Coming Back Home

Hello readers! Anyone still out there?

I fell off the face of the Earth when it came to blogging and then Big Kid decided he wanted to go to public school in January 2016, so to public school he went. Then we decided Middle Kid would join him at the same school in August for the start of the 2016-2017 school year.

Both seemed to enjoy it well enough but they weren’t the same kids I had known through the years of homeschooling. Big Kid would be antsy and full of energy from sitting still all day. Middle Kid barely talked because she had been with people for hours and as a tried and true introvert, she was done *done* by the end of the day.

They started asking to come back home a few weeks ago. I wasn’t sure if that was something I wanted to do or not, though. I know they require a decent amount of interacting with other kids and with my anxiety in it’s current state (BAD) I knew that wasn’t going to be easy.

So, I started looking. I started reaching out to find ways to have weekly interaction with the same batch of kids so they could make consistent friends, good friends. I ended up finding a couple of groups locally that would fit into our schedule and I did the most important thing I could for ME, I hired a sitter. I found a sitter to come in every week for 5 hours. She is going to take the kids OUT while *I* get to stay HOME. As another member of the introvert club I can’t really “recharge” without getting time alone.  Anyone that has homeschooled knows that’s not an easy task when homeschooling any number of kids, much less three.

So, for now, we wait for our paperwork to come through from the state saying we are “allowed” to homeschool again. Once I have that in my hands I will let their teachers know when to expect their last days to be and make sure we have the contact information for the kids they have grown close to from school.

For curriculum I am planning on using Build Your Library grade 5, for both kids. I am really excited that grade 5 uses The History of US instead of Story of the World for social studies/history.  I am excited to read the books in the curriculum this year too, as they all look amazing.

We are going a different route with science this year. We are going to try R.E.A.L Chemistry for both kids.  I am hoping we like it because the idea is very appealing.

We are also adding in Soaring with Spelling and Winning with Writing. Big Kid doesn’t really seem to need spelling but it won’t hurt him and Middle Kid will benefit from it too, even if just from the handwriting.

I expect it will take a few weeks to find out grove again and how to fit in each activity and *still* get the schoolwork done, but we will find it and hopefully they are happy they asked to come back home.

So here’s to restarting the great adventure of learning right along with my kids!

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Harry Potter Complete! (Week of February 16)

This week we finished Harry Potter and the Scorer’s Stone.  I am so happy with this book.  It is so well done and interesting to the kids.  The only problem we have is that NEITHER of the kids could manage to wait until the last day for the last chapter so for reading before bed both of them read the last chapter on their own (I still read the last chapter aloud anyway!).

For science this week I had Aaron read aloud to Ivy from Mammals Who Morph.  They both loved the book and it was the end of the series so it played nicely with the 3 week unity study of Harry Potter.

Math this week was another combination of  Excel, Mammoth, and Times Tales.  BK and LK were both able to tell a “tale” each to their GP this afternoon so they are remembering things well, which is awesome.

For history/social studies I found a series on Netflix Instantwatch called How the States Got Their Shapes and we watched 3 episodes of that.  It was an interesting series and the kids enjoyed it.  Full of various trivia which BK has always been a fan of.  We will watch more episodes of this going forward.

For art this week we made Dada pictures since he was out of town for part of the week.  Below is the drawing LK made of the family to show Dada that she missed him.


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Another Week of Harry Potter


We have kept up out unity study on Harry Potter.  The downside is I am a bit daft sometimes and *completely* missed the herbology section of the unit study.  Oops.  As it turns out, that works fine because I can use that section in the spring, should spring ever decide to arrive.  I have read Harry Potter before, of course, but it has been great to read it over again with the kids now that they are a bit older.

Science last week was the next book in the Universe series with Lava to Life which tells the story of how life came to be on Earth.  The kids really seem to like that series and it is useful for me to have BK read it aloud to LK so I can correct his pronunciation as needed and so I can be sure they are reading it all/understanding it as best as possible.

History I have admittedly been slacking a bit on.  I have a plan for this coming week but I didn’t for last week, so we just sort of skipped that bit.  The kids did watch one more episode of Mankind the Story of All of Us but found it boring and kept asking me how much time was left in it.

We have also been working quite heavily on essay writing.  This is one skill I was a bit behind on teaching them but the bonus of homeschooling is now that I realized that we can focus on it really strongly for a couple of weeks and get them both caught up, if not ahead of the curve.  I have taught them how to brain storm ideas and how to write a thought tree then use that tree to write a first draft.  Then we talk about the stories they have written and I correct them, then on Fridays they do the final draft adding in what they need to and correcting as they go. Below is the first draft of LKs essay.  She did pretty well overall her spelling is just a bit off which isn’t a big deal for the end-ish of 1st grade.

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Math this week was a mix of Excel, Mammoth, and Times Tales.  They whined a bit when I asked them to watch Times Tales again but when I asked them to tell me the stories from memory and neither of them could they realized that watching it again was important.

