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Archive for May, 2011

For some reason I have been overly ambitious about homeschooling this weekend. I’ve been putting our 2011/2012 year together. I’ve broken it into Summer 2011 and 2011/2012 year (September through May). I’d love to do a lighter load this summer (2 hour days). Usually I don’t have too much of a problem narrowing choices down into a reasonable day. But I keep running into curriculum choices I can’t resist, and I’ve been hit particularly hard with curriculum lust this week.

So far, here’s what our summer is looking like. Talk about Curriculum Overload! I need to narrow this down!

If I talk it all out on my blog, maybe that will help me drop some stuff. The numbers in front of the subjects are how I rate them according to priority groups. We’ve got 4 different priorities, with a few extras at the bottom that I just added and not sure what priority (if any) they are. Taking it from the top… I’ve crossed off the things with the most potential to drop, and added question marks to things we might drop next.

  • ETC 8: The first subject is ETC, which is a phonics/spelling/reading review for us. We’re on book 8, the last book, and following the above schedule, we should be done the first week of July. Then it’s over forever.
  • GWG/FLL 3: The next two are purely grammar programs. We’ve had no problem using both and I love how they complement each other. But if we end up having to drop one, we’ll drop FLL temporarily. We accelerated grammar because it does so much for my little writer.
  • Singapore Math: Our main math we love. In the fall we’ll go back to doing this 4-5 days a week. We’ll finish up 1B soon and dig into 2A this summer.
  • Math Mammoth?: The math that was supposed to be just our supplement, but I couldn’t resist the cute workbook format I made with the ProClick and we just got done doing a week of it on our Oregon vacation. I am not sure why I’ve scheduled it more than Singapore. But this is something I will definitely lessen and probably only do when we’re out of town.
  • Getty-Dubay Italics?: Satori wanted to try out a fancy new handwriting program. We started with their 2nd grade book B. The spaces to write are so huge though and it’s hard for Satori to get used to. She writes very neat and tiny. I’m not sure why we need handwriting anymore to tell the truth, so we possibly might drop this, or at least get to a more suitable book level.
  • All About Spelling: One of our core favorites, but we’ll only be doing 2 days a week over the summer, switching back to 3 days/week in the fall. We’re more than halfway through Level 4 and will start Level 5 this fall.
  • Writing With Ease: I feel so guilty flying without WWE on the WTM forums. Out of all our curriculum choices, this is one both Satori and I pretty much dislike. The concept behind it sounds great for young children, and I wanted to give it a third try. But we’ve got so much on our plate, this will be one of the first to drop, simply because we dread doing these lessons. I don’t know why, they’re set up as so easy to teach.
  • Write Source 2?: Since Satori actually does write, this is what we use to help her with her varying writing genre. This tends to get skipped a lot, so I’ve tried to break it down into manageable chunks twice a week. We only do the student text that focuses on writing and not the other parts. We may drop this if EPGY LAW (Language Arts and Writing) covers writing well.
  • Vocabulary (Wordly Wise and Evan Moore Word a Day): Satori loves to learn vocabulary and it doesn’t take long. We’ll skip the reading part of the WW workbook and learn the terms on the free online site, do the games, and do the exercises in the book.
  • MCT Island?: We’ve gotten our feet wet into the Grammar book and really enjoy reading it together, but we’ve already got so much grammar. We also have their Poetry, Sentence Island, Building Language, etc… We’ll see how it goes.
  • SOTW History: We’re a bit behind and wanted to take the summer to finish up SOTW 1 – Ancients in time for SOTW 2 this fall.
  • RSO Life: Wrapping up Plants this summer and easing into RSO Earth and Space this fall. Satori has taken an interest in biology, so we’re going on lots of in-depth rabbit trails in this area.
  • Geography: We use a variety of resources, including online geography games, puzzles, and workbooks. This summer Satori will memorize all the countries of the world. She does this easily, we are almost finished with Europe and will move to Asia next. For workbook, we’ll use the Evan-Moor Geography a Day 2nd grade. We whipped through tons of geography workbooks, this will be our first time trying this out.
  • Elementary Spanish: This is super easy to implement and adds lots of vocabulary. No problem there.
  • Getting Started with Spanish: Can drop this.
  • Song School Latin: Can drop. If not, we’ll finish up quickly and be done with forever. We’ll start Lively Latin in the fall.
  • Logic/Critical Thinking: We use various workbooks/resources, it only takes 5 minutes a few times a week, so we’ll keep this subject.
  • Meet the Masters: Love this program! The art projects that have us copy a concept from the artist slow us down though, so we’ll skip those and just focus on the art appreciation aspect. I’d love to go through the program faster so we can learn about more artists, yay!
  • Artistic Pursuits: We slack on this one, but it actually doesn’t take much time to do. I think Satori really enjoys it, so we’ll spend the summer and try to get through AP Book 1. No biggie if we don’t get to it every week, when we do get to it, we tend to do several lessons at once.
  • Read and Understand and Daily Paragraph Editing: The next two are both Evan Moor workbooks. Both these workbooks I’ll probably slash for this summer. The Read and Understand looked interesting, we could combine reading with another subject. The Daily Paragraph Editing is fun for Satori to take a red pen and slash and edit. Maybe we’ll revisit these this fall.
  • Singapore My Pals Are Here Science – This is one I just realized we could do this weekend. There is a HOTS component that might challenge Satori. This program looks interesting because there’s a text, workbook/activities, challenging book (HOTS), and other components. Kinda like Singapore Math, which we love!
  • EPGY Math and LAW (Language Arts and Writing): David really wanted Satori enrolled in this, so now we’re all registered and paid and ready to roll. I’m not sure what to expect.

