Time to start geography!

So, first a confession. I’ve been totally slacking off on doing much “school reading” with my younger kids. I’ve been having Jenny tag along with Emily on Sonlight’s Core B, which is working fairly well. But I haven’t been getting to the morning reading much at all, which theoretically was supposed to be one P3/4 book for Charlotte and then P4/5 for Jenny (these are the Sonlight preschool cores, in case you aren’t familiar with Sonlight).

It’s really easy with homeschooling to focus on the oldest kid/kids, I find, because they’re doing the most “real” work, and they’re old enough that it’s more crucial for them to be getting enough school in. But that shouldn’t mean that the younger kids are getting an inferior education, of course.

I think part of the problem is that the preschool cores just don’t have an overarching theme to pull them together. I remember being somewhat bored with P3/4, P4/5, and even Core A when I was going through them with Emily, too. The books are great, and we enjoyed reading them, but I like being able to see the pattern as you travel through time or place, that sort of thing.

So, even though I’m not finished with P4/5 (which was what I was originally waiting for), I think I’m just going to go ahead and skip to our “around the world” unit with Jenny and Charlotte. I’m also flying by the seat of my pants, because… it’s not finished! While I do have a mostly complete list of books, I only have the schedule planned out for the first ten weeks or so, which gets me through North and South America and just starting on Europe. But as long as I keep working on it, I should have plenty of time to finish the rest before I get to it. I put the first few books on hold, and we’ll start once they all arrive, probably starting this Monday if they arrive in time.

We start in Canada, so that means we’ll be reading the entries for Canada that are in some of our spines:
My First Atlas
Children Just Like Me
Children Around the World
My Librarian is a Camel

along with some fictional stories from:
Around the World in 80 Tales
Tales of the Shimmering Sky.

We’ll read:
Very Last First Time
Goose’s Story
Wilderness Cat
Dawn Watch
Olden Days Coat
Perfect Snow
Up Home

We have some songs from the two World Playground CDs, and some science from “Science Around the World” and “The Science Chef Travels the World.”

Between all of them, we end up with a nice variety, covering native Canadians, the frozen north, surburban life, the Great Lakes, both snowy days and summer, and some of the cultural influences on Canada from French, to Scots-Irish, to “Eskimo.”

I was slightly disappointed to find that one book, “the Gift of the Inuksuk,” had disappeared from the library before I got to use it. I looked for something to replace it, but I think for now I’ll just leave that slot blank, and maybe we’ll have a light reading day, or we’ll double up and get two days done in one. More likely the former than the latter, as I still have the Core B readings to get done in the afternoon!

The new passports arrived for the girls today, too. I decided this time to take the easy way out, and ordered two passports from “My Father’s World” to use for our flag stickers. I’m also using a sticker book instead of making my own stickers, http://smile.amazon.com/Flags-World-Color-Stickers-Dover/dp/0486485269/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1423105157&sr=1-1&keywords=flag+stickers. The stickers look to be just about the right size. The passports have about 23 usable pages, maybe 24 if you want to use the inside of the back cover. If you keep the stickers placed reasonably tightly, you can fit 4 stickers to a page. So that’s 92 stickers if you use 23 pages. The flag book comes with 96, but there are a few that we might not use because we don’t actually cover the country. If I really wanted to use every sticker, I’d just use the back cover and I’d have enough pages, anyway. So I think we’re good.

The girls are really excited about the flag/passport books, and also about the sticker books we’ll be using here and there. We have Usborne’s “Sticker Dolly Dressing Around the World” and “Sticker Dolly Dressing Costumes Around the World.” The first is one that we used last time we did this, but the second is new to us (not sure if it wasn’t around last time, or if I just didn’t know about it).

If you’ve been waiting for the geography program, know that I’m working on it and should have something to send you fairly soon. Starting on it should give me the impetus to get it done. 🙂


New Geography Puzzle Books! Wanna give feedback?

I am working on making a series of puzzle books that will take place in different countries around the world. Each book will have various activities, like answering a series of questions and using one letter from each answer to spell out a word, doing word searches, logic puzzles, and crossword puzzles. The goal is to solve clues that will help stop a thief who is trying to steal something important from that country.

