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Saturday, August 28, 2010

What does SWR stand for?

Spell to Write and Read.
Where does one begin when trying to describe such a comprehensive language program?!  If you are looking for Spelling/Grammar/Writing/etc program to meet ALL your needs... check it out!  seriously.
I guess the name sums up the theory and very succinctly, the practice too:

Spell (using the 70 basic phonograms + spelling rules)
       to Write (using as many senses as possible, including but not limited to writing)
                and Read (the goal is to have EXCELLENT, well-rounded readers!).

So how does it work?
A child masters the single letter phonograms before beginning the program.
The parent dictates a list of 20 words a week (for the youngest children) or 2 lists/wk with a grand total of 40 words for the older kids.
Dictation includes distinguishing syllables, think-to-spell pronunciation, finger spelling, writing from memory (visualization), seeing it written, analyzing spelling rules and making appropriate markings to illustrate. 
*(Even though you can use the material itself for copywork, I like to use the SWR word lists to select assignments from Spelling Wisdom!)

Ahem.... Here I'm doing finger spelling.
I know, you thought I was a rapper and showing my special sign, right? 
Also, please take notice of my special hair thing...

Which words does it teach?
The lists are arranged from a study of the most commonly used words in the English language.
Each word is accompanied by a sentence from classic literature, the Bible or from famous quotes, in order for the student to learn it in a context.

Parent Support:
There is an e-mail support group, there are workshops for the parent to learn how to better use the program (which I HIGHLY recommend attending) in many different States all year round.

Is it CM friendly?
Hmmm.  If you can assure me that the CM and/or AO police are not reading this blog, then I can say... yes and no.  It doesn't follow her language lessons exactly, but it can be very adaptable.  It would take a whole post to prove that!  :)   If she were alive today, I honestly think she would be impressed with the curriculum!  ;)

Here are several reviews:
Cathy Duffy top 100 picks
Britta McColl - SWR trainer, and my self-proclaimed mentor :)
(Britta also has a blog that has SUPER helpful posts!)

Don't worry... this was their own idea.
They were having some difficulty keeping quiet though ;)

The program is intended for use from K-12, so for less than $100 you get the kit that will set you up for life!  The books are available separately, but honestly, you need the whole kit... and it's WORTH it!

Check prices and purchase:

Buy from
& I get a commission!
Buy from Morning Star Learning
and receive support from Britta!
Check out the publisher's
website for a list of
all SWR materials available!

I posted a LONG time ago about SWR after having attended a Basic Training course in Minnesota with Britta McColl... have a peek of that here.

And just for fun, I took a video when one day when I was teaching my littlest littles how to write their basic phonograms in cursive (yes we use Cursive First as well).  We're doing full body writing of the letters... works REALLY well with wiggly kiddos!  (don't make fun of me!! ;)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Fisher Academy: About Us

Inspired by Heart of the Matter's Not Back to School Blog Hop, I've decided to post a peep into our teaching home!  Fun, huh?!  It's been awhile since I posted pictures of the kids and our schoolroom (click here for post: circa, 2005!), etc. so hold on to your pants I'm gonna try and pull a four-posts-in-one!

First off, in a true about us post, I thought you'd probably like to know who is being taught here, right?  So, here goes...

The students:

We have 2 students currently starting year six of Ambleside Online.  They are 12.5 and 11.5 years old, respectively.  Now, I took these lovely mugs and got all through editing them, before realizing that I have every freedom to take more creative poses in more exotic settings... oh well.  :)  Darcy has good advice in her post Do's and Don'ts of School Picture Day, it is important that as homeschoolers we don't forget to take these monumental photos of our kids so that they can see the sequence of their very own history, how they looked EVERY year growing up.  Of course they don't have to look anything like traditional school pictures, thankfully.

...and then we have our Ambleside Online year two student...   oh wait she was absent on picture day.  She'll be there on 'retake' day though for sure.  :)  She's 7.5 years old:

Our two youngest are in year 0 of Ambleside Online.  It is an unofficial schoolyear, basically not really even preschool per se... but education is a life and life starts before birth and so their education begins as soon as they're out, right?  :)  We read lots aloud, do lots of nature study, hang out with the bigger kids and get in on some of their stuff... you know, the life of a homeschooler's tot.  ;)

The teacher:
Well, that's me up there at the top left of this blog... :) I don't love to post pictures of myself, way too conspicuous. I don't even really like to be in pictures at all except to remember that I was in fact present while my kids were growing up, not ALWAYS behind the camera!

