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Category: General Homeschooling

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!

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.

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!!!


Almost halfway through the summer, I thought I’d give a little update on how we’re doing. Since we school year-round, we’re going strong in July, but have had plenty of vacation days. This summer is our transition from first grade to second grade, as that’s what many of our subjects are covering. First of all, I added a new page – Second Grade Curriculum 2011-2012.

Going into second grade, we are happy to report that all of our official phonics and phonics review programs have been completed. Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading did a great job systematically going through teaching reading and Explode the Code workbooks continued on with a great review for Satori. We finished ETC last month. All that’s left is to enjoy reading!

Math is going swimmingly with Singapore Math. What a relief to find something that really works for us and that we both enjoy doing. We have plenty of extras that will challenge her – of course the Singapore IP/CWP books, and some new ones that we’ll be trying out this fall. I mention them on the curriculum page.

All About Spelling is fantastic as usual, we will be ready to start Level 5 the first of August. There are only seven total levels for this program (the 7th is not even out yet), so I’m starting to wonder what we’ll use next.

We’re finally utilizing an actual writing program every single day, and two different ones to boot! Winning With Writing was just released and we’re one of the first users. We started with Level 3 and so far it’s a cinch to get to everyday, and only takes minutes. More about that in a blog post next week. We also succumbed once again to using Writing With Ease, a more classical method of teaching writing for young children. We actually finished WWE 1 in less than one month and will move on to WWE book 2 next week. We want to be ready to start the level 5 program in a year or so. I showed her the samples and now both Satori and I are extremely motivated to do what it takes to be ready for that. Later this year, we’ll include Killgallon writing so Satori can improve her style. Main writing goal for first grade? PARAGRAPHS!

Following the classical education timeframe, we’ll also be starting both Middle Ages history and Earth & Space science next month. We’re going to use our timeline more, and I’m getting that all setup now. I finally ordered the new Pandia Press Classical Education timeline, which seems to give more space to more recent times than their old timeline does that we have. Looking forward to using it!  We’re adding another science program – My Pals Are Here science. It was painful to slowly keep purchasing all the different components to this program – I originally thought we’d just use the $3 student textbooks! But, being the perfectionist that I am, I should’ve known I would get the full program.

Ooh, Adventures in America was just released today. We’ll be starting that program asap. 🙂

MCT Language Arts has been a refreshing change of pace for us in the LA department. We’re still working through Grammar Island and have started Music of the Hemispheres poetry. We only do this a few times a week but should ramp it up more this fall. Newly released just this past 4th of July weekend is their new literature program which will be in our hot little hands any day now. More about that as we start using it.

Vocabulary is coming along nicely. We mostly use Wordly Wise 3000 (workbook and online) and have just started Book 3. Satori just loves to use new vocabulary, so this is a big priority at our house. I also am earnestly working on expanding my own vocabulary and trying to use it in conversations with her. All this work has definitely paid off. We also are using Evan Moor Word a Day, but we do one week’s worth in one day and we probably won’t continue with that program. Sadlier-Oxford Vocabulary Workshop intrigues me, but I really don’t want to extend my curriculum addiction even further…

Languages… Finished Song School Latin and I had Minimus lying around which caught our eye. I figured we’d zip through that quickly just for fun. People say their children enjoy it but don’t retain much. The book says its for ages 7-10 to get exposure to Latin vocabulary, which is what SSL did nicely, so I figure we could give it a whirl. After that, Lively Latin 1 is all lined up for the fall, which will be our first serious Latin program.

I recently blogged about REAL Homeschool Spanish. We use both that and online Elementary Spanish. We haven’t done much this summer with Spanish, but for sure this fall we’ll be diving in more.

For Geography I recently discovered the Evan-Moor Daily Geography Practice books and we’re finishing up Grade 2 this month and will move on to Grade 3. We used to zoom through independent geography books (tried almost every series out there), so I wasn’t sure how much I’d like this series. There’s more parent interaction, and I didn’t think I’d be up for that for geography. But I’m really liking this series so we’ll continue with it. We do other fun stuff for geography like puzzles, games, and more.

I should have just started out saying that we are having fun with every subject. Critical Thinking/Logic is no exception. We’re burning through a bunch of Prufrock Press books, good thing they’re inexpensive! Again, we also enjoy puzzles and games for this.

As for art, we don’t get to that every week, but when we do we thoroughly enjoy ourselves.

Both mom and daughter started Getty-Dubay Italics handwriting, but I’m not sure how easy it is to just be able to convert to a new style. We’ll chug along and see how it all pans out. After being all excited learning to type/keyboard this spring, we haven’t practiced that yet this summer. I can definitely see she needs practice, so we’ll have to start that up again. I want to see her blogging on her own again!

Satori continues to write like a maniac. Last week we ran out of blank books and she started freaking out, escalating to sheer terror yesterday. We made a few homemade books, but she started up a huge list of stories she was antsy to get down on paper. We both breathed a big sigh of relief when our big Rainbow Resource order arrived this afternoon, with 20 blank books! Also in the shipment was an ITBS Grade 2 Test Prep teacher/student book. I am curious to see how she’ll do in such testing situations. For Grade 3, we have to start taking this test for Colorado state requirements, and then every other year after that. This will be nice practice for that test, which she won’t have to take until two more years.

Apologies for the long post with no pictures, this seems to be one of those rare instances.

Looking back at last year at this time, it seems we’ve made tons of progress!  We look forward to what the upcoming year brings.


