All posts by Katie

2011-2012 Cirricula

Okay, so we don’t do school “years”. We school year-round. Except when we take a break. And really, I don’t try to finish up books in a year. We finish them when we are done, which could be sooner or later than that, depending. But still, people like to talk cirricula and school years, so this is at least what we plan on using, as of now. Until I change it. Or the kids whine. Or the martian death plague visits us.

History for 3rd Grade and Kindergarten will be the same general topics, with activities that vary based on their abilities:

  • Usborne Internet-Linked Encyclopedia of History – right now it’s our pre-history spine, and will supplement the other books for the next several years.
  • Story of the World Volume 1
  • History Odyssey level 1 Ancients
  • Gombrich’s Little History of the World
  • Various history pockets, historical coloring books, streaming videos, lap books!
  • Activities from other subjects that have historical content (see below)
  • Ancient literature, perhaps kid versions when necessary, such as The Odyssey.
  • Kid literature, such as picture books, Timewarp Trio, Magic Treehouse.
  • 3rd grade only: online Mythology class

 Language Arts 3rd Grade:

  • Michael Clay Thompson, Town level — this includes Grammar Town, Practice Town, Paragraph Town, Caesar’s English, Building Poetry.
  • All About Spelling 2 and hopefully 3.
  • Classic Literature as it comes up.

Language Arts Kindergarten:

  • All About Spelling 1 (will probably be done before fall), 2, probably even 3
  • Mad Libs
  • Reading simple books
  • Not much else — she listens to her brother’s lessons and absorbs a lot.

 Math 3rd Grade:

  • Using a combination of Math-U-See and Singapore Math:
    • Continue to work on +, -, X, and division math facts
    • Continue to work on independently doing multi-step math problems, including long division
    • Continue work on fractions
    • Start decimals?
  • Logic problems (Logic Safari and other workbooks)
  • Living Math books, history, and activities, synchronized with history work
  • Read Life of Fred Fractions, The Number Devil, Zaccaro’s Challenge Math

Math Kindergarten:

  • Using Math-U-See and Singapore Math:
    • Continue to work on subtraction and addition
    • Continue to work on understanding place value
    • Start skip counting
  • Living Math books and activities, as she is able to participate

Science 3rd Grade and Kindergarten:

  • Nebel’s Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding for K-2 and 3-5
  • Prehistory (see history above)
  • Science stuff that comes up — nature, farming, space, etc.
  • Lots of science videos about space and engineering and nature.
  • Hakim’s The Story of Science: Aristotle Leads the Way, synchronized with history lessons

 PE 3rd Grade and Kindergarten:

  • This is still a little unsure. We have some ideas for classes and such, but many schedules aren’t finalized enough for us to figure out which we can go to. Possibilities include a homeschool PE class, dance, soccer, swimming, and gymnastics.
  • Cub scouts – includes activities for the little siblings

Health 3rd Grade and Kindergarten:

  • Focus on fitness, stretching, what to do in an emergency, eating well, and staying safe.
  • Kidpower coloring books for issues with bullies, socialization, strangers, and emergencies.
  • Cub scout book for 3rd grader, deals with cleanliness, character, etc.

Art 3rd Grade and Kindergarten:

  • Meet the Masters – introduces a master artist and their style and has activties to try out that artist’s style
  • Art history synchronized with history class. May use Gombrich’s History of Art (filtered through me).
  • Drawing practice, a lot of practice painting and creating.

Music 3rd Grade and Kindergarten

  • Singing class? Unsure, due to schedule
  • Music history synchronized with history class
  • Trying out various instruments such as piano, violin, voice, recorder, etc.
  • Hopefully someone will learn to play something!!


  • Various life skills: cooking, cleaning!!, sewing, yardwork, camping
  • Foreign language?

 Anyway, that seems like a lot. And it probably is. But with more options and variety, everyone is happy!

My Whole World Is Changed


The day this book came, it promised to change my world. To expand my horizons. To let me finally understand baking and invent my own recipes, just as I’d always wanted. It’s like design patterns, but for baking!

There was just one problem — I had just gone gluten free.

So for two years, this book sat on my shelf, brutally mocking me. It was like seeing the holy grail, and watching it slip away from my grasp.


Going gluten free was hard for me in a lot of ways. A lot of my favorite foods contain gluten. I was getting really into baking my own breads for the kids. Baking was sort of an essential part of the whole Home Is Possible experience — eating authentic, homemade recipes instead of mass produced junk. It was especially rough when I was pregnant with gestational diabetes and I couldn’t fall back on lite bread sandwiches or cheese and crackers. Piles of rice and rice noodles were right out.