It will be geared to elementary school age kids. They’d need to be reading on at least about the second grade level to do it independently, but non-readers could do it with a parent or older sister reading the clues and helping them find the information.

It’s designed with the intent of being used with a basic country book from the library (books like “Spotlight on Peru”), but I’m creating a short “About Peru” section so that you can still do it even if you don’t have access to a book like that.

I’m looking for somebody with a child or children in elementary school who would like to give it a try. I’ve had my older daughter try it and reworked it a bit based on her feedback, so I’d like some feedback from somebody else. If you’d be interested, tell me in the comments, and I’ll pick somebody at random.

Thanks so much!


Today we finished Norway! We read a nonfiction book from the library about Norway, and then read “Good Babies” (a story about a human family and troll family–trolls feature prominently in Norwegian legends), “Master Maid,” “Olle and the Troll,” and “The Three Billy Goats Gruff.” We also did the Norway page from the Usborne Sticker Book Around the World, which the girls love and wish had a page for every country. Tomorrow, on to Sweden! I’m rather excited about Sweden, as we’re going to be reading four of the Flicka, Dicka, Ricka books, which I think are just so very cute. I’m not sure if we’ll do two or three days for Sweden. It might depend on how much time we have tomorrow, since the girls have Mother’s Day Out earlier in the day. Emily is interested in Sweden because of the American Girl, Kirsten, who came from that country. It looks like we’ll have about three weeks left here before we leave. So depending on how much school we get done during that time, we might get as far as Germany (hitting Sweden, Finland, France, and the Netherlands along the way).

The girls have been spending most of the day outside lately. It’s been nice and warm, and lovely on those days it’s not raining. I finally got the grass cut today, as it was the first non-raining day in a while. The grass I planted in the backyard is starting to come up ever so slowly. I hope it gets established enough to survive on its own when I leave! Mostly I’m excited about moving to our new house and getting set up. I love unpacking almost as much as I hate packing.

Ants, ants, everywhere

Spring is here, and with it all the lovely aspects of warm weather! And by “aspects” I mean insects. We’ve had a mild ant problem in the girls’ bedroom. There’s one particular window where ants seem to like to come in. I’m a little concerned that they’re carpenter ants and have a nest somewhere in the walls, so I put out traps that are supposed to work for carpenter ants.

The problem is that Charlotte is terrified of ants. And by terrified I mean practically phobic, hysterical screaming, may make herself throw up with terror. This is less than a fun way to welcome a lovely season. I try to kill any that I see when I’m trying to get her to go to sleep, and breathe a sigh of relief that her bed is on the opposite side of the bedroom and so she’s unlikely to get any in her bed (otherwise she might never sleep again–seriously, these things are like the clown in a Stephen King novel to her). Her bed is also starting to get crowded again. She loves to have so many books and stuffed animals and dolls in there… I’m looking forward to getting settled in our new house and getting a second bunkbed, so we can put her on the bottom of one and give her some room to spread out. It’ll be a huge relief. I keep hearing things fall off the bed in the middle of the night.

Still trying to pack the house. Or, all the stuff in it, really. Did you catch that I said ALL the stuff? Packing is a pain in the butt. There are so many odds and ends, things that don’t quite fit into boxes, things that go together that you’d like to pack together only they don’t fit in the same box, and things that you need until the last minute so you can’t pack them now, so that you’re constantly making decisions. I sometimes feel like, “Just throw everything into a box and be done with it,” except that you CAN’T! The boxes have to be full and the weight has to be supported, which means that you can’t just throw things in boxes, you actually have to look for the right stuff so that it all fits together. Ack.

Last Wednesday while the girls were at their Wednesday morning program (I know, their Wed. morning program is on Wednesdays, how shocking), I managed to clean their room, then drag all of their clothing bins out of the closet so I could get everything all sorted and packed. And then I promptly ran out of time and left bins all over their rooms. Smart penguin, ha, because now they’ve been getting into the bins and everything is all helter-skelter… so tomorrow is Wednesday again (or, rather, today is, because I NEED TO GO TO BED but also want to stay up late writing this blog), and hopefully tomorrow I will get all the bins properly sorted, labeled, taped shut, and back in the closet. Because I’m sick of tripping over them and also starting to get suspicious that the girls are arranging them into walls for “houses” and that I will find secret hordes of dolls and tea sets when I move the bins.

