Seeing the Bigger Picture : Use Creative Summaries!

Oh, homeschooling can get so detailed. We can bogged down with the most minute thing. Rightly so, for Pete’s sake, we teach Spelling and Math Calculations and for those tasks, it is really all in the details.

However, we do need to periodically see the bigger picture in all this.  For those who are into homeschooling for the longer haul, a “bigger picture” mindset is easier to achieve on a daily basis. Oh, it’so ok if my student can’t get the lesson now, or isnt as motivated in a particular subject area, we can always try again next time.  But then, how do you remind yourself that this specific lesson needs to be revisited or presented again somehow?

Well, let me suggest, taking time to just jot down notes as you go along your day.  Let me share with you what I have done the past weeks.   You see, I love Arts and Crafts, and it has been some time now that I have been trying my hand ( haha literally that is) at the art of beautiful lettering ( brush, brush pen, pen, markers, calligraphy with Nib and pen holder). I really don’t have the time to attend workshops and do formal training so I just try to learn as time and opportunities allow.   Youtube overflows with lettering tutorials, it’s crazy!

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So, why not hit many birds with one stone. Summarize your lessons via a written ” brain map” of sorts and practice your lettering.  You may  also  allow your children/students to share in the doodling and jotting. Use this summary as a creative way to journal your learning homeschooling journey. Use it to get a bigger picture. Use it to encourage more ideas and application points as you tie up lessons and see amazing connections. Use it as well to filter out  and weave in ” activities, invitations, materials”  ! You may also review this before beginning the new homeschooling session the next day

Seeing the main points of your homeschooling day/ sessions help in being convinced ( if you continue to doubt) that a great amount of learning  is indeed happening!

Processed with MOLDIV
Processed with MOLDIV

 

So what goes into your CREATIVE SUMMARY?***  Here are a few suggestions:

1. Write down the main CHARACTER/SPIRITUAL/ TIMELESS truth  lesson of the day. It could be a verse , a quotation or simple just ONE word that may say it all.

2.  Write down vocabulary words in the main languages being learned ( English, Tagalog, Mother tongue or even foreign language).

3.  Jot down the main lessons (in phrases or simple sentences)  on various subjects and see connections across all subjects.

4.  Record any funny or memorable line/ event/ comment.

5. Drawings are allowed!

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Depending on the age of your students, try to do this as a joint activity:)  Children in Middle School or High School, can do this on their own !)

So go ahead, try it!  (and use unused pages of old notebooks!)

 

Luke 14: 27-29 And whoever does not carry his cross and follow Me cannot be My disciple. 28Which of you, wishing to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost to see if he has the resources to complete it? 29 Otherwise, if he lays the foundation and is unable to finish the work, everyone who sees it will ridicule him,…

 

My Favorite Homeschooling Moments

From four homeschooled children, we are down to one.  Let me show you our timeline:

2005: When Gino was born
2005: When Gino was born

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  • 2002: Homeschoooling a toddler with an infant
  • 2003: Homeschooling a preschooler and toddler, with a newborn
  • 2004: Homeschooling 2 preschoolers, with a toddler
  • 2005: Homeschooling 2 preschoolers, with a toddler and newborn
  • 2006-2012: Homeschooling 4 children.
  • 2012: Released eldest, homeschooling 3
  • 2014: Released 2nd, homeschooling 2
  • 2016:  Released 3rd, homeschooling our youngest Gino, level 5:)

***during the early years, The Bridge School, assisted me in allowing a 3 day program  for the younger kids as I got our act together. So thankful to Bridge for taking care of our babies in batches as I shifted to full time homeschooling. I also learned a whole lot about preschool teaching from this amazing school!

I just want to enjoy this post as I recall MY favorite moments.  And maybe one day, I can ask my students and share with you what their favorite memories are and we can compare notes.  But for now, hoping not to tear, let me share mine:

1. Bedtime stories and Read-A-Loud time:  I just love bonding with the kids with  great books in hand. Whether it be the all time, read again and again, Berenstain Bear’s collection or  other favorite bed time stories, or chapter books like Dr. Doolittle, Popper’s Penguins or recently, Hudson Taylor’s biography,  or chapters from our Mystery of History series, those are my most precious moments ever!  When a shared book/story experience is so rich and wonderful, the memory is like a glue of happiness and warmth!

This is our poster board in our classroom that summarizes all the stories shared in our History time:)
This is our poster board in our classroom that summarizes all the stories shared in our History time:)

 

2. Pretend/ Dramatic Play:  Have you ever found yourself laughing out loud (LOL!) with your children? This, for sure, will create those opportunities.  Create stories, assign roles, re-enact Bible stories!  Oh, how I wished I took a video of all of them!  These tools can also be golden opportunities to teach a lesson. Once, I thought of helping the children develop compassion (putting selves in the shoes of others) and we all pretended to have various disabilities. We drew lots and acted the part we got. All five of us during bedtime had to play the part for 30 minutes.  You can imagine how that turned out. But you have to try it yourself.  However, something that seemed fun turned serious when I challenged them to really think of those who  have these conditions for the rest of their lives.

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The little ones pretending to have wings after they raided Mama’s closet!
Play dress up, dress up
Play dress up, dress up

 

3. Our Art Classes  / Science Experiments – All my students know I do not draw well.  So when we need to draw, I am one with my students, learning again. It’s quite amusing  to see each others’ drawings!  Oh my, we did do  so many ART projects together and boy, did we have so much fun. One time, we were in the garage, painting of all things, a colorful giant GARAGE SALE sign and guess what my students did? Oh poor little creatures, they decided to use some left over paint to paint some millipedes!

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As early sat 2 years old, I expose the kids to Art Projects that are done in steps!

