Friday, August 25, 2017

Homeschool Week 4: Feeling Like Fall

Saturday daddy had a driver's meeting at work. The kids did chores and then their Saturday game time. Makayla and Mommy went to the reptile show to pick up bugs and rats for Makayla's reptiles - and Makayla drove the hour to get there in the big city! Grocery shopping was done in the hot afternoon. A thunderstorm rumbled and poured later in the afternoon and into the evening. We met another family with a child who has spina bifida like Mason and were able to pass his outgrown dynamic stander on to them in the evening. Everyone played and relaxed the evening away and then it was up to bed for some sleep before Sunday.

Sunday is always my favorite day of the week. Why? It's my day of rest! Now, as a mother to nine children my definition of rest isn't quite the same as it was when I had no children. There are still mouths to feed - but we try to keep preparations simple and work together in the kitchen. But the regular chores don't happen beyond keeping up with dishes. We wake up and everyone gets ready to be out the door at 9:30am for church. Church is from 10am-1pm.

The first hour and 10 minutes of church isn't as restful with children - it is Sacrament meeting, where the entire congregation sits as families to partake of the sacrament, sing hymns, and listen to the speakers. Today, for example, we had 3 speakers, a youth, a missionary serving in our ward, and the father of one family in our ward. (A ward is a local congregation.) Keeping all the children in Sacrament meeting makes a little more noise but less than you would think. The second and third hour are classes.

Hour two is Sunday School. There are classes for adults, youth, and children. The youth are divided into classes with two ages together in a class (12/13, 14/15, 16/17). Joseph is in one of these, Makayla in another. The children's classes have just one age per class, so those turning 4, or those turning 7, or those turning 11. Samuel, Mason, Caleb, Oliver, Daniel, and Emma are each in one of these. There is also an optional nursery class for children ages 18 months to 3 years old. Tobias enjoys this because they have toys, lesson, snack, music time, and lots of fun.

Hour three all the children meet for Primary where they have a sharing time lesson and singing time. The youth meet separately as young men or as young women, ages 12-17. The adults meet separately as well, women in Relief Society with men in their own class.

After church we come home, make lunch as a family, and spend time together. We take care of the usual afternoon medical care for Mason (takes about 1 1/2 hours) and Tobias naps. We often will play games as a family on Sunday afternoon. We talk and laugh and rest. Today we also made no bake cookies. Yum! On this particular Sunday there was also a Stake fireside for youth ages 12-17 with their parents. (A stake is a collection of congregations in a larger area.) I attended with Joseph and Makayla.

Monday started extra early for some of us because it was the first day of early morning seminary for Makayla. Up at 5:00am, out the door at 5:40am, Monday through Friday for the entire school year. At the moment she doesn't have her driver's license (she's got her permit) so we're still driving her. We share rides home with another family right now, until their daughter or ours get their license. Makayla is home around 7:10am from seminary.

Monday was also eclipse day of course. It was a school morning as usual for us. Kids got their work done and then we spent the afternoon in the backyard to view the eclipse and eat popsicles. It was really neat to watch the progress of the moon over the sun. It made me grateful again for a God who has set in motion the planets and planned every tiny detail to work together. Amazing!

In the late afternoon I went to the hospital for blood work. The doctors are monitoring my thyroid every 4 weeks through the pregnancy. Things look great so far, my medication dose is doing it's job.

Tuesday most of the kids got to work early. As in, Oliver was doing school at 6:30am! Three of us had eye checkups scheduled for mid-morning. I really don't like having our school morning broken up by appointments but sometimes it just can't be avoided.

Makayla decided to tackle chemistry early today so this is what was going on in our kitchen. Any time there is a fire the kids are drawn to it like a moth. I think almost every child stopped in to see what was going on.

I made a batch of pumpkin chocolate chip muffins for lunch today and we listened to Tuesdays at the Castle (aff). The day went on as usual and we finished off our evening listening to the last two chapters of Tuesdays at the Castle with Daddy. Hooray for finishing the book!

