Our Homeschool Week in Review-April 8-12, 2015

Junior pointing to Downtown San Diego on Easter

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I love seeing what other people do on a day-to-day basis in their homeschooling, so I thought it would be fun to start a new series about what we’ve been doing. I’ll share the assignments, projects, and some photos about what we accomplished the previous week. If you want to check out our curriculum choices, you can look at them here.

Tater is finishing up 1st grade, although we have started some 2nd grade work. Here’s what we did last week:

Bible: We studied King David. We used the Bible, The Jesus Storybook Bible, King David (Get to Know series), and The Bible for Children.

We also watched What’s in the Bible episode 5, and built slings out of popsicle sticks and fabric, and used the sling and marshmallows to act out David and Goliath. Obviously I was Goliath, and Tater enjoyed eating the “rocks” afterwards.

History: I stopped using Mystery of History a couple months ago because Tater just wasn’t retaining as much as I was hoping. It is a wonderful curriculum, but being 6 years old, she prefers more pictures and the reading in MOH is geared to just a little bit of an older group. Instead, I created my own history curriculum (I have a History degree and totally thrive on this stuff). Maintaining Ancient History until the Fall, we studied the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World last week.

I printed out photos of what each wonder was supposed to look like as well as some info about each one, and we made up a song about them.

We built the Lighthouse of Alexandria out of Legos, and created Zeus’s scepter out of an empty paper towel roll, a printed eagle, and some aluminum foil.
Math: We are almost finished with Horizons 1 (there are 160 lessons). This week Tater did lessons 149-152, and took a test. We did daily addition and subtractions drills outside. One day we did a scavenger hunt using math problems, another day I hid the problems in plastic Easter eggs and hid them. She had to find each egg and solve the problems. I also did drills outside using sidewalk chalk.

Math Drills in Easter Eggs
Math Drills in Easter Eggs

Reading and Spelling: Our read aloud right now is Voyage of the Dawn Treader, the third (or fifth, depending on your edition) book in the Chronicles of Narnia Series. We are about 2/3 of the way through it. While I’m reading, Tater plays with math manipulatives such as pattern blocks or geometric blocks, or Legos.

We are also finishing up a Reading Comprehension workbook. Tater also completed three Abeka 2 Phonics worksheets. We didn’t get to any spelling last week, but are on Level 2, Step 14 in All About Spelling.

Tater reads by herself every evening, and lately she has been reading The Boxcar Children series.
Language Arts/Vocabulary: We’ve been using First Language Lessons 2, and so far really like it. We did 3 lessons last week. I’ve also been using a Greek/Latin root words book to teach Tater roots, and we learned “-ject” for “throw”. We made up our own words using “ject”, and we also reviewed the previous four weeks of root words.

Science: We’ve been going back and forth between Science Experiments, interest based learning, and A Reason for Science. Last week Tater wanted to learn about Mars, so we read a lot of books about Mars, painted red “Mars rocks” using rocks from the backyard and watched several episodes of Space Racers.

Art: Since we were studying David for Bible, we made David the focus of art this week. I found paintings of David from classic paintings from Rubens, Chagall, and Bray, and also used Michelangelo’s sculpture. We did picture studies using the art and learned more about the styles of each artist and also looked at how the art compared to the Biblical stories.

Tater also painted her own picture of King David.
For PE, she had t-ball practice, a t-ball game, and rode her bike daily. She also accompanied us to Junior’s occupational therapy, and played on some of the swings and equipment there.


What did your homeschool look like this week? Share any links or ideas in the comments!

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NEW Educents Marketplace

Introducing the NEW Educents Marketplace

I just received an email from the founders of Educents, Kate and Kaitlyn, with some really exciting news. Until today, Educents was a website for parents and educators to take advantage of daily deals. But those deals expired… And there were only 50 deals available at once… I wanted saving money to be even EASIER. Kate and Kaitlyn agreed. So they created the new Educents Marketplace. It’s even easier to discover affordable educational resources that make learning FUN!


Thousands of new products – Educents Sellers can now offer ALL of their bestsellers on the new Educents Marketplace. There’s a wide variety of worksheets, lesson plans, educational apps and toys. Shop The Young Scientists Club, Scholastic, Workman Publishing, Alpha Omega Publishing, Life of Fred books, hundreds of printable units created by educators, and more!

