Planning for 2011

It is nearly the end of 2010 and I have been busy planning for 2011!

We filed all this year’s completed work.

I wrote out evaluations and recorded our work we accomplished.

For several months now, I have prayed and planned for the right combinations, curriculums and materials for my children for next year.

I used very similar planners for this year as I did in 2010.

Using a wonderful Overview and Year Planner from “The Wholehearted Child” I jotted all the basic ideas I had in the ‘foundation’, ‘circles’ and ‘roof’.

Starting with the foundation – Discipleship Studies

We will continue with the very successful “Bible Draw!” pictures of each Bible book; concentrating on the New Testament this year.

For Disciplined Studies

These are our basic 3R’s and 2nd language.  We will continue with our current Singapore Maths, Sonlight readers and Language Arts, Sequential Spelling and Copywork and Dictation for handwriting.

Discussion Studies for 2011 –

After the most wonderful year using my first eclectic curriculum, I have chosen to re-use my eldest daughter’s Sonlight American History Core 3 and 4 for the younger 2 next year for the spine of our Discussion Studies.  Although I have purchased the condensed core, I have planned to branch off and take whatever tangent and hands-on activity we may find along the way.  I also want to create new notebook pages and minibook combos, and maybe a lapbook here or there … so we may not complete the package in a year … or at all.

For our Classic Literature we will continue our Little House Series with the wonderful free lapbooks from  This has been an absolute highlight for the girls and it will fit in perfectly with our Sonlight cores.

For Fine Arts we will further our monthly studies of Famous Impressionist Artists and Famous Musicians using Charlotte Mason’s wonderful principles and methods.

For Discovery Studies

We will enjoy our weekly Nature Study and Exploring Creation With Zoology 2: Swimming Creatures of the 5th Day. I have purchased the lapbook to go with this book (one of the very few purchased lapbooks!) and used my time-saving method of preparing the minibooks.  We’ll complete Geography cards and definitions and add as much map work with our other studies.

Our Discretionary Studies

We will include homesteading skills, cooking, baking, sewing, needle crafts, farming, gardening, guitar lessons and other skills or interests

  1. There! Planning phase 1 done!
  2. Now, 2. I create a simple page with my 2011 Year Plan.  It is a basic planner with daily, weekly or monthly columns.
  3. Next, 3. I type in the most important subjects on my 36 Week Subject Plan and Record of Work.  This forms the most detailed plan and I record everything we do on this same page.  This took the longest time because I had to schedule the Artist/ Composer/ Science Lesson/ Poem/ Bible books across the 36 weeks.
  4. Lastly, 4. I made the Week Timetable for in front of our files. This is the basic daily schedule.

Final Checklist:

Filing done √

Planning done

Printing done

Timetables done

New Cover Pages in the girls’ files

Pop over to my Free Planning Pages for downloads your own personal use.

I trust that your final preparations for the end of this year are going well.




Report and Evaluation Pages

Previously I described how we ended our school year and filed our work.  While we put our files in order,  I ask some questions and jot down my children’s answers. I use these answers when I compile my end of year report.

Here are our Report and Assessment Pages ~

First, we had fun filling in our “Character Report” forms together!

The child choses their own scores and then I give my scores.  The scores are 1= rarely/never; 2 = fairly/ seldom; 3 = mostly/ very much; and 4 = always/ Yes!  I am!

(Hint: Whenever you ask someone to give a score of 1,2, or 3, most will inevitably choose 2; the middle or average score, but with 4 scores, they have to choose which side of the middle they prefer.  This 4-score-method forces them to make a more correct assessment.)

We chatted about their personal scores and mine and I asked them which character traits they were strong in and which areas they felt they should work on.  My kids really enjoyed this!

Secondly I filled in a “Homeschool Assessment” form ~

I use this form to summarize the work , books, materials and skills covered and describe my children’s strengths, weaknesses and joys and highlights of the year.

