Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Paperclip Game

I stole the idea of the paperclip game from the articles and blog of the man that literally bought a house with "one red paperclip".  I had a Girl Scout troop playing a few years ago, and it brought lots of grins and giggles.  At first, children are certain that they can not possibly get anything of any value by trading a paperclip, but they are always surprised in the end.

We started this game on Family Life Challenge a few days ago.  Next, I purchased some large paperclips at Family Dollar.  Tarja jumped on this game right away.  She had never played before, so it was a new adventure for her.  Below, you can see that we each have our paperclips and are ready to play.

 Tarja traded her paperclip for these sunglasses.
 Since her daddy likes sunglasses, she asked him what he would give her for them, and he gave her one of Melody's new books!  Uh oh!
Melody was a good sport, and gave her this wind chime in exchange for her book.
Tarja took her wind chime to twirling practice and traded for this cute wrist wallet.
I made my first trade, and got this purple pen.  I'll keep you posted on how we do!  Can we buy a house with one paperclip?  We shall find out!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Homeschool Oganizing Tip: Sticky Notes and Things to Do

Here is one way that I like to keep track of things that I need to do throughout the day, week, month, etc.  I take a colored piece of paper.  Cardstock is best, but I had construction paper.  I trace around enough sticky notes to fill the page.  Then, I put sticky notes in the squares.  I write one task at a time on each sticky note, and when I complete the task, I remove the note and throw it away.  I have a clipboard that hangs on the wall and holds this paper in place for me. 

That was easy!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Our Magic Schoolbus Unit Study for the Homeschool

We are doing a unit using the popular Magic Schoolbus series of books and cartoons.  My method of doing this type of unit study is very simple.  First of all, we gathered a few books from the library.  Our choices were limited at the library, so I actually did not make many decisions about what the unit would cover until I found out what types of books I could get. 

Next, I purchased a folder with brads and some plastic page protectors to house any written work or printable pages that we might do.  I actually did not find many printable pages other than coloring pages that were Magic Schoolbus themed, but the study isn't over, so I may find more to share with you at a later date. 

We began reading the books out loud at home.  We had books about space, teeth, the senses and the human body.  When I returned those books to the library, I made copies of the front covers to put in the folder.  I then borrowed more books on those topics that were not Magic Schoolbus, and we read those out loud at home.  The covers of those books will also go into the folder when we are finished with them.

I have allowed Tarja to pick and choose which Magic Schoolbus episodes she wants to watch on Netflix, and then we are keeping track of those titles, the same as we keep track of book titles.  There are Magic Schoolbus activities HERE.  We completed a series of fun question and answers about dinosaurs, the ocean, weather and space.  At the end of the game, she was given a colorful certificate to print out and share, which will go into her folder. 

I also have included into her unit study, a few things that we actually did before we started, but that still count toward the topics that we are learning.  For example, we went to a star gazing party just a couple of weeks prior to starting the unit.  In my opinion, it still counts as part of her unit.  In fact, if you take a little time to evaluate things that you have done, plan to do or are doing every day just out of habit, you might find that there is a lot more than can be added to show the child's work in a given unit.  That is just a little unprofessional tip, that works for my family.

Have a Great Day!
Laurel Santiago

Monday, August 18, 2014

New Week, New School Year and Jenny Wren

My family does homeschooling year round, but we do relax our standards quite a bit during the summer.  After all, each season brings it's own educational opportunities, and it's not always practical to spend every moment bent over a book.  With that said, today is Monday, and it is also time for the local public school to begin their year.  Even though we don't have children in the local public school, the excitement of the new year is in the air, and my kids can feel it, too.  Therefore, I go ahead and make this the time when we shift gears, break out new books, buy a few new school supplies, and make some new plans about how we will study for the year.  I'm simple and committed to giving them the easiest, most effective education possible, so my plans are equally as simple.

This year, with Tarja starting Y1 of the free curriculum on, I determined that the reason that I'm not always as happy with that program as I would like to be, is that it is too complex.  Reality hit me that there is no reason that I should make my family plug through every single book on the book list.  The books are wonderful, but they are classics, which usually means long and more complex than the "twaddle" that school kids tend to read today.

I downloaded as many books onto Tarja's kindle as I could find on for free.  I also subscribed to the Amazon Unlimited program, which is about $9.95 a month, and become sort of like Netflix for books.  You still can't get every book that you want this way, but it is way cheaper than going to the book store and a lot less frustrating than looking for all of these books at the library.  We now have a beautiful arsenal of bedtime and story time books waiting for us. 

For Bible, we have been reading through a children's Bible story book that was given to us.  Again, I don't push or pressure to have a designated Bible reading time.  It is part of the all of the other books that we pull out when we want to hear a story.  It just so happens that we have a lot more story time and bedtime story reading than our non homeschooling families have. 

Therefore, today was a new day, new week, and the beginning of a new school year.  I started off by getting Tarja to read the next lesson in McGuffey's Eclectic Primer for me.  We read the page in the book, then read the words again on her writing tablet, where I had printed them in my own print.  Tarja copied the words in her tablet.  While she did that, Abbey took a history test for a course that she just completed on  During that time, Tarja, Ivana and Tico Suave (their puppy), went outside to play.  After they came back inside, I read "Jenny Wren" out loud to Tarja from the Burgess Bird Book for Children.  We looked for photographs of Jenny wrens online, watched a youtube video of a Jenny wren singing in a tree and then found a tutorial about how to draw a bird.  Tarja drew a beautiful Jenny wren for her notebook. 

