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The Heart of the Matter weekly Meme

This Week: Tips and Tricks  

I thought I would do a “Top 5” list of tips with the reason we choose to use them.   

Number 5:  Have occasional “Review Days.”  This tip actually presented itself yesterday.  This week has been an absolute nightmare for homeschooling, so little got done.  I seriously felt like our week was a total wash – – and in the midst of my own personal pity party, I had this moment of inspiration: Let’s Do Review.  At the very least, it will keep her mind fresh and maybe having some review time will make this week not feel so wasted.  We were in the car for a total of 4 hours on Friday – – the last two hours were spent reviewing what we learned in the previous three weeks.  (We also had a brief break – – for an unplanned field trip).  I was absolutely astounded at how much she retained!!!   

Number 4: Take those moments for unplanned Field Trips and/or use seemingly wasted errands as Field Trips.  Yet another tip that presented itself this week.  On Monday (1/14), I had two appointments on my calendar (Tuesday and Friday).  By Tuesday morning at 8:00am, the number of appointments increased to 6 – – 5 of which were on Tuesday.  By Tuesday afternoon, the appointment count was up, by two, again (one on Wednesday and one on Thursday).  We used MANY of those appointments as “Field Trips.”  Also, after Friday’s appointment, we were pleasantly surprised when we made an unplanned ‘Field Trip’ at a “Food Store and Factory.”  Boo spent nearly an hour watching the production in the factory, through the viewing window.   

Number 3:  Take some time to make a basic plan.  When I homeschooled my oldest, we did a LOT of ‘winging it,’ as I did not have (or take) the time to put together a basic plan/curriculum.  When we finally decided to pull Boo from school, I had a couple months to prepare.  At this point, I had some concrete experience as a home educator, several cyber-friends who introduced many wonderful resources and I had long term plans/ideas.  Since we are on a fairly strict budget, I wanted the biggest bang for my buck – – which I found with Ambleside Online.  I am currently using ‘Year 1’ as a rough guide – – see My 20-week Schedule.  I printed a copy of the schedule – – and highlight the items as they are completed.  I use the 20-week schedule as a foundation for my daily assignments – – which is tip Number 2. 

Number 2:  My specific plans are done day-by-day.  I use the 20-week schedule as a GUIDE when I decide what to do each day.  Because my schedule is constantly changing, making specific plans farther out than a day would be insanity on my part.  Not only would it make me crazy, I would also start to feel very overwhelmed by all of the things I need to ‘fix.’  It also allows me to work things in that are not specifically on the 20-week schedule.  For example:  The days when we read “Just So Stories,” instead of using the specified science for the day, we did more in-depth studies on the spotlighted animal.  Also, since Boo was invited to spend the week with my sister, we decided to speed up the “Alice in Wonderland” reading schedule so that she would not have to wait until she got back to finish up the book.

Number 1: Homeschool Tracker (the FREE version).  I used HSTracker with my oldest daughter and absolutely loved it!!  I learned that for us, the best way for me to plan is day-by-day.  Each evening, I look at the 20-week schedule and decide what we need to accomplish for that particular week.  I also take into account any appointments or errands that are scheduled for the day (and rest of the week).  Then, I make a mental checklist of the items I would like to study and gather books and other materials for them.  Once I have a workable plan, mentally, I input the plan into HSTracker.  I review again prior to printing it out.  Finally, I take all the materials and the printed assignment list and put them on the dining room table, where Boo can review them in the morning when she wakes up.    

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 The Heart of the Matter has started a weekly Meme, with different topics, each week.

This weeks topic is: “A Day in the Life of a Homeschooler.”

This is the first time homeschooling my youngest daughter – – I had homeschooled my oldest daughter. I am noticing how similar our days run, as it is currently Mom lead. I would like school to eventually become child-led – – which will have a whole different schedule, I am sure.

So, for now, this is what a ‘typical’ school day looks like (mind you, this does NOT include days that we are away from home for any reason.):

9:30 am – Boo gets up, gets dressed, goes through the bathroom and eats cereal.

