Sunday, March 22, 2009

My Sonlight Shelf

Every year when the new Sonlight catalog comes out and the homeschool convention season approaches, I take inventory of my Sonlight library. I check to see which books are still on the shelf where they belong, which have "walked away," and which need to be replaced. I don't yet have a complete collection, but I'm getting really close!

I organize my books with color-coded spine labels. I use a white label (printed on regular address labels) identifying whether the book is a reader, read-aloud, history, or science book. Then I add a small strip of colored paper indicating to which level of Sonlight that book belongs.

Did you know that Sonlight levels are color coded? Just do a search on the Sonlight website for "labels."

Check out my Supplementing Sonlight page for links to activities to enhance your read-alouds and readers!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Finding Quiet Time

Recently I was asked: How do you fit in a prayer life and find those daily quiet times with God when you're surrounded by children, school and daily chores?

These days are challenging, aren't they? Several years ago I asked my pastor and his wife (an older couple) this very question. How do I make my quiet time a priority when there are already so many critical demands on my time? I appreciated so much the wise advice they gave me.
The first thing to remember is that this is "just for a season". God understands that as mothers (especially of very young children) we are often stretched to our very limits. He will be there for us even when we just find a quick minute here and there to spend in His Word.

When my children were younger I found that a good time for me was during the afternoon quiet time. Even when my children got too old for "naps" I still sent them to their rooms for 30 minutes to an hour each afternoon for "quiet time". As they got old enough to understand I explained that Mommy needed a quiet time, so they had to go to their rooms and find something quiet to do. I tried to encourage them to have their own "devotions" with Bible story books or story CDs.

Now that my children are a little older (and are willing to sleep a little later!) I have found that it works best for me to get up a hour before the children do, to enjoy my coffee and my devotions in the still early-morning house.

What works for you?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Neither rain nor snow nor dark of night...

A little birdie told me that the 2009-2010 Sonlight catalogs went in the mail today! I always look forward to catalog season each spring. I can't wait to see the latest one! Of course, we can't order from it until April 1st... but we can sure start our wish lists, can't we?

Keep an eye on your mailbox! It won't be long now!Don't you just love the cover photo this year? It takes me back several years to when my two little girls and I would spread a blanket out on the grass to enjoy a book together. My girls aren't so little any more... but we still enjoy doing this sometimes!

If you are new to Sonlight and would like a catalog, you may visit the Sonlight website and request one free of charge!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Myspace Comments

Do you have plans to celebrate St. Patrick's Day in your homeschool? I don't have anything special planned this year... but boy, my friend Farrah @ Light in the Sphere does! She's going all out to celebrate the "wearin' o' the green" with her little boy! Check out her post on how they're going to turn the water green and all sorts of other mischief! Sounds like fun!

Other years we have enjoyed reading about the "real" St. Patrick. One especially good biography is Flame Over Tara. It is part of Sonlight's Core 6 program.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

School Daze

Just now in my blog-hopping I happened upon this "Saturday 9" meme which I hadn't seen before. Today's topic is "School Daze" so I thought this would be a great one to post here on my new homeschooling blog! Click on the logo to visit other participants.

1. Do you have children in school?
Yes. My children are 13 and 16.

2. Did you go to public school? If you have children did/do they?
I did go to public school, except for 2 years. I went to a Christian school for most of 7th and all of 8th grades.

3. Are you currently in school or taking classes?
Not officially... but I never stop learning!

4. What level of education have you completed?
"Some college." I had a year of Bible college, a semester of university, and a few other odd courses here and there.

5. Do you, or did you have loans out for your (or your children's) education?
No. So far we've managed to pay for curriculum as we go along.

6. What are your thoughts on the cost of tuition for colleges and universities?
I honestly don't know how most people afford it.

7. Did school prepare you education wise for working in the real world?
In some areas I'm sure it did. I mean, it would be very hard to have a job without knowing how to read or having basic math skills! In other areas, there is no way school could take the place of life experience.

8. Did school prepare you emotionally for what lay ahead?
Hmm... I don't think so. Was it supposed to?

9. If you were to run a high school, what changes would you make?
I do run a high school! :-) I homeschool my children... and I do it just the way I think it ought to be done!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Books Fall Open

Books fall open,
you fall in,
delighted where
you've never been;
hear voices not once
heard before,
reach world on world
through door on door;
find unexpected
keys to things
locked up beyond
What might you be,
perhaps become,
because one book
is somewhere? Some
wise delver into
wisdom, wit;
and wherewithal
has written it.
True books will venture,
dare you out,
whisper secrets,
maybe shout
across the gloom
to you in need,
who hanker for
a book to read.
-David McCord

Monday, March 9, 2009

School in a Bag for Toddlers

One question homeschool mothers often ask me is, "What can I do with my toddler while I'm trying to teach the school-age children?" My favorite response: "School in a bag!"

You'll need a nice sturdy box (the kind that copier paper comes in is a great size) and several gallon-size zipper bags. Fill each bag with materials for one activity, and then put your bags in the box. Save this box only for during "school time."

Some of my favorite ideas:

  • A handful of pipe cleaners and some chunky beads or buttons… or if your little one still has a tendency to put things in his mouth, provide a handful of Cheerios or Fruit Loops! 
  •  A small cookie sheet with some alphabet or picture magnets 
  • Touch-and-feel or lift-the-flap books 
  •  Preschool-style jigsaw puzzles 
  •  Inexpensive stickers from the dollar store or just colored dots from an office supply store and a spiral notebook to stick them in. 
  •  Play-dough (It's easy to make your own!) 
  •  Blunt scissors with scraps of construction paper 
  •  Extra-large crayons with a coloring sheet 

The possibilities are endless. You'll probably want to add new bags from time-to-time, and "retire" some for awhile to bring out again later.

