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Eleven Weeks of Homeschooling

The last few weeks have been packed full with school, swim practice, a birthday, and traveling for a meet. Busy is good, right? Here’s a little peek into what we’ve been working on during our school time. Obviously it isn’t the full course of the last two weeks, especially since I cannot find the iPod that has all of the additional pictures taken the last bit (ahem).

2nd Grade Homeschool

Home Art Studio artwork

Art – Creating is definitely one of Kaleb’s favorite parts of the day. He has been obviously quite busy this year with the 2nd Grade Home Art Studio dvd (and I’ve had to sneak some of the art off the wall above his desk!). His name in cursive was his favorite piece lately – especially because it looks like an alien. Can you see his name?

math with spielgaben

Math – While Kaleb is working on Teaching Textbooks 3, we’re using our Spielgaben set to work on measuring the area of figures. This was a great tool for working on multiplication and showing how we can multiply 5×5 to get the 25 points inside our square.

4th Grade Learning

Snap circuits

Science – In addition to learning about force and friction during our science time, Zachary has been having a lot of fun with Snap Circuits. We’re a little behind on three projects a week, but it won’t be hard to catch up (especially because he loves trying to bypass the plans and create his own project).

Reading – Zachary has been flying through the lessons of All About Reading 4 and is very motivated in his reading – woot! He is also making progress on his 4th Grade Reading List and even picked out a book to read on his own this week (not on the list – double woot!).

6th Grade Homeschool Time

Rainbow science experiment

Science – McKenna is finally getting into the swing of things with her science experiments – and enjoying them (grins). Her pencil experiment to show how light bends made her very happy.

Writing – McKenna’s writing has grown in leaps in bounds the last several weeks. She was a little worried at first that she wouldn’t be able to handle our writing program, but I LOVE, love, love seeing her creativity expand and her confidence increase in this area. Although she is just working on short, informal papers at this point,

Vocabulary – We’re using the online WordBuild program from Dynamic Literacy and McKenna is getting into a groove with the it. She still tries to sneak answers from me every now and then, but the online version has really helped her out. Each lesson is a maximum of fifteen minutes, so she is thrilled when she finishes them quickly and gets them all right! (It’s the little things, right?)

8th Grade and Independent Learning

north star geography

One of the sad things for me (but it’s a good thing too), is how much independent studying and learning Laurianna is doing this year. She loves spending time in her room so she can concentrate on her work. It’s sad to me, because it’s another step in the whole independence area. (SIGH). We are still working together on a few subjects, but she is loving the courses that she can work on solo. North Star Geography is still her favorite this year out of all of her subjects.

Literature – This has been such a tough, but fun subject for me this year. Teaching a small group of kids has been fun, although difficult when you are grading other kids and not just your own. The writing style has stretched Laurianna this year and the reading list has been a little more intense (she just finished A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court and is moving on to Jane Eyre). They are a different style than she typically enjoys, which can make writing the analysis papers a bit more challenging. (grins)

Spanish – Laurianna has become a little sidetracked on Spanish (my fault). When our laptop crashed a bit ago, we were able to transfer all of her program to the new laptop without losing her info, but our new laptop only has one plug in – and she can’t plug in both headphones and a mic. So now we’re trying to figure out how to handle that….

When Dad Doesn’t Like to Play Games

worm dissection

Do you remember me mentioning that a certain man in our home doesn’t like to play board, card, or any type of games? Monday nights are one night that we are all home and had a planned game night. Until Zachary walked downstairs with our dissection kit (that may have been sitting on the shelf in the school room for quite some time) and asked if we could dissect a worm. It’s pretty obvious what won out – isn’t it?

The kids had a blast helping dissect and identify the parts of the worm – and I may be glad that someone else (other than me) was willing to help out with the project. I may be willing to forgive the fact that my hubby didn’t want to play a game that night. Maybe. Especially when the kids pull out the frog in the next few weeks.

What have you been doing in your homeschool time?


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Nine Weeks of School (1/4 of the way through!)

Nine weeks. One semester. Twenty-five percent of the year is finished. Woot!  Looking at things that way makes it seem like our year is going by rather quickly (I’ll need to remember that at some point in early February when the winter months are closing in!).

The last few weeks have been packed with lots of learning, co-op time, and general fun. Here’s a peek at some of the things we’ve been up to the last two weeks.

