Thursday, July 24, 2014

Back to School Prep

Warning: Long post for those nerdy people like me who love reorganizing and talking homeschool. This is one of those posts that is more about my ability to record where we are right now than one for reading pleasure. You’ve been warned. You proceed at your own risk!

Usually this time of year, we’re looking at what we’re going to do to celebrate NOT Back to School. We continue working through the summer on our six weeks on, one week off schedule.

Not this year.

This year, Mama needed a break. And the kids benefitted from one as well. We ended up with more of a break than we’d planned, but it has been such a full summer! So, it has been worth it.

Now, though, it’s time to gear back up for a new year.

First, we had to tackle “the room.” It wasn’t quite this chaotic when we got started on the reorganization, but it was close. school1This room was trying to accomplish more than the last rearrange intended. That meant not everything had a place. That meant SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESchaos. By the time this picture was taken, a bookshelf or two had already been moved, a cabinet was in the process of moving, and various  items had found their way to the floor.

Most rearranges have a definite end point. This one has included too many factors: moving furniture, sorting through accumulated junk, SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESrestructuring work zones for Doug and me, rearranging the sewing SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTUREScorner, sorting through school stuff to see what needed to stay and what needed to go, moving out last year’s school materials, and moving in this year’s. A task that was started three weeks ago is still in progress. But, it looks a lot better than that first picture. In fact, it even looks better than this:

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Now I’m into the final prep stages for school.

This year we are changing the way we view grades. I want a little more flexibility with Angie and Steven. So, Angie is in middle school and Steven in elementary. No grades. We’ve always been loose, but this will allow us to be even more flexible. Doug and I decided that they can consider themselves (for social purposes, mainly) to be in seventh grade the year they turn thirteen. This won’t really change the academics they are pursing, but it will eliminate any concept of being ahead or behind on anything. Olivia’s work is a little more defined, and she’ll definitely be entering eighth grade.

We will be using Sonlight cores H (2nd half of world history -Olivia), F (a fascinating, but challenging, look at the Eastern Hemisphere - Angela), and D (first year of American history - Steven) for history.

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They will be extremely varied topically, but the girls are growing so much more independent that I think we will be able to pull it off.

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For science, Sonlight switches to the Exploring Creation with… beginning with Exploring Creation with General Science for Core H. Olivia has become a huge fan of Dr. Jay Wile, and she is absolutely thrilled with the change!

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Angela will still be doing Sonlight science this year, studying the human body. But, I’ve moved all of the Core D science books to the “for fun” shelf. I’ll be using Dr. Wile’s brand new elementary series for Steven instead, continuing with Science in the Beginning. We started this as a supplement last year, but I like it so much that we’re just switching to it completely this year.

Language Arts is A Beka for the younger two, but we’re trying something new for Olivia – Lightning Literature. school1aWhen I entered high school, Mom switched me to the University of Nebraska’s Independent Study High School program. It had an incredible writing program worked into the literature courses for ninth through twelfth grade. I wanted my children to have the same opportunity, but I wasn’t sure how to deal with the expense of enrolling them in the UNL program for that one course.

Enter Lightning Literature. After rave reviews from fellow homeschoolers I trust explicitly (thank you, HEDUA, for a great homeschool community!), I decided to take the plunge. Solid writing training at a fraction of the cost. I’m so excited! I’ll let you know what I think after we’ve worked through a year.

Of course, all three will continue to do Wordly Wise. Such an easy vocabulary program to incorporate into any curriculum!

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For math, Angie and Steven will continue with Horizons while Olivia will switch to Math-U-See for algebra.

We’re still feeling out Bible resources. We’ll do some form of missions emphasis during our morning prayer time, including the book Seed Sowers, by Wycliffe Associate Gwen Toliver. I have not yet found a book by author Starr Meade that I dislike, and we have Grandpa’s Box and the God’s Mighty Acts books on our shelf. So, I’m sure they’ll work their way into our Bible resources.

Last year I worked quickly through Truth Quest History: Beginnings for a review, but Olivia and I are processing through it much more slowly together. I don’t always agree with the author’s perspective, but I absolutely love the way this book has made Olivia think! We started using it as a history supplement, since Olivia was doing ancient history last year. But, we ended up slowing down and using it for Bible instead. We will probably continue that this year. I love watching Olivia’s mind process spiritual things. We have had some incredible conversations while processing through this book!

Time is tight in our school day, balancing a never-consistent schedule and making sure that I can switch from school to my job as Senior Editor for HEDUA. But, we are growing in our ability to pursue independent interests, and that helps a lot!

All three children will work on piano and a language. Olivia has chosen German as her high school language pursuit. We were very blessed financially to be able to work Rosetta Stone’s homeschool German program into our budget this year, thanks to reduced costs on books and a HUGE Rosetta Stone sale. Love it! Meanwhile, the younger two will continue with Polish until they reach eighth grade. Then they will each being pursuing their high school interests. As of right now, Angela wants to learn Arabic, and Steven is interested in Italian.

They will also all three work on piano. Olivia really wants to learn. Angela and Steven will be learning primarily as an avenue for music theory. Even if they never pursue an instrument, I want them all to know the language! Olivia is also beginning guitar, and we are praying about violin in the future.

