Monday, March 25, 2013


I'm already planning for 7th grade.  I have been doing so much research and I'm so excited about these new things.  The ordering has begun and hopefully I'll have all of next year's curriculum before the summer.  Here's what we're using currently for 6th grade:
  • Literature:  Read & Understand Poetry
  • Spelling:  Sequential Spelling 1
  • Vocabulary:  Wordly Wise 6
  • Grammar:  Hake Grammar & Writing 6
  • Writing:  Wordsmith Apprentice
  • Math:  Saxon 7/6
  • History:  Story of Mankind
  • Science:  Apologia General Science
  • Art:  Artistic Pursuits Junior High Book 1
And 7th grade will look like this:

Literature:  Lightning Lit 7
We're ready to get back into some good literature.  After putting it aside for a while to focus more on W's ability to read, spell, and write, I think it's time.  This program has lots of comprehension questions (which W enjoys and is really good at - thank you Charlotte Mason), composition exercises (which W needs to start doing more of), and it uses only 4 books per year (well, 5 if you count the stories & poems book).

Spelling:  Sequential Spelling 2
He loved Sequential Spelling 1, so we might just continue with the series.  It definitely improved his spelling and reading.  He really enjoys using the whiteboard to go over the words and for the daily spelling test.

Vocabulary:   Wordly Wise 7
We got into a better groove with book 6 in the 2nd half of 6th grade.  We like it a lot.  I was looking at various other vocab programs, but they looked so dry and boring.  Wordly Wise also has online pages full of games that go along with the book you're using.

Grammar:  Killgallon Elementary Story Grammar
This is a program I just found out about from one of the homeschool message board I visit.  A mom raved about it after using it with her dyslexic son.  I figured why not give it a try.  Hake Grammar was fine, but we'd both like to try something new with a different flair to it.

Writing:  Killgallon Elementary Sentence Composing
This is something we'll use together with the grammar book.  It's supposed to be a different way of getting kids to like writing.  Anything that could do that, I'll try.  W is a very reluctant writer, but this looks fun and engaging and I've read many great things about it.  I think starting with the Elementary books would be a perfect step into better writing for W.  If he does well with this, we'll use the middle school books next year.

Math:  Art of Problem Solving PreAlgebra
As much as we love Saxon, I'm dying to try this program.  W and I looked at a bunch of sample pages together and he loved what he saw.  This is a program for kids who are good at math.  W is good at math and will do well with a new, more in-depth approach. The AoPS website also has tons of videos aligned to the book.

History:  K12 Human Odyssey 1
I have heard such good things about this history book that I couldn't wait to get a copy.  I just got it in the mail today, as a matter of fact  We will start using it in 6th grade then into 7th, Then part-way through 7th we may be ready for book 2.  It's big and colorful and looks a lot more interesting than what we've used in the past.  For history W and I just read and discuss.  Sometimes he'll jot down names and events so he'll remember them.  I think we'll start a new notebooked timeline with this since it starts at pre-history.  So reading, discussing, timeline, documentaries, and field trips should make for a nice 7th grade history program.

Geography:  Runkle's World Physical Geography
Someone somewhere mentioned this set of books and I fell in love with them after seeing excerpts.  We probably don't need a geography program, since we do mapwork during history (and other) readings, but this goes in-depth and looks really enjoyable.  I plan on using these books over the course of several years.  Our geography has been choppy and scattered and I think this will bring it all together.  Check out this mom's review.

Science:  Apologia General Science (continued)
I know I said we weren't feeling the Apologia so much, but after revamping the way we use the book, we're starting to like it again.  We do science much like we do history - reading and discussing.  We enjoy the experiments and try to really get into understanding what's going on here.  We also supplement with lots of documentaries and field trips and plan on continuing this method throughout 7th grade.  The young earth thing doesn't bother me so much since I keep reading that this is one of the best programs out there.  We'll stick with it for now.

Art:  Artistic Pursuits Junior High Book 1 (continued)
We crack this book open maybe a couple of times a month.  It's fun and W likes it, so I plan on using it more in 7th grade.

