Monthly Report: September 2017

School was still a little random this month. I had several huge deadlines at work, plus we spent two weeks at the beach.

Kid #1

  • Music: Practiced his saxophone some and saw a really amazing performance (with an exceptional saxophone player) of Big Bad Voodoo Daddy.
  • LA: Learned about adverbs in excruciating detail, did a lot of madlibs with his sisters. Read Found by Haddix and listened to Harry Potter 6 with his sisters.  Writing practice with Druidawn.
  • Social Studies: Watched a documentary about American before Columbus, read a chapter about the age of exploration.
  • Science: Read the sections of biology about atoms, ions and molecules; the properties of water, and carbon-based molecules. Did two labs to learn how to use a microscope and mount slides. Used an online simulator to investigate molecule polarity. Learned a lot about hurricanes this month, too! We also got out the telescope and looked at sunspots and learned about the solar wind and stuff like that.
  • Math: did a few more sections of the algebra book. Learned about probability and statistics.
  • PE: Homeschool soccer started! Mini-golf, hiking.
  • Health: Grilled chicken, hotdogs, hamburgers. Visited the Life Saving Station Museum in Ocean City.
  • Art: Made pottery and glass art.

Kid #2

  • Science: Cell types, cell specialization. Lab to learn to use microscope and make slides. Learned a lot about hurricanes and marine biology this month, too! 
  • History: Read a chapter about castles, read a bunch of books about castles and knights, made a family crest and a samurai hat. 
  • LA: Listened to Harry Potter 6 with her siblings, did a lot of Madlibs. Studied some word origins and linguistics.
  • Math: Worked a few problems from Teaching Textbooks 5.
  • Music: Watched Big Bad Voodoo Daddy.
  • Health: Worked more on eating healthily. Swimming and ocean safety. Cooked a fruit tar with custard and fruit, cooked chicken.  Visited the Life Saving Station Museum in Ocean City.
  • Japanese: Learned more about Japanese with her dad.
  • PE: Homeschool soccer started! Mini-golf, hiking.
  • Art: Painted pottery, made decorated baked goods, chalk art.

Kid #3

  • History: Read a chapter about castles, read a bunch of books about castles and knights, made a family crest and a samurai hat. 
  • LA: Listened to Harry Potter 6 with her siblings, did a lot of Madlibs.
  • Math: Worked a few sections of Teaching Textbooks 3.
  • Science: Studied blood and made a model of it using candies and beans. Learned a lot about hurricanes and marine biology this month, too!
  • Music: Watched Big Bad Voodoo Daddy.
  • Health: Swimming and ocean safety.  Visited the Life Saving Station Museum in Ocean City.
  • Art: Made things with beads, chalk art, painted pottery.
  • PE: Homeschool soccer started! Mini-golf, hiking.


Monthly Report: July 2017

I’ve decided writing what we do each week is just too much work right now. So instead, I’ll sum up monthly. That way I’m still thinking about it and writing about it, but not quite as often. The school system likes us to report stuff by the month anyway, so I guess this way I make sure we have something to say for each month.

Half of the month, Kid #1 was away at marine biology camp. He did so many things and got a crazy tan and apparently has a new love for kayaking.

Kid #2 did a couple of cooking day camps, which she looks forward to all year.

Kid #3 had no camps, but she did get to go into an inflatable pool with cans of whipped cream, so that was pretty fun, too.

We all went to the pool, though with my bad knee it meant just watching.

We watched nearly a dozen episodes of Expedition Unknown and who knows how many cooking classes. We watched a few episodes of Nova, too.

While their brother was at camp, I read the first book of a historical fiction series called The Missing to the girls.

We all started using Habitica, a to do list that is also an RPG. The kids seem to have taken to it pretty well, and it helps them remember and want to update their to do lists.

While my knee is wounded, the kids have been helpful at cooking stuff — the oldest has been grilling steaks, chicken, pineapple, and brats. Kid #2 made inari for her siblings.

Kid #1 is also working on a shoot up arcade game with his dad to learn about coding.

We’re using Duolingo to learn (or remember) foreign languages. I’m reviewing Japanese, German, and Russian. Kid #1 is learning German and Kid #2 is learning Japanese.

And everyone is learning about team work by playing so much Overwatch. It’s something I could play all those weeks that I had to have my knee elevated and could barely walk.

Next week is the last week of cooking camp for Kid #2 and everything will start to get back more to normal.

The Past Two Months…

Hey. I didn’t post. Here’s why: Everything got crazy.