Over time, I learned which gluten-free mixes I liked better. More companies started making their own gluten free versions of things — Bisquick and even Betty Crocker. But I really did not like using them. I never used the gluten versions. I didn’t use them even when I was a kid. Every summer as a teenager, I worked my way through the pastry cookbooks. The week I discovered pate a choux was especially tasty. Baking is like all the chemistry and biology labs I did in school, only instead of threatening me with acid burns and cancer, I got to eat the result! Box mixes were better than no bread or cookies at all, but it was a big step backwards from where I wanted to be.

I was mostly happy with the Gluten Free Baking Classics book, making decent scones and pancakes. But it required a lot of starches and rice and seemed devoid of any nutritional value, or even much taste. I wished I could bake with more interesting grains, like amaranth or teff. I could search for recipes on the internet, but it was like finding a needle in a haystack to find recipes I was really interested in — I’m picky. I don’t like cranberries, or sunflower seeds, or various other things people are always putting in gluten free foods. Or recipes would be gluten free, dairy free, egg free, and soy free… which is great if that’s what you need, but I wanted something more like what I made as a kid.

So, two nights ago, I discovered something amazing: The Gluten Free Ratio Rally.

Apparently, Ratio works for gluten free flours too. In fact, it works perfectly — the gluten free flours have a different density than wheat. That’s why you can’t just interchange them. I read the recipes for hours, hardly daring to believe it could be true. I could understand the secret of gluten free baking! And not just that, but apparently xanthan gum isn’t even really required for most of it!

I could hardly wait to try it myself. But it was midnight. And I didn’t have enough flour. But mostly the flour thing, I think.

So I let the kids help me, choosing which recipe to use (sponge cake), and weighing the flours and cracking the eggs. They even chose to color the glaze we put on top (isn’t it wonderfully ridiculous!)

The baking was forever. I tried a bit before it even cooled. I glzed it before it was cooled. Heck, we ate it before it even cooled, because I had to know if it could possibly be true!

The Boy wanted seconds. That is all the data required to know it was a resounding success.

It’s moist on the inside with a delightful little crumb. The edges are a little chewy like a great pound cake gets (and like box mixes never do). It tastes… like cake. Like the birthday cake my mom always made when we were kids. I can imagine adding all sorts of things to this cake. Nutmeg or cinnamon. A citrus glaze. Chocolate. Layers. The possibilities are endless. Just like I always wanted.

Even better — I now have the tools to convert my favorite old recipes, such as the families treasured Christmas cookies. It’s traditional! 

Home Is Possible’s First Gluten Free Ratio Cake
1:1:1:1 ratio, just like pound cake

8 oz eggs (4, plus a yolk if they are small)
8 oz sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tbs lime juice (the recipe called for lemon, but we didn’t have one)
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking powder (the recipe said 2 tsp, but optional. We added 1 to make sure it rose enough)
3 oz sorghum flour
2.5 oz brown rice flour
1.5 oz tapioca starch
1 oz potato starch
8 oz melted, cooled butter

Preheat oven to 350F
Whisk eggs, sugar, salt, lime juice, and vanilla until eggs are 3 times original size (a few minutes).
Fold in dry ingredients, gently.
Fold in melted butter.
Pour into 9″ round cake pan and bake 30-45 minutes.

We iced it was confectioners sugar mixed with water until it was just the right consistency and added a little food coloring. (I was so excited, I forgot to add vanilla!)

Story By the Girl

The angel wanted to buy a sword, so the angel went in the sword shop. And the angel flew into it. And the angel was sad because she didn’t have any money. And then she generated money. And then she bought a dagger with a pink hilt and pink celestial bronze. And then she generated tape. And the angel said, “Hmmm. Maybe I should fix all the broken swords over there.” And fixed them. And then the angel went back home.

Sorry For the Lack of Posts….

But we were sick for basically five months, and I needed all my spare time just to keep up with the laundry. Hopefully I’ll get back to some sort of regular posting soon. Also, The Boy may start publishing his own posts. Which means, get ready to hear a lot about worms.

This week in Homeschooling #9 and #10

The past week is a blur of tiredness and illness. We all came down with the infamous rotavirus, and had fevers and horribleness. (And just as I’m publishing this, looks like the baby has roseola on top of everything. Wow. What a bad week.)

Math practice

World maths Day!

The Boy participated in World Maths Day, competing against kids from around the world in doing addition and subtraction problems against each other in real time. He was so delighted he declared his two favorite subjects to be “math and competition”. So I signed him up for spring soccer — but I’m sure this is one of those teams you’re not supposed to be too competitive on. Whatever. Like you can stop kids.

