I’m not going to lie, I had blogger’s block. I  had nothing I really wanted to talk about… unless you want to hear about my adventures in freezer cooking.Yes Virginia, you can make once a month cooking even easier.

So what brought be out of blockdom? I was doing a writing lesson with Sullivan and it was going less than stellar. So I wondered what I did with Gilbert. I mean Gilbert has awesome penmanship. How did I do it? I know I documented it for future me to look back on and say “Oh ya!”. No friends. I did not. I totally failed at what I wanted this blog for me to be. I needed a place to write down all the things I was doing with the kids for record keeping. So on those days I wondered what I did right I could go back and check. Fail! No worries though, I am back to learn from past mistakes and hopefully keep records here so others may benefit from my successes and failures.

Now to go and dusting off links and schedules. We started school this week and so far since we are still shiny, things are going well. Biggest thing I have learned with both kids is to know, so I am still using HST+. I find this really to be the easiest way to have an idea of all things I need to do. Slow clap to people who do not plan, it just doesn’t happen here. We need a rough idea of lessons in a subject so we do not over/under do subjects. Also with 2 kids with a large age gap it is easier to see who will need me when and plan accordingly.

Hopefully I will blog more often now that things are slowing down for fall.

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This is my 200th post

to this blog! Hooray to talking into the wind, with the occasional visitor coming by to say hello.

So what have I been up to? Well funny you should ask. I decided to take my love of researching to complete a study guide. We used it last year at co-op with great success that I thought I would attempt to share it with the world.

It is nothing life changing but a resource for teachers and parents who are looking for ideas to go along with The 39 Clues: Maze of Bones. I really enjoyed putting it together and hope to have the other 9 completed by the end of the year to share with homeschoolers, parents, teachers and kids. Anyone who is interested in digging in deeper and discovering what these great books have to offer. Who knows after this series of study guides in completed, maybe I will branch out into other books.

For now, my little hobby sits alone here. I put a price on it, I don’t know if I am underselling myself, I might be but I don’t care at this time I’m just happy I did it.



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Key to Tracker

Did you know about Key to Tracker?

This program is a great assessment tool for the Keys to… series that Key Curriculum Press publishes. An individual subscription will cost $5.95/year (at the time of this posting). If you are familiar with the Keys to… series, you know that each topic (Fractions, Decimals, Percents, Algebra are available in the tracker) have 3-7 books/topic, but where do you start your student? This is where the tracker comes in, each book has a placement test available that you the teacher can set (I set my own to over 90%), if your student passes your set % the student can continue to the next book, if not the tracker will suggest to you where in the Keys book your student should begin. There are also spot checks and  final tests available if your student needs to work through a book.

I thought about using the Keys to… series for Gilbert but was very overwhelmed by all the books. Each book usually runs under $5 depending on where you buy, that can quickly add up if you have multiple students working with the books or if your student moves quickly through the books. The tracker gives the educator the opportunity to properly place a student at the correct suggested level. After working through Singapore 5A, Gilbert took all the Keys to Fraction tests and tested out of that series (Obviously, this will vary for your student.). We will try the Decimal books in a week, my goal is to slowly start Keys to Algebra in 2-3 months.

I found about this a few weeks ago and thought maybe another homeschool parent out there might benefit from the information.


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Origami, Rain, and Clogs

This will be our last week in Asia. Our last book in this unit is A Pair of Red Clogs by Masako Matsuno. One of the things I like about the way we are doing K is we never have time to get bored. The one thing I do not like is there is a lot of time planning that sometimes I wonder if I am missing a really cool resource (Let’s call it Planner’s Fright). I think next week we are going to do a Fall review unit since Sullivan really wants to do something Halloween related.


We also watched Magic Schoolbus: Kicks up a Storm (Season 1, Episode 13). If the video is not available to you there is a book version of the story available (ISBN: 0439102758)

Social Studies

To learn about the country of Japan we used:

Another great resource I used was Big Bird Goes to Japan (Big Bird also went to China). We stuck our flag of Japan and one of the nation’s emblem’s the red-crowned crane onto our world map.

Fine Arts

This became a family affair since Gilbert is our home origami artist in residence. Gilbert has been doing origami for many years and decided to show us some of his favorite pieces to create. If you are new to origami, this is a great kit to start with. I have purchased it for Gilbert when he was 8, he has found the instructions more child friendly. While some of the folds were a little out of Sullivan’s skill set there are a few in both books that any 3-5 year old can do with a little adult help.