First of all, it was end of year soccer competitions and the nasty sunburns that they give a person. And a trip to Yellowstone. And food poisoning. And dance recitals. And visiting cousins and crazy trips to go see rocks bands and then…

I really, really messed up my knee. Just a fun way my body tells me: “Hey, you’re 40 now. Stop jumping around like that.”

So the past 5 weeks I’ve been in bed in pain, hobbling around the house, and wearing these big knee braces that make me feel like I have a small mech clinging to my leg.

Thankfully, the kids already had a ton of camps planned, plus the pool opened, so they were somewhat less bored.

I’m not going to try to document what we did. Heck, the homeschool monitor even retired, so there was no time to even do a portfolio review on us for the spring.

It’s time to clean the slate and start over with my new ninth, sixth, and second graders!

Week 14, 2017 – A Sudden Surge of Language Arts

Some weeks we do a little in each subject, other weeks we’re really heavy on just a few. It’s okay to do this.


  • Watched a few episodes of Monk
  • Kid #1 is working on an RPG game with a friend.
  • Kid #1 is reading Ready Player One
  • Kid #2 is playing a lot of Zelda, Breath of the Wild… it’s a lot of reading at times.
  • Kid #3 emptied a small bookcase and seems to have read everything on it. She also read a project book and marked the pages she was interested in doing.
  • At night we’re still reading Harry Potter 4.
  • Kid #1 did a freewrite about birds.


  • Kid 3 looked up a project from the book, read it, gathered the materials, and worked on it until she needed help. Not bad for seven!


  • The boy completed Bomb Squad Academy, which tests you on how well you know circuits.
  • Virulence, the tabletop game:


  • Foursquare,
  • soccer,
  • dance


  • Sand art:

Week 13, 2017 – Keeping Track With Evernote

So… I like to plan possible ideas for doing things… but we frequently do something off plan. I used to like our old tool because it was easy to push things off to the future. But it was still kind of a pain to add in the activity we did instead. It was a lot of clicking.

Also, with three kids, I couldn’t figure out if I should group the kids together as a plan, or have individual ones for each kid (and each subject…. that’s a lot of different classes to manage!). Sometimes they do activities all together, just two (could be any two!) or individuals. So it was difficult to mark who did each thing without so much clicking and messing up. So managing the schedules was hard — I could never figure out how to manage them in a way that didn’t take forever.

Anyway, I moved to Evernote. I have a folder for each week. I tag each entry with the kid’s tag, the subject tag, and maybe other information if I think I’ll care. I can plan stuff and if I use it, I just tag the kids who did it and drag it to the folder for the week we did it. Boom!

I can easily update it on a tablet or phone (which I couldn’t do with the old tool). I can just send it a picture and label and tag it later.

So much easier!

Another huge thing we did was we cleaned up the homeschooling room! We got rid of things the kids used up or was too young for everyone. Then we moved the furniture around. It’s so much more usable now! And the girls decided to make a fort.


  • Watched an episode of Expedition Unknown about King John
  • Used our nice re-positioned wall map to look up the places we’ve been studying in Story of the World volume 2.


  • Kid #1 and Kid #3 made “bombs” out of popsicle sticks. They made some old patterns and figured out some new patterns. It was a great opportunity to discuss potential vs kinetic energy. And eye safety!
  • The first batch of rocks came out of the tumbler fresh and shiny and smooth:
  • We did more work at the PBS NOVA evolution site, and it was extra fun in our new school room. I can hook my extra touchscreen monitor to the laptop, helping everyone see and interact with it more easily:
  • The red tide came up in a book we read, so we discussed what the red tide is.
  • Watched a video of a kid making a Leanardo da Vinci Birdge. We tried to make some out of popsicle sticks, but decided the weight of the building material was pretty important. It was too easy to flick the sticks around as we moved.


  • Took kid #2 and #3 shopping for new clothes, since they keep growing. It was thousands and thousands of steps!
  • Soccer games!
  • Dance classes.
  • Kid #1 wandered through the woods tossing building materials.


  • Teaching textbooks for Kid 2 and 3.
  • Taught kid #1 grid multiplication, which made him so happy! He likes the way it works a lot better than the standard algorithm. We tried it with two digits times two digits, then three by three. He figured there could be a problem with numbers without the same number of digits, so he tried a test problem and found out it worked. Such great mathematical thinking!
  • Kid 2 weighed all the rocks and organized them by weight.


