Friday, June 25, 2010

Stopping to smell the flowers

Everyone once in a while I take some time and reflect on how lucky we are to homeschool our children.

Just yesterday I was watching the connections my 4 children all have with each other, such an amazing tight bond. I don't think it would be like this if my kids were not together all day, and taught the important value of a sibling. My son, at just 3, so kind and gentle with his 13 month old baby sister, hugging her gently, moving the hair that had fallen into her eyes softly away, saying in his cute toddler voice "You're so cute, You're so cute, You're so cute". (He likes to say it several times LOL).
All the kids but the baby were outside playing and she was standing there watching them through the open window. She began saying my older daughter's name, so clear as a bell. The kids came running to the window to applaud for her. She giggled and did a little dance in her excitement.
In the kitchen last night, while the older kids sat to have a snack before bed, the baby was walking around the kitchen island several times, without a fall. They came running to her and gave her a standing ovation. She was thrilled and begun to clap for herself as well with a huge smile on her face.

She is our last baby and we are all making sure to suck up every last moment of life through the eyes of a baby with her.

As she learns all these new things, I can't help but think of the new homeschooling Mom, or Dad, who has such doubt in themselves. Teaching your child to feed themselves, crawl, walk, talk, is such a testimony for the parent and their ability to homeschool. If we can teach them all that, everything else is gravy : )

Happy homeschooling!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Some workbox tweaking

Our newly walking little Miss (13 month old) likes to rip the velcro tags off the schedule strip and the number and picture tags out of the pockets of their workboxes, (enjoying crushing them into wrinkled messes). So I was brainstorming today for a spin on the system we could use which she can not get her sweet little baby hands into.

I settled on something that I hope will work well.
Ya'll know I love nothing more than a good project LOL.

Please excuse the mess you might get a glimpse of in the background in the picture on the right. I was working on the workbox cut and paste project there on the kitchen island.
I love reading how other workboxers put together their creations. So just in case anyone is wondering what I did: I had black construction paper. I used two for each project. And glued them so they'd be one long continuous piece. 
I then printed out: 
Workbox Wall Strip
I printed this form twice for each of my girls. I glued these together to make one long strip. I then laminated this long strip to the black construction paper. (this gives us 8 blocks for work that needs to be done, and 8 blocks where they mark it as complete).
Then I added the velcro coins on each square. And the bottom clear pocket is one of those clear name badge tags. I had purchased a huge box of those cheaply, for a chore system I was trying,  so I had tons of them left over. They have a metal clip on them but I removed that. I used velcro coins to attach them to the construction paper at the bottom.  This holds their "jewels" for checking off the completed work, instead of the happy face or check mark. None of the work tags will leave the schedule, just jewels added to mark off. The work tags will change order some days but never come down completely (if they are not in use I have a basket with a file box where I have all the tags sorted).

My older daughter had the jewels as her numbers for her other workbox set up, so I cut the number portion off of both sets (yeah for recycling).
Workbox Jewel numbers

I have the flowers I made my younger daughter in case anyone would like to have access to those. She wanted jewels this time instead of the flowers though. We gave the baby the left over numbers in a clear pocket since she is such a huge fan of taking them from the girls. Now she has a few sets of her own to add to the one set I had already given to her.
Workbox Flower Cards

The work that used to go in the kids workboxes will stay in the Sterilite boxes with the lid on next to their desk. They basically just have flash cards, books or E-Readers, copywork and at times a math page, science journal and writing journal in those. They will work on order from the schedule strip and just grab what they need.
Happy workboxing!

I came across this today while looking for something else

I think this could be used for workboxes for those who prefer things up on the wall out of the way.

A place to order some of the Robinson books in print form

This Mom runs a site where she prints and ships books. I don't know more than this, but I wanted to mention her here for any who prefer the print book but not printing the books themselves option.

