Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Teaching Textbooks Review

When it comes to math for the kids, I've pretty much always stuck with Saxon across the board. When Haley was in school during first grade, they used Saxon. I decided to stick with it when she came home and have used it ever since. However, Haley absolutely hates math. When a friend of mine started using Teaching Textbooks, and after seeing it mentioned in various blogs and groups I'm in, I decided to take a look. Well, lets just say that I was seriously impressed. After much deliberation, we opted to change Haley to Teaching Textbooks 4 for this school year. We've been using it now for about 3 weeks and so far we're both loving it.

I asked Haley, age 10, what she liked about the program. Here's what she said:

"I like that all of the work is done on the computer, rather than a written worksheet. I like the little characters that perform tricks, etc., when I get a problem right. I really enjoy the picture puzzles and the bonus rounds. I love that it makes math fun. I think that all kids that don't like math and are bored with their written work, should try this program. Teaching Textbooks rocks!"

Here's what I like best about the program:

  • I no longer have to do her lesson separately from the boys. She simply sits at her desk with the laptop and headphones and does her lesson all by herself. If she has a question, the program will help her through it, or she can simply stop and ask me for help.
  • The awesome gradebook!  All of the lessons are graded and I can check her work after she completes the lesson to make sure she finished it and see how she did.  
  • Time savings!  It is a HUGE timesaver for me since I'm teaching three children at the same time.  I seriously feel like I'm cheating! 

Teaching Textbooks has wonderful online samples of their products. I highly recommend checking them out. Better yet, let your kids try it. My twin boys can't wait to get started on Teaching Textbooks 3 next year. You can see the full line of products available here.

Currently they offer math lessons beginning in 3rd grade through 7th grade. They also have pre-algebra, algebra 1 and 2, geometry and pre-calculus. Prices range from $99.95 to $184.90, depending on the level you choose and whether you purchase the book along with the disks. We purchased the book, but have yet to need it or use it. I feel that you could simply use the disks alone and have scratch paper available if needed. Although the program is slightly more expensive than Saxon, I can use it with all 3 of my kids and not purchase anything else. So, less than $100 for all three kids is a good value in my opinion.

Monday, August 30, 2010

You know you're a homeschooler when...

You know you're officially a homeschooler when just about anything and everything can be turned into a learning experience.

If your daughter sees blood and instead of crying thinks, "I wonder what blood looks like under the microscope", you must be a homeschooler.

If you find your cat trying to eat a frog in your driveway and rescue it so that you can study it, identify it, and finally set it free, you must be a homeschooler.

If examining various insects that make their homes around your house seems facinating, you must be a homeschooler.

If your children pick up every rock, stick, bug, flower, seed, etc., and want to have it identified, you must be a homeschooler.

If spending hours at libraries and used book stores is your idea of fun, you must be a homeschooler.

Yep, we're homeschoolers! This week so far, we've worked on fractions, measuring skills, as well as following directions by baking banana bread. We also had an impromptu lesson on katydids when one somehow found its way into the house. Imagine laying in bed at night and hearing it chirping from inside instead of out! Then picture my husband and I searching the house at midnight for the seemingly non-existent perpetrator. Good times! The noises it made were so loud that I thought for sure it was a cicada. Nope, a katydid. Found it this morning perched on the tile backsplash in our kitchen. Nothing like chasing a very large, bright green flying insect to get your juices flowing in the morning. I'm pleased to report that he (or she) was safely relocated outside. No harm done.

Yep, we're homeschoolers alright. From the giant spider out front, to the small alligator snapping turtle we rescued out of the street this week using a McDonald's happy meal box, learning is everywhere!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Friday Fun!

Our local homeschool group has started a standing Friday get together at some of the area parks. This week we headed across the river to Coolidge Park. The kids had a wonderful time playing the fountain and riding the carousel. We mom's had fun talking shop about various curriculum choices and extra curricular activities we're doing. What a great way to end the school week!

This week was a bit quieter for me since I'm still trying my best to get over the nasty cold that I got last week. We did get our school work done, but tried to stay home as much as possible. Haley started her choir/music class this week, and nature club started back as well. Haley also went to the first meeting of her new girl scout troup. She is a junior girlscout this year and will have one of her best friends in the troop, so she's super excited.

