Archive for January, 2015

Week In The Life ( A Plot Twist)

January 31, 2015

Well, I think we are back in full swing. Also, I think I finally have a grasp on this high school thing.

This past week I’ve been putting together a binder for Sky to keep together all her records that I will need to write her transcript when the time comes.


I made a copy of the credit requirements to have on hand as well as a reading logs,

(Keeping track of British Literature right now.)

and dividers, one for each subject, along with notebook pages to keep track of vocabulary words, test scores, etcetera.

For example, since we are studying World History, doing both Civilizations and World History with Geography, I added a notebook page titled The Victorian Empire, the date we started, and what we have covered so far (continuing to add on as we go along). This I know will be very helpful in putting together her assessment test once we are done with this time period. Once we are done studying Victoria’s reign, I will add all test scores, grades, and hours to this page.

Since I am keeping track of her hours of study I also added a credit log to the binder.

In Indiana in order to obtain a diploma, or graduate from high school, one must complete the Core 40 requirements. For example, Sky must have 8 credits in English to graduate. Each semester completed in a subject is awarded a credit, instead of a full year, and 80 hours of study is equal to 1 credit.

Being so many subjects intertwine I am hoping having her binder put together and ready now will help serve as my checklist and keep me on track.

Language Arts

Reading: This week we started the audiobook of Oliver Twist completing chapters 1-16.

Little Sis started Magic Tree House, Dogs in the Night and both girls have been doing a bit of independent reading. I mentioned previously how Little Sis is breaking out and discovering  her own interests, well she has found a new series, I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have to Kill You by Ally Carter.


I was actually surprised when Sky asked if I would also order her an actual novel, Death Note, L Change the World written by M.


Vocabulary/ Spelling: I am trying something new this year with Sky, giving her more words as well as testing her knowledge. I am using which lets you study and play games to practice before the test too. You can make up your own or choose from the hundreds of already made lists.

I should also mention it’s free. This week Sky’s words came from the first 16 chapters of Oliver Twist and were, consolation, impertinence, diminutive, destitute, haughty, pauper, poised, buffet, imprint, articulate. She memorized the definitions and spelling and picked up her first A+.

Little Sis’s word of the week was merchant and they both had socialism. They also did a word search of the dog breeds A-H.

Writing: We discussed the second part of parts of plot, rising action. I used both the Phantom of the Opera story and Death Note movie as examples.


We took a few Common Core practice tests beginning with 1st grade and made it to 4th grade before we started having a few problems. When I say problems I am talking about myself as well.

I am not sure why the need to change the way mathematics is studied, but it has changed since I was in school. To be safe we have been working on the mastery skills at Khan Academy stating Sky with the 4th grade, being that is where our problems began. I really like the fact she can blow right through what she already knows and we can stop to watch the video and work on what she doesn’t. I know she will be caught up in no time.

Little Sis and I did the puffle toss to the multiplication tables Monday and she took a “test” Tuesday on tables 1-6. With a few 6s like 6×7 and 6×8, she did good. So, we practiced with flash cards the tables 6-12.

She is also doing the mastery challenge at Khan Academy.

I mentioned our new game in my last post.


There are 3 game companies I have really come to trust, eeBoo (for younger children), Gamewright, and blue orange. Aztack is the new game from blue orange. I want to mention I don’t get any reward from any company I may write about on my blog. Everything I mention here are resources we really use and like.

When purchasing games I try to pick out ones that are different than others we may have, or work different sets of skills. They must be fast to play here or there and open enough to come up with new ways of play.

What I like about Aztack is I can carry the tiles in my backpack to play outdoors and we can make the game last longer by adding the number of tiles left over, once someone has gone out to their score. The first person to score 10 (or more depending on how long you want to play) wins.

Social Studies

World History: We finished watching the History Channel’s, Mankind, History of All Of Us episodes. I really liked this documentary. Was the acting over the top? Yes. Were the presenters overly dramatic? Yes. That isn’t why I liked it, I liked it because it was a visual “crash course” journey of humankind.

