When school ended May, I didn't want to think about next school year at all. That attitude lasted for a full six weeks. Earlier this week, sometime between coming home from a lovely week in Tahoe and putting the last of the laundry away, my mind shifted to all-homeschool-all-the-time mode.
So in the mornings, I worked around the house and in the afternoons, I planned our history curriculum for the year, made a back to school shopping list, and ordered the last of our curriculum (CBD finally had an Apologia sale! Yay!) And I wrote posts
Besides homeschool and housework, I also took the kids to see Despicable Me 3 and made a few jars of refrigerator dill pickles.
I love summer, because I finally have time to read. (Gotta be by the pool in case of an emergency!)
Last month, I finished readinga collection of essays by CS Lewis on fantasy and sci fi and that made me want to read a few good fantasy novels. While on vacation, I read Seraphina which is a young adult novel. Unlike a lot of young adult novels, I would actually recommend this one to a young adult! It's a smart book, but not overly mature, if you know what I mean...
The Little Paris Bookshop appealed to me because I love to read books about people who love to read books. It was a good summer read.
Another book about people who like to read books was the Jane Austen Book Club. This was a fun, light read for me after reading all of Jane Austen's novels earlier this year.
Mystery of History is a BIG program to sort through. I have found that it is easier on me if I do the majority of my planning and preparing before I read the first page to my kids.
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Step 1: Make a Lesson Planning Grid and Fill it Out
For me, the first step to planning is to print up a simple grid to use as a planner. I used Google Docs to make a four column grid and included enough rows for two weeks worth of lessons per page.
As I glanced over the lessons, I took notes for each lesson. In the first column, I wrote the title of each chapter, lesson number, and page numbers. The second column is for writing additional readings. I also used it to jot down map activities and quizzes I planned on doing. The third and fourth columns are to jot down notes on narrations and activities I want my kids to do. Most of the activities come straight from Mystery of History, but a few come from Story of the World Activity Book 2.
After going through the book and filling out the grid, I jotted down the titles of relevant library books at the top of each page so I can quickly go to our library's website and reserve the books I need. I found most of these books by browsing through the literature recommendations at the back of the book and in the Story of the World Activity Book 2. I also checked to see if our library had the books I wanted before writing the titles down.
I used the bottom margin to jot down notes on lessons that I want to include. I plan on doing a lesson on William Tell, because he is part of my heritage. I also plan on adding lessons on ancient Mexico, because that is a part of my husband's heritage.
I still have to write in my son's additional readings, which will be from books like Adam of the Road and the Adventures of Robin Hood, but I don't have all of those books in my hands yet.
Step 2: Make Copies and File Them Behind the Relevant Planning Page
I hate making copies. Since I hate making them as much on busy school days as on lazy summer days I decided to put on a podcast and make all the copies that I would need for history for the year.
It actually took a few podcasts to get the job done.
After making copies, I filed them behind the relevant lesson planning page.
Not all of my copies were from the Mystery of History book. Some I found online and some of the other supplement books I drew from were:
Amy Pak's History Through the Ages Timeline Figures
History Pockets: Ancient Civilizations
History Pockets: Ancient Rome
History Pockets: Native Americans
Story of the World Activity Book 2
Days of Knights and Damsels
I reviewed some of these supplemental activity books in this post and discussed how I used them.
Step 3: Pick a Storage System and Put Everything Away
I store my copies and plans in colorful folders and a file box. I include 12 lessons per folder. This is what my finished folders and file look like:
You could just as easily store everything in a binder and pull out pages as you need them.
Whenever I pull out a set of copies, I usually just put them in my Mystery of History book at the relevant chapter, so I have them ready to go the minute I open the book.
That's it! Since I'm already familiar with Mystery of History, once I got started, it only took a few hours to plan my year and a couple more hours to make copies and file them.
If this is your first year using Mystery of History, you will probably want to take a couple more hours to read the introductory chapters and familiarize yourself with the book.
Here's everything, shelved and ready to go! Here is a link to my exact small file box and large file box. Both are super sturdy and I've used them for years.
Be sure to read my next post in this series: Activity Books to Use With Mystery of History, Vol. 2
Back to school shopping is a little different for us homeschoolers, but not that much different. Here are my must buys at this year's back to school sales.
