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)



Science articles for the week.

The goal is to have your student read and write. Whether it is fiction or non-fiction, the goal remains the same. I use nonfiction for my son – he likes to read about science. Reading about science also exposes him to a wide variety of vocabulary words and interesting punctuation. He reads enough fiction on his own and with me during reading time.

In addition, he’s learning about random topics while reading non-fiction. He loves all things science, and so reading about science helps him learn even more about a topic he already loves. If he had to read about dance or ponies, he probably wouldn’t do it as often. Lastly, by choosing articles that I know he will like, I don’t have to argue with him about doing the reading portion of the work. Sometimes we still argue about the writing – but we never have an argument about the reading.

Here’s the list of articles we’ve been using:









The next batch of articles.

In case you need more inspiration for reading science related things – or your child does – here are the list of the other articles we have used over the past week.

Remember, the goal is to read and then write a summary. I’m always happy when Nicholas wants to talk about the article, but he always has to write at least one sentence to summarize the article – since I want him to practice writing. I often get a lot of push back on writing. But the deal is, he has to write the sentence before he gets up. Otherwise, the whole exercise gets started over with a new article.

Sometimes he wants to read three or four before he writes his sentence – and that’s okay too. But he has to write a sentence before he gets up – legibly and that actually summarizes the article. Not simply copying the title.

Here’s the list:







Color and ice.

We did a color and ice experiment. Or really, we played with tools, ice, and color.

Here's the bin before the kids started playing with the ice. Food coloring, water, pipe cleaners, and all our tools.

Here’s the bin before the kids started playing with the ice. Food coloring, water, pipe cleaners, and all our tools.

Here’s what we used:

  • A plastic bin to hold the ice
  • 2 plastic containers for water
  • Paint brushes
  • Food coloring
  • Knives and spoons
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Hammers (the ones we use with playdough)
  • Towels

All I had to do was put everything outside, and away they played. For 2 hours.

First, the kids grabbed the food coloring and made their water different colors. Then they dripped it on the ice. Then they rubbed the ice cubes together. They were shocked to find that the food coloring made the ice not stick together. They had previously made ice sculptures by using water to make the ice cubes stick to each other. But with the food coloring, the ice wasn’t sticking. Abby and Nicholas had a great conversation about it. I got to sit and listen to them. It went something like this:

N: Why won’t they stick together with food coloring? Mom?!

A: Maybe it’s too colored.

N: Maybe. Let’s see. Stuck two ice cubes together without food coloring. Then tried to stick two of the colored ice cubes together – and they didn’t stick.

A: See. I told you so.

N: Yeah. But I bet the colored water works.

A: No. Your colored water is too brown (Nicholas had made it all brown).

N: Tries with his colored water, and it worked. Ha Abby, I told you so.

A: Okay. But now my hands are all colored.

N: We can wash them later. Let’s smash ice cubes!

A: Okay. I get the pink ones.

N: They aren’t pink. They are just less red than some others.

Coloring the water and the ice was one of the first things they did.

Coloring the water and the ice was one of the first things they did.

I love listening to conversations like this. They have these amazing conversations where they are playing and discovering things, all without being led somewhere. They are simply exploring the world around them, and these lessons will stick with them better than any other lessons. When they do something that’s similar to this, they can simply flash back to the things they learned while playing. There’s a reason why kids learn best while playing, and why all we have to do – as parents – is present them with opportunities.

It’s really quite amazing to listen to the conversations that go on for hours about this. I imagine we will be discussing the ice activity as a favorite for days to come. My kids tend to get stuck on these things and request repeats. Next time, I think I’ll make ice cubes in different shapes and colors beforehand. Then I don’t have to give them food coloring and watch them color themselves, their clothes, and the patio.

So our AAR (after action report) went something like this (I ask the questions, and the kids give their responses):

What did we use?

  • Ice cubes
  • Hammers
  • Colors
  • Water
  • Paintbrushes
  • Hands
  • Feet
  • Knives
  • Sticks
  • Rocks (they found some in the back yard)
  • Leaves (they picked them off the plants and used them as decoration)

    Yes, we were in pajamas. No one wanted to get dressed. It's one of the great things about homeschooling -science and learning in pajamas.

    Yes, we were in pajamas. No one wanted to get dressed. It’s one of the great things about homeschooling -science and learning in pajamas.

  • Water

What did we do?

  • Played with ice
  • Made ice sculptures
  • Colored water
  • Painted ice
  • Smashed ice
  • Melted ice
  • Painted my feet (Abby)
  • Had fun
  • Mixed colors
  • Stuck ice together
  • Colored ice
  • Used a knife
  • Drilled holes

What did we learn?

  • Ice sticks with water.
  • Ice doesn’t stick with too much food coloring.
  • Red, yellow, and blue make brown.
  • Mixing colors makes other colors.
  • Colored ice melts into colored water.
  • Breaking ice is hard.
  • Smashing ice is fun.
  • Smashing smaller pieces of ice is easier than the big pieces.
  • Food coloring colors people too.
  • Water can melt ice in patterns.
  • Leaves can stick to ice.

