Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Planning for 2010-11 :: Writing, Art & Music Appreciation

I haven't received everything for our writing curriculum yet, but here is my plan.
This past year, Adrienne and I have been using the Write Source 2000 as a reference for her writing assignments.
The history curriculum that we use, History Odyssey, has many writing assignments and Andre and Adrienne do a few of these per month. Most of these are biographies, research papers, narration, or even some opinion papers (one was which middle ages time period occupation would you like?).  We will continue with the same format this year.
I did add one more writing curriculum for Adrienne, the Jensen's Format Writing. We will probably take two years to complete this. Once I receive it, I will be able to plan out her year. She is starting grade 8 this coming year, and I want her to be completely confortable with writing essays. You can read a quick review of this program here .

For Andre, along with the history assignments, I will start using Story Starters this year. I have used this in the past with Adrienne, and I think it is a much more interesting way to get our writing done than a regular curriculum or textbook. You can read a review for this book here . Celeste will be starting oral narration with this too, using the black and white illustrations as a starting point. I will write them down for her or type them.

I try to keep writing assignments fun and interesting. I know that my children write better and more without even thinking about it if they are inspired by the assignment.
I see the Writing Source 2000 and the Jensen's Format Writing as tools to help us with writing, not as curriculum.

We will be using Sequential Spelling for the first time this year.
Celeste will continue with the Explode the Code workbooks. Since those include handwriting practice, I didn't order any extra for now. 

Art and music appreciation. It is always something I want to include in our homeschooling, but we haven't been consistent. We do get around to do some, but it has only been once in a while in the past.
This year, I decided to purchase a plan from Harmony Fine Art. I chose the Grade Seven plan, even though none of my children are in that grade, because it mirrors the time period that we are studying in history.
I have looked at this plan and already I am so pleased with it. It is simple and has 3 different options on how to use it. I can adjust it so that it can be used with all 3 of my children. I am really looking forward to this!

Once I am finished sharing all my plans for 2010-11, I might do a post where I talk about our schedule and how we fit it all in.

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

The Forbidden Sea

I noticed this book in a magazine I was flipping through at Indigo a few days ago and mentioned the book to Adrienne. It will be released on July 1st. The story sounds very interesting to us, as we like mermaid stories.

Here is the description from Amazon:

"When Adrianne comes face-to-face with the mermaid of Windwaithe Island, of whom she has heard terrible stories all her life, she is convinced the mermaid means to take her younger sister. Adrianne, fierce-willed and courageous, is determined to protect her sister from the mermaid, and her family from starvation. However, the mermaid continues to haunt Adrianne in her dreams and with her song.

Yet, when the islanders find out about Adrianne's encounters with the mermaid she is scorned, for this small and superstitious community believes the mermaid will bring devastation to the island if Adrianne does not give herself to the sea.

A powerful and lyrical story of one girl who must choose between having everything and having those she loves. "

Find out more about The Forbidden Sea here and here.

Monday, 28 June 2010

Book Sharing Monday :: CDC?

CDC? by William Steig is a really funny book. My son just loved the silly puzzles that are on every page!
Each page, including the cover, is a puzzle. You need to figure out what the letters mean by saying them out loud. You might need to say them a couple of times, before it clicks in. The illustrations are there to help too. Some of these pages were very easy, while others gave us a challenge, but all were funny!

Did you figure out what the cover is saying?
CDC? .... see the sea!

Here are 2 more puzzles for you...Have fun!

William Steig is a great children author, some of our favourite books by him at Brave Irene and of course Shrek!

I will be taking the month of July off from Book Sharing Monday, so see you all the first week of August!

If you are participating today in Book Sharing Monday, don't forget to add your link below. Thank you!

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Summer Art Appreciation :: Vincent Van Gogh

I purchased from Harmony Fine Arts the Summer Art & Music Appreciation plan and we started this past week. The artist we are studying is Vincent Van Gogh, who happens to be one of our favourites. Adrienne loves his Starry Night painting and I really like the bright colours he uses in most of his work.
We started off by looking at the Bedroom in Arles and listing everything we could see in the painting. Adrienne coloured the colouring page that was included in the study plan.

