Our Homeschool Nature Journal

About once a week we will be doing drawings/paintings for our nature journals. I’m really excited about our new nature journals as it’s a great way for the kids to take the lead on what they are learning. Over the summer the boys and I have practiced painting with watercolors and copying illustrations from books or drawing bits of nature we found while outside. So I thought nature journals were a natural transition for us.

We frequently go on nature hikes and play outside where the boys are always finding fun little treasures that they want to explore. I recently purchased some research books to help us study the nature we find.

Yesterday, we discovered some cicada exoskeletons at the playground and brought them home. We looked up cicadas in our books and online to learn about their life and why they shed their exoskeletons. We examined the exoskeletons and used color pencils to draw our cicadas.

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The boys really took the lead on this project once I set it up for them. We used our National Audubon Society Field Guide to look up an image and a few facts about the cicadas. We also searched YouTube for a timelapse video of a cicada emerging from it’s exoskeleton. After they complete their drawings I will 3-hole punch the card stock and place it in a 3-ring binder so we can look back at all of our nature experiences throughout the year.

What we use to create out nature journals:

Some of our research books include:

Nature Anatomy: The Curious Parts and Pieces of the Natural World

National Audubon Society Field Guide

National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America

Trees of North America: A Guide to Field Identification

 

How much does it cost to homeschool?

homeschool cost

During the back-to-school season I hear a lot of parents talking about how much money they will spend on their child’s education. From public school parents discussing supply lists, private school parents talking about tuition fees and homeschool parents talking about curriculum cost… educating children can be pricey.

We’ve done private school and homeschooling and for us homeschool is a less expensive option. Even though we are a part of a Classical Conversations group which has a tuition and we purchase all of our own curriculum it’s still less expensive than most private school tuition + supplies. I’m assuming public school expenses would be less than both private and homeschool but we have no personal experience with public school. (I’ve seen some of the public school supply lists and it can get a bit pricey.)

One of the benefits of homeschool is you can choose how much money to invest and where to invest it. We choose to spend the bulk of our education funds on Classical Conversations. We pay an annual tuition and fees to be a part of a community and we feel it’s of the greatest benefit to our kids. As for the rest of our curriculum we try to make wise financial investments. This year specifically I’ve tried to invest in reusable curriculum… fewer workbooks. With the prospect of homeschooling 4 children I’m thinking long term and trying to make investments in curriculum that we can use for multiple children. However, I don’t want to compromise on the quality of their education so a lot of research has gone into my selections. I selected books that were affordable yet comprehensive. (Check out our curriculum choices for this year.)

I also have to remind myself to keep it simple. There are so many wonderful homeschool curriculum options it’s easy to get distracted by all the shiny new things. Not only does it get expensive to buy all of the latest and greatest things I truly believe that kids don’t need much to learn. My goal in homeschooling is to teach my children how to learn and to love to learn, after that they can pretty much learn anything. Plus, the less I spend on curriculum the more money I’ll have available for field trips and fun educational activities.

For the 2016-2017 school year I’ll spend probably less than $1500 to homeschool 2 children. (That includes CC tuition, CC fees, supplies, curriculum, field trips, etc.) If we weren’t a part of a Classical Conversations group it would be less than half of that. If we just did CC at home by ourselves and didn’t spend any money on field trips I could homeschool both boys for about $200/year (including all supplies). On the flip side, I know some families that could easily spend 2-3X’s as much on homeschooling 2 children. And you know what, that’s totally fine. The beauty of homeschool is you pick what is best for your family.

Ultimately you can spend as much or as little as you prefer on homeschool it just depends on what type of schooling you want to do. Some people prefer complete curriculum sets, some prefer an eclectic style while others just use whatever they can find used or free. Do what works for your family and your budget.

Whenever I’m anxious about the amount of money I spend on homeschool supplies I remember…

An investment in a child’s education is not wasted money.