Offers that NEVER expire – Sellers can offer our favorite educational products year-round. Once a deeply discounted Daily Deal expires, you can still find that product available on Educents at the lowest price.

Discovery – It’s easier to search on Educents. Search for your kiddos’ interests like Minecraft or Frozen-inspired resources, and then sort by grade level, subject, brand, and more!

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Follow your favorite brands and Sellers – The “Follow Me” feature lets me add my favorite Sellers to a list. Click the heart on the Seller Storefront. You can also see which Sellers are the most popular with other shoppers!

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The Educents Marketplace is exactly what I want it to be — the best place for parents and educators to find the resources I NEED at an affordable price.

*This post was sponsored by Educents, but I really think they’re an awesome resource for all things education!



Homeschooling When You Really, Really Don’t Feel Like Doing School


Every homeschooling family has those days when you wake up and realize that school just isn’t going to happen the way you want it to. But, don’t fret! Even when school doesn’t look like “school” once in a while, you can make sure the kids are still learning. Here are my favorite activities for Tater to do on those days when I accept that worksheets and new lessons just aren’t going to happen:

1. Build with Legos or Blocks
Blocks are my favorite “kid powered” toy. Kids can learn the basics of engineering, architecture, physics, and even history by using different building styles.
BONUS: Build a Pyramid or Castle

2. Watch an Educational Show
There are some fantastic documentaries and educational shows out there. (My kids learned their alphabet thanks to Leapfrog Letter Factory.)  Wild Kratts, Liberty’s Kids, and Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego are some of Tater’s favorites right now. You can find a lot of great educational shows free streaming on Netflix or Amazon Prime.
BONUS: Have them take notes!

3. Go For a Walk
Sometimes kids (and adults) just need to get out of the house. Going for a walk can calm and reset everyone.
BONUS: Collect and identify plants and flowers.

4. Get out the art supplies
The creativity in doing art can help everyone unwind. Paint, pencils, crayons, collage…you name it. They’re all beneficial activities.
BONUS: Have them imitate a work from a famous artist.

5. Get Cooking
Kids can learn a lot in the kitchen–chemistry, math, and following directions.
BONUS: Make an ethnic dish, and discuss the country of origin.

6. Take a Field Trip
Sometimes hands-on learning is the best learning there is. (Read about our recent road trip to Zion National Park.) Even when big field trips aren’t an option, you can still get plenty of learning in at museums, zoos, aquariums, and local amusement parks. (The Physics of a rollercoaster, anyone?)
BONUS: Keep a Field Trip Journal

7. Play a Board Game
Board Games are so great for kids to exercise their brains. From strategy to teamwork to following directions, playing games are more educational than you probably thought.
BONUS: Make one of the kids the “banker”

8. Read a Book Aloud
Even when we have zero motivation to do “regular” schoolwork, Tater loves being read to, and it’s a nice break for me as well. Some of our recent read-alouds include My Side of the Mountain, Boxcar Children, and the Narnia series.
BONUS: Have them give a summary after each chapter

9. Set up an Obstacle Course
Sometimes kids just need to run. Obstacle courses are a great way to get some energy out, plus depending on how they’re set up, can teach about physiology (why do your knees bend but your legs don’t?) and even engineering.
BONUS: Drill math facts or Bible verses in order to move on to each obstacle

Read some of my other Homeschooling posts

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First Grade Curriculum Choices: MIDYEAR UPDATE

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One of my most popular posts this year was the curriculum we chose for Tater’s first grade year. But now our curriculum looks vastly different than it did at the beginning of the year! We’ve made so many changes that I figured another post was in order to let you know what we’ve liked and haven’t liked from the original list. (Make sure you check out my original First Grade Curriculum Choices here.)

Mystery of History Volume I-I’m still enjoying this, although there is a lot of reading that can be dry at times, so I’m not sure how much Tater is actually retaining. She likes the activities, and I love that it’s biblically based and interactive. I’ve supplemented with library books to bring more depth into some of the topics, but we’re continuing with this curriculum for the remainder of the year and will reassess for next year.

Horizons Math 1-This was one of the only math curricula I could find that wasn’t common core, which was a major reason I chose it. Tater has breezed through it…she can do the worksheets independently and hasn’t really needed any help. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. There is definitely a lot of review built in, which is good, but I don’t find it challenging enough. I’m not sure if we will continue with this math for second grade, but we will finish the first grade book then decide from there.