After that, I helped Tarja make her own soup for lunch, while Abbey put Ivana down for her nap. Tarja ate her lunch, and I read from her Bible story book.  As soon as lunch was over, she tuned on an episode of Magic Schoolbus on Netflix and laid down to rest. 

It is 3:00p.m. and there is so much more than can and will be done before the day is over.  Some of it will be from no real effort on my part.  Learning is a lifestyle and can be enjoyable.  Abbey still has some work to do, and the younger sisters will entertain themselves will all kinds of good things while Abbey is busy with her work.  It's easy, and it can be fun.

Have a Great Day!
Laurel Santiago

Friday, August 15, 2014

What is an Oral Narration?

In the video, you are going to meet Tarja, my six year old.  Tarja loves Bible stories.  The story of Moses is her very favorite.  Last night, I read a picture book about Moses.  Then, I asked Tarja to retell the story in her own words.  This video is completely raw and not rehearsed.  You can even see the messy room in the background and hear Ivana shouting for Abbey in the distance.  This is real life.  At some points, it appears that Tarja is reading, but she is really just using the pictures to help her retell the story.  She doesn't read well enough yet, to read that type of book.  However, the point of this whole exercise is show how we test.  Testing when using the Charlotte Mason method is simple, yet more difficult.  That doesn't seem to make a whole lot of sense until you try.  If I had given Tarja a quiz about Moses, the questions and answers on the quiz would have been very limited.  After all, there are thousands of facts about Moses that could be broken down into questions for a quiz, but only a few can be reasonably presented to a first grade child.  If I ask her to tell me everything that she knows about Moses, she will happily oblige, as you will see in her video.  Now, we have a recorded example of how much she knows about Moses, rather than a written quiz that tells how much she does not know.  If I am not satisfied with her narration, then we will take more time on the subject until she knows what she should know. 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Homeschool Back to School Party

Today was our back to school party for Monahans Homeschoolers.  It was potluck, so each family brought a covered dish. 

We had a small bouncy house for the younger kids.
And a Mentos geyser, that didn't blow up like we hoped, but it still blew up a little bit.
While the kids played at the park's play ground, the moms introduced themselves, talked about their homeschooling journey up to this point, and made plans to meet again for a park day and sack lunch picnic for next week. 

Our decorations were simple and inexpensive.  Keep in mind that this is West Texas, and elaborate decorations usually get blown away by the wind.  I put a red tablecloth on the table, and bought an assortment of paper plates and plastic utensils in primary colors.  I mixed them all up so that when we got our plates to eat, there would be a mixture of colors on the table.   We had fun.  THAT WAS EASY!

Monday, August 11, 2014

"Life on Repeat" from

 I stole these beautiful words from Hands Free Mama.  All that I could think when I read it early this morning was, "WOW....."  

Life On Repeat
Teacher, do you tire of Circle Time? Do you feel like you review the same rules over and over and over? Do you sound out the same words, show the same spelling patterns, and answer the same questions year after year? I imagine you do.
Nurse, do you tire of taking vitals and bodily fluids? Do you see the same health issues day in and day out? Do you feel like you walk the same halls, administer the same doses, and whisper the same assurances? I suspect that you do.
Mail Carrier, do you tire of damaged packages and insufficient postage? Do ever long to open a new mailbox? Do wish you could personally deliver the handwritten notes to actual people and see their joy? I have a sneaking suspicion you do.
Cashier, do you tire of slow conveyor belts, unorganized coupons, and unsmiling customers? Do your feet ache from standing in the same place at the same time each and every day? Do you hear the same bubblegum battle between parents and children day in and day out? I am pretty sure that you do.
Parent, do you tire of grumpy small people, missing shoes, and that dreaded question: what’s for dinner? Do you wipe the same noses, pick up the same wet towels, diffuse the same sibling squabbles day in and day out? I know that you do.
Musician, do you tire of bad song requests, calloused fingers, and lack of appreciation? Do you long for a new crowd, a new venue, a new stool to prop your foot on? Do get sick of wondering if this dream is going anywhere? I suppose that you do.
But here’s the thing. You just never know when you’ll be in the middle of that redundant message, task, or duty and suddenly something will happen, letting you know this time is different.
That song you’ve longed to write appears before you …
That patient turns the corner …
That kindergartener begins to read …
That woman weeps when you hand her a long-awaited letter from a military base …
That customer needs that unexpected smile …
That grown child says, “Thanks, Mom and Dad. You are the reason I made it through.”
And then suddenly your Life on Repeat is someone’s divine sign … someone’s lifesaver … someone’s second chance … someone’s voice of an angel … someone’s silver lining … someone’s hope is not lost.
As you know, you cannot predict when that day will come. It could be a slow Tuesday morning. It could be a rainy Friday afternoon when the traffic is really bad. It could be the day after a rough night of sleep. It could be when you are about to throw in the towel. Yes, it could be that day.
So I beg you to carry on.
Burp that baby for the 900th time.
Shine those windows like a boss.
Lift your voice from the back row of the choir for the whole world to hear.
Write until you can write no more.
These are the redundant actions of an everyday hero.
And today just might be the day your life’s message intersects with a heart longing for the message only YOU can deliver.
So please, I beg you, carry on.