"From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the Lord is to be praised." Psalm 113:3

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Hewitt Homeschooling...A TOS Crew Review...

Recently, we had the opportunity to review a product from Hewitt Homeschooling, called My First Report: Sports.  This is a product that is for Grades 1-4, with parental direction suggested for Grades 1 & 2, that can also be used for remedial work for Grades 5-8.  This packet sells currently for $8.95.

My First Report was developed to help children with their creative writing, penmanship, vocabulary, reading, and critical thinking.  There is a large selection of My First Reports, covering some childhood favorites:  Small Mammals, Bugs and Worms, Reptiles and Amphibians, and Outdoor Activities, just to name a few.

Hewitt Homeschooling Review

We received My First Report already three-hole punched and ready to be put into a binder.  It came in a 44-page packet, and included an introduction, several report sheets, a unit study on sports, and master sheets for writing the reports.  

The report sheets are designed to be used once / week, and there were ten included in our packet.  The sports covered were:  baseball, basketball, football, soccer, volleyball, hockey, table tennis, badminton, tennis, bowling, golf, and stick-and-ball games (like croquet or field hockey).  Each report sheet includes several questions specific to the sport covered, or the history of the sport, in order to give children a stepping-off point for thinking about what to include in their reports.  For example, some of the questions for baseball include "describe a baseball diamond", "what can pitchers do to confuse a batter?", and "what is inside a baseball?"  There is also a list of vocabulary included on each report sheet, also specific to each sport--bunt, steal, and Babe Ruth were examples of vocabulary words on the Baseball report.

The master sheets included in the packet are 5/8" ruled, 5/8" ruled with a spot for a drawing, 1/2" ruled, 1/2" ruled with a spot for drawing, and 3/8" ruled with and without a spot for drawing.  They can be photocopied to use for each report.

In my opinion, the 15-page unit study is the most valuable part of this packet (of course, we are currently pretty fond of unit study-style learning).  There are several suggestions for many subject areas that you can use with your children to make a wonderful learning unit study on sports.  Bible is included, with stories about Biblical athletes, characteristics of winning athletes, and some Bible verse analyzing.  There are also suggestions for history, geography, science, health, physical education, and even art and music!  Reading and language are covered in other suggestions and there is a suggested book list as well.  There are even activities provided for covering math--things like graphing Super Bowl appearances or computing statistical averages for baseball players.  Other things found in the unit study section are useful addresses, for USA Hockey and the National Tennis Center, for starters, Bible verses for memorization and / or copy work, and a crossword puzzle.

I think that My First Reports are a great tool for families looking for a fun tool to help their kiddos get excited about writing and / or learning.  I wish there was a bit more instruction given on using the report forms and turning them into reports from the student, but I have enough confidence teaching at this point that I would be comfortable simply using the questions and vocabulary given as a starting point for my children, and then having them write what they learn through their research in a paragraph (or more, depending on which child!)  I am definitely excited about all of the unit study ideas, and will be planning a big unit study on sports later this school year!

To learn more about Hewitt Homeschooling, and all of the products they offer to homeschool families, you can find them on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google +, or on their blog. Also, please make sure you take a look at what my Crewmates thought of their products--many reviewed products for older students as well:

Click to read Crew Reviews

Crew Disclaimer

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Thankful on Thursday...Mykah Winter

We are amazingly thankful for this sweet puppy that God put in our path.  We adopted her almost a week ago, and are in love with her already.

Meet Mykah Winter.  The newest member of the Schooling in the Sun family--and the reason nothing else around here is getting done!

Monday, August 11, 2014

2014-2015 Curriculum Choices...Sixth Grade

I can't believe I have a sixth grader again!  Sixth grade just feels like such a grown-up age.


This year we are sticking with Heart of Dakota again for Firefly.  It is one that both of us enjoy very much!  I have skipped around a bit for her, so this year we will be working in Resurrection to Reformation, and learning about the Middle Ages, Shakespeare, and all of the things that come with that time period.  Heart of Dakota will cover her Science, Writing, History, Poetry, and Geography.  We will also be using their Drawn Into the Heart of Reading program for reading, comprehension, and literary study.

