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Archive for October 4th, 2013



Since moving to our new rental home, we still have a learning loft area where Satori and I can work together, but the wall was too small to fit our huge 6’x4′ whiteboard, so we got a slightly smaller one from the same company. As you can see from the photo above, we use it to reinforce concepts, as a daily scheduler, and of course, just for fun too!

Okay, now for this year’s Curriculum plans! I plan to blog about each of these programs in future posts. Here’s a brief summary of everything we’re doing.


  • Singapore Math 3A/B plus Challenging Word Problems/Intensive Practice
  • Life of Fred – from Edgewood to Jellybeans
  • Beast Academy – 3A-3D

Singapore Math has been a cornerstone of our homeschooling since Grade 1, and we’ll happily continue with the program. I use the Home Instructor Guide and briefly show the lesson using manipulatives (sometimes she just wants to get at the Workbook). We hardly use the Textbook, but I still have it handy. We also have the Tests book, but no longer get the Extra Practice. To stretch the mind, we use Intensive Practice and Challenging Word Problems from grade 2. She doesn’t exactly love the latter books, but we throw them in when we can.

To spice math up a bit, as it’s not her favorite subject, we do a chapter of Life of Fred almost everyday. Little five year old Fred, math Professor at Kittens University, shows us how math is indeed used in our everyday lives. Interspersed with various  non-math related tidbits, we learn something new everyday with Fred. This program goes from Kindergarten all the way through college-level math. New this year for us, we are excited to finally do Beast Academy. The colorful comic-book style with the quirky monster characters strengthens math concepts in quite an entertaining way.

I am also thinking of loading up her iPad with apps like Hands-On Equations to teach algebra in an easily-graspable manner and Singapore Math related apps on bar models.


  • Sadlier Grammar Workshop Grade 4 and 5?

Satori has happily used Growing with Grammar up to Level 5, but I’d love to try something new to mix things up a bit. I purchased Hake Grammar 5, but Satori took one look and balked. There’s no room to write answers and it’s just solid text. I discovered Sadlier has new Grammar and Word Study books, with easy to read lessons, so that is what we’ll try next. I have to place the order yet though. For now, Grammar is on hold. Maybe I’ll reintroduce Grammar Island again, but for some reason Satori just didn’t get into that program like I thought she would.


  • Mosdos Press – Opal and Ruby
  • Literature books – reading aloud a selection and an independent selection from her choice from our home library

I guess you could say that this is a new subject we’re tackling this year. Someone on the WTM forums mentioned the Mosdos Press Literature series and I fell for it and purchased Opal and Ruby, their 3rd and 4th grade literature programs. These books are extremely aesthetically appealing, with literature of all types and from great authors, and includes a student workbook. I’ll post our initial thoughts once we start using it.


  • Sadlier Vocabulary Workshop – Orange (gr 4) and Blue (gr 5)
  • Vocabulary from Classical Roots – grade 4/5

Since Satori loves to write, formally studying vocabulary just makes sense to us.


  • All About Spelling – Level 6
  • Sadlier Word Study – grade 4?

This isn’t too important for us to get to each week, as Satori is a very good speller. We started with All About Spelling with Level 1 and it’s worked out very well for us. When Level 6 arrived last spring, I quizzed her on the words and she knew how to spell almost all, but there were still some words she got wrong. So we’re going to zip through the Steps she knows, and spend a day or two on the Steps with spellings that give her trouble. We are on Step 12 (out of 30) and reached her first major obstacle with the spellings of “CLE” words such as cubicle, icicle, bicycle and vehicle. So we’re taking this chapter slow, as the next one covers CAL words that have the same ending sound as the CLE words. The Sadlier Word Study is just something I may look into for this and future years, as we’ve almost finished the whole AAS program.