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Rowing with Ping

This week we spent our time in China with The Story of Ping by Marjorie Flack. Here were the resources we used for this unit:


Our Science this week was based on ducks. The books we used (these were what were available to me, your library may have different but valuable books on this topic):

We also used the duck section from Explore Science through Literature Level A (I found this in Teacherfilebox, I believe the book itself might be out of print). We also did a small experiment where we “preened” paper ducks. Gilbert enjoyed finding the results.

Social Studies

For Social Studies we spent a day in China. The resources we used for this include:

China (a Fiesta! book) by Susie Dawson

We were also able to find the episode of Reading Rainbow (Season 1, Episode 7) entitled “Liang and the Magic Paintbrush” that primarily focuses on Chinese Americans.

Fine Arts

My Plans for our Fine Arts day were thwarted by Gilbert who wanted to continue to draw ducks (something we learned using page 24 of Draw Write Now Book 1), so I shelved the project idea (design our own paper lanterns).

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India- The Story of Little Babaji

Hi! I’m going to try very hard to start blogging what we did just in case there is someone out there who is looking for some ideas.

This week our country is India. The book selection for this country was The Story of Little Babaji by Helen Bannerman. While technically this is not a Five in a Row book, it works beautifully for our lessons.

After reading the book one of the first activities we did was a board game I printed from homeschoolshare. Every day I read this book we played the game, it is quick and fun game you can throw into a folder. After moving on to our new unit Gilbert still asks to play.

On Science day we focused on tigers. My book selections included:

Ranger Rick Magazine from 2008

Sullivan also drew pictures of tigers and created a tiger face mask like the one found here.

On our social studies day had us spending a day in India. Here we watched a few videos, looked through books and created Rahki bracelets. During the 2010 season on Sesame Street one there was an Indian theme episode called the Rahki Road, I was fortunate to find that episode on Netflix streaming. One added bonus was the Rahki storyline was edited into one piece at the beginning of the video instead of the usual fragments.

I also used a book entitled Fiesta: India. We then stuck our flag of India and this week’s animal onto our world map.

Another great resource I found was at Mondorfment’s blog. Here she has created and shared some great India themed 3 part nonmenclature cards. While I did not print all of her cards, I did print a few that Sullivan used throughout our week.

Our last day with this book had us creating a Tiger Mosaic (NOTE: needs a lot of parental supervision). I was lucky to find this at the thrift store for $2 and could not pass up the chance of attempting to incorporate into our lesson.It looks like this:

Another idea I wanted to pursue, but ran out of time was creating a Divali Lamp from the Festivals of the World India by Falaq Kagda. It looked very easy and kinder friendly.

Here are two sources for how to make a Rahki bracelet http://tlc.howstuffworks.com/family/kids-bracelets5.htm or http://wondertime.go.com/create-and-play/crafts/rakhi-bracelet.html

We are very lucky to live in an area that has a few great Indian restaurants so dinner on our last day included authentic Indian Cuisine.

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September K- What we did.

Over the summer I decided to use Five in a Row combined with Core Knowledge standards to create Sullivan’s K curriculum. So far I think it has been going very well for us. It was my hope that during September I would get a chance to blog more and show all of you what I was doing, but alas life got in the way and this blog was put on the back burner. Below is a summary of our activities for anyone who stumbles here int he future.  🙂 We will spend the next 4 weeks in Asia. Hopefully I can be a better blogger.

The setup is as follows (we work on a 4 day schedule):

Monday- Introduce the book and do corresponding book activities. You’ll notice that I have kept Book activity blank, that is because of copyright issues.
Tuesday- science day
Wednesday- social studies day
Thursday- art/song day

Introduction to the World

The Quiet Way Home by Bonny Becker

Book Activity:
Science: balance, ourselves and other objects
Social Studies: relationships
Fine Arts: Primary colors

Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney

Book Activity:
Science: The Magic School Bus Gets Planted (we watched the episode)
The Magic School Bus Goes to Seed (we watched the episode)
LRFO: How a Seed Grows
Window greenhouse
Social Studies: As the Crow Flies: A First Book of Maps by Gail Hartman
Fine Arts:

Katy and the Big Snow by Virginia Lee Burton

Book Activity:
Science: Weather Patterns
Social Studies: We watched a few episodes of Mighty Machines
Follow that Map
My Street
My Town
Fine Arts:

How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World by Marjorie Priceman

Book Activity:
Science: Life cycle of an Apple tree
LRFO: How Do Apples Grow?
Social Studies: Maps and Globes (Reading Rainbow Book) by Jack Knowlton
Fine Art: Apple prints and making apple pies.
Field Trip: Apple Picking at Carter Mountain

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4 Weeks in Already?