Horizons Phonics K-Tater seemed to be a little behind in reading to start the year so I put her in kindergarten phonics, but we made it halfway through this workbook only to realize that it was becoming way too easy. An official reading assessment from my aunt (who is a first grade teacher) showed that she was above 2nd grade reading level, so we dropped Horizons Phonics K and have moved into First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind as well as a reading comprehension workbook I picked up at Lakeshore. So far we are loving First Language Lessons.

A Reason for Handwriting-We are still using these worksheets, but Tater’s handwriting is still terrible. I’m considering dropping the Handwriting curriculum to just focus on copywork and letter practice.

A Reason for Science-We are only using this about one week out of five. I haven’t thought the lessons were that clear, so I had to explain quite a bit that wasn’t mentioned in the text. Most of the time we are just doing experiments from Magic School Bus Science Club (Tater’s birthday present last year), and some science kits she got for Christmas. I also picked up a Natural Science visual encyclopedia and she does daily journal entries about different plants and animal species.

God’s Great Covenant-Since Mystery of History has a lot of lessons on Biblical history, we have dropped God’s Great Covenant for now and are just using a combination of MOH and a Bible Storybook. Perhaps when she gets older I will revisit God’s Great Covenant, but I would prefer to focus on the stories and God’s character more than the dogma at this age.

All About Spelling-We are now in book 2, and I can’t say enough about this curriculum. Tater is turning into a really proficient speller because she is learning the rules of spelling instead of random words. I plan to continue All About Spelling for the foreseeable future. Although, I will admit I’ve been using the tiles less and less, and have been using a whiteboard instead. 

Classical Conversations-We still meet with our CC group once a week, but review time is basically just during class day and sometimes the CD in the car. I don’t think we are going to continue with CC next year, just because our current curriculum is already more than enough.

Road Trip USA-I enjoy this curriculum put out by Confessions of a Homeschooler, and we will be continuing it. I like all the activities included, although printing everything out was a huge task.

World’s Greatest Artists-Tater likes the art projects in this curriculum from Confessions of a Homeschooler, but I’m not sure we needed a whole curriculum, plus the companion books have been difficult to find. Just printing out examples from each artist along with a painting project will be good enough moving forward.

Read Alouds-We have finished these read aloud books since September…Little House on the Prairie, Davy Crockett: Young Rifleman, two Boxcar Children books, and Prince Caspian.

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Book Review: The Uncommon Marriage Adventure

While I’ve mentioned I’m a big baseball fan (and once threw out the first pitch at a MLB baseball game), I haven’t mentioned that I’m also a football fan. Tony Dungy, former head coach of the Indianapolis Colts and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, has always been someone I’ve admired…both on the field and off, so I was excited to read Tony and his wife Lauren’s new book, The Uncommon Marriage Adventure.

Tony and Lauren have been married for more than 30 years and have nine children together, (three biological children, and six younger children whom they’ve adopted), so they have a lot of marriage and family experience. They’ve also experienced the loss of a child, which is grief that few can grasp, but that grief has made them stronger in their faith.

The Uncommon Marriage Adventure is a Christian marriage book written for husbands and wives to read together, sparking genuine deep conversations and prayerful time together…it’s written almost as a daily marriage devotional. There are 8 main principles (with different “core practices” for each day) that couples work on in the book that spans 16 weeks. Tony and Lauren divided writing the entries. Some are geared towards husbands, while others are geared towards wives, though most apply to either spouse. 

Each entry starts with a title that gives a hint into the content for the day, followed by the “core practice”, or concept to practice for that day. Then there is a verse, followed by a personal story, and then a practical application. At the end of every week, there’s a quick summary with all the concepts you learned, followed by a prompt for praying together.

I really enjoyed this book, and it appeals to both husbands and wives. (Many marriage books I see are geared toward only one spouse). I appreciate how the Dungys expose their strengths and weaknesses, and give practical advice to other couples. They were real, and didn’t claim to have it all together, even after 30+ years of marriage. I not only enjoyed the content and applications, but I also liked the layout. It was easy to read and the weekly summary kept things simple. Overall, I would recommend this book to others.

Thank you to Tyndale Publishers for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own and have not been influenced in any way.