September 27, 2010

A New History Program, a Weekend Recap, and a Swap Gift

My swap present this month (photo above)... and its contents:
2 very sweet tiny baby blankets for my baby bees
UT Pez dispenser
Weekly Menu chart (framed behind glass for easy re-use with an Expo!)
Expo marker
Ring pops for the kids
Silly string for the kids (they loved this)
I did mention DARK GREEK CHOCOLATE, right? What am I to do when it is gone???

Thank you, Cheryl!

Here's my weekend in a nutshell:

- I HAVE been blogging - just not HERE. Mostly I have been handling the back end stuff over at the Homeschool Post (and I usually am the one who does the Friday A B See Meme over there - which is really a fun alphabetical picture group).

- Computer angst. It isn't a good time EVER for me to have computer problems. I use my computer for everything (including school/blogging/communicating with our homeschool group/appointments/lists/getting the news, etc). However, as most VISTA-INFECTED laptops do, mine has been melting down for quite some time now... and this weekend we finally had plans to 'fix' it. I'm sure you can imagine my shock when we discovered that mama's book bag containing the software for this venture was some 300 miles behind us (on our staircase landing). So, my data is on my external drive and my laptop is still waiting for my Geek husband's axe. No time this week for that sort of thing in the middle of a school and 'work' week... it will have to wait until next weekend!

- Play practice. Our whole family on stage in the summer heat. Thankfully the cold fronts (which amount to about 5 degrees difference here in Texas) are on their way before our production at church.

- More doctor visits for more tests for my daughter's back. This time they are testing for kidney trouble. Awaiting those results still and trying not to be upset that it is 8:07 AM and the office has surely been open for the past 7 minutes (that's long enough for a phone call to a worried mama).

- Nearly losing the 13 year old to the Xbox permanently. Last night he was so excited after we unpacked our suitcases that he was told he could go play, he got careless on the stairs and careened down them on his butt and back. We were terrified when he couldn't move or breathe for a brief moment. After a bit he was up and going again, but we made him sit with an ice pack and take ibuprofen. Now we have 2 kids with back pain and mama's neck and shoulders are so tight that I might need chiropractic help as well.

- Enjoyable time with grandparents. Eating way too much good food (they like to fatten us up), swimming in Grandma Betty's pool (a last goodbye to summer), getting fun presents (glow in the dark bracelets are amazing baby toys for evening drives), and reveling in cable TV and time to do absolutely NOTHING on the couch (you can't beat it).

Now our busy week is beginning... doctor visits, the Homeschool Carnival (tonight for me, tomorrow for you), meeting up with a wonderful blogging friend that I admire for a Thursday lunch out, making of menu plans and trying to shop the pantry and not spend any money this week, more planning on the Relevant trip and prayers that the funds come in to stop my skeptic husband from raining on our parade, making history notebooks, putting P-touch labels all over our world, Boy Scout meetings, extra laundry from the weekend, more unpacking, and lamenting over the fact that we can't afford a maid to come help whip this house in to shape... How about you? Do you have a busy week ahead?

Hang in there... one prayer at a time it will all fall in to place.

And now this brings me to my History dilemma. Last year we were creating our own history plan with a co-op friend and it fizzled out. I couldn't keep on top of the planning and we ended up just reading for history. I wanted a curriculum that was more put together this year - but one that still allows for 'add-ons' since we love them so, and had heard about Mystery of History from a friend who is a history buff (and I think she either minored or majored in it at college as well - so she knows her stuff) told me that MOH was the best of the best. After purchasing a used copy of the Volume 1 (which we are sadly still struggling through - lost somewhere in Ancient Egypt), I discovered that it seems to be perfectly on course with what I was already torturing myself to plan... and her worldview and style is a perfect fit as well. The older kid activities I have seen in the first few lessons seem very deep and thought provoking... BUT.