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Exciting Science experiments are always winners. Yes, and the mishaps too.  Once, in an activity for Digestion and the Gastrointestinal System, I did not secure the seal of the blender pitcher, oh were we all covered with samples of “digested food”!  Ewww.  Or during a lesson on the Skin /Integumentary system, we actually pretended to be surgeons, sewing lacerated pig’s skin!

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A study of Seeds: Boys were thrilled to see a really big avocado seed
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Trying to help each other blow up a SUN for our balloon solar system!
Seeing how fire needs oxygen!
Seeing how fire needs oxygen!

 

4. Magic Moments – these are the moments when you have front seats to witness something really special going on. It could be as simple as an older child assisting a younger sibling, a child asking , “Is God old? ” or children eventually embracing a spiritual truth about who God is and what is He like.  Magic Moments are also the times when you see good character in action and experience fruits of your homeschooling labor.  I also consider moments when a “emotional” or “character” concern of  a student is addressed really special. I also love it so much when they come and open up about their thoughts and feelings.

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Raya and Marco look at their piano books together and remember the pieces that they kept playing again and again.

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5.  Scenes Etched in Your Heart – There are many scenes in my mind when I think of the past 13 years of homeschooling.  I have a few favorites though.  My son Marco started piano classes at 5 years old and I remember bringing him to piano with him  on the back seat. The way to the teachers house required us to pass through a hilly road that allows him to feel like he is in a roller coaster. He would always open the windows and I could see from the side mirror, my Marco,  full of glee and enjoying the wind splashing on his chubby face !  I loved seeing him like that and always looked forward to the time when he would ALWAYS open the window to see this EVERY single time we went home from piano lessons.

I am so thankful though that I kept taking photos of our experiences together. I look with fondness and yes with some ache in my heart, as I remember and try to re-live those days. But more than being able to take photos, my gratitude flows in being given a chance to take this ride with our children. They were days that seemed slow and long, but honestly, time does fly… I guess, especially when one is  truly having fun ( and yes there were more fun days than slow and bad days!)

 

Proverbs 15:13 A glad heart makes a happy face; a broken heart crushes the spirit.

Dear First Time Homeschooler, There Will Be Bad Days!

Homeschooling parallels life in general, There are various seasons where general conditions occur in a some specific period of time  (newborn phase,  moving homes, living away, caring for elderly parents, illness in family etc) . There  are struggles and victories. There is laughing and yet, crying too.  And to our dearest first time homeschoolers, there will be bad days,  so bad you may end up wishing you could retract your decision to homeschool your children.  After 14 years of homeschooling,  let me encourage you by saying, yes bad days will come but as a whole, the amazing, “My heart and mind are full, thank you Lord for homeschooling” kind of days will far outweigh those terrible, horrible days.

Let me share some of my my experiences:

1.  I made my 6 year old son weep due to Math.  I don’t remember the details but I think the lesson was too difficult and he had to do “more pages”.   I was so moved and vowed never to make any of my students cry. Of course, I failed. He cried again  because the multiplication exercises were just too long and tedious.   I then decided if he knew the basics of multiplication, we could forego the added worksheets. Does any level headed adult multiply 2  4-5 digit numbers manually? We all have our calculators with a few clicks of our fingers , right?

2.  There are days when our lessons or homeschool experience is messed up because of misplacing homeschool materials! The whole mood is off.  Frustration brews and you just want to call it a day, organize and fix your “homeschool” and start fresh. You tell yourself, “That material was purchased for this very reason, this very moment and I can’t find it! Waaaahhhh!”

3.  When you let your phone or online experience and socialization time disturb  homeschooling time- I remember my  5 year old son told me once, “Teachers don’t text.”

4.  For Home Economics, we did major cleaning of appliances: laptops, keyboard, screens, electric fans, etc…   We over cleaned the keyboard of our I-Mac and it stopped working. Water seeped through the letter keys ( since I asked the boys to use cotton dabbed in water to clean each letter button in keyboard but they used  were and drippy cotton!)  We had to humbly report to the Principal, Daddy Gilbert and offered to pay part of the new keyboard.

5.  Character issues will definitely arise. The easier and less taxing way is to just simply shrug it off, and move on and get on with the lesson.  But that is the the right and proper way to deal with it as parents/teachers who have the responsibly of raising our children in the best way we can.  Sometimes, it can disrupt the entire morning addressing some issues but alway do so in a calm and nurturing disposition and always end in prayer.  When you have multiple kids, do it privately, one on one.  Never embrass your children in front  of his/her siblings, that will turn a bad day to a nightmare.

6. There are days when either the teacher or student is  just out of sync for no apparent reason.  You’re not in the mood to teach or  your students are not motivated and seem to be rushing their school work. The environment is far from nurturing and positive. Some may call it toxic!  Just tweak the day! Go for a walk, a swim or get out of the house.  Do something different and just take a break from the mundane stuff of homeschooling.

The sooner you accept that bad days will happen, the  better the chances of surviving them or even turning them around! You’ve got 365 days a year to homeschool, don’t fret and fuss!  Like a song based on verses in Lamentations (of the Old Testament ) beautifully puts it, ” Morning by morning, new mercies I see. All I have needed Thy hand has provided. Great is thy faithfulness, mercies and love.” Mommy, or Daddy dear, it may be dark now, but morning is sure to come. Take heart!

Lamentations 3:21-23  21Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:  22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,for his compassions never fail. 2They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”

Credits to : www.akiit.com for the featured image on this

S.C.H.E.D.U.L.E !

Ok, let me admit that I have a TYPE A side who survives and thrives in routine, in step by step processes, and  always going by a plan. I love to know how things come about and what causes what. That’s probably why I earned a degree in Medicine. Being a nerd at heart, my closest friends joke me for having a book for every issue or concern in different seasons of life.

Homeschooling has challenged and changed all that.  Imagine four  children below eight years old, how can you even think of order, or of sticking to any plan ?

