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College Visits, Mom Doubts, and Routines – Homeschool and Life Happenings

I’m not going to lie. This week hasn’t been all sunshine and happiness in the house. Aside from the fact that it’s literally been overcast and we were prepping for some major rain thanks to Hurricane Flo (which it now looks like will miss us), kiddos have had headaches, and there have been some rather stinky attitudes all around. 

The kind that make you cry a bit, call a friend to vent and get some reassurance that you are not scarring your children for all eternity. And then you pray even more for guidance.

We all have doubts and there are days when little (or big) things the kids say or do touch on insecurities and make us question all that we are doing. 

So we regroup. Refocus. See if there is something that needs to be tweaked. And we keep going.

Our Days…

One of these days I will get around to sharing what a day looks like in our house. Except here’s the thing – each day doesn’t follow a set routine. 

We do start our days with routine of sorts, but our kids aren’t on a minute-by-minute block schedule. We know what subjects need to be done each day and work through them in the order that works best. 

But every morning the boys watch CNN 10 together and then take turns using the downstairs computer to work on their Teaching Textbooks. Having the 3.0 online version of their math levels has been a huge help for this since they can use any computer in the house. 

As soon as they finish up math, we read together. Currently we’re reading The Wednesday Wars by Gary Schmidt and absolutely loving it. And because of all the cream puff references, I need to find a local place that makes them fresh so we can all enjoy one. :)

Independent Work

Back up in the schoolroom (which is still unpainted), the kids all work on their work independently as much as they can. Zachary is on a bit of a learning curve with this – checking in with me and making sure he is tracking everything in his planner. 

For the most part, I’m sitting between Kaleb and Zachary and helping Zachary as needed. Kaleb is getting into a better routine and definitely jumping into his new subjects without complaining. 

Kaleb finished up his first unit from AOP Lifepac History and Geography and started work on the second unit. He really likes the format and although the reading at times is hard (hello to names of countries from the beginning of civilization). Having him writing more is also a huge encouragement for me. 

If anything, this year has been a definite turn in attitude for Kaleb toward his school work and expectations. We did have a talk at the start of the year about him needing to step it up a bit in some areas. Since he loves swimming, we made a comparison to his dropping times in events to his level of practicing. 

For him that helped him understand that even when he doesn’t necessarily enjoy something (such as reading or writing), it won’t get better if he doesn’t keep practicing and work on it. 

One more subject we added in this week was spelling. We’re not using paper to write the practice words this year, but instead using our  Boogie Board which Kaleb loves. 

In reading, Kaleb has started reading Mad Scientists Club in addition to The Yellow House Mystery Boxcar Children book. He was a bit hesitant at first in adding more reading to his day, but he is really enjoy the Boxcar Children (and wants to read more), and has 

McKenna has been working and figuring out her schedule and trying to balance her drama class since she spends about 8 hours (or more) in class each week in addition to memorizing her lines and songs. It’s definitely been a lot of work, but she is loving the class. 

Laurianna and I also re-visited one of the colleges she is interested in this week to make sure the classes she is taking at the community college line up with their requirements. After this fall semester she will have all of her nursing pre-requisites completed, so she will be able to apply directly to the nursing program and begin working on her electives as well. Next week we will visit another school and talk to them about their RN to BSN program and see how it will line up with her current classes. 

The last bit of the week we’ve been watching the hurricane via the Frying Pan Ocean live cam. While we are thankful that our area will not be receiving the magnitude of rain that was initially expected, we’re watching areas our friends live in and praying it doesn’t cause as much damage as they expect. 

That’s it for us this week. Hope you all are having an amazing week – talk to you soon! 

Be sure to stop by WeirdUnsocializedHomeschoolers.com and hang out with some other moms who are sharing their day-to-day happenings. 

A School Picture, No Internet, and Experiments – Homeschool and Life Happenings

It only took us two weeks, but we finally grabbed a “back to school 2018” picture last Friday when everyone was finally home. No editing (because my house looks yellow, it’s white), only two children had to be told to go put on something else because NO THAT IS NOT OK TO WEAR, and one child is completely faking her height by wearing boots with 2-3 inch heels so she can beat out her sister. 

But they are all smiling, so all is well – 6th grade (Kaleb), 8th grade (Zachary), 10th grade (McKenna), and 12th grade (Laurianna), and now I can check that off my list (even if it’s two weeks late. Don’t judge.). 