My brain works in cause and effect. I must know the cause for everything, I am not satisfied with “just because”. This documentary is set up showing the cause and effect of us, human beings and how we are continually writing history.

We are listening to BBC’s School Radio Victorian time podcasts.

These are really well done and have been helpful bringing the time period alive. So many wonderful discussions.

We watched The Young Victoria,

and the Crash Course video of Capitalism.


We watched PBS Nature episode Penguin Post Office.

Home Ec.

There was a request of chocolate chip cookies from the hard working Papa.



Walking Away the Pounds.


Peace for the journey.



Week(s) In The Life (Industrial Strength)

January 24, 2015

After my Year In The Life posts my brain needed a break from writing. 🙂 I never would have thought our next scheduled audiobook, The Cricket on the Hearth by Charles Dickens, would be exactly what I needed.

I have a confession to make, until listening to A Christmas Carol, I have never read Charles Dickens before. Yes, I’ve seen movies based off his writings, but to actually read his words, never. This last week I have been seriously asking myself, why not!? At the risk of driving the girls nuts I have been on a Dickens kick, A Tale of Two Cities, yes, yes. David Copperfield, yes, I know these stories, but Bleak House, Hard Times, and The Chimes? Where have I been?

Besides the girls thinking his exposition is a little long winded, which I kind of tend to agree with them, once the story gets going we have been quite enjoying them. I mentioned The Cricket on the Hearth being our latest and Ruth Golding’s reading is probably one of the best I’ve heard on LibriVox.

I didn’t plan on staying long in Victorian London honestly, but since we are already here we might as well learn about the Industrial Revolution, but I am getting ahead of myself.

I am using this year as a “test run” before Sky starts her freshman year of high school. We recently started learning about history from the beginning, starting with the big bang working our way into modern times, and I am seeing just how long this will probably take us. (We left off in world history with ancient Persia and American history in Colonial times.) So, I thought why not start logging the hours spent toward her credits now (No sense in spending all this time on it now to learn the same things again next year.). This gives me 5 years to cover it all instead of feeling like I need to cram it all into 1. This past week I have been researching just what that might look like.

Being we are in Victorian times, why not start with British literature. So my thoughts are to start logging the hours and keeping a list of the literature we will be covering during this time period starting with Dickens.

Language Arts:

I already mentioned Cricket on the Hearth as our read aloud (which all of us enjoyed very much), we also started discussions on the 5 parts of plot beginning with exposition using the story The Three Bears as an example. Their words of the week were revolution and capitalism. We also discussed Victorian slang like “bitch the pot”, meaning pour the tea already, courtesy of


We have been slowly getting back into our routine, after the girls break, with Miss Sky reviewing fractions at Khan Academy. She completed the understanding and visualizing equivalent fractions. Little Sis and I tossed the puffle around to the multiplication tables. She has 1-5, 9s, 10s, and 11s down. I think I will “test” her next week and just practice the 6, 7,8, and 12s.


We watched PBS Nature episodes 1 and 2 of Dogs That Changed the World. I mentioned Sky being a visual learner, this is a prime example. We had watched these episodes before when she was in “4th grade”. Not only did she remember the episodes as soon as they started but remembered the boy with diabetes pricking his finger showing blood. (She knows I don’t like these things. 🙂 ) Seeing an episode only once years ago and she told me I may want to hide my eyes because of this.

We also reviewed briefly evolution, natural and artificial selection. Sky explained in great detail what they mean and both girls understand. These Nature episodes fit perfectly in our lessons being it was during Victorian times when breeding dogs became very popular.

I asked the girls if I was moving too fast with the science material and both girls agreed, “no mom, actually I think you spend too much time on them. We got it the first time.” That coming from the little one.

Social Studies:

World History:

I think I will start with Downton Abbey season 5. The girls are able to follow along nicely being they already understand the Russian revolution and the changes it brought, and I like the new addition of the school teacher bringing in different opinions (Which is a good thing too because most of all my favorite characters are dead.).

