Another Sonlight Question

September 30, 2008 at 10:24 am (Uncategorized)

A Reader Asks:

<<With just Core 2 or with all your Core’s {even your son?} have you taken two years to complete? If so how is that working out?  Do you plan to follow the same schedule with your younger children?>>

If only this were a simple answer!  LOL  We started with Core 2 when my oldest was in 2nd grade.  I had every intention at the time of doing one core per year.  That was the year my 2nd child was born.  Then 2 years later I had another new baby and we moved to a new state when the new baby was 3 weeks. old.  Life always seems to complicate MY plans!  LOL  So here is what we have done in reality with my oldest.  (I have not started Sonlight with my 2 youngest, so who knows what will happen with them?)

So this is what I have done for History with my oldest:

1st Grade – Magic Treehouse Books (All of them at the time.  I think there were about 20 back then.)
2nd gradeCore 2
3rd gradeCore 3
4th Grade – 1st half of Core 4 and half of the year we did Rhea Berg California State History.
5th Grade – 2nd half of Core 4 and half of year of Nevada State History.
6th GradeStory of the World books 1 -4 (With a Co-op Class on book 1.)
7th gradeUnschooled – Click HERE to see what we did!
8th grade – Unschooled!  (This was last year when we moved and we did a lot of lapbooks, reading, traveling, packing, etc.) During this time he did the Usborne Internet linked books for History and Science.  Math-U-See was also continued during this time.
9th GradeCore 100 America History In Depth.  This we plan to complete in one year. 

Here is what I hope to do for the rest of his highschool years for History:

10th Grade – Core 200 History of God’s Kingdom
11th Grade – Core 300 20th Century World History
12th Grade – Core 400 Civics America Government

Although only God really know what will happen the next 3 years!

As far as for my 2 little ones, do I plan on following the same schedule I did above?  No.  I think at this point in my homeschool career I know enough to say I have NO IDEA what the future will hold!  I do hope to do at least the Sonlight Cores that I own with them, and I think I will buy Sonlight Alt 7 – One Year Wolrd History at the very least to do instead of the Story of the World books.  It’s not that I didn’t like SOTW, but we did miss Sonlight those years and I don’t think I plan to take a 2 year break from Sonlight again with my 2 littles.  But, only time will tell? I don’t think we will probably push ourselves to do a whole Core in one year until they are in High School.  We like Lapbooks and other projects too much to miss out on them! Sonlight is just too complete to try and do other things and get through a whole Core in a year.

I hope that answers the questions above.  I know it is confusing.  The great thing about homeschooling is that you can plan as you go. If someone would have told me when I started homeschooling my only child…"Before this child is in High School you will have 2 more children, move to 2 different states, living in Las Vegas for a year without your husband and SURVIVE."  I would have run screaming my head off!  LOL  But, that is what the life has held for us.  Somehow we have gotten through it!  But honestly who knows what the next 14 years will hold before my 4 year old is a graduated?  I just have to trust God that HE is leading our lives and the education of my children.  Because I know for sure that I am in no way capable of doing any of this without Him!

Happy Homeschooling,



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Explode the Code Question

September 29, 2008 at 10:21 am (Uncategorized)

I received an email from Kathy asking:

I noticed you are using Explode the Code for Phonics.  Is that your only phonics curriculum?  The reason I ask is I have read in a couple places that Explode the Code is a great supplemental program, but not a primary one.  Can you shed some light on that for me…according to your experience?

Here is my response:

I agree that Explode the Code is not complete curriculum for phonics.  I have done Sing Spell Read and Write in previous years with my daughter, so she already knows all the phonics rules and is a strong reader.  I also used Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons for awhile with her when she was wanting to read NOW and not just keep learning phonics. 

Anyway, the Explode the Code books are great for continued practice once they have the phonics basics down.  I also use the Grammar Rocks and Grammar Songs CDs with her so she can learn all the other parts of speech and grammar through music.  The thing that really is helpful for her with Explode the Code is that it will not let her be lazy.  It gives her a picture and then words that are similar and she has to figure out what word best fits the picture.  (So say it’s a a girl they might give her girl, grill, and growl.)  Since she (like her monther!) likes to do EVERYTHING fast she has a tendancy to just glance at the word and say what she thinks it is when she reads.  This makes her stop and use her phonics rules to sound out the words and find the right one.

So that is my 2 cents on Explode the Code.  Hope that helps!

