Friday, May 16, 2014

Mid-May Kid Update

   How is the fifth month half over already? It was January. I blinked. May. Never ceases to amaze me.

   No, we're not close to done with the school year. We take so many mid-year breaks that we school through the summer to make up for it. It will be so hot that they'll largely be trapped indoors anyway; it's already over 100F. There will be breaks for summer camps, water parks, and such. Of course. Some subjects will get dropped until fall. Some will get beefed up. Here's a kid by kid update.

   Faith - Kindergarten
       Faith has been restless and not too keen on lessons lately. I have her at least do math and read a picture book daily, and about twice a week I have her work on handwriting and spelling. That's pretty much it for Official Academics. My summer plan for her is to keep up this pace until fall. No reason to fix what isn't broken. :)

   Grace - Third Grade
       Grace has started coming around to enjoying science. Out of the blue she'll pipe up with a question like, "What do plants eat?" Rather than just telling her the answer we started a list of the things she wants to learn more about, and find books to read on those topics. After that particular question she read through the Childcraft volume on plants for her daily science block, and loved it! Since then she's read some Getting to Know Nature's Children volumes, and some Nature Readers from CLP.
       She's making steady progress in other subjects, though fractions rocked her boat a bit. She's thriving in Latin for Children and Writing and Rhetoric. Summer plan for this one is keep math, Latin, and writing daily, do a grammar intensive, and play on Duolingo Spanish.

   Honor - Fifth Grade
       Fractions were messing with his brain. I had him shelve Horizons and handed him the multiplication/division book in the Keys to Fractions series. That took about a week, and gave him a chance to just work on fractions without several other concepts wanting attention too. Then he went right back to Horizons, and his fractions were happy again.
       Science is where he likes to soar. When he starts asking questions I usually grab a middle school physical science textbook and go right to the index. This week I gave up there and started pulling out my high schooler's textbooks.There we found the hard details on velocity, and he was content. Today he wants to know WHY planet cores get so hot. I hope our middle school earth science text has an answer for him.
        Summer plan for this guy is working through all the Nova award work he can do at home, math, Latin, and church history.

   Teenagers will be in the next post.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Raising the Bar

   Joy likes to shake things up and color outside of the lines in general. Her next trick? Going after an AP exam in ninth grade. While hunting for high school American resources to use this fall we came across the FundaFunda course plans ~ ~ We had already decided to use the Johnson book, and that lecture course, and the Leowen book was already on our shelf. The DVD list got her attention, and the more she thought about the AP challenge the more she thoroughly liked the idea.

   The first thing we did was pull the Critical Thinking series, and replace it with parts of the American Republic (BJU) textbook Joy had already chosen. Then we added Mammoth Book of Eyewitness America for more original source documents. We'll do as many of the DVD's as we can, and the AP prep book. ***Mid-year update: Strike this. Reverse it! American Republic stayed on the shelf and we really like the Critical Thinking books. She's pretty much doing the Fundafunda schedule as written, with literature and geography written into it.***

   After that we poured over the Great Books American lists and decided which ones she'd read. She wants to work through Trail Guide to U.S. Geography too. We're leaning toward doing that as a summer intensive instead of adding to that sturdy workload.

   The rest of her subjects are more average, and I'll make sure they stay that way. Assuming all goes well I can easily see her going for multiple APs in tenth. I'll take a guess now.... Human Geography and World History.

   Here's her ninth grade curricula plans.

  • English: American Literature (about 20 novels, 22 short stories, and 6 poets), Cover Story writing. NaNoWriMo, and essay practice in history
  • Math: Discovering Geometry by Michael Serra, videos from Khan Academy and Alcumus as needed/wanted  ***Foerster dragged over into 9th, and she did both books simultaneously until Foerster was finished.***
  • Science: Understanding Physics by David Cassidy (maybe Physics 101 too when it comes out this fall) ***She loves this book!! The publisher adamantly refuses to sell the instructor materials to homeschoolers. I've been using other texts with solutions manuals to make quizzes.***
  • History: History of the United States from Great Courses (84 lectures), History of the American People by Paul Johnson, and American Republic as the main spines all four volumes of Critical Thinking's US history, and Eyewitness America, several DVDs, Cracking the U.S. History Exam, and Trail Guide to U.S. Geography mingled with Barefoot Meandering's U.S. geography
  • Language: Latin Alive 2 and 3 (parts of both due to year-round wonkiness) Her stride slowed down. She'll just use 2.
  • Art Appreciation: Sister Wendy's Story of Painting book and VHS set, American Collection book and DVD set
  • Religion: Bible, For You They Signed (Marilyn Boyer), Screwtape Letters (C.S. Lewis), More Than a Carpentar (Josh McDowell), Cold-case Christianity (J. Warner Wallace), Jesus Shock (Peter Kreeft)
  • Extracurricular: American Heritage Girls ("Finally high enough to start working on the Stars and Stripes!"), swim team, and WWII era dance ***joining a Boy Scout Venturing crew this spring, for the big girl high adventure activities she's not getting in our mostly younger girls AHG troop***

