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8th Grade Mid Year Homeschool Curriculum Review

This year had me a little anxious when it came to Zachary taking a few high school classes (truth be told). He and I had a few great conversations prior to (and during) this school year to make sure he was ready and prepared for a little more accountability and intensity (if you will) associated with taking a class for a credit. 

Here’s the thing: I am very much of the mindset that not all of my kids are on the same academic course. Do I want them to excel in their studies? Absolutely. Will they all put the same effort in? Likely no. Not all of our kids will be dual enrolled in the community college. And that is JUST FINE. Really – it’s fabulous.

That said, I’m really pleased with how Zachary has been doing and working so far this year. Granted there are days when he would prefer to put in the absolute minimal effort required to get an assignment completed, but we are finding a good groove, tailoring things to his interests and strengths, and moving from there. Ah, the joys of homeschooling! 

8th Grade Homeschool Curriculum Choices

Here’s the mid-year look at how each of these subject areas is progressing: 

Math: We are loving the online version of  Algebra 1 from Teaching Textbooks – not needing to worry about WHICH computer we log on to the program with (or where) has made things so much easier. There are a few things he keeps tripping up over, but fortunately each time he is figuring it out more quickly. 

Physical Science: One of the things I love most about our Physical Science from Exploration Education are the hands-on labs and building projects Zachary has to complete. There are times when he is learning that he can’t just throw something together and skip steps (shocking, I know), and fortunately for him (or much to his dismay) I have enough leftover pieces from prior lab kits with the girls that he is able to rework something he may have done incorrectly – and slow down to get it done right.

He’s had the most fun (and frustration) making the steamboat since it actually floated and worked. And also because it involved matches. 

Geography: I wasn’t quite sure how geography would go over with Zachary this year since it involved a whole lot more memorization and reading for him as well as sometimes having to dig for answers, but he has done great with North Star Geography. He is working through the program over two years, rather than one year like his sisters did and in some ways I like that option (although I do feel he could push himself a bit more as well). 

Prior to this year we haven’t done a lot of weekly quizzes or tests with him, it’s been more 1:1, but with this being a high school class I’m wanting more a paper trail (call me paranoid). But he has done SO WELL and been learning a lot. 

Language: We definitely could be doing a bit more with this program than we are, but with the shift in reading material (see below), Zachary has worked through the units for books he has completed and then we have skipped over some material that I felt he didn’t need to work on because it overlapped something we have already covered or he has already mastered that specific area – a bonus to homeschooling !

Poetry: We’ve finished up the bulk of  Grammar of Poetry, and one of the best parts of the class was participating in a poetry workshop at a nearby Shakespeare theatre. It was a full-day event and tied in so well with the program we were using. 

Reading: Zachary has read a few books that tie-in with the Learning Language Arts Through Literature (Gray) program, but in December I may have upped the ante for him a little bit. He is NOT a reader (not a fan of reading, rather). So we discussed various book series he might enjoy (because of course whatever I choose is never enjoyable – just insert me rolling my eyes here). 

He decided to read some of the Harry Potter books – and YOU ALL. The boy has been reading for school each day WITHOUT COMPLAINING and some nights staying up until late to read just a bit more in the book. He finished one this weekend and spent much of his Sunday afternoon with me and reading. It was so great to see. For his reading out of school time, I may have also thrown in some bonus Fortnite time to reward him – but he has now declared that it is his favorite series ever – so huge win.  

Writing: We are working through the second half of the WriteShop Basic Set 2 program. Zachary has been doing really well with this program as well and his writing has improved so much, other than typical grammatical errors and his usual here-and-there spelling mistakes because he doesn’t run spell check. 

Spelling: Confession: we’ve only done 2 lessons of All About Spelling Levels 6 . Yep. Need to step it up a little here. 

Art: Confession #2. Zero art with either of the boys. Big fat zero, nada, nothing. In my defense, they are very involved in swimming and Boy Scouts. If starting fires can count as art, Zachary is passing with flying colors. 

Bible Studies: I held off in this area until after Christmas break, so the boys and I will be starting the Do Right study this coming week, just after our halfway point.

Swim Team and Boy Scouts – Zachary has not only grown taller, but he’s gotten so much stronger this year. Just after Christmas, he was asked to join the Level 1 group of our swim team. He’s been dropping time like crazy in his events, qualified for the state swim meet, and is so close in several events to qualifying for nationals. 

