Teaching Textbooks

Our Homeschool (and Life) Happenings – March 2017

If anything has made me more certain than ever not to do live videos, it would be my children. In trying to do a less-than-5-minute video, I was interrupted no less than 5 times by either one of the kids or the dog (sigh). Some rather loudly. It’s truly comical. And you all, I don’t know about the noise level in your house, but ours is NOT QUIET AT ALL. 

I’m not kidding when I tell you I purchased a pair of noise cancelling headphones for myself this week. For real. Sometimes I just need to not hear all the extra noises and be able to concentrate on something (noises are a huge trigger of mine – just being honest with you all). 

The last few vlogs have been a lot of fun to share with you all. :) While I recently shared our middle of the year updates for all of the kids (see links below), here is a peek into the last three weeks or so of life. Feed readers can click here to see the video

(can you see the sock feet hanging over the edge of the couch as we watch the live feed?)

Here are the basics: 

  • Last week was crazy and I forgot to mention the big ol’ power outage we had when that crazy storm swept through our area. So, our school consisted more of couch cuddling near the warm fire and doing what we could there, and then we spent the night at a friend’s house when we were worried we might not have heat overnight. 
  • One of the biggest things I want to instill in our kids is a heart for service. I know they aren’t always super thrilled to take a chunk of their day and feel like they are falling behind in their studies, but truly – they learn just as many life lessons during the time we give to others. So while our time serving at a local soup kitchen once a month can be interesting with the people we meet, it’s also allowing the kids to step out of their comfort zones and be stretched. 
  • Would April the giraffe please have her baby? The live feed is playing in our living room, and the kids are keeping an eye out throughout the day. I absolutely love giraffes ever since my trip to Africa several years ago. They just make me smile. 
  • We have a new-to-us van, a 2008 Toyota Sienna, which meant a morning of the kids helping me out to see how it fit size-wise. They are all thrilled – for real. It’s the little things. :) I’m not quite ready to give up the minivan even though Laurianna is close to getting her license and her own car – OY!

I’ll admit to sneaking in a bit of “mom” reading when Kaleb is working on math facts. He and I have been using his Teaching Textbooks with the book rather than the computer the last two weeks since Zachary has been hogging the laptop at times (part of it is work, part of that is “squirrel moments). While the boy does long division, I have a few minutes to read snippets of Never Unfriended by Lisa Jo Baker (really good!). 

The boys and I are still working through The Green Ember by S.D. Smith, but are only about halfway through. We try to read at least two chapters each day, but some days it ends up being less because I get a little sleepy during read aloud time. :) 

Kaleb has been working through The Beginner’s Bible and will likely finish it before too long, but I love that each morning he is wanting to read. We’re still working on pacing (because he likes to blow through those periods and just get.it.done). 

Several of our kids are fidgeters, and while I had looked at getting something to keep their hands busy, the two of them bought Rubics Cubes for themselves the last few weeks and have been working on memorizing the algorithm to solve it (which they have done rather handily). McKenna bought herself a speed cube. It cracks me up that the kids are playing with toys that I had when I was a kid. 

In history we have followed the Oregon Trail during our US History time and are now moving into the Civil War. The boys put together some covered wagon models for a little hands-on fun (and because I finally remembered we had them). We won’t talk about how many years ago I bought them and forgot to use them (cough). 

Zachary just finished up all of his science for the year – he’s been working through his program a little more quickly than I anticipated, so for now we will fill in with some extras (EEME & other hands-on fun). 

McKenna really loves her physical science class, but she wasn’t super thrilled with their latest experiment. Sadly, we didn’t have any skim milk in the house so she had to use powdered milk and vinegar to make a slime concoction which absolutely STANK thanks to the powdered milk. It was rather comical because she spent the bulk of the time gagging over the odor and didn’t even want to touch it. I supposed I could have let her try whole milk, but once she got going, Laurianna and I were cracking up and waiting to see if she could make it through the entire process. 

 

Fun socks make studying even better, right? Laurianna has been working hard to keep up in several of her core classes (chemistry, geometry, history, and literature) and filling in with the other three from her 10th grade curriculum list as she has the energy. She has a few big tests coming up this week and is working hard on those classes, finished reading her last book for literature class, but still has a few papers to write for that class. 

 

That’s about it for us – how are YOU all doing? 

 

A few links for you: 

 

Our Homeschool (and Life) Happenings via Vlog

The last few vlogs have been a lot of fun to share with you all. :) While I recently shared our middle of the year updates for all of the kids (see links below), here is a peek into the last six weeks or so of life. Feed readers can click here to see the video. 