On the homeschool front, we have finished Ireland and we’re on to Scandinavia! Emily told me today, befuddled, “Ireland is Ireland and it’s a separate country from the United Kingdom! But Scotland is part of the United Kingdom! Isn’t that weird?” So she has sort of learned something, at least, on a 6-year-old level. I’m also busy being obsessed with making plans for next year, when we start Sonlight’s “Core B: Introduction to World History, Part 1.” I’ve found a bunch of books on ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome, India, and China to add, hoping to make it last at least a full year (since we do year-round) or maybe even 18 months. I have some readers for Emily, so I’ll make her a little schedule of when her reading is due, I think she’ll get a kick out of that. I might even have her reread the pertinent Magic Tree House books when we get to those subjects, as I think she’d enjoy that. She already asked me if there will be Magic Tree House books at our new library after our move. Oh, and I need to remember to warn my husband that she’s going to be asking for a tree house. Hopefully not a magic one.

Wrapping up England

We’ve been doing some of the books for England out of order a bit, but I think we’re finally at the point of having just a day or two left. We have one mini science experiment (fairly simple, balancing a marble on an index card on a glass and sliding the card out to watch the marble drop, learning about Newton, since he was English), a couple of stories about John Wesley, and, well, all but one chapter of Paddington Bear. I think we might read another chapter or two and then continue the book as a bedtime story, if the girls are interested. Since we’ve gotten better about getting devotions done every night, the bedtime story has fallen by the wayside, so maybe I can try to revive it.

I’m trying to really buckle down and get some serious packing done for our move. The hardest part to figure out is our bedroom. Since Megan sleeps in there, I can’t really work on it during her naps or when she’s down for the night without waking her. I contemplated putting her to bed in the playroom this evening, then moving her back up to our bedroom after her first feeding, but I just don’t want to deal with disassembling and reassembling the pack and play. I think what I might do is to pull anything I can out of the bedroom that can be easily transported elsewhere to be packed up. Then just finishing the last stuff when she’s awake. I’ll have to see how well that works. If I just plan on doing it in small bits, it might possibly work out okay. In general, though, I think I’ll focus tomorrow on getting anything done that I can pull from that bedroom, and then also work on packing up the homeschool stuff. Might be a short school day tomorrow!

I did make a box store for the girls this evening. A while ago we had a large delivery from Amazon (diapers and stuff) that came in a giant box, and I’d been meaning to make a box store like the one here: http://childhood101.com/2009/12/diy-kids-ice-cream-shop/ Ours will definitely not be nearly so cool, as I didn’t have the time and don’t have the special colored tape and such. But hopefully the kids will at least find it mildly entertaining for a few days. Might as well let them enjoy the box until I have to break it up for the move (not attempting to transport a giant empty box, even flattened). Maybe once we’re settled in our next place, I’ll try to time a couple diaper deliveries to come from Amazon together again, so we can get another giant box. 🙂 Or we could, like, order a fridge. For the box, you know.

United Kingdom!

I haven’t updated for a while, I know. Honestly, I just keep forgetting. Sorry!

We’re up to the United Kingdom on our little tour of the world geography program this year. We’re finishing up England, and we’ll look at Scotland and Wales, then move on to Ireland. After that, it’s Scandinavia and then Western Europe.

I’ve found a good system for getting library books in good time. I have a Google Calender reminder set every Wednesday to put books on hold, and which week of books to put on hold. So each time I get a new reminder, I put a set on hold. It’s enough in advance that I can wait until they pretty much all arrive, then pick them up at once. It helps that I have a teacher’s account on my library card, so I can check the books out for a longer period, and don’t have to worry about turning them in too soon.

