Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Book Review: Plan to Be Flexible


Even after a gazillion years of home schooling there are times when our routine of the last 13 or so years isn't working.

Actually, that's kind of been the case with one of the kids for the last two years or so. He's super smart, he's talented, he's quick to learn new material, but he's disorganized, easily frustrated, disinterested, and very short-tempered. Getting him to accomplish anything - whether it's math or writing, textbook or online, short and quick or long and detailed - is like pulling teeth, very painful for both of us. At the end of the day I'm emotionally and mentally drained of energy and, frankly, it sucks.

I was recently offered an opportunity to read the 178 page e-book  Plan to be Flexible, Designing a Homeschool Rhythm and Curriculum Plan that Works for Your Family, by Alicia Kazsuk of Vibrant Homeschooling, and was very intrigued, based on my issues with my son.

Plan to be Flexible covers topics like creating an educational goal and plan for the entire school year, but doing so flexibly, as well as creating a core curriculum for your students that allows lots of wiggle room to adapt to the needs of the children. Alicia described, clearly, how her yearly schedule and core curriculum planning and implementation works, using real life examples to make it make sense.

The book also addresses adapting your homeschooling to your specific family, avoiding the idea that your family needs to school like a traditional school schools and/or school like anyone else you know. It also addresses issues like schedule interruptions, such as a new baby, move, etc, and quirky daily interruptions like illness, babies and toddlers at home, appointments, and activities. These things do, and will, happen every. single. day (at least it feels that way sometimes!). Some of the things that have come along and thrown a wrench in our home schooling days over the last few weeks are: Because I'm Me orders (yippee!), orthodontist appointments, a broken air conditioner, the children's father coming to visit, and working on an Eagle project (double yippee!).

I found Alicia's style to be very personable, real, intelligent, and professional. She's been homeschooling long enough, and with enough kids, to have some great background to work from. "Chatting over a cup of coffee" is how I'd sum up her writing style, she writes like a friend you can sit down and be real with, because you know she's being real with you, and who you can bounce ideas off of and leave the coffee table wiser for the visit.

This e-book is a great resource for a new homeschooler, full of real, practical advice to get you started. It's also nice for those of us who need a little reminder that we need to bend, and won't break doing so, and adapt to our kids learning styles and individual needs, that we just might need a few tweeks to our system.

Will this book solve my problems with my son and his challenges? I found it helpful, but he and I need to dig deeper to work through our issues, but we got some ideas to try to make our days a little less tense.

Plan to be Flexible can be found at Vibrant Homeschooling for just $8.99.

What are the unplanned things that require you to be flexible, whether home schooling or not?

Monday, October 20, 2014

"Keep 'Em Busy" Craft

Simple elementary age bead craft, perfect for Cub Scouts and more at Because I'm Me
Our Cub Scout Pack began the new school year with a Family Orientation meeting, to help the new folks feel more at home and to clarify a few details for the "older" families.

Midway through the meeting the scouts and their den leaders were excused to meet up in their dens while the meeting continued, because they honestly, truly, 110% couldn't care less about the business and financial stuff of the pack.

I wanted the newer boys to meet all the kids in their den and to get a chance to meet their den leaders, to see what the pack was like. I also wanted them to make something ... keeping their hands busy would help them feel less nervous and less crazy active, and having something to take home would help them feel a bond with the pack.

The challenge lay in finding a craft that would work for six year olds, but also work for 10 year olds, would take about 15-20 minutes, wouldn't be super expensive, and would be something they'd like to have.

After much Pinterest and Google searching I found a pony bead alligator. We're in Florida, so that's cool, but no way was that easy enough or quick enough. The bead alligator led to think of making a keychain, a much simpler alternative that the boys could actually use if they wanted to.

I opted for cobalt blue and yellow/gold pony beads because they are colors that symbolize Cub Scouting.

Simple elementary age bead craft, perfect for Cub Scouts and more at Because I'm Me

Each of our dens contain about 8-12 boys and we had no idea how many new or visiting boys and siblings would want to participate. All in all, these seemed like a daunting task for a den leader to teach solo. I was lucky enough to enlist the help of our Boy Scout troop (who also spoke to the boys about Boy Scouting early in the Family Orientation meeting), almost all of the troop came and helped, which made an awesome impression on the boys and their families and led to a few older siblings joining Boy Scouts. The Boy Scouts were divided among the dens, with the oldest scouts working with the Webelos dens.

And then the crafting began. This was the moment I learned of my big error. Not enough people had an idea of how the craft worked, in fact, I'd only showed two of the Boy Scouts. What I thought was self-explanatory wasn't in the time allotted. Fortunately, those two Boy Scouts and I were able to quickly teach the rest of the Boy Scouts and the den leaders. Totally my fault.

Most of the boys were able to finish their key rings before the end of the meeting and seemed to like them. Clean up was super easy, as it was just picking up a few stray beads.

I filled Ziploc bags, each with enough beads, 3' long sections of jute, and key rings for 15 boys as well as a sample completed key ring. Each Ziploc bag was placed on a separate table, with a sign for which den was meeting at that table.

To make the key ring:


Supplies needed:
3' section of twine, jute, whatever you can find that will work and will not fray super easily
1 key ring
17 plastic pony beads, in your choice of colors

Simple elementary age bead craft, perfect for Cub Scouts and more at Because I'm Me

Attach center of jute to key ring using a Lark's Head knot (create a loop in the center of the jute, wrap the loop around the key ring, run the two strands through it and tighten).

Simple elementary age bead craft, perfect for Cub Scouts and more at Because I'm Me

Slide one bead onto both strands of jute and bring that bead up to the top.

Simple elementary age bead craft, perfect for Cub Scouts and more at Because I'm Me

Slide three beads onto one strand of jute.

Simple elementary age bead craft, perfect for Cub Scouts and more at Because I'm Me

Run the other strand of jute through the same three beads, starting at the opposite end of the first strand.

Simple elementary age bead craft, perfect for Cub Scouts and more at Because I'm Me

Simple elementary age bead craft, perfect for Cub Scouts and more at Because I'm Me

Repeat the last step four more times, tightening the jute as you add each row of beads. Don't worry if it won't lay flat, we got our wet at the end and it fixed it perfectly. Also, if the jute isn't perfectly tight don't worry, you'll be able to tighten it more in a second.

Simple elementary age bead craft, perfect for Cub Scouts and more at Because I'm Me

Simple elementary age bead craft, perfect for Cub Scouts and more at Because I'm Me

Add one more bead onto both strands at the same time, in the same way the first bead was added.

Simple elementary age bead craft, perfect for Cub Scouts and more at Because I'm Me

Tighten the jute throughout the key ring as much as you can and tie an overhand knot using both strands of jute. If your overhand knot doesn't hold the last bead on tie another on top of the first.

That's it! Enjoy your key ring.

Of course, this isn't exclusively a Cub Scout craft, change the colors and have fun!

River lost his neckerchief slide at that pack meeting so I took his key ring apart and made him a ring neckerchief slide out of it. Works great.

bead cub scout neckerchief slide at bobcat ceremony

Thursday, October 16, 2014

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