Here’s the sum-up: 

  • We are on a six week on, one week off schedule – which means a break for us next week. (Happy dance here!!)
  • The weather has been crazy back and forth. Part of me wishes we would go ahead and get a good snow already, but then the warm weather comes and I wonder what I’m thinking. Either way, I wish it would make up it’s mind, because snow one day and 70 degrees the next is CRAZY!
  • Swim team is officially done, so no more back and forth nights with practice. I am much relieved. 
  • We had a new baby join the family (nephew) in January and my mom’s hip surgery went well (eventually). The first few days were really rough, but she is doing much better now – thanks so much for your prayers!
  • The days our oldest is struggling health-wise make me ever-so-grateful we homeschool (much more about this in the video). 
  • Hardest part for me the last 6 weeks has been dealing with diet restrictions and a complete revamping of the ‘familiar’ tried and true recipes/menus we had in place. I’m a creature of habit, so having to re-think everything has been quite a bit of a challenge. I’m also an all or nothing girl, and baby steps have been h.a.r.d. for me to take. Just sayin’. 
  • Incidentally, THIS BOOK is fabulous. Cannot say it enough. 
  • And a dog. A cute dog is sometimes what I need to see and snuggle with. And yes, she needs a haircut. You all were cracking me up on Facebook thinking I posted a picture of a skunk. 😂

That’s about it for us – how are YOU all doing. 

 

A few links for you: 

 

6th Grade Mid-Year Homeschool Curriculum Review

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This boy. We sat down a bit ago and looked back at his progress over the last several months and map out the rest of the year. It was a great chance to see if we needed to make any adjustments (in curriculum, implementation, or attitudes – cough). 

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If the above is ANY INDICATION on this boy…well, then. The deal with my phone is – if I find selfies (however crazy they may be) on my phone, they can be used anywhere. Anytime. And this is my life, people. Every single day. :)

Overall, everything has been going well (we’ve been making minor tweaks throughout the weeks as we go), but I thought you might like to see what the kids are enjoying and also how it’s working so far. I’ll be sharing more on each grade level over the next week or two since it’s a lot easier than doing one gigantic post with everyone.  

6th Grade Mid-Year Curriculum Review

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Each of our 6th grade curriculum choices have been working out great. Zachary isn’t always thrilled with the reading choices I have laid out for him (he’d much prefer FUN book – well, ones that are fun according to him), but we continue to go over the fact that he can read those anytime during the day. Diary of a Wimpy Kid is great (and I’m happy he is reading for fun), but it isn’t counting for his school right now. :) 

Zachary’s two favorite subject areas are science and reading. Along with science he loves the projects he has been working on with EEME

We still have some work to do on his being thorough in all subjects – he likes to gloss over things he isn’t particularly crazy about, especially when it comes to things that involve writing by hand, but otherwise he is doing well as a whole and much more focused than he was last year. 

6th Grade Homeschool Curriculum Choices

6th grade homeschool curriculum choices 2016 from Homeschool Creations

Here’s a look at the overall plan for our 6th grade year…

What We’re Adding (or Already Have)

  • Handwriting – One thing Zachary doesn’t like is his print handwriting. He has a good handle on cursive, but whenever he takes notes, he complains about how it looks. He asked if we could add in some handwriting practice, so I ordered a copy of this program to use (and it goes along nicely with the next addition). 
  • President Review – to go along with our US History studies, we have added in a quick review of the presidents (and what better time than an inaugural year?). Each week we are going through 2-3 presidents and writing down quick facts. I’ve put together some general notebooking sheets for the boys to use (and will be sharing them soon). 

What We’ve Slowed Down On or Put Aside for Now

  • Nothing! Zachary finished the first book in the Who is God?  series and has moved on to the second book for the last half of our year. 

What Mom Needs to Focus More On

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The above is something Zachary managed to get his legs stuck through the arms of his sweatshirt – and got stuck. 

Keeping the Boy in Sight – Zachary isn’t one that likes to stay in his seat. He is a fidgeting, moving around (all the time), tapping, and plain ol’ driving my senses batty most days. It’s hard to let some stuff go as he learns and help him learn to tone things down where others are concerned. The only problem is when he “needs” to go somewhere quiet (the irony does not escape me since he is one of our noisest kiddos) – and then doesn’t return. It’s easy for me to get sidetracked with another child and forget we haven’t seen him in a bit. As much as he dislikes it, we’ve been trying to keep him within eye sight.

