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: 

 

10th Grade Mid-Year Homeschool Curriculum Review

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This homeschool year with Laurianna hasn’t quite gone according to plan, which has been a little hard on both her and myself (definitely more her though). I mentioned a few months ago that she has been dealing with some health issues thanks to a tick bite almost two years ago. That has in turn meant a lot of changes in our home, both physically and academically. 

Prior to our Christmas break she was becoming extremely fatigued and it was difficult for her to get all of her work done, so we had to slow down in some areas to help her out. Over the last bit we have been trying some different avenues to help her feel better and have a lot of doctor’s visits in the future and will keep you posted. If anything, I am most thankful at this time that we homeschool and have the flexibility in her schedule to adjust things and timing. 

10th Grade Curriculum Choices

10th grade homeschool curriculum choices from Homeschool Creations 2016

Credits to earn: 7

 

Overall, Laurianna has been keeping up grades in her core subjects have excelled: chemistry, literature, history, math, and Latin and slowing down in art (she tends to focus on this when she is resting more). Art and history are her two favorite subjects this year. 

Co-op – Three of her classes meet once a week in a co-op setting (literature, history, and chemistry) for 1-2 hours, although she is responsible for the bulk of the work during the week at home. The group setting has been wonderful for feedback from her peers and in two of the classes also having a different mom giving helps is great too! :) 

notgrass history creative assignment

History – History is definitely one of her favorite subjects. The focus this year has been American history and we’ve been able to include several field trips to go along with the period of history we are studying. We have a few more trips planned for the last half of the year (warm weather would be nice!). It has been fun seeing the various artistic avenues she has been exploring for history as well: writing a small children’s book, designing flyers, and a range of other projects. 

Math – We are definitely thankful to be using Teaching Textbooks for geometry this year. Math is never a favorite, per se, but any way we can make it easier and more enjoyable is wonderful – and Teaching Textbook does that! 

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Chemistry – Although this may not be a favorite subject, but with friends (and fun hands-on ways to learn), it is definitely easier. This year has definitely confirmed for her the course she wants to pursue for college. We’ve sat down with a friend and been talking about colleges for nursing degrees – and here it begins! 

Latin – Visual Latin has been a great fit this year for her as well and we will definitely plan to continue with a second year next year. She has finished up her second year of Spanish and we are determining if she will do a third year as well. 

black and white sketch

Art – Even though she is focusing on her core subjects, art is one subject she is able to work on when she is resting – and truthfully it helps her unwind as well. 

Government/Constitutional Literacy – This class has been one we have slowed down on because we know we can continue it through the summer if necessary. While we love it, it was more of an elective this year rather than a core program and was one we needed to put aside when needed. At this point she should be halfway through the program, but we are about 1/4 of the way through instead. 

Literature – Lots of reading (and maybe some books that are on the dry side – in the kids opinions, at least). One thing I love about this class is we have tied in the books with the periods in history the kids are studying and we celebrate the end of a book (and the corresponding papers) with watching a period movie or one that goes along with the book we are reading. A few of the books have surprised Laurianna – she really enjoyed Uncle Tom’s Cabin – and she has been doing great keeping up with the three papers due each month for each book read. 

Swim Team – With her fatigue, swim team had to be pulled from her daily schedule. This was really hard for her because it was something she definitely enjoyed, but she physically could not keep up with the demands – which has been difficult emotionally for her. She knows that long term it will work out and she is looking forward to summer swim team, but knows that right now she needs to focus on resting and getting her health back to a more “normal” range. 

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Drivers Ed – Laurianna also started DRIVING! Ack! You all – I feel for my parents and how that must have been for them so many years ago. There is something rather nerve wracking having your child behind the wheel and not having physical control (maybe that’s just my issue alone – cough). I know this is an area that as our kids get older we are ‘releasing’ them – but oy, it’s hard! The first few trips were a bit challenging, but there will definitely be some huge perks when she finally does have her license later this summer and I’m not opposed to those! 

 

That’s it so far! How has your year going?

 

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

8th Grade Mid-Year Homeschool Curriculum Review

I’ll admit that this year I was a little anxious about how McKenna would fare taking high school credits. While she was almost completely independent her 7th grade year in most subject areas, her load was going to increase quite a bit and with that – her stress level – and this is a girl who gets overwhelmed quickly. Typically it isn’t ever as bad as she believes it is and she settles down, but it can be rough going for a little bit. 

Homeschool happenings 2016-12

The first few weeks were hard and required copious amounts of patience on my part as she tried to find her own balance. About 4 weeks into the year is when she found her rhythm – and this momma was able to exhale. Granted we still have days of craziness, but she is very dedicated to her studies and doing well, and truly I am so proud of this girl! 

8th Grade Homeschool Curriculum Choices

8th grade homeschool curriculum choices 2016

Credits to earn: 5.5

Latin – Overall McKenna is LOVING Visual Latin (probably her favorite class by far). She is happily flying through spelling at this point as well. 

