Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Mind-Fires Academy First Grade Plan Nearing Completion

I thought that those of you interested in our first grade plans might be interested in knowing that I am almost finished with them!  I have some copywork sheets to complete for weeks 26-36 and need to update the week-by-week pages with the changes I have made.  That's it!  So if you were hoping to use these plans for your first grader next year, you will be able to. 

Now to get to work on second grade before I end up on bedrest with this pregnancy! 

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Cards for The Burgess Animal Book for Children

We have really enjoyed the cards for The Burgess Bird Book for Children that I downloaded from That Resource Site, so I decided to go ahead and make some for the animal book.

Please let me know if I made any mistakes so I can fix them.

Cards for The Burgess Animal Book for Children

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Arithmetic Village

Ok, I love the new site but it's not the same as a blog and I feel the need to blog right now.  :-)

Many of you may be unaware (due to my lack of blog posts these last couple of months) that we are adding some Waldorf elements to our homeschool day.  You may be aware that Noble Knights of Knowledge has been one of our favorite math programs so far, and also that it has been discontinued.  So unless you are lucky enough to stumble across a used copy for sale you are out of luck. 

Join Me at Arithmetic Village!

I just read a message board post that mentioned Arithmetic Village and I think these books might be just the thing to add to our homeschooling!  I'm so excited I feel like I could burst.  LOL  Sad, I know, the things I get excited over these days.  Unfortunately, with the holidays upon us and only one income we're going to have to wait to order them.  However, I promise that I will be ordering them as soon as I have the money!   (Assuming nobody buys them for me for Christmas....they are at the top of my list, but everyone generally insists on buying things for me, not for homeschool.....bah, humbug!)  Cori at Wonder in the Woods has already done a review, but I would love to know what other people think.  If you've used these books, please leave me a comment and let me know what you think!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Where Have I Been?

Wondering where I've disappeared to?  We have our own webpage now, which I find much easier to keep up with than the blog!  Since the blog has mostly been a place to keep track of links, anyway, I think this will work out better for us. 

You're welcome to see what we're doing over at Mind-Fires Academy.  I still have a lot of work to do, but the first grade section, at least, is coming along nicely. 

If you have any comments or suggestions, feel free to e-mail them to us at

Friday, September 24, 2010

Earth Science Week

October 10-16 is Earth Science Week.  Since we are studying the science of Earth and space this year, I have big plans for the week.  Although we don't do much unit study type of stuff, we will be that week!

The video Why Earth Science? was a great find.  I wish I had seen this before our first week of school!  I'll be showing it to the boys during Earth Science Week. 

We'll be watching Journey to the Center of the Earth [again :-)] and using this very cool guide (pdf) to go along with it.  In art, we've been talking about and making cartoons/comics, so this came along at the perfect time! 

We'll be becoming Junior Paleontologists on October 13th for National Fossil Day. 

We will be checking out cloud types and identifying those that we see in our own skies. 

We might be playing this Water Cycle Game.  I will definitely be printing this water cycle placemat.

We also might be using this Seismic Superheroes pdf document. 

That's what I have planned so far.  I have a feeling we will spend a lot of time on the Journey to the Center of the Earth and Junior Paleontologists activities, so doubt I'll add more....but with me, you never know! 

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Art and Picture Study Details

For artist study we are studying only 3 artist per year in-depth. This year those artists are Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Raphael. We study six works of art by each artist, which is one work every two weeks.

On the first day of a new artist we read a book about him. So far our favorite books have been the Getting to Know the World's Greatest Artists series by Mike Venezia.

Then we fill out an artist biography notebooking page about the artist. (I've made up my own for other artists based on this basic template.)

Lastly, we begin looking at our first selection of the artist's work. We spend only a couple of minutes looking at it. Then I ask a few questions from this list.

This is the only day that art takes very long, and it only happens three times per school year! That's manageable for me!

The second week that we study a work of art we try to reproduce it, or do a coloring page on the piece if I have one. If we're running short on time we simply study the work for a few more minutes and I ask a few different questions to get them thinking about the art.

