Saturday, August 24, 2013

The Last Two Weeks Have Been A Blur


I have spent the last two weeks sprucing up this blog, starting a more personal blog and getting both blog self hosted. I'm switching back and forth between Blogger and Wordpress and I'm about to lose my mind, I do believe. <g>

In other news, DH has a new job that seems to be a perfect fit for him. I cannot list the number of ways God has provided for us in this season but they have been many and continue. We are schooling as much as possible but life is getting in the way.

I am planning to do a series of blog posts about how we got to here - from Oldest's first diagnosis, our days of fun and frolic with the local school system and how we became a homeschooling family. It's been a hard road at times but we have learned a lot and I hope that it would encourage others who might find themselves in a similar situation.

So be patient with me a bit longer as I try to navigate the new world of blogging more seriously. I have three reviews coming up - two in the next week and a half. The One Minute Reader and Homeschool Programming are on deck and Math Mammoth is a bit further down the road. I also would like to share about finding a Biology solution for Oldest.

Till next time,

Monday, August 12, 2013

Youngest's 2013-2014 Curriculum

Youngest is the hardest to teach.

Not because he's eleven. (Eleven and eight months, Mom!)

Not because he would be a sixth grader.

Not because he was spelling compound words with the letter magnets at two.

Not because he knew his times tables at four and square roots by seven.

(I am honestly NOT bragging. I'm dumbfounded by this child on a regular basis. I think he learns by osmosis.)

No, it's because like a lot of kids on the autism spectrum he does not see the need to learn something he has absolutely no interest in.

Math - Teaching Textbooks 6 and Math Mammoth 6.  I tried Singapore with him. He hated it. I tried Saxon with him. He cried. Not because they were hard. Because he was bored. He loves Teaching Textbooks because he can go at his own pace. He likes Math Mammoth because he likes the way it is visually laid out. Oh, and he can do the worksheets on his iPad.

 The only math concept I've seen him actively resist is Angles. Geometry is NOT going to be his friend. Thankfully we aren't quite there yet.


Science - Apologia's Young Explorer Series - Zoo III and then another - Zoo I, II, Botany, Astronomy or Anatomy.

We have the entire series except for the new one that is coming out soon. He likes them and they are on Learning Ally so he gets to pick which he wants to do. I did try the Student notebooks and he does not care for those. He does like the Knowledge Box Central Lapbooks so we will do those with the book.

Language Arts

Growing with Grammar - Wordly Wise Online- Click n' Kid Phonics/Click n' Kid Spelling - IEW - Jump In - selected novels.

Also we're doing several lap books covering writing book reports, research papers and study skills from In the Hands of A Child. Right now he's reading 'Henry and the Paper Route' and he's not very thrilled with it. I'm going to try Harry Potter and Artemis Fowl next.


Studying God's Word Book D by Christian Liberty Press


Story of the World Volume I

I have this entire series and we bought the audio version as well as the activity books. I'm stunned at how much he retains. He refuses to do narrations but he will answer the questions correctly when I ask him about what he has read and he likes doing the map work. He loves to draw his own maps - on the computer and by hand.

So this is the last of the curriculum plans for the new year. Of course the trick is actually implementing them and adjusting as needed.

Till next time,

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Sprucing up the blog....

So I took this weekend to try and put in some work on my blog. I wanted to spiff it up - add some elements to it and make more appealing. I even made a Facebook page. If it weren't for my online buddies I'd probably still be tearing my hair out trying to make things work, LOL!

I'm hoping to start posting daily or every other day - not just reviews but articles. I used to write for on online blog but life got in the way and I quit. I felt like I actually helped someone or encouraged someone along the way. I'd like for this blog to be that - sharing our experiences and encouraging parents - homeschoolers, kids of special kids, other Christian Moms and Dads that are like me - bowled over by these little miracles God has entrusted us with.

Next week is shaping up to be a busy one. Middle has golf tournaments Monday and Tuesday - 'The good Lord willing and the creek don't rise' - as my Granny used to say. We are praying that DH will get a phone call from a possible job lead. Oldest works two days this week and there is a lot of school that needs to get done.