But, hey, it has been 14 years of homeschooling and from four, I am down to one student.  The older kids are well adjusted and doing well in their regular schools. So we must have done something that prepared them to adjust ,cope and yes, even bloom.  So .let me share a few tips on  creating, maintaining, ditching your SCHEDULE (yes there are days, I ditch the plan!)

For many years, usually at the beginning of the school year, I tried to create daily, weekly schedules. Oh wow,  I even downloaded or sometimes even purchased, “homeschool planners, multilevel planners, giant calendars,  personal planners for each child.”  I tried to write lessons (as joint (all kids)  and individual ) and plans for the day with specific time allotment.  I tried to spread out the lessons so as not to tire the children.   But when I realized that I kept adjusting, making changes in the set schedule, I  decided, it wasn’t worth it all and  I somehow wanted a more relaxed, free flowing, flexible schedule (which I believe woks better with multilevel children) .

Looking  back at these planners, none of them were ever  maximized and filled up.  I guess, instinctively, it didn’t match my own learning and teaching philosophy.  How could I end  a moment or shift to another lesson,  when the children are so engrossed in something.? How could I not continue, pursue and extend the moment for maximum learning and enjoyment?

So, we somehow ended up with a  “big picture” schedule such as this. Nothing too specific or rigid.

That is the ideal!
That is the ideal!

 

In my mind, this was our goal. But of course, it always gets mixed up,

It’s not easy to give hard and fast rules because each homeschooling family is unique. Many variables come into play in setting one’s schedule/pace of learning.   So, let me just share my most favorite GO TO tips in being able to  get things done and yes, learn and have fun.

Let’s use the word S-C-H-E-D-U L-E.

1. Set the  time  and material/lesson per day/per week.  Depending on the season of our children’s levels or ages, we more or less, averaged 3-5 hours of  schoolwork.  The younger children in their preschool or primary years had more free play, had more freedom and flexibility.    I would say they engaged and did their lessons for about 1-2 hours only.  As the kids, went into levels 3-6,   we somehow had a 930AM-230PM schedule.  There are days when I would need to nap, or our lunch break would extend, so we end a bit later.

It’s important to consider  the well being of the teacher and student/s. If I had a very stressful evening (let’s say one child was ill throughout the night), I adjust and do lighter lessons or watch videos instead.  Also be wary of other family events for rest of the day,  and make adjustments so as not to stress your homeschooling time or burn you out.

This is basically what we hope to cover for level 5 this school year.  Our homeschool provider, Homeschool Global, (former TMA Homeschool), breaks its school year into 4 quarters.  So I work with that.

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At the beginning of a school year, I photocopy the table of contents of the major textbooks and skim through the lessons.  I look for lessons that can go together.  For example, a lesson on Galileo for History can be supported by lessons in Astronomy.   For Grammar, synchronize your Filipino and Language lessons.

I also think of ideas for projects or connections to real life settings . When a child is older, you can try to elicit these ideas from them.   So find connections across subjects. This saves a whole lot time, solidifies learning. Blended or seamless lessons that encompass several concepts and ideas from various subjects are the in thing now among progressive schools. This method of learning has been proven to be more effective than the usual  one lecture per subject set up.

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2. C  ommunicate your plans to the kids.   Show the the children, the plan for the day.  Remind them that some adjustments may have to be made as you go along. Discuss with them the general plan for the week ( include the outsourced subjects or tutorials outside of the house, MAPE classes, planned field trips or even those days when you may have to leave and assign them some independent school work.)

3. H  eavier subjects first?   Being morning people, we prefer to do heavier subjects that require a whole lot of concentration and mental focus at the beginning of the day. I find our students more alert and more able to comprehend. You may opt to have it the other way around. What’s important is to maximize your lessons given your children’s and your level of concentration/mental and physical strength. After lunch, we try to do the livelier subjects that can wake us all up, a Science experiment, a video tutorial, games or project work that involves a whole lot of creating.

4.  E  ngage the older children in making their own schedules.  For as long as they know what the goals for the day are, they can decide what lessons to tackle first. Depending on your family set up, you may decide do heavier subjects last. This provides the children with some empowerment in making own decision and helps them with time management.  This becomes very helpful during project time where certain tasks are done in steps, week by week.

5.  D  itch it, if necessary .   If a planned lesson or activity isn’t working, be flexible or open, to stop and reassess.  There are many times when we had to ditch the planned lessons for several days. This usually happens during national events like the last Philippine Elections, the Mamasapano Tragedy, Ondoy Storm and Relief Efforts or when our family faces certain situations  making it impossible to  stick to lesson, oblivious to what our family was going through.

6.  U  nit Studies

The www.homeschoolinthewoods.com describes the Unit Study as :

Unit Studies approach a theme topic from several angles, encouraging activity and love of learning as well as discipline and responsibility. Units work best when the main topic is studied in the areas of Bible, History, Science, Health, Physical Education and the Arts, but Language and Math can often be applied as well.

While  www.thehomeschoolmom.com says :

Unit studies are a popular homeschooling method because they can be hands-on, literature-based, or even geared towards the Charlotte Mason method. Unit Studies typically encompass all of the scholastic subjects through the study of one topic (Weaver units or KONOS character units, for example), although they can be specific to a specific subject (like Evan-Moor science units or Teacher Created Materials units). Since it is easier to teach different ages the same topics with multi-level unit studies, they are popular among homeschoolers wanting to keep all of their children on similar topics at the same time.

Here are some examples of your own unit studies and projects done by multilevel Children:

A Unit Study on Roman History

A Unit Study on Shakespeare

Another Unit Study on Shakespeare

Book Reports that become Unit Studies

A Unit Study: Entrepreneurship 101

Unit Study on Wise Building

Unit Study on Maps

For more information about Unit Studies, click here.

