Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Mid-Year Homeschool Report

We are a little past the halfway mark! A good time for me to evaluate how things are going. Truly, I am always doing this in my mind, but it's good for me to get it down on paper/screen.

Way back in July I laid out all our plans for the year... now to see how we're really doing....

Hannah, 7-8 years : 2nd grade

Saxon 3 continues to work for us. I know many don't like the colorless pages, the hand holding teacher notes, the endless timed drills ("drill and kill" is one name I have heard), but Hannah and I don't mind a bit. I find she really benefits from all the built-in review. I do feel it doesn't include as much mental math as compared to Singapore, so I add a bit of that for fun. :)

Language Arts:
First Language Lessons - second half of book (supplementing with Evan-Moor's Grammar and Punctuation 2, Write a Super Sentence, Paragraph Writing). I really like FLL and the Evan-Moor worksheets have been a nice complement.

Explode the Code - She has finished Book 6 and is well into Book 7.

Spelling: I decided not to use Spelling Wisdom before school started and switched to All About Spelling. I had heard so many good things about AAS, and a friend let me borrow it, so we gave it a try. We used it for the first half of the year, but neither of us liked it. Hannah was bored to tears (and it required me to do the lessons with her). I imagine it would be a wonderful program for a struggling speller, but Hannah is not that. We usually glossed over it and had Spelling Bees using words from Explode the Code. I ended up going back to Spelling Workout C and we are both happier. Next year, I will use Spelling Wisdom.

Poetry Memorization (pulling mainly from The Harp and Laurel Wreath and other lovely books of poetry from the library): Hannah loves poetry. It is a joy for her to decide on the next poem to memorize.

Writing: Hannah is always writing... poems, stories, filling up diaries. We have not started a writing program, but I have been looking at the Institute for Excellence in Writing/Pudewa which many of my friends use. I think we will wait until next year.

Handwriting - Cursive: A Reason for Handwriting C. I really like the way this program divides up the lessons for a week. Her cursive is beautiful.

Reading: I have been lazy about keeping a book list of all that she reads. She is constantly reading. I really should compile a list of her favorites.

Will, 5-6 years : Kindergarten

Math: Horizons K. Math is his thing. We are moving quickly through this.

Reading: Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading, Explode the Code - Books 1 & 2, Evan Moor's Phonics Skills. We are moving along... perhaps a bit more slowly than I had hoped. He reads well during his lessons, but will rarely pick up an early reader and read independently. He is just not eager to labor through a book when one could be read to him. I am hopeful... it does seem it is all beginning to click.

A Reason for Handwriting K - He just finished this book. Now we are just doing simple copywork, knowing that one short phrase beautifully written is better than a whole page of sloppy letters.

Peter, 3-4 years

We are enjoying puzzles and books, while learning letters and numbers. He is almost always with us during Music, Art, History, and Science.


Leading Little Ones to God, The Child's Story Bible, The Jesus Storybook Bible, Scripture Memory. I am currently setting up our scripture memory box following Simply Charlotte Mason's system (very excited about this). We will finish Leading Little Ones to God (which we have enjoyed) very soon, and will then move on to the Shorter Catechism/Children's Catechism to guide our devotions. Hannah has her own daily Bible reading time using the Children's ESV Bible.

I had planned on beginning Latin this year using Song School Latin. But Hannah had the opportunity a few months ago to join a weekly, homeschool Latin class taught by a homeschool mom who used to be a high school Latin teacher (Perfect!). There are six kids in the group that meets at a friend's house. Hannah LOVES it. Hannah missed the first year of this group, but is catching up quite well using Minimus Secundus for the text. She is reviewing the vocabulary she missed last year through online flash cards and games. It helps that dad knows Latin. :)

Early American History, A Literature Approach (Beautiful Feet Books). We LOVE this! All of us. We often read much more than the lesson requires. The books have all been wonderful. I'm very happy with this choice.

States and Capitals using My Father's World state sheets/cards. I decided to wait for next year to use A Child's Geography, Explore His Earth next year. We are slowly reading Hillyer's A Child's Geography of the World. Hannah loves online geography games.

Science/Nature Study:
We are following The Well-Trained Mind's suggestions for 2nd grade Science using the Usborne First Encyclopedia of Our World, the Usborne First Encyclopedia of Space, and piles of library books. We have also been thoroughly enjoying our study of birds using the Burgess Bird Book and Peterson's field guides. State birds and flowers are also included on MFW state sheets/cards which has worked well. We use the library heavily for our science lessons. We haven't done nearly as many experiments as I had hoped, but I knew that would be the first thing to go. We are anxious for the weather to allow for more hikes and outdoor nature study.

Overall, I've been pleased with our choices. It's been a good first half.

Monday, January 25, 2010

A Winter Weekend : 1000 Gifts

Looking back over a weekend full of gifts, my list continues...

A Friday field trip to the Kennedy Center.

A Friday night of friends, chili, and Apples to Apples.

Sunny Saturdays.

An afternoon walk with Peter "through the forest."

Listening to our echoes in tunnels.

Sitting on a big rock.

Watching the water.

Finding a "fishing pole"/stick. And carrying it all the way home.

Finishing a good book with my girl.

Saturday girls' night at the movies. A beautiful love story.

Our church.

The children's choir leading morning worship.

A lazy, rainy, Sunday afternoon.

Ending our Sunday at evening worship.

holy experience

Friday, January 22, 2010


Just a few things we've been working on this past week...