If we actually do follow the above schedule, here’s what our days would look like in the next two months. Monday-Thursday averages 2.5-3 hours, with 2 hours on Friday, and 1 hour (of easy stuff) on the weekend days. I really want to get everything below 2.5 hours, with a 1 hour Friday.

The last few subjects were ones I only recently discovered and that’s what tipped the scale to be overwhelming curriculum overload for me. Give us a few weeks and we’ll pare our schedule down and let you all know how it’s all working out!

Screenshots were from the online scheduling program I use – Homeschool SkedTrack. Oh and one more thing that is overwhelming me – I wanted to program my own online scheduler to have all the features I wanted. I love web programming, but it would require too much out of me right now, it’s been several years since I was last active in programming.

After we learned our US States early this spring, I figured I would eventually have Satori track license plates on the road. Before I could bring that idea up to her, she already was noticing that vehicles all had license plates for different states. I planned to get a workbook or something for our next trip, but didn’t have it ready in time, so today I figured I could probably print it out from home.

I googled “state license plate checklist” but didn’t find anything perfect. This checklist was the closest. I found the license plates extremely hard to read, so I added the state names to it. I fired up the laminator and now we have a glossy License Plate Checklist!

I quickly realized that neither permanent nor of course dry-erase marker would stay on the laminated page forever, so I will be bringing along these tiny stickers instead. Satori can use them to mark off when she’s seen a particular plate. I think up to 3 can fit, and if she wants, she can even color code them and stick new colors on top to signify even more.

Here’s the checklist I whipped up today, in case anyone else wanted to use it.


I may post a few updates while we’re on vacation, but if not… we’ll see you after Memorial Day! Have a great holiday.

Thanks to everyone from this blog and on WTM who suggested great places to see while we’re in Oregon. 🙂

In contrast to my previous post, where we follow a step-by-step art project to mimic the project, Artistic Pursuits is the creative art program that we use that specifically doesn’t encourage conforming. This program has books that cover preschool all the way up to grade 12. We finished the Pre-K book last year and are in K-3 Book 1 – An Introduction to the Visual Arts. The projects we’ve done so far mostly have us working with watercolor crayons, oil pastels, ebony pencils, and pastel sticks. Other mediums include colored paper craft and clay.

Since we haven’t done any Artistic Pursuit lessons almost all year long, we did two in the past week. I’d love to do several lessons per week this summer and finish Book 1 in time to start Book 2 this fall. Each lesson usually is shown in 1-2 pages. This lesson covered “Artists Make Landscapes” and we looked at an example from Paul Cezanne. (One of the complaints about AP is that the art prints are too small. That’s okay, we cover art appreciation more fully with Meet the Masters.)

We were to sit outside and draw the landscape with oil pastels. Satori started really good coloring in the hills and snow-covered mountains in this picture, but she saw how sloppy I was doing my picture and then she hastily colored in the rest. Oops.

