Jan 102015
unschooling science

Photo credit http://www.mymemories.com/store/designers/StoryRock

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something through one of the links, I will receive a small commission.
This week we’re talking about Math and Science in the Virtual Curriculum Fair hosted by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds  and Laura @ Day by Day in Our World. I’ve spent an interesting couple of hours going through old posts on my blog and I have come to the following conclusions.

I have a ton of posts about math. Some of the best ones are the posts for previous Virtual Curriculum Fairs.

If I Knew Then What I Know Now About Math

Spiral Math: The Post Where I Admit I Was Wrong

Thinking Mathematically: How I Choose Math Curriculum

Besides those, I’ve written reviews of my favorite math curricula as well as various other math curricula and supplements I’ve been asked to review over the years.

There are also posts lamenting my oldest son’s lack of speed in math calculation and the need for more drill.

(He still doesn’t show his work on his math, but if you check out this video he made for a national math video contest last year, I think he’s doing just fine. He placed 2nd!)

Then I did a search for posts about science and found fewer posts.

There’s a review for Apologia Elementary Science. I used several of their books for my older kids when they were younger. It’s a great program. Now both my high schoolers use Apologia Science text books. And in theory William and Lizzie are using the Apologia Elementary ones. But practically speaking…

We’re unschooling science for the younger kids.

I’m not totally satisfied with that fact. Really it’s a big experiment. (Seems fitting since I am talking about science, right?)

But the truth is, I just don’t get science done with my younger kids.

It’s on my list every year.

It’s always a goal.

But I’ve yet to achieve it.

Even though we don’t “do” science very often here, that doesn’t mean William and Lizzie know nothing about science. We own the entire collection of Magic School Bus videos. Lizzie and Andrew watch them all the time. (William is too old for them, but he watches them anyway.) We also have many of the Magic School Bus Books, lots of Usborne science books, animal books, and the entire set of Moody Science videos.
679657: Moody Classics, 19 DVDs

We also have fun science kits that the kids think of as toys. Today William built an egg beater with K’nex. Another fantastic science “toy” are these Snap Circuits. These get a lot of “play” time!



Will my unschooling experiment end up with high schoolers who can’t learn science?

I seriously doubt it. But I’ll probably still feel guilty occasionally about our lack of formal science instruction. Then I’ll try to remember all they are doing on their own for science.


Don’t miss this other great posts about Math and Science.

Learning about Patterns in Our World Through Math and Science by Laura @ Day by Day in Our World

Relaxed Homeschooling: Mathematics in the Early Elementary Years by Brittney @ Mom’s Heart

Using a Bible-Based Math Curriculum by Tauna M @ Proverbial Homemaker

Math, Science and Logic for 2015 by Chareen @ Every Bed of Roses

Playing with Numbers by Sarah @ Delivering Grace

Unschooling Science by Kristen H. @ Sunrise to Sunset

Logically Speaking: Math, Science, and Logic for 7th Grade  by Christy @ Unexpected Homeschool

Numbers and Molecules! by Michele @ Family, Faith and Fridays

Math and Science in Our Homeschool by Jennifer @ A Glimpse of Our Life

5 Math & Logic Resources We Love by Becky @ Milo & Oats

Giving Your Kids The Right Start With Math by Amy @ One Blessed Mamma

Math in Our Classical / Charlotte Mason Homeschool by Sharra @ The Homeschool Marm

Classical STEM by Lisa @ Golden Grasses

Math, Science and Logic – How do we Tackle Them? by Joelle @ Homeschooling for His Glory

The Physics of Delight-Directed Learning by Susan @ The Every Day of Education

Tackling High School Science by Debra @ Footprints in the Butter

Choosing Math Curriculum for Special Learners by Heather @ Only Passionate Curiosity

Math for all ages by Denise @ Fullnest

Middle School Monday – Math With Fred by Kym @ Homeschool Coffee Break

Learning With Math and Science Resources  by Leah @ As We Walk Along the Road

Jan 032015

Other than answering the dreaded socialization question, teaching reading at home may be the scariest thing for a new homeschooler. This week’s Virtual Curriculum Fair topic is Loving Language Arts and is co-hosted by  Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds and Chareen @ Every Bed of Roses. You can read other posts about reading as well as other language arts topics.