For once weekly art projects we're using Discovering Great Artists by MaryAnn Kohl. I love this book! If you haven't seen it I highly recommend that you use Amazon's Look Inside! feature. (Be sure to read author MaryAnn Kohl's comment below this post, in the comments section!)  We read the brief biography of the artist and fill out the name, dates lived, and location born on a biography notebooking page for them, then we get to the project.

I love that the artists are in chronological order, it just seems to fit with the classical model. The boys' art notebooks are like little art timelines.

I take a picture of each project and print it on cardstock (I don't worry about being fancy and printing on photo paper.) Then we tape it to the notebooking page.  Done with art!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Song School Latin

A few months ago I was having a terrible time deciding what to do for foreign language study.  Nik finally decided that he wanted to speak Latin like the Romans and like some knights once did.  That decision led us to Song School Latin.  We've really been enjoying it! 

The workbook is all that is needed.  It comes with a cd of songs that correspond to the lessons.  The songs are catchy, and while it isn't great music I do find myself singing them throughout the day.  We've worked through three chapters and Nik is already using his new vocabulary in everyday conversation.  What homeschooling mom wouldn't love that?!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Weaving Potholders

We've recently been talking a bit about weaving and how it was done in the past as compared to how it is done today.  On a field trip to Genesse Country Village a couple of months ago we got to see an early American reenacter weaving a rug on a very large loom.  Last week the boys tried their hands at weaving potholders with those little kits you can buy in the craft section of your local big-box store.  They were so proud of their creations, and only needed a little help to finish off the edges. 

It was surprisingly educational and awesome for working on those motor skills!  Next up, potholders for their grandmothers and aunts as Christmas presents!  (Shhh, don't tell!)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

File Crate System

After reading what must be the longest thread in the forum's history over at The Well-Trained Mind, I decided to organize our school year using the file crate system. With a lot of help from Melanie's posts on her Springs of Joy Homeschooling blog, I finally have mine all set up and I am so happy with it!  I'm not going to get too detailed about how to do it since that is covered in the WTM post and on Melanie's blog, but I did want to share some of what I have done because I made a few modifications.

I decided to use 2-pocket folders, like this.  I filed all of the work in the left pocket and as we complete things they get placed in the right pocket. It is very easy to see what we still need to accomplish with this system.  The index card paper-clipped to the left pocket is the Library List for the following week. 

Behind that is a Shopping List for the following week.  The index cards fit in my wallet perfectly, and it is so nice to just grab them when I go shopping and be assured that I have all of the items on hand for our science, art, and history projects!

The yellow post-it stuck to the SOTW Activity Book page pictured here lists the pages in the Usborne Internet-Linked Encyclopedia that correlate to the weeks' lesson. I stick it in the UILE as a bookmark at the beginning of the week and my son can read about the subject we're studying whenever he desires.

We have green for one child, blue for the other, and red for my files.  The week number is in the upper left corner.

I also have yellow folders for each of the months of the year that I've put seasonal ideas, crafts, and notes in.

I have 36 hanging file folders (1 for each week of the school year.) In each hanging file are our 3 folders. I didn't want them in open file crates due to the dust they would collect over the course of the year, so mine are in file totes with lids. Each tote holds 6 weeks of files, plus two monthly seasonal folders.
For work like First Language Lessons and All About Spelling, which I couldn't really rip apart to file, I printed a progress sheet and attached stickers for them to use as we complete each lesson.
For any lessons where another weeks' lesson is printed on the back I attached a small post-it reminder to move it to the next weeks' folder.
Please ignore the very wrinkled tablecloth in the pictures! I've finally relaxed my laundry standards and have started letting the boys help me fold. ;-)

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Connecting History and Other Subjects

My public school education (in a good school, and as an honor student) was seriously lacking in nearly every way.  Sure, I learned how to take and pass a test with flying colors, but I retained so very little!  My 6-year-old son can tell you more about the history of the world than I can, and he's only had one year of instruction.....and he's retaining the information! 