Our second lesson was “Artists Use Photographs”. The example shown was a Degas painting where he got inspiration from a photograph of ballet dancers. We flipped through magazines and books until we found a photograph that inspired us. This lesson had us using watercolor crayons. Love these, I would love to have more.

Satori drew a Portuguese Man-o-war, one of the creatures that fascinate her. Again, I might have ruined the picture by suggesting she lightly layer some black on the edges to give the water some interest. I don’t think she knows what “layer” means. I should just keep my mouth shut!

I found a cute little frog with vibrant colors that I couldn’t resist drawing/painting.


This will be our third project from The Usborne Art Treasury book. We love this book because the projects turn out to be colorful, unique artwork that you’ll want to hang on your wall. They’re so much fun to do.

Of course after finishing, Satori did want to frame it, but we ended up with a project that wouldn’t be framed easily.

We wanted to do their Monet project, so we started out with a review on who Monet was. Satori already knew this through our Meet the Masters lesson we just did, so she was anxious to get to the actual project.

The Monet art project of the book was “Layered Lilies” using tissue paper. The book gave sufficient instructions as well as a colorful visual to see how it might turn out.

Tearing tissue paper into narrow strips was easier than I anticipated, as long as you tear just one layer at a time. Within ten minutes, we were swimming in a sea of cool blues.

We then took our glue sticks and glued the strips of tissue paper to make the watery pond. We layered them on to simulate Monet’s layers of colored paint.

Had we followed the book directions, we were supposed to get our lilypad and flower circles by tearing them around a glass jar bottom, but that didn’t work for us. Neither did a paper puncher. So I just cut circles to make our lilypads and flowers. Satori glued them on.

And here’s our finished “Layered Lilies”!

There have been a handful of Critical Thinking/Logic threads on the WTM boards that I’ve noticed in the past few days, so it seems timely that I was prepared to write up a little post on how we’ve been doing critical thinking in the elementary years. We’re big fans of the Prufrock Press critical thinking logic workbooks. They’re relatively inexpensive and have a variety to choose from.

We started with Lollipop Logic at age 4, proceeded through two different analogy books (Analogies for Beginners and First Time Analogies), and just this week finished Logic Safari 1. I believe this is the first of 3 of the Logic Safari series. The Lollipop Logic 1 book is meant for PreK-K-ish (although it says K-2, it is a bit easy), and they just released a book 2 that we’ll have to check out.

Logic Safari 1 contains puzzles of this type. You read the clues and figure out the matches. I usually had Satori do one per week, but she enjoyed doing two at a time. We could really zoom through all these workbooks (as she enjoys them so), so I try to limit this subject to once a week and just 1-2 pages.

Here’s another puzzle we did in March. You can click the image to see it full-size.You’ll notice that I go through with a red marker to correct them (and try them out myself). Answers are in the back if you’re ever unsure.

Satori is working at a Grade 2-4 level in these type of critical thinking workbooks. Next up we have Connections (Introductory) – Activities for Deductive Thinking, which has puzzles along the same lines, but are more expanded. I think I’ll also order Detective Club and Primarily Logic by the same publisher. After those, we’ll get into Logic Safari 2 and Logic Countdown or other goodies.

Once we finished the first Logic Safari workbook, I remembered I had the Critical Thinking Co’s Mind Benders Beginning 1 Software program. This is meant for ages PreK-K, there’s an audio button so your child does not need to be a reader to do these. I loaded it up and set Satori loose to play! After doing Logic Safari, it was a nice software series to work with. It starts out with a 3×3 grid, but quickly moved to a 4×4 grid. There are 43 puzzles to work through, plus the reward games.

The first 4 or so puzzles had a reward of a simple game of clicking the right color balloons. That was a little bit of a letdown, but after puzzle 5, we were challenged to throw a frisbee in a frisbee golf type bucket, taking into account wind direction and speed. That was more like it.

Here’s Activity 3. If you’ve never done these puzzles before, you read the clues and you can eliminate a choice by making the square red (or crossing it off in a workbook). You can also solve a clue by making the right square green and then eliminating everything along those lines.

I like doing these puzzles myself, but I have an iPad app (Logic Puzzles) for them. My high school math teacher got his advanced math class turned on to these puzzles and it’s been 20 years since I played with them again.

