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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.

6th Grade Year in Review – Homeschool Curriculum Choices

Hands-down Zachary’s favorite subject again for the year was science (and much of that was tied into what he worked on with EEME). Another close second for him was his work with Who is God?  and Who Am I? This boy loves any activity that a project can be added to for him to DO instead of observe. 

I hope you’ll indulge me a little as I’m writing these year-end posts. They help my brain process our year and also answer some reader questions when people want to know what our thoughts were on some of our choices. You can see all of our 6th grade curriculum choices in this post here, but below is a more in depth look at what we used for Zachary this past year and how it worked overall. 

The 6th Grade Year Plan…

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

Science

As I mentioned earlier, science is hands-down one of Zachary’s favorite subject areas. This year he switched over to a two year program using Rainbow Science Year 1. It’s a program we’ve used with both of our girls and had great success with. One of the big parts of this was Zachary working almost completely independently. He had two days of reading followed by a lab or experiment. This was VERY successful for him and he ended up finishing his program almost two months early (no small feat for a boy who struggles to stay on task!). 

In addition to Rainbow Science Year 1, he worked on several projects with EEME. These were HUGELY favored, especially since he began working on more robotics (check out Q the Robot for sure!). Because he is a hands-on kiddo, he also created a lot with Legos, Little Bits, Sphero, and pretty much anything else we had on hand. :) 

Essentially this means that our science for next year is already figured out. We will continue with Rainbow Science and work on EEME projects as they become available! 

 

Reading & Read-Alouds

Reading was one area we struggled a little bit more with this year. At the beginning of the year I set up a list of books for him, and while we did get through all of them, it wasn’t without….incident. His idea of what constitutes a reading list vs. my idea has a wide area of difference. :) 

There were days when we struggled to get him to focus in on an assigned book. He definitely would like more control over the books on the list and we had several talks about his personal reading choices vs. assigned school reading – and why those two are different. After reading most of the books, he would complete a book report  and we would discuss key points of the book using this helpful guide.

That said, his personal reading time grew by leaps and bounds this year. Typically he isn’t a “for pleasure” reader, but there were several series that he either re-read in a very short time or started and loved. 

Math

Teaching Textbooks is definitely another program we plan to use next year with Zachary. It has been a perfect fit for our family. Math may not be his favorite subject, but he does enjoy it much more when we use this program. :) And so do I!

History

This year we switched up our history a bit and followed along with Laurianna in her US History learning so we could go on field trips together. Another bonus was using the same book as friends were using so we could work on a few projects together. 

Each week we spent an afternoon together reading, creating, and learning – which was definitely fun. :) One of the activities we did was making a simple compass

Writing & Grammar

Turns out our writing curriculum this year also had grammar included in it – something I neglected to process until about 2 months into the school year. Zachary still continued on with Growing with Grammar 6 , even though Writers in Residence would have been enough. My theory with this boy is he can use all the extra help he can get (and he didn’t complain, so there’s that too). I’ll be sharing more about this particular curriculum soon and overall loved the layout. 

Spelling

For All About Spelling we typically worked on one lesson a week (a few chunks where we did every other week). We didn’t push hard, but over the last year he has shown remarkable improvement in both spelling and reading but did see huge improvements in the area. For those of you who know me well, you know that it is our favorite homeschool spelling program, hands down!

Bible

One of the other subjects Zachary really enjoyed was Bible using the What We Believe series. I mentioned that we used it a little differently (he isn’t huge into notebooking), but he did enjoy the two books in the series he worked through. 

Art (via co-0p)

One of the classes Zachary had this year focused on different art techniques. One of the kids favorites was learning about fondant icing – because, HELLO FOOD. 

Other Activities  

Swim was (and continues to be) a sport the kids love participating in. Through January they participated in a local swim team and then moved to summer league. We will likely participate again in the fall, but it’s tough with the timeframe (it’s a lot of driving to two different pools for us). 
 
