Sep 142010

It’s been busy as usual around here. Yesterday I hardly had time to breathe and didn’t get a chance to even do any school with my younger son. Not that he minded 🙂 We had a 4H meeting, a Cross Country meet, and violin lessons in the afternoon. To top off the already busy day, my older son woke up in the morning with conjunctivitis, so we also had to squeeze in a visit to the eye doctor and the pharmacy.

But today was much better. We were able to complete all of our morning work….get this…in the morning! Then after lunch and afternoon chores, we went to the library. When we got back I started Module 2 in Apologia General Science with my older son. I had not even looked at it and discovered that we had 2 “experiments” to do. Thankfully, the materials were simple to find and the experiments were simple too.

After that, I sent my daughter to look through the Felicity Cookbook and the Felicity Craft Book (Both American Girl books.) We’re studying Colonial times in Tapestry of Grace and she’s going to do some Colonial crafts as part of our study. We’re also planning a Colonial style meal for our Unit Celebration. She got a good start at picking out crafts she wanted to do. Then I had her make a list of the supplies that we needed to purchase. We’ve also got our menu planned for our Unit celebration. My son will be making a video about Colonial times. We’ve yet to narrow down the topic enough. But it warmed my heart to see him reading through Colonial Living by Edwin Tunis looking for ideas for his video topic.

Hopefully I’ll have some more interesting projects to show soon.

Disclosure: This post contains an affiliate link.

Sep 042010

OK, I know it is ridiculous to be so tired so early into the school year, but this week really wore me out! Part of it is because I think I may have overscheduled myself. (OK, I know I have.) You remember that old commercial where the guy is at his desk saying, “I can do that. I can do that. I can do that. How am I going to do this????” That’s a little how I’ve been feeling. Thankfully a few of the things are short term commitments.

The biggest difficulty has been my son and his cross country practices. He has practices on both Mondays and Wednesdays at 7 am. (Not to mention 6 pm on Tuesday, Thursday, and Fridays and 9 am on Saturdays! He doesn’t have to attend all of them, but needs to run if he doesn’t.) Thankfully my husband drops him off in the morning, but I have to get the other kids ready to pick him up by 8! So 2 mornings this week have started by my frantically yanking children out of bed, having them throw clothes on, choke down a bite of breakfast, then run to the van to pick up their brother. Unfortunately, the practices have run late! So then I’ve ended up sitting in the van with tired, hungry, irritable kids waiting…. I did find out that I can be there at 8:15 from  now on. Those 15 minutes may make a big difference in my morning.

The good news is, we started back with Tapestry of Grace Year 2 this week. We’re picking up where we left off, so we’re starting Unit 3 which begins with Jamestown. I’ve been reading the Dialectic history selections (from This Country of Ours) aloud in the mornings for all the kids. Then I’ve been reading the Dialectic literature selection, Almost Home, aloud at lunch. We’re on track with This Country of Ours, but a bit behind on Almost Home. I don’t necessarily plan on doing all the reading aloud for the whole unit. (Actually, I know I can’t possibly do that.) But this time I liked the literature selection for Dialectic level better than the Upper Grammar one, so I decided to have both the older kids do the same literature.

We did one fun (and yummy) project this week.

Cookie dough maps! Because I am a martyr like to cook from scratch, I made homemade sugar cookie dough. (It would work just as well with store bought.) There are maps taped to the table under the parchment paper. Then the kids spread the dough to cover the maps. We decorated with chocolate chips for the mountain ranges and green sugar.

Then we baked the maps on the parchment paper on a cookie sheet. I think this is after we baked it. My daughter added blue sugar for the Great Lakes.

This is my older son’s map after baking. He thought the others used too many chocolate chips (like there could be such a thing!) for the mountains. He also was NOT interested in having his picture made with a cookie!

All the other subjects are going well for the older two children. Teaching my younger son anything is like pulling teeth. I’m really struggling with him. It is very difficult to get his attention.

My older son has almost finished Module 1 of Apologia General Science. I expect an “interesting” discussion when I explain to him that he needs to study for a test! My plan is to also add some science in for the middle kids this week. We’ll see. Thankfully I’ve got Monday off!