 Plop the Little Guy in his high chair with the tray and give him the contents of one bag to play with while you sit at the table and teach your older children. (Note: Take the activity out of the plastic bag before you give it to your child. The bags are just for storage, not to play with.) The high chair helps restrain him and gives him a nice play surface. When he gets bored trade bags with him. If he has a tendency to go through them too fast, set a timer for whatever length of time seems reasonable to you and tell him he gets to trade when the timer goes off. You should have enough bags in your box to keep him occupied for an hour or so by rotating bags with him.

 Have fun with your sweet little one! These years go by very fast!

Friday, March 6, 2009

High School Science

Did you ever wonder how high school homeschool students got their labs done? If you're a homeschooler, you probably already know! In the kitchen, of course!When we were doing Biology we invited a couple other families to join us once a week for the experiments. We dissected an earthworm, a crayfish (which we all persisted in calling a "crawdad"), a perch, and a frog. It was fascinating! The kids were hesitant at first. Just not too sure about cutting into dead animals. But as we progressed they found themselves interested in actually seeing what was inside each creature, and were willing to take turns doing the hands-on parts of the experiments.

Here's a tip about high school sciences. My daughter is not strong in math, so I was not sure what other high school sciences she could do. Both Chemistry and Physics have a prerequisite of Algebra I. My daughter will be doing good to get through Pre-Algebra and Consumer Math by the time she graduates. I knew she would be okay with Biology, but I wasn't sure where to go from there. I had an opportunity to talk to Dr. Jay Wile about it at a homeschool convention. (The Apologia booth was just across the aisle from my Sonlight booth!) Obviously, colleges will be looking for the Chemistry and/or Physics credits, but if that is not a concern, he recommended Astronomy and Advanced Biology, and then maybe even Marine Biology if we have time. I was surprised about Advanced Biology. I figured Chemistry would be a prerequisite for that, but he said no, the only prerequisite was Biology I. That was encouraging to me!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Naming Our Homeschool

For several years I had been trying to think of a meaningful and appropriate name for our homeschool. Several families I know have come up with special names for their schools. Names are important to me, so I wanted a name for our school, too, but I just never could seem to hit on just the right one.

Just a year or so ago as I was contemplating teaching through the high school years and considering the fact that my husband was homeschooled his last two years of high school, it came to me! The school name on his diploma is "High Way High School" and it is signed by both his parents. Of course! We would just be the second generation of High Way High School!

I wondered why my husband's parents chose that name. I was pretty sure it had a spiritual application, and when I looked up "highway" in the concordance I found this verse:
A highway shall be there, and a road,
And it shall be called the Highway of Holiness.
-Isaiah 35:8
So I emailed my mother-in-law and asked her. She replied,
"You asked, 'How did we come up with the name, High Way High School'? Answer: It had two meanings: A HIGH Way, meaning the Christian (and holiness) way of life, as opposed to a lower way, the way of the world. AND we were located on Highway 29. I don't remember which came to our mind first, probably Hwy. 29 where we were located, and THEN we thought that would be a good name for our school I don't think we thought of Isaiah 35:8 specifically, although I'm sure we were aware of that verse, but we definitely had that concept in mind. OR, we might have thought of it, since it fits it perfectly, but we didn't USE it as a motto, or anything. (That's been a long time ago!)"
But it's a really great verse for a homeschool, don't you think? And did you notice how well it fits in with the theme of my blog? Some things are just meant to be!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

When Mother Reads Aloud

When Mother reads aloud,
the past seems real as every day;
I hear the tramp of armies vast,
I see the spears and lances cast,
I join the thrilling fray.
Brave knights and ladies fair and proud I meet
when Mother reads aloud.

When Mother reads aloud,
far lands seem very near and true;
I cross the deserts gleaming sands,
or hunt the jungles prowling bands,
or sail the ocean blue.
Far heights, whose peaks the cold mists shroud, I scale,
When Mother reads aloud.

When Mother reads aloud,
I long for noble deeds to do-
to help the right,
redress the wrong;
it seems so easy to be strong,
so simple to be true.
Oh, thick and fast the visions crowd my eyes,
When Mother reads aloud.

-Author Unknown

Monday, March 2, 2009

Hands-On Learning for the Not-So-Crafty Mom

My approach to homeschooling is to keep things as simple as possible. However, there's no denying that kids love to do things with their hands, some more than others. Rather than invest in pre-packaged "hands-on" curriculum, I have chosen to take a more natural approach. I provide my children with a variety of construction toys (Basic LEGOs , Lincoln Logs, K'nex , Playmobil, etc.) and allow them to "play" with them while I read to them. I used a literature-based curriculum with a lot of reading, and I discovered my children listen better if their hands are busy. Often they will build something that goes along with what they are learning!

I also keep a cupboard stocked with arts and crafts supplies. (Shop in August for back-to-school specials and buy enough glue, crayons, markers, construction paper, etc. to last the rest of the year.) They have to keep it at the table, but I allow my children to come up with their own craft projects to supplement school work, or just for fun when chores are done.

If your children enjoy coloring I highly recommend the quality educational coloring books published by Dover. Or do a search online for "printable coloring sheets." I have found some really nice ones that way, as well.

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