07-05-2015

Dear Sydney | The End of Second Grade

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Dear Sydney,

My girl we have finished the 2nd grade, can you believe it? What a crazy year this has been for our family! We moved during the second week of school, and had to adjust to our new lives at Grandma and Papa’s house. Your relationship with your grandparents has grown by leaps and bounds and I love the bond you have with them. To add to the crazy we also added our gorgeous crazy Audrey to our school and we’ve all had to learn how to adjust to that.

And then we had Ruby half way through! Talk about a year of change! As usual you’ve handled it so well and I couldn’t be more proud of you. Except that I know I will be even more proud to be your mama tomorrow. You make me prouder every day, I love you so much!

This year you read some fascinating books, you fell in love with Beverly Cleary’s books, Socks being your favorite. You passed off All About Spelling Level 2, and we started a new handwriting program this year. Math presented a new challenge this year but as usual you have proven that you are up to the task. Your art work is amazing and it’s incredible how well you do at art, and how much you love it!

 This year you have made my heart swell with pride as I’ve watched you care and love on your siblings. The way you’ve noticed when Audrey has been upset and how you reminded her of how smart and wonderful she is. The way you are my big helper by helping me get everyone safely into the car, I think you know better than most adults what proper car seat safety is, and best of all you speak up when it’s done wrong! You’re help has been incredibly welcomed as we brought Ruby into our family this year. It’s been nice to know that I can hand you the baby while I go pee and that you will keep her safe.

As usual, I am in awe of you, and I have loved watching you grow and learn this year. There is no one better to teach me how to be a mama, or how to be a homeschool mama. Thank you for everything you’ve taught me, and thank you for giving me the privilege of getting to watch you become an amazing person. You are thoughtful and kind, you are brilliant and beautiful, and you will set the world on fire with that amazing combination. I love you to the moon and back, my sweet girl.

Can’t wait for next year.

Love, Mama.

First Grade | Kindergarten

For those keeping track Sydney read a total of 3,291 pages to herself as part of school. This total does not include all the books she checked out from the library for fun, or the books we read to her.

11-20-2014

The Binders System

When I first started homeschooling I researched several different organizational methods for keeping everything running smoothly. I really loved the workbox station, but I’ve never been able to figure out how to make that work for us. It requires a lot of space, and I could never find drawers that I really liked. It just wasn’t for me. Last year I bought a ton of $1 binders in various colors and each of Sydney’s subjects was in a different binder. This worked better for us (you know, better than the imaginary workbox station that I knew wouldn’t work) but it still drove me crazy because I had PILES of binders everywhere, and Zachary loved to knock them down, there wasn’t enough room for them all, and for some subjects this just didn’t work. So I condensed and merged the two ideas into one that works amazingly for our family.

After my post on how I organize our homeschool paraphernalia (I love that word!), I decided to go a little deeper into our binders.

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Because really, without them everything would fall to pieces.

Sydney has five binders. All the binders are purple, because since they were born I’ve color coded my children. Sydney is purple, Audrey is pink, Zachary is blue, baby Ruby will be yellow. If we have too many children we will have to start thinking in shades instead of colors.

The most important binder is The Sydney Binder. The cover is just a quick thing I made that says “2nd Grade” and I let Sydney color all around it. The back cover holds the maps for the reader’s instructor guide for quick and easy reference. The inside pocket holds her All About Spelling progress chart with stickers. Then there are dividors with pockets. Because I like pockets.

First divider is Reading. This holds the schedule for the book she is currently reading.
Second divider is Writing. It holds the Writing With Ease worksheets for the week.
Third divider is Science, holding the Sonlight Science C schedule for the week.
Fourth divider is Handwriting. It actually holds all the A Reason For Handwriting assignments for the entire year.
Fifth pocket is Math. Holding all the math assignments for the week.
Sixth divider is History. IN the pocket (see, I do use them!) it has the whole year’s schedule for Story of the World Volume 2: Medieval. Behind the tab it has the 6 week rotation of coloring pages. (We do 6 weeks om, 1 week off.) When it’s time to color (usually Friday) I take the coloring page out and put it on the clipboard.
Seventh divider holds all of the notebook paper. I take this out when we do spelling tests or have other needs for lined paper.
There is nothing behind the Eighth divider.

