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Short post today. Just this great article that I recommend each homeschooling parent read and bookmark!

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Well another two months have gone and is it seems like it was just yesterday that I posted here. The spring has passed way to quickly and summer is almost here, at least officially. If you don’t live in the NW, then you probably don’t know that this has been the coldest wettest spring in decades if not ever. So far we have set many new records for monthly rainfall but the worst is that we have yet to have had a 75 degree or better day. That is right, it has not yet risen above 75 degrees in Seattle since last October. We are usually well into the 70s by this time of the year but I just glanced at the 10 day forecast and it doesn’t look like we will get to 70 for the rest of the month. Here’s hoping they are WRONG!

I have made about 2 trips a week to see my mom and help her navigate the Federal State and local bureaucracies to get her and my dad the VA benefits and Medicaid that they need and to which they are entitled. By the time we go to Mom’s, then to the nursing home to see my father stopping at various places for doctors visits, places for mom to shop or do paperwork and then backtrack do drop of mom and come home, it is about a 200 mile, 6+ hour day. It pretty much kills the day for anything else. The kids still get some school work done but they have already competed more than a years worth of work so they are far enough ahead that my main reason for keeping them doing school work is so that they will not forget what they have learned and get disconnected. We will continue with school on a reduced schedule for the summer so they are ready to go in the fall. I am a believer in a year round school with more week long breaks instead of one long summer break.

I have signed up to be a teaching/educational/curriculum materials reviewer TOS (The Old Schoolhouse). I will be posting my comments here on the blog as the various materials come my way. Please check in here, friend me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter. If you friend me on Facebook, please be sure to let me know that you are either a reader of my blog or a fellow homeschooler as I try to keep my social accounts manageable.

I am going to the state curriculum fair in Puyallup WA on Friday. I plan on dropping my children of at my oldest daughters house so I will be able to browse at my leisure. That is one thing nice about having older married children nearby. My grandchildren are only slightly younger than my youngest children so they play well together. I will share any neat finds early next week.

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In my last post I reviewed “When I grow up I want to be A FIREFIGHTER” from The Old Schoolhouse Store. In this post I will tell you about our trip to Australia via Download and Go “Expedition Australia” also from The Old Schoolhouse Store.

As I said in the first post, the first thing I did after downloading them was to print them out on inexpensive inkjet paper except the first and last pages which I printed on stiff glossy photo paper. These pages became the front and back covers. We then took a trip to KINKO’s and had them each spiral bound for about $4 per book. That might be more effort than you wish to go through but it works for me. I get a well-bound book that won’t fall apart in the hands of two young boys and it is rugged enough to travel which is important as we have spent a lot of time on the road since my father became ill.

After I reread my last review I realized that I should have said more about how well these unit studies prepare you, the parent to lead the study. These unit studies are week-long studies and the subjects are laid out for five days. There is a page of resources for each day that includes material for grades K – 4. (Note: other unit studies from The Old Schoolhouse Store cover other grade ranges. The “When I grow up I want to be A FIREFIGHTER” would be suitable through middle school with very little supplementation.) Reading the material a week ahead and making a trip to the library with references in hand, will help you to be better prepared when the questions cover material with which you are not familiar and is not covered in the unit study. There are other references through the unit study including internet references.

The unit study includes math, vocabulary, geography, biology, art and history, all integrated so that it flows quickly and easily. The unit study also includes a section of Family Fun activities that include links to information recipes for Australian foods and how to make and fly boomerangs, art projects and games.

There is enough information in this unit study to keep your child actively engaged and learning for most of a weeks worth of school days.

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I recently decided to try a few unit studies to see how my kids took to the concept and how well they understood the various core subjects when presented within the context of a unit study.

First a little background for those who have not dropped by before this visit. This is my first year homeschooling my two boys, ages 8 and 9. They are in the 2nd and 4th grades and the oldest is highly energetic. He needs the subjects to be interesting to hold his attention. The youngest, like most 8 years olds, would rather be outside digging or destroying something. We are currently using the ACE Curriculum after a mid year change. The boys have take to it very well and like the independence it gives them.

The unit studies gave us more opportunity to work as a group and for everyone to contribute. We started with “When I grow up I want to be A FIREFIGHTER” and then did “Expedition Australia” from the “Download N GO” series. Both unit studies are from The Old Schoolhouse Store.

The first thing I did after downloading them was to print them out on inexpensive inkjet paper excepting the first and last pages which I printed on stiff glossy photo paper. These pages became the front and back covers. We then took a trip to KINKO’s and had them each spiral bound for about $4 per book. That might be more effort than you wish to go through but it works for me. I get a well bound book that won’t fall apart in the hands of two young boys and it is rugged enough to travel which is important as we have been spending a lot of time on the road since my father became ill.

“When I grow up I want to be A FIREFIGHTER” was by far the more popular of the two. The kids already knew a lot about firefighters and how they live as they had been on several field trips to the fire station over the years. This unit study talked a bit about the regular things that kids learned on these field trips but moved quickly to subjects not generally covered in these more common field trips.

