Author Archives: marisolstice

Wrapping Up Year 1 With Kid Cuatro

Average weekly time: Together (4), alone (5), total hours (9)

 

Rate each book (like, neutral, dislike).

Add a few comments (my comments are italicized).

Any changes for next child or next year?

 

Bible/Spiritual Reading

Egermeier’s

Like. It’s about the Bible and it’s fun.

Like. I read it 1x or 2x per week at lunchtime to all the kids. Then they answer a question or two each. I like the narrative approach to the Bible.

Little Pilgrim’s Progress

Like. Loved! It’s so fun.

Like. So much better than Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress (at least for the 5-10 age bracket).

 

History/Biographies

50 Famous Stories

Like. Loved! So fun. One of the best stories was “what kingdom do I belong to?”

Like. I ran out of time and skipped 2-3 of the weird ones like Mignon. She liked the stories, although there are only a couple with girls.

D’Aulaire Pocahontas, Benjamin Franklin, George Washington

Like. Pocahontas became friends, BF invented so many things, and GW did not want to become king.

Like. She looked forward to these and understood a lot. Ran out of time and skipped Buffalo Bill so she can free read it next year.

Timeline

Neutral. You have to write so many things and I don’t know where and it always slants –and then it’s fun.

Neutral. I don’t know how much sticks, but we only do it every 3 weeks so it’s not much effort.

 

Geography/Cultures

Paddle to the Sea

Like. Loved! He travels to so many places.

Like. It’s the best Holling book. She needs to watch the little video.

 

Nature Study/Science

Among the People

Like. Loved! There are so many funny stories and morals.

Like. We had fun laughing at the silly/naughty animals and morals.

Small Square: Woods, Coral Reef, Seashore

Neutral. Seashore was the best.

Neutral. I’m getting a little tired of reading them out loud and may switch to something else next year. They are starting to feel a bit Usborne-y.

Nature Journal

Neutral. It’s kind of hard to draw. I love to draw nature and stuff. I’m always trying to make it look just right.

Neutral. I’ve had a hard time getting any of the kids to put any effort into them. I may do more directed nature journals or do object lessons next year.

 

Literature

Heidi

Like. Loved it so much! It’s the best thing in the world. It explains the sunset and all the food she eats and Grandmama and Clara.

Like. A great read aloud.

Pinocchio

Like. Loved it. It was so funny.

Neutral. I’m not sure why this has been so popular over time; seems like the moral is “go to school and be obedient.” Ours had some very funny translations.

Milly Molly Mandy and More Milly Molly Mandy

Like. Amazing! Cuz of all the treasure hunting and parcel story.

Like. She and Kid Cinco loved ‘em. Kids Dos and Tres often listened in 😊

Winnie the Pooh and House at Pooh Corner

Like. Cuz of the silly donkey thingy.

Like. Lol—Eyeore?

Farmer Boy

Like. Love it so much.

Like. So much food! She got into Little House and is finishing the series on her own.

Shakespeare

Like. It was awesome.

Like. I did drawings for about the first half of each play so we could keep everyone straight.

 

Poetry

Shakespeare Sonnets and Love Poems

Dislike. It was kinda hard to read.

Dislike. Not a success.

Ogden Nash

Neutral.

Neutral. Funny, but totally over kids’ heads.

AA Milne

Neutral. Some were funny and silly and some I didn’t get.

Like. I think Kid Cinco enjoyed these more than she did.

 

Math

Ray’s Primary (Addition and Subtraction)

Dislike. Hated. I didn’t get a single problem.

Like. 10 minutes about 4x/week  and it is good mental math. She finished early in the year so we just focused on Miquon the last few weeks because I didn’t feel she was ready to move on to multiplication and division yet.

Miquon

Dislike. Hated. It’s so hard. Except for the clock ones.

Like. Good for her, but she needs to do it with me most of the time.

I Love Math

Neutral. I read almost all of them. I read all the fun stories in every single book.

Like. I’ll have her read them next year too. It’s only 1x/week.

 

Writing

Pentime Handwriting

Neutral. It was hard. And it was fun to color in the stuff.

Like. She begged for it and did so much extra.

 

Reading

Phonics Pathways

Dislike. It was hard.

Like. Her reading level is very high. Didn’t miss not doing 100 Easy Lessons with her.

McGuffey Primer and First Reader

Like. It was fun.

Like. Lol—boring but good practice reading aloud.

 

Foreign Language

Duolingo Spanish, Greek, Japanese

Like. Love! So fun.

Neutral. I think the kids spend a lot of time on the computer and I have no idea how much actual language learning is going on.

 

Art

Drawing Handbook

Neutral. Hard and fun.

Like. She is very hard on herself.

 

Picture Study

Five In A Row (Children’s Books)

Like. I loved it so much! It was so funny—Make Way For Ducklings was the funniest.

Like. I really enjoyed doing FIAR this year.

 

Music

Hoffman Academy Piano

Dislike. Hated. For the first part, he made us do Hot Cross Buns.

Neutral. It’s free and is self-teaching. Kids Tres and Cuatro especially learned from it since they started from zero musical knowledge.  I’d really like to get real music lessons next year.

