Friday, December 25, 2009

Zoology Notebook

It is Christmas day and I am just finishing up creating a Zoology Notebook for my kids to work on next semester. I enjoy reading the Apologia Science books and think that the note booking aspect of the books is very kid-friendly. My kids love animals and I honestly cannot wait to get started on Zoology because I know they will just love it!

We are planning a trip in January to our local Aquarium and one in May to our local Zoo. I am hoping that the trip to the Zoo will be especially meaningful after our Zoology study.

I have uploaded my Zoology Notebook to HSLaunch for anyone that could use it. Here are other good resources that could be useful:

I hope that you will enjoy these sites!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Jesse Tree

I first heard about the concept of a Jesse Tree last year before Christmas and thought that it sounded fun. I am always looking for ways to help my kids understand the meaning behind Christmas and this seemed like a good way to do that. As I understand it, the Jesse tree is a daily devotional that takes the reader through the lineage of Jesus culminating in his birth. Each devotional day has an ornament to correlate with it that the kids can color or create and hang on a Christmas tree.

Here are some devotional sites that are helpful: - parent devotions

I purchased my twleve day devotional set from Illuminated Ink. The ornaments that we used were ones that my kids took turns coloring and cutting out. They ended up being three dimensional and the kids loved them. They were so excited when I pulled them out again this year.

Here are a few sites about making the Jesse Tree: - Scroll down for ornament templates

Free Printables: - printable ornaments with instructions

I hope your kids have as much fun as mine are having!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Spider-Man Lapbook

My youngest is currently interested in Spider-Man and wanted mom to create a Spider-Man lap book. At first, I was concerned because what educational value could Spider-Man possibly have? But, after doing a bit of research I found a great deal of educational elements that I could look at with my son.

The first, most obvious, direction was the origin and creation of comic books. It was actually quite interesting how they got their start. I made mini books on the origin of comic books and a vocabulary book for the different parts of the comic book and one on the different jobs it takes to make a comic book. I also made a book on New York City because this was the setting for the Spider-Man story.

Of course, I had to make a few books that were specific to Spider-Man. I created mini books on Spider-Man's "villains", his "partnerships", and his "abilities and weakness". My son used one of his many Spider-Man to fill in this information. He had a great time showing me all of his "Spider-Man Knowledge"!

I found a number of great web sites with information and two that my son really enjoys because they allow him to create his own superhero and his own comic book.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Botany Notebook

We decided to do Apologia Botany this year for our science class. I really love Apologia mainly because I can use it with all three of my children at one time. I decided to create my own Botany Notebook to go along with the note booking activities that Mrs. Fulbright details in her chapters. We have been working through the notebook so far this year and it is working beautifully.

To supplement, I added a lap book of Carnivorous Pants from Dynamic2Moms. It was really well made and interesting for the kids. I even bought a Venus flytrap from our local nursery so the kids could watch science in action!:) I actually caught a fly in my house and fed the plant so the kids could see how it traps the insect. It was really fun.

I also thought that it would be a great idea to go to our city's botanical gardens. I set up a field trip to go and it ended up being a gorgeous day. I made the kids find four of their favorite plants/flowers and I took a picture of the child with each plant/flower. I plan for them to include these pictures in their botany notebook. My favorite part of the botanical gardens was the orchid exhibit. It is amazing the diversity of these flowers! My children's favorite part of the gardens was the Venus flytraps and pitcher plants.

Here are a few of the great web sites that I found when compiling my materials for this study: -wildflower coloring book

Monday, October 19, 2009

Fall Bridal Shower Decor

I am including this on my blog because when I was looking for ideas to use while decorating for a bridal shower, I could not find anything online. I used just about everything I could find around my house for decorating the table scape. Lucky for me, majority of my color scheme in my house is fall-like colors: yellow, burgundy, and brown.

The table scape was easy to create with a few shoe boxes and a chocolate brown flat sheet that I had on hand. A few years ago I was on a pumpkin bent so I have a lot of fake pumpkins of various sizes and colors. I coupled these pumpkins with candles that I already had for added atmosphere around the table. I must give a lot of the credit to my Mother-in-law because she is a genius with putting things together and really has unbelieveable vision.