 
Boy Scouts has been another area of HUGE interest for Zachary. He recently completed all he needed to achieve First Class status and wants to hit Eagle Scout by the time he is 16 (his goal). He only joined this past year, but has truly jumped in running! This year he had multiple camping trips, day hikes, and projects to work through – and he loves it. :)
 

Other Year-end Reviews

 
Take a peek at our year end review for 4th grade. I’ll be sharing our 8th and 10th grade soon, so be sure to check back – as well as our plans for the upcoming year!  

Homeschool and Life Happenings – May 2017

Well, the nutshell is we are on the tail end of everything here. The past week has been a mix of wrapping up testing for each of the kids, finishing a few subjects together with the boys, and letting the girls work through the remaining lessons they have in a few areas. 

Overall, it’s been fairly light the last two weeks for sure. 

 

Life at Home

We’re headed out on our first camping trip of the year this weekend, so in the middle of everything it’s been craziness trying to get meals planned, everyone packed, and make sure we don’t forget something key. Last time we went to this campground we had one child forget every single piece of clothing. Good times. 

Rick and I have been rather busy too getting things ready for our local swim team to start up. That’s meant a lot of hours behind the scenes for me and trying to organize things so the year goes smoothly. I may also be making lots of notes so next year will be even easier. :) 

One fun thing we were able to do recently was travel to Atlanta with just McKenna for the last Teach Them Diligently conference. Rick wanted to tag along on this one too, but it was so much fun because Carisa and her husband also brought their oldest – and he and McKenna had a blast together. For Rick and I, it was also some much needed time 1:1 with McKenna only. 

Our family is back to volunteering with a local soup kitchen – we usually do it once a month, but had to skip the month of April. The above picture is a rather hilarious look at an incident that happened this past time. We serve lasagna and I have to unwrap the containers (the Costco premade lasagna is fabulous). At one point I kept searching for the knife I was using to cut through the plastic covering and couldn’t find it. About an hour later I heard, “What in the world is this?” and we discovered where the knife had disappeared to. Oops. On the bright side, nothing started on fire – so there’s that. 

The kids are thrilled about one recent purchase my husband made. I stress the last part on WHO MADE THE PURCHASE, because well – noise level, people. There was a great deal on a drum set and the last two weeks have been rather, well, interesting. The boys are having a blast with them. Unfortunately for me, the one place in the house where they can stay at the moment is directly under our bedroom. I sent the above picture to my hubby on the first day when I found his work headphones. And now for lessons…

Part of our month has also seen quite a bit of travel already. We headed to Tennessee to celebrate the wedding of one of our friend’s sons. What does a hamburger have to do with that? Well, we found this AMAZING restaurant while there – burgers that were ridiculously huge (and enough to fill up a growing 12 year old boy). Crazy good. The wedding was amazing too (grins), but the burger lives on in the heart of a certain son. 

Everyone in the house is itching for summer to start officially. Granted, the girls need to complete their work before we are “officially” done, but here’s a look at what each kiddo still has on their plate: 

Kaleb: finish reading 2nd Boxcar Children book

Zachary: finish reading last assigned literature book

McKenna: finish two North Star Geography lessons, about 8 more lessons in Algebra 1, and a few Visual Latin lessons

Laurianna: finish last 4 weeks of Constitutional LiteracyVisual Latin lessons, and a few more projects from Artistic Pursuits Book 1. Her biggest hurdle has been catching up with the things she had to put aside when she was really sick mid-school year. 

Laurianna is probably most frustrated out of everyone because she begins her summer job of lifeguarding soon and feels the pressure of getting things completed, but also wanting free time to enjoy things. That can be a catch 22, eh? We are also sitting down with our local community college in the next few weeks to talk about her taking a few classes in the upcoming year that will be dual credit – YIKES! That means getting her transcript pulled together completely and making sure we have everything lined up. Part of me doesn’t want to acknowledge that we are at this point already, but on the other hand I’m so excited as she starts another phase of her academics.

While the kids may be wrapping up their schoolwork, that means I get to start officially planning for next year – but beside the pool! The pool opens next week and for us that means we will likely start heading there on the gorgeous days – because SUMMER!!

Are you ready for a summer break – or working through?