  • Kid 2 and 3 wrote a huge sign for their new clubhouse.
  • While we were cleaning, Kid 3 found a book of riddles and read them to us incessantly.
  • I watched The Two Towers with Kid 2 and Kid 3. Yay!
  • Kid #2 enjoyed some more logic problems.
  • Read part of The Red Tide, a MCT Grammar companion book.
  • Read the Usborne Internet-Linked Encyclopedia for SOTW chapters 7-10 as a review.
  • Read SOTW 2 chapter 10, The Bottom of the World.


  • Eye safety!
  • Kid 1 discussed safety about making clubhouses in the woods.


  • More Chalk drawings!

And remember, this is just the stuff that I know about and remember to record that we did….

Week 12 – Rock and Mineral Show!

Every year the local rock club puts on an amazing rock and mineral show. They have tons of rocks, information, activities, and the kids splurge and buy lots of rocks to add to their collections. We look at the rocks and try to figure out what they are, organize them, tumble them, talk about hardness and other qualities of rocks… it’s super awesome.

And this year…. I actually won a door prize! Woo!


  • reading Harry Potter 3 and 4


  • Rock and Mineral Show
  • Another local rocket launch
  • Bird watching — we submit reports using eBird.
  • Diffusion, concentration (BFSU A-12)
  • Friction, force, velocity, acceleration (PheT simulations).


  • Running around the neighborhood
  • foursquare
  • Soccer for kid 2 and kid 3
  • Dance for kid 2 and kid 3


  • Teaching textbooks for kid 2 and 3

Health & Art

  • Square meals
  • Cooking chicken
  • Cooking sausage


  • Chalk pictures outside


  • Practice instruments
  • Learning digital music with Mixcraft


  • Foreign language practice


Week 11 – Pi Day!

It was a busy week with pi day and a birthday!


  • Read Harry Potter 3 at night


  • Finish up SOTW chapter 7.
  • Begin SOTW 2 chapter 8: Great Dynasties of China.
  • Made ink quills and ink using tea, and wrote with them.


  • More work on the PBS NOVA labs evolution interactive site.


  • Pi day activities:
    • making pie
    • measuring pi.
  • Teaching textbooks and Khan Academy


  • wandering around outside
  • playing in the snow
  • Kid 2 and 3 went to dance class
  • Went to a hockey game! 😀


  • practice instruments


  • practice weaving on the new loom
  • Kids #2 and #3 did pearler bead art
  • Kid #2 made some cupcakes and decorated them
  • Kid 3 made her own hockey sticks

Week 10, 2017 – Whoops I forgot to post

Time got a little away from me for a bit, so I’m going to post a little more often to try to catch up…


  • Classification, DNA, cladistics, and fractals with this very nifty interactive website at PBS:
  • Kid #1 built and launched a rocket with some other kids.


  • The younger two did placement tests for Teaching Textbooks and a lesson or two.
  • Kid #1 worked on more stuff on Khan Academy.


  • Handwriting practice with grandma.
  • Kid #1 did his freewriting class
  • Reading Harry Potter 3 out loud at night


  • Walking around the neighborhood
  • Foursqaure with local kids in the street
  • Kid #2 and #3 – dance
  • Practiced soccer at the park


Week 8, 2017 — Nature Hike

We had a pretty good week. I don’t know why I ever wander away from Homeschool Planet for planning things. I guess I just try to save money… and get frustrated with the way it deals with some things. But for me, it’s better than any other planning system out there.

This time around I’m gong to use it with Evernote — instead of sticking every idea i have in the planner, I’m keeping a list of ideas in Evernote, and I can use that list as inspiration when I plan out the next few weeks in the planner. I think where I run into problems is when I plan too far ahead or plan too much.


  • All of the kids played with PhET sims’ Function Builder. It has many ways of playing with the idea of a function.
  • Kid 1 practiced multiplying double-digit numbers.
  • Kid 2 worked on her multiplication chart.
  • Kid 3 worked on adding three-digit numbers and regrouping. She also spent time with grandma learning about different coins and how much they are worth.



It was a relatively light week for Language Arts.

All the kids watched interesting shows that we talked about — Monk, Timeless, and so forth. We also continued to read the second Harry Potter book at night.

This week’s words of the day included onus and bemuse.


Read the next chapter in Story of the World, still about the beginnings of Islam.

Watched several episodes of Timeless… and finished the season. I hope it gets renewed!