I'm going to post a few random pictures from our lives. Until next time

  Candle stick holder that Oldest made at a great place - Kids Making It. This is a wonderful program that teaches kids wood working skills. Please check out their Facebook page.

Oldest's first project at Kids Making It.

One of the kittens - asleep. It's only when everyone else has gone to sleep do they wake up and make mad dashes through the house.

The other kitten who likes to ride on Middle's shoulder.

Their names are E.T. and Elliot. They officially belong to Youngest and he named them. E.T. is his favorite movie.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

2013-2014 Curriculum for Middle

I got sidetracked yesterday adapting an assignment for Oldest and today has been a whirlwind of Dr appts - tutor and piano. Thursdays tend to be hectic around here.

Middle has the most serious language weaknesses of the three boys. That being said I had him screened by Oldest's tutor and she found he was reading on grade level - he's just not very good at spelling. That was a relief.

With that in mind I made choices for this year for Middle:

(We school year round so we've already started and I don't really do grade levels. I do cover what the State of NC says they need for High School credits in Math, Science, History, Lang Arts, etc..)

Math - Teaching Textbooks 7 and Math Mammoth - Blue Series, Life of Fred middle school books and then Fractions and Decimals and Percents.

 Like me, middle struggles in math. He can do it - it just takes him longer to grasp concepts than a 'typical' learner. It took me two years in high school to pass Algebra I. I still get brain freeze when I look at it and I'm trying to re-learn it with the boys. DH excels at it and pretty much handles helping them with math when they need it. Our tutoring service also has an excellent math tutor I've used for both boys in the past and won't hesitate to use again.

Science - Apologia's Exploring Creation with Physical Science

Like with Oldest - we're using the CDRom in combination with the Audiobook and Knowledge Box Central's lap book/notebook. So far he's really liking it and loving the experiments. He's the questioner in the family and the nature lover so this doesn't surprise me.

Language Arts

Growing with Grammar - Wordly Wise Online- Building Spelling Skills - IEW - Jump In - BJU's Fundamentals of Literature and selected novels - starting with The Lightening Thief. 

Also we're doing several lap books covering writing book reports, research papers and study skills from In the Hands of A Child.


Studying God's Word Book F by Christian Liberty Press


Story of the World Vol 4 - Modern Age plus movies, documentaries and lap books.

Middle is the easiest to plan for and he is the most diligent student I have. If he has a list he will work at it until he is finished.  Of course he'll continue to play golf as much as possible and all of the boys are required to exercise at least fifteen to twenty minutes per day.

Hopefully I can finish this series of posts by sharing what Youngest will be using next year tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

How I Stopped a Meltdown Before It Started.....

I was going to post about Middle's 2013-2014 curriculum today but I just had to adapt an assignment for Oldest and thought it might give someone else an idea on how to make things easier for their differently abled student.

Today was one of those days for Oldest. He struggled with his Algebra test and we came close to a complete meltdown. These are fewer and farther between than they were when he was younger but he's larger and that makes them more dangerous. So if we can avoid them then we do.

My boys have trouble with handwriting. (Well, they have trouble with writing as a subject as well but they can at least type things if need be.)

Oldest is using Apologia's Exploring Creation with Biology. That's a lot of reading and note wise it can be a lot of writing also.  I purchased the Audio Book and the CD Rom Version of the course. He can listen the Audio Book on his iPod and follow along on the CD Rom on the computer. The CD Rom version of the course eliminates the need for a rather large textbook, a solutions book and a companion CD. I did manage to score a well loved copy of the textbook to use as reference and I'm very glad I did because I also got the solutions book with it. You'll see why in a moment.

There are a lot of lap books made for Apologia products and I've tried most of them. My hands down favorite for these products is Knowledge Box Central. (Here's a link to the Biology ebook.) You can download a sample. I use it for the boys to keep a notebook. You can pick and choose what to use and we choose to use the lap booking components to do our Study Guide questions. We were working on that today and I saw there were 27 terms that needed defining.