10:00am – We begin school. Our schedule changes daily (as far as the order in which we approach subjects) – – but, we have been pretty good about having the following in every day: History, Literature, Poetry, Geography, Science and either Art or Music Appreciation. (I still need to order the Math Curriculum – – it is a little much for our budget, so I might wait until the taxes come in….)

12:00pm to 1:00pm – During the noon hour, we will break for lunch.

1:00pm – 3:00pm – We will work on whatever wasn’t finished from the morning. We are usually done with school by 3pm.  

I have listed specifics about our weeks with the “AAR’s” – – check those out for a much better (and more complete) view of what we do!!  🙂 

Our day is pretty relaxed. We have MANY breaks throughout the day, as she is still acclimating to homeschool. We school four days per week – – with the fifth day as optional, IF all of the work for the week is complete. The ‘written’ plan is to have Friday’s off; however, this week, I had oral surgery on Monday, so we took that day off, instead.) The ability to be flexible is SO great!!! As a matter of fact, she was invited to spend a week with my sister – – with the wondrous flexibility afforded with homeschool, I can send her for a week and know we won’t be behind. 😛

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 My plan was to start homeschool on Wednesday; however, I have an order that may not get here until the later part of the week – – so I was contemplating a (next week) Monday start up. The problem: Boo wants to start NOW.

For the last couple of months, I have read about different curriculum’s, put together a 20 week schedule and a daily/weekly schedule, decided on the books, etc. I was right on track….until, after some additional research, I reconsidering a couple of the decisions I had made early on.

I’ve been participating on postcrossing.com for about eight months – – and knew that I would integrate it into our geography studies; however, I wasn’t sure what else I would do (in geography). Then, on a trip to the thrift shop, I found “Around the World in Eighty Days.” Instantly, I knew I had found what I was looking for…..the problem was, it is a Great Illustrated Classic dumbed down version, which did not occur to me until I started researching some of the read-aloud sites. Plus, I had been reconsidering how I would approach Art Appreciation. I had already ordered three packs of six postcards through Dover – – I would use pack of cards for one six week study per artist. Then, I saw several artists that had both the six pack AND a twenty four pack of postcards – – mind gears are turning – – I decided to order one of the twenty four pack and two of the six pack for one artist. I would be able to present two to four cards per week for our artist study – – PLUS – – I would be able to use whatever duplicates (at least six) for geography, too (postcrossing).

Finally, I also ran across storynory.com – – they have the entire unabridged version of “Alice in Wonderland,” read by the wonderful Natasha!! How could I possibly pass that up?

I went back to Dover and purchased the unabridged version of “Around the World in Eighty Days” and “Alice in Wonderland,” one twenty four and two six pack of Paul Cezanne postcards, and several 60 percent off clearance sale classic books (Cinderella (.80), Mother West Wind’s Animal Friends (.60), Hercules (.40), King Arthur (.80), Native American Myths (1.40) and Dr. Dolittle (1.58).

So, what is a Mamma to do? She improvises.

For History, I printed off “The Stories of Albion and Brutus,” which we will read and discuss. Since it is the first story, we may not have a lot to discuss – – but, the boys will be here tomorrow, too and my Honey is a history buff….so, we’ll see. For Literature, we will read and discuss “The Ants and the Grasshopper” (from Aesop’s Fables). Then, for Language Arts, she will copy the moral of the story onto the lined section of this page and in the unlined section of the page, she will illustrate the story. (I can do two fables per page.) For geography and Language Arts, we will send a postcard to a postcrossing user, research the country we will send it to, she will learn how to address a postcard and we will decide what to write. For Poetry, she will read one poem from “A Child’s Garden of Verses.” In science, we will read the first section of Chapter one in the book, “Science for Modern Living: Through the Seasons,” (1950’s) which has to do with bird migration. Yesterday at Wal-Mart, I found a “Foamie” birdhouse kit – – so we will do that for art. Finally, in math, she will do a worksheet on magic squares and we will play the game: Re-Arrange. If there is time, we may play another math game.

Whew. That sounds like a lot – – but, it shouldn’t take more than a couple hours. I am pretty excited – – which is probably why I am having a hard time going to bed. But, it IS almost 2 AM, so should at the very least LAY DOWN – – and hope to get SOME rest!! : )

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I put together a basic PDF Weekly Schedule for Homeschool.  It is based off of time vs. specific assignments. 