Wednesday morning was chilly and held the promise of cooler fall weather. It made me so happy that I baked biscuits and made two soups for lunch. We spent our morning doing school work as usual. Latin, math, history, writing, astronomy, reading, chemistry, art, grammar -- we worked through it all. I will go through it by child:
  • Makayla and I are almost finished with chapter 2 of Latin Alive 1. We've started conjugating verbs. We're making our way through lesson 4 in Algebra 2 and surviving. She's reading history on her own. For writing today we discussed motifs and things appearing in 3s in fairy tales, as well as discussing those things in the movie The Princess Bride. She did chemistry on her own today. 
  • Joseph read his history chapter book. He's doing well in PreAlgebra and Fix It Grammar. He's started typing his report on the San Francisco earthquake in preparation to do edits. In science he created a piece of art related to our theme of space.
  • Emma is also doing well in PreAlgebra and Fix It Grammar. She's on country 3 or 4 in her writing about an imaginary island chain. She was thrilled to have art included in science today - and couldn't resist adding a small starship Enterprise and a Borg ship to her space scene. She's still reading her history chapter book too.
  • Daniel moved on to a new writing project this week. He finished up the letter writing last week and now he's researching bald eagles and writing a report about them. He has decided he likes Fix It Grammar, which doesn't surprise me. He's in Epsilon for math so this week has been learning about equivalent fractions. He read another chapter in his history book and did an art piece for science today too.
  • Oliver is working with oa and ow words this week in All About Reading level 3. He is multiplying by 2s and converting quarts to pints because there are 2 pints in every quart. He did a drawing of a cactus today from Draw Write Now and tomorrow will add the copywork to the page. His art project for science was the solar eclipse seen through the glasses we bought. 
  • Caleb did two pictures of the solar eclipse for science. His reading is working on beginning blends in words. He's on subtracting nines, lesson 22 in Math U See Alpha. He also drew a cactus today from Draw Write Now and will do the copywork sentences for it tomorrow. 
  • Mason chose to use a dry erase book today as part of his handwriting/fine motor skills work. He used pattern blocks for math. He also worked on naming the sounds different letters of the alphabet make. Each letter was covered by a chocolate chip and so he would pick a chip, move it, say the letter sound, and eat the chocolate. He drew the solar eclipse as well today. 

I remembered a dvd we have called Your Backyard: Identifying 18 Common Feeder Birds (aff) and we watched about half of that today. It's all about identifying birds by sight and by their calls. What surprised me the most was that Tobias, Samuel, and Mason loved it. There is another dvd in that series about Monarch butterflies. We've not seen that one. We have noticed a number of butterflies lately though.

Thursday started with a doctor's appointment for two kids before gathering up everyone to head to book club. We made it there and the kids played, had fun, and talked about Tuesdays at the Castle. Some decided they would like living in Castle Glower, while others thought it would be weird.

Our afternoon and evening are kind of a blur in my memory... I was so tired. 18 weeks pregnant on this day and growing a baby is hard work.

Friday schoolwork was finished by lunch time. I tell you, the kids are super motivated on Fridays, and I love it! We started reading our next title for Homeschool Book Club over morning snack. We're doing Henry and the Chalk Dragon by Jennifer Trafton (aff). So far it has some fun word play and hints at favorite books we've read in the past.

As I type this I hear several kids playing upstairs together - that means Legos. I also hear Joseph and Daniel debating over a game of Gubs. Tobias is laying on the floor chewing on a Duplo vine.

I'm going to go read a book just for myself until it is time to make lunch. What book? Daring to Hope by Katie Davis Majors(aff). I'm so excited because my launch team copy just came in the mail this week and I've been counting down the days for it to arrive. The book officially releases on October 3rd (and you can already pre-order it on Amazon). This is by the author of the wonderful book Kisses from Katie (aff), a book I reread every year.

That's it for us this week!

Linking to Weekly Wrap Up.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Homeschool Week Three: Keeping Busy

Monday was a no school day and it turned out to be pretty busy. Mason and I were into the big city early at the wheelchair vendor for a couple things. First we picked up his new Rifton Dynamic Stander because he outgrew his other one last January. (Yes, it took insurance 7 months to decide he needed a new one.) We also started the process to order Mason a new wheelchair because he has gotten too big for the orange one he has. He got that when he was 18 months old so it really isn't surprising that he's outgrown it at age 5 years 7 months. The process to get a new wheelchair approved by insurance and then built is every bit as long as the process to get a stander - and probably longer. Today's appointment had us choosing wheelchair brands, designs, accessories, pieces, parts, paint color, etc.

