Golden Grasses

Friday, October 24, 2014

Classical Conversations During the Rest of the Week

Classical Conversations Community Day Day is obvious; it's 5 crisp 1/2 hour segments, new grammar, science labs, art, presentation and grammar review. It's fast, furious and fun.

But at home, what then? There is no Well Trained Tutor at home (unless you're the Tutor, too, like me). If you aren't one and want to become one, check out my list of must-reads here and get yourself to a CC Practicum.  Here are the CC Must Have tools and what we do with them on a very regular basis at home, between Community Days.
CC Must Have Tools
Time line cards
CC Cycle CD's- timeline, weekly and subject CD's.*
Black line master geography maps- laminated.
Latin flash cards
CC Foundations Guide *
CC Multiplication Tables, Squares and Cubes 
white board and markers (optional, but great to have. We have a 4 x 6 on the wall and a 1 x 3).

As you can see, you don't need to spend a fortune to make this work.

The Plan
We do a lot of what we do at class day at home. I get out the flashcards, the geography cards, the science cards, the states and capitals Popsicle sticks and map, the Latin cards and then we go from subject area to subject area. I do have some more elaborate games that I take to Community Day for review, but at home, it's mostly just the basics.

We listen to the Timeline song several times a week -at least 2-3 times, all the way through. We do the timeline flashcards. This includes my "flashing" the cards while the kids say them in order, as well as my mixing them up and having them put them back in order. Because my kids are old-hat at the VP history flashcards, they learned the CC cards in about 2 weeks, thanks to the CD. We still go over them at least twice a week. Review is key to long term memory acquisition. They generally love doing it. They also spend time reading the cards. They are a bit different than the VP cards and I was worried that they wouldn't be able to make the transition well. The CD is worth every penny as once that song is in their heads (and yours!) you'll be singing it morning, noon and night!
We listen to the subject CD 2-4 times a week, especially focusing on grammar, Latin and math up to the week we are on in Community Day. We live out of town and drive to town twice a week. During those times we listen to the CD's. While the 20 year old who is traveling with us once a week feigns exasperation with the CD he is often the one that pauses it to tell us unique and idiosyncratic facts about various people mentioned on it. Just yesterday he recounted a  fascinating piece of history about the English Kings. That's what a decade of dedicated timeline work gets you. History geeks in the extreme. Which I love.

We listen to the weekly CD up to the week we are on in Community Day at least twice a week and then in the car on the way to community day. I'll also play it when the kids are cleaning the bathrooms or we need something easy, but effective, to do.

We do timed multiplication tables, at least 2 a day. My kids are older and know their times tables, but speed is another issue and we are working towards getting super fast at all of them through 15's. We also go over squares and cubes regularly, because we are doing them in Essentials already. They have familiarity with it, so we are working ahead. The term "squares" and "cubes" is relatively new grammar for Flower. By drilling it regularly, she is becoming familiar and fluent with the concepts and better able to apply it when it comes up.  For younger kids, I would recommend doing the skip counting and numbers chart a couple of times a week, focusing on the numbers introduced that week.
We go over the geography 2-3 times a week.. I include the postal abbreviations, I ask capitals or states, they I.D.location on the map. I point and they have to I.D. state and capital,river or landmark, etc. I also have geography flashcards that I found at the teacher supply store. These have the shape of the state on the front and the kids have to ID the state and capital by shape. In addition, they both work on drawing, using blob map techniques at first and going from general to specific.

We do Latin flashcards- both Latin and English 3-5 times a week. We utilize mnemonics, including ASL to help with particularly tricky vocab, such as irregular verbs.

Along with that, I do go over the Foundations Guide memory work for the week we are on at least 2-3 times a week.I drill it and drill it and drill some more. The kids have been doing this since they were 4 and 7. They get it. They see the value of it. In the past, I've put it on a large white-board, just like at Community Day. Thanks to CC connected, I have "Fridge Facts" posted, along with the entire Latin and English Bible Memory work and different graphics on Grammar. Because this is not the first time through a Foundations Cycle for my kids, some of this memory work seems so easy. We still drill. Recall is different than long term memory.
We are also doing Essentials. We copy charts 3-4 times a week, 2 each time. I dictate sentences for the task sheet the day after class.  I drill Keys to the Classroom at least a couple of times a day. For the writing, we do KWO one day and then write and do dress-ups another day. Cub has his own groove with papers and usually just knocks it out. Flower needs a bit more help and so I usually help her at the dress-up stage, along with help for spelling.

This is a simple and effective program, but does require time on task and intentionality. Most kids still need  a good amount of parental input to make this work and to really own the material.