  • Elementary Spanish: Grades 3-4
  • Getting Started with Spanish
  • Mango/Duolingo
  • homeschool enrichment program

Going to ramp up the Spanish this year, as I want to refresh it for myself as well. Spanish is one of the two subjects taught at her homeschool enrichment program twice a week. We’re continuing with Senor Morris in Elementary Spanish – 20 minute videos we get from Discovery Education Streaming. I usually listen in on the beginning and end of the videos to sing a long, we both love to sing the Spanish songs while he plays his guitar. It includes an easy worksheet that covers one of the topics. I like this program as it gives her exposure to someone speaking in Spanish. The Getting Started with Spanish book we go through together and tackle one concept per lesson in just a few minutes. Super simple. We recently started this and went through the first 20 lessons in just five minutes, as there’s already much she knows. As we get to new concepts or things she needs practice in, we’ll of course slow down. Lastly, to reinforce Spanish she’s learned, we are using DuoLingo, which is online and free. I’m doing this too and we can see each other’s progress. It’s one of those motivational programs that reward you and keep you wanting to come back everyday. I find myself using it while I watch her doing her hour of gymnastics or half hour of piano lessons. Today we discovered Mango is free for us from our library! So we did a lesson from that program and are both excited about that as well. May seem like overkill using all these programs, but it is so much fun learning Spanish!


  • Story of the World – Early Modern Times

One of our favorite programs has always been Story of the World. We’re doing one section in a chapter per day, answering the questions in the Activity Guide. There are usually two sections per chapter, so on the third day, we do the mapwork, read the Usborne Encylopedia of World History, and related videos I find on Discovery Education Streaming or BrainPop. Then she does the test in the SOTW Test book, I let her use the book but ask her that she gets all the spellings right. History is one of our favorite subjects. We’re also slowly learning American History. For both, we like to read the Interactive History Adventure books that pertain to the chapters we read.


  • Mr. Q – Earth Science
  • science classes at her enrichment school program

Mr. Q. books have been wonderful for us the past year. She independently reads a whole chapter and does the related exercises almost everyday and enjoys it. We reinforce the lessons with extra videos and books sometimes. I just got a year subscription to the Happy Scientist for $10 through the Homeschool Buyers Co-op. I just got that a few weeks ago and it looks to be down at the moment, but will be re-offered again next week. She also has science covered at her school program.


Other Subjects

For Geography and Logic, we use various workbooks. Satori loves doing workbooks. For art, we’ll start up the Meet the Masters program again. I just purchased all 7 tracks for Level 2 for three years again from the Homeschool Buyers coop. This program just rocks, it was a no-brainer for me to renew that subscription.

We haven’t found a writing program we love yet, as Satori gets insulted if they’re too babyish, but I think we’re going to try the new CAP Writing and Rhetoric – Fables program this month.


I hope you all are having a great school year so far. And yes, the family behind Satori Smiles still homeschools. 🙂 This post is to update those who keep checking back in vain for anything new. I’ve been feeling the urge to blog and share Satori’s homeschooling and the fun things we learn once again, so hopefully many posts will soon follow this one.


What’s new with us? The first major event is that we moved down the mountain into a suburb a bit south of Denver. Enjoying all the conveniences of city life, it is a mixed blessing. We miss our spacious mountain home, the fresh pine-scented air, but now Satori gets to enjoy taking classes like gymnastics! We moved June 2013, so we’ve been settled in our little house rental for just over four months now. Yep, we’re renting this home while we try to sell our mountain home. David has a new job where he doesn’t travel so much, and gets to work from home or nearby Denver.

What hasn’t changed? Satori still writes for hours a day and still reads maybe an hour or two. She has been ravenously tearing through all the Rick Riordan books, starting with the Percy Jackson series, and moving to Kane Chronicles and the Heroes of Olympus. I can tell the quality of her writing has been reflected these types of books. I think I’m going to push more books with a bit better literary quality after she gets through this phase. She also plays a lot of Sims…  I asked what she likes about the the Sims and she says “I like to create families and build houses.” We’re going to try to cut down on the video game playing (mom and dad included) this year. If successful, you’ll see more action on this blog.

In addition to homeschooling, Satori attends a homeschool enrichment program two mornings a week where they take Spanish and Science.  The pace is slow for her, but we like that she gets to meet new friends. Extracurricular activities that have been a favorite have been piano/voice lessons and gymnastics. We left our baby grand piano up at our mountain home, so we had to get a keyboard for her to practice. She loves piano and singing so much that she practices a lot and now wants a smaller keyboard for her room and for when we travel to her Grandparents house. Gymnastics has also been a hit, I watched her progress from awkward beginnings to doing cartwheels, handstands, rolls, backward rolls, bridges, back-bends with relative graceful ease. This is one hour classes twice a week with a two hour Open Gym we throw in every now and then.

Next post I will share our Grade 3 2013-2014 curriculum.