2015 Homeschool Curriculum 

When I first started to homeschool, which is just last year, I was searching the internet about what types of curriculum I should use and what approach I should take to homeschool. The advice I kept coming across so often was- do not buy expensive curriculum for young kids (mine being at the time 3 and 5). It seemed that most homeschool parents found that if they had bought curriculum or more particularly an expensive box curriculum that it was more of a wast of money because their kids were too young to sit down and follow it. This year we decided that they are still too young for box curriculum so I am putting my own together again this year.

This year my son is 6 so I bought a few of the curriculum books from Superstore when they were on sale. I also made binders up for each of the kids with calendars, counting, weather, telling time pages and a journal that we work on once a week.  I had also been talking to a few other homeschool moms that raved about the book – Story of the World. So we decided to borrow it from the library and see if it was worth buying.

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Every morning we work on a few different pages from the different workbooks and/or do some activities/games and this seem to work out very well for us right now. We also make sure to do lots of reading throughout the day. The library is a regular trip for us and we always have lots of books rented out or on request. I know that as he gets older we will need a more in depth curriculum but this is working for now for his age. We do school related work from when we get up to about noon including a few breaks, after lunch they are allowed to play with their friends. I also enrolled them in a homeschool gymnastics class every Thursday that they absolutely love and look forward to every week.

I am not officially schooling my youngest but I made sure that I had things prepared for him in case he was interested and so far he is very interested! He works on school activities almost as long as his brother. Here are some of the books I got him to work on along with his binder I made.

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It was a little hard to get into a good groove for homeschool (and we are still working on finding what works best for us) but I think that since it was all new for my oldest son as well as myself it was a big change and we had to, through trial and error, really work at incorporating it into our lifestyle. As for my youngest though it will be a very easy transition for him since he enjoys being included and its more like just our routine rather than ‘school’.

First Day of Homeschool 2015

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First day Traditions

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GET DRESSED ITS TIME FOR PICTURES – now go have some fun!

I was trying to think of some tradition we could start for the first day of school each year. I like the idea of doing photos so I can see how much they change each year but I didn’t want it to be boring or a chore for them. So to make it fun I decided to do a ‘trash the dress’ sort of idea (trash the dress is when after a brides gets married she gets photos done in her wedding dress getting all dirty and having fun, like rolling around on the beach at a destination wedding). I got the kids all dressed up, set up some canvases and paint and let them go have fun and get as messy as they could while I took pictures. (Okay so if I was a photographer I could have got much better ones but I tried!). Now I have beautiful pictures to hang that they painted that I can switch out each year and first day photos of them having so much fun together! It will be neat to see how the pictures of them and the pictures that they paint change each year.

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Costa Rica

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This year we took a 3 week trip to Costa Rica. The first 2 weeks were with another family in a house in Esterillos Oeste where we took some day trips to nearby places and the last week was spent traveling as much of the rest of Costa Rica as we could. Thanks to our rental car and hubby’s awesome driving skills we got to see a lot of places in our last week!

Map of where we traveled in Costa Rica

Map of where we traveled in Costa Rica

Traveling is definitely fun and exciting for our whole family, but it is also an amazingly enriching experience as part of our homeschool education. It strengthens us as a family as we rely on each other, problem solve and make decisions together as we go from place to place. Although looking through the photos at the beautiful sites, wildlife and the kids having fun, what doesn’t show is just how much was learned while they thought they were just having a great time on vacation.

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Life Skills– Probably the most important things the kids will learn as we travel are the life skills gained through active learning while they are experiencing new worlds and cultures around them. It is hard to articulate the extensive amount of base knowledge they will develop through traveling and be able to build and relate on that knowledge in all areas of learning now and in the future.

Language– Immersion is best – At home before we left for Costa Rica we tried learning a bit of Spanish and I was faced with lots of resistance from the kids since they had no real interest in learning Spanish. When we got to Costa Rica however they were immediately intrigued by the language and without much effort they learned some new words and phrases and even remembered a few from back home! They were very happy and proud of themselves to be able to interact with some locals but they also learned that you can still make friends even if you can’t fully speak the same language.

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Culture– Without having to open a book the kids were exposed to a whole new new culture. It was a great opportunity to see the way ticos (local Costa Ricans) lived and compare the differences and similarities to how we live. They experienced the local food – Fresh watermelons and mango juice were the clear favorites! They weren’t so keen on the fresh caught fish🙂

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Seeing many empty schools everywhere lead us to find that the school year is different and that the kids were on a three week break while we were there but the schools were very neat to see anyway.

Local school in Samara

Local school in Samara

Climate and Geography– The kids learned first hand about the diverse geography of Costa Rica, from the beautiful beaches on the coast to the tall mountains inland.

Enterance to Bijagual waterfall. Unfortunately the hike was too long for the kids to make so we had to settle with the view from the top!

Enterance to Bijagual waterfall. Unfortunately the hike was too long for the kids to make so we had to settle with the view from the top!

P1050574They saw the climate and season differences in Costa Rica as we traveled right through them.They felt the hot sun and humidity on the west coast, the wet rain we encountered going through the rain forest inland and the still rainy and windy weather once we arrived on the east coast in Cahuita.