Also, remember that the first 160 timeline cards are a challenge. The next 160 points on the timeline are more easily accessible, because they already have 160 points of reference. It builds on itself exponentially from there. Same with the foundations memory work. Don't be discouraged if your 4 year old doesn't get what an infinitive is. Just trust the system. When they hit Essentials, you'll be amazed at how quickly they recall complicated definitions and how readily they apply them. That's the beauty of long term memory- your kids own the material and when it is time to apply it, they can with ease.

Questions, comments?

@Golden Grasses 2008-2013. All photographs, artwork and text are the property of the owner unless otherwise stated. Don't miss a thing! Subscribe to Golden Grasses and get our articles right to your inbox!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Fall Homeschool Happenings

We are making good use of some terrific classes, labs, on-line courses and co-ops this fall. I was told a couple of years ago that I wasn't a "real" homschooler because I outsourced. Um, whatever. My kids are home. We school. Call it what you will.
Like I've shared already, we are once again participating in Classical Conversations. It's not just a bit good; it's great. Every week in class Flower goes over new memory work in 7 different areas, completes a  Science experiment, an Art Project and an opportunity to do a presentation and then does memory review-often in the form of games for a 1/2 hour. If it sounds like I know the schedule intimately, it's because I'm the Tutor. I have every bit as much fun as the kids and only wish we had about an hour more during CC mornings.
Classical Conversations afternoon classes consist of Essentials. It's a great 2 hours program and consists of 45 minutes of Grammar, 45 minutes of  Writing and 1/2 hour of Math games. The Math games are simple but challenging, forcing the kids to think on their feet quickly and accurately. The Grammar requires more memorization and Writing demands a paper a week. More to love, right?

Learning Labs with Bridgeway Academy are worth every effort. Cub is taking Chemistry Lab this semester in an on-line, live, interactive class. Homework means more labs, lab reports and reading. He is challenged, yes, he is, but loving the coursework, the lab kit (goggles, chemicals and other cool stuff).
Flower is taking Architecture with Brick Building. Think Legos, think architectural design. Lego creations as homework? Think, happy child.

We are hosting a small in-home co-op as well where the kids get Bio lab (I love all these science labs!!), the Grammar of Poetry (yes, more writing!) and Cultural Awareness from a local Missionary who spent 4 years in Turkey. Talk about more great stuff. Not only are we loving the classes and field trips, the kids interact so well together, helping each other, laughing, playing crazy games in the yard every chance they get and sharing snacks and jokes. The Moms are loads of fun and I hope everyone leaves as encouraged as I feel, week after week.

Flower also has Science Club with Margy  once a week. I know, I know, more science. But, we've had the awesome good fortune to have Margy teach before, so, we know what a great class it will be. Plus, it's with Flowers girlies, meaning winning combo.
And then, Jannell is teaching a small art class, which is mostly girls, but Cub is official "assistant" -yes, he loves Jannell's art classes that much. Now that I finally have it on my calendar, we might actually make it! 
In between the other classes we are doing Math, more Science, Spelling and Vocabulary, latin and tons of reading. Currently Flower is reading Amos Fortune, Free Man (a fantastic book- if you haven't read it yet, you should) and Cub is reading The 9 Tailors by Dorothy Sayers. He's a bit bored by it and it's not a Sayers I would normally say to start with, but he is getting through it for my sake.

Phys. Ed is bi-monthly ballroom dancing, jogging with Dad and going to the gym with Moi. Nightly Bible reading, and they actually fall into bed exhausted some days.
Meanwhile, Feeche is taking a full courseload at college, working a regular schedule roofing and handymaning with a contractor friend and doing a 1-day a week Screenwriting workshop. He's a bit busy. Like, we hardly see him, but we know he still lives here because the food disappears, along with my car on a daily basis.

It's an abundance of riches. Which is good, because Dr. Dh and I have our day jobs. All of the outsourcing allows us to provide a quality, customized homeschooling experience for our kids, even give our work schedules. Which is really great news.

Want to know more about Bridgeway Academy Learning Labs?   Wondering what the virtual classroom has to offer and what each course is all about?  Take part in our Student Learning Lab informational webinar to be held Thursday, November 6th at 10:00 am Eastern Time.  The Student Learning Lab teachers will all be present to talk about the courses we offer - great information which will help you get a sense of each course's content - and there will be a time for questions and answers.

Extra bonus!  All attendees will receive a special discount code good toward the purchase of any one or more of our Student Learning Lab courses!  Invite your friends and share the savings!  Register now; space is limited! REGISTER

Want to find a Classical Conversations Community near you? Find one here.