The girls added a list of British Victorian authors , starting with Mary Shelley just before and ending with Beatrix Potter just after, to their timelines. I think I will save Jane Austen for another time.

We also watched the Crash Course video on the Industrial revolution and the girls added notes to their timeline.


We had already discussed bureaucracy in our ancient civilization study, this week we discussed British monarchy and its differences between a republic government and democracy. Which led us right into our Governor’s State of the State address and the President’s State of the Union address.

The Arts:

Why we didn’t watch Don Bluth’s Land Before Time movie when we studied dinosaurs, I don’t know but we finally watched it as a family. I can’t believe how much The Lion King took from this story. I mean right down to showing Mufasa in the clouds. I really like how Don Bluth didn’t play down to children in his movies, with the exception of A Troll in Central Park. I remember watching Secret of NIHM at the theater and being scared, but in a good way. It is still a favorite of mine today. Do we sugar coat too much for children today? Do we underestimate their intelligence?

We also watched Rankin/Bass’s version of Cricket on the Hearth. First off, I am not a big fan of their work, I know some of you have a nostalgia for them, but me no. Talented puppetry animation, yes but their storylines stink. Does anyone else think living in the North Pole, thinking of Rudolf, would suck? They are so mean, but I digress. The girls are glad we listened to the story first because the movie really didn’t stick to much of the plot.

Home Economics :

The girls discovered they didn’t have a brownie recipe in their books so we are trying different recipes.


This recipe gets thumbs up from the family, Sky is picky about texture, but I think they are too crumbly. Maybe we will try oil instead of butter next time. So far still holding on to my peanut butter, oat flour brownie recipe as my favorite. I guess the hunt will continue and the girls can pick their favorite. Sky wants this recipe, so we shall call them Brownie 1. 🙂


Continuing Walking  Away the Pounds, which I am proud to say I got through the holidays sticking to my goal. Freezing all those berries, during the summer, is working out perfect for smoothies keeping my cravings down. Monday I move on to the 4 mile challenge.


(Being this post is a bit long I will talk about our new game Aztack next week.)

I will end this post with what the girls have been doing while on break, besides writing.







(Little Sis)

Peace for the journey.





Year In The Life 2014 (It Started With A Big Bang)

January 10, 2015

Thank You Cosmos! What could I possibly add that has not already been said about this show?

This was our year for science, for sure. After we finished the television series I decided to start our lessons from the beginning bringing science and history together the way it should be.


I couldn’t believe how lucky I got that The Big History Project thought to do the same. So many wonderful discussions emerged from this year. All I know to do really is jump right in and get started.

We touched on so many topics this year that I’ve tried to organize them the best way I could.

Earth Science:

We learned about the big bang and formation of the Earth by watching Discovery’s How the Universe Works and BBC’s Earth, The Biography. We also watched Stephen Hawking’s Did God Create the Universe and let’s not forget those Green brothers and their Big History Crash Course videos.

We talked about Earth’s gravity and rotation, structure of layers, and magnetic field. Thanks to Magic Tree House’s Tsunamis Research Guide we discussed Pangaea, plate tectonics, volcanoes, hot spots,  the ring of fire, and earthquakes. We also watched NOVA’s Killer Typhoon episode. This led to discussions on the formation of mountains, Earth’s crust, the rock cycle, and we did a little cave exploring.


Which led us to discussions on weathering and erosion,


ice and glaciers. We did a jellybean erosion experiment


where the girls discovered 7 up eroded the jellybean fastest.

We had discussions on fossils, fossil fuels, coal and oil, the geological column, and read the Magic Tree House Research Guide about Dinosaurs.

Thanks to our garden we learned about soil, tested our soil’s acidity,


and did an experiment to see if our soil had more sand, clay or silt.


We also watched Dirt, The Movie. We learned about the water cycle (the Ziplock bag representing Earth),


measured how fast 4 cups of water poured on the driveway would evaporate,


and traced the water flow and evaporation from our peonies.