What if I mess it up and ruin my child’s life forever?

This is our 12th year of homeschooling, and I have 5 children ranging from 4 to 16 years old. So far, I have taught 4 children to read and each one was different. Not surprisingly, each one is still different both in his or her ability and enjoyment of reading. I don’t have one of those stories about the kid who learned to read at 12, but was reading War and Peace at age 13.

There is no magic formula for raising readers.

David, my 16 year old, began reading at 4 years old. (Some of that may have been over eager homeschool parents, but he was ready to read.) He read a lot when he was young – both fiction and non-fiction. I also read books aloud to him from his infancy until he was about 12. My husband and I read for pleasure frequently and our house is filled with books. We did everything “right” and guess what. He doesn’t like to read. He especially doesn’t like fiction. He’s a “just the facts” kind of kid. Maybe his long-time use of the computer has turned him into a scanner. Since he especially doesn’t like literature, I have had him take an outside class for that. He’s infinitely more motivated to read books when he’s in a class with a fixed schedule and accountability. To help himself pay attention, he often listens to the audio while he reads.

Teaching Reading at Home

Sometimes a child is too young to learn to read.

Anna is almost 15. We started trying to teach her to read when she was 5, probably closer to 5-1/2. She wanted to learn to read so badly. It was almost comical trying to teach her to blend sounds. She just couldn’t get it until after she turned 6. Then it sort of clicked and she took off with it. She also listened to read-alouds frequently and had essentially the same learning environment as her older brother, but unlike her brother, she loves to read, especially historical fiction. She’s also much happier to read from a textbook and has good comprehension.

If you think there is something wrong, check it out. People will tell you to relax and wait, but you know your child.

William is almost 13. He has been diagnosed with ASD. He has many learning issues that may (or may not) be related to ASD. He is my only child that I actually had to teach letters. My other children all picked them up naturally around 3 years old or younger, from alphabet books, letter toys and puzzles. At 4-1/2, I decided I needed to teach William his letters. He was able to learn them fairly quickly. I used the Handwriting without Tears Wood pieces and cards.

Reading continued to be a struggle for William. I tried various phonics programs. He couldn’t read c-v-c words consistently. I started a couple of new things with him that finally seemed to help reading click for him. I used both Brain Integration Therapy by Dianne Craft and All About Spelling. I don’t know if it was either of those programs, the passage of time, or some combination of all three that finally enabled him to begin reading. But there was no sudden burst of speed or rapid improvement in skills allowing him to catch up to grade level. Instead, it’s been more like plodding. He can decode pretty well and his spelling is pretty good too. (I love All About Spelling!), but his comprehension is almost non-existent, and his inflection is bad. We’re trying immersion reading on the Kindle Fire to see if that will help with comprehension. We also do dictation with All About Spelling and use the repeating of the sentence to work on inflection. (The problem is not just with reading, it’s with his speech in general.)

Some children love to read. Others don’t.

Lizzie is 8. I honestly don’t remember teaching her to read. She didn’t exactly teach herself to read, but I think she learned using a combination of computer programs like Reading Kingdom and Reading Eggs plus her older brother and sister showing her things. She is a voracious reader and loves to curl up with a book and read it. She even reads aloud to her little brother, Andrew. She is using the Memoria Press Literature Guides, among other things, and we like those a lot.

Teaching Reading at Home

Find time to read to your little ones.

Finally there is Andrew. He just turned 4 and is not reading yet. He does love to listen to books and he has known his letters for a long time. I feel hopeful, that it won’t be a struggle for him to learn to read. I still want to spend some time using Before Five in a Row with him.

Virtual Curriculum Fair

Photo credit http://www.mymemories.com/store/designers/StoryRock

This post is part of the 2015 Virtual Curriculum Fair and is also linked to House to Home at I Choose Joy.

I Choose Joy!


