20 Best Tips
Teaching Textbooks

Fall Read-Alouds for Middle School Boys

This fall our read-alouds are focused more on the boys and their interests (or things they will hopefully be interested in). While our girls were avid readers, our boys have more of a “meh” attitude when it comes to reading, so one of my goals in reading out loud with them daily is making it FUN and enjoyable. 

We have four books in our pile for our fall reading: 

We are currently reading The Wednesday Wars by Gary Schmidt – and it is HILARIOUS. If you have middle schoolers (boys or girls), they will love this book told from the perspective of a 7th grade boy. And beyond that, you as the reader will love it too (I’ve laughed out loud and even teared up at a few points). 

The boys may have had to remind me IT’S NOT REAL, MOM! (For real.)

Anyway, here are a few thoughts on our choices for the fall read alouds. 

Read Aloud Tips

Maybe your family is having a hard time settling down for a read aloud time? If so, maybe one of these Six Read-Aloud Tips will help your family out {especially little ones}.

Books We’ve Previously Read Together

Here are a few other books that we’ve read together and blogged about. Click over to see our thoughts on them!

Audiobooks for Families to enjoy

 

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. 

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. 

6th Grade Homeschool Curriculum Picks (2018-2019)

This year our youngest, Kaleb, is in the 6th grade – it seems strange typing those words. Last year Kaleb made some great progress in a few areas he struggles (specifically reading and handwriting). We were able to make adjustments and he took keyboarding (which he loves) and his reading made some great jumps, which was encouraging to him. 

While typically we add more and more independent subjects as the school levels progress, Kaleb will still be working a little more 1:1 with me until I’m sure he has a firm grasp on reading comprehension. His tendency is to get a little more frustrated – he gets it when he reads it, but the speed/fluency is more his struggle. That said, I’ll be sitting along side him for a bit more than I normally would. Besides that, he’s our youngest and frankly, I want to enjoy every last moment I have with him.  

We’ve stuck with some tried and true curriculum pieces, but we are also adding in a few new things this year, tailored more to Kaleb’s learning/doing process. One of them does involve a little more reading (another reason why I will stay alongside), but it’s one he can pace himself and work ahead (he likes seeing he is completing something), so hopefully that will work to our advantage. :) 

Below you’ll get a peek at our 6th grade homeschool curriculum choices – a look at the new (and favorite) programs we are using for the upcoming school year. An * depicts curriculum/programs that are new to us this year. 

*feed readers, please click over to the blog for some of the additional links to curriculum

6th Grade Homeschool Curriculum Choices

 

History & Geography

For history this year we are switching things up and trying something new to us: AOP Lifepac History and Geography Units. The older kids each have their own programs they are working on, so this is one Kaleb and I will be going through together. There are ten units for the entire year, and each unit is broken up into small booklets which will be an encouragement to Kaleb (seems less overwhelming, but gives him bite-sized chunks to work through). 

Math

Although we have the paper version of the book, this year Kaleb will be working on the online version of Teaching Textbooks (3.0). It follows along with the book, and I’m excited that I can log in on my laptop and see what he is doing since everything is stored online! (WOOT!). 

Handwriting/Cursive

As I mentioned earlier, Kaleb really enjoys the subjects that are do “this” and you are done. He struggles with his handwriting and keeping his letters smaller, but is really fascinated with cursive writing (last year he kept practicing different letters and his name), so he will be using Teach Yourself Cursive. Copywork is something he doesn’t mind as much, even though he isn’t a fan of writing in general, so we’ll use that to our advantage. 

Language & Spelling

To keep reading a little more laid back for Kaleb, we will be using Learning Language Arts Through Literature Orange. There are four main books as the focus of the curriculum, one of which Kaleb has already read.  All About Spelling Levels 4 will be our primary spelling curriculum. 

We’re also continuing with Growing with Grammar (Level 6) and working through several of the Reading Comprehension skill builder books from Carson Dellosa. We used one last year and they were great for helping Kaleb with not only his reading speed, but his comprehension and confidence in his reading. 

Science

A few years ago we used Christian Kids Explore Chemistry with Zachary and he loved it. Kaleb remembers the fun hands-on projects that went with the program and was really excited when I mentioned we would be working on it this year. He especially remembers the atomic cookie skillet models we made and is looking forward to those!

EEME projects are going to be a ‘bonus time’ at the end of each day for him for some STEM work.

Lego League

This year we will continue with our small Lego League group. Last year was Kaleb’s first year participating and at first he wasn’t too sure about it all. As the year progressed he started enjoying it more and more (despite the practices typically falling during Sunday afternoon football – the boy is serious about his football!). We’re excited to see how the boys do this year! 

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 Kaleb the past few years:

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.