What words describe our experience?

  • Fun
  • Smash
  • Color
  • Ice
  • Cold
  • Wet
  • Exciting
  • Loud
  • Crush
  • Drop
  • Multicolored
  • Friction
  • Melt

Hands on for August.

This week is the last week before vacation! We are headed out to a family reunion (yes, my kids still do work at vacation. It keeps them on a pattern, a routine, that helps ground them when they are in a place where everything else is different).

I’m gathering everything for August. It turns out that we might be on our own for homeschooling this year. I applied to a charter school like the one we used in Sacramento, but they are all booked up and don’t have room for us right now. So we are going to homeschool on our own – or I’m making plans for that.

In preparation, I’m working on our August curriculum. Nicholas has requested that we do more hands on things. I have a stock of science kits in the garage that we will work our way through, but I wanted something to do that’s more engineering – that will force him to think outside the box. So I found this great book called Tinkerlabs – it’s all about helping little inventors get inventing.

One of the best parts about this book is that Nicholas can read it himself. We will pick something to do on Monday. Then he has to make a list of what he needs and what we have. Tuesday we can shop, and the rest of the week will be spent doing the project. There’s a Home Depot, a Michael’s, and several parts stores right by us. I imagine that we can find most parts easily. And what we can’t find, we can use Amazon Prime to have shipped to us in a few days.

I’m super excited to get started on these projects. I’m also really excited that Nicholas is excited about his August plans. It’s always best in our house when the kids are excited about what they are doing.


A new find…….

I’ve found a new blog that I like.

It’s Not Just Cute.

I found her blog because a friend posted one of her posts about dry ice bubbles. Since I’m always looking for science experiments we can do at home, I totally opened her post and now we are doing the experiment today.

But as I started browsing through her stuff, I kept finding more and more that I liked.

It’s sometimes hard for me to find other homeschool bloggers that I like to read a lot. Some are too religious for me. Some homeschool through homesteading (which isn’t a possibility for us). And still more are homeschooling special needs kids – which I don’t have to deal with. Others blog about their specific style of homeshcooling – usually one of the big three (Montessori, C Mason, or a packaged curriculum). These all have some good ideas, but aren’t really a good set for me to spend a lot of time reading – because they don’t apply to us.

But Not Just Cute blogs a lot like I do – about random stuff, with some themes in there. And they still have great ideas.

So I’m stealing her experiment – and her questions! But I’m going to add a few questions to the list. I’ll post our poster about the experiment on the blog later today and add a format for you to do a poster too. I do love doing posters about experiments. They are almost better than keeping a lab book for younger kids because you can print out pictures, post them on the poster, and describe them.

We then put the posters on our walls. Needless to say, people who come into our house always comment on the decor – which I call homeschool chic.

I hope everyone has a good day!

Waves 2

Want to guess what type of wave this is? Then you need to know the four terms: wavelength, period, source, and depth of influence.

Want to guess what type of wave this is? Then you need to know the four terms: wavelength, period, source, and depth of influence.

Here’s the second in the lesson on waves. In this lesson we are focused entirely on 4 terms: period, wavelength, depth of influence, and source.


The period of a wave is the time it needs to complete one cycle.

If it takes less than a second, that is called a ripple.

From 1-10 seconds it is a chop.

From 10-30 seconds it is a swell.

From 5-90 minutes it is a tsunami wave.


Wavelength is the distance between two crests.

The most important thing to know is that a swell can have a wavelength of up to 100 meters. The smaller the wavelength, the closer to shore the wave is – usually.

Under 2 cm it is a ripple.

From 2cm – 10m it is a chop.

Up to 100 m it is a swell.

Anything larger than a swell falls into the tsunami category.

Depth of Influence

The depth of influence is how deep the wave influences the water underneath it. A wave with a large depth of influence will influence water much deeper than the wave. Ripples influence very little underneath them.

A ripple has a very shallow depth of influence.

A chop has a shallow depth of influence, less than half its wavelength.

A swell has a depth of influence that is roughly 1/2 of the wavelength.

A tsunami has a depth of influence that reaches to the bottom of the ocean floor.


All waves – except tsunamis – come from movement of the air above them, or something in the ocean. A tsunami is formed because of violent movement of the earth. These violent movements are things like landslides, volcanic eruptions, and earthquakes.

How we practiced these…..

So now that you know the definitions, how do you practice them?

We played a game to practice depth of influence. The depth of influence game goes like this:

1. I call out a type of wave.

2. The kids reach down to the floor, or close to it, depending on how far the depth of influence extends.

So when I said “tsunami,” the kids reached all the way to the floor.

