Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Holidays are so BUSY!

It's been several weeks since I've posted. We have been making good progress with homeschooling, but I've been so busy, I haven't had a free moment to blog. The girls all performed in The Nutcracker and that took up alot of time. They did 9 performances! And I volunteered each time backstage. It was so much fun! I will post pics as soon as they make it off the camera and into the computer! We spent time with family and everything went surprisingly smoothly. Jay is now on leave and we are working up to his deployment in January. We will be taking a break from "school" until January 12, but always learning...

Blessings to all during this holiday season!

Monday, November 24, 2008


We are taking this week off from any "formal" academics, though learning continues in some way or another. We did a mini unit study with lapbooking on "Thanksgiving" and I don't mean just the story of the Pilgrims and Indians. We did learn about that, but in addition, we discussed giving thanks to God. Almond and Peanut each made their own lapbook. I would have to say that Peanut had the most fun! She colored just about everything and even cut out most of the clipart! Her motor skills are amazing at just 3 years old. I used a book we already had around the house then proceeded with reading scripture on giving thanks. Most of the resources I used were found on Homeschool Share and Thanksgiving Lapbook on Squidoo.

Have a great holiday! Enjoy!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Week 12 and 13

We've had a busy 2 weeks, with illness and Jay coming home from the ship, so I thought I'd just combine them. We're definitely ready for a break here!

Language Arts
Everyone had a formal writing assignments this week. I will be grading them using a rubric and evaluating where they are and what we can do to improve. Each child will revise as corrections are made, until a satisfactory paper is completed. I have to admit that we've been really inconsistent with writing curriculum. I have one child that is an excellent writer. Another child that has the structure down, but lacking in creative or descriptive writing. Still another child that can write a creative story that will create pictures in your mind, but struggles with following any structure... I'm thinking about a few things, but will post my thoughts another time. One thing I have found to be helpful, is finding a pre-writing organizer that works for each individual child. Each one prefers a different approach. Here's this five paragraph essay graphic organizer.

Oh, and here's the pics of the "crunch book" from last week. It starts out as a square, then opens up to reveal all the details.

Besides the essays, we have been working on the usual... Almond has decided to read a chapter book on her own for the first time.

I just received the Singapore curriculum for Almond. So far, it looks great! In the meantime, we were working on telling time and addition drills. Almond also made an addition lapbook, found on Homeschool Share.

Cashew is grudgingly making his way through A Beka Economics. I'm thinking of adding some Uncle Eric Books and making a trip to the library next week to find something that will make it more interesting and applicable to what's going on right now. Hmmm.... maybe a report on fluctuating gas prices? Gas is down to $2.03!

Almond and Pistachio worked on getting caught up on timelines. I like to call it the Book of Centuries, a la Charlotte Mason... (same thing!) I looked everywhere for a timeline page to use. There are a lot of free resources online. I wanted something that will last through highschool for Pistachio, so I finally designed my own. Very simple, notebook style with lines at the top. I wanted to be able to change the year span, as there are more events in a shorter time period as we near modern times. I will be placing the pages in sheet protectors. Almond will continue with notebook style pages, and once we get to junior high/logic stage, we will incorporate the Book of Centuries. Here's what it looks like with our homemade timeline figures. I will be uploading this page to share soon...

Here's Almond's notebook page...


If anything gets done at our homeschool, it would definitely be this category! All of the kids practiced instruments. Almond has worked her way through "Jingle Bells" and it sounds great! (video to some soon!) The girls worked on origami this week...

We are continuing in our study of Tchaikovsky and will probably continue through the holiday. I'm considering a study of the Nutcracker to go along with it, as the girls are performing the ballet.

I got to spend some girl time with Macadamia. We watched the premier of the movie midnight! Obviously, the book is always better than the movie! But it was fun anyhow!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Timeline Figures (SOTW 2)

I had previously mentioned our timeline method was too difficult without pre-made figures... so instead of buying some, I decided to make my own! I use the appendix in the back of SOTW, and also other important dates I found in Kingfisher and Usborne, copied pics of the internet...And there you have it! I've made them available to download as well. I will make them available as I make them. Enjoy!

SOTW 2 Timeline Figures Ch 1-4

SOTW2 Timeline Figures Ch 5-6

Monday, November 10, 2008

Week 11 Highlights

Many homeschool bloggers do a weekly report. Since I have older kids that work out of textbooks mostly, there's not much to report. Plus the fact that everyone keeps a weekly log of their work for record keeping purposes. So I've decided to do a weekly highlight instead, which will feature a summary of what we're doing, and pictures of any projects or assignments that are something outside of the ordinary daily work...

Language Arts
All are continuing to read their literature books. The highschoolers are using literature guides that they complete along with their reading.

