Tuesday, May 28, 2013

High school: I think I can... I think I can...

***Mid-year assessment notes added January 2014***

*Edited in August to reflect what we actually started with.*

  Transcripts. Different types of grading. Credits. What is a credit. Homemade courses equaling a fair credit. Balancing Justice's interests with graduation requirements. State graduation requirements versus incoming college freshman requirements. Testing. Grades that really mean something. Boy without an easily apparent direction. AAAAAaaaaaaaa!!

   This is not a complete list of the curricula Justice will use for fall. I can't post that yet. The decisions are still being researched and made. Clearly those how to homeschool highschool books should come with a chocolate bar and coffee beans. For awhile it looked like he certainly wouldn't be staying home, and I stopped researching his books. Now I feel behind. Gah.

   English 1: Literature - Literary Lessons from the Lord of the Rings for the literature, beta testing a LOTR guide made by a homeschool mom, lecture series from Peter Kreeft, and another from Joseph Pearce
                    Composition - Sentence Composing for High School by Killgallon, Stewart English 3 (when he finishes 2), Elements of Style, and weekly writing projects

   Math: Jacob's Elementary Algebra, but I'm keeping my eye on Math-U-See for him

   Science: Exploring Creation with Biology as the main course, using the notebook journal pages from Knowledge Box Central (NOT the "lapbook" pages) extra reading: Scientists of Faith, Reasonable Faith: The Scientific Case for Christianity

    History: Homemade. Allegedly. Working on it. Here's the current plan. Very subject to change.
  • Human Odyssey by Spielvogel, just the ancient section
  • Gilgamesh, Iliad, Odyssey, Aeneid, Plato's Republic, Plutarch's Lives, Beowulf (medieval, but gets covered in the Lord of the Rings based literature), Genesis, Exodus,  I/II Samuel, I/II Kings
  • a couple Hinges of History books: The Gift of the Jews, Desire of the Everlasting Hills, and Why the Greeks Matter
  • writing assignments, research projects
  • a couple lecture series from Great Courses (leaning toward The Odyssey and Classical Mythology)
  • portions of Omnibus I
   Bible: Up. in. the. air. We were going to tie it to his ancient history, but he already knows those stories so well.  I think instead we'll be going with books like The Screwtape Letters, Mere Christianity, Chosen by God (Sproul), and... a Kreeft book maybe? Reading small bites daily, with constant conversation along the way. Definitely Kreeft's You Can Understand the Bible for personal reading.

   Latin: Nope. He dropped it.

   Greek: Greek Code Cracker (lasted less than two weeks), a vintage text, then An Introduction to Attic Greek

   Logic/Rhetoric: A Rulebook for Arguments, Everything's an Argument, and...

   Extra: scouts, doo-wop/WWII era dance

***Mid-year assessment notes***

  • English 1 - Literature has been great. No complaints. Composition crashed and burned. He hasn't meshed well with a writing curriculum in a couple/few years. He is constantly writing stories in his free time though. I made a deal with him. If he'll pick just one of those stories for us to use as a writing exercise, taking it piece by piece and improving it wherever possible. Or I'll make yet another attempt at selecting a writing curriculum for him.
  • Jacobs Elementary Algebra - Justice has been plodding through this at his own pace, and feels fairly good about it. I am not convinced he's learning it deeply enough for it to stick. He will most likely switch to Math-U-See's older combined algebra 1/geometry set.
  • Exploring Creation with Biology - Total flop. Half a school year of trudging is enough. I'll use the table of contents to try putting enough biology together to save his biology credit and make sure he actually learns something.
  • Homemade history course - We're still making it up as we go along, using various resources. Justice has enjoyed it immensely.
  • Bible turned into more reading to flesh out what our pastor was working on at church.
  • Greek - Ouch. He loves the idea of Greek and the derivatives, but he simply didn't put in the work required to really get this off the ground. If he'll work at it for the rest of the year it can be a half credit elective. Either way, he needs to pick a language he can haul through for 10th grade.
  • Argument books - We never got to them. Summer time.
  • Mythology elective - He's loved this. The boy is a walking mythology encyclopedia and I can't keep up with him.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day weekend

   We spent most of the weekend camping up in the pine trees with our American Heritage Girls troop, a two hour drive from our patch of saguaros. About half of our girls had never been on this type of a camping trip, and we were starting from the beginning with outdoor skills. The whole troop did awesome!

Joy and her roasting stick
Justice sharpening his pocketknife
Grace working on a roasting stick
Faith, Grace, Joy, Honor
Honor testing the girls' knot skills

    Four big mule deer walked right through our campsite the first night, and the next day the kids used a scope to see baby bald eagles in their nest.
The campground was gorgeous

   After delivering each girl back to her parent we came home and ran all eight of us through the shower or bath. Then it was off to a dance show at an American Legion a couple towns over. It was a great show! The audience was really engaged and participating. Those are the fun ones. =)
Joy is on the third microphone from the right, and
Faith and Grace are between Joy and the next singer.