Speaking of evaporation, we discovered we could use it to separate solutions too.






We also learned about filtration.


Before I move too far away from Earth science and our garden we made a bug hotel


and identified many insects like the praying mantis, grasshoppers, crickets, katydids, and stink bugs. We discussed the lifecycle of ladybugs, and aphids.

We watched PBS Nature episodes about the Private Life of Deer, Ireland’s Wild River, and the Coywolf. We also watched Pure Nature Special, Camel’s Empire, Animal Atlas, Zoo Clue ,and visited our local zoo.


We also watched NOVA’s The Last Great Ape and discussed evolution. Which brought us to the Ice Age and reading The Magic Tree House Research Guide.

We touched briefly on space with Cosmos , NOVA’s Detecting Life On Other Planets episode, spotting Jupiter and 2014’s Friday the 13th honey moon.

Other shows that played a part in our homeschool were Bill Nye the Science Guy episodes and watching him and Ken Ham debate. We also watched the movie Life of Pi again from a science vs. religion point of view and caught a few spectrum of light shows.


Chemistry, Matter and Reactions:

We discussed the states of matter,


atoms, molecules, mixtures and solutions,


solids, liquids or both.



We made a chemical indicator using purple cabbage,


created carbon dioxide by making a CO2 sandwich in a bag, a volcano,


and chocolate cake.



Last but not least we mummified an apple.


Books (not already mentioned):

The Dorling Kindersley Science Encyclopedia, this was one of the best book investments and Goodwill finds ever! I also love our painless learning placemats. There is one for almost everything. We live in a small house (under 1000 square feet) so I am very cautious of what we bring in. These fit perfect in the little corner nook of our kitchen table making them easily assessable at all times and are laminated.

Science for Fun experiments and the DK encyclopedia of Cat Breeds came in handy this year. Honestly though, Little Sis wanted the  painless placemat of popular cats anyway which gets pulled out way more than the book and I’m pretty sure most all these experiments can be found by doing a search on-line.

Alright, 2014 you were a great year but I am ready to see what awaits us in 2015.








Year In The Life 2014 (Nourishment For The Soul)

January 9, 2015

When we first began our homeschooling journey, I had all these great plans of craft projects lined up and ready to go. While studying pioneers, when Miss Sky was 8, we made covered wagons out of Go-Gurt boxes. While learning about the ocean we turned our then classroom into an underwater haven right down to paper bag whales hanging from the ceiling. Actually, it was a pretty fun and successful year, for me.

Don’t get me wrong, we did have a lot of fun that year. It was back before I started listening to other people’s opinions on how to homeschool my children. 🙂

I have since learned that what I think might be considered fun may not be that much fun for someone else. I like to call this my experimental time period. So, we backed off the crafts, we backed off a lot of things. I had fun getting to know my children, what they enjoyed and what they didn’t. I discovered that though both girls are very creative, their artistic interests are much different.

Sky has never been one that enjoyed being told what to do. Following instructions has never been a strength of hers. She always has and still likes to do things her way. She is constantly questioning authority and the why behind everything. This characteristic comes through in everything she creates.

Little Sis is more of the quiet, doesn’t want to rock the boat type. Though she is quiet on the outside, I know that on the inside her mind is in constant motion.  She likes to do everything by the book. She likes to have everything in order. In fact, this is why she needed to have her own room. You can see this in her creations as well.

When it comes to the arts, I just go with the flow and follow wherever it takes us. I did set up a Pinterest Earth, Art, Eh board that contains paintings related to what we might be learning about. For instance, when we watched the rock opera, Jesus Christ Superstar, I added and we discussed the painting The Last Supper. Other paintings we discussed this year was Mona Lisa, The Swing, Colossus of Rhodes, Samson and Delilah by both Rubens and Rembrandt, At the Moulin Rouge, Hushed, Found Drowned, and The Outcast.

I already mentioned the ballets we watched in my social studies post.

