Homeschool Posts

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Committing Words to Memory

Note:  This is the first in a series of posts I plan to write (ah, the best laid plans, wink) on how I have learned to learn in spite of (and sometimes because of) my particular learning glitches

I’m not a learning expert, and I don’t even play one on this blog, but I offer these thoughts, ruminations, memories, whatever you’d like to call them, in an effort to give you a window into what living with a learning disability looks and feels like for some. 

I also want to share some of the techniques I’ve stumbled across that have helped me to learn.  While these techniques won’t work for everyone and may not work for your child, I’m hopeful that some of these ideas can be used as a source of inspiration, whether you homeschool or just want to give a special child some extra help.  

I would love to hear about any of your children’s successes in overcoming (or embracing) their learning differences.

When  I was in 7th grade, our English teacher wanted us memorize some poems.  The very first one was by Emily Dickinson.

Imagine being a shy, self-conscious 7th grader who had to go over the math facts with her mom every single night in 4th grade and still had to practice them in her head to remember them (more on that in another post) and being told that you had a week to memorize and recite an umpteen line poem.

Add to that my OCD-style perfection and fear of failure, and well, I was a wreck.

To say I had the shakes is putting it mildly.

So, I read over the poem.  I read it aloud and in my head.  I tried to picture it in my brain.  And when the day came to recite it, I simply did not know it and refused to recite it.

“Ok, Susan, you get a zero and you will recite it for us tomorrow.”

And my heart sank.  Not only did I have to live down the humiliation of standing up and admitting in front of the whole class that I didn’t know the assignment, but I still had to do the thing I could not do.  And I didn’t have a week or even a weekend to do it in.  I had a day.

I did not tell my parents.  I did not ask for help.

Maybe I could have just kept getting zeros indefinitely?  But in that case, my parents were bound to catch on.

An aside:  I mention this part for a reason.  There’s a possibility that you have a child who has similar struggles, but they are not coming to you for help.  It might be pride, fear (even if it’s unwarranted), perfectionism, or confusion.  Maybe she’s simply unable to put into words what’s going on.  But if she is having difficulties, even invisible difficulties, your help, at home or in school, could make a difference.

I was stuck.  I had to succeed.  My teacher was not going to just let me get by and fail this part of the course.  On the other hand, she didn’t really give me the tools I needed to succeed.  Not exactly her fault, she certainly didn’t know about my learning difficulties.

But, aside from reading the material and trying to remember it, no one had ever really given me a clue as to how to commit words to memory.  When does reading something, or looking at it, translate into knowing it and being able to recall it at will? 

Tip:  Always explain or show your kiddos how to do something.  Don’t assume that they already know (they’ll tell you if they do.;0)

I’m going to tell you what I did and explain why it worked (there have been a lot of studies in brain function and learning disabilities in the few decades and I’ve done a lot of reading).

Rather than simply read the poem over and over, which simply didn’t work for me (I know that works for some), or  reading it aloud, which didn’t work any better (I’m definitely not an auditory learner), I copied it out by hand.  And copied it again.  And again.  I think I copied it 3-5  times.

I was then able to recite it in my head, which I did over and over again, only referring to the written poem if I got stuck on a word.

By feeding the information to my brain through more than one channel (hearing it, writing it, reading it--- auditory, kinesthetic, and visual), I strengthened the neuron pathways in my brain.  There are modern studies, now, that confirm that that multi-stimuli approach is very effective for learning. 

A child who has difficulties with the physical aspects of writing could probably do this by typing.  A younger child could arrange word tiles or even letter tiles if it is a very short passage.  A pre-writing child, or one who has trouble sitting still for any of those things, may benefit from drawing what they are hearing, or acting it out, or building it with blocks or Lego.  The point is that seeing and hearing something is not enough for some of us.  We need to feel it.   We need to do it with our hands.

The next day, I recited the poem without any difficulty.  In fact, I recited it so well (it wasn’t a dramatic recitation, by any means, but not a sing-songy schoolgirl recitation, either), that my teacher became convinced that I had known the poem the day before.  I was just too shy to recite in front of the class.