Not too long after though, I managed to back out of our garage and into our other vehicle when we were on our way to McKenna’s play practice. Not a shining moment. On the other hand, the boys will have fun helping me change out the light casing for the tail light and get that fixed. 

Let’s have a sweet puppy and kitty moment, shall we? 

As for this week, you know that saying about the best laid plans? Yes, well, apparently they have met our internet provider. 

We’ve gotten spoiled the last few months having internet that has a speed of over 1.3MB – we’re much closer to 100MB now after many years of begging and pleading. 

Unfortunately, that does little good when there is a service outage and then a small router goes berserk and the internet is down for two days. Especially when your husband’s phone is apparently in the middle of an update, freezes, and then he spends the next two days trying to access all the stuff. 

I know it’s a first world problem, but it’s crazy how dependent we’ve gotten on our devices, isn’t it? And with so many programs relying on computer access these days, it can put a little kink in plans when they can’t be accessed. 

Instead we relied on my phone’s hotspot and made the best of things (grumble, grumble) until things were fixed on Thursday for us. 

There was lots of reading aloud, independent reading, sticking with our everyday subjects, and then adding in some fun chemistry experiments at the end of the week for McKenna. 

Kaleb finished up the first unit in his AOP Lifepac History and Geography set – woot! 

I mentioned on FB and Instagram that we are using a different chemistry program this year for McKenna and on top of that, we don’t have the same group setting (i.e. I actually have to teach this time around). 

To say I’m a bit nervous is an understatement. I love the math aspect of chemistry and the fun hands-on, but I’d be lying if I said I don’t get frustrated at times with McKenna because we are both really strong personalities – which can cause going toe-to-toe at times. 

So far though I am really liking the layout of this program and we had a blast working on the experiments this week together (we’re doing them with a friend too). 

This week we worked on three different experiments – separating a mixture of salt and parsley, learning about the conservation of mass, and also the law of definite proportions. We’re meeting every two weeks to review the previous chapter and prep for the test and then work ahead on the experiments for the upcoming lessons. That way the girls know what is supposed to happen and understand the experiment/concept when we get to that portion of the chapter. 

Well, other than all the experiments, the literal fender-bender, and our two week late back-to-school photo – that’s our week in a nutshell. 

Hope you all are having an amazing week – talk to you soon! 

Be sure to stop by WeirdUnsocializedHomeschoolers.com and hang out with some other moms who are sharing their day-to-day happenings. 

Filling in the Subjects and a GREAT Start – Homeschool and Life Happenings

Our weeks are starting to fill up. This week McKenna began practice on Friday nights in addition to Saturday morning. Combined she is at the theatre about seven hours each week until the performance in November. Between that and the time she is pouring into line memorization and vocal practice each day, she is definitely earning her 1/2 credit. 

Since the theatre is about 30 minutes from our home, it means I have a chance to find a cozy spot nearby and hopefully get some work done over the next bit (assuming I choose to use my time wisely!). So far I’ve been choosing well. A cup of coffee, a pack of colored pens, and a planner were my company last week and I’m already making my pile for this week. 

Our mornings are still easing in as I’m waiting on the boy’s Bible study to arrive (I had a few things printed online since I had a credit somewhere and wasn’t in a rush) as well as their writing program. This week we added in math, science, and handwriting (Kaleb).

Each morning the boys are coming downstairs between by 7:30, grabbing breakfast, and then getting started on a few things they can do independently. 

First up is CNN 10 and then the boys rotate between independent reading and their Teaching Textbooks 3.0 math. Zachary started Algebra 1 this week and took the laid back approach with things the first two days (that is until someone reminded him that only so much could be done in his head and he won’t receive the benefit of the doubt if I cannot see his work on paper). 

Probably one of the most exciting things (for me) this week was having Kaleb work on his reading alone. The first day he read the chapter out loud to me and Zachary (which ended up being hilarious since he kept pronouncing words completely wrong on purpose and trying not to laugh). 

The other days he grabbed his book early in the day and sat down to read a chapter on his own. Once finished, I would ask him for a summary and then some specific comprehension questions to make sure he was getting it all. 

