Friday, July 27, 2012

Weekly Wrap-up - The Productive One: July 21-27

In Our Life 
Out with the TV and video games! Well, mostly. The Saplings reverted back to their hours of TV-watching and video game-playing ways again. And I let them. ((sigh)) But when Sunday rolled around, the remotes and controllers DISAPPEARED. It's interesting how quickly the Saplings find creative ways to entertain themselves without a screen. Suddenly BICKERING is next to nil, and they sleep better at night since their minds and bodies are busier. Now, if only we can keep it this way!

We didn't COMPLETELY give up the screens though. We're back to watching a Netfix movie or documentary each night after dinner...with a few minutes for the boys to exercise their thumbs with the XBox controllers afterward. Moderation, right? I'm out-numbered! ((wink))

Looking for something about American History AND Nature? I would 100% recommended this Netflix movie, "Ken Burns: The National Parks: America's Best Idea". The scenes are BEAUTIFUL (and you just want to visit all our fabulous national parks) and the history is rich!

Anyway, with Balsam Fir and Blue Spruce off to Cub Scout camp this week, it's been STRANGELY quiet. With the LOUDEST, MOST ACTIVE Tree out-of-the-house, it's calm and slow around the mountain. Not that I would change Fir's zaniness or "wiggliness", but having time with the older Saplings is nice too. And then White Pine volunteered at camp Wednesday through today and Sugar Maple had Band Camp Tuesday through Thursday, leaving me HOURS alone. I think I've been a little lot bored...

So, I got some things crossed off the To Do List! Whoop! But I think I missed one. Again.

Declutter, Tidy and Vacuum Bedrooms
Scrub Bathrooms
Organize and purge plastic containers
Find the Lazy Days of Summer
Replant Peas, Beans and Lettuce
Wash and Dry Sheets, Blankets and Towels
Scrub Lawn Furniture and Trash Cans
Print Out and Organize New Recipe Cards
Finish Planning for School
Clean Coop and Run

 In Our Homeschool
Box Day! You homeschool Mamas know what I'm taking about, right? Although it wasn't an IMPRESSIVE Box Day (since I ordered some curriculum in the spring when I found deals), I was excited to see the UPS man on Monday! The Saplings? Not so much. After a cursory glance and a few mumbled words, they had more PRESSING THINGS to do (i.e. Legos,spinning in an office chair and reading). Perhaps they're saving their enthusiasm for September!

Our School Bookshelves are Getting Full

Sugar Maple reached her library summer reading goal of 1440 minutes this week. That's 24 hours, folks! And double the minutes that the librarian set for MIDDLE SCHOOLERS. (No, she's only in 5th!) Go, girl!

White Pine and Sugar Maple worked on a writing review for TOS. I'm excited about this curriculum as it's SUPER easy to teach and it seems effective! What curriculum? You'll have to wait for my review next month! LOL

A Few of Our Favorite Things
♥ Reading with Sugar Maple on the library's covered porch, watching traffic go by and the boats on the lake, and talking here and there
♥ Seeing Balsam Fir's excitement over getting a bulls-eye with an arrow at camp
♥ Going grocery shopping with White Pine and just talking

Do you do an annual Not-Back-to-School blog post? Share in comments! I'd love to check out what your plans are! And I have my post up for this coming year! Check it out here!

Saying to Share

Hopping Along With
Favorite Resource This WeekHip Homeschool Hop ButtonPhotobucket

TOS Review: Schoolhouse Teachers

Ever heard of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine? Well, it has fabulous information for educators, and Schoolhouse is their ON-LINE education resource!

Schoolhouse provides monthly, weekly AND daily lessons in many different subject areas. Need Daily Grammar? Monthly Literature Lessons? Economics and Chemistry? Famous people? It's all on this one-stop website for $5.95/month. (Guess what? The first month is just $1!)

Some other fun learning opportunities included:
Everyday Explores Canada
Everything Explorers USA
Daily Math
Film Making
Home Economics
Every Day Easels
Summer Shakespeare

And your membership also gets some really cool benefits...The Old Schoolhouse Magazine back issues! There are different download options, but I went with Kindle Fire. Having magazines to read at the beach or recreation center this summer with the Saplings has been very handy for passing the time AND getting some great idea about homeschooling!