Today we were able to see Treasure Island performed live at our local theatre. We had read the book together to familiarize the kids with the story. The play was quite a bit different than the book, but was really great. My husband helped to build the set for the play, so it was great to see the final product.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Nature Club Fun!

Its that time again! With our new school year in full swing, Nature Club is back to its regular monthly meetings. This month we met at a local park for a hike to the creek, and an informal insect lesson. Each of the kids studied an insect of their choice, and then presented what they learned to the group. The kids did such an awesome job! Some journaled, some drew pictures, some brought actual insects to show us, and some brought pictures of their insects. We all learned some new and interesting information about the insects all around us.

Of course, after our insect discussions and hike, there's always time for playing!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Check out this lovely eight legged wonder that we found above the bushes in front of our house. You really can't get a good idea of just how large it is from the pictures. I'm estimating that she's almost 2 inches in diameter including her legs. Obviously she's quite content in her new home because she's been there for days now. Well, you know me...I just had to find out what she was. Turns out she is a Black and Yellow Argiope. I'm just glad that she's outside and not inside!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Finally...a lost tooth!

Ryan has been waiting and waiting to lose his first tooth. His twin brother lost his first tooth on June 15th of this year, followed by his second tooth shortly thereafter. Ryan still hadn't lost a tooth. Well...it finally happened!

Let me just say that he wins the difficulty award from me. His tooth was barely hanging there but he still did not want to let me pull it. I practically had to sit on him to get him to be still.

Monday, August 23, 2010

In my next life, I want to be my cat!

What a life...everyone loves her, and spoils her rotten. Her litter box is kept nice and clean, food and water are always supplied, people to play with and pet you. Lots of things to occupy your time with like parakeets to watch, the hummingbirds at the feeder on the deck, dogs to annoy, and other kitties to play with. Plus, hours and hours to nap wherever and whenever you want.

Yep, she has a rough life, doesn't she?

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Fishing Trip

Have I mentioned how much my husband loves to fish? He's doing his absolute best to pass on that love to the twins. They enjoy it for a bit, then they get bored. He used to go on an annual fishing trip with his grandfather. Following his death in 2000, he no longer had his fishing buddy. So, this weekend he finally went on his long missed fishing trip to Florida. He drove down after work on Friday with 3 of his co-workers. They went out on a party boat on Saturday. He came home Sunday afternoon worn out and somewhat sunburned, but thrilled overall. He caught a bunch of fish, including this whopper of a grouper.

Of course, he just had to drag the thing home with him. He'll be eating grouper for months to come. I personally don't want to eat anything that isn't breaded and comes in a plastic bag. Having seen this thing in all its glory, I certainly don't want to eat it. Only one of the kids would even try it. Adam said it was okay but he didn't want any.

I'm glad he had a successful trip, but I'm also glad he's home. I have been sick all week and being left home with three kids while trying to recover from a nasty virus is NOT fun!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Cough, cough...sickness has arrived.

If I don't post very often over the next few days, please excuse me. I have some sort of virus and have been spending most of my time in bed trying to recover. I have asthma and never fail to get sicker than your average person. I'm just praying that I keep it to myself. I certainly don't need a house full of sick kids!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Week in Review

Yes, we survived! It seems that things always seem to get better after you reach the bottom. My bottom was Thursday it seems. Friday we had our annual back to school picnic with my homeschool group. I'm volunteering for way too many things this year, but nothing I can't handle. It was really nice to visit with some of the fellow homeschool families. Better yet was the fact that my husband, who absolutely HATES going to the picnics, actually had a good time. He spent the evening chatting with another dad that we know from church and other places. What a difference that made! I was able to relax and not feel pressured to hurry home.

We also managed to make it through our first week of school. I'm still working to get back in the groove, but so far, so good. Next week all of my homeschool group's activities start. In looking at my calendar for the rest of the month, it looks like it will be a very busy time. How was your week?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

A time to vent, a time to cry, and then...time to move on.

