Homeschool Summary Oct ’15

Kids climbing trees. One of the things I love to see them do

Kids climbing trees. One of the things I love to see them do

Urgh, what a month.  I feel like I’m on this sharp incline, holding onto a rope so that I don’t fall into the abyss that’s called “lack of motivation and too many things going on.”  Slowly but surely the classroom/homeroom is losing structural integrity but I’m patching holes as quick as I can until Christmas vacation comes around and I can reset everything once again.

This month was particularly hard because we’ve been having visitors every 2-3 weeks.  It means I have about 1 week of whole homeschooling in before we interrupt it with something.  And this is on top of 4H disrupting my schedule, or unplanned playdates, and having a sick Baba for what seems like forever but is really just half of the month.  Half a month of almost single parenting does not make Mama Teacher happy.


  • Language – Primary Phonics set 4. Dr. Seuss books.  Writing with Ease week 10. Introduction to periods and sentences.  Listened to Magic Treehouse.  960 Chinese characters recognized.  19 books read.
  • Math – memorization table 9.  Racks and tubes.  Passing from one square to another.  Introduction to vertical/horizontal/oblique lines.  Revisiting 4 digit multiplication.  She’s now progressed to not using concrete materials and just calculating on paper.
  • ScienceRotation of the Earth, Timeline of Life great lesson, Timeline of Humans great lesson, Anatomy parts, Parts of the Fish, Circuit Kit, Long black strip (sensorial experience of timeline of earth)
  • History – Make family timeline.  BC/AD nomenclature introduction.  Make personal timeline.  Listened to Story of the World.
  • Art/Practical Life – sewed her witch’s hat, sewed pony ears
  • Music – Orff class, 五月花,嗚哇嗚哇變
  • Languageb, p, m, f.  practicing cursive writing (fine motor training)
  • Math – skip counting 2, binomial cube, addition snake game (he’s learning about number bonds, exchanges, that more than 2 numbers can make up another number), he drew a train using geometric shapes
  • Science – Rotation of the Earth, Timeline of Life great lesson, Timeline of Humans great lesson, Anatomy parts, Parts of the Fish, Circuit Kit, Long black strip (sensorial experience of timeline of earth)
  • History – Make family timeline.  BC/AD nomenclature introduction.  Personal timeline.  Needs of Humans
  • Art/Practical life – sewing his own name
  • Music – various songs he’s learning in class. solfeggi signs, 嗚哇嗚哇變
Parts of a fish presentation...that got cooked

Parts of a fish presentation…that got cooked


We managed to actually do one art activity


I’m really liking Writing with Ease.  I think it is really perfect when you’re studying Chinese as a second language because it forces you to practice writing in speaking format first.  More on that some other day.


Our reading record

Thumper is reading Dr. Seuss’s book as she takes a breather from Primary Phonics.  She’s devouring Chinese books at the rate of 1-2 a day, mostly Magic Treehouse.  I bribed her with the promise of a telescope if she finishes 100 books and she’s been diligently writing them down.    I have to say, I do love Magic Treehouse, even though I have no clue what’s in the books.  Because she is constantly quoting me some subject knowledge from the book, or telling me that’s where she’s learning her characters.  She’s also on a binge listening to the English version of Magic Treehouse and also Story of the World, both in English.As a result of her spending time daily with her English speaking friend, she’s been just sprouting English, even in Chinese environments.  It’s really driving me bonkers and I’m contemplating my next steps.  Partly I hope that as our co-op stabilizes and the same number of show up every week, this “leakage” will stop.  But I know it’s not the same as spending that 1 hour a day social chatting.  Need to figure it out.

Strange multiplication

Strange multiplication.  The answer is right.

We’re finally done with multiplication memorization!  We’ll firm up what we know and practice division and multiplication memorization with Reflex Math, otherwise known as Crabby.   Oh! and another exciting news is that she’s now doing multiplication only with paper.  But in a very strange way, because of the way she calculates on the Large Bead Frame.   I guess it kind of comes naturally to transition to paper when you remember your multiplication table.

We only managed one squaring presentation this month.  Thank goodness squaring itself is not a hard concept to master if all you’re doing is translating what you see in the concrete materials into number symbols.


