Archive for the ‘A Year in the Life’ Category

A Year In The Life (Let’s Talk About Books Baby)

January 5, 2017

Happy New Year!

If 2016 can be remembered for anything, homeschooling wise, it probably will be known as the year of reading.

I just had back surgery toward the end of 2015, so 2016 was my year of recovery. Besides adding in more physical activities like yoga, walking, and swimming,  I discovered BookTube.

Since the girls are older now, and able to discover their own interests without help from me, frees up all kinds of time to devote to my own interests, like reading. Yes, I love big books and I can not lie. Don’t believe me, the Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones) series alone, so far totals about 4223 pages. That is not including A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms short stories either. When it comes to books, size does not matter (sorry, I am on a roll, and maybe a bit of a sugar rush from over the holidays).

Before I start going into my favorites reads from 2016 though, I want to write about our favorite homeschooling reads first. (Papa has a pretty interesting list too.) This list does not include the girls’ favorite independent reads like the Pretty Little Liar series or the Monstress graphic novel. This post would be way too long if I included everything.

What I will add though, Sky is my visual reader. Her favorites are geared more toward graphic novels and movie scripts (visual art). She has her favorite movie review tubers like I have book review tubers. Little Sis is my romantic/ thriller reader. Though our preferences differ, we both enjoy the written word. We internally visualize. I am actually going to hold my tongue about how one is not better than the other, or how unfair the “one size fits all” education only benefits one type of learner. I have written lots about this already, and honestly, I am going to try being a little bit more positive this year. We are homeschoolers. 🙂

With all that being said, in 2016 we read a total of 63 stories (9 of them being non-fiction), 25 individual poems and 1 book collection of poems. So, what were our favorites, what stories do we wished we never read, and what stories were just okay?

First up, is our favorites as a whole. If you have read any of my posts before, you already know how hard it is for me to find a book that both girls agree on. So when it does happen, I literally dance a little jig which the girls have labeled as my happy dance.

The first book that we all enjoyed reading was: Through the Woods by Emily Carroll. Others were: The Adventures of Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, the Princess Dairy: Marie Antoinette, the Dear America Diary: A Picture of Freedom, The Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett, Black Beauty by Anna Sewell, and the short story: The Lottery by Shirley Jackson.

Favorite folktale/fairy tales were: Beauty and the Beast and The Song of Tam Lin.

Sky’s favorites (16): The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman, The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, The Ogre of Olglefort by Eva Ibbotson, “This was a different story in a sea of same.”, The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster, Nimona by Noelle Stevenson, and The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater.

Little Sis’s favorites (11): Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine, and she loved all the fairy tales we read. *Note to self* I need to include more stories that Little Sis will enjoy this year.

There were lots of “okays”, and the “I don’t ever want to see these books again” goes to The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black, Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie, and The Jungle Book by Kipling.

Favorite poems (We read poems from World, British, and American literature): How Do I Love Thee by Elizabeth Barrett Browning (Little Sis, she enjoyed learning about the true love story of Elizabeth and Robert Browning too, she is such a romantic.), Ghosts by Emily Dickinson (Sky’s favorite), both girls enjoyed the Poisoned Apple collection by Christine Happermann, poems by Langston Hughes,  and Revolting Rhymes by Roald Dahl.


Mama’s Reads

At the start of 2016, I was still reading from A Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones) series. I read a total of 30 books. I added 3 new authors to my all time favorites list, one of them being a complete surprise.

I love the Game of Thrones book series, the show is just “okay” to me. I am glad that they made it, and I enjoy watching it, but it is the books that I love. I talked about them so much, that Sky decided to pick them up and read them too. Little Sis, is to the point of eye rolls and leaving the room whenever the topic is brought up because she knows we will discuss them for hours. Thank you, George R.R. Martin, for making medieval history interesting and for the hours of discussions between my teenage daughter and me.

After finishing, and waiting for the next book in the series to come out, I didn’t know what the heck I was going to read. I mean, where does one even start after reading a series like Game of Thrones? Then, I discovered The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater. She made me eat all my negative opinions about the YA genre. I loved this series, at times I could feel goose bumps rising on the back of my neck. After being so disappointed in the horror genre, she gave me hope and the creeps. This was probably the spookiest series/ story I read all year, without shedding one ounce of gore.

Other favorite reads of 2016: Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson, Room by  Emma Donoghue, Doctor Sleep by Stephen King (even though I didn’t care much for The Shining), Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, A Kiss Before Dying by Ira Levin, and Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane.