Then I move the daily assignments onto her clipboard when it’s time to do them. So at the beginning of each day she has a stack of papers that we will be working through. Her science worksheet and handwriting worksheet just stay on the clipboard for the entire week, they are never actually behind the dividers.

The first binder is Readers. This is probably the least organized of all of the binders. While I do have Sonlight’s schedule, I rarely use it with Sydney. She is an amazing reader and she doesn’t need the schedule (yet.) I have a box of the books she will be reading this school year, I let her pick which one she wants to read. We don’t go in order of the schedule. I also don’t assign her chapters per day, because she’s a great tiny human. Some days she wants to read a ton, and other days she doesn’t want to read at all. She’s human. But she always finishes the books and she is usually ahead of schedule. Occasionally she falls behind the schedule and I tell her to finish her book by a certain amount of days and she’ll get on it. Right now She’s read 7 of the 20 books assigned for the school year and we are on week 10, she’s about 3 weeks ahead. So what’s the point of the instructor’s guide then? Well, I use the questions. When she reads she tells me where she is and I ask the questions out of the IG. It also helps me to keep informed on what the books is about because I don’t always have time to preread the entire book before she gets to it. She’s a better reader than I am right now.

To keep this binder less hectic the first page lists the book list and schedule. I always put the guide back in it’s proper place. But the book she is currently working on’s guide is in the Sydney binder, ready for questions to be asked!

The second binder is Math. Currently we are using Math-U-See Beta with Sydney. I removed everything from the student packet and the test packet and put it in the binder. There is a divider separating the tests from the regular worksheets. We don’t actually use EVERY worksheet, but I keep them all in place because sometimes we need extra help and rather than preemptively throwing away worksheets we keep them all in one place. Each week I put that week’s worth of assignments in her “Sydney binders.” Worksheets that won’t be used go in the pocket, just in case they will be needed, after she has passed off the test we toss the unused worksheets.

Third binder is the Writing binder. This holds all of the Writing With Ease Level 2 worksheets. This one is not complicated, I just grab each week’s worth and put them in the Sydney binder.

Fourth binder is Science. This has a set of Sonlight’s 36 week dividers. Behind each divider is the schedule and worksheet. The week we will be working on next is always in front. The week we are currently working on is moved to the Sydney binder. The schedule goes behind the “Science” tab, the worksheet goes on the clipboard. When we are finished with the week we move the schedule and the divider with the corresponding number to the back of the binder.

Hopefully this gives you a better idea on how we implement binders to help keep our homeschool running smoothly and keep all the worksheets and curriculum organized. I definitely think that this will be a huge help to us next year as Audrey adds more binders to her shelf. Currently she has only two pink binders, the first being her Letter of the Week curriculum lesson plan (which is pretty much ignored as I remember the order of how it went) and her All About Reading Level 1 Binder. There will be a post just on the organization of All About Reading soon!

09-07-2014

School for Two

I have to admit I was really nervous about adding Audrey to our school, I had previously been able to devote all my time to Sydney’s education and was worried about how it would change with Audrey in the mix.

I often compare it to adding another baby to the family. The emotions are exactly the same.

Audrey has surprised me a lot! We’ve only completed two weeks of school but she’s doing really well! I think it’s the only time I’ve seen her sit still, and she’s listening so well!

What’s surprising me as well this year is how I’ve changed things a bit. I thought I knew what I was doing, as this is our fourth year. I should probably just realize that like all parenting related things; I know VERY little. Last year we implemented a binder system. A binder for every subject. This worked okay, but I didn’t really have space to put all the binders while they were being used. I like everything needed for the day on the table, ready to be used.

To start with I bought a planner. This probably isn’t necessary but it helps keep my disorganized brain organized. I can see everything that both Sydney and Audrey are suppose to be doing at a glance. Key words; at a glance. This is NOT a detailed lesson plan. Just the gist of what needs to be accomplished. As we go through our subjects for the day I check each thing off. I really like checking things off!