As you can see, I found a bag of raffia and went a little crazy with it. I found myself puttingit on everything!:)

I grabbed two pumpkins at Wal-Mart for around $4 each and two containers of mums that are HUGE for $12 at the grocery store. I plan to carve the pumpkins with the kids when it gets closer to Halloween, and the mums will give my porch nice color for a few weeks at least.

All in all, it was a nice shower decor and fairly cheap to pull off.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Organize me, please!

I am definitely not an expert in the field of organizing- just ask my family! I try to be organized just to maintain a level of sanity in my house. Here are a few tips that I have come up with on my own and a few that I have shamelessly stolen from others! Enjoy.

School for multiple children
· Try to determine what curricula that you can do together (science/Apologia, history/Story of the World, Bible, Geography)
· Keep in mind what really “must” be accomplished and focus on getting that done and don’t worry about the “extras” (For example, Latin or logic- Sure, they are great but focus on math and reading first.)
· Some subjects do not need to be grade specific during the elementary years
· You can vary the expectations depending on age/ability without making more work or planning for yourself
· Utilize a lesson plan form that incorporates subjects done together
· Here are a few great websites to help in this area: , , , , , ,

· Start your day with the subjects that you can do together as a family
· Look at the remaining subjects for each child and determine which ones need your supervision or one on one instruction
· Schedule the subjects for each child while trying to alternate between the independent and dependent subjects
· For example, if one child is doing their parent centered subjects first, then have the other children doing their child centered subjects and then alternate.
· You should only be working one on one with one child at a time and the other children should be self-teaching.
· Post each child’s schedule where they can see it during school so that they know what is next on the agenda.
· Introduce the idea of the “Mystery Folder”- Each child has a folder for them with independent “seat” work that they can complete if they are finished with their other work and are waiting on mom to finish working with a sibling. This work should be educational but fun so that the child does not dread doing it.
· Here are a few websites to help in this area: , , , , ,

-School Work Space
· If possible, have an area for each child’s books. You can use shelving, plastic crates, boxes, or whatever works best for your school space.
· This is their area that they must keep organized. Give them the tools they need, but they are responsible for keeping up with what they have.
· Don’t be too authoritative over this area. Give them control over their work space.
· Let each child make their own clipboard so that they can make their work transportable.
· Have a designated area for materials that are used outside of school time but still need to be accessed by the kids every day. For example, have a special basket for their piano notebooks. Along with that, have a three ring notebook for their piano music so that you do not have loose papers flying around the room. If you have a family reading time, have a basket in the reading area with the books everyone is reading.
· Here are a few websites that can help in this area: , , , , ,

· Use a week calendar to designate the chores each child is to do for each week day. I make two different weeks and then alternate them each week so that they children are doing different chores every other week.
· Set a specific time for chores to be done; for example, after school work is completed.
· Do not allow play time until chores are completed to your satisfaction.
· Make sure that your child understands what “clean” is. An interesting way to do this is to clean the area yourself and have the child watch you do it and let them help organize their stuff. Then take pictures from various angles around the room. Develop the pictures and mount them on a piece of paper and place them on the back of the room door. When the child is asked to clean the bathroom, refer them to the picture so that they understand that the bathroom is not clean until it looks like the pictures on the door.
· Designate an area of your house where each child has a “box” for their stray items that you inevitably will pick up during the day. At the end of each day, have each child empty their box and put all of the items in their place. I have a box for each child on the stairs and when I am walking around the house during the day and see an item I pick it up and drop it in their box. Then it becomes their responsibility to put it up, not mine.
· Give each child a small laundry basket for their closet. They must keep their dirty clothes in the basket. Choose a Laundry day for the chore calendar and have each child bring their basket downstairs to be washed. Depending on the age of the child, you can teach them how to wash their own clothes. If they are not old enough, you can wash, dry, and fold their clothes and place them in their basket. After you are done, they must take their basket to their room and put up their own clothes. Even young children can do this with a little guidance.
· Here are a few websites that offer help in this area: , , ,

