Category Archives: homeschool

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.

*This post contains affiliate links

Farm Animal Days: North Carolina State University

I like the idea of free events but so does everyone else which is why I typcially avoid them. However, this year some of our homeschool families mentioned they were attending the annual farm animal days hosted by the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. The plan was to go about an hour before closing after most of the school groups and moms with small kids left after lunch. That plan seemed to be great as it wasn’t super crowded and the longest we waited in line for anything was about 15 minutes to play on a tractor (which the boys loved).

There were obviously a lot of farm animals like goats, sheep, turkeys, horses, cows, pig, bulls, and more. And then some of the local farm organizations were out to represent their programs and give away free stickers. The boys loved playing on the tractors and of course everyone loved the free Howling Cow Ice Cream.

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Police Station: Homeschool Field Trip

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I’ve mentioned that I love the flexibility that comes with homeschooling. We can do field trips whenever we want but I’m not great at planning/organizing field trips. Thankfully some of the moms in our Classical Conversations group are better planners and we get to benefit from their skill.

Today I took Jude to the Wake Forest Police Department where we spent an hour learning about the duties of the police officers. Office Graham taught the kids how to call 911, gave them safety tips and much more. We even got to meet Storm, a police dog.

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I posted some video from our field trip on SnapChat: jrhammlett

Already Excited for the Upcoming School Year

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I don’t know about you but I’m excited for the next school year already. I mean we haven’t even finished the 2015-2016 school year and I’m making plans for 2016-2017. You see next year we aren’t doing preschool for the younger boys and I’m homeschooling the oldest 2 boys, Jude and Noah.

Noah starts kindergarten this upcoming year and we debated about weather or not to send him to the same small private school where Jude went for his kindergarten year or to homeschool and ultimately we decided it was the best decision for us to try homeschool for him. Noah does great in school, he’s a rule follower and thrives in the classroom whereas Jude always had trouble fitting into the format of a typical class setting. By homeschooling Noah we will save money and our schedule is less hectic but ultimately I think he will do wonderfully learning at home with his brothers.

I think I’m most excited about the upcoming school year because our schedule will be so much more flexible than it is now. One of my favorite aspects of homeschool is the flexibility it offers. We can do our school work just about anywhere and at anytime of the day. We can make last minute plans to take field trips or do fun projects or just skip a whole day. I’m able to do some of that now with Jude but we’re restricted by the boys’ preschool schedule.

One of my homeschool mantras is to keep things simple. It’s sooooo easy to get caught up in all of the options for homeschool curriculum, activities, groups, etc… I really want to keep things simple so my boys have time to explore the world on their own. As I sit down to select curriculum and schedule our upcoming school year I’m constantly reminding myself to keep it simple. Spend more time outside. Spend more time exploring together. Spend more time conversing. Spend more time together.

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Make a Thanksgiving Tree

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I don’t claim to be crafty or artistic but my boys love arts and crafts so I do the best I can. This year we decided to make a Thanksgiving tree.

It needed to be a simple craft that I could do with the boys and very little prep. So on one of our daily walks I asked the boys to collect some cool looking branches and told them we would make a cool project when we got home. Jude found one really cool branch and that was all they deemed necessary for our project. At home I brought out some construction paper, scissors, markers, a hole punch, and string. I had the boys cut out leaf shapes from the colorful paper and then we wrote thing we were thankful for on each leaf. I punched a hole in each leaf and we used the string to tie each leaf to the branches.

Now we have a daily visual reminder of what we are thankful for this Thanksgiving season.

Outside School

When I was a kid we’d occasionally get to go outside and do our school work on especially nice days. It was the highlight of the week/month/year to get fresh air, soak up the sun and and enjoy nature while learning.

Since we started homeschooling I’ve been trying to find our homeschool style. I didn’t realize there were so many different ways to homeschool before we started our homeschool journey. I initially tried to reproduce a classroom style work environment and flow but that didn’t work for us. So we just kind of float around trying to find what works best for our day. Now Jude has no trouble knocking out his table work. It usually only takes him about an hour to do all of our “formal” school work but I don’t think learning stops once we close the books.

Our activities for the entire day need to be educational and intentional. I want to set the stage so my boys can explore and develop a love of learning that guides them through life. So what better place to explore the world than outside. Now that Abel is a little older we can get out and enjoy every day learning outside.

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I’ve been researching nature schools, forest schools and the like. I really like the idea of teaching children in a natural environment, regardless of the weather. Ranulph Fiennes said, “There is no bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.” I mostly agree… I mean there are hurricanes and tornadoes and heat waves and blizzards but that’s not really the point. The point is just because it’s rainy or cold doesn’t mean we should be relegated to being indoors all day.

So I’m planning on investing in some all-weather apparel for the boys (and myself) so we can spend the not so perfect days outside.

This past week we’ve spent an average of 3 hours per day outside and my boys are so much more well behaved and happier. This makes me happier too. Because we don’t have a huge back yard we try to get out explore our local parks, nature preserves, trails, etc… We still spend a few restful hours in the afternoon at home so the little ones can nap but otherwise we will try to be outside weather it’s our backyard or some other wondrous place.

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ABC11 Science Club

As a homeschool family we are always looking for new resources to expand and make learning fun. I’m thrilled to share out newest resources, The ABC11 Science Club.

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The ABC11 Science Club, sponsored by BASF, is an interactive experience targeted to students in grades 4 to 6. Our goal is to make science fun, and bring it into homes across the Triangle. Each week our host, Lily, demonstrates science experiments on air and invites viewers to follow along! Segments air on Wednesdays during ABC11 Eyewitness News at 4:28 pm EST.

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A few of the experiments are:

What we love is that all of these experiments are easy to do at home and can be recreated with thing you most likely already have on hand.

This week plan on starting the Avocado Tree project. I’ll try to keep you updated on our progress.

NC Zoo : Homeschool Field Trip

On Friday we took all of the boys to the NC Zoo with some of the other families from our Classical Conversations homeschool group. The last time we went to the Zoo was when Jude was about 2 years old (We only had 1 child) so this trip was much different.

Joe took the day off from work because I knew I would need the extra set of hands to wrangle all the boys. The weather was a little overcast and cool but it turned out to be a pretty great day to visit the zoo.

I decided to purchase a membership because I knew the boys wouldn’t be able to handle the whole zoo in one day. Plus the cost of admission was only a few dollars shy of what the family membership cost. So if we go back one more time we will have gotten our money’s worth. Plus, the membership gives you free or discounted admission to many other museums, zoos and aquariums throughout the country.

Because we had a membership we decided to only visit the Africa region of the zoo. We will plan another trip in the future to see the North America exhibits.

Some of the boys favorite exhibits were the lions, chimpanzees, elephants and giraffes. We had a great time and I’m already looking forward to our next trip.

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