Monday, June 29, 2015

Faith - second grade

    Faith is an intense mixture of fiery determination and independence.  That "Me do it!" phase of toddlerhood was never outgrown. ;-) Most days she wants the comfort of me staying near her when she does her seatwork, but unsolicited help makes her prickly in a hurry. She's a strong little student who works better independently than any of her older siblings did at this age.

   She loves roller skating lessons. A solid T-stop is her current nemesis. Last week her coach bragged up her latest trick. While rolling she can hold one foot out straight in front of her and bend down like a squat on the other leg. No hands. Dude!

   In west coast swing she and her partner are the *cutest* couple on the floor. Hands down. They rock it. They mastered the new routine they've been working on before many of the big kids.

 She also has the most delicious dark brown eyes!

     Here are the plans for her second grade school year.


  • Grammar: Rod and Staff English 3 - We'll do this orally, skipping the writing lessons, diagrams on a whiteboard, short 'n sweet
  • Spelling: Rod and Staff's Spelling by Sound and Structure 3
  • Writing: Her history will have plenty, but not all of it will be appropriate for her skill level. I'm planning on having enough writing elsewhere that we can just pause if history has some good rabbit trails. She's already using Primary Lessons in Language and Composition (Maxwell), and it's working well, so we'll just continue with that.
  • Penmanship: Beginning cursive with Zaner-Bloser Handwriting 2C, because I found an unused one for $2 at a thrift shop and the font is pretty enough. She has such sweet print already that I'm picky about what I give her to copy. (She would have had my handwriting across the top of her tablet paper otherwise.)
  • Literature: Besides LOTS of American Girl reading and read alouds...
            Aesop fables
            A Child's Garden of Verses
            The Racketty-Packetty House
            Milly Molly Mandy
            Velveteen Rabbit
            My Father's Dragon
            Little House?
            My Book House volume 2


  • finish part of Song School Spanish, continue with The Fun Spanish level 1


  • Horizons 3 is her main, everyday book. She goes back and forth between saying it's boring and too hard. Those statements are best translated as "I resent having to practice this skill again" and "I don't know this one inside out and backwards," respectively. Beast Academy 3 is an extra to shake it up and keep her engaged. (I keep Math in Focus in mind just in case...I'm not sure Horizons' challenge level will keep her satiated long term.)


  • American history, based on the American Girl books - We're using Portraits of American Girlhood and several other resources for this, hoping to cover most if not all of the historical girls. Faith and Grace are somewhat combined in this. I don't expect Faith to read all the books, but probably the first 2 books or so of most of them.


  • fleshed out rabbit trails done unit study style from the American Girl study, this will include nature study, astronomy, health, nutrition, and more ****Update: Well, we'll probably roll these plans into read alouds instead since we already have most of the books. We won a totally free copy of Shepherd Science's new Introductory Science course! It has on demand videos, a correlated workbook, and just enough activities to not make mom feel overwhelmed. We chose level B for her based on the samples. She is super excited! It covers a wide variety of topics in an age appropriate depth. ****

American geography

  • 50 States from Barefoot Ragamuffin, Eat Your Way Around the USA, and mail order travel guides from all the states (well, except for 2, Massachusetts was download only and Washington charged for theirs)

**** Mid-year updates added March 2016****

  • Rod and Staff English 3 has been a great fit. She finds most of it pretty easy. 
  • Spelling 3 was too ambitious. She took longer than anticipated to get through the 2 book, and we just set the subject aside for the rest of this year. She'll pick up the 3 book at the beginning of 3rd grade instead.
  • Maxwell's Primary lessons was fabulous! Wonderful little book. We broke many of the lessons into half and spread them across two days. It doesn't babysit and hand hold like modern curricula, which was a perk for this kiddo. Somewhere through the year she decided she'd rather just write out the Rod and Staff English lessons and kill two birds with one stone, so Maxwell is currently shelved.
  • My literature plans and her literature plans didn't collide. She read every The Littles book known to man, and is currently *loving* the shorter Burgess chapter books. 
  • We lost that penmanship book before 2nd grade started. O_o She started with the first cursive book from Brookdale House, and then the second one they sell on Amazon. She's nearly done with the latter now, and will just start adding subjects to be done in cursive until they're all in cursive. 
Language - The Fun Spanish has been a perfect fit. In January I made her a Duolingo account and she also practices in that daily. She still asks for help spelling the Spanish or the English occasionally.