**This time, the link is there…LOL!!

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I got the original checklist from Donna Young – – and modified it to my needs. 

Chore Checklist

I will also use this format for our Homeschool Schedule.

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20 Week Schedule

Year 3.520 Week ScheduleWeek 1

History
An Island Story: Chapter 1 “The Stories of Albion and Brutus”
Fifty Famous Stories Retold: “The Sword of Damocles”, “Damon and Pythias”; and “A Laconic Answer”
Literature
Aesop’s Fables: Pick 3 for the Week
Just So Stories: “Whale”Poetry
A Child’s Garden of Verses: a poem every dayGeography
Around the World in 80 Days: Chapters 1 and 2Map Work for ATWPostcardsScience/Nature
Science for Modern Living: Choose Two ChaptersBurgess’s Bird Book: chapter I “Jenny Wren Arrives”
Nature Book: Choose One Chapter


Week 2History
An Island Story: Chapter 2 “The Coming of the Romans”Fifty Famous Stories Retold: “The Brave Three Hundred,” “Alexander and Bucephelas” and “Diogenes”Literature
Aesop’s Fables: Pick 3 for the WeekJust So Stories “Camel”PoetryA Child’s Garden of Verses: a poem every dayGeography
Around the World in 80 Days: Chapters 3 and 4Map Work for ATWPostcardsScience/Nature
Science for Modern Living: Choose Two ChaptersBurgess’s Bird Book: chapter II “The Old Orchard Bully – The English or House Sparrow”
Nature Book: Choose One Chapter

Week 3History
An Island Story: Chapter 3 “The Romans Come Again”
Fifty Famous Stories Retold: “The Story of Regulus,” “Cornelia’s Jewels” and “Horatius at the Bridge”
Literature
Aesop’s Fables: Pick 3 for the WeekJust So Stories: “Rhino” PoetryA Child’s Garden of Verses: a poem every dayGeography


Around the World in 80 Days: Chapters 5 and 6Map Work for ATWPostcardsScience/Nature
Science for Modern Living: Choose Two ChaptersBurgess’s Bird Book: Choose One Chapter
Nature Book: Choose One Chapter

Week 4
History
An Island Story: Chapter 4 “How Caligula Conquered Britain, and How Caractacus Refused to be Conquered”
Fifty Famous Stories Retold: “Cincinnatus,” “Androcles and the Lion” and “King Alfred and the Beggar”
Literature
Aesop’s Fables: Pick 3 for the WeekJust So Stories: “Leopard” (The original version of this story contains an offensive racial epithet near the very end of the chapter that will need to be substituted with another word)
Poetry

A Child’s Garden of Verses: a poem every day

Geography
Around the World in 80 Days: Chapters 7 and 8Map Work for ATWPostcards Science/Nature
Science for Modern Living: Choose Two ChaptersBurgess’s Bird Book: Choose One Chapter
Nature Book: Choose One Chapter

Week 5
History
An Island Story: Chapter 5 “The Story of a Warrior Queen” (Boadicea)
Fifty Famous Stories Retold: “The Story of William Tell,” “Arnold Winkelried” and “Bruce and the Spider”
LiteratureAesop’s Fables: Pick 3 for the WeekJust So Stories: “Elephant’s”PoetryA Child’s Garden of Verses: a poem every dayGeography
Around the World in 80 Days: Chapters 9 and 10Map Work for ATWPostcardsScience/Nature


Science for Modern Living: Choose Two ChaptersBurgess’s Bird Book: Choose One Chapter
Nature Book: Choose One Chapter
Week 6History
An Island Story: Chapter 6 “The Last of the Romans”
Fifty Famous Stories Retold: “The Black Douglas,” “Whittington” and “The Inchcape Rock”
LiteratureAesop’s Fables: Pick 3 for the WeekJust So Stories: “Kangaroo”PoetryA Child’s Garden of Verses: a poem every dayGeography
Around the World in 80 Days: Chapters 11 and 12Map Work for ATWPostcardsScience/Nature