Monday, April 28, 2014

March and April

   I've been trying to upload a photobomb catch-up, but my app keeps freezing up. Looks like I'll have to quit taking the easy way and spell it. Ha!

   We had two dance shows. One for a snowbird park and one for a WWII group. So much richness is added to my children's lives by entertaining these veterans and learning from them. It's amazing.

  We were blessed to be able to share in a wedding! Faith, Grace, and Joy were flower girls. Justice and Honor were ushers. It was beautiful!

   SilverDad was in a Last Supper drama as Judas Iscariot. That was fun!

   There were a few field trips in there. An arboretum trip, an indoor jump park, and a riparian preserve. We're going back to the riparian preserve before it's too hot to enjoy it.

   Swim team is going great. Justice and Joy have been bumped up a level, and Honor is the fastest in his level.

   Scouts continue to help stretch my children in amazing ways.

   Homeschooling has really hit a stride lately. Some subjects are going to start wrapping up for the summer, some will go all summer, and some will be changed. Nearly all of next year's curricula has been bought, and I've started preparing a few things, like the little girls' geography and Joy's history syllabus. It's going to be a great year. :)

Saturday, March 8, 2014

High School Rough Draft: Version 2


  • English 1: Cover Story (composition) and American focused Great Books
  • Math: Discovering Geometry by Michael Serra, or maybe Chalkdust?
  • Science: Understanding Physics by David Cassidy (with labs)
  • History: Great Book study, American Republic from BJU to fill the holes
  • Geography: Trail Guide to U.S. geography
  • Latin: finish the Latin Alive series
  • Art: Sister Wendy's Story of Painting book and VHS series, Sister Wendy's American Collection book and VHS series, Signs and Symbols in Christian Art
  • Religion: Bible reading, extra non-fiction books tbd


  • English: Cover Story (composition), middle ages focused Great Book study
  • Math: Math-U-See's Basic Algebra and Geometry
  • Science: Chemistry 101 DVDs with included tests and such, extra living books (no lab)
  • History: Great Book study, booklist later, not sure about the spine
  • Geography: Trail Guide to World Geography, using the atlas and such, but not the food/art parts
  • Spanish: Paso A Paso 1, with Madrigal's Magic Key, a really fat Spanish/English dictionary, and free resources all around us
  • Mythology: middle ages, booklist later
  • Religion: Bible reading, Mere Christianity, more tbd


  • Logic/rhetoric: Argumentation lecture series from The Great Courses, Everything's an Argument, A Workbook for Arguments, Rhetoric in the Classical Tradition

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Fall 2014 Curricula Plans: Rough Draft

   Yes, it's only February, but I've already missed one 25% off sale for something that was on this list. A decent plan will make it easier to take advantage of those without purchasing willy-nilly.

   Faith, first grade (How?!)

  • First Language Lessons (gentle, bite-size, oral grammar, snuggle-on-the-couch)
  • Continue the Rod and Staff spelling and Spalding hopping she does now
  • Copywork, daily
  • First Favorites literature volume 2, and More Favorites
  • Egermeier's Child's Story Bible
  • Horizons math 2
  • Geography - Cantering the Country? Beautiful feet? Merge with Grace? 
  • Animal, plants, and human body through living books (Getting to Know Nature's Children, Burgess Animal Book, Seed Babies, more tbd)
  • Song School Latin is waiting in the wings, *if* she starts noticing she's the only kid without a language