Traveling to Pittsburg with our team was a big step for him this year and he’s really been pushing himself to both work hard and improve his stroke technique. The season hasn’t been without struggle though. We lost our primary coaches in October and were thrilled to have a new head coach join the team, but he was only able to stay a short time because of a health issue with a family member. Despite all of those changes though, it’s wonderful to see Zachary’s improvement. 

Boy Scouts continues to be one of Zachary’s priorities as well and he will be ranking up at the next Court of Honor (and thinking of Eagle Scout projects next!). They haven’t had the opportunity to camp as much lately since the weather has been crazy ridiculous with ice one weekend and rain/sleet/FRIGID temperatures another. While they have camped in snow before, the 20 degree temps weren’t something to get too excited about. 

That’s about it for our mid-year wrap up.

How are things going with your homeschool time? 

 

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

 

 

 

 

Back in the Swing of Things…Sort of – Homeschool and Life Happenings

Happy New Year (only 17 days late)!

We started back to school (eased in a bit if you will) on the 7th, so we’re wrapping up our second week back after Christmas break. 

You all, life feels like it’s been turned upside down. 

Just before Christmas break, McKenna started a new job working at a trampoline park. Guess what one of the perks is to being a homeschool student – the ability to work days

It’s here that I’ll insert she and I have had some great conversations (some more one-sided) about how specific questions should be asked and clarified when talking to an employer (grins). That said, the park shifted their hours and it has been great for her because she is learning even more how to manage her time and work on schoolwork during “out of the box” times. 

On top of that, the boys’ swim practice schedule has been completely changed around and we are still trying to figure out the balance in all of that. While the changes are great, adjusting to a new schedule when it finally feels like we were in a good groove can be hard. 

One great thing that has happened this semester is we are seeing so much more of Laurianna. Her classes on campus are on Monday and Wednesday mornings, so she has been home the rest of the week and it’s been so much fun to have her hanging out with us. ESPECIALLY SINCE IT’S HER SENIOR YEAR. 

(I’m not crying at all. Or feeling a bit nostalgic. Not me.)

All that said….here’s a peek at school. 

Life for the 6th Grader

Kaleb has been learning about division with fractions as well as addition and subtraction with fractions. Mixed numbers. Converting to fractions. Lord help me. He is *almost* there. So very, very close…

So we continue to work on the day-to-day things like handwriting (and Kaleb is REALLY loving his Teach Yourself Cursive book. Between that and working on Typesy for keyboarding every day, it’s a good chunk of independent schoolwork for him. 

One thing that we’ve added back into our days is All About Reading 4 (the brand-new color version is GORGEOUS!!). I shared a bit on Instagram as to the WHY behind our reviewing this level and will share more soon with you on our struggles and deep thoughts…. 

Kaleb is on track to finish his Lifepac History and Geography set quite a bit before the school year wraps up (YAY!!). We finished learning about South America and are now moving on to Africa. 

Life for the 8th Grader

Zachary is cracking me up immensely with Algebra. He has been working on order of operations and ALL THE PARENTHESES – sigh. Again with the *almost* there.

In physical science Zachary is moving into a chemistry and matter unit and working on building a balance scale. There was a wee bit of frustration during the building process (because someone didn’t want to read all the way through the directions). But – finally balanced. :) 

And geography – we’re moving on from learning about the layers of the earth to topography and continuing to learn about North America. Zachary is working through North Star Geography in two years rather than one, but is actually a little bit ahead of schedule (please don’t tell him). :)

And the Mom Stuff

So I have a new fun project this past week – making yogurt in my Instant Pot. You all – I AM LOVING IT! I have no idea why I was so scared to try yogurt (then again, why is it that fear holds us back in so many areas of life. Seriously. It’s a gallon of milk. Nothing to be scared of!).

I’ve made three batches so far and have learned some great stuff from friends through it all. The first batch I strained with coffee filters and a strainer. Worked – but took forever. Batch two we used nut milk bags and HALLELUJAH – they are amazing and exactly what you need to order yourself if you don’t already own some! 

As soon as the yogurt is ready to come out of the instant pot, I fill the bags with the yogurt, tie them to my cupboard handles, and they hang above a giant bowl to collect all the whey. It’s seriously PERFECT. I add a little vanilla and a small amount of sugar and we are ready to eat it! 

The kids decided they would like granola to go on top of the yogurt, so over the week I’ve been perfecting how we like it by messing with my homemade granola bar recipe and I think we’ve finally figured out one we like (I’ll have to share that soon – but we now have some with craisins and a batch with mini chocolate chips).  