We looked at the painting online and also in a library book. The one in the top of the photo is called Vincent Van Gogh by Rizzoli Quadrifolio. This book was neat, as you can see in the following two photos, the pages opened up to show a larger picture of the painting. The Bedroom in Arles was showcased in this book. Adrienne and I noticed the differences in the colours when we looked at the painting in the book and online. The original painting is at the Art Institute of Chicago and we hope to one day be able to see it and look at its true colours!

I also read aloud 2 picture books related to Van Gogh, Camille and the Sunflowers by Laurence Anholt and Vincent's Colors with words and pictures by Vincent Van Gogh (Metropolitan Museum of Art).

We also talked about the colour wheel and how Van Gogh used complementary colours to create paintings that were more intense. We will be continuing our art appreciation through the summer with Van Gogh, along with music appreciation too.

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Planning for 2010-11 :: Math, Grammar, and Reading

I am continuing on with sharing my plans for our next homeschool year from this post.  Adrienne used Teaching Textbooks for the first time this past school year and it worked very well for us. Andre will be switching from Singapore Math to Teaching Textbooks this year and he is looking forward to it! Celeste will be starting formal math instructions with Miquon Math. I am looking forward to teaching her math using this curriculum. I hope it will be a good match for us.

For Grammar, Andre and Adrienne have been using Growing with Grammar. We will continue with this program because it works.

For Reading, I will have to split this topic into two sections.

First is the practice of Reading Aloud. I believe this is an important skill, and I have required reading aloud practice from Adrienne and Andre since we started homeschooling five years ago. We have used many different texts for this practice, sometimes just picture books from the library that happened to be in our basket, other times readers, textbooks from other subjects, or small sections from novels. We started using the Elson Readers two years ago, and have enjoyed them, so we will continue on with them. Adrienne and Andre haven't quite finished the two books that we already have, so we will work on these.
Celeste, who is continuing with learning how to read using the Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading, will be using the Elson Readers Primer for extra practice. She likes to read other books besides her practice lessons but sometimes it is difficult to find easy readers at our local library that are to her level. I think this will be a better match for her.

The second part of Reading is literature. I asked Adrienne and Andre to come up with a list of books they wish to read for this coming year. We viewed some online book lists, and looked at our bookshelves as well. Andre pulled out his Dangerous Book for Boys and pointed out the book list at the back to me. The only request I had is that they chose some "classics". Here are their lists below.

Something new that we will be adding this year to our Reading is a commonplace book for each of the children, and for myself. I found the idea from Harmony Art Mom's blog. It is based on Charlotte Mason, and I think it will be a great way to record their reading and a wonderful new way to narrate. We have used narration in the past for many subjects as well as for literature. For us it works great. We even have our own narration cube, a great little helper! These commonplace books can be filled with written narration, drawings, quotes, opinions or reflections.

We haven't written down a list of the books that I will be reading aloud, but these are more for fun. I do know that we want to continue reading Peter and the Starcatchers (Peter and the Sword of Mercy) and the next Percy Jackson (The Titan's Curse).

Next time, I will share our writing plans, art and music appreciation.

Friday, 25 June 2010

Summer Nature Study :: Mosquitoes

Our summer nature study kicked off this week with a study of mosquitoes. I read ahead in the Handbook of Nature Study all about mosquitoes. The book and Barb suggested to collect some water in hope to get mosquito larvae. The kids and I decided not to do this. We know we could probably get mosquitoes, since there are plenty around here, but lately we have been bitten so much in the evening, and we all have strong reactions from the bites (painful irritation that doesn't go away for days). Instead we read books together and looked at many photos of the different stages of the mosquito, the egg, larva, puppa and adult.

