Monday, January 31, 2011

Answers in Genesis Conference for Homeschoolers!

We had a blast on our field trip to  the Answers in Genesis Outreach Conference for homeschoolers entitled  Dinosaurs for Kids - The 6 Biblical Ages of History. The morning session was geared toward grades  K-6 and the afternoon session was for middle and high school students. It was great! Ken Ham, the speaker and founder of Answers in Genesis really engaged the kids, and his presentation was outstanding. We had great seats, and even got a quick photo of Mr. Ham before it began.  Afterwards, we browsed the materials and decided to buy Answers for Kids Bible Curriculum for next year. We were truly blessed to be able to go. Here's a couple of pics from our trip:

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Science Project - AWANA Grand Prix Race Car

Our children both belong to our church's AWANA club, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to help "churches and parents worldwide raise children and youth to know, love and serve Christ."

Each year, they participate in the Awana Grand Prix, a Pinewood Derby-style racing event. It's a family-oriented affair that allows clubbers to express their ingenuity by creating and racing their own wooden Grand Prix cars while enabling clubs to share God's plan of salvation with attendees. Weeks before the race, the children purchase small pine blocks of wood and plastic wheels from which they construct their cars, usually with the help of a parent or leader. Our church also offers a “Grand Prix Construction Workshop” to help beginners and those not mechanically gifted. The cars race on a wooden four-lane track, and awards are given for both design and speed. Children’s parents and relatives come to watch and cheer. The Awana Grand Prix is not only a fun activity but a powerful tool for reaching unsaved parents or other relatives.

My daughter is putting into use a few science concepts like drag, force, balance, and kinetic energy. My husband has been eagerly helping her out with the design she came up with. Here are a few pics of their work in progress:

Friday, January 21, 2011

Chores and Scheduling

I'm a fan of the Maxwell system of scheduling and assigning chores. If you order their books/kits, you'll have tons of ideas, and all the items you need to set up the system. It was well-worth the investment to us. The website is:

The system employs chore cards which can be rotated depending on the time of day and the type of chores you want the children to accomplish. Here's some pics of our schedule chart and chore cards. Each child has a lanyard with the assigned chores. They are to get these first thing in the morning and begin.

We do not pay for chores. We expect their help in running our home. We do, however, give an unconditional weekly allowance based on age. Each child gets half his/her age. My 10-year-old gets $5 per week and my 6-year-old gets $3. Seventy percent goes into their SPEND jars, ten percent goes into their CHURCH jars, and twenty percent goes into their SAVE jars.

Our Workbox System

We use Sue Patrick's Workbox System, which is a simple way of organizing one's homeschool curriculum and/or extracurricular activities into manageable chunks. It not only streamlines the day so that the children know exactly what they are to do at any give time, they also become more independent in their work. We use rolling drawer carts by Sterlite which we found at a reasonable price online at Walmart. Each cart has seven drawers of varying sizes, a bonus if you want the children's workbooks and papers to lay flat and if you want to include games, craft projects, etc. in your child's boxes. I bought four carts so each of my two children could have 14 boxes each. Each box is see-through so the children can see how much they've completed and how much still needs to be done. Each box is numbered 1-14; they must do the boxes in order unless otherwise instructed. The boxes contain all materials and directions for completing the work. Some boxes, of course, require lessons to be taught, or material to be read by me aloud, and these are labeled with a "work with mom" card on the outside (attached by velcro). We use Sonlight curriculum, and it works quite well using the workbox system. Here is a sample of what we put in  our workboxes:
(To see pics of our workboxes, see the post titled "Classroom Pics.")

Box 1 - Bible curriculum
Box 2 - Math
Box 3 - History & Geography
Box 4 - Computer Time (a picture card of computer is placed in box.)
Box 5 - Handwriting
Box 6 - Vocabulary
Box 7 -  Piano practice (a picture card of a piano)
Box 8 - Reader
Box 9 - Read Aloud (by mom)
Box 10 - Critical Thinking Activity or Art or Construction Project
Box 11 - Language (includes grammar and writing)
Box 12 - Swimming Lesson
Box 13 - Spelling
Box 14 - Science

Monday, January 17, 2011

Answers in Genesis Conference | Answers Outreach

Answers in Genesis Conference Answers Outreach

On Monday, January 31, Ken Ham (of Answers in Genesis) is offering a morning session of his Answers in Genesis Conference for homeschool kids and it is FREE! It's within driving distance for us, so we are definitely going. The first portion, titled  Dinosaurs for Kids - The 6 Biblical Ages of History is geared towards K-6. The second portion is Defending the Christian Faith Biblically and Scientifically and is for Grades 7-12. If you are in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin area, you should check it out. I can hardly wait to hear Ken Ham. We have many of the materials from his website for our homeschool and I thank God for his ministry. Click on the title of this blog to link to his website for more information.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Why We (Now) Homeschool

My background is in education; I taught in public schools for 11 years before I retired when my first baby was born. I had already decided I did not want to send our children to public schools after seeing the state of education first hand. When my two children were old enough, we enrolled them in a local private Christian school and  things were great for a while.  I began to notice, though, that we had no "family time" to speak of. Loads of homework for my older child kept her up until bedtime. I often found myself re-teaching what she didn't understand in the classroom. Soccer games and practices required time commitments each week. School expectations for parents to donate their time and money also cut into our schedule. Even in a "Christian" school, I noticed my daughter was very wrapped up in the values of her peers. Then I discovered that my son's kindergarten teacher fell far below my expectations. To make a long story longer, things did not improve and I was heartbroken that my little boy's first year at school was going to be a klunker! He is very bright, and it killed me to see him sitting in all that chaos around him and wondering if he was going to learn anything besides how to act inappropriately and play with blocks. Taking a step back and seeing all this in a new light, I decided to pull them both from the school and homeschool them. Afterall, no one loves them more and understands them more than God,  my husband and me, and we will always have their best interests at heart. I have been called to give my children the gift of a home education, and to the best of my ability, will see to it that they are brought up they way God intended. I am teaching them more than they will ever get in a traditional school setting, whether public or private. I was a bit nervous at first (last year being our first year to homeschool), but now well into our second year, I think it's wonderful to have them around all day. Plus, I am SO grateful that they will be learning their values from us and not their peers. Here are my darling little charges:
Cricket (she chirps a lot)

Crash (runs and falls frequently)

Classroom Pics

I'm always interested in how others have put their homeschool classrooms together, so I've posted some photos of ours in case anyone is curious. We use our basement.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Inexpensive Projection Screen

We have a used overhead projector (the kind teachers use to project transparencies onto a screen). In our homeschool classroom, we don't have a blank wall space to project onto, so we mounted an inexpensive pull-down window shade (from Home Depot) onto the top of the wall near the ceiling. It functions just as a projection screen would. It retracts back up when not in use and is out of the way. Thought I'd pass this little idea along...  Here's a pic:

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Mom's Learning Something New!

I am new to blogging, trying to convince myself I actually have the time to do this and homeschool. I hope that what I write here may help or inspire others. My intent is to share our daily walk through Christian homeschooling, including the accomplishments as well as the struggles.  I also feel compelled to share what is helpful to our family as it relates to homeschooling, including any discoveries, tips, files, printables, photos, favorite websites, etc. So, here goes...