She changed my zero to an A.

She was wrong, of course.  But only I (and God) knew that.

Happy ending, right?

Ah, but the story doesn’t end there.  Learning something for a single recitation isn’t really of much value if you don’t retain that knowledge for future use. 

Learning for me is difficult enough.  Remembering what I’ve learned…that’s an ongoing struggle.  I simply don’t retain well.  There seems to be a glitch in the “converting to long-term memory department.”

So, whenever I thought of it, I recited that poem in my head.  And over time, I did it much less often, until I got to the point where I recited in my head (or out loud to someone) maybe once a year or even less often.  

Today, about 38 years later, I still know this poem by heart. though I rarely dust it off and recite it.

Here it is from memory.  Please pardon any wrong line breaks or punctuation errors.  I’m not going to cheat by looking it up (remember, I learned it for recitation, not grammar ;0):
A Day by Emily Dickinson
I’ll tell you how the sun rose
a ribbon at a time.
The steeples swam in amethyst,
the news-like squirrels ran,
the hills untied their bonnets,
the bobolinks begun,
then I said softly to myself
that must have been the sun.
But where he set, I know not,
there seemed a purple stile,
which little yellow boys and girls
were climbing all the while,
‘til when they reached the other side
a domine in gray
put gently up the evening bars
and led the flock away.
This technique served me well when I had to memorize a new poem every week or so in a writer’s workshop class I took in college.  And be prepared to recite any and all of those poems from memory at the end of the semester.  Yikes!

Of course, you can’t use this technique on your history lessons, nor would you want to.  But if you are memorizing scripture, poetry, or even famous quotations in your homeschool, and the kiddos seem to be having some difficulty, give it a try.

What techniques have you found that can help a challenged learner commit words to memory?

You might also enjoy:
When Mama Has a Learning Disability, Too

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Our 8th Week in Review: Sunshine and Apples

Another jam packed week!

Classical Studies: We studied the parting the Red Sea, the myth of Otus and Ephialtes, and the story of Caius Mucius (in spite of all the “mucus” jokes, ahem).

Language Arts: All the kiddos are working on getting ready for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). This week our concentration was developing plot. I can’t share any details about their stories, yet (they would kill me).

Mary is doing quite well in spelling. This week, in addition to working through All About Spelling Level 2, I added in some Bible copywork for her.

Peter is slowly progressing in reading. Slow and steady is fine. We are working on developing more automaticity, which was a struggle for Mary as well (she got past it). I don’t see any evidence of learning difficulties in this area, so I think he’ll get it when he’s good and ready.

Math: Mary is zooming through Jump Start Math, grade 2. David finished chapter 11 of Life of Fred Fractions. He is currently reviewing all his multiplication facts and the procedures for reducing fractions, multiplying multi-digit numbers, and long division. Peter is slowing down a bit in Right Start, which is fine. We’re aiming for mastery, not finishing the book on time.

Social Studies: I made a discovery this week…a long forgotten book called Home Geography for the Primary Grades! Emma pulled it off a shelf and left it on the floor where I almost slipped on it. Thank you, Emma! We’ve been trying to study local geography this year, and it’s the one area that seems to be slipping by. I think this will help me get my act together, ahem!

Science: We took a field Trip to Catoctin Mountain Orchard where we learned all about how they grow apples (and other things…I got a recipe for kale that just might inspire me to try to grow some next year!).

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A little warm snap made Peter’s cooling vest a necessity.

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Music: We started studying Mendelsohn.

Art: Sun Prints!

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This paper reacts to sunlight. Basically, you take a flat object, place it on the paper, expose it to the sun for a couple of minutes, then put it in water to stop the reaction. When it dries, you end up with a silhouette. David’s is the coolest (and most creative). He made a paper cutout of a wasp (!) and used it with a real leaf to create his picture:

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I’m learning to do school without a printer. Would you believe that the one printer suddenly died (it needs a part that would cost close to the cost of a new printer), and the other one refuses to be compatible with our Windows 7 computer? You don’t know how much you use something until you don’t have it. Fortunately, we don’t do much in the way of worksheets, because I don’t see a replacement in my near future. ;0)

Overall, 'twas a good week in our homeschool. How was yours?