We are also approaching the end of the year for us.  We school year round and March/April is usually our transition point where I put together the portfolios for the state and where I give them each a standardized test (for my own records and to expose them to it should they ever go to public school).  I placed the order for the IOWA tests today so we will do the testing at the end of March/start of April.

That covers the bulk of our week last week! This coming week we get to finish the first Harry Potter book! I am very excited!

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First week of February!

This last week I decided we were going to piecemeal things together in an effort to be a bit less rigid and a bit more relaxed for a couple of weeks.  I mentioned in my last post that we were doing the Harry Potter Unity Study.  We read the first week of the book and it was excellent.  It has been a lot of fun reading it aloud to the kids.  There are also little “projects” to do for this unit study so they have been doing things like filling out information on magical things etc.

For science we have jumped around here and there.  I have had BK read Born with a Bang to LK.  We also did that science experiment I last posted about.  I wanted an “easy” day too so we watched the PBS documentary called A Murder of Crows, which is about how smart crows are.  It was really neat to watch and the kids loved it.

For math we did a few days worth of Excel Math but we also started Times Tales.  I wasn’t sure what I was going to think of it but so far it seems pretty awesome.  It is based on stories where the “characters” look like numbers.  You remember the story in order and figure out the math problem.  Example.  Mrs Week (7) sat on a char (4) to go fishing.  She caught 2 rubber boots and 8 trout. 7 x 4 = 28.  Pretty neat idea overall.  We will see how the kids do with it but it can’t hurt!

We, admittedly, haven’t done any real history as of last week. We watched one episode of Mankind the Story of All of Us.  What we HAVE been doing is working on essay writing.  I realized we had sort of left that behind so we have been writing an essay a week for a few weeks now.  Week 1 was about MB’s birth, and week 2 was about whatever they wanted (BK wrote about Christmas, LK wrote about Nature).  We have started with the idea of a brainstorm day, a first draft/correction day, and then a final draft day.  So far they seem to be catching on pretty quickly which is awesome.

In all, it was a good week and didn’t feel overly busy, which was exactly the goal of this little “break” we are taking.

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Hello Again!

Hello there readers!

For those following along you know it has been FOREVER since I have written.  We had a new addition to the family in September and things have been hectic as we all adjust to what the new monster baby (MB) means for our schedules and daily life etc.

When MB was first born, we took several weeks off from schooling because Mama was nothing short of a zombie (not that I am any better now, I have just adjusted to it!).  I “made time” for that this summer by keeping up with our schooling on the weeks that LK and BK didn’t have camp, so instead of “summer break” we had “baby break”.

Once we started back up we kept going with Build Your Library grade 3.  Of course we are using it for 2 kids now, age 6 and 8, and I haven’t had any trouble adapting it to use easily with both kids.  The hardest part is getting LK to do the copy work but I had similar trouble with BK back when he was her age, so I know if we just keep it up she will get used to it.

The focus with this grade of BYL is the early modern world and microscopes/chemistry.  We have read many awesome books so far including Out of Many Waters, Mandy,  and The Ghost in Tokaido Inn.  The readers with this grade (first grade level with readers for BYL) have been excellent too and my kids have enjoyed all the books so far.

We have also kept up with Math Mammoth.  BK has moved on to book 3B and LK has moved on to book 1B and both are excelling using that program.  I am still very impressed with how the books teach the lessons and how little I have to actually help them understand the concepts.

It has all been going really well but last week I decided that we need a break from “the usual” and the mid-winter doldrums have hit, so I have switched things up a bit! We got as far as finishing week 12 of grade 3 and as it turns out, the reader *and* the literature book both end that same week so it was a good chance to take a little break.

Instead, we have been doing the Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone unit study (also from BYL) for our literature/main component and I have added in the reading of Born with a Bang for our science section.  A lot of the Born with a Bang stuff seems a bit over their heads (duh, at 6 and 8 years old) but I like exposing them to it anyway so when we talk about it more in depth as they get older they will already be familiar with it, on a basic level.  We have also done a couple of science experiments (seen in pictures below).

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For math we are taking it “easy” and have gone back to the Excel Math curriculum that I bought and used over the summer.  It is great review and is good for practice etc but I wouldn’t trust it as a main curriculum, the lessons are just too short and the spiral nature of it can be confusing for my kids.  Math Mammoth is a much better fit but takes longer in the day to day to complete a lesson.

For history I am “cheating” and we are watching Mankind the Story of All of Us.  It is a good enough show but it isn’t 100%.  Again, just good for them to be exposed to the ideas in the show.  They seem to find it engaging enough and it is a good break from Story of the World.

Right now BK and LK are both doing basketball through our local parks and rec department.  This is BK’s third year doing it and LK decided she wanted to try it out too.  It has been great for them overall though the 3rd/4th graders play with much more zeal than the 1st/2nd graders do so that has been a pretty big adjustment for BK.

