Weekly Wrap-Up Weeks 2 & 3

I’m combining Week 2 and Week 3 for this wrap-up. Here are a few highlights from the last two weeks ~ I hope to take more photos in future weeks, if nothing else because they help jog my memory!

  • We started a Shakespeare study, centering around the ten-week introductory Shakespeare course from Music in Our Homeschool. It’s so much fun!

If you want more details on how we are doing this, see my post here:

 Shakespeare in the Homeschool

  • My 5th grader is using Apologia’s Swimming Creatures this year because she very much wanted to study marine biology. We are a secular homeschooling family, but this program still works for us: we just omit the religious comments. It is a very well done program, with lots of colorful pictures, experiments, and a science notebook to record everything in. We use the notebook a bit loosely — she just fills out whatever sections inspire her.


As part of the program, she is making an ocean box. Right now, it just has the ocean floor (saltdough!) and a few deep sea dwellers. But by the end of the year, it will be full!


For his lab last week, his siblings set up a mock crime scene for him, complete with a body outline, overturned chair, and a few select clues. His job was to come in and figure out what had happened. They had an awesome time with this one!

A few other things we did this week and last (off the top of my head!):


  • Dissected a frog for biology (10th) — and it actually wasn’t as intimidating as I remembered from high school! He has completed all of the dissections now for Apologia Biology. He started the program last year, but we’re going to take a little over a year to finish.



  • Got ourselves a trial subscription to Curiosity Stream, which I am so excited to try this coming week!


  • Played Perspective: the Timeline Game — this game is an awesome one to help cement the overall history timeline for high schoolers! I hope to review it fully in future (it’s available from Rainbow Resource if you are interested).


Have a wonderful weekend!

Shakespeare in the Homeschool

I am super excited that last week we finally got around to doing something I have been meaning to do for years –  an in-depth study of Shakespeare! I am no expert on the Bard, and honestly…

I feel a bit intimidated by the whole thing!

But I am determined to make it work, and I’m also feeling pretty enthusiastic!

For the record, my kids’ did not have a very enthusiastic first reaction. However, by the end of our first session things were looking up, and they were finding the whole thing amusing if nothing else…so I’m hopeful that this will be a positive experience for us.

The plan is to spend around 45 minutes a day, a few times a week, on our Shakespeare study.

I’m pulling from a few different resources for this study.

For the foundation of our study, I signed us up for the self-paced course 10 Weeks of Shakespeare from Music in Our Homeschool. We are working our way through it a bit each day, so it will probably take us less than ten weeks since it’s designed to be done once a week.

We began Week 2 today, and so far, so good. I am grateful to have a helping hand to organize the start of our study! So far, we have viewed both animated and live-action versions of Act 1 of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, spent some time reading through the original script on our own, learned about Iambic Pentameter and how to read Shakespeare aloud, and lots more!

The course uses the two bottom books pictured above:

How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare by Ken Ludwig


William Shakespeare’s Star Wars by Ian Doescher

I was able to find both books at my library. We are using the Ken Ludwig book to memorize and analyze lines of Shakespeare’s plays. My kids are picking up the memorization much more quickly than I am! I was a bit skeptical about memorizing lines, but it’s giving us a real feel for the language. Plus, it’s pretty darn exciting when we hear “our” line in one of the video clips we watch! And the Star Wars book is a blast! My kids are super familiar with Star Wars and we have had fun reading it in Shakespeare-style.

I also have Simply Charlotte Mason’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Shakespeare in Three Steps) on hand and plan to use it to walk us through the whole play after we finish our introductory course.

An excellent companion to all of this is No Fear Shakespeare: A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  I found my copy at Barnes and Noble and there were several other titles there. It includes the full script of the play side-by-side with a plain English translation. We have been using it along with the above course whenever we are prompted to read directly from the play.

And then we have lots of other resources I plan to pull in here and there as we have time. We may not get to these until after we finish our introductory course.

They include:

We also have several titles from the Shakespeare Can be Fun! series.