Spelling – Zachary has really improved remarkably in this area, but this is one area I tend to forget easily about! He and I have set up a weekly date time (it’s on my calendar now) where we review some of his independent work and also go over a spelling lesson (or two) together.

Family read-alouds – The last few months have felt very helter-skelter and our kids have gotten SO picky about audio books (once you find ones you love hearing, it’s hard to listen to ones that are a bit ‘meh’). They love it when I read aloud and with the weather chilly and swim season almost done for us, these will pick up for sure.

See What the Kids Are Up To…

Click any of the images below to see our homeschool picks for the current school year. You’ll also find links to past years choices in each post. 

4th grade homeschool curriculum choices - from Homeschool Creations 6th grade homeschool curriculum choices 2016 from Homeschool Creations 8th grade homeschool curriculum choices 2016 10th grade homeschool curriculum choices from Homeschool Creations 2016

What We’re Up To In Our Homeschool Time (Weeks 3-4)

We took a vacation the third week of school. That is the beauty of homeschooling, my friends. We can plan to do whatever we want, whenever we want. With Labor Day and my hubby having a vacation day, school would have been a bust anyway, so we had planned on camping. Unfortunately, it turned out to be one of the hottest weekends this summer, so camping was scratched and we found an indoor activity to keep us (slightly) cool, and technically we could count it as PE for the week. 

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Incidentally, if you are wondering when the best time is to hit an indoor trampoline park, the answer would be a Friday morning before noon. Another tip, if you have birthed at least child, you may want to consider purchasing a ticket for the shortest jump time possible, unless you have taken stock in adult diapers. You’re welcome (and so the truth). You just remind your children it is all their fault. 

Very last minute, we decided to have the kids participate in swim team again this year. Our local team has new coaches and a new practice schedule, so we waited while trying to figure out how we were going to balance life and practice with four kids, and not lose our sanity in the process. We’re one week down and so far so good – but we’ll have to see how it is going in a few months. :) 

Monarch butterfly (c) Homeschool Creations
Butterflies are emerging from their chrysalis and those are moments we simply sit and stare. It just never gets old. Ever since I’ve was teaching preschool over 18 years ago, it has completely fascinated me, and now our kids too. This year we didn’t get to see the process itself, but did see something interesting. Aphids were all over one batch of milkweed we brought home and after one butterfly had gone into it’s chrysalis, the aphids were all over the thing. We were worried about it for a bit because we didn’t know what they might do. Yesterday when we looked at it, all of the spots where the aphids had been were little tiny golden dots – it was the most amazing and pretty thing to do – a gold polka-dotted chrysalis (and sadly we didn’t get a picture of it). 

Passport to Purity weekend with son

While there aren’t a TON of things to share that we’ve been doing during our school time, one of the more monumental moments came when my husband took Zachary away for his Passport to Purity weekend. Our initial plans for the weekend didn’t work out, so the two of them found a hotel, Rick planned a surprise football game trip, and the two had a great time away together. Rather than picking out the same gift as his sisters (because a tea cup just doesn’t do it for the boy), Rick and Zachary found him a great knife for him to have in the years to come, especially handy during his time with Scouts. If you’d like to read more about our weekend away with the girls, you can read more here. This is the only picture I have of their weekend – grins. :) 

In the meantime, we’ve been plugging away at school, adding in a new subject each week now that the kids are getting more into the routine of things, and overall it’s going really well. Most days. There are still major moments of drama (I will not name any names) and frustration, but there are also many moments of success that completely fly in the face of all the frustration (and those are worth their weight in gold, my friends). 

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Reading for Kaleb is plugging along. We have picked up some various readers for him to read every other day and he is really doing so much better – which is an encouragement to both of us. This is again one of those times when I need to remind myself not to compare where his progress is, especially in comparison to his siblings. Zachary at this point was starting Level 4 of All About Reading and Kaleb is on All About Reading Level 3 – but progress is progress and we will take every little bit, especially the fact that he is wanting/trying to read other books to us.  

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Our one computer is back up and running, which means McKenna can now work whole-heartedly on Latin. She is absolutely loving Visual Latin this year (and earning that credit). She and Laurianna both are trying to talk to each other in short phrases which is cracking me up. The first time I heard them trying to say something to each other I thought they were using Pig Latin and couldn’t figure it out, until they started cracking up and told me what they were saying. 

