Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Pintrest Tuesday: Geometry Fun!!!

It looks like today is a Pintrest kinda Tuesday in our homeschool this morning. We have been working our way through a Geometry Unit in math using Janice VanCleave's Geometry for Every Kid as our spine resource. We are adding along fun hands on ideas, charts, worksheets, and foldables we have found and collected on our Geometry Unit Pintrest Board. Today we tried our hand at making lines and angles using pretzels, red licorice sticks, and mini marshmallows. The children not only created great memory pegs for math but they had snack all at the same time. We also got some neat mnemonic tips for remember line, segment,ray, parallel, intersecting, perpendicular, right angle, acute angle, obtuse angle, and vertex using this video a classroom teacher posted HERE on YouTube. So what I am discovering is its really not all that hard to teach advanced concepts to elementary age children so long as you make it fun and engaging. I remember taking Geometry in High School and getting a D. It's sad but true. If the teacher would have tried to hit more than one of the learning styles I would have understood it. That and she was a very mean instructor and never wanted to go over something more than once so you literally had one shot to get it right. Just reason 1 million and 1 why we homeschool. lol! Well here are some pics from today's fun with geometry and candy.

These are our Angles

The marshmallows act as our endpoints.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Fall Winter Wardrobe Shopping Game Plan!

So for years now I have been wanting to streamline my families every growing but not so functional wardrobe situation. This year I am going into the season with a well thought out game plan. I started by purging all of the clothes I was keeping that realistically would not get any further use and I assessed what we really need for each person in the house for this upcoming Fall/ Winter season. I say Fall/ Winter cause in Georgia we really dont have much differentiation between seasons as those of us up North do. Well I created this checklist to help me stay on track and only get exactly what is need for each member of the family. I included a space for sizes and the quantity that is needed for each clothing item. I plan on thrifting for most everything except under clothes. Those I am going to by new and hopefully on sale. The pajamas I am going to go out on a limb and make an attempt to sew my own. But if not we will go for a good solid thrift pair for those as well. I thought I would share my checklist for anyone who might find it helpful for them as well. Just one note on a word choice in the outerwear section and that is I use the term "gym shoes" cause I from Chicago. Depending on where you are from you might call them tennis shoes, running shoes, canvas shoes, sneakers, or athletic shoes. Just an FYI.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Lentil Loaf!

I wanted to share a recipe I made up the other week totally out of my own head. I had a craving for some meatloaf. And since me and the family eat a predominately plant based diet I decided to try and make a faux loaf or lentil loaf instead. It turned out better than I ever could have expected. My hubby who is not one for the fake meats or anything like that really like this one. It gave him a familiar texture without the heavy feeling afterwards. And the best part about this recipe is that it was very economical cause instead of using ground beef or turkey which is as high as $3 and $4 a pound I used a $1.15 bag of lentils. Meatless meals are easy on the pocket and perfect for feeding a large family. I recommend even if you are a meat eating family that you switch out 2 or 3 recipes a week with a meatless meal and see the savings. 

I chopped up a small onion, 2 stalks of celery, and grated 1 large carrot.

I used flaxmeal and mixed it with water to create an egg replacer gel for the equivalent of about 2 eggs. Which I think I used about 6tsp or so. 

I took about 1cup of oats and placed it in the food processor. 

Process it until you get an oat flour. It might still have some whole grains but that's fine so long as most of it is flour. 

I sauted the veggies till soft in a skillet with a little oil.

I used plain brown lentils I had cooking in the crockpot already.
I scooped out about 4 cups. Try and drain the liquid. 

I added the lentils in a bowl with the oat flour. 

Then I added some seasonings. I believe I put onion powder, paprika, parsley flake, and salt and pepper. 

Nexxt I added the veggies and the egg replacer and mixed everything together.

I took out my rectangular pan and formed the mixture into a loaf. 

I used tomato paste, ketchup. molasses, soy sauce, honey, and liquid smoke to make a tangy BBQ flavored topping for the loaf. 

I didnt water it down. I just left it thick like a paste so I could spread it on the loaf. 

I cooked it in a 375 degree oven with a little bit of water in the pan for about 35- 45mins.  You could cover with foil and then remove for the last 15 min of cooking but we didn't have any foil when I was making it. 

So here is the finished loaf. It came out really good and tasty. We served it with fresh farmers market green beans and red skinned potatoes. Its was so good. 