Summer Memories Spent by the Pool

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I’m raising my family in the same neighborhood where I grew up, in fact, the same exact house. With all the nostalgia that comes with raising your kids in the same house where you grew nothing draws out the soft summer memories like taking my kids to our community pool.

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I spent many hours at our community pool hanging with friends, swimming on the swim team and serving as a lifeguard. Most of my fondest summer memories were made at that swimming pool, the same pool where my kids now hang out with their friends and swim on the same swim team.

I’ve taught my boys to swim in this pool and cheered them on during swim races. We’ve spent long summer nights eating pizza and ice cream beside the pool. Taking my boys to our community pool is like a refreshing trip back in time reminding me that the simplest times can produce meaningful lifelong impact.

Scotties Tissues wants to know what are some of your favorite past or present soft summer moments?

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Giveaway ends on August 18, 2016. The winner to be chosen at random. Winner will be notified by email and has 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. See giveaway rules for more information.

The information, products, gift card, and giveaway have been provided to me by Scotties Tissues.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Our Local Waldo

For the past several years Shop Local Raleigh has teamed up with local bookstore, Quail Ridge Books to coordinate a great summer activity of a local Where’s Waldo?. This past July we decided to join the Where’s Waldo fun and ventured around town searching for Waldo at local businesses.

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The boys had a blast searching each designated location for Waldo’s secret hiding spot. Each boy had their own “Find Waldo Local in Raleigh!” passport and loved collecting signatures and stamps from local participating businesses. They eventually found all of the hidden Waldos and returned their completed passports to Quail Ridge Bookstore where they received small prizes and were entered into a special drawing.

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Noah eating a Rise donut

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Watching chocolates being made at Videri

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A sweet ice cream Treat

This past Saturday we attended the “Where’s Waldo Party” at Quail Ridge Bookstore where all of the participants were rewarded with cake and a chance to win some big prizes. Noah won a gift certificate to one of the participating locations, Rise Biscuit and Donuts. He was super embarrassed when they called his name and didn’t really understand what a gift certificate was but he was excited nonetheless.

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We had such a great time running around Raleigh looking for Waldo. The boys are bummed we found them all and now we have to wait another year to Find Waldo again.

Now the boys are obsessed with Waldo and we have since bought several Where’s Waldo Books. We also discovered some great new local shops through out adventures to find Waldo.

Unplug and Get Outside with CLIF Kid


My kids are really into technology. It sucks them in and and stimulates their little brains. I love technology, it’s an important part of our culture. Kids and learn so much just with the touch of a screen. But it’s also important for kids to be active and engage in physical play. So everyday we make sure to unplug from technology and just play.

“Play is the highest form of research.” – Albert Einstein

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We typically head outside, even if the weather isn’t ideal. When it’s cold outside we bundle up and play until our noses are pink. On rainy days, we don our rain gear and jump in the puddles. And on hot summer days we find respite under the shade of trees. The changing nature of the outdoors makes it an incredibly stimulating and multi-sensory place to play. Children learn so much through play and being outside in nature. But no matter the weather or our destination we always pack a snack. Kids need to fuel those little bodies while they explore the world around them and learn through creative, physical play time.

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We like to pack portable yet nutritious snacks like CLIF Kid Zbar®. CLIF Kid® makes nutritious snacks from organic ingredients that are specially-crafted for kids’ developing taste buds and active lives. I always grab a few CLIF Kid bars and some water bottles before we head out the door. Keeping a healthy snack on hand keeps everyone happy and usually extends our play time.

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CLIF Kid is dedicated to reclaiming play.  They encourage boys and girls everywhere to get back outside, push their boundaries and feed their adventures. Hey moms, do you remember when you were a kid and spent hours playing outside?

CLIF Kid wants to remind you of how awesome it was being a kid….

Connect with CLIF Kid on Facebook and tell them your favorite way to play outside.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Homeschool Room Tour

We finally set up a “homeschool room”. Well it’s really part homeschool, part playroom but the majority of the space is centered around learning. So we’ll call it our homeschool room.

