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Why We Love Sonlight’s Book of Time

We’re on our third year using Sonlight Curriculum.  We love it.  One part I particularly like is the Timeline Book.  If you’re not familiar with it, here’s how it works, how we use it, and why we love it!


So what is the Book of Time?  Well, when you purchase it, it’s just an empty book basically.  It has a timeline pre-marked with the years, but the pages are otherwise empty for you to fill.

One book is intended to be used through all grades – each year building on what you did the previous year.  So when you’re finished, you have an incredible visual of the chronology of events in history.

Sonlight has timeline stickers that coincide with the history and literature and Bible readings in each Core for you place on the timeline.

But we are guilty of adding SO MUCH MORE than just the stickers with our Core and the notes it guides you to add.

For example, when we were learning about Egypt in Core B/World History Pt 1, I found some great printables (I wish I could remember where) of Egyptian monuments and the dates of their building.  We included those.


I wouldn’t recommend using such large pictures for more modern historical events.  But I had a feeling that the 2500-1500 BC pages wouldn’t get as full as say, the 500 to 1500 AD pages.  And G really loved these images.

We have also been using Story of the World (in place of Child’s History of the World in Sonlight’s Core B and C – that book just wasn’t working for us).

In the Story of the World Activity Guides there are “review cards”.  Those make great additions to the timeline book.  In the picture above, in the top left corner is our SOTW review card on the Minoans and at the bottom, I cut out a blurb about the Aryans.

Another SOTW review card in the picture above.  Also, I use the top edge of the page to note Kingdoms or Civilizations or Reigns that begin or end on other pages of the timeline so that if we’re only looking at one page, we can see at a glance the world dynamic.

The top of the page above says “Ancient Egypt’.  Other pages may have several listings like “Medieval Europe”, “Ming Dynasty” or “Henry VIII’s reign”.

You might ask yourself, WHY would I create MORE work for myself?

Well, because this book enhances our study of history.  We are almost finished with our third year of adding to it and it’s really starting to come together and create this picture of history you can’t get just from reading a book.

For example, 1200-1100BC you can see we have Gideon, Ruth and Naomi, Hannah and Samuel and…. the Olmec people in Mexico.

Whoa.  Had that ever occurred to you?  That when Hannah was praying for Samuel, there was an entire civilization living halfway across the world at the same time?

I think these are the things we miss when we take history and study it in small chunks.  Which, really, is about the only way you CAN study history.  BUT when you assemble a timeline, you start to see how all the pieces fit together.

When we flip open the book to add a note about Alfred the Great, we are also reminded about what was happening in China at that same time.  It’s probably an event we remember reading about but now it’s like, “Oh, so that was happening while this was happening.”

For us it makes history a more living subject.  We will be adding to this timeline for 8 more years.  I can’t wait to see the final result!

I hope this has inspired you to make a timeline of your own!  You can purchase the Sonlight Book of Time even if you don’t use the full curriculum.

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ChristianBook.com: Apologia Sale thru 3/28

apologiasale

Yes!  Hurry to ChristianBook.com to save 35% on Apologia Science Textbooks and Journals!  This is not a sale that comes around often!

We need Astronomy for next year so I’m going right now to get our books!

Apologia for 35% off at ChristianBook.com ends March 28, 2017!

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Does Grade Level Really Matter in Homeschooling?

doesgradelevelreallymatter

You know you’ve wondered it.  You may have even asked it.  There are many sides to the debate too.   Where do you stand?

Does Grade Level Really Matter in Homeschooling?

Every child is different.  And when it comes to homeschooling, every homeschool is different.  That’s the beauty of homeschooling.  You can cater to your child’s educational needs.

I’m going to tell you our story first and then I’ll tell you what side of the debate I fall on.

G was writing at 3 and reading at 4.  He could add, subtract, graph and measure by 5.  Part of the reason we wanted to homeschool is because we wanted to counter the boredom that would inevitably come from being in a Kindergarten class that had nothing to teach him.

Because BOY + Boredom = Potential for Trouble

Not trouble like doing bad things trouble.  But trouble like “can’t stay in seat” and “can’t be quiet”.  He’s always been a naturally inquisitive boy drawn to learning and teaching himself.  I did not want a bad school experience to ruin that.