See my previous Playing with Words posts at:

It Starts with the Alphabet

Loving Language Arts

Don’t miss these great posts!

Building a Foundation of Words by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds

Language Arts for 2015 by Chareen @ Every Bed of Roses

Bible-Based Language Arts Resources by Tauna M @ Proverbial Homemaker

Relaxed Homeschooling: Language Arts in the Early Elementary Years by Brittney @ Mom’s Heart

Loving Books and Words by Sarah@Delivering Grace

5 Language Arts Resources We Love by Becky @ Milo & Oats

Teaching Reading at Home: A Tale of 5 Readers by Kristen H. @ Sunrise to Sunset

A More Simplistic Approach to 7th Grade Language Arts by Christy @ Unexpected Homeschool

Language Arts Reading for Delight-Directed Learning by Susan @ The Every Day of Education

How To: Spelling Dictation by Heather @ Only Passionate Curiosity

The World of Words in our Homeschool by Joelle @ Homeschooling for His Glory

Unschooling and Words, Words, Words by Nicole @ Schooling in the Sun

Learning With Literature and Language Arts Resources by Leah @ As We Walk Along the Road

Words and More Words! by Michele @ FamilyFaithandFridays

Language Arts in Our Homeschool (2014 ñ 2015) by Laura O @ Day by Day in Our World

Our curriculum choices ~ Language Arts by Renata @ Sunnyside Farm Fun

The 2015 Virtual Curriculum Fair ~ Language Arts in Our Homeschool by Jennifer @ A Glimpse of Our Life

Loaded Pistols: Virtual Curriculum Fair Playing with Words by Lisa @ Golden Grasses

A Renewed Focus on Reading Aloud by Debra @Footprints in the Butter

Language Arts in our Classical / Charlotte Mason Homeschool by Sharra @ The Homeschool Marm

Logic of English Foundations: The Grand Prize Winner of Phonics by Chelli @ The Planted Trees

A Sentence a Day Teaches Grammar the Fun Way by Amy A @ One Blessed Mamma

Tackling Language Arts by Jacquelin @ A Stable Beginning

Middle School Monday – Lightning Literature and Composition by Kym @ Homeschool Coffee Break

The Great Grammar Discovery by Laura @ Four Little Penguins

Dec 192014
Photo credit - akemp42

Once upon a time, I posted weekly updates on our homeschool. And there were some pretty fun projects to mention.

We made lapbooks,



and lots of other creative projects.


All that was before Pinterest.

Photo credit - akemp42 Photo credit  – akemp42

Now our homeschool is not very pinnable. And as a result, I’ve felt it was not very bloggable.


Sometimes I feel guilty because I don’t do as many projects with my younger children as I did with my older ones.  But then I have to be realistic.


I am homeschooling 4 children plus an almost 4 year old thrown in the mix. Two of them are in high school. True, my high school students work mainly independently. But they are in outside classes which requires extra driving around. Plus, David especially has to bounce ideas off of me for special projects (which he does a lot.) Then there’s the grading. (Does anyone have any magical grading machines?)

But the biggest issue is William. He’s dealing with multiple learning difficulties, and just getting him through what I consider the bare minimum of core subjects leaves me exhausted and completely unmotivated for anything extra.

Maybe I need to rethink what I consider the “bare minimum” of core subjects for William. I want my younger children to have the experiences of making things and read-alouds that my older ones did, and I’m just not finding it possible in our current situation.

Today is the last day before we start our Christmas vacation. I’m sure I’ll be doing thinking about what we need to do differently in the new year. I’m especially interested in any suggestions for helping highly distractible students work independently.

How do you make time for projects?

May 102014

Whew. Did you hear that big sigh of relief?

Outside Classes

We finished up the last of our outside classes on April 30. It was a great experience for David (10th) and Anna (8th), but it did make for hectic Mondays. A level of hectic that I’m not used to since we’ve always homeschooled.

I’m glad they’re over for this year, but I am a firm believer in giving older homeschooled students a chance to be involved in a classroom setting – especially if they’re college bound. I thought it was important before I signed my kids up, and now I have seen the benefits.