And one thing that is such a plus – having friends you can text and then immediately respond to share your joy with you. That’s something to love.  ❤️

One of the things that is cracking the kids up this week – the hint helpers in Algebra 2, Teaching Textbooks 3.0 . McKenna picked a dog floating on a piece of pizza and thinks it’s hilarious (and if it makes math more fun – BONUS!). :) 

Zachary worked through one chapter of his Physical Science from Exploration Education as well and built a racer and glider so far. He has a lab to go through with me still to complete the chapter, but is figuring out how to pace himself over the course of the week. 

We’ve been working on a little something for him that will remind him of WHAT he needs to accomplish each week and how often he needs to be working on each subject to give him a visual reminder (and so I’m not nagging him all the time). 

What is encouraging is watching him buckle down and apply himself. I realize we are only two weeks in and his load will get heavier in the upcoming two weeks, but he is already well ahead of where he was in this area last year!

Kaleb and I have been working each day through his Lifepac History and Geography set. We are *almost* done with the first booklet. It’s a new to us program, so we’re still figuring it all out, but so far we are both loving it. Because of his reading struggles, we are doing paired reading (he reads a paragraph and I read a paragraph). It takes us a little longer, but he is also writing his own answers (handwriting is a struggle too).

Best part though = no complaining. 👍🏻👍🏻 Kaleb is really loving it and it fits it perfectly with they way he enjoys working and learning. 

The walls in the classroom are finally getting a much needed coat of spackling as we prep for repainting (maybe this weekend??). 

McKenna also started Discovering Design with Chemistry this week (another new-to-us program) and we were able to sit down with the other family we will be working on labs with and come up with a bi-weekly schedule to get together. One more thing marked off the list! 

Each chapter will take us two weeks to go through, so plenty of time to read and get it all done before we meet and take the chapter tests. 

Kaleb and I also started Christian Kids Explore Chemistry.  After our lesson our “hands-on” lab was finding a few items around the house and recording the ingredients listed and seeing which ones we knew (and didn’t). 

Apparently Kaleb grabbed my camera at some point when I was working with Zachary and snapped a picture (for which I am thankful – especially since it wasn’t posed). 

My time most of the week has been spent in my chair, right between Zachary’s desk and Kaleb’s desk, so I can bounce back and forth between the two of them and help them when needed. It’s been a little crazy at times, but I’m sure as the year progresses and each boy gains confidence in their abilities and subjects it will allow me to step back a little.  

And this boy – seeing his 6’1″ frame is something that still amazes me every day. I don’t quite know when he managed to grow up and tower over me, but it really makes me incredibly thankful that I get to spend each day with him. :)

Mom Stuff

While the kids have their stuff, my main focus has been making sure we are getting things done (and not wandering off) this early in the game. Basically making a GREAT start to the school year. 

There’s still so much I feel “behind” in. My desk hasn’t been cleared off and organized – I still have to get things sorted from the end of last year. The school room needs to be repainted. 

Meanwhile though, I’ve been finishing my 2019-2020 planner, getting back into a meal planning cycle, trying to plan ahead as best as I can, and essentially catch my breath. 

And that’s a good and important thing too. Remembering to rest each day a bit in the afternoon. Bake again (I’ve really missed that!). Have a cup of coffee and savor it. 

It’s the little things – and I’m really trying to enjoy them! 

Hope you all are having an amazing week – talk to you soon! 

Be sure to stop by WeirdUnsocializedHomeschoolers.com and hang out with some other moms who are sharing their day-to-day happenings. 

10th Grade Homeschool Curriculum Picks (2018-2019)

So far, McKenna has earned a total of 13.5 credits toward high school diploma. At the end of her 10th grade year she will have completed 6.5 more credits, making a total of 20.5 credits toward her diploma. Several of her classes will require a bit more from her (hello, we’re looking at you chemistry).

McKenna did a fairly good job establishing her own routine last year, but this year we are going to tweak it a little bit and set it up together. McKenna has a tendency to over-plan and over-do and be very thorough in her work. Sometimes a little too much (gotta love the girl). This year I’m hoping to help her establish a little more balance so she isn’t quite as hard on herself, since she tends to stress herself (and those around her) out. 

Rule #1 for the year though is to make sure her cell phone (and mine) are put aside during our school time. Distraction can be a huge impediment to our day, so the phone will disappear fairly early in the day and provide incentive for her to get through her work. :) 

We will be working with one other family in a small co-op to complete our chemistry review and labs as well as our literature class.