Waves at Cahuita

Waves at Cahuita

Beach at Cahuita

Beach at Cahuita

While they were forced to wear hats and lathered up with sunscreen daily (hourly in most cases!) that led them to discover that winter there was much different from winter at home. IMG_0752

Art & Music– The kids loved using sand as our medium throughout our trip for writing and drawing pictures on the vast beaches. They were exposed to the Costa Rican music through live bands, music playing at the restaurant and beach and they even found a neat xylophone to play!

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Math– There were lots of opportunities for math through games, learning about a new currency, buying delicious treats ect..

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Physical Education– Swimming and jumping in pools, swimming and playing in the waves in the ocean, beach soccer, beach pong, playing in the sand are just a few of the fun activities the kids enjoyed.

They got better at swimming and more confident in deeper water as they jumped and played in every pool we came across. There were even a few restaurants that had pools to swim in while you wait for your food!

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The beaches were the highlight of our days with half the time spent in the waves and the other playing in sand it was the greatest attraction and we went to all the beaches we could find!

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IMG_0735IMG_0793 IMG_0891IMG_0763 After all those activities they were bound to get tired out!

Wildlife– We saw and learned many interesting facts about more wildlife than we could photograph! Along with all these animals we also saw some scorpions, raccoons, howler monkeys, hermit crabs and an assortment of small and very large insects.

Sloth sleeping above us in Manual Antonio National Park

Sloth sleeping above us in Manual Antonio National Park

White-headed capuchin

White-headed capuchin

Scarlet Macaw

Scarlet Macaw

Parrot at our hotel in Samara

Parrot at our hotel in Samara

Spider at house in Esterillos

Spider at house in Esterillos

Lizard at our hotel

Lizard at our hotel

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Group of wild crocodile below a bridge

Wild Crocodiles!

Wild Crocodiles!

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OUCH!

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Don’t get too close to the crocodiles!

Homemade Gem Dig

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I was looking for a way to make those store bought dino digs at home so that I could hide anything I wanted in it and also maybe make some for Christmas gifts for the kids friends. (What kid doesn’t like digging in dirt!) I came across a website that had exactly what I was looking for: Homemade Dig Receipe using just plaster of paris, sand, cinnamon and water.

We made our own dig block with a couple toys and some gems that we had gotten from a ‘panning for gold’ activity we got to do at a summer corn maze farm.

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The blocks turned out great with the consistency that I was hoping for! I did not want them to just crumble in their fingers, I wanted them to be hard enough so they could use some tools for the dig.

They did make a big mess but I was prepared for that, hence the plastic lids they had to keep the blocks on. I also got them some paint brushes, a wash bucket and some water squirting syringes to keep them busy and having fun!

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We had actually turned this into a bit of an experiment.

We were not sure if the mix would harden to the gems and toys and be too difficult to get off of them. So we decided that we would try different ways of covering the items. We put the little toys in plastic bags, a couple of gems coated in Vaseline and a couple of gems put in just the way they were.

We found:

Toys in the plastic bags: Were easy to get out and clean off

Gems with Vaseline: Too gunky and the mix actually was harder to clean off because the vaseline was hard to clean off

Gems with nothing on them: Worked out very well and no mix hardened onto them.

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This was a wonderful activity and we will be making them again!!

Venn Diagrams

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First we started by drawing the circles, coloring them and talking about what each section meant for sorting.

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Then we got a few cars out and had to figure out where they went

086After they mastered car sorting we decided to try it with legos

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Then I wanted to see if Jadr could not only sort his own but make one for me to sort.

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He made all the correct lego pieces without leaving any out and even put in a few trick pieces for me!

Get Out And Play!

Mini Moves Monday – This one was just for DJ.

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It was very hard to get a still photo- But that’s a good thing!

Swimming Wednesdays! 

Jadr did Salamander and DJ did Sea Otter (Both passed! YAY!)

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Flip Fridays

Every Thursday and Friday there is open gymnastics for drop in that is a wonderful place to play, meet other kids and burn off some energy! Filled with trampolines, mats, rings, slides, ropes, crash pads and more!

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Random Stop and Play

One of the great things I love about homeschooling is that we most often will have the time or flexibility to stop somewhere that looks fun and play!

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Fall is Here! Time for the Hay Maze!

The last couple years, every fall, we get together with some of our friends and we go to a local indoor hay maze. The kids have a blast and you can choose to do coloring pages, photos and most importantly run and chase each other through a contained kid-friendly maze. (Unfortunately I forgot to get pictures of them in the maze😦 oops. )

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Writing

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It is often difficult to get Jadr to practice his writing so I incorporated some writing in his next minecraft book and he didn’t seem to mind too much🙂 (haha only a couple groans!)

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Then somehow I came across this really neat site that you can not only trace and practice writing and drawing but also there is math, maps, mind teasers, puzzles, word searches, and all sorts of things!

http://www.worksheetworks.com

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These are couple of the sheets that we decided to try first. I think because they weren’t actually letters he didn’t seem to mind these sheets.

Weather Broadcast

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This was a day we decided to talk about seasons.

This lead us into taking about the weather of the day, what we should wear for that weather and how we can plan activities looking at the weather forecast. What better way to further the discussion than to draw our own pictures of some weather and film our own weather broadcast!

First we watched a few weather broadcasts on the internet to get the idea of how it was done. Jadr decided to get fancy with a tie but DJ was more focused on his art. The boys each took a turn getting their set ready and then did a great job on their broadcast!

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