Monday, September 21, 2015

Scholastic Reading Club - October

This year I am ordering for a larger group of homeschooling families, so to keep things consistent for everyone I have set the order deadlines for the first Thursday of each month.  I can place additional orders if there is enough interest, just reach out to me and let me know if you need or would like to order later in the month.

I do not make any commission and this is not a business for me.  I simply enjoyed Reading Clubs as a child and want to be able to share that as a homeschool community with our children.  Any free books are donated to Treehouse Learning Community (a homeschool enrichment program) or to a local charity organization.

How it works:
  •  ENTER the one-time Class Activation Code
  •  SHOP from a carefully curated selection of the best books and value packs
  •  SUBMIT your order (will be charged when the order is submitted on the first Thursday of the month)
  •  All book orders will be shipped to our group coordinator (me)

I receive the books approximately one week after placing them.  I have set times available for pick up of books in Round Rock (Fridays), Georgetown (Thursdays), and Hutto (Tuesdays). Please email me and we will make arrangements.

If you need need the Class Activation code please email me or send me a Facebook message and I will send it over.  I have updated my Scholastic profile to reflect our more diverse set of learners this year but I have yet to receive a wider range of flyers.  In the meantime, here are links for the October flyers for the age groups indicated.  First order will be placed Thursday, October 1, 2015.

Early Childhood - Firefly

Grades K-1 - SeeSaw

Grades 2-3 - Lucky

Grades 4-6 - Arrow

Please contact me with any questions.  Thanks!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Slow Cooker Whole Chicken

I just made a whole chicken in the slow cooker for the first time and it was the best chicken I have ever made, ever.  So moist and so easy.  I normally brine a chicken for 24 hours before roasting it in the oven and it still isn't as moist as it was when made in the slow cooker.  If you like a crispy skin on your chicken though, you won't get it in the slow cooker.  My family usually just removes the skin so it wasn't a big deal to us.
Forgive the bad picture. I wasn't planning to blog it until it came out so yummy!
First, before you doing anything with the chicken or spices, grab some foil and roll 4 balls of foil to put under the chicken.  She shows you how over at No. 2 Pencil and trust me, she's right.  I chose not to follow her recipe because she used a pre-mixed spice blend.  I have found that the spice blends at the store are often not friendly to the Elimination Diet restrictions and I prefer to balance spices myself.

Spice Blend - Mix together in a small bowl.

2 t. salt
1 t. paprika
1 t. garlic powder
1 t. onion flakes
2 t. black pepper
1 t. red chili flakes

1 whole chicken, 3.5-4.5 lbs.
3-4 T. EVOO or butter
1 medium yellow onion
3 cloves of garlic

After mixing the spices, grab your chicken.  Don't rinse it.  If your chicken came with the neck, I recommend placing it on the bottom of the cooker next to the foil balls for later use in making stock. Place chicken in slow cooker atop foil balls.

Rub the chicken with oil or butter. (I use EVOO.) Then rub the chicken with spices both on top and under the skin for extra flavor.  Chop the yellow onion into 4-5 wedges.  Roughly chop the garlic cloves.  Place onion wedges and chopped garlic into the bird's cavity.

Cook the chicken on low for 4-5 hours.  (Time and temperature will vary by cooker type.)  Use a meat thermometer to check if chicken is done.

What I Learned Week 1

Reflection.  It's a good thing, necessary for growth, both personal and professional.  It's an indispensable tool for teachers of all types.  It comes naturally to me but I don't always remember to write it down, which isn't helpful.  This past week was our first week of homeschool for the 2015-2016 school year and I have learned (or was reminded) of SO many lessons from my children.

What Did I Learn?
  • Spreadsheets are Helpful but Simple is Best - I had a huge spreadsheet for Week 1.  I mean HUGE, about three times what is shown below.  I had it divided up by day and subject, including page numbers and references.  It was super organized.  Did I use it?  Some, but I kept simplifying it to a little daily checklist.  
  • Calendar Time is almost useless as long as it remains in their room (with all their toys nearby). Do the routine and picture books but notebooking is pointless.
  • Quiet Boxes - It's pointless to plan what goes in them ahead of time.  
  • Reading - Picture book reading works best as part of Calendar Time; Read Aloud time works best during afternoon snack time.
  • Phonics - It either clicks for my girl or it doesn't.  If it doesn't then there's no use dwelling on it.  It will frustrate us both.  Keep practicing reading skills and eventually it will just click.
  • Handwriting - My girl needs practice, practice, practice until all those old bad habits from public school are gone. My boy isn't ready - color and trace, color and trace.
  • Fridays are for review.  No one feels like sitting and concentrating on something new by that point in the week.
  • Feedback from the kids - Craft projects. More music time. Don't leave Science until last.

