We’ve been away, but we are back……

I would like to say that we’ve been away, but the truth is I’ve just not had the energy to do all our homeschooling and do everything else – which includes the blog. But I’ve since rediscovered why I liked blogging, and am getting back to it. So expect more posts from us as the weeks go on.


Some of the Civics lessons are updated!!!

Civics lesson help students understand the government and our relationship to the government. Since we all live here, these are important lessons to learn.

Civics lesson help students understand the government and our relationship to the government. Since we all live here, these are important lessons to learn.

I know some people have been asking, and so here’s the links to the Civics lessons that have been updated. The lessons are in an outline form. Everything that is linked to is free. The age of these lessons is for about 13 years old and up – they need to be a pretty proficient reader or some of these will take longer than others.

As the whole list gets completed, I wanted to remind you that it meets the requirements for the CA Civics graduation requirements. If you need to study for the AP Government/Civics exam, or you want to know the exact standards that each lesson meets – I have a list that I can send you. All you have to do is email me.

When more lesson are completed, I’ll be sure to update you and let you know. Three are up now.

Once all these are up, I’ll post the ones for the younger age groups – I have those as well. Kids who are about 5 years old through 13 should use the younger aged lessons. They require less independent reading, and are more interactive.

Here’s the lessons that are all up:

The Constitution and Its Amendments

What is a Country

The Theory Behind American Government

As always, if you see some error, don’t hesitate to contact me. If you need something that I didn’t provide, please feel free to get in touch as well.




We are starting Latin!

I’ve decided to start Latin this year. We are doing a good job with German, and so we need to add another language. I can hold off on the history and stuff, but languages go better when the kids are younger.

I’ve done a lot of research and narrowed it down to two programs: Song School Latin and  Latin for Children. In the end I went with Latin for Children. The books looked like more fun to do. I ordered one Primer book, two activity books, and a key – because my Latin is very rusty.

Why Latin? Latin is one of the roots of the English language, German is the other. Since we are already studying one, we might as well add the other. Plus, Abby is really into art and ballet. If she is going to continue this route, learning romance languages is ideal – and Latin is the base for all the romance languages. Nicholas is doing well with science, and Latin (and German) will really help him there with all the base words and prefixes and stuff. I really think this is the right idea.

In one sense, I groan at adding another thing to the schedule. We already have a lot. But for another reason, I think this is a good idea. I really do. I remember learning languages when I was older, and while it wasn’t horribly difficult, it wasn’t as easy to do as I wish. I’ve watched my kids pick up languages super easily. It’s a breeze for them. They pick up German, know what I’m saying when I get angry (Russian and Spanish mostly), and have spoken French with a friend for a bit. It’s simply another puzzle to their brains – and it’s easy for them.

So here are the links to the Latin books we are using:
Latin for Children, Primer A – Activity Book!

Latin for Children, Primer A (Latin Edition)

Latin for Children, Primer A Key (Latin for Childred)


More books!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

No sooner did the last set of books come in the mail than I got sick (and I’m still recovering). So we’ve been doing a lot of reading days in fun places (a fort, the backyard, mom’s room, the beach). Now that he’s through the last set of books, here’s the next set I just ordered. Abby doesn’t want any new books. She likes the ones she has just fine.
Ricky Ricotta’s Mighty Robot vs. The Voodoo Vultures From Venus (Book 3)
Ricky Ricotta’s Mighty Robot vs. The Stupid Stinkbugs From Saturn (Book 6)
Ricky Ricotta’s Mighty Robot vs. the Jurassic Jack Rabbits from Jupiter
Frankie’s Magic Soccer Ball #1: Frankie vs. the Pirate Pillagers
Frankie Vs. the Cowboy’s Crew (Frankie’s Magic Soccer Ball)
Captain Awesome and the Ultimate Spelling Bee
Captain Awesome vs. the Spooky, Scary House
Captain Awesome and the Missing Elephants
Max Steel, Vol. 1: The Parasites
Jimmy Neutron – Boy Genius


Our summer reading is arriving!

Our floor can look like this. Lots of books. Everywhere. But that's good because it encourages reading.

Our floor can look like this. Lots of books. Everywhere. But that’s good because it encourages reading.

I like books. I love books. In fact, we have boxes and boxes of books. We just moved, and moved over 30 boxes of books. I have a hard time parting with books.