You might also enjoy:

Our 7th Week in Review
Our 6th Week in Review
Our 2011-2012 Curriculum

Monday, October 17, 2011

When Mama Has a Learning Disability, Too

The year I turned 30, I found out I have ADD.  And OCD.  And some kind of learning "glitch."
And a door opened.

But let's step back a bit, first. 

My early elementary life in a traditional public school setting was fraught with failure. 

And despair.

First, it was learning to read.

I just couldn’t do it.

But then my mother's friend unlocked the reading door for me through tutoring, although I continued to have "comprehension" issues.

To this day, don't ask me to answer a multiple-choice comprehension test.  I'll get it wrong.  I just can't come up with the one right answer for anything, and always seem to be looking for the meaning between the lines (more on this in a bit).  Fill-in-the-blank is even worse.

But talk to me about what I read, ah, then I have plenty to share.

Maybe I don't really have comprehension issues after all.  ;0)

Then it was those blasted math facts.

This time my mom got me over the hurdle by working with me every night herself.  And somehow I got through it. 

But something wasn’t quite right.

My grades were ok.  And they got better (I even had a few quarters in there with straight A’s).

But I absolutely hated school.

Now, a large part of that was being a social misfit…and maybe I’ll talk about that at some other point (or not, my “socialization” by public school is not something I like to revisit), but there was more to it than that.  Something didn’t click for me. 

Eventually I moved on to middle school.

And to high school.

And finally, I wasn't so much of an outcast, socially---I guess I met enough other "weird" people to hang out with?  That'll happen when you go to a high school with over 2000 students and a graduating class of over 400.

But I still hated school.

And myself.

And part of that came from that fact that no matter how hard I worked, I still couldn’t get it right.  You see, I would spend hours reading my school assignments, going over and over the material, and still I could not find the answers in my head when it came time to answer those multiple choice questions on the test.

History was the worst.  All those dates. 

I would find myself closing my eyes and mentally opening the textbook, flipping to the page that I knew the answer was on, and reading it to answer the question.  All in my head.

An aside:  This is how I discovered that I have a "photographic" memory.

Another aside:  While having a photographic memory is a pretty cool trick (and surprisingly helpful in many situations), it doesn't necessarily make it easier to to retrieve information you have learned.  It just means that you can see the information in your head.  Think about that for a minute.  When I forget what was on the shopping list (you know, the one I left sitting on the kitchen counter?), I can (sometimes) call up an image of the list in my head.  But, I don't know what's on the list until I read it on the image in my head.  And sometimes the picture that I see in my head is incomplete.

It's a different kind of "knowing" something. And it's great for some things, but lousy for taking multiple choices tests.

But this problem was invisible.  Grade-wise, I did fine.  In fact, I graduated from high school in the top 10% of my class.  The perfectionist (remember the OCD?)in me wouldn’t allow me to fail (although I did receive my share of deficiency reports mid-quarter, seems I just needed an extra kick in the pants to work harder).

And I trudged along, getting by in couple of subjects, doing quite well in a few others.  I rocked in typing and word processing.  Total hands-on.  But I also did quite well in English and art.  Anywhere I could use my hands or explore (even if it was only mentally) was a good place for me to be.

Eventually I moved onto college, where I did really really well.  Except for all those multiple choice and fill-in the blank tests in History 101. 

I hated History 101.

In college I wrote lots of papers.  And took essay tests.  And had conversations with people.  And I started to understand that knowledge wasn’t really about regurgitating information onto a test..

Another aside:  This brings me to another point, and this is something that I didn't discover until this week (the year I turn 40!), I'm also right-brain dominant. 

Whew!  50% of all people are.  Maybe I'm not so weird, after all?

I still had (have) problems.  My college books are full of under-linings.  I mean margin-to-margin, page-after-page under-linings.  In order to understand what I was reading (my degree is in English and Philosophy, so I did a ton of reading), I would have to read, reread, and finally read and underline.  I didn't know it at the time, but I think I was making a visual imprint on my brain.