The schoolroom:
We do school at home (literally all over our home) and away from home...
"The world is the true classroom. The most rewarding and important type of learning is through experience, seeing something with our own eyes."
Jack Hanna 

Our curriculum:
If you've read this blog before you know that I'm crazy about Ambleside Online's Charlotte Mason education. We stick pretty closely to AO's recommended curriculum. We use MEP maths and The Easy French and Rosetta Stone Spanish and Spell to Write and Read (thanks Richele)

Our day:
I have posted about how I do my scheduling here and here.  What it works out to be in real life is completely dependent on a 267 variables which in themselves vary from day to day.  :)  However, this is the list that keeps us on task and helps us to make sure we get what we need to get done every day.
We all have our own copies, the boys' is for 4 weeks at a time, and mine covers the whole term.
Basically, we get up between 6 and 7, breakfast is at 8, sit-down-together-sit-at-the-table-school starts at 9.  We do a couple things after lunch and try to be done with everything by 2 or 3pm. (that even happens occasionally! ;)

So there you have it folks!  Fisher Academy International Teaching Home, or life of FAITH as it were :)
I hope you'll be inspired to spotlight your own unique homeschools!  :)  Make sure to link up if you do, so we can all be inspired!   Also, check out the Not Back to School Blog Hop posts for TONS of links to other homeschools over at Heart of the Matter!  Fun, fun.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Book of Centuries and Timelines Galore

Our 'Book of Centuries' (which is actually a Timeline Notebook):
*Update - Timelines are AWESOME fun for younger kids. This post outlines the timeline notebook we use communally when the kids are younger and includes creative ideas and links. Please see this post, and this post for details of the actual BoC that CM used! We will start using a Book of Centuries styled after these in AOy7 when each student will make their own. :) Click here and here to see what we've done.

1) I found a 3-ring binder, well yes, it has been love worn hasn't it...
(if I could get a new one here in Peru and if I hadn't glued the cover right onto the front, I'd say I should change binders already!)

2) I downloaded and printed the free Book of Centuries pages from
3) I made a collage of clip arts and such for the cover and taped it right on (if I'd had the option at the time, I'd have gotten one of those binders that has the clear plastic cover).  I use picasa to make my collages [read more here]!
4) I put each page in a clear plastic page protector.
5) I made a beginnings page.

Here's the text from that page:
"In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth."  Genesis 1:1

Before there was dirt, grass or houses. When there was no sun, or clouds or oceans - way back then. There was Nothing.

God made Everything.

And time began...

6) I started collecting timeline figures from the internet and here and there and everywhere.  I bought the homeschool in the woods CDs.  The pile of figures below came from some pages I photocopied out of George Washington's world and cut up (AOy4).  The kids like to color these in...

7) In the past, we've been very hit and miss with our Timeline Notebook.  I started it in year one.  But I realized that it was my thing.  Little by little the kids have taken interest.  This year, we are really in earnest.  It actually has its own time slot on the schedule!  Thus the motivation for this post ;) We sometimes paste the figures in, and other times we just slip it into the page protector.  EASY!!  :)  Nothing too fancy or it simply wouldn't get done!!
Here are what some of our pages look like:

If I were a craftsy kinda girl, I'd do one of the cool timeline ideas I've read about, or make up my own.  But I'm not.  So I won't.  To be perfectly honest.  heheh. :)  Here are the ideas that I might do if I had more time, less children... (you may have to join the yahoo group to see the messages?)

Timeline on a string 
{use those little black binder clips (or even paper clips) to hold index cards on fishing line [click here and scroll down, or at the end of the post, click the next entry to read the whole thread]};

or even a Family Tree version.

Below, I've listed some of my favorite links that I've collected over the past several years. Please do share any cool resources you've found or link to your own timeline or book of centuries posts!!

AmblesideOnline specific links:
Common Questions about AO History
The Teaching of Chronology, from the Parent's Review
AmblesideOnline : Files
AmbleRamble : Files

An Island Story:
AmblesideOnline : Message: Re: Island story need timeline figures ch. 22
AmblesideOnline : Message: Our Island Story - Timeline figures

50 Famous Stories:
AO 50 Famous Stories

Timelines Online
BBC - History - British History Timeline - LOVE this one.  Great for An Island Story, AOy1-5  (use the search option for year or name)
Gazetteer for Scotland Scottish History Timeline 17th Century 
World History HyperHistory - another one with lots of time periods.
Here's a page with a timeline for any time or occasion...

Timeline Figures
TO BUY:  I totally recommend these timeline figures.  They are AWESOME.  They have TONS of figures and are very nicely done.  Easy to search for the person you want... you can also use them as coloring sheets... yes.  I love them.  :)  HTTA - Historical Timeline Figures 

FOR FREE:  There are people studied in the AO years that are not included in the above CDs...
Here are the sites I've used:
Images of Famous British People - British Kings, Christian Heroes, etc, etc. (has almost all the AIS kings, even from the first few chapters, if I remember correctly and lots of figures to use for Shakespeare paper dolls or Little Duke, etc.)
The Famous Kings & Queens of England  (I like the look of these figures best for AIS, but I had already printed the figures from the previous link... :) covers years 872 - 1952.

General Clipart:  (I don't know why anyone would choose to do this... too much time to search and format and print, etc... but here are the links I saved when I was deluded enough to think free made it worthwhile!  :)  Clipart ETC Homepage

Timeline Tutorials
Timelines, Paula's Archives  - This is the single most helpful source I've found online.
History Timelines

Timeline Examples
Book of Centuries - I LOVE this book.  If we advance to the point next year, that each boy makes their own (or if I make MY OWN!), I would like to encourage them to look at this one.  Charmaine did a very nice job.
Timeline Ideas

**Hey!  Don't forget...
please, please share any helpful links!!  that way everyone who stops by can benefit!!  :)  Thank you!
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