 

Overall Evaluation:

Changes for future kids? I don’t advise you to change anything for Kid Cinco’s Year 1, but you should make him do poetry (like Jelly Belly), the drawing book I did with the circles for bodies and stuff, and the picture study I used to do.

I may do more FIAR for years 0-3 or 4. I’ll probably change the science read alouds for Year 1.

 

Changes for next year? I’d really love Trixie Belden. For one of the read-alouds, I’d love The Dollhouse. And Heidi Grows Up.

Definitely keeping group read alouds. Maybe include some non-fiction. I think a reading log would be good for her. Also a good art program. And music lessons.

 

 

 

Advertisements

Wrapping Up Year 3 With Kid Tres

Average weekly time: Together (5), alone (10), total hours (15)

 

Rate each book (like, neutral, dislike).

Add a few comments (my comments are italicized).

Any changes for next child or next year?

 

Bible/Spiritual Reading

Egermeier’s

Like. It’s very interesting.

Like. I read it 1x or 2x per week at lunchtime to all the kids. Then I ask  a question or two each. I like the narrative approach to the Bible.

Little Pilgrim’s Progress

Like. Love it! So exciting.

Like. So much better than Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress (at least for the 5-10 age bracket).

My Path to Heaven

Neutral. It’s pretty boring. But then, it doesn’t take that long.

Like. It’s a bit dry. But worthwhile. He and Kid Dos did it together.

 

History/Biographies

Child’s History Of the World (2nd half)

Like. Love it! It tells so much about history.

Like. Third time around and it’s still a keeper.

Signature Bios: Teddy Roosevelt, GW Carver, Geronimo, Edith Cavell, Annie Oakley, JP Jones, Abe Lincoln, Pocahontas, Lafayette,FDR

Like. They’re all very interesting. All of them.

Like. He read these at his own pace.

Timeline

Neutral. It’s fun writing them, but it takes quite a while if you have a lot of stuff to do.

Neutral. I don’t know how much sticks, but we only do it every 3 weeks so it’s not much effort.

 

Geography/Cultures

SovietTrek

Neutral. How they can bike across Russia stood out to me.

Like. Good adventure story and decent geography.

Little Tiger

Dislike. It’s about an artist. It’s boring.

Neutral. I don’t think he got much from it.

Children of China

Dislike. Boring again.

Neutral. I don’t think he got much from this either, but I think it depends on the kid.

Water Buffalo

Like. Tells about his life and how he lives and hunts crabs and stuff.

Like. I was going to read it aloud but he did fine reading to himself.

 

Nature Study/Science

Pagoo

Neutral. Took a while but it was fun how he gets to share a shell.

Like. But I am so glad I didn’t read it aloud this time around. I hate reading it, and he did great reading it himself.

Wild Season

Like. I didn’t like it and then it was fun.

Like. He illustrated the narrations and they were the best illustrations ever.

Among the People

Like. Love it! It’s all about animals.

Like. We had fun laughing at the silly/naughty animals and morals.

Small Square: Woods, Coral Reef, Seashore

Dislike. Tells about animals in a boring way.

Neutral. I’m getting a little tired of reading them out loud and may switch to something else next year. They are starting to feel a bit Usborne-y.

Nature Journal

Neutral. We have to draw for 10 minutes (too long). But I like that you get to draw all kinds of different stuff.

Neutral. I’ve had a hard time getting any of the kids to put any effort into them. I may do more directed nature journals or do object lessons next year.

 

Literature

Heidi

Neutral. The bad thing was it took so long, and the good thing was it’s about her life.

Like. Long chapters but such a good read-aloud , and he probably wouldn’t have read it on his own.

Pinocchio

Neutral. He’s so disobedient and it’s funny. I feel like it’s bad for kids if they’re young it’s not doing the right example.

Neutral. I’m not sure why this has been so popular over time; seems like the moral is “go to school and be obedient.” Ours had some very funny translations.

Shakespeare

Dislike. It take so long and everyone falls in love.

Like. I did drawings for about the first half of each play so we could keep everyone straight.

American Tall Tales

Like. Love it! It’s so funny and it doesn’t make you believe anything. It just gets crazier and crazier.

Like. He enjoyed it.

People Could Fly

Like. Awesome. There are lots of ones about devils. I like John and the Devil’s Daughter.

Like. He was fine reading the dialect and really liked it.

Heroes

Dislike. Awful, just plain awful.

Neutral. This was challenging for him….not sure why.

Princess and Goblin

Dislike. Awful. It took so long and I had to read 3 chapters [per week] and it was so boring.

Like. He didn’t like it but I think it was worthwhile.

By the Shores of Silver Lake

Like. That was fun, that was great, that was awesome.

Like. He got into the Little House books this year.

Milly Molly Mandy

Like. It’s so fun.

Like. This was one of his first chapter books that he finished himself this year.

 

Poetry

Shakespeare Sonnets and Love Poems

Dislike. Just so boring.

Dislike. Not a success.

Ogden Nash

Dislike. I don’t remember it.

Neutral. Funny, but totally over kids’ heads.

 

Math

SU 3rd Grade

Dislike. Such hard stuff and tests.

Like. SU is so easy to use.

Ray’s Intellectual

Dislike. It took so long.

Like. 10 minutes about 3x/week  and is good mental math.