And that’s it! Whew! Now to bring it all together in a workable schedule and make sure everything is organized for August 11, our first day of school.

I better get busy!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Not Quite Ordinary Observations

For Today...Tuesday, July 22, 2014

In the great outdoors...a beautiful September day. Oh wait. It’s July. Really? July? That is just not possible. When is it ever 85 on a July afternoon, aside from the occasional break from insane heat? No, I’m not complaining. Not at all! A three-day stretch of typical July weather ended last Monday. I much prefer this oddity to that norm!

Within our four walls...piles of fabric pieces behind me as the girls prepare quilting strips. A couple of airplanes lying upside down on the living room floor, making me think there has been some sort of catastrophic disaster. A blanket tent in various states of repair in Steven’s room.

A heart of thanksgiving...for a good week at a leadership and worship camp with Olivia and three other Almyra girls; the cool weather; my bed; sleep.

A heart of prayer...for the Choates as they should be en route from Marulaon to Honiara after a three-month stay in the village; for friends dealing with the failing health of their parents; for Doug as he’s on the road today; for our family as we try to evaluate a new school routine; for the farmers as they deal with the changes this odd weather makes to the farming process.

Random observations...the kids have had the tent up in the back yard, but we took it down today because they’re not going to have much time to play in it before it’s slated to rain again. Unfortunately, I couldn’t fold up the tarp. Why? Too many FROGS!!! They were everywhere! Little bitty things hopping all over the tarp. I’d get a couple off and they’d jump right back on. So, the tarp is just lying out there waiting for a time when multiple pairs of hands can fold the tarp.

My silly children...

Steven: (in prayer) Lord, help us to not be too goofy this afternoon (after a morning of EXTREME goofiness).

After prayer: Wait! We won’t be as goofy this afternoon because we’ll be separated. It’s hard to be that goofy all alone.

Olivia: And Angela and I will be in public. We can’t be goofy because have to be dignified in public.

(Now imagine that whole conversation punctuated with giggles.)

Thoughts from the kitchen...leftovers today. Not my favorite meal, but it sure does make both prep and clean-up easy!

Meanwhile, though, I’ve been craving pizza. I don’t think it’s on the list for this week, but the list just might have to change.

On my bookshelf...a shelf of resource books. Hmmm…methinks people could learn a lot about me by checking out this one shelf!

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Projects...finish school preps, pick a pattern and make a cow print dress, catch up on book reviews

Sounds of the moment...quiet. My sillies are quiet. Hmmm…

From Hibbard Academy...prep. Angie & Steven did some math while Olivia and I were gone last week, mainly to keep Steven somewhat busy!

A favorite thing from last week...coming home. I loved being at camp, but there’s nothing like coming home.

The planner...yesterday we had to be in Little Rock, and Doug’s back today. The girls have sewing camp every afternoon today through Friday. We’ll hopefully go to a Traveler’s (baseball) game on Friday night, weather permitting.

Because visuals are fun...cute cousins after Nanny’s last outdoor community band concert of the summer.

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Friday, July 11, 2014

Lego Battle

As we discussed 4th of July plans, it was decided that the children would create a Revolutionary battle scene with Legos. I love the Hibbard children style, though. Historical accuracy is very important when discussing and reading. When it comes to Legos, though, creativity is king. Accuracy will gladly take a back seat to a little fun, and I don’t mind one bit. They know the real story, and they know when it must be accurately reflected. This was not one of those times.

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The battle scene centers around the North Bridge, the location of the infamous “shot heard round the world.”

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I bet you never realized the North Bridge was so colorful, did you? (Oh, and the little dots you see scattered all around are canon balls.)

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On the British side, we had every red Lego man the kids could find. After all, there had to be Red Coats. And it always helps for most of the enemy to be generic.

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But, you always name at least one or two of the enemies so you know just how bad they are. Who could be better than Darth Vader? After all, every “bad guy” needs a Sith lord’s help, right?

Lando made it onto the British side, too, though. I’m not sure if he was really the enemy or if he was a spy.

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In true literary fashion, every Patriot was named and heroic. Naturally, George Washington took the lead, riding his mount up the bridge.

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But Luke Skywalker had his back, manning the front cannons.

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Wait, though. Who in the world could that be on Washington’s right? A Roman centurion? Did they really fight in the Revolutionary War? Well, perhaps this one did. The faithful 2,000 year old Roranicus Pondicus (aka Rory Williams) of Doctor Who fame might well have fought alongside the likes of space cowboy Malcolm Reynolds, captain of the Firefly class ship Serenity. Sure. Strange things happen in war time.

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And backing everyone up was the great Marvel bowman Clint Barton, aka Hawkeye.

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For the record, my children love learning about fictional characters, both from classic literature and modern pop culture, and then incorporating them into their play. And they usually have read all of the classic literature. But actually watching the movies or TV series from whence these characters come? Nah. They enjoy the Marvel movies that they’ve seen, but they have much more fun using the characters in their own play. Often their own imagination is much more fun than watching them on screen.

And that, my friends, is the Hibbard children version of what happened at the North Bridge.