Whole Wheat Blueberry Bread

We usually make a batch or two of muffins each week but lately I have been trying something new. I have been modifying my basic muffin recipe into a sweet bread loaf recipe instead. So since I had a bunch of blueberries in the fridge cause Aldi keeps putting them on sale for less than a $1.50 I decided to go for Blueberry Bread. For those who dont know we have been grinding our own wheat berries for almost 3yrs now using an electric grain mill called the Wondermilll. Its awesome and helps us make nutritious true whole grain bread products. When you use fresh milled flour it makes for a really soft and moist finished product so this bread turned out beautifully. If you dont have a your own countertop grain mill you can always used store brought flour in this recipe. We have tried it before with Spelt flour. But if you use Wheat cut it with at least a cup of All purpose else it can make the bread kinda crumbly. 
What You Need:
3 cups of fresh milled flour
1tsp baking soda
1tsp baking powder
1tsp salt
1/2 cup oil(we used coconut oil for this one but you can use whatever you have)
1/2 cup sweetner( we use maple syrup or honey)
1 egg or egg replacer equivalent(we used flaxmill gel)
2 cups of milk or milk alternative( we used Almond Milk)
1pint of fresh blueberries(frozen work just as good)
optional: You can add in Walnuts, Shredded Coconut Flakes, etc... 

* Bake in 400 degree oven for about 35- 45mins in a rectangular baking dish or bread loaf pan. 

Natural Hair Kids: Two Strand Twist with Locs!

My girls have been wearing their hair in locs for almost  a year now.  I am just now at the point with my 9yr old where I am exploring different styles and looks for when I wash and re-twist. I am so not a hair person at all. Hence why I always end up cutting mine in a low wash and go or wearing a headcovering. But with my 9yr old coming into herself and her own ideas about beauty and fashion and I  am forced to get on the natural hair style bandwagon. I honestly forgot where I first saw this look but what I did was re-twist her new-growth and then took two of the locs and twisted them together into a two strand twist just like you would with unlocked hair. It came out better than I ever could have imagined. And she loved it. Who knows what she is going to request next. Mama is going to be a full blown loctician stylist when its all said and done. 

Frugal Dinner: Black Bean Burritos!

One of the easiest and economical meals you can prepare for a large family is beans and rice. But that can get real old real quick so you have got to be creative and find ways to spice it up so the family doesn't suspect that their mainstay diet is just beans and rice. A good way to prepare this all time go to is to make burritos. I mean come on who doesn't like a burrito. They have restaurants nowadays that will try and charge you anywhere between $5 and $8 for a burrito. I think that is shear madness since I know the low cost of the ingredients. But back to what I did for burrito night at our house. To make things a little different instead of just plain brown or white rice we decided to go with the  Saffron/ Yellow Rice. It is full of flavor and everyone loves it. We of course went with the traditional black beans which I cook a big batch in the crock-pot at the top of the week so I just used a few cup fulls with some seasonings and a little onion. We had the normal burrito toppings of lettuce, tomatoes, onions, salsa, etc.. And even fried up some sweet plantain and rolled that up as well. It was very tasty and didn't break the bank to feed my family of six. There were some leftovers as well and we used those over tortilla chips the next day for a quick fix nacho plate for lunch.

I fried the ripe sweet plaintain in a pan of shallow coconut oil. 

I know there are a lot of recipes out their for the Saffron/ Yellow rice but  we have always enjoyed this brand here. Its a time saver for sure. 

I added some chopped onion, chili powder, cumin, onion powder, salt, and pepper to the beans.

We warm the tortillas in the skillet with a dash of oil. This night we were blessed enough to have organic grape tomatoes and organic romaine lettuce with our toppings. The Salsa was just the Walmart Great Value store brand. 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Curriculum Choices 2013- 2014!

This is Week #3 of our Homeschool Vlog Hop on YouTube and so far its has been going better than I ever could have expected. We have 31 participants and counting. For those interested in seeing what the parents have posted so far here is the link to our every growing Playlist . So because this year my family is taking on a majority unit study approach to implementing our curriculum I ended up with two video post that were twenty minutes each. And I still was not able to share everything and all my resources. So I decided to share a more detailed description of this years curriculum here on my blog along with helpful links for those interested.


2yr Old son-
Montessori type math activities from my Pintrest boards Montessori Inspired and Preschool/ Kinder Activities

4yr Old daughter- Singapore Essential Math KB and Primary Mathematics U.S. edition 1A she will also join along with my 2yr old for some Montessori type math activities as well

6yr Old son- Singapore Primary Mathematics U.S. edition 2A and 2B

9yr Old daughter- Singapore Mathematics U.S. edition 3A and 3B


Scholastics Mega- Fun Card- Game Math by Karol L. Yeatts
Primary Mathematics Challenging Word Problems 3
Base 10 Book( came in the base ten starter kit  by Learning Resources )
Big Book of Math by Dinah Zike
Activities from my Pintrest Board Homeschooling Math and Notebooking Math