The portion on building codes triggered some very lively discussions as there had been a large fire on the news a few days earlier and this kids had asked why that building burned so quickly while others seemed to have only minor damage. We were able to discuss what building materials are flammable which are not which lead to a discussion on how our house is constructed.

The section of salaries lead to the discussion of cost of living when they asked why salaries for fire fighters in LA were more than twice that of salaries in Charleston SC. This section also listed the salaries of the various positions in the command structure. This was a good teaching point for understanding why they needed to study hard and do their best to excel. Only the best can be fire fighters and only the best of the best can be Chiefs and Captains.

The unit study includes math, vocabulary, art and history, all integrated so that it flows quickly and easily. This was one of the few studies/subjects that the boys begged me to “go further” each day until we were down. Undoubtedly part of the enthusiasm was due to the subject matter but it was facilitated by the excellent way the material was integrated and presented.

I have already purchased about 5 additional unit studies which we will use in addition to our regular curriculum through out the rest of this school year. I will let you know how they go but for now, if you have a child with even the slightest interest in firefighting “When I grow up I want to be A FIREFIGHTER” will be well received and you will both enjoy the study very much.

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I just found an excellent FREE web source for “banking” services for children FamilyMint. Let me say upfront that NO money is involved with respect to this website. The site provides a simple front-end for you to set up a bank for your children’s use where YOU are the banker and hence responsible for the security of their deposits. The children are your clients. You/the banker decide where the money is actually kept and it is not linked in anyway to this website.

I teach my children stewardship using a modified version of Stewardship Street from Doorposts. I do not use actual boxes or piggy banks for the individual savings categories. Instead I have been using a spreadsheets to keep track of everything. My children are old enough to understand a bank statement and they no longer need to see or touch the money for it to be real to them. Their money is deposited in accounts in their respective names at a local credit union.

FamilyMint enables you create a bank and name it anything you want. You set up an account for each of your children and then either you or they can set up savings goals such college, a new video game or vacation. You and they can then track deposits, withdrawals and their progress toward each goal. Money can be transferred between account categories and you the banker must approve each transaction as well as make transactions on their behalf. You can also set up a Savings Plan and have each deposit allocated by percentage into the various accounts representing their savings goals. Our accounts are set up similar to the ones in Stewardship Street and when I make a deposit, it is instantly divided up into the separate categories according to the percentages I set up for them.

I sat up my family bank and the accounts for my children including the various savings categories and how the deposits are to be allocated and “transferred” the balances from the spreadsheet to my FamilyMint Bank in less than 15 minutes.

I had a question about how to allocate the deposits and wrote a note to their support staff. I got a reply back within an hour. It turns out that the answer to my question was right in front of me but I know now that their support staff is right in top of things!!

Check them out! I love the concept and I know that you will find it easy to create a family bank and it will be a valuable asset in teaching your children stewardship, financial planning and goal setting.

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This weekend was the ribbon cutting and grand opening of the Eastridge Church Campus on the south end of the Sammamish Plateau.

News Report

Overflow crowd at the free Matthew West Concert.

Sunday Morning Service

Senior Pastor Steve Jamison and family cutting the ribbon.

First worship service.

GOD’s love is shown so powerfully through the lives of our pastors and their families. These are people who live to the fullest what they preach and teach. They are touching lives around the world in service to a great and glorious GOD.

Follow Eastridge Church on Facebook and rejoice with us as the Gospel of Jesus Christ is shared “From the I-90 Corridor to the Ends of the Earth.” Be sure and scroll down to see an aerial image as well as images of Adventure Land and the tub slides the children use to access Kids Zone.

If you live close by and do not have a church home, please drop by and worship with us. You will feel at home.

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I guess the question could be asked … “What schedule?” I cannot imagine trying to handle the family issues surrounding my father’s illness with my kids in a conventional school. It would certainly be possible but a lot more difficult. It is a bit over an hour south to the location of my father’s care facility. Last week he got so dehydrated, he had to be hospitalized. This was the second time in two weeks. He also has fallen out of bed because he wants to get up but does not have the strength. I sat with him in the ER for many hours last week, and the kids were real champs. They spent that whole time waiting patiently while I held his hand and kept him from pulling the IVs and various sensors.

As a result we are a bit behind as far as the schedule I had set for us but the eldest son is just one lesson from completing two years of math and the younger is halfway through his second year of math so I am not too disappointed with our progress. Still I am behind on some commitments I have made and for that I am sorry. I will get through some curriculum I promised to test and post reviews as soon as I can. We are making our way through the material and the kids are loving it but for obvious reasons, our pace is inconsistent at best.

On another note, we had the grand opening for our new church campus this weekend. Matthew West was there along with many other of our long time friends who had walked and prayed with us through this incredible journey. The existence of Eastridge Church’s new campus is the result of GOD working so many miracles and the faithful, sacrificial support of countless families. I will post some links to the news reports and other videos and pictures later tonight.

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