@Golden Grasses 2008-2013. All photographs, artwork and text are the property of the owner unless otherwise stated. Don't miss a thing! Subscribe to Golden Grasses and get our articles right to your inbox!

Jars Of Clay - Jealous Kind




"Jealous Kind"


I built another temple to a stranger
I gave away my heart to the rushing wind
I set my course to run right into danger
Sought the company of fools instead of friends

You know I've been unfaithful
Lovers in lines
While you're turning over tables with the rage of a jealous kind
I chose the gallows to the aisle
Thought that love would never find
Hanging ropes will never keep you
And your love of a jealous kind
Love of a jealous kind

Trying to jump away from rock that keeps on spreading
For solace in the shift of the sinking sand
I'd rather feel the pain all too familiar
Than to be broken by a lover I don't understand
'Cause I don't understand

One hundred other lovers, more, one hundred other altars
If I should slow my pace and finally subject me to grace
And love that shames the wise, betrays the heart's deceit and lies
And breaks the back of foolish pride


@Golden Grasses 2008-2013. All photographs, artwork and text are the property of the owner unless otherwise stated. Don't miss a thing! Subscribe to Golden Grasses and get our articles right to your inbox!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Trends and Challenges in Homeschooling

Tune in to the  HomeschoolLeadercast.com -listen in as Dr. Dh and I talking about Trends and Challenges in Homeschooling

~Definitely stay up on what’s going on in education, generally in the country. Education matters in our country whether we’re participating in government school, or private school or homeschool, because the way education goes is the way our country goes.

@Golden Grasses 2008-2013. All photographs, artwork and text are the property of the owner unless otherwise stated. Don't miss a thing! Subscribe to Golden Grasses and get our articles right to your inbox!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Classical Conversations Review Games

My big wins for memory review have been matching games.
Popsicle sticks for states and capitols. Once they are matched to the postal abbreviation, the kids have to name it and point it out on the map.
More match-ups with Latin/English. I got fancy this week and printed Latin on colorful card-stock, but it's easy enough with 2 x 4s and a sharpie.

Time-line cards in order, with the caveat that they can't sing the song as they match. My group of Master's kids have the song down cold, but I want them to be able to do the time-line without it as well. Each group did great working as teams and I loved how they divided and conquered the timeline. This last week we were at 28 cards. I thought they'd all be fastest on this matching game, but not always!

To really make it more fun, I have 3 stations and 2 groups of 2-3 and they race against each other. They loved the race aspect of it and nobody cared that they weren't racing against the same things.

@Golden Grasses 2008-2013. All photographs, artwork and text are the property of the owner unless otherwise stated. Don't miss a thing! Subscribe to Golden Grasses and get our articles right to your inbox!

Sukkot - C'hag Sameach Sukkot!

We've celebrated Sukkot for several years- at our house, at others, at parks. I've written about 
as well as posted pictures from previous years here, here and here.

Today we went to a friends house and decorated their Sukkah. They had a metal frame and a chicken wire type frame for the top. 

We covered the top with corn stalks and then hung fruit and vegetables throughout. 
The sides were created by duct-taping sheets around the frame.
 and then corn stalks were tied to the corners. 
Anything with a stem was hung, herbs, veggies, fruit, mini pumpkins, grape clusters, carrots!

It was crazy beautiful and deliciously aromatic! 

The finished Sukkah!

The decorating was a blast, the fellowship sweet, the conversation food for thought. A wonderful evening!! 

It’s the season to celebrate God’s provision, our permanent home in Heaven and that He will tabernacle among us one day soon.

C'hag Sameach Sukkot!
"Joyous festival!"
@Golden Grasses 2008-2013. All photographs, artwork and text are the property of the owner unless otherwise stated. Don't miss a thing! Subscribe to Golden Grasses and get our articles right to your inbox!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

The Days Are Just Packed!

I have survived the first month of homeschooling for the 2014/15 school year. This has included working 3/4 time, Tutoring Foundations, hosting a weekly co-op at our house, Science Club, managing on-line classes and trying to keep ahead of the eating machines that live here.
Along with exhausting, it's been mostly fun.
Master's Class Abstract Art- and photo-bomber. LOVE how totally different they all are. Don't I have a class of cuties!
We are having a blast with our CC Master's Class. I think (hope) most of them will go for Memory Masters. They are sharp and exuberant kids, ready with answers, ready to help each other and eager to learn. CC Community Days continue to be a high light of our week, despite the number of bags we carry into the building on CC mornings (2 backpacks, my work computer and bag, lunch, Essentials and Tutoring supplies). To date, we manage to haul everything back out that we pack in. I check the clock and work to keep crisp 30 minute segments and the 2 1/2 hours each week FLY by!
Essentials is going along smoothly. The added memory work and chart copy-work has been a new dimension as it is "un-homework" like enough, but absolutely essential to get done. The years that we've invested doing diagramming have been well worth it and the kid are making connections (an infinitive doesn't count as a verb!) that I love to see. I am too. For this recovered grammar-phobe, that is big news.

