Our School Room

August 8, 2011

This is for week 2 of the blog-hop over at Heart of the Matter, School Room Week!

We do mostly school in a set up school room, as there are just too many distractions in our house to let us school is the rest of the house. We always have people coming and going for my Father who is elderly and not in good health. Plus it gives us a place to put all those wonderful books!


This is the right side of our school room, in a broad view. Pardon the mess – we are still setting up and I’ve run out of shelf space. The file cabinet holds supplies and my coupons {I am a mega-coupon shopper}.

These are our school educational videos and our $30 blessing computer that T uses for games and school.

These are the bookcases on the right side of the room – they are in order form left to right Religion books of mine in the 1st two, then chapter books and series then general fiction. On the top are empty binders, Magazines, and our Dear America type books that I’m collecting for a future history program.

This is the left side of our classroom, our podium is buried right now with things that need a home found for, but normally it is just for larger projects and displays or whatever animal we are currently.

This is our classroom storage area. The little two-shelf bookcase I got at a school auction {along with all the rest of the bookcases, the table, the desk and chairs} and I dearly love it. We use it to store our buckets of markers, crayons, pencils, craft supplies and magnetic letters. The tall white plastic case is full of odds and ends – window clings for decorating, flashcards and more. T’s Beanbag is here too by her choice.

These are the left side bookcases {and T snuck in the photo – she was supposed to be in bed}. These are all the non-fiction books, with the largest part being science and history. The bottom 3 shelves of the 1st bookcase are all textbooks, and the next to the top shelf of the same case is all Girl Scout stuff. On the top {which you really can’t see in this pic} is our animal tank, the volcano kit, and out Advent wreaths.

This is our school table, with books needing a home piled on one end. The white binder in the blue fabric tote is our lesson plans, and behind it is another fabric tote with our textbooks. Our Abacus is also laying on the table – we scored 2 Ikea Abacuses for $2 each at our thrift shop!

This is our Chore Chart and school work chart. If T gets a check in every subject for the day she gets to pick something out of the treat box, and she earns rewards by doing chores.

My desk is really really really messy since I haven’t had time to clean it, but I did take this photo of all my teacher’s books and supplementals for this year that are by my desk.

These are all our educational games, stored in the hall. The bottom shelf is all ones we are planning on using this year. All of these where bought 2nd hand at our local thrift shop, and none for over $3.  We love our thrift shop for educational books and games!


So there is our lived-in school room. It’s tiny but works well for us.I do have some educational posters to put up yet, I haven’t found wall space yet. For those wondering, the other half is T and I’s bedroom, which is why there was no pics of that side.

Week one is done…..

August 6, 2011

Week one of home schooling for 1st grade is done. We didn’t get everything done that was in our lesson plans, but I’m happy with what we did. We only skipped doing Girl Scouts this week and cut Science short a little since it was a repeat of yesterday’s project on finding seeds – we already found everything that we had in the house with seeds. T is having a blast with school, and I am seeing that she is getting more and more willing to write and read in front of me.

Unfortunately we’re short on finances again after running the budget for this month, so anything extra this month just got cut out. We are going to try to do the Children’s museum here in a few days – they are running a free educator offer for 1 teacher and 1 child free, and I am very much hoping that it includes home school educators since I do have a teacher’s ID. Other than that, I’m going to do a library run in the next few days for all the extra books we need for the month, and that will be it. I was hopeful to be able to start taking T to weekly Mass on Wednesdays {our flex day with light school} but with needing bus fare it just isn’t going to happen this month.

Day 2 in the Books

August 4, 2011

Day 2 of 1st grade is done, even with me having forgotten to soak the beans for our science project. School is only taking us about an hour or so a day so far, but I still need to add in a few things like our daily saints, the liturgical year, and our school prayers. We should start most of those next week hopefully.

T surprised me by finishing her handwriting on her own when I had to step away for a minute, and doing it fairly neatly too! Now if I could just get her to read aloud – I know she can since she reads aloud to the dog and her dolls, but she refuses to read aloud for me. I’m trying to correct her pronunciation of some words, so it really is needed. I’m going to have to brainstorm up something to solve this.