Aug 272010

I am happy to report that we made it through our first week back to school. Overall it was a very productive week.

We managed to do Latin, Greek, English, and Math everyday.

My younger 2 kids are very happy with Song School Latin. I thought it would be a hit, and I was right! My older daughter started First Form Latin by Memoria Press. I think this will also be a great fit for her. I got a chuckle when the DVD instructor used the word y’all for the 2nd person plural verb conjugations. I have no problem with that! My older son picked up in Latin Alive 1 where he left off at the end of last year. Thankfully, this chapter was on numbers, so it was something he could do fairly easily while we also did daily review of the rest of the book.

Elementary Greek 3 started with a good review of the alphabet and pronunciation rules. The next few weeks will also be review which we definitely need!

For English my older son is starting Analytical Grammar. While I can’t say that he is loving it, I am very impressed with the program. I think he will love it when he doesn’t have to do it everyday! My daughter is continuing with Rod & Staff. There were a few tears shed with the first writing assignment. But I didn’t give in, and she did the assignment. I haven’t started my younger son on English yet. I’ll probably work through First Language Lessons with him this year, but we’re focusing on reading, phonics, handwriting, and spelling first.

Math is going great for my older son. He loves Life of Fred. This year he’s doing Algebra. I purchased the Home Companion as well as the text, and it is fantastic! It has extra problems and has scheduled out the reading for me. My daughter is continuing with Singapore 4B. I had hoped to finish it over the summer, but well…not as much school got accomplished over the summer as I had hoped. (i.e. none) But that’s ok. Younger son is starting Math Mammoth 2A. He is a very difficult child to teach. I know he knows certain things, but it’s so difficult to get him to answer a simple question at times. Working with him has been my biggest struggle this week.

I also started Apologia General Science with my older son. So far that is going well. I need to do some more work with scheduling that. I am reading along with him, which I’d rather not do, but my husband and I both agree that he will learn the material better this way. I’m just struggling on balancing the needs of everyone. What else is new?

Next week we add in Tapestry of Grace Year 2 Unit 3. Also, my older daughter is going to be doing some activities with my younger daughter. Speaking of my younger daughter, she has been very good at entertaining herself this week.

Plus, she’s always good for some comic relief!

Finally, I am absolutely LOVING the library cart I won from Guidecraft and Homeschool Creations! It’s great to have everything in the dining room, but still have the ability to easily move it out when I want to.

So how was your week?

Aug 192010

This is my son’s latest video. It is a card trick that he figured out himself. What I think is even more amazing is that he came to me with the algebraic formulas he had figured out because he wanted to show why it worked! I had to show him how to solve the equations, because he hasn’t actually had algebra yet. I am definitely looking forward to algebra with him. (Yes, I’m serious. I’m a math geek!)

I love it when I can teach him things without calling it school!

Jun 172010

When I saw that this week The Homeschool Village was asking “What book has encouraged/supported you in your homeschooling adventure??”, the book that immediately came to mind was The Well-Trained Mind.(Yes, I see the pun and decided to keep it.)

When I first started researching homeschooling, I found a curriculum that I fell in love with. It focused on reading wonderful books, and that greatly appealed to me. I joined a Yahoo group for preschoolers and started using the preschool curriculum. But it was on that group that I first heard of The Well Trained Mind. Intrigued by the title, I started reading reviews. Pretty soon I realized that I was going to have to read the book, so I bought it. (You really don’t have to twist my arm too much to buy a book.) I read the book from cover to cover. My husband read the book from cover to cover. After reading it, we both knew that this was the kind of education we had missed. It was the kind of education we would like for our children.

So our long-term plans shifted. We began to think in terms of the stages of learning. We started researching Latin curricula. We decided to study history chronologically.

This all happened over 7 years ago. Have we followed The Well-Trained Mind completely? No. If Susan Wise Bauer were to visit my home, would she recognize any of her ideas here? Probably not. (Though she would find all 4 volumes of Story of the World and First Language Lessons!) I’ve done more research. I’ve branched out and found some different ways of doing some things. I haven’t emphasized some of the things that I should have to be truly “classical”.  Even so, the single most influential homeschooling book for our home has been The Well-Trained Mind. As a matter of fact, I want to purchase the 3rd edition and reread it now that I have a children in the logic stage. I could use the inspiration!