In an attempt to finally clean off my camera’s SD card, I managed to delete a slew of pictures I thought I had already uploaded of some of the other things we worked on the past two weeks: science experiments with Zachary, a few pictures of Laurianna and her artwork, but the good thing is – the pictures don’t mean that progress wasn’t made (thank goodness). And my SD card is much happier at this point too since the pictures from two years ago have finally been removed. 

That’s a really quick look at our past two weeks – what have YOU been up to? 

 

4th grade homeschool curriculum choices - from Homeschool Creations 6th grade homeschool curriculum choices 2016 from Homeschool Creations 8th grade homeschool curriculum choices 2016 10th grade homeschool curriculum choices from Homeschool Creations 2016

The First Two Weeks of Homeschool (or when the computer and pencil sharpener decided to stop working)

Grand plans, people. You know what they say about those? Yes. Well, then. Let’s sum up the first day, shall we? 

A computer went kaputz (battery=dead, but under warranty, so shipped back to manufacturer). That in turn meant we couldn’t use the computer for math, which set one child off in a panic. (FULL BLOWN, mind you). Said child may also have a wee bit of a love for very well-sharpened pencils, so when the pencil sharpener also decided to STOP WORKING, the world may have almost come to an end. 

Drama, anyone? Anyone? 

I promise, I was about ready to go back to bed within the first hour. Overall, the bulk of the day (and kids) ended up cooperating, but it definitely wasn’t the start I envisioned. And we never got around to first day of school pictures. 

Second Day of School

Instead, we settled for the second day of school pictures. Because really? The kids hadn’t changed that much in 24 hours (unless you count cooperation), so we took pictures and called it good. And while Zachary appears taller than his oldest sister, she vehemently disagrees and says she was slouching. He still has several inches to go before he can call it even.

We all managed to survive almost two weeks without the before mentioned computer (and one child is happily sharpening all the pencils in the schoolroom ad naseum now that the most amazing pencil sharpener showed up in our house just in the nick of time). As much as I hate to admit it, we have become very connected to our laptops. From math to writing (for the olders), and a few textbooks online, it was a bit of a juggling act to get it all balanced. Now that the one is back, there may be an issue with the much older laptop coming unhinged.  I do believe I may give up. 

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Did I mention too that we are suckers for butterflies in our house? It doesn’t matter how many times I see it, I’m still fascinated and could watch them for hours. The kids took a bike ride one afternoon and five minutes later returned with four caterpillars for us to watch. Two of them are already in the chrysalis and the other two are munching away, growing like crazy. The entire process just boggles my mind and is completely amazing.

Other than that, here’s a quick sum-up of our first two weeks by kiddos…

Kaleb – 4th Grade

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We’ve started the year off hitting reading hard. Kaleb is using All About Reading Level 3 and we are working at the pace of one lesson every two days.  At this point we are through four full lessons and while it’s still slow going most days, every day is a little more progress. 

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When Laurianna is working on chemistry, the boys have a chance to do some fun go-along history projects with two of our friends (don’t tell the other mom, but I think I’m getting the better end of this deal). Both of our families are working through the same history lessons together and right now we are learning about Native Americans. This week the kids all work on petrooglyphs – and the results were hilarious. The kids tried to guess what the others had ‘written’ using pictures. 

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Although we don’t have a formal science curriculum this year, we have been using an engineering kit from Insight to Learning and Kaleb is loving it. The first project was to build an 18″ parking garage that could house four cars – which was going along well until a certain mother accidentally knocked down a 16″ structure and it needed to be rebuilt. Oops.

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Building a house with a slanted roof was another project in the Insight to Learning kit, and Kaleb had a BLAST with this one. That boy is particular to the core, so it took him quite a bit of time to complete it, but it was well worth the time. 

View our 4th grade curriculum choices HERE. 

Zachary – 6th Grade

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On the eighth day, the computer was returned and all of the children and the mother did a happy dance. Math was back on track and everyone was happy to stop using the go-along textbooks. We are a rather happy Teaching Textbooks family. :) And headphones. Thank the Lord for headphones that help keep distracted children on task. 

First Week of School-5

A new project from EEME arrived in our home recently too – Q the Robot! Zachary has been looking forward to another electronics project and jumped right in to start on it. We’ll be posting a full review on it soon and sharing our thoughts. 

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Two of our newer subjects for Zachary, Who is God and Writers in Residence, are keeping the boy rather busy. His love for reading doesn’t help with the workload, but he is enjoying both of the programs. We are still working on pacing and focus (someone is a bit distractible), but otherwise sixth grade is looking good on the boy.  