A friend of mine in our local co-op told me she used to use MOH and switched to Tapestry of Grace for history because it had more meat for older kids (and more church history). She said she didn't think that MOH would be challenging enough for my kids for high school. My curriculum rush I was on vanished and I started reading as many online reviews as I could find. I discovered a note on the publisher's site telling that MOH can be used for high school with additional reading and writing added in 'to make up the hours'. In Texas we don't have hour requirements, but we "ain't no sissies, either." I want my kids to be taking a course that will challenge them and be the very best history course they can take.

That's where YOU come in. I'm at that funny stage in homeschooling where your 'elementary' kids become 'tweenagers' and are quickly becoming 'young adults'. The teacher must change all she knows to accommodate this new capability in her students. Linda Hobar is right when she says that lesson planning, grading and record keeping must vastly INCREASE as a child ages and mom steps back to allow more self-guided teaching and responsibility in the student. Lesson plans are easy for little kids. Not so much with the bigger set. I'm right in the middle of the crosshairs on Linda's teaching map... one line going up (the teacher's work in planning) and one line going down (the teacher's involvement). It makes an old homeschool teacher feel like she needs to learn new tricks - and that is quite painful.

I'd love to hear from someone out there who has tried Mystery of History with older kids - to hear your opinion of it in general - and to get suggestions or tips. It looks like a great program from my initial review and reading through it over the weekend.

Looking forward to hearing from you!


Beth said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog (Apples & Jammies)! I've been following you a couple of months now. It's always fun to have a pregnancy "buddy" especially since this is #4 for both of us! Here's to our survival!

Michelle said...

I had almost tried MOH this year for the Middle Ages, but since I am going back to a more Charlotte Mason style of teaching, I ended up going with Simply Charlotte Mason's Middle Ages, Renaissance, Reformation and Epistles by Sonya Shafer which covers grades 1-12th.
(They have other time periods too)
It looks good, but we don't formally start school until next week, so I can't give you any reviews so far! The downside is that my children have SO gotten out of the habit of narrating, that it is going to take some time to get back into the groove! The neat thing is that studying Italian with that cool program you sent us goes right in line with the era we are studying!

Have a blessed week, Spritti!

I hope everyone gets to feeling better again. My daughter(younger) and I have back problems, due to hyper-mobile ligaments and it is no fun!

amber @ classichousewife said...

Ooh, Greek chocolate?! Is it GOOOOD? =)

I just started using the Mystery of History (vol 1) this year and my oldest, as you know is 10, so I'm not sure how much help I can be... but I have to chime in and say how much I am L.O.V.I.N.G. it. I am so thrilled with it!
Partially because it is so easy to teach to all three kids at once, and then have them do different things based on their age levels and interests. Partially because it's whole world, chronological and biblical. Partially because the kids are really enjoying it. Partially because it fits so well with our more relaxed, more fun projects, more reading, more remembering what you learned approach to school that we're taking this year. ;)

Right now we're still getting used to it a little, beginning week 4 this week. And we're still fitting into our groove with school overall. So right now I'm just using it for the 10 year old as it is written in the book, choosing one of the activities at the end of the lesson for her to do. But I hope as we get a little farther into our year and completely into our groove to step it up a little notch for her. I found a list of resources in the back of the book, extra reading and such, that would help add more reading and history research for an older child -- because I think that's what I'd do for an older child. More reading literature, more research reading and writing. I already plan on continuing into volume 2 and 3, and I'm really hoping volume 4 is done by the time we need it. By then she'll be even older, I'll most likely have her read the lesson herself because she could read those short lessons in only a few minutes and then move on to an assignment or research paper.

Have you been to the MOH yahoo groups? I'd definitely go there and ask some MOH of high schoolers how they make it more in depth for their older kids. You may be able to find some great advice that way. ;)

amber @ classichousewife said...

P.S. I wrote weekly wrap ups these past two weeks, talking about what we've done in history (and science) over the past 3 weeks of school) They're on my blog if you're interested in seeing what we've been doing with MOH.

Hodgepodgemom said...

We absolutely love TOG in our homeschool - are able to get several subjects rolled into one (less work for everyone - especially mom!)for our Hodgepodge of 5 - preschoolers up to 7th grade.