Makayla got some fun mail on Monday. She wrote a letter to Christopher Paolini, the author of the Inheritance Cycle, two weeks ago. He wrote back and sent her several things. She was thrilled - and surprised.

Once we got home from our morning appointment I ran to the store for a prescription refill. Kids played outside. We ate lunch and did the usual afternoon medical care. Then it was off to physical therapy for Mason and I. We got home just as Tobias threw up. The poor guy had been 'off' all day and it went downhill. He threw up and a fever started. He threw up again later in the evening. We spent a lot of time just snuggling - including all night long because he didn't sleep much. I was a tired momma!

Tuesday Tobias was still not feeling great so we did homeschool while I held Tobias. Makayla worked at the veterinary office. Kids had piano lessons. I prepared our homeschool notification paperwork for the year. By evening Tobias was feeling better and playing. He slept through the night peacefully. So did I.

Of course that meant Wednesday we woke up to Samuel with the same fever Tobias had - but no throwing up. He seemed to rally by mid-day. I ran to the post office to send in our homeschool notification papers and picked up denatured alcohol for Makayla's alcohol burner to do her chemistry work. Kids did their school work. Makayla baked a cake just for fun (spice cake with lemon frosting). The oldest two had a youth activity that has become a tradition at church as schools are getting ready to start again - a color war. Basically any game they can do outside with an added dose of water and paint.

Thursday started off with paint by the youngest boys because that's what sounded fun after breakfast. Who am I to disagree? We made a joyful mess and will use their painted papers later in art projects. Kids were mostly off to a slower start today. They might have been up early but they didn't get to school work until 9am. Our slower start schedule is working well - so long as I remember not to nag them about getting a move on school work before 9am. I'm still working on that.

Oliver was the most excited of the kids today during school. He got to start reading the first story in All About Reading level 3. It's called Train Cat. I was slightly worried when we opened the book that he would panic about the smaller text and more text per page. He didn't. He read steadily, sounding things out as he went, and a couple pages in asked to finish the story tomorrow. So that's what we decided to do.

After a relaxed afternoon I baked chicken legs for dinner. The sauce was simple: soy sauce, ketchup, and honey. Daddy got home from work after dinner and the little boys asked to paint again - so out came the mess.

Friday started with oatmeal for a few of us. I'm in denial that it is summer for another month and I am ready for fall. My kids are pretty chatty about the solar eclipse coming up on Monday. We ordered solar eclipse glasses 2 months ago because I knew they would become very expensive and hard to find if I waited for the last minute(yes, they're safe, I triple checked) and so those are waiting in our science bin. We did try them out by looking at the sun this week. One of my kids said, "It looks a lot smaller this way."

Several of my boys got to work as soon as possible on school today. They love getting things done early on Friday. Who doesn't?! This picture shows Mason working in a coloring book, Daniel writing a short story about a homesick duck, Caleb and Joseph doing math, and Samuel and Tobias drawing on the chalkboard.

By mid-morning we were nearing the end of the school work when grandma called to see if we were up for a visit. She had a half day off from work. Hooray! Makayla just did her Algebra 2 while grandma was here to commiserate that it was something grandma had never used in her 50-some years. We talked, laughed, played, and had pizza together. Oh, and put together a peanut butter pie in a 13x9 pan (because a real pie is way too small for a family of 11). It's chilling in the fridge for after dinner tonight.

It's Friday afternoon and this post is ready to publish. Next up on the agenda - dinner prep.

Linking to Weekly Wrap Up.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Pregnancy Update #7: The Happy Middle

A picture of me today, 17 weeks pregnant.
My last pregnancy update was at 14 weeks pregnant. Today I am 17 weeks along and in what I call the 'happy middle' of pregnancy. My morning sickness has disappeared and my food aversions are pretty much gone. At the same time I've not reached the late pregnancy stage with the aches and heartburn yet. It is a glorious time!

My only real symptom right now is exhaustion. This baby growing takes a lot of energy. I am doing my best to eat well, drink lots of water, take my vitamins, and just embrace each day. I have not been exercising much because it is making the exhaustion worse.

There really isn't anything else to share. My weight is steady at 198 lbs, still below my starting weight. I'm still not gaining weight but I know it will start happening soon. I've not been to the doctor to hear the heartbeat or see baby on an ultrasound yet, though that appointment is getting closer.

