Monday, August 6, 2012

First day of 5th grade and new school "room"

Today was the first day of 5th grade! I can't believe we've gotten to 5th grade so quickly. It seems like just yesterday we started 1st grade.

We started the day off with the breakfast of Indy's choice, which has always been waffles, and then jumped right into it.  On the first day of each school year we take a photo and he does an "All About Me" page which has the photo, his age, grade, weight, height and his favorite book, movie, subject in school, game, color, and what he wants to be when he grows up (5 years running he's put archaeologist), and then we put it in the front of his history notebook.  It's fun to look back and see how things have changed.  After he finished we started on Greek. It took a while for him to get back into the swing, but once he did we started zipping through the work. 

In our previous home, before Han Solo came along, we had a dedicated school room.  When we moved at the end of last year, Han Solo got the 3rd bedroom (he had been sleeping in our room until the move), so we had to find a new area to do school.  I don't like the idea of doing it at the kitchen table as we are constantly having to move our stuff. 

The living room in our new home is really long and L's out into our dining area. We would have a lot of wasted space in the living room area unless we wanted to spread all the furniture out and yell at each other across the room and strain our eyes to see TV.  I decided to use the bookcases we had in our dining area and school room in our previous home to "build" a school area.  It has worked out really well as the bookcases block all of our mess on the school stuff and keeps Indy from being distracted by what's going on in the other rooms.  I bought several of the black cloth bins to fill the white bookcase to make it even more private.  There are still open shelves too.

Looking at it from the kitchen.  The front door is at the far right.  That's an intercom system to the outside door next to it in case you were wondering, and a coat closet.  We just butted the brown bookcase up to the coat closet.  The living room faces the white bookcase and the dining area faces the brown bookcase.

Looking from the living room.  The balcony door is to the left.

Looking into the "room."  I put a wipe board and map on the back of the coat closet you can see in the top photo near the front door.  Indy sits in the chair facing these and my chair is on the other side.  I had originally planned it the other way, with the wipe board on the wall next to the balcony door, but the I thought Indy might spend much of his day looking outside and daydreaming.

This is taken from the black and white chair.  You can see into the living room just to the right of the white book case.  You can see the baby gates we use to keep Han Solo in.

So, that's our new school area.  I preferred having a dedicates school room and hope in our next home we will have 4 bedrooms so we can go back to that, but for now this works.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

2012-2013 Curriculum

I bet you thought I fell off the edge of the earth didn't you?  Well, I promise I'm still here.  I've just been on a blog hiatus.

We wrapped up 4th grade a few weeks ago and now I'm working on prepping for 5th grade.  5th grade!  How is my baby going into 5th grade?????

This year we cycle back to our absolute favorite time period in history: the ancients.  Since Indy plans to be Indiana Jones when he grows up, this is really exciting.  We have loads of cool stuff planned for history, but the best will be another ultimate filed trip.  We are taking a 12 day cruise in September leaving from Civitevecchia (the port closest to Rome) and going to Egypt, Israel, Turkey, Greece and stopping in Naples, before heading back to Civitevecchia.   We port in Alexandria, Egypt, but are taking the overnight excursion to Cairo where we will see the pyramids, sphinx, King Tut exhibit at the Egyptian Museum and many other exciting places.  With the trip being overnight we won't get to explore Alexandria, but maybe another time.  In Israel we will visit Jerusalem and possibly Bethlehem.  In Turkey we'll be going to Ephesus, in Greece we'll go to Athens and when we go to Naples we will head back to Pompeii.  I'd also like to visit Herculaneum, but the last time we were in Pompeii we had to drag Indy away, so I don't know that we'll make it.  We're also spending 3 days in Rome (2 before and 1 after the cruise) where we will visit the Coliseum and Forum again, but I'm also hoping for the Vatican and their museum.  We'll see.

So, onto curriculum.  We will be using a couple of the same programs from last year, but also changing a few things.  Despite really liking Latin, Indy is still struggling, so we're going to stay at the beginning level until he becomes more proficient.  He's really excited to start on ancient Greek.  We did the Greek Alphabet Code Cracker at the end of 4th grade to ease into it and he absolutely loved it.  I was really concerned given his dyslexia, but for some reason Greek clicked with him. Weird, eh?  The following is a list of what we have scheduled for next year.  I do try to be fluid and if something doesn't work we find something that does to replace it.  After 4 years though, I'm hoping that I've figured out what style works best for us and won't have to change much. 