In other mom news, I’m already working hard on my 2019 Reading List and have finished a few books on my list. I found an online book study of It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way by Lysa Terkeurst that starts next week (you can join it here if you’re interested). I’m only a few chapters in but really enjoying it so far. 

We’re still anxiously waiting to hear regarding Laurianna’s application to Mercy Ships… with the Christmas break it will likely take a little bit longer, so maybe any day now (fingers crossed!). 

That’s all for our week(s). Would love to hear how you all are doing! :)

The Week of Finals, More Snow, and Cookies

We started off our week just perfectly – baking cookies. 

While the boys and McKenna kept up with the basics of their school (math and reading), we added in other fun: games and baking together. 

Over the weekend and into Monday we had a fairly decent snowfall for our area. FYI, for this girl who grew up in Maine, four inches isn’t really a huge snow, but in our area it’s more than enough to close schools for multiple days and shut down a whole bunch of things. 

One of our friends needed a place for his son to stay, so he came over to hang out with us, play games, and bake. 

Laurianna’s finals were supposed to start bright and early Monday morning, but the colleges in our area closed as well, so she had four bonus days to study for her exam and finish her last two papers that were due. She is wrapping up her four classes (ethics, sociology, English, and microbiology) and so far has a final grade in one class – although she is pretty sure her exams went great.

Cozy blankets came out and books were curled up with for reading.

Thursday morning, bright and early, Zachary boarded a bus for Pittsburg for a regional swim meet he will be swimming in five different events. He has really been looking forward to this meet and the opportunity. I know it’s maybe a bit silly, but watching him go off on the bus was a little bittersweet. He’s been to Scout camp and away for the week before, but

Rick and Kaleb headed up on Friday morning so they could watch Zachary swim on Saturday and Sunday. Rick is also using this weekend to have THE BIG TALK with Kaleb. (For the record, I had the sex talk with the girls and Rick was on deck for the boys). 

In case you’d like a few tips (and see what we used in talking to our kids), you can check out the post, When It’s Time to Have the Sex Talk. 

Overall a very low-key week. I hope you all are doing well and would love to hear about your homeschool time – feel free to leave a comment and let us know what you’ve been up to. 

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

New Paint and Playing Catch-up – Homeschool and Life Happenings

It’s finally painted!! Well, all but the stairwell, but my hubby knows me and painted the part that I can see the new blue color and will finish the rest later. This painting has been in process for some time, and it’s great to be back in our space and have it be re-organized.

The first few weeks of school were so much easier with everyone being in one area (and not distracted by disappearing to other spots in the house only to not return). When we started the painting there were some areas of patching that needed to happen and everything had to be pulled away from the walls – and then we had to decide on a color. Good grief that can be a pain! We finally settled on Benjamin Moore Mountain Mist – not too gray, but light blue enough that it didn’t seem white. 

If you follow me on Instagram at all, you may have seen the stories I shared with the color difference. I’m hoping to share more via quick stories – it’s a bit out of my comfort zone, and apparently I need help at times from my girls (which they are happy to tease me about). 

So now we’re adjusting to being back in the schoolroom, which is taking a bit. Gotta love it!

Everyone was finally home at the same time Sunday night, so we were able to decorate the tree together. Looking back at all of our ornaments we’ve collected over the years is always so much fun – remembering what we did together as a family and places we’ve visited. (Which reminds me that we forgot to hang up our ornaments from our trip to Europe this summer!)

We’re gearing up for Advent too and I ordered a new book, The 25 Days of Christmas,  to read together as a family. Confession: we don’t always get to things every day, the kids don’t always want to read along with us, BUT there are times that it’s important to go ahead and do it anyway. 

Earlier this week I shared about something that had me crying in Costco – Kaleb reading. While the book choice of the latest Diary of a Wimpy Kid book may not be on my “recommended reading” list for 6th grade, here’s the thing: he picked the book out himself and HE HAS BEEN READING IT. No, it will never be considered classic literature, but my goal is to have him ENJOY the process and not loathe it so that in the future he will pick up another book and discover that he can read and wants to read.

My view this week as I play catch-up on grading (cough) has looked much like this – both boys working on their independent work. McKenna has been curled up in her room on the floor and I’ll spare her the embarrassment of sharing a picture of her little “nest” she has created. 

This has been my desk much of the week. McKenna has wrapped up her poetry course, so I’m going through her book grading her assignments, catching up on her gradebooks, printing off quizzes for Zachary to take, and finishing up a few other things. But grading can sometimes be the death of me. 

