Monday, June 30, 2014

Bacon is Beautiful

Nicholas (8), while sitting at the counter watching me cook dinner:  "I think I'll skip eating eggs and just sit here and admire this pan of bacon."

Sunday, June 22, 2014


Normally by this time in summer, I have our plans finalized, all books purchased,  and I've started entering lesson plans into Homeschool Tracker. 

This year, though, I'm feeling overwhelmed.  I've got a lot of what we need (I think(, but my thoughts and ideas are inside my head bumping into each other like super-heated molecules.  Our year will look quite different than it has in the past because of a couple of outside classes and the fact I'm now working part time.  I'm thinking of not using Homeschool Tracker, wondering if having paper plans where we can see all the assignments will help us stay on track.  But I'm not quite sure how to work it out yet.  The binder system for holding upcoming assignments that we've used for several years didn't work out for us this past year, so I'm rethinking how to handle storing our daily work.  Individual folders?  Using my Pro-Click to make spiral notebooks for each subject? 

Our new year starts in July, which is next week.  I've got to force myself to sit down and work on sorting this stuff out.

But right now, the World Cup is on.

Saturday, June 14, 2014


Why classical education is troublesome:

Me:  "Do you know how slow you walk?  Are you never in a hurry?"
Luke:  "Slow and steady wins the race."
Jacob:  "OOooh.  Burn."

Monday, June 09, 2014

Review: Learning Wrap Ups

I find myself keeping an eye out for things that will occupy my younger boys during school time.  I was thrilled when the opportunity to review these products (perfect for grades K-5th) from Learning Wrap ups:

Learning Palette

As you can see, the Learning Palette base is a yellow disk with 12 smaller colored disks that fit around the circle.  Some of the colored disks are solid, and some have holes punched out of the middle.  The question cards fit over two posts on the front of the disk (the two posts keep the question card from spinning).  The center post allows for a plastic cover to be screwed on to hold all the disks in place so they aren't lost while the Learning Palette is being stored.

The student places the card they are working with on the Learning Palette.  On the front of the card are questions, with a solid colored dot or a colored dot with a hole in it next to the question.  The student answers the question by placing the correct disk next to the answer.  For example, on one card in my reading kit, the student is looking for synonyms.  The word "companion" has a green dot with a hole in it next to it, so the student would place the green disk with a hole in it next to the word "buddy".

To check the answer, the student flips the card over and places it on the two posts.  The student is able to quickly check the answers by looking at the colored bar next to the disks they placed for their answer.
  • Numeration:  Whole Numbers
  • Numeration:  Fractions
  • Numeration:  Decimals and Percent
  • Algebra Concepts
  • Geometry & Measurement
  • Probability & Statistics
3rd Grade Reading 1 Base Center Kit topics:
  • Synonyms, Antonyms, & Homophones
  • Vocabulary
  • Grammar
  • Prefixes and Suffixes
  • Reading Comprehension

Each topic for both math and reading contain 144 challenges (12 cards with 12 questions per card).  There are kindergarten through 5th grade levels available for math, and kindergarten through 3rd grade levels available for reading.

In addition to the physical Learning Palette, there is an online program available. gives your child access to all the levels of both reading and math, and works much the same way as the physical product.  The same types of discs are available for your student to drag and drop to answer the questions.  Answers can be checked by clicking a "check answers" button, and the disks they've placed are marked with either a red x or a green checkmark.

Wrap ups
In addition to the Learning Palette, I also received two kits of Learning Wrap ups.  Learning Wrap ups look like large plastic keys.  They are made of a sturdy plastic, and each set is held together with a plastic rivet, so your student can spin whichever key they are working on out.  There is a string attached to each set.  To answer the questions, the student places the string into the first slot on the left-hand side, and then wrap the string to the answer on the right-hand side of the key.  The student continues down the question side of the key, until they've answered all the questions.  To check the answers, the key is flipped over.  There is a raised pattern on the back of each key, and if the string matches the pattern the student knows the answers are correct.
Learning Wrap up Vocabulary Intro Kit:
  • Synonyms
  • Homonyms
  • Compound Words
  • Antonyms
  • Addition
  • Subtraction
  • Multiplication
  • Division
  • Fractions
We also received 10 Steps to Addition Mastery Wrap up and Book Combo and 10 Days to Multiplication Mastery Wrap up and Book Combo.  These books are used in conjunction with the corresponding Wrap up to help the student master multiplication and addition.  There are pages that use the Wrap up to help the student increase their speed, pages, review pages, word problems, and other activities.  The student keeps track of the facts they've learned, and by the end of the book they will have mastered addition or subtraction facts.


I like the fact there aren't any grade levels listed.  One of the benefits of homeschooling is having your child work at his or her level, but many products make this difficult by clearly stating the grade level.  Jacob (6th), Micah (4th), and Nicholas (2nd) all worked with these products, both physical and the online program.  Because they are marked with levels instead of grade levels, this was not an issue-- for example, Nicholas was able to work on Reading skills using the Learning Palette at a level higher than his grade, and Micah was able to work right on grade level using the Level 4 Learning Palette for math practice.  Micah was also able to reinforce Reading skills using the Learning Palette below his grade level, and Jacob was able to reinforce Math skills by using the Learning Palette below his grade level.  And they all used the Wrap ups to work on various vocabulary and math skills. is a great idea, though it still has a few bugs.  As their teacher, I can view their progress through my account.  It appears the bottom of the report is cut off, but I can't scroll down to see.  That said, Jacob, Micah, and Nicholas all enjoyed this program.  During the review period, Jacob was in bed sick with strep for 4 days.  I pulled up the website, handed him the iPad, and told him to play around with it.  He spent a good amount of time (in between naps) exploring and doing various cards, and he liked passing the time with it. 