History Odyssey Ancients Level 2 with Human Odyssey for the spine.
Teaching Textbooks 5
Growing with Grammar 5 (still  ♥♥♥♥ it!)
CPO Earth Science
Phonetics Zoo Spelling
SYRWTL Latin Prep 1 and Minimus Latin
SYRWTL Greek (when it comes out in Nov) and Greek to GCSE
Building Thinking Skills (Logic)
One Hour Mysteries (Logic)
Philosophy for Kids
30 minutes of independent chapter book reading 4 days a week.

I know it seems like an awful lot, but Indy is moving into the logic stage this year and we have to ramp it up a notch.  Again, we won't be doing every subject every day.  Most subjects will be done 3-4 times a week and our lessons are relatively short.  We try to start school around 9am with a 15 minute break around 10:30, stop for lunch at noon, then get back to work around 1pm and finish by 2:30.  It may seem short compared to the amount of time public schools are in session, but we don't have to wait for other kids to do things, line up, wait in line for lunch, etc.  We pack a lot into 4-4.5 hours. 
When does school start this year?  Well, I haven't decided yet, but it will be either August 7 or August 14, neither of which is very far away!  Yikes.  We just finished school June 15, so it's a pretty short summer, but we like to take several breaks (like a 2 week cruise!) during the year, which keeps us from burning out.
Most of the first 8 weeks are planned out (I only plan 8 weeks at a time), but I still have a few things to gather up between now and August.   I guess I should get busy!

Friday, March 30, 2012

JacKris Publishing Giveaway!

JacKris Publishing, the makers of the absolutely amazing Growing With Grammar program, is having a giveaway over on  They are giving away one set of each of their 3 programs, Growing With Grammar, Soaring With Spelling and Vocabulary and Winning With Writing.  All you need to do is leave a comment here telling which program you'd pick.  Easy, right?  Of course it is!

After using 3 grammar programs that made us both miserable and longing to run the other way screaming, we found GWG and it was like the heavens had opened and light poured down on us.  There might have even been a bit of the Hallelujah chorus too, but I was so happy with the program I can't recall.  Seriously though, this is a great program.  The lessons are short, to the point and well laid out.  With dyslexia, the short and to the point part is super important.  With each lesson there are 2 workbook pages that have exercises on  that lesson and  on previous lessons to help reinforce them.

We did try WWW, but with dyslexia it was a bit too much for Indy so we put it away.  We might try it again next year as it is a solid program.  I'm also considering SWS.  It looks like a great and even fun (Spelling?  Fun?  Possibly!) program.

Anyway, if you're interested, hop yourself on over there and enter. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

History Notebook

I haven't updated in quite a while, but to be perfectly honest, I haven't really had a reason to. I mean, we do school, he learns, blah, blah, blah. Dull for blogging.  I did think though that you might find our history notebook interesting.
We are doing an abbreviated version of early modern and modern history this year so we can get back on the correct year in the 4 year history cycle next year.

You can find loads of free notebook covers on the internet from awesome homeschool moms who have done all the work for you and print them off.  The covers I used can be found at (scroll to the bottom for the freebies).  This is the front of our notebook:

This is the back:

At the beginning of every year we have an "All About Me" page that goes in the front of the history notebook.  After all, it will be history!

Behind that there are several lined pages that he writes history words from each section of the history book we're reading.  He adds to it every week.  Sometimes there is only one word, sometimes there are 2-3.  I think he's up to 31 words so far (we're in week 22).  Last week's words were archipelago and canal.

Then we start the notebooking pages.  There are free notebooking pages out there on the web (mostly from those homeschool moms who do the covers), but I wanted a different layout and I wanted to incorporate some lapbooking elements into a few of them.  I use Power Point to create my pages.  I print them off on heavy weight paper so they will hold up well and be able to withstand the weight of the lapbook components.

The first page was on Mary, Queen of Scots.  Indy wrote out information about her and then we added some photos in a small booklet.

When we learned about Louis XIV (he wrote the roman numerals wrong the first time), we did a page about Versailles since we went there last year.  I included photos I took of Indy on our trip.

Here is some coloring he did when we studied Prussia (they came from The Story of the Word 3 Activity Guide).  He just glued them down.

When it came to the American Revolution, there was just so much stuff, I decided that he could just do a bunch of lapbook components.  He wrote in most of these (some I let him glue down the information instead of writing-there was a lot!) and then he glued them down to a piece of paper that I put a title on in Power Point.

For the Lewis and Clark Expedition, I just put a compass as a background photo.  Oddly, this is one of his favorites.  Well, I guess since he plans to grow up to be Indiana Jones, it kind of makes sense that he liked the compass, doesn't it?

The Civil Was was just as involved as the American Revolution!  Good heavens.  I took a slightly different approach to it though.  Before adding the lapbook components, I had him fill out a timeline.  This was very labor intensive.  This is the front page.