In addition or substitution, here's what else we'll be doing:

Map Drill and Geography:  We'll be studying the 50 states and capitals this year as a family.

Bible:  We will be doing our own Bible study this year, finishing up Apologia's What on Earth Can I Do, and participating in Community Bible Study as well.

Literature:  We're going to read aloud as a family, and work our way through some fun classics.  Right now we are reading The Secret Garden.

Art Study:  Erica at Confessions of a Homeschooler has a collection of the World's Greatest Artists studies.  We are going to do some of that this year.

Math:  Trying to use Math U See this year.  We can't seem to find a good fit for Firefly and Math.

Sigh again.  I hate teaching math.

Grammar:  We will be reviewing IEW's Fix-It Grammar.  I'm excited to see how this goes...

Spelling:  Continuing to work through All About Spelling.  We will start about halfway through Level 3 and just continue to work.  This has been a great fit for Firefly!

Extra:  We will be working a third of the year continuing in Mango French, then moving to Typing, and then attempting Latin.  Or maybe not.  Depends on how ambitious I am.  We are also continuing Firefly's brain exercises five days / week, courtesy of Dianne Craft.  Soccer never ends, and I am looking forward to lots of fun field trips this year.

What does your school year look like?

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Our Curriculum Choices...2nd Grade

We are heading into our sixth year of homeschooling--which I can't believe at all!  I still feel like a newbie in so many ways.  (Which may have something to do with the fact that every year we do different things, curriculum, outside classes, etc--so in a way we kind of are newbies every year!)

However, in some ways I'm getting my sea legs.  This coming year, for instance, for the first time, I am going to rely primarily on Unit Studies for my youngest's curriculum.

And I'm only a little bit scared of it!

We have done bits and pieces of Unit Studies each year, and each year we seem to do bigger bits and pieces.  My kiddos love them, and really demonstrate that they learn effectively through this method. So, really, it's been me that's had a hard time making the transition to using them as a primary way of learning for the whole school year.

Now I'm ready.  And so very excited!  I'm looking forward to a fun year where Bug continues to learn to be excited about learning and enthusiastic about his schooling.

So what exactly do I plan to cover with unit studies?

--Reading.  We will be collecting plenty of fiction and non-fiction books about each topic.  Bug has always been a strong reader and enjoys it, so I don't see much of a struggle here.  We will do some reading aloud, some oral narration, and lots and lots of silent reading.

--Science.  A given, when I show you my final unit study list for the year.

--History.  Also a given.

--Geography.  This will be included in the studies, but we will also be doing a study on the United States as a family as well, so it's like "double duty".

--Writing.  As in handwriting.  Lots and lots of copy work based on things we are learning about.  Bug's spelling and composition skills are pretty rough right now, so we will work a bit individually on these another way.

And the "other stuff"?

--Math.  We will be using CTC Math and Singapore Math.  Bug does well in math, but gets bored quickly with textbook approaches, so hopefully mixing these up will hold his interest.  We are also still working on getting addition and subtraction facts memorized using our Learning Wrap Ups.

--Spelling.  We will be using the dictation exercises found in one of our Heart of Dakota manuals:  Bigger Hearts for His Glory.

--Bible.  We are using Apologia's What on Earth Can I Do? through the summer, and after Labor Day, our Community Bible Study will start back up.  This will be a nine-month long study on Mark and some of the Epistles, and Bug will have work assigned every day.  We are also continuing devotions kind of daily, and working on memorizing Scripture.  Both unit studies that we have chosen also are Christian-based, so hopefully we will be bathed in God's Word every day.

--Poetry / Artists / Composers / Nature Studies.  We are going to try to head back to our Charlotte Mason roots and incorporate each of these things one day / week.  My plan is to use the Great Artists Study from Confessions of a Homeschooler and various composer studies on the internet.  Poetry will be done with his sister, who will be studying Emily Dickinson this year.