* We use the Home Instructors Guide with all levels of the Singapore Primary Mathematics U.S. edition. Half of the program can be found within the instructors guide. Singapore Essential Math K levels include instructions at the bottom of each page so their is no separate instructors guide. So for a complete year of math lessons you will have 2 Home Instructors Guides, 2 textbooks, and 2 workbooks with the Singapore Primary Mathematics Program. Placement Test are available on the Singapore Math website

Unit Studies

* All of my Unit Studies have a Pinterest board attached to it. I am using Pintrest extensively this school year to organize all of the free and cheap online resources available to us homeschoolers. In the past I have had hundreds of freebies bookmarked in my favorites on the computer but never fully utilized them to their greatest potential. Pinterest is a great organizational tool that I highly recommend for anyone to get the most out of the online resources. I also include pins of our library list of each unit by pinning the titles from Amazon. Since I am still gathering materials for my unit as time goes on some boards have lots of pins whereas I have not began to pin on others. 

Here are some of the spine resources that will be used in our units as well as the Pintrest resources:
Big Book of Science by Dinah Zike
Classical Conversations Foundations Curriculum Guide 3rd edition by Leigh Bortins
Usborne Science Encyclopedia
Usborne Encyclopedia of the Natural World
Ball Blue Book: Guide to Canning and Preserving
The African- American Atlas 
Science Smart
National Geographic World Atlas
Newsweek Historical Atlas Vol. 1 and 2
Janice VanCleave's Geometry for Every Kid
Janice VanCleave's Magnets
Janice VanCleave's Physics for Every Kid
Janice VanCleave's Electricity
Flying Bird Origami by Yoshihide Momotani
A Kid's Guide to African American History by Nancy I. Sanders
African American History: A Journey of Liberation by Molefi Kete Asante

Fall Session Units:
Energy and Heat
Canning and Food Preservation
Hunting and Fishing

Winter Session Units:
Forces, Friction, and Motion
Weapons and Fire Safety
Central America
South America
Floating and Sinking
Caribbean Islands

Spring Session Unit:
Tracking and Hiking
Liquid Density
Livestock Care
Light and Sound
Herbs and Wild Edibles
Levers and Pulleys
Primitive Skills
Velocity and Acceleration
Water Power

Language Arts

2yr Old son- He will be using activities once again from our Pintrest boards Montessori Inspired and Preschool Kinder Activities. His main goals and objectives are to cover the pre- reading skills of: letter recognition, letter sounds, upper and lowercase recognition, turn books right side up, identify parts of a book(pictures, words, pages, etc...), matching, sorting, and sequencing. He also have the goals and objectives to cover pre- writing skills of: trace lines with fingers(straight, curved, zig zag), trace lines with crayon/ pencil(straight, curved, zig zag), cutting, folding, sifting and pouring, play dough play, and transferring objects. So the activities we select will focus on meeting these goals.

4yr Old daughter- Her language arts focus will be phonics and handwriting. For phonics we are using our set of Hooked On Phonics that I have already gone through twice before with the two older kids. She started level 1 or the k level some last year but we are still working through. So that is where we are starting out. Its an older edition cause it was gifted to me from my mom from when my younger sister used it back when she was in 2nd grade. lol! We have never used the audio or CD Roms. We prefer to go through it together.I have a 2part video series on teaching phonics if you are interested. Its Phonics 101 pt. 1 and Phonics 101 pt. 2.  With the information in these videos I demonstrate how to teach phonetic reading regardless if you purchase a curriculum or not. Although its a complete program and doesn't require it we use supplements like Starfall or the activities I went over in this video I did on Phonics Activities. 

For handwriting we are going to finish up or Kumon Workbooks on Upper Case letters and Numbers. After that we will use copywork from children's poems, quotes by famous African Americans from this site here, and passages from our African- American Read Aloud Stories book.