For science today we looked at the inside of baby lima beans that I soaked to see the baby plants inside. I really am loving the Behold and See 1 science text we’re using – it is so gentle and easy to follow. I’m having the same problem with T reading aloud from it too, so for right now I’m reading it all to her. I know she is reading it silently though.

We started Faith and Life 1 today, and I will have to wait a little and see but I think it might not be a good fit for T right now. I am considering delaying it a year, and going with some other materials I have including My Jesus and I book with cassette tapes, and just a general life of the church and saints for this year. I am going to give Faith and Life a few more weeks to see if it’s just that it’s new.

Our First Day of !st Grade

August 3, 2011

Yesterday everything finally worked to start 1st grade – T was thrilled. We managed to get through lessons with only a little resistance to following directions, which is a fault we are trying to work on in T. I also really really need to get her days and nights turned back around – she is happy staying up until 3 or 4 in the morning, and sleeping until 1 in the afternoon. This doesn’t work when Mama is trying to juggle schooling with everything else that needs done outside the home.

I’ve discovered a few things thanks to the blog hop hosted over at Heart Of The Matter, namely that we are still missing a few things and where to find a few things. I discovered that the DVD we are using to supplement science that I found for $1.29 at our thrift shop is actually from Sonlight, and retails for nearly $20. I’m always finding things like that there – I love my thrift shops. Yesterday I went and found a TON of educational games, some of which will fit in perfectly this year. I’ll spotlight each one when I do my school-room post for the blog hop, since they are all in there.

But anyways, I’m getting off topic. We had our first day of school, T got a new backpack with supplies she needed, and we started working on our Character Building Cards from the lesson plans. This week is saying “Please” and “Thank You”. T is good at saying them at the table, but iffy otherwise. I blame Barney for this – I swear there is subliminal messaging in those videos. She literally would not say please after watching one of them {Magic something or other}, and her behavior tanked too. Even not we have to be careful to skip any previews of it, as just a minute of the bouncing purple blob is enough to cause problems for a day or so.  So saying Please and Thank You is a big thing we need to work on, and I’m hoping these cards work.  Each week is a new card, and they cover a variety of topics, including church behavior. I’m really hoping those ones work – I haven’t taken T to Mass at all yet, what with her food allergies, my having been sick a lot, my dad in hospice, and her autistic tendencies and aversions to loud sounds and groups of people.  I hope to try that sometime this year – after things calm down a bit.

Anyways, T is finally done with breakfast and we’re about to start school for today. Hopefully things go well.

What We Are Using This Year

July 30, 2011

This is for the 3rd Annual Not Back-to-School Blog Hop, over at Heart of the Matter. This is a great project to see what other home schooling parents are using and get ideas for next year.

Our plans this year are to follow Catholic Heritage Curricula {CHC} 1st grade lesson plans pretty much as written, with a few tweaks and add-ins. I really like the CHC lesson plans – they are so gentle but yet cover everything needed without me having to sit and plan out everything on my own. If I had to create my own lesson plans – it would NEVER get done! We’re adding in Seton History 1, since CHC doesn’t cover history in the early grades, and doubling up on religion using Our Lady of the Rosary’s 1st grade plans for that. We also are using Pathways readers and the workbooks, as well as Seton’s 1st grade Faith and Freedom readers just for extra reading practice.  Both Pathways and Seton’s reader have wonderful stories that are age-appropriate for my daughter yet still challenge her with her advanced reading level.

So far, our list of books is as follows {Links go to Amazon when possible, if you buy through them it does give me a little to use for materials. But be all means buy where it’s cheapest for YOU!}:

Lesson Plans:

  • CHC 1st Grade 2011 edition
  • Our Lady of the Rosary School Lesson Plans {Religion Only} – part only.

Phonics and Reading:

Spelling and Grammar:

  • My Very First Catholic Speller

Penmanship and Phonics:

  • Catholic Heritage Handwriting 1
  • Workbooks for Pathways Readers linked above

Science and Health:




Girl Scouts:

  • Girl’s Guide to Girl Scouts, level Daisy
  • Daisy Level Journey Book – Not sure which one yet. Most likely the new one about animals.
  • Bridge to Brownie Girl Scouts – we will work on this during the start of next summer.