Honorable mention: The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins. Though this book wasn’t a favorite, I am glad to have read it overall.

Books that I would have liked, if not for the ending: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and Mystic River by Dennis Lehane. I mention them only because, though I didn’t like them, they still made me think. I will never forget characters from these books (Amy, may be the most terrifying villain ever.), and whether or not they were favorites, that makes reading them worthwhile. They entertained me, and sometimes happy endings can get predictable.

I read a lot of: “they were okay” books, even started to worry if I would find another “great” one before the end of the year. However, I did read some that I just didn’t like. Whether it be the writing style/ prose, or the plot, they were just not for me. Nightwoods by Charles Frazier, Horns by Joe Hill (sorry Joe), and Hex by Thomas Olde Heuvelt.

So, that wraps up our year of reading. I would love to know what your favorite reads of the year were. I could talk books for hours.

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.


A Year In Review 2013 (“Play 60”)

January 11, 2014

Oh and physical education?













Yeah, I got that covered too. 🙂

Year In The Life 2013(“We Are Not Makers Of History…..)

January 11, 2014

We are made by history.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

Yes, finally I am able to say goodbye to 2013 with the last review post saving Social Studies for last. I love history! I am an origins person digging deeper and deeper into the past. I just can’t help myself. I get all geeky excited when making connections when fitting another piece of the puzzle together (and there are SO many connections).

Social Studies consists of three topics, World History, American History, and Geography. So what did our year of Social Studies look like?

Being that my title contained a quote by Martin Luther King Jr. I think I will start with American History.


I mentioned in my Language Arts post how Little Sis and I enjoyed the Scholastic Storybook Treasures on Netflix, one of those was titled Amazing America and contained 5 stories about the history of our country. Our favorite was Martin’s Big Words and the storybook itself is collection worthy.

Since on the subject of Netflix, I also want to mention the series, Dear America. This series sparked lots of interesting conversations and was great to watch with both girls.

The Civil War played a big part in our year with visits to our local history museum with their new exhibit


and since I can no longer have gluten it was fun learning the history of how one of my new favorite “breads”, Johnny Cakes played a part in the Civil War too.


This coupled with Miss Sky and I watching PBS’s American Experience The Abolitionists brought the time period even more alive. I myself found it very interesting learning more about Harriet Beecher Stowe who’s book Uncle Tom’s Cabin played such a huge role in changing peoples minds about slavery.

Another movie that sparked many conversations in our home was one of my top 5 most favorites, Fried Green Tomatoes. We had discussions about the KKK, racism, and segregation. Which then brought up discussions of Rosa Parks.

We read one my favorite Louisa May Alcott stories An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving and again thanks to our visits to the history museum the girls were able to visualize the time period.


Add to this another wonderful PBS American Masters special on the author’s life (she is one of my most favorite writers).

I mentioned my Pinterest Herstory board already right? Yes, SO many wonderful woman history makers.

Since on the subject of favorites I will end our American History studies with the movie It’s A Wonderful Life. If there ever was a movie to help explain socialism and capitalism this would be the one.

Since mentioning PBS so much I think I shall kick off our studies of World History with Downton Abbey.


Miss Sky has really taken a huge interest in this series so much while waiting for season 4 we watched the BBC series Lark Rise To Candleford (which I love), the Titanic miniseries (again that we love)and seasons 1,2, and 3 of Downton right thru. I love that these series took us through Victorian times leading right into the roaring 20s.

How could I mention the Victorian Times without bringing the anime Black Butler up? I mean this is what stirred Miss Sky’s interest in the first place. Thanks to this series we had many discussions about Jack the ripper and the movie A Christmas Carol with George C. Scott brought the period alive even more. Another great PBS documentary to go along with this was Empires: Queen Victoria. This helped explain the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution, which influenced Dickens to write the story.

Other influences were Disney’s Hunchback of Notre Dame which brought about conversations of religious differences, persecution and burning at the stake. We also had conversations about the real ending, Victor Hugo and thanks to The Nostalgia Critic and Paw’s Movie Reviews we watched one of my most favorite reviews yet of the musical Les Miserables (and yes the movie has been added to our queue).

The year wasn’t all bleak though the girls had fun to learn about the Terra Cotta Army from the first Emperor of China thanks to our visit to the Children’s Museum


and Little Sis and I enjoyed China’s Heroines in History series, with our favorite being The Legend of Mu Lan by Wei and Chen An Jiang, that is written in both English and Chinese. Thanks to the BBC Human planet series we were able to learn about how nomads from Mongolia live in yurts.

