Teaching writing

December 13, 2011 Categories: Homeschooling | Comments Off  

As a homeschool mom, one of the most difficult subjects for me to teach has been writing. It’s strange to me, as I love to write, and write all the time, but none of my kids have enjoyed it. They all complete their writing assignments with reluctance, and editing can often be a chore. I wish they enjoyed it more – and that it came more naturally to them.

Since Natalie is a freshman, Noah is in 7th grade, Jonathan is in 6th grade, and Josiah is in 4th grade, writing is something they’re going to be doing for several years. As my oldest gets closer to college age, and the writing assignments become more difficult – and hold higher stakes, I may consider hiring a writing tutor to help her prepare. I am sure this will become more of an issue as she begins to work on essays for scholarships and college applications. I don’t think I can necessarily teach her everything she’s going to need to know about higher level writing.

This is a sponsored post.

Bullet points update

February 21, 2010 Categories: Books , Homeschooling , Kid Stuff , Movies | 4 Comments  

~ We have added a cat to our already crowded household. This is Sam with Natalie.

~ We have started the second half of our homeschooling year. All is going fairly well, although I have decided I am officially very tired of Shurley Grammer. This is not the curriculum’s fault – it’s a great curriculum, and has taught us things I never learned even in college classes, but we need a change and so will be trying Learning Language Arts Through Literature next year. Natalie has declared that decimals are from the devil and algebraic addition is the stuff of fantasy land. I am trying to help her understand that while she may never again use this information, she needs it to graduate from high school, and so must soldier on. All four kids are taking a PE class this semester that includes bowling and softball – and are loving it.

~ We have started attending a church. I am enjoying the Women’s Bible Study. That’s about as optimistic as I feel like being with our recent church experiences.

~ Kevin’s sister Carol is not doing well at all. Her cancer has progressed to the point where all they can really do is make her comfortable. Prayers would be much appreciated.

At Books and Movies lately:

~ Book Review: Candor by Pam Bachorz
~ Interview with Pam Jenoff, author of Almost Home
~ Book Review: Almost Home by Pam Jenoff
~ Book Review: King of the Mild Frontier: An Ill-Advised Autobiography by Chris Crutcher
~ Mini-review: U is for Undertow, City of Glass, and Wounded
~ Book Review: The Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby
~ Book Review: Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford
~ Guest post: Patrick Taylor, author of The Irish Country Doctor series
~ Literary Road Trip: Author Kirby Larson
~ 2010 Ireland Reading Challenge
~ Book Review: Spellbinder by Helen Stringer
~ Book Review: The Summer We Fell Apart by Robin Antalek
~ Book Review: An Abundance of Katherines by John Green
~ Monday’s Movie: The Boys Are Back
~ Book Review: A Breath of Snow and Ashes by Diana Gabaldon
~ Literary Road Trip: Author Molly Blaisdell
~ Book Review: Eldest by Christopher Paolini
~ Monday’s Movie: Surrogates

Young Scientists Club Giveaway

December 11, 2009 Categories: Contests , Homeschooling | 9 Comments  


I am so excited about this giveaway – and I know all of you will be, too. Whether you’re a homeschooler, like me, or a parent who likes to share educational activities with your children, you definitely need to enter this giveaway.

Toys and Games Online is a fantastic site, especially right now, when everyone is shopping for Christmas. If you’re shopping for online toys for your kids, you’ll definitely want to check out their site.

The Young Scientists Club kits are pretty much every homeschooling mom’s dream: they give you all the tools and simple instructions you need to perform interesting experiments with your kids. The idea was created by a mother of five with a degree in Biology – as a biologist, she knows her science, and as a mom, she knows the things we want most in a science kit.

Now, for the giveaway details:

1. Click on over to their Young Scientists Club section, and check out all the different kits.

2. Come back and leave a comment on this post telling me which kit you would like to win if your name is chosen. Only one entry per person, please.

3. This giveaway is open to readers in the US and Canada only.

4. All entries must be received by 11:59 p.m. PST, Friday, December 18th. I will used Random.org to draw a winner on Saturday, December 19th.

Good luck!

Review: Human Body Detectives – The Lucky Escape!

November 16, 2009 Categories: Curriculum , Homeschooling | Comments Off  

humanbodyHuman Body Detectives – The Lucky Escape is a CD audiobook with an accompanying workbook. The activity-filled workbook complements the educational adventure audio story, The Lucky Escape. The audio story and activity workbook are geared to serve as a tool for families, teachers and parents of home-schooled children, to supplement science and/or health curricula and share knowledge about the digestive system.

The boys and I listened to The Lucky Escape last week, and found it entertaining and informative. The cute story teaches about the various components of the digestive system and the function that each plays. The boys learned a lot, and laughed a lot at the frequent use of words for bodily functions. :)

The workbook is a perfect accompaniment, with puzzles and worksheets designed to give more information and reinforce the concepts already learned. This audiobook – and the rest of the series – would make a great addition to any homeschool health or life science curriculum.

