WFMW: Trying Curriculum On For Size

As a new homeschooling family, we’ve really struggled with how to make the “right” decisions with curriculum. We made a huge error with a curriculum in a box program for this year that has literally done nothing but collect dust. Ben and I have tried to use it, but he hates it so much that he just sobs when I ask him to try anything related to it. What I did last year was research, find something I thought we’d both like, and bought it.

This year? I’m not doing that. Well, I am. I’m still researching. I am listening in on discussions all over the Internet about curriculum (one very fruitful place is The Well Trained Mind K-8 Curriculum Forum). While I’m not prepared to go wholly down the path of The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home (Third Editition), I do really like the discussions that happen in their forums and I’ve found some good leads on curriculum that way. Once I’ve found those leads, I review everything I can find about the curriculum I’m considering, and I search, diligently for samples at the grade level that I need.

This is where the genius is, though, I then print out a lesson at the level that Ben will be and LET HIM TRY IT OUT. We’ve found our math, spelling, and geography curricula for next year that way. We tried Singapore and he didn’t like it, but then we tried Math Mammoth and he did. I used that information to help me refine a little what I was looking at and found the spelling and geography on the first try. If he loves it, and he’s asking to get to do it, then I’ve found the right thing.

And this is what works for me. Head on over the We Are THAT Family to find out what works for others.

WFMW: I Need to Work, Too

One of the biggest challenges of being a homeschooling, work at home mom is when do I get my work done? If I want quality time with my husband, my kids, and my job, it usually means that I don’t sleep. Except . . . I’ve come up with a trick.

When I really need to get something done, we play a pretend game. If I need to work on my computer, we play office. I work on my computer and the kids “work” on theirs. If I need to read a book, we play library. The kids are librarians and I’m a patron. If I have a meeting . . . okay, it doesn’t work if I have a phone conference. Then? I break out a movie :).

The point is that once they’re engaged in the pretend game, then I can work uninterrupted for at least ten or fifteen minutes. It doesn’t buy me a lot of time, but it buys me enough to get the “little” things done.

And, that’s what works for me.

Head on over to We Are That Family to see what works for everyone else!

WFMW: Making My Own Hot Chocolate

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Okay, so I know everyone has their own way of dealing with hot chocolate. There’s the packets in the grocery store. You can make your own mix with powdered milk and just add hot water. For years, this is what we did, until we discovered, Penzey’s Hot Chocolate Mix. But then, we ran out last winter and I didn’t get around to ordering some more before the cold spells hit. So, I hunted around and found a recipe in Mad Hungry: Feeding Men and Boys that really worked for me . . . except her proportions were small and it has to be mixed every time you want to use it.

Seriously, I have better things to do with my time, so I figured out, first how to tweak her proportions so I could make a batch ever few weeks or so, and also how I could make it more like the kinds of things that I love. So what I came up with is this:

Bensdorp Dutch Process Cocoa from King Arthur Flour
Granulated sugar of choice (Publix house brand works for me)

This is the base. I use a three cup Gladware container with a screw on top for storage.

I measure in equal amounts of cocoa powder and sugar. In this case, 1 cup and 1 cup, but you can do as much or as little as you want and use as big of a container as you want, too.

You can stop here, put the lid on and shake it up until thoroughly mixed and you’ll have a wonderful hot chocolate mix.

Or you can add something. Quinn suggests cinnamon, which I admit is wonderful. We use Penzey’s Ceylon Cinnamon. But you can also add cayenne pepper or cardamom or nutmeg or all-space or ginger. Really, any combination that you love in chocolate will likely work in hot chocolate. I make a much smaller container with my experiments. She suggests a pinch in her little proportions, but I’ve found that for large batches significantly more is necessary. However, that’s a trial and error thing. I think I’m using about 1/2 tablespoon of cinnamon and a 1/2 tsp. of cayenne pepper.

When you want a cup of hot chocolate, all you have to do is put milk in a mug. Heat it up in the microwave, and then stir in a spoonful or so of the mix (clearly the more you add, the more chocolaty the hot chocolate), add marshmallows, whipping cream, or a biscotti and you’re ready for a wonderful, wonderful snack.

And that’s what works for me. Now, check out some more works for me tips at Kristen’s.

WFMW: Getting Kids to Sleep Instead of Play

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This is my first time participating in Works for Me Wednesday, and it’s a good thing that I picked a backwards edition because I need HELP. My son goes to bed by 8p every night after a half hour bedtime routine. Generally speaking, though he doesn’t go to sleep until more like 10p or 11p. Once we’ve left the room, he’s up and playing. He comes out several times to “tell us important things,” and to visit the potty several times. This has been going on for over a year now and I just don’t know what to do. The problem is that I work at night, so I really REALLY need him to go to sleep/stay in his room/stop playing, but I don’t know how. He’s completely afraid of the dark, so we have a low level light on, which facilitates play, but I know he won’t ever sleep without it (and neither will anyone else).

So, what works for you to get kids to sleep at bedtime?