Thursday, June 22, 2017

Summer School 2017

It sounds silly to say "summer school" but I guess that's what it is.  We aren't year-round homeschoolers, because we do not maintain a full schedule the way we do in the winter.  I need a break though--just to decompress, and to plan for the next year, and summer is just when we do it.

I think it's important to continue doing educational and purposeful activities, because I fully believe in engaging in ideas and being a lifelong learner.  Also, I don't want the kids to lose math skills, and keeping a light routine makes it easier to jump back into a full routine come fall.  So even though we don't typically use standard curriculum during the summer, we do make sure we're doing review and lighter studies.  We do this during the hottest parts of the day, but keep it light and informal, giving us plenty of time to enjoy summer activities as they arise.

We don't have a specific schedule, but I try to do a few things during the week.

Mathematics:  Both boys do math drills a few times a week, and the occasional 5-A-Day from Math on the Level to keep their skills fresh.

Language Arts:  Emory is the official reviewer for Lightening Literature Grade 3, but I've had Elliott listening in to the readings and doing the sentence diagramming.  Once the review period is over we'll set this aside for next year.

Reading:  They are continuing to have independent reading (and narration) during the day, and I continue to read aloud to them!  Elliott is reading Stuart Little right now, Emory is reading some readers and early chapter books, and I'm reading The Hobbit aloud to them at night.  They're also listening to Peter Pan on audio book.

History/Geography/Science:  We're doing a Wonders of the World project from Home School in the Woods, which is great for a light summer activity.  We were also just assigned a review for a USA Activity Bundle, great for state studies (and summer travels) and the bird cards are great for Emory, who is also still dabbling in his bird study.  Plus we still do nature study.  We work 10-15 minutes a few times a week, and that's it!

Other:  Vacation Bible School is coming up!  It's possible we'll have other review items coming through, but otherwise, we're just enjoying the light schedule and indulging in more interest-based activities.

That's it!  Simple, but it keeps us purposefully learning while still giving us plenty of downtime!  

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Sunday, June 11, 2017

Year in Review (2016-2017)

Now that our school year is over, I've been looking back over everything we've done.  It helps for portfolio purposes as well as helps me plan out next year.  By this time last year, I'd already written up this year's "curriculum plans"believe it or not!  Needless to say, plans are for throwing out the window in the homeschool world!  We still had a good year though!

So here's an overview of what we used and loved (and didn't love) for the past year.

2nd Grade

  • Logic of English Foundations - Loved!  He completed another level and his reading exploded.  I'll definitely use this again with the girls.  
  • Lightening Literature Grade 3 - We received this right before the end of the "school" year to review, and I find it CM adaptable.  I'll have more to share later, but definitely feel like we could use this for his 3rd grade LA 
  • Reading - Lots of quality readers and non-fiction (nature/science) books were his preference this year
  • All in One Homeschool Math 2 - I had started this as an interim program while we searched for a good fit for him, but he ended up liking it and I left him there.  He could have moved into 3 but we're keeping it light this summer so he's just reviewing for now.

4th Grade

  • Logic of English Essentials - We found this dry, tedious and time consuming, though maybe the newer edition is better.
  • Easy Grammar 5 - After reviewing another LA program in between, I found this one to be the best fit--short and simple lessons, but quality material.  I'll probably carry this over into 5th grade.
  • Reading - various books for reading practice
  • Teaching Textbooks 5 - His choice, but he ended up not caring for it at all.  He found the lessons long and way too many practice problems considering the type of review they do.  He did well though, so I let him reduce the amount of work as long as his work still showed mastery.  He does not want to use this again.
  • Math on the Level - This is a review for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, and I'm trying to get into a groove with it since it's summer time, but I know I love the 5-A-Day Online component!  It's fabulous for both boys for summer review!  

I only offer her activities as she desires at this age.  I do not require formal schooling at 4 years old.  These are activities she enjoys and requests, and we definitely go at her speed.  
  • Preschool workbooks - if she's wanting hardcore worksheets, I whip out some basic preschool books.  She works in these at her own pace, and only when she's interested, but gets practice with alphabet, numbers/counting, matching, patterns, etc.
  • Before Five in a Row - My favorite resource!  Lovely living books and simple activities!