But I did have a problem with Schoolhouse are MANY different lessons that it can be a little overwhelming. What a "terrible problem", huh? Too much educational "stuff" to choose from! LOL

So, what DID we use for this review?

Well, we worked on some Daily Grammar review! Doesn't that sound like great SUMMER FUN? LOL Actually, the worksheets were visually fun to look at (even in black-and-white since that's how I printed them out) and quick to complete, and were other, more hands-on and creative grammar activities too (but we just didn't get to them in time for this review). Just a little something to keep basic grammar rules "fresh" and it's worked perfectly for that.

Oh, and I downloaded the WONDEFUL planners! You can either print them out OR fill them out on-line! There are 100s of choices to customize the perfect calendar for your needs. My oldest will be using some of the high school version next year to keep records independently.

Pondering Schoolhouse Click on any of the highlighted links to see the website or here to see what other TOS members had to say!

Disclaimer: As a member of The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew, Our Side of the Mountain was provided this product free in exchange for our honest review. All thoughts and opinions are our own.   

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Not-Back-to-School Edition: Welcome Year #9!

Who would've "thunk" it? 9 years! I remember Blue Spruce and I discussing homeschooling when our oldest, White Pine, was 4 and attending a wonderful Montessori pre-school, pondering what direction to take with our bright Sapling for Kindergarten. Our one year of "we'll see how it goes" has turned into "9 years and counting"! 

What's up for this year?
White Pine, age 13, is starting high school. ((sigh)) High school! Well, REALLY he's supposed to be going into 8th grade, but all his coursework is 9th or higher so I must accept the fact that he is indeed a high schooler. Maybe. Time for detailed record-keeping and longer school hours!

White Pine's 9th Grade Plan
I. Honors English I with Composition (1 credit Grammar, 1.5 credit English and Composition, .5 credit SAT Preparation)
  II. Saxon Algebra I (1 credit)
III. Biology with Laboratory (1.5 credits)
      2. Hippocampus Biology Videos (from Text)
IV. World History, Geography and Cultures (1 credit)
V. Electives (1.5 credits)
         C. Physical Education (1 credit)
   D. Computer Proficiency (.5 credit)

Sugar Maple and Balsam Fir will be finding school QUITE a bit different this year. After 2 years of  "falling off the Charlotte Mason band wagon" and some frustrating, challenging behavior, we're jumping back on. And I'm adding in some work box ideas to boot! Gotta keep them on their toes trying to figure me out, right? LOL

Sugar Maple's 5th Grade Plan
I. Language Arts
II. Saxon Math 65
III. Apologia Elementary Science: Botany
IV. World History
   A. Story of the World Volume 1
   B. Story of the World Activity Book
   C. Story of the World Notebooking Pages or Timeline
V. Electives
   B. Physical Education: Walking/Hiking, Swimming, Soccer, Basketball, Softball
   C. Nature Studies
   D. Handicrafts
   E. Clarinet and Band
   F. Music Lapbook - Music Theory, Famous Musicians, Lapbook
Daily Schedule
Monday - Walk, Language Arts, Writing, Spelling, DEAR (Drop Everything And Read), Math, Science, Reviews, Clarinet, Handicraft
Tuesday - Walk, Reading, Handwriting, Spelling, DEAR, Math, History, Spanish, Clarinet, Keyboarding
Wednesday - Walk, Language Arts, Writing, Spelling, DEAR, Math, Science, Reviews, Clarinet, Handicraft
Thursday - Walk, Reading, Handwriting, Spelling, DEAR, Math, History, Spanish, Clarinet, Keyboarding
Friday -  DEAR, Math, Nature Studies/Music, Clarinet OR Field Trip