Justice is in the middle in a white shirt.
"Chantilly lace and a pretty face..."

    Then we came home, had a light dinner (the American Legion fed us too), and went to bed early. Valor fell asleep in the living room before we could put him to bed, still holding a bag of chips.

    Monday morning came and only little Valor slept in. The rest were up and running right on schedule. After everyone was fed and dressed I packed them up and headed to the cemetery. Last year we helped put the small flags above each soldier's headstone. This year we were camping when that was done. To the cemetery we went anyway. We slowly walked around the entire cemetery, reading names, military branches, and talking about what those men and women did for us. As we walked we fixed the flags that had fallen down, put flowers back in their pots, picked up trash, and hopefully absorbed some of the real reason for Memorial Day.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Weekly Update: 5-24-13

     We only did school for three days this week, but we've read gobs.

   Honor and Grace learned more about the circulatory system.

The big kids used YourTeacher math.

   I read aloud until I thought I'd surely lose my voice. (That pile is two books short of having the entire day's read alouds.)


   The Cub Scouts had a Raingutter Regatta. The boys huffed and puffed, and the parents nearly fell over laughing. It was more entertaining to watch the parents.

(Justice in tan/olive uniform holding Valor)

    Half Price Books had 20% off storewide. Couldn't miss that.

     The highlight of our week?? Cloverton! 
We were able to help with some set-up, hear them warm-up, 
and met them after the concert. The kids were over the moon!

And the end is the beginning.....

Faith getting Lance's autograph
Take me into the beautiful, won't you take me back again...

Joy talking to Lance and Lane
Grace talking to the guys. When she asked I suggested she could tell them she had sang on the same stage they used. She proudly told them she'd sang Amazing Grace on that stage, all by herself, and there were *way* more people in the audience watching her. Whoever claimed younger kids in big families lack confidence never met mine...

Monday, May 20, 2013

Eighth Grade in '13-'14: Joy

***Mid-year assessment notes added January 2014***

    Joy is going to be an eighth grader this fall. That sprang up on me. She is excited and looking forward to it. I'm reminding myself to enjoy this last year of being footloose with her before high school transcripts and requirements kick-in. Here's the curricula she'll use.

  • Grammar - Rod and Staff's English 8
  • Vocabulary - attached to literature
  • Composition - Jump In from Apologia - We were headed to Lost Tools of Writing, with DVD instructions that blended into writing they were already doing in other subjects. She really wanted something she could just open and do what's next, and something that she could do mostly independently. That led us to comparing Kilgallon's middle school books and Jump In. She liked Jump In. 
  • Literature - homemade study based on The Annotated Hobbit - I already invented this wheel for Justice this year, so I'll just have to tweak it to suit Joy. (*SO* thankful I saved all those extra readings and took notes on nearly everything Justice and I did. That Hobbit binder is bursting at the seams.) This will include whole works such as Wind in the Willows, Princess and the Goblin, parts of Silmarillion, Walking with Bilbo, Tolkien: Man and Myth A Literary Life, Bilbo's Journey, On the Shoulders of Hobbits, Dangerous Journey, and many more. Lectures from Mythgard Institute. Literary elements. Writing assignments. Drawing.
  • Latin - continue with Latin Alive at her own pace
  • Math - Algebra 1 by Foerster and then Geometry, by .......somebody (I should research that now aye?)
  • Science - .5 credit architecture with Honor (I'll add extra reading for her), and .5 credit astronomy, using Astronomy in the 21st Century, an introductory, one semester college text, as her spine 
  • History - Beautiful Feet's Ancient History Through Literature for high school - She'd already read several of the grades 5-8 selections, and none of the 9-12 books looked out of her grasp. We bought all the 9-12 books and added a couple of the 5-8 books that were architecture based (Pyramid, Grand Constructions)
  • Poetry - second half of Art of Poetry
  • Bible - To start with she's going through Training Hearts Teaching Minds on her own, covering a catechism question in two days, and she's reading a couple chapters of the Old Testament daily
***Mid-year assessment notes***
  • Rod and Staff English - *She* is feeling done with grammar as a subject. We went through the table of contents together, and I pointed out which chapters I considered vital and why. The rest can be grazed or skipped. She is much more content with this.
  • Jump In! writing - Fabulous fit. She loves it! I'm more than happy with the progress I've seen. 
  • Annotated Hobbit study - I was almost expecting a bad review here, but she is very happy with the course content. She would like a better schedule made for it. I can do that. Some of it was thrown together as Justice and I made this course and it shows.
  • Latin Alive - Another fabulous fit. She loves the dvd instruction and gets good grades. 
  • Foerster algebra 1 - Yes, another fabulous fit. She is nearly completely independent in this course, and her lowest grade on a review so far has been an 86%.
  • homemade architecture course - She has had a ton of fun with this, and absorbed gobs of physics. She and Honor really enjoy doing this together. Win-win!
  • Astronomy in the 21st Century - She's enjoyed this, but had some yawning comments at assessment time. The chapter she was in didn't interest her. We went through the table of contents and wiped out chapters she didn't have interest in and I didn't consider vital. That wiped out about half of what's left. Considering this is an introductory college text and she's an 8th grader working on a half credit, this sounds about right.
  • Ancient History Through Literature - She loves all the reading, likes the simplicity of the guide book, but she's very sure she doesn't want to stay with Beautiful Feet for next year. Okay. That works.
  • Art of Poetry - pushed to summer
  • Bible - She dropped the catechism book and increased her daily reading.