OK, since I was on a roll this weekend, 8th grade may look like this (Hey, gotta plan ahead)

Literature:  Lightning Lit 8
Spelling:  Sequential Spelling 3
Vocabulary:   Wordly Wise 8
-  Killgallon Grammar for Middle School OR
-  Painless Grammar
-  Killgallon Sentence Composing & Paragraphs for Middle School OR
-  Writeshop 1 w/Copywork & Dictation book OR
-  Jump-In OR
-  Wordsmith
-  Foerster's Algebra 1 OR
-  Art of Problem Solving Intro to Algebra OR
-  Saxon Algebra 1
History:  K12 Human Odyssey 2 into 3
Geography:  Runkle Geography (continued)
Science:  Apologia Physical Science - maybe - if we're not tired of it by then, lol.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Girls

What a great week.  Ever since J left her dance studio, so many great things have happened.  First, she was chosen to dance in her school's gospel show.  It is such a huge honor to be chosen for ANY performance at this school.  This is no ordinary high school.  Second, she was so excited to get to work the school's open house.  She sold sweatshirts and greeted the accepted 8th & 9th graders with an overly-cheerful, "Welcome to LaGuardia!!".  She had a blast.  Third, she has been acing her choreography class at school.  The dance chairperson loves everything she choreographs.  J's grades have been well into the 90s for all dances.  This week, the assignment was to go to the school's art gallery, choose a piece, interview the artist, and choreograph a dance based on the art piece.   J did really well with this.  And finally, J will be dancing in a new music video.  This is an awesome opportunity for her.  She's in rehearsals for the next few weeks and it's being shot sometime in April.  She's looking forward to the all-day shoot along with the hair, makeup, and costuming!

J's solo 2012
It is times like this when I know her guardian angel has stepped in.  It was the right time for her to part with the studio in order to be able to move forward in her life.

K in Florida
K just got home from Florida on Monday.  She spent a week down in Fort Lauderdale and Miami.  She had a great time on the beach, at different clubs, and being with 3 of her friends all week.  It's weird to think of her as a grown-up.  She booked and planned everything herself -no help from me at all.  She worked tons of extra hours during the weeks prior to her trip so she'd have plenty of spending money.  She said she had the best time.

I miss being young.

Thursday, March 14, 2013


After doing some serious hibernating for the last few months we decided to get back into doing some group classes.  This week W went to a great class at the Alley Pond Environmental Center on Wetlands.  There were about 8 middle/high school aged kids there - all intently focused and fully participating.  I can imagine the nonsense these people have to go through with chatty, unfocused school kids who are just happy to get out of their building for a few hours.  A group of homeschoolers must be so refreshing for them.  The class was all about marshes and the various plants and animals that inhabit them.  The kids tested the brackish water in the creek:  temperature, pH level, turbidity, and oxygen levels.  W really enjoyed the class (the instructor was fantastic) and was happy to be with friends he hasn't seen in a while.

Inside the APEC classroom
Info on how to test the creek water
Out on the marsh

Math:  (Saxon) Angles & lines, multiplying & reducing fractions.  Review of percent, measurement, multiples, mixed numbers, average, GCF, perimeter, diameter/radius
English:  (Hake) Future tense, capitalization in sentences, "I", and poetry, & irregular plural nouns.  Review of sentence types, compound nouns, simple subjects, verb phrases, vocabulary words, abstract & concrete nouns, possessives, fragments & run-ons, past/present tense.  (Seq Spelling) Days 13-16.  (Wordsmith Apprentice)  Introduction to writing
History:  (Story of Mankind) Hieroglyphics
Science:  APEC field trip:  Wetland Ecology & Water Testing,  (Apologia) The Scientific Method

And I just have to throw one more of these out there:

50 reasons why NYC is the greatest city in the world

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Best City in the World

I've been saying it since forever.  It's nice that many others feel this way, too.  Check out these great articles from this week:

Notable parents on why NYC is the best city in the world


Friday, March 08, 2013

Doin' It Our Way

W is 12 years old today!  When I started this blog he was 3.  I can't believe how fast that went.