Pistachio is taking literature at a co-op academy. Instead of essays, they complete something called a "crunch book." He turned in his project before I could take a pic, so I will include one when I get a chance.

Almond finished reading A Medieval Feast and made her own version of the book. We are continuing with PLL. She doesn't like writing more than once sentence, unless she's making her own book!

Math continues as usual... I've ordered Singapore Math for Almond. It's the California Standards edition. I plan on working on 1B and 2A through the summer.

Cashew just started A Beka American Government in addition to Economics. He enjoys government, but doesn't care for Economics. I don't blame him. I don't even understand our economy these days!

Pistachio and Almond are working through SOTW 2, though we have been neglecting it. Pistachio finished Chap 5 and is constructing a timeline on his own. Honestly, I think it is too time consuming to do this, so I will be purchasing timeline figures to save time...Here's a sample of his timeline.

I'm thinking of getting these.

Almond is only on Chap 3, but that's because we get side tracked with other fun stuff and books! We did our first lapbook on knights! I found this FREE template on

It was a lot of fun, but time consuming! We'll try to do one a week if we can. I plan on buying some colored paper to make it more interesting. Peanut started working on her own lapbook too, based on her favorite book, Courdoroy. I thought I'd show what we've done so far, just for fun. She helped cut and paste the buttons on.

This past week we went on a field trip to the Reuben H. Fleet Science Museum, for FREE Tuesday. They had an exhibit, ANIMAL GROSSOLOGY. Here's a description from the website...

Oozing with disgusting science and hilarious hands-on learning games, “ANIMAL GROSSOLOGY” features sophisticated animatronics and imaginative animated characters adapted from the best-selling GROSSOLOGY children’s book series by author and science teacher Sylvia Branzei. The 5,000 square-foot exhibition engages visitors in a larger-than-life look at nature’s blood-sucking, vomit-munching, slime-making and dookie-loving creatures. Fundamental educational content is provided in the form of giant 3-D book walls throughout the exhibition.

Visitors to “ANIMAL GROSSOLOGY” will gain a unique perspective on the animal kingdom, with 16 colorful exhibits that bring to life all the gritty and gross facts about some of nature’s most disgusting critters. For example, visitors will discover that cows are one of the gassiest animals on earth, how leeches are used after some surgeries to assist in the healing process and why scientists are studying the slime produced by slugs and snails for clues in treating cystic fibrosis.

The boys are still doing electric bass and guitar... Cashew is learning some Red Hot Chili Peppers and Pistachio is working on solos such as Jimmy Hendrix.

Macadamia has been practicing piano on her own, and will return to violin lessons soon. She has been sick and unable to attend for a while, but has been practicing.

Almond is continuing with piano lessons and is working on Christmas songs.

All girls are attending ballet, and rehearsing for the Nutcracker. All have a part. Macadamia is a Chinese doll, soldier and in the number "Snow." Almond is a Snow Angel and mouse. Little Peanut is a Santa Helper.

Almond was just asked by her instructor to move up to Ballet 2. She is so excited!

We have been listening to Tchaikovsky and Mozart this past week, as well as studying their bios.

Macadamia and Almond worked on friendship bracelets. Almond made her first one ever!

Macadamia has been making these for years...

There's just not enough time in a day for me to mention everything we are doing... I will try to mention as much as I can each week.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Math Dilemma

Almond took an assessment test about a month ago in math, and scored below average. I know that tests aren't a true indication of intelligence or learning, but I think it confirmed my fears. She is trailing behind most 2nd graders in math (thinking about this, I don't know if this is really true, or just my neurotic thoughts getting the best of me). But I have been questioning whether or not I'm using the right curriculum. We used Singapore for Kinder, but then I switched her to Math U See (MUS) along with all the other kids in the house, since my Macadamia had been using it and absolutely loved it! And I was sold on using a mastery program vs. spiral (see below). Well Almond and Pistachio didn't like it much and begged for something else... Almond was annoyed with using manipulatives and would say, "I know the answer, do I have to use the blocks?" Everyday she would say, "this is boring, do I have to do this?" Pistachio went back to Saxon and I started Almond on a no manipulatives workbook program, Developmental Math. It is a great program, focused on mastery. But she seems bored and complained and cried on a daily basis about doing math... It was torture just to get through 15 minutes! So I decided to switch her... Well, since she did well with Singapore in the first place, I went back to try it again (duh!). She is more eager to get her math done, complaints are less and life is a bit happier around here! BTW, Singapore has been labeled as a mastery program, but it covers other topics that correlate with my state standards, so it seems to be a complete program with great reviews. Here's an article with a brief description on mastery vs. spiral math.

Spiral vs. Mastery

When evaluating a homeschool math curriculum, pay attention to whether or not it is a spiral or mastery type program.

Spiral programs introduce a variety of topics without expecting children to fully understand them. With repeated exposure and continuous review, children have numerous opportunities to learn and master all necessary concepts.

