My Five Students

My Five Students

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Hello, Again

Well, it's been a while, hasn't it? I've been kind of busy. We had baby number 6! (I guess a blog redo is in order now. I can't leave her out.) We bought a house and did a major renovation before we moved in. My husband started a new job that took him back to working in an office every day. We had gotten quite spoiled with him working from home 2-3 days a week. We had 3 major life changes and we did it all in 3 weeks! When we were in the middle of it we just powered through because we had no choice. After the dust settled and we had time to calm down and let it sink in we realized how very exhausted we were. The baby is 5 months old now, mostly sleeping through the night, and we are starting to figure out our new normal. School will be starting for us soon with an 8th grader, a 5th grader, a 2nd grader, and two in pre-K. Co-op starts in a month. The oldest two have started guitar lessons and the 3 musketeers (my 2nd grader and the twins) are all signed up and super excited for dance class. It should be an interesting year. 

Margaret, aka Maggie. Yes, we named our baby Margaret. Yes, she will probably hate us for it one day. But isn't she cute?

Saturday, May 31, 2014

2014-2015 Homeschool Free Printable Planner

It's that time of year. Most parents are anxiously awaiting (or dreading) the end of the school year and the beginning of summer. For us homeschool parents it's a little different. If we haven't been busy planning the next school year since January, we surely are doing it now. So how about a planner? I've updated the planner I made last year with a new calender and new colors (I must have been thinking of candy or ice cream when I decided on the colors). Just click on the images to download a printable version.
















Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Cakeway to the West: Celebrating St. Louis' 250 years

This year St. Louis, Missouri turns 250 years old. To celebrate the city will be placing 250 fiberglass cakes around the city and surrounding areas. It's called Cakeway to the West and it's described as "one part public art exhibit, one part scavenger hunt, and one part history lesson." As a homeschooling mom that spoke to me. It just screamed school project. So I sat down and made a list, then I made another list, then I made a map. I'm a bit of a perfectionist. Anyways, I thought I would share my lists and maps with you. I have tried to include something of value to each hunt but some of them may only end up being for fun. I do have my children navigate though. It's a fun, real-life way to learn about maps. They also take the pictures, except for when all 5 of them are in the shot. I will be working on more as we get out for more cakewalks. Keep in mind that not all of the cakes have been installed yet. So far, roughly 200 are on display. I will update my posts if more get added to an area I have already posted.
An easy first cake hunt is the city of Clayton. You can check 5 cakes off of your list. If you want to walk it it's just under 3 miles round trip. We drove that day because it was cold and windy and I have two 3 year olds. You can work in some history with the Historic Hanley House. It is only open on the weekends and there is a small fee but there is a plaque outside that tells you all about the family and their contribution to the city of Clayton. We ended our tour at Shaw Park for some play time. Here is the list:

1. Brown Shoe Company, 8300 Maryland Ave.

2. Historic Hanley House, 7600 Westmoreland

3. Centene Corporation, 7700 Forsyth
Did I mention it was windy?

4. St. Louis County Courthouse, 7900 Carondelet
(We missed this one. It is not on the official list but is already out. I will update when we get it.)

5. Shaw Park, 231 South Brentwood

Here is the map of the walk I planned:
Clayton Cake Map

Go ahead and get started. I promise you will have fun.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

What We Are Letting Go

 I'm sure almost everyone has heard the song "Let It Go" from the new Disney movie Frozen. If you haven't seen the movie, chances are you've heard it somewhere. Even I posted a video of my littlest girls singing the song on Facebook (because they were just so stinkin' cute). On the off chance that you haven't heard it, look it up on Youtube. You can watch the original along with a never-ending supply of covers. It's become the anthem of a generation. The music is beautifully written to extract an emotional response, like every good theater number. In the movie it is the pinnacle of the story, where it really gets rolling. It makes absolute sense why it has become so popular. But as I listen to my 11 year old daughter singing it so passionately I see a major problem. Do you see it too?
 In the context of the movie it makes sense. It is the lowest point of the movie. The character is filled with angst and believes that she has finally found some freedom, but at a cost. She decides to embrace the "swirling storm inside" and the price tag is a "kingdom of isolation." Without ruining the movie for those who haven't seen it, the story resolves and she discovers that this is not the solution to her problem. But out of context, we have millions of children singing the lyrics, "no right, no wrong, no rules for me, I'm free."
My husband and I are trying to raise thinkers. I often feel like we are going against the flow of culture. We instruct our children to ask themselves questions. Questions like, Why do I like this? What is it trying to say? What does it mean? What does it say about me? These are good questions for everything that entertains us. Music is a particularly slippery slope because it has two parts. It's the tune, the musical content, that draws us and is most often our favorite part. But the words we say (or sing) have the biggest impact. When I say this I hear myself sounding like the generations of old who shunned popular music but, instead, handed us a good old Sandy Patty or Gaithers cassette tape. Let me put my words in context for you. Again, we instruct our children to ask themselves those questions. This means, as a christian family, we sometimes listen to secular music and disregard popular christian music. We take all music, christian and secular alike, and hold it up for examination of its content. I believe God is glorified when both the music and the lyrics are a well-crafted result of the talents that He has gifted the musician with. So He can be glorified in a beautiful song about loving your husband well just as much as a catchy song about His never-ending love for us. We can disregard songs about chasing after money just as much as songs about God making us powerful.
So what's the point? The point is that we have here the perfect storm. We have a cute movie with a really addicting song that speaks the cry of a generation. The theme of our generation and the one coming up says that rules and boundaries stifle our freedom.
      "No right, no wrong, no rules for me, I'm free."
As long as I am true to myself the world can be damned.
      "Let it go... that perfect girl is gone." "I don't care what they're going to say, let the storm rage on, the cold never bothered me anyway."
Here's my challenge to you and to me: let's sit down with our kids and ask them some questions. Let's teach them to think. The subject at hand may be music but this concept carries over into every aspect of life. I believe whole-heartedly that what we are letting go, as a society, is the ability to critically think.

"Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer."  -Psalm 19:14
"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things."   -Philippians 4:8

Friday, July 5, 2013

Our Homeschool Planner: A Free Printable

*Update* Click here for an updated version for the 14-15 school year.

I can't wait for this new school year to begin. I have so many fun things planned. We are starting July 15th with a unit study on medieval times. Since this is our real first year with 3 students and we have two 2 year olds on top of that, I have become super organized. I have most of our year already planned out. I spent just about an entire day recently searching for a good, free planner online and found nothing that suited my needs. So, of course, I made my own. I thought I would share it with all of you. Maybe it will fit your needs as well.

Please note: In each pdf there is a color version and a black and white version. When you go to print the sheets make sure you select what page number you want or you will have multiples of everything.

You have two options for the quarterly planner, one with labels to fill in or a blank one. I use the quarterly planer to keep track of unit studies, classes, and books that we plan on using through the year. It says quarterly planning but I added room for those of us who school year round.


There are a couple different color options for the weekly schedule. To make it easier to recognize I use a different color for each child. We started using these last year and it worked very well for us. On Monday morning each child found their sheet for the week. My oldest worked on hers independently and I would look over it at the end of the week (unless she needed help). Of course, this only worked because she was trustworthy and would do her work honestly. Each child is different and my son needs constant reminders.

If you need more of a break down of your day here is an hourly schedule. You can use the five rows for the five days of the week or for multiple people.

 Our calender follows the official dates for the school year, July through June.

And last, but definitely not least, is a log sheet for your child's hours. Here in the state of Missouri we are required to log 1,000 hours of school work, broken down to 600 of core subjects and 400 of non-core subjects. It is important to keep a record of these hours. I have used a sheet similar to this, handed down to me from my mom, from the start. I decided that it was time to revamp it a little. The numbers on the left side are for the day of the month. Say on the first day of the month your child did a math lesson, 2 language art lessons, science, and had a music class. In that first row you would mark a 1 in the math column, a 2 in the L.A. column, a 1 in the science column, and a 1 in the extra column. At the bottom you add up the total. YTD is for marking the totals from the months before. I hope that makes sense.

I hope these work well for you!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

The End of Another Year

We are unofficially done for the school year. We have accomplished everything that we needed to accomplish but we still need to get a few more hours in. It's been a long school year. Annie was really good at doing most of her work alone but Noah and Clair needed a lot more help. That was challenging, to say the least, with two little ones running around. We had to try and fit a lot of work in when they were napping. Another challenge was that we had so many extra classes outside of the house this year. I think we will be cutting those down this next school year. Running here and there nearly every day was too much.
That being said, I am looking forward to next year. The twins will be 2 1/2 and I am hoping for a little more cooperation from them. I hope that is not just wishful thinking, because honestly, it seems a little like it is. We are looking to join a new co-op in our homeschool group. I think it will be really good for Annie and Noah to have someone else teaching them. Grammar is not my favorite and I notice that I do not push them as much as I should because I don't enjoy it myself.
Annie will be in 6th grade. She has done very well in 5th grade and will be skipping 6th grade math altogether and moving on to 7th grade math. She whizzed through the placement test I gave her earlier this spring. She really loves nature and wants to have a career in either conservation or state parks when she gets older. Now that we are approaching middle school and high school we will be focusing a lot on science.
Noah will be in 3rd grade. I think that 3rd grade is always the year that the work gets a little harder. It's gonna be tough for him because we are adding a lot more work and he will have to be more structured. He has done really well in his reading this last year though and I think he will be able to handle it. He took an art class this year and we really saw him shine in something that was just his.
Clair will be in kindergarten/1st grade. She has been doing kindergarten work here and there all year and has even started reading. She understood the concept immediately. I gave her a placement test earlier this spring and she placed average on math and above average in English for a child going into 1st grade. When we start the school year she will only be 4 but will be doing 1st grade work. We will still be calling it kindergarten. In church classes and other things I don't want her to be out of place. If she went to public school she wouldn't even be starting kindergarten until next year. This is just one of the many things I love about homeschooling. If Clair was in the public school system she would either be stifled or out of place. Here at home she can just be Clair, with no labels or levels stamped on her.
We are going to start some subjects in July. Every year, when the regular schools get out for the summer, I become a mean old woman. I love being able to take my children somewhere and it not be crowded by a bunch of unruly children. By starting in July I hope to be able to finish in April, giving us all spring to go places and have fun without the crowd. Also, if we get behind, we have plenty of time to finish before the school year is over.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Valentine's Day

Every year our homeschool group has a bowling Valentine's Day party. We haven't made it for a couple years because of the twins but I decided to brave it this year. It went pretty well, hectic, but well. Clair had a really good day. She was the only one to get a strike and her valentine box won a prize for creativity.

The twins found the opportunity to perform a dance for us. Everything is a stage for my children.

Violet decided this was a good place for a nap.