The images of the mosquito life cycle above comes from the book called Mosquitoes: Hungry for Blood by Barbara A. Somervill (cover photo below).
We discussed together what we already knew about mosquitoes and what new facts we learned about them and added those facts to the journal page.
We still don't like mosquitoes, but it was interesting to learn more about them!

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Planning for 2010-11 :: History and Science

I have been planning for next school year for the last few weeks. I like reading other homeschool moms plans, so I thought I would share ours. This might take a couple of posts.

We are taking 1 month off, July, and will be starting our school year in August. I find that taking 2 full months off is too long for us. I talked to each one of my children about this and it was agreed to take one month off in the summer,  and take extra breaks during the school year. We take a few weeks off in December, and some long weekends too.

This coming year, I will have 3 school-age children. Celeste is 6, so she would be entering grade 1 in the regular school system. Andre is 11, grade 6. Adrienne will be 13 in a couple of weeks, so grade 8. Because we homeschool, I don't follow these grades too close. I tend to pay more attention to their abilities and knowledge, so some subjects might be higher than their actual grade level, others right on, and some a little lower than grade level if some catch up work needs to be done. That is one of the advantages of homeschooling, tailoring to each child. We also like to do some subjects together, and we do this for history, science, world geography, nature study, and art & music appreciation.

This little notebook (a present from one of my quilting swap buddies!) is where I keep all my notes for the upcoming school year. I like to write things out, always have...even though I could use the computer, I still prefer the old paper and pencil way. We are eclectic homeschoolers and I like to use a variety of curriculum. I use a few ideas from the Well Trained Mind classical education style, mostly for history and science. The chronological way of studying history has always made sense to me, so we are continuing on with it. We are almost finished Medieval times, and will be studying the Renaissance/Early Modern times. We will continue using History Odyssey level 2 from Pandia Press as a guideline.

Here is a small chart that I did to figure out which rotation of time period for history would work best for all of us. I wanted to make sure that no child would end up with a time period missing. This might have become an issue for Adrienne, since she only has a few years left. Following the Well Trained Mind way, there are 4 time periods for history:
Ancients (5000BC-400AD), Medieval (4001600), Renaissance/Early Modern (1600-1850), Modern (1850-present).

Using the History Odyssey as a guideline, we can study the same time period together. Celeste will be doing a light introduction, using the Usborne History Encyclopedia as a spine, while Adrienne and Andre will be using the level 2 guide with the Kingfisher History Encyclopedia as the main spine. We have really enjoyed learning history together using History Odyssey this past year. It includes writing assignments, along with lots of map work, time line work, and a lot of literature.

For science this coming year, we will not be using an actual curriculum. I am putting it together. I am following the cycle suggested in the Well Trained Mind again. We covered Chemistry using Noeo Homeschool Science this past year and while we were pleased with it, we knew we wanted to do something different this year.
The classical science rotation covers four main science fields, one per year, and repeats over the three stages of classical education (grammar, logic, rhetoric). Those four fields are biology, earth science and astronomy, chemistry, physics.
This coming year, we will be learning about physics. I am following the Well Trained Mind and keeping our study experiment-focused. We will still be keeping a notebook for lab notes on our experiments and definitions. We will start our year with the Physics Workshop from Thames & Kosmos. I have had a chance to look through the guide that came with the box and it has so much information, not just instructions on how to do the experiments. We will also be looking up corresponding pages in our Usborne Science Encyclopedia and using the suggested internet links from it.
Celeste will be participating with us, and I will be using the First Encyclopedia of Science as her spine.
We will be using a few smaller experiments kits later on the year, but this should keep us busy for a while!

For both subjects, history and science, we will be using our local library to supplement with reading. 
I enjoy planning out our year, and it is necessary. Trying to pull things out only that day or a couple days before just doesn't work for us. While we will be taking a break in july, I will be figuring out a daily schedule for us. I also have started going through the science and art & music appreciation topics and matching up library books or internet links. It might sound like a lot of work, but it has never felt like work to me because I love it!

