Week In Review 17/18: Week 3

We wrapped up our 3rd week of the year on Thursday. It was a slightly disheveled week as we were only in need of finishing up work from the week prior that we’d not accomplished yet. I always feel a little lopsided when that happens, but it really does even out eventually & doesn’t really have any bearing on a good or bad school year either. I think it’s that typical preference for things to be even & well balanced that I have.

The awaited parcel of school supplies & other goodies arrived bright & early Tuesday morning. We were still in the middle of our breakfast routine when it arrived. Beautiful timing really as it meant no waiting around wondering if we should move on with other subjects while we awaited it’s arrival.

It contained Morgan’s science & literature curriculum & we’d hoped it would arrive in good enough speed to start that very day. So much so that after we finished mixed up our smoothies we took the books into the school room to dig into them.

I was a little nervous with the literature as I’d heard a lot of negative reviews, for varying reasons, about it. We, however, very much enjoyed our first lesson, which was actually the first 2 lessons, as scheduled in our guide, together. Basically he’ll read a story a day & then have some questions after to answer. He did the rest of the literature that week on his own meeting up with me afterwards to discuss the answers to the questions. He also gave me the lowdown on the stories he’d read too.

We tried out his new Bible Curriculum which is a bit different than the Inductive Studies we’ve previously done. Each new lesson {spread over 5 days} introduces a new people group to pray for which is lovely & reminds us fondly of our year with Children Around The World when we spent much time in prayer for other nations around the world as well as those brave enough to go minister & protect them.

The study itself was where there was some hesitation, our boy felt that some of the questions didn’t fully match up with the value of the verse that was being read. I suspect it was a content issue, as with our previous studies you often back up a bit & read previous verses to get a grasp of the full picture. On the other hand it could also have just been that he was worried about answering wrong, which is odd because that’s not been a concern for him before in his other studies.

Either way we sat down to discuss the situation & decide what he wanted to do. I don’t want Bible Study to be something he stresses over “getting right” as much as I want to be something he enjoys doing as he searches for what God has to share with him. In the end we decided to lay it aside for the moment & pull out an inductive study. I actually stocked up on a fair amount of the D4Y studies that we didn’t own or that he had done but his younger brother hadn’t.

I knew the studies would be below him, but figured they would still have value & while I do agree with that I felt led to look for something meatier for him but down the same path of familiar study. Our Precept shop in Australia is currently closed until the 14th of next month so I checked out the USA shop & found a series of studies that look more appropriate for his age level. I was more than a little appalled at the international shipping but got rather excited to discover I can obtain them from Book Depository for $0 shipping & no wait time on them to be printed. We’re pretty excited about them, there are ample samples to get you started on the Precept ministries page if you are interested, & before I’m asked I am not purchasing the teacher keys. Check through the sample to see if you’d need it.

He had two video segments to watch on Egypt which were both quite interesting. One was based on a the idea that a portable wheel was how the bricks for the pyramids were moved not sleds, & the same segment argued that they didn’t believe slave labour was used in the making of the pyramids, or at least the one they were currently digging in. The second segment argued that slaves were used, specifically Hebrew, & gave us a bit of a tour of Egypt.

He also wrapped up his lovely notebooking pages for the week, all though now that I’m looking at them I see he didn’t label the Pyramid drawing he did. The drawing is based on the clip with the “wheel” in the DVD we watched.

Jayden also wrapped up his week. He had some science to catch-up on, as well as a full day’s worth of work in his HOD level. We’re not feeling as much love with the science right now, but I suspect it’s because we’ve already read  A Child’s Geography. I’ve opted to use it again because it was a few years ago & I wasn’t entirely sure how much of it he remembered.

We read about Ivan The Great in his history this week. He also had a written narration to do based on that reading which was his only outstanding notebooking assignment. We also caught up in his read aloud Ink On His Fingers, which has been quite an enjoyable read thus far.

We ended up skipping Shakespeare this week, I generally read it aloud to him while he works on the notebooking segment for the reading. Due to our term break we saved the first half of the story to read all in one go this week, but this chest infection I’ve been dealing with was really killing me this week. Lots of irritating coughing while I was trying to read. Afterwards some fellow HOD users shared that our Shakespeare book is available in audio from Librovox!

They both continued working on their math, but due to the lovely cough & wheezing I was sporting I didn’t review their IEW & have them move forward. Hopefully we’ll tackle that next week because our white board is full of notes from the last lesson we left off with!

We’re still working away with our current read aloud, & Bible readings. We selected a new batch of vocabulary words to get ourselves rolling with. the pictures for some of the words this time are downright hilarious. Mind you, I think the pictures make these vocabulary cards to some degree because it helps you visualise the definition. We squeezed in a trip to our local library too as we had books due, but no outing this week as I didn’t think it would be appropriate to share my cough with others.

It was nice to finish everything up & be ready to start fresh come Monday morning. Hopefully my cough will have officially hit the road, because I can’t imagine how annoying it must be listening to me read aloud to kids while I’m hacking every two seconds!

