World Geography


I purchased Trail Guide to World Geography, by Cindy Wiggers, this summer to use with my 4th and 7th grader, and to let my kindergartner play along.

So far I have a mixed relationship with it.  First off.  Let me state that I dislike abbreviations.  If a book title is so long that it must be abbreviated every time the book is mentioned then, it's just too long.  I have many students/children doing many different curriculums.  My brain is too busy to mess with TUG, OMB, and the million and three other references all constantly referred to by abbreviations.

You may have noticed I like to exaggerate.  Maybe there are not actually a million reference books with this curriculum.

I somewhat naively thought that since I bought the cd to print out the children's workbooks that the workbooks would contain all the maps I needed for weekly work.  I find it frustrating that I still have to print out maps that I can't stick in the workbook, since I had the workbooks spiral bound.

However.  And that's a big However.  I really, really, like the curriculum. I may even come to love it, once I feel more competent with it.   I feel like my kids are learning a lot.  I like the mix of different types of assignments.  I like the fact that our geography conversations can include 3 children at different levels of comprehension.  I like the fact that the kids have to search for answers.  

Working for answers means they are retaining more.

I love that this curriculum can be used in many different ways for more than a single year.  It's definitely a keeper. I'll continue using parts of it to support our history curriculum long after we have finished covering "geography."

By the time I finish schooling my troop of children I may even have all the abbreviations memorized.


Day 4


Every have a great beginning to a new school year?

One that confirms all you ever hoped about homeschooling?  A day that you and your children click along and you can almost hear their brain neurons firing.... And then you wake up the next morning and catch yourself thinking, "What! I have to do it all over again for the next ___ years!?!"

Or what about a day where everything falls apart?  Interruptions, missing book, tears....

Yesterday was hard.  The day started with my kindergartner crying when I had to wake him up.  "I'm too tired, I need to be in bed," he complained.  The day ended with a different child calling some difficult German work, "Stupid."  Not a word I take kindly to.  Not my favorite way to end the day.

But... no matter my failings as a teacher, nor my children's failings as their own independent persons, today is the day that matters.  I don't have to look ahead or behind.

Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed,
   for his compassions never fail.
 They are new every morning;
   great is your faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:22-23



On Paper


I'm sitting on my front porch sipping coffee on the first cool we've had in months. My littles have pulled out every bike, trike, scooter and skateboard we own and are building a "store."  Right in the middle of the front walk, of course.

I have paper and pen and am trying to write out a schedule for this year's school. This year marks the largest range in levels and learning styles that I've ever tried to teach at once. It's not just the age range that has me a bit stumped but the need that everyone will have this year for one-on-one instruction.

Long gone are the days of sitting snuggled with my three eldest, reading aloud their history and literature and everyone doing the same science experiments. Also gone is my ability to keep everyone doing the same subject at the same hour with me as wandering tutor. This year I'm going to be teaching "conference" style.

Johanna Gilbert calls it block scheduling and wrote a fabulous description of it in her blog, Life Of the Gilbert Gang.

I can't wait to give it a whirl.  I think this it will help sort out a schedule complicated by not only multiple levels and abilities but also multiple teen part-time jobs and extra-curricular activities. 

Time will tell.


Immersion Experience For The Unimmersable


A cheap, faked immersion into German with my favorite of all mediums... imagination.

I've long been a member of*, it's where I've purchase Pimsleur language learning downloads for my home school.

But recently I became happier because I realized that though I can't get German language novels through I can through  Wahoo.

It's way cheaper than I can order and pay for shipping of German language books on cd or print books at all.  For my first book to listen to I chose a translation of a Nicholas Sparks novel.  Umm, gag, I won't bother with any more of his.  Not that I'm opinionated or anything.  Imagine the oddity of an opinionated home schooling blogger.

Excepting the gag factor the Sparks book was a perfect first German audio-book.  It was in a familiar setting so I wasn't thrown by cultural differences and I didn't have to translate difficult idioms.

