Homeschool Summary Sept ’15

Wow, what a month.  I went through it feel like I couldn’t squeeze it all in.  Partly because we had visitors for a whole week in September, and 4H just started which meant a lot of meetings.  But looking back at what we’ve accomplished, we did do a lot of things.  I think it really helped 1) having my co-op every week and forcing me to prep, and 2) having that monthly curriculum planned in advance.  I’m still feeling my way through my scheduling but at least I’m not in a “What do I do?!” phase.  More on that some other time.

Before we go on, at the beginning of the month we also had her state test.  I was all worried because she isn’t reading yet.  But we were allowed to ask for audio instead and she scored high on math as well as English.  I was surprised and relieved by the English score.  I know she has no problem with comprehension but the reading and understanding how to take tests stressed me out.  So, very happy.


  • English  – almost done with set 6 of Primary Phonics, Week 2 of Writing with Ease
  • Chinese – read Charley and the Chocolate Factory, BFG, Matilda, Fantastic Mr. Fox, 2 Magic Treehouse books, writing a poem, learned to write 10-20 characters,
  • Math – Common Multiples, Least Common Multiples, Factors, Division racks and tubes 1 and 2 digits, x6 and x7 memorized, Tower of Jewels,
  • Science – 1st and 2nd great lesson, Solids/liquids/gas, Radiolab on the elements and virus,  D2: air is a substance
  • History/Geography – Long Black strip, finished USA map, Story of the World Chapter 1
  • Geometry – point, line, ray, segment nomenclature
  • Art – working with clay, introduction to colors
  • Music – learning to play 月亮代表我的心 on piano, Orff class, My Grandfather’s clock in English and Chinese
  • Practical life – Quesadilla, mantou


  • English  – c, a, t, b, m phonics
  • Chinese – Sagebooks set 2 book 1, can spell tons of words in zhuyin, read to Frog and Toad, Little Bear, writing a poem,
  • Math – golden beads addition/subtraction/division, tower of jewels, subtraction memorization, skip counting
  • Science:– Solids/liquids/gas, D2: air is a substance,
  • History/Geography: – Long Black strip,
  • Geometry – names of various triangles
  • Art – working with clay, introduction to colors
  • Music – watching music lessons on youtube and learned solfege signs.
  • Practical life – Quesadilla, folded lots of airplanes, knobbed cylinders

Others:  Native Americans through 4H history project, mindfulness class, Black Diamond Mine field trip.

Looking at rocks of limestone since 5 year olds can't go on tour.

Looking at limestone since 5 year olds can’t go on tour.


English is going.  We were 3 books away from finishing the Primary Phonics series but she was having a lot of trouble with the diphthongs, digraphs, and what nots.  I did some research on it and I think we need a back to basics approach as she may have never learned those blends properly in her preschool.  So I’m having her do the Primary Phonics workbooks, and then going back to re-read the previous sets until I can make the material.  It gives her a little breather and helps her feel better about her ability to read.

I also started her on the Writing with Ease curriculum.  Even though it is NOT a spelling curriculum, there are dictation involved eventually and I was hoping that through writing she can see how words are spelled.  We’re also doing Writing with Ease in Chinese so that she can be learning how to write characters that she’s using, rather than random characters from a worksheet.


racks and tubes


CM was not her cup of tea

Math she got frustrated doing the common multiples and factors so we stopped.  We’re now basically concentrating on finishing her memorization of multiplication table and working on multiplication and division operations, plus a weekly presentation on squaring and cubing.  She finally started on racks and tubes and I think division is exactly where she should be; as she doesn’t mind putting those little beads one by one into the division board.  I also managed to squeeze in a geometry lesson on line, segments, rays, but we haven’t followed up.

Totally fun!

Rolling out earth’s history

Science and history has been great fun doing it in my co-op.  We managed to do 2 science and 1 history (Long Black Strip) presentations before life on in the way. She also listened to Radiolab, which is one of my, and her, favorite way to learn about science.  Radiolab really makes science fun and interesting.  And it’s always leading edge theories and research.


Putting glazes on her first ceramic pieces

We worked with clay a bit in art.  To help tie things together to the month’s theme of the moon and time, we learned the song 月亮代表我的心 and she’s going to learn it on the piano in music.

Another failed attempts at learning our do-re-mi

Another failed attempts at learning our do-re-mi

I’m also trying out a weekly lesson on one recipe she can learn for practical life.  We made some mantou.  It hasn’t happened consistently yet, but overall I’m just happy, like the other subjects, that I’m able to squeeze in these other things.  Last year, I didn’t feel like I was able to do some of the subjects I wanted to make sure I cover.


chocolate and sesame mantou

Chinese we’ve been trying various ways to learn to write and finally settled on one.

