About Me

I'm a mom, a teacher, a student, a wife, and a scout leader. I am actually an education major currently working on my practicum in a 2nd grade classroom. I also home school my two children. I'm also a cub scout leader, a girl scout leader, and at church I'm the children's music leader. ;) I tend to stay a little busy. My state requires homeschoolers to keep a portfolio. I am going to use this blog as my portfolio.

What am I?

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

First day of school

Yes, school is back in session, at least in our home. :) Remember, we do 6 terms of 6 weeks on and 2 weeks off so we only get about 4-6 weeks off for summer. My kids are now in 3rd and 5th grade! I can't believe it. Anyways, here is day 1 of school. So, here's out day until the end of school.

I generally let the kids sleep in. So, they do breakfasts around 8:30am.

At 9am we start chores. In case you're wondering about the headphones, Collin loves listening to audio books so he walks around the house all day listening to an audio book. I figure there are much worse things he could be doing so it doesn't bother me until I need to talk to him. LOL!


She often sits in this little cubby under the desk to do school work or read. 
 After math we did literature. I am currently reading The War That Saved My Life aloud to them. They are loving it. After each reading session we have an activity and discussion questions we go over.

Lunch Break!

After lunch break we go into writing (This is Collin's least favorite and can often be very stressful so we have to have a fun subject after it). In this picture they're working on persuasive essays of why the animal they chose is the best animal in the world. Ryanne chose a dog and Collin chose a manticore. 

 So, this is how I do direct instruction. Schools have smart boards, I have a laptop I plug into the television. :) It works. This was science. We're doing a unit on energy for this 6 week term because we're doing a history unit on WWII. We're going to go into nuclear energy and atomic energy later in the unit so I thought they'd fit well together. We alternate history and science -- science 3 days and history 2 days each week. 

Ryanne didn't finish all her math during math time so here she is finishing up her math worksheet.
 The kids then had to finish their chores. They went out to play. Then I fed them a quick dinner before I took Ryanne off to dance, again. :)

Wednesday, July 20, 2016


So, I have been asked lately - several times actually - about the curriculum I use because curriculum is SO expensive. So, here's what I do, I write my own. Now, just so you know, my degree is in educational studies which means it was all about learning different methodologies of teaching and writing curriculum. Ta-da! So, that's how I saved money, I spent thousands of dollars on a degree to teach me how to write curriculum so I don't have to buy it. Make sense? Yeah, I didn't think so either. LOL!
I do buy math curriculum. I use Singapore Math.

Now, for the rest of the subjects... I normally choose a book for literature and then the rest of the topics revolve around that. So, for this next 6 weeks we are using....The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley.

This is what Amazon says about it:
Nine-year-old Ada has never left her one-room apartment. Her mother is too humiliated by Ada’s twisted foot to let her outside. So when her little brother Jamie is shipped out of London to escape the war, Ada doesn’t waste a minute—she sneaks out to join him. So begins a new adventure of Ada, and for Susan Smith, the woman who is forced to take the two kids in. As Ada teaches herself to ride a pony, learns to read, and watches for German spies, she begins to trust Susan—and Susan begins to love Ada and Jamie. But in the end, will their bond be enough to hold them together through wartime? Or will Ada and her brother fall back into the cruel hands of their mother? This masterful work of historical fiction is equal parts adventure and a moving tale of family and identity—a classic in the making.

So, now let's break up the subjects:

  • Vocabulary/Spelling
  • Math
  • History
  • Literature
  • Writing
  • Science
  • ELA
I've already mentioned what I do for math so we won't even worry about that one now. Vocabulary/Spelling -- I choose words from the book. Easy peasy!
History - well, this book is set during World War 2 so we're going to learn about WWII
Literature/Writing/ELA - let's just put all these in the same section. So, for literature, obviously we're going to be reading this story. I have lots of discussion questions and writing assignments to go with it as well. (See, that includes some writing as well.) Then, for ELA (English Language Arts) we will be working on parts of speech and how to better write a paper with topic sentences and supporting details and such so there will be a lot of writing involved in there as well. This 6 week period is going to be very heavy on the writing of essays and things. We are even going to start a blog (private) for the kids to practice doing that as well. I thought it could be fun.
Science- Since this is WWII, the kids are going to start with energy and work up to nuclear energy and the atomic bomb. Collin is excited because it's going to include a tiny bit of chemistry, which he is very interested in but doesn't know a lot about yet. 

I do a lot of the lessons as power points (with videos and interactive games as well) and plug my computer into the television so they can see it well. It works great! Here's an example of a slide I made from the radioactivity lesson. 

