Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Brianna's Fitness Change

Brianna had a big week fitness wise. Last year, around this time her and Tanya did a fitness test. Brianna did pretty damn good considering her age and that it was an adult fitness test. This running season Brianna has done as little as possible in the training dept and as much as possible in the food dept. As an end result, has gained a scary amount of weight and is very much out of shape.

Her triathlon is next month, Aug 23rd. She agrees that in her current shape, she probably couldn't complete it. So enters, boot camp (12 year old safe). I am doing a fitness challenge with one of my healthy mama groups (Joshua is 13 mths old, I'm losing ground on the I just had a baby excuse) and Brianna will join me! Brianna will also be running a LOT more regularly. Since her season started in the middle of April, she has run a total of 6 times. That includes the 3 races she did. Not cool.

Swimming has always been her struggle area for the triathlon. She goes to the local pool 3-4 days a week, but it's a free swim, so it's packed with other kids. So we hit the beach. One area of fitness that I've never had a problem with is swimming, so this is one area that I can train with her. Her 2 main strokes are breast and back. She has no real swim training, so these are the ones that come naturally to her. I hope to get to the pool that they do the triathlon swimming in at least a couple times before the big day.

So Brianna has made a list of goals (with my help) for this week and this month
- lose 2lbs (should be easy water weight)
- exercise every day
- 1 non fruit/veggie snack per day
- lose 4 lbs
- walk 45 mins 3x per week
- 4L of water per day

I felt it was important for Brianna to make her own goals to "own" her lifestyle change. She's old enough to take part in keeping herself healthy.

6 Tips for the Budget Conscious Homeschooler

I don't hide it, I'm poor. According to the Canadian Government, my family lives below the poverty line. Honestly, I'm ok with this. Suuuuure, it would make life easier to have more money, but I make do with what we've got to work with.

Of course, being poor translates into cheap frugal homeschooling. You can homeschool with loads of money to spend or zero money to spend. I could easily (well easily in my opinion cause I'm a little nuts about my love of researching stuff) homeschool all of my kids without spending anything more than ink, paper and pencils. Some people don't even do the ink and paper part! But, while I'm poor, I like to shop. I am cheap frugal though. I look for free stuff, awesome sales and used curriculum.

There's a zillion ideas for homeschoolers to save money, but here's my top 6 that I used most frequently.

1. Don't buy a several items of a new curriculum choice.

When I first started homeschooling Brianna, I went with Complete Canadian Curriculum books that I purchased from the book store. I figured they'd be perfect for us! As it turned out, I didn't like these, Brianna didn't like these, and it ended up being a waste of money. Now these books were only around the $20 mark each, but when we had several of them, it adds up.The Complete *individual subject* Smart books were better as we could use whatever grade level we needed and they were more in depth. We still didn't enjoy them a lot. They went into too much busy work but not enough detail for the stuff Brianna wanted to learn or do. Again, only $15 books, but when you have several.... (if you're just looking at a cheap supplement though, they can work)

2. The library is your best friend.

The library, provided it has a good children's department, will provide you and your kid(s) with oodles of books on a gazillion topics. Sure the internet can provide you with a lot of the same research material, but there's just something about laying out the table with a fat stack of books.

Some libraries also have free (and sometimes cheap pay) programs which you can use to your homeschool's advantage. Brianna does a Read to Ride program each summer which gives children a free bus pass for the summer in exchange for giving oral book reports to the librarians. Brianna's also done a yoga program and a movie program at the library.

3. Look for used curriculum sales.

They can be found online (facebook is my "dealer" of choice), they can be found at homeschool conventions. You can find stuff that's super cheap and even "free for shipping" and you can find more expensive stuff for a heck of a lot less than the company sells them for new. Some stuff people list are brand new (curriculum hoarders lol this will be me once all 3 kids are out of the lower grades).

4. Curriculum co-ops or just co-ops in general.

Homeschool Buyers Coop is fantastic. They offer a HUGE variety of curriculum at great discounts. I've gotten deals as high as 80% off. They also offer some free gems for members. My favorite is the Homeschooler ID cards. We're cheap so we print out the free ones and laminate our own, but for a small fee HBC will mail you hard laminated ID cards.

Local homeschool co-ops can be a great source as well. Chances are, *someone* is going to have kids older than yours. Maybe they used a re-usable curriculum that they are done with and are happy to give you or sell to you for cheap. Ya never know unless you ask! These are also great people to ask for reviews on curriculum you are considering. If they still use it/own it, you could even ask to get a hands-on look through (something I prefer over seeing a "preview" online).