But I thought since kids naturally started school at 5 years old in Kindergarten, that I had to “play along” and say he was in Kindergarten.

That worked for about 5 minutes.

Or more literally, about 2 months.

He wanted to know why all his books said “1” and “1st” on them.

“Mommy, am I in first grade?”

Should I say, “Well, no, you’re in Kindergarten but you can do 1st grade work so that’s what we do.”

Even at barely 6 that wouldn’t fly with his incredibly logical mind system.

So I said, “Well, it looks like you are, doesn’t it?”

And right there, in October 2014, just two months after starting Kindergarten, he was promoted to 1st Grade.

And we haven’t looked back.  As of writing this, February 2017, he is excelling as a third grader.

So there are three major sides to this debate.

#1: My kid is whatever “grade” matches his public schooled peers regardless of what his books/curriculum say.

#2: My kid is whatever “grade” his books/curriculum say.

#3: My kid just does his books/curriculum.

So which way is right?

All of them.

Group #1’s kids are often involved in sports or activities outside the homeschool realm.  Keeping them the same “grade” as their peers (even if it just on paper) simplifies registrations & and team sports.  And it keeps kids with their same friends who are progressing at the “normal” public school pace.

But that doesn’t mean Group #2 is in the wrong.  We are Group #2.  We changed churches from the church G had grown up in from infancy (where he was still in the class based on his “grade” had he been in public school) to a brand new church last year and I gave him a choice.  Go to the 1st grade Sunday School class (which is the grade his same aged peers would be in) or go to the 2nd grade Sunday School class (that matches his homeschool grade).  He chose 2nd grade.  He has a fall birthday anyway so he’s always been on the older end – so even one grade up he’s still almost as old as the youngest kids in that grade.  He chose 2nd grade because our new church contains homeschool families we know – including a friend of his that was in the 2nd grade.

But Group #3 isn’t wrong either.  They don’t want to be defined by a label.

So, does that mean grade level matters in homeschooling?

Well, it only matters as much as you want it to matter.

I know plenty of #1s who would NEVER consider moving their child “up” a grade even if their work is at a higher level.

As #2s ourselves, I don’t plan on moving G “up” again.  I feel like moving him once to get his workload to match his capabilities was sufficient.  But I don’t know what the future holds so I wouldn’t be opposed to it in the future.

And the #3s – more power to you.  Your kids will be the ones graduating high school with a 2 year college degree simultaneously at 16 years old.

There is no right or wrong on this issue.

If there is anything I could go back and tell my “new-to-homeschooling” self it would be to not worry about “labels” and how things are “normally” done.

As a “third grader”, G’s language arts and reading curriculum is for 3rd grade.  But for “fun” he reads books at a 5th grade level. His math is 3rd grade but it leans toward being slightly more advanced than other math programs.  His science isn’t even a grade.  It’s just “science”.  Same with history.

We still like to mark the start of each new year with the first day of school holding the “grade” sign. But I no longer let it define us or hold power over us.

Which group do you fall in?

 

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Educents February Freebie K-2nd Math Pack

educentsfebfreebie

Put a little love into your math lessons this month with the February FREEBIE (Addition, Subtraction, Number Bonds, Ten Frames) pack!

What’s included: This seven page FREEBIE for February includes two vertical addition pages (one to 10 and one to 20), two vertical subtraction pages (one from 10 and one from 20), one ten frame page (to 10), and two number bond pages (one to 10 and one to 20). Skills Addition to 10 – find the sum Addition to 20 – find the sum Subtraction from 10 – find the difference Subtraction from 20 – find the difference Ten Frames to 10 – write the number to match the ten frame Number Bonds to 10 – complete the number bonds Number Bonds to 20 – complete the number bonds.

Hurry to Educents for your freebie!

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Homeschool Moms’ Favorite Educents Resources

I do love Educents!  They recently asked me what current item on their site I had used and enjoyed and they included my comments in a roundup of Homeschoolers Favorite Resources!

Educents is valuable for homeschoolers and teachers alike.  You can always find deals (and sometimes freebies!) to help with your lessons!   Do you have any lessons coming up in 2016 that will be challenging?  Or that you don’t have all the resources together for yet?  Don’t forget to check out Educents for what you need!

top picks homeschoolers

No matter what may be on your lesson plan for 2016, consider the resources below. Members within the Educents community put a list together of their favorite homeschool resources. If you’d like to learn more about the resource, just click the link! If you want to get more involved in the Educents community to learn more about homeschooling and the curriculum offered on Educents, join the Educents Facebook group!


