Thursday, June 7, 2012


Yes, it has happened. A yearly update. Things went well this year. Busy as usual.  We learned a lot and accomplished most of our goals.

For language arts, Arwen read books, did copywork, used Growing with Grammar, worked through Rebecca Sitton spelling list and did some freewriting. Kali read books, did copywork, used Growing with Grammar, worked through Rebecca Sitton spelling list, used Writing Strands 4, and did some composition from the 6th grade K12 book.  Sierra read books, did copywork, used Growing with Grammar, worked through Rebecca Sitton spelling list, used Writing Strands 5 and started 6, and did some composition from the 8th grade K12 book.

For math, Arwen did Singapore 4 and memorized her multiplication facts. Kail did Singapore 5 and 6.  Sierra finished Thinkwell Prealgebra and started and finished Thinkwell Algebra.

For science, we  used Apologia Exploring Creation with the Human Anatomy and Physiology.

For history, we used a History of US.  We made it through book 9 and will read book 10 at the beginning of next school year before we start our Ancient History studies. I really enjoyed this book series.  I learned a ton and I hope the kids did, too.

For foreign language, Kali learned Italian with Live Mocha and finish the 101 level.  Sierra learned French also with Live Mocha.  She almost finished 101, but then we switched to Active French level 1.  Still Live Mocha just a different set of lessons. She finished that, but we kind of rushed through the end, so I am going to have her go back and redo some of it next year before starting the next level.   I can't decide whether to have Sierra do the 101. 102, etc. lessons or the Active lessons.  The Active lesson seem more focused on words and sentences needed for traveling and the other lessons seem more for just learning the language.  But the Active lessons have grammar lessons and I think the other lessons expect grammar to be picked up intuitively.  I actually think I will have the girls all so both. Hopefully, the extra lessons will help solidify the concepts.

For music, the girls participated in a choir. Arwen is taking piano lessons, Kali is still learning violin, and Sierra is still playing the flute.

We didn't do a whole lot of official art lessons. The girls often draw while I read aloud.  And we learned about artists and musicians as they tied into our history studies.

We also spent a couple of months leaning about Cambodia, Vietnam, and Thailand in preparation for our upcoming trip.

Overall it was a very good year.  Since moving to Hawaii, we take less field trips  and go to very few activities (well, official field trips with other homeschoolers. We do go to the beach often and have been to other tourist sites over the years).  There are not many homeschoolers in our area and my kids are not really friends with those who are here.  They would rather stay home get their work done and be available to play when their friends get home from school. It sometimes makes me sad because I enjoyed that part of homeschooling, but I guess we are just in a different stage of life now.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Spring 2011

Second "semester" was pretty much a continuation of what we did in the fall.

  • We finished the SOTW series by completing Book 4 in May. I absolutely loved these books.  I learned so much and I think the kids did, too.
  • We finished Real Science 4 with the Physics book.    Real Science 4 Kids was just OK.  I liked that the kids were introduced to some good science vocabulary, but it was pretty boring and definitely not worth the $200 I spent on it. Luckily I was able to sell it for $100. 
  • Same grammar, same spelling, same foreign language
  • Same math except that Sierra finished Singapore 6 and started Thinkwell PreAlgebra.  There was a bit of a struggle with this at first, but once she got through the transition period, she did great and I love this program.  We will continue with it for Algebra.
  • The girls kept reading and writing.  I don't remember what...  I guess I better start doing a better job of recording keeping next year when Sierra is a high schooler!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Fall 2010

Oh my, yes, I have gone from daily to weekly to monthly and now to seasonal posting.

This fall went well.  I feel like we have finally found a our groove. It has only taken 7 years...We have curriculum that works.  I have found a schedule that works.The girls have daily to-do lists. My youngest is old enough to follow her own list. It is lovely. Yes, I still worry that I should be doing more or that my kids aren't at the level they could or should be, but for the most part I am just hoping we don't hit any bumps in the road.

One thing that helped last semester go smoothly is that, without an active homeschool group, we had very few interruptions in our schedule for field trips and park days, etc.  We did have public school friends though, so there was the rush to finish our school work before the neighbor kids were home from school and ready to play.

Our daily schedule looked something like this.

7:30am  - I attempt to get out of bed
8am - I go to gym to work out
8:45 - 9 - return from gym, eat breakfast, computer time (Kids are awake by this time and are eating breakfast and watching TV)
9am - school starts - girls work on independent work while I finish up on computer and do other morning chores, such as start laundry and tidying up a bit. I am often called over to answer questions.
9:30  - I take a shower, put away laundry, more tidying, more questions
10:30 - Read aloud (or, as has been happening lately because we no longer spend much time in the car, listening to book on tape)
11:00 - "mom school" time - some days history, some days poetry, some days science
12:00 - lunch
1:00 - girls finish independent work
2:00 -school's out
after school - play with friends, instrument lessons, choir.  We tried a session of parks and rec gymnastics.  We also participated in a homeschool science club, but my girls didn't like it because there were no other girls in it.
Here is the curriculum/books  we used:

Reading: Sierra read Ella Enchanted and something else - ack, this is why I should keep more timely records, oh yeah, Hitty: Her First Hundred Years. Kali read The Lion and the Witch and the Wardrobe 1 of Harry Potter. Both older girls were reading Harry Potter during their free reading because I challenged them to read all 7 books by June when the last movie comes out. Arwen started reading the Magic Tree House books.