5. Find and bookmark great free sites.

As is pretty obvious in my blog, 1+1+1=1 is hands down my favorite preschool/Kindergarten printables site. While she does have some printables that cost money, they are all very reasonable costs and majority of her content is completely free.

Khan Academy is a glorious free site. It mostly focuses on math, but also has some science, arts, economics and test prep. We love it because I can assign topics to Brianna and every one of them has a teaching video (or several) to go with it.

6. Don't be afraid to make your own curriculum.

With a little research and effort, you can make a lot of your own curriculum out of your own imagination. Before we settled on Math Mammoth we used a variety of math curriculum. They either didn't come with year end tests or I didn't like them. So I made my own. Going through the book, I gathered all of the main topics learned and made up my own math problems.

Another (that I'm in the middle of working on right now) is how to effectively grocery shop to get the best bang for your buck. I constantly see people saying they spend many hundreds of dollars on groceries in a month. I spend roughly $400-450 a month for a family of 6 in Canada (where our grocery prices can be double what they are n the US). I want to teach Brianna how I do it in great detail. I want her to put what I teach her into practice shopping for the family. No such curriculum for that exists. I make my own.

Linking up with Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers and Real Life at Home.

Hip Homeschool Moms

Friday, July 18, 2014

Weekly Wrap Up

Now that Brianna's science camp is over, the girls are back to Park Leaders. This week they had a sports day with the other parks in town. Olivia missed out because she's not actually 5 yet (she's allowed at the park, technically under Brianna's supervision, until Saturday when she turns 5, then she'll be officially in Park Leaders). Each park represents a country (similar to the Olympics), our park was Egypt. Brianna made a flag and put together a costume of sorts (her favorite part being the eyeliner she was allowed to wear lol).

I found a great birthday themed preschool pack at Tot Schooling. It's a little lower in the skill level for Olivia, but as it's her birthday week, she thought it was fantastic to do birthday school work!

With some early birthday money, Olivia decided to buy some finger paints. It was amusing to watch her be as careful as she could be (at first). She's so used to painting with paint brushes and trying *not* to get paint on herself that she was almost weirded out by the idea of putting paint on herself on purpose!

Brianna is very much enjoying our joint writing project (explained here). Our story is very loosely based on our family (to make her writing a little easier) and she's having so much fun with it! She can't wait to see what it will look like at the end of the summer and wants to type it up on the computer once we're done.

Linked up with Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers

Friday, July 11, 2014

Weekly Wrap Up

Brianna had science camp all week so school at home was almost none. She did dictate daily reports to me though on what they did. Some highlights:
- catching, tagging and releasing cutlip fish
- setting net traps for catching more fish to tag
- collecting water samples
- studying and identifying algae under a microscope
- catching and studying invertebrates
- learning lab safety
- comparing bacteria
- growing E. coli in Petri dishes
- catching turtles
- looking for a species of endangered turtle
- dissecting fish

Algae samples

On Tuesday, we took part in the last bridge walk before they tore down the historical international bridge in our city.

A view from the top!

 From the bridge walk, we collected a bunch of rocks and even a couple pieces of loose asphalt. Olivia decided to start stacking her bunch of rocks so that led into a conversation about inukshuks. We talked about why people built them and where and looked online to see some real ones. Olivia then built her own inukshuk.

Olivia did some more work with her ABC Mouse program (but it's been working wonky lately and very slow so she gets frustrated with it easily). She worked on her Pirate unit some more.

Linking up with Weird Unsocialized Homeschooler

Seaway International Bridge Walk

Cornwall is a city rich in history. It is over 200 years old, one of the older cities in Ontario with first major settlement in the 1780s. Parts of the War of 1812 happened here or near here. We have the Battle of Crysler's Farm just down the highway, along with Upper Canada Village near by.

A couple of the more recent highlights to Cornwall's history is the formation of the St. Lawrence Seaway (1959) and the building of the Seaway International Bridge (1962 for the North Channel Bridge, which is the one that leads into Cornwall). In 2013 they completed and opened the new low level North Channel Bridge and the old one is up for deconstruction, beginning later this month.

On Tuesday, the Seaway International Bridge Corporation opened the 1.6km (1 mile) bridge one last time for people to walk the length of it, enjoy the views and get a little history lesson. You used to be able to walk on the bridge many, many moons ago, but it's be closed to pedestrians for years. Most people had never walked the bridge so it was a great treat!