Do you have any pregnancy or baby related questions for me? If you do just leave them in a comment!

Friday, August 11, 2017

Homeschool Week Two: Rolling Along

Saturday morning I did our school preparations for the next week. Then I was out the door for grocery shopping. I made it home around 9:30am. Saturday was part of tax-free weekend in Ohio. We really didn't need school supplies but a couple of the kids needed new tennis shoes. I happened to have a 20% off coupon and when we got to Payless Shoes all the red tag sale items were also on special for the day and were only $10, no matter what price the tag said. We were able to find most of the shoes with red tags, only Joseph, who is wearing men's sizes now, had more to pay. In the end we got 4 pairs for $48. Not bad at all.

Right before lunch Makayla went to get a haircut. She hadn't been in so long that the salon had sent her a postcard for a free cut and she was ready to use it. Then it was off to the church where Makayla played the piano for a baptismal service.

The afternoon was family time. We played games, laughed, and cooked. I had done the school prep for the next week in the morning. That took about 15 minutes - just long enough to adjust kids assignment sheets with the new week's assignments.

Sunday our big activity is church from 10am-1pm. The morning is spent getting the 11 of us awake, dressed, fed, and out the door. Don't worry, it's pretty easy at this stage of the game. Everyone knows the routine so I really only help very little people get ready. Church was great, as always!

Monday was the return of the school week. Tobias has been waking up early lately, between 5:30am-6:30am. Today was 6:10am so that is when my morning began. The early morning was a mix of waking children, breakfasts, and some people doing their chores. The kids can do chores any time before 1pm. If not done by then they stop what they are doing and get their chore room done.

Being Monday there were new math lessons to go around. Subtracting 0 or 1, multiplying by 0 or 1, fractions, double negatives, and manipulating rational expressions. There were All About Reading lessons for Oliver (level 3 lesson1), Caleb (level 1 lesson 22), and Mason (level 1 lesson 1). Kids had copywork or Fix-It Grammar. They continued their writing projects.

Grandma stopped in for a short visit before and during lunch. The kids love seeing grandma any time but when it puts school work on hold for a bit they love it even more. ;)

After lunch Makayla and I focused on chemistry. It was a good lesson on basics: working on accurate measurements and converting measurments. For example we worked on converting something that was in cubic meters to liters involves converting cubic meters to cubic centimeters, which are equal to milliliters. Then you convert the amount in milliliters to liters.

After chemistry she and I dove into Latin Alive 1 for our first day. I'll be honest, I was a little disappointed that they do not have a daily work schedule in the book for you. Instead they present an entire chapter (in the student book, teacher's manual, and on dvd, depending on your preference). A chapter should take approximately a week to finish the book in one year. We worked together (using books, no dvd today) and just picked a stopping point when our brains needed a break. We will review that material tomorrow with the dvd before moving forward. This first chapter is packed full on basic Latin information on pronunciation, syllabication, and where to accent the words, so we want to stretch it out over 2 weeks to be sure we really master it before moving forward. For those who are curious, I did 3 years of Latin in high school, 2 years of Spanish in high school and a year in college, and I'm familiar with ASL because we used it a lot with one child from age 2-5. I love Latin and can't wait to dive back in and rediscover it with my daughter!

Later in the afternoon while Tobias was still napping Jason and I went to the attic. I love that our attic is a great storage space. I hate that it has become a mess. We're starting to tackle organizing and decluttering the attic in sections when we get cooler weather days. We did a lot of the clothing storage a couple weeks ago. Today was going through the toy storage. With 9 children we have a decent amount of toys but we don't keep everything out. Kids do so much better picking up after themselves when they have a limited set of toys out at any one time. We rotate toys in and out of the attic every month or so. Today we decluttered toys that we have found the kids simply don't play with when they are out, had the kids go through their stuffed animals, and loaded the items we removed into Jason's car to donate.

Tuesday was a bit chaotic in the morning. Kids were doing school everywhere except we really don't have a huge house to spread out in (really - maybe 1500sq ft including the not finished basement and attic) so when one or two kids are chatty or goofing off they tend to distract kids who are trying to work. In the end the main instigator was sent to play and told he would spend the afternoon doing the rest of his school work instead. Everyone settled in to work or play depending on age.

This is my view as I pick up Makayla at the vet office. 
I know she is inside somewhere learning and 
having a great time.