 Here's an example of a slide from literature.
This is an example from writing. Now... let me say that I love using the animation stuff so each picture appears on there one at a time and  not until after everything has been read. I just think the animation is more fun. LOL!
So, now you have a little taste of how I am able to afford the homeschool curriculum we use. :)

There are many examples of premade curriculum that follows this same format, but it wasn't hitting the places my kids needed work and they found the books we were reading to be very boring so.... I do it myself now. :)

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Progressivism in Modern Curriculum

I wrote the following for a school assignment and thought I'd share. :)      

Our current teaching methods are obsolete for today’s students. The traditional methods used in today’s classroom do not teach to the individual student and it just doesn’t work for the modern student. Students are so diverse that they cannot all be expected to learn the same way at the same time. Modern methods are also test focused and not student focused. This all needs to change. Progressivism is a viable option for modern curriculum.
            It is debated if a progressivism reform movement took place during the turn of the twentieth century. Around 1890-1919 “the philosophical, pedagogical, and administrative underpinnings of what is, in the early twenty-first century, associated with modern schooling, coalesced and transformed, for better or worse, the trajectory of twentieth-century American education.” (Loss & Loss, 2002) Everything completely changed during this time. Progressivism is contrary to traditional learning in that it is student lead and not teacher lead. Most progressive education programs include some common qualities such as, learning through activities and actions, thematic units, critical thinking and problem solving is a big focus, collaborative learning, actually learning and understanding the information instead of just memorizing, personalized education, service learning projects integrated into daily curriculum, varied learning resources (less focus on text books), and ,one of my favorites, assessments based on students’ projects instead of tests. Can you imagine what learning would be like if students were taught this way? Students would be tested on what they actually learned instead of what they memorized for the test. Students would learn other skills like being kind to one another, working with a group, and how to find information instead of just using a text book to give them the information they need. So many more life skills would be learned without having to add more hours to the school day.
            Problems stem from the society’s desire to have students sit in a classroom and act like adults. We are squashing the childhood out of them. This is resulting in many more students being treated for ADHD and other behavioral issues because they are not getting the opportunity to act like children. Children diagnosed with ADHD increased from 7.8% in 2003 to 11% in 2011. Strauss states, “The problem: children are constantly in an upright position these days. It is rare to find children rolling down hills, climbing trees, and spinning in circles just for fun… Children are not nearly moving enough, and it is really starting to become a problem.” (Strauss, 2014) Some children have to focus so much on obeying the rules to act like adults that they miss the lessons. If the lessons were taught to the student, then that little girl who has so much energy could practice addition by doing jumping jacks instead of having to count the dots on her piece of paper.
Our teaching methods must change because we are ruining our children. The current teaching methods may work in college, but not in elementary school. “It imposes adult standards, subject-matter, and methods upon those who are only growing slowly toward maturity. The gap is so great that the required subject-matter, the methods of learning and of behaving are foreign to the existing capacities of the young. They are beyond the reach of the experience of the young learners already possess. Consequently, they must be imposed; even though good teachers will use devices of art to cover up the imposition so as to relieve it of obviously brutal features.” (Dewey, 1938) Even in 1938 they were beginning to see a problem with the way adults expected children behave in school. They needed to teach based on the child’s experiences. A seven year old hasn’t had a lot of experience sitting still and listening or reading to learn. That child has had experience learning through play. All of a sudden we, as a society, expect them to be able to sit still and want to listen to learn. That is not the way to develop a love of learning in any child.
            So much is different for students today; however, curriculum today is mostly the same as it was twenty years ago. There may be different content, but it is delivered in the same way. In today’s world, our children do everything quicker. Their lives are busier, they use computers and video games. Everything moves at a faster pace with more colors and sounds. Why are our teaching methods the same as they were when I was in school? Curriculum “…is taught as a finished product, with little regard either to the ways in which it was originally built up or to changes that will surely occur in the future.” (Dewey, 1938) Changes have occurred in our children. We need to make those changes occur in our teaching methods as well. The content changes because our society continues to grow, therefore, our methods should change to match that growth of our society.
            Student are all so varied. They have different backgrounds, different lifestyles, different family units; the country is full of diversity. Why do we think that every child would be ready to learn the exact same way? We need to start teaching the student and stop teaching the standards. “… The knowledge and skill of the mature person has no directive value for the experience of the immature. Basing education upon personal experience may mean more multiplied and more intimate contacts between the mature and the immature than ever existed in the traditional school, and consequently more, rather than less, guidance by others.” (Dewey, 1938) Teaching to the student would take more time, but to the student, it would be worth it. In order to teach to the students’ experiences, we must learn the students’ experiences.
            Traditional teaching methods rely on testing. Testing is the top priority. This leads to other problems. Schools are giving less attention to the subjects not tested. The focus is now on reading and math. “71% of districts are reducing time spent on other subjects in elementary schools – at least to some degree. The subject most affected is social studies…” (Jennings & Rentner, October 2006). Most schools focus a specific amount of time for reading. High poverty districts are even more likely to focus much of their time on reading. Social Studies, Science, and the arts are getting left behind. If a teaching method such as progressivism was used, the student gets graded on projects they do and not test scores. Much of reading and writing could even be combined with some of the other subjects getting left out so students can continue working on reading and writing as they learn about these other exciting and important subjects.
            Too much emphasis is based on testing. Not all students test well. This makes it a problem when states require standardized testing for funding. “Students are taking many more tests…. In 2002, 19 states had annual reading and mathematics tests in grades 3-8 and once in high school; by 2006, every state had such testing.” (Jennings & Rentner, October 2006)
            In a society where we celebrate people’s differences, we sure do a lot to cram education into a one size fits all box. It’s time to begin teaching our children from a young age to embrace their differences. It’s okay if they learn differently or if they’re good at something else that may not be tested. It is okay, because every person is different; every student is different. Therefore, students should be taught as if they are different. A viable curriculum option is progressivism.

