Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Homeschool on a Chair

My son loved his Waldorf school from K-2. I'd wanted to try homeschool, but there was no convincing him - until one Friday at the end of his first trimester of 3rd grade. He wasn't happy there anymore. He told me on a Friday and we started homeschooling the next Monday. I had two days to read up on homeschooling, look for resources and get together what I could from what was around the house. It was very sudden. We had a world globe, a pretty decent collection of books and help from homeschool mom bloggers with advice to give (to whom I am forever grateful). There was some panic at realizing just how sophisticated some homeschoolers' resource collections are, but we had what we had and, as we always do, we did what we could with it.

Three months later we don't have much more than what we started with, but with some help from educational websites, we have all we need - and it all fits on one chair that lives in my office. Since I work lots on my computer, we often have class in my office, or I set him up to work alone in other spaces around the house. It's very handy to have it all in one place. Here's what fits on that chair, spread out:

Of course some of these items are frequently replaced by others, but I think I will always manage to fit them on my chair. It's a great use of the chair too, as we hardly ever sit on chairs at our house. In no way am I saying that the extent of our homeschooling fits on this chair, there´s much more to it than the tangible resources we use. This is mostly to give newbies like me an idea of what one low-budget homeschool family has on their "bookshelf" as far as resources go.

Check out "Sites We Use" on the right-hand column to see the science, math, worksheets and grammar sites we are using - they're all FREE. I also compliment almost all of our subjects with videos from YouTube. You can find a video on pretty much anything these days, and it's FREE!

The Miniature Earth

This great little video is giving me loads of ideas for activities to do with my son.

The Miniature Earth: if we could turn the population of the Earth into a small community of 100 people, keeping the same proportions we have today, it would be something like this...

It shows you, out of 100, how many people there would be from each continent, religion, economic situation, gender, level of education, etc.

I think we´ll start by using beans to show the proportions. We can work out the percentages, make charts and graphs, study the main religions mentioned...

It´s a great social studies project!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

I Feel Like a Real Mom

I think one of my greatest realizations from starting homeschool is how I had completely handed over my son's education to the school he was attending. I somehow thought that because he was going to school, my only job was to get him ready in the mornings, feed him and get him to bed at night - that's what it felt like. There was something missing and I couldn't put my finger on it. I knew I wanted to spend more time with him, but I didn't realize that my whole self was being deprived of something essential.

Now that we're homeschooling, not only am I happy to be taking responsibility of his education and spending the whole day with him, but mostly I am just HAPPY. I feel complete. I feel like a real mother and not just a caretaker. I feel like I've been given back something that was taken away from me the moment I started sending him to another place (school) so that other people could do the greatest part of MY JOB.

I knew homeschooling would be wonderful for us, but I didn't know how wonderful it would be for ME. I feel activated, excited and rejuvenated, not to mention everything I'm learning by being in the 3rd grade again at 35!

Fables, Myths and Legends

Look at what I found today!

Online Collection of Aesop´s Fables

Storytime - Greek Mythology for Kids at Winged Sandals

and this great directory for loads more at Folklore, Myth and Legend

And remember, I only link to FREE stuff!

Monday, June 27, 2011


Your smile is my smile

Millions of poems I hear

Dance among the stars

Check out
KidZone Poetry Projects
for FREE ideas and print-outs

Sunday, June 26, 2011

ideas para motivar la escritura

Hurricane Season is Back

and with it, much river fun!

Guatemala's rainy season is always exciting with hurricanes, landslides, and highways collapsing.

Nevertheless, it brings us a river that runs behind our house. We build dams, retaining walls, sand traps and have picnics.

This is real Earth Science experience! The perfect compliment for our recent studies on sedimentary and metamorphic rock.

We're using this Free Online Science Book (grades 1-5)

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Leaving the Room

Today we finished Scott Foresman Free Grammar & Writing Unit 1.

It was a struggle, as English is my son's second language, but we did it!

I'm not afraid to admit that I like workbooks, especially for grammar. That my son learn to write decently is essential to me.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

We Love to Dance

I had the best dance class ever today with my son. I'm a dancer/choreographer and very happy that he's diggin' the beats from a very young age.

My son participates in a twice weekly social art program that I run from our home, so he gets a lot of dance from that, but we also do a private session once a week - just the two of us, and sometimes one other little friend who is also homeschooled. She didn't make it to class today, so I decided to skip the ballet and try something a little different.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Freak Outs - Long Division vs. Everything Else

Learning History objectively with my son is definitely one of my main goals. We've only been homeschooling for three months, and I'm just starting to figure out how to make a schedule that works for us.

I know there are families out there managing to cover all the "important" subjects in two or three hours a day, but we're barely managing to squeeze everything in - even though we're putting in as much as five hours a day just on Language Arts, Science and Math. I really want to have a History focus, but don't want to sacrifice any of the conventional basics.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Researching for Main Project

A love for learning goes hand in hand with good research skills. Teaching your child to investigate things he or she is interested in, sows the seed for self-directed life-long learning.

The Life of a Plant - A Life Science Poem

Ideas for Word Problems

Blogs for Kids

Managing a blog can be a great way to motivate kids to write creatively. My son's blog is in Spanish. He usually chooses his own topics. He's learning how to type with a typing program. His blog helps him practice typing, composition and computer skills.