We also are moving our facts memorization to a cabinet. If you open the right door you can quiz yourself! Plus, it’s right next to where he eats, so he’ll get it by osmosis. The girl is enjoying quizzing us on math and doing simple addition and subtraction still.

Baby plants!


We played with acids and bases and red cabbage
indicator, planted plants, and saw the tulips start coming up in the
backyard. We talked about spring and signs of spring, too. In the past
few days they’ve learned a lot more about earthquakes, tsunamis andย nuclear reactors, as well. ๐Ÿ™


We learned a lot about electrolytes, dehydration, and ways your body fights disease. Hands on!

A guy with a urine-based laser gun


A lot of our sick time we’ve been doodling and drawing things.

Social Studies

We started re-watching Liberty’s Kids since we’re about to read the chapter of our book about the American Revolution. We’ve also been talking about all the uprisings going on around northern Africa right now and discussing different sorts of governments.


The boy has been typing emails and text messages to me, family and friends a lot lately. He’s also started reading Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke. He’s heard it read to him twice, but it’s an enormous book written somewhere in the 4th-5th grade level, and he’s already about 50 pages into it, I think. I’m proud of him just for trying! The girl has been doing a lot of writing of letters, and trying to sound out small words. The baby is using more and more words and has started playing with consonants. Which should help us be able to understand her. (Right now, she mostly talks in vowels, which makes me slightly crazy.)

Painting with dirt


We went to PE class right before we came down with the evil
illness. With spring just about here, it was impossible to keep the
kids happy playing in a gym. So we adjourned to the park. ๐Ÿ˜€ Also, we
went to gymnastics class last week (but not this week).


The kids went to their cousin’s band concept and enjoyed it thoroughly! Excellent band. We also listened to some Irish music in the lead up to St. Patrick’s Day. Plus, they listened to their dad work on a song he’s been composing for, um, 10 years or so. The boy went to a singing class where they talked a bit about harmony, chords, and rests.

Scrubbing dishes


While they weren’t sick, they did some cooking and enjoyed cleaning. They both suddenly like mopping (which is a good thing, since they keep tracking mud everywhere) and the girl constantly begs to help scrub dishes!

This Week in Homeschooling #7 and #8

What an odd pair of weeks! February 12 – 25, 2010.

Week 7 ended with May weather, in the 70s and sunny. Week 8 had a snowstorm in the middle and ended with a lot of wind. This update will now include what the baby is working on, too!

The boy has nearly made his way through the addition and multiplication tables. It’s tough work, but he gets a prize at the end. I’d say “mastered” except that I’m sure he’ll forget it all again. Also, he worked on logic problems in his Professor Layton DS game.

The girl is working on addition, and her brother makes problems for her to work on.

The baby worked on puzzles like “how can I use this key to open the locked cabinet”.

The boy finished our investigations of fungi and bacteria.

The Girl was introduced to energy, forms of energy, and energy transfer. We made sundials, though we never managed to take them outside to try them out.

We performed taste tests of apples and bread, and calculated the average score for each one.

We also delved into maps and globes. We worked out map grid systems, and then turned a red cabbage into the earth and marked the equator, poles, and lines of latitude and longitude. Then The Girl placed a grain of rice (named Joe) on her world, shined a light on him, and had him watch the sun come up and go down while we rotated the cabbage.

We ordered (and received — thank you Amazon Prime!) an excellent book about Prehistoric life, and The Girl and I read about the evolution of humans and she started writing her own journal about things her mysterious secret friend discovered. The Boy enjoyed seeing pictures of life from hundreds of years ago, including a wide variety of ammonites and nautiloids. He then started working on a poster for his cub scouts Blue and Gold banquet about his favorite sea animals.

The baby tasted dirt.

Language Arts
The Boy practiced writing letters in professor Layton (if he doesn’t make them look good enough, the DS won’t recognize it!). We read a lot of books. Lots. Tons. Many. We also read a chapter of Sentence Island.

The Girl continued practicing with All About Spelling, and she’s starting to form short words pretty well. And more and more books.

The baby tried out some new words and phrases, such as “lizard”, and “oh yeah!”. And we read a lot of books.

Social Studies
The Boy read about the Indian empire falling apart, and the rise of the English shopkeepers. Also, tying up some ends in the Far East. Then we started leading up to the revolutionary war with a chapter about the French and Indian War, Seven Years war, and other fun wars in the mid 18th century.

The Girl’s history is currently just learning about pre-history, early earth, and such, though she also listens in on what her brother is doing.