10th Grade Curriculum Choices

Credits to earn: 6.5

Algebra 2

We’ve used Teaching Textbooks in past years and this year we will be continuing, but instead of using the typical textbook/CD-rom we are switching to the Algebra 2 3.0 online version. I’m really excited about this switch since I can log into the account at the same time and view the lesson, and we can access from any computer, not just one specific (which we had to do with CD-rom version).  

Government/Economics

Each of these classes will take place over a semester (each a 1/2 credit). We’re planning to start with government and will then move into economics. We’ve used Notgrass other years (for different subjects), but haven’t used the Government or Economics specifically. McKenna really enjoyed the format of the books last year, so we’re looking forward to the continuity and familiarity of the layout. 

Spanish

We’re switching to a new Spanish curriculum this year. I did a lot of research over the last year trying to figure out what to use with McKenna (Spanish with Laurianna wasn’t one of our favorite subjects at all and we really disliked the format of what we started with – and that the program had no support since it was bought out by another company). 

A few friends recommended Breaking the Barrier, and while it is not online, we’re hoping the workbook format will be a little more user friendly for us overall and easier to follow. 

Chemistry

This is another new-to-us curriculum. After Carisa’s son used it last year, we sat down and reviewed it with her and decided to make the switch to this program. Truthfully, I’m a little nervous about this class since Laurianna went through chemistry in a co-op setting. BUT, if anything, we have a great teacher’s manual and will have fun working on experiments/labs together. :) 

Literature

The last few years we have used two of the literature programs by Janice Campbell and love the format of them. This year we are using her British Literature program. It isn’t one we’ve used before, but has a few books I can’t wait to dig into with McKenna. 

Drama

McKenna is really excited to be taking another theatre class at our local community college. Each week she is participating in workshops, vocal training, and at the end of the semester the group will be performing the musical, Urinetown (I know it sounds crazy, but it looks hilarious). Because this is an intense class with a lot of in-class and out of class hours (and she will be one of the leads!!), she will earn 1/2 credit for the class. If she decides to participate in the spring semester class as well, we will bump it up to a full credit. 

Poetry

This year we will also be working through the Grammar of Poetry from Compass Classroom. There is a local workshop that will tie-in with what we are learning in the program, and McKenna will earn .5 a high school credit for this class. 

Curriculum in Year’s Past

In case you are interested in seeing the curriculum that brought us to this point, here’s a peek at what we’ve used with McKenna the past few years:

Planning the Middle and High School Years

Overview planning pages for middle and high school

One thing that has been a huge help to me in mapping out the upcoming years with our kids  is this middle school and high school planner. Essentially I am able to get an extended view and map out the future years to see what we need to work on and when it might fit in best -and make sure we aren’t missing anything overall. 

If you are new to homeschooling and aren’t sure where to begin in choosing homeschool curriculum, please don’t let this post overwhelm you! Check out the entire Homeschool Basics series for answers to more frequently asked homeschool questions.

Homeschool Teaching Styles and Philosphies.png Identifying Children's Learning Styles copy How to Choose Homeschool Curriculum

See What the Other Kids Are Up To…

Click one of the images below to see curriculum picks for our other children.

First Week Back 2018 – Homeschool & Life Happenings

Have you all started school yet? 

Well – we survived our first week! Despite my feelings of complete unpreparedness, we just jumped in and did it. Had we waited until everything was all in order, I’m sure there would have been 100 more reasons to hold off another week (or three). 

I didn’t even take our first day of school pictures. (True story) I texted Laurianna and asked her to take a selfie and send it to me, just so I could do a side by side of her kindergarten year and her senior year. 

I’m trying really hard not to think that over too much. My girl is graduating this year!

Meanwhile, my desk is covered in papers, I’m still waiting on a few things to be delivered (not crucial, just extra stuff), there are posters to hang, shelves to reorganize, but we started!

My hubby went away last weekend and I thought it would be great to repaint the school room before we started this week. We moved some stuff around (just a bit – and I’ll share more later), but with the moving there needed to be some touch-ups and minor spackling, so we were going to paint the entire room over in a new color. 