Science for Modern Living: Choose Two ChaptersBurgess’s Bird Book: Choose One Chapter
Nature Book: Choose One Chapter
Week 7History
An Island Story: Chapter 7 “The Story of St. Alban”
Fifty Famous Stories Retold: “Casablanca,” “Sir Philip Sidney” and “The Ungrateful Soldier”
Literature
Aesop’s Fables: Pick 3 for the WeekJust So Stories: “Armadillos” PoetryA Child’s Garden of Verses: a poem every dayGeography


Around the World in 80 Days: Chapters 13 and 14Map Work for ATWPostcardsScience/Nature
Science for Modern Living: Choose Two ChaptersBurgess’s Bird Book: Choose One Chapter
Nature Book: Choose One Chapter
Week 8History


An Island Story: Chapter 8 “Vortigern and King Constans”
Fifty Famous Stories Retold: “George Washington and his Hatchet,” “Doctor Goldsmith” and “Picciola”
LiteratureAesop’s Fables: Pick 3 for the WeekJust So Stories: “First Letter”PoetryA Child’s Garden of Verses: a poem every day

Geography
Around the World in 80 Days: Chapters 15 and 16Map Work for ATWPostcardsScience/Nature
Science for Modern Living: Choose Two ChaptersBurgess’s Bird Book: Choose One Chapter
Nature Book: Choose One Chapter
Week 9History


An Island Story: Chapter 9 “The Story of the Coming of Hengist and Horsa”
Fifty Famous Stories Retold: “How Napoleon Crossed the Alps,” “Maximillian and the Gooseherd” and “Antonio Canova”
LiteratureAesop’s Fables: Pick 3 for the WeekJust So Stories: “Alphabet”PoetryA Child’s Garden of Verses: a poem every day

Geography
Around the World in 80 Days: Chapters 17 and 18Map Work for ATWPostcardsScience/Nature
Science for Modern Living: Choose Two ChaptersBurgess’s Bird Book: Choose One Chapter
Nature Book: Choose One Chapter
Week 10History


An Island Story: Chapter 10 “Hengist’s Treachery”
Fifty Famous Stories Retold: “Grace Darling” and “The Kingdoms”
Viking Tales: “The Baby” LiteratureAesop’s Fables: Pick 3 for the WeekJust So Stories: “Crab”PoetryA Child’s Garden of Verses: a poem every day

Geography
Around the World in 80 Days: Chapters 19 and 20Map Work for ATWPostcards Science/Nature
Science for Modern Living: Choose Two ChaptersBurgess’s Bird Book: Choose One Chapter
Nature Book: Choose One Chapter
Week 11
History
An Island Story: Chapter 11 “The Story of How the Giant’s Dance was Brought to Britain”
Viking Tales: “The Tooth-thrall”
LiteratureAesop’s Fables: Pick 3 for the Week
Just So Stories: “Cat”
PoetryA Child’s Garden of Verses: a poem every day

Geography
Around the World in 80 Days: Chapters 21 and 22Map Work for ATWPostcards Science/Nature
Science for Modern Living: Choose Two ChaptersBurgess’s Bird Book: Choose One Chapter
Nature Book: Choose One Chapter
Week 12

History
An Island Story: Chapter 12 “The Coming of Arthur”
Viking Tales: “Olaf’s Farm”
LiteratureAesop’s Fables: Pick 3 for the WeekJust So Stories: “Butterfly”PoetryA Child’s Garden of Verses: a poem every dayGeography
Around the World in 80 Days: Chapters 23 and 24Map Work for ATWPostcardsScience/Nature


Science for Modern Living: Choose Two ChaptersBurgess’s Bird Book: Choose One Chapter
Nature Book: Choose One Chapter
Week 13History
An Island Story: Chapter 13 “The Founding of the Round Table”
Viking Tales: “Olaf’s Fight with Havard”
Literature
Aesop’s Fables: Pick 4 for the Week PoetryA.A. Milne: a poem a dayGeography


Around the World in 80 Days: Chapters 25 and 26Map Work for ATWPostcards Science/Nature
Science for Modern Living: Choose Two ChaptersBurgess’s Bird Book: Choose One Chapter
Nature Book: Choose One Chapter