What Unit Studies will we use?

I am not the kind of Momma who wants to do her own Unit Study Creation.  I buy them.  I especially like them when they are scripted or include "point and click" downloadable links!  Because of that, we've always loved Amanda Bennett's Unit Studies.  Now that I've gotten more comfortable with the concept, I will also be branching out into KONOS.

Here's what our year looks like:

August -  October

Amanda Bennett's Space

KONOS Explorers

Amanda Bennett's Autumn Treasures

Amanda Bennett's Birthday Bonanza

November - December 

Amanda Bennett's Thanksgiving

KONOS Christmas

January - March

KONOS Kings & Queens

Amanda Bennett's George Washington

KONOS Frontiersmen

Amanda Bennett's Easter Promise

April - May

KONOS Safety

Amanda Bennett's Terrific Tigers

Amanda Bennett's Baseball

I can't wait!  Looking forward to a super-fun year!

Have you ever done a whole year of unit studies as your curriculum?  Do you have any helpful tips for me?

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Five on Friday...on Sunday, Because it's Been That Kind of a Summer

I thought today I would give you a quick sneak peek of how we have handled our summer learning this summer--affectionately known around these parts as The. Worst. Summer. Ever.

Except not anymore.  Because we've officially given up complaining in this house under threat of having to pay money to "The Jar".  Which only I have had to do so far.  And that was before the power went out for two hours when it was 100 degrees outside.

But, I digress.

It has been a crazy summer here, to say the least, and if I were a better person (read, less Type A Control Freak Momma), I would have abandoned all summer learning plans in an effort to enjoy the time we had.  Since I'm not that better person, I've tried to cram in learning where we could get it, although really in a less "formal" way.  And hopefully, in a way that has benefited my kiddos.

1.  Reviews...we have not accepted a ton of review products lately due to the craziness of our schedule, but we have done some, and they've been so very wonderful that sometimes we've forgotten that they were "extra summer learning".  Most notably, we've kept up with math drills with Learning Wrap-Ups, and with literature and science unit studies with Moving Beyond the Page.  Since these have fallen outside of our "normal" school-type look, my kiddos have been having a bit more fun with them and a bit less complaining about doing school.

2.  Life Skills...Ah, yes.  It has been the summer of learning life lessons.  We have taken care of elderly family members, tried to pick up the slack at home when Momma is out of town, learned to survive a week at our first sleep-away camp, found out what happens when we go out of our way to be "not helpful" during summer craziness, learned about washing machine floods and homeowner's insurance policy facts, started lemonade stands, served family members who were recovering from surgery, written numerous Thank You notes, and learned how to run our own laundry.  Many of these things I'd already learned, lol, but now most of my kiddos have some level of proficiency with these as well.

3.  Brain Exercises...I've been doing a good bit of reading on brain flexibility and brain balance, in part from good friends passing along information, but also from the Learning Breakthrough book that I reviewed earlier this year.  As a result, Firefly has now done seven weeks of an intensive Brain Training program here at home.  Five days a week, we run through a series of exercises.  I call that "Learning Skills".

4.  Swimming...Both Bug and Firefly spent the summer swimming on a neighborhood swim team.  I loved the cross-training aspect of it, loved watching them get stronger and competing against themselves, and watching their pride as they dropped their times.  I think they just really loved to swim every day.  We're calling this "P. E."

5.  Math.  Kind of...See, my original plan was to continue math throughout the summer, both to keep the material fresh and to "catch up"--mainly for Firefly.  I admit to being a bit of a failure on this point, though.  There are just way too many things to do with our scarce free time that seem to be a bit more fun than math.


But, Turtle is finishing up her Algebra 1, and Firefly has completed two lessons (almost), and Bug will sporadically work on his addition facts.

Four out of five ain't bad...

What do you do for summer learning in your homeschool?


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