So, academics are fun once again.  I decided that we don't need to do things the way anyone else does them.  We have our own awesome way of learning and we love it.

Saxon Math:  W does the mental math problems before each lesson as fast as he can.  Then we go over the new lesson.  I use a 1.5'x2' dry-erase board with lots of colored markers.  W then does all the practice and regular problems on the dry-erase board.  He zips through the whole lesson so fast this way.  He doesn't even bother writing in the workbook - we just check off the page.  He's mastered the word problem, too.  I love Saxon.

Sequential Spelling:  This is perfect to use a dry-erase board with.  I write all the spelling words out, using a different color for the inside root sound.  He reads them all and then takes a spelling test - again right on the dry-erase board.  His handwriting is neat and I don't think he's spelled any words wrong yet.  In the workbook, he does the exercise that goes with that day's list.  This program is noticeably helping with W's reading.  Love this, too.

Hake Grammar & Writing:   There hasn't been any significant writing with this book yet, so we just fly through a chapter verbally.  I point to each exercise and he tells me the answers.  Without the tedium of writing things down, he is enjoying and retaining almost all of it so far.  I love Hake since it's set up the same way as Saxon Math is.  It has the same repetitive vibe to it that W does well with.  Heavier writing assignments will certainly be written out when they come up.

The Story of Mankind:  This is just fun to read aloud together.  He writes key terms, names, and events down on the dry-erase board.  I believe writing things down helps you remember them.  Then he narrates back the whole chapter.  He remembers everything, in order, and makes his own connections.  Whatever we read about in history we like to watch a documentary, do a project, and/or go to a museum to see things up close and get a better understanding.

Apologia General Science:  We're trying to make this a lot more interactive and interesting.  I'm using it as a readaloud and W (just like with history) writes down key terms, names, dates, etc.  We spend a lot of time doing the experiment and this involves more writing, drawing conclusions, and opening ourselves up to further investigation.  Again we'll use documentaries and field trips with the lessons.

We have other workbooks we use here and there, too.  These are more for variety, though, and include art, Spanish, vocabulary, poetry, editing, and puzzles.  He's starting a few computer programming courses as well.  I'm feeling so good about his academics.  We're in a good flow and we're both enjoying ourselves and getting things done quickly.

I did some reading on the Common Core and how everyone is up in a panic about it.  It pretty much looks like what we've been doing as homeschoolers anyway.  I mean, it's natural for our lessons (and lives) to contain a lot of critical reading/thinking, conceptual understandings, broadened worldviews, cogent reasoning, use of evidence, mathematical understanding and coherence, mathematical reasoning, and thinking statistically.  There's nothing in our way, like endless testing, nor do we need to do any accommodating for a classroom of kids - with all the varying abilities, needs, learning rates, and achievement levels.  I honestly believe homeschoolers may have the advantage here.  In NYC the 7th grade tests at the public schools that are needed for entry to most public high schools will soon conform to Common Core.  The SATs will as well.  I'm not worried at all.

J has decided to part ways with her dance studio.  It was a good 8.5-year run.  She learned a lot, experienced a lot, won a lot, and had a lot of fun.  She'll miss teaching her babies, but the world holds a lot more out there for her. First and foremost is focusing on her studies at school.  History, Science, English, & Math are key right now.  She is also in the advanced tap class, learning to choreograph, and taking tons of ballet and modern in her 15 hours of dance at school each week.  She is working on a project with another girl (and a new one with a boy) before and after school for her choreography class.  Her Junior Project is coming up soon, too, where she has to choreograph and perform an original dance worth half her grade.  Summer can now be filled with dance intensives and advanced classes, and she will start going on auditions and making career choices in senior year.  She went out on a high note, though, as last week she competed in NJ and came away with 6 High Platinum awards (the highest) and several overalls.  One High Platinum was for her new solo she choreographed completely by herself (just as she did last year).  Competitions are always great and it's so fun having a high award to validate all your hard work, but she's ready for the next stage of life.  I can't be more proud of her dedication and the fact that she knows exactly what she wants and is taking the steps to get there.