· If your family chooses to do an allowance for your children, designate a payment day every week.
· Have the oldest child keep a payment log book (notebook) where he/she can record the date of payment and amount paid to each child. Sometimes it could be helpful to count what is in the container before hand to make sure that the correct amount is in Give and Save. Sometimes my kids have snuck out a little to supplement some purchase!
· Provide three small containers for each child for Give, Save, and Spend written on them.
· After payment is given, have each child deposit the agreed upon amount of their allowance in each container.
· Here are a few websites that can help in this area: , , , ,

Household Duties
-Meal planning
· Create a menu for each week of the month and number them 1-4.
· Based on the weekly menu, make a grocery list with any items need for the recipes that you have chosen for the menu. You can also add to your list any items that you need to purchase weekly (milk and bread).
· Think about your weekly schedule when you are creating your menus. Will you be tired from practice on Tuesday night? If so, then plan a meal that you can cook ahead in a slow cooker so that it can be ready when you are. Don’t put yourself in a position where you are exhausted and have to come home to cook over a hot stove and fighting kids!
· On Sunday, place the weekly menu on the refrigerator so that everyone can see what is for dinner so they can stop asking every five minutes!
· Try to find a day of the week that your family can do something fun for dinner; maybe you can have a Friday night pizza night or a Tuesday night breakfast for dinner night. IT will give the kids something to look forward to.
· Here are a few great websites to help in this area: , , , , , , , ,

-Calendar organizing
· Every Sunday night create a “To do” list for the week. Make different categories for yourself- “To Call”, “To Email”, “To Pay”.
· Keep one central calendar that everyone can see and update it once a week.
· Whenever you get an invitation, email or make an appointment, write it down on your calendar right away so that it is not forgotten.
· Leave yourself margin in your day. Don’t think just because you have an hour that is unaccounted for that you must squeeze something into it!
· Give yourself a head start when going somewhere. If you need to leave at 12:00 start telling the kids to get ready to go at 11:30. This gives them time to get all of the necessary things ready and on their bodies without causing you unnecessary stress. Kids do not have the foresight of adults. They cannot plan ahead as well as we can.
· Here are a few websites to help in this area: , , ,

-Email/Phone Calls
· Designate a time during your day to do email and phone calls.
· Do not answer the phone during school time unless it is an emergency. Our answering machine message tells each caller that school is in session and calls will not be returned until 2:00 every day.
· Remember not to get stuck in front of the computer for long periods of time. We do not want our kids with their noses in the computer for hours at a time, so remember that they learn more from what they see you doing than from what you are telling them.
· Do not feel like you have to respond to every email. Hit the important ones first and if you can get around to the others, great.
· REMEMBER- email and telephone are for YOUR convenience not to be a shackle around your neck.
· Here are a few great web sites to help with this area: , , , ,

· If you can do it in less than two minutes, do it right way. Do not stack it up on the counter- put it away.
· Make your bed first thing; it makes you feel like the house is cleaner!
· Remember that you do not have to be able to eat off of the floor for your house to be clean. Good enough is just that- Good Enough!
· Your kids will never remember how clean your house is, only how much you love them!
· Great websites for ideas on this area: , , , , , ,

Monday, September 14, 2009

Art Exploration Co-op Curriculum and Lapbook

This is phase two of my curriculum creations for our co-op this semester. The ladies in our leadership group decided for our co-op to do an art class this semester. We did not want just any kind of art class. We wanted an art class that touched on art history as well as hands-on art activities. The curriculum and corresponding lapbook are my attempts to touch on all of the areas that these ladies wanted to explore in our art curriculum this year.

I decided to hit a few of the major artists- there are so many! I chose Monet, Van Gogh, Picasso, Warhol, and Pollock because of their vast differences from each other.

The lapbook and curriculum begin with mini books on the elements of art and mediums of art. The kids did a great edible color wheel project that I found on This is a great art lesson plan site. I found many of the hands-on activities that we will be doing on this site.