I’ve been away from the blog long enough to start getting antsy emails from you all! I apologize for the long time off, we’ve been busy trying to finish up the spring. Next week is our last week before we take off for our Oregon coast vacation, and when we come back, in June we start up once again on a slightly lighter Summer 2011 load.

To catch up on what we’ve been up to the past month, I’ll spam my own blog with updates!


Starting with Reading/Phonics, we started the very last Explode the Code phonics workbook last month. This is book 8, which covers suffixes and endings. We are doing two pages a day and will finish the book and be done with ETC forever sometime this July 2011.

Working on the table together instead of her individual small desk has worked out wonderfully. (We switched to work on a large table this spring.) Yes, as you can see, sometimes she still needs dollies and lollies!


We’ve also started the last book of Beyond the Code, book 4. Not so impressed with this series, but we’ll be finishing it next week. I wouldn’t have made her do BTC if she read on her own everyday.

As for independent reading (not pushed by Mom), Satori sporadically reads, but when she does, nothing can stop her. She’ll lie down on the floor of a Barnes and Noble for an hour to read. A few weeks ago she was reading a Narnia book. This week she’s reading Matilda by Roald Dahl.


Singapore Math has been a total hit in our household. It seems I haven’t posted about it in two months, so here’s a quick catchup on how we’re doing. We spent several weeks on the 1A book that I hadn’t planned on, but I’m glad we got that foundation. You may remember the photos and video I posted in March of her doing addition/subtraction using manipulatives and other unusual methods. That hard work has paid off! She can now do lots of math in her head! She does it just for fun even, like at the grocery store. The past few months she’s been showing off her multiplication skills, her negative number skills, and other things we’ve never tackled officially.

I’m amazed at what a change Singapore math has made in my daughter. The Today Show did a feature on Singapore Math last week. Here’s an article from Singapore Math Source that explains more.

We are now in 1B, and finally covered the introduction to Multiplication and Division. We used manipulatives to demonstrate the concept. I’ll blog more about Singapore math in a future post.

I’ll cover our updates in Spelling, Grammar, Logic and Art in another post.

Handwriting Changes

As for handwriting, Satori got bored with HWT Cursive, so we are trying out Getty-Dubay Italics handwriting. She’s been so excited, but so far, their Book B is pretty simple. We could probably have done just as well using our StartWrite software. We’ll zip through it, and move on to C next month, which also covers italics. The last book covers calligraphy, which I think Satori will love. I also hope to improve my handwriting with this program, they have books for adults as well. I’ll talk more about my reasons for switching in a future post.


We finished Write Source Grade 1 and will be starting grade 2. I just heard that BraveWriter will be offering a program for ages 5-8, so I’ll be sure to check that out soon.


We’re somewhat slacking on History, but plan to focus on it this summer to finish Ancient Times and start SOTW The Middle Ages in the fall.


We’re finishing up our animal studies in RSO Life and will be moving on to the Plant Kingdom this summer. We’ve taken lots of field trips (photos will be shared) to see animals. Our spring vacation should provide ample opportunity to view more life as well!

Daddy gets treated to a school day almost every Saturday, with Miss Satori as his teacher!

He gets to learn subjects like Spanish, Latin, Spelling, Science, History, and this week they even learned Gym/PE. Since he doesn’t know Spanish, but has been in Mexico/Latin America all spring, his Spanish lessons have come in quite handy! Here he’s learning parts of the face in Spanish, as well as his numbers and colors.

She gets the idea for the schedule on the whiteboard from her Monday Colorado OPTIONS class for homeschoolers. They put her in the Kindergarten class where the students learn the letter A and how to write it and what sound it makes. She pokes fun in private about that, but we do not attend for the academic aspects. I make sure she is respectful to the teacher and other students, even though she is working several grade levels above them. Other than the babyish lessons, both Satori and I love having her attend the all-day class. They do learn things we haven’t focused on at home that require more people, like music and PE.

This weekend she put Daddy to shame as she showed him how she learned almost all the African countries (and some of the capitals) this week. She laughed when he didn’t know where Senegal was. (She seemed to have forgotten she didn’t even know what Senegal was a few days ago.) This week I showed her Shepperd Software Geography website on Africa and we did their tutorial on North Africa, West Africa, and Island countries. I made it a bookmark on her computer.

The next morning she woke up and brought up the website, and proceeded to teach herself the rest of Africa. She woke me up when the computer was calling out the country names – Angola! Uganda! Kenya! Eritrea! I then quizzed her on an iPad app, and she knew most of the countries! I had been trying to teach myself every night for a week, and she gets it in one morning. It’s amazing how quickly young kids can memorize. Daddy was amazed at how quickly she learned Africa too.

More about this later, and I’ll post the resources we’ll be using to go more in-depth on learning our world countries.

If you don’t have a homeschool ID card yet, you can get one free at the Homeschool Buyers Co-op! We did this last year, and just last month I updated it to reflect our new First Grade year and new photo. Here’s our updated Homeschool ID. I used Photoshop to gray out identifying details to post on our website.

Although this service is absolutely free, and you can print out and laminate at home, this year I chose to order a card from their Print option. I ordered two and they arrived quickly. I was very impressed with the end result, it is very official looking and extremely sturdy. It might even be thicker than a typical credit card. Check out how thick that edge is! It certainly looks more professional than my home laminator.

We love the advantages of having a homeschool ID card, we get to qualify for discounts at so many stores we shop at! So far we’ve used it at Michaels, Staples, Borders, Lakeshore Learning… Here’s a HUGE list of where you can get Home Educator Discounts. Be sure to check that list out, it goes into detail of which stores offer homeschool discounts, how to get them, and includes stores you wouldn’t think of.