Category Archives: Homeschool

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

Hippo at Adventure Aquarium

This week in homeschooling: Fun places to visit in Philadelphia with your kids

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Rockford was working in Philadelphia for a few days last weekend and early this week. The kids and I had never been to Philadelphia and Rockford’s sister lives there, so a few months ago we decided we’d go along with him.

Our hotel (Hilton Garden Inn Center City; great location & very friendly and helpful staff) was right next to the Reading Terminal Market — I recommend a blend of bread-and-butter and hot pickles from Beillers and the Grilled Mozzarella sandwich from MeltKraft — and just a 15-minute walk from what the kids called the “boring history stuff.”

The Philadelphia CityPass covered the Adventure Aquarium; either the National Constitution Center or the zoo; the Please Touch Children’s Museum or the Eastern State Penitentiary; the Franklin Institute; and a trolley tour. All of the sites were on our to-see list, so we decided to spring for the passes. We ended up only using four of the five tickets — the trolley tour didn’t seem like a good fit for us — but I think it was a good purchase anyway.
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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!

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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!