Category Archives: Homeschool

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

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This week in homeschooling: Mad dashes and rainy days.

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by Ingrid Dijkers

Ingrid Dijkers collage

Holy Monday, Batfriends. It started out innocently enough, with the kids starting their newest memory work — “Hope” by Emily Dickinson for Poppy and “Dust of Snow” by Robert Frost for Pete — and Poppy working on the last section of her “Borrowers” study, and then we were off to co-op.

“Star Wars”/Astronomy class was all “Star Wars” this week. I printed a set of DIY “Story Cubes” for each kid, using images from “Star Wars” coloring books on a cube template. I gave each kid a different cube from the set to color, and then we assembled them and spent the rest of the time taking turns with the story-telling. It was great once everyone’s cube was finished, but I’m still trying to figure out how to balance the kids who finish very quickly (and then go kind of wild) with the ones who are more deliberate in their work. Maybe that’s a skill you learn when you get a teaching degree. Professional teachers, your input would be welcome.

But even the co-op craziness wasn’t the whoa part of the day. That came when Rockford texted from the doctors office at 3:15 to say he was still in the waiting room. He’d been waiting for his scheduled appointment for an hour and a half, and he had to be at the airport no later than 4:15. And his suitcase was at home. So the kids and I piled back into the car and hauled his suitcase across town, and Rockford made it to his plane in the nick of time.

By that time it was only 45 minutes until Pete’s soccer practice, so we went straight to the park and spent the time hitting the tennis ball and playing on the playground until practice started, and then it was the longest practice ever practiced and we were all very very hungry afterward so we stopped at Sonic and they were s l o w and then we got home and still had grammar left to do but Pete was so tired and crabby he had to go to bed early and so on Tuesday we did an extra page of grammar.

The End. Of Monday. Which was a very long day indeed.

Oh, and we also started reading “Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH.” I was one of my favorites when I was wee. I’ve been waiting to read it with them, because it’s kind of intense. Hopefully they’ll be OK with it.


It rained all day on Tuesday. It rained so much that it flooded the soccer fields, so Poppy’s soccer practice was canceled. It rained and rained and rained, and I blame our very late start on Tuesday on the gray grayness.

We didn’t start school until 10:30 Tuesday morning. The kids did their chores and tae kwon do, and we read “Mrs. Frisby,” worked on handwriting and started “Sentence Island.” Pete finished his math and spelling, but Poppy ended up not getting everything done because one of her soccer-carpool friends came over to play for most of the afternoon.


We worked on the kids’ memorization and history and a few other language-arts things before the kids’ art class. After art, Pete was very, very grumpy. He’s still a few days ahead of Poppy in attendance (because of a science-y summer camp), so I let him take the afternoon off.


We actually started on time yesterday! And we made great progress all morning. The kids did their handwriting while I read two chapters of “Mrs. Frisby” to them, and then we practiced their memory work and analyzed one sentence in “Practice Island.” After a short break — during which Pete played with his castle and knights and Poppy started making a friendship bracelet — Pete and I worked on spelling while Poppy knocked out her vocabulary, wrote a review of “The Borrowers” and did her reading comprehension.

After lunch and a piano lesson, the kids each did a math lesson and Poppy worked on “Writing Strands.” Today’s lesson asked her to improve a sentence she’d previously written by adding detail to it. “Writing Strands” is supposed to be largely student-directed, but I really wanted her to work on a sentence from the review she’d written earlier. And thus

The main character is Arrietty.


The main character is a curious 10-year-old girl named Arrietty.

That’s a considerable improvement.

The kids were finished with their schoolwork by 1pm, so they had a nice break before tae kwon do and Poppy’s soccer practice.


Tonight we’re having several people over for dinner, so as of 1:30pm schoolwork has taken a backseat as I clean the house and go to Sam’s Club and take the cat to the vet. (The vet is unrelated to dinner.)

How’s your week been?

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

Homeschooling at

This week in homeschooling: I’m 99.9 percent certain school happened.