For my next audio book I think I'll choose Cornelia Funk's Tintenherz for the opposite of the above.

 I may not be able to travel at this point in my life to immerse myself with native speakers- but I can keep my brain active and trick it into thinking in German.

*Though I would love to be highly compensated for writing- especially if it involved very little work on my part- Audible has no idea how happy I am with them. 




Last month I started a little French club with some of my younger children and some of their friends.  For the record, I don't speak French even though I had years of it in starting in 6th grade in Canada and then through my sophmore year of college.  Therefore, I'm not calling myself a teacher, I'm merely learning (or re-learning) alongside the kids.

We are using L'Art de Lire by Nallenart. The French Canadian bent suits me just fine. I figure as the kids get a little further along I'll add in Pimsleur and the accents will balance each other, and most hopefully of all, cancel out their Tennessee drawls.

So far the things I like:
  • phonetic layout and presentation
  • grammar within a story line context
  • useful vocabulary
  • easy to divide up daily work
  • the audio track reinforces daily work
  • almost no prep work required
All in all I'm finding the first book to be a very gentle introduction to a foreign language.  Very doable for my younger students and an easy extra-curricular for my older students. 

I'm looking forward to seeing how the programs builds and grows.


A Week Journaled

 The Homeschool Mother's Journal  

In my life this week...  My in-laws are coming this Thursday to whisk away my 9th, 5th and 3rd graders for a roadtrip to Washington D.C.  The children are so excited they may end up vibrating out of the visible spectrum.

In our homeschool this week... I'm working on how to make change quickly and accurately with my 3rd and 5th grader.  I'm also doing a brush-up course on American History and Government.

My 9th grader is still slogging through The Virginian. I got a good laugh out of the fact that she felt like I was doing her a favor when I allowed her to go ahead and start on A Comedy Of Errors.  Owen Wister is not a favorite but Shakespeare is. 

My favorite thing this week was... Our church's youth group cleaned up the yard of an elderly widow on Saturday.  The sky was blue, her yard was a rambling gardener's paradise.  The kids had a blast working.  The day was satisfying on so many levels.

What's working/not working for us... The Young Scholar's Guide to Composers.  Curriculum can't work if you never take it off the shelf.  Somehow, I've just not gotten around to using it this year.  In theory I still think it looks like a great music history curriculum and I hope to start using it after our June break.

Homeschool questions/thoughts I have...  I'm looking at Hey Andrew Teach Me Some Greek because my 9 year old really, really, wants to learn Greek. I think the idea of a different alphabet is what he finds so enticing.  I'd love opinions or advice on Greek.

A photo, video, link, or quote to share... My 16 year old has fallen head over heels into a book of Emily Dickinson's poetry.  She was watching her littlest brothers play outside with sidewalk chalk... and copied a poem she found amusing.



It's That Time Of Year


Things I love about this time of the school year:

  1. Some projects and curriculum are coming to an end.  My 9 year old just finished his Queens Spelling Workbook.  It's a short curriculum, basically a really nice light review of spelling rules.  Perfect for his needs this year.  He was so proud that he could put away the book for his younger brother to use in a year.
  2. It's the time of year that I start daydreaming about what I want to do next year.  Daydreaming is always fun because all projects in my daydreams are glowing successes.
  3. It's the time of year we always seem to start on a few short units that were not in my original plans.  For instance, I recently realized my elementary aged children don't know how to quickly calculate change, so we are doing a "unit" of playing store and making change.  To add urgency and excitement I told them if they could keep all the practice money if they became proficient before the end of two weeks.  Often my spontaneous units are more fun and successful that my carefully planned ones.
  4. Used Curriculum Sales.  
  5. Sunshine.  How can you not love a day where your family does all their reading sitting outside in the sun?
  6. I must repeat- Used Curriculum Sales.
  7. I love looking back and seeing how far my children have progressed during the year.  
  8. With warmer weather open windows.  Fresh air seems to brush the cobwebs of home school burn-out away.