Another option for your child is the Tin Man Press logic books. We have their Enrichment Packets but I keep forgetting we have them. We’ll have to give them a whirl and see how we like them.

We also do more logic games than just workbooks. We enjoy Logic Links and many ThinkFun type puzzles. I’ll blog more about these later if I haven’t already.

For Mother’s Day last weekend we spent a glorious day at the Denver Zoo. The weather was perfect and we spent it with family. Both my mother (Satori’s Grammy) and my Aunt Elizabeth were in town, so our whole family and our out-of-town visitors as well as cousins Peyton, Brady, and Beckett enjoyed the day.

Props go out to Aunt Elizabeth who gave the girls these cute, colorful umbrellas! Handy against the searing Colorado sun.

The twins check out the lioness. The lion with his big mane was in front of the other window.

Off in the distance we saw African Wild Dogs running around.

David maneuvered the twin’s stroller. Here he is posing with my Mom.

Satori and Peyton were inseparable as usual.

I didn’t take many actual zoo animal photos, I did not bring my heavy telephoto lens. I couldn’t resist this baby orangutan and his mother.

It was so cute to see the mom pick up the baby by his arm and just fling him on top of her head!

Shortly after entering the zoo, we also witnessed a mother Bighorn Sheep preparing to give birth to her baby, and by the time we were leaving the zoo, she had just given birth.

It is extremely challenging to get all the children to look at the camera.

We only saw half the zoo before it was time to go, but here”s more of our favorites animals.


This photo will always make me laugh. I thought it would be super precious to have the two girls feed fluffy pink cotton candy to each other. Satori immediately offered her tuft to her cousin, but little Peyton loves her food and proceeded to cram her whole handful into her mouth quickly! I gave up on that cute idea and just took this photo. 🙂

Thanks Mom and Aunt Elizabeth for spending the day with our family! We’re sorry it snowed a foot in the mountains and we were unable to have you up to our house, but that will happen soon.

I think this is such a fun program! This has been 50% off for a long time at Homeschool Buyers Co-op. I’m not sure how long that offer will last, but if you do purchase through them, you’ll get 3 years access to the program that you choose.

We haven’t done much art lately, but we intend to catch up this summer! We “met” Claude Monet today.

When you log in to the program, you’ll have a chance to print out the lesson and art print PDFs. Once you’re ready for the lesson, head to their online program, with your printouts ready.

It’s a scripted program, so it will tell you what to say, and when to click “Next” on the computer screen. This lesson had us start out with a box of crayons – missing black and brown. Why? Monet avoided brown and black and was one of the first artists to use the spectrum of color in his paintings.

We learned that Claude Monet is considered the “Father of Impressionism”. As the lesson continued, we learned more about his life, his styles, and his paintings.

Satori announced that Monet is her favorite artist, she thinks his paintings are “lovely”. She especially loves his water lilies (of course) and his Japanese bridge paintings. We now have her computer’s screensaver set to cycle through Monet paintings.

The hands-on Art Technique practice was playing around with warm and cool colors, which she already knew, but the worksheets had her also giving soft, strong, and bright examples.

For our first day with Monet, we stopped there. Next week we’ll do the MTM project and I’ll share our results.

We did enjoy reading more about Monet with Mike Venezia’s Getting to Know the World’s Greatest Artists – Monet and Laurence Anholt’s The Magical Garden of Claude Monet. Next week we’ll read Claude Monet: Sunshine and Waterlilies (Smart about Art series).

We had so much fun learning about Monet, we couldn’t stop there. I remembered we had a set of DVD’s from Devine Entertainment and one of them included Monet – Shadow and Light.

This 6-DVD set includes: Monet, Goya, Winslow Homer, Mary Cassatt, Edgar Degas and Rembrandt. We’ve already watched Mary Cassatt. These videos are suitable for children and adults of all ages.

I am not surprised to see that this company has won awards for their educational videos. They also have DVD series covering Inventors and Composers. I’ll have to check them out sometime as well.

Next week we’ll watch Linnea in Monet’s Garden DVD. This is also on Netflix, but currently the DVD availability is “Unknown”. I wonder what that means.

So far, we’ve purchased two of the MTM bundles. I would love to do the Level 1 (for ages 5-7) quickly, and then do a short study of any important artists they didn’t include, and then dig in again with Level 2.