Balsam Fir's 2nd Grade Plan
I. Language Arts
   B. Hooked on Phonics Levels 2-5
II. Horizons Math 2 Workbook 1 and 2
III. Apologia Elementary Science: Botany
IV. World History
A. Story of the World Volume 1
B. Story of the World Activity Book
   C. Story of the World Notebooking or Timeline
V. Electives
   B. Physical Education: Walking/Hiking, Swimming, Soccer, Basketball, Baseball
   C. Nature Studies
   D. Handicrafts
   E. Music Lapbook - Music Theory, Famous Musicians, Lapbook
Daily Schedule
Monday - Walk, Calendar, English, HOP, DEAR, Math, Science, Reviews, Handicraft
Tuesday - Walk, Calendar, English, Handwriting, DEAR, Math, History, Spanish, Scouts
Wednesday - Walk, Calendar, English, HOP, DEAR, Math, Science, Reviews, Handicraft
Thursday - Walk, Calendar, English, Handwriting, DEAR, Math, History, Spanish, Scouts
Friday - Walk, Calendar, DEAR, Math, Nature Studies/Music OR Field Trip

So, how do we DO our homeschooling?

Well, White Pine will be doing the majority of his work independently, but with my or his Dad's guidance. Although some of his school work WILL have exams, we'll be focusing on discussing his work - the good and the needs improvement. He'll be recording his work - including time spent - using the School House Teachers' on-line high school planner. Our goals for White Pine are to "take over" his learning by managing his time, finishing his studies accurately and completely, and keeping thorough records.

Sugar Maple and Balsam Fir will be continuing on with their work binders - a workbox system twist - with shorter, more varied daily lessons similar to those of Charlotte Mason. And to keep them focused and productive, their new work binders have workbox grids and cards on the front. (Want more information on the workbox grids and cards? Click over to Homeschool Creations here!) These grid schedules will provide the Saplings with a VISUAL of what is to be accomplished during the day and a sense of accomplishment as they turn their cards over when lessons or activities are completed.

Don't Have a Laminator? No Worries! Clear CONTACT PAPER!
After Cutting on Workbox Grid Cards, I "Papered" Them and
Stored Them in a Recycled Plastic Container with Lid.
Sugar Maple's Work Binder - 3 Ring Binder with Front/Back Clear
Sleeves. Slid in Workbox Card Grid. Here's a Sample Daily
Schedule with Cards. Velcro Dots in Corner, Back and Front,
to Attach Cards to Binder
Turn Cards Over When Completed. 15 Minutes Card for Break

What does our schoolroom look like?

Well, this is a hard one for me! LOL I know for some of us it means a place where the kids do their studies with all our supplies and books; it's usually a room dedicated TO homeschooling or at the very least an area. For us, it can be anywhere! 

 I suppose I'll start with our diningroom/school room. ((wink)) This is where most of our "things" are and where we do the majority of our school, especially in the winter months.

But we could very well be doing our studies in THESE places too.

On Nature Trails in the Woods
At the Top of Our Mountain Looking at the White Mountains in NH
At the Local State Parks with Lakes and Beaches and Trails
In Our Own Backyard
Or in the Van

Well, that about covers the basics of Year #9! Here's hoping to a smooth, productive year filled with fun, new experiences, ah-ha moments, and happy attitudes! All the best for YOUR upcoming year too!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

TOS Review: Zane Education

Looking for a way to add a little multi-sensory element to your textbook or unit study learning? Try Zane Education on-line educational videos!

Zane Education has:
• 1544 educational videos on 384 topics with learning objectives for each video and on-line quizzes
• video learning tools that include lesson plan guides, video word glossary, encyclopedia, dictionary, thesaurus, and world fact book 

And there's subject, age and grade charts to help you choose from all the great videos. Now, I can't say that WE stuck to just those videos in my Saplings age/grade groups. They found the middle school and high school videos much more interesting. But this does give you a great starting point to finding appropriate videos for your student(s).