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you buy something, it will bring me closer to purchasing a new copy of The Well-Trained Mind.

Jun 042010

Can you tell I’m excited? It has been quite a year for us, and honestly I am ready for a break!

There were many things that I think went well this year, and many that went not so well. Maybe abysmal is a good description. This was my second year on the Homeschool Crew, and while I really loved it and don’t regret my time spent there at all, I can’t deny that it did influence how much of “my plan” we got done.

The good–

My older children did a great job with completing their skill-based, independent subjects this year. My son (12) worked through 3 Life of Fred math books (Fractions, Decimals and Percents, and Pre-Algebra with Biology). He did 2 Editor in Chief workbooks and a large portion of Our Mother Tongue. We finished Elementary Greek Level 2. That was a subject we got half-way through last year. This year we didn’t start it until after Christmas, but still worked our way through the book.

My daughter (10) completed Rod and Staff English 5 and Latina Christiana I. In Math she finished Singapore 3B, 4A, and is still working on 4B.

My younger guy (8), who was in the 2nd grade according to his age, made great strides in his reading, writing, and math this year. He went from struggling with c-v-c words at the beginning of the year to being confident with those and has learned lots more phonics too. He finished Explode the Code books 2 and 3 and is starting on 4. He also completed All About Spelling Level 1. He’s working slowly through Math Mammoth 1B, but will finish this summer.

The bad–

My son (12) got through Unit 5 of Latin Alive Book 1. OK, that’s not bad, but I really don’t believe he knows the material well enough to move forward. Which leaves me a quandry. I guess we’ll start the year with “review” and have him practice vocabulary over the summer on It’s not really the vocabulary that’s the problem, it’s the endings that are more troublesome though. He also was working through Introductory Logic. Good program, but he was supposed to be doing it with my husband, and unfortunately that didn’t happen often enough.

My daughter (10) did very little spelling. She likes Spelling Power. I personally think she needs something different, but maybe consistency in the future will show some improvement. Her problem is that she can learn the words in spelling, but makes really strange errors in her writing.

Which, we really didn’t do enough of for anyone. I was going to do the writing assignments in Tapestry of Grace, but…ahem…Tapestry of Grace belongs in the bad category for us. Not because the curriculum is bad (I still love it), but because I was very bad at implementing it. Things did improve after Christmas, but we’re going to be doing some history reading for a few weeks to finish up Unit 2 (of 4) for Year 2.

The ugly–

Science. Simply put, we didn’t do science. We completed a grand total of about 3 chapters in Apologia Zoology 1 and Zoology 3. The really pathetic thing is my husband is a science teacher and I’m an engineer! There is no good reason for us to not do science. Zero. Zilch. Nada. Just pure overscheduling.

What am I doing differently next year?

I’m not totally sure. One big change is that I’m not going to be on the Crew. I was planning on it until the beginning of this week. But I decided (with some strong encouragement from my husband) that I needed to put more focus on our chosen studies. Plus my job with HSB takes time, enough time that I don’t have the extra to devote to Crew reviewing.

My school plans for next year will be taking shape over the summer. I know what materials we’re going to use, I just need to come up with a solid plan for implementing them.


May 262010

Last fall when I was doing my Christmas shopping (on-line, of course), I found a sale on a set of 4 historical fiction books. Although I was not familiar with the author, I decided to purchase them for my almost 10 year old daughter because she is crazy about historical fiction, especially books about girls and American history. Those books were the first 4 books in the Andrea Carter series by Susan K. Marlow.

You can imagine my delight when I discovered that Kregel Publications was sending me the 5th book in the series to review. My daughter really likes the books, but she didn’t want to read this one yet because she hasn’t finished the first 4 books. (She tends to read several different books at once, making it take her a while to finish any of them.) So I was introduced to Andrea in The Trouble with Treasure.

Andi is an almost 13 year old tomboy. She lives on a large cattle ranch near Fresno, California in the 1880’s. It’s an exciting time to live in California, and Andrea likes nothing more than being outdoors and riding her horse Taffy. Andrea’s friend Jenny is visiting for several weeks, and they are both excited about their upcoming trip to a logging camp with her older brother Mitch.