Happy Homeschooling,


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HWTB – Freebie Finder – Sept 26 – Teaching Kids about Hurricanes

September 26, 2008 at 10:03 am (Uncategorized)

My kids cousins just went through hurricane Ike in Houston, so we have a high level of interest in hurricanes at our house right now.  So I went out looking for free resources to teach my kids about hurricanes.  I hope your kids enjoy these freebies too!

The Hurricane Song is a fun little video and song that explains how hurricanes form.  This jazzy little tune will have your kids tapping their toes while they learn!

Hurricanes – A Unit Study for Kids is a great collection of resources to teach your kids about hurricanes.  Includes news, information, readiness, images, stories, tracking and MUCH more!

Hurricanes by Rick and Michelle Eichhorn is an awesome free E-Book!  This E-Book includes vocabulary and spelling words, reading resources, discussion questions, bibles verses and readings, and SO much more! Thanks so much to the Eichhorn’s for offering this E-Book free to TOS readers!

Happy Homeschooling,


This article is from the Home Where They Belong Blog.  If you are interested in more freebie’syou can subscribe to The Homeschool Minute as well as the Freebie Friday Newsletter HERE.  I will be passing along FREE goodies for your homeschool each week in both of these newsletters.  (Not to mention all the other great info you will get from The Homeschool Minute!)

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My 2nd Grader

September 25, 2008 at 11:39 am (Uncategorized)

So I was planning on doing Sonlight Core 2 with my 7 year old this year.  (I have an old version of Core 2 and it’s Intro to the World complete in one year.)  But, at the very last minute I decided to wait until next year to do Core 2 with her.  The reason?  Because I would really like to keep my 2 littles on the same Sonlight Core and this will give my 4 year old another year of maturity before we start Core 2. (Not that he will be 100% ready, but I think he’ll be ready to listen to a lot of the read-a-louds.)  So anyway, at the last minute I decided we are going to read through the entire American Girl series this year and do lapbooks on all the girls.  This will take up from 1764 to 1974 in American History!    So that pretty much covers her History! (Right now we are reading the Kaya series.)

For Math we are doing Math-U-See "Classic" Foundations of Mathematics. (We already had all the old videos and teachers manual since my oldest did Sonlight way back when.  Thankfully they still sell the "classic" books for old timers like me!  LOL)

So what else are we doing?

Handwriting – Getty Dubay Book C Basic and Cursive

Phonics – Explode the Code 2 1/2 (She will be ready for book 3 in a few weeks because she is a girl and flies through these workbooks! Quite the opposite of my 14 year old who labored through one page a day and would do one workbook a year if we were lucky!  LOL)

Reading – Abeka Our America History/Geography Reader and lot’s of Library books.

Bible – Awana & and daily read alouds from the NIrV Kids’ Study Bible.

Science – Misc books and etc. We are starting with a book called Science Projects and Experiements that I picked up for a dollar at Target. 

Language Arts – Lapbooks, lapbooks and more lapbooks!  LOL

Spelling – Turbo Twist Spelling

Extra curricular activities:

  • Awana – Sparks
  • American Girl Club
  • Chess/Board Game Club (This will be during her little brothers ABC Preschool Class which I will post about next week.)
  • Park Days

In her spare time she likes to:

  • Watch I Love Lucy (She is obsessed!  LOL)
  • play with her dog
  • Play with her brothers
  • Cook
  • Draw, write and do crafts
  • Webkinz
  • Play with her dolls

So that is what we have planned for second grade.  She is very excited about planning the whole year around the American Girl series.  She told me the other day "It’s like we are studying history, but it’t not boring!"  LOL  I don’t know where she got the idea that History is boring!  That is certainly no ones opinion around here!  And I know once we start Sonlight with her she will be as in love with History as the rest of us are.  So we have that to look forward to for next year!

Happy Homeschooling,


P.S.  I have had several people ask how we do Sonlight and so many extra things too.  The answer is…We spread a Core over 2 years.  This allows us to lapbook and do other project to our hearts content, and still enjoy all the great Sonlight books!

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American Girl Club

September 24, 2008 at 7:30 am (Uncategorized)

Since my daughter LOVES all things American Girl next week we are starting an American Girl Club.  Our club will be meeting one night a week to learn together about the different time periods the girls are from. 

We will start with Samantha (1904) and are planning to meet 12 times to go through the 6 Samantha books. (So the girls will read 1/2 a book each week before they come to the club.)

The activites for the club will be based on these books:
The craft and cook book are out of print, but are readily available on E-Bay.  (I got all 3 of these at a used bookstore for a total of $12.00!) 