Hannah wanted to hang something by her new desk in the school room. So, I gave her an "assignment"... draw-then-paint something in the house, fill the space, go off the page on at least one side, and use only 2 colors. I love what she created!

We replaced the nativity scene painting hanging in the kitchen with this Valentine decoration. I gave Will a few valentine-colored chalk pastels and told him to fill his paper with color, blending one color into the next. We hairsprayed the paper to keep the chalk dust from going everywhere. Then we cut hearts from the paper (much like the letters we did last week) and glued them to black card stock.

And I made this for Peter....

I am finally learning how to use my sewing machine. For years I was completely intimidated by the thing. The only one who had ever used my sewing machine was my mom. I'd seen these pencil/crayon rolls a few places and thought... I need to learn how to make those. Skip To My Lou has a helpful tutorial for a simple felt roll. My mom helped me create a pattern and get comfortable with my machine last time she was here (aren't moms great?). A whole new world of projects is open to me now! I've made a few for gifts. And before Peter's, I made pencil "rolls" for Hannah and Will. They use them all the time. Perfect to throw in a bag with a sketch book.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Football Party

Last Friday night, we had a handful of families over for a football themed birthday bash. I was thrilled when Peter settled on wanting a 'Football' party. I knew there would be Super Bowl party stuff everywhere in January. And my husband's childhood NFL pennants (that I have been meaning to hang in the boys' room) would be a perfect, easy way to decorate.

We like the Redskins and Steelers around here.

I made a simple invitation with some leftover craft colored card stock. Printed, cut, and added the white with a paint pen.

The kids played Wall Football and Hot Football/Potato.

Here's Will cheering Peter on. I love that some came in their team colors! We all should have.

The girls... and Hannah showing the blank side of her football.

We enjoyed football fare... nachos, little hot dogs, BBQ beef sandwiches. For the cake, I attempted a football field... two 9 x 13 cakes side by side, a lot of green icing, end zones with 'Happy Birthday' and 'Peter,' a not-so-level playing field, and candles for the uprights. Forgive me for the blurry photo, but really the cake looks better this way. Grin.

For favors, Peter and I made gingerbread footballs (he loves gingerbread cookies), and tied the bag with a football whistle. I tend to under-do favors... so much money can be spent/wasted on a bag full of candy and plastic stuff.

Too bad my husband will be preaching the evening of the Super Bowl... we have plenty of football paper goods, and the boys won't let me take the pennants down. : )

Aaahhh, the end of birthday party season... I'm off until October.


Happy Birthday to my ever-amusing,
always-talking, book-loving,
little boy...

who thinks he is so big.

Monday, January 18, 2010

January Blessings : 1000 Gifts

Truly grateful, my list continues...

Peter's birthday party. Our home full of friends.

Hannah planning a party all on her own.

And after she made all the invitations, discovering that the time and date is open on the calendar.

Time to create together.

A table full of creative tools.

A warmer day.

A walk around the neighborhood.

Late afternoon sun.

Long shadows.

Melting snow.

A place to run.

Trees to climb.

Fellowship halls.

Funeral remembrances.

Aid organizations.

A Hot Chocolate for Haiti stand.

Father to the fatherless.

His everlasting arms.

The Gratitude Community. The list goes on...

holy experience

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Boys' Room

We found a little desk for the school room on Craigslist. This led to moving the craft cabinet up to the boys room, and declaring it the lego cabinet. This led to moving some things on the walls. This led to a blank wall with 2 nails. So, Will and I came up with this yesterday...

We just doodled with watercolor pencils (he loves them!) and then cut out the W and P from our paper, glued it to some cardstock, and put it in two old frames from the craft store.

On another wall in their room, I have this...

Inspired by Heidi (a couple of years ago), I grabbed a white canvas, cut some colored circles, wrote out all the letters/numbers with a sharpie and glued them to the canvas. All this because I was unable to find a poster with upper and lowercase letters. I think it took an hour or so. It's not perfect, but was super easy and inexpensive. I like that.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Grace Upon Grace : 1000 Gifts

Praying that my eyes would be open wide,
to see His gifts,
my list continues...

When he picks up milk on his way home. And flowers.

My nephew on his birthday.

Family games.

Sunday afternoons.

Singing while they play.

Brunch with friends.

Seeing friends at the store. Grocery aisle catch-up time.

Geography games.

Her love of writing.

New books.

School routines.

Friends who stay for dinner.

Organized files.

Clean sheets.

Folded laundry. In drawers.

My husband's parents.

Sharing a book with Nana.

That I am His.

Unmerited favor.

Mercy upon mercy.

Grace upon grace.

The Gratitude Community. The list goes on...

holy experience

Friday, January 8, 2010

Happy New Year!

My sweet mom called today asking what happened to the blog.

I have to apologize for being away so long. All that relaxing over Christmas break made for a sluggish first week. It was a wonderful break. We stayed in town, just us. It was quiet... as quiet as a house with Peter can be. Lazy mornings turned into lazy afternoons. Our days were filled with reading, baking, creating, hosting friends, playing new games. I made an effort to spend little time here at my desk.

We welcomed school and routine back on Monday, but regaining our rhythm is taking time.

And earlier today, I had my review with the Board of Education. Now I can begin to think about other things. But not tonight... I'm making some hot chocolate and curling up on the couch to watch a movie.

Enjoy the weekend. And Happy New Year!


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