Mastery programs require children to fully understand a concept before moving to another one. For instance, a child learning addition would learn to add 6 digit numbers before moving on to subtraction. Because mastery programs require full understanding of the subject matter, children do not move through lessons quickly and encounter very little review of previously covered material in subsequent lessons.

There are homeschoolers who have success with spiral programs and those who have success with mastery programs. When choosing between these options, focus on selecting a homeschool math curriculum that will be a good fit for your child.

~Successful Homeschooling

For the complete article, click here.

In my perfect homeschooling world, all of the kids would be using the same math curriculum... Not so! We are using 4 different curricula in our house. This only gives us another reason to homeschool... Each child has a different learning style. We cannot put our kids in a box and expect everyone to learn the same thing the same way. My goal is to educate my children using curriculum that is tailored to their learning style and that will be most beneficial. For each child, that may mean something different, whether it is Saxon, Singapore, MUS or Teaching Textbooks!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Preschool Curriculum

Peanut is showing an interest in learning more each day! She asks for "school work" when the others are working at the table. Of course, she is playing most of the time, but enjoys learning right along side the older kids. So this is what we're doing...

Arts and crafts (drawing, painting, coloring books, play-doh, ect...)
Reading lots of books...about everything!
Pre-writing activities (drawing lines, shapes, dot to dot, tracing)
Recognizing and tracing her name
Shapes and colors (she knows most already)
Cutting and gluing
Counting to 20
Sounds of letters (She is doing Zoo Phonics at co-op and enjoys Starfall)
Picture study
Classical music appreciation
Bible stories

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Curriculum, 7th Grade

I will be revising this list as we go along...


Language Arts
Literature/Writing taken at co-op
(Reading list to be updated as books are completed, also see history)
The Republic, Plato
"The Ribbon Theft Story" Rousseau
The Hobbit, Tolkien
Analytical Grammar

Saxon Algebra 1 w/Saxon Teacher

Story of the World Vol 2
Various historical readers and biographies
(List will be added to as we complete books)
Door in the Wall, Marguerite De Angeli

Apologia Physical Science taken at co-op

Guitar, Private Lessons
Artistic Pursuits

Football and other sports

Curriculum, 2nd Grade

I will be revising this list as we go along...

Calvary Chapel Curriculum

Language Arts
Primary Language Lessons
McGuffey's First Eclectic Reader
Word Mastery
A Child's Garden of Verses
HWOT Cursive
Literature (also see history)
Narration, copywork, dictation, and poetry memorization will be used as well
I'm also using the Scott Foresman Grammar and Writing Handbook very loosely, mostly as a reference (my kids take state testing each year, so this will help Almond feel more confident and prepared)

Singapore Math


Story of the World Vol. 2
Various historical readers and biographies
(List will be added to as we complete books)
DK Readers: Days of the Knights -- A Tale of Castles and Battles
DK Ultimate Sticker Book Castle & Knight
Door in the Wall, Marguerite De Angeli
A Medieval Feast, Aliki

"Captivating Chemistry" taken at a co-op, along with a book I found at a thrift shop for $1.00! It's a great introduction to the scientific method and loads of fun!
How to Do Science Experiments with Children
Burgess Animal Book

"Sing and Sign Language" taken at a co-op
Artistic Pursuits
Private Piano lessons
Music appreciation/composer study (Vivaldi, Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Chopin)

Ballet 2

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Who are these nuts???

You may have noticed the children are named after their favorite nuts. Each child is unique and special in their own way.

Cashew is my 16 year old son. He is responsible and respectful, the most quiet and reserved one of the group. Hobbies include online gaming and bass guitar. He is currently working on getting his driver's license and will start community college in the spring, with a emphasis in computer science.

Macadamia is my 14 year old daughter. She is a multi-talented multi-tasker! She can be aggressive and tough, yet sensitive on the inside. Hobbies include reading, drawing, violin, piano, ballet, knitting, baking and much more! Her goal is to graduate early so she can focus on the arts.

Pistachio is my 12 year old son. He is the most sensitive and passionate one. He strives to be the very best at everything he does. Hobbies include football, skateboarding, guitar/electric guitar, and online gaming. He excels at math and science.

Almond is my 7 year old daughter. She is funny, assertive, and also very sensitive. She is growing so fast, both physically and intellectually. Hobbies include ballet, dancing, singing, piano, and art. She loves science and the arts.

Peanut is my 3 year old daughter. She loves to entertain and be the center of attention. Hobbies include reading books, singing, ballet, dancing, music, drawing, and playing. She loves imaginary play. She specializes in imitating everyone in the house.