Each week we will do a craft from the craft book, have a snack from the cook book and read a bit about the period from Welcome To Samantha’s World. This book is like a museum in a book!  It is loaded with pictures and drawings of things from the time period.  I just LOVE it!  We have 4 of the different girls "World" books and I find myself leaving them on my nightstand so I can look through them on my own time. :^)

This is the craft we will be doing the first week:
This is called a Calling Card Box.  Back in the day before telephones people would just drop in for a visit!  If no one was home they would leave a calling card.  (Like a business card with just a name and a decoration on it.)  Boxes like this were kept in the parlor to collect the cards of friends and family in.  The second week we will be making enough calling cards for all the girls to trade and have one from each girl in the club!

I am also hoping we can do a few booklets of a Samantha Lapbook each week and when we finish up each girl will have a lapbook they have created all about Samantha and the early 1900’s.

Here is the link to the free American Girl Lapbook we will be making:

My daughter and I are very excited about getting this club going!  We have 16 girls and their mom’s signed up to join us!  It should be a lot of fun!

Happy Homeschooling,



Click HERE to see what we did on our 10 week study of Samantha
Clcik HERE to see what we did on our 6 week study of Kaya

We are now working through 5 weeks of Felicity.  You can see what we have done so far HERE

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Homeschooling My High Schooler

September 23, 2008 at 9:58 am (Uncategorized)

All these years I have homeschooled I have always been curious what it would be like to homeschool a High Schooler.  So even though we are only 3 weeks into High School I thought I would post about how it is going so far.

Here he is "in the classroom."  LOL
First let me tell you what my Freshman is doing for curriculum wise:

History/Language Arts – Sonlight 100 – In-Depth American History
Math – Teaching Textbook Algebra 1
Science – Apologia Exploring Creation with Biology on CD rom
Bible – A Bible Study of Biblical Feast and Holy Days – Self Directed
Government/Language Arts – America Government Lapbook
Speech/Governemnt – Speeches That Changed the World


For extracurricular activities he is participating in:

Awana – Leader in Training
Church Youth Group
Homeschool Teen Group (Social and Service Projects)
Church  Drama Team

His "free" time he spends on the computer.  He continues to write the online comic that he has been doing for for over 3 years now! 

He also helps with housework, watches his brother and sister as needed and makes ME laugh every day!

He is a BUSY young man!

So, how has it been doing High School at home so far?  First off you have to understand that he has never been in school.  So this is "normal" for him.  For the most part he works completely on his own and only comes to me when he has questions.  (Which are usually answered with, I don’t know.  You should ask Dad tonight when he get’s home!  LOL)

The BIGGEST difference I can see is that High School is taking A LOT more time every day.  He starts about 10:00 a.m. (After breakfast and chores are done.) then finishes around 3:00 to 4:00 depending on the day.  So he is spending 5 to 6 hours a day doing school!  This has been hard for me because I have gotten use to doing things like running out to get the kids haircuts during school hours.  Before we could always easily make up the hours. Now, if we get off track it is very hard to get caught up!

The other interesting difference is that he is currently study 2 things I never have studied!  Biology and Algebra 1.  So, it is very weird to know that the kid I have homeschooled from the start has passed me up!  LOL  But, weird in a good way!

So just in case anyone was wondering, High School is going great!  I am so glad that I get to see him every day all throughout the day.  Even if I am not really working with him one on one anymore.  I am also glad he is here to be part of his brother and sisters education.  Nothing does my heart better than to see my 4 year old run to find his brother so he can show him the preschool project he is working on! I think the picture below is the best reason I can come up with for homeschooling my High Schooler!

Here they are taking a break from school work to have tickle time!  LOL

Oh, and my son had his first Biology test today and he got….an A!!!! YAY!!!!!!!!!!!

All men who have turned out worth anything have
had the chief hand in their own education.
Walter Scott (1771-1832)

Happy Homeschooling,


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Bar Mitzvah

September 22, 2008 at 7:56 am (Uncategorized)

Saturday we had the privilege of attending a friend of ours Bar Mitzvah.  These are the friends that I have mentioned before that our Messianic Jews.  First let me start off by saying that I have had very little exposure to the Jewish faith.  Growing up in Kansas in the 1960’s and 70’s I do not remember knowing anyone Jewish until I was a Senior in High School.  Then there was one family that moved to town who were Jewish.  I didn’t really know them, but they did have a son my age.  Then when I moved to Los Angeles in my 20’s and worked for ABC-TV I met lots of people who were Jewish.  But, I never really learned anything about their faith. 