 

Emily of Smith Squad recommends the Life of Fred books.

“As a child, I always hated math, even though I was good at it because it was soon boring. When I heard about Fred, I knew he had to be a part of our homeschool. My kids absolutely LOVE when it’s math time, and they are learning a ton about how to apply math to every day practical situations.”

Life of Fred Buyer's Guide


 

Lisa Marie of The Canadian Homeschooler uses the Writecraft and Mathcraft Units.

“The writing portion of this resource was the first time EVER that my oldest son ever willing wrote anything! He was excited to write instead of hating it.”


Continue reading

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Educents: TONS of FREE Printables! Math, Language, Fall, Christmas + more

Check out these FREE printables from Educents

sightwordstackSight Words Stack ‘Em Ups!   Who it’s for: Pre-K to 1st Grade

Why it’s great: This activity helps beginning readers practice sight words in a way that is motivating and engaging. It is easy to make with things you probably have around the house, or can easily grab at the grocery store

Four Types of Sentences Flipbook  Who it’s for: 1st to 2nd Grade

Why it’s great: This is a simple flip book for students to create. There is one page for each type of sentence. There is also a student practice page. The flip book comes in both color and black and white. Anchor charts for each type of sentence are included. Continue reading

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SpellingCity Changed Our Homeschool Day

spellingcity

Let me start out by saying that I haven’t received anything for writing this post (although, if you’re out there, powers-that-be-at-SpellingCity, I’m totally okay if you hook me up with a subscription to the paid portion of the site!)  I’m just sharing this with you because, WOW, what a difference finding this site has made.

So BigG did a Kindergarten/First Grade combo last year.  It was a hodge-podge of curricula and resources.  I have a feeling every homeschool mom has been there at least once.  You just mash stuff together to get you through the year.

If you haven’t been there then you either haven’t been homeschooling long or you’re lying. 🙂  For us, our hodge-podge year was also our first one.  It was a great year and we had fun with the material and we made it through.  But I’m thankful this year for Sonlight where so much is combined and already laid out for us.

But back to my point.  I bought a book called Spelling Connections for spelling.  It started with writing the alphabet (which we skipped because Bug had been doing that for years).  I have no idea if the book was K or 1st.  It didn’t say.  Starting with the alphabet led me to believe it’s K.  But by the end of the book he had spelling words like doing, saying and being.  Are words really that advanced by the end of K?  He did great with it.  So this year with Sonlight’s 2nd grade Language Arts I decided to just jump right in with their spelling words.  I had considered All About Spelling but I didn’t want to spend money on another program and have another set of books.  So I decided to just give it a try and see where it took us.

Spelling wasn’t BigG’s favorite thing last year.  But the simple sheets each day practicing the spelling words were bearable.  We got through it.  He never missed more than one on his 8 word tests and his final grade was a 96.

Well, while I like Sonlight’s spelling words and method of teaching spelling rules, the day-to-day activities with the words were lacking.  I tried to pick up the slack with other activities but that wasn’t working.  And just making him write his words every day?  Ummm…no.  And test days were awful because he knows the words, he just doesn’t know that he knows the words.  And taking a test was like pulling teeth.

That’s when I turned to Spelling City!  I plug our spelling words in each week and he spends 15-20 minutes a day playing games with the spelling words.  He enjoys the games and he gets a sense of pride and accomplishment when he gets them right.  Test day rolls around and I start calling out words and he’s EXCITED because he knows that word!  (Seriously, I can say, “teacher” and he says, “YES!  I know that word!  I can spell that word!”)  And he’s making connections with other words with how they are spelled by thinking of one of his spelling words first.

And you know what else I like about it?  It’s 20 minutes of my day that I don’t have to be right beside him.  I can go start lunch, or sort a load of laundry or something for 20 minutes while he works on his spelling words.  That’s so great for this age when you’re already having to be so hands on with everything else to catch a small break!

Check out SpellingCity!  I’d love to hear what you think about it!

Do you have any other spelling ideas?