7.  L  imit redundant activities –  Don’t be afraid to skip lessons that are “useless”, that have been taken up and  already mastered,  or that will be taken up in a future lesson in another subject.  If for instance, your child is reading a chapter book on a person known for his compassion and love for the children then you find a similar material in his Reading Exercise textbook, you may opt to skip that part.  I am using the Mathusee curriculum  for Math.  Each Lesson has about 3 practice sheets of the new lessons and another 4 practice sheets for the current lesson and past lessons combined.  When the student scores high in several practice sheets, I usually limit these so we could proceed to the next lesson or use the time to apply what we have learned to real life situations.

8.  E  liminate distractions –  For as long as family members know how to contact you via landline, shut the  mobile phone off ( I need to learn this again and again). Open it only during homeschool breaks.  Write down non-homeschool thoughts that you need to go back to later on during the day.   Keep your homeschool room neat and organized, a messy room is a giant distraction and can become stressful, in the long run.

So there, Set, Communicate, Heavier first, Engage, Ditch it, Unit Studies, Limit, Eliminate ! 

Hope these tried and tested tips help with scheduling your daily homeschooling experiences!

 

Ephesians 6: 16 Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. 17 Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. 18 Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit,

 

Curriculum Counseling!

The first question non-homeschoolers ask homeschoolers after they have learned about your decision to home education your children is most likely about socialization issues. The first question that most homeschoolers ask each other will most likely  be about curricula/ homeschool providers.

I still remember Deonna Tan-chi’s (one of the pioneers of homeschooling in the country) story about heading to National Book Store soon after they decided to homeschool to purchase all the locally produced textbooks of their children’s levels. Without the information online then and all the material available now, her options then were less and simpler. She just found a way to make it work with their 5 children.    After homeschooling 4 children of 4 different levels, I can truly say that  the abundance of homeschool materials can be seen as a double-edged sword. You can either swim and drown or you can swim and do a wonderful stroke with  the sea of materials!

I really can’t put a comprehensive list of what’s out there. Wow, I will drown! This post will probably have a part 2 in actually sharing with you my personal journey with our own curriculum but for now let me share with you some important principles in decision making re curriculum.

1. What works for others, may not work for you thus a certain level of trial and error may be necessary.  That’s why it makes more sense to borrow first if you have friends who have gone ahead. However it you choose to borrow,  treat material with respect always. It ain’t yours, dear!

2. Regarding purchasing material, you can waste money in rushing, hoarding and bandwagon decision making.  Know what you have and know what you need. Do not purchase add-ons for books with lessons or subject matters that are easily taught online too.  Use what you have first.

3. Once you have decided, stick to your material and abandon only when absolutely necessary.

4. Choose material that:

  • can be used and reused for multilevel kids.
  • suits your teaching personality and what you hold dear in terms of learning and education principles.
  • contain assessments (seatwork, quizzes or testif that is a requirement
  • suits the dominant learning style of your student (that’s if you children like most have mixed learning styles)
  • enhances creativity and promote real-life connection and applicationwithin your homeschool budget

5. Your decision to go independent or hook up with a homeschool provider may affect your choice of materials.

Some providers may require only a limited type of material or may require that you use the material they publish.

The list below is no way comprehensive but having been in the homeschooling circle for over the decade now, here are some materials that’s been widely used. You may google each one to find out more about them. Just type away and you’ll get a wealth of information about all of these material.

  • Sing Spell Read and Write
  • Language Lessons for the Well Trained Mind
  • Easy Grammar
  • Rod and Staff
  • Bob Jones University
  • Five in a Row
  • Horizons (part of Alpha Omega)
  • Alpha Omega Publications (Lifepacs)
  • Living Heritage Academy Paces ( School of Tomorrow)
  • Abeka
  • Apologia Science and Apologia What We Believe Series
  • Singapore Math
  • Saxon Math
  • Mathusee
  • Spellusee
  • Calvert Homeschool Program
  • Mystery of History
  • Story of the World
  • Eps Publishing
  • Voyages in English
  • Catholic Filipino Academy
  • Science by Pearson Publishing
  • Following God series
  • Tapestry of Grace
  • Sonlight Curriculum
  • Filipino:  Binhi, Liwanag at Landas, Sanghaya
  • Social Studies:  One Country, Pluma, Philippine Pride, Kayamanan

Am sure, I’ve missed a whole lot more. Please do write on the comments below if you would like to suggest other material for our readers.

Let me share with you what we’ve used these past 13 years!

pkwkid
Sing Spell Read and Write Pre K Levelhttp://www.rainbowresource.com/products/pkwkid.jpg
Sing Spell Read and Write Combo http://www.rainbowresource.com/viewpict.php?pid=SSRWCK
Sing Spell Read and Write Combo
http://www.rainbowresource.com/viewpict.php?pid=SSRWCK
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Sonlight Pre-K
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Sonlight Readers
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Apologia What We Believe Series
We tried this for several years before switching to Apologia What We Believe series
We tried this for several years before switching to Apologia What We Believe series

 

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Apologia Exploring Creation Science Series (http://teachbesideme.com/homeschool-moms-share-favorite-science-curriculum/

 

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History is no longer a mystery! Our favorite!

 

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Another favorite. Mathusee! Thank you Steve Demme



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Rod and Staff’s Language/ English Books
http://cathyduffyreviews.com/images/spelling-vocab-images/spellwell.jpg
http://cathyduffyreviews.com/images/spelling-vocab-images/spellwell.jpg
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For thorough Philippine History or researching or storytelling


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We tried Binhi, Liwanag sa Landas and Sanghaya for teaching Filipino but ended up using lots of story books/ chapter books and a Filipino Conversation teaching guide.

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Another favorite!