There are several other titles available.

For listening/viewing, we have:

Shakespeare 4 Kidz Macbeth


Arkangel Shakespeare’s Macbeth

I have had many of these resources on the shelf for years — with good intentions and no follow through. It was exciting to dust them off!

And that’s how we are doing Shakespeare in our homeschool this year!

Homeschool Wrap-Up Week 1(continued)

We spread our first homeschool week over two weeks, to ease into things — so here are a few highlights from the second half of week 1!

We started Logic to the Rescue — a fun introduction to logic written like a fantasy/fairy tale and a new Life of Fred book. We’re using both for 5th grade.

Did a few experiments from Swimming Creatures from Apologia. We are a secular homeschool family, but I have really enjoyed the ease and layout of Apologia’s curriculum, even if we skip over some things. In one experiment, we put a slightly inflated balloon inside a soda bottle and then stepped on the bottle to see what happened with the balloon — a firsthand look at how pressure underwater can affect diver’s lungs! We’re using Swimming Creatures for 5th grade science this year.

Continued setting up stores with Simply Charlotte Mason’s Your Business Math. This week’s task was to decide on how much inventory to order and what it would all cost. We had planned to do this program once a week, but everyone enjoys it so much that we may increase that! We’re using SCM Business Math for 10th, 8th, and 5th grade.

Here’s a look at one of the inventory sheets… it was quite a challenge for them to figure out how much of each item to order!


My 8th grader wanted to study forensic science this year. His first lab of the year was a forged check lab. He had family members write out checks using their own names, then forge a “victim’s” signature. I chose one of the family to be the forger and handed him the check that person had signed, plus all the other checks. His task was to discover the criminal by comparing the handwriting! This lab is from Crime Scene Investigations, the book we are using as his lab book this year.

I’ll share some highlights from week 2 next week!

Homeschool Wrap-Up Week 1

We officially started back to homeschool this week — although we really only did Thursday and Friday, so it wasn’t a full week. Things went pretty well! We definitely did not finish everything on my rather ambitious list, but we made a solid start on things. The kids aren’t terribly thrilled, but I think it’s nice to be back in a routine — and we tend to spend more time together when we are actively homeschooling.

I’m hoping to post a weekly wrap-up most weeks to share a few highlights of the week — so here we go with Week 1!

2018-2019 Homeschool Year Week One

I’ve missed reading aloud all summer! I have to build up my throat muscles again though —they got a little weak from their summer off! Our first two read-alouds for BookShark American History 2 (which my 5th grader is using) are Moccasin Trail and William Wilberforce. She’s reading By the Great Horn Spoon on her own, and she’s almost finished with it already. She’s my bookworm!

And here are our first two read-alouds for BookShark World History 2 (which my 8th grader is using).  Secret of the Andes I have read several times aloud already, but it’s a good one! And then he was going to read Kingfisher, plus Story of the World Vol. 3, and The King’s Fifth to himself this week — but he is finding Kingfisher a bit of a slog, so I’m going to read that one with him too.


Our foreign language studies got off to a slow start, but we got going on Latina Christiana (5th) and First Start French (5th & 8th). I’m sure I’ve said this before, but man do I love Memoria Press for foreign language! Everything is so easy to use and so streamlined. It really makes it doable for me, since I definitely have no talent in this area!

Latina is super easy for my 5th grader right now, because she already knows the whole first lesson from doing Prima Latina last year. We had fun with the French program today, too. My 8th grader was set on learning French instead of Spanish like my other two, and I hesitantly decided to go ahead with that. Then my 5th grader wanted in too, because she does ballet and wants to understand all the French words….so here we are with lots of language study going on!

Other things we did in our homeschool this week:

  • Dissected a perch for Apologia Biology (10th) — he’s working on finishing up this program from last year. I have been truly amazed at how much less “icky” dissection is to me now than it was in high school. I’m guessing it’s a result of having kids and all the gross aspects that can and do go along with that??