Incidentally, those are owl pellets on my desk. Because we homeschool. And only homeschoolers would share a Facebook status update asking if anyone wanted owl pellets for dissection. :) 

Can we talk for a moment about the boy who needs to constantly have something in his mouth? The schoolroom reorganization uncovered our Chewigem dog tags and Kaleb has had them nearby most of the week. It’s something little, but rather than biting a lego or his shirt, they at least offer some quiet help. 

This week we also switched to a different typing program – Typesy. Kaleb and Zachary are working through the beginner program. This program offers some video tutorials as well, so I’m looking forward to seeing how the boys do with it (I’ll be sharing a review!). 

One thing I’m excited about – having our Periodic Table Wall Chart back up on the wall! Kaleb is working through Christian Kids Explore Chemistry this year and it’s a great tool for him to get a LARGE visual of the table. We haven’t used the interactive part of the poster yet, but he is going to love that! 

Addie has been thrilled that she can curl up with someone again (our bean bag is her favorite place to snuggle even if we aren’t in it!). Zachary has read several of the books on his reading list for this year and honestly was getting a bit bogged down (i.e. reading wasn’t fun), so we let him pick a book to read for himself (he chose the last Harry Potter book). We just picked up the boxed set, so he is curling up to read through that one before he can see the movie. 

Our Senior Adventures…

Laurianna is wrapping up her fall semester at the community college. She has one more week of full classes and then finals, which she is ready to work on and take a break. Over Thanksgiving she started training to teach lifeguard classes, so her “break” wasn’t much of a rest for her. 

We did find out that she has already been accepted to the community college and are now working on her application to another college so she can work on classes in their BSN program while she works on her RN. She is still waiting to hear back from the nursing program on her acceptance there. 

That’s about it from this last week! I hope you all are doing well and had a great Thanksgiving. We’d love to hear about your homeschool time – feel free to leave a comment and let us know what you’ve been up to. 

A Nursing Exam, A LEGO Competition, and a Field Trip – Homeschool and Life Happenings

Before I even go too far, I will have it noted that a) my almost 12-year-old DOES in fact own more than one shirt (see below) and b) also showers more often than it appears. You’ll have to trust me on both counts, but this boy is one of familiarity and often I have to ask him to please put on a different shirt. :) 

Our week started off technically last Saturday with Kaleb and three of his friends participating in the First Lego League regional tournament. Over the last few weeks the boys have pushed into overdrive and been practicing, running missions, and preparing for this competition. 

It was a long day, but they did amazing and have improved so much from last year in their teamwork, programming, and overall confidence. There were some frustrations when missions didn’t run as planned, especially when they ran with zero issues at home, but overall the boys did fabulous and will be advancing to the state competition next month – so back to preparing!

In some REALLY exciting news, Laurianna passed her Kaplan test this week. The classes she has been taking at the community college were both for dual credit as well as prerequisites required for entering the nursing program. She has been studying the last few weeks and was a little nervous (so were we), but as of now she can directly enter the nursing program at college next fall with no other classes to take! 

Next focus is college applications now we know where she stands with this and have this stress off our brains!

Most of my pictures seem to be of Kaleb this week since the teens are hiding most of the time or don’t wish to have their picture taken. Truthfully Kaleb isn’t always a fan either. :) All of the kids are moving along in their studies, including Teaching Textbooks (which we all love). Kaleb is starting on order of operations right now and Zachary is focusing on -x and the associative property. (I promise, Teaching Textbooks makes this so much easier for us!)

Kaleb and I are working together on his spelling and reviewing a few areas that he seems to have “forgotten” lately. With his journaling, I’m trying to catch any mistakes he makes and focus on those rules for review. 

When we were working together earlier this week, Zachary came into the room and asked if he could finish the lesson with Kaleb (sentence dictation). The two were hilarious, especially when he added in a sentence, word by word, for Kaleb to write: “I am bad at Fortnite.” They were laughing and having fun which is much fun to hear.

Zachary has been playing catch-up a bit in science (again with reading a syllabus – it’s all a learning curve), and he is now in the miniature house building stage of his physical science program. Next up – adding electricity!

In chemistry, Kaleb and I are working through a few labs together in Christian Kids Explore Chemistry. This week we were talking about different types of chemical bonds. The lab focused on combining salt and hot water together until the salt dissolved, straining the mixture through a filter, and then letting a portion dissolve to see what would happen. 

Wednesday we took a last-minute field trip with a friend to pick apples. We are at the very end of the season, but really wanted to grab some apple seconds as well to make applesauce. Unfortunately we have a wait a few more days to start that process since I had to order a new sauce maker because our old one is going a little wacky. 