Miquon

Neutral. Only the fun ones were good, which were barely any. I like evens and odds and stuff.

Like. Still good for him.

 

Writing

Pentime Handwriting

Dislike. I hate writing the long paragraphs with seven things in it.

Like. But he’s been getting away with spending 3 days on 2 pages and needs to work harder next year.

 

Reading

McGuffey 3rd

Dislike. There are lots of long ones and about really boring stuff like “The Rainbow.”

Like. Lol—boring but good practice reading aloud.

 

Foreign Language

Duolingo Norwegian, Chinese, Spanish, Greek, Hebrew

Like. You get to learn so much stuff and buy stuff with lingots.

Neutral. I think the kids spend a lot of time on the computer and I have no idea how much actual language learning is going on.

 

Art

Drawing: Animals

Neutral. I like that you draw all different kinds of animals and some were really hard, though.

Like. Not difficult.

Colored Pencil

Dislike. It’s so hard and I could get nothing lined up.

Like. He did some really good drawings.

 

Picture Study

Five In A Row (Children’s Books)

Like. I didn’t like Grandfather’s Journey though.

Like. I really enjoyed doing FIAR this year.

 

Music

Hoffman Academy Piano

Dislike. It takes forever and teaches such hard stuff. From Hot Cross Buns to Cuckoo.

Neutral. It’s free and is self-teaching. Kids Tres and Cuatro especially learned from it since they started from zero musical knowledge.  I’d really like to get real music lessons next year.

 

Overall Evaluation:

Future Children? Make the stuff a bit easier. Don’t give them as much SU.

Maybe switch science read alouds for my sake. Limit time spent on Duo.

 

Next Year? Maybe a bit less or as much instead of more SU. It’s fun but only division. Give me more history books that are fun and don’t take too long.

Find a music teacher. Maybe switch to video drawing lessons for a bit. Follow up on lists and time management. I think I’ll go back to individual poetry and picture study.

 

 

 

Wrapping Up Year 4 With Kid Dos

Average weekly time: Together (5), alone (15), total hours (20)

 

Rate each book (like, neutral, dislike).

Add a few comments (my comments are italicized).

Any changes for next child or next year?

 

Bible/Spiritual Reading

Egermeier’s

Like. It’s fun to hear and I really love the questions.

Like. I read it 1x or 2x per week at lunchtime to all the kids. Then each kid answers a  question or two. I like the narrative approach to the Bible.

Little Pilgrim’s Progress

Like. Love. It’s interesting and fun.

Like. So much better than Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress (at least for the 5-10 age bracket).

My Path to Heaven

Neutral. It was a bit boring but I liked looking at the illustrations.

Like. It’s a bit dry. But worthwhile. She and Kid Tres did it together.

 

History/Biographies

Builders of the Old World

Neutral. It wasn’t the most interesting book I’ve ever read.

Like. Worth reading, and a good level for her.

Medieval Days and Ways

Dislike. It was really boring and there was nothing about girls in it. None of my school books ever have anything about girls in it.

Like. Worth reading, and a good level for her.

Timeline

Neutral. It’s not my favorite thing but I very much enjoy doing it by myself now but it’s hard to pick things out to write.

Neutral. I don’t know how much sticks, but we only do it every 3 weeks so it’s not much effort.

 

Geography/Cultures

Explorer Biographies: Vikings, Marco Polo, Ibn Battuta, Zheng He, Columbus, Balboa, Magellan, Cortez, Pizarro, Raleigh, Hudson, Cook, AfricaTrek, Perry, Amundsen/Scott, Himalayas

Neutral. At first they were very interesting. Closer to the end they got a bit boring, and I got really tired of hearing about exploring America.

Like. This was a lot of reading for her. A biography every 2-3 weeks. She really grew into it, and her mapwork was very detailed and great.

 

Nature Study/Science

Human Body

Neutral. It was pretty interesting but didn’t teach me much about healing people like I hoped so I could be even with T—- [a friend] knowing how to heal with nature.

Like. I think she got more from this than Kid Uno did.

Building Book

Dislike. It took forever to read and was most of the time boring but now that I’m done it taught me a lot and in Newsies there is the Brooklyn Bridge and now I know all about it.

Like. This was her most challenging book—lots of pages every week and not the most interesting topic. She rose to the occasion.

Nature Journal

Neutral. Not my favorite, I don’t exactly like it too much but I don’t hate it either. It’s hard to draw.

Neutral. I’ve had a hard time getting any of the kids to put any effort into them. I may do more directed nature journals or do object lessons next year.

 

Literature

Heidi

Like. Loved. It was very interesting and fun.

Like. Long chapters but such a great read-aloud, and she might not  have read it on her own.

Pinocchio

Neutral. I liked how it was a different version [than the Disney movie] but I kind of knew what was going to happen.

Neutral. I’m not sure why this has been so popular over time; seems like the moral is “go to school and be obedient.” Ours had some very funny translations.

Short Stories

Neutral. They seemed to take forever to read and I liked them better when you printed the out. The Lady and the Tiger was the best. I don’t like how they end in suspense.

Like. Some (like Irving’s) were over her head. Worthwhile.

Gilgamesh Trilogy

Neutral. They were so short—it was a bit disappointing.

Like. She liked them a lot.