Works Cited

Dewey, J. (1938). Experience and Education. New York: Touchstone.
Jennings, J., & Rentner, D. S. (October 2006). Ten Big Eggects of the No Child Left Behind Act on Public School. Phi Delta Kappan, Vol. 88, No. 02, 110-113.
Loss, C. G., & Loss, C. P. (2002). Progressive Education. In Encyclopedia of Education. The Gale Group Inc.
Strauss, V. (2014, July 8). Why So Many Kids Can't Sit Through Schoo Today. Retrieved from The Washington Post: https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/07/08/why-so-many-kids-cant-sit-still-in-school-today/


Friday, August 28, 2015

Author Spotlight - Susannah McFarlane

Susannah McFarlane is a successful children’s book author who, after many years working as a publisher, now spends her time writing and creating stories that kids love to read.
She is the creator and writer of the awarding-winning EJ12 Girl Hero. Susannah understands kids and loves creating stories they enjoy to read. Her understanding and belief in the need for age-appropriate but fun content for kids comes from over twenty years experience as a children’s book publisher and from having worked with some of the world’s leading brands and writers. Susannah actually counts Thomas the Tank Engine, Winnie the Pooh, Tintin, and Enid Blyton as friends, not just former colleagues!
Susannah is also a speaker on children’s publishing for the RMIT Editing and Publishing course. She was previously the managing director of Egmont Books UK; the vice-president of the Egmont Group; the co‐owner, managing director and publisher of Hardie Grant Egmont; a contributor to the UK trade journal Publishing News; and the Convenor of the Children’s Publishing Committee and Board Director of the Australian Publishers’ Association.

Q & A – Kids Ask Susannah

As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
I first wanted to be a cowboy and then, for a long time, a vet. It wasn’t until late in high school that I wanted to work with books. I began working in publishing when I finished university.
Where do you live?
I live in Melbourne, Australia.
What books do you write?
As well as the EJ12 Girl Hero series, I write a series of picture books called Little Mates for younger children. I also co-write a series for boys called Boy vs Beast, but we use the name Mac Park for these – the Mac is me, and the Park is my co-writer Louise Park!
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer? And what inspired you to become a writer?
For a long time I didn’t want to be a writer at all. I loved working in publishing – with authors as a publicist, in marketing, and then as a publisher – and I enjoyed writing for fun, but I didn’t think of myself as a writer. But then my daughter inspired me to write my own story: I wanted to write a story that showed her she – and all girls – could do anything!
Are you inspired by any particular books or authors? What’s on your bookshelf?
Lots of them, normally the last one I read. I love reading one particular author, but then also discovering a new one. Our bookshelves take over our living room – it’s fantastic to see all your friends up there.
How do you come up with new stories?
I like to wonder ‘What if …?’ What if the school toilets hid a secret tunnel to a spy agency? What if a 10 year-old girl could solve hard missions but still find mean girls tricky? Or, for Boy vs Beast, what if snow wasn’t really snow but the attacks of an ice beast? Then I try to write the answers.
What advice would you give to anyone who wants to become an author?
Write as much as you can, and enjoy re-writing – it takes lots and lots of drafts to get a story ready, and practice makes perfect! Also, read a lot.
What was your favorite book or author when you were a kid?
I loved The Magic Faraway Tree and the Secret Seven series by Enid Blyton, and then a bit later, the Little House on the Prairie books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I liked stories about girls doing things even then! One of my favourite picture books – which I still have – was Ferdinand the Bull, about a bull in Spain who just wanted to sit and smell the flowers and not be part of bull fighting until one day …
If you had to describe yourself to someone but you could only use 3 words what would they be?
Wow. That’s really hard – I’m going to ask other people that! Maybe energetic, optimistic, but a little unsure? Perhaps that’s where Emma from the EJ12 series gets it from?
Do you have any pets? If so, what are they?
We have two dogs: Bill a Jack Russell cross who thinks he is a person, and Bella who is an insane cavoodle. My daughter has two budgies as well, which are very noisy! When I was growing up we had – all at one time – one dog, five cats, four budgies, six mice, two terrapins and, for a little while, two lambs!
What is your favorite word and why?
Discombobulate (to throw into a state confusion) – it is almost onomatopoeic, like whoosh, which I also like a lot.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I like cooking and eating (luckily I also like exercise!). And I love laughing so I enjoy going to comedy shows, and listening to funny friends and family. My family tells me my jokes are not so funny though.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