Grace, fourth grade

  • Rod and Staff English 5-6
  • Rod and Staff spelling 5
  • A mix of Wordsmith Apprentice and homemade composition?
  • A pile of children's classics, and more tied to geography for literature 
  • Language.... Latin Alive, slowly, with more Latin for Children in the wings if it just doesn't work out (LA was written for a 7th grader with no Latin, LFC is for 3rd-6th)
  • Straight Bible reading, probably starting The Book of Life series
  • Horizons math 5
  • Trail Guide to World Geography, with the art and food from around the world additions
  • science through living books, starting with animals (Getting to Know Nature's Children) and trying to branch her out into other science fields (Scientist in the Field, topical books on random topics)

Honor - sixth grade

  • Rod and Staff English 6
  • Rod and Staff spelling 6, his last spelling book, home stretch!
  • Wordsmith (composition)
  • Horizons math 6
  • Latin Alive (he has outgrown Latin for Children)
  • Straight Bible reading, volumes 2-5 in The Book of Life series
  • Adventures in the Sea and Sky from Winter Promise for literature, history, and science
  • Art of Argument for logical fallacies

Joy - ninth grade

  • English 1 (+1): The Power in Your Hands (composition), medieval literature with some heavy Lord of the Rings and other Tolien worked in(probably a few Omnibus units too)
  • Geometry (+1): Chalkdust?
  • Medieval World History (+1): Story of the Medieval World by Susan Wise Bauer, and the guide
  • Physics (+1): Conceptual Physics by Hewitt looks like the best option for doing physics first, but she's less than thrilled with it
  • Latin 2 (+1): finish the Latin Alive series
  • Bible (+.25): reading a few chapters daily, and....?
  • Art appreciation (+.5): The Annotated Mona Lisa, Sister Wendy
  • Music: guitar lessons, half or whole credit depends on the time she puts in
  • P.E./health (+1): swim team, scout badges, something else tbd

Justice - tenth grade

  • English 2 (+1): Omnibus 2 or 5 (medieval lit tied to history), + something for composition
  • Geometry (+1): Math-U-See's older edition of combined algebra 1 and Geometry
  • Medieval World History (+1): Omnibus and the history textbook it assigns
  • Chemistry (+1): Chemistry 101 dvd course, extra reading, possibly a Teaching Company course
  • Spanish 1 (+1): Duolingo and ... tbd
  • Bible (+.25): straight reading and Omnibus
  • Medieval Mythology (+.5): Norse myths, Beowulf, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, King Arthur, Robin Hood, and I need to do more homework for this one
  • Geography (+.5): high school portion of Trail Guide to World Geography
  • Literature of C.S. Lewis (+.5): Inklings rabbit trails, Mere Christianity, Of Other Worlds, Surprised by Joy? This is a very recent idea and I haven't put much thought into it. I'm concerned it's going to look like we're padding his transcript with literature.

     Valor will be a 4 year old preschooler by fall. We're still calling him the baby! For the most part I expect him to be too busy playing with cars and trains to care about academics, but nearly all of his siblings were asking for their own schoolbooks at 4. Should he feel left out of the school book business, his first math book (Rod and Staff 1), Phonics Pathways, and Writing Road to Reading are all in the school closet waiting for the day he wants them.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

We Homeschool Too...

    Though one has to actually stay home for that. :P  Here's a schooling update on the younger kids.

Faith - kindergarten

    Faith starts her school days by snuggling up with me and a pile of books. We take turns reading pages from an easy reader Bible. Then I read aloud from a large volume from one of our sets (My Bookhouse, The Children's Hour, The Book of Life, fairy tale collections, etc.). After that she reads to me, usually half or all of a picture book from First Favorites or our Little Golden Book stash. Then I read a chapter from a classic to her. (We're still working through the old Winnie-the-Pooh books.)

   Next she gets her math book out and does a lesson. She's about halfway through Horizons grade 1. She hasn't been as excited about this as usual lately. I've tossed a little stealth drill practice her way, and magically the lessons are seeming like less work. Win-win. 

    She's reading well enough that we can review phonics rules as she has problems rather than daily drill. She goes back and forth between Spalding spelling practice and a Rod and Staff spelling workbook whenever she wants to. (I make no attempt to line them up.)