Did this week go by really fast for you guys? It did for us. So quickly that suddenly it was Thursday afternoon and realized that I hadn’t written down any notes since Monday. Whoops.

There’s construction going on on our street, and the ongoing noise is making it hard for me to concentrate. Pete is concerned that they took the stop sign down, but other than that it doesn’t seem to be bothering the kids at all.

Poppy asked me a few minutes ago if I’d written this post yet, and she wanted me to be sure to tell you that she and Pete will be testing for their next tae kwon do belts later today. Poppy’s been working toward her blue-green belt, and Pete’s aiming for yellow-green.

Here’s a bit of what we did this week!


Pete started memorizing “The Cat of Cats,” which I’m pretty sure he also memorized last year. That ought to make it easy for him this time around. Poppy was still stumbling on a few lines of “Invictus” last week, so she’s still working on that.

In other Pete news: He finished the Boba Fett book! It was his very first chapter book. Way to go, Pete!

Poppy is nearly finished with “The Borrowers,” and she will be happy to finally reach the end of it. Monday’s literature worksheet involved looking up definitions, and I realized that the outdated children’s dictionary she’s been using isn’t quite up to the task anymore. Her new Intermediate dictionary arrived yesterday, and if hashtags worked here we would call the preceding clause a #BoringHomeschoolStory.

We also had co-op on Monday, and my little Astronomy / “Star Wars” guys were disappointed that I didn’t have a “Star Wars” activity for them this week. Instead, we used coffee filters, markers and water to make “newly discovered planets” and then made a little booklet about said planet to go along with their art.

Tuesday & Wednesday

We did school. I know we did. But I didn’t write anything down, so … handwriting, math, history, etc. Probably.


Some days the kids are ultra-motivated. Yesterday was one of those days, and it was awesome. They were completely finished with their work by lunchtime.


Poppy was happy to stay behind with Rockford — who was working from home for a few hours — this morning while I took Pete to a doctors appointment. She’s been doing a great job working independently lately, so I left a stack of schoolwork for her to do and asked her not to spend the entire morning playing on the computer. And she listened! Pete and I were only gone for about an hour, and she was finishing up when we got home.

We finished Kate DiCamillo’s “Because of Winn-Dixie” this afternoon, and Pete was disappointed to hear that there weren’t any other books about Winn-Dixie. I helped him write a letter to DiCamillo suggesting that she remedy that.

A little history and grammar and some math for Pete, and we finished our school day shortly after lunch.

I haven’t decided what our next read-aloud will be, but I think we’re going to go to the library in a bit. It’s becoming slightly more difficult to find things that appeal to both a 9-year-old girl and a 6 & 11/12ths-year-old boy. Any suggestions?

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

Heather Aubin photo

This week in homeschooling: History on the go, cups of dirt and Yoda on a stick

Heather Aubin photo

Heather Aubin photo

We had a rather nice week. Poppy started taking tennis lessons alongside her brother, and we had our normal schedule of tae kwon do, soccer practices and extracurricular classes. It felt less hectic than last week, though, because last week Rockford was in China and this week he was at home. That always helps.

I jotted down notes as we went through our school days this week, but some of them were more detailed than others. As you will soon see.


I’ve been putting our current chapter of “Story of the World” history on my phone so we could listen to it while we drive around, but this was the first week that I actually remembered to put the cord in the car so we could listen to it over the speakers. The kids were silent on the way to co-op while they learned about tobacco and the spread of slavery in the New World and about Queen Nzinga of Ndongo and Matamba. They asked to listen to it again on the way home. Those audiobooks might have been the best purchase I made this year.

Poppy is taking a Greek mythology class and a “one-act play” class at co-op this session, and Pete is taking Chemistry and “Star Wars”/Astronomy. I’m teaching the “Star Wars”/Astronomy class, and it’s been going pretty well (even though it’s exhausting, because 4 of the 5 kids are very energetic 5- and 6-year-old boys). We usually do a small “Star Wars”-related craft, talk a little bit about a planet and then paint part of a solar system kit. This week we spent most of the time making Yoda puppets using a template from “The Star Wars Craft Book.” It was meant to make a felt finger puppet, but I don’t know how to sew even without a herd of kids around so we just went with paper and popsicle sticks. After Yoda, we read about Venus and then painted our Venus models. And then some of the boys decided to paint themselves because of course they did.