With all this said I must tell you I was under the (false) impression that a Jewish "church" service would be a completely stuffy, pious, holier-than-thou type of thing.  BOY, was I wrong! WOW, how to even begin to tell you about the Bar Mitzvah!  I think one of the reasons I had gotten this idea is that for several years while I worked at ABC I would drive through a very Jewish Orthodox neighborhood on my way to work.  On all the Biblical holidays the families would be walking to synagouge  and they just looked so serious in their long beards with their dark suits, hats and prayer shaws. 

Okay, first before I write anymore I want to just say up front this is a Bar Mitzvah from a complete novice point of view.  I am in no way claiming to know anything about the Jewish faith or all the intricacies of a Bar Mitzvah.  But, as someone who just experienced this for the first time, I wanted to share the wonderful experience!

First off if you are not familiar with the term Messianic Jews, this means that these are believers in Jesus Christ who practice in the ancient Jewish tradition.  Many are Jewish by heritage who have become believers in Jesus Christ as the Messiah and did not want to leave the rich worship tradition of the Jewish faith.  Many are gentiles who have fallen in love with worshiping in the way Jesus would have when he walked on this earth.  Everyone seems to be welcome and thankfully for me no question seems to be disregarded as stupid!  LOL  (Although when I asked if the band, who was strumming the same few notes while they were warming up, were playing Jewish music I might have been pushing the envelope!  LOL)

So here it goes…

Bar Mitzvah is really a noun.  Bar means "son" and Mitzvah means "of the commandment".  So Bar Mitzvah is really what you call the boy who is having the service.  (Bat means daughter, so a Bat Mitvah is the same basic service for a girl. The service for a girl is held at the age of 12.)  By Jewish tradion a boy who has reached the age of 13 is considered to be ready to be accountable for his relationship with God.  He is no longer under the cover of his families faith, but considered old enough to make his own decision on what he will believe.  He is also considered to be at the doorway of manhood.  One thing I really liked that the Rabbi said is that manhood is a great big room and at Bar Mitzvah the boy is standing at the doorway.  There is much to explore and learn as he grows to become a fully grown man.

If you want to learn more about what a Bar Mitzvah is you can read here:

and here:

Okay, now for the actual Bar Mitzvah!

The celebration is held as part of the weekly Sabbath Service in the synagouge.  (The Jewish holy day is Saturday, not Sunday.) The service started out with music and worship.  WOW!  I wish you could have been there!  The music was so beautiful.  Most of it was sung in Hebrew, but the word in English were all under the Hebrew words, so we could follow along.  The music went on for an hour.  And while they sang…THEY DANCED!  Yep, right there in the aisle! The most beautiful choreographed line dancing snaking through the congregation. (Very modest dancing.) Mostly women, although a few men joined in the dancing.  For over and hour there was music and dancing!  All I could think of was that this is the way Jesus would have worshipped!  WOW!  My kids and I thought we might just start a new tradition at our church next Sunday!  LOL) 

After the worship there was a fabulous video of our friend growing up.  I am sure this is not part of the original traditions, but it was a wonderful way to start the celebration. 

After the video the Bar Mitzvah, his parents and 3 other couples who are a special part of the young mans life went up on the stage.  This was a time of the parents speaking to their son and giving him gifts.  Both mom and dad spoke about what a blessing this young man had been in their lives.  I was bawling my eyes out at this point!  (Oh, honestly I was crying during the video!  LOL) The Bar Mitzavh was presented with 2 gifts from his parents.  A prayer shaw and another traditional prayer item that belonged to his great grandfather.  (I wish I knew all the right names for everything, but you just have to bear with me!) 

Next all of the people on the stage turned around to face a huge door that was behind the stage.
This is the best picture I have of the doors.  I didn’t take any when they were closed. :^(

A young man chanted a beautiful prayer in Hebrew and then the doors were opened to revel the Torah.  The Torah is the Jewish Bible hand written on sheepskin.  It is the first 5 books of the Old Testament.  You can read more about it here:

Once the doors were opened there was more chanting and praying and then the Torah (All approx. 40 to 50 pounds of it!)  was handed to the Bar Mitzvah.  This synagouge happens to have 3 Torah’s so since this was a special occasion all 3 were taken out and carried around.  (The Dad carried one and a friend of the family carried the 3rd.)  The Torah was carried out through the congregation!  WOW, I was so touched to see all the people rush to the aisles to wait for the Torah to pass!  As it passed people would either touch it with their own Bible or touch it with their hand and then kiss their fingers.  (It was covered by cloth so no dirty hands were making it messy.)