Weekly Update: 5-17-13

Mother's Day loot

    School stuff. We're gravitating to summer mode. Hitting some subjects hard so we can be done with them. Steadily plugging along in others.


    I recently added On the Shoulders of Hobbits to his Hobbit study. This book is becoming one of those books to him. You know the kind. They become a part of you. He loves every part of this Hobbit study. We've filled the binder so full it's bursting.
    In math he's enjoying the YourTeacher math freebie from Homeschool Buyer's Coop. I'm inclined to just let him do that for the summer. I think he's up to prealgebra lesson 40 now.
    His vocab book feels like busywork anymore. I don't think we'll finish it.


    We looked at how much was left in Where the Brook and River Meet and decided to just focus on the literature and Bible parts of it. Nearly all the bigger projects have also come up in AHG badges anyway. (We were already skipping most of the writing, all of the grammar, and random other pieces.)
     She's also enjoying YourTeacher math. She's roughly halfway done with their prealgebra. I had her start at the beginning of it, but she's pretested out of the majority of the lessons. It's been a good review for her.
     Her grammar and spelling books are nearly done. Those subjects will get dropped until fall when they're finished.

Raingutter Regatta track for Cubbies in our minivan



    He's feeling the computer math itch, but a day of Khan Academy a week seems to be all he wants. He's doing great in his Horizons book though. A few stacks of really big problems overwhelmed him a bit this week, but transferring just those big problems to a quad notebook solved that problem.
    In literature he's reading The Railway Children by Nesbit. His grammar and spelling aren't quite as far as Joy's, but I think he can test out of a fair chunk of it and finish around the same time.
He's still reading through science books and materials faster than I can buy them.


    She's getting a little bored in math again. Time to speed it up and move her along. If the challenge level doesn't keep steady pressure she gets antsy. I already have her next book purchased, and she'll start that if she finishes the current one.
    The still fairly new to her English book doesn't stand a chance. She's jumping ahead in spelling. For writing she's been doing studied dictation lately. I'm mostly giving her classic children's poetry: Robert Louis Stevenson, Christina Rosetti, and such. Being a poetry lover this has tickled her. I started out picking very small pieces, which she flew through with perfect scores.


    Faith is still plugging along with her Writing Road to Reading phonics cards. That little bit of card review each day really does help her reading. When she comes across a word like "want" I can say, "That one uses the third sound of A," and she knows exactly how to sound it out. She's pretty much done with Veritas Press K level literature.
    In math she's steadily moving forward. Her Life of Fred Apples book only has about a week left. She ♥ Fred.
Valor's preferred way to watch a dance show


    I was asked what he does during lessons this week. Mostly? He eats. Like a hobbit. Breakfast. Second breakfast. Elevensies. Brunch. Luncheon. There's a reason he wears size 4t clothes at 2. He's talking up a storm lately. Other people are starting to understand him more and more.


    The Middle Crew's read aloud history might as well be considered family wide history. The big kids' pencils stop moving when I start reading them, and they can tell me tiny details from the stories.