Arabian Nights

Like. Loved! So interesting and fun. Love knowing all the Arabian names.

Like. Lots of reading, but she flew through it with extremely detailed narrations.

Treasure Island

Neutral. Wasn’t my favorite. Very thrilling and fun but not a single girl.

Like.  A good classic.

Bullfinch

Neutral. I could hardly understand any of it cuz you started out with Kid Uno.

Like. It was a bit hard for Kid Dos because Kid Uno had been reading it for a year so Kid Dos started in the middle of Greek mythology. I’m glad to be done with the Greek/Roman section. The Norse bit was more interesting.

Incredible Journey

Neutral. Fun but not one of my favorites.

Neutral. I agree.

Brighty of the Grand Canyon

Neutral. Very interesting.

Like. A good one.

Iron Scepter

Like. Very interesting and fun and magical. I like magical books.

Like. She got the allegory parts.

 

Poetry

Shakespeare Sonnets and Love Poems

Neutral. Poetry isn’t my favorite thing—it doesn’t have a solid story to it.

Dislike. Not a success.

Ogden Nash

Neutral. Same reason.

Neutral. Funny, but totally over kids’ heads.

 

Math

SU 4th Grade

Dislike. It has given me a lot of knowledge about how to figure out my math problems but it is very boring and hard. The only thing I look forward to is getting a piece of candy or 15 minutes of math game.

Like. SU is so easy to use. She did great in ADAM this year (except for geometry).

Ray’s Intellectual

Dislike. Not very fun and very hard.

Like. 10 minutes about 3x/week  and is good mental math.

Miquon

Dislike. Not very fun and it’s hard and I hardly ever get anything and sometimes you get mad at me during it.

Like. Still good for her. She should finish next year. I do get frustrated trying to explain it, especially if I’m hungry or it’s 5:30 pm and I want to be done with school for the day!

 

Writing

Pentime Handwriting

Neutral. Pretty boring but not as hard as math. I like writing about animals and after writing the very big paragraphs I like coloring it in.

Like. Her handwriting is excellent.

 

Grammar Rod and Staff 5

Neutral. Mostly dislike. Not fun. Challenging and hard.

Like. This has been tough for her with no formal grammar. We are taking it slowly. Some Mad Libs might help.

 

Reading

McGuffey 4th  

Dislike. Boring. I cannot even understand the stories.

Like. Lol—boring but good practice reading aloud.

 

Foreign Language

Duolingo German, French, Spanish

Neutral. It gets very depressing because the other people cheat in XP.

Neutral. I think the kids spend a lot of time on the computer and I have no idea how much actual language learning is going on.

 

Art

Drawing Animals

Neutral. Boring. But I like playing a game where I’m an explorer drawing animals.

Like. She produced some great baby animal drawings. Quick and easy.

 

Picture Study

Five In A Row (Children’s Books)

Neutral. It’s not my favorite subject.

Like. I really enjoyed doing FIAR this year.

 

Music

Hoffman Academy Piano

Dislike. Hate him, he’s so boring, I had to start with Hot Cross Buns.

Neutral. It’s free and is self-teaching. Kids Uno and Dos found it too basic since they’ve had music lessons before. I’d really like to get real music lessons this year.

Overall Evaluation:

Future Kids? Not so many exploring books and biographies. Perhaps doing math 4 days a week. For the Building Book, I feel sorry for Kid Tres cuz he has to read so many pages. Maybe assign fewer pages or not do it at all.

If Kid Dos could handle all the reading this year, any child can 😊 It’s a big jump in reading from Year 3.

Next Year? Maybe add in a new subject or two like a fantasy book. I don’t want to have to read all exploring biographies again. Less math for me. More outside time in the summer. Making lists the way they were…I liked it better when you made me do stuff. No more Miquon. Maybe more fun poetry that’s easy to memorize. Make rock climbing school like fitness classes. More fun books like Heidi. Continue to do your read aloud.

I’ll probably plan her science around rock climbing. I will continue group read alouds. She could use some direction with lists and time management. If she finishes her handwriting, she will start typing. Add some spelling practice.

 

 

 

Wrapping Up Year 6 With Kid Uno

Average weekly time: Together (5), alone (18), total hours (23)

 

Rate each book (like, neutral, dislike).

Add a few comments (my comments are italicized).

Any changes for next child or next year?

 

Bible/Spiritual Reading

Mere Christianity

Dislike. I didn’t understand it and the words just slipped through my brain.

Dislike. She was not into it at all. Save for high school.

Are You There God?

Neutral. Some of the story where God worked with people was interesting but some parts were dull.

Like. I think this is a good one to introduce God speaking to us personally.

Bruchko

Like. Interesting book. It was cool that he included some words of the language; it was a tonal language that the tribes spoke.

Like. Still an amazing story.

Egermeier’s

Dislike. It’s not the real Bible and I feel like it leaves out a lot. It’s just boring and I could learn a lot from the real Bible.

Like. I read it 1x or 2x per week at lunchtime to all the kids. Then I ask a question or two each. I like the narrative approach to the Bible.

 

History/Biographies

Landmark American History Bios

Neutral. Some aren’t very fun to read and don’t stick in my head and I have to use the book for reference. The FBI book was good. Informative.