Time is such a weird thing isn’t. Sometimes days are so long that you wonder if time has stopped, then other days it feels like you just woke up when it is late in the night and you are going to sleep. That is how this first month of our year feels to me, didn’t we just start yesterday?

I have been slacking on posting here, kudos to those bloggers you can multitask with multiple aged children, cook, clean, sleep, shower, teach, blog, run a corporation and have perfect hair. I just can’t do it. LOL. So here is a summary of out first month:

Gilbert- things are going extremely well. I use Homeschool Tracker Plus and print out a week long daily task list have has everything I want him to do in the week. The only problem I have here is that he has started do his work upstairs and quietly puts it away when he is done. I really like to be able to check his work when he is done so we can review his mistakes while they are fresh. While correcting him a few hours later is not bad, I would prefer to do it when he is done. Also we lose a day to our lovely coop, not that bad, but I have started Gilbert on doing easy work on that day so we can have a 4.5 day week. While I could work on a weekend, it is hard to convince him to give up his weekend to me. I would like to beef up some things like our Scientists study so I will be purchasing more science kits.

Sullivan- things are going very well. I wish I could find more people using Saxon phonics because I do have a few questions. I am supplementing the activities in the book with Scholastic eBook activities to cement what he is learning (ie rhyming words). Our time with Singapore Essentials is also going very well. He does very well with the concepts. I have been doing Five in a Row with him as well he really enjoys the books and the supporting activities I have found.

So far no misses. I hope the rest of our academic year stays this way. 🙂

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Here comes the rain again- Hurricane Musings

So here we are a new school year! I was about to start us my first entry back about what we are doing this year when I was sidetracked by Mother Nature. Not only were we hit by a 5.8 earthquake, but we are also in the process of preparing for Hurricane Irene. Don’t worry, at the time of me posting the hurricane is actually 3 hours away and we are currently safe.

Here are some links if you want to know how you can be prepared for a hurricane:

FEMA’s Hurricane Guide

Hurricane Center’s Pet Preparedness Plan

This past week, I managed to purchase a lot of batteries, waters and since we are campers so I have a camping stove and lanterns in case we lose power. One thing I could not find was lamp oil for my hurricane lamps. So after googling alternatives I found the following:

Make Your Own Olive Oil Lamp

I couldn’t wrap my mind around what I was reading (it had been a long week) so I found visuals on YouTube which lead me to this interesting video. The person says you can eat the tuna after, but I think I might pass on that if I am ever in the position to try it out.

After the earthquake, BrainPop featured a video about earthquakes. For the weekend the featured video is about hurricanes.  I let Gilbert re-watch those along with the news to properly prepare him for the weekend’s event. The last time a hurricane hit our area he was only 2.

I am hoping the next time I post, I can report clear skies and minimal damage to our neighborhood. To anyone who is facing the coming storm, good luck and stay safe!


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Summer Update- Latin Camp

I’m doing my best to keep the kids busy and out of the house. This means no computer and posting updates to this blog since I’m usually doing something too.

I have decided to take a moment to post about about the Ascanius Youth Institute mini camp Gilbert attended this week.

What is Ascanius?

Ascanius is a nonprofit educational organization that wants more school age children to be informed about the ancient Greco-Roman world. They have workshops for teachers and classes covering topics such as Mythology, Roman Culture, Classical Latin, Conversational Latin, and Ancient Greek for children.

The mini camp lasted Mon-Fri and Gilbert had such a great time. As most of you know he studied Latin (with Latin For Children A) this past year. He had so much fun applying things he learned to new games, stories and activities. He came home with a big smile and couldn’t wait to share with me and his brother the great things he learned everyday.

I should mention, your child needs no prior knowledge of Latin to attend these classes, just a love of learning is required. I would love the opportunity to send him again next year especially if it is something different each year.

I would highly recommend you check out this organization to see they hold both classes for adults (they do welcome homeschooling parents) and kids. I promise a lot of fun will be had by all.


P.S. They also sell materials that can be used in a group setting, might be something to look into if you lead a co-op class/teach multiple students.

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