After this lesson, we get into the nuts and bolts, so to speak, of the art history. Every two weeks or so the kids learn about a new artist, their movement, and their famous works. I created mini books to go along with each of these aspects. One week they learn about the artist, etc and then the next week the create a masterpiece of their own based upon one of the artist's own masterpieces.

Here is an example of the kids' rendition of Monet's "Waterlilies".

We are culminating our co-op study with a visit to the local art museum for a Da Vinci exhibit.

Here are some of the web sites that I found during my research that are just awesome! I hope you have fun exploring!:)
Art Exploration - great lessons (we incorporated some of them) plans Museum of Modern Art audio tours Van Gogh blog with a lot of great links on Da Vinci Da Vinci activities and games encyclopedia of artists and movements drawing class links to other art sites - blog with great art projects - art links lessons on famous paintings notebooking pages 36 week art curriculum famous American artists lessons - Rembrandt Teaching Project Rembrandt lesson plans - bookmarks to more sites bookmark to more sites Art Takes Time Picasso Complete Courses K-12 Complete Course adaptable K-12 List of units based on the What my “nth” grader needs to know book series.
· Collections of Lesson Plans
1. K-12
5. Key term art returned 16000+ activities lessons and units
6. 213 lessons
7. Activities designed to meet specific Standards!
12. with
25. Search for Art got 61 results mot with usable sample pages.
26. Some activities require membership.
· Individual lessons
1. Starry Night

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Co-op Classes- Dissection

This semester at our co-op we are doing dissecting and art with our elementary age kids. It is an awesome opportunity for our kids to get inside a few animals and learn about art masters while painting a few masterpieces of their own! Well, to be honest, the dissecting idea received an all around "yuck" in my house- even from the boys, which surprised me. What boy doesn't want to touch something slimy and gross? Mine, obviously!

After searching the Internet for hours and coming up empty, I put together a few things to use for our curriculum and I thought it would be nice to share in case anyone else out there could benefit. For the younger elementary kids I thought that a lapbook would be more fun than traditional "worksheets". I found a treasure trove of mini books that I could incorporate at ( Since the specimens that we are doing are an earthworm, frog, perch, and sheep's brain, I used related mini books for each of the animals for the lapbook. For example:

Earthworm: Tunnel Travels @

You get the idea! I just searched for mini books that would go along with the animal we were studying and/or classification. Our co-op moms wanted to include a comparison of human body systems to those of the specified animals, so I included mini books and the body systems and brain.

For the older kids, I created "worksheets" to go along with the curriculum. For each specimen we begin by discussing classification, then the specific ecosystem of the specimen, and finally the body system that we will focus on for the specimen. The worksheets reflect those aspects. I also included a KWL sheet for each specimen and a T-chart that focuses on the similarities and differences between the animal body system and the human body system. I would like to post these in a file somewhere in Internet land so that others can use them but I haven't quite figured out how to do that yet!:)

While gathering all of my information, I found these web sites that could be used as supplemental material for a dissection curriculum. I hope they are helpful for you. - classification notebooking pages - classification class (ongoing- join anytime) - animal notebook - animal videos - human body systems human body lesson plans blog with free human body lapbook - squidoo lens on human body biomes and ecosystems - we used some of this book in ours classification lapbook - virtual dissections, labs, and field trips Literature based unit studies provide a memorable reference point from which to teach your students the basics of the Animal Kingdom's Classification System. animal games - animal videos frog life cycle Ecosystem compatision- Desert and Rainforest every kids of virtual dissection desert animals lapbook animal classification hangman game classification games - sheep brain virtual dissection sheep brain virtual dissection ecosystem diorama plans frog life cylce - virtual zoo - This is a virtual earthworm dissection. - The website below has over 80 videos on dissection. Be aware that most of the videos are on dissecting a human body. However, they do have dissection videos on the eye of a cow, frogs, a sheep brain, chicken wing, the heart and lungs of a lamb, a cat, a shark, and a salamander. -Gross things unit study including dissections

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

DSi compared to the PSP

Video games are very popular today, especially the hand held systems. When it comes to hand held gaming there are two very popular systems, the DSi and the PSP. They’re both very good systems. The DSi and the PSP are very similar gaming systems but they have some differences.

