Black Bird

Friday, May 30, 2014

Homeschooling what not part 2

So as a continuation of my post yesterday.  I want to go into a few more subjects and if it gets to long there will be a part 3 to finish up (maybe lol).

When we started our homeschooling journey we started out doing lapbooks and unit studies, which we still do and still love.  But we don't do them as much for several reasons which I will go into in a bit.  If you are looking for an inexpensive way to do school this is it.  It's fun, it's hands on and there are TONS of free ones out that.  With a free lapbook/unit study and a library card you are GOLDEN.  Think you can't ever do them - think again.  All they require is a little time to cut things out, and time to check out library books.  Now if your library stinks like mine does, then it will take some time to order those books through the library so think a head a bit.  My FAVORITE place for getting FREE (yes FREE) lapbooks is Homeschool Share.  They have their lapbooks and notebooks organized into levels that go all the way through high school.  In addition to Homeschool Share there is a ton of other websites that have free lapbooks and notebooks.  Doing a search will find you more than you can ever imagine.  If there is a book or subject I'm interested in doing and I can't find it on the Homeschool Share site, then I do a search.  For example, right now Zach is into Egypt so I would go to my search engine and type in Egypt lapbooks and the list is huge.  

This segues into what I wanted to chat about next - history.  Now this has been a struggle for me since I dislike history with a passion, the memorization etc for me was awful.  But this is homeschooling who says we have to do that?? NO ONE.  YOU make your own way.  So what do we do for history.  Well we started with lapbooks and unit studies and that was working fine, but again absorbing what Nancy said we asked what she recommended for history and she pointed us to 2 different curriculum.  The first was Mystery of History, and we liked that except for it was centered around Biblical history.   And really there is nothing wrong with that but I wanted something a tad more rounded.  So the 2nd one was The Story of the World - same lay out as Mystery of History but more rounded.  This one does both Biblical and secular world view.  Zach is thoroughly enjoying this history a lot, but there is an addendum to that - we have combined it with Minecraft (more on that later).  If you are thinking of getting The Story of the World, you need to get both the text and the activity book.  The activity book has maps for every lesson, a coloring page for every lesson and sometimes either a crossword or a word search.  For each chapter there is a TON of activities, but I pick and choose what we do.  Think of this curriculum as both your history and geography rolled into one.  And if you do the art activities then you have 3 subjects in one.  We choose to do the art activities in Minecraft instead.

Which moves me into my next topic.  Use what your child loves when it comes to school.  What is your child into?  Don't know?  Well it's time to find out.  Observe your child, what do they like doing the most?  Are they constantly wanting to play on the computer?  Xbox? Outside? Do they like to dig in the dirt?  Do they light up when you do science experiments?  Would they rather read that "do school"?  Getting to know YOUR child is one of the best ways to know what direction you need to be going.  My child?  Well he's a mixture.  He loves being on his computer playing.  He loves the Xbox, but he also loves being outside.  And science experiments - well lets just say Backyard Ballistics is a must.  What I mainly want to talk about here is Minecraft.  WOW what a gift to homeschoolers.  This is an AMAZING game people.  No matter what you think of gaming check this game out.  It's basically Lego's online, with some combat against bad guys.  We quite by accident found this homeschooling Minecraft server - Skrafty - that has a safe server for homeschooled kids.  It is fully monitored and strictly inforced.  No cussing, bad mouthing and meanness.  We LOVE it.  I especially me - I know he can go on there and be safe.   So you might ask why Minecraft - well why not.  My son loves it, it's a GREAT educational tool, he's met some amazing kids all over the world that he loves to play with, his typing skills are at times better than my husband, his spelling had improved greatly and he's learning team play.  Skrafty offers classes as well and we've been able to take quite a few and Zach loves them.  For history though they use Mystery of History so I've chosen instead to create my own world for him and he does his work in that.

How do I do this?  I created a super flat world.

 Then I take fences and sign posts and I fence in the lesson, take the sign and put what lesson on the out side of the fenced area.  I then put a chest on the inside of the fenced area.
Inside that chest I put book and quills.  I ask all the questions for that lesson in 1 book.  In the next book I add the assignments - his coloring pages, his map work and his building projects go into this book.  The 3rd book is for any writing assignments he has.  I have him do his writing assignments in Word so I can print them out.

His "art" projects are done in Minecraft.  Pictured are his recreation of Josephs coat of many colors, Hammurabi's temple, his pyramid and sarcophagus.

Then to do the next lesson I create an arrow with torches pointing to where to go.  The reason I do this is because he wasn't able to find the next lesson before I did this.
So that is how we do our history in Minecraft.  Now does this entail some work - absolutely!!!  Is it worth it - YES!!!  History is fast becoming my sons favorite subject and hey guess what - I'm learning too.  We don't memorize dates, we read and learn facts.  It's great for all of us.  

Now do I think this is for everyone - no I don't, but it's worth a try.  Try Skrafty, the classes are set up for you and some of them go along with curriculum - like Inventions and Technology.  Some don't - the content is all there for you like Plants or Animals and their Habitats.  If you aren't sure you want to create your own lessons in Minecraft then don't, but wow does it work for us.

Once again this has gotten long, so look for part 3 soon.

Healthy hugs,

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Homeschooling what not part 1

In an effort to come up with a title to this blog entry I was stymied.  I've been contemplating this blog for awhile but a recent conversation with my wonderful cousin has prompted this post.

First off let me say that I have been told several times that "I have it all together" and that "you are the homeschooler we hate".  I DO NOT feel like I have it all together.  There are times I want to quit and just send him to public school, but then I take a step back, do some deep breathing and say a prayer and I'm back to being alright.  