2014 was all about musicals as we watched quite a few, some I have already posted about. Andrew Lloyd Webber was pretty big this year thanks to The Phantom of the Opera (that we watched both the stage and movie version of) and I just mentioned Jesus Christ Superstar. We also watched Cats, and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

Everything we learn about has some sort of impact on the girls’ creations. After watching the PBS Nature episode, The Private Life of Deer, Sky decided to do her own study on the physical features of deer then practiced drawing them.


The Phantom was huge,


(Little Sis)

and My Little Pony.




(Miss Sky)


(Little Sis Minecraft )

Anime played big in our year, besides Miyazaki’s animation ( I have changed my favorite to Spirited Away and love his son’s From Up On Poppy Hill. So many great movies, so little time. I feel the same way about books), we watched Death Note, Yu-Gi-Oh, Attack on Titian, Elfen Lied, and Pokémon.



(Little Sis, and she loves her 3DS Pokémon Art Academy game.)

I mentioned how Don Bluth’s Anastasia and An American Tail influenced our studies, we also watched The Secret of NIHM and Small One. The Nostalgia Critic does some fun reviews of his not so big hits that we also watched.

I brought in Bjork’s Biophilia album to show how science can be artistic too (Everything connects, do I sound like a parrot yet?). The app for the album looks pretty amazing and we watched a few of Ray Harryhausen’s Sinbad movies learning about his “Dynamation” animation.

We made diyas,


and the girls painted Nutcrackers.


For Home Economics: The girls are creating their own cookbooks, kind of like Betty Crocker’s “red” cookbook.


This year their focus was on desserts, mostly cookies. Their first recipe of the year was flourless peanut butter cookies, a recipe we bake often.



We plan on moving into more solid dishes this year. Little Sis wants to learn how to make her favorite quiche recipe and she really likes the Cooking Mama video games (and Kitchen Princess manga).

The girls got in a little sewing.



(Sky loves working with felt. Everything she makes is her own creation and never from a pattern.)


(Little Sis)

This is something I am really wanting to try and work in more time for, this and we really need to work in a foreign language.

(Let’s Get) Physical Education and Health: Sky and I started an exercise routine this year. It was something she wanted to do and I sure needed one. Eventually, Little Sis joined in. Sky is not that great in the coordination department and hates to dance (yes, hates). That is how I knew Walking Away the Pounds would be a great fit for her. She has always enjoyed our hikes and walks and this program is basically just walking indoors.

We started with the 1 mile and ended the year with the 3 miles. This year Sky will be adding 1 pound weights and I will conquer the 4 miles. Sky learned what aerobic and muscle toning means as well as recovery heart rate and finding her resting heart rate. She learned about calories and now understands what “burning calories” means. We also hit a bit on nutrition by watching the movie Fed Up.

I saved the best for last, Science.






Year In The Life 2014 (Every Problem Has A Solution)

January 8, 2015

One thing I learned this past year is learning mathematics during winter works best for us, the girls are less distracted. Then reviewing new concepts throughout the year. I also discovered science works best for us during the spring. Of course we are always using math, and science is all around us. It just works out better to tackle a new lesson during these times. Math alone for Sky can take hours let alone trying to add in several different subjects.

I feel sorry for school children (in more ways than one). Just when you start getting the hang of one subject the bell rings and it is time for another one. Time to pack up your work to try and remember for later when doing homework. I remember how frustrating it was myself.

I guess one thing children do have going for them now is the internet. So many awesome websites available today. I would know too because we use a lot of them ourselves. 🙂

There really are not too many homeschoolers that do not know about Khan Academy. I know it has been a huge help to Sky this year. Little Sis on the other hand would rather do a worksheet. She isn’t that interested in understanding why you need to regroup, just when. Sky however wants to know the why to everything. She needs to see the big picture in order to understand, and in my own way so do I.

I am going to be completely honest, I hated mathematics in school. Partly because of bad teachers, yes there are some out there, partly because it felt so separated from real life. I always loved playing games, just like another child I know. I was playing rummy before I was even old enough to go to school (thanks grandma). It was through games that I learned to love mathematics as an adult. Numbers became a puzzle that I enjoy trying to solve, and I do love puzzles.