Like. This year was the second half of American history through biographies. I chose some and she chose some from assigned categories. She read one bio a week, wrote a summary, I edited, she revised it.

Up From Slavery

Dislike. Used a lot of big words and rather boring. I’ve read a bunch of African American terrible lives and it’s boring reading it over and over again.

Like. I wanted her to start reading some primary sources this year.

Patty Reed’s Doll

Like. Interesting and made it sound like fiction when it’s not. I like those pioneer stories pretty well.

Like. This is local history for us and some time soon we’ll get to the Donner Museum or parts of the trail.

Hiding Place

Like. Very interesting. I like reading about how the Jews were tortured and stuff, and the World War. She was so full of courage and love. But I liked listening to the audio book better.

Like. She really seemed to connect with Ten Boom.

Timeline

Neutral. A little tedious to look up stuff and write it down. Sometimes it’s interesting and I read more than I’m supposed to [on Wikipedia] about their lives.

Neutral. I don’t know how much sticks, but we only do it every 3 weeks so it’s not much effort.

 

Civics

Courts and Law

Dislike. Boring. Tried to make things simple and easy to understand but I felt like it didn’t reach me. Like writing for children but not written well.

Neutral. I agre– not the greatest writing but a decent intro to American government. She was supposed to discuss each chapter with Luke but that didn’t happen frequently.

Plutarch

Dislike. He’s boring and I hate mythology. He could use two sentences instead of one in many places, and stop quoting what other people think.

Neutral. Still quite a slog, but we react similarly to some of his conclusions so I think doing it together has been “fun”.

 

Geography/Cultures

Halliburton’s Book of Marvels Orient

Neutral. Some of the stories like things he did in the country were interesting but his maps weren’t very detailed and were hard to read. I would have liked if he had a large detailed map.

Like. I still haven’t pre-read the Orient but it’s a great book.

Map Workbook (D America)

Like. It’s a little too easy.

Like. I agree—mostly for fun.

 

Nature Study/Science

Dancer’s Way

Neutral. I didn’t really get anything out of it, and it was like every other fitness and nutrition book I’ve read.

Neutral. I liked that it was aimed at ballet. Some info wasn’t relevant to her at this stage, and some I disagreed with (strength training makes you bulky?!), but overall decent.

Family Nutrition

Dislike. It gave me an explanation of a thing and then went right into scientific explanations of things. Some things were helpful, like charts. I don’t like books that aren’t fiction.

Neutral. A bit too detailed and opinionated, but a decent overview of nutrition.

Anatomy Coloring Book

Dislike. Somebody colored over half so I couldn’t. In the descriptions, it spoke of some things that weren’t anywhere, so I didn’t know where things were. But it was interesting to see some things were always color coded in a certain way.

Neutral. Not sure how much she got from it. 

Wellness Wednesdays (Rise Up School of Dance)

Like. At first I didn’t at all, but I saw myself getting stronger and improving.

Like. I was happy her ballet classes aligned with my science goals [nutrition/fitness] for her this year.

Nature Journal.

Dislike. I don’t like nature in general.

Neutral. I’ve had a hard time getting any of the kids to put any effort into them. I may do more directed nature journals or do object lessons next year.

 

Literature

Bullfinch

Dislike. I’ve read so many mythology stories. Isn’t new, and I’m not into mythology in general. But I like people reading to me.

Like. I’m glad to be done with the Greek/Roman section. The Norse bit was more interesting. I read aloud to her and Kid Dos.

Sense and Sensibility (haven’t quite finished)

Like. It’s a little hard to understand but she has some plot twists and good characters.

Like. This was my read-aloud to her. We aren’t quite done yet, so we’ll finish over the summer. It’s been fun reading to each other.

Lord of the Flies

Neutral. It got a little hard to read toward the end but I liked the sensible and rebellious characters and his description of the island and how life would be.

Like. A good age to read this.

Coral Island

Dislike. Seemed a lot like Robinson Crusoe. Boring survival. I don’t care if they sharpened a knife and killed some animals to live.

Like. I haven’t read this. Had her read it to learn to compare and contrast (with Lord of the Flies).

Uncle Tom’s Cabin

Dislike. A little like Booker T. Washington. Not written in the most captivating way. It did have some good parts.

Like. Worth reading.

Great Expectations

Dislike. Wasn’t compelling and dynamic like I like books to be. And written in an old-fashioned “oh I know everything” sort of way.

Like. Worth reading.

Scarlet Pimpernel

Neutral. I liked the plot twists and I liked watching the movie a lot and the characters were interesting.

Neutral. Probably worth reading. I was happy there was also a movie for extra motivation.

Puck of Pook’s Hill

Neutral. It too was written in a different way than I like. It was interesting having old-fashioned characters tell children things and fairy tales mixed in with normal life.

Neutral. I haven’t read it. But I think Kipling is good.

Last of the Mohicans

Dislike. It seemed a little far-fetched and portrayed the Indians in a savage, awful way not as the simple people who just wanted their land.

Neutral. Haven’t read this either.

 

Poetry

Shakespeare’s Sonnets and Love Poems

Dislike. I don’t really like his poems. I like funny or silly poems rather than romantic.

Dislike. Not a success.

Ogden Nash

Like. Interesting and funny.

Neutral. Funny, but totally over kids’ heads.