Writing: Sierra and Kali started using WritingStrands.  Kali book 4 and Sierra book 5.  I really liked the exercises, but felt that they needed practice with writing longer pieces, so we used our K12 books as a guide for writing newspaper articles (both) and a how-to paper (Kali) and a compare/contrast essay (Sierra).  the compare/contrast essay was kind of a disaster.  It makes me crazy that Sierra has such trouble with formal essays when she loves creative writing and is good at it.  I read recently that that often happens with creative writers. Arwen started freewriting. All three girls did copywork.

Spelling:  We started out using Sequential Spelling. I tried doing it with all three a the same time.  Sierra and Kali begrudgingly cooperated and Arwen futzed around and made it take longer than it should have. It didn't seem to be helping and it was taking precious time out of our day, so I gave it up after a few weeks.  We then did individual lists made from words they misspelled in their own writing.  All 3 girls got email accounts, which has helped their spelling.  Sierra started typing a story that she is writing and that has also improved her spelling.

Grammar:  Growing with Grammar is working great for Kali (finished grade 4 and began grade 6) and Sierra (finished grade 6 and began grade 8).  With so much repetition each year in the curriculum, I chose to skip a year and take 2 years to complete each grade level. Arwen worked on the 2nd grade level of First Language Lessons.

Math: Singapore Math for all three. Arwen 2a, Kali 3b and began 4b, Sierra 5b, 6a, and 6b

History: Story of the World 3

Science:  Real Science 4 Kids Chemistry

Vocabulary: English from the Roots Up

Foreign LanguageLive Mocha Sierra started French, Kali tried Mandarin Chinese and then switched to Italian.

2011 has started off nicely. Here's to hoping it continues to go smoothly and that I don't panic too much as a think ahead to high school for my oldest in 18 months!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

April, May, June, July

Sheesh, I am not very good at this record keeping. I should probably get better at it since I will have a high schooler in 2 years - ack!

In April and May, we did school on the days that my hubby was gone.  He had classes to teach on Tuesdays and Thursdays and often went to his office to work on things on Mondays and Wednesdays, so most weeks we did school M-Th.

As planned, we did a Hawaiian history unit.  For science we did a bunch of experiments from kits I had purchased at the beginning of last year and we hadn't gotten around to using.  For math and grammar we continued working through Singapore and Growing with Grammar. Sierra and Kali did their usual did copywork, typing, and spelling.  They also memorized the states and capitals using this website. For composition, we continued to use ideas from K12.  Sierra did a how-to essay, an advertisement and presentation, and a book review.  Kali learned about different writing types - narrative, descriptive, expository, and persuasive. She wrote short essays using each type. Sierra read Alice in Wonderland.  Kali read several Magic Tree House books.  She is working on reading them all and I think she is to about #32. Arwen worked on becoming a more fluent reader and read several Dr. Seuss books and other easy readers.

Also, during April and May, we had the opportunity to participate in a furlough Friday co-op with some public schooled kids.  Because of lacking of money, the public schools in Hawaii had no school almost every Friday.  Some of the parents were concerned and decided to hold a co-op on the Fridays with no school.  The classes included reading, math games, science, poetry, sign language, music, and art history. It has been nice to be able to join the public schooled kids for activities like this since the are so few homeschoolers in our area.

We finished out the month of May with a choir and violin concert and seeing the campus play, Wizard of Oz. May 25th was the last day of school for the public school, so I decided to make that our last day of school, too.  Rand's semester ended around that time also and he had the next term off, so it made sense to take a break.

My sister came to visit in June.  We went to the Bishop Museum, Pearl Harbor, and Waimea Valley and, of course, the beach.  Our church had a ward camp in June.  The kids had a great time playing with all of the other kids.

Rand was out of town in July.  We attempted to do some school.  Sierra and Kali did some math and grammar and practiced their instruments.  Arwen did math and reading and writing.  Arwen has made a leap in her reading ability this summer, despite of, or maybe because of, our lacking of formal practice.  She read an entire Magic Tree House book on her own- yahoo!!

In July, we also went to the Bishop Museum for its Super Science Saturday.  The extra displays were kind of lame, but we also went to the volcano show and the planetarium show.  We hadn't been able to go to either of these before, so that was fun (and educational).

School starts back up for the public school kids on August 2nd. I figure we might as well get started, too.  It has been great to take a break from our formal studies. I am feeling much more motivated to start back up again now that we have had a little break. Rand only teaches Tuesdays and Thursdays again this term, so we may just do school on Tuesdays and Thursdays in August and then go back to a full schedule in September.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

January, February, March

Back to our own independent homeschooling - yeah!!!! I cannot believe how much happier I am than I was when we tried to do k12. We spent the last 3 months doing all of the things we would have done in the fall had we not tried k12.

