Reader Review – Berenstain Bear’s “Reap the Harvest”

I’m keeping a log this year of all the books the kids read. I started this last year but they were flying through books and I kept losing track. I always feel better when things are being organized and filed and such, and it’s fun to look back at what they read when they were little. I use a brief book report form last year (I talk about ‘last year’ a lot) from abc.teach. They have report forms for upper-elementary, lower-elementary, biographies, historical novel, general fiction… very fun stuff.

Eden’s Review

Summary: It’s summer and the cubs want a job for cash so they go to work for Farmer Ben. They learned that they got money for their profit.

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Yes. They like picture books and they like thinking about jobs for kids.

Mom’s review

Ok, I really love the Berestain Bear family because I grew up reading the books, but this one really bugged me. Here’s the thing, the story is based on Hebrews 6:12

“Imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.”

…the book is about the cubs earning money. GAH! As if our culture isn’t obsessed with gaining wealth enough? Inheriting what God has promised does not involve money. This set of scripture isn’t referencing individual promises that God may have made to one of his individual children. The author (jury’s out on this one) of Hebrews is talking about the promises God made to Abraham… that his ancestors would fill the earth, that a savior would be coming to bless the nations, etc… It is His promise of legacy! Why would we choose to explain this concept to our children with a money analogy? This kind of thing drives me angry, to tell the truth, because we’re dangerously close to teaching the next generation of leaders a distorted view of the Kingdom.

Will I continue to read Berestain Bears to my little one? Of course. Will I continue to ponder why Brother and Sister never got the dignity of having real names? Absolutely-freaking-of-course. Every single character in that show and books has a real name. What’s up Stan and Jan?


Red pens, the dreaded ‘X’ and naked science experiments

Last year when we went shopping for school supplies I grabbed up some red pens… cause I’m the teacher now! Finally I get to have the power of the red, Bic pen. Something inside of me happened, however, I checked their papers and put that red ‘X’ on the incorrect problems. It was like telling them, “You’re wrong. You just failed to meet my expectations.” I just hated the way it looked.

So I switched to pink. Yes I did. And I circle the incorrect answers, then we go over them and I put a smiley face next to it. I’m sure there’s some kind of study out there that supports or rejects my idea that red ‘X’s create anxiety, but regardless… it’s pink circles around here.

So I’ve been needing some cork for the classic density science experiment for Johnny. We really needed to have the items ready for yesterday’s lesson and I didn’t feel like driving all the way out to the craft store to buy a whole bag of cork pieces when there is a perfectly good grocery store nearby that sells all kinds of corks. They’re just attached to wine bottles. I was really killing two birds with one stone because I had had one of the worst days ever, if you catch my drift. Well, I didn’t even consider for a second that the wine company would label the cork with their name.I’m thinking I won’t add this photo to our school portfolio, especially if we petition the court for permission to homeschool Jake next year.

Weekly Lesson Plans

I wouldn’t let myself go to bed last night until I had this week fully planned, so I’m starting out my Monday feeling pretty prepared. I didn’t plan day-by-day like last year because one little unexpected thing throws the whole thing off anyway. So I figured out everything I’d like to get done this week, and then will jot down in the morning what I’d like them to accomplish before the end of each day.

Eden’s Planner

Her current geography unit is on Florida and the Kennedy Space Center. I found this cute book

and the illustrations in this one are awesome

and I’m really looking forward to watching this (though I’m not sure why Tom Cruise is narrating it when Morgan Freeman should have been the obvious choice.)

We’re working through a sound unit in science and I can’t pass up this 1948 educational video. Oh, the things the internet unearths.

Johnny has a heavier workload this year, but I’m sure he can handle it. I want to challenge him a bit more than I did last year.  We have new history and science curriculum that I’m really excited about.

Johnny’s planner

LOVING the viking unit in history! Makes me want to wear a hat with horns and call my kids Sven or Olaf or some other cool Icelandic names. Supplements for him include this piece of fiction that I can’t WAIT to receive. I don’t buy a whole lot of books, but if the library doesn’t carry it and I really, really, reallllly want it I will place an Amazon order. (We don’t have any decent bookstores around.) This has so many good reviews and I want to read it myself.

This also looks promising. A library find this time.

Many early explorers were ship-wrecked, so it isn’t too much of a stretch to work this in, right? Sometimes the only way I can get my kids to watch the classics are to force them to and then cross my fingers that they don’t mock  my childhood entertainment.

I’ll probably be updating throughout the week as we get science experiments and such underway. I also have some thoughts to get down about Eden’s school time behavior as well as thoughts I have concerning some common questions about homeschooling. For now, break’s over!

Why the heck do we homeschool?

Of course one of the big questions I am asked is why John and I chose to homeschool our kids. While we are Jesus followers that isn’t the only reason I do this. Acutally, it’s not even them main reason, to tell the truth. Many, many parents homeschool because they are afraid of what their kids are being taught in public school. We’re more worried about HOW they are being taught. I found a fantastic quote that sounds anti-community but is bold enough to match our bold decision, “I’ve seen the village, and I don’t want it raising my children.”

Here are some of the reasons we made this decision, some of which will be discussed at length later.