 

Math

SU Year 6

Neutral. I enjoy doing some stuff in there, but some stuff is really hard. I want to learn algebra this year because I want to be better than other kids in everything in regular schools and better than N—- [a friend] at everything.

Like. SU is so easy to use. She did well on ADAM this year, so I consider it effective. Except in geometry (so far).

Ray’s Intellectual

Dislike. Hate. It’s boring and hard and tedious and frustrating and downcasting.

Dislike. I dropped it. I’d still like her to have some mental math practice, but this was too hard to do mentally, and was frustrating to use. I think it’s good through about 4th or 5th grade but diminishing returns after that.

Number Devil

Neutral. It began funny and nice but got a little tedious. I liked the fiction part and the illustrations were cute.

Like. Got it from the library. Don’t think it’s worth buying but it was an easy, fairly fun supplement.

 

Writing

NanoWriMo

Like. Very fun to do. I wish I had more time to write.

Like. She loves this! Good for writing practice and competition.

Wix

Neutral. I find it hard to get time and I don’t really have anything to write about.

Neutral. I agree.

Writing Prompts

Neutral. I like videos better than just doing a writing prompt.

Like. But I would like to read her writing and give feedback. She did this on her own.

Udemy Fiction Writing

Like. They’re funny and their prompts are really cute and make me want to write.

Like. But I would like to read her writing and give feedback. She did this on her own.

Grammar Rod and Staff 7

Dislike. Boring, hard, we could find a better book that doesn’t talk about egg noodles and beans. I don’t like being thrown into it, like doing Year 5 without any intro, and then going into Year 7. It’s a frustrating subject.

Like. Although maybe I shouldn’t have skipped her from 5 to 7. I think the gaps are pretty easy to cover though. We did it 2-3x per week.

 

Foreign Language

Duolingo Spanish, French, Russian

Like. It’s fun cuz they have the leaderboards now. But it’s frustrating cuz people cheat. I wish I had a book or program or people to teach me.

Neutral. I think the kids spend a lot of time on the computer and I have no idea how much actual language learning is going on.

Big Book of Latin 1

Neutral. Started fun and easy, got harder. I want it to go easy and slowly.

Like. Expensive, but self-teaching. She loved it at first.

Art

Pencil Sketchbook.

Neutral. I felt like I learned more from videos, and our supply of books is limited and I’ve done them all.

Neutral. She’s great at doing her own amazing art, so I have a hard time finding stuff to “teach” her. But I’d like her to continue learning and practicing various art skills.

 Picture Study

Five In A Row (Children’s Books)

Neutral. Not very interesting but some of the pictures are interesting.

Like. I really enjoyed doing FIAR this year.

 

Music

Hoffman Academy Piano

Dislike. I dropped it. I’m teaching myself now. Boring and slow.

Neutral. It’s free and is self-teaching. Kids Uno and Dos found it too basic since they’ve had music lessons before. I’d really like to get real music lessons this year.

 

Memorization/Recitation

Dislike. I don’t like to memorize stuff. Except The Highwayman.

 

Overall Evaluation:

Future children? Probably nothing I would change for a future child except cutting Plutarch out.

Science will be adapted for future children’s interests. Reading a bio a week for history may be too much for some kids.  Probably less emphasis on writing for some kids.

Next Year? I’d like to do videos for drawing and take languages to another level, like watch videos and books. I’d like to find more time for writing. At least two hours a day. On the computer. And harder math—advance more quickly. Learn calligraphy or fancy handwriting.

I’d like to find a geometry supplement. Live music lessons. More editing of her writing. Learning to research. Maybe some literature analysis. 

 

 

 

Helpful Changes

Last year I made a few changes which helped me streamline as I’m adding children, but not hours, to my life.