    I did a "Writing Plunge" with the oldest four, inspired by a writing curriculum's teacher manual I ordered to examine in my hands (Jump In). They all sat down at the table with just a pencil and a piece of paper. When I said writing the boys gave me a look. When I said 15 minutes tops, no editing and no final drafts, they relaxed. "Anyone can write for THAT much time." Then I read the first plunge to them. "You have just created a new dessert. Name it and write a short description of it for the menu." We talked a bit about what that meant, checked the clock, and they wrote for fifteen minutes. (The book suggested ten, but it wasn't written with a 2nd and 4th grade sibling in mind.) After the time was up they shared their papers aloud. Each one of them thoroughly enjoyed the activity, and it was the first thing they told Dad about when he got home.
  • Grace: Ice Cream Cake
  • Honor: Chocolate Pizza
  • Joy: Chocolate Cup with the best mint-vanilla-cherry Cuffins
  • Justice: Snickers Cake



    AHG is growing. I started getting one larger activity in a month, trying to design them so every person who attends earns a patch. Last month we visited an arboretum. This month we're going camping. Next month the Pioneers will host a daddy-daughter dance.

SilverDad's vehicle after scouts. Rut roh...
    Cub Scouts is running so well. It's awesome. We have a fabulous team. Honor and his fellow Webelos have been working on NOVA awards, and recently we added the Webelos Fitness work back into our rotation. A new boy needs it for his Webelos rank, so we're all backing up to do it with him. The review will be good for the more experienced scouts.

    Boy Scouts is having some burps. SilverDad is enjoying his new role as Scoutmaster. The changes at the top didn't sit well with all the boys, but they're adjusting.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Fifth Grade in '13-'14: Honor

***Mid-year assessment notes added January 2014***

    Fifth grade seems awfully big. Honor is chomping at the bit to get into his new materials as they come through the door. He's going to have a great year! Here's his curricula plan.

  • Grammar - Rod and Staff English 5
  • Spelling - Rod and Staff's Spelling by Sound and Structure 5
  • Composition - Wordsmith Apprentice - I hemmed and hawed about this. He really enjoyed the samples. We'll do a combo of homemade and WA. Maybe some Killgallon books later in the year.
  •  Literature - For Narnia!!! Honor will be combined with Grace in Further Up and Further In from Cadron Creek. The Chronicles of Narnia will be the spine for their literature study throughout the year. I can't wait! He will do some of the more advanced literature study and readings on Lewis; we'll pick and choose as we go. More Narnia details in this post.
  • Language - Latin for Children, at his own speed
  • Math - Horizons 5b, and into 6, Life of Fred prealgebra, Challenge Math (only the first one gets done daily, the others are supplementary extras to be done in little bites, I don't schedule them)
  • Logic - Mind Benders, Word Benders, Visual Mind Benders, Logic Liftoff, Orbiting with Logic, random puzzles (He's already put a dent into working through these)
  • History - Old Testament and Ancient Egypt from Veritas Press - He'll be combined with Grace and be using the same booklist.
  • Science - Architecture - Homemade architecture study, based on the Building Big! book and DVDs by David Macaulay. We'll cover bridges, domes, skyscrapers, dams and tunnels, learning about famous structures around the world and why they work. Of course that means we'll have to build our own structures and test our own hypotheses! I've added project books from Kaleidoscope Kids, National Geographic and NOVA DVDs, books on structures around the world, a book on drawing various buildings, some other David Macaulay book/DVD combos (Cathedral, Pyramid, etc), random construction kits, Citiblocs, and anything else I could find to flesh this out for him. When this is over we'll get into some technical drawing and introductory drafting
  • Bible - The Family Guide to Narnia by Ditchfield, Training Hearts Teaching Minds by Starr Meade, and he reads a chapter of his NIV daily
  • Geography - Mingled with architecture for first semester, Beautiful Feet's Geography Through Literature guide for second semester (We won't push to finish this in one semester. What we don't finish can be done in the summer or next school year.)
  • Extra - his final year as a Cub Scout, promoting to Boy Scouts with his Arrow of Light in February, and doo-wop/WWII era dance
***Mid-year assessment***
  • Rod and Staff English - He doesn't love or dislike this book, and it gets the job done. No complaints.
  • Rod and Staff Spelling - No complaints. This is the only subject he lags a little behind in, but he makes steady progress.
  • Wordsmith Apprentice - Honor says, "Awesome!" This is a fabulous fit for him and I couldn't be happier with it.
  • Narnia literature - Awesome! No complaints. We've slacked on the reading lately, and worked out a plan to get it back on track.
  • Latin for Children - Steady Progress. No complaints. Since it's not really a just do what's next book he'd like a clearer schedule. I can do that. 
  • Horizons math - Going strong. No complaints. He's happy and thriving.
  • Old Testament Ancient Egypt - same notes as Grace. We blazed through the Bible portions he already knew so well, and he'll start New Testament Greece and Rome next week.
  • Homemade architecture course - The highlight of his year! He gets sooo excited to construct a truss bridge and explain how different frames work in skyscrapers. WIN.
  • Bible has gone well. No problems or complaints.
  • Geography fell by the wayside. Summer or next year.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Weekly Update: 5-10-13



   No school work accomplished. Zip, zilch, nada. It was one of those days where the little ones were getting along and playing so. well. that it seemed like a crime to interrupt them. The big two had new books to read and were sitting there with their noses firmly planted for hours on end.