  • Began The History of the Ancient World (10th) and the study guide that goes with it. I think it’s going to be a good fit for him, and the study and teaching guide makes it so do-able — I even have the answers to use when we discuss! We aren’t using the guide as written, but tweaking it a bit. More on that after we’ve gotten used to it for a few weeks!


  • Spent many hours trying to figure out how to trap and remove a red squirrel that has decided that the space above our garage is an excellent winter home. We got a trap, which apparently he is too smart for. Then the kids spent several hours over the week trying to design their own trap/modify the existing one to make it work. No luck, but I’m counting all that experimentation as science! And we have a new trap on the way to us.


  • Started Your Business Math — possibly the curriculum I am most excited about using this year! The basic idea is to have each kid set up and run a pretend business. Today, they worked on coming up with names and logos for their stores. I have one doing the Pet Store and two doing the Sports Store version.


  • Started art — Friday is going to be art day this year. Two kids (8th & 10th) are doing woodworking, and my youngest (5th) requested calligraphy. For that, she is using Calligraphy for Kids by Eleanor Winters, and so far, it’s a hit!

I’ll be back next week with highlights from the rest of Week 1 —since I’ve decided that we are going to spread our Week 1 work over two weeks to help us ease into things. Thanks for stopping by!

Meal Planning for Homeschool Families

We are all set to start our new homeschool year towards the end of this week — I am super excited, my kids maybe not quite as much;).

Want to see our plans for this year? Click here!

We spent some time this week getting ready for our new year. It is super important to me to try to be as organized as I can this year, because we have so much going on….among other things:

Sports — sooo many sports & outside classes – I wouldn’t have it any other way, but it does mean we need to be quite organized to get stuff done!

Home construction — we started adding some bedroom space over the summer (and by “we”, I mean the people we hired) and while I was hoping it would be over and done before we started school, it — isn’t. So we will be homeschooling to the tune of drywall sanding and nail guns.

My new job — I’m so excited to be joining the staff at Brave Writer this fall! I’m teaching The Writer’s Jungle Online class.

So anyway, back to the organization. I did a whole bunch of stuff this week to get myself feeling ready. Or, more ready anyway. Here, I’m going to share my meal plan for the whole month of September!

Yes, really. At the risk of sounding like a total braggart, I am so gosh-darn impressed with myself for doing this.

Meal planning is my nemesis. With six people in the house and crazy-busy schedules, planning our meals is a must, but it’s a real pain to do every week. I had the idea of just doing it once a month and having it done. I got the kids involved and assigned them a couple nights to cook, too.

I assigned “themes” for each day of the week, based on what we’ll be doing. Then, I just plugged in some matching meals on a printable calendar page and had the kids fill in their nights. We used erasable pens so we can adjust as necessary, because obviously, plans will change!

FYI, I adore these erasable pens — they have totally changed my life.


So here are the themes we came up with and what we’re going to make!

  • Monday ~ My oldest (who happens to be vegetarian!) will cook
    • Pineapple tofu fried rice
    • Tofu tikka masala
    • Chickpea cauliflower gyros
  • Tuesday — Quick sandwich or pasta night
    • Turkey, cranberry, stuffing sandwiches
    • Eggplant or meatball subs
    • Lasagna (made ahead and popped in the fridge)
    • Fettucine-Broccoli Alfredo
  • Wednesday  — Crockpot (mostly) chili 
  • Thursday — Take along dinner (My youngest has a late gymnastics practice, so I got her a thermos and plan to make something she can take along with her)
  • Friday — My boys will cook
  • Saturday — Burgers-on-the-grill
  • Sunday — Sunday dinner
    • Grilled pizza
    • Grilled brats/sausages
    • Homemade lobster rolls
    • Thanksgiving-in-the-smoker ~ we smoke a turkey breast, then serve with fixings

One other thing I did — I put the meal plan in a folder and added in print-outs of any online recipes. I hate trying to follow a recipe from my phone!

So, that’s it! A whole month of meals planned in under an hour!

