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Category: Other Thoughts

I’m sad to say that we are trying public school for the very first time. In fact, Satori has already started her fourth grade last week at our local elementary school. I can’t believe how early they start, but she was very pumped to start attending school. She actually still wants to homeschool to keep her edge, so we’ll continue to learn at home by afterschooling.

Here’s updated photos of our precious girl, taken the day before her first day of school.



Naturally, as a self-professed homeschool curriculum addict, I was dying to know what her new curriculum would consist of, and thought the teacher would cover that in the Back to School Informational Night, but all they talked about was rules and stuff. All I know is they are using a Singapore Math, the Math in Focus version. Satori tells me that the workbooks they use are the same as our good old Singapore Math we’ve always used, just with a different cover. I don’t know.

For our 2014-2015 Afterschool, we’ll be using Singapore Math Challenging Word Problems, Life of Fred (we’re currently on Honey book), Story of the World History Year 4, logic workbooks every week. We’re going to continue learning Spanish with various resources, as her current school system doesn’t cover any foreign languages in elementary school. She’ll continue piano lessons from a teacher outside of school. We are also going to get serious about some technology/programming resources, starting with a Youth Digital course in 3D modeling that she’s been wanting for over a year.

It’ll be quite a lifestyle change for Mom, who has been busy homeschooling Satori for the past five years, and prior to that, was very busy with my online business. I have volunteered at her school to help with math and technology, so I’m going to be sure I keep up with my own math and technology skills in the meantime. 🙂 Hope to blog again soon about all the cool new resources we’re still using!



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 know I haven’t blogged right away as planned. We have been busy ramping up our studies by quite a bit over our K-2 years. I promise I’ll be posting some school updates soon! 🙂

I’m also trying to get back into photography. So many things to do… so little time!

An updated photo of Satori, although actually taken this June.


I have been hiking a lot lately, here is Emerald Lake in the Rocky Mountain National Park. It was extremely foggy that day which obscured the top of the background hill, but I think it was pretty cool anyway.


After an almost ten month hiatus from blogging, I am finally back for real. During that time we only focused on homeschool basics (reading, writing, math, grammar), so I have a lot to catch up on. First of all, I’ve started to update our new Fall 2012 curriculum on the right side bar. Many things like history and science have been put to the side the past year so those subjects have remained the same.

Our homeschool Learning Loft has been updated with a new desk system from IKEA so both Satori and I can work together. I built her a new computer this spring and had her watch a bit so next time we build a computer, she can help pick out the parts and build it with me as a learning experience. I have her computer setup so I can watch on my own desktop screen what she’s doing. Currently she is working on Dreambox, an online math game program.

Once again I’m on the Well Trained Mind forums non-stop, but this time I am going to be very picky about buying any flashy new curriculum that is brought up on the boards. I’m pretty proud to have resisted the urge to buy an expensive new science (Science Fusion) and history program, as we already have ones we love. I am however, really taking advantage of the Homeschool Buyer’s Coop deals. I plan to blog about the various HSBC orders that have been very successful in our homeschool. These include Dreambox, Typing Pal, and Wordly Wise 3000 Online.

The sortable literature list was down for a few months, it is now working again.

Also, my web hosting company had a technical failure on the server that hosted this blog, so Satori Smiles was down or very slow/unresponsive for the past few weeks. They finally moved my sites to a new server and it seems to be working fast once again. Now, to ask for a month or two credit for it being down so long!

I will slowly start blogging once again. Satori also has a new blog she started this spring for her stories, I will share that URL soon. In the meantime, we are in the process of building her a new computer. Daddy took her old one into his office, but it will be nice to have her computer be right next to mine in the Learning Loft once again.

It’s been awhile since I’ve used my Nikon DSLR camera for portraits. Here’s a few updates we took this week for Satori’s Fall 2011 photos.

Since she has lost quite a few teeth, we have four different smiles for Satori to use when getting her picture taken. Here’s #1 smile (pleasant smile, no teeth).

And here’s she’s escalated to the full-blown, all-out, #4 smile – all teeth showing in a typical Satori laugh.

Satori loves her Crocs so much, it was a challenge to get her to wear these super cute shoes.

And just so you know that Satori isn’t always all “smiles”, here’s a picture of a glum Satori. (Due to being forced to wear aforementioned shoes for this picture).

Not to end her photo shoot on a negative note, here’s a smiley Satori once again.

David asked me to take his portrait this weekend as well, so I’m adding his new LinkedIn photo. We wanted to take advantage of the aspens turning colors which we just noticed starting yesterday.

The excavation of our driveway leaves a nice rocky background for a portrait.

Good ole’ Maddie loves her David.

We’ve been busy at Fox Mountain Academy the past few weeks, so I haven’t had time to blog much! (That’s the name we put on our homeschool ID cards and what we call ourselves.) We started September 6th with official second grade. Since Daddy has been in Chile a lot lately (and is there for two weeks), we are sending him a picture of Satori doing her work. She’s lost quite a few teeth recently, so one of her new nicknames is “Toothless”. 🙂

So far we’ve been very happy with all our curriculum, I think I’m finally getting good at picking out what might be a success in our homeschool. Some new curriculum we are trying out this fall include:

  • Adventures in America (plus our own additional readings for American/US History)
  • English From the Roots Up (just a few minutes a few times a week, so far we learned PHOTO and GRAPH)
  • Minimus Latin (another fun Latin we started after Song School Latin)
  • Writing With Ease 2(third time’s a charm, we flew through WWE1 in a few weeks and started 2)
  • Reading lots of books! Just finished Mary Poppins and The Hobbit this week. Starting Lord of the Rings and The Voyages of Dr. DoLittle
  • and a few others we haven’t started yet

We have moved to the next level/year in:

Satori is also attending a Colorado homeschool enrichment program called OPTIONS. We are in love with her first grade teacher!!! She’s been a dream… always so positive, creative, and nurturing. She even has a blog with included student family permission and no names listed of course. You can see what Satori did in her second week of school. Satori can be spotted in the second picture, next to her best friend! She loves hanging out with her friends but is glad it’s only one day a week. She tells me excitedly about everything they learn – the wordless books by David Weisner, all about the rainforest, warm and dry colors in art, her new Spanish teacher, and so on…

While I write this blog post, after she finished her independent work, she then started putting name tags on a half dozen of her stuffed animals, so they can learn along with her and I can ask the whole “class” questions. New students include: Peter Rabbit, Roxie Dog, Pixel Bear, Cobbler the dog, and Tigriss Tiger.

It’s getting cooler and we see snow up on the mountain tops when we leave the gulch we live by. We had to turn our heat on one day already.

We miss you Daddy and Gramy and Grampy!!!