The baby learned that being shy sometimes gets your more attention.

We went to a park day! With people! It was great! We also did gymnastics both weeks. The PE class found a nice indoor location for the days that weren’t good weather, and the kids played dodge ball, capture the flag, and other games like that. We also measured the backyard so we could run back and forth and know how fast and how far we went. We also went sledding and had a snowball fight with their grandmother.

The baby is almost walking and can stretch and reach things on just about any table.

To finish the boy’s wolf badge, we learned about safety at home and on the street. This included what to do in the case of a fire, and bike-riding rules. Also, the ever on-going “is this a square meal?” conversation.

The baby is getting teeth and crying and eating everything in sight and is somehow still healthy!

Lots of coloring, drawing, and such. No real “formal” stuff other than what came along with some other studies.

The baby has painted herself with yogurt and used markers on everything. And ate markers.

We went to music class both weeks, learned new songs, and practiced old ones.

The baby even joined in on class! She likes to bounce and clap along.

We cooked all sorts of things, including mini pigs in blankets, grilled cheese, cheese sauce for pasta, gluten free bread, and whipped cream.

The Girl did even more cooking practice on Cooking Mama (a video game).

The baby, well, she’s found all sorts of ways to make me crazy with food!

This week in Homeschooling #5 and #6

This is what I remember from the week of 1/31/2011 – 2/11/2011. I combined two weeks since I’m behind, and because week six was mostly about being sick.


The boy is spending time memorizing his addition, subtraction, and multiplications tables, and doing some review problems. Also, we reviewed factoring and prime numbers, one of his favorite topics. The girl is working on addition with digits 0-5.

We studied probability a little bit, by rolling our platonic and archimedian 8 sided dice and regular 2d6. All results were tallied and plotted on appropriate graphs, and why things ended up the way they did. Naturally we had to reconcile our observations with our hypotheses. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Then we used that knowledge to figure out when you would want a weapon that did 1d12 damage vs. 3d4 damage.

And we played math games. Interesting variants on war, go fish, and so forth to do some computation. He also signed up for international maths day, which is March 1st, and practiced some.


After watching part of a documentary about Yellowstone in the winter and the wolves that live there, we learned about a neat learning game called WolfQuest, where you get to pretend to be a wolf. The Boy played until he won it, learning a lot about wolf body language, raising wolf pups, and wolf pack behavior. He was especially amazed when he chased off an alpha male from the druid pack. It made his day!

The Girl’s science lessons are continuing, and we read a short book about the different forms of energy, what energy is, and what energy does. The Boy finished up his lesson about cells and cell division. Then we started (and finished!) a lesson about fungi and bacteria, classification, and decomposition. They loved this one!

We also read a lot about pre-dinosuar plants and animals, which also doubles as The Girls entry into her history lessons. I absolutely adore a book we found at the library, When Bugs Were Big, Plants Were Strange, and Tetrapods Stalked the Earth: A Cartoon Prehistory of Life before Dinosaurs. The Girl also wanted this book, Bones, Bones, Dinosaur Bones, read to her over and over. I really like his books.

And we talked about the magnetic fields around earths and learned what “concentric torses” are.


The girl is doing well with All About Spelling. She knows most of her phonograms decently well, and now we’re playing with making short three-letter words. She still gets confused about letters having to be in order and starting on the left. Or maybe she’s just pretending to to make me insane. There really isn’t any telling. She can set up the letters in alphabetical order, though, which is a great achievement!

We read more about poetry, about alliteration and bringing it together with rhyme and meter and onomatopoeia to bring about interesting effects with words, and The boy wrote a poem. In grammar, we studied prepositional phrases and independent clauses and marked up the structure of many more sentences. He’s done with Grammar Island and gets to move on to Sentence Island. Yay! And we started the first chapter of Sentence Island, which was review of the contents of Grammar Island, plus an introduction to the new characters for that book.

We read a lot of books together. A lot. And The Boy even read a few on his own.


They both did their gymnastics and extra gym time, but I think I’ve learned that the extra hour is far too much all at once for them. They get way too tired. Plus, The Boy hurt his back, and laid in bed the rest of the afternoon, evening, and most of the next day.

We also watched the Superbowl and a hockey game, and the kids learned a bit about the rules for those sports.


We did some coloring pages from Kid Power, which teaches about how to not be a victim and when and how to get help when you’re in a dangerous situation. Also some about dealing with bullies and projecting confidence.

We also talked way, way, way too much about egg fertilization and sperm and printed a bazillion weird pictures. And discussed prudish people with our grandparents.


We didn’t have any planned art activities, but there is always a lot of building and coloring going on around the house.


