Sunday, September 4, 2016

September Memory Making

In keeping with my resolution to be more thoughtful and organized when it comes to celebrating the seasons... here are some plans and random thoughts for September

The puppers, last fall
Special Dates to Celebrate

*September 6th ~ First Day of Homeschool*

I have been hard at work the last few weeks pulling together plans for our new year. I hope to share lots about our homeschooling and how it's all going in the next few months. 

*September 16th ~ The Full Harvest Moon*

Fall full moons seem especially lovely, so I try to make a point of noticing them.

*September 22nd ~ First Day of Autumn*

We don't typically make a big deal of this day, but I do like to point it out to the kids and plan a seasonal dinner - a stew or chili, something nice for a cool night. I also try to plan a Sunday outing around this time to pick apples, have a picnic, buy chrysanthemums for the front porch, and maybe try a corn maze. These things get harder to fit in as the kids get older and busier, but I already have a proposed date penciled in on the calendar and I plan to guard it jealously. 

Things to Notice & Do This Month

  • Get back into a routine of school and activities (easier said than done!)
  • Pick apples and make a crisp, pie, and applesauce
  • Sort fall clothes and purchase any necessary new items
  • Begin planning Halloween costumes (some of my kids have already started)
  • Register for the National Mythology Exam
  • Take a fall hike
  • Have an outdoor picnic
  • Do art projects outside when possible - in fact, do as much schoolwork outside as possible!
  • Encourage the kids to choose a fall-theme poem for memory work
  • Pick the last tomatoes from the garden - we did not have a good tomato year, but there are still a few out there
  • Look for whirling maple seeds, fluffy milkweed pods, and acorns
  • Clean the woodstove and light the first fire
  • Put up fall decorations
  • Start lighting a candle at dinner again
  • Buy apple cider and cider donuts
  • Put the swimming pool to bed for the year
  • Plant spring bulbs

Happy September!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Tenth Grade Plans, Simplified

I think I am just about done going through everyone's homeschool plans for the year,with an eye to simplifying them as much as possible. I often plan for too much stuff, so this year I am trying to do better. I thought I had already posted Grace's plans here, but now I can't find them! So much for getting organized. So here are her simplified plans, and I'll just make notes about things I cut out.

Language Arts

Writing Strands Level 6 - She was also going to do The Creative Writer Level 2, but WS has plenty of creative assignments, so we decided it was plenty.

Vocabulary from Classical Roots D She started this last year, so I may have her start Level E if she finishes before year's end. 

Analytical Grammar's High School Review and Reinforcement - Grace is finished with all three levels of Analytical Grammar, so now she just needs to do a review sheet every two weeks. The review books come in several different themes; she is going to do American Authors.

Math & Logic

Teaching Textbooks Algebra 2 - The original plan was to have her finish up Life of Fred Advanced Algebra, then start the Geometry book. But her summer has not allowed that kind of time and she felt confused about some of the concepts. LOF has worked well for her up until now, but I think she needs something more straightforward ~ and I need something that grades for me so I can keep on top of things ~ so TT it is. 

The Thinking Toolbox - She'll do this one with her brother after we complete Fallacy Detective. 


BookShark American History 100  - She started this last year and will jump back in again around week 16. I am hoping another level will come out soon for her to use. We do not use the language arts component of the program; she uses the programs listed above instead.


Discovering Design Through Chemistry with lab kit - I considered doing Apologia (even though we are a secular homeschool), but the negative reviews of the revised edition made me wary. DDtC is written by Dr. Wiley, who wrote the original Apologia chemistry. I never really looked at Apologia, because I figured it just wouldn't work for us, but I really wanted something more open and go this year. I'll try to update on how this program is working out for us as the year progresses.

Foreign Language

Ouino Spanish  - I spent tons of time trying to find a decent Spanish program. Grace has completed the first two levels of Rosetta Stone, but had some frustrations towards the end. It is an immersion program, so nothing is explained in English and it felt like too much guessing and poking around in the dark for her. We are trying something new this year, and starting right from scratch to hopefully fill in any gaps in her knowledge.  I had her pick just one language to simplify things, so she won't be doing Latin this year.


Artistic Pursuits Senior High Book 1 - I was going to have her do Story of Art for an art history credit, but we're just going to stick with AP.

And that's it! I am hoping this year will feel a bit easier than last, with a little less going on. Our first day back will be the day after Labor Day.

Until next time!

Monday, August 15, 2016

Monday Musings

For the week of August 15th....

A few plans for the week

Lots of stuff! Grace heads in for her final week of CIT at her barn. She has been spending tons of time there this summer; we miss having her around, but it has been great for her. Rose has two weeks left of summer gymnastics ~ this will be the second to last week, and I am looking forward to the (slightly) slower pace of September. My boys have relaxed into a much more laid-back schedule than the girls - one of them is done for the summer as far as organized activities go, the other still has practice, but just twice a week. I think they are possibly getting a wee bit bored, lately. We also have appointments - it is kind of scary how many appointments ended up in this month! This week we see the orthodontist and eye doctor. And I am really hoping to get to the lake next weekend if everyone is well....we are passing around a bad cold right now. Not fun!