That is the mistake I made with Sky, I tried to teach her the same boring way that I had learned (you can read about our struggles and tears if you want). So we backed off for a while. Instead we began playing games and we focused on baking together. I started giving her an allowance and she started saving her money for things she wanted. Before she knew it I explained how she was learning mathematics. This is how Little Sis learned, she doesn’t have the dislike of mathematics like Sky does.

So, yes Sky is not at grade level mathematics like she should be but she does have an understanding of the basics and I can honestly say there are “no more tears”.

We are slowly catching back up and this year she learned triple digit multiplication, reading ordered pairs, graphing, decimals, turning decimals into fractions, equivalent fractions, reducing fractions, adding and subtracting same denominators, adding mixed fractions, prime numbers, and prime factorization. She also learned to count change back without a calculator, long division, mean, median, mode, averaging, probability, ratios, greatest common factor, and less common multiple.

Little Sis began learning her multiplication and division tables, 3 digit subtraction regrouping with zeros, measurement of time working whole to parts starting with the 4 seasons working all the way down to seconds, measurement of money, greater and less than. I mentioned how she rather use worksheets, she really likes the ones from coloring squared.

We enjoy playing lots of games, these were in addition to our usual favorites.

The girls love Roblox and Minecraft. They played the money master


and make change game from math is, and LCR with quarters.


They played the grocery store game,


and picked out a complete meal from a circular on a budget.


The girls graphed a bag of jellybeans and found the bag had more purple


then found the mean, medium, mode.

They worked puzzles,


played Nintendogs plus cats on the 3DS, Blink, Multiplication War, Pass the Pigs, and the Table Tree game.


How about some electives next.

Year In The Life 2014 (Talk Language Arts To Me)

January 7, 2015

Something I have learned along the way on this homeschooling journey of mine is that you can’t force language arts. Well, you can’t force learning period. Unless the person on the receiving end is truly interested in the topic at hand, learning goes in one ear and out the other. Okay, yay you passed the test but did you retain anything?  Why I know my children are learning without the need of being tested. When a conversation lasts for hours, and I mean hours I know they understand. I know we are able to move on.

I have written posts before of my journey to letting go of what I considered “appropriate” reading material. It has also been no secret of Sky’s and my troubles in this department. It wasn’t until she discovered her own interests that our journey of learning truly began. It wasn’t until I opened my mind and journeyed into her world that I could understand where she was coming from. As I said before I had a lot to learn.

It wasn’t that she didn’t enjoy reading, she just didn’t enjoy what I thought was good reading. Once my mind opened I could never view reading the same again. She still doesn’t completely enjoy everything we read but she has learned to find something to make it worth while. So when we do come across a story that obtains her curiosity it is all the more sweeter, and we actually came across a few this year.

Reading: While looking back over my posts for the year I noticed January began with us listening to the dramatic reading of the Phantom of the Opera, I also noticed winter and summer seems to be the best time for us to curl up into a story.

It was actually Little Sis’s interest in the Phantom musical that had us listening to the story to begin with. Both girls loved it and have actually requested it again. The same can be said for the Ramona series. We have already read them more than once and I see them again in our near future, Coraline too. Coraline is actually Sky’s most favorite story.

So these are the best read alouds of 2014 in the girls’ opinion. Other stories I read out loud are Socks, Old Possum’s Book Of Practical Cats, Peter Cottontail, The Pippi Longstocking series (another favorite of Little Sis), and The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.

Read alouds from LibriVox  and Storynory: Mrs. Peter Rabbit (The Old Mother West Wind series is another family favorite and this is Little Sis’s favorite. Miss Sky loves Reddy Fox.), The Snow Queen, The Arabian Nights, Gilgamesh (YouTube), The Courtship of Miles Standish, An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving, Old Testament Stories, A Christmas Carol, and A Christmas Nutcracker.