   Back to the grindstone. Or so I thought. The baby woke up with a low-grade fever and couldn't keep his cookies down. Now it's keep one eye on the baby dosing in front of a Thomas the Tank Engine movie and do some intentional reading with the rest sort of day.  DH and I will have to tag-team our way through scouts tonight.




    When I came in from my walk this morning, the pukey boy from yesterday was literally running through the house chasing big brother, while shouting "Ptoo! Ptoo! Ptoo!" and waving a squirting toy at him. Yep, he's feeling better.

    I've given up trying to reclaim this week, but we must get some school done....

See the first saguaro blossom??
  • Justice: test drive of the YourTeacher summer math freebie, assigned literature
  • Joy: longer grammar lesson, read from A Little History of the World (Gombrich) and Alice in Wonderland
  • Honor: part of a meaty math lesson, Railway Children (Nesbit)
  • Grace: math lesson, James and the Giant Peach 
  • Faith: math lesson 
  • The younger ones listened to Freedom Train: The Story of Harriet Tubman and Little House in the Big Woods. We were going to start Heidi too, but ran out of time. 
     We spent the rest of the afternoon at the playground with a local homeschooling family. There-- that's better! Youth group and kids church that evening. Lovely day.


    Still not going to get a whole day done, but I'm okay with that.
  • Justice: Twice Freed, Uncle Tom's Cabin, YourTeacher math, Tolkien: Man and Myth A Literary Life,On the Shoulders of Hobbits, The Annotated Hobbit, Beowulf refresher
  • Joy: YourTeacher math, some reading and research for Where the Brook and River Meet, more YourTeacher math (She asked if she could!?)
  • Honor: several pages in Logic Liftoff, spelling lesson, Railway Children, Vos Children's Bible
  • Grace: spelling quiz, James and the Giant Peach, Vos Children's Bible
  • Faith: read the whole Morris the Moose aloud in one sitting, math lesson
  • Altogether we had a good memory time. I'm glad to see those getting more regular. I've missed them.

     Then I made sandwiches, found unopened water bottles, and packed up the little crew to take the big ones down to a bus waiting for them at church. As I typed this portion they were on their way to their second ever MLB game, and they were in Chase Stadium when this picture was taken. See two homeschooling punks in bright orange tee shirts? Yeah, me neither. They watched the Diamondbacks stomp the Phillies and had a fabulous time.

      Honor and Grace want to play on Khan Academy in a little while, since big sis and brub got to do math on the computer today. (They must sense mom drifting into summer mode.)  Then I'll read some more Freedom Train, Little House on the Prairie, and Heidi. They both managed a grammar lesson in there somewhere. Or three grammar lessons in a row. Grace. 'Nuff said.

Why, yes, he is fixing the dishwasher with a
plastic tool, while chewing on a toy bone, and
wearing pink crocs.  Dude has three sisters.

(We will finish installing that dishwasher.


      Ready, set, go! Wait. No! We have to go grocery shopping, because SilverDad is taking the Boy Scouts to the lake tomorrow, and teenage boys like to eat. Like hobbits. Costco, here we come...

      If we get our read aloud stack done, and finish the open math lessons, I'll call it a week.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Third Grade '13-'14: Grace

***Mid-year assessment notes added January 2014***

   I had a hard time admitting Faith would really be a kindergartner this year. But Grace entering 3rd grade? It feels like she should be finishing 3, but she really will turn 8 in September. This is my precocious one. She read phonetically at 3 years old, and had a strong interest in academics at an early age. She's always been ahead, and could be further ahead if I pushed her, but she's too busy chasing faeries and fending off goblins in the backyard.

   Here's her curricula plan for .. third grade.