 

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Got this from Powerbooks 10 years ago
These 2 books were available in Fully Booked BGC 8 or so years ago.
Fully Booked
Fully Booked
Fully Booked
Typing from Data Blitz
Typing from Data Blitz

 

So, I hope this post helps. Most of the books I have shown here are available in Learning Plus Bookstore in Fun Ranch Compound, Tiendesitas.   Mathusee is available in Philippine edition. Howeve, I had to order the Sing Spell Series, most Language,Music and Art  materials online.

Why We Shunned Coloring Books

My earliest memory of coloring books had something to do with flipping through used coloring sheets.  Some pages were nicely colored, some were colored without “staying within the lines.” Early on, you just knew instinctively that something was very wrong with these “lampas-lampas” (outside of the boundaries) pages. Actually, when I try to remember, some colored pages seemed to have started well and for some reason, frustration got in the way.

I wasn’t much of a “colorer.” Maybe one reason is that by the time, hand me down coloring books in our family reached me (yes, last of 9kids), only the corny pages were left to color. Also, honestly, the act of rubbing crayons area by area may have bored me. So bored that my sister and I had to “tweak” our experience.

I vividly remember a coloring book of female faces. We then found a way to put in some creativity by applying “make up” through shading and blending. We experimented on eye shadow and cheek blush blending, and lip lining!

Fast forward to 2000, in a class about creativity, our teacher shared about the story of how a young preschooler gave up her passion of drawing horses after a well meaning grandmother gifted her with a coloring book of horses. As they pried further, the child gave up “drawing horses” after seeing how horses should look like.” Why draw when you can easily color? Just stay within the lines.”

We all know that preschoolers cannot easily stay within the lines so why even set them up for that kind of frustrating activity?   Surely, there are many other ways to practice fine motor skills that could also enhance creativity. I then realized then that there was an entire movement against the use of coloring books.

So early on, I limited coloring activities and never purchased a coloring book. Coloring pages would only come through the ‘Activity Books” that had mazes, word searches, puzzles,etc.

I eventually began homeschooling our children and needed some background on Art.  And was I so thankful that the first “serious” material that guided our view and take on Art was Susan Striker’s Young at Art.  For more information, check the author’s website.  Have a taste of this book by checking out one of her entries in her blog about encouraging creativity in young children. 

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I am not really here to wage war against coloring books. (Certainly, not after our book stores shelves have gotten people crazy over the “adult coloring books” ). Well, adults have that skill of staying within the lines and have opted to color instead of drawing from scratch. They have a choice.

But for little children exploring, little hands venturing into various skills, little minds so fertile for the creativity seeds, wouldn’t we want to give them something more? A large blank paper (A4, or even A3!!) with chubby pens and pencils, lots of washable finger or poster paint, fat crayons would be  far better choices indeed!

There is just so much to discover about how our children see the world, process what’s going on around them and express their thoughts in their creations. No, not in how they color within the lines but how they will use raw materials around them to express themselves.

So yes, we had very little “coloring within the lines” activities in our classroom. But in return, we witnessed a whole of creativity and relentless pursuit to express and create. Here are just a few works early on our homeschool journey.  Newer works are uploaded on HomesCoolph FB page and Homescoolph IG! You may also check out Raya’s Room category in this blog.

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A DIY Store from a massage table box

 

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Yarn Pompoms
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Pastel crayons and black paint!
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Play dough art! Doughnuts, anyone?
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Stories and drawing!

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Pottery with the help of Cornerstone Pottery Farm.
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2011 Watercolor on pastel sunflower by Raya
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“Of course, you can make a pink spaceship, Raya! Sky is the limit!”
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2010 Mosaic Giraffe by Vince
2010 Mosaic Art by Marco
2010 Mosaic Art by Marco
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Our “Wall of Fame” – our priceless collection of homeschooling, bonding and creativity!

Creativity eventually spilled over other subjects and subject matters!

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2013 Our Science Poster
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Marco’s Lego Band!
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Cool drummer, right?
Look at Marco's Lego guitarist
Look at Marco’s Lego guitarist
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2014 Marco’s Comic on Journey of St Paul in Filipino
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Details, details!
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2013 Marco’s Avenger Comics
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2016 Raya’s series on female superheroes using Copic Sketch Pens

 

Happy Creating!

Isaiah 64:8  “But now, O LORD, You are our Father, We are the clay, and You our potter; And all of us are the work of Your hand.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spice Up Your Homeschooling : New Products for Art and Sewing!

Wow, was I so thrilled to see this product for sale in  Powerbooks, Alabang Town Center.

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Finally!  So for you, our readers, I asked more information about it. It is for sale at 9800 but for BDO cards, they do allow the 3 month installment plan. If you have it in you, or maybe you have a tween or teen daughter,  it is indeed a good purchase!    With another Brother model, Raya learned a whole of “sewing”,  Using tutorials from  Youtube, she sewed her own dress, shorts, pen holders, instax holder, dresses for her dolls.  Check her post about this.

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For a good review about this actual model from Power books,  check this out.  This model also comes with a DVD tutorial!

You may also choose to attend basic sewing classes with the use of similar sewing machines run by a good friend, Ms. Anne Del Rosario of Sew Easy. 

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For two weeks, we’ve had major flooring renovations, so I welcomed a stay out helper to assist us.  She was also a “mananahi” or a skilled sewer.  With Raya’s older model of Brother sewing machine, and a trip to Shell Canvass and Ilaya in Divisoria, look at what we were able to do:

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From Powerbooks, head off to Fully Booked for your Art Curriculum. Thank you, Usborne!  This is simply awesome.  If you are interested to learn, why not be your children’s Art teacher (don’t worry about not having the skill to draw or paint, learn with your students! They’ll be excited to learn together. Just google and type, “How to________”). And Art isn’t just the practical side of it, Art History and Art Appreciation are great lessons as well!  For Php 1360 with Fully Booked Discount Card for Cash purchase, you have a year or more’s worth of  lessons and inspiration. Go ahead. Choose between these 2 and see what may work for you.  The material can be adjusted for younger children. For  the Book of Art, a middle schooler can pretty much read on his/her own, but wouldn’t you want to brush (haha, didnt intend that pun there)  up on Art? What is even more exciting is the the internet links provided to make your Art experience  richer.