Homeschool Curriculum Picks for 2018-2019

It’s August already! I am not sure where the time went! We won’t be starting “school” till after Labor Day, but I’ve been working on plans.  I will have a 12th grader who will be taking classes at the local community college. And then I will be homeschooling a 10th, 8th, and 5th grader.

Here’s what we plan to do, and what we’re going to use to do it!


My 5th grader will use:

My 8th grader will use:

My 10th grader will use:

Everyone will participate in:


My 5th grader will use:

My 8th grader will use:

My 10th grader will use a combination of:

All three will use:


My 5th grader will use:

My 8th & 10th graders will use:

Everyone will do:


My 5th grader will use:

My 8th grader will use:

My 10th grader will use:

All three will use:


My 5th grader will use:

My 8th grader will concentrate on forensic science using:

My 10th grader will use:

In addition, I am hoping to do nature journaling once a month or so with these references to help inspire us:


My 5th grader will use:

My 8th grader will use:

My 10th grader will use:


My 5th grader will use:

My 8th & 10th graders will continue with:

All three will do:


My 5th grader will use:

My 8th and 10th graders will listen to:

And I think that’s it! It looks like a lot all typed out here, but I’m feeling excited!

Maestro Classics: A Little Review

My fourth grader and I have been using Maestro Classics to round out our music study this year. She began the year by listening through all of the Classics for Kids CD’s, which she very much loved. In my search for something similar, I came across Maestro Classics. We ordered two to start with…Peter and the Wolf and Swan Lake.

These CD’s were in instant hit with both of us! We have since listened to The Sorcerer’s Apprentice and we’re currently working through The Nutcracker. We have developed a routine for listening to these, which I’m going to share along with a few thoughts on this resource.

Each Maestro Classics CD is like a self-contained little unit study.

There are two parts of this program…a little activity booklet and the CD itself. Each title is also available as an MP3 with a downloadable activity book, but I’m old-fashioned, so I chose the CD:).

Each of the four CD’s we have listened to has been around an hour long. The content of the CDs varies a bit. The Story of Swan Lake begins with 30 minutes of music interspersed with a narrative story. This is followed by a short talk about Tchaikovsky’s life, then we get to listen to the band Speed Metal Swan play some music from Swan Lake ~ with an electric guitar! There is another track with interesting information about the music, then a short track that sets some fun lyrics to music from Swan Lake ~ which really helps you remember the tune!

The little booklets are beautifully illustrated.  Again, these vary by title, so I’ll just share a bit of what’s in this one. There is a page about Tchaikovsky…

A double page spread devoted to the orchestra….

A little rebus story to read, plus a dot-to-dot, and several more pages.

We take about four sessions to finish each Maestro Classics title, probably about two hours total. In the first session, we listen to half of the CD and do a page or two of the booklet.  In the second, we listen to the other half of the CD and do a couple more pages of the booklet. For our third and fourth sessions, we complete whatever parts of the booklet we haven’t gotten to, and listen to the main track containing the music/narration once or twice more.

I would recommend Maestro Classics for about K-5 grade, or up until 10. Younger kids could certainly enjoy the titles and there are a couple of titles I imagine would be great for preschoolers- like Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel and The Tortoise and the Hare. We haven’t tried any of those, but they sound wonderful for a younger child. I have gotten a lot out of this program myself, so older kids would definitely learn from the program, but I do think the narration style and booklet activities are best suited for the under-10 crowd (or a multi-age group). There are two CD’s recommended by Maestro Classics for “older kids” ~ The Soldier’s Tale and The Merry Pranks of Master Till. We have not listened to these yet, but they are on my wishlist for next year.

Maestro Classics also has free curriculum guides on their website with extension ideas for each title. We have done a few of the extra activity ideas and enjoyed them. After finishing Peter and the Wolf for example, we watched Disney’s Anastasia, mapped Prokofiev’s travels, and read about the history of Matryoshka dolls.

Maestro Classics has been a great addition to our elementary homeschool music study!