My kids like books. They read all the time. In fact, the other night I caught them (2 hours after they were supposed to be asleep) in my son’s room, with him reading a HUGE stack of books to Abby. There must have been 15-20 books in the stack. Nicholas is currently obsessed with Greek Mythology and loves reading myths. Abby just likes Minnie Mouse and Strawberry Shortcake. She also likes anything her brother reads to her.

I’ve been pursuing the web, looking for fun and interesting books that I think will hold my son and daughter’s attention this summer. Here’s the list I cam up with (and ordered) so that we have new books for summer. Our goal is one a week. But normally it goes about 1 a day. Then we head to the library and check books out, and then read those too.

Someone asked me how I get my kids to read? The answer is simple – I like to read. I encourage reading. We read together. We have reading time. We have LOTS of books around (see above about the boxes of books). When kids are exposed to books and someone who loves reading, they will love reading too. It’s great because they learn and grow, all without realizing they are actually doing anything important.

And before you ask – yes, I indulge my children’s peculiarities by getting them books about characters they like. I want to encourage reading in all it’s shapes and forms. This means reading whatever they want. It is reading. And that’s what matters most.

Here’s the first summer reading list for our house:

Ella Bella Ballerina and Cinderella

Ella Bella Ballerina and Swan lake

The Three Ninja Pigs

Ninja Red Riding Hood

Trouble at the Arcade (Hardy Boys: The Secret Files)

The Missing Mitt (Hardy Boys: The Secret Files)

Have You Seen My Dragon?

Treasury of Greek Mythology: Classic Stories of Gods, Goddesses, Heroes & Monsters

Puppy Love! (Strawberry Shortcake)

The Hero’s Guide to Storming the Castle

The Hero’s Guide to Being an Outlaw

The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom

Reading Adventures Disney Princess Level 1 Boxed Set

May I Please Have a Cookie? (Scholastic Readers, Level 1)

Supporting each other on the homeschool journey.

There are tons of articles about how to support your wife, or your husband (or really any relative), on the homeschool journey. I have a favorite: http://www.heatherhaupt.com/2014/04/14/how-to-support-your-wife-in-homeschooling/

But there’s one piece of advice that I would give to everyone: Talk to each other.

There’s support, like giving the primary teacher a day off by taking over duties, and then there’s support; where you are in agreement and an understand how hard it is. Support is being there when something goes wrong. Support means being able to take over.

Support also means not making comments about how going to traditional school would be better. It means understanding that today’s science experiment is all over the kitchen table, so we will eat in the yard. Being supportive means that you appreciate the ten posters on the wall made by the kids for their art lessons, or science projects. It means being willing to spend Saturdays at museums and learning – not just at the park playing.

There are a lot of things you can do to support the primary teacher. But then there’s the support you can do to support the whole idea of homeschooling. And none of it will happen unless you talk to each other. If you don’t talk with your spouse, if you don’t communicate what is going on with the homeschooling process, then there can be no support.

I’ll admit to leaving articles open on “supporting your wife” – just leaving them open on the computer and hoping my husband sees them. But what worked even better was simply telling him, “I’m exhausted, can you do German with the kids over breakfast so I can sleep in?” How is someone supposed to read my mind? How is the non-teaching parent supposed to know what the kids are studying, or where they can help out, unless you talk with them.

So my best advice to being supportive about homeschooling: Simply talk with each other.

Science articles and movies.

Every day we read a science article, or watch a movie about science.

After the movie/article, Nicholas is responsible for writing a sentence that summarizes that article or video.

Sometimes the sentences get very long. Sometimes there are spelling mistakes (well, a lot of times there are spelling mistakes). I don’t correct the spelling mistakes because I want him to write first, and spelling can always come later.

Our article for today was about dark matter.  It resulted in a black hole hunt in our house. Where we could find no black holes (although I think the dryer might actually have one).

Here’s the articles we are going to use for next week:

Monday: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/02/ancient-egyptians-pyramid-stones-video_n_5248092.html?utm_hp_ref=science

Tuesday: http://www.wired.com/2014/04/the-physics-of-spider-mans-webs/?cid=social_20140429_22881064

Wednesday: http://www.wired.com/2014/05/exploding-whale-physics/

Thursday: http://www.wired.com/2014/04/racehorse-anatomy/



Rainbow Day.


Today is Rainbow Day in the good old USA. Normally I frown on these “special” days. But rainbows are awesome. They can have their own day.