I bought The Well Planned Day planner and am pretty happy with it. It’s the only one I’ve ever tried. I found another that I think I’ll use next year, but for now this will work great.

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I am also using a box shelf that I got from Target to hold all of our homeschool books and supplies that are needed for both girls.  The self below their blue bin holds their parent manuals that I need as well as their textbooks. The black bins hold Audrey’s file folder games and Sydney’s books that she will be reading this school year.

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My mother bought each of the children a Washington State license plate with their name on it. As soon as I figure out how to attach it to the bin, that’s where it’s going!

As I said, each box has their needed supplies. In Sydney’s I have her Math-U-See manipulatives, her DVDs for science, math, and art. Her clipboard stays in the box when it’s all ready to go, along with her book she’s currently reading, her super cool bookmark, All About Spelling box, and her purple sticky notes.

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I also have an Ikea bookshelf that holds our miscellaneous homeschooling supplies. Calendar parts, history books, yearbooks, Sydney’s kindergarten hand print, pens, ect. But it also holds 4 binders containing Sydney’s detailed lesson plans for science and reading (as well as the worksheets for science), and her math and writing worksheets. Science experiment supplies are also on that shelf.

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I got a small binder to put all of this weeks work in. I already owned the binder so this was not an extra expense. On Friday (or Sunday) I pull out the math, handwriting, writing, history, reading and science binders and take out the things that are needed for the week. Then I put the larger binders back on the shelf. At the end of each day I pull out the next days work and have it ready.

The final thing I added this year were clipboards. Both girls have their own, and when I take the work from the weekly binder I put them on the clipboard. I add sticky notes that say things like “Come Get Me” and “Stop” where they are needed. The science worksheet is for the whole week, but you only do a few problems a day, so I show her where to stop. Work like math and handwriting (sometimes writing) can be done independently. Sydney knows that if I’m not at a place where I can come help her (because I’m teaching Audrey or fighting with Zachary) she can move on to the next independent worksheet or read her reading assignment for the day. She’s really good at this.

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I had always planned on “color coding” my children to help me easily identify whose books/papers/school stuff is theirs. But this is the first year I’ve implemented it! All of Sydney’s binders are purple, along with her sticky notes. Audrey’s binders are (mostly) pink with a pink sticky notes. I might have to buy colored high lighters too, just for fun.

I always wanted a workbox station for my kids, but the method never seemed like it would work in our space. I love this method I seem to have made for us, it helps keep everything organized and ready to go!

08-25-2014

First Day of School!

Today was our first day of school for the 2014-2015 year!

And what a year it will be, not only is Sydney now in the 2nd grade but AUDREY is joining us at the table for preschool!

Lets take a moment to reminiscence about my babies, shell we?

Baby Pictures

Aren’t they cute? Well, they grew up into these beautiful young ladies!First DayToday went extremely well! I’ve always had great luck when it comes to the first day of school, they leave me feeling excited and ready for the new school year! Unfortunately, there are days which make me doubt my decisions, my abilities, and my sanity. So it’s good to blog about those days that are awesome, and try to forget about the bad 😉

I’ve been worried, nervous, excited, and very anxious about how school was going to work this year. Not only this Audrey’s first year in “official” school, but in February I’ll be nursing a baby while I teach math (and other subjects, of course!) While this was a breeze with master-champion-nurser Zachary, I was only teaching Sydney and preschool only took 30 minutes.

Oh, and Sydney is very good at sitting still. She’s extremely patient.

I love it when I pass down traits that I do not actually posses. It’s a great thing.

This year we have preschool with the girl who shares more than just my nose and my name. She also shares my lack of patience, and my inability to sit still. Maybe not inability, but she and I share a mutual disinterest when it comes to sitting still.

But much to my surprise and delight the first day went really smoothly! Audrey sat still (mostly), she was thrilled to do her Letter of the Week curriculum, she even sat still during the prayer and scripture study. When her school time was over, she played nicely by herself until Sydney was ready to join her. What a blessing!