That's a TON of videos, huh? And it was amazing the varied topics they covered! For our review we watched the 6 videos on Ancient Egypt for our summer unit study. All the videos were around 10 minutes long with captioning at the bottom so kids could read along with the narrator (if they're readers). I love captioning! It ends another learning element for kids. (And if your ducks and chickens are quacking and clucking LOUDLY outside the windows wanting to free range, you won't miss anything! Oh, you don't have THIS problem? LOL)

We found them interesting and fun to watch without taking HOURS to view. (There's summer and swimming and friends waiting!) They'll work perfectly with our Charlotte Mason approach next year with shorter lessons (less then 15 minutes)! A wonderful addition to our Ancient Egypt map, mini-book, and book work!

And then we moved onto the Greek Myths videos. Sugar Maple continues to find mythology very interesting. These videos viewed like stories and were instant favorites with the youngest Saplings.

We'll definitely be using these videos to supplement our studies in the upcoming school year!

But I have one nit-picky negative: I could not figure out how to make the videos laptop screen size (like you can enlarge You Tube videos). It could be my lacking computer know-how, but even clicking on the enlarge icon near the video picture produced nada. Having the videos larger would've made for easier viewing for us.

(ETA: I received an e-mail from Zane explaining that the icons are no longer functional because enlarging the videos would make it more difficult for students to use the options for more information  without leaving the video window as well as the videos would stop and need to be started over. The solution for a larger video screen is to adjust the screen resolution setting. I don't know what this is, but I bet some of us more computer savvy would know. LOL The great thing is that Nicholas Tee, Zane's director, is quick to answer e-mails and more than willing to help out with any questions users have! Awesome customer service!)

Zane Education offers a FREE getting started guide here, so be sure to download it to see all the wonderful benefits of membership. (Scroll down at Zane Education to find the link on the page.)

How much is an on-line subscription? Well, Zane offers several different levels of membership to meet your needs. Prices start from FREE to $197.89/year.

But Zane is offering it's VERY FIRST promotion in July/August. Subscribers can save a 35% discount a yearly subscription! Just type this code ZE427HSM (case-sensitive) in your shopping cart!

Pondering Zane Education? Click any of the highlighted links above! Are you a Facebook fan? Visit Zane Education's Facebook page here. Or how about other TOS Crew Reviews here?

Disclaimer: Our Side of the Mountain was provided this product free in exchange for our honest review. All thoughts and opinions are our own.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Weekly Wrap-up - The One With Head Spinning: July 7 - 20

Did you see? I have my 2nd giveaway running! is a great resource for printable workbooks, worksheets and activities. Be sure to check it out here and leave a comment or two! 

In OUR LIFE the Last 2 Weeks
((head spinning))

Phew! What a whirlwind couple of weeks! Although it's been fun to spend time with family, it's also wonderful to be back home and enjoy some "downtime". As much "downtime" as we can get during our crazy-busy summer! LOL

Sugar Maple, Balsam Fir and I meandered up to the island again to visit my family. Even with the Atlantic sea breeze it was HOT! We spent time swimming in the ocean AND a lake AND running under the sprinkler! And look what I had for lunch...

Yeah, a Maine lobster roll! Yum! But poor Dad's lobster boat was towed home. ((sigh)) The engine went so he's done for the season. Lobster prices have "bottomed out" anyway and the fisherman are struggling. After 40 something years, he's ready to sell out and just continue driving a local school bus. So, this was probably my LAST lobster that Dad will catch!

We also dropped White Pine off at his week long Boy Scout camping trip. He LOVES scout camping! It'll be fun to hear about his week when he returns tomorrow. 

We spent a sunny afternoon at Hadlock Field watching a Sea Dogs baseball game with my ILs and extended family, and then enjoyed a great BBQ dinner together.

And now we're relaxing at home again! Doing the usual. Enjoying the usual! Even if it means going from room-to-room cleaning! ((wink)) It's time to get the house in order before another school year rolls around. Sure, it's 6-7 weeks away, but it'll take us that long to go through each and every room.

Sugar Maple's Garden Has Bloomed

Or sweating in muggy 90+ degree temperatures while harvesting snap peas, bush beans and loose-leaf lettuce. There's something satisfying about making meals from those things you grow. Balsam Fir was especially proud of pile of peas and beans we have from his garden and asked to help prepare them for dinners! And on Thursday we pulled the dying pea and lettuce plants, loosened to soil, added a little fertilizer, and replanted. I also worked a patch of the garden that never grew and sowed some summer squash. (We're not all that fond of summer squash, but why not give it another go?)

