Homeschooling: It's not what we do, it's how we live.

Lesson Planing for M4 (June-July 2010)

Welcome back!
If you’re just joining me, then be warned – this post might get a tad overwhelming. Every 6 weeks, my kids and I take a break from school and relax… well, they relax; I plan our next 6 weeks! This is the time when I go back through all the websites and homeschool materials I have to refresh my memory on all the cool things I wanted to try and lessons I wanted to do with the kids. I usually post a lot of links and reference a lot of materials, so if you’re starting out this might be a good place to look to get ideas or to find spiffy little homeschooling gems that you might not have come across yet.

If you’re joining me again as I plan this next module, then I’d love to hear if my posts have helped you. I’d also love to hear from you about how you plan or what some of your favorite materials and resources are.

In scanning some of my earlier posts, I just realized that my previous “lesson planning” post had a huge mistake in it – the title is “LPing for M2” and it was actually M3 that was being planned – so if you noticed that, then you get a gold star for having a keen eye.

So – we’re going into M4 – that’s our 4th six-weeks grading period. Our school schedule is year-round. We do 6 weeks on and a one-week break throughout the year, then take all of December off and start our new school year in January. We end up with a total to 7 grading periods, which comes out to about 165-ish days (we school M-Th). We’re going into our 6th month of homeschooling – I can’t believe how FAST the months have passed! It seems like we have just gotten started. Looking back at how much we’ve accomplished, I’m simply amazed. I didn’t really suffer with self-doubt about homeschooling (overly much, anyway), but it’s really nice to be able to look back and see just how much we really have covered. Last week, for example, we were discussing a friend who recently moved back to Michigan and how far away that is. We haven’t done a whole lot of geography on the map, but we have discussed in great detail the Great Lakes area in one of our lesson series. I was trying to tell the kids how far away Michigan was in relation to Texas, and I brought up the Lakes… and they totally got it! They had a whole discussion that reviewed much of the material we discussed months ago – on their own! That was such a gratifying “homeschool mommy moment”.

With summer coming up, we’ll have a unique addition to our family’s school days. My niece, Fred, will be joining us several days a week. She’s a “school-a-holic” – she loves school, and has requested to be allowed to participate. So I’m going to be planning some things for her to do as well. Since she and my oldest, LittleBoyBlue, are in the same grade (going into 3rd), it won’t really be any problem to add in lessons for her. PeaGreen is going into 2nd now (wow – my baby is in second grade!).

So, without further adieu… planning! {fanfare}

Okay, so… one of the main things we’re going to work into our summer is letterboxing. If you’ve read previous posts, you’ve probably seen it mentioned before. Basically, letterboxing is a treasure hunt. You have a notebook and a stamp (hand-carved or bought, your choice. It’s your personal stamp – your mark), and ink pad and the list of clues to find the box (and there are literally thousands of them, all over the world). Then you go out and find the box. In it, you’ll find a notebook and a stamp. You stamp your book with the box’s stamp, and mark your stamp into the box’s book and then hide the box back exactly where you found it so it can be found again. And that’s it! Unless you want to start making and hiding boxes (in which case you have a whole new level of fun to enjoy). Learn all you want about it at  Letterboxing North America’s website.

The other thing that will be taking up a lot of the next 2 mods is the Texas Nature Challenge. It’s a 12 week, 24 state park “how many can you visit” challenge with a mission for you (the kids?) to complete. We snagged a nifty poster from the Big Thicket Visitor’s Center a couple of weeks ago. We stopped in by chance and learned about it by accident. It’s such a cool concept though that we’re really looking forward to sinking our teeth into it. The neat thing about these two projects is that they can be done in conjunction with each other. We’ve already completed 2.5 missions and are really looking forward to doing more of them!

Now, as for what subjects those things fall into, I’m filing them under science, geography, critical thinking, history, art… pretty much all of them! Different missions and different clues and locations for letterbox hunting contain different aspects of “school”. Sometimes we’re drawing, following a map, learning about the history of an area or object – the list is endless and i LOVE being able to have school be a living, breathing thing.

Of course, we’ll still be doing ‘real’ schoolwork as well. I still haven’t had time to delve into Lesson Pathways site yet, so that’s high on my list for planning this mod. I’m planning on using their Year 3 Math for LittleBoyBlue and Year 2 Math for PeaGreen starting at some point this mod. I have Saxon 3, but not all of the consumables, so I will be supplementing LP’s stuff with that. We were supposed to get into multiplication tables this past mod with LBB, but haven’t really sunk into them yet, so we’re going to start off next week (week 3 of M4 – already!!) hitting them hard and heavy.

Something else we’re starting is mock-scouting. I love the concept of scouting, but the dogma of organized scouting programs just  don’t work for our family. So, we’re doing an ‘adventure kids’ type thing that mimics scouting in some ways. I started buying patches from the State Parks we’ve visited and am going to make a sash for them to showcase their achievements. I also found a bunch of merit badges (demerit badges, in some cases) that are fun and amusing that we’ll use as well – I want this to be fun and interesting – not plain ole’ Boy Scouts stuff. So I’m going to choose the badges that I like and come up with a worksheet/accomplishment/task/skill set for the boys to complete to earn them. I’m still working on this, so when I get it together better in my head, I’ll do a new post about it with links and such so you can see.

Another really cool thing that is going on this summer is our library’s Summer Reading Club. Their theme this summer is ‘The Reading Express”. In addition to encouraging the kids to read (20 books), they can log their time and compete for prizes from the mayor’s office and get an award for reading. There are also a TON of nifty classes, presentations and projects that they’re offering in connection with the club – and the best part about it is that it’s all FREE! If you’re not local, then check your library – they may have something similar that you can take advantage of. Our library also has a room (or shelf, depending on the branch we’re at that day) with books for sale – either donated or withdrawn. Usually, they’re super cheap. If you’re book hunting, you can usually pick up a text-book or two, and almost always find a handful of kids books to supplement your personal library for very little dough. Other places, like Barnes & Noble and Scholastic also offer Summer Reading Programs that might be worth checking out.

Language Arts: Mad Libs! Or, if you’re interested in playing online, you can use Wacky Web Tales, which is similar – and still fun! Of course, we’re still going to be doing more traditional LA work – I’ve been using EnglishGrammar101 for LittleBoyBlue, but I am thinking that it’s a bit too far ahead of where he is at. We’re into Unit 1, Lesson 14-ish, and he’s having trouble with a lot of it. Whether that’s due to inattention or inability, I am just not sure. I’m thinking of starting with Lesson Pathways Language Arts (which starts with Boxcar Children lessons, which I like) and trying some of the ProTeacher resources.

For History and Geography, we’re still using ‘A Short History of the World’ by Alex Woolf, and also using worksheets from SuperTeacherWorksheets – I use that site quite a bit, especially when we’re going to be schooling on-the-go. It’s easy to snag and print a couple of worksheets that coordinate with something we’re doing “in-class”. The library’s summer reading club has some history-based activities (like the Pioneer Lady’ mentioned in my previous post).

Science is going to be spent outdoors a lot this summer. In addition to the above-mentioned Texas Nature Challenge, we’re planning a trip to the Houston Museum of Natural Science and to several additional state parks. We’re also doing the Houston Wilderness Passport, which focuses on specific ecosystems in our area.

Other than that, we’re kinds going lite this mod. We’ve scaled back history and science to only 1 day per week each, and art and music are each 1 day. Handwriting is M, T, W and journal is at least 2 days per week. Math, spelling, reading, phonics  – those are everyday. We’re trying to fit lessons at home with lessons out-and-about; since we have such a busy summer planned, it will be a challenge to get all our lessons in. So far, so good though. Tomorrow marks the last day of week 2 – Only 4 more weeks left in this mod!

I hope you found something useful in this post! As always, I’d love to hear what you think, or what you’re using.

Warmly,

~h

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