I do not award marks or give any scores. (You may be required to assess your children’s work differently for your country or state.)

During the year I usually only mark my children’s Spelling and Maths.  I oversee all the other written work and usually don’t check/ tick or mark it.  We correct handwriting immediately in our copywork and dictation lessons and discuss grammar in Language Arts lessons.

In junior and middle school, a parent sees that the child completes the work correctly and with a good attitude. I believe we are evaluating daily.  We know the moment our child struggles or does not grasp concepts and we can repeat that lesson/ present the work in another way/ or remediate immediately.  This is the joy of homeschooling!  We can work at a pace and with the most appropriate methods to make sure that our children love what they learn.  Tests and scores are helpful to make sure our children meet external standards, however they are stressful to everyone!

My high schooler’s curriculum requires that I evaluate her work and send them quarterly marks and exam results.

To be completely honest, I have NEVER written any formal evaluations for my children.  I create a portfolio of all their work, include their book lists and the year plan.  I believe that their work speaks for them!

This year however, I will include their assessment forms in their year files.

(Please, I would like to reassure you that this kind of evaluation is not necessary.  I believe that we use what works for us and we try to do what is required of us by our government.  If you have not evaluated your children before, perhaps you could include the character form.  I believe that, “Information can always be learnt at any time, but character formation takes a lifetime!” )

You are welcome to download these forms for your own use ~

I have included MS Word versions of each document  for you to tweak them to suit your needs.

Homeschool Showcase

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Homeschool Showcase #63

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Conclusions, Closure and Congratulations!

We have formally ended our school year in South Africa.

At the end of each year we ~




and Celebrate!

1.  Conclusion ~

We use notebook files for all our school work. I made a cover page for each subject.

We file all our notebook pages, copywork pages, maths practice pages, poems, creative writing, spelling, geography charts and maps, music appreciation logs, Sketch Tuesday sketches and other art work.

At the end of each term, I remove the completed work and file it in a large file holder for the end of the year.

Now we add the last term’s work and put things in order.

2.  Closure ~

We spend about 20 minutes and sort and file these pages.

We look back over the year’s work.

We laugh at funny pictures, remember the fun times and share memories.

The quality of some of their pages amazes the girls!  They are really delighted with some art work.  They are stunned at how much work they actually did this year.

3.  Evaluate ~

As we file everything, I have a paper handy and we play the “FAVOURITES”  game.

I ask each child,  “What was your favourite part of this … subject/ theme/ activity.”

Then I ask, “Why?”  I jot down their answers.  This kind of evaluation is fun, informal, truthful and spontaneous.

All the while we still file each subject behind its cover page.

In a short while our files are full!

Our lapbooks are usually not filed.  The children keep their lapbooks out because they love to re-read and show them to interested friends and family!

Then each child runs back to the bookshelf to collect their favourite 5 books of the year.

“Only 5?” my youngest asks.

Again I ask, “Which was your favourite-favourite?  The very best book?  Why?”

I jot their chosen book titles and reasons on my paper.

I ask them, “What did you LEAST enjoy?  Why?”  The children admit to some tears during a difficult maths lesson or spelling test, but now it doesn’t seem so bad.

Another question I ask, “What was the EASIEST subject?”

Finally I ask, “What would you like MORE of next year?” and they say ~

Lapbooks! Bible Drawing! Nature Journals!

4. We Celebrate!

  • We pose for a few photos.
  • We go on a fun picnic!
  • We enjoy a special family celebration dinner.
  • We sometimes hand out certificates.  (Sonlight provides certificates for each subject and I was amazed at how special my children felt receiving their certificate from their dad at the celebration dinner.)

Closure is a very special process.  We love to reach our goals.  We all like to know that we have made progress; and that we have arrived at our destination.  Somehow, it is easier to move forward once things are really complete.

And during the next week I compile my evaluation form for each child.  I add my own records to their own evaluations and type it and place it in their file.

I will share a bit more about evaluations next time.