SS #26: Education is an Atmosphere

Today, we kick off a series of three episodes that were recorded live online with some of our Forum members. This series is organized around Charlotte Mason’s motto that education is an atmosphere, a discipline, and a life. Today’s episode is all about atmosphere.

BONUS: Scroll down to the bottom of these show notes to get a downloadable Atmosphere Audit to help you put these ideas into action in your homeschool.



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This episode is sponsored by The Art of Homeschooling. It’s the truth: The perfect plan will never be perfectly executed. Homeschool days will go horribly wrong. Our energy will fizzle out and our attention will wane. Our kids dawdle, complain, and bicker. It happens. To work our plan isn’t to fix ourselves, our home, or our children so that such things never happen. No, to work our plan is to have strategies for handling life even when it goes off the rails, because that’s when important lessons are learned by all. Click here and find the box to download the free motivation prep sheet at the bottom of the page that will help you discipline & organize your homeschool morning attitude, even when it’s been two hours since your last cup of coffee.


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Ants In The Pants

When I was four or five I was given the game Ants In The Pants, I recall playing it, mostly with a lot of frustration because it was quite difficult to get those crazy ants inside those crazy pants! I remember, for the few years I went to a private school before being homeschooled, the cafeteria had the game too & it often came out along with Spill the Beans to be played.

Why this memory hit me so strongly over the past month I’ve really no idea at all. I think it started when our very wiggly child was, well.. wiggling all over. I told him he was acting like he had ants in his pants. Which made me chuckle as I thought about the game.

Our child, on the other hand sat up & said, “Ants? In my pants? I hope they are bull ants or jack jumpers. That’d be really painful.” Ahh, the joys of living in a country with inch-long ants that hurt like the dickens when they bite! And our poor boy has some first hand experience on that front too.

I then had to explain exactly what the game was, & how you played it. I went on & on about the little pair of blue pants you tried to get the ants to jump into, but I’m afraid the more I described this game the more confused my kids got. Maybe it was the concept, who knows.

Last Friday we ducked into our local library to return some books & then made a quick dash for the grocery shop. I was trying to be quick & efficient, both due to time & because I’ve been fighting some nasty chest infection for the past 5 weeks & I really didn’t want to be out longer than I had to be.

As I’m dashing hither & yon trying to avoid crashing into all the other crazy Friday shoppers eager to get home from a long week of work & settle in for a cold night to watch football finals, I nearly crashed into a promotional display in the produce department.

Yes, the produce department. See our produce department & deli are side by side  & it’s not abnormal for our deli to back up so long that people react like they’ve won the lottery when their number is called & they are served. So much so we still giggle about the man who screamed, “BINGO!” when his number was called. Needless to say, it’s a great place for all sorts of promotional displays & the powers that be use it to their advantage.

The promotional display that I happened to run into was a display for old board games made new, & right there smack in the front was Ants In The Pants. Not in the tall slightly cubist slightly rectangular style box I remember, but in a flat pack box. I was slightly doubtful that it could be the real deal available for $10, but the box claimed it was & had the Hasbro logo on it so I snatched it up, much to my children’s confusion, & dashed through the store to finish collecting our meat pies, melon, & milk.

When we got home I whipped out the game with as much flourish as is possible when you’re hacking between every word & said, “Let me introduce you to— Ants In The Pants!” They laughed. I dont’ mean they giggled, I mean they laughed so hard I completely lost them for a few minutes there.

So I did the only sensible thing available, I pulled out the dairy free chocolate & bribed them to play a round with me. We put our pants together, that’s right they now have to be assembled thus the flat packing, & sorted out colours. There were many gripes that these “bugs” didn’t look anything like ants but more like grasshoppers, true true.. Mr S walked in & we waited for him to join us.

And while our dinner cooked we shot ants all over the kitchen. It may be the first time in al the years we’ve lived in Australia there was not one complaint or shout of horror at finding ants all over the kitchen. To be honest, the game is still as crazy as ever & I’m still absolutely horrible at getting those ants consistently into the pants, but it sure elicited a lot of laughter around our kitchen.

Week In Review 17/18: Week 2

We began our 2nd week of the new school year. I didn’t both to summarise our first week due to the laxness of it. The boys jumped back into their math programmes, we picked out our first read aloud of the year & dug in to that. We went over all the new curriculum for those who had new things to dig into, checked on parcels we’re still awaiting for, & signed our eldest up for his first elective of the year.

While we still live overseas we’re choosing to follow our home state’s regulations for high school. This is not mandatory where we live, but we feel led to follow this path. This means our boy needs a few electives to round out his high school career and you’ll hear a lot of chatter about credits around here where he’s involved.

As for this week we finally dug into new books, picked up older books & started to get the feel for our how days will unfold in the months ahead of us. While it can be overwhelming, at times, to dig into new things there’s also that lovely sense of excitement & we had a fair amount of excitement as we dug in.

Morgan started his new history/geography programme. Jayden switched to HOD some time ago, Morgan waited until wrapping up his previous curriculum to jump in. We left the choice of switching to a new curriculum or sticking with the previous 100% up to him, knowing we were content with either choice. He opted to change for a few reasons, & while the new goodies have been sitting on the shelf since April, he’s only just digging into it.