We’re reading about William Tyndale, and coincidentally, my friend Jenny (my little Jenny is named after her) just gave Emily the book “The Queen’s Smuggler,” one of the Trailblazers series that is about William Tyndale. I’m not sure if her reading is at the level of the Trailblazers books yet, so I guess we’ll see! Right now, Emily is really into the Imagination Station books and the Three Cousins Detective books, and is also reading some Magic Tree House books. I got a selection of mysteries (her favorites) that looked about the right level from the library (the A to Z mysteries, etc.), to see if she was interested in any of those. She loves to read and goes through books so fast! We gave her the latest Imagination Station book for Easter on Sunday and she finished it this morning.

I also found some fun books for Jenny at the library today where the parent reads the left-hand side of the page and the child reads the right. I don’t remember the series name, but they have titles like “Pirate Pat” and “Miss Moss.” She wanted to start with “Miss Moss,” so we read that one this afternoon. And, of course, Charlotte is still all about the “That’s Not My…” series by Usborne. She did branch out a bit today and get “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, what do you see?” today. She spent about half a hour pointing to the animals and saying, “Red bird?” “Yes.” “Green horse?” “No, that’s a blue horse.” “Blue duck?” “No, that’s a yellow duck.” Red appears to be the only color that she’s reliable on. 🙂 We’ll get there.

Megan is 5 months old! It’s amazing how fast they grow. I’ve been trying to really enjoy these baby days, in case Megan ends up being our last. I’m already a bit sad how quickly the newborn stage is over and how it’s almost hard to remember how small she was. I wish I was better at taking pictures. I just never think of it!

I’m starting my planning for next year now. We’ll be doing Sonlight’s Core B once we finish our geography program, which I’m guessing will be around September, but it will depend on how much time we lose with moving and getting settled in our new place. I do tend to find that the kids behave better when we get at least a little school done each day, though, so hopefully we won’t miss too much. We don’t follow the school year, as we school year-round and just start the next thing when we’re ready for it (for instance, Emily is doing Singapore Math 1, which is split into 1A and 1B… but we’ll just switch to 1B whenever she finishes it, regardless of time of year, and when she finishes 1B we’ll switch to 2A, also regardless of time of year). But there’s a bit more planning involved with doing a Sonlight core, so I’ll probably order it a bit in advance of when we need it so that I can preread and prepare stuff, etc. I’m hoping to add some additional books to some of the major cultures that we’ll be studying: Ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome, India, and China. I got some ideas for books for Egypt, Greece, and Rome from Veritas Press, and I’m hoping to see if any are at the library when we arrive at our new place, so that I can get an idea of whether they’re worth adding to the core. India and China are a bit harder. I have some interesting readers planned, but I might see what else I can find as well. I don’t really mind if the core takes a bit extra time to get through, as we have the summer to school, and it wouldn’t hurt for Emily to be a bit older before getting to some of the cores. At the same time, I also don’t want to stay on a civilization until we’re bored to death of it. So it’ll be a bit of a balancing act. I got some kits that are from Hands and Hearts and have what look like fun, interesting activities to go along with some of the cultures, so I’m hoping that will make it a bit more hands-on and fun for a 6- or 7-year-old and a 5-year-old who is tagging along (because of course she’ll want to do the crafts).

I’m really excited about starting Core B! While I’m enjoying doing our geography curriculum, I will look forward to be doing a real Sonlight core again, and having the core chat and everything. And a new set of readers for Emily!

Total slackers

We’ve been totally slacking off lately. I mean, we’ve been doing some school, but we’ve been getting mostly a bit of seatwork (Kumon workbooks on coins and time, copywork/LA, math, and handwriting) done, doing our geography readings, and not a whole lot else. We haven’t been getting to Chinese, haven’t done science in a few days (and we’re usually pretty good about science), and today was the first day in a while that we’ve done spelling. We really need to try to get back into a regular schedule next week. It’s hard to get everything that I want done with a newborn around, needing naps and feedings. And there’s still so much laundry to do.

But, we just have 5 more days of the introduction to geography stuff, and then we get to Native America! I can’t wait to try the teepee cake and see how that turns out.

I’ve finally started buying Christmas presents. I always have trouble figuring out what to get for parents and in-laws. My nephews were fairly easy, at least. And I have several ideas for the girls but haven’t decided for sure what to get them yet. I do need to get cracking, as it’s getting closer and closer, and Amazon only guarantees deliver for so long! 🙂