Connecting math, science, and literature, to history is one of my favorite parts of homeschooling.  I came across a wonderful way to do so with chemistry today.  The American Chemical Society has four interactive features, including a timeline, of "National Historic Chemical Landmarks", or important events in chemical history.  They also have a This Week in Chemical History page.  We won't be starting chemistry officially for a couple of years, but I hope at least one of my readers can utilize this resource now.

One resource we will be using next year is Amazing Leonardo da Vinci Inventions You Can Build Yourself.  What a wonderful way to tie science to history, don't you think!?  This book is written for the nine-twelve age bracket and I will be using it with a just-turned seven-year-old.  However, he is a serious history buff and already thinks daVinci is one of the coolest guys ever.  LOL  If things seem to advanced for him to do we'll just set the book aside and use it on our next cycle through history.

I also just purchased Science And Technology In The Middle Ages by Joanne Findon.  I have high hopes for this book, I just hope it lives up to them!

And I imagine most of you have heard of Mathematicians Are People, Too: Stories from the Lives of Great Mathematicians, which is the perfect book for tieing math and history together!  There is also a second volume in what I hope will become an entire series!

Please comment and share what you use to tie history to other subjects!

Resources for Elementary Chemistry

Inquiry in Action—Investigating Matter Through Inquiry, Third Edition is a free printable resource from the American Chemical Society.  The activities in the book are also available separately on the Inquiry in Action website.  Designed for grades 3-8 it is something we will likely use when we get around to chemistry as an official subject.  (Right now chemistry is something we do for fun!)  It addresses the following topics:
● Scientific questions and their investigation
● Physical properties
● Physical change
● Dissolving solids, liquids, and gases
● Chemical change
● States of matter
● Density
Although not free, the American Chemical Society also published a couple of science books that look good for the preschool through second grade set.  I just ordered both of them (used, through Amazon, and for cheaper than the links that follow), titled

Since we're just starting to work on writing letters with my 4-year-old I thought the first title would correspond nicely.  It seems perfect for a letter-of-the-week type curriculum!  I'll let you know how we like them once we've had a chance to use them.

Chemistry Is Fun!

I had the best time introducing Nik to the wonders of chemistry this afternoon!  We started off having a ton of fun with some actvities from The Molecularium™ Project.  We built molecular oxygen, molecular hydrogen, water, carbon monoxide, hydrogen peroxide, methane, propane, butane, methanol, ethanol, glucose, fructose, vitamin C, vitamin A, sucrose, and bucky balls in the Nanolab.  What a fun and easy way to introduce atoms, elements, and molecules!

We'll be doing some of the activities from the teacher's guides available on the Educator's Resource page (scroll to the bottom to find the pdf download links) over the next few weeks. 

Nik was so excited to do this activity, and his understanding of molecules from this brief activity amazes me!  I love finding gems like this on the internet, and I hope you all use and enjoy them, too!

Color Me Physics!

A huge thank you to Doodle (of the WTM forums) for posting the link to Color Me Physics!  This is such a wonderful free resource.  I'm so excited to use it!

PhysicsQuest looks like a wonderful activity to do with middle schoolers.  Physics at Home has some great looking experiments.  I encourage you to explore the site and see what it is all about!  Very, very cool stuff!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Genesee Country Village

Last month we went on a field trip with one of the local homeschool groups to Genesee Country Village in Mumford, NY.   What a cool place!  We're going back in July for a Civil War Reenactment.  And in August they are having an event called The Life and Times of Laura Ingalls Wilder.  We won't be going to that one, but I had to mention it in case anyone within a couple of hours' drive of Mumford is a fan.  It is definitely worth the drive!

Statue Outside of the Carriage House Museum

Pioneer Barn


Drug Store

Post Office

Civil War Union Soldier (Sargeant)

At the Weaver's House

General Store

Shoemaker's Shop

Catholic Church

Toll Bridge