Speaking of Human Planet, which I was going to mention in geography, we learned what Tibetan sky burials are which lead to conversations about Buddhism and watching the PBS documentary, The Buddha.

We also had talked about Hinduism, cremation, reincarnation, and watched the movie Life Of Pi(which is on my top 10 list of all favorite movies).

We journeyed back into ancient Egypt with our Children’s museum visit


and had many more discussions about ancient Greece thanks to the movies Clash of the Titans and Wrath of the Titans where Miss Sky made the connection between the Hunchback’s song Hellfire and what a Siren is.

Wrapping up with geography we jumped ahead to present day Egypt while at the Children’s Museum,


thanks to Disney’s Lilo and Stitch and my What About Earth Pinterest board we learned about Hawaii. Thanks to Princess Tutu we learned about Germany and how the town of Nordlingen that the anime is set in was really built in a meteorite crater, called the Nördlinger Ries. Thanks to the story Family Under the Bridge, we learned about Paris, France, and thanks to the Disney’s The Three Caballeros we learned about South America.

I mentioned BBC’s Human Planet series above already we also like the Globe Trekker series and playing the Wii Party Globe Trot game.

What a year!

I am going, to be honest, and say I am glad to finally be done with this because already 2014 has begun with gusto as we have watched the movie, Anastasia. Russian history here we come.

A Year In The Life 2013(“This World Is But A Canvas To Our Imagination.”)

January 10, 2014

~Henry David Thoreau

I want to start this post off by saying how much Pinterest has helped with our homeschooling. I need organization. “A place for everything and everything in its place”, yep that is me. So to have a board to be able to organize everything in one place was the best invention ever.

I have boards that contain my favorite music, recipes, and sayings. I have one for science projects or videos, our favorite books, and art projects. By far my favorite boards are my Earth, Art, Eh, Herstory, and What About Earth boards. These are boards I put together to hold our favorite pieces of art, tidbits of woman’s history, and the many things we have learned throughout the years about the world we live in. SO many conversations from these boards. The girls have also added their favorite pieces of art and what they find interesting too. It is “strewing” by way of the internet. 🙂

For instance this past year Miss Sky really was interested in Japanese artists and created an account at deviantART, through Pinterest she was able to share some of her favorite pieces of artwork with me.

When Miss Sky took an interest, thanks to Black Butler, in Jack the Ripper I pinned Walter Sickert’s “Jack the Ripper’s Bedroom” painting. Just recently we have been learning about Paris, again thanks to the story Family Under the Bride and the Phantom of the Opera, so naturally, I began pinning paintings from impressionists like Cassatt and Monet. Princess Tutu influenced us learning about Degas and so on.

So in what other ways has “The Arts” influenced our learning this year.

I mentioned Japanese artists so I will start with Mr. Hayao Miyazaki. Miss Sky’s interest in anime quickly filled our Netflix queue full of Miyazaki’s animation. I instantly fell in love with his work and each of us has our favorite. My favorite is Howl’s Moving Castle, Miss Sky’s is Princess Mononoke and Little Sis loves Ponyo.

Since on the subject of anime, Princess Tutu played a huge role in learning the history of ballet, watching the commentary of the show the girls were introduced to the famous classical music pieces used as well as the stories which brought on viewings of Swan Lake. Not to mention the influence it played on their own creations.





(Little Sis)




(Miss Sky)

Speaking of classical music, Disney’s Fantasia ,along with watching Paw’s Music Movie review (they did a wonderful job with this review and it one of my favorites),Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf, Saint Saens The Carnival Of The Animals, and Britten’s Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra the girls was introduced the many different parts of the orchestra.

I mentioned Paw’s Music Movie Reviews as well as the Nostalgia Critic web series was HUGE this year and now musicals have filled up our queue. 🙂 (If you don’t mind bad language they really are a bunch of very talented young men and women)

Which brings me to our visit to the Children’s Museum and the showing of Rapunzel.


The Disney movie The Reluctant Dragon took us on a behind the scenes tour of the Disney movie studio and how their animated movies are made.

I mentioned Minecraft already but I can’t help it honestly it counts for everything but the girls also learned the art of architecture.


Miss Sky’s interest in Cosplay has influenced her own designs.



Oil pastels and Final Fantasy were other big influences in the girl’s artwork




(Miss Sky)



(Little Sis)

as well as DC comics


and My Little Pony.