(Thank you to Melissa Cassera of Cassera Communications for sending me Human Body Detectives – The Lucky Escape to review.)

Bullet points

October 30, 2009 Categories: Blogging , Curriculum , Holidays , Homeschooling , Writing | 2 Comments  

~ There is so much going on – I haven’t had much time to post here at Mommy Brain. I feel bad, but Books and Movies has to be more of a priority, because I’m getting free books to review in the mail every week.

~ No improvement on the financial front – enough said. Oh, and my van – which is our most reliable vehicle and the only one with a fully functioning heater – is in the shop today. Praying very hard that it is something easy and cheap to fix.

~ I switched Natalie to The History of US by Joy Hakim for her US history. She’s liking it much better. I’m dealing with the lack of review exercises/exams by having her write a summary paragraph after reading each chapter. So far, so good.

~ Kevin and the kids carved pumpkins last week, but two of them have already had to be thrown away. We had a very early freeze in our neck of the woods, and the result was mushy pumpkins.

~ Our butterflies have completed their life cycle, and the butterfly habitat will be put away until spring. This has been one of Jonathan’s most favorite birthday presents ever!

~ The kids are extremely excited to attend the Harvest Party at Grandmamma and Papa’s church tomorrow night. They always bring home bags and bags of candy.

~ And now, in the “here’s my excuse for not blogging hardly at all next month” category: I’m doing NaNoWriMo. For those of you unfamiliar with the acronym, it stands for National Novel Writing Month. The idea is to write a 50,000 word novel. In a month. That amounts to 1667 words a day. So, needless to say, blogging will be at a minimum until November is over. I’m excited but terrified, too. But at least I’ll be able to say I tried, right? Michelle did it last year, and it didn’t kill her. :) Natalie is doing it, too – but her goal is 7,000 words. Michelle and her kids are doing it, too, so at least we’ll have company.

I guess that catches everyone up. Anyone else out there doing NaNoWriMo? Please let me know – and tell me your user name – so I can add you to my writing buddies list.

Have a great Halloween!

Homeschooling update

October 15, 2009 Categories: Books , Homeschooling | Comments Off  

We’re almost two months into our new homeschooling year, so I thought it would be a good time for an update on what we’ve been doing.

The three boys are now doing Horizons Math and the switch from Saxon seems to have been a very good thing. They are all enjoying math much more than they did last year. Noah is in 5th and doing Horizons 5. Jonathan is in 4th and doing Horizons 3, as it is more advanced and he needed some of the concepts cemented in his mind before he moved on. Josiah is in 2nd grade and doing Horizons 2 and it seems like it may be a bit behind where he actually is, but I know that book 3 would be too advanced, so we’re skipping a bit here and there.

Natalie is doing Saxon Math 8/7 with Pre-Algebra, and pretty much hates it, but that would be the case no matter what book we used. She is not a math fan, but gets Bs and Cs on her tests, so it’s all fine for now.

All four kids are still doing Shurley English. It may drill a lot, and it’s not an exciting curricula, but they are learning the basics of grammar and sentence construction and how to write essays, so I like that. The writing assignments get a bit repetitive, so I’m looking for some more creative writing projects to do on alternating weeks. Natalie has agreed to do NaNoWriMo with me, so we’ll be skipping the writing assignments in Shurley English and doing some outlining and character work.

All of the kids are still doing the Spelling Workout series and a Core Knowledge Reading Comprehension workbook.

Natalie is still reading a lot, but I don’t assign her a certain amount of silent reading time – especially since her history and science require a lot more reading than before. On top of her own choice of book, she is reading an anthology called Realms of Gold, which I got from Core Knowledge. It includes poems, short stories, essays, speeches, and excerpts from books. She’s reading Poe, Frost, Thurber – and we’re discussing what she’s reading. From her own reading, recently she’s enjoyed Shark Girl by Kelly Bingham, Little Women by Alcott, and Dork Diaries by Rachel Renee Russell.

Noah does at least 45 minutes of silent reading a day, on top of any reading for other subjects. Recent favorites have been Zamora’s Ultimate Challenge by M.K. Scott, Alibi Junior High by Greg Logsted, and Silverwing by Kenneth Oppel.

Jonathan also reads for 45 minutes during silent reading time. It is very hard to find a book that will hold his attention and keep him from checking the clock every few minutes. The only book to do that recently has been Goblins: An UnderEarth Adventure by Royce Buckingham.

Josiah reads for 30 minutes, and he recently completed the Littles series by John Peterson, and is now making his way through the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney.

The boys and I just finished our study of the Civil War. We read the chapters in Story of the World, then read If You Lived at the Time of the Civil War, The Boys’ War, and Just a Few Words, Mr. Lincoln. We also watched a series of movies on slavery, the war, and reconstruction. We will top this off by watching the film Glory next week.