Not perfect.  But it helped.  I didn't spend much time partying.  Not when I had to read everything about 3 times to make it stick.  Not when I had hundreds of pages to read.

But that's only the reading half of it.
You know those light-bulb moments, the instant where you come to a realization and everything just clicks for you?  You finally get it? 


Insights don't need to necessarily be something big and dramatic.  Realizing that your nails need to be trimmed is an insight.  But then, so is realizing that "b" makes the /b/ sound.

Insights (lightbulb moments) are what bridge the gap between teaching and learning.

You can try to teach your child all day long that certain letters make certain sounds.  But, you can never force him to have the "aha" moment where it just clicks in his brain.

You can't make him have an insight.

And you can't make him learn.

That can be frustrating for teachers when children just don't seem to be "getting it," right?

And doubly frustrating for the kids who don't seem to be able to get it.

Now, imagine that you've had the insight, you get it, but then you forget it.

And so someone teaches it to you again, you finally get it, but you forget it again.

You might get it easier each time, but still, you're handicapped by having to have the same insight over and over and over again.

And eventually you get so tired of forgetting everything that you learned that you start trying to keep it all at the top of your brain at once…because you just don’t know if you’ll be able to retrieve the it otherwise.

Or you write yourself incessant notes.

Or drop everything to write a blog post about what you’re thinking this moment so you can read it later and maybe remember..

This is part of my learning difficulty.

Nobody forgets how to ride a bike, right?
After spending most of my childhood riding here, there, and everywhere, I did.

Nobody forgets their own phone number, right?
I can only remember my phone number by visualizing it on the keypad.  And I've had the same phone number for over a year.

There are other things that I can’t necessarily communicate, little bits, little pieces of my learning puzzle.

I have lived with my learning differences my entire life.  But it wasn't until the year I turned 30 that I knew there was a reason for my flakiness.  Because I did think I was just flaky.  Sometimes I thought I was mad.

And a door opened. 

I couldn't change the past.  I couldn't even cure myself.  But I knew, finally, that I wasn’t to blame.  And that there’s something unique about my “wiring” that makes some aspects of life a little more difficult, but that I also have particular gifts.

God-given gifts.

I’m not just a screw-up.  I haven’t failed.  I was just being who I am.

That’s pretty liberating.

And so, when I look into my oldest child’s eyes and see his tears of frustration, 

and when I grade his math work and recognize the same struggles I faced myself,

or feel myself getting a little frustrated myself after explaining long division, again,

I weep for him, because I know something of difficulties he faces, difficulties that I would spare him if I possibly could.

But  I’m thankful that we are learning about his difficulties when he is 11, not when he is 30.  And that I can help him through this.

Read more about our learning adventure:

Changing My Style

In Child-Like wonder

On Parenting


Sunday, October 16, 2011

Our 7th Week in Review: Revelations

Well, those other posts I mentioned I might get up didn’t happen. It seems my weekends are always getting away from me these days, but I don’t mind admitting that I spent my weekend hanging out with my family instead of writing about it. ;0)

And we didn’t end up going to the beach as we hoped, but we did have some fun times closer to home.

We started the week at Cunningham Falls Manor Park, where the kiddos climbed all over an immense playground built from wood and recycled tires, walk along a short nature trail in the woods, visit the turtle house, and giggle over a hawk pooping in the aviary.

Would you believe that I forgot the camera?

1st revelation: I should forget the camera more often. It’s easier to enjoy myself when I’m not worried about taking pictures..

Most of the rest of the week, it rained. ;0(

We took Thursday off and the Grands came out to play and help with a couple of minor house repairs.

Our homeschool studies this week:

Classical Studies: We started reading about the 10 Plagues, Artemis, and Horatius at the bridge.

Math: Mary is still zipping along with Jump Math, 2nd grade. As I promised her, it has gotten a little harder, but nothing she can’t handle.