(Miss Sky)


(Little Sis)


Wii Music (this game is a great way to introduce instruments without having any)

Electroplankton DS game


Movie Maker

and the keyboard game at Girl


Last up Social Studies.

A Year In The Life 2013 ( “Language Is Wine Upon The Lips”)

January 9, 2014

~Virginia Woolf

I love words, I always have. My parents took a picture of me when I was about 2 taking a nap on top of a couch covered in books. Things, of course, have changed since then, they now reside on my nightstand. 🙂 You can not turn a corner of our home without running into some sort of shelf filled with books. I just can’t help myself. I am my dad’s daughter for sure.

I have very fond memories of the two of us never being able to pass by a bookstore without at least stepping in for a quick peek. The smell, the serenity, the feeling of holding a book in my hand is a pure delight to my senses. Of course, we could never leave empty-handed. I still can’t walk past a pile of books without looking and they are always the first thing I spot when walking into someone’s home.

I know I have said it before but this was probably my biggest hurdle to get over in homeschooling. I had to realize that just because I love books doesn’t necessarily mean my children will. I had to realize that my love for words didn’t stop with books. I love music, I love movies, I love blogs, I love articles (did you know the short stories of Jean Shepherd ran in Playboy magazine before becoming one of the most classic Christmas movies ever?). Words are everywhere!

So what did our year of language arts look like?

We ended 2012 with the girls just starting to get in with the story of Alice In Wonderland and that interest carried over into 2013. So I think that is where I shall start.


Miss Sky found a Dover story coloring book I had and got so caught up in the story before we knew it we were checking out different movies (Miss Sky was interested in how Alice’s shrinking was filmed) and listening to the dramatic LibriVox audiobook.

Sometimes it was a movie that inspired the reading of a story. The movie Tangled inspired Little Sis into reading Rapunzel by Paul O. Zelinsky.

Little Sis and I also enjoyed the Scholastic Storybook Treasuries from Netflix.

Other books we read aloud that we enjoyed (and still are) this year are The Violet Mackerel series by Anna Branford, The Ramona series by Beverly Cleary,


Junie B Jones First Grader by Barbara Park and thanks to our local history museum’s annual Headless Horseman festival the girls are very aware of the story by Washington Irving. A little history tidbit, the city of Irvington in our state was named after the author.

As with everything many discussions are born from what we read and before I start reading I usually ask a for a brief summary of what was read the previous day.

Little Sis also decided to participate in the summer reading program at the library.

As I have already mentioned books are not the only reading materials we use. Miss Sky loves her subscriptions to Otaku USA and Cosplay USA


which brings me to manga and The Black Butler series( why she needed another bookshelf behind her door).


I have really come to appreciate this form of art, getting hooked on a series myself, and can see why she enjoys it so much.

This year I learned the terminology of fan fiction, OC, and discovered that I myself am a “fangirl”. Where Little Sis has really been getting in with reading this year too


Miss Sky has been reading when she wakes up, reading instead of being asleep (Uhem, I still have nights like these), reading whenever she can (she is reading now as I type this) fan fiction short stories.


This is the child I was worried about not liking books. This year I added a word of the week on the chalkboard to help Little Sis learn how to use a dictionary and learn alphabetical order but it is Miss Sky who informed me of all the words she has used her 3DS to find the definitions for.


She also just recently started writing poetry. Speaking of which as part of Miss Sky practicing her cursive I started writing a new poem on the chalkboard every week for the girls to copy.


I have noticed a *huge* improvement in both of their handwriting since doing this.


Little Sis has been practicing her cursive too and has been learning capitalization and punctuation.


Miss Sky isn’t the only one writing, Little Sis loves to create books


and journal writing.


The girls are always researching something or other whether it is how to draw a certain something, a YouTube video on how to build something on Minecraft, or reading reviews of what movies they want to add to Netflix.



Our second new favorite family game of 2013, Disney Headbands,


Scribblenauts Unlimited (The second 3 DS game I needed to buy 2 of. I can not recommend this game enough. It is by far the most played DS game ever and SO much learning like spelling and grammar.),


Disney Apples to Apples, Disney,


Manga Creator 2,


Charades (even though we have a game we enjoy playing the original way too, “first word, 2 syllables…..”), Silly Sentences (Someone starts the sentence off then we go around in a circle adding a word until the sentence is finished), Story Starter (Someone starts off telling a story then you ask “Sky what do you think they saw?” and have them participate in adding on to the story), and good old-fashioned Hangman.

How about the Arts next.