While we had to miss one class for colds, the other class went well. The boy is learning more songs, and more about music as well as other cultures and time periods. I’m constantly amazed at how well behaved he is in this class.

Social Studies/History

This week, we read about the decline of the Ottoman empire. We also touched on a lot of other history in our other discussions. For example, when we were discussing American prudishness, we reviewed about Puritans, and discussed how the same subjects are treated differently in other countries. Plus all the good dinosuar and pre-dinosaur content is considered history and science around here. ๐Ÿ™‚ We discussed the history of animal classification when we discussed fungi and bacteria, from Linneaus to the 1960s when they added new Kingdoms, and then in the past decade when they’ve restructured into Domains. And in music class, they learned a song in Hebrew, plus some more Old West cowboy tunes, and talked about the meanings of the words and what it was all about.

It’s amazing how much we get done and I don’t even realize it until I list it all!

Wiggly Worm

The big, wiggly worm
Was digging in the dirt.
He was growing bigger and bigger and bigger
As he licked through the dirt,

This Week in Homeschooling #4

This is what I remember of the week from 1/24/2011 – 1/30/2011. Mostly they played in the snow and then rested in exhaustion. All classes and things (cub scouts, PE, music, gymnastics, etc.) were canceled.

While they rested, they enjoyed a wide variety of Nintendo DS games. The Boy concentrated on his chess game and worked towards his Chess pin for cub scouts. The Girl did art and painting games and music games.

I started teaching The Boy simple tunes like “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” on the keyboard.

The Girl read a book about art and was so enamoured of Pointilism, that she made several pictures using the technique. The Boy learned about perspective.

The Boy’s friend sent a neat image of Kirby that you could cut out and fold into a cube. From there we researched Platonic and Archemedian solids and made them out of paper.

The Boy also bought a small plant from Target with his allowance, and planted it. He opened and followed the directions to cook a canister of crossants.

I’m not sure what else we did. Chased the baby a lot, I think.

This Week in Homeschooling #3

Okay, maybe I can handle posting once a week… The baby is more mobile and less nap-prone, and I can’t find time.  This is what we did the week of 1/16-1/22.

I started each day by reading a poem out of our new poem book:

  •  Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening, Robert Frost — because of the snow!
  • The Destruction of Sennacherib, Lord Byron — The Boy was pleased to learn poems can also be about war.
  • The Red Wheelbarrow, William Carlos Williams — They liked this one best! The chickens stuck in their heads.
  • Sonnet 18, Shakespeare
  • The Raven, Edgar Allen Poe

The boy spent the week reviewing his basic math facts, which apparently all fell out of his head. He also started learning about averages, which for some reason he doesn’t like.

The Girl started her science classes. This week we talked about categorizing things, and I pulled out the button bag and had the kids organize them into different piles based on whatever characteristics they wanted. After some time, they realized they had some buttons that fit into multiple piles, so I introduced the idea of Venn Diagrams. We also discussed how vending machines sort coins by size.

We went to a local homeschoolers Game Day for the first time, and played a fun game about a sinking island and met new people.

We finished our lesson about diffusion and Brownian motion and began delving into cells. The pond water grandma gave us is full of all sorts of things that are still alive, so we looked at them and some onion skin. Also, we put a  chicken bone in vinegar to see what would happen, and I made The Boy posit a hypothesis (he thought the bone would “dissolve into chunks” and discussed diffusion).

In language arts, he’s really excited about diagramming sentences — we learned all about linking verbs and the subject complement and practiced finding the direct object of our action verb.

For history, we studied Peter the Great. Grandma sent pictures of Peterhof and the kids drew what a city would look like if they built it from scratch.

I finally put together all of the parts of All About Spelling, so The Girl began learning phonograms their way. We read more in her High Five magazine and she actually drew a square! She’s had some weird mental block about squares for ever and ever, so it’s nice to know she’s gotten over that. And she’s very good at simple addition and subtraction.

In cub scouts, they worked on their art belt loops, which involved learning about texture and tint/shade, making clay sculptures, and using stamps and things to make cards for people. He used one card for his sister’s birthday card, which I thought was very sweet. He even wrote her name and address on it. He also played chess against me and the Nintendo DS to work on his chess belt loop. He is also working on finishing up all his Wolf requirements, so he’s charting his hygiene habits, his household chores, and we discussed respect, the environment, and recycling.

He video chatted with a friend in California, and they apparently enjoy doing Madlibs together. (Yay!) Plus, he got to listen to his cousin’s band concert.

And that’s all I can remember. ๐Ÿ™‚