Showing posts with label planning. Show all posts
Showing posts with label planning. Show all posts

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Pulling Together a History Study (or any other subject for that matter) Part I

Before I go any further-please note, my son is in high school but you can take this advice and morph it to fit any grade level. I am mentioning this because I have a in depth history planning post that talks about the books/ideas and materials we will use for him.  If you have many children you can always organize your study to include various levels of material to fit everyone. Obviously, for the younger student, designing your study with a less intense agenda with more activities is your best option.  But don't think the older kids should be regulated to text books and boring stuff-no ma'am.  Be sure to include fun, hands-on projects that really pull everything together.  Esp. if you have a student who learns better that way.

My son is a hands-on kinda guy so having a few things that are not notebooking, reading, or narrating is essential.  I add in timelines, cooking/baking, art projects, building stuff, and hopefully-a few trips to places that resonate with the era we are studying.

Helpful Tips and Ideas:

*START with catalogs, websites/blogs and Pinterest.  Depending on what it is you are going to cover-you should find oodles of ideas and links.  

*Look at those teacher guides...(most sites allow you to see what their scope and sequence is)  it should list what is covered and when.  This is a general baseline to follow (after all, you may have already covered some of that material), it is not a "must do" for you.  It should help you corral the main areas into a manageable 'to cover' list so you can keep from becoming overwhelmed. 

*Jot down some notes on what your goal is for this study.  Refer to this a lot.  History (esp) is a whopper to tackle.  You cannot do it all, or cover every bit of it.  Just pare it down to fit your schedule. Once you know what truly interests your child(ren) then you can always revisit that time frame with a more in-depth look into those particular areas.  

*Utilize your LIBRARY!  I cannot stress this enough.  I usually go to Amazon first, to search the title so I know for sure what it is I am looking for, then click over to the library catalog to hunt them down. Usually, you should be able to get many of the books you are interested in.  Request them now.  Once they arrive, go through them.  You'd be surprised at how many of them won't meet your needs or simply won't fit your study (schedule/child's age/etc.) -so check them off the list and look for more. This way you can eliminate and whittle the list down to only those books that should work for you.

*Write down every book you do want to use and the author. Note if your library owns it or if you need to pre-request it before your target date for that lesson.  Now you'll have a master list to refer to as you pull together your study.

*I must point out-there are many good programs are out there that have done this for you.  BUT-I have been at this for ages-so I can attest to the fact that even those guides will fail at some point.  Not every kid will be engaged in the books/projects that are listed.  Many will be boring...seriously. Others will just be too young/old for your child(ren)'s current skills/level or just plain stupid.  I say that because we follow Charlotte Mason's method of choosing living books that are written by people who love and know the subject.  Not those written by uniformed, or silly authors who are required to fill some quota or the shelves.  Does this mean we never read a 'fun' book-oh of course not. But be selective folks.   
I personally love to supplement a bunch of reference material and additional books to really jazz up what we are studying.  It's a bit of work but always pays off in the end.  That includes finding art projects, kits, songs, movies, and so forth that will enhance and solidify the point of your study. Knowing your child's learning style is a must here. This is where you find those items that will engage and keep them interested from beginning to end.

OH, and here is a soapbox moment from a seasoned (or is that battered? LOL) mother. Kids will have to learn to 'just deal' with some things they deem boring or useless.  It's a fact of life-and a valuable lesson-not everything we will do is a picnic or an amazing amusement park vacation type of event. Let's face it, most of what we do is mundane and necessary but not always a whoop it up good time. Push them through those rough moments and continue on.  Bail only if it sinks faster than a lead filled sub. But don't dump it until you have given it sufficient time. I have found allowing my son to do something else whilst I read helps a lot with this problem.  When he was younger he could play quietly with Legos, Play-Doh or small toys but was required to listen.  In fact, he learns best this way-boring book or not! All too often Junior will 'think' it will stink, only to find that those very books/activities were what they say they enjoyed the most. Go figure. Remember-you are the parent/teacher with foresight and life knowledge-right?  So press on dear mother-press on.