In addition to journaling, Kaleb has been working on reading comprehension with these reading comprehension guides (currently using grade 5 level) and in grammar we are having a blast with diagramming direct objects and predicate nominatives. Yes – he enjoys it (and so do I). 

In completely unrelated news to anything, I am rather thrilled that it’s Christmas movie season. Call me crazy, but I’m ready for some happy thoughts and good clean tv watching thanks to Hallmark. I may have downloaded their Countdown to Christmas app to mark off the movies that are new this season. :) Mock me if you will, but Christmas movies, as predictable as they may be, are my happy place. 

In Case You Missed It

Earlier this week I shared a new Thanksgiving activity pack with you all (thanks to those of you that emailed to let me know the link wasn’t working! It’s fixed now). If you are looking for a few mazes or games for kids to work on while meal prep is underway, download this free pack! 

I’d also love to know what you all are reading – either personally or as a read-aloud. Our November reading list is up on the blog as well and there is one book I absolutely loved last month! 

Other Links to Note

Don’t miss this giveaway from All About Learning Press for a $100 gift certificate toward ANY of their programs – spelling OR reading!! We have loved their programs over the years and highly recommend them!

 

That’s about it from this last week! I hope you all are doing well and would love to hear about your homeschool time – feel free to leave a comment and let us know what you’ve been up to. 

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

Teenage Dress Code, Games, and Baking – Homeschool and Life Happenings

We had some company this week, so our schedule was thrown off a little bit for a few days, and Kaleb has been meeting with his LEGO League group extra this week because of his upcoming competition. Overall though we were back into the normal swing of things – and yes, the above picture is fairly normal in our house, especially for boys of the teenage variety. No shirt is the typical dress code of the day and furniture is apparently not for sitting in, but hanging off of. 

Zachary is working through North Star Geography and doing really well. It’s been a great opportunity for him to understand following a syllabus – well, that and learn a lot about geography. :) 

Again, the dress code follows us throughout the day. Zachary is really loving Algebra 1 from Teaching Textbooks 3.0. I’m really loving the online version this year as well since we don’t have to use the same computer. We’ll be sharing more about the online version (Teaching Textbooks 3.0) very soon, but it has been a fabulous upgrade for our family. 

The last few years one of our friends has put together fun costumes for our boys – and this year was no different. There was a third member of the group as well (a bag of tortilla chips). Really, this was a perfect trio for our boy since he has a ginormous love for eating chips, salsa, and guacamole. :) 

With all the trick-or-treating candy (yep, I’m maybe a bit too cheap to go buy a big bag of M&Ms), we divided out the candy by color and made our Atomic Cookie Skillet models. As we have been learning about the periodic table, this is one of the best hands-on ways to learn about electrons, neutrons, and protons. 

Since we had a plethora of certain colors, we decided to skip some of the lower numbered elements and create a few that allowed us to use more of the candy (and eat it). Kaleb has been looking forward to this part of  Christian Kids Explore Chemistry since we started the book. He remembers Zachary making these several years ago and couldn’t wait. 

They were delicious! 

We spent some time playing games together – the boys are always thrilled to play games even though I am, so we compromise and I let the boys skip their independent reading if they played a game with me. Math’d Potatoes was the first one. Essentially you have to roll dice to come up with a set of dice, using addition or subtraction, that matches the numbers on a card.

Second game up was Spell Trek, really easy for Zachary, but great practice and reminders for Kaleb. The biggest thing – we all had fun together and there was some friendly competition along with a lot of laughter, so it was a big win. 

A little something new we’re trying this week with Kaleb is journaling. I’ve shared in the past that he really struggles with his spelling and reading, so writing/journaling isn’t high on his list of “things to do” every day. As much as he dislikes writing and is uncomfortable with it because of his reading and spelling, we sat down this week and had him set a timer for 5 minutes (or a little more) and write at least 3-4 sentences in that time about anything he wants to, with no worries on spelling or grammar mistakes.

I predict much Fortnite reading in my future. 

This week he wrote about all of his candy haul and costumes adventures. I was rather amazed that he spelled the word guacamole correct and realized that he was asking Siri how to spell things. :) I honestly can’t fault him for his ingenuity on that one. 

Even though it hasn’t been his favorite thing, I’m really hoping that it will get him more comfortable with writing in general and being a bit more creative. 

 

That’s about it from this last week! I hope you all are doing well and would love to hear about your homeschool time – feel free to leave a comment and let us know what you’ve been up to. 

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

 

Our Curriculum for 2018-19