Practicing wavelength and period

For these I simply drew a series of waves on paper and handed them to the kids. Each kid got a color. Nicholas first had to draw a line from one point to the next to represent period. Then Abby got to tell him if he was right. We switched roles with wavelength. Then we switched back. Then they got to tell me what lines to draw – and I purposefully drew them wrong to see if they would correct me.


Once again for the finale we went to the beach and got in the waves we were talking about. Nicholas decided that chops were the best for his boogie board because they “came quick enough, and had a short wavelength,” so he could get in a lot of waves. Abby decided she liked the ripples because they wouldn’t get her wet.

Waves 1.

We live right by the ocean, and so we are learning about waves. Mostly I learn about waves, and then when we are at the beach, the kids and I talk about waves. We get in the waves and name the parts of a wave, and talk about how they come about. So here’s the first lesson on waves. Keep in mind these are lessons on ocean waves, not the physics idea of a wave.


Definition of a wave: Waves are the forward movement of the ocean’s water due to the movement of the water particles by the frictional drag of the wind over the water’s surface.

What makes different waves? Waves are all different. They can be different because of different winds, boats, the shape of the ocean floor, earthquakes, and other outside forces. Even you can make waves!

Swells versus waves. Swells are the regular motion of waves in an open ocean. Swells can range in size. But they travel in open ocean. They do not “break” and “crash.”

Breakers. Breakers are the waves that crest, and then crash into the shore. They come in all different shapes and sizes. The difference between the breakers depends on the shape of the ocean floor beneath them, the riptide pulling back out, and the energy in the wave itself.

Parts of a wave. Each wave has the same parts. They can change in size, but all waves have a crest and a trough. The crest is the top of the wave, the part that reaches the highest point. The trough is the lowest point of the wave under the still water.

Draw a wave

Here are the parts of an ocean wave. We focused on the crest and trough in this lesson. It's only the first lesson - we just stuck with the basics.

Here are the parts of an ocean wave. We focused on the crest and trough in this lesson. It’s only the first lesson – we just stuck with the basics.

Now that we have covered what a wave is, some different types of waves, and the two main parts of a wave, it is time to draw a wave!!!

All you need is markers (or crayons, paint, or your favorite art medium). Each student takes a piece of paper and draws a wave.

Then you label the crest and the trough, as well as write down if it is a swell, a breaker, or a different type of wave.

Nicholas drew huge breakers. Abby drew a ship and a wake for her waves. With dolphins underneath – so she wanted them to be swells, because they were in the open ocean. But it ended up being a wake because it was caused by a ship.

Visiting the waves

At the end of our lesson, we packed up and headed to the beach. We got into the ocean and yelled “crest” when we were in the crest of a wave and “trough” when we were in the trough of a wave. I also made my kids identify why the waves we were in are breakers and not a different type of wave.



The science articles.

We’ve been practicing reading and writing all summer. Some people have asked for the list of articles Nicholas is using as his reading and summarizing articles. So here are the latest articles we have been using.








Summer writing practice.

We’ve been doing schoolwork over this summer. Yes, I’m one of those moms. I don’t believe that the school year exists for any good reason. I think learning can, and should, be done year round. I certainly don’t think that it’s a good idea to take months off of practice.

If we were talking about professional sports people, they don’t take months off of practice. They might cross train, but they certainly don’t take breaks for months at a time. Not and be good at what they do.

I want my kids to be professional learners. Therefore we might cross train, but we don’t take time off.

Some skills that are easily deterioratable (yes, I made up my own word) are: Math, reading, and writing. Those are the skills we practice everyday. Without fail. Anything else we just learn as we go. Museums, hikes, shopping – these are all things we do to learn. But math, reading, and writing we do everyday.

Nicholas practice reading and writing the same way he did over the school year. I find science articles, or articles about the World Cup (he’s obsessed). He then reads then and writes a sentence summarizing the article.

Abby doesn’t like that method of learning. She hasn’t learned to write all her letters yet, and would prefer I just leave her alone with her paints and paper thank you. She would rather not participate in learning her letters and numbers. But that’s too bad. Sometimes I’m the mean mom and force her to spend 10 minutes, yes 10 minutes, doing something I need her to do.

I’ve bragged about Confessions of a Homeschooler before – and how much I love her stuff. She has some neat writing and number practice sheets too. I’ve downloaded these and put them into folders. Abby’s job is to pick one of each (one number and one letter) out each morning. When the folder is empty, I refill it. Sometimes I add extras before they are all gone.

Why do I let her pick? Well, she has to do it. So letting her have a choice in what she practices is important. She gets all her numbers and letters practiced – which is why I try not to refill them before they are empty. Otherwise we would practice the letter A and number 3 all year long. Instead she has to pick from what is available, and do the work.

I also let her do it with crayons or markers. I don’t care what she writes with, so long as she practices.

This way we all get some say in the work that gets done, while still getting the work done that needs to be done.

Number practice sheets

Writing practice sheets

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