First Week of School-2

Science is definitely Zachary’s favorite area of study. Between building projects or running experiments, he manages to find the time to work on them. Always. He is loving the two lessons and one lab layout of Rainbow Science and spent time setting up several tests to measure distance traveled from acceleration. 

View our 6th grade curriculum HERE

McKenna – 8th Grade

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Figuring out how to balance the new workload and classes has been a bit of a challenge for McKenna. She is trying to find her groove for the classes and not having a laptop made it a bit difficult, especially because she had four papers due for literature class the first 2 weeks. (Yeah. That was fun. I only have myself to blame for that one.)

Science and Latin are so far proving to be her two favorite classes, although geography is right up there as well. She has some basic experiments to run at home, but has also been working on building a race car and a glider for her science class. The hands on part of it is something she loves MUCH!

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The two of us sit down together once a week to go over her different subjects and plug in the information from her student planner (she l.o.v.e.s. the new design) into my main planner. This gives us a chance to also go over any questions she might have about the upcoming week and make sure she is staying on target with her lessons.  

View our 8th grade homeschool curriculum HERE. 

Laurianna – 10th Grade

Laurianna is trying something a little different this year with her schedule (and trying to convince McKenna to do the same. Rather than working on every subject every day and switching gears constantly, she has blocked out her schedule so she works on some classes two days a week and the rest the other two. That gives her a day to finish up anything not completed and otherwise have a little breather. With two afternoons of co-op classes, her week is fairly full and swim season starts this week as well, so evenings are going to be packed as well.  

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This year will be interesting to see where Laurianna’s interests truly are. She still has some time before figuring out a college path and major, but is contemplating a few different options, including nursing. Biology is under her belt, and this year we are moving on to chemistry, so it will be fun to see how it develops as we go along. 

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No matter what, art is still one of her favorite areas to spend time. Adding this class as an elective this year was a great choice and gives her some down time while doing something she adores (and can receive credit for). So far she has three sketches to put in her portfolio for the year – and I love the above one she worked on this past week (even if it makes me want to get my eyebrows done…grins). 

View our 10th grade homeschool curriculum choices HERE

 

That’s a quick peek at the first two weeks of our school time – how are things going in your house? 

  

Our Homeschool Curriculum Choices…

Click any of the images below to see our homeschool picks for the current school year. You’ll also find links to past year’s choices in each post. 

4th grade homeschool curriculum choices - from Homeschool Creations 6th grade homeschool curriculum choices 2016 from Homeschool Creations 8th grade homeschool curriculum choices 2016 10th grade homeschool curriculum choices from Homeschool Creations 2016

Reading List for 6th Grade

 6th grade reading list - assigned literature for the school year

This year Zachary and I will be sitting down together quite a bit to review his reading and I am very much looking forward to that! In years past with our girls, we typically wait until we are finished with the book, but this boy requires a little more…umm…hands-on to make sure he is staying on target with his reading. Much of the time together will be spent talking about the various books and discussing the story lines in-depth.

In addition to his assigned reading list, we are trying to push him outside his comfort zone a little and have him choose a book he wants to read for fun. While our girls were both voracious readers and this wasn’t hard with them, it has been more of a struggle with him. That’s not to say he isn’t getting there, but there are so many other exciting things in the life of a sixth grade boy.

A Peek at the Assigned Reading List

6th reading list 2016

Several of the books on this list are based on the Ready Readers 2 guide that we are using this year for literature and reading, or the alternate suggestions. A few of the books also tie in with the historical period we are studying as well. During the week we are using Ready Readers to look at our current book and take a comprehensive look at the conflict, plot, setting, characters, theme, literary devices and author of the stories. The guide provides us with a fabulous set of questions (and answers) to get us started – and it has already been great! 




Additional Reading

Along with the above books, I’ve pulled together some additional books using the  Reading Roadmaps guide (also put out by Center for Lit). Overall, I’m really appreciating the book suggestions it offers for grades K – 12. Although it doesn’t offer the same in-depth questions and comprehension as Ready Readers 2, it does provide some basic information for discussion (theme, plot, and conflict) for all of the recommended stories.

We’ll be filling out a book report form, story chart, or creating a simple literature summary for the below books (including plot, characters, setting, theme/conflict, and one literary device used in the story). Overall, the goal to have Zachary learn more about various aspects of literature and assuring that he has a firm grasp on key literature terms, literary devices, and knows how to look for those things in his reading.

What books are on your kid’s reading list for this year?

 

Additional Reading Lists

American Literature high school reading list 2016_edited-1

8th reading list 2016