The things that you can do with the DSi and the PSP are very similar. The DSi and the PSP both have very good video games. You can also game share, which means you can share games with your friends, with both of the systems. Also you can listen to music if you have a SD card for the DSi or a memory stick for the PSP. They both can go online and go to their shops where you can by more video games at the DSi shop or the PSP shop. Also, these systems can go online with Wi-Fi connection and surf the web. They both work great. Last, but not least, you can also update the systems every few months.

On the other hand, the DSi and the PSP also have some differences. The DSi can take pictures with its built in camera, but with the PSP you can only view pictures. The DSi games are mostly E for everyone but the PSP games are mostly T for teen and M for mature adults. With the DSi you can record your voice for up to ten seconds but with the PSP you can not. Also, the PSP can watch movies but the DSi does not allow this feature. The DSi has more action games, but the PSP has more shooter games.

It is hard to decide between a DSi and a PSP because they have a lot of similar things, but some things are different. If you are more interested in E games and characters like Mario and Nintendo characters then the DSi is right for you; but, if you don’t like E games and like movies the PSP is right for you. The decision between the two systems should be based on what you feel is most important.

written by Kid #1

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

United States Travel Guide

Boy! The summer was too short!:) Of course, I have been playing and planning.:) We are off to travel the United States of America!

I found this great Yahoo group called Postcardkids. Once you join you can swap postcards with other home school families from around the US or the world. It is a lot of fun! We have almost all of the states in the US and for our geography lesson in school the kids are making a United States Travel Guide.

I made a sheet for each state listing what I thought was important information: statehood, famous people, fun things to do, etc... . On the upper right hand side of the page is a block for the child to glue a map of the state. On the bottom of the page are three blocks for the child to glue pictures of the state bird, flower and flag. I found a great US state flag poster at the local School Box store for $1.50 and the kids are just cutting out those flags and gluing them on to the page. For the bird and flower pictures, I used the web site 50states :

My plan is to have the kids glue the postcards that we have received from Postcardkids onto the facing page. While I was trying to figure out what to do with the states that we have not received postcards from, I decided to order free travel guides from the various states' tourism departments. I became addicted and ended up getting one from every state! Kids love mail, right? Besides getting the travel guide, we also are getting a free state road map. To find the travel guides, I just Googled "State Name Tourism". Here are a few of the sites I found:

I figure that the kids can look through the guides and cut out the pictures that they like and glue them on the page with the postcard.

I also thought that it would be fun to include recipes from the different states. On the Yahoo Group, there is a file of different recipes from each state.

While looking for things to do related to US Geography, I stumbled on quite a few interesting sites. Maybe this can help anyone else narrow their search.

Hopefully, this will prove to be a fun and interesting way for the kids to learn geography. Who knows- maybe will will conquer the world next year!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Apologia Botany and Astronomy Noetbooking Journals

Apologia is now producing notebooking journals that accompany each of the elementary science books. Both Botany and Astronomy are now available.

These journals are beautiful spiral bound notebooks that will save you time and money. You won't have to print and keep up with your child's notebook pages, buy and maintain page protectors, or purchase and compile binders...everything that makes notebooking time-consuming and labor intensive for mom. Also, your child will adore having their own notebooking journal.

Each of the notebooking journals include:
A daily schedule for those who like to have a plan or would like their children to complete the book on their own
Templates for written narrations, the notebooking activities and experiments
Review Questions
Scripture Copywork, with both print and cursive practice
Reading lists and additional activities, projects, experiments for each lesson
An appendix with beautiful, full-color, lapbook-style Miniature Books
Field Trip Sheets to keep a record field trips
A Final Review with fifty questions the students can answer either orally or in writing to show off all they remember and know at the end of the course.

See the sample pages here:


Jeannie is giving away four Astronomy Notebooking Journals and four Botany Notebooking Journals to bloggers who post about this on their site. Visit her blog to learn more about this contest:

Monday, May 18, 2009

First Language Lessons Lapbook- Year One

I created this lapbook to be a companion to First Language Lessons- Year One by Jessie Wise.