Zachary on the other hand….well let’s just say he got banished to naptime when he decided to draw on the wall.

As my Gramma would say, “We made it!”DSC_0161

08-06-2014

2014-2015 Curriculum

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This year is going to shake things up a bit in the Sherman household. This year I’ll be adding a new student, AND adding a new baby! This is something that I’ve spent a good deal of time and energy worrying about. How am I going to juggle both girls’ educations and the demands of a newborn? Will one of them not get enough attention or time? Of course these emotions, worries, and thoughts are very similar to the ones I had when I was pregnant with Audrey. So I’m hoping the answer will be exactly the same. Everything will be great, nothing will be the same, find the new normal.

sydneyI still can’t believe that Sydney is already in 2nd Grade! What?

Gospel: Studying the Doctrine and Covenants and Baptism Prep (more about this later.)
Art: Home Art Studio 2nd Grade
Math: Math-U-See Beta
Spelling: All About Spelling Level 2 and up
Handwriting: A Reason for Handwriting Level B*
History: Story of the World Volume 2: Medieval
Writing: Writing With Ease Level 2
Grammar: First Language Lessons Level 2
Science: Sonlight Science C (Geology, Meteorology, and Mechanical Technology)*
Read Alouds: See here. *
Readers: Sonlight Readers Level 4/5

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Audrey will be doing preschool this year! She will be doing Letter of the Week curriculum by Confessions of a Homeschooler. She will also be doing bits and pieces of Handwriting Without Tears Kindergarten and All About Reading Level 1 and up.

*Personally when I’m reading someone’s blog and they’ve switched curriculums I always wonder why. So here are the answers to the whys:

From Handwriting Without Tears to A Reason For Handwriting: Sydney really enjoyed HWT and had no problems with it. It’s a great handwriting curriculum. My only problem with it is simply that they teach writing on a different set of lines, this didn’t confuse Sydney at all but Audrey was VERY confused by the paper. How tall do you make that letter A? I had also noticed that when Sydney was doing her copywork or narrative exercises for Writing With Ease she didn’t know how to form her letters because WWE uses traditional lines, which differ from HWT. So to help keep things all uniform, we are switching.

From Apologia BACK to Sonlight Science: We used Sonlight’s science curriculum for Kindergarten and we really enjoyed it. I planned on using it with Audrey when she was in Kindergarten. My reason for switching last year was because I wanted a curriculum I could easily do with all the children at once. Apologia fulfilled that. However, there were many theories they discuss that I don’t agree with, some paragraphs that I wondered why they were included those were things I could ignore, and censor out. However, what I couldn’t ignore was when Apologia came out with an anti-Mormon statement. It was uncalled for and I refuse to support such a company. I was really sad about this because I did love Apologia, I loved the rich pictures it provided and the easy experiments. But I feel like going back to Sonlight is a good fit for us!

From Sonlight Read Alouds to my own choices: This is simply because there are SO many good books! I poured over a few lists (including Sonlight’s) when choosing our readers, and added a few childhood favorites!

nbts-blog-hop-calendar-2014I’m participating in the Not Back to School Blog Hop!

05-20-2014

2nd Grade Read Alouds

In the previous two years we’ve just bought Sonlight’s read aloud kits. And I loved them, but I wanted a little more choice. So I poured over SO many lists for 2nd grade readers for Sydney for this upcoming school year. I now present to you what I decided upon for 2nd Grade. A few months ago I started labeling all the spines of my books so I could easily identify them. I bought Sonlight’s stickers but I have my own method for which grade they correspond to.

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Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren
Little House in the Big Woods by Lauren Ingalls Wilder
The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary
The Original Adventures of Hank the Cowdog by John R. Erickson
Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume
Stuart Little by E.B. White
The Borrowers by Mary Norton
Mary Poppins by Dr. P.L. Travers
The School Story by Andrew Clements
The Cricket in Times Square by George Selden
James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales by Jon Scieszka
Jumanji by Chris Val Allsburg

*These are my Amazon affiliate links. Any purchases will help bless our home school for next year, and is greatly appreciated :)