Creating Masterpieces

watercolor watermelon art project

Kaleb’s Watermelon Watercolor

Everyone is enjoying art time – especially our 7 year old. He asks every day if he can do another art lesson and works on at least 2 a week (last week was 3). The wall above his desk is filling up with all of his masterpieces – and I LOVE that he enjoys Home Art Studio so much! The above project was his first real try with watercolors and then he used Sharpie to outline the pieces. Part of the lesson was also working with layering objects. He was SO proud of it! (The big seeds crack me up!)

McKenna and Zachary also worked on a few art lessons that past few weeks and are busy looking for places to hang up their artwork. We have so many great pieces to showcase, and deciding what to hang up is so hard!

Reading (and Listening) Together


Audiobooks and audio theatre have been a great resource for us the last month. A few of our favorites have been Under Drake’s Flag (G.A. Henty) and A Year Down Yonder (Richard Peck). The first one had us on the edge of our seats as we followed the unfolding drama. The second had us rolling off our chairs and laughing at the grandmother in the story.

All About Reading 2

The boys current read-aloud is Thomas Edison (Heroes of History), while Zachary just started a book on Benjamin Franklin for his independent reading and is working through All About Reading 4 rather quickly (yay!). Kaleb is making great progress in All About Reading 2 and gaining confidence all the time.

The girls are reading their own books for literature. McKenna is in the middle of The Trumpet of the Swan and enjoying that.  See our 6th Grade Reading list here. Laurianna finished up Around the World in Eighty Days and started on A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. You can see her full 9th grade reading list here.

Me? I’m catching up on Around the World in Eighty Days (I’m almost done) and then starting on the same book as Laurianna. And then having fun with my ‘mom’ reading list.

Science TimeRainbow Science 7th Grade

McKenna is really enjoying her Rainbow Science program this year. Her typical schedule is 2 lessons and 1 lab each week. Her lab this past week was comparing how food dye dissolves in warm water vs. cold water. Can you tell which is which in the picture above?

feed readers – click here to see the video clip

Laurianna spent much of the last two weeks building a steamboat for her science class and learning about simple machines and buoyancy. The video above is pretty rough (excuse that yucky bathroom lighting), but she was so excited once she got all the leaks plugged! There may have been a wee bit of frustration over that initially – but can I say that the folks at Exploration Education are FABULOUS at offering help over the phone. They talked to Laurianna and gave her some suggestions, and that solved the leaking issues!

Game Time


Mille Bornes is our ‘game of the month’ – and it’s been a bit challenging to figure it out. We’re getting there, but it isn’t as simple to figure out as I thought it would, but the boys and I have really been enjoying it together. Anyone have some tips for me? I looked for a YouTube video explanation of it, but the one I found wasn’t (to put it nicely) very kid friendly.

Lazy Days…

We did have a fun ‘lazy’ day of school (Columbus Day) when the weather was super rainy and motivation was at a low spot. That meant we spent time curled up on the couch together reading, watching our history lessons with Drive Through History, and just making our school time mobile. I love that we have that flexibility in our homeschool time, and we don’t have to be confined to a desk to learn!

This next week we’re going to cover a few more Drive Through History lessons along with Liberty Kids for fun (the kids haven’t been watching tv otherwise during the week, so they will enjoy that!). We’ve been using Mystery of History 4 and just finished learning about Napoleon, the Louisiana Purchase, and are learning a lot about our early American history. I have to say, this is all just as much fun for me as the kids, because there are many of these facts that I don’t remember from my schooling and it all fascinates me so much!


What have YOU been doing the last few weeks?


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Linking up this week with Collage Friday and Weekly Wrap-up!

Four Weeks of School Down…

For the last four weeks we’ve slowly been adding in subjects as the weeks go along and our fifth week will mean we’ll have a full schedule. The phasing in of subjects helps me figure out the overall rhythm of our days and start tweaking things early on so we don’t get too overwhelmed with what needs to be done.

Snap circuits lego and puzzles

The first week we focused on the basics: math, language, reading, handwriting, and Bible. Week two we added  science, writing, and art. Week three added spelling and starting our fourth week we started with LEGO Education and Snap Circuits (although the boys have been sneaking them out the last two weeks – wink).

This week we add in our final subject: history. I am so excited to start the fourth year of Mystery of History. The kids have been asking about it, so you know they are ready! Also our last piece of curriculum, All About Reading 4, is on it’s way here (woot!).