Week 14
History
An Island Story: Chapter 14 “The Story of Gregory and the Pretty Children”
Viking Tales: “Foes’ – Fear”LiteratureAesop’s Fables: Pick 4 for the WeekPoetryA.A. Milne: a poem a dayGeography
Around the World in 80 Days: Chapters 27 and 28Map Work for ATWPostcardsScience/Nature


Science for Modern Living: Choose Two ChaptersBurgess’s Bird Book: Choose One Chapter
Nature Book: Choose One Chapter
Week 15History
An Island Story: Chapter 15 “How King Alfred Learned to Read”
Viking Tales: “Harald is King”
LiteratureAesop’s Fables: Pick 4 for the WeekPoetryA.A. Milne: a poem a dayGeography
Around the World in 80 Days: Chapters 29 and 30Map Work for ATWPostcardsScience/Nature


Science for Modern Living: Choose Two ChaptersBurgess’s Bird Book: Choose One Chapter
Nature Book: Choose One Chapter

Week 16
History
An Island Story: Chapter 16 “King Alfred in the Cowherd’s Cottage”
Viking Tales: “Harald’s Battle”
LiteratureAesop’s Fables: Pick 4 for the WeekPoetryA.A. Milne: a poem a day

Geography
Around the World in 80 Days: Chapters 31 and 32Map Work for ATWPostcardsScience/Nature
Science for Modern Living: Choose Two ChaptersBurgess’s Bird Book: Choose One Chapter
Nature Book: Choose One Chapter

Week 17History
An Island Story: Chapter 17 “More About Alfred the Great”
Viking Tales: “Gyda’s Saucy Message”
LiteratureAesop’s Fables: Pick 4 for the WeekPoetryA.A. Milne: a poem a dayGeography


Around the World in 80 Days: Chapters 33 and 34Map Work for ATWPostcardsScience/Nature
Science for Modern Living: Choose Two ChaptersBurgess’s Bird Book: Choose One Chapter
Nature Book: Choose One Chapter

Week 18
History
An Island Story: Chapter 18 “Ethelred the Unready”
Viking Tales: “The Sea Fight”
LiteratureAesop’s Fables: Pick 4 for the WeekPoetryA.A. Milne: a poem a dayGeography
Around the World in 80 Days: Chapters 35, 36 and 37Map Work for ATWPostcardsScience/Nature


Science for Modern Living: Choose Two ChaptersBurgess’s Bird Book: Choose One Chapter
Nature Book: Choose One Chapter
Week 19History
An Island Story: Chapter 19 “How Edmund Ironside Fought for the Crown”
Viking Tales: “King Harald’s Wedding”
LiteratureAesop’s Fables: Pick 4 for the WeekPoetryA.A. Milne: a poem a dayGeography
Around the World in 80 Days: Watch the MovieMap Work for ATWPostcardsScience/Nature


Science for Modern Living: Choose Two ChaptersBurgess’s Bird Book: Choose One Chapter
Nature Book: Choose One Chapter
Week 20History
An Island Story: Chapter 20 “Canute and the Waves” and Chapter 21 “Edward the Confessor”
Viking Tales: “King Harald Goes West-Over-Seas”
LiteratureAesop’s Fables: Pick 4 for the WeekPoetryA.A. Milne: a poem a dayGeography
Around the World in 80 Days: Chapters 9 and 10Map Work for ATWPostcardsScience/Nature


Science for Modern Living: Choose Two ChaptersBurgess’s Bird Book: Choose One Chapter
Nature Book: Choose One Chapter
WORK INTO ABOVE SCHEDULE OR CARRY OVER FOR YEAR 4:Shakespeare: “The Winter’s Tale”Shakespeare: “Midsummer Nights Dream”

Shakespeare: “The Tempest”

Shakespeare: “As You Like It”

Shakespeare: “King Lear”

Shakespeare: “Twelfth Night”

Shakespeare: “What You Will”
Benjamin Franklin by Ingri D’Aulaire
George Washington by Ingri D’Aulaire

Buffalo Bill: by Ingri D’Aulaire

Oxford Book of Children’s Verse: a poem a day

Aesop’s Fables: Whatever is Left

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