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elementary

Growing Up

Simple Questions from Saxon Math

As we progress through Saxon Math’s lower elementary levels, I fall more in love with the simple process for teaching math it provides. As I have written before, I need the help Saxon offers. Not just help: I need a script!

Thankfully, Saxon provides the exact words to say and the exact questions to ask at each stage of each lesson. I marvel at the simple ways it teaches concepts – like fractions and division. I definitely would have benefited from the Saxon methods of incremental development and constant review had I known about it in my elementary years. In fact, I am learning things as I teach my kids that I would love to have known!

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Growing Up

Saxon Math 5/4 Prep

This entry is part 23 of 24 in the series Homeschool

This will be our fifth year of homeschooling, our fourth year of teaching Saxon Math. And, I have a little secret. Pssst….I LOVE SAXON MATH! Not a highly popular opinion to those looking for something more fun for their students. But having taught three levels of Saxon Math successfully, I marvel at the easy method of helping a student to make connections for herself. I only wish I had been taught using the Saxon method in my grade school days!

A have another little secret. Pssst….I LOVE SAXON MATH PREP! Ahem…well, once I figured out how to prep for it, then I loved it.

Having solved the prep problem for the first three years of Saxon Math, I am taking on the challenge of prep for Saxon Math 5/4. To which you may be wondering: Isn’t 5/4 supposed to be more independent? Aren’t we just supposed to tuck the textbook and the worksheets book into our elementary student’s hands and stand back, hand extended to receive the completed and perfect work of our star student?

Not a question.

Not a struggle.

Just lock and load and off you go.

I don’t know if my student is ready for that.

I don’t know if I am ready for that.

Here are the two reasons I am prepping Saxon Math 5/4 for my 4th grader:

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Growing Up

Artist Mats: Thomas Gainsborough

When I set out to create Artist Mats for our Classical Conversations Cycle 2 year, I had no idea how much I would enjoy it! Although I have almost no artistic ability, I remain interested in the history of art, the techniques of art, and the stories of the artworks themselves. Each little alleyway in the study of a specific artist has had treasures untold!

In case this is your introduction to our Artist Mats, I will give you a brief description of the Artist Mats but there is more about the Artist Mats here). Artist Mats are intended to be used in community but are also perfect for at home unit study of specific artists. Each Artist Mat includes:

  • an extended biography of the artist
  • a timeline
  • portraits of the artists
  • quotes from the artists
  • eight selections from the artist’s catalogue
  • four “Art Terms to Know”, and
  • art study questions

Currently I have plans to make 6 sets of Artist Mats this year.

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Growing Up

Artist Mats: Rembrandt Van Rijn

Since we began adding artworks to our Gathering in the last year, my kids have become more conversant with each artist. It gives me joy when one of my kids excitedly points out a work of art we have studied in a book or an unexpected place. And when they notice an artist’s style in a new-to-them painting I realize they are truly becoming art enthusiasts!

After I finished the Gathering Placemats for the 2019-2020 school year, I quickly realized I would like to create similar “mats” in other more specific genres. My interests in art and history sort of came together to create Artist Mats to go along with the Classical Conversations Cycle 2 artists.

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Growing Up

Simple Shakespeare for Kids

This entry is part 7 of 24 in the series Homeschool

Intimidating. That is the one word that describes teaching Shakespeare to kids. At least for me. The language…the rhythm…the adult subject matter. “How in the world can we even approach this?” I asked myself this question a lot before I started teaching Shakespeare.

Encouraged by a podcast I listened to a few years ago, I knew it was a possibility. And I knew I would love to share Shakespeare with my kids. I shook off the intimidation and the insecurities and did as we have always done on this homeschooling journey: we simply jumped in.

The waters, it turned out, were just fine.

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Growing Up

Bringing Saxon Math together with CC

This entry is part 11 of 13 in the series Classsical Conversations

This past summer the Classical Conversations topic for Practicum was Math. Groaning on the inside a bit, I attended each of the three days, stretching my brain a bit further each day. I had epiphanies – seriously – about math – I didn’t think it possible! And I enjoyed the challenge more than I would have thought. It was surprising for my history-literature-language loving self.

Another surprise from the three-day Practicum was the frequent aspersions cast upon my math curriculum of choice: Saxon Math. Now, I didn’t feel personally attacked, but I began to wonder, “Should we have chosen a different curriculum? Are we going to have to change it up later on?” And I was a bit saddened by that.

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