*Depending on what type of a planner you are (big time all fancy like, or just a simple outline kinda gal)-sketch it out and type up your schedule with potential dates, books needed by and other must haves (be prepared) so that when the time comes you can start with (hopefully) little or no glitches. Also, if possible-print up any notebook pages, coloring sheets, and any other needed items way before the study is to begin.  It will save you tons of frustration and time later on.  I place all the books I own onto our current year bookshelf so they are within my grasp and I put the projects/kits and any other pre-gather items I can into a tub to pull out when needed.  

*Know your state/college requirements for documenting this stuff.  Esp. for Jr/Sr high.  Keep your records and if need be-a few good projects/papers/etc. that you can put into your portfolio or 'save' tub for reference.  Our state doesn't require anything really, but I do keep records for my ability to create a transcript (only for high school) otherwise, I would just save a few cute projects to tuck away for "Mom's Cry and Remember When" keepsake box.  

What If?

*We get off schedule (pretty sure that will happen)?...well don't panic.  Just pick up where you left off and keep going.  Adjust or drop things on your list if you must stick to a strict time frame-otherwise, just delete what you can live without or don't do anything at all and just keep on keeping on til done.

*The child and/or I loathe the book/project choice?  Well first off, figure out why you loathe it, maybe just finding a different version of it will fix the problem. If it is closer to the 'just don't wanna do it' or what have ya-then see if changing the attitude about it refreshes the zeal to carry on with it. IF it totally bombs, just drop it.  Life is too short to fuss over a book or something 'others say' is an absolute must for your child. Bah humbug to that!  Trust your gut. Just note what it was, find a different version or another way to cover it, then down the road, revisit it.  

*I am not good at planning or researching?  Well sistah, it's time to strap on your planner's cap and get to it.  Research how others do it (Pinterest is great for this, blogs too!) and try out options til you find what works.  Even if that simply means listing books, resources and noting your overall goal. That should be enough for most.  

*I just dropped a pretty penny on an all-inclusive study guide/curriculum.  Do I need to do all this? Well, yes and no. Your work will be less, but I still suggest you hunt down some other book options and additional activities/projects as a cushion.  Esp. if you are uncertain how you child learns best.  I always have a guide (usually Beautiful Feet Books or Sonlight for history) as my backbone.  I tweak it to fit each student.  I have taught three through high school graduation and am currently on number four.
For example:  I have two girls and two boys.  Each child was drawn to different book topics and styles and they all absorbed info differently. Due to their learning style I would change (when necessary) some of what was required for their reading.  My son (14) loves the manly-man stuff, where my daughter (graduated in 2012) could have cared less. She truly enjoyed the clothing/life styles/cooking/art styles and general aspect of the different eras over the particular wars/battles/political events and all that related to it.  So I added and deleted books that would appeal to each of them. The older two were closer in styles but still had enough variances to require some changes. Our oldest daughter really liked the political side of history and our oldest son was more about timelines/dates and again-no guide will completely hit each child's interests. So be prepared and if you don't need for this particular year, perhaps you can pull that out down the road for another student.

*I cannot afford all those books!? Remember how I said to utilize your library?  Well here is where you can save hundreds.  Also, look for their book sales...I have found many good books for our history and science needs for just a few dollars per stack!  Borrow from a friend, if you have the good fortune of having a pal who has already studied or has the particular book you need.  Be sure to respect that privilege and return it in a timely manner and without damage...don't lose a friend over a book. :)

Also, look to used book sites such as Homeschool Classifieds, Vegsource's used curriculum boards, Ebay or Amazon. 

I rarely buy the whole curriculum unless I know I have a lot of kids to go thru it.  So I have not bought any big program for years now, but did way back when. I definitely got our money out of it and then some.  But not every book worked (as I have said) so I had to adjust as needed.  I usually only buy what I absolutely cannot find. That is where going through the book lists is a must. Go through your shelves and library catalog then jot down what is totally unavailable. Buy only those books.  It always saves me lots of cash to put toward other things for our homeschool.  Like those cool activity kits, games and so forth.

What Next?

At this point, I am not completely sure how it will all work together.  What I will do is keep a log so I can refer to this when actually writing out the schedule. So I will:

*Count the number of pages each book has so I can assign a certain number per day to cover. Or go by chapters.  That will give me a good guideline for planning
*Look at my backbone guide to check the order of how things are introduced. I can then add that info into my notes, listing all the extras or switch ups I will want to cover.
*Note if it is a reader for my son, a read-aloud or if it is simply a good reference book.
Then again, when compiling this into a plan I can simply add those selections in. 