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For many years, during the preschool and primary levels , our Homeschool Art lessons/activities were based on these two books from Usborne!

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Photo Credit: http://world-of-wonders222.blogspot.com/2011/02/usborne-book-of-art-ideas.html
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Photo Credit: http://world-of-wonders222.blogspot.com/2011/02/usborne-book-of-art-ideas.html

 

These 2 books were available in Fully Booked BGC 8 or so years ago.
These 2 books were available in Fully Booked BGC 8 or so years ago.

Inspired by the projects in these books, and with the help of Painting Teacher ( because after some point, I could no longer teach the more advance skills of painting) Ms. Esther Mercurio, we were able to create our own WALL of FAME… haha.. :

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So start saving for these ? Are you heading off to Powerbooks or FullyBooked? Have fun!!!!

Exodus 35:30-35  Then Moses said to the sons of Israel, “See, the LORD has called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. “And He has filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding and in knowledge and in all craftsmanship; to make designs for working in gold and in silver and in bronze, and in the cutting of stones for settings and in the carving of wood, so as to perform in every inventive work. “He also has put in his heart to teach, both he and Oholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan. “He has filled them with skill to perform every work of an engraver and of a designer and of an embroiderer, in blue and in purple and in scarlet material, and in fine linen, and of a weaver, as performers of every work and makers of design

Tried and Tested Tips For All Homeschoolers!

 

I could actually come up with 30 or even more!   But for this post, less is more and the simpler the better.  So, after releasing 3 students to mainstream schooling and homeschooling 4 children in a span of 14 years, I will now be sharing the MUST HAVEs for every homeschooler.

1.  Have a clear foundation for your homeschooling.   If you’d like to know what this means, kindly check these recent posts: For Those Who Have Taken The Plunge,Mission and Vision for Every Homeschooler, and Core Values for Every Homeschooler,

2. Connect to a Higher Source. Homeschoolers come from all walks of life, different backgrounds, beliefs and religion.  And we have different ways of receiving encouragement, motivation and strength.   This MUST HAVE is very personal for me and I have been vocal about it. In our home, we can “do all things in Christ who strengthens us.” Philippians 4:1.  Apart from Christ and our faith, I firmly believe, we would not have been able to joyfully walk the homeschooling journey.

3. Connect with Like Minded Homeschoolers. Among homeschoolers, you will have may “personalities”. There will be the ones who prioritize academics, other who value character first,  some who thrive with rigidity and routine, while others who are more free flowing and flexible. Find those you are comfortable to share the journey with and connect with them regularly. It is going to be a tough journey to do it alone.

4. Keep materials organized in a positive and nurturing classroom or homeschool area. Find the best physical set up that will enable you to reach your goals for homeschooling ( Mission/Vision/Values) and try to maintain it that way. Train yourself, your children and your helpers to keep it that way.  Do not put off arranging a pile of books, a heap of photocopied homeschool material, do not allow misplaced homeschool materials to continue being misplaced. For further ideas on this, check this out. For out of this world furniture, check this too.

5. Aim to make homeschool lessons  and daily experiences  have the following components:

  • Fun
  • Practical
  • With clear and communicated objectives
  • With a lot of hands on experiences
  • Real life experiences connection
  • Flexibility to accommodate global or national current events
  • More unit studies/projects/blended activities
  • Maximizing wealth of good homeschool material  (documentaries, youtube tutorials, lesson plans, images, etc) online with good internet connection (Invest on it.)

 

Exodus 18:17-23 17 “This is not good!” Moses’ father-in-law exclaimed. 18 “You’re going to wear yourself out—and the people, too. This job is too heavy a burden for you to handle all by yourself. 19 Now listen to me, and let me give you a word of advice, and may God be with you. You should continue to be the people’s representative before God, bringing their disputes to him. 20 Teach them God’s decrees, and give them his instructions. Show them how to conduct their lives. 21 But select from all the people some capable, honest men ……22 They should always be available to solve the people’s common disputes, but have them bring the major cases to you. Let the leaders decide the smaller matters themselves. They will help you carry the load, making the task easier for you. 23 If you follow this advice, and if God commands you to do so, then you will be able to endure the pressures, and all these people will go home.”

Fab Finds Batch 6 : Keep Finding Moments/Things/People that Inspire You!

Oh, I missed creating these lists.

The Fab Finds posts are generally anything and everything I find in life that brings renewed inspiration and joy! They can come in various forms from experiences to people, from scenes to things!

Let me share with you what has made it to the Fab Find list lately.

1. 52 Weeks with Jesus

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I got this book from the Philippine Christian Book Store in CCF Center in Fontera Verde.  It has really deepened my knowledge and experience of Jesus andtruly ignited my quiet time !

2. A  New Hobby

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Using TomBow pens available in Fully Booked

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I began dabbling with calligraphy last year but didnt really have the time to seriously practice. However, in my course of  being exposed to the beauty of the written word, I have seen more forms of the written word: brush pen writing !

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You may use your kid’s markers to do pretty writing

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From brush lettering with watercolor to watercolor flower painting:) with the help of Raya
From brush lettering with watercolor to watercolor flower painting:) with the help of Raya

3. A New Family Sport –

Thanks to self defense/boxing teacher, Patrick Alvarez (@pat_alvarez0771), we are now bonding with our teens in a new way.  Of course, I had to have pink hand wraps!