Benefits of Outside Classes

1. Accountability

I’ve had trouble motivating David in subjects that he’s not that interested in. It’s been a constant battle. This year, I enrolled him in a literature class, and the difference was amazing. No, he didn’t love the class, but since he’s competitive (and a perfectionist), he worked hard. There is no way that I could have gotten him to do the amount of work at home reading books that he doesn’t like. That class was such a success, he’s taking American Literature next year with the same teacher.

2. Deadlines

This is related to accountability, but as homeschoolers we often have trouble finishing things. Sure we can set deadlines, but we all know that they’re arbitrary. With outside classes, David and Anna dealt with meeting deadlines. They learned a lot about time management in the process. Meeting deadlines is a real world skill. It’s not just something needed to do well in school. (Though it is also an essential skill for success in school.)

3. Different Perspective

Most everything that my children have studied up to this point has been from my perspective. I’ve chosen the curriculum, I’ve guided them through it. I’ve answered their questions. I’ve chosen the activities that I’ve thought were important. And that’s one of the great things about homeschooling. I do get to pick out what I think are the best resources for my children. However, sometimes the best resource is someone else. Hearing someone else’s interpretation of a work of fiction, doing the writing assignments she thinks is important, and watching someone else work math problems all provide a more well-rounded education. Some things might not be the very best way that my student learns, but when you have a job, you don’t always get to only do things in the way that fits you best. Sometimes you have to do things just because they have to be done. The pre-calculus curriculum was NOT the one I would have chosen for David. But having a teacher who checked his assignments and taught the material made up for the curriculum choice.

4. Socializing

Notice I didn’t say socialization. Socializing is really what most people mean when they ask the dreaded “What about socialization?” question. One of the benefits of outside classes is the opportunity to meet other homeschoolers (or students if the class is not specifically for homeschoolers). Class time itself is not for socializing, but kids meet new people in their classes and that can provide the opportunity to build friendships. We do other activities like cross country and church where my kids can meet other people, but this was another opportunity to meet more people with common interests.

What about you? Have your students taken outside classes? What benefits have you seen?

Homeschooling the Middle & High School YearsThis post is linked to the Let’s Homeschool High School Blog Hop and Finishing Strong.

Jan 202014

GeographyVCFYou might be a homeschooler if…

Your family quizzes one another on what state their cracker or tortilla chip looks like.

Actually that probably makes us weird among homeschoolers.

We are a family who really likes maps.

Before we were married, my husband and I pored over a map together while waiting to pick up basketball tickets. For fun.

Whether it is a matter of genetics or environment, we have 5 children who are all interested in geography.

Here is Lizzie (now 7) playing with a talking globe.

Almost 12 years ago, my husband came up with a great idea for a family project. It took 8 years, but we visited every county seat in North Carolina! Here’s a video that David made to summarize that project.

I confess, we all weren’t always excited about that project. But it is a fun accomplishment.

Our geography studies are something that happens very naturally. We make sure to have maps of all kinds, for all ages.

Disclosure: None of the Amazon links are affiliate links since Amazon.com will not let NC residents be affiliates due to a disagreement about sales tax. I’m not bitter about it.

We love map placemats like these. (I recommend looking for these locally. I have found them at Wal-mart.) This type of US map puzzle is great for preschool and early elementary age children.

The talking globe was a wonderful learning tool. However, it was fairly expensive and it unfortunately doesn’t work reliably anymore. But, I do consider a traditional globe a homeschool essential. We also have this puzzle globe and this inflatable globe.

There are super geography apps available now. My kids all love Stack the States and Stack the Countries.

Google Maps and Google Earth are amazing tools for geography exploration. William loves to explore both places we have visited and places he’d like to go. David always studies the route before a trip and  uses Google Maps to map cross country courses and running routes.

Another thing that we have done as a family to study geography together is watch educational videos. We enjoy How the States Got Their Shapes. (Viewer discretion advised. There is occasionally some bad language. We also like season 1 better than season 2.) We also liked this History Channel series called The States.