Here is a picture of our friend carrying the Torah.
It was very hard to get this picture becasue everyone was so crowed around the Torah.  This took me about 20 shots and I was just glad to see his face and the Torah both in this one!  LOL  Notice the hand going up to touch the Torah.

Next the Bar Mitzvah read from the portion of the Torah that he learned while training for his Bar Mitzvah.  Then he gave a talk about what the passage means and how it applies to our lives.  (He did this SO well!  I was so proud of him!!)

Here he is reading from the Torah.  That is his Father standing behind him. (Insert me sobing here!)

After the reading of the Torah portion there was a blessing for the children before releasing them for children’s service.  This part was so amazing too!  Every week all the children come forward and stand together under a cover made with several of the men’s prayer shaws.  I was just so touched by this.  One of the things that has really impressed me about the little exposure we have had to the Messianic worship services is how the children are so celebrated and revered.  They are not shuffled off to Sunday School from the first moments to learn with kids their own age.  But, they are allowed to worship with their parents and family.  It was so precious to see the little girls working so hard to join in on the dancing!

This is sadly the last picture I have to share.  (My batteries died!)  But, I wanted to show this one because it is the best picture I got of the Torah. 

After the Torah was put away the Rabbi gave a sermon that was directed at the Bar Mitzvah.  It was based on the portion of the Torah that the Bar Mitzvah had read.  It was lovely and touching.  I enjoyed every minute of it, even though from start to finish the entire service was nearly 3 hours!

Then the party began!

After the service there was a luncheon and the cutest cake you can imagine!  (Which you will have to imagine since I didn’t get pictures! LOL)  It was a reproduction of the one the Bar Mitzvah’s father had at his own Bar Mitzvah.  It looked just like the Torah unrolled! 

Then there was more of the beautiful jewish dancing.  (Have you ever seen the Prince of Eqypt when Moses runs away and saves the women who would become his wife?  The Father Jethro holds a big celebration with dancing.  This is the same kind of dancing!)  I could have watched the dancing all night!  So lovely….

The final great treat for us was when the Bar Mitzvah sat in a chair and was hoisted up in the air to throw candy to all the kids while the men caried him around!  Of course the band was playing beautiful Jewish music.  My kids LOVED this part!

This is such a poor attempt at describing all the beauty and blessings we received from attending this service.  Saturday night my daughter and I laid in bed as she was falling asleep and talked and imagined what it must have been like to have attended Jesus Bar Mitzvah! What an amazing thought!

Mazel Tov to the Bar Mitzvah boy!  We can hardly wait for your younger brother to turn 13 so we can come to another Bar Mitzvah celebration!

Happy Homeschooling,


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E-Book: Fiesta of Freebies – 1st Edition – FREE TODAY

September 20, 2008 at 10:23 am (Uncategorized)

My very first E-Book is FREE for today only in the Schoolhouse Store!

We know how important stretching your homeschool dollar is. So we have our Freebie Finder Jamin searching the internet to find great freebies for your homeschool.This E-Book brings together all off the freebies from Freebie Friday, The Homeschool Minute and Home Where They Belong from Nov. 2007 through February 2008. .

You will find this item at the following link:

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Sorting Apron

September 19, 2008 at 8:16 am (Uncategorized)

Here is another project that I did with my preschooler from the E-Book: Adorable Wearables That Teach Early Concepts.

Here he is posing with his finished apron.

Here are the items to sort into the 2 pockets.  There is a BIG and a small of each item to be sorted into the correct pocket.

Here he is working on sorting the items. 
He had a lot of fun playing with this.  He is all about accessories, so he really liked that he can wear this around and play with it all over  the house.

I think that I would like to make him another one of these to sort upper and lower case letters.  I thought we could make another like this (out of a paper bag.) and then just cut out own pockets and write out our own letters. 

Then I was thinking something like this would also be perfect for my 7 year old as she is learning the books of the Old and New Testament.  I don’t think she would really want it to be an apron, but we could make it like a placemat and then print out all the books on the Bible and let her work on sorting them.  Oh, the ideas are endless!

I almost guarantee you will see more of this in the near future!  LOL

Happy Homeschooling,


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The Hurricane Song

September 19, 2008 at 7:00 am (Uncategorized)

With all the craziness that is going on with the weather lately I know my kids have been more than a little curious about Hurricanes. Here is a link to a great video that teaches about how Hurricanes are formed with a fun little song.

I know I learned a thing or two!

Happy Homeschooling,


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