Homeschool notes

Planning is heavily underway! I have all of our books on order, now just waiting for them to trickle in. I sat down and figured out our calendar for the year - which days will be our "school days" and which we will take off. I ordered a Plum Paper teacher planner as a fun little splurge. I haven't tried to use a paper lesson planner in ages, but I adore my regular Plum Paper planner, so I figured I'd give it a try. My current projects are planning out the first few Five in a Row books I plan to do with Rose and trying to get everyone signed up for fall activities. 

Out of doors

I just got around to properly storing the garlic we harvested last month. It looks good, and I am very happy with it. We had a smaller garden this year, and it has been a breath of fresh air. We grew much less of everything, and instead got most of our vegetables from a local farm share. Next year, I am planning to have an even smaller garden. On my short list: raspberries, garlic, cut flowers, cucumbers, 4 tomato plants, mini pumpkins, arugula, lettuce, rhubarb, mint, and cilantro. Everything else we can get in adequate amounts at the farm share. I would like to put in blackberries too - debating. 

In the kitchen

Not much going has been too hot to cook! We had one day last week where it was so miserable we got take-out for dinner, even though the closest take-out place is 20 minutes away. Most of my time in the kitchen these days involves helping Rose pack snacks for practice. She needs a packed snack/light lunch five days a week, which really makes me wonder how moms with kids in public school do this every day. 

Watching, reading, crafting

We took the kids to see The Secret Life of Pets over the weekend ~ it was very cute. We have been watching lots of Olympics, mostly revolving around the kids' interests. So we watch equestrian and gymnastics, primarily, but the boys also like white-water and BMX. I think I am a bit behind on this year's book challenge, but I am currently reading The Luckiest Girl Alive. I am still knitting and cross-stitching a bit here and there, mostly while we have movie night or watch the Olympics. 

I am working on a post about Grace (my tenth-grader) and the simplified homeschool plans we have decided on for her. I also hope to have a post up about our homeschool calendar this week. 

Till next time!

Friday, August 12, 2016

Eighth Grade Plans, Simplified

I have spent quite a bit of time lately going over my original plans for our upcoming homeschool year, with an eye to simplifying them as much as possible.Below are my slightly adjusted plans for my eighth-grader, Christopher. His original plans are here.

Language Arts

 He will use:

Math & Logic

No changes. He will use:


No changes. He will use:

I had stated he would use BookShark Science 7, but he has quite a bit of BookShark Science 6 left, so he will probably spend much of the year finishing that up.

Foreign Language

The original plan was to have him do Latin Alive, along with his older sister, but now he will just putter around with Duolingo Spanish a few times a week.  One major way I am simplifying this year is to let the three older kids choose ONE language to do.  I  have been doing a lot of research into various Spanish programs to find something that will work for my high-schooler (more on that soon!), and I know many people don't find Duolingo to be a complete program, but for now I just want them to have fun with their language, so I am not too worried about it. 


He will still do:
But I am not going to do art history or formal music appreciation with him (or any of the kids) this year. 

Okay - one more kiddo to go, my 10th grader, Grace. I'll share how we are streamlining her year in an upcoming post.

Till next time!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Sixth Grade Plans, Simplified

As I said in my last post, I have been going through my homeschool plans with an eye to simplifying our curriculum for the upcoming year. Here are my simplified plans for my sixth grader James (his original plans are here).

Language Arts

No changes here. He will use:

No changes. He will use:

History, Geography, Literature

No changes. He will use:

This is under debate. He was going to use BookShark Science 5, but he may do Home Science Adventures with his sister, which is my preference. The kits are recommended for grades K-8, but that is a pretty wide age range, so I am going to wait to look them over before deciding if they will work for him. I think it will probably be okay; I am fine with him having a "science-lite" year to help ease our workload. 

Foreign Language

James was going to finish up Latin for Children A, but we are going to break with that and have him just putter around with Duolingo French instead. I have always been a huge fan of Latin, but it takes up a lot of time with three different levels of it going, so I have decided to let the kids pick just *one* language they want to learn. Then, for my non-highschoolers, Duolingo will be our curriculum of choice. They can do it independently, there are no DVD lessons to watch, and no correcting! At this point, the goal is really just exposure, fun, and learning some vocab, so I am not concerned with fluency at all. I may rethink this later, but for now that is the plan.

Art & Music

He will still do Drawing Lab, but I am not going to attempt to do classical music as a "school" subject. 

So, nothing too drastic in the way of changes, just a few little tweaks that I hope will smooth our days a bit. I'll have tweaked plans for my eighth-grader up next.