Thanks for visiting for this week’s stop at the Virtual Curriculum Fair. How do you study geography?

Now, let’s see how other homeschoolers are Exploring Our World with Social Studies and Science:  (note links will all be LIVE by noon on 1/20)

A Classical Approach to Ancient World History for All Ages by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds

Supercharged Science’s eScience Program by Kristi K. @ The Potter’s Hand Academy

Social Studies & Science Resource Lists by Chareen @ Every Bed of Roses

History and Science: Learning About the World Around Us by Leah@As We Walk Along the Road

Designing a Unit Study for History, Geography, or Science by Amy @ Eclectic Homeschooling

Virtual Curriculum Fair:  Social Studies by Joelle @ Homeschool for His Glory

Uncle Sam & You- Notgrass by Lynn @ Ladybug Chronicles

My Favorite History Books for Boys by Monique @ Living Life and Learning

Social Studies in Our Homeschool by Laura @ Day by Day in Our World

A Peek into our Homeschool: The Sciences by Brittney @ Mom’s Heart

Our Curriculum Choices 2014 ~ History & Science by Renata @ Sunnyside Farm Fun

We’re having a Social Studies-heavy Year by Debra @ Footprints in the Butter

Our Journey Around the World by Laura @ Four Little Penguins

My Favourite Social Studies Curriculum by Kim @ Homestead Acres

Raising Map Nuts: Learning Geography Naturally by Kristen @ Sunrise to Sunset

The Whos, Wheres and Whys by Michele P @Family, Faith and Fridays

Exploring Our World: Social Studies and Science in our Classical Homeschool by Sharra @ The Homeschool Marm

Time Travel Throughout the World {or History and Geography in Our Homeschool} by HillaryM @ Our Homeschool Studio

Virtual Curriculum Fair Week 3: Exploring Our World – Social Studies and More Science by Stacie @ Super Mommy To The Rescue

Why We’re Ditching Story of the World by Tauna @ Proverbial Homemaker



Jan 132014

How I would teach math differentlyIt’s time for the next topic in the Virtual Curriculum Fair. This week’s topic is Discovering Patterns: Mathematics, Logic, and Science. Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

Mathematical Understanding or Memorization?

I think I have pretty thoroughly shared my thoughts on teaching math. Here’s How I choose Math Curriculum. Basically, I value mathematical understanding over memorization. Except sometimes. I’ve found that one of my sons, William, has to learn math by rote and practice, practice, practice. The understanding is coming slowly with the practice.

Last year I shared The post where I admit I was wrong. In it I share a little more about why mastery math programs were not working with one of my sons.

Where we are now

Here we are a year later and I am still very happy with Christian Light Math for William (5th grade). It drives me crazy that the lessons often take him FOREVER, but he is learning math. With the spiral approach of Christian Light, he gets to practice concepts almost every day. Finally, he’s not forgetting them. He still makes mistakes, but I see definite improvement, and he has shown tremendous improvement with his speed in recalling math facts.

One of the things that is built into Christian Light is a daily speed drill. Each day there are 32 problems to be attempted in 1 minute.  They are either addition, subtraction, mixture of addition and subtraction, multiplication, division, or unit conversions. William has progressed from completing 8-10 of the addition and subtraction facts in 1 minute to being able to complete all 32 problems in the same amount of time! He’s not there with multiplication and division yet, and the mixture of addition and subtraction are slower as well, but I have confidence that he will build his speed with those too.

What I would do differently (and will do differently with my younger children)

And that is what I would do differently with my older children if I were starting over again. I didn’t drill them on their facts because they could do the problems with relative ease. I tried some drill, but I was met with resistance from David. So I gave up backed off. In some ways, I don’t regret it. We really had a lot of trouble getting along, and we were always fighting. So I decided that I wasn’t going to fight over everything. But his lack of speed is evident when doing calculations. Actually he rarely does any calculations on paper anymore. David does math in his head or on a calculator. And he has trouble showing his work. Which is another thing I wish I had done better at requiring.

What I think I should have done instead of drilling with flash cards or plain worksheets is tried simple speed drills like in Christian Light. I don’t know for sure that it would have been more acceptable, but I suspect it would have been because David is very competitive.

