Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Free Rice!

My good friend directed me to the coolest website: Free Rice. You answer questions, and for every correct answer you get, they donate 10 grains of rice to the World Food Programme to help end world hunger. There is a running total so you can see how much rice you've donated in one session (or you have the option of keeping a running total).

This is a great site for homeschoolers. Kids (and adults!) can answer questions on art, chemistry, English grammar, vocabulary, geography, math and foreign languages. It's not only fun and educational, it's also a worthy cause! Check it out!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Math is so much more pleasant when it's done on the front porch glider.

It took her longer than normal (and that's a l-o-n-g time) to finish her assignment because she spotted the coolest looking bird in the front yard. She spent a good deal of time just observing him. Any day we can combine nature and math is a perfect day in my book.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Doing The Happy Dance!

Our new curriculum came today!

I haven't had time to sit down and look over it thoroughly. I plan to do that later tonight. Just a quick glance through it all makes me think I'm going to love it. I think it's exactly what I've been looking for. There's a lot more to it than is shown in these photos, but this gives you an idea.

The craft supplies are really high quality, too. In addition to what's pictured here, we also received a book binding kit, mexican clay, beeswax crayons, quills and India ink, acrylic paints, paint brushes and much more. I love that I'm not going to have to make trips to Hobby Lobby every time we do an enrichment project.

Can we scrap 2nd and 4th grade and just start on 3rd and 5th right now?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Education Is Broken

I posted a really good video on my other blog. Check it out!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Planning Ahead

The end of this year is approaching quickly. I've liked a lot about our first year of Otherwise Educating. I have to be truthful, though, and tell you that there has been more than a little about our first year that has frustrated me and made me feel like a totally lame homeschooling mom.

It was about a year ago that I started thinking seriously about Otherwise Educating my children. I had big, big plans. I shunned the all-in-one curriculum. I wanted to "roll my own"...choose the best of everything. I did just that. Some things I chose I love, some things I don't love.

One thing I don't love is the fact that I often feel so disjointed. I feel like I never have enough time to plan properly, to coordinate subjects, etc. I often feel so overwhelmed by everything I want to teach my children that I end up paralyzed, not ever settling on one thing. There are days on end when I feel like all we really accomplished was trudging through Math and Grammar. Where is the creativity in that? Something has to change for next year.

I've done a complete 180 and decided to go with a pre-planned curriculum next year. Shocking, I know. I feel like I need something that will lend structure to our days and weeks. I want something that will provide a "jumping off place" for our learning.

My criteria for a curriculum are pretty tough.
  • I want something that allows flexibility in timing...something that doesn't have a daily schedule, but has a more general schedule. I'm a little OCD, and I have trouble letting go of things on a list. (That's precisely why the Fly Lady routines never worked for me. I couldn't keep up yet I couldn't let go. I always felt like a failure.)
  • I want something that is heavy on good literature. I can't stand the idea of my children reading paragraphs and answering comprehension questions.
  • I want something that is integrated across subjects.
  • I want something that will easily allow me to expand on topics of interest.
  • I want something that is "holisitic". Something that educates the whole child, not just one side of the brain. Something that will inspire and nurture creativity and imagination.
I thought I'd never find a curriculum that is a good fit for us, but after much searching, I came across Oak Meadow School. It was love at first sight! It is Waldorf-inspired curriculum that encompasses everything I love about homeschooling. There is too much to go into here, but please check out their site if you are looking for a great curriculum for next year.

It can be a little pricey, but I had many of the required books, and the ones I don't have, I know I can find at the Goodwill or used on Amazon. I also found some of the teaching materials for about half-price on Ebay.

I can't wait until it arrives! Once I get it and have a chance to look over it, I'll post my thoughts about it.

Friday, March 12, 2010


In Science last week the kids learned about weather. Among other things, they made it rain in a jar, learned about lightning, and made these fun anemometers.

Have I mentioned that Ms. Angie is the best!?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


When I dropped my daughter off at dance class today, she and another little girl who is homeschooled starting talking about their homeschool experience. A third girl who was listening piped up and said, "Homeschooling isn't good for you." My daughter said, "Why not?" She said, "Because you don't learn to play with other kids." I said, "Oh, that's not true. Who told you that?" Of course, I knew who told her that. I don't know why I asked. I stood there like a fool, listing all the ways my children get social interaction in spite of (actually, because of) their educational experience. Yes, I was arguing the socialization issue with a 7 year old...defending myself and my children as if I were on trial for child abuse. It was ridiculous but I couldn't help myself.