Grace - third grade (by age)

    Grace is having a great year. In math she's worked with long division enough that she's very comfortable with the process and really understands what she's doing. Her math book wasn't halfway done at the halfway point of our school year, so she has decided to do more than one lesson a few times a week of her own accord. Usually that amounts to doing one lesson at home and one on the bleachers at swim practice.

    Right now she reads at least one chapter daily from D'aulaire's Greek Myths, an NIV Bible, the Audubon Book of True Nature Stories or one of the older National Geographic hardback books, a volume of The Children's Hour, and a classic or literature tied to our Narnia literature. 

   I want to change gears with her writing. She is really good at fiction writing, but doesn't even know where to begin with nonfiction. I'll have her start collecting facts from one of the science books, make an outline, and write a paragraph with it.

Honor - fifth grade

    I have had so much fun with Honor this year. His math is picking up speed, and his comprehension is rock solid. He started the year moving slower than normal, and he's making up for that now. Grammar, spelling, and writing just keep plugging along.

    His daily reading stack this past week had D'aulaire's Greek Myths, an NIV or Message Bible, Cartoon Guide to Physics, Bill Nye's Big Blast of Science, and Dangerous Journey.

    Science is where he's spreading his wings and absorbing as much as possible. He took a sideways trail to complete the Cub Scout's STEM focused Nova program, and reads non-fiction science books for fun all the time. The New Way Things Work is one of his favorite books. Architecture had some material compacted, but he never missed a beat. 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Honor the Lion-hearted and the Arrow of Light

    Honor and our whole family have made so many great memories going through Cub Scouts with him. He started in first grade as a Tiger, and has completed every rank along the way. He's earned every academic belt loop, about half of the sports loops, and around two dozen sports and academics pins. He collected every arrow point in Bears and Wolves, and all 20 Webelo merit badges. He met with his youth pastor weekly for 1.5 months to earn the religious emblem. He completed all four awards in the new Nova program, and will complete the SuperNova with a mentor before his registration transfers to Boy Scouts.

     When his second year Webelos den worked on Aquanaut he tried so hard to make his laps to pass the swim test, we finally had to pull him in with the hook, but he wouldn't give up. He was so exhausted he looked like it was all he had to hang on the wall of the pool, but his leader and I had to talk him out of going again. His leaders gladly awarded him the Aquanaut for doing his absolute best. The next week we took up the swim coach's offer to work with him alongside her team, and he gave it everything he had. Honor, Justice, and Joy all ended up joining the team. Honor now goes to swim practice four times a week. He can pass that test twice over for a warm-up, but he has no intentions of stopping anytime soon. At the Blue and Gold, two months after that Aquanaut night, his leader awarded him a special swimming patch for going above and beyond. 

    This Blue and Gold was Honor's very last one to attend as a Cub Scout. This time he received the highest honor in all of Cub Scouting, the Arrow of Light, and he crossed over to Boy Scouts. 

The Order of the Arrow performed the arrow and bridging ceremony.  

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Next Year

    Yep, it's February. The curriculum sales are already trickling in, and it would be easy to overdo it or not think purchases through if you don't have a plan.  I've been reflecting about our curricula for awhile. What worked this year, what didn't, where we're coming from and where we're going. What are each child's needs, strengths, weaknesses, and strong interests. Is there a subject we need to put a stronger focus on? Is there one that should take a backseat? What should *I* be learning more about? Reading in preparation?

    I'll have two high schoolers next year. Eep! The little ones will be in 6th, 4th, 1st, and preschool. For the first time we will not have a wee babe and/or toddler bringing up the rear.

    Our family history cycle would put us in medieval. The high schoolers are the only ones sticking to it though. Honor will be getting a survey of sorts from the earliest ships to spacecraft, and the younger girls will have a geography year. I plan to toss enough medieval books into Honor and Grace's reading piles to call it covered for the year, and they can all begin around Leif Eriksson the following year.

    Science for the high schoolers is a fairly easy choice. They have to keep transcripts, and get through at least the big three (physics, chemistry, biology) to keep future doors open. Justice started with biology, and chemistry is the next likely choice. He is a humanities kid who doesn't plan on doing any more science than is necessary. Joy likes to keep a foot planted on the humanities and STEM side of the fence, and chose a stronger route. She'll start with physics, then chemistry (her math is there), and then a strong biology course. This route will let her get into the newer bio-chem side of biology.