We finished up SOTW 2 ( finally - it only took us 2 1/2 years..). We worked through the Real Science 4 Kids Biology book. I liked that it taught lots of scientific vocabulary, but it wasn't super exciting and as my oldest expressed, " The experiments didn't really work."

We went back to Singapore Math. Sierra was able to skip the fractions sections and is almost finished with 5B. Kali needed to get her multiplication facts down, so we worked on those and started back up where she left off. She is almost done with 3B. Arwen also picked up where she left off and is almost done with 1B.

We started using Growing with Grammar levels 4 and 6 with Sierra and Kali and are loving it. Well, I am loving it. It is pretty self teaching and doesn't take much time each day to complete. The girls kind of think it is boring, but it gets the job done. When they finish with their current levels I am going to skip Sierra to level 8 and Kali to level 6 since grammar curricula are often too repetitive. I am using First Language lessons for the Well Trained Child with Arwen and we are almost finished with the 1st grade section.

The older 2 did some spelling using Natural Speller. We began copywork again - 2 perfect lines in cursive - for both older girls. The older girls also did some writing assignments from K12. Kali did a poetry unit and a narrative essay. Sierra did a research paper on Kiwi birds complete with a bibliography. I also came up with a writing assignment for both girls to go with their literature reading -yeah me! We also returned to my girls favorite kind of writing - free writing.

Read alouds included The Number Devil and The Phantom Tollbooth. We tried The Second Mrs. Giaconda, but found it a bit boring. Sierra read Anne of Green Gables and Kali read Ballet Shoes for their independent reading.

We also worked through some of English From the Roots Up and a poetry curriculum that I have been beta testing for the last few years - ha!

Whew! It is also nice to record what we have done. Sometimes it feels like we have not done much, but when I type it all up, I realize we have accomplished quite a bit.

Originally, I had planned to continue our history and science studies (SOTW 3 and RS4k Chem) after the break we have been taking the past 2 weeks while Grandma and Grandpa visited. But then we visited the Bishop Museum and I decide we should do a unit on Hawaiian history. More on that later.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Fall 2009

OK, time to catch up on this blog. If you read my other blog you know that we spent this fall trying out the K12 curriculum through Hawaii Technology Academy. For the most part it ended up being a huge disaster. I was miserable. The kids were miserable. But I am glad that we tried it because we did gain a lot of insight.

1. We now appreciate better the way we have always homeschooled

2. I have learned better what kind of work I should be expecting of my kids at their grade levels.

3. The kids learned the kind of work that would be expected of them in school.

4. I discovered areas where my kids were weak and areas where they were strong.

5. I got ideas to use on our own in certain subjects especially writing.

Things the girls learned about using K12:

Sierra - Earth Science, American History from 1865, fractions, read Island of the Blue Dolphin and a bunch of short stories, art lessons

Kali - some Hawaiian History, ecosystems, chemistry, plant and animal interactions, the human body, read Charlotte's Web, an abridged version of Robinson Crusoe, and some short stories

Arwen - Mesopatamia, ancient Egypt, states of matter, weather, animal classification, light, read aloud Mrs. Piggle Wiggle and Winnie the Pooh and other short stories

Monday, October 19, 2009

What we have been up to since June

July was moving month. Even though we didn't have to pack or load our stuff, it was still a lot of work to get ready for the move. Most of the work involved getting rid of stuff and still we didn't get rid of enough to be under our weight limit- grrr... but that is a story for another time.

August was traveling month. fun educational stuff included going to the Georgia O'Keefe Museum in Santa Fe, discussing all of the state capitals that we were traveling through (Santa Fe, Austin, Tallahassee, Atlanta, Charleston, Columbus, and finally Honolulu), and the older girls writing stories in the back of the car as we drove.

September was unpacking month. I was all set to start back with school on September 21nd when we were faced with the idea of using K12 and participating in our state's online virtual school. The following week was spent talking, crying, making pros and cons lists, talking some more. Finally it was decided we would give it a try until December. Then we had to fill out paperwork, take practice assessment tests, and take the real assessment tests. and then wait.

Much to this nervous homeschool mama's delight, the girls all tested on grade level. Well, Kali tested on 3rd grade for Language Arts, but is considered a 4th grader with her October birthday. Eventually we found out that she did test high enough to be in 4th grade Language Arts and are in the process of switching her over.

For Sierra and Kali, I asked for the grade level lower in math (5th for Sierra and 3rd for Kali) because I felt that there were skills that they hadn't covered. We are moving quickly through concepts that they understand and are slowing down through the new material and hoping to get them to the next grade level sometime between December and February.

Now here we are half way through October, six days into our new curriculum - read more about how that is going here. We are getting set for another week. We are still trying to catch up since we started 2 months into the school year. Last week was pretty stressful, but Friday was a pretty good day, so I am hopeful.