National Aviation Day!


  • Celebrate this day by reading Usborne's PLANES.
  • Planes is a part of an exciting series of books for children who are beginning to read on their own. The easy-to-read text has been specially written with the help of a reading expert.
  • Vivid, full color illustrations and photographs on every page, accompanied by short, informative text.
  • Carefully selected internet links to exciting websites to find out more. The is an Accelerated Reader title.
  • Great reading practice for children who prefer fact to fiction.

To see more fun days to celebrate in the month of August, check out this calendar: http://www.usbornebooksandmore.com/ecommerce/Calendar.asp?c=l4426

Friday, August 14, 2015

Book Spotlight: Pencil and Paper Games

  • Amidst endless apps and computer games, there is still an important place for simple yet engaging games, played with just a piece of paper and a pencil. Whether your battery's flat, you're suffering from 'screen fatigue', or you just prefer traditional games, this write-in, tear-off pad is for you, featuring over one hundred games to play.
  • Each game has clear instructions and several colourful pages with grids and game outlines already in place for children to write on.
  • Eliminates the need for lots of spare paper, making it ideal for long journeys and holidays.

Download a page from this activity book so you can try it out with your own kids. 

Want more games? You can purchase this book here: http://l4426.myubam.com/p/5040/pencil-paper-games

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Can I Be a Good Teacher to My Children?

Most homeschooling parents I now are constantly questioning if they can be a good teacher to their kids. I know I do. That's why I'm in school for education, so I can be a better teacher for my children. So, how can a parent be an effective teacher?
  1. Know the subject matter: Q: What do you need to know to teach a horse? A. More than the horse.
    While this may just seem like a cheesy joke, it's really very true. To be a good teacher to our children, we have to know the subject. Luckily, we live in a time where there are resources EVERYWHERE!!!
    Some resources I love are Khan Academy, Usborne World History Encyclopedia, and Usborne Science Encyclopedia
  2. Pedagogy: We can't just know more than our children and telling it to them. We also need to know effective teaching strategies.We need to effectively build on the information. This is stuff like, tell the students how something is done, demonstrate it, do it with them, and then allow them to do it on their own. This is done through graphic organizers, cooperative learning, lectures, demonstrations, discussions, games...etc. There are so many examples.
  3. Know the student: This one is great for parents, because parents probably know their students better than teachers do. If you know the student then you can better decided with pedagogy you want to use with them. I have one child who is very logical and prefers to learn on paper. So, adding... he was find just looking at the pictures and adding them up by counting. When his sister got to adding, she didn't want to count the pictures, instead she did 3 jumping jacks plus 2 burpees equals five. And, yes, she actually did these things. So, one of my children prefers more demonstration while the other prefers more games and hands on learning. Knowing this, helps me know how to teach my children different things. Following the lesson plan isn't always perfect for all children. 
  4. Intentional Teaching: Intentional teachers are people who think about what they want - what will the end result be?  Everything done through the day is planned ahead of time with the desired outcome in mind. This ties in with knowing the student and pedagogy.
  5. Believe in your student: Some teachers believe certain students are not capable of learning - this belief could be based on genetics, home environment or many other factors. A teacher should believe their student has the ability to learn. Believe in that student and that student will believe in him/herself. 
I hope this was helpful. What are some other things you believe are vital to being a good teacher!!! :)