**Remember, if you are using an all inclusive/pre-designed/boxed curriculum, just take a few notes and mention where the extras need to be added so that when the time comes-you have that material ready to go.  Since I need to tweak this study to fit my son's interests and skill levels, I have my work cut out for me.  But I have done this enough times through the years that I am able to whip up something usable, and well, I kinda enjoy the challenge.  I can always add or delete if I have to. Again-this is my backbone plus goodies guide...not a millstone about my neck.

Now that should give you some tips to take that leap and pull together a nice unit.  Don't forget to decide if you will make it a semester or year long study and what era you will delve into.

Need more help?  Leave a comment and I will try to answer.  :)

History Study: Middle Ages and Renaissance (High School)-Pulling it all together

I have written a detailed post on how to create a study no matter what age your child(ren) is/are.  This is specific to a high school level.  You may see some books that you would normally think is only for younger student.  But do not 'poo-poo' those choices. Everyone needs a brain break in the midst of a multitude of more challenging literature.  I try to mingle in a few of those "no brainer" books to keep it lively and fun.  That also includes adding in art projects, field trips and other activities to stave off the mental exhaustion.

So far we have covered a good many eras through out his schooling. Search this blog for more detailed reviews of noted programs. I have covered them as best possible.

We have already completed the Early U.S. History  (I have the old version, there is a new edition available) for his upper elementary studies. Then we covered the Western Expansion [all by Beautiful Feet Book guides] and a bit more U.S. history from the Intermediate level and some cherry-picked sections from the California History guide. Next up was Creation to Christ [by Heart of Dakota]. For two years, we have been working through the Sonlight Eastern Hemisphere program. Again, I have the older version but there was no need to repurchase it. I slowed this one down due to a family death and because I wanted to work through it while doing our World Geography study.  Look for posts on this as well. We just finished that guide at the end of January. But we are continuing on with a variety of books (I found via the library) relating to the history of, and about important peeps from the different continents/countries we are currently studying. For his science, we have been working through the BFB History of Science, which of course goes under this category too.

So now we needed to decide where to go next.  I could have gone back to U.S. and World history.  But I prefer to hold off on that until the student is in 11/12th grade.  It's a pretty deep and thorough unit to cover so maturity really helps here.  I could have chosen to revisit and beef up the Ancient time span.  Or visit the Medieval/Renaissance/Reformation era.  Looking over what he has had a lot less of-it was a no brainer.  The later is the choice. I have (basically) the BFB Medieval Intermediate  but my guide is listed as "A Literature Approach to Medieval, Renaissance and Reformation History".  It denotes that it has study notes for grades 7/8 and 9/10-so the new ones are a tad different. It looks like she separated the two into Jr and Sr high levels.  I suggest visiting her site to see if this study interests you. No matter for us though, this outdated one will be our backbone.  I frankly would love to get the newer versions, as they seem like they deleted and added some things that would make it less overwhelming than the originals.  But alas-since he is our last kiddo, so it's not going to happen. I will just create and modify.

I have noted below what I have strewn together so far.  I have followed my "how to list" (noted here) as best as I can at this point.  I am still in the hunt down and gather stage. I found lots of new books and ideas from combing the BFB site and using blogs/YouTube and Pinterest to guide me.  I will probably find more between now and when we start.  But this is a good foundation.


I own these:
These are a part of the BFB curriculum:
*Magna Charta  (James Dougherty)
*Ivanhoe (Sir Walter Scott) -this is not an easy read...we'll see how it goes
*Otto of the Silver Hand (Howard Pyle)
*Adam of the Road (Elizabeth Gray)
*The Door in the Wall (Marguerite De Angeli)
*In Freedom's Cause (G.A. Hentry)
*The Morning Star of Reformation (Andy Thompson)
*Canterbury Tales (Geoffrey Chaucer)
*Joan of Arc (Nancy Ross) not by Mark Twain as listed in guide
*The World of Columbus and Sons (Genevieve Foster)
*Martin Luther Hero of Faith (Frederick Nohl)  different than suggested in guide
*Martin Luther The Great Reformer (J. A. Morrison) different than suggested and an extra 
*The Hawk That Dare Not Hunt by Day (Scott O'Dell)
*Fine Print (Joann Burch)
*The Story of Liberty (Charles Coffin)