  • I want them to have the ability to learn at their own pace.
  • I want control over curriculum and areas of study.
  • I want to spend more time with them. I was one of the parents who was in school all the time because I missed my kids so much and had no reason to be home alone anyway.
  • They don’t need to sit in a desk most of the day, restrained to one classroom.
  • They need space and freedom to explore and be creative.
  • They don’t need to be ‘educated’ they need to learn.
  • I don’t want them stuck into a category and identified by a grade number.
  • I want them to have more opportunity to associate with people of all ages and social situations, not a room full of kids the same age from the same neighborhood.
  • They need more time to learn life skills. They are spending the prime hours of their day at school and are worn out by the time I get them back.
  • They are amazing people, they don’t need to be institutionalized.
  • School is an hour-sucking waste of time. Waiting in lines to use the bathroom, eat lunch, spending recess on a crowded and boundary-limited playground,  waiting for the rowdy kids in class to behave before the lesson can proceed, etc…
The number one reason we’re doing this is BECAUSE WE CAN. Oh, all the things that we want to do are controlled by our government makes my head spin. This would need to be a whole other post though.

Now here’s where it get’s tricky… so many of my good friends and family have their children in public/private/charter schools. I can’t pass the judgement  that we’re making the ‘right’ choice therefore they are making the ‘wrong’ choice because parents make the choices that are right for their family.

2011-2012 Curriculum

Last year I used Alpha Omega  for both the kids for science, history/geography and language arts. I used Saxon math for both of them. Here’s what happened: AO worked GREAT for Eden. She used the 3rd grade level and it was totally perfect. The Saxon math was also great, but the lessons took longer than I had anticipated and I only finished 1/2 the book. I regret that greatly. AO was terrible for Johnny. Just wretched. I can’t figure out why there is such a vast difference between the 3rd and 7th grade levels within the same curriculum, but his packets were confusing and awkward. I couple units into each subject I totally ditched them and started piecing my own lesson plans together using various web and book resources. We plugged through the Saxon math, but it was difficult too. It probably would’ve been a better fit for him had he started in the earlier grades. I insisted on sticking it out because it seemed like every  homeschooling parent I knew raved about it. I wish I wouldn’t have done that. I should have switched him after we gave it a good try because I’m not sure he was able to learn or retain very much.

So, this year…

Eden: I’m sticking with AO for her again. We’re going to finish-up the units we didn’t get to last year and then purchase enough units in the next level to complete the year. I am also going to continue the Saxon math, work hard at finishing the 3rd grade unit and try to do as much catch up as I can. She is quite behind. One of the failures I pledged to share. Note to new homeschooling parents: When all else fails during the day, DO YOUR MATH.

Johnny: I am planning a complete overhaul for him. Lots of research went into his plan. LOTS.


About Me

The Purpose Of This Blog

The emphasis of this blog will land on homeschooling and all that comes with it. This is only our 2nd year of schooling at home so I still have a lot to learn. I’ll be honest and share and ups AND the downs. My intent is to discuss our lesson plans, curriculum, failures, successes, daily nonsense and inspiring articles (assuming I can write an inspiring article.) I plan to update it several times a week with a Friday Week-In-Review.

The Boring Stuff

  • Name: Valerie
  • Age: 30’ish
  • Location: Michigan
The Non-Boring Stuff
I have a pretty full, fun and crazy house. Here’s who fills it:
  • My husband of almost 14 years, John. He is a part-time  college instructor and full-time network security analyst. He is the logical, reliable, steady-minded guy who keeps this three ring circus grounded. He is my bestest friend and best daddy I know. Seriously.
  • My 12-year-old son, Johnny. He’s a lot like his daddy… loves technology and analyzing things. He is all about anything iPod and Halo. I wish I could explain his style of humor, because he cracks me up everyday. He is very well respected and liked. Ironically enough, one of his greatest strengths is creative writing. He claims to hate math, but hasn’t quite realized that if he wants to be a computer programmer he’s going to have his math down-pat.
  • My new 12-year-old son, Jake. Jake came to live with us in March as part of the foster care program. That’s actually the simple way of explaining our relationship with him without going through all the crazy, confusing details. Bottom line is that we finally  gained full, permanent custody of him in July and it’s happy-happy-joy-joy for all of us.  Because of judge ruling he will have to remain in public school this year, but next year we can petition the court for the ability to homeschool him. Even through his turbulent life last year, he remained a straight A student because he is, well, an amazing kid! He is a gamer like Johnny, but loves to be more active and outside.
  • My 9-year-old daughter, Eden. She is the light that makes this house shine. She has more of a social life than I do, and at night I pray over her that God would continue to bless her friendships. She is a cute, tiny little 4th grader who still cuddles with mommy, makes American Girl doll videos on her iPod and has a love affair with bacon. She makes my heart swell.
  • Our mixed-breed dog, Maggie. We refer to her as ‘the ugly dog’ because she’s gross, sheds and is always in your personal space.
  • My Scottish terrier, London. She is MY baby. She never appears guilty about anything, because apparently she has the right to do whatever she wants.
  • A Puggle that came with Jake, Peanut. Oh my! What a doll! She’s so ugly she’s cute and we just adore her. She and London disagree as to who is top dog.
  • Our kitty, Tinkerbell. She is very anti-people, anti-dog and most visitors don’t know she exists. She is Johnny’s baby.
Between the family, the animals and the plethora of friends coming and going, this place is crazy and I love it.
The Utterly Useless Stuff
  • My guilty pleasure is reality TV. Summer fave is Big Brother but I’ll even resort to Mob Wives in a pinch.
  • I drink about 4 cups of a coffee a day.
  • I have tried to get into green tea, but it’s really disgusting.
  • If anyone touches my word search books the whole thing is ruined.
  • I like to walk London because people makes nice comments about her.
  • I love filling the dishwasher, hate emptying it.
  • I wish I lived back in the ’50’s. Or Little House On the Prairie days.
  • My favorite jokes are knock-knock jokes.
  • Cat’s tails fascinate me.
  • Don’t ever give me ‘the finger.’
  • Three words: Brown Sugar Poptarts
  • I’m a Bonsai Blast junkie