This is also the time for planning for the year ahead.   (I’ll share more on this in the coming weeks too.)

Until then,enjoy the last few weeks of this amazing year!


Pretty Apron Gift

This feastive season I hope to make many of our Christmas gifts.

I started with this simple apron ~

A really plain apron

It was store bought and fairly cheap,  much cheaper than buying the material and clasp at the fabric store, but the fabric and sewing was very strong, neat and durable.

With some scraps of co-ordinating fabric, some re-cycled lace and a piece of ribbon,  I added the decorative patchwork over the exsisting apron pocket and bib.

And this is the finished apron!

Viola!  A pretty, original apron for a sweet friend who spends most her life in her kitchen cooking, baking and preserving for her large family.

Pop over to my Project Pages and read the full tutorial and see the photos there.

I’m off to whip up some more bags, aprons, felt toys and home preserves and natural bath products for gifts!


Nature Journal ~ baby Robins in a nest

It is spring/ summer here in the Cape.

Cape Weavers noisily build nests and raise their chicks in almost every tree in our garden.

Swallows, Wagtails, Sunbirds and Sparrows feed often at our feeder or fly about in the garden.

Charlotte Mason said,

“As soon as he is able to keep it himself, a nature diary is a source of delight to a child.

Every day’s walk gives him something to enter.”

This week we came across a tiny nest in one of our hay bales in the open shed.  The bale was low enough for my youngest to easily peer into.

Two tiny eggs were in the small nest.

We were thrilled when a day later, the chicks hatched.

With excited shrieks, the girls ran to tell me.

I grabbed my camera and our new nature study bags.

Quietly we approached.

Keeping our distance we peeped at the fluffy, fragile little birds.

Miss. K whispered a few little whistle calls and both heads popped up with beaks open wide.

I took some photos and we withdrew to see if the mother bird would come feed her babies, but she flitted about in a nearby tree, but wouldn’t come while we were still there.

So, we moved even further away and opened our nature journals and described what we saw.

My 8-year-old drew the picture of the chick and painted her sketch.  She and I both studied the photo on the camera to see some details.  (Oh the joys of a digital camera!  It is so good to zoom in on a photo!)

My 11-year-old sketched her nest and chicks in pencil and then wrote some really detailed observations.  She related her experiences with a moving conclusion, “I love those birds!”

What a wonderful time outdoors in summer.  God’s creation is truly marvellous!

(Oh, since then, the birds are bigger and have more feathers.  We will visit with our nature journals each week and keep notes.  It will make a really excellent study.)

What wonderful nature study moments did you all have this summer?


Partnered Reading ~ moments I treasure

Children grow up so quickly!

Those baby cuddles and snuggles make way for other intimate moments …

Reading together is a moment I treasure with each of my young children.

Here I am with my youngest.

My last learner-reader.

She WANTS to read, but it hard for her.

Harder than it was for any of my other children.

While I am conscious that this is “hard work” for her, I am glad we can do this together.

We cuddle together on the carpet,

and in her bed at bedtime. (She insists we read another book together at night.)

Or we snuggle in a sunny spot on the couch during the cold winters.

She sits, relaxed and supported in my lap.

My lips caress her ear, now and then whispering the sound or word.

She points to the words.

Or maybe she pushes her bookmark along under the sentence.

We laugh at silly Frog and ToadAmelia Bedelia or Owl as the tales unfold.

She looks at the pictures.

She looks for clues to the story.

In fact she can ‘read’ the story just by looking at the pictures.

We go on a journey.

Just the 2 of us.

It is intimate,


Soon she will read well enough to read alone.

Then she may snuggle next to me as I read aloud, but these are moments to remember.

I am so glad we homeschool.

Related  Post:

What moments do you treasure?


Sketch Tuesday ~ Something to cure a cold

Sketch something to cure a cold

We have a medicine box with all the basics, but before I reach for pills and syrups, I usually use some natural, healthy alternatives;

lemon and honey



vitamin C

Viral Guard

We laid all the cures out on a table and each of us sketched.