  • Grammar - Rod and Staff English 4 
  • Spelling - Rod and Staff Spelling by Sound and Structure 4
  • Composition - Classical Writing: Aesop, finishing A and flying through B
  • Literature - For Narnia!!! We're using Further Up and Further In from Cadron Creek as our guide. The biggest change I made to the guide was starting at the proper place, obviously The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. Starting with The Magician's Nephew is like sneakily opening the wrapping paper and peaking at your gift before it's Christmas. Thank-you-very-much.
       We're mostly using the points in the FUFI guide as discussion starters, and I added the ROAR! guide, too. I really liked the discussion questions from ROAR, and the big project for each book.
       More details in this post.
  • Latin - Latin for Children, continuing at our leisurely pace
  • Math - Horizons 4 - By the '14-'15 year she was going to have Honor's situation with Rod and Staff math: being so far ahead that her young hand can't keep up with the textbook. They're both solid math programs, and Grace would probably thrive with either. I gave her the choice of switching this year or next year. Being a creature that loves spontaneity, she thought for approximately two seconds before deciding on Horizons this year. 
  • History - Old Testament and Ancient Egypt from Veritas Press - I tried to keep the extra reading list light, so we can devote more time to the Narnia based study. The spines that will be read in small pieces throughout the year are Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt, Mummies Tombs and Treasures, Victor Journey Through the Bible, and Streams of Civilization. Those extra books are Mummies Made in Egypt, Tirzah, Golden Goblet, Ancient Egypt Navigators (Kingfisher), Gilgamesh, The Great Pyramid, Riddle of the Rosetta Stone, Science in Ancient Egypt, In Search of Tutankhamen, Cleopatra, Beowulf, and Pyramid, and portions of Tales from Ancient Egypt. Only four of those are thick chapter books, about half of the rest are thicker picture books with more depth, and the rest are thin picture books.
  • Science - Exploring Creation with Astronomy, with the notebooking journal. She adores the notebooking journal.
  • Bible - The Family Guide to Narnia by Ditchfield, Training Hearts Teaching Minds by Starr Meade, and she reads a chapter daily from A Child's Story Bible by Catherine Vos
  • Poetry - Poetry Matters: Writing a Poem from the Inside Out, and Read a Rhyme Write a Rhyme
  • Extra - WWII/doo-wop dance, and she'll do her final year as a Tenderheart in American Heritage Girls

***Mid-year assessment notes***
  • Rod and Staff English - Grace is nuetral on this book. It doesn't get her excited, but she doesn't dislike it. It's not on track to be finished by the end of the year. The lessons are easy for her to complete though. She'll double-up when two easy lessons are back-to-back.
  • Rod and Staff Spelling - Looking good. Effective. She tends to make leaps faster than the book and tests out of swaths. Win-win.
  • Classical Writing Aesop levels - She went through the skill levels way too fast. The next level, Homer, expects more maturity and has a sturdy workload. I spent some time reading through the core I decided that's not what I wanted to do with her. Enter Writing and Rhetoric from Classical Academic Press. It's repeating some skills from Aesop, but with a different enough approach that she is contentedly writing away.
  • Further Up and Further In - Love!! No complaints. Lately we've fallen behind getting our chapters read. We brainstormed and came up with assigning the chapters to be read aloud on weekends, and saving the actual rabbit trails, Bible connections, and such for the school days.
  • Latin for Children - Steady progress. No complaints.
  • Horizons math - Grace says, "I love it!" Steady progress. No complaints.
  • Old Testament Ancient Egypt - While we kept this low on purpose, and we do love Veritas Press, this kept getting brushed off. Both Grace and Honor simply knew those Bible stories so well that it felt redundant. We solved this by asking them to tell me the Bible stories when we got to them and just skipping the work for them. They loaded up on the Egypt books (which they loved), and they'll start New Testament Greece & Rome in a week.
  • Exploring Creation with Astronomy flopped. It's Grace, not Apologia. WHile she thinks it's a neat fact that the earth revolves around the sun, she really just doesn't give a hoot about the why or how. The only reason she liked this book was because of the paper crafts in the journal. If a paper craft required her to use content from the book I often had to ask her to read or listen to it thrice before she could do it well. I handed her a book of true Audubon animal stories with a higher reading level than the astronomy book and she was in heaven. I also handed over some leftover human body paper crafts from last year that makes her research a little, and science was saved for the year.
  • The Bible resources listed have been great. No complaints. She did switch to an NIV instead of the Vos version.
  • The poetry book never got touched. She has a rich, full load this year. We'll play with the poetry over the summer.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Homeschool Calendar

   "Oh, we don't really take the summer off. We usually school year round."

   Raised eyebrows. Assumptions that we push the kids too hard. "But what about summer vacation?! Kids have to have that."

   1) We live in Arizona. They're virtually trapped indoors for the majority of the summer. Why NOT have them doing work when they're already stuck inside, so they can have extra time off when it gets back down near 100 degrees? (Yes, they go to the regular summer activities just like the other kids. Without their math books.)

   2) Their schooling ebbs and flows with our lifestyle. I like that.

   3) We can take December off.

   4) We can sporadically take weeks off just because we really feel like we need a break, without feeling a push to get those standard issue 36 weeks accomplished. (Confession: I don't keep a current count of the amount of days of weeks we've worked. Ever. It just distracts me from what's really important.)

   5) We tried one of those 6 weeks on 1 week off routines once. Exactly once. The times we wanted one week off never coincided conveniently with life. We'd take the seventh week off, only to have the week after that fill up with activities and we didn't get much done anyway. Or we'd add a couple weeks so the week off would match activities better, but the kids' attitudes about school would stink for that extra time. Done with that.