Revelation 2: Mary is left-brain dominant. Worksheets don’t phase her. Just tell her how to do it and she will do it. DO NOT give her colorful manipulatives or ask her to draw blocks or anything like that. Seriously. Don’t do it!

David took the 2nd bridge (1st try) in Life of Fred Fractions. And had some difficulties. Once again, his learning difficulties got to him. He clearly understood the concepts. Concepts never give him trouble. But he’s forgotten some key procedures, like the steps involved in multiplying multiple digit numbers together.

Revelation 3: We already knew David has a learning glitch. Doing a multiple digit multiplication problem flawlessly one day does not guarantee he’ll remember how to do it the next day. This week I read an article by Diane Craft and realized David is right-brain dominant. He also has a photographic memory and auditory learning is a weakness for him. Not only does he need constant review, but he needs the material to be presented in a more visual way. Not manipulatives, necessarily, but a picture he can fix in his mind.

So, David and I have agreed he will be doing 5-a-days (this comes from Math on the Level, and is basically a 5 problem a day review) and daily flashcards. He needs the daily review to continue to cement the procedures and the math facts, even after he seems to have learned them. Because he has learned them. Repeatedly. But he can lose the information inside of a week.


Peter is slowly moving through RightStart Math book B.

Revelation 4: Peter’s slower pace is ok. He’s strong in mental math, but has trouble making the abstract jump to symbols. He just needs to move through this book more slowly than the suggested schedule.


Language Arts: Both Mary and David are working on ideas for their novels next month. Mary completed step 11 in All About Spelling Level 2 this week. Peter is still progressing slowly, but steadily, in reading.

Also this week: we learned about St. Therese of Lisieux, known as the Little Flower, at Little Saints. St. Therese is little Emma’s patron saint and an special favorite in our family.

Emma started singing everything to the tune of the Imperial March: “I want aunt su um milk ill ill ilk.”


We goofed around, built with Lego, played some games, knitted a doll blanket, and played the here-there-everywhere cross town hop for soccer practices, dance, and boy scouts.


And enjoyed this beautiful weekend.




‘Twas a good week. How was yours?

More on our recent homeschool adventures:

Our Week in Review: Week 5

Our Week in Review: Week 6

Our 2010-2011 Curriculum

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Our Week in Review: Week 6


It was a wee bit chilly at the beginning of the week, as we waited for the furnace guy to service our 30+ year-old boiler. It hadn’t gotten below about 50 during the day, but there was a lot of bundling up going on at night. I won’t bore you with the details, but our furnace is finally working as it should…just in time for “Indian” Summer and 70-80 degree temps, ha ha!

Winking smile

We read about Moses,Arachne’s weaving competition with the goddess Athena, Poseidon, and Junius Brutus of Rome in our Classical Studies.

The sun was finally out and the marsh lands are starting to dry a bit, so we took a walk around the area with our compasses, getting a bearing on where things are in relation to each other for Local Geography.


Of course, the geography walk turned into a nature walk.


Because you never know what you’ll find.

Each day was filled with new invertebrate wonders as we investigated Sunny Seashells for Science. This was a cool study. Even though I was raised in Maryland and a stone’s throw from the Chesapeake Bay (Ok, about an hour), I had never seen what scallops looked like when they were still alive. Sad, isn’t it? We’ll be following up with a trip to the beach (hopefully, if the weather holds) next week.

David (age 11) is gearing up for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) this month and started by developing the main characters for his novel and describing where they live.

He’s mastered Dubblit from Math it (both the doubling and halving) and will be moving onto Timzit next. He has also completed through Chapter 10 in Life of Fred Fractions.

He’s still enjoying Mapping the World with Art, although drawing the maps is his favorite part. He drew maps of the Holy Land and Arabia this week.

Ancient Mesopotamia is still holding his interest. Greek is becoming a groany subject. He wanted the Greek, but it’s turning out to be harder than he anticipated, so it’s slow going.

He had his first lesson on pitch in Music Ace Deluxe.

And he built some pretty amazing Lego creations. Including, would you believe a mini version of the Serenity? And minifigs of all the crew. Except Zoe. He ran out of girl hair. (Note: No, my 11-year-old has never seen Serenity or Firefly, he’s just seen a couple of wicked-cool, parent-approved scenes.)