Sky’s read alouds: The Junie B. Jones series, American Girl Rebecca Series, and the Jessie Tree.

Little Sis’s read alouds: The Violet Mackerel books 1-4 (another family favorite), Jenny the Cat series (yep, you guessed it), the Jewel Kingdom books 1-4, Owl At Home, Grasshopper on the Road, The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes, and Magic Tree House books 1, 3, 7, 27, 28, 34, and 44.

Writing: For handwriting, as well as bringing poetry into our homeschool, I write a poem on the chalkboard that the girls copy in cursive.





The New Colossus

Both girls keep a journal


and love writing stories.


Little Sis


Miss Sky, Sky actually translated many of her stories into Latin.


In fact, both girls wrote several stories while on break.

Spelling, Vocabulary, and Grammar: This year since many of the stories they write are private I started story starters or writing prompts to see where they are with their spelling, punctuation, and grammar. Their spelling is good but I do notice they need to work on their grammar. So, this year I do plan on working with them more in that area. They also did word searches.

Little Sis invented a descriptive word game, I plan to use it more when studying the parts of speech. She also had a word of the week,


and she learned about antonyms and synonyms. She likes her Highlights magazine subscription.

Sky learned about prefixes, suffixes, and started a root word notebook. She also had a word of the week, learned about analogies, idioms, onomatopoeic words, newspaper jargon, oxymoron, coined words, clipped words, and she enjoys OtakuUSA magazine.

Though I was saving Nostalgia Critic for The Arts post, I can not tell you how much we have learned about writing from his show. Thanks to him Sky understands exposition and many other elements in script writing. She understands the 3 Acts layout, fourth wall jokes and is able to point them out during a movie. We absolutely love him around these parts but I must warn you, if profanity is not your thing I’d give him a pass.

Tomorrow, mathematics.






Year In The Life ( Social Responsibility )

January 6, 2015

Happy 2015!

Well, it is time for me to put another year to bed. I started these year in the life posts as guidelines (as well as reassurance) to prove to myself that we are indeed homeschooling. I wanted to “see” everything we did.

Sometimes I will find myself in a rut and it feels like we are running around in circles not accomplishing anything. By looking back I always amaze myself at how much we actually do.

Now, I not only enjoy looking back on our year, these posts help me spot our weaknesses as well as strengths and this helps me plan out the next upcoming year.  This year I give the girls all the credit, I am really proud of them.  They worked really hard and boy does it show.

There is only one thing I want to mention before I start. We didn’t just arrive where we are in our homeschooling journey. It has taken lots of stops and restarts on my part. I, me, myself had *a lot* to learn. I don’t want anyone to feel intimidated if you are not where we are. Instead I want these posts to inspire that yes, you too can do it. It can be done. If we can do it, if we can get here, so can you.

Also, though I have separated our lessons into “subjects” to make it easier for me to sort out, our day isn’t divided up that way. I don’t say “time for social studies” or “let’s do some science”. It is more like “Mom, I would like to get the movie Anastasia.” or me discovering my favorite astrophysicist is updating the television show Cosmos and following all the many trails. Everything connects.

So, with that being said I am starting 2014’s year in review with social studies. We had two really huge studies thanks to Sky’s interest in Don Bluth’s animation with the movies Anastasia and An American Tail.

World History: The movie Anastasia took us to Russia and introduced us to the Romanov’s. Watching the movie brought up Anna Anderson and her claims to being the long lost Anastasia. “What really happened to the Romanov family?” which led to us watching the movie Nicholas and Alexandra. However, I believe there is always more than one side to every story so I brought in one of my favorite musicals, Fiddler on the Roof to show another side of the Romanov family. This brought up emigration and led us to watching An American Tail which brought us to New York.

Before we left Russia though we watched a PBS documentary on Catherine the Great and Rudy Maxa’s travels to St. Petersburg. Which brings me to Pinterest and my What About Earth and Her(story) boards. I use these boards to help connect the dots of what we are learning about by pinning pictures or maps related to these topics. The pictures of Russia and its culture helped bring it even more alive.