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4. Home Stuff in Starmall Alabang Home Section:

I had a chance to visit the home section of Starmall Alabang’s top floor( Our sons have been having Sunday basketball games there for the past 3 months) and I was really thrilled to see a lot of pretty and reasonably priced stuff. Reasonable and inexpensive, for the win. Christmas Shopping na! ( That’s one of things I do to destress December. All year round, I try to pick stuff here and there as Christmas gifts so come December, though I fail at times, I always dream of just  slowly and creatively wrapping with hot chocolate and cookies! (Haha, it is ok to dream right? ) Kulang nalang cold weather, snow and layers of thick clothing… and ok, a  lit fireplace.

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These red vases are so expensive in Crate and Barrel! So cheap in Starmall!
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The biggest pretty coffee cup I have ever seen!
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Wouldn’t you want to water your plants with this???
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Cheap pastel mugs!
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So pretty for your next tea party!

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5. Water/Sand Table in Wilcon Home Depot near Skyway entrance in Alabang

Step 2 Sand & Water Table Php3600.00 at Wilcon Home Depot Alabang
Step 2 Sand & Water Table
Php3600.00 at Wilcon Home Depot Alabang

This brought back a lot of memories as I remembered all the water and sand fun I’ve had with our 4 children.  It made me check out these photos from his scrapbook.

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We got this as a gift for our 2 year old Vince and boy, did we have so much fun with it?  Lots of memories all the way up to our youngest Gino. Imagination turned this table into a farm,  a sea, a raging sea, a beach,  and even a Dinosaur land!

6. Children and Outdoor Play

No words needed. Just stare.

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I wish i had a giant tree in our backyard to be able to do this:)

7. An Easier Way to Head to Makati from Alabang and back via the P2P (Point to Point)  Makati-Alabang Bus Route!

BFF Candy and I  and our homeschooled ( Sophia is now in a regular school) daughters took this ever so convenient and  efficient bus to Makati from Alabang and back for a much awaited (and needed) mommy and daughter bonding! We boarded in Alabang Town Center near the Parking Lot (Red Ribbon side) and were dropped in Mercury Drug in Greenbelt 1 ( near Zara Driveway).  The trip took 25 minutes!

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8.  A Worth it Book- All About the Philippines , available at National Book Store, Aura!

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9.  Marquesa de Chocolate in Terry’s Bistro, Pasong Tamo!  Yummiest Mousse/Cake/Icecream!

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Our son Marco with the yummiest mousse ever and all other family members agree!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10. A New Option for Healthy, Filipino Food:  Real Food, Molito, Alabang

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Our niece Kara of Details Ink did the beautiful artwork on the wall!
Our niece Kara  (@detailsink on IG) of Details Ink did the beautiful artwork on the wall!
Via: http://detailsink.ph/project/keep-it-real-wall-mural/
Via: http://detailsink.ph/project/keep-it-real-wall-mural/

I haven’t not been able to try a whole lot of stuff but the Kale Chips and Bottled Fish are really good! For more detailed experience of this store, check this out. 

11. Adding greens and succulents to our coffee table!

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I still struggle though it keeping these succulents alive for a longer period of time.  Any suggestions?

12.  Raya’s Latest Art Works!

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Her version of the night sky! Acrylic on canvas
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Using Copic Sketch Markers

13. New Friends from the Homeschooling Community. Thank you Educating For Life (Mariel Uyquiengco,  Michelle Padrelanan and Rosanne Unson) for bringing homeschoolers together in always a fun, organized and relaxing way!

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Watch out for Educating for Life ! Met so many homeschoolers during their launch!
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Homeschool Moms’ Coffee Break sponsored by Career Academy Asia and Educating for Life!


So there!  Wouldn’t you agree that it helps to see the beauty and the fabulous in every day experiences? 

** Apologies, I can’t seem to figure out why some photos when seen on the smartphone are not right side up.

Jeremiah 29: 13 If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.

Dear First Time Homeschooler ( Determining Your Core Values!) Part 3 of a Series in Creating a Strong Foundation for your Homeschoooling Family

So this is part 3 of a series I began on creating a strong foundation for every homeschooler. If you are just checking in for the first time, please take time to review this and then this, too. As a review, this is our family’s Mission in homeschooling and generally, in  raising our children:

Mission:
To create a fun-filled and loving environment at home, to help students discover their gifts, to encourage creativity, and to teach how to diligently study God’s Word.

It defines what we do on a daily basis.  That is our MISSION.  In a sense, it answers why the Simpao HomesCool  exists.  It answers why we have opted to home educate our children instead of letting them attend a regular school like the 99% of kids their age.

So ask yourself these questions:

  • What do we do in the__________( say your surname) homeschool?
  • Why does ______________(say your surname) homeschool exist?

As mentioned in previous posts, your vision is your preferred future. This is what you “envision” to happen as a result of your mission.  In a sense for as long as our children “live” in our homes, they continue to be raised and homeschooled even if they have been released to regular schools.  So, your mission and vision may actually go beyond the years of your homeschooling lessons.

Vision: To see the family love God, love others and love learning.

Take note that I have included the word “family” in our vision. This is because the homeschooling journey is not exclusively for the students but truly for the entire family.   The main teacher ( usually the mother) is also molded by the homeschooling experience.  So as a result of homeschooling, we desire as a family to see ourselves “loving God, loving others and to love learning.”

As we continue to set the foundation of our “homeschool”,  we now move towards CORE VALUES.

Let me contextualize this definition of Core Values online:

Core values are the fundamental beliefs of your family/ homeschooling. These values are the guiding principles that will determine decisions, action and behavior.  These values can help in assessing if our daily  homeschooling experiences including chosen material and activities are aligned with our homeschooling_goals/mission. 

These values are what you hold dear as family and they will be evident in your choices in your homeschooling journey.