Well, there was no way Oldest could write that long. I decided to modify it for him.

When my kids are having to put out an extreme effort to accomplish a task they often lose sight of the point of the task. I try to make sure they still have to work at the task but in a way that will allow them to retain the point of the whole thing.

So I did a quick cut and paste job with my materials:

I pasted the word onto his note booking page and then put the definitions in a ziplock bag. He has to match the definition with the term. By doing this I took the dreaded task of writing out of the equation but he still needed to know what the terns meant in order to match them successfully. 

I found that he retained the information better than he normally does and the lesson went much more quickly than it normally would have. A win - win for both of us!

I hope this helps someone. I know I often struggle with 'how' to modify something without making it too easy for them. I'll try to write a post when I do get a workable idea.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Busy, busy, busy......

2013 has flown by. I cannot believe it is August already.

July was a whammy of a month. First day of the month my husband was laid off. Then we discovered he needed knee surgery and based on the MRI we weren't sure when he'd be able to look for work again. The surgery was last Tuesday, the damage limited and repaired and he's feeling much better. Hopefully, prayerfully, he will be ready to speak with a guy about a new job next week.

I've been up to my eyeballs with planning and review products. Soon I'll be posting reviews about One Minute Reader App and Homeschool Programming at the end of this month. We're starting our new school year in fits and starts. Getting into a routine is hard - especially with Dad home but he is helping out with the math so we're all pleased about that.

I was able to score a huge deal on Craigslist for High School texts. I've got two there now (I still can't believe it!) and I wanted something that I KNEW was going to count as English I and English II.

Taking into account our learning differences around here and NC graduation requirements (Oldest needs X number of credits and Middle will need 1 more!) here are our choices for 2013-2014:

Also one of the primary reasons behind the selection of many of these texts are that they are in audiobook form - either via Learning Ally or iTunes.


Teaching Textbooks Algebra I,  Life of Fred Algebra I.

(Hopefully he will move this quickly - his dyslexia has him behind in a lot of areas and I hope to combine Math U See Geometry and Algebra II after this to catch him up)


Exploring Creation in Biology 2nd Edition by Dr Jay Wile - The boys love Dr. Wile's writing and they are NOT science guys. We're using the CDrom Version of this and Physical Science so they can listen on their Ipod to the audio book and follow the text onscreen. The experiments are fairly easy to complete though I need to buy some prepared slides for later experiments.

Language Arts

This is complicated because Oldest goes to a reading tutor once a week.

For the tutor - We use Wordly Wise Online. He's at Level 8 right now but he can move up as many levels as he needs. I purchased an annual subscription through Homeschool Buyer's Co-op. All three boys will be using this resource.

She also assigns vocabulary words from this source: Sparknotes Illustrated Vocabulary.

Spelling - shoring up weaknesses by using Building Spelling Skills Series by Christian Liberty Press. I'm using tutor directed selections from books 4-8. All of these are available on Currclick.

At Home -  I'm torn between three resources at the moment and I'll update when I check with the tutor on the one to use with Oldest. They are textbooks - older editions that combine Grammar, Writing and Speech in one volume.

We'll be using a textbook for Literature also - Elements of Literature Third Course by Holt, Reinhardt and Winston. Again - this is a older edition that contains many of the same classic stories I read when I was in High School.


All American History Volumes I & II - Bright Ideas Press. This is a very engaging text that comes with notebooking type pages as well as suggestions in the teacher text to beef the course up for High School Level.

I'll be using lapbooks and documentaries, etc to help with understanding and comprehension.


Studying God's Word Books G & H by Christian Liberty Press

All the boys love this series for Bible study. It's inexpensive and the only drawback is that it uses King James translation which is harder for the boys to understand.

I'll post Middle's curriculum tomorrow. Hope everyone's planning is going well. I'm blog hopping because I like to see what everyone else is using.