What Did We Do?

Week 1
Field Trips
Beach; Six Flags; Library
Bible Verse, 100 Days, Letter, Number, Pledge, Weather
Hot air : the (mostly) true story of the first hot-air balloon ride Marjorie Priceman.
How do hot air balloons work? Buffy Silverman.
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst
The Little Engine that Could by Watty Piper
The Cheese by Margie Palatini
A Year of Playing Skillfully
Sensory Box
Sand & Seashells
Phonics - CH/SH; Phonics Review; Phonics Review; Writing - All About Me; Sight Words - First Grade
Singapore Math - Go Fish, War card games
Bible Sketchbook - God made Heavens & Earth, Eve and the Serpent, Rules - Fruit of the Tree
Music & Art
Combined with Science and Writing
Combined with Calendar time

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Play-based Scope and Sequence - THP Giveaway

So many people expressed interest in a Scope and Sequence for A Year of Playing Skillfully (AYPS) that I thought I would give it a shot! Below I provided an example of how I organized the first month, September, which you can receive as a free trial from their website, isn't that fun? [September Free Trial]

And in publishing it I decided there could be no better time for a book giveaway.  Now I realize that most of you who are navigating to this post already own The Homegrown Preschooler - and know how awesome it is - so this is your time to share it with your friends! 

By "Scope and Sequence" I mean a simple outline set up by week that gives a suggestion of what activities to complete together.  I did my best to group activities by a logical theme and order.  If you have purchased the entire curriculum and would like assistance putting together a sequence that works for your family, please feel free to contact me.  I am happy to help.

Click the link or the picture for your own PDF that outlines the first month of AYPS.

A Year of Playing Skillfully

 The Homegrown Preschooler Giveaway

Now for the added bonus - don't have your own copy of The Homegrown Preschooler yet? Leave a comment below telling me why you love Play-Based Learning or a suggestion of how to improve the Scope and Sequence.  I will draw a winner and ship out the book to you in time for the new school year.

As mentioned previously - I typically post our week's lessons here as a reference point for myself and my husband, like this: Week at a Glance.  You are welcome to follow along.  And I am slowly but surely getting back to crafting, sewing, and knitting so a few of those posts will hopefully come along too. Enjoy!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Scope & Sequence (In Progress)

For this year we are preparing for First Grade (6 y/o girl - G) and Preschool (almost 4 y/o boy - J). We are now officially required by Texas to include Reading, Writing, Spelling, Math, and Civics lessons into our schoolwork, not that we weren't including this previously, but now we have to be able to prove it.

G is reading right at a Kindergarten level and loves the Hooked on Phonics program.  She is a Math whiz and Singapore Math works well for her.  She enjoys seat work that "feels like school".

J disagrees.  He's very active but has just recently taken an interest in his sister's seat work.  He plays well on his own, which is good because sister likes to have absolute silence when working on seat work, but unfortunately brother's independent play time does not always coordinate with her desire for silence.  Handwriting has also been a challenge so we took some time off and will be returning to letter formation this year.

In an effort to address both their needs and integrate programs I am working on a Scope and Sequence for our activities and lessons.  It also helps should I ever have to present our curriculum to the state. Brother wants to do anything that sister does, but sometimes that interferes with both of their learning.  I plan to use a Quiet Box to keep him learning in a separate space from his sister when she needs to focus.

We are using:
I supplement from a number of sources, such as Sid the Science Kid coordinated Science lessons and Doodles Ave Lonestar State coloring books for Civics lessons.

I split the organization into three pages:
  • First Grade (items only G completes; J joins for Shared Reading)
  • Preschool (items only J completes, G joins for Literacy at her choice)
  • Combined
These are a work-in-progress that I will update with additional activities and links over the next week or two.  We intend to start after Labor Day with our new school year.

A few things to note - since we live in Texas certain activities are earlier/later than may be usual in other parts of the nation.  For example, we have to pick apples early, but our foliage won't change until very late.

Very shortly I will also post a weekly outline similar to what we used last semester: Week at a Glance