    We take random breaks as we feel the need. Last week we did a reading heavy week and dropped the subjects that couldn't just be read. It was refreshing, and we got some big projects done around the house.

    About once a month I'll just yell "Fieldtrip!!!" and no matter what they're in the middle of books and pencils will fly and they'll race for their shoes. Fill the water bottles, climb in the van, get buckled, and then we'll decide where to go. (Half the time we end up at Half Price Books.)

    Wouldn't change a thing.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Kindergarten '13-'14 plans: Faith

   ***Mid-year assessment results added January 2014***  

    Kindergartners are so fun! Here's Faith's plan for fall.

  • Phonics and penmanship - Writing Road to Reading
         She switched to this a couple months ago. It sits with her better than Phonics Pathways did, and we plan to continue with it for all of K. As she learns each new letter or letters and the sounds they make she learns how to write the letters properly. Two birds with one stone. Once all the sounds are mastered this moves into spelling instruction. (Three birds?)
  • Reading - Veritas Press First Favorites
         I adore this collection of readers. When Grace and Honor read them we borrowed them from a library. I have vivid memories of Grace sitting under a book slot at the library, reading that treasure just one. more. time. before she had to give it back. I couldn't stand the thought of doing that again and bought the books for Faith.
         I did buy the guides for her. We'll be skipping the basic comprehension work and discussing the stories instead. We'll pick and choose the extra activities as we go. Since First Favorites was written for first grade we'll take it easy and move at her pace. I anticipate leisurely doing the first semester of First Favorites across kindergarten, then the second semester and More First Favorites (Veritas Press second grade) for her first grade year.
          Reading list:
    Billy and Blaze
    Curious George
    Bread and Jam for Frances
    Caps for Sale
    Chair for Mother
    Frog and Toad All Year
    Frog and Toad Are Friends
    Harry the Dirty Dog
    If You Give a Mouse a Cookie
    The Little Engine that Could
    Blueberries for Sal
    Doctor DeSoto
  • Math - Horizons grade 1
          Yes, real curriculum for K math. She considers math through play to be much too babyish, and will bluntly tell you that. Horizons will be new for her. She's done great with Rod and Staff mathematics 1 and I have no complaints. Honor switched to Horizons this school year, and Grace will make the switch this fall. (More on that in their posts.) That left Faith standing there, "But I want to try the new math TOO."  Both Rod and Staff and Horizons have great math books, and I really had no valid reason to tell her no. Horizons it is.
          What's with that placement? Rod and Staff 1 to Horizons 1. You saw that right. Rod and Staff is a Mennonite company, and they don't traditionally do kindergarten. The grade 1 materials start with K level work and are very gentle. Horizons puts all the K work in their K book. If I focused on it and pushed Faith a little harder I think she could potentially handle Horizons 2 this fall, but I see absolutely no reason to do that to a 5 year old. She's already a book ahead.
  • Bible - Children's Bible by Catherine Vos
          This particular version is a good piece of children's literature in it's own right. We'll start with the Gospels, reading one short story aloud each day.
  • Geography - Legends and Leagues (published by Veritas Press)
           At her request, "I want to learn about maps and other places." This is a thin volume, but it's aimed at first graders. I'm thinking once or twice a week for the first semester. Then I'll see if I can work her into a literature based geography Grace and Honor will be doing, assuming the interest is still there.
  • Science - Green Thumbs: A Kids Activity Guide to Indoor and Outdoor Gardening
           She also wanted science, and thought the idea of digging in the dirt and playing with plants for school was awesome.
  • Osmosis - I expect her to jump into Grace's nature studies regularly. She already runs in and sits quietly when I start Grace and Honor's read alouds on various topics. Thus I didn't prepare a read aloud schedule just for her, but I will work some younger classics into their read aloud stack for her.
  • Extra -  She's been a Pathfinder tag-a-long in American Heritage Girls, and will actually be a real Pathfinder on paper this fall. She also attends many Boy Scout and Cub Scout events and camp-outs because the whole family goes on them.
                WWII/Doo-wop era dance group that performs patriotic hangar type shows
                Homeschool group we'll pioneer this fall. The older, relaxed, regular park days and field trips type. Not a co-op.