Math. Oi. Math and this child. She did one unit in Beast Academy and firmly declared she was never going to do Beast Academy e.v.e.r. again. I've never seen her react to a school book like that. It's shelved.
   Horizons wasn't working as well as it had in the past. She was racing, saying she was bored, Horizons was stupid, gah. I handed her Math in Focus 3. She calmed right down and enjoyed math again. After a couple months the newness wore off, MiF was now stupid, and she was misty eyed about the Horizons math of her youth. We bounced back, doubled/skipped lessons to get her where she belonged, and started moving forward again. Lather, rinse, repeat. She's currently quite content in MiF, but I'm not even putting Horizons back into the cupboard. The back and forth between two very different approaches is working and I'm more than happy with her skill development. I'll plan on ordering the next level of both for 3rd grade.

Science and history have gone swimmingly. No complaints.

All those grand American geography plans? Yeah, none of that materialized. It was a dust collector. 

Monday, June 22, 2015

Honor - 7th grade

   How on earth did Honor get this big??!? (And isn't he an adorable Ron Weasley doppleganger??)

   7th grade is junior high. 7th grade is not a little kid. More challenge. More expectations.

   Honor's attitude? Bring it on, baby.

   Here's what his curricula will look like for the year.

  • Analytical Grammar, kept fairly light and he'll get wherever he gets by the end of the school year
  • Spelling by Sound and Structure 6 (Rod and Staff), and when he finishes this book he can be done with the subject
  • Composition: big, fat, undecided, though leaning toward Lively Art of Writing for the first semester
  • Literature: homegrown Inspiration of JK Rowling course, using Harry Potter's Bookshelf by Granger as the spine, adding some Figuratively Speaking as it applies (I'll add the actual lit list to the end of this post), and How to Read Literature Like a Professor for Kids by Thomas Foster, adding feather quills with ink pots and parchment paper for some of the writing assignments
  • finish Art of Problem Solving prealgebra - this was written for kids who participate in math competitions. At first it's brain slaughter, but when you get over the culture shock it's fabulous and he thrives.
  • start Art of Problem Solving introductory algebra
  • Alcumus for online AoPS style practice as needed
  • Khan Academy for when he needs a breather, or just needs to see how good he really is
  • Math Olympiad homeschool team (a selective one, so it's only kids who like math and want to be there) - they meet once a week and assign a little bit of homework
  • Harmony Fine Arts free high school schedule - modified
    -dropped the world religions, he'll cover that in high school in the context of world history
    -added some architecture from around the world, drawing, missions, fables/folktales, and a multicultural reader
    -none of the DVDs
  • Guesthollow's chemistry schedule - modified
    -doing as many of the experiments and activities as seem sensible, watching most of the linked videos
    -dropped the more elementary looking books, used the optional biographies or found replacements for them
    -patched in Cartoon Guide to Chemistry (Gonick), Chemistry 101 dvds, portions of Chemistry in the Community textbook (ChemCom by ACS), and parts of a Glencoe chem book
  • once a week labs with this Chemistry Equipment Kit and this Intro Chem Kit
  • added readers like the Itch trilogy (Simon Mayo), The Periodic Kindgom (Atkins), Uncle Tungsten
  • Spanish for Children A (Classical Academic Press)
  • Duolingo app

  • daily Bible reading with a sprinkling of Victor Journey Through the Bible (independent, read and discuss)
  • Training Hearts Teaching Minds by Starr Meade for catechism (as a family)
  • finish the History Lives church history series by Withrow (read a portion and discuss)
  • when History Lives is finished, either Bitesize Theology or Rebels Rescued: A Student's Guide to Reformed Theology

  • Art of Argument (Classical Academic Press) - not adding this until second semester

Here is Honor's booklist for the Inspiration of JK Rowling course. (The teens want to take this course too, but I'll tailor separate lists for each kid taking the course.) He is a strong reader, but there are more books than he's likely to get through on this list. We'll see what we get through. There are ten units, two of the are pretty short, so each unit will average about a month and the two short ones will share a month. There are even more classics than this that we'll watch on DVD instead. You can see the divisions on the rough draft post.
Mysteries and Dickens Orphans
            Mysterious Affair at Styles - Agatha Christie
            Sherlock Holmes - a couple/few shorts
            The Busman's Honeymoon - Dorothy Sayers
            A Child's Machiavelli -Claudia Hart
            David Copperfield - Dickens
Austen Influences
            DVDs for Emma, Pride and Prejudice, and Mansfield Park
Boarding School Novel
           Famous Five series - Enid Blyton
            Tom Brown's Schooldays
Gothic Romance
            Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde
            Tell-tale Heart - Poe (MhoncaiDad does a wicked read aloud of this one.)
            The Tempest - Leon Garfield retelling
            DVDs for Wuthering Heights and Dracula
Postmodern Epic
           Wizard of Oz
            Flashman Papers - portions
            DVDs for Van Helsing, Twilight (monsters then and now comparisons), Bewitched, Wicked
            Gulliver's Travels retelling by McCaughrean
            Canterbury Tales retelling by McCaughrean
            Plato's Cave Allegory
            Phantom Tollbooth
            Alice in Wonderland
            Cruikshanks cartoons
Everyman Allegory
            The Land of Far Beyond by Blyton (Pilgrim's Progress retelling)
            Phaedrus by Plato
            The Beedle and the Bard
            DVD for Everyman Play, Brothers Karamazov,
            Secret Garden (+ Little Princess on DVD)
            Psammead by Nesbit
            Wanderings of Odysseus
            In Search of a Homeland
            Dante's Divine Comedy as Told for Young People
Alchemical Magic
            Garfield's Shakespeare (just a handful of plays)
            research Red King and White Queen
            research Nicolas Flamel, Hermes Tristmegistos, and others
            research alchemy in general
Secret of the Mirror and the Seeing Eye
            The Little White Horse
            The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis

 **** Mid-year notes added March 2016 ****
  • We actually started with Junior Analytical Grammar to keep it light, and because that's the way the school book deals rolled. He'll get Analytical Grammar season one done before the next grade. That's plenty.
  • Spelling - Man alive did he balk over that book. Spelling isn't his strong suit, but he's not really a bad speller. By December I couldn't take it anymore. I showed him how Spalding spelling worked with the Writing Road to Reading manual and had him get a blank notebook from the school closet. I made him start at the very beginning with two and three letter words, but we didn't do the thirty words a week thing. We aimed to fill one notebook sheet a day, until we reached a point he really needed to camp. This probably gets skipped 1-3 times a week on average, but he's already to list P. I keep a running list of words he didn't do well with and we start with those, then start down the list of words. His application of basic spelling rules has grown exponentially. When he demonstrates mastery of list Z he can drop spelling as a subject, but I'm still fairly tempted to look for a light, independent workbook that would keep him working on word building next year. 
  • Composition - He started the year with a vintage text. We ended up doing homegrown assignments, mostly about airplanes, every 1.5 weeks or so. This worked great, actually. Lately we've been working on Lively Art of Writing, which teaches basic essays and theses. Next week we plan to work some Art of Argument into this block. He's getting into this and doing great.
  • Homegrown Inspiration of J.K. Rowling literature - Win-win!! Hearty two thumbs up. We've had a blast.
Math - Until lately I would have just said oof. This has been his second year of prealgebra. He had a sturdy love/hate relationship with Art of Problem Solving, and while he really liked the challenging MOEMS style problems, he was balking and taking shortcuts on math in general. AoPS prealg was shelved for awhile. We did such a mishmash of work from various sources (well established school closet...) that I started Honor and Grace on Horizons prealg in January, intending to run through it quickly and make sure we didn't leave any glaring holes. Not too long ago I pulled AoPS prealg off the shelf and called Honor over. He did two lessons complete lessons in a row, just using the videos and the exercises, which skipped all the teaching work of the lesson. He was confident and did fabulous. He asked if we could do it again the next day. Another two lessons with videos and exercises only. I had him look closely at the table of contents with me and his confidence soared higher. He knew that he knew he could do the majority of those topics well, and mentioned that the roots and geometry chapters looked great. He could easily finish this book by the end of this school year and run straight into algebra. ♥

Geography - Two thumbs up from the boy. He enjoyed the varied resources and really had fun with this.

Science - Two thumbs up from the boy. I really, really hesitated putting him in this schedule. He is capable of meatier, more mature courses. In the end, I'm glad I did. It was a fabulous success. He absorbed GOBS of chemistry, without having to plug through a large textbook, and his love of the subject is stronger than ever.

Spanish - Perfect fit! Easy peasy lemon squeezy, yet very effective.

Friday, June 12, 2015


Faith and Grace helped choose the fabric for               
the neckties the guys will wear for a performance           
at a dance convention this summer. Picture a               
diagonal cut of that print against black shirts and           
black slacks. I'll use an old Ottobre pattern.               

We've been having blast learning west coast swing as a family.

Faith and her partner. Cutest couple
ever at swing class!
Grace and her partner

Justice and Joy 
Random cuteness from our week 

Eowyn and her all-time favorite human, Joy

Grace, with intense concentration
(She was stuck on a programming game.)

Valor's classic "Really, Mom??"

We saw a live animal demonstration. This is a young American alligator, who loved to whip that massive tail
on his handler's back when he was riled up.

Did you notice someone missing from all those pictures? Honor
was at summer camp. I am SO READY for him to be home!