Unfortunately, in the adhesive map removal process, I managed to pull of the top layer of drywall, so my hubby (who is rather particular on finishing it right the first time) is going to have to do the fixing before we can paint. If you’ve read my blog for any time, you’ll know that having this UNFINISHED and staring at me every single day is jumping on my very last nerve. 

Solution: face my chair to the opposite wall so I don’t have to look at it every day. Done! (Ok, it’s not helping all the way, but it’ll do for now!)

Starting Slow and Easing In

If there’s one thing that I’ve learned over the years, it’s this: take it easy the first week or two. We decided to start off by going over the subjects we will be covering this year and get a feel for what needs to happen each week. Other than that, our days involved the following: 

6th grade: reading, language/grammar, and geography

8th grade: reading and geography

10th grade: government, literature, and drama

12th grade: ALL IN!! :) Laurianna started classes bright and early Monday morning. This semester she will be at the community college Monday through Thursday and had all classes this week. No easing in for her! 

Morning Routine

McKenna is typically off on her own with her work during the week, but the boys and are planning to have a morning routine where we will be able to sit and work on a few things daily (CNN 10, Bible study) and then loop through a few other things like art projects, learning games, or whatever else we’re in the mood for. 

CNN 10 was a favorite of the boys last year, but we often had issues with the streaming because our internet speed was horrid. In June we finally joined the 21st century and are streaming seamlessly now, so they are thrilled. 

At our library I recently found Boxcar Children graphic novels. One of the things Kaleb will be reading this year is one of those books, so I picked up several for him to read prior to reading the actual book. For him, it’s a little less intimidating (and builds his confidence), so I am ALL IN. 


One of the BIG events that has been talked about every day so far this week – McKenna auditioned for the fall musical and received one of the lead roles. She rotated between laughter and crying the first little bit and is now furiously memorizing lines. 

For her this means practice every Friday evening and Saturday morning for three hours each time. They have been meeting already several Saturdays this month and the musical will run mid-November, so lots of work to do between now and then. 

If you look closely, yep. Ice cream. For breakfast. Some days I’m just not going to argue with them, especially when they are dressed, ready to go, and doing school work. I can’t really complain about that, right? 

The boys and I started a new read-aloud this week, The Wednesday Wars by Gary Schmidt, and even though we’re only a little bit in, they are laughing (or trying not to show they are). The story is set during 1967-68 and focuses on a 7th grade boy, Holling Hoodhood, who has to spend Wednesday afternoons with his teacher while the rest of his class receives religious instruction. He is convinced his teacher hates him…and the rest is just hilarious. :)

And in other news, the driving continues with McKenna. This past week she graduated from driving down the smaller side roads to traveling on the more heavily-trafficked 55mph road. While it’s a little odd at times, she has really been doing well and gaining confidence each day (and hoping to drive more and more). 

Next week we will be adding in math for everyone along with the bulk of their remaining subjects, but still getting used to the overall day and routine.

Hope you all are having an amazing week – talk to you soon! 

Be sure to stop by WeirdUnsocializedHomeschoolers.com and hang out with some other moms who are sharing their day-to-day happenings. 

10th Grade Year in Review – Curriculum Choices

To say the least, Laurianna’s 10th grade year has been short from boring. The words to more accurately describe it would be exhausting, emotional, challenging, and growing among a slew of other words. The highlight has been starting to drive and subject-wise her favorite was history. 

The year started out fairly normal, but as Laurianna’s health went completely out of whack and the doctor’s visits started, we were scrambling to adjust her daily schedule to accommodate her exhaustion and inability to focus during the day. It didn’t matter how much sleep she had or didn’t have, one day she would be great and another completely opposite. What started with a tick bit has turned into a variety of other issues as well that no one can quite figure out at this point. She put subjects aside for a time in order to focus more attention on a few key ones: history, literature, and science, and still has a two subjects to finish 100%. 

As of the end of her 10th grade year, Laurianna has earned a total of 20.5 credits toward her high school diploma. While we did bulk up her course load the first few years (and she still has two years left of school), I’m honestly thankful we did based on her health. In the upcoming two years we are focusing more on dual credit classes and upcoming college visits and entrance exams – yikes! I cannot believe we are already at this point! She attended our annual homeschool convention with me this year to check out the college fair and sit in on some SAT and scholarship sessions – HOW IS SHE THIS OLD??