Book Blessings

Thursday, June 17, 2010

E-books for Robinson Curriculum

I'm getting the E-books (free) from a few places online.
This one is not free but offers some great books for those looking to add some others to RC:

If you have different types of Ereaders and need the Ebooks in differing formats, for this I'd recommend a free program for your computer called "Calibre"
With this program, after you download a book from one of the sites above you can then have Calibre "get books" from your computer and then uploaded the books into the program. This is a great feature because you can download any format at all and the Calibre program will convert it to your specific E-reader. So for example most of the google books that are free are in Epub, but Kindle for example does not read that format. So Calibre converts the books so they can be opened in Kindle and read just as any of the other books. Also any books already on your E-reader can be added to the Calibre library.
Hope this is helpful to some.
Happy Reading!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Some of my favorite homeschool Quotes:

"For thousands of years, in thousands of places, families educated their own. This tradition changed not because a better method was found but because economic conditions required it. To work one had to leave one's children; one's children furthermore, had to be trained for tasks no-one in their purview could be seen doing. For these reasons institutionalized schooling was invented' and while it adequately addressed a set of economic problems it inspired a new set of human ones that are psychological, emotional, and even spiritual in nature. "
--David Guterson 'Family Matters - Why Homeschooling Makes Sense'

“Government schooling is the most radical adventure in history. It kills the family by monopolizing the best times of childhood and by teaching disrespect for home and parents."
--John Taylor Gatto, former New York State Teacher of the Year

“I believe it would be much better for everyone if children were given their start in education at home. No one understands a child as well as his mother, and children are so different that they need individual training and study. A teacher with a room full of pupils cannot do this. At home, too, they are in their mother’s care. She can keep them from learning immoral things from other children.”
--Laura Ingalls Wilder

" Homeschooling and public schooling are as opposite as two sides of a coin. In a homeschooling environment, the teacher need not be certified, but the child MUST learn. In a public school environment, the teacher MUST be certified, but the child need NOT learn."
-- Gene Royer

Saturday, June 12, 2010

A Robinson Curriculum workbox

In Skylar's schedule on one of the days I have copywork after reading. That is a little typo that I have not gone back to fix. But reading is the the last thing they are doing for their school day. It's something they love doing and look forward to it.

They do one science element together twice a week. Skylar reads it out loud, they talk about it and journal about it in their own books.

Workboxes using Robinson

Friday, June 11, 2010


I had balked at the first Kindle that came out, and just shook my head each time it was staring me in the face when I would log in to shop at Amazon. I felt that nothing could replace a good old fashioned book. However other things have since come into play and now an E-Reader has become a most sensible choice: 

  • I'm using Robinson curriculum which basically uses older out of print books. So my options are that I must print the books myself,  have the kids read on the computer, try to find them used, try to find reprints or have to replace many of the books with books I could easily purchase. The books are mostly all available for free online for print or download but again the reading on the computer factor or printing comes into play. 
  • Space is an issue if I opted to print all the books. As well as the cost of printer and ink and paper, and report covers or binders (which is how I would bind the books, the lazy way LOL). Where would I store everything? As our bookshelves are already well stocked. 
  • I love the idea of having so many books in such a small compact area. I did a test run using Kindle for Iphone and loved that.
So we opted to give the Kindle a try. My 8 year old is very responsible with her items and we felt she would take good care of it. It's a bit steep at a price tag at $259, however when I add up what I spent in one year of homeschooling using materials for just one year, I exceeded the price tag of the Kindle. And I didn't end up with 1500 books on my shelf. So when I looked at how many books I can store on the kindle, all free books of course, the price tag of $259 (the price has dropped on or about 6/20 or so to $189)seems to be very cheap for all the material it will hold. 

My 8 year old is loving the Kindle. She is reading about 2 Robinson books average on it per day. So since that is such a hit for her. I've been considering if an E-reader would be a good option for my 6 year old in the near future. Now I can't see getting her the kindle because I would say she is not quite as careful as my older daughter in regard to something so pricey. But I have found a few that would work well for her age group, you know the kind that you would not cry over if it did end up damaged LOL. 

Here are what I've found so far that are not as pricey as the Kindle or the Sony: 
If anyone comes across anymore I'd love to hear about them so I can look them over and make my decision. Here are some charts I found to do side by side comparisons:

So I've opted to purchase the Aluratek Libre from Amazon for my 6 year old. I just watched a nice Youtube on the feature (disclaimer that some of the comments under the video are quite rude but the video itself is great for giving a good overview). I went with the white not the black version. The black version is on sale though at Borders for $119 free shipping. 
****Well Fed Ex lost the package that was to arrive tomorrow which contained my Libre E-reader. So I asked for a refund verses a replacement on this from the seller on Amazon. I opted to order another Kindle. The price on the Kindle just dropped to $189. I have asked for a refund of the price difference (which I am told Amazon does within 30 days of purchase). So that will be a $70 refund on the first kindle, which I will be happy about. 
Another update as of 6/23 the Libre showed up, however I am not happy with the lack of font adjustment. It is also not as user friendly as the Kindle. It is going back but I wanted to at least take a look at it before sending it back. It would be fine for an older child I think. 