We touched briefly on World War 1 and watched the movie War Horse.

We brought in the arts by studying the Russian ballet and watching Coppélia, The Nutcracker, The Swan Princess, and Sleeping Beauty. We listened to Tchaikovsky and Peter and the Wolf. I brought in language arts with the Russian fairy tales The Mitten and The Littlest Matryoshka and we watched an animated version of Peter and the Wolf that originally aired on PBS.

We even touched a little on current events with what was, is happening in Russia, Crimea, and the US.

Fiddler on the Roof led us into Passover and Jewish culture by watching the 10 Commandments and Prince of Egypt.


Which led us to watching Globe Trekker Egypt, which led us to Ancient Egypt


and Ancient Civilizations. We learned about the agricultural revolution, Mesopotamia, Babylon, Assyria, Sumer, and the Indus Valley civilizations.

This took us into the Middle East


and watching Globe Trekker about the Arab Gulf States, Israel, Sinai, Syria, Lebanon, and Jordon. We left our studies of ancient civilizations with Ancient Persia and Bible stories with watching the History Channel’s Bible miniseries episodes 1-5 and DreamWorks Joseph and the Coat of Many Colors.

This led us into Christmas School and watching the movie The Nativity and listening to the history of King Herod at Storynory. Which led us to Victorian London where we currently are now.

Little Sis’s interest in the Jenny the Cat series led us to reading Jenny Goes To Sea and learning about South Africa, Zanzibar, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, and the Panama Canal (thanks to my What About Earth Board).


We also learned about India’s celebration of Diwali.

Favorite resources: I can’t say enough about the Green brothers and their Crash YouTube video series. They are the base of our studies. I also really like The Magic Tree House Research and Fact Tracker guides.

Television shows and movies (other than the ones already mentioned): Downton Abbey season 4, On the Spot, Where On Earth is Carmen Sandiego, PBS Hawking, BBC Creation, Persepolis, and the original Boris Karloff’s The Mummy.

American History: Continuing the Russian trail with An American Tail movie and immigration led us to New York, the American Girl, Rebecca series, and the year 1914. It was 2 years after the sinking of the Titanic and 4 years after my great-grandparents immigrated to the United States.

This led us to learning about Ellis Island, Coney Island, and Silent movies. We listened to the songs Animal Fair, Take Me Out To the Ball Game, and The Grand Old Flag. Papa and I are already huge Charlie Chaplin and Laurel and Hardy fans so silent movies aren’t anything new to the girls. However, Fatty Arbuckle and Buster Keaton, Mary Pickford, and Pearl White are. We enjoyed watching The Perils of Pauline serial, Arbuckle and Keaton shorts, and Mary Pickford’s Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. This led us to watching the original and new versions of King Kong, the musicals Annie, Newsies, and West Side Story.

It wasn’t all fun though as we learned about the importance of unions, striking, and women’s rights. We watched a PBS documentary about the Triangle Fire and learned about Clara Lemlich. We watched the Dear America episodes of Dreams in the Golden Country and A Journey to A New World which brings us into the holidays, Thanksgiving and Pilgrims, where we left off in American History.

We watched documentaries on the Founding of Jamestown, Roanoke Island, and Episode 1 of the We Shall Remain Series, After the Mayflower.

Civics, economics, what’s left of geography, and history related field trips:


Monopoly isn’t just for math but great for helping explain capitalism, with the exception that not everyone starts life out with the same amount of money.

Sky requested the movie What Would Jesus Buy, we watched the series That 70s Show as a family, and while learning about Tsunamis studied the state of Hawaii with an episode of Discovery Atlas.

We also watched the Presidential State of the Union Address and had midterm elections.

We visited our local living history museum during Civil War days




and the annual Maple Syrup Festival.


Whew, now that I have put last year’s social studies to bed I can start focusing on 2015, but first I think I will make my next post about Language Arts. Our stories played a huge part of our year too.