Lizzie (2nd grade) is doing very well in Singapore and Miquon like my 2 oldest, but she also sees William doing speed drills. Lately she has started asking for speed drills too. So I’m going to do them with her while I have a willing participant. I think the combination of mathematical understanding and speed will be helpful to her as she goes on to more advanced math.

Visit these blogs to read more about teaching math.

Our {almost} FREE 2nd and 4th Grade Math Program by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds

Supercharged Science’s Mathemagic by Kristi K. @ The Potter’s Hand Academy

Math & Logic Resources by Chareen @ Every Bed of Roses

How We Tackle Middle School Math, Logic & Science by Christy @ Unexpected Homeschool

 A Peek into our Homeschool: Math & Logic by Brittney @ Mom’s Heart

Math and Logic: Patterns and Reasoning by Leah@As We Walk Along the Road

2014 Virtual Curriculum Fair: Discovering Patterns: Mathematics, Logic, and Science by Stacie @Super Mommy To The Rescue

Virtual Curriculum Fair: The World of Patterns and Logic by Joelle

Discovering Science & Math w/ Apologia & Saxon  by LynnP @ Ladybug Chronicles

Make Math Fun: Your Kids Will Thank You by Tauna @ Proverbial Homemaker

Our Curriculum Choices 2014 ~ Mathematics by Renata @ Sunnyside Farm Fun

My Favorite Math For Boys by Monique @ Living Life and Learning

Discovering Patterns: Mathematics, Logic, and Science in our Classical Homeschool by Sharra @ The Homeschool Marm

Homeschool Math Choices for a Future Scientist or Computer Programmer by Amy @ Eclectic Homeschooling

Math–Our Four Letter Word by Nicole @ Schooling in the Sun

If I Knew Then What I Know Now by Kristen @ Sunrise to Sunset

Godly Patterns in Homeschooling by LisaN @ Golden-Grasses

Math and Science anyone? by Michele@ Family, Faith and Fridays

My 7 Favourite Math Resources by Kim @ Homestead Acres

Basic Instincts by Chelli @ The Planted Trees

Getting My Teens Ready for Algebra by Debra @Footprints in the Butter

Math We Love by Laura @ Four Little Penguins

2014 Virtual Curriculum Fair ~ Math & Science by Jennifer @ a glimpse of our life

Our Take on Math, the Elementary Years – Charlotte Mason-style by HillaryM @ Our Homeschool Studio

Tackling Math and Science from Multiple Angles by Laura @ Day by Day in Our World

Jan 052014

Welcome to the Virtual Curriculum Fair!


This week’s topic is Playing with Words.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. I only link to products that I have tried and found to be of high quality. Every child is different, and some of the resources that I have loved using with one child have not worked well for others.

What a massive topic this is. As I have thought about it, words are probably the single-most important foundation of learning.

A preschool child first begins to recognize letters,

which they learn have associated sounds,

which are joined to make words.


Those words are joined together to make sentences. Sentences form paragraphs and so on to stories and books.

So we spend much time learning to decode with phonics. At the same time we learn to build words with our spelling lessons.

We practice reading aloud. We read silently. I read books out loud. We answer questions and draw pictures about what we read.

We add simple grammar early on.

And Latin.

I teach writing very gently at first using copywork and dictation with some narration thrown in.

We participate in a book club which gives the children a chance to write about what they read and present it to others.

As the children grow, we add in more formal grammar, formal writing, Latin, and more Latin.

They read more literature and think about (and sometimes talk and write about) the messages conveyed.

And when they graduate, hopefully our children can read, think about what they read, draw conclusions, make arguments, and present those arguments in a well-structured, grammatically correct, properly spelled and punctuated paper which can be presented in front of others confidently, with good eye contact and voice inflection.

I don’t expect much, do I?

Here is last year’s post on Loving Language Arts. It gives a more detailed history of what resources we have used and for which of our children.

Here are links to all the posts for this week’s session of the Virtual Curriculum Fair.