Family Subjects

  • Apologia Astronomy - After a review they wanted to continue, but it didn't suit us for the long term.  I really wanted to love it, but one year on one topic was too much for me.  We made it through the first semester, but couldn't muster through after Christmas.  If it were a semester course, we might have been able to finish it with different thoughts.
  • BFB Early American History - I wrote a Final Thoughts post on this already, so I won't go into detail, but I found it CM friendly--living books and the guide was adaptable.  I will likely buy more of their products going forward.  They're on my short list for next year in a couple of subjects.
  • Five in a Row - This wasn't our primary curriculum, but we did a few units to tie into our history studies (and this also got us some of our science during the second semester).
  • Art - They took art at co-op and learned about Benjamin West in our history.  They did art at home through various lessons from FIAR, ARTistic Pursuits, Art for Kids Hub and ArtAchieve (review); we'll carry over the remaining ArtAchieve lessons into Art/Handicrafts first, since they are subscription based.
  • Music - Music Appreciation class and beginning guitar lessons at co-op, Christmas program and exposure to a variety of music through casual listening
  • Poetry - We love Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization though I am inconsistent with it.  I'm trying to figure out a plan for next year so I don't forget it.  It's so quick and easy to do!   
  • Other -AWANA, Jr. Church, co-op, play dates, park days, numerous fun reviews, nature study, farm fun, learning about the elections and voting during an election year, field trips, family reunions and so much more . . . 

I have no doubt that there was learning and growing and maturing that could never be quantified in a blog post!

As for myself - I've been doing better this year about summarizing our monthly activities.  When I first started homeschooling and blogging, I often did Weekly Wrap-Ups, but that just isn't happening anymore.  Instead, I resolved this year to to do monthly summaries.  So here's more details about our year!

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Wednesday, June 7, 2017

MarshMedia (review)

MarshMedia, which originally started in 1969, offers health focused videos to schools.  The variety of videos they carry cover topics such as health, nutrition, hygiene, puberty, social-emotional issues and more.  Now owned by Dan and Brenna Witcher, they are currently offering a Homeschool Special that may be of interest to families who want to utilize additional resources to teach or review these topics.


For the purpose of this review, I was given two months free access to their streaming materials. MarshMedia currently offers over 50 of their most popular titles through streaming. This gave me time to watch a variety of videos to determine what would be appropriate for my crew.  My three older kids that would potentially be watching the various videos are 10, 7 and 4 years old.

MarshMedia assures that their videos do not discuss "sex education" even though that terminology is often used interchangeably with puberty and health education.  Their focus is on Health and Puberty.  With this focus, however, there will be references to things like intercourse or drug use, or other sensitive topics.  There are clear descriptions and recommended grade levels for videos, so it shouldn't be hard to determine which videos will be appropriate for your children, but I always recommend that  parents preview materials first to make final judgement calls and be prepared for discussions.

Since my children have a wide age spread and the preschooler was often present, we kept our viewing to some of the basic topics covered in the K-3 or K-5 videos, such as Wash Those Hands and Take Care of Your Skin, Hair and Nails!  They were informative and educational, but not particularly full of new information.  We're pretty much "learn through life" when it comes to health and hygiene, so most of the videos within their age range cover topics they are already know.  The videos average 15 minutes, but they were usually slow paced, and occasionally repetitive, so my two oldest (7 and 10) felt like they got everything they could from the videos before they were over.  My 4 year old enjoyed these types of videos though!

There is also a section of Character Education books, some of which are available to stream, which all feature animal protagonists and explore various challenges like bullying, sibling rivalry, or anger.  I saw one title, Papa Piccolo by Carol Talley, that I recognized from my beloved early elementary curriculum.  This one wasn't available for streaming, but I decided to poke around at some of the others, and these were pleasant.

Final Thoughts
The videos are definitely reminiscent of the health and puberty videos we watched in public elementary and middle school, though some seem to be relatively updated.  There's nothing particularly flashy or sensationalized.  They are simple and straightforward, with the sole purpose of educating.  Other members of the crew are reviewing MarshMedia, so please check out more reviews for additional perspectives.

If you wish to take advantage of the opportunity to introduce the MarshMedia curriculum to your home schooler(s) click here for details.

Health Education Products for K-8 {MarshMedia }

MarshMedia Reviews
Crew Disclaimer

©2011-2017 Mom’s Heart.  All rights reserved.  All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.