In all we are doing well, just super busy.  With any luck I will do a little better at keeping up with the blog, we will see!

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What Our Days Look Like!

I thought I would do an updated version of what our days look like.  This is what a normal day looks like at our house, times listed are the only ones that are relatively consistent.

7:30 I get up, get out school work, have a drink, call the kids down.

7:40 I call the kids down.  They eat breakfast.  While they eat I do my exercise (sometimes walking, sometimes kettlebell….varies between 15 and 30 minutes).

Once I am done that the kids are usually done eating so I shoo them off to get dressed, clean faces, and brush teeth.  I know this isn’t something that is important to a lot of homeschooling families but I prefer to keep a routine of them being presentable because we have errands and appointments on various days and for me (and my kids) it is just easier to keep it all routine.

When they are dressed I check in on their math work and make sure they know what they are doing.  I check to make sure LK can read the problems that she needs to and set them started on that while I go take my own shower for the day.

While I shower they work on their math and start their workbooks.

Workbooks include Scholastic Grammar, 180 Days of Reading, Explode the Code (for Little Kid), and Daily Language Review (for Big Kid).  They are all pretty short and are just good primers/review for the kids.  It is also a good way for me to be sure BK is doing all right with his reading comprehension, as that was one of his weakest areas though he has improved leaps and bounds.

By the time I am done my shower they are usually working on copy work for the day.  Sometimes I have to help them out, especially LK, with the workbook stuff they didn’t understand/ couldn’t read, but usually they are pretty self-motivated.

With that covered BK reads aloud to LK (and myself) from our history reading for the day.  With that done he reads science to her and then they do the science activity that goes along with it.  I help as needed, usually with pronouncing the words.  Most of them he knows, but sometimes needs a bit of help.

With all that done it is usually around 10:30 or 11am.  If we have errands or appointments they are scheduled for around 11ish and we go.  If we don’t have appointments/errands the kids play until lunch time, usually outside.

At noon we have lunch and that usually ends up lasting until around 1pm because LK takes FOREVER to eat.  Seriously, I don’t understand how she could possibly take that long.  While they eat I read aloud from whatever book we are covering with BYL.

Once lunch is done they play some more.  Sometimes outside, sometimes inside, sometimes they get computer time.  This depends a lot on the day.

At 2pm everyone goes for a rest, including Mama.  The kids go to their own rooms where they are free to play, read, or sleep as long as they are quiet.  We all use this time to have our own space and time to be apart from each other.  Pregnant Mama uses the time to take a nap, watch TV, do housework, or whatever else (sometimes even read my own books!).

At 3:30 we all get up and hang out until I have to make dinner.  The kids play boardgames, they play outside, we go swimming, they torment (I mean play) with the cat, whatever the day calls for.

We eat dinner at 6pm and then typically watch Jeopardy at 7.  From there eventually the kids go to bed and then read for 15-20 minutes before falling asleep only to start it all over again the next day!

Obviously things change slightly depending on what activities the kids are signed up for.  If there are “after school” activities dinner gets moved around.  If there are homeschool related activities things get shifted around.  The plus side is homeschooling is quite flexible so if we need to move things or not do workbooks or whatever it isn’t a big deal!


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The Last Few Weeks…

Hello all!

It has been a busy few weeks.  Last week we started back up with Build Your Library.  We are on grade 2 and we completed week #27.  I prefer it, SO VERY MUCH, compared to Moving Beyond the Page.  I can’t quite figure out why other than I feel like MBtP is a lot of busy work with no real substance.  BYL is just more our style I guess.  Little Kid did very well on her first week of it so that was great, I was wondering how she would do.  Doing BYL does mean a bit more “work” for BK because he has to read history and science aloud so that LK can understand it.  She probably COULD read it, at least part of it, but it is easier for her to understand if he reads it to her.

We started The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane.  It is an AWESOME story.  I am so glad it has been included in the curriculum.

For science we covered grasslands and rain forests.  They read about them and then colored in pictures about each of the areas.  This was great for LK because she loves coloring.  We also have 9 monarch caterpillars that are growing up in our habitat.  They are so much fun to watch even though we did it last year, it is fun to do it again.

LK did her first copy work this week too.  I wasn’t sure how she would do with it but she did wonderfully.

We have kept up Language Lessons and Excel Math.  Both kids do really well with Excel Math and math recall has FINALLY kicked in for BK.  I kept waiting for it to click and it happened.  I am so happy to see him get 12 + 2 is 14 (and similar) without even thinking about it.

The week before last  the kids spent at horse camp.  It wasn’t what I was expecting based on the brochure but the kids both had fun so that’s helpful at least.

This coming week I am not quite sure what we are going to do! The kids are going to spend the day at the fair with grandparents for one of the days but beyond that I am not sure if we are going to fit another full week in or not! Time will tell!

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