Mary (age 7) has started gearing up for National Novel Writing Month by developing her main characters. She’s still zipping along in Jump Math (2nd grade), but it has gotten a little harder for her (( had assured her it would).

We did a spelling assessment, of sorts, mid-week. I wanted to see how much of her spelling lessons she’s retaining (I’ve been having some doubts) before continuing onto the next step in All About Spelling. She actually did very well. I am planning to make some modifications to her spelling program (I’m also planning to write a post on this at some point, ahem, we’ll see if I get to it), but it was reassuring to see that she’s making progress.

She completed a couple of Little Flowers activities to work towards her Faith badge.

And she’s currently reading 4 different books. One is a biography of Joan of Arc and the other 3 are fiction. I am reading “The Long Winter” to her and Em every night.

008Peter (age 6) continues to make slow, but sure, progress in reading. He also spent time partitioning 10, learning odd and even numbers, the days of the week, and the months. He asked if he could write a novel for NaNoWriMo, too, so I will be his scribe (I’m sure there will be plenty of awesome illustrations). His main character is a skeleton warrior king.


Emma, among other things, decided to see if she could draw with her toes.

Next week will probably be a semi-vacation week. Daddy has his fall break from teaching college, so we’ll be spending some family time together. But, he’s also got work to do (teachers have work, even when they don’t have classes, right?), so we’re working out some kind of compromise. I think I see a day trip to the beach in our near future, though. Look for it next week.

If I have time this weekend, I’ve got a couple of posts stuck in my head that can’t wait to get out…so look for those to magically pop up later in the week. I love being able to schedule things ahead of time. Keeps me from being tied to my computer.

You might also like:

Our 2011-2012 Curriculum

Our Week in Review: Week 5

Monday, October 3, 2011

Free Daily Assignment Printable

I did it again. Sometime when I have a little more time on my hands (and it’s not the middle of the night, ahem), I’ll post about our current system for planning and assignments. The two older kiddos each have an assignment sheet that I write the day’s assignments on the night before. They’ve been doing really well with this. It helps keep them on task, even when Mama is busy with another child.

But, the assignment sheets I downloaded from are not an exact fit for us. I keep running out of blocks. So, I’m tinkering, again.

I was writing each day’s assignments in a different color of ink so the kiddos would have an easier time staying on the right day, but I thought maybe it would be easier if the day’s row was just a different color. We’ll try it.

So, here we go. These are proto-types, and I’m sure that I’ll make further mods, but feel free to use them and abuse them as you like.

Here’s the full-color version (click on the pic to access the pdf):

color assignment sheet preview

And here is the grayscale version (alternating days of white and light gray):

bw assignment sheet preview

How this works:

  • Each day has 10 assignment blocks and each block has a box for checking it off once that assignment is completed.
  • The heading can be used for subjects, type of assignment (independent, family study, read aloud, etc), chores, whatever works for you, or just leave them blank.
  • I write each individual, school-related thing I would like that child to complete that day on their assignment (I may add chores at some point).
  • I write the day’s assignments the night before.
  • I DO NOT fill out the whole week in advance. That would overwhelm my kiddos and things never ever turn out the way I plan them.
  • I don’t use every single box every single day, but...
  • once I’ve covered the basics, I like to stick fun stuff in any empty boxes.

This assignment sheet helps me to know we are getting the core stuff done. And the kids know when they are done and can have some free time. Having a visual goal to work toward has been a great motivator…and it takes up a lot less space than workboxes

You might also enjoy:

Free Flying Fish Unit Study

Free Hammerhead Sharks Unit Study

Free Planning Pages

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Our Week in Review: Week 5

For a list of the curricula we are using this year, please visit my 2011-2012 Curriculum page.

All together

Classical Studies: We read about Joseph being his reunited with his father and brothers, and his eventual death in Egypt. We met Ares and Athena. And the Tarquins.

Art Appreciation: We added Winslow Homer (American, 1836-1910) to our timeline.