This is the back of the timeline and some of the lapbook components.  Some he wrote in, others he pasted down information.

This is the back of the second Civil War page and the page on Thomas Edison.

There are of course many more pages, but I didn't want to overload blogger with a million photos.

Most of the lapbook components come from either or  These are all free! 

I hope you enjoyed seeing a little slice of our year.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

More Lapbooks

While I'm unpacking the 3 million boxes from our move (Indy IS doing school though!), I thought I'd share 2 other lapbooks we did this past year.

After the earthquake lapbook inspired by the earthquakes in Haiti and Japan, we moved on to volcanoes.  This was a very involved lapbook that took about 2 weeks.  There was a lot to learn!


First fold opening:

Second fold opening showing the bottom flap (it folds down):

Inside with the flap down:

Close up of inside a volcano:

 The Ring of Fire:

Tsunami spin insert and vocab words:

When we studied Renaissance Italy, Indy became fascinated with Leonardo Da Vinci.  We took an entire week off school and learned solely about him and his fascinating life.  This too was a very involved and HUGE lapbook because there was so much to pack in.  I think we used 3 file folders stapled together.  It's quite bulky.


Inside the first flap opening:

Inside the second flap opening:

Inside the third flap opening:

Close up of his Renaissance drawing.  Inside this booklet was information that he wrote about the architecture of  the Renaissance.

Info about Leo's life:

Indy's writing backwards experiment:

I couldn't get a good photo of it, but we also included a Euro coin minted in Italy that had Leo's Vetruvian Man on the reverse of it.  In case you don't know, while Euros are all the same on the front, and accepted in any country that it part of the EU, each country mints Euros and puts something representing that particular country.   The €1 in Italy has the Vetruvian Man.  Every time we get one Indy swipes it and adds it to his stash.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

2011-2012 Curriculum

I meant to do this post a long time ago, but I've been busy homeschooling. This year is a bit different as we got off the 4 year history cycle one year (stupid, shiny boxed curriculum!), so we're playing catch up this year and doing an abbreviated version of Early Modern and Modern history so we can get back on track next year.
This is our curriculum this year (4th grade):

SOTW 3 and 4 (abbreviated!)
SOTW Geography
Growing With Grammar 4 (♥♥♥)
Singapore My Pals Are Here Science 3/4
Teaching Textbooks 4 Math
Latin For Children Primer A
Instant Immersion German
Winter Promise Chess
100 Great Poems for Boys Spelling 4

We are also reading a lot of fun books this year.  Indy reads to me almost every day from the Pirate School series and each week we have a book that I read that ties into what we're learning about in history.
We've already changed a few things up this year.  We were using Writing With Ease (made by the same company as GWG), but both disliked it immensely.  
We're in week 7 (out of 36) and had a scheduled break after week 8, but since we're doing a big move in a few weeks, we're going to wait until that happens for our break.

Monday, September 5, 2011

4th Grade

It's hard to believe that the summer flew by so quickly.  Well, to be fair ours was only 7 weeks, but it was a very short 7 weeks.  On Aug 8th we started back and Indy entered 4th grade!  How did my baby get to the 4th grade already?
Here is is 1st day photo:

Every year on the first day we have the breakfast of his choice (chocolate chip waffles this year) and then we do an "All About Me" page.  I paste his first day photo into my template and then print it off and he fills in the answers.

Age: 9
Grade: 4
Year: 2011
Height: 58"
Weight: 82 pounds
Favorite Food: Pizza, Chicken Broccoli Casserole
Favorite Color: Blue
Favorite TV Show: Phineas and Ferb
Favorite Movie: Harry Potter
Favorite Subject in School: History and Science
When I Grow up I want to be: An Archaeologist

We put the paper in the front of his history notebook and then I put them in the archives at the end of the year. They'll be great to look at when he's older.

As I type this, we've been in school for 4 weeks already. He's doing great in his reading, which is a huge deal since he's dyslexic. He still stumbles a lot, but he tries so hard and is so proud of what he's accomplished.
In history we've studied from Mary, Queen of Scots to the Jamestown colony to the Mayflower and the 30 Years War (and loads of stuff in between). We've read loads of books for each subject and learned a lot. Tomorrow we start learning about Louis XIV and then on to the French Revolution. He's really excited about this as we just went to Versailles in June.
In science we've learned about classification of things and animals. He finds this really interesting.
He's doing excellent in grammar, math, Latin and German. He still enjoys Latin more than anything.
I'm so proud of how much he's retaining and how he thinks things through.
This year is a bit of a challenge due to having to take care of Han Solo, but we're making it work.