3 Reasons to Read to Your Teens by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds

Language Arts {Virtual Curriculum Fair} by Chareen @ Every Bed of Roses

A Classical Take on 6th Grade Language Arts by Christy @ Unexpected Homeschool

The Power in a Word by Michele@ Family, Faith and Fridays

The Latin Road to English Grammar Volume 1 by Kristi K. @ The Potter’s Hand Academy

Starting a Foreign Language in Elementary School by Amy @ Eclectic Homeschooling

These are the words we say by Christa @ Fairfield Corner Academy

A Peek into our Homeschool: Language Arts by Brittney @ Mom’s Heart

Our Curriculum Choices 2014 ~ English by Renata~Sunnyside Farm Fun

Virtual Curriculum Fair: A World of Words by Joelle @ Homeschooling for His Glory

Playing w/ Words-Charlotte Mason Style by Lynn P @ Ladybug Chronicles

2014 Virtual Curriculum Fair ~ Playing with Words: the Language Arts by Jennifer @ a glimpse of our life

Our PreK-1st Grade Language Arts Mix by Tauna @ Proverbial Homemaker

Fun (or Not) With Spelling by Nicole @ Schooling in the Sun

Word Nerd Love by Lisa N@Golden Grasses

Our Favourite Resources For Teaching Elementary Language Arts by Kim @ Homestead Acres

Unconventional Reading Lessons While Homeschooling by Lori@My Journeys Through Life

My Favorite Writing Curriculum for our Boys by Monique @Living Life and Learning

Virtual Curriculum Fair: Playing With Words – Language Arts  by Stacie @Super Mommy To The Rescue

Fun With the Language Arts by Mary @ Winecup Christian Homeschool

Our Grammar Path by Laura @ Four Little Penguins

Virtual Curriculum Fair !!! by Jessica @ Modest Mama

Creating a High School English Course (or two) by Debra @Footprints in the Butter

Language Arts in Our Homeschool This Year by Laura @ Day by Day in Our World

Would you like to join? Enter your link below.


Oct 262013

*This post contains affiliate links.

October is almost over! I can not believe it. This 1st quarter + has just flown by. But I’ve made it through the extra busy beginning of the school year. So now it’s time to look at how things have been going and make necessary changes.

1. I am very pleased with the outside classes that David and Anna are taking.

Yes, we homeschool, but I really wanted them to have some classroom experience. These are extremely small classes, but still it’s a different instructor, there are assignments with due dates, and someone else to be accountable to. I have been pleasantly surprised to see how conscientious David is. And he doesn’t wait until the last minute to do his homework! Anna is also conscientious, but that wasn’t a surprise.

2. We had a fantastic Cross Country Season.

Both of our boys and girls homeschool teams won the North Carolina State Homeschool Championships. My kids both finished in the top 5.

David and his teammate in a race to finish in 4th place.

David and his teammate in a race to finish in 4th place.

I’m really proud of their hard work and dedication.


Anna all alone finishing in 3rd.

I  wasn’t the coach, but I did all the administrative stuff for the team. I was happy to help, but I’m also happy to be finished for a while!

3. It has been hard for David to keep up with his film class through Compass Cinema.

He did finally get some time to work on finishing up filming his latest assignment last week. I dropped him off at a park and left him there for 4 hours!

For the next few weeks he has a very special opportunity to help on a a movie that is being filmed locally and is directed by a friend of ours. Flexibility is a wonderful thing about homeschooling. David was able to spend all day on the set Thursday and Friday.

4. The older 4 children entered a variety of projects in our regional fair.

Every year I wonder why we go through the hassle, and then every year when they get ribbons, I’m glad we did. But this year, we’re going to get some of the projects done early. (I can dream, right?)

Lizzie's 2nd place brownies.

Lizzie’s 2nd place brownies.

5. I definitely still think that Christian Light Math is the best choice for William.

However, I have to look at ways to help him finish his lessons faster. Reading Detective has not been what I hoped. I was looking for independent practice, but his comprehension is so poor, that it’s not productive.