Midmorning found me taking Makayla to her regular Tuesday shadowing activity at a veterinary practice. Then it was back home to make lunch for everyone else. Later that afternoon I picked Makayla up and then she did Algebra 2 while dinner was cooking. After dinner everyone put away laundry because we somehow had 3 loads washed today.

Wednesday had the nice quiet at home morning I love. I caught this picture of most of the kids working away at the table at once. The only ones missing are Makayla, who was upstairs doing her writing, and Oliver, who was behind me reading a book. Our assignment sheets keep us from missing anything (aka. pregnant mommy brain doesn't have to remember what needs done each day because it is already written down).

The afternoon was filled with phone calls as I scheduled eye checkups and dental cleanings, among other things. We have 28 medical appointments (including physical therapy for Mason) in the next 6 weeks and expect at least 2 more. Life is never dull!

Thursday I saw a pattern happening. If Samuel is around when Mason sits at the table to do school he wants to do it too. I've had some kids do this before (insist on tagging along with an older sibling) so I'm just rolling with it. He gets a turn with anything we have out that day if he asks. He has also been enjoying puzzles this week. We pulled a few out of the attic that he had not seen before and so he is doing them every day happily.

Chemistry with Makayla
The day's school work was uneventful. We read a book about what it is like to be an astronaut and the effects the lack of gravity have. We're further along in Tuesdays at the Castle, our book club title. Chemistry is going well for Makayla. Here is a quick picture from her work on accurate measurements and using volume and mass to calculate density.

Friday started early. I think my kids have a sixth sense about the fact that it is Friday and the earlier they get their school work done the earlier they are free for the weekend. They are quick to wake up, eat, and get to work. It's great! The only one not early out of bed today was my teen. No surprise there. She's soaking up what sleep she can get before early morning seminary begins.

I grabbed this cute picture of Tobias reading to himself on the couch this morning. I love that he sees this modeled by his siblings and follows along. He's enjoying Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See?

It is evening as I edit the last notes for this post and we're watching Hidden Figures (aff) as a family. The conversations that come up around movies like this are so interesting! It seems like a different child has a question or thought to share each time. Dessert just came out of the oven and that is my cue to hit publish on this post. Have a great week!

Linking with Weekly Wrap Up.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

The First Homeschool Week - Complete!

Here is a picture of Daniel's assignment sheet.
This is actually for week 2. 
Every child has one of these so they know
what to do each day.

Monday - The first day of our homeschool year started out with homemade doughnuts. Yum! Kids woke up at their own speed. Some started right into school work while others took their time. It was a bit chaotic because everyone needed me to show them their new papers/subjects/books as they were ready for them. Monday is new lesson day for math so I do a lot of one on one teaching on Mondays. We made it through and just enjoyed ourselves. Midafternoon found me grocery shopping and then heading to physical therapy with Mason. We finished off the day by surprising the kids with $5 pizza. :)

Tuesday - The second day of the homeschool year and the first day Daddy was back to work for the week was lovely. The kids knew what to do for most things so they didn't all need me at the exact same moment as often. I only forgot to prepare one thing - Makayla needed a newspaper for writing today. I ran to the store and grabbed a local paper and a national paper. At 10:30am it was time to run Makayla to the veterinary office she's working at (shadowing) every Tuesday. I don't know how many more weeks she will continue but for now they're happy to have her and she is happy to go. On the way there she shared that one thing she loves about it is that every day is different. You just don't know what you'll see in surgery or appointments until it happens.

Some of our space books for science this month.
The rest of the kids were happy to learn that our first science topic is space. We gathered around the table and I passed around stacks of books on all sorts of space topics for them to peek at. Some of the books I will read aloud while others they will read on their own based on interest in the topics. I told them we plan to do stargazing and to observe the solar eclipse this month. We will also observe the moon phases this month starting tonight. The full moon is in 6 days and then we will watch it slowly disappear. 

More of our space books.
I also started reading aloud a constellation book called Zoo in the Sky (aff) that has shiny silver stars on the illustrations. Here is a picture from the book:
Shiny stars in the constellations.

Piano took up our midafternoon hours and then it was dinner time. I made taco meat and beans for Taco Tuesday of course. Some kids do tacos, others do taco salad. I even have a few who prefer to have just cheese and lettuce in their tortillas and then eat the taco meat/black bean filling with a spoon.