So far, I have to say that we are loving Learning Language Arts Through Literature. It was a big switch for my brain, but it has been a great fit for both of the boys and for that I am so happy. It was one of those decisions that I was so nervous about, so the fact that it has fit in so seamlessly is a a huge relief.

Adding in Co-op

first day of coop 2014

During our fourth week of school we also added two different co-ops to our schedule (you are free to call me crazy at any time). Both of them offer different opportunities for the kids – one offers two high school classes for Laurianna, and the other involves fun ‘extra’ classes that often get put to the side (PE, music, etc…) for all four.

For the fall semester I’ll be teaching two classes: high school lit and the 3-year-old class. (Can you guess what we talked about in the 3 year old class this past week?) My brain may be having a bit of trouble jumping back and forth on lesson plans for those.

A Peek at High School

Graph Paper-1-2

Laurianna has been the one with the most changes this year in her work load. While she is (almost always) handling the changes well, she is fully understanding the intensity of high school level classes, but doing it with much dedication. Definitely proud of that girl!

A certain mom realized that said daughter could work on every other Algebra problem and still do what was necessary (it only took 13 lessons before I remembered we did that very same thing in high school). One of her favorite subjects though this year has been North Star Geography. Maybe it shouldn’t make me giggle, but I love hearing the little factoids that she is learning about different countries.


That pretty much wraps up the first four weeks of our homeschool time. How has school been going for you?


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The First Two Weeks of Homeschooling

Whew!! We’ve done it and managed to get back into a groove, survive the first two weeks, and have fun in the process. (Fun is always good!)

Homeschool Collage 1

I’m so glad that I’ve been taking a few pictures here and there, because looking back is reminding me of some things that I don’t want to forget!

I’ve mentioned before that Zachary isn’t a big reader. He’s not super fond of the process and picking up books to read on his own isn’t something he enjoys. He’s read some simple chapter books, but nothing of ‘substance’ as I would call it. Not a REAL book cover-to-cover.

As part of Learning Language Arts through Literature (Orange), he just finished The Boxcar Children. Ironically, we had a copy of the book before (couldn’t find it), so I ordered a new copy. He saw the new one with a snazzy cover, picked it up right away, and said he was so glad they had updated the book. I waited until he was done to tell him it was just a new cover. Smile He has been ALL SMILES because he read it from start to finish, and I am one proud momma.

Kaleb has been SO excited to start working on Teaching Textbooks. He has the computer out before school even starts in the morning and frequently wants to work on more than one lesson. I know it’s making him feel like one of the ‘big kids’, and it’s fun to watch.

Our first day of school = funnel cake for breakfast. I know it’s not healthy (in my defense I used whole wheat flour), but it is so much fun – and it’s TRADITION!!

Laurianna is working like a champ on her high school credits. We’ve figured out a good routine for her to work on her studies, many of which she is doing independently. We got halfway through the second week when I realized I’m going to really have to start tracking grades for high school credit – ack! Part of me wants to plug my ears and pretend she isn’t that old.

And that bigger picture in the collage – just makes me happy. I wasn’t feeling well this week (hello, migraine) and laid down on the floor in the school room. Zachary picked up our science manual, pulled out all the stuff we needed to finish the lesson, and HE followed the directions to do the lesson with Kaleb. It was so sweet to watch and he did a great job. The giggles on the buoyancy experiments were hilarious.

Six Flags Field Trip

Our first week of school (ok, I’ll admit it was officially the first day of school), we took a field trip to Six Flags. The weather was gorgeous, so we jumped on the trip and used our Read to Succeed tickets the kids earned last winter. There were lots of roller coasters and spinning rides that day. And I’m feeling old after all those bumps and turns!

Home Art Studio Chinese dragon

Kaleb’s favorite part of school starting again? The art supplies are all out in full force. He’s had his eye on our Home Art Studio dvd, so I piled a tray with the supplies, he popped in the DVD and did the lesson all by himself. I love that he can be independent with it and needs very little help from me at all! Art is one of that boy’s love languages – and he definitely gets some great art projects in this way!

Another exciting part of this week? A fun interview with the Weather Channel’s morning show about my Calendar Notebook Printables. They love that kids are learning how to track weather (and I think it’s pretty cool too). You can view the clip with Maria LaRosa here if you can’t see the clip above.


That’s a quick peek at our first two weeks? How is your homeschool going?


Mary_CollageFriday weekly wrap up


Linking up this week with Collage Friday and Weekly Wrap-up!