Science Tests - Life Science and Earth Science – Grade 3

*to compliment the use of Scott Foresman On-line Science Text Units 1 and 2

We Homeschool Because ...

  1. we love being with our son
  2. we want to tailor his education to his skills and needs
  3. we don´t believe in the public education system
  4. we want to make sure he learns what we think is important
  5. we believe the human race will continue making the same mistakes if we don't make radical changes to the way we educate our children

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Grammar and Writing

We're using these worksheets for quick grammar lessons and these on-line printable textbooks for longer writing and composition lessons.


We have Geography class at least once a week. I printed out outline maps from this site and we're working through the continents. This year we're focusing on being able to label a blank map of the Americas; recognizing the names of African, European and Asian countries and knowing on what continent they are; and, watching Cultural Videos and reading Creation stories from around the world.

Religions of the World

Check out this Religions of the World Site
We´ll be using it hand in hand with our World History studies.

Main Project - Solar System

Twice a week, for at least an hour, we work on developing a project around one central theme. Our first project was on Dinosaurs, now we're working on the Solar System.

We're watching Space School Videos. You can find them all on this YouTube Page. We're also working with these Worksheets on the Planets.

This Video on star size comparison is a must see!


We use this On-line Science Textbook and like it a lot.

We usually do two 90 minute classes a week.
I read the lessons before-hand and prepare questions for him in our Science notebook for reinforcement. We recently finished the first unit on Life Science. I wrote up a 50 question "test" for him. He studied from his notebook, very seriously, and got 49 out of 50 right! When Dad printed the test out, he realized that he didn't know half the answers himself. One of the best things about homeschooling is that the whole family gets to learn!

World History

I found this great site for World History. It has everything from Prehistoric Humans to the French Revolution. There are too many ads on the site to have my son read straight from it, so I copied and pasted it onto a Word document. It also needed some editing. All of this took me two days to finish, but now we have a really great, compact but thorough, World History Book. It has lots of pictures and reads well.

Enrichment Videos for Geography Classes

Great videos for learning about different cultures.


We take
an hour a day
to read a
chapter from
whatever book
we're on.

So far we've read
Charlotte's Web
and now we're on
our second book.

I either read the chapter before-hand and prepare questions for him to answer in his notebook, or ask him to write a short summary on the chapter. If the chapter is very long, we take turns reading out loud.

Main Project - Dinosaurs

We do a Main Project, or Unit Study, every 1.5 - 2 months.

Each project is developed around one central theme.

Our first Main Project was about dinosaurs.


There are so many math sites out there with free printable pages.
Here are some we use:

Our Weekly Schedule

We're nearly at three months of homeschooling. One of the things I've been looking for, but haven't been able to find much of, are people's schedules. What do homeschoolers do day-to-day?

Especially at the beginning, I needed examples, so here's an example of our weekly schedule:

This is more or less what we do in a week. It's not written in stone, but we try to stick to it. If we get a late start in the morning, we might work right up until lunchtime at 1:00pm, or we might even skip a class one day and do it on Saturday instead. But, we do have to accomplish everything on the schedule every week.

As you can see, we take Wednesdays off, but not entirely. We often use them for catching up or getting ahead. We might take the whole day off, or we might work for a couple of hours, especially if there were interruptions during our regular days. My son prefers having four longer school days and one day off in the middle of the week.

I've hired two extra teachers. One is a teen-aged friend who is good at sports and comes once a week to play soccer. The other is a woman who teaches Kakchikel - the local Mayan language of the town where we live. We are calling this Third Language in the schedule, even though my son has spoken it since he started talking. My husband is British, and I am Guatemalan, so my son is trilingual - English, Spanish and Kakchikel. He also gets one weekly private dance class with another homeschooled child, that I teach.

Catch-up or Get Ahead Time is exactly that. We use it especially for our text-book / work-book classes like Grammar and Science.

Main Projects are 1.5 month-long processes that we do around one central theme. First we did Dinosaurs and now we're on the Solar System. Each process includes research and note-taking, art projects, watching videos, and giving a presentation at the end.

I work a lot at my computer, and we mostly do classes in my office, so when he's working on something he can do alone, I'm nearby in case he needs help - but can still manage to get some of my own work done.

I spend some time each night preparing. In Science, for example, I read through the chapter that we will read together the next day, and prepare questions for him in our Science notebook. I feel the text book doesn't have enough review questions, so I make up my own. I also write up almost all of or our Math worksheets myself, so that I can tailor them to where he's at. I use math sites to get ideas and make sure that we're covering the 3rd grade math standards.

My son participates in a twice-a-week art program through the social project that we run. This is his main big-group socializing time with 30+ kids. In the program, he learns dance, theater, circus arts, arts&crafts, painting, singing and cooperation games.

(Note from the future - I wrote this post at the beginning of our homeschool journey, and it is one of my most popular posts. We have since changed up our schedule MANY times. Our natural rhythm requires flexibility for constant change. No one schedule has lasted us more than a few months. Check out more recent posts on how we work our schedule through the year.)