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Besides buying packs of cheap Crayolas, packs of paper, and pens, some of the things I always get at back to school sales are:
Mechanical Pencils--I used to hate mechanical pencils, but we recently tried out these Paper Mate Clearpoint Mechanical Pencils and converted from our beloved Ticonderoga Pencils. The leads are sturdy and hard to break. With an always-sharp-point, my dysgraphic son's handwriting is a bit easier to read. And I'm less likely to have to clean up pencil shavings when someone drops the sharpener on the floor.
Graph Paper Notebooks--These are for my oldest son. Read why they are a must for his handwriting issues here and here. He currently uses one for math and one for science. I am adding one for his history narrations this year, too. These notebooks are pricey and don't go on sale outside of back to school season.
Composition Notebooks--The bindings never come apart, they are super portable, the smaller page size not intimidating at all, and some even have a sturdy cover. I get this one with room to draw for my first grader's journal. I get stacks of the plain college rule ones for myself and wide rule ones for my oldest son who likes to compose stories in his. I prefer the Mead 100 page composition books and will pay an extra quarter for them over the off brands any day of the week.
Permanent Glue Sticks--If you don't want anything your kids glued into their notebooks to fall out after a few weeks, get the permanent glue sticks. These are my favorite. Oh and be sure to put them away, unless you want a permanent collage on your daughter's door. Ahem.
Back to School clothes shopping is a lot more relaxed for us homeschoolers because we don't need quite as much to start the school year. It's easier on my budget to spread out clothes shopping throughout the year. That doesn't mean that I don't take advantage of the sales. A few things that I always buy at the back to school sales are:
Jean Sales--Jeans never go cheaper than at back to school time and my kids manage to get holes in the knees of their jeans before they outgrow them, so I stock up.
BOGO Shoe Sales--Usually the sales are buy one get one half off. I always try to hold out for BOGO shoe sales.
Packages of Socks--The only clothing item to get holes quicker than jeans. I stock up on the cute packs for kids when they go on sale at Costco.
A Few Fresh New Shirts and a Couple Pairs of Shorts--Where I live, we have HOT weather through October. I don't even look at jackets and sweatshirts until they move to clearance.
How About You?
What are your must buys for this year's back to school sales? Leave a comment below. I'd love to hear how you approach back to school shopping!
More to Read
After a few weeks off from school and blogging it's time to start thinking about next school year. I just ordered the last of our curriculum and thought I'd share what my 7th grader will be doing next year.
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For math, we are departing from Singapore Math to do a year of Saxon Math before starting Algebra in 8th grade. I wrote about my options on what to do after Singapore 6 in this post if you want to read about other 7th grade math choices.
The core of my son's language arts program will be Writing and Rhetoric books 7 & 8. He will also be doing a formal spelling program this year just because I am noticing some spelling errors in longer, vowel heavy words. Read my review of Writing and Rhetoric.
For literature, he will be reading historical fiction, biographies, stories, and legends that go along with our history studies of the middle ages. So far he have King Arthur, Robin Hood, Beowulf, Arabian Nights, selected Viking legends, and Adam of the Road on his reading list. I am also looking for a couple of biographies to round out his reading list. I also plan of listening to The Chronicles of Narnia on audiobook in the car as a family.
This year, we are studying the Middle Ages as a family. My son will be going through Mystery of History 2 as his spine. Last year, we started with MOH 1 as a family, but it just didn't work for us and our age spread. The second book in the series seems to be a lot stronger, and I think my son will enjoy it.
I'm sad that this year I need to have my son do his own science curriculum, independent of the rest of the family. However, I am excited to start Apologia's General Science along with him. We will only be using the textbook and tests. Even though it looks like a fabulous supplement, I have opted out of ordering the Notebooking Journal because my son is dysgraphic and there seems to be a lot of unlined writing space. I will be using graph paper notebook pages like these in lieu of the notebooking journal.
He will continue to make entries in his nature journal.
This year, my son will continue working on Spanish via Duolingo. A lesson takes about 15 minutes a day, which is just right. Once a week, he will do a lesson in Artisitic Pursuits. He will also be taking golf lessons 1-2 times per week with a few boys from his school.
As a family, we will be reading the book of Acts and selections from Paul's letters together and memorizing the Apostle's Creed.