One failed way we tried to write

One failed way we tried to write


Some review after completing the first set

Some review after completing the first set

For Astroboy, he’s really blossoming this year.  He loves to draw and color and play with his friends that he’s seeing 3-4 days a week.  I’m for once sticking with Sagebooks and we’re making progress.   We managed to finish the first set of Sagebooks and are now on the second set in Chinese.

Our completed moon log

Our completed moon log

With science, other than finishing our moon log, we only did work with the co-op unfortunately.

With his zhuyin, he’s in this sensitive period where he really wants to spell everything while talking to me.  He doesn’t really have a lot of problem on this front anymore and the next phase for me is to figure out how to get him to read longer sentences.  Right now he can just manage 1-3 words fast.  Otherwise it’s slow going for him.

A lot of it ended up on the carpet.

A lot of it ended up on the carpet.

In English, my first attempt at the sandpaper letters met with disinterest.  I finally whipped out the cornmeal and he had a lot of fun for 15 minutes before wanting to play with it.  Because of his zhuyin class, he’s actually figuring out the reading part fast, but cannot remember the symbols in handwriting form.  The child has somehow already picked up the alphabet and recognizes a bunch of time and knows his alphabet song.  Though I’ve never taught him.  The power of a sibling I guess.


Using a non-standard material for subtraction work


1000-bead chain skip counting again

Had fun dividing oreo cookies amongst his 9 friends

Had fun dividing oreo cookies amongst his 9 friends

We did a lot of math, but he’s having some issues with choosing work himself.  He’s back to the “Do it with me!” constant refrain of last year.  Hm…I wonder if this has to do with the fact that he’s sleeping with me again.  I did manage to present a few things:  skip counting 1000-chain in a square format, booklet 2 of subtraction memorization work, division board.  He only repeated the division board and golden bead work.

Totally not kosher mixing strange golden bead materials.

Totally not kosher mixing strange golden bead materials.

I finally introduced Golden beads operations this year and he’s really loving the idea of going to the bank to get some money.  Through the golden beads, he’s learning about exchanging in addition and subtraction.  I remember being told that you don’t have to introduce the operations in order.  It’s whatever keeps his interest.  That’s why we’re jumping all over the place.

Since we cannot afford music lessons, we’ve been watching English  youtube videos of sample music lessons.  It’s great!  We watch it once a week on Tuesday afternoons.  He loves it and has been repeating the songs he learned.  We’re also doing some art and I hope to do more when I have more time to prep the art shelf.


Always a hit with kids


I think there’s a boat somewhere

Blind folded and feeling his way around

The added level of difficulty kept his interest

At the beginning of the month, he folded A LOT of airplanes for practical life.  I noticed that he’s holding his pencil wrong and though I’m trying to not have him write a lot, he ends up doing it through his tutoring class and he also likes to color.  So I whipped out the knobbed cylinders again to help with his pincer group and redid my Pratical Life shelf to add some more pincer grip work.   

New PL shelf before I started being messy

Newly organized PL shelf before I started being messy


I feel like we’re now almost settled into our schedule and routine.  I went through 2 weeks of feeling overwhelmed and not being able to fit everything in.   But after some talking over with other homeschoolers, I made some tweaks to our schedule and am much happier.  It’s still a work in progress though.  I told someone today I feel like I’m actually having school this year whereas last year it was a lot of “argh the kids won’t concentrate! Let’s go out!”

I lost my prep time and realized that having a solid 3 hour of prep time a few times a week gives me some sanity and keeps me on top of things.  So I’m trying to somehow schedule that back.

Having that curriculum plan and presentation calendar has been super helpful.  I looked back at the beginning of October and realized we actually hit a lot of my desired goals for September, and the ones we didn’t hit, it was okay because I found other presentations and topics to cover.   Other than geometry, that’s my one weakness.

I had so many things I wanted to share about my happiness in finding the music lesson videos, the way we did the moon unit, how I’m changing the way we study language a bit, my decision about learning to write in Chinese, and my new work schedules.  But alas, I either haven’t found time, or it feels like we kind of dropped an activity half way through.  One thing I did realize this month is that if you want to do in-depth study of a subject, then it’s hard to do cover every subject daily, because that’s going for breadth.  So that’s the balance I’m struggling with.

Another thing I realized is that because Thumper is only now really starting to write, she writes very slowly.  This eats up a lot of her study time.  I’m wondering if I need to kind of focus on that by insisting that she writes daily.  Hmmmm……..


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s