  1. Instead of scheduling a 36 week school year, plus 3 weeks of exams, I scheduled a 30 week school year. Each 10 week term is divided in half with a “project week” and ends with an exam week. I added the project week because I always have ideas for fun activities and outings during the year, but in my head they take away from “school” days and put us “behind” so it’s hard for me to actually take the time to do them. By scheduling a week for activities, it helps legitimize the activities in my head. It’s mostly a mental thing for me, but it gave me more freedom this year. We did a big collaborative painting one week. We went to the zoo and a museum several times…and didn’t do school when we got home. The last term, we shipped Kids Tres and Cuatro off to their FL grandparents and they had a 10 day project week of kayaking, swimming, fishing, making slime, building styrofoam boats, having tea parties, playing at the beach, and launching rockets. Kids Uno and Dos had less fun–they spent their week helping me with some organizing and cleaning, but they did a lot of reading, some weaving on a new loom, and going to 7-ll for Slurpees. 🙂 Exams don’t take us a full week, but scheduling a week for them gives me more mental flexibility. As far as planning…books and curricula divide just as nicely by 30 as they do by 36. Imagine that! Overall, decreasing my school year by 6 weeks eased a lot of pressure on me to fit everything in, so I’m keeping that schedule for next year.
  2. I started the year with 4 kids using Ray’s Primary, Intellectual, and Practical Math as their main math curriculum, supplemented by Miquon, Strayor-Upton, and a couple living math books. Within a week or so, I was going nuts trying to keep over a dozen math balls in the air. And the teacher key for Ray’s is horribly incomplete; instead of just being able to flip a page and check the kids’ work, I frequently had to work the problems myself because the answer was not in the key. I just do not have time for that! So I ended up putting the Year 3 and 5 students in Strayor-Upton (which is written to the student and has a full answer key), supplemented by Miquon or living books twice a week and doing Ray’s Intellectual orally twice a week (to keep up their mental math skills). The Year 2 and Year .5 still did Ray’s Primary or Practical with me every day since their math is still all oral. But I limited their lessons to 10-15 minutes daily, which kept my time very manageable, and kept them alert through the whole lesson. The Year 2 also had Miquon 2 days a week, and I Love Math weekly. So the math year ended much less frantically than it began. I’m definitely keeping that format for next year.
  3. The other positive change was how I laid out the schedules for each term. Luke kindly reformatted them for me so they are easier to read (his word processing skills are much more current than mine). And instead of scheduling every single box to check every day or week, we made some more open-ended boxes. That gave my box-checking mind more breathing room. As I plan 2018, I think I’ll use even more open-ended schedules (more logging and less scheduling). I feel like we have a good handle on a Charlotte Mason lifestyle (outdoor time, nature study, art, music, living books and things, practical skills, etc.) and instead of planning everything in advance, I can just fill things in as we do them as part of life. Serendipity meets Type A, or something like that. 🙂
  4. Finally, in looking for other ways to streamline, I calculated that I spend about 20 minutes each night writing next-day lists for 4 kids. I think I can get that down to 5-10 minutes if I template a to-do list, print it, and fill in the relevant bits for each kid. As much as I love lists, I’d rather spend less time writing them…and more time blogging about them 😉

A Day in the Life

Someone said she’d like to see what a typical day looks like for us, so here is a “normal” weekday during this season (with 4 school age kids, a preschooler, a toddler, and me in the sick/tired first trimester with Kid Siete):

6:45       DH wakes up with the the two youngest, gets everyone breakfast, changes diapers, gets ready for work. The older kids trickle out of bed and the more motivated ones can start on their school lists (which I leave on the kitchen counter the night before).

8ish      Or 9ish these days, with early pregnancy fatigue. I wake up, eat, clean up breakfast, do some laundry, clean. DH leaves for work. If the kids are playing nicely together, and we aren’t going anywhere that morning, I let them play for a while. If we have an outing, we start the long process of  getting ready to go. If they are fighting, or if someone is eager to get his list done early that day, I have them start on chores or independent school work. This includes handwriting, drawing, typing, music appreciation, nature journals, math for the older kids, some art projects, memorization, assigned reading, written or drawn narrations, and so on.

10:30       The little kids are ready for a snack and I am ready for all the kids to have outside time. This is a minimum of one hour daily (lots more in warmer weather). Sometimes I do yard work or take them across the street to the playground, sometimes we all go on a “nature walk”, sometimes I run (taking one or two with me in the jogging strollers), sometimes I get caught up on indoor stuff while they pester me play outside. I’ve also been doing food prep in the morning when I can since my morning sickness gets worse throughout the day. About once a week, we hang out with friends, or go the zoo or museum or somewhere special outdoors. This is also when I schedule doctor or dentist visits.

12 or 1    Either Kid Uno or I make lunch. While they eat, I check my email or the news or finish whatever I was working on earlier. If we’ve had an outing in the morning, I try to get home by 1:30 or 2. After lunch, Kids Cinco and Seis nap for a couple hours, so it’s straight to the books for the rest of us. I alternate among kids. This is when I do math and phonics, poetry, read alouds, hear narrations, get out supplies for art projects, check handwriting and Miquon, sing, etc….everything they can’t do without me.

3:30       Twice a week, I take Kid Uno to her ballet class. The younger kids often watch Wild Kratts while I’m gone, or finish their independent work. On other days, I frequently doze off during someone’s times tables or phonics, thanks again to pregnancy fatigue, so when I wake up we try to pick up where they left off (unless Kid Seis already woke up from her nap, in which case everything just goes crazy).

4            The two younger kids wake up sometime around now, and everyone has a snack. We usually have a few school things left to finish, like correcting math. Then chaos free time descends. And chores. And neighbor friends. Lately I’ve been sending them out for more outside time before dark but that will probably end when it starts snowing, because it’s not fun getting into snow clothes twice a day. I do more laundry, pay bills, make dinner, etc.

6ish       DH gets home. We usually eat dinner around 7. Kid Uno needs to be picked up from ballet twice a week, Kid Dos has a horseback riding lesson once a week, and we have house church one night a week, so our evenings feel pretty full. If I haven’t worked out during the day, this is usually when I do it.

7:30       We clean up dinner, DH usually supervises the kids picking up the house, plays with them, does baths, and reads Proverbs to the kids while they eat something sweet. I check off all the boxes we completed today, and write out tomorrow’s school lists for the four older kids. Occasionally I read stories or play a board game to assuage my mom guilt if I haven’t spent much time with a kid that day 😉

8            Bedtime for Kid Seis.

8:30      Bedtime for Kids Cinco and Cuatro

9            Bedtime for Kids Tres, Dos, and Uno. They can do something quiet till 9:30. Meanwhile, I have crashed and am doing something low energy like online shopping, reading, or talking with DH.