The formal living room in our house is sort of unused space for us. Initially when we moved it it was a play room for the kids. Now that we’re homeschooling we need more work space so over the past week we reorganized the room to better suit our needs.

Our table is a hand-me down from my mom. We had a smaller round table but it wasn’t large enough for more than 1 person to work.

Photo Aug 01, 2 31 29 PM In the corner of the room we have a small toy area that is currently overflowing with too many toys.

Photo Aug 01, 2 31 15 PM The 6 cube shelf is from target as well is the 1,2,3 poster hanging above.

Photo Aug 01, 2 30 26 PM On the other side of the room is our school area. The Ikea shelf in the center is flanked by Jude’s keyboard on the far side and a Target bookshelf on the other. All of our curriculum, supplies and books are stored in this area.

Photo Aug 01, 2 31 04 PM Above Jude’s keyboard are our maps. A dry-erase map of the world from Target and a US map.

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Next to the white board I have some inspirational scripture. The top image is from Gracelaced and the bottom is part of the homeschool planner from Vintage Kids Modern World.

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The top shelf contains our everyday books plus some workbooks.

The next shelf down has our nature box, nature books and other books we use frequently.

Photo Aug 01, 2 30 41 PM The middle shelf hold our math manipulative, stickers, lacing cards, flash cards, card games and other assorted supplies.

The next shelf is our watercolor/nature journal supplies and some tall books.

On the bottom I have a crate with our library books.

I’m still adding some pretty things here and there and hope to add some pictures with the updated look but for now it’s functional. Here is some more information about our 2016-2017 curriculum choices.

 

Homeschool Plan for 2016-2017


This is a big year. I will be teach 2 kids for the first time. I’m excited but also a little concerned that I might over commit myself. I tend to bite off more than I can chew, especially when it comes to school. I’ve been doing a lot of planning and researching these past few months and I have to keep reminding my self to KEEP IT SIMPLE.

Noah will be starting Kindergarten this fall and he really doesn’t need that much work. Kindergarten should be a time of learning through play. This past year I tried to incorporate more outdoor learning time and I think that will be the best environment for Noah to learn (Jude too).

Jude will be starting 3rd grade so he will have to do the most work but I’m still trying to keep things simple for him. I’ve found that pushing him too hard makes him shut down and learning becomes a chore. My main goal has a home educator is to encourage a love of learning. So I try to create an environment that allows my children to explore the world around them and learn at their own pace.

So here’s our plan:

Together
We will do a few subjects together each day or several times a week.

Classical Conversations
Both boys will be doing Classical Conversations Foundations this year. We are a part of a community where we will attend a group session once a week to be introduced to the new week’s memory work, conduct science experiments and have a hands-on art time. Classical Conversations is the bulk of our curriculum for the year(history, science, geography, timeline, Latin, math, grammar, art). If you aren’t familiar with the classical model you can learn more here.

Morning Time
Each morning we will go over our calendar, the weather, our Bible verse, the pledge of allegiance, a poem and probably an Aesop’s fable. (we will take the poem and fable from Jude’s English book) This part of our take should only be about 5-10 minutes long.

Reading
This year I hope to do more reading aloud to the boys. They will work on their listening skills and we will try reading longer more complex books. This will probably be the biggest challenge for me. We may do more reading at night before bed when Abel isn’t a constant distraction.

nature journal

(Top Row: Our Nature Box, Pencil box with color pencils and paint brushes, watercolor guide. Bottom Row: Audubon Field Guide Southeastern States, Trees of North America, Birds of North America, Nature Anatomy)

Nature Journal
We will be following the Charlotte Mason ideas of narration, dictation, nature journal, art, etc. The boys create art and a narration that corresponds with something we’ve recently learned. Each boy will have a 3-ring binder, they will add their art/narrations to their binder throughout the year. I’m slowly collecting some great books for the boys to use in their nature studies and other interests so we can create fun journal pages, you can check out my homeschool wishlist on Amazon to see the types of books we’ll be using. Noah’s journal will be fairly simple. Probably very heavily image based. He loves to draw and paint so we’ll focus on illustrating things we’ve learned with a small amount of narration.