 I also have these to add in when needed:
*Martin Luther A Man Who Changed the World (Paul Maier) 
*The Apple and the Arrow: The Legend of of William Tell (Mary and Conrad Buff)
*Renaissance (Francene Sabin)
*Medieval Feast (Aliki)
*Marco Polo A Journey Through China (Fiona Macdonald)
*Miss Frizzle's Adventures:  Medieval Castle (Joanna Cole) I mean who doesn't love the Frizz? We are not giving her up no matter how old we get :)
*The Usborne Book of World History Dates
*Usborne Internet-linked Encyclopedia of World History Dates
*Usborne Book of Living Long Ago: Everyday life through the ages

From the Library:


These are recommended for the new BFB guide so we will cover them too.
*Crispin:  The Cross of Lead (Avi)
*The Trumpeter of Krakow (Eric Kelly)
*The Kite Rider (Geraldine McCaughrean)
*Queen Eleanor Independent Spirit of the Medieval World
 (Polly Schoyer Brooks)
*Robin Hood (Howard Pyle)
 diff. author than suggested but we own so we will use it

**there are a couple other books I am still trying to find or waiting on from the library. If I cannot find them I am not going to purchase them though. We have enough to keep us busy.

I was able to secure [from the library] the Story of the World Vol. 2 by Susan Wise Bauer (yah cool right?).  I am just gleaning a few nuggets of info I haven't seen/read before regarding the Viking history. I can then refer to my notes as needed.  

*King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table (Roger Green) - in guide just I do not own it
*Castle, Cathedral (David Macaulay) these are two separate books- do not own them but need for study
*Westward Ho! (Charles Kingsley) noted in guide, just do not own

*DKs Medieval Life (Andrew Langley), Eyewitness Knight (Christopher Gravett) and Stephen Biesty's Cross Sections: Castle
*Knights and Castles -Kaleidoscope Kids book (Philip Dixon)
*You Wouldn't Want to be a Medieval Knight! (Fiona Macdonald)
*The Middle Ages (Giovanni Caselli) 
*Knights and Castles [50 hands-on activities] (Avery Hart and Paul Mantell)
*Usborne Official Knight's Handbook (Sam Taplin)
*Manners and Customs of the Middle Ages (Marsha Groves)
*Science and Technology in the Middle Ages (Marsha Groves and Joanne Findon)
*How Would You Survive the Middle Ages (Fiona Macdonald)
*Famous Men of the Middle Ages (A.B. Poland)
*William the Conqueror (Robert Green) combined with book below-will just take bullet point notes to add into study
*Exploring the Past: The Middle Ages (Marshall Cavendish) 

They recommend some Shakespeare plays about King John and Henry VIII. My boy is not interested in this.  I see they have a book with both in it-for less than $5.  I may splurge for this-but am waiting to see if I can find via the library first.

I want to cover a bit more Viking history so we will add in a few books to cover it.  I am still hunting down some more options: (I have Lief the Lucky by D'Aulairess from the early history study .  I may have him reread it)

*D'Aulaire's Book of Norse Myths
*Beorn the Proud (Madeleine Polland)
*Raiders from the Sea (Lois Johnson)

OH, and I want to add in a wee bit of pirate history since it was going on way back that is another area I need to look into.


I am still working on this section but I do have :

*Viking Voyages Game from Ellen McHenry's Basement Workshop
*Usborne Cut Out Model:  Make this Model Medieval Castle
*Catapult (we built this a long time ago)
*Notebooking and some lapbook components from internet
*Building a castle model
*Creating his Coat of Arms
*perhaps going to the Renaissance Festival (Maybe-it is expensive and they seem to play up the stupidity that the only thing the Renaissance was about was accosting women and acting like drunken baffoons-so IDK.) We debated this when my daughter was studying this.  Our area festival is well-known for the above play acting and I just am not sure.  

That is what I have so far.  I have all spring and summer to complete this. Once I do-I can post an update.  Let me know if you have any other activity ideas and hands-on projects.  I also plan on printing up some pictures from our trip to Portugal.  We visited 3 castles from different times and those will be fun to have about.  Plus I will pull out of storage, his Playmobil castle set that will go onto a shelf to sort of 'set the mood' for the study. I mean we paid good money for it-might as well resurrect it to add to the ambiance.