Co-op makes life easier

This year we decided to try something new. All of the kids except Macadamia (she has had some health issues and needed a lighter load) are attending an academy program/co-op. It is a Christian based program, run by a group of homeschooling moms. The teachers are moms/dads with expertise in whatever subject they are teaching. You are required to volunteer if you have a child K-6. I volunteer in high school Biology and Spanish 1. Cashew is taking Biology, Pistachio is taking Literature and Physical Science. I am very proud to say that they received "A's" on their first progress report! And these are tough classes! Almond is taking Sing and Sign, and Science. She looks forward to it every week! Peanut attends "preschool" and is learning Zoo Phonics. I am so pleased with how it has worked out for us. The kids are learning, socializing, and getting a break from their siblings (and mom!). This also eliminates the planning of some major subjects and allows me more time to do other things. How cool is that!?!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

New Identity

So here I am again...trying so desperately to blog. I've had several attempts at this, but just can't seem to stay consistent. A dear friend of mine encouraged me to get going again, so I took her up on the challenge. I've decided to blog at least once a week and maybe try to comment on my favorite blogs too. We discussed privacy issues, and I've decided to keep my blog public, but to retain some anonymity, I've decided to use a pseudonym for my children. I thought of something crazy but meaningful... Since we're all "nuts" in this house (you gotta be to keep up!), I've decided to replace real names with the names of their favorite nuts...LOL! So from here on out, my precious children will be referred to with the following endearing terms:

Cashew = 16 y.o. son
Macadamia = 14 y.o. daughter
Pistachio = 12 y.o. son
Almond = 7 y.o. daughter
Peanut = 3 y.o. daughter

Wow, I think I'm starting to enjoy this!

Friday, June 27, 2008


I'm always on the look out for great ideas, especially for my boys. My girls naturally enjoy trying hand-on activities. My 14 year old daughter is a self-taught knitter, can crochet and sew some, and has even made her own socks! We will start crocheting with my 7 year old, and she has done some looming and simple stitching. I just found this blog and am looking forward to finding new ideas...

Handicraft Place

Update on 2nd Grade Curriculum

Okay, we're almost there! Curriculum plans are just about set, though I'm still struggling with Language Arts for the 2nd grader... I did FLL last year, very loosely, and couldn't stand the repetitiveness and drill... I'm very drawn to Ruth Beechick's philosophy, and am trying to find something that falls in line with a gentle, integrated approach to language arts... I'm seriously considering Primary Language Lessons, but I keep doubting myself and keep worrying! My plan is also to take excerpts from her literature and use that as well. Seriously, does a 2nd grader really need to know what an adverb is??? NO! I know I need to just stop and go with my gut feeling... I've prayed about this and felt great about it, but now that we're getting closer, I seem to be 2nd guessing myself... I need to stop reading the WTM boards, that's what I need to do! LOL!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Curriculum, 9th Grade

I will be revising this list as we go along...


Literature with guides
(List will be added to as books completed)
A Separate Peace, Knowles
Applications of Grammar
Word Roots


Trail Guide to World Geography

Key To Geometry
Math U See Geometry

BJU Biology (taken at a co-op)

Artistic Pursuits


Violin, Private Lessons
Music appreciation/composer study (Vivaldi, Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, Tchaivchosky, Chopin)

Foreign Language
Spanish 1 (taken at a co-op)


Ballet III (en pointe, pas de deaux)

Curriculum, 11th Grade

I will be revising this list as we go along...


Literature with guides
(List will be added to as books completed)
The Hobbit, Tolkein
Writing Skills (review of grammar and writing skills)
Word Roots

American Government, A Beka
Economics, A Beka
US History, Community College

BJU Biology (taken at a co-op)


Teaching Textbooks Algebra 2

Bass Guitar, Private Lessons


Computer Science, Community College
Driver's Education

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Slowly Adding

This site in under construction! With curriculum planning for next year, and everything else that goes on in a house with 7 people, I don't get a lot of time to sit at the computer. I'm still deciding on curriculum for next year, so I will post and update when I get a chance. I'm still getting the hang of this. Hopefully I will figure out how to link to some of my favorite homeschool blogs.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Wanna be blogger!

So here I am! I actually started blogging a few months ago somewhere else, but everytime I found a blog that had helpful homeschooling info, it was here! So I decided to jump ship, and not to mention one of my best friends started blogging here too. I rather enjoy reading what others are feeling, doing and thinking. And even more, I love to share what I'm thinking. This will give me something to do when my hubby is deployed too... So...


About my blog name, Love Learning Laughter...

If we had to choose a few words to sum up what goes on in my house on a regular basis, those would be the best words to choose... Well, on an ideal day, hopefully that's what you would find! LOL... Some days, there's all laughter and no learning (too much fun, and not enough schooling) or not enough love, but a lot of learning (those are the tough but necessary times)...

Anyhow, I'm hoping to find some old friends, and to make some new ones too! Happy blogging!
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