Here are some values for our family :

  • Love for God and His Word
  • Love and Respect of others (this involves cooperation/being a team player)
  • Love for Country
  • Servant Leadership
  • Integrity/Honesty
  • Responsibility/Diligence
  • Excellence
  • Compassion
  • Creativity
  • Physical Health through Sports/Proper Nutrition ( we are still struggling in the nutrition part because I can’t seem to make the children love all kinds of fruits and vegetables, we keep trying though) .

Your choices for curriculum, readers, read-a-louds, projects, homeschool co-op or support group’s activities,  outsourced lessons, extra-curricular programs,  field trips, sports coaches, MAPE teachers or lessons, etc can be determined with always your core values in mind, as you strongly holding on to your mission and vision as you see the big picture.

For instance, in our schedule, we have decided to do BIBLE reading/ meditating/lessons daily.   That’s because that holds a priority in our lives.  In desiring to highlight Love for Country, we try to always be aware of current events and try to teach Philippine History and Filipino as a language passionately.  Let me just give you examples on what we involved ourselves with to emphasize the importance of Philippine History and Culture and the Filipino language:

  • Regularly watch Filipino material ( Pepito Manaloto, Inang Yaya, Magnifico, Penguin Penguin Paano ka Ginawa?, Tagalog Plays like Prinsipeng Munti, Ang Hukuman ni Mariang Sinukuan, I Do Biddo Bidoo, Dolphy movie )
  • Read Filipino storybooks and chapter books
  • Discuss national current events thoroughly
  • Hired a Filipino Tutor when I could no longer handle all subjects for all 4 children
  • Regularly attend Exhibits and Trade Shows of Philippine artists and products
  • Adjust lessons during periods of great national concern ( elections, disasters, national holidays)

One of the things though I know I could have done differently (if I had the chance to do it all over again ) is to include Fluency in Tagalog as a Core Value or as a primary goal in our homeschooling.  Doing so would have made us more deliberate and intentional in “realizing” this goal.    (I am giving this as a reminder to those who have preschool or even younger homeschoolers)  It is unfortunate, and I take the blame for it, that our younger children struggle in speaking fluent Tagalog because we opted to speak  (and continue to do so) to them in English.  Tagalog is not natural for them and I know  I have gone way past the learner’s  window of  maximally being fluent with a 2nd language for our children.  We can still adjust, try to find ways but the circumstances are no longer ideal. Sigh .

Instead of describing how these core values find their way into our daily lessons, let me just show you photos of experiences  and maybe you can guess how these activities help us teach and encourage the core values I have listed above.

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We did a re-enactment of the “Wise and Foolish Builder” . Kids built houses for ART for about 3-4 sessions and we tested our houses by setting them  on either  rock or sand, and created rain ( and floods ) using a hose!
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Volunteer work in Gawad Kalinga in Paranaque
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Christian Heroes Series as Read-A-Louds
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Flower Arranging 101 for a bouquet for Lola’s Wedding Anniversary

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For Math and Social Studies/Geography, Gino created a topographical map! “We almost forgot Siquijor and Camiguin, Mama!” This was done in stages for an entire quarter.  Step by step projects teach a lot of values!
We are always on the lookout for these Trade Shows in Megamall and SMX!
We are always on the lookout for these Trade Shows in Megamall and SMX!
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Philippine products trade fair in MegaMall
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A Social Studies project
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Chapter books for Filipino. They’re really good and funny!
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Mindanao Unit for both students
Unit study involves Art: Mindanao Culture/ Art; VInta by Gino
Unit study involves Art: Mindanao Culture/ Art; VInta by Gino
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We watched and laughted a whole lot with the many volumes of Pepito Manaloto!
Unit Study on Money, Basic Entrepreneurship, Math (Percentages, Business Math, Fractions) , Sales & Marketing,  Responsibility & Hard Work, Diligence, HELE/Art..... as kids joined the Kiddo Preneur Bazaar
Unit Study on Money, Basic Entrepreneurship, Math (Percentages, Business Math, Fractions) , Sales & Marketing, Responsibility &; Hard Work, Diligence, Cooperation, HELE/Art….. as kids joined the Kiddo Preneur Bazaar
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Brochure for Camiguin!

 

After you have created your own homeschooling family mission  and vision , may I invite you again to come together with your spouse/ partner/ homeschoolers and determine your core values as a homeschooling family?   You may have to take into account, character concerns for your child/children and try to find ways to deal with them through your homeschooling lessons.  These values I believe stand the test of time, however, age and various seasons in our family lives may require you to make some adjustments to address various situations that arise.

From these values, you can decide the themes of your field trips, the subject matter of chapter books you’d like to expose your children to, the Bible verses to memorize  and  the content of the entertainment activities (plays, musicals, exhibits).   You can also learn to say NO to a whole lot of other things as you weight them against your values .

When you have completed your homeschooling family’s Vision/Mission/Core Values,  make sure you  discuss these with your children.  Don’t make the wording of your statements too complicated, the simple, the better.  They should be easy to memorize.  Let your kids memorize them too.  As mentioned in previous posts, no one really taught me to do this Mission/Vision thing earlier on.  I just had Bible verses in my head/heart that encouraged and reminded me of what we were doing. Looking back, it would have really helped us more if we were all aware of the  foundational principles of our Simpao Homeschool.

For Art, you can create posters or reminders in  your classroom for your own’s family’s Mission/Vision and Core Values!  (And I’d love to see them!  If you’d like to share them with me, please email to homescoolph@gmail.com!)

This August 2016 , I will only have one homeschooled student left (4-3=1!!!) and I will discuss our own Mission/Vision/Values with him for sure.

 

Ephesians 2:20-22  Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself. 21 Weapostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself. 21 We are carefully joined together in him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord. 22 Through him you Gentiles are also being made part of this dwelling where God lives by his Spirit.