His science & lit are still making their way towards us, but he had all the rest he needed to dig in. Due to the missing books we opted to spread the first week over a 2 week period. It’s a bit of a change for our boy & he felt a little lopsided with it as he’s use to reading longer chunks of books at one go. He was a little surprised at how quick his days felt & felt a little unsure of the curriculum due to feeling like he hadn’t completed enough.

We discussed that sometimes it’s okay to read smaller amounts & really dig into the information you’ve read than reading larger amounts to tick them off our check-lists. That & moving on to the writing portion after each reading helped him see that it was not quite as light weight as he was thinking. After each of his Living Library books {we’re using them as read alouds} he writes a one sentence summary of our reading.

There are various assignments after his geography reading, but his favourite was the third day when he had to write a 3-5 paragraph essay on one of his readings that day. Research is something he loves so this was a well loved assignment that he tackled with enthusiasm. He applied his knowledge from his IEW lessons & used index cards for each paragraph numbering every other line & jotting down key words for each sentence within the paragraph. It was fun to see all his writing lessons paying off in this one assignment.

After his Religion/Culture readings he records specific things in the coordinating notebooking pages. These are pretty specific, thus far, but equally valuable. So far we’re reading through Don’t All Religions Lead To God? which has been an interesting read thus far. Morgan is really enjoying having notebooking pages again, in fact it was a huge lure for him desiring to change to HOD.

We dug into The Fallacy Detective this week too. He was going to read it on his own this time through, but the introduction of the book suggests that reading it with at least one other person is helpful when it comes to discussing the fallacies &  answering the questions at the end of each chapter. Somedays Mr S joined in for the discussions before leaving for work.

He tackled the next 5 lessons in his Teaching Textbook. He has a love hate relationship with TT. He was much farther along in his MUS when we made the switch & we opted to have him just work through the TT book in order to be sure we didn’t have gaps & to rebuild confidence in a few areas. The problem is that he was trying to apply more complicated theories to simplistic problems & that caused him a few hiccups.

He also dug into his new Animation Course which he’s doing for an elective. He’s taking a course through YouthDigital & was delighted to jump in with both feet. Lots of chuckling often takes place through the teaching portions & the hands on portions often involve a lot of, “I wonder if I can do.. Mm, I guess not, wait what if instead I try..”

We also watched one of the DVD segments that are scheduled in his World geography. Im hopeful I’ll be available to watch the various portions with him because the one small portion we watched was really quite interesting. I love that the DVD isn’t just “suggested” but sold as part of the package with this lovely programme.

Jayden was also busy with school, & only tackled half of his week as well leaving his science & Shakespeare for next week. We finally got to dig into MOH 3 which is very exciting. MOH 3 is a a lovely jump up from Vols. 1-2 & so beautifully done with the coloured photos & hardcover on it. The lessons have far more meat & depth to them that they are much more enjoyable to read.

Jayde was a little nervous about moving into MOH3 because he recalls some of the audios from previous volumes that he did not enjoy. I told him we could read the book together & thus we wouldn’t need the audios most of the time, but that on occasion we might rely on them. This relieved him greatly & he was delighted to dig in.

We learned about Ferdinand & Isabella & their roll in the Spanish Inquisition. How their marriage brought two countries together, & briefly touched on how we’d meet them again when we hear about Columbus. He also learned about The War Of The Roses, which led to discussions about crests, & now he’s quite keen to learn what our family crest may look like.

He was delighted to get to research London this week, not that I’m sure he needed to do a grand amount of research to answer the questions. His fascination with England holds no bounds, so this was right up his alley.

He too tackled the next 4 math lessons. Most of this week was review as he got back into the groove. Rather than moving through to a lesson where new material was I felt it wiser to get back into the routine with a few lessons that should be semi familiar to him. One of the drawbacks to changing math curriculums is that there will be a fair amount of overlap in some areas. There are really only a few lessons in this level that will be new to him before he levels up.

Our new family read aloud this week was The Green Ember which took some choosing to pick too! Several other books were picked previously but as it turned out we’d all ready them previously & we wanted something that was new to some/most of us. As it turned one one child hadn’t read this book at all & the other was halfway through so it fit our needs.

We also worked on some fire building skills. There’s always the debate in our home over who can build the best fire, but one things for sure, someone has really bad skills! So pulling out the new fire pit to burn off bits of our plum tree that died allowed for some fire building skills & how building a proper pile of varying kindling, paper, & wood made all the difference to your fire starting or not.

All up a relatively smooth transition back into our routine. I won’t deny that I felt a little lopsided through the week as I wasn’t quite as organised as I normally prefer to be during a school week, but we managed just fine & that’s what matters most.

SS #25: To Pre-Read or Not to Pre-Read (Why Is It Even a Question?)

Today’s episode was recorded when we had the joy of all being together in the same room (along with our friend, Dawn Garrett) for the Scholé Sisters Leadership Retreat in Portland. We had so much fun! We hope you enjoy this episode, even though there are a couple places where the sound is sub-par. (What can we say? We were all sharing one mic!)

Today’s topic is pre-reading. We talked about why to do it, how to let your personal goals lead the process, when to do it, and more!



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