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Noah Kindergarten
MathMath Made Easy Kindergarten Workbook  Math Mammoth doesn’t offer a kindergarten math curriculum but they do recommend a few affordable and comprehensive workbooks available through amazon. Math Made Easy is a simple workbook that introduces all of the basics he needs to know for first grade.

ReadingTeach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons  I’m excited to try this method. Noah is so close to reading I think once we really sit down and work on it he’ll get the hang of it in no time. I considered All About Reading but again it was $$$ and very time consuming. With 4 boys I need simple. I will also add in some easy readers that I either purchase or check out from the library. We go to the library every other week.

PhonicsExplode the Code Jude loved these workbooks and I think Noah will as well. He likes doing little workbooks and Explode the Code is simple and a great way to practice reading and writing.

WritingKumon: My Book of Alphabet Games – I bought this book on clearance at Target but it’s a great simple way to work on our letter recognition, upper case, lower case and writing.

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Jude 3rd grade
MathMath Mammoth This year we are trying something new. The past 2 years I’ve been using Math-U-See, I like the program but the Gamma level [multiplication] moved so quickly. Jude got a little frustrated with the level of work near the end of the year, granted he is a little ahead in math I just thought we should try a different approach. Plus Math-U-See is kind of $$$. I bought the complete set of Math Mammoth on CD (grades 1-7) so I can use it for all 4 boys and print the workbooks as needed. It’s super affordable too.

HandwritingA Reason for Handwriting Cursive Jude struggles with handwriting so we will continue to have handwriting in our studies until he feel more comfortable. We started introducing cursive at the end of last year and he was really excited about it. I’ve heard it can be a good option for kids that struggle with penmanship.

PhonicsExplode the Code 6 This will be our 3rd year using Explode the Code. It’s a fun workbook that helps drill in phonics. Jude really enjoys doing the workbook and he can always use a little extra reading practice.

EnglishEnglish Lessons Through Literature Again a new curriculum for us. Last year we used First Language Lessons which I still love but I’m excited to try ELTL. It uses great works of literature to teach grammar, spelling, reading, poetry, writing and more.

So that’s it. Once we get into a daily routine I’ll share what our typical days look like. We probably won’t do all subjects everyday and I’m not the type of person that can function with a detailed plan but we have an outline and are open to whatever the day throws our way. I like the flexibility that homeschool affords and we will take advantage of it as much as possible.

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However, I did purchase a printable homeschool planner for the first time. Trying to remember what both kids need to get done is a little more challenging than just keeping up with Jude’s work. I bought this cute Charlotte Mason inspired planner from Vintage Kids Modern World.

We also reorganized our homeschool room and while I’m still getting everything in order I do hope to do a homeschool room tour soon. It’s not terribly exciting but I know I always like to see how other homeschool mom’s organize their materials and where they homeschool.

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How I freshen up after a workout

I try to work out 3 times a week. Sometimes I go to the gym, sometimes I head outside. Exercise helps me maintain the energy and strength I need to keep up with my 4 busy boys. However, I don’t always have time to take a shower immediately after my workout. (Busy boys and all) So I have a little refresh routine I do after I exercise until I can take a shower, just to keep myself moderately clean.

I typically wipe away my sweat… I mean glow, then I wash my face and down below with Summer’s Eve Cleansing Cloths. I really dig these Summer’s Eve Cleansing Cloths, they are individually wrapped so I can just pop one in my gym bag or purse. It’s a simple and easy way to feel fresh when you time doesn’t permit a shower.

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The information, products, gift card, and giveaway have been provided to me by Summer’s Eve®.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.