6yr Old son- My sons main focus for language arts this year will be handwriting, writing composition, grammar, spelling, and Latin vocabulary. I did not include reading comprehension cause that will be covered through the unit studies with all the read aloud and research books.
Handwriting we will use copywork from the same resources as my 4yr old. He also has half of his Handwriting Without Tears 3rd grade Cursive book to finish up from over the summer.
For writing composition our focus will be on: books reports fiction and nonfiction, formal and informal letter writing(he has a penpal), thank you notes, and developing a strong paragraph. I will be using a spiral notebook to keep the writings. I will have to come back another time to explain how I go about teaching writing cause I use my own methods. I am not drawn to any particular writing curriculum and I am not found of writing prompts either. But that is just my style. For grammar we will focus on: eight parts of speech, synonyms and antonyms, homophones, homonyms, and homographs, dictionary skills, and proof reading. We will be notebooking our grammar lessons in a spiral notebook. I will uses various resources to help teach the concepts. Here are those resources:
Rod and Staff English Grade 2
First Language Lessons level 1& 2
Our Mother Tongue by Nancy Wilson
Pintrest board Homeschooling Language Arts
Pintrest board Notebooking Language Arts
For spelling we will use techniques and list found in: Uncovering The Logic of English Language by Denise Eide and Spellbound Phonic Reading and Spelling by Elise T. Rak.
We are still working our way through Prima Latina for Latin vocabulary so we will continue on with that. They love doing the Latin too.
9yr Old daughter- Our language arts focus for this year will be writing composition, grammar, spelling, and latin vocabulary. Just like with my 6yr old the reading comprehension will be covered in the unit studies. She does like to use the Pathway Readers and workbooks as well for fun. I don't require it though. So that is some extra reading comprehension as well. We completed Handwriting Without Tears 4th grade Cursive Success at the beginning of last year so we have transitioned from handwriting and copywork to complete focus on writing composition. So for writing composition our goals and objectives are: book reports nonfiction and fiction, formal and informal letter writing, thank you notes, using an outline, developing strong paragraphs, story writing, types of poetry.  For grammar our goals and objectives are: eight parts of speech, sentence diagramming subjects and predicates, sentence diagramming compound subjects and predicates, synonyms and antonyms, homophones, homographs, homonyms, dictionary skills, types of sentences, proof reading skills, types of literature, literary terms,  using a thesaurus, and utilizing part of a newspaper. Here are the resources we will use to meet these objectives:
Rod and Staff English Grade 3
First Language Lessons level 3 workbook
Grammar and Diagramming Sentences by garlic press
Our Mother Tongue by Nancy Wilson
For Spelling and Latin Vocabulary we are using eh same resources as my 6yr old. They do those lessons together.

Mango Languages(Using Free version through our Public Library)

* We will use multiple free resources which I have been compiling our Spanish Homeschooling Pintrest Board. I have chosen to set up the extension activities in a Montessori classroom format on a shelf in our homeschool room. 

* This year I decided to schedule 30mins out of our homeschool day to dedicate to all the things we never seem to get around to otherwise. These are not formal subjects but just all the extras that make homeschooling fun. These are the more child lead activities and not anything required. But I like to give some preselected or suggested choices cause not all children are good with coming up with ideas on their own. So they can select for any of these areas for the extracurricular timeframe. 

Art-  Pintrest Homeschooling Art Board

Music- My oldest daughter was gifted a keyboard from granddad for last years birthday and has yet to learn to use it. Thanks to one of the ladies on the Vlog Hop I found out about the free resource for teaching kids piano called FreePianoLessons4Kids.

Typing- We use Dance Mat Typing

Handicrafts- Pintrest Kids Crafts Board

Computer Games- Here are some of the kids favorite sites to visit:
The Little Animal Activity Center
Grammar Blast
Number Bond Machine
Arcademic Skill Builders

Okay now that I have layed all this out on the table its time for a little DISCLAIMER!!!!

  1. I do not expect to get all of these unit studies done in a typical 180 day homeschool year. We school year round and there is a fair amount of units listed to keep us busy for months. 
  2. I did not purchase all of my core books and spine books brand new or all this school year. I have had some of these items sitting in a box or on my shelf of years and have just decided to incorporate them into this years lessons. I also shop very frugal for the items I have purchased this year using penny items on Amazon, used book sales and curriculum sales, thrift stores, library sales, etc... I am making the rest of my resources for free or cheap using idea on Pintrest. So need to go into a panic thinking that a in order to successfully homeschool a large brood like mine you have to dish out hundreds of dollars in cash. Just not true. 
  3. You have probably notice I did not refer to my children's grade levels at all in my descriptions and I am using varying levels of materials. Well that is because we dont use grade levels in our homeschool. I don't find them to be necessary. I just go by the children's ability levels rather than focus on an arbitrary grade level approach that is purely based off the child's biological age and says nothing about them as an individual. My thoughts and my way of looking at it. It doesn't have to be yours. 
  4. Please keep in mind that even though I have a lot of things listed for my 2 and 4yr old children that does not mean they are going to be doing a "Formal" homeschool year. I just have things planned for them but I do not have any certain expectations of them completing a certain amount of work before the year is out. I do short lessons that are focused and straight to the point.I just make the learning materials available for them. A lot of times they want to join in for school but sometimes they don't. And that is fine will me also. 
  5. This is just a template or a plan. I have learned over our homeschool years that plans change and flexibility is the key. So I am okay if all of what I wrote here somehow goes a totally different direction. That happens sometimes. But I like have a starting point and some sort of game plan in the beginning. Even if you have to put things to the side for a while you because you have your plan written down you can always go back to it later.