First step in a successful homeshooling endeavor is write down your reasons why.  If your reasons are I hated school WRITE IT DOWN.  If they are more profound like I don't want my children indoctrinated or taught and unbiblical view of sex WRITE IT DOWN.  If you have a laundry list of reasons WRITE THEM DOWN.  On your bad days - pull out that list, pray over your reasons and press on.  God didn't give you this will to homeschool for nothing.  And if you are an unbeliever - you sill have a will to do this - don't give up.

Which brings me to the next thing - is it working?  By that I mean how is what you are doing working for you?  Is there a constant fight?  Do your kids hate you and you hate your kids?  Is learning fun for them or do they hate it?  These are all questions you need to ask yourself.  They are not to discourage you but ENcourage you.  What I mean by this is this.  You are homeschooling for what every reasons, but homeschooling you are.  If it isn't fun then something has to change.  To quote my favorite speaker "if your kids hate you and you hate your kids it's time to change what you are doing:"  There is a TON of curriculum out there and just because you have paid for it doesn't mean you should be using it.  Your kids education is more important than that $40 you spent on that history, science, math or what ever else.  Now this is where I explain myself.  I may look like I "have it together" but let me tell you it hasn't been without heartache, tears and multiple unused curriculum tossed aside for my and my sons sanity.

Lets start with math - we use Life of Fred ONLY.  Why? Well let me tell you.  First we started off with worksheets - they worked for awhile - a whole month or so till my son started having melt downs at math time.  Yelling, bribery and tears ensued and then I was done.  We took a break and I switched to online for preschool and Kindergarten.  Again it worked - for that season.  Then I found Saxon math and it was like a ray of sunshine and this was going to be AMAZING.  NOT!!!  6 weeks in again the melt downs followed by nausea and refusing to comply.  It was time for a change again.  I bought simple books with small worksheets, that didn't work.  Then I found Mammoth Math - yup again didn't work - he hated me I hated him - time to move on.  Again a ray of sunshine came cascading through my computer as I found Teaching Textbooks.  Now at this point I pause - this did work for a whole YEAR, and probably would have been still working today if a life changing event hadn't happened.  We went to a homeschooling conference (more on that a little later.)  At this conference we met this lady who has this amazing store.  She has the experience of homeshooling 4 kids all the way through so her life experience is what mattered to me.  I stood in her booth and absorbed all she had to say.  I sat in her seminars and absorbed what she had to say.  And this dear lady introduced us to Fred.  Now let me say this I had had NO intention of switching math curriculum's at ALL.  TT was working for us, Zach was enjoying it and math was less of a battle of wills.  So what changed?? After chatting with Nancy and hearing what she had to say and realizing what KIND of learner son is I asked for suggestions.  She immediately pulled out Fred.  So hubby and I bought the first book - Apples and took it back to the hotel room.  Now this is about 8 at night, we had a long day at the conference, Zach had been at the kids conference all day, we were all very tired, but I handed him the book anyway.  It didn't take long and he had the whole book done, giggling and mommy daddy listen to this the whole time.  We were hooked.  It's been a year and a half and I have to say he's still going strong.  He's interested in what he is doing and he's engaged in his math.  Not something I would ever have thought would happen with him but very glad that it has.  His discussions are now about "when can I start calculus mom" or "I think I want to be a mathematician/scientist/preacher/comedian."  Whats the point of this?  Find something that works and use it, don't be bound by "oh I paid money for this we ARE going to use it".  It's not worth it, it's not worth YOUR sanity, it's not worth your CHILD'S sanity and it certainly isn't worth your child's education if it isn't working.

Well this post is longer than I thought it would be so I'm going to end here and do another one later about our other subjects.

Think about what you have read, don't despair - there is many groups out there on facebook that sell used curriculum - use them to get rid of your anchors and free yourself from the burden.

Healthy hugs,

Monday, May 19, 2014

Gluten Intolerance

Yesterday and today I read something on facebook that was supposed to be a "new discovery in science".  This discovery was that Gluten Intolerance is not real.  I'm writing this not as a DR but as someone who suffers with Gluten Intolerance and someone who finds it interesting that these discoveries don't want to talk to people like me.

For me gluten intolerance is very real.  It started with a diagnosis of Insulin Resistance, followed by a diagnosis of Iron Deficiency Anemia.  Not to mention the IBS I suffered with all the time, the mind fog, and the intense fatigue.  All of these are classic signs of Gluten Intolerance.  So after hearing a lecture from a DR here in this area that specializes in Gluten Intolerance I decided to go off wheat and gluten just to see what would happen.  I must say the difference was remarkable.  My IBS cleared up first - I went from running to the bathroom to being normal.  The next thing I noticed was my belly - it went down A LOT.  My brain fog was much better - and that was after a week.  

So how can I be sure that gluten is the cause, well I like to push boundaries and do that quite often.  One is Chinese food.  I love Chinese, but had stopped eating it because of my allergies (soy and wheat/gluten).  This weekend I decided to push again and ate Chinese.  By the time I had left the restaurant I was in massive pain in my tummy which lasted most of the day.  Today my brain fog is the worst it's been in years, I feel like I haven't slept in a week and can't remember much of anything I'm supposed to do.  Not only that I'm running a fever, something that was regular occurrence for me before I went off wheat.

So for those out there that want to say that Gluten Intolerance is not real - go for it, but as for this chick I'm going to stay the coarse and return to my strict Gluten Free diet.  And for that my body thanks me.

Healthy hugs