Then, there is homework due on Mondays for Learning Labs, due on Thursday for Poetry and Bio and Science Club. Lots of stuff "due" each week. It's been an adjustment, because it's all different places and people and if there is one thing my kids hate with a passion, it is to be unprepared.
Still, this week, we managed to totally change the desk areas (Dr. Dh took over Cub's old room -the small-ish bedroom in our big old house- Cub took a larger bedroom, connected to the walk-up ttic and then we totally re-did the office space on the first floor. Iow, our living space has been largely determined by our office space. The good news is that I have a functional office space.
The Apple Orchard trip included some great biology information, along with an apple tasting-ohlala! From Regents to Honey Crisps, my apple eating man-child (ds 14) was in his glory. This is the kid who goes through about 5# of apples a week, single-handedly; he kept right close to the tasting baskets! Above are some of the more judicious apple eaters of the bunch. 
In our weekly co-op classes are Biology Lab, Grammar of Poetry and Middle East Studies. We are also taking field trips every fourth week and they've been awesome. Last week we visited the local police department and this week, due to weather, we visited a local orchard. Our local apple grower had a ton of terrific information to share with our group of biology students and it was a wonderful field trip, despite the crazy cold blowing prairie winds.
Somewhat reluctant model, Caleb, and orchard owner, Mr. M, demonstrate how to pick apples without bruising them. 
The kids have started Learning Labs with Bridgeway Academy this fall. Chemistry Lab and Architecture with Brick Building. Add in Science Club ('cause we don't have enough science and besides, Margy is teaching it so we had to be there) and our days are just packed. Literally.

How is your year going so far?

@Golden Grasses 2008-2013. All photographs, artwork and text are the property of the owner unless otherwise stated. Don't miss a thing! Subscribe to Golden Grasses and get our articles right to your inbox!

Friday, September 26, 2014

The Thin Blue Line

The "Thin Blue Line"- the thin line between law and disorder. 

We haven't done a ton of field trips lately. For one, it's just harder to get everyones 
actualwork in while field tripping -our kids are getting older with more demanding schoolwork- and for two, it's just not easy finding engaging field trip for older kids. 

But we all had a blast at our local "Cop Shop" this week. We toured the garage, got briefed by the Sarge, sat in a cruiser, and a Swat Bear Cat, saw evidence rooms, gyms, interrogation rooms and got the low down on the local station. 

Our tour guide was a favorite of the kids! 

Good guy training grounds.
In addition to the fantastico field trip our week included
hanging at the park with friends and outside as much as possible! The weather was glorious!  

 Panera, provided wife for work while the kids played a Science Size game..

Science which involved lots of snitzles.


More learning games at Essentials...
Tons of memory work, done on the hammock, in the car, and on the couch. 
Throw in work and a Rosh Hashanna celebration. Full up. 


@Golden Grasses 2008-2013. All photographs, artwork and text are the property of the owner unless otherwise stated. Don't miss a thing! Subscribe to Golden Grasses and get our articles right to your inbox!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Classical Conversations Scientific Discovery


My Classical Conversations Master's Class is loving the time set set aside for science experiments. We have scientific experiment sheets that we put in page protectors each week and write on them with white-board markers. We go over the Scientific method each week, and take our lab sheets very seriously. Kids are free to draw pictures if the writing is too much. There are always extra parents on hand to help with spelling. My goal is for the kids to understand what a good experiment is, how to hypothesize, the importance of clear and legible notes and that clear instructions make things easier for the next person who comes along. 


Last week we took our fingerprints, compared them to the opposite hands, each other's hands and talked about how they might compare to our toe-prints. We had some great hypothesizing going on, lots of engaged chatter, and interesting facts from a student who had gone to Forensic Camp this summer. Everyone reveled in the joy of using a magnifying glass (it's the little things y'all!). Everyone had a sheet of prints to take home with them. along with good memories, the joy of discovery and the understanding that clear notes are important. 
 It's a full and fun half-hour. 
Love Science Class.

In related, serendipitous news, we are taking a field trip to the Police Station this week. 

@Golden Grasses 2008-2013. All photographs, artwork and text are the property of the owner unless otherwise stated. Don't miss a thing! Subscribe to Golden Grasses and get our articles right to your inbox!