    Honor's science will be oceans and ocean life while he learns about ships, weather while he learns about planes, and astronomy while he learns about spacecraft. He is thrilled. The younger girls will cover animals and plants from around the world, and some basic human body.

    Literature doesn't have as many solid plans yet. We're working on it. Justice wants a medieval Omnibus, Joy wants Lord of the Rings and more tied to history, Honor's will be from his history/science program and some classics I add in, Grace will have tales from around the world, and Faith will stick with Favorites from Veritas Press until she finishes the series.

     Math and the rest of language arts will mostly just move to the next level.

     If our sweet little preschooler actually shows interest in academics, his first math book is in the closet, along with two different phonics programs, and plenty of tablet paper. I expect him to be much too busy playing with trains and digging in the yard to be interested in sitting down. :)

    Booklists later.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Almost Wordless Wednesday: Books, Crochet, Rescued Babies

We kept track of every book from which a kid or I read at least one chapter in one day.

Grace learned to crochet this winter, and thought her brother needed a pig snout.

We rescued two fur-babies from my van's engine compartment. Meet Eowyn of Rohan and Bilbo Baggins. 

Monday, January 20, 2014

I like old books, and I can't deny....

   You other bibli'philes can't deny.... Okay. *clearing throat* Got that out of my system. 

   SilverDad, Valor, and I went to Goodwill yesterday. I found a charming Egermeier's Bible Story Book, and was about to give up on the rest of their book section when I rounded the last corner to see a My Bookhouse set in excellent condition. Yes, please! Both were originally published in the 1920's. (Well, the earliest volumes of My Bookhouse were anyway, not the whole series.)

   There's a good reason the Egermeier's has been a popular children's Bible for almost 100 years. It includes many more stories than most children's Bibles, it doesn't sugar coat the Word, and it doesn't talk down to the kids. It's a good piece of children's literature in it's own right. Today's children's Bibles sound like lifeless, basal readers in comparison. (Yes, we own those too. Yes, I'm biased.)  I also like that the illustrations don't look like they're out of a comic strip.

   The My Bookhouse series Is a delicious collection of quality children's literature. Volume 1 is nearly all nursery rhymes with a some short stories mingled throughout. Each volume takes it up a notch in literary maturity until you're reading A Boy in Russia, Down by the River Avon, and The Moon Landing in volume 12. I had a picture of the great illustrations and a table of contents for one of the volumes, but they disappeared while trying to write this post. If I reload them they'll be stuck at the top of the post. :P (My kingdom for a mobile friendly Blogger...)

     On the way home I made my third serious attempt at couponing. The first stop produced two bigger boxes of breaded fish fillets, two packages of cheese sticks, and two tubes of cleaning wipes for $12 + tax. That was kinda fun. Then we loaded $155 of groceries (that's regular prices) into our cart, and giggled at the screen when the price just kept dropping for sales and doubled coupons. My final total was $80 including tax, and we came home with real food like frozen veggies, rice, cheese, cream cheese, beans, bread, tilapia, cereal, razors, toothbrushes, and more. My outright freebies were 2 gallons of milk, 3 deoderant sticks, and 3 bottles of hand soap. I'm certainly not a professional, but the newspapers have more than paid for themselves. And it is kind of fun.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Brushing the dust off


  There. That's better. There was a blog under all those cobwebs! I went through all five '13-'14 curricula posts and added assessment notes to the bottoms. Now that we've been using these books for about half a school year some feelings have changed. If you were curious how we were doing with one, check it out using the curricula tab under the blog title.

   We're attempting to get school back up and running. My mother-in-law was here for nearly a month, Christmas happened, and we had an icky virus that grabbed the whole family. This was the first week with nothing extra in it, and we used the time to defrag somewhat. I've done a mid-year assessment with each kid, which involves asking their opinion of every subject, sharing mine, and making any plans or changes needed to finish the year. And the kids have done a bunch of reading.

   Scouts and dance are back to normal, and we've added swim practice for the older three kids 3-4 nights a week. The younger girls will be worked in as they have room in the club, and the coaches will work with Valor closer to summer.

   My kids are awesome. I can't imagine not homeschooling. That is all. :)