Homer was known for his watercolors, though he often painted the same subject in oils. Here’s a look at our art timeline so far.


I’ve always wanted to do some form of art appreciation, and this is the first year we are really doing it.When I suggested to hubby that we convert our, ahem, rather ugly living room wall into an art timeline and plaster it all over with art prints, he was all for it! For each artist we explore, the children pick some of their favorite works by that artist. I print and laminate them, and we add them to our wall.


We add a map of where the artist was born and resided from Wondermaps.


The children are enjoying looking closely at a few prints by each artist, plus comparing one artist’s works to another’s.

Social Studies: We ended up skipping local geography this week due to the weather---everything around here is a marsh due to the rain that just keeps coming and coming. I’ll post sometime about what we’ve done so far, I think it’ll give you some ideas.

Individual studies:


Social Studies: David’s trucking along in Mapping the World with Art. He enjoys the readings, is not so keen on summarizing what he read, but absolutely loves drawing the maps.

Math: Life of Fred Fractions, chapters 6 & 7, Math-It Dubblit game (both doubling and halving).

Greek: Slow but sure, he does one page a day, plus reviews with flashcards.

English: This week we finished unit 2 of Write with the Best, vol. 1, which culminated in writing a descriptive paragraph about a place. While the unit went ok (with some modifications and allowances for individuality), I’m feeling that I’m going to need to make further modifications if we continue to use it. Or switch to something else. Or just do it myself. ;0)

So, we are going to change things a bit for the month of October. As both David and Mary will be participating again in National Novel Writing Month (they’re both very excited!), we’re going to take a break from Write with the Best and use the NaNoWriMo workbooks to get ready. We may start Grammar Made Easy early (I was planning to do it in the Spring).

Music: Music Ace session 3.

Art: Started the second lesson in Artistic Pursuits.

PE: Soccer was cancelled all this week due to rain. Playing in rain they often do, but the fields are marshes.

Personal interests: David is developing a board game. The rules are still being worked out completely, but he’s designed a game board and playing pieces. If it works out, I’ll see if he’s willing to share it as a download. He’s also reading up on ancient Mesopotamia and planning to create a model demonstrating some of their architecture. Did you know they used buttresses? Oh, and he baked us coffee cake for breakfast one morning.



Math: Jump Math is going well, although Mary objects to the use of drawn manipulatives almost as much as she objects to real manipulatives.

Spelling: Completed Step 9 of All About Spelling Level 2.

Guitar: Practicing 2 new chords.

PE: Dance class.

Personal interests: In addition to plenty of free reading, she’s been working on jewelry making and finishing up a set of plastic needlepoint napkin rings. And washing baby doll clothes (a salad spinner works pretty well as a makeshift mini washing machine).


She also let me try a fishtail braid in her hair,


and practiced her magic tricks in preparation for Peter’s birthday party (her show was a big hit!).


Reading: Silent “e” and double “e.” He read a new Starfall reader, and 2 new I See Sam readers, and worked on some spelling worksheets.

Math: Partitioning 10 with Right Start math.

Personal interests: Peter’s number 1 personal interest is drawing and he spent plenty of time doing just that. He also designed an alien coloring page just for YOUR kiddos (click on the pic to download it as a pdf):

alien coloring page

And we finished out the week with Peter’s 6th birthday party!


Yes, those are Lego Star Wars Imperial Guards all over his cake.


I’ll post a little how-to on how to make this cake (you can use this technique for ANY theme) in a few.

Peter was happy to be able to share his party with his Great Grandma, who will be 89 in just a few days.



Practiced taking her clothes off. And putting them back on inside out. And taking them off, again.

Discovered that she loves Tux Paint.

Insisted that “I not draw marker on I self, I draw on paper,” then proceeded to draw all over both her hands and feet.

While I think she’s a lefty, she sometimes used both of her hands and her feet.


She even figured out how to open Angry Birds on her own.

And she loved getting dressed up for the party. Though she decided to greet her Grandparents in only her tights. ;0)028

‘Twas a good week. How was yours?


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