Category Archives: Homeschool

Learning at home with a second-grader and a kindergartner.

Homeschooling at

What second grade and fifth grade look like at our house

In years past I’ve done separate curriculum posts for Poppy and Pete. They’re working with the same publishers for most everything this year, though, so I’m consolidating.

Simplify, simplify.


We got off the one-book-a-year schedule in nearly every subject a few years ago, and I haven’t managed to get back on track yet. Seeing as the kids are in the same classroom every year, though, I don’t suppose that matters.

We’ll kick off this year by finishing Story of the World: Volume 3 — from Bonaparte all the way to the California Gold Rush — and move on to Volume 4 after that.


2ndand5thPete is near the end of the second volume of McRuffy Math, and Poppy is a little more than halfway through Math 4. They’ll finish with those quickly, I hope, and proceed to the next level.

Poppy liked Teaching Textbooks well enough, but she didn’t seem to retain much of the information. I have it already, though, so I’ll probably have Pete work through TT3 just for a little extra review and practice.

Language Arts

The kids really enjoyed the Michael Clay Thompson “Grammar Island” books last year, and they seem to have retained some of the information. I haven’t decided 100 percent yet, but I think we’ll probably do “Grammar Town” this year.

Poppy was enjoying All About Spelling 2 last year, so she’s going to go ahead and finish that. Pete and I, meanwhile, will be continuing our hands-on, no curriculum spelling efforts.

Poppy will be doing some more Reed Novel Studies for her “formal” reading curriculum. Pete is going to have some assigned reading, too, but he’s a little young yet for the Reed offerings.


There’s a place in town that offers after-school and homeschool classes, and I was thrilled to see science on the class listings this year. Pete will be in the K-2 class, and Poppy will be in the 3-5. Which means they’re both on the high end of the age group. I’m hoping the material is challenging enough to keep them engaged.


Poppy likes the McRuffy handwriting books, and Pete tolerates them. So that’s what we’re sticking with!


Also outsourced! Pete will be in art class while Poppy is in science, and vice versa.

Physical Education

We’re taking July off, but the kids will be resuming their tae kwon do practice in a few weeks. Poppy is currently a blue belt, and Pete is a green belt.

The kids are also both doing soccer this year. Pete “retired” from soccer a few seasons back, but he’s decided to return to the field. Poppy is in her second season of the two-weekly-practices-plus-a-game-on-the-weekend league, which makes me very grateful to have a couple of other parents who are willing to carpool.

There are many, many ways to approach homeschooling. For a look at what other families are doing, check out Curriculum Week at!


Tactile tactics and other activities for the reluctant speller

We started using All About Spelling with Pete last year in an attempt to address his difficulties with spelling, but apparently it hasn’t done the trick. It was the only area he struggled with on this year’s annual testing. I was surprised, because he seems to have learned the rules presented in AAS pretty well. He just isn’t applying that particular information outside of our designated Spelling Time.

The lady who administers the test said, “Pete is like a river. If he runs into an obstacle, he just goes right around it without a care.” And she’s right. He hasn’t had to do much writing yet, so he hasn’t had much incentive or opportunity to apply the rules.

At her suggestion, we’re trading in All About Spelling in favor of a slower, more hands-on approach to see if maybe that will help. I’m not sure what to do yet on the incentive front, but part of our exercises will be writing-based so Pete has the opportunity to use the words he’s studying more often.

To that end, I’ve been scouring the internet for fun and engaging ways to study spelling, and I’m saving every great resource I find on Pinterest. Here’s the board!

Follow Nichole E’s board spelling activities on Pinterest.

This week in homeschooling: Schooling while sickly

Pete has been sick for most of this week, so our schedule has been really wacky. So instead of telling you what we did from day to day — a lot of napping with a little schoolwork thrown in here and there — let’s talk in more general terms.


Naturally, we started our most recent memorization effort by watching the 1946 Disney version of “Casey at the Bat”. “Casey” is a very long poem, and we’re taking it a stanza at a time. They’re working on the sixth stanza this week.


We started reading “Fortunately the Milk” by Neil Gaiman, which promises to be a ridiculous, hilarious read-aloud.


We’re about halfway through the first level of Michael Clay Thompson’s grammar program. It’s quite different from other grammar programs that we’ve used, but the information seems to be sticking.


Poppy leveled up on her math curriculum a few weeks ago. A lot of what she’s doing right now is review, so math has been pretty stress-free for her lately. Pete is chugging along on his curriculum. It’s been a lot of patterns lately, and they’re starting to introduce the concept of fractions.


This week’s “Story of the World” chapter was about the lead-up to the American revolution, which is also what the kids have been talking about in their US history class. So it was pretty much just review.


Poppy has a piano recital coming up, so she’s been focusing on the two pieces she’ll be playing for that. One is from her piano book, and the other is “Let It Go.” She also decided she wanted to teach herself to play “Clocks,” so we’re been hearing that a lot lately.

Free reading

Poppy reads so much for fun that I took it off of her daily to-do list. Pete isn’t as enthusiastic about reading just yet, though, so he still has the daily reminder on his task list. He’s been reading a lot of “Garfield” comics and “Into the Air: The Story of the Wright Brothers First Flight.”

Wanna read more about homeschooling? Check out the Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers weekly linky thing!