In honor of Rainbow Day we did a treasure hunt. I made little slips of paper for Abby (1-5)and Nicholas (math problems with answers 1-6) and the letters that spell rainbow. I put stickers on them and taped them up all over the house. Prep time was about 10 minutes.

Then the kids went treasure hunting to find all the slips of paper.

It didn’t take long- I didn’t hide them very hard.

Then Abby had to put hers in order from 1-5 and Nicholas from 1-6. Then Nicholas was in charge of making sure Abby put the letters together right to make the word rainbow. It’s always fun to watch him teach her something.

That was our fun Rainbow Day activity.

It’s almost the end of the “school year.”

What are we going to do next year and over the summer?

What are we going to do next year and over the summer?

Many, many homeschooling families stick to a traditional school year. Each one has their own personal reason for this. I do not stick to a traditional school year. We do school all year round.

Summer and Spring are great seasons. A lot of our learning moves outdoors – hiking, camping, beaches, vacations with family, camping, hiking…….these are things we can do better now. The traditional learning becomes less.

However, there are a few non-negotiable items:

1. We do math all year round. It’s not a long math lesson. Normally 5-10 minutes. But it ensures that Nicholas keeps up his skills and even grows. Sometimes it’s math facts. Othertimes word problems. Math has to be done everyday.

2. Reading. We read 20- minutes a day. Everyday. Even if we cram in all 20 minutes before bedtime because we’ve had so much fun outside. But we read 20 minutes a day.

3. German. Foreign languages must be done on a continual basis or kids will lose their abilities. It helps that my husband speaks German fluently, so when we are out and about, we simply speak in German part of the time. It means they know random words and phrases  (both my kids can say, “Watch out for the rocks,” in German because we hike during the summer).  But we practice so their fluency doesn’t decrease.

4. Learning. We learn everywhere. Visitor’s Centers are great inventions. We go to them all the time. I used to hate going to them when I was younger. My mother would take us to every Visitor’s Center within a 30 minute drive of wherever we were. And if she saw a sign for one while we were driving, we’d pull off and visit. Now I get it. We go to them all the time too. Maps are also a great tool for learning. We do more geography during the summer than any other time. I invest in paper maps for where we are going, and the kids have to plot (with me and their dad) how we get there. Then they use a highlighter and trace our path as we go. We’ve been working on topographic maps while we hike too. It’s fun.

What does all this mean? It means learning doesn’t have to be done in the classroom – or the home. It can be done anywhere that you have the inspiration. That’s part of the fun of homeschooling.

The end of April also brings me to my next problem – what are we going to learn next year? I ask Nicholas is there’s anything he really wants to learn, and we brainstorm a little. Homeschool conventions, curriculum swaps, and online discounts are so plentiful between April and May that I really like to have a plan and get everything done by then – at least for the formal learning.

That’s what the end of the school year brings to our homeschool. What does it bring to yours?

Science lesson for today: Signal from the beginning of time.

We love space at our house. Everything space related is awesome.

We love space at our house. Everything space related is awesome.

We love all things space related in our house. It’s not unusual to find us pouring over pictures off NASA’s website for a while in the afternoon. Sometimes we are just looking at random things, sometimes we are looking for specific things.

I’ve been taking a class about relativity and astrophysics through EdX – simply so I can learn more and teach it to Nicholas. I signed both of us up for an Introduction to Astronomy class on Coursera in the Fall.

You can tell we love space.

I’ve found this great website – http://www.wired.com. It has a whole science section. I browse there daily so that I can find new and interesting things about science for short lessons during the day.

Today there was interesting news: Scientists have found a signal that comes from the beginning of time. The word “elusive” was used to describe this signal. The lesson serves a few purposes: Nicholas has to read the article to me – so he practices reading. He also stumbles over a lot of the words – so we practice vocabulary. “Elusive” is a word he didn’t really know until today. It has proven a lot of fun to use this morning.

Back to the lesson –

We read the article, then discuss what it means, and then see what Nicholas knows that relates to the article. He then has to write a sentence that summaries the article he just finished. Today he picked, “Elusive signal from space tells science about the start of the universe.” I only had to help him spell “elusive.” That’s a huge milestone for us, because normally he’s throwing a small fit about writing and complains all the time he needs help spelling. If you leave him to do it himself, you get weird words that he says are spelled correctly, but bear no resemblance to the actual word. Then there’s a meltdown when he has to do it again, properly.

Here’s the link to the article – it really is fascinating:


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