Little Flowers Girls Club:

Wow on paper it looks like a lot – but we don’t do everything every day so it’s not really that much. We only do Little Flowers twice a month, and Girl Scouts one day a week, so that helps. History is also once a week, which helps as well. We run on a 4 day academic week, with school on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Wednesday is our easy day, we do our weekly items and religion only then.

We have been so blessed this year to manage to cover everything without a lot out of pocket by using swagbucks and irazoo to earn gift cards. I earned nearly $300 in gift cards over the last year, all of which went towards home school materials for us. We are working now on purchasing our materials for next year for 2nd grade and have most of those already thanks to earning these gift cards. It’s a huge help to me as a single mom and would be a great help to any home school family.

Schoolroom Update

June 18, 2011

Our schoolroom is beginning to come together, after a bit of work. We moved our table around again {it didn’t work going the way it was due to T’s PC}, got rid of a BUNCH of books {sold some online, and some went out to the yard sale bins}, and found our fabric crates to us for holding all our books for 1st grade. Speaking of which, the last of the CHC books should be coming any day now. I still need to figure out a way to put up our dry erase board that doesn’t use any wall space and finish cleaning up all of T’s messes in there.But we’re on track to start 1st grade sometime in July or so – I was going to wait and start in August, but T wants to start now and I figure that will give us more time to take off if need be, which always happens around here!

I picked up a cute “Homework Chart” in the Target $spot area yesterday – We are going to use it to mark off our schoolwork as it is completed each day. If she has all the boxes filled with stars for finishing, then at the end of the week she gets a treat like a new book or a ice cream cone from McDonalds. I am hoping this helps with the “I don’t wanna do writing” that happened this year. I am hoping that the Target $spot does back to school again this year, as what they had last year was great.

Got our last Scholastic Books order for the year,  lots of wonderful books plus neat see-thru models of the eye, skeleton, and a tarantula for just pennies. I put those up to use next year when they come up in science, but I couldn’t pass up getting them now.

New Books Arriving!

May 26, 2011

Yesterday was a very exciting day – our science book for this fall arrived! We’re using the new Behold and See 1 from Catholic Heritage Curricula. I spent last night looking through it, and it looks like it will work great for us. T was VERY excited about using it, and that’s half the battle. It has lots of activities and pasting things like leaves and seeds in the book so it’s very hand-on. I do think instead of putting things in the book we’ll do those on a separate sheet of paper into a binder, as I’d like to be able to resell it when we’re done if possible and I really don’t like books with things in them.

T is getting very excited about starting 1st grade – she wants to be done with her K work already and get to the new stuff. Unfortunately we still have a LOT of K work to finish since we took so much time off this year. I won’t be doing that again – I don’t like not being off in summer!

A Blessing for Us!

May 18, 2011

We received a blessing today – I was able to buy a PC for T for just $30! It’s older and only has Windows 2000,  but it also has Office Professional and came with monitor, keyboard, mouse, and a printer for the $30 price. A local home school resource center is upgrading their computer center, and they were selling the old ones to make room.

T hasn’t really understood yet that it’s a PC – it doesn’t look anything like my laptop or my previous desktop, but I think she’ll get it once I set it up and bring up PBS kids for her.

I only have one problem – I want to install some type of software to limit her time on the PC when needed, and to filter what websites she is allowed to see. Can anyone recommend something to do this that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg?

Welcome to My New Blog

May 11, 2011

I’ve been meaning to start a blog of our adventures in homeschooling for a while now, and finally got around to it today. I’ll go ahead and post an introduction since I’m new.

I’m a single Catholic mama of one daughter – T age 4. She is currently finishing up Kindergarten, and we’re using Catholic Heritage Curricula for our curriculum. We also do other activities to round out our homeschooling experience – we do Girl Scouts through the Juliette program as well as Holy Heroes Adventures and anything locally that comes up.

I’m a convert to Catholicism, so I’m learning right alongside my daughter on a lot of things. It’s an ongoing process, and many of our blog posts will be about things we’re learning.