Do you ever have one of those days when you seriously question your sanity? When nothing seems to go right? A day when all of the kids seem to be doing their absolute best to drive you crazy...and you seriously think they've succeeded? A day when your decision to spend all day, every day teaching them all by yourself seems like the single most insane thing you've ever done. Well, today was one of those days at my house.

I know I'm not the only parent that has questioned God's plan in giving me children that are much more headstrong than I am. Yes, I also know that they're just being kids. But gosh darn it, they are driving me CRAZY! So, after a day of once again starting my morning out on my knees praying for God's help and guidance, for His help in overcoming my weaknesses (namely yelling too often, losing my temper too frequently, and having a serious shortage of patience), and completely forgetting all about those prayers several hours later after being pushed to my breaking point, I'm back to my prayers for help at the end of the day.

I have recently discovered the absolutely wonderful author, Barbara Kingbury. She writes inspiration fiction. I cannot even begin to tell you how wonderful her books are. However, after reading so many books where the main characters seem to hear God speak to them, I'm jealous. Why is it that I don't hear God speak to me? Maybe I'm not listening hard enough. Of course, it could also be the fact that its so darn noisy in my house with the chirping parakeets, barking dogs, meowing cats and bickering kids that I simply can't hear him. In pondering this question I keep coming back to a quote that Morgan Freeman made while playing God in the movie Evan Almighty. He says that when you ask God for something like patience, does he simply give you patience, or does he give the opportunity to be patient? Maybe God really is answering my prayers, because he is constantly offering me opportunities to be patient. I'm just not very good at it.

After spending a good portion of our afternoon lecturing my children about what happens if they don't do their work, cooperate, stop complaining and basically get with the program. Finally losing it completely and resorting to going to my room for a good cry (aka total meltdown), I'm left with nothing more than a headache and the knowledge that today was most definetely not one of my finer moments. I'm now heading to bed where I will once again pray for guidance secure in the knowledge that some how, some way, this too shall pass.

What about you...have you ever had one those days?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Turtle time!

Please pardon the dust that has accumulated over the past several weeks. My life has gotten crazy busy while trying my best to prepare for our new school year. Whenever that happens, it seems that the blog is one of the first to go. So what have we been up to you ask? Well...we've been doing our usual nature studies, which were recently aided by a visitor to our back yard. Isn't she cute?

Well, never let it be said that I let an opportunity like that go to waste. I promptly grabbed one of our many reference guides and did some research. Of course, my trusty assistant got some true hands on experience.

Turns out that she's a box turtle (which we already knew of course), approximately 12 years of age, and obviously female. How do we know you ask? Check out her gorgeous red eyes. Only females have eyes that color. Males have brown eyes.

Peek a boo, I see you!

We studied, enjoyed and then sent her on her merry way. Don't you just love it when learning experiences just fall in your lap?

Sunday, August 1, 2010

2010 - 2011 Curriculum Choices

Well, its that time again...time to dust off those school desks and hit the books.  Here's what we're using this year.  I have way more curriculum than I ever seem to get covered.  I do try though...


Language Lessons for the Well Trained Mind - We actually found and started using this the end of the last school year.  Haley is doing Level 3, and the boys are working on Level 1-2. 

Daily Grams - We are using Grade 4 for Haley, and Grade 2 for the boys.  We have been doing the boy's page orally on the chalkboard since they absolutely hate writing them.  We do a page every day.

Explode the Code, Book 3 for the boys, and Haley does independent reading daily.


Teaching Textbooks 4 for Haley, and Saxon Math 2  for the boys.  We also play lots of math games and read books to reinforce certain topics.


Story of the World, Book 1 for the boys, and Story of the World, Book 2 for Haley.  We also do unit studies on topics that interest us.  We complete lapbooks, art projects, read books and much more.


Apologia Zoology 1, Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day, R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey Earth and Space, and lots of hands on nature studies.


All About Spelling level one for the boys, and level two for Haley.

In addition to the above, we also study Spanish using Power Glide Spanish, Haley takes a music/choir class each week, we study various composers via notebooking, we use Meet the Masters Art and How Great Thou Art, Abeka Heath and Safety 3, Abeka American History, various unit studies for geography and much more.

What does your school year look like?