Week 25



Nothing stands out about this week, in particular.



Genna continues to work on letter recognition, reading, and writing. I think we’ll do another reading review next week. We both like our new schedule much better, where we’re doing fewer things per day and spending a longer amount of time on each. Genna loves math and asks for it daily. :)

Week 24, 2/1


WordPress deleted my first draft of this post, so let’s try again.

Genna: Reading’s going well.

Writing’s going well. She’s forming the letters much more neatly.

Letter identification still isn’t great. We’re doing flashcards on the computer now, lol.

Math’s going great. She loves math.

Science/special topics: I’ve messed around with how I do this several times, but I think we’ve landed on a way that’s going to work better. We focus on either science or a special topic for 2 weeks at a time (1 science topic or 1 special topic during those 2 weeks). Reading books, doing activities, tying in art or a craft, etc. This week and next is Space.

Memory: She’s learning Gen 1:1

We’re doing other stuff too – reading from Christian Liberty Nature Reader, reading books from the library, reading books from Mighty Girl’s recommended books list, etc.



Did I mention we got Thinking Putty for Christmas? It’s helping him focus, reducing unwanted repetitive behaviors, and improving hand strength to boot. Love it.

Math: Going well. He finds % to be waaaay easier than decimals.

WWI: We’re focusing on WWI for a while for History. I’ll do a separate post on that.

Science: He’s working his way through Chem and Phys. He’s on Thermal Energy right now. He does science largely on his own with occasional help from me on experiments. He’s also doing a Skrafty Minecraft class that goes along with his lessons, but he’s about 5 weeks behind in that class, lol.

Writing: He just finished up this week writing three paragraphs (three separate paragraphs, not a three paragraph report) on a topic he chose and researched. He chose Lincoln. (Predictably, lol.) He did a good job, though this was DEFINITELY more challenging for him than the previous research paragraphs he wrote using materials provided by IEW.

Memory: He chose to memorize some of the major Egyptian Gods and Goddesses.

Reading: For fun reading, he’s working through the Rick Riordian series that starts with The Red Pyramid. For school, he’s reading both fiction books that have to do with WWI (there was a comic book, a book about a dog who worked with soldiers (Stubby the War Dog), and he’ll hit The War Horse next) as well as Holes. We’re doing a reading journal for Holes, which continues to be a challenge for him. I’m trying to purposefully give him work that requires expanding on a topic. He tends to answer questions very very briefly… a reading journal requires expounding on your thoughts.

Latin: We took the week off and focused on flashcards.

Art: Our current unit is Color. This is proving to be a challenge for him, as well. I’ve noticed over the years that he doesn’t use color. He NEVER liked coloring, and when he draws (all the time), it’s always in pencil and never colored. When he’s done drawings for, for example, Revolutionary War unit in history, I have to specifically instruct him that color was required, lol. He just doesn’t use color. Anyway… so this is proving to be challenging for him. He gets the concept behind warm colors and cool colors and he can pick them out… but actually using them. That’s hard.


Um… Week 23, 1/25


Did I forget to come back to the blog after Christmas? I think I did.

So we’ve been doing school.

Mostly just plugging away.

All of a sudden, Genna WANTS to do school again and does NOT want to wait for it to be her turn (I like to get Wally past Math and into his more independent work before starting with Genna). She nags at me while I wash dishes that she’s ready. I’m ready, mom. I’m ready for school.

So. Genna.

Reading: We did another pretty thorough review of the sounds, but it didn’t net us as measurable of an improvement as the