   So how did all that really turn out? Faith has grown, excelled, and blossomed. Here's a play-by-play.
  • Writing Road to Reading - Success! Her reading level has taken a serious leap. She went from slowly sounding everything out to blazing through words like ordinary. 
  • Veritas Press First Favorites - She loves the stories and the activity pages. I love that she's reading high quality stories instead of basal readers, and how the pages a gently laying a great foundation for future narration work. Win-win.
  • Horizons math 1 - She started by doing two lessons nearly everyday. Mid-year she is thriving and going strong. When I asked her what she thought of this book she said she missed the last book. When pressed she could barely remember what the last book was like. Some probing and looking at old books revealed that the addition/subtraction work felt harder than her comfort level cared for, but she enjoyed everything else about this book. I'll be more intentional about fact practice and see if that helps her confidence.
  • The Child's Story Bible - This was going great until she brought home an easy reader Bible from Sunday School a month into the school year. Okay, whatever, we'll do the easy-reader for awhile. Only she has no plans to go back until we finish it. I miss the vos version that was such a pleasure to read, but she is learning the stories and enjoying herself. :) 
  • Legends and Leagues - The story is adorable. The activities are sweet and engaging. Win.
  • Green Thumbs - This never really got off the ground. We did read some of the vintage Seed Babies. Both Faith and Grace want to work on gardening next year, so I'm shelving Green Thumbs until fall.
  • The Goops - We started the year with this but forgot to post it. I printed the vintage text pages full-size for her to color as she listened to the poems. Definitely a win.
  • Osmosis - She didn't give a hoot about Grace's nature study, but she did ask to learn about animals for first grade.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Fall plans - nearly there

   We made most of our curricula decisions for the '13-'14 school year back in January. Usually those get tweaked quite a bit by the time it's all bought and delivered to our doorstep. This year there were only minor changes, and I'm nearly done with the purchasing. Most unusual! (Slight '80's relapse there. I blame Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure.)

   Valor will be newly three years old when we start this fall. He'll have his own clipboard, pencil, and stack of blank paper for pretending to do school, and I'll stock a few extra puzzles and independent activities in the "school time only" shelf for him.

   Faith will be a kindergartner. Kindergarten is so fun. They're so excited about learning to read and discovering new things. I can't wait. I have her math, phonics/writing, geography, Bible and most of her reading prepared. She's edging into first grade literature already. I only bought the first semester worth of books so far, and put the second semester into an Amazon wishlist. If she zooms through the first semester we'll pick up the second as needed.

   Grace will be a third grader. Her grammar, spelling, literature, math, and history are all purchased and sitting in the closet. Her writing will be homemade. I've put a dent into the science, and I'll pick up what's left along the way.

   Honor will be a fifth grader. I'm one DVD short of having all his core subjects and the entire first semester of science purchased. The DVD goes to his science, which could still use a couple more books. I'm going to get the lesson plans drawn up before I buy more. I want to wait until we're closer to the second semester to decide on the science for it. I tucked away a few good options in a list for now.

   Joy's eighth grade books are all ready to go. Yay! Well, not writing. I was certain what I wanted to buy, but I keep hesitating over the purchase button. Sigh.

   Justice's ninth grade books are the most lacking. He has had a rough year and we seriously contemplated putting him in public school in the fall. We still haven't firmly decided, but I am slowly collecting the books he'll use if he's home. I've found some real treasures to go along with his intended Literary Lessons from the Lord of the Rings and he is excited about them. He will continue to immerse himself in Tolkien regardless. (With five younger siblings, someone will eventually use or reuse the curriculum. =P)

   Lists with curricula titles and deeper plans will be posted in the upcoming weeks.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Weekly Update 5-3-13

   We took this week "off." Well, we left the school books on the shelves anyway.

   What did we do instead? Took the hula hoe and rake to the yard, pulled weeds, deep cleaned the house, collected bags of stuff to pass onto a the local thrift store and Boys and Girls Club drive, and more. The oldest four started the work for their religious emblem (scout thing) with their youth pastor, and spent about 2.5 hours working and cleaning at church with him too.

   The oldest two were usually found with their noses firmly planted in books when they weren't working, and the younger ones read a fair amount too.

   I gave the kids all week to get their rooms seriously whipped into shape. By Friday it didn't appear they had taken it seriously, and I walked in with a broom and trash bags. My method is to brush it all up into a pile in the middle of the room, get the planned furniture rearranging done, then work on that monstrous pile of shtuff. They got to choose what went into the donation bags, but purging wasn't optional. If you have so much stuff it doesn't neatly fit in your storage devices, you have too much stuff. =P~


Thursday, May 2, 2013

Rapid fire catch up


Valor on a hike

Honor planting flowers, Justice supervising

Faith, waiting for her turn to play dodgeball

Can you see the spider web?

Joy, planting flowers in a children's garden

desert wildflowers (don't touch the orange one... just sayin')

Desert rats cooling off

Valor on a campout

Grace reading to Valor

Pinewood Derby baybeee!!

Faith is missing something...