Geography – While memorizing maps with North Star Geography isn’t necessarily a favorite thing of hers, this girl excels as memorization and is doing very well with the class.

Literature/Writing – I’m take a minute to brag on McKenna – she is a fabulous writer! I know her literature load has been heavier this year than in years past, and involves many books she’d probably rather pass over, but her insight and writing capabilities have far exceeded what I thought she had in her (and I LOVE that surprise!). I definitely credit WriteShop in prepping her the last few years for these assignments. 

Math – Not necessarily her favorite class. At all. She is very thankful for Teaching Textbooks, but not a fan of Algebra. Period. 

Science – The physical class, while challenging for her, is definitely more fun with friends! This is one class we meet together with a few other families each week and another mom teaches the group. The hands on projects have been fabulous (we used this same program with Laurianna and loved it).  McKenna has finished the Archaeology part of her science and will be starting the next book this month.

SpellingLevel 6 of spelling is done – woot!

Swim – We’ve wrapped up our swim season for the year – PHEW! – but it has been wonderful to see McKenna push herself even harder this year in this area. She is discovering the strokes she loves and her new coach also had her try some things she didn’t necessarily want to do, and shockingly she even liked some of it. Because the back and forth travel was getting a little overwhelming for us (separate practices for the boys and girls), we decided to stop after our most recent meet and the kids will pick back up with summer league in May. 

 

 

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

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

4th Grade Mid-Year Homeschool Curriculum Review

January beginning means we are at about the halfway point in our homeschool year. Christmas break was a great time to evaluate what has been (or isn’t) working, how the kids are progressing, and see if we need to make any adjustments.

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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.  

4th Grade Mid-Year Curriculum Review

Overall each of our 4th grade curriculum choices have been working very well. We’ve been tweaking reading as we go along because the main goal has been to get Kaleb reading more confidently. We are still using All About Reading 3 as our core, but have pulled back from their readers. We do the lessons, but Kaleb picks out various readers at the library (with my approval) and we’re using those books to boost his fluency (ironically, same words, but for some reason it flows easier). 

History has moved up the ladder as far as favorites go, mainly because we are teaming up with another family once a week and doing some fun projects to go along with our studies. We work through a few lessons at home each week, and then on Thursday afternoons the kids and I, along with our friend’s children, do an additional lesson and activity to go along (cooking, building, etc…). This has helped Kaleb find a new appreciation for history since he gets to see his friends too. :)

Kaleb has been working on several subjects fairly independently this year: math and handwriting (via Spelling You See). Otherwise, the bulk of his subjects are done 1:1 with me, and frankly, I rather enjoy that. :) With him being our youngest, I will savor each and every moment I have. He is loving science and anything that involves tinkering (Little Bits), and he also loves snuggling to read together with me (being read aloud to is a favorite of his). 

 

4th Grade Homeschool Curriculum

4th grade homeschool curriculum choices - from Homeschool Creations

Here’s a look at the overall curriculum plan for our 4th grade year…

What We’re Adding (or Already Have)

A Reason for Science D germination lesson

  • Handwriting – A few weeks into the school year we added in Spelling You See Level C, not as a spelling program, but more as handwriting and extra reading practice for Kaleb. He enjoys the handwriting practice (when ironically he hates writing) and it’s one subject he also feels independence in. 
  • Science – While we have worked on various science experiments over the last few months, Kaleb absolutely adores science and needs more structure in this area. For the last half of the year we are adding in A Reason for Science D. The program has 36 lessons (weeks), so there will probably be some we will either work through more quickly or gloss over based on what he has already studied. 

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

  •  Bible – we are still working through, but focusing on things that include all of the kids. Big Truths for Young Hearts is something we can read as a family at night and learn together. :)
  • Art – we’ve slowed down some on this because Kaleb loves to create (and does so during our other coop time as well). He has been picking/choosing the projects he wants to work on, instead of focusing on every single one. That also allows him more free time to work on other projects (like building). 

What Mom Needs to Focus More On

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Reorganizing subject order – Each year we find a different groove that helps us get things accomplished more quickly or puts us in a better flow. The last month before we took a break, we reorganized Kaleb’s workbox grid. This has been a great visual schedule for both of us to remember the various subjects that sometimes get pushed aside. (see the next item)

Geography – This tends to be the subject that gets shuffled to the end of the line, so it is moving up earlier in the day so we will get more accomplished. We aren’t doing a super in-depth study this year, but have picked countries that interest Kaleb and working from there. 

Writing Things Down – While the older three are all taking care of writing down their daily plans and then getting together with me, I have done a wretched job of writing down every thing that Kaleb has been working on (for my records). I know he is on target, so it’s more for my brain and filling in the blanks, but it is helpful to see what he has been working on when there are tough days. Sometimes that visual progress helps me push on and through. 

Reading with Kaleb – We started off well this year with read-alouds, but during the last bit of November and through December it all went out the window. He and I have been reading various books to go along with our history studies (just fun, light reading), but he loves it! 

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