6. We’re not impressed with Teaching Textbooks for Pre-Calculus.

It wouldn’t have been my choice based on various reviews that I’ve read on Teaching Textbooks, but since that’s the text the class is using we had no choice. Still happy with the choice to take the class (see #1), but we’re going to be supplementing some with more challenging problems. I know a lot of people love Teaching Textbooks, but I would not recommend it for an advanced math student or one that wants to understand math, rather than learn methods.

7. Anna’s “block scheduling” plan worked great for the first 4 weeks of school.

The next five weeks, she was supposed to replace Science and Analytical Grammar with Geography and Home Economics. Partly due to the ramp up in the busyness factor and partly due to the assignments being more flexible, she didn’t get much done in her 2nd block. She didn’t start on the sewing unit she was planning, not that she didn’t do lots of other things that would qualify as home ec (like her baking and crafts for the fair!) We’re not ready to abandon the plan totally though. Still thinking about how to improve it.

8. I really like the school desk that we bought for William to use in his room.

But, it’s hard for me to make sure he is staying on task up there. I have tried giving him a time to come back and report. That has worked sometimes, but not always. Sometimes he reports and shows me that he hasn’t much to show for his time. I think I’m going to have to go with a more rigid schedule with him where we switch to the next subject whether math is finished or not. That way we’ll actually get to some of his other subjects. Having to do his math in his free time, may encourage him to work harder in his allotted math time. I’m not sure though because he isn’t getting distracted intentionally. We’ll just have to see if facing the natural consequences are an adequate incentive. I am going to have to more seriously research dietary changes for him.

9. I made generic assignment lists for William and Lizzie at the beginning of the year.

I still think they could be helpful, but they need more reminders to use them. I kind of dropped the ball on building that habit. Will give it another shot second quarter. I also need to print copies a week (or more) in advance. I do not do well having to make a copy at the last minute.

10. My crazy Andrew keeps us all laughing.

He is so funny. But he is a distraction. Still working on what to do with him during school time. I also have to get more serious (but not more uptight) about potty training him. Maybe he’ll get it by his 3rd birthday. We’ll see.



Aug 312013

No, I’m not really already counting down to the end of the school year. Our first week actually went fairly well.

The big hits so far are—

David taking Pre-Calculus in an outside class

The block scheduling of science/geography. This first month is a science month. And I actually did read from the Apologia Astronomy book with William and Lizzie.

Jacob’s Geometry for Anna. Not saying that she likes it, but I do!

Prima Latina for Lizzie.

The desk for William in his room.

I am happy to report that even though it was extremely busy, we didn’t run out of clean clothes and we did eat every meal.

David and Anna ran in their first Cross Country meet this year on Wednesday. It was extremely humid so neither had record times, but it was a good solid start for them. There is 1 weekday meet every week from now through mid-October, plus Saturday meets every other Saturday. We’re definitely going to be busy!


Apr 062013

Blogging Through the Alphabet So once again, I missed the 2nd week of Blogging through the Alphabet. But I’m not going to let that stop me. I’m going to bend the rules a bit and do 2 letters in one post so I can catch up.

First, B is for Books.

My husband and I share a common weakness.

It’s books. We’ve always loved to buy books. Before we even thought about homeschooling, we already had quite a collection. And after 10 years of homeschooling….look out!

To further complicate the my book hoarding problem is the fairly large gap from my oldest to youngest child. So I have a hard time parting with anything because Andrew might use it.

I recently painted the boys’ room and in order to do so I unloaded the two 7 ft tall bookcases that are in their room. (OK, so I had David do it. But I stacked the books downstairs.)


This is what’s left. I still haven’t put all the books away. But I have a pretty good reason.

C is for Capital.

We just returned from a trip to the United States capital city, Washington D.C.

We had a nice visit, though it was a little colder than I would have liked.


Here are my boys with the Capitol in the background.

FYI – It’s spelled capitAl when referring to a city. It’s spelled capitOl when referring to the building. Just thought I’d take the opportunity to correct one of my misspelling pet peeves. This error is slightly less annoying than spelling voila –  wallah or worse – viola.