Most of the kids have a binder for their school work on this shelf. 
Makayla keeps her work somewhere else. 
These are some of our books for this year.
Wednesday began with an orthodontist trip for Joseph to get his palate expander installed. By the time we got home several kids were already doing school work, one had opted to begin his chores first, and the littles were just playing. It's a beautiful thing to see kids dive back into routine! I sat and checked over math, did reading lessons, and then worked through Algebra 2 with Makayla. Stretching those math muscles - ouch. After morning snack I gathered the history group and we read about the Chippewa Indians. Our first read aloud for history is The Indian Book, a Childcraft Annual from 1980. The 3 oldest in this group are also reading a book independently for history. Joseph chose The Sign of the Beaver while Emma and Daniel chose Indian Captive: The Story of Mary Jemison.

Joseph is doing the research phase of his writing project right now (from Brave Writer's Faltering Ownership, it's a report). He's chosen to write about the San Francisco earthquake in 1906. He's reading a book about it as part of his research.

Just like every other day this week we also listened to a chapter of our current book for Homeschool Book Club. We are working through Tuesdays at the Castle (aff) by Jessica Day George. We usually listen during a meal or snack time because full mouths = quieter kids.

Dinner tonight was pancakes and bacon. Yum!

The kids played a game most days once their work was done.
This is Forbidden Island. They were happy to win and make
it off the island before it sank!
Thursday - A nice at home day that started with breakfast (of course). I bounced between kids as they needed help. Oliver had a big milestone - he finished up his very last All About Reading level 2 lesson! He's excited to move on to level 3 next week. Caleb is loving his Draw Write Now for copywork. He draws one of the pictures one day and does the copywork the next. Today he drew several birds in a tree.

Emma started plotting the map for her writing project. She chose to write about an imaginary island chain (Brave Writer project from Partnership Writing, but she doesn't want me to partner with her, she can do it on her own). This project is neat because she will create a map of an island chain where each island is a separate country. She will then make individual maps for each country with geographic details and write a history or dossier of each country (what it is like to live there, the government system, religions, animals, laws, etc.). It's a pretty big project so she's planning to work on it for our first 6 weeks.

Dinner tonight was lasagna, rolls, fruit, and salad. I'll be honest, 6 kids don't like it, 3 do. I happen to love it, so I still make it occasionally. They get the option of just eating their allotted rolls (yep, we have limits - picture 3 rolls per person x 11 people = 33 rolls.), fruit, and salad. They tend to top their rolls with a nut butter of some sort, butter and honey, or jam.

This is our homeschool mascot Arnold.
He is a pygmy puff from Harry Potter. Cute and snuggly!
Friday - Today just sort of happened. Nothing out of the ordinary, just following the routines of our homeschooling and home. It's a comforting end to the week. Everyone was happy to finish the first week back to school. There is just something satisfying about checking off those assignment boxes.

Daniel's mailbox he made for writing.
Daniel is enjoying his first writing project - it's a Letter Box (found in Brave Writer's Jot it Down book, though he's doing all his own writing at his age). He delivers letters to people and then watches for the flag to go up on his mailbox when he receives letters in return.

Dinner tonight was crockpot beef stew. I love when I can spend five minutes putting food in the crockpot in the morning and then voila - dinner cooks itself!

We made it through the first week! I love homeschooling - it's a blessing I don't take for granted. If you are interested in our curriculum plans for the year check out this post: Our Homeschool Curriculum for 2017-2018.

PS> Want to see what is up with our family and homeschool more often? I'm trying to post on Instagram this year to capture the everyday moments along the way. You can find me as @tristanrowlee there.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Our Homeschool Curriculum for 2017-2018

One of the best and hardest parts of being a homeschool mom is you are the one in charge and ultimately responsible for curriculum choices. I've made decisions based on my own individual children's needs and interests. Here's what we're going with this year:

Mason is 5 and a half years old. In Ohio that means he doesn't need to be registered with the state yet. It frees me up to give him a true, simple Kindergarten year. We have 3 areas we will focus on: learning to read, learning to calculate (math), and learning handwriting. He will join in for other things as he chooses to: listening to stories, doing science, history, or art. Mason will use All About Reading level 1 at whatever pace he is ready for. He knows most letter sounds and is starting with blending 3 letter words. Math will be Math U See Alpha with a caveat. We always spread Alpha out over 2 years. He will spend the first part of the school year doing hands on math with many materials while we work on his handwriting. Then we'll pull out MUS and get through about half of the book by the end of the year. Mason will be my first child to use Handwriting Without Tears because I think it will address his fine motor needs.