Here is a tip I just found for downloading the Gutenberg books right to Kindle verses having to use the computer to do it:
Below is copied from A Kindle World Blog: 
OH, for the Kindle, try this instead:

After downloading "The Magic Catalog of the Project Gutenberg E-Books (MOBI Edition) to your Kindle (or transferring it from your computer to the Kindle if you don't want to type in the long URL on the Kindle), follow James's instructions which are:

"Use your Kindle's Search Feature to find your favorite Author and/or Title.  Click to go to that page.  Click again on the Author: Title listing and your chosen E-Book will automagically download directly from the Project Gutenberg website to your Kindle..."

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Our flash card schedule and set up

Flash Card Supply List and Set Up

Flash Card Schedule

Math Flash Cards

Here are the workbox tags I just created on 7/10/10 to help us have this system run a bit smoother for me (that way I'm not making sure the kids did the right facts behind the right tabs)

Flash Card System Workbox Tags

Flash Card System Workbox Tags 2

**I was very inspired to come up with my own flash card system after reading

Our first day with the kindle

For anyone not familiar, the kindle is Amazon's ereader which allows you to download books either from Amazon, some free, some for a fee and also allows you to download various free books available online at places like:

So far I've uploaded some really great Robinson books:
-The Arthur Bailey Books
-Aesop's Fables
-Sophie May's series
-The Bobbsey Twins complete series
-The Little Pepper series

And some of my own add ons, such as:
-The Twin's series (such as The Dutch Twins, The Irish Twins, etc. there are 14 in the series).
-The history of Insects
-Grimm's Fairy Tales
-Reading Literature - The Primer (for my 6 year old)
-The Seven little Sisters who Loved on a Round Ball and the sequel
-The Complete series of the Wizard of Oz
-Word Mastery a Course in Phonics (for my 6 year old)
-Peter Pan
-Alice in Wonderland and the sequel
-The insect folk
-The great big treasury of Beatrix Potter
-New National First Reader
-Adventures of Pinocchio
-A Primary Reader
-Opera Stories from Wagner
-The Curious book of Birds
-Fifty Famous People
We have about 12 pages of books uploaded so far, about 112 books.


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

How it's going

We've been having a great few days. A few folks have asked me about the fun factor, is it missing from school? Are the days to long schooling a Robinson way?

We still do plenty of fun things, but I am not putting fun things in the kids workboxes any longer. We still cook together and bake, and play games. They still play tons with one another. They are still doing art on their own as well as nature study.
My husband had me add hitting golf balls to their schooling. I made a planner sheet for the kids to keep track of what they are doing each day (they fill it out when they are done):
Here is the one my 8 year old is using (the one for my 6 year old is similar though she has Explode the code for phonics on hers):
Skylar Daily School Log

Even though the Robinson curriculum sounds so serious, switching over this year to a more self directed style of my older daughter reading her own books was excellent. That was in place for about 6 months and was going great. We only recently did the switch over to Robinson type math which is using flash cards for mastery. And so far the kids are having a good time with that. They do them twice a day, everyday, no complaints. I print off drill sheets from Math-u-see to keep on top of prior concepts they learned using it and to review fact families.

I am trying to fine tune the best schooling hours for us. Today I think we'll be trying late afternoon. Then have an early dinner and then having the kids play outside after dinner and into the early evening. The heat is already in the 100's so even getting up early in the morning, unless they get up at 3am or 4am does not give them time to play together before the heat sets in. My little guy really hates the heat. I noticed last night at about 7:30 is when the best chore work was done, the girls were zooming through the house. And I commented that maybe night time chores would work better.
So I'll be running a little experiment to see what works best for us.

I also wanted to encourage anyone who has glanced it over before to give Robinson another look. You do not have to do follow everything Dr. Robinson says to make this program work for your family.

I'm still doing a family science, my older daughter reads that to younger sister and then they journal on it. They have fun with that and I figure we'll at least go on until they finish the book they are reading for that.