Category Archives: homeschool

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. 😉 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. 🙂 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!

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. 🙂

This Week in Homeschooling #2 (2011)

Our illnesses finally broke this past week, so posting was delayed while we actually went out and saw people and did things. It is so wonderful to finally get out of the house!

So, for the week of January 8th through the 14th, this is what we did:


  • The Boy learned about dividing by 4 and reviewed multiplying 2-digit numbers… which he forgot he ever learned. I had to show him papers from a few months ago to prove he did. I guess we’ll take a little detour to review that and firm up his addition, subtraction, and multiplication facts.
  • The Girl is working on simple addition and subtraction, practicing counting larger groups of things, and just beginning telling time. They also played together with a Reader rabbit math game and did a few puzzles.

Language Arts

  • The Boy reviewed the grammar we were working on before we all got sick, including: action vs. linking verbs, subject and predicate, the direct object, and subject vs. object pronouns. He also diagrammed two sentences.
  • He also practiced writing by sending email and chat messages to friends and family. He read some Calvin and Hobbes to himself and listened to me read The Mysterious Benedict Society.
  • The Girl is starting All About Spelling to learn the sounds the letters make and played a lot of Starfall. They both played a lot of Madlibs.
  • The Girl enjoyed whatever books her dad read to her, a High Five magazine, and an audio recording of Just So Stories.

Social Studies

  • We finished Story of the World (part 3) Chapter 16, and learned about the new scientific farming. Yay Jethro Tull! Seed drills and crop rotation.
  • We also talked about the “Tragedy of the Commons” and how that relates to the agricultural revolution.
  • We watched two episodes of “Engineering an Empire” which covered some history of ancient Greece and the Aztecs.
  • Plus we talked about how in different cultures, colors have different meanings.


  • We’re finally beginning our new Science book, with a lesson about Brownian motion and diffusion.
  • We watched an episode of Rough Science about panning for gold, making a scale, and making a metal detector (and, of course, “Engineering an Empire” had a lot of science and engineering content).
  • We built a fire in the fireplace and talked about the chemistry of fires.


  • Still taking it slow, but we did play outside in the snow and went to gymnastics. We talked about the importance of stretching, safe stretching, and tried out the exercise balls we got for Christmas.


  • Thanks to our illnesses, we talked (again!) a lot about hygiene of washing hands, how viruses spread and things like that.
  • Also, the importance of brushing our teeth when we eat candy all day long to make our sore throats feel better.
  • We talked some more about how babies are made, chronic illnesses, and fire safety.


  • Just free-form singing around the house and listening to whatever was on the radio or iTunes, mostly. Sore throats and coughing don’t work well with music.


  • We read two books about different sorts of art (Paintings and Landscapes)
  • Did a lot of coloring and stickers and making paper snowflakes
  • Talked a bit about why artists pick this color instead of that color (which ties in with how different cultures use color).
  • The Girl followed the instructions in her magazine to make a crown (with some help).


The Girl did some worksheets about tools people in different jobs use, matching things that go together, and most importantly the different seasons and which clothes you wear in those seasons. The Boy learned about fixing things, especially the plumbing, and practiced with his drill and hacksaw.

Whew! Next week we’ll have better lesson plans and really get back to school.

This week in Homeschooling #1 (2011)

There are a few reasons to write up what we do every week here. First, it’s a good way to record it for later — for portfolio reviews, for next time I’m teaching the same things, for the kids once they are older and maybe want to read a few things about what we used to do. Also, new homeschoolers are always looking for a little peek into what life as a homeschooler is — and while I’m by no means “typical”, it’s always interesting to see what other people do. The kids can also use this as their own publishing platform, as they like. Plus, I like to do the week’s planning on Sunday, so Saturday is a great time to figure out what we did this week, so I know what to work on next week. And finally, it’s a way for family and friends to see what we’re up to, so they can feel connected, or so they can offer any sort of tie-ins they might have with our lessons. For example, grandma can often contribute pictures of important monuments and museums in Europe.

Moving on, this week was on the slow side. Everyone’s had fevers and coughs, so they have mostly been hibernating, not doing a lot of “official” learning.

We watched a show about flying dinosaurs! The Boy worked on division a little, and we all enjoyed looking at some fractal snowflakes (I made a few, but the kids seemed a bit daunted by the idea). He also wrote countless emails to friends and family. He used his new drill and hacksaw to build things, and he’s currently at Home Depot to buy more PVC and wood while his dad gets some tools to help the two of them fix the plumbing. We talked more about hygiene and sickness, two issues that come up a whole lot around here. 😉