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Nature Study ~ Weeds and Wildflowers

We are able to see a few types of weeds and wildflowers around where we live. There are many unbuilt lots nearby and they are mostly covered with various types of weeds and wildflowers. I think of all of them as wildflowers, but some are classified as weeds.
I had to do a little research to find out what some of these were, since I had seen them before but didn't know their names. I was able to find some entries in the Handbook of Nature Study.

red clover : which has many different uses, see link for a list.
You can also read about clovers in the Handbook of Nature Study pg 591-594.

The purple flower is called tufted vetch - which is from the legume/bean family.

These two bright yellow flowers are from two different plants. The one in the left photo are dandelions, really tall ones! The one on the right is ? ... I haven't been able to identify it yet. Can anyone help me?

The photos below show thistle, in a big patch and in a close up with a honey bee. The thistle is considered a weed, but I have always liked the look of it and the light purple colour of the flowers. It also smells beautifully.
In the Handbook of Nature Study, you can find the thistle on pages 524 to 527.

We have been really enjoying doing nature study around our home, just picking something and finding out more about it!
For more ideas, you can visit the Handbook of Nature Study blog.

Monday, 21 June 2010

Book Sharing Monday :: Siege! Can You Capture a Castle?

Siege! Can You Capture a Castle? by Julia Bruce is a great addition to our history lessons. We have been studying the middle ages, and learning a lot about castles this year. This book does a great job explaining all the different things that would have happened during a siege, the planning before, the actual attack, and how people would have tried to survive the siege. The illustrations by Peter Dennis are detailed and add to the text perfectly.


Here is a quote from the "Before the Sige" chapter:

Remember, you don't just need brute force to succeed. You'll also need to use your wits to plan the attack and get information. Your tactics should include sending spies into the castle, stopping the castle's food supplies, and blocking enemy troops from coming to the rescue. The more information you can gather about the land, its lord, and its people, the better.

If you are participating in Book Sharing Monday, please add your link to your post below.
Please note that I will be taking the month of July off from Book Sharing Monday.

Friday, 18 June 2010

60 :: 696 :: 19000

What do those numbers mean?

60 - I now have 60 followers!!!

696 - the number of posts that I have published! Who knew I had so much to say?!

19000 - the number of visits to Serendipity Home School!

I added a little survey on the left side of this blog, right below my welcome message, asking for your opinion. I hope you will take a minute to answer it and thank you in advance!

Thursday, 17 June 2010


We went strawberry picking this morning with our friends (homeschoolers too).
The strawberries were small, but so tasty!

After strawberry picking, we stopped by a honey farm. This farm didn't have actual beehives there because their hives are leased to to local farmers. In total they have about 90 million bees that help pollinate local apple, plum, pear and cherry, cucumber, melon, and strawberry crops.
We brought a jar of honey home and I can't wait to try it!

Monday, 14 June 2010

bees, tiny toads, and a black swallowtail butterfly ~ an unplanned nature study!

Nature study can happen at any time, all around us! On our way out this afternoon, one of our neighbours showed us a butterfly. We thought it looked injured at first, because its wings looked bent and it had trouble flying, but now we think it must just have emerged from its chrysalis. When we came back home, we found the same butterfly with very strong and straight wings, as you can see in the very last photo of this post.

We have some dirt hills near our house, unbuilt lots, where the kids like to ride their bikes. I like to look at all the wildflowers and take photos. Orion always comes along too, which makes my photo-taking a little tricky, but I am getting better at it.

When we got to the hills, Adrienne noticed these litlle toads in a puddle of mud. It was right in their bike path, so they decided to move them a little bit to the other side of the mud puddle. They are so tiny!

You might have to click on this photo to be able to see the toad. It is almost exactly in the centre of the photo, on the far side of the mud "river"!

Bumble bees were busy this afternoon on the thistle:

and so were honey bees:

Here is a shot of the dirt hills we like to go to, hopefully they won't build houses on this spot any time soon:

Here is the Black Swallowtail butterfly, ready to fly away. This was about 40 minutes after we first saw it, its wings were much stronger:


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