1st Grade
Caleb is 6 turning 7 in November. His focus areas are to solidify his handwriting, do consistent reading lessons, and keep making progress in math. He will do the second half of Math U See Alpha and possibly begin Beta. Handwriting/Copywork this year will be using our Draw Write Now books. One day Caleb will draw the picture and the next day he'll do the handwriting for the picture. For reading Caleb is already using All About Reading level 1 and will continue with that. He will also do some Brave Writer projects. At his age the BW program is called Jot it Down. It has the child narrate their writing to you, their transcriptionist. They illustrate and create the final product with your support. He'll participate in our family history and science studies, which I'll explain later.

3rd Grade
Oliver is 8. His focus areas are to master independent reading, increase his handwriting stamina, and begin to write down his own words instead of relying completely on a transcriptionist (mom). He's using All About Reading level 3, Draw Write Now for copywork/handwriting, Brave Writer projects, and Math U See Gamma. We also like to use Multiplication in a Flash during the Gamma year. He will be in our group history and science studies.

4th Grade
Daniel is 9 turning 10 in October. His focus is to improve his writing stamina and confidence. He's really comfortable in all subjects but writing, where his perfectionism paralyzes him. He'll use Brave Writer at the Partnership Writing level and Fix-It Grammar. He will have a list of literature to work through. He is on Math U See Epsilon this year so all things fractions. He is part of our group science and history studies.

6th Grade
Emma is 11 turning 12 in December. Her focus is to improve her spelling, math skills, and math confidence. She will be using Math U See PreAlgebra this year. She'll do Fix-It Grammar, Brave Writer at the Faltering Ownership level, a literature list, and All About Spelling. She is part of our group history and science studies.

7th Grade
Joseph is 12 turning 13 in October. His focus is to improve his writing stamina, spelling, and math confidence. He's in Math U See PreAlgebra. His language arts plan is All About Spelling, Fix-It Grammar, Brave Writer at the Faltering Ownership level, and a literature list. He's the oldest in our group science and history studies.

11th Grade
Makayla just turned 16 this summer. Her focus is to improve her math flexibility (knowing what to do when), and consistency in all her other subjects. She is starting out trying Math U See Algebra 2 but we will review Algebra 1 if needed. (Last year was her Geometry year, so she may need to brush up on some Algebra 1 concepts.) She'll use Writing Fiction in High School and read through a literature list. Science is Discovering Design with Chemistry by Jay Wile. She's finally decided on a foreign language so she'll dive into Latin Alive 1 this year. We've created a history plan this year that has her reading a spine book and a literature list that progresses from the Civil War through the present day with a heavy emphasis on the 20th century. We have a list of movies and documentaries to explore as well. One other thing Makayla has been doing is shadowing at a veterinary office weekly this summer. She is still continuing that for now.

Family Science Studies
The 7th grade and under group will do science together. This year we are working through a variety of topics with a base of living books and hands on experiences or experiments. Our first topic is space and we've got books on everything from planets, the sun, constellations, and the Mars rover to astronauts and the international space station. Different kids will read or look at different books based on their age and interests in the topic. There are many experiments and demonstrations we can do for astronomy, we will choose as we go. We also plan to observe the solar eclipse this month and do some stargazing with our telescope. After a month or 6 weeks of study we will move on to a new science topic. This will be the pattern all year.

Family History Studies
The 7th grade and under kids will all be studying early American history this year. I have a mix of books for each age - everything from picture books and biographies to historical fiction and nonfiction books. We will read some things together and many books will be done on their own according to age and interests. I also have dvds we can watch to go with topics, from Liberty's Kids episodes to movies and lectures from The Great Courses.

Other Studies
Under this wide umbrella we have art, music, picture study, scripture study, hymns, composer study, physical education, and more. These are generally done as a family in a 'morning basket', though the time we use the basket varies. We use so many different materials that I'm not going to list them. We do not use any formal curriculum for these. I may get together a post about them later and I am sure I will mention some in the weekly review posts as the school year moves forward.

That's all I can think of at the moment!