Can I just say how sick to death I am of hearing that "concern"? Why is "socialization" (or lack thereof) the one thing so many homeschool opponents choose to focus on? I suppose it is because people can't really pick on any other aspect of homeschooling. "Hmm, overall, homeschooled children excel in every academic area, so we can't say the kids aren't learning. I know, let's say they weird and unsocialized."

Do people think we sit at home all day, just the three of us, never interacting with the outside world? Do they think my children stand, noses pressed against the glass storm door, watching longingly as the children on the street play together? Do they think we drive past the park and just wave at the children playing there?

Why do people think that spending time in traditional school is the only appropriate way for children to socialize with other children?

Why is sitting in a crowded, noisy lunch room at a table with 25 other children who are trying to eat their lunches in 20 minutes while the lunch lady yells at them better for children than a group of 12 homeschooled children eating a leisurely lunch at a picnic table outside?

Why is being teased on the playground at school better socially than a multi-aged group of children playing a game of football after our science class?

Why is my child looking at pictures of a naked woman on another child's cell phone in the hall at school (yes, my child saw this) preferable to him taking a trip to the art museum with a couple of other homeschooled children?

Never in a million years would I go up to a parent of a traditionally schooled child and ask, "Don't you worry how all the negative stuff that happens at public school will affect your child's self-esteem?" Yet so many non-homeschooling parents feel free to question and criticize what I'm doing and talk about how it will negatively affect my children. (By the way, as a parent of two children who attend public school, I do worry about all the negative things they experience there.)

Here's the real story. I find the "socialization" issue to be a challenge, but it's not in the way you would think. We have so many opportunities to socialize with other children that I have to carefully choose what we do or we would never be home to do our schoolwork.

We have been on more field trips than I can count. We have had play dates at the park. We "school" with a group of 10 other children every Monday. We go to the gym and play with other kiddos. We meet with our co-op for Culture Club. My children take lessons, go to church, play outside with the dozen or so other kids who live on our block. I think they'll be fine.

Really, the horse is dead. Let's stop beating it.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Learning To Type

Thing 4 has decided that it's time she learn some keyboarding skills. Unsure of where to start, I consulted my homeschool network and one of my homeschooling friends directed me to Dance Mat Typing. Thing 4 loves it! She has learned a lot already. I love it, too, because it's another one of those self-paced, self-directed activities which allows me time to work one-on-one with her brother on another subject.

I think it's more appealing to the younger set than it would be to older kids. If you have a younger child who needs to learn to type, check it out!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Recess And The Outdoor Classroom

I am so fortunate that my good friend and neighbor also Otherwise Educates her children. We do lots of activities together, including recess. If we didn't have her children for my children to play with, my children would be even weirder and less socialized than they already are.

Friday was beautiful here in windy OK. It was much too pretty to be inside, especially given that we have been cooped up for months thanks to an unusually cold, wet winter. It also happened to be Thing 4's 8th birthday, and who wants to do school work on their birthday? So, the kiddos headed outside for a longer-than-normal recess and some outdoor learning.

(By now you know that she dresses herself, yet I still feel compelled to publish a disclaimer.)

While I believe that children need adult directed teaching, I also think that children need time to be children and to do what children are created to do...that is, to learn by doing. Children's lives today are much too scheduled, structured and adult-led. I love to see them doing their thing without parents interfering.

Kids learn a lot when they play with each other and adults leave them alone.

For example, on Friday, these boys learned that if you're having a RipStik competition and the little sister of one of the competitors is the judge:

...chances are she is going to award, at her discretion, a bonus point for "politeness" and her brother will win the competition. Very important life lesson, doncha think?

Thursday, March 4, 2010

¿Habla usted español?

I don't, but thanks to our new Rosetta Stone software, I'm hoping our children will one day. So far, Cole loves this program. I appreciate that the program is self-paced and self-directed. It's been a fun addition to our homeschool day.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Green Science!

Every Monday, we meet with eight other kiddos and their moms for Science. Ms. Angie is the best Science teacher. She is as passionate about Science as my 12th grade English teacher, Mrs. Shepherd, was about Shakespeare. That's pretty passionate. Ms. Angie also happens to be one of my best friends and the coolest mom ever! We love her!

Last Monday, we studied Environmental Science. It was oh so fun, and it warmed my little green heart!

The kids learned about paper, paper fibers, etc. Then they made paper from recycled newspaper.

They also learned about the effects of oil spills on animal life by making a foil "tanker" and having a spill.

Finally, they learned how oil spills are contained and then cleaned up.

Very cool!


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