Here are the pictures:

Barb-Harmony Art Mom says,

“This week’s assignment due Monday, November 15th, 2010:
Sketch something you use to treat a cold or the flu.

All sketchers are welcome and there is no need to sign up. Participate as much as possible and make sketching a weekly habit. Send in your sketches in jpg format and mail them to: by Monday, November 15th and I will include them in Tuesday’s slideshow.”

After participating in Sketch Tuesday for about a year, I have seen that my children ~

  • relish participating
  • do their sketches with no formal help or advice from me
  • quickly come up with a mental picture of what they want to sketch
  • are almost always happy with their first results
  • want to display their art
  • happily talk about their art and others’
  • technically create full, balanced sketches
  • add detail, overlapping, horizon lines, contour lines and shading

Hope you will take part.  See you at the slideshow!


Music Appreciation Log Sheet

Portrait Ludwig van Beethoven when composing t...

Image via Wikipedia

As Charlotte Mason advises, we study a Famous Musician for several weeks.

I usually read them a short biography and they write their biography narrations on our Famous Musicians Biography notebook pages.

We’ll paste the picture of our famous musician on our Famous Musician Wall Chart.

Then we  jot in his name on our timeline.

We listen to the composers’ most famous or important pieces several times during the following weeks.

Mostly we just listen while we do our art.  Sometimes we discuss the mood, tempo or instruments of the piece.

I aim to create an awareness and a love and appreciation for classical music.

My children love the Classical Kids CDs.  These narrative stories weave sample pieces of the musician’s music pieces throughout the story.

For Beethoven, I introduced our Music Appreciation Log Sheet.

I first saw this idea at Harmony Art Mom and thought it would be a really good addition to our music study.

Just a quick personal note ~

I take things really slowly and build up our written and formal study as my children gain confidence.   I did too much, too quickly with my eldest daughter in my early (and over-zealous) days of homeschooling and she “burnt out”.  I want my children to enjoy music and not dread our appreciation times. 🙂

Our first attempt was really interesting and successful.  They jotted some basic biographical details in the top information box after a quick biography review, then we looked up the music piece’s information off our cd cover, and we listened quietly.

I provided some writing prompts ~

Discuss what …

  • musical instruments you hear (not too technical)
  • images or colours or patterns you see
  • you feel when you listen to this piece
  • movie does this bring to mind (so many movies use classical pieces in their sound tracks!)
  • Young Children ~
    • is it loud or soft?
    • is it fast or slow?
    • what animal movement does this sound like?
  • For older listeners ~
    • Draw patterns of the piece on a large paper
    • If you were a movie director what scene would play during this piece?
    • What  story title and opening paragraph would suit this piece?
    • Describe this music in a nature scene

Image via Wikipedia

And there is a box for drawing images that come to mind as they listen to the piece.

My kids immediately got involved.  They jotted down thoughts and ideas and then sketched and coloured.  As they worked, the piece played several times over.

Beethoven’s ” Piano Sonata No.14 “Moonlight” ” has a place in our hearts and minds.

I think we will enjoy this new addition to our music appreciation times.

Have you tried this?

Click here for your free download ~ Music Appreciation Log Sheet


Sketch Tuesday ~ Something From China

Here are our sketches for this past week’s theme ~

Sketch Something from China

We all sketched during the weekend during some free time.

The girls used imagery from “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon”  and “House of Flying Daggers”  DVD covers for inspiration.

I put out some pieces of my Chinese dinner service for a still life and really enjoyed spending my time using watercolour pencils to bring a painterly feel to my sketch without losing detail.

As always Barb of Harmony Art Mom encourages everyone to take part and email her the jpg. sketches to by Monday, November 15th and she will include them in Tuesday’s slideshow.

This week’s new theme is ~

Sketch something you would use to treat a cold or the flu

See you at the slideshow!


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