My friend, Kerri, uses MOH. She just published a detailed post about how she uses it - even listening to CDs in the car- for her 6 (preschoolers to high school) on Habits for a Happy Home last week:
Hope that helps! ~ Tricia

Gwen T said...

My sister has used Mystery of History for several years with her kids - her 5 kids are age 7-16 - and has been very pleased with it.

So sorry about the health issues. Praying right now that the Lord gives you strength and wisdom and healing to those who need it! Gal. 6:9

Unknown said...

We are using year 1 of MOH, and besides a few premillennial and Sinners prayer statements, we like it. I have been looking into TOG for the past week for next year, and am also curious what you come up with. My kids really seem to enjoy Unit Studies, and TOG seems excellent. I am just worried about keeping up with all of it! This is only our second year and our oldest will be in 9th next year. I am scared of the bookkeeping for next year!

Sprittibee said...

Beth - congrats on your #4! ;)

Michelle - I'm torn between CM and Classical. I mostly consider myself 'eclectic'. I do a little of everything. ;) I have not heard of the SCM curriculum for history! Interesting. Let me know how you like it. We don't do a lot of narrating. I'd love to talk with you more about your methods and how you fit your curriculum in with them via email if you have time. Thanks for the well wishes. We just got back from doctor's office and he said he doesn't think Kaden hurt his back more than some bruising. He didn't even think he needed xrays. As for Morgan, he said her test results are not leaning towards anything serious that he can tell... so we are still watching her and giving her ibuprofen when she needs it.

Amber - Yes, the Greek chocolate is great. I'm trying to limit myself because of the baby (only so much caffeine is ok when you are pregnant and dark chocolate has a bunch). Glad to hear you are loving MOH. Your kids are pretty young, though. I have found out about some of the groups on the net for MOH and plan to join one or two. :)

Tricia - I have heard so many good things about TOG, but when I looked at it once, it was so overwhelming to me. I don't want to use a curriculum that makes me feel like I've had my brain surgically removed and scrambled for breakfast. Maybe I was looking at it the wrong way? Maybe I needed a little hand-holding at first? Thanks for the link on the MOH. Good to know your friend Kerri has high schoolers and is able to make it work for her.

Thanks for the prayers Gwen! ;) We have hormone issues around here, too. Not so easy for a pregnant mama and a daughter in puberty to get through a normal school day around here. The back pain is not our only issue! ;) SHEESH - today was rough.

Samantha - I'm using Homeschool Tracker and don't usually mind bookkeeping as the program makes transcripts and such, but the planning ahead and the amount of material we have to cover is taking a lot out of me. I have an 8th grader by the end of this year, too. We are changing grades closer to January. I guess we are 'repeating' a grade, but it really just amounts to finishing a Math Book that we were only about 25-35% done with. In every other subject, I feel they are fine. We weren't sticklers on the Math last year and are paying for it now. :) I really like the MOH but I have a unit study background, so maybe that's why. I also love that she puts so much teacher instruction in it - telling you what to do, when to do it, what colors to use for your memory cards, and where to file things! ;) I need a little hand holding right now with a 1.5 year old and one on the way!

Susan said...

I can't help you with MOH, but I will tell you that I LOVE My Fathers World for history, and they have science, bible, art and music thrown in too. They are similar to Tapestry, but much easier. My opinion is that you don't have time for Tapestry. Too much running around hunting for books every single week. With MFW, you have everything you need with the program including the best easiest mom/teacher friendly planner ever. I can't say enough good things about it. I have written a lot about it on my blog.

Unknown said...

I use TOG with my two daughters (4th and 8th grade). I think it is the best history curriculum out there especially if you have more than one child. It does seem like a lot, but if you just jump in and start it really is not that bad. You just have to choose what you want to use. You do not do every thing that is suggested.
I thought about using MOH this year (I won $50 free from Bright Ideas Press). I borrowed one from a friend to see if I would like it. It does not seem meaty enough for the older students. If I had 2 young elementary children I would give it a try.
I love the TOG "teachers guides". I love the way it is laid out and all the options it gives you. All the work is right there in one place, and with the digital version you get all the extras with just one click.



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