Bowls of Green
Chicken Candy! The "Tops and Bottoms" of the Beans and Peas

Let's Eat!
Mama's Creamy Mac and Cheese from Southern Plate.  Chicken Cordon Bleu Wraps from Real Mom Kitchen. Boston Baked Beans from Spark Recipes.


((thinking)) ((hmm))

Oh, yeah, I started reading The Cricket in Times Square by George Selden to the Saplings this week. I've never read this book! Blue Spruce picked it up at a book sale and we've been enjoying it! A very delightful story!

Tips and Tricks: Back-to-school sales are starting! Don't forget to check out those sales flyers to make the most of deals!

I found a FREE, SIMPLE and FUN money game from First Grade Frogs for Balsam Fir. He's been struggling with his money recognition and adding coins, so playing Coin War looked like a GREAT way to review. If you'd like to download and print out this game, click here for my favorite resource this week!

Who Has the Most Money? Add. Higher Amount Keeps Cards.
Win by Getting All the Cards. And Don't Throw Out Plastic
Food Jars with Lids! Wash and Store. Great for Small Games
and Snacks On-the-Road! Recycle!

And I started putting together Sugar Maple and Balsam Fir's work binders with workbox cards for next year. I'll be sharing a post in early August about all this stuff with the TOS Blog Crew (and probably other Not-Back-to-School link-ups). Nothing like meshing together Charlotte Mason, Traditional schooling and Sue Patrick's Workbox philosophies, huh? LOL

MY Favorite Thing This Week
Making time for one-on-one time with each kiddo can be a challenge, but finding something SIMPLE to share with them is such a wonderful thing. On Tuesday, Sugar Maple and I grabbed lemonade and iced tea from the grocery store, checked out some books, and relaxed on the library's covered porch for some quiet reading time. Together.

I'm in AWE of my calendar. Or is it overwhelmed?  How does a summer get SO busy? And I've deliberately NOT included things that we could be doing - library program workshops, free community activities, swim lessons - or special family outings. Do you suppose when school rolls back around in September we'll be "bored"? Nah, who am I kidding! ((wink))

Photo, Video, Link, or Quote to Share

Lotsa Link-ups
Favorite Resource This WeekScience SundayThe Things We Find InsideHip Homeschool Hop Button

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

TOS Review: Jeepers Peepers Glasses Game

Doesn't this photo from Super Duper Publications for Jeepers Peepers Glasses Game look like fun? I had to review this one!

(I couldn't wait to see how my 13-year-old son would react to putting on the game glasses! LOL)

Jeepers Peepers is a question-and-answer guessing game  that comes with 6 brightly colored plastic glasses, 101 photo cards of animals, food, people, things, and transportation, "My Cue Cards", a spinner and Bingo chips, and instruction booklet. The object of this game is to figure out what's pictured on your playing card by asking questions of the other players who CAN see the card. This game is for grades K+ and may be purchased for $29.95. (More playing cards and glasses are available for an additional cost.)

So, we donned our Jeepers Peepers glasses...some of us reluctantly...and played.

Aren't they funny? LOL

Anyway, we've played several rounds of Jeepers Peepers and, well, except for the initial fun of wearing the glasses, the Saplings weren't "into" this game. I'm surprised, but they all felt it was too much like 20 Questions and they ALL dislike that game. Now, while my kiddos weren't excited over this game, I really think other kids, particularly a group of kids, would love the simplicity and silliness of Jeepers Creepers, and it would be perfect for a birthday parties, scout activities, sleepovers, and camping. Maybe even MY SAPLINGS would enjoy it more with a few friends! Nothing more fun being silly with buddies, right?

Click on any of the above highlighted links to visit Super Duper Publications for more information or to order this game. You can also click over to the TOS Review Crew to see what other reviewers thought about Jeepers Peepers here.

Disclaimer: As a member of The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew, Our Side of the Mountain was provided this product free in exchange for our honest review. All thoughts and opinions are our own.