The SIBC was fantastic and even put up several history boards along the bridge with historical pics, info cards, newspaper clippings and fun facts. History class! I told Brianna "see?! School is everywhere" lol

A friend's son photo bombed the pic

The traffic circle that Brianna is pointing at is surrounded by empty fields. Now it's surrounded by Walmart, grocery stores, hotels and car dealerships.

Looking west

Looking east (Waterview Homeschool originated at our old house, next door to to those red roofed apartments).

Looking south, both the old and the new North Channel bridges

Looking north at both bridges. Our skyline will change completely once the bridge arch is gone

The SIBC even set up little benches for people to get their pictures taken at

A view from the top!

Hip Homeschool Moms

Monday, July 7, 2014

Summer's Bucket List

So I saw this idea on another lovely lady's blog and figured I'd steal borrow the idea! I've always thought bucket lists were a cute idea but have actually never made on! I love how lovely blogger placed her list on a picture of a bucket so I stole borrowed that idea too. Yeah, so I'm lacking in creativity lately....

I asked the hubby and the kids for ideas, and here's the (realistic) ones we came up with!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Summer Curriculum

Here's a look at our plans over the summer in regards to school.

Because we homeschool I, of course, plan to lock the kids in closets all summer and beat them with books. We can't have them socializing, now can we?! Ok, so maybe I've heard the S word too often lately lol Here's what's really going on.

Brianna has a zillion activities as usual! She's doing a science camp next week and a sewing camp in August. Brianna also goes swimming at a local outdoor pool with friends most afternoons. Olivia would have joined soccer this year, but the only group that allowed 4 year olds was almost an hour away, so we'll wait til next year.

Brianna also does a Park Leaders program at the neighbourhood park Tues-Fri mornings. Olivia even gets to join her this year! Unfortunately this is officially Brianna's last year, but I'm hoping since our park has a small group that she can be allowed to go with Olivia for a couple more years, even if it's only as a "helper".

Brianna and Olivia both joined the Read to Ride program with the library. In exchange for giving weekly oral book reports to the librarians, they get a sticker on their library cards that allows them on the city buses free (with an adult for Olivia!). Brianna loves it because she can go to the library any time without worrying about the heat and humidity (the library is quite a hike away) and Olivia just loves the bus!

Both girls ran a fun run today (which also happens to be Brianna's birthday!). Olivia is over the moon, thrilled for another race! It's all she talked about all week. Brianna has her 4th triathlon next month. She really needs to step up the pace in her training if she wants to beat her time from last year. She has great plans to do training and then forgets them quickly lol We're working on figuring out some kind of schedule for her to follow that works around the heat but still gets her running at least a few times a week.

As for actual school:

Brianna and I are doing a joint writing project. Each day we add to a story. Just 10 minutes of writing for each of us. Brianna thinks it's great both because it's something we're doing together, but also because it only requires 10 minutes of writing (she has a lot of issues putting thoughts to paper so "hates" writing). We've only been at it a few days, but it's fun so far. Sometimes it's hard to figure out what to write after Brianna's sometimes scrambled line of thought, but by reading what I write, she's also (without realizing it) learning proper writing style, grammar, punctuation, ect...

I'm also throwing spelling review at her once a week or so. Which, while I find it tedious, appears to be working as he spelling has *greatly* improved over the last couple of months. What ever works, eh?

Normally we'd slow down drastically in the math department, but Brianna wants to "catch up" her math as she's a year "behind". So we're working our way through Math Mammoth's Gr. 6 curriculum over the summer. I certainly don't expect her to finish it in 2 mths, but by doing a regular amount of pages rather than our summer amount of pages, she'll get a great head start.

We are still doing our country studies but we'll spread it over 2-3 weeks instead of cramming everything into 1 week. I had considered stopping them for the summer but as soon as we were winding down with Iceland, Brianna was harassing me about what our next country was. So we'll continue.

Olivia is in Kindergarten so already has quite the watered down schedule. To be honest, I do school with her whenever she asks for it or I think to ask her if she wants to do some. This works out to be, on average, 1-3 times a week. As she's still technically "ahead" if she was in public school, I'm not worried.

Over the summer, we're working on telling time, calendars, drawing shapes and convincing her to write her name more often. We'll also be working on making sure she's got all of her letters down, capital and lowercase and start working more on letter sounds.

Hip Homeschool Moms