Passing from One Square to Another


Funny its these types of activities they do that make me most happy


Astroboy limped to the finish line in finishing Sagebook Set 2.  He’s starting to say he doesn’t want to read so I need to take it a bit slower and make it more interesting to him.  So very strange in an interesting way.  狗 and 樹 took him one look to remember.  美,早 he still doesn’t remember.  It is not my idea of fun to just read 3 characters day in and day out either.  But with all our social activities, it’s all we could do this month; squeezing in the minimum.   In fact, it’s not just Chinese, but math, social sciences, etc.  He wants to do nothing.  I’m constantly reminding myself he’s only turned 5 and I’m here to develop his concentration and will, not academics.  So this is one area I will try to change in November.

On the other hand, he’s making very good progress with zhuyin.  I don’t think we need to continue with our zhuyin class next year.  Just need more practice reading.  I think he’s at the whole sentence reading stage only right now if it’s all zhuyin.  But it’s not too bad if you mix it with characters he knows in regular picture books.

For English, I got super lazy and I’m just going to teach him English phonics by introducing them in the order of zhuyin!  In the beginning of the month he was really into the addition snake game.  But like I mentioned wanted no math whatsoever after his auntie’s visit.

Apparently I took a lot of pics of Astroboy this month.  And he did a bunch of random one-shot stuff.

Needs of Humans

Story of Needs of Humans: shelter, defense, food, clothing, transportation


His own version

Astroboy didn’t want to do any work last week.  Instead he revisited the Snap Circuits Alternative Energy Kit  that his uncle got him, and that has been sitting on the shelf for weeks.  I’m trying to be patient and remind myself that everyone goes through phases in learning and he’s done with math for now.


Spent the last week doing nothing but circuits


Binomial cube. Sensorially memorizing the equation.


Made mantou during one of our co-ops


Practicing writing by designing his own color-a-dot game for Thumper to solve

I really need to go back to sitting with him.  I’m not sure what it is.  But he cannot sit still on most activities for more than 15 minutes before he wants me to sit next to him.  I can’t wait to move so I can add more co-op days.

Sewing his own name

Sewing his own name

Sigh, looking at all these pics remind me that I need to prep.  It’s obvious Astroboy likes trains, but I’m not using this to draw his interest except when I’m coherent and had enough sleep.

IMG_7084 copy

Using geometric shapes to draw Casey Junior


What I Learned or am Trying

If you’re interested, here’s my Oct Curriculum Plan.  Here are some of the other things we’re doing during the day, in order to squeeze things in.

  • Thumper and Astroboy read in the car at least twice a week.  It’s how I get Sagebooks in for Astroboy.  Thumper is allowed to read in bed before she goes to bed.
  • In the car, we’re also listening to audio, specifically Story of the Word, The Children Can Listen Encyclopedia, and Radio Lab.  This last month, we added in Children Can Listen World History.
  • When the kids can’t focus first thing in the morning, I remember to get back into our Morning Exercises.  We added in a new exercise that the kids really love.
  • One of the “tasks” on the kids work plan every day is to meditate 5 minutes a day.  It’s part of their homework from their meditation class that they go to once every few weeks.  There’s something to be said about forcing yourself to sign up for class in order to do “homework”.
  • I’m creating a Youtube playlist called “Listen As We Work once a month for the Chinese songs related to our theme.  It’s the only way I’ve been able to get songs into the classroom.  I play it when the work period is going well and I’m actually paying attention to the kids.
  • Another thing I’m trying is writing up a schedule on the board of when I will give the kids presentations.  It’s a way for me to get the presentations in and force the kids not to try and ask me questions every 5 minutes, but rather to plan accordingly and also try and solve their own problems.  For example, something like:
    • 9am 上學
    • 9:30 Astroboy
    • 11:00am Thumper
    • 11:45am cleanup
    • 12pm Lunch

I’ve been thinking off and on, should I be going with the approach many homeschooler’s take, which is to have the kids mostly teach themselves and I provide guidance and help when needed?  But I think for now, probably not.  Partly because I do enjoy teaching, partly because the kids aren’t really reading.  They can’t really do a lot of self learning until they can read…..


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