Our 10th Grade Year Plan

Credits earned: 7

US History with Notgrass

Last year we made the switch to Notgrass in history and we have LOVED it. We don’t use all the components of the program (literature and Bible credits). Although the program offers two additional credits that can be earned through the year (literature and Bible), we decided not to do those. Personally I didn’t feel the literature component was as strong and detailed as the program we have used in the past several years. 

The hands-on projects are ones that Laurianna loves, especially when she can add in her own twist of creativity. Her favorite (and most time consuming) project this year was a children’s book. She decided to create one based on the ABCs of George Washington – and it turned out adorable!! She wrote and illustrated the entire thing – and I LOVED it. :) 

This was one subject we decided to do as a co-op class this year so the kids could also take a big field trip together to Charleston, SC in the spring. She had three other friends in her class and they got together once a week to review the lessons and cover some additional topics. 

Officially she has completed all of her history and government classes for high school – yay! 

Literature

There was a LOT of reading this year and we did something a little different. We used the format of the American Lit program from Excellence in Literature (we’ve used their program for two years prior) and mixed some of the books suggested in their guide with a few other choices and lined up the time periods with what the kids were studying in history together. 

Overall it went great! I was a little nervous at first, but watching a corresponding movie with each unit was also a fun ending to each of the 600+ word essays the kids had to write. Typically for each book read (there were eight books on their American Literature list this year), the kids had three papers due: an author profile (learning about the author, time period, and influences), an approach paper (looking at a specific time period or breaking down important parts and characters of the book), and then a 600+ word essay using one of two provided essay prompts. 

This group of kids is one I have been working with for the past three years and it’s been so much fun seeing their growth and hearing their thoughts and ideas as they dig into literature and various themes. Sadly, this was our last year together since many of them have now met their lit requirements and will be taking dual credit classes next year. 

Chemistry

This year we again worked in a small group setting with two other families on chemistry. The mom teaching them is super sweet and always came up with fun ideas for the kids to work on during class. 

Chemistry may not have been her favorite subject (especially since more numbers/math), but this is the year that Laurianna made the decision to pursue nursing (hopefully pediatric), so there will be much more science in her future! 

Math

No exciting pictures. This was one area Laurianna had to put aside every now and then when her concentration was struggling, especially since it required a lot of focus on her part. :) Next year we are looking at Pre-Cacl and possibly a statistics class at our local community college. 

Government/Constitutional Literacy

Laurianna is almost completely through this class as it was one of the ones we put aside temporarily when she wasn’t feeling well. I do plan to share a full review of the Constitutional Literacy program (and we really do love it). It’s one I think would also be great in a co-op setting as it would bring up some great discussion. 

Art

Laurianna is a very creative girl, so art isn’t as much of a subject as just plain enjoyable for her. Thankfully it’s one area that doesn’t require a lot of energy and she can rest and relax by sketching or drawing. 

Using Artistic Pursuits Book 1 was a great fit for her this year for sure. She has a definite love in this area! 

Driving!!

 

 

In just a few short months Laurianna will officially be a licensed driver! We are car shopping already and she is working hard to save more money toward her purchase and insurance and all the other good things that come along with car ownership! She is about 2/3 of the way through her DriversEd class (online) and has driven all of the required hours for our state. I do have to say it’s rather handy and will be so even more in the upcoming year! 

Swim Team

Laurianna’s swim season ended a little early (November instead of end of February), which was very difficult for her. Swimming is definitely a time to decompress for her but it became something she struggled with physically when her health went out of whack. Ironically, in some of our more recent doctor’s visits, the recommendation has been 45 minute sessions 4-5 times a week and also water therapy, so at this point it is full on summer league for her! 

 

All that said, the last few weeks have been spent looking at classes that Laurianna can take at our local community college this upcoming year – specifically ones that will transfer over into several different colleges when she pursues nursing. Because she hasn’t taken her PSAT yet, she will be taking entrance exams, which does make her a little nervous, but I’m sure she will do fine! 

This summer she is also working through College Prep Genius to get ready for both the SAT and the PSAT this year. 

 

Other Year-end Reviews

 
Take a peek at our year end review for 4th grade.
 
 
Take a peek at our year end review for 6th grade.
 
8th grade homeschool year in review - Homeschool Creations
 
Take a peek at our year end review for 8th grade