Natalie is also studying the Civil War, using All American History, and this was a poor choice of curricula. As soon as she completes the unit on the Civil War, we’ll be making a change.

The boys and I won’t be doing science until second semester. Natalie is doing the Science Explorer Life Science books, and she’s almost done with From Bacteria to Plants. She seems to like it all right, and has been getting As and Bs on her exams.

The older two kids and I are doing Latina Christiana I – and I love it! Noah seems to enjoy it, too – mostly because it’s like a puzzle. Natalie thinks I’m torturing her, but likes that she gets to correct my papers. We took our first unit exam today, and we all got As.

We started the school year reading Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer, which was a hit all around, and are now halfway through The Purloined Boy by Mortimus Clay – it’s brilliant. (The kids think so, too.)

Outside classes
The kids are taking a break from Tae Kwon Do. Natalie continues to take voice lessons. Noah is taking a P.E. class, and all four of them are taking a computer science class.

So, that’s how our school year is going so far. How’s yours?

Links for Friday on Saturday

October 10, 2009 Categories: Extreme Health Makeover , Faith , Homeschooling , News , This and That | 5 Comments  

It’s been a while since I did an update post – and things are always crazy-busy, so here’s the bullet-points version:

~ It’s gotten cold here – we’re running the furnace in the mornings. I’m ready for fall, but praying that we don’t have record snowfall like last winter.

~ Project health makeover is going well. Kevin told me he can see my weight loss in my face. My jeans are loose, too.

~ Michelle is back from England, and I’m loving our weekly chatfests again.

~ I’m going to participate in NaNoWriMo for the first time this year. Wish me luck. I’m trying to talk Natalie and Noah into joining me.

~ I’m also going to take part in the 24-Hour Read-a-thon. Michelle’s taking the boys for a sleepover, and I’m hoping Natalie will be invited somewhere, too.

~ My sister Debra and her ex-husband – who divorced a few months ago – are in counseling and working toward reconciliation. This makes me very happy.

~ I talked to my youngest sister, Marni, on the phone today for an hour and a half. She lives in St. Louis – clear across the country. I miss her. I miss all three of my sisters, and I’m very glad that we’re all getting together in June.

~ I’ve decided that Natalie’s hatred of her history curriculum is not her fault, but the curriculum’s, so am considering a change. (Any ideas? She’s in 7th grade, studying American history from the Civil War through modern times. I’m considering The Story of US.)

~ Speaking of Natalie, it looks like she’ll be braces-free by Christmas, after 2 and a half years.

Well, I think that catches you up. Here are the links:

~ Cursive writing may be a fading skill

~ Buckets comic: Politics through the ages

~ Pictures that make you say ‘wow’: Photographers get up close and personal with wildlife

~ 20 centuries of church history in 4 minutes and 17 seconds

~ “Your Navel Never Lacks Blended Grape Juice”: A More Biblical Study on Alleged “Wine”

~ Confessions of a homeschooler

~ Why Roman Polanski can rot in jail for all I care

~ ‘Whatever’ so totally tops most annoying word poll

On Books and Movies lately:

~ Book Review: Tomorrow, When the War Began by John Marsden
~ Book recommendations from a non-blogger #4 – Rod (Dad)
~ Book Review: The Magicians by Lev Grossman
~ Literary Road Trip: Author Lorie Ann Grover
~ Book Review: Kira-Kira by Cynthia Kadohata
~ Book Review: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
~ Book recommendations from a non-blogger #3 – Teresa (Mom)
~ Book Review: Twelve Sharp by Janet Evanovich
~ Book Review: Eleven on Top by Janet Evanovich
~ Book recommendations from a non-blogger #2 – Marni (my sister)
~ Literary Road Trip: Author Dia Calhoun
~ Book Review: The Promised World by Lisa Tucker
~ Book Review: The Purloined Boy by Mortimus Clay
~ Book Review: The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

Natalie’s Reading – September 2009

September 30, 2009 Categories: Books , Homeschooling | Comments Off  

Betsy-Tacy by Maud Hart Lovelace
Betsy-Tacy and Tib by Maud Hart Lovelace
Betsy and Tacy Go Over the Big Hill by Maud Hart Lovelace
Action! (Nancy Drew: All New Girl Detective #6) by “Carolyn Keene”
Dork Diaries: Tales From a Not-So-Fabulous Life by Rachel Renee Russell
The Stolen Relic (Nancy Drew: All New Girl Detective #7) by “Carolyn Keene”
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Noah’s Reading – September 2009

Categories: Books , Homeschooling | Comments Off  

Zamora’s Ultimate Challenge by M.K. Scott
The 39 Clues Book 4: Beyond the Grave by Jude Watson
Bone Volume 3: Eyes of the Storm by Jeff Smith
Bone Volume 4: The Dragonslayer by Jeff Smith

Josiah’s Reading – September 2009

Categories: Books , Homeschooling | Comments Off  

The Littles and the Big Storm by John Peterson