11ish     DH and I go to bed. The end. Unless someone little wakes up in the night 🙂

 

How We Do…History

So this is where I part ways with Charlotte Mason (and a lot of other popular curricula). History is NOT the pivot upon which our curriculum turns. It is of equal, not greater, importance with other content subjects. I don’t try hard to match literature, music, art, or anything else to certain time periods. Unlike neo-classical curricula like The Well Trained Mind, I don’t plan to cycle through history chronologically three or four times over twelve years. Unlike Sonlight, I don’t schedule much (if any) historical fiction as required reading. We own plenty of historical fiction, but the kids read it as free reads. And I’m not a fan of specializing in our own country’s history while excluding most of the rest of the world. My own history education was the typical American-centric Columbus-Pilgrims-Slavery-Pioneers-Wright Brothers over and over, with a semester of Eastern Hemispheres, and one measly year of World History.  Charlotte Mason seemed to have a similar view; she thought that there was just too much world history for children to connect with, so they should focus only on their own country and delve deeply into the lives of a few important people. I just flat out disagree with that; I want my kids to have a much more global overview of history. So, I make it up as I go along, and don’t worry about following Charlotte Mason’s history method. Here’s an overview of our themes for each year, and some of the material we use:

The tools we use for learning history are biographies, narratives, and a timeline. The Eclectic Manual of Methods (beginning on page 211) heavily influenced my use of biographies, and probably my overall approach to history. My kids also engage more with biographies than with narratives; none of them (so far) are history buffs, and they are pretty young to be interested in causes and themes and repercussions of events. I love the older Signature bios and Landmark books. They are well-written and cover a decent variety of people. We use some picture book bios. Narratives are what a lot of people consider spines, except I don’t tie in anything else. We just read through a longish book like A Child’s History of the World, or Our Island Story, or Makers of the Americas, narrate, and fill in some people or events on the timeline. They also use the timeline across subjects. So if they are listening to hip hop for music, reading Vikram Seth’s poetry for the term, and looking at Mary Cassat’s paintings for picture study, they might put those in the appropriate century.

Year One: Stories of historical characters (world and American) using Fifty Famous Stories Retold and Viking Tales, and picture book biographies of Pocohantas, Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, and Buffalo Bill. We also read short bios of saints for Spiritual Reading, so they get a little bit of Christian church history. We begin a timeline which continues through Year Three.

Year Two: World History using the first half of A Child’s History of the World, world biographies using Signature biographies, and more church history with bios of saints. Little Duke (which I may drop in the future) has early English and French history.

Year Three: World History using the second half of CHOW, continue world biographies using Signature biographies. Begin British history with Our Island Story. The Geography/Cultures focus for the year is Russia, China, and India so the kids get a little exposure to the history of those countries.

Year Four: History/Geography/Cultures are very combined this year. We finish OIS and British history. There are three Western focused narratives (one per term): Builders of the Old World, Medieval Days and Ways, and Makers of the Americas. For Geography/Cultures, there is an explorer biography scheduled every 2-3 weeks, with a focus on the “New World” explorers such as Cortez and Pizarro, but also including Marco Polo, Ibn Battuta, Zheng He, Captain Cook, David Livingston, the North and South Poles, and the Himalyas.  This is the year for a new, more detailed timeline. Every three weeks, the student picks about six interesting characters or events to add to her timeline.

This is as far as we have gone in practice; Year Five and up are all in the planning stage right now. I’ve probably forgotten some odds and ends which also tie into history, but those are the main themes.

Year Five: North American History. The first term will be pre-Columbian history, probably using Native Americans: An Illustrated History and two modern Native American memoirs, Maria Tallchief: America’s Prima Ballerina and  Code Talker. The next two terms will be mainly with Landmark books up to 1776. Geography/Cultures is Book of Marvels: Occident. One of the Science themes for the year is inventions, so that also adds to the history. We begin Plutarch this year, and which is supposed to continue through high school, for a bit of Greek and Roman biography.

Year Six: North American History from 1776-present, mainly reading books from the Landmark series. They were finished in the 1960s, so I’m not sure what I’ll use to bring it up to present day. I want to include the development of modern Mexico and Canada since they are our geographical neighbors. State history seems kinda silly to me, but our state is obsessed with pioneer history, which would tie nicely into this year. Geography/Cultures is Book of Marvels: Orient.

Year Seven and on: This is still two years out, but I have some goals and ideas. One goal is to begin reading primary sources. Another goal is to start reading opposing viewpoints. They will read Daughter of Time this year; it will be a good intro to how history is very open to interpretation. I’m hoping history will become somewhat interest-led at this point. Some ideas are studying the history of art (or music, religion, architecture, technology) , “sideways” history with Genevieve Foster‘s books, the history of a particularly interesting culture or region, how things affected history (like the potato, diamonds, malaria, air conditioning, drought, etc.). There are all sorts of interesting ways to look at history. I think continuing to read more extensive biographies (like Unbroken) will give the kids a deeper connection to specific eras or events. Homeschooling at the Helm is a good resource for developing interest-led studies, and I think age 13ish is an appropriate age to start encouraging our kids to start having some input in what they study.

And that is how we do history…so far 😉