After co-op we came home and I collapsed in a heap did some grammar, and then Poppy read two chapters of “The Borrowers” and worked on her literature study worksheets.


We all woke up late, but we still managed to start school on time. I’m still not sure how that happened. Some of the notes I took for Tuesday are completely illegible, so how about a bulleted list?

  • We started “Because of Winn-Dixie” by Kate DiCamillo last week as our read-aloud. The kids were enthusiastic about it because DiCamillo also wrote the “Mercy Watson” books. Poppy is still reading all of the “Warriors” text she can get her hands on, and Pete is still trying to finish his Boba Fett book.
  • Poppy played a few educational games on my iPad after working on Duolingo Spanish for a bit.
  • Poppy is memorizing “Invictus” (she thinks it’s creepy), and Pete is memorizing the Pledge of Allegiance.
  • Our current science unit is about recycling. We read a book called “What Happens to Our Trash?” and started an experiment that involves burying a piece of lettuce and piece of plastic in dirt. So now I have two glasses of dirt in my kitchen.

    Here is exactly what I wrote down on Wednesday:

    9am. Pete: Perler beads; Poppy: math from yesterday
    “Winn-Dixie.” handwriting; history (listen & color); memorization
    Poppy: reading comp & lit; MCT
    10-11 break; 11:30 tennis; lunch; 1-3 art; 4:30 – math.

    I either need to work on my note-taking skills or start writing 1/5 of this post every evening, when the day is fresh on my mind. (That’s what I did yesterday, which is why the Thursday entry is so long.)


    We started working at 9 sharp yesterday morning. Pete finished coloring his picture of Queen Nzinga perched atop her servant/throne while Poppy did her reading comprehension, and then we worked on their history mapping together.

    And then I gave the kids my phone.

    A big part of the “Story of the World” curriculum is narration, which calls for the students to put the stories in their own words. The curriculum wants the kids to write their narration, but my kids really, really dislike doing that. There was much complaining and whining every time I asked them to do it, so it became something that I didn’t ask them to do very often. But then I had a minor brainstorm a few weeks ago, and narration has been smooth-sailing ever since. The secret? I downloaded a voice Mmemo app and let them record their narration.

    Poppy works with fraction tiles.

    Poppy works with fraction tiles.

    They love doing the recordings and listening to them over and over again. (I typed out at posted Poppy’s work on her blog, if you’re interested in reading the story of Queen Nzinga for yourself.)

    At 10am we took our half-hour break, which turned into an hour-long break because I got distracted and forgot to set the timer. Pete wisely used some of that time to do his required free reading for the day; he’s been reading a “Captain Underpants” book.

    At 11am we were back on track. Pete did a page in his math workbook and we worked through his spelling for the day and read from “First Language Lessons, Level 2″ together while Poppy did a few sections of her Worldy Wise 3000 vocabulary program on the computer.

    When she was finished, we all gathered on the couch to read a bit of “Grammar Island” and “Building Language” together before reconvening to work through some sentences in the kids’ “Practice Island” workbooks. (I’ll share some thoughts on how the Michael Clay Thompson is working for us once we finish “Grammar Island,” which will be soon.)

    Pete was finished with his bookwork for the day after that, and Poppy finished up around 1:30, after her piano lesson and another break. The kids both had tae kwon do in the afternoon, and Poppy had soccer practice later in the evening.


    The kids didn’t have all that much left to do today, and they got a lot of it done in the morning. Rockford came home for lunch and I went to get my hair cut. I walked in the door ready to say, “OK, kids! Let’s do some math!” and found Poppy reshelving her math book. Well done, kid and dad! Pete still had to do his math, and then we finished up with a little Michael Clay Thompson grammar. After that the kids absconded to their rooms, and it’s been pretty quiet here since about 2pm.

    Happy weekend to you!

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