have to give ourselves and our children the freedom to use it !

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A snowy day…

There is something so magical about snow, that if you have never experienced it, it is nearly impossible to describe. When snow falls to the ground, it covers everything in this beautiful sheet of white, it falls so soft and silent that you almost can’t hear it but that tiny little sound when the snowflake touches the ground. There is this smell in the air, so fresh and cold, that only snow can make. The world seems to slow down, and for a while nature takes over and turns everything pure and perfect.

Here in Texas we don’t get these days very often. Back home, in Germany, I remember many days from childhood, but even where I lived we didn’t get tons of snow every year, and snow was incredibly special.

I have plenty of memories going sledding with my siblings though, or even being pulled on my sled by my grandfather trough the yard.  Trips into the mountains with the whole family were special and turned into forever memories.

These days are like a special gift to us. We didn’t have to worry about missing on school work. We surely don’t need to schedule a catch up day, to make up for it…

So all that we had to worry about was, to enjoy this snowy day to the fullest !!! And we did !

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Olaf seemed pretty happy in the snow. I know he says he ” loves summer” but honestly it seems like winter was pretty awesome 😉

I am thankful for the memories we got to make throughout the day ! The time we got to really slow down, not run errands, or plan some other crazy outing. Some days you just need to enjoy the moment that is given to you !

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5-7 Environment Studies

We have had a lot of fun with the 5-7 level, and a lot of activities we extended quite a bit here and there and with that I have totally gotten behind on blogging. But you all know how that is.

The environment/ habitat units were definitely some our favorites. And whenever we have something so exciting, we most often all jump into the project together, which basically means the other sibling gets to do it as well and often even mommy 😉 especially when it has something to do with art. It is so nice to sometimes MAKE the time to actually do these things together, not just me helping them, but also rediscovering some of these things for myself again..

With one activity we were supposed to pick a craft from the animal habitat book and my little one picked the Gila monster craft !! Bubble wrap and paint, it was so fun !!

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Amazing also that we got to wrap up this unit, with a very fun library visit where we got to meet similar animals that we had just studied !!

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