Unfortunately they ran into trouble on the trail. First a rattlesnake delayed their progress, and later they met up with some very frightening men. Andi is required to use strength and determination that she didn’t know she had.

I found Andi to be a likable girl. She honored her mother and sought to do what was right. But she did that without the book seeming preachy. The story was an exciting adventure with a little bit of mystery thrown in. The book wasn’t overwhelmingly Christian, but there were instances of prayer. Although not overly graphic, there were some tense portions of the book involving guns in which people were fatally wounded. I didn’t find the content objectionable, but some families might.



Disclosure: This product was provided to our family for free as members of the 2009-2010 Old Schoolhouse Magazine Homeschool Crew. Reviews and opinions expressed in this blog are our own.

May 032010

Recently I posted a list of which of 100 Top Children’s Novels I had read. It had a great response, so when I saw a list of 100 Picture Books Everyone Should Know posted by the New York Public Library, I knew I was going to have to see how many of these I’d read. I have marked the ones I’ve read to at least one of my children in bold.

  1. ABUELA  by Arthur Dorros,
  4. ANDY AND THE LION  by James Daugherty
  5. BARK, GEORGE by Jules Feiffer
  6. THE BOSSY GALLITO: A TRADITIONAL CUBAN FOLK TALE retold by Lucia M.Gonzalez; illustrated by Lulu Delacre
  7. BREAD AND JAM FOR FRANCES by Russell Hoban; illustrated by Lillian Hoban
  8. BROWN BEAR, BROWN BEAR, WHAT DO YOU SEE? by Bill Martin, Jr.; illustrated by Eric Carle
  9. BRUNO MUNARI’S ABC by Bruno Munari
  10. BUZ by Richard Egielski
  12. THE CARROT SEED by Ruth Krauss; illustrated by Crockett Johnson
  13. A CHAIR FOR MY MOTHER by Vera B. Williams
  14. CHICKA CHICKA BOOM BOOM by Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambault; illustrated by Lois Ehlert
  15. CLICK, CLACK, MOO : COWS THAT TYPE / by Doreen Cronin
  16. COME ALONG, DAISY! by Jane Simmons
  17. CORDUROY by Don Freeman
  18. CURIOUS GEORGE by H. A. Rey
  19. DINOSAUR ROAR! by Paul Stickland and Henrietta
  21. DUCK ON A BIKE by David Shannon
  22. FIRE TRUCK  by Peter Sís
  23. FREIGHT TRAIN by Donald Crews
  24. FROGGY GETS DRESSED by Jonathan London
  25. THE GARDENER by Sarah Stewart
  26. GEORGE AND MARTHA by James Marshall
  27. GO AWAY, BIG GREEN MONSTER! by Ed Emberley
  28. GOIN’ SOMEPLACE SPECIAL by Patricia McKissack
  29. GOOD NIGHT, GORILLA by Peggy Rathmann
  30. GOODNIGHT MOON by Margaret W. Brown; illustrated by Clement Hurd
  31. GOSSIE  by Dunrea Olivier
  33. HAROLD AND THE PURPLE CRAYON by Crockett Johnson
  34. HARRY THE DIRTY DOG by Gene Zion ; illustrated by Margaret Graham
  35. HENRY HIKES TO FITCHBURG by D. B. (Donald B.) Johnson
  38. I KISSED THE BABY! by Mary Murphy
  39. IF YOU GIVE A MOUSE A COOKIE by Laura J. Numeroff
  40. IT COULD ALWAYS BE WORSE: A YIDDISH FOLKTALE retold and illustrated by Margot Zemach
  41. JOHN HENRY by Julius Lester; illustrated by Jerry Pinkney
  42. JULIUS by Angela Johnson ; illustrated by Dav Pilkey
  43. KITTEN’S FIRST FULL MOON by Kevin Henkes
  45. THE LINE-UP BOOK by Russo Marisabina
  46. THE LITTLE RED HEN: AN OLD STORY by Margot Zemach
  48. LYLE, LYLE, CROCODILE by Bernard Waber
  49. MABELA THE CLEVER by Margaret Read MacDonald
  50. MACHINES AT WORK by Byron Barton
  51. MADELINE by Ludwig Bemelmans
  52. MAISY GOES SWIMMING by Lucy Cousins
  53. MAKE WAY FOR DUCKLINGS by Robert McCloskey
  54. MAMA CAT HAS THREE KITTENS by Denise Fleming
  56. MARTHA SPEAKS by Susan Meddaugh
  58. MILLIONS OF CATS by Wanda Gág
  59. MISS NELSON IS MISSING! by Harry Allard and James Marshall
  60. MR. GUMPY’S OUTING by John Birmingham
  61. MUFARO’S BEAUTIFUL DAUGHTERS: AN AFRICAN TALE retold and illustrated by John Steptoe
  62. MUNCHA! MUNCHA! MUNCHA! by Candace Fleming
  63. MY FRIEND RABBIT by Eric Rohmann
  64. THE NAPPING HOUSE by Audrey Wood
  65. NO, DAVID! by David Shannon
  66. OFF TO SCHOOL, BABY DUCK! by Amy Hest
  67. OLD BLACK FLY by Jim Aylesworth
  68. OLIVIA by Ian Falconer
  69. OWEN by Kevin Henkes
  71. PIERRE: A CAUTIONARY TALE by Maurice Sendak
  72. THE POLAR EXPRESS by Chris Van Allsburg
  73. PUSS IN BOOTS by Charles Perrault
  75. ROUND TRIP by Ann Jonas
  76. RUMPELSTILTSKIN by Paul O. Zelinsky
  77. THE SNOWY DAY by Ezra Jack Keats
  79. THE STORY OF FERDINAND by Munro Leaf
  80. THE STRAY DOG Marc, Simont
  81. STREGA NONA by Tomie De Paola
  82. SWIMMY by Leo Lionni
  84. THE TALE OF PETER RABBIT by Beatrix Potter
  85. TAR BEACH by Faith Ringgold
  86. TEN, NINE, EIGHT by Molly Bang
  88. THE THREE BEARS by Paul Galdone
  89. TRASHY TOWN by Andrea Griffing Zimmerman
  91. TUESDAY by David Wiesner
  92. UPTOWN by Collier Bryan
  94. THE WHEELS ON THE BUS adapted and illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky
  95. WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE by Maurice Sendak
  96. WHERE’S SPOT? by Eric Hill
  97. WHISTLE FOR WILLIE by Ezra Jack Keats
  98. THE WOLF’S CHICKEN STEW by Keiko Kasza
  99. YOKO by Rosemary Wells
  100. ZOMO THE RABBIT: A TRICKSTER TALE FROM WEST AFRICA retold and illustrated by Gerald McDermott