Micah and Nicholas also spent time on the website and enjoyed it, though both enjoyed the physical products more.  Moving the physical pieces to the Learning Palette was a bit more rewarding for these active boys.

All three really enjoyed using the Wrap ups.  Again, the physical act of wrapping the string was rewarding, and they liked being able to flip the key over to check their answer.  Micah made it a point to tell me he enjoyed these products because he didn't have to write anything down.

I had Jacob work on the multiplication book.  He struggles with remembering math facts, and this was worth his time.  He liked that it was clear and uncluttered, and he likes using the keys alongside having to write things down.

When the boys have some time and I want to keep their brains engaged, these are fun to pull out.  They don't require much teacher time from me; I just explain what they are supposed to do if it isn't clear (mostly on the Learning Palette cards), and let them learn through play.  My favorite thing about all of the products that we received is that they are all self-correcting, and the boys can see right away if they are right or wrong.

All in all, these are high quality products, and they make a great addition to any elementary homeschool.  Go to to see all the different levels offered, and use the code "HOMESCHOOL" to receive 20% off your order (use the same code at for 20% off the online program).


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Saturday, June 07, 2014

My Loving Kid

I've had a not-fun cold for the past week.  Yesterday I woke up to this on my nightstand:

"dear mom  i hope you feel better!  Mom there are way so many things you do for me it would take even more than a million books to come close to telling you what you've done for me.  your loving kid Micah"
Love that sweet boy. 

Thursday, June 05, 2014

Review: Peter Rabbit from Kinder Cottage Publishing

Kinder Cottage Publishing recently sent two books, How Peter Rabbit Went to Sea and When Peter Rabbit Went to School for review.

Kinder Cottage Publishing is a company that was founded by Howard and Ann Closs.  Their goal is to produce quality products to help their children, as well as other families, learn to love western civilization.

They began with a series of 10 Peter Rabbit books:
  1. Tale of Peter Rabbit
  2. Peter Rabbit at the Farm
  3. Peter Rabbit's Christmas
  4. How Peter Rabbit Went to Sea
  5. Peter Rabbit Goes A-Visiting
  6. Peter Rabbit's Easter
  7. Peter Rabbit's Birthday
  8. When Peter Rabbit Went to School
  9. Peter Rabbit and the Little Boy
  10. Peter Rabbit and Jack the Jumper

These books are best suited for children ages 3-9, and are $4 each.  They are adaptations of books originally published by the Henry Altemus company between the years of 1917 and 1922. These reprints contain the original artwork, but the text has been updated a bit (for example, the original text used the word "velocipede" for bicycle.

When Peter Rabbit Went to school is 56 pages long.  Peter is sent to school (along with Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cotton-tail) in order to keep him out of trouble. He disobeys at recess and goes into the woods, where he becomes lost.  While lost he has some adventures, both pleasant and not-so-pleasant.  He's safely returned to school, where it's decided his adventures were enough for Peter and he's not punished.


How Peter Rabbit Went to Sea is 64 pages long.  In this volume, Peter once again disobeys.  His mother told him not to play in the brook, yet he decided to be a pirate.  He sees lots of creatures in the sea, and ends up being picked up by a sea gull.  He's able to scare the bird into letting him go, and once he gets home he asks to be put straight to bed.


Micah & Nicholas both read these books and enjoyed them.  They liked the adventures (trouble) that Peter got into, and I know they liked that he always made it safely home.  However, as a parent, I couldn't help but note that Peter never suffers consequences.  It's usually decided that the trouble he got into was consequence enough, but I would've liked to have Peter be given a consequence for disobeying in the first place.  This does provide a great discussion point with your children, though, about how Peter could've avoided the trouble to begin with.

Also, just as a side note,  I feel like I should mention a line in How Peter Rabbit Went to Sea that rubbed me the wrong way.  On the first page, it's said that "Flopsy and Mopsy and Cotton-tail were good little girl rabbits, but Peter was a bad little boy rabbit and was always up to mischief."  Probably because I have all boys, but I don't like the insinuation that Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cotton-tail are good because they are girls, and that Peter is bad because he is a boy.

With all that said, if you have a young child, these books would make a wonderful addition to your home library.  These books are lovely reprints.  The artwork is wonderful, and I loved that the original artwork was included.   At about 5 x 7 inches, they are a great size for little hands to hold and read.  You can even save a bit of money buy purchasing the entire set of 10 for $30.


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Monday, June 02, 2014

Break Time?

Gosh, I'm really starting to wonder if we're not supposed to take a better break than I was planning. 

The boys recovered from strep, and Jacob starting feeling better from the possible mono.  I took them to an open gym at the place where they take gymnastics (since they missed their class for two weeks, they were able to do two hours as makeup), and while I was paying for Zeke's competitive classes for the summer, he evidently had a failed backflip and he landed on his hand.  He finally told me after 15 or so minutes, and I told him if it hurt bad enough to where he couldn't participate, he should ask his coach for ice. 

He never did, and worked on back whips for much of the rest of class.

Zeke's not a complainer.  He told Craig about what happened and Craig put a brace on his hand, just for stability.  Our thought was that he'd jammed it pretty good.  The next day, mid-afternoon, Zeke to the brace off and his hand was swollen.

We went to Urgent Care, where they confirmed a break.  She called it a transverse break and it runs the length of the bone. 

Of course, it's his left hand.  He's left-handed. 

Time to figure out another plan for Summer School.