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Saturday, September 3, 2016

1st Two Weeks of Our Homeschool Year

Note: This post contains affiliate links. 

1st Two Weeks Back at Homeschooling Hearts & MindsWe are two weeks into the school year and I’ve only changed my routine a couple of times and considered radically changing some component of our curriculum a couple of times.  This week, first one kid got sick, then another one got sick…for the most part, though, things are going quite well---I call that a win!

Here are some highlights of what we’ve been doing:

Emma (2nd grade)

Our Five in a Row studies: The Story About Ping and Madeline

Rowing the Story about Ping at Homeschooling Hearts & MindI had planned to row Lentil this week, but a used book I had ordered to supplement it (that looked really great) hadn’t arrived yet, so I put it off until next week.  And then the book arrived, but the book seller sent me the wrong book.  Oh well, we’ll move forward with Lentil next week regardless.

(Ping) Emma experimented with buoyancy and earned about water safety.  She charted Ping’s family members.  She located China and drew the Yangtze river on her map.  She also watched a great documentary from our library about two different families in China (one lives in a rural area and the other in a big city).  She also learned about ducks.

Rowing the Story about Ping at Homeschooling Hearts & Minds






(Madeline) She played around with symmetry and dividing large numbers into different, smaller groups.  She learned what an appendix is and about the digestive system.  We also read a book together about a young girl’s life in France. 

In addition to Five in a Row, Emma also worked on Spelling You See and Mathematical Reasoning.  Her current reading books (she is reading aloud to me to improve her fluency) are the Little Bear books illustrated by Maurice Sendak.  Little Bear is a family standby.


IMG_2417Some of the free resources I found online for our studies:

Story About Ping Printables from Royal Baloo

Free Madeline Lapbook components from Homeschool Share

Free teacher’s guide on water safety with activities for grades K-6

Emma also started her ballet class this week.  I can’t believe how grown up and graceful she was in class.

Peter and Mary (grades 5 and 7)

Current literature read aloud: The Sword and the Circle by Rosemary Sutcliff

Current focus topic:  Knights and Castles in the middle ages

We will continue with these another couple of weeks before beginning our next history unit.

We’ve learned about the fall of Rome and how the Anglo-Saxons came to the area now known as England, pushing the Celts into Wales, Ireland and Scotland.  The kids made fun of the fact that for some reason I always say “Scotland” with a Scottish accent (even in my head).  I think it’s a little like saying “Mexico” with the Spanish pronunciation.  Or something.  Maybe I’m just a weirdo.

Peter readingThey began creating their fantasy lands for Adventures in Fantasy.  We learned about how the place affects the story (and vice versa), so they are plotting out the shape of the land, topographical features, locations for scenes that will take place in their stories, etc.

Mary is not completely in love with her Teaching Textbooks for math, but then she never met a math program she really liked (that’s not an exaggeration).  Most of what she has done so far is review, so hopefully it will be more engaging to her as she gets into more difficult topics.

Peter had a momentary brain freeze over math on the first day.   To the point where I was seriously questioning whether or not Math U See was still a good fit for him and was pondering switching to a different program.  But he said he would like to work at it longer before deciding to give up on it…how grown up is that?  The rest of the two weeks went much more smoothly for him in the math department, but I did need to make some minor adjustments to his work for that to happen.

Science with Considering God’s Creation is going ok…not jumping up and down great, but it is definitely doable and getting done, which is important right now.  The first couple of lessons were not very exciting, though, and I think as we get further in the topics will be more interesting to us.  I did get a free year to Mystery Science and plan to sometimes mix some of those lessons in for the 3 younger children.

Homeschooling with TunesBoth Peter and Mary are doing well with their independent work.  Some time soon I’m going to give a more thorough description of what they are doing independently and how that works with our daily routine (promise).

Mary also had her first meeting of a girls’ tween club she’s involved with and Boy Scout troop meetings have started back up for Peter and his older brother.

The Three Younger Kids Together

We studied Giotto di Bondone and learned how to make our own egg tempura from egg yolk and ground chalk (you can find instructions for this in Discovering Great Artists). The kids had a lot of fun with this project.  We found that the tempura was similar to watercolor in some ways, but it had a glossy sheen to it.  Here are their paintings:

Egg tempura Painting at Homeschooling Hearts & MindsEmma

Egg tempura Painting at Homeschooling Hearts & MindsPeter

Egg tempura Painting at Homeschooling Hearts & MindsMary

We loved using the Giotto prints and picture study pages from the Famous Artist Sets from NotebookingPages.

Picture Study at Homeschooling Hearts & MindsPicture Study at Homeschooling Hearts & Minds

In spite of the continued heat, we also enjoyed some of nature’s lessons.

grasshoppers doing what they do

David (11th Grade)

I don’t see David much these days.  It seems he is up in his room working either on school work or personal projects.  He has also been working all day at the community pool the last couple of weekends that it is open before the end of the summer season.  He does check in with me each day to let me know how he is progressing and I have rearranged my daily schedule so that I meet with him for an extended period on Friday so we can discuss things like literature and philosophy.

First Two weeks at Homeschooling Hearts & MindsSo far, he really enjoys his studies this year.  Like Mary, he is not in love with Teaching Textbooks, but he also hasn’t met a math program he likes.  For what it’s worth, I understand (and agree with) most of his criticisms, but it is getting done.  I know from experience that you can spend a lifetime (or at least a whole summer) looking for the perfect math program and never find it---at this point what works for us is the program that will get done and this one is.  I suspect that he will appreciate it more once he gets past the review material at the beginning.

We ran into a wrinkle with the online zoology course I was planning to use as the spine for his science program, as in it suddenly disappeared from the internet.  One week it was there, the next (when he went to use it) it had been taken down.  Fortunately, it is mostly intact in the Wayback Machine.  Unfortunately, some of the links, including all the assignments and quizzes, are no longer good.  Fortunately, I had downloaded and printed the first few of those already.  So, we are not back to square one, but I will have to rethink the output for this course.  We are probably going to do written narrations, illustrations, and maybe he will come up with a project or two.

David is currently studying Edgar Allan Poe for literature.  His additional philosophy reading: Plato’s Apology.

We’ve been pretty busy, how about you?

Linking up to the Weekly Wrap-Up.


  1. Looks like a great week except the sickies! Glad it's going well! I understand about trying to update on the older children when they are doing independent studies - it's hard!

    1. Thank, Melissa.
      Yes, it's hard to keep all those plates spinning in the air, isn't it. ;)


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