I count 41 of the top 100. There are a few I’m not counting that I know we’ve read some version of, like Mother Goose, but I’m not sure if it’s the one listed. It looks like I’ve got a lot more to go. Lucky for me, I’ve still got a little girl who loves a good picture book. (I’ve also got some older kids who pretend that they aren’t listening!)

If you like book lists, my favorite list is the 1000 Good Books List.

So, how many have you read?
Apr 272010

One of the advantages to homeschooling is you can make your own schedule.

You don’t have to go on vacation in the middle of the summer. You can go when it’s less crowded and the rates are lower.

If the summer is too hot to be outside, you can have school then and allow more time off in the spring and fall when the weather is more pleasant.

You can take shorter breaks throughout the year and not have the major adjustment that comes with school starting back, or have any problems with boredom over breaks.

Those are all great reasons to try homeschooling in the summer.

But we don’t.


Because my husband is a school teacher.

Apr 212010

Last week was standardized testing in our home. The next day I accidentally discovered something that has been very helpful to my younger son (8 years old) who has difficulty concentrating on his assignments.

I had left the stopwatch sitting on the table, and my son picked it up while he was doing his math. He said “Go!’ pressed the start button and proceeded to do the 2 math problems that were in the first box. (He uses Math Mammoth and there are lots of boxes around groups of problems.) When he finished, he said “Stop!” and stopped the time. He sat there for a second, said “Go!” and repeated the process.

I stood there with my mouth hanging open. He was able to complete his math in record time and he only missed 1!

Letting him use the stopwatch definitely Works for Me!