  • We participated in the great backyard bird count, and it was pretty fun. We even saw an (apparently) rare bird and were contacted by one of the people who QA the bird reports. They like to make sure people have reasons for reporting unexpected things, so I got to explain why we thought we saw a purple finch instead of a house finch. (Lucky for us, we get both, so it’s easy to spot the difference.)
  • We went to a local little mountain, Sugarloaf, and enjoyed a nice nature hike. There was a lot of lichen.
  • We saw the bunnies again for the first time this year. We watched them and commented on their behavior.
  • I read a few articles to the kids and we watched a video about the cave of giant crystals in Mexico where researchers found microbes that have been dormant for 10-50 thousand years. It’s a weird cave — so hot and humid that without proper gear, the moisture quickly condenses in your lungs and you could (oddly enough) drown.


There was so much foursquare. (Sometimes anywhere from two square to twelve square, in fact!)

We also hiked. The kids spent the night with their cousins and walked a few miles through the neighborhood to get frozen yogurt.

The girls also went to dance class, where they get quite a workout.


All the kids got to practice staying safe while walking to store. It was a band of kids from 7-15 years old, and they needed to make sure the littler ones didn’t get lost or run over.

Kid 2 had a little talk with me about a lot of things… frustration, dealing with the thought of disappointing other people, dealing with things that are hard.

Kid 3 got to learn about how to treat sore muscles and a possible sprained ankle.


Everyone practiced their instruments nearly every day and progressed. Yay!

The girls went to their dance classes.


For art, we made marzipan! From scratch. We blanched the almonds, blended them up, and added lots of sugar and flavor. Then we used food dye to make many different colors. It’s basically edible, gluten-free, almond-based clay. We still have tons of it so we can get it out and play with it for the next week or two.

Foreign Language

I wrote hiragana with Kid 2. The two older kids also practiced their languages using Mango.


I’m trying to include a once-a-week class about basic computer stuff. Thing like backing up their systems, getting windows updates, checking email and the calendar, and stuff.

This week I also showed them how to install a hardware monitor so they can get neat graphs of things like the temperatures of their CPUs.

Week 9, 2017 – Calm Before The (Soccer) Storm

This was a nice, calm week. Pretty soon soccer season starts up and everything gets crazy.


Their grandma is helping them with their handwriting — getting numbers the correct direction, understanding the way fractions and things are supposed to look, forming letters in cursive, and things like that.

We played Balderdash. It’s a game where you get a date, an initialism, a movie title, or a strange word and the players try to write a description of what the word means (or the initialism stands for, or the significant thing that happened on that date, or what the word means). And the player whose turn it is just copies the correct answer. Then everyone votes on which they think is the real answer and points are awarded. It’s a fun way to get kids to unintentionally do some copy work and practice writing things in a more proper-sounding voice. (If you don’t sound like a game card in your answer, no one will be fooled by it.)

We played another game called Happy Birthday Robot. It’s a fun game where you collectively write a story (it doesn’t have to be about a robot) and you are limited in the number of words you can use. This is helpful for teaching kids how to be efficient with their language. They quickly learn there aren’t enough words to use filler words like “very” or to start each sentence with “and”.

And, of course, we finished the second Harry Potter
and started on the third.

We also watched the first movie of the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Kid #1 spent some time planning his inn in Druidawn, based on an inn from a book he read a few months ago. Not sure if the airship ever got made, but it’s nice to know he buys virtual property.


The weather turned warm, so we spent time watching the birds in the feeders in the backyard. Different birds are showing up and some are even changing into their summer colors.

We talked about the weather and the changing of the seasons, particularly about the difference between meteorological seasons and astronomical seasons. (It’s now meteorological spring, but it isn’t astronomical spring until the spring equinox.

And we posed interesting questions we tried to answer… such as the physics of bird flight, and could a penguin fly if it swam really fast and jumped out of the water.


We played one math game this week, a game called Tsuro. The idea is you are a dragon flying around and you’re just trying to not fly off the edge of the board or run into another player. There’s no reading required, so it’s a great game for groups of people that include young kids. It’s also good for mental math skills, particularly the ability to rotate shapes in your head and figure out which way to play a piece.

In addition to that, Kid 1 did some work in Khan Academy, and the littler kids did a placement test for Teaching Textbooks. Sadly, they scored really high on the tests (surprise!) so I need to make them take another test to see if they place in a higher level. I’ll probably promise them ice cream again because it’s a pretty long test.

Social Studies

I don’t have anything written down, but I remember talking about some civics during the week, as current events came up.


There was a lot of foursquare, plus the kids went to open gym at the gym nearby. We’ve been here close to two years and there’s a gym seven minutes down the road… and that was nice. I’m sure they miss their old gym.


Mostly just “growing up” stuff with individual kids.


There was nothing special planned, just the regular drawing and stuff.


The kids practiced their instruments several times this week, and I can definitely hear improvement!

Homeschooling, working, writing, living

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