I will do a separate post on the artists and art projects we will cover.  :) But that won't be until this summer.  I need to focus on the books right now.

Full disclosure note here:  I do not belong to any affiliate programs or receive compensation from these companies-I simply love them enough to suggest them to other homeschooling families.  

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Planning and Purchasing next year's curricula-how I do it (usually)

So it's that time of year again, when we moms dive into websites, catalogs, stroll vendors at conventions [if you attend] and poke through various blogs to find all sorts of neat goodies we could purchase for our cherubs.  Usually this is a fun activity-especially if you need a break from the every day schooling to dream upon what you want to do next year.  I do that and actually enjoy it.  Crazy but true.  I love the thrill of the hunt and the planning of new things to study.  Others tho, may not.  I am not sure which category you fall under but if you need some 'how does that old gal do it?' kinda advice-continue on dear blogger pal.

If you have just started homeschooling or you can't seem to get a handle on it-maybe something here will help you out. For those out there that are can do this with mind-boggling precision, then perhaps this is not the article for you.

Now,  I know that some folks are all super organized with everything done all computery like-but  I do not go that route. Too old fashioned I suppose.  I like the ole pen and paper approach. Only after I have that done, I will go ahead and click the goodies onto the 'wish list'  for both Rainbow Resource Center and Amazon.  Mind you-that doesn't mean I will actually purchase it all there or even buy everything noted on it. I do that so it gives me a good visual of what I need to be on the look out for (of course, I can add to it as well) so that I will be ready to order when our pocket book is willing and able.  Plus, having it finalized (in loose terms) I have a list I can cherry pick from when I am out at local garage/library book sales, local shops and such.  I will also scan the resale online sites before paying full price on most things.  Not workbooks tho-I almost always buy those new unless there is a sparkly, spanking new one with the set.  I also make my book list (at least for the first semester) so that I can cruise the library website to see what I can find that way to help save money, then note what I cannot get and just order those books.

One thing I have learned over the years (mainly it's our funds for purchasing which have played a major role) is that you do not need to get everything new!  Seriously-unless you have a lot of kids coming up behind where you know for sure the program will work [for all] then a new item purchase would warrant forking over the larger sums of cashola. Less spency things are not necessarily in this category-I am talking the big bucks stuff. Of course the exception to that would be if it were a new program that just came out on the market.  But you get my drift.  I have also swapped books/materials with good pals from time to time to help save too.  But beware.  You should be sure they are responsible and loving toward your stuff (same goes for you) so that it isn't returned damaged or worse-destroyed or not at all.  Know who you trade with.

Here (finally) is my super simple but effective for me way of doing this.  

Step 1:  Write out some simple educational/personal growth goals you have for each child [and/or for the fam as a whole] for that coming year. Nothing deep or too wordy but just simply what you want to see accomplished. This is your first paper.  This is what you can pull out as the year progresses and see how you are doing. You can always add/delete to it, but by having this you can easily see if the fam is hitting those noted milestones. Remain flexible.  Life happens. I did not know we'd experience the death of my brother this year, so a lot of what I had hoped to cover, simply was not.  And that is OK.  I just carried a few things over to the new year's list. Actually, I was able to add a few things that we didn't think we'd cover too.  So it evened out. *No pic here.  I feel this is a very personal thing and don't feel the need to share-I believe you get the point by the above advice.  This is meant for our family and is something that should remain private-I suggest the same for yours.

Step 2: Take paper-fold into three sections with paper's long side horizontal-write out list. This one can be modified or just scribbled over as you double check and clarify. This is the messy, preliminary list that will be pitched once I am all done spending/creating and organizing this stuff. It's after all that when I make one final (nicely printed) list of the subjects and main curricula/materials needed (sans the have/order list) to refer to throughout the year.

Here is my chicken scratch list-made quickly. 
I went back to it later and noted a few changes 
as you can see with the pink pen. Again, it isn't
super detailed. I don't even have the artists/musicians listed yet.

First up: list each subject and main curriculum choice
and various other little additions. 
Do this off the top of your head and don't worry until you get to the have/buy sides.  Just list away. Sometimes when you over think it-you forget or miss stuff that the 'flow as you go' method catches. You can go back over after to find gaps or make corrections.
Middle-list what you already have.  
Third-what you need to buy in each category.
Once completed-go thru your stuff!  I found I had listed a workbook I actually purchased last year that we hadn't used yet.  I would have re-purchased it-not cool. Actually-I saw I had a couple repeats on it!  Yikes! So double check every nook and cranny first before finalizing 
the wish list on your favorite sites.
  Seriously, that is it!  Nothing too complicated. Just the facts ma'am. Just the facts. 

*When I had more than one student I would simply jot down each child's name at the top of the page and list what was needed for that year.  Then I converged all the 'to buy stuff' onto one big order list.

Step 3:  Once you feel you have the things you want to purchase noted, head to your favorite sites and start your wish list.  I didn't say 'buy list' because sometimes you can find them cheaper somewhere else or you may decide you don't want that item after all.  For example: I am still on the fence at this point for our Bible studies. I don't need to decide right yet-so I listed two curriculum choices that could work.  I have a noted list so I won't forget and I can pick one of those when I go to order or go with something completely different.  It just gives me a visual and frankly, it's a reminder that I need to spend more time figuring out that subject.
**I use Rainbow Resource Center mainly because they seem to have the largest selection and I can make and print a wish list quite easily.  Then I hit Amazon.  But there are plenty of other merchants that offer this as well-so the choice is yours.
For some reason the RR list didn't delete the geography art book had crossed off, so I did it after.  I also noted a few things to refer to later.  I also listed the Amazon and other companies here too.  I can go onto Amazon and see in my saved Wish List items in more detail and move them to my cart later.

This is my newly updated list-I just placed an order for a few things and could remove them. I figured I should type up a new one so I could read it. LOL
I also decided to print out a purchased list because I am already starting to get things for next year. I had to place an order now because we need the Monet calendar and a science kit (was already in my Amazon cart) immediately-hence why I have already made a dent in our next year's list.  I wanted to be sure I wrote those items down so I didn't repurchase or forget I have them.  The art list is for my shopping at JoAnn, Micheals and Hobby Lobby this summer or when I see sales on those items. I got ahead of myself (not sure why) and noted the math download as purchased-but alas, it is not.

Possible Step 4: If you plan on attending a convention then have your list ready to go. BUT for all that is good and gracious-save yourself the "UGH! I could have bought that for $$$$ less!" scenario. List the things you want to look at and or buy at the convention but only after you spent some time online/catalog researching to compare prices.  WRITE the lowest price you found next to the name of the source selling it with some sort of key like A for Amazon, or SL for Sonlight or RR for Rainbow Resource, so you can refer back to it later when you finish your shopping. AND for extra good measure, walk the circuit a couple times and 'window shop' jotting down prices as you stroll about because you may find things cheaper at other vendors or by ordering online later. Most vendors usually have convention sale prices/deals so watch for those as well. That way you know who has the best price for whatever it is you are looking for.  DON'T panic if you come back and it's gone. They usually give you the sale price on an order you can place right then and there which will be shipped to you. That way you don't come home having overspent.  Also beware of the 'bug eye' convention syndrome.  You DO NOT need every cool and dazzling thing out there.  Write down the name/brand/price and who is selling it. Get catalogs.  Think about it! Then after the fuzzy haze of convention wears off you can make a more informed purchase.  I have some books that are pretty much door stops now because I was careless (at first) and didn't follow that plan of attack.  Money gone for something that was an ill fit for us, that we never even used.

Possible Step 5: Now for giggles-I make another paper where I denote anything I need to make/put together for the coming year and that just simply helps me during the summer break.  I will pick and choose my point of interest and work on it as time allows.  Again-nothing elaborate or too detailed.  I don't need to drown myself in the nitty gritty but just give my ole brain a quick reference from the 'do it woman' list.
After I took the picture I wrote down the names of the artists and musicians. That way I can be on the look out for activities and materials to work on specific to them.

And there you go.  That is how I figured out a simple and easy way to plow through the planning of curricula and materials we'd need for our schooling.  I tried the super organized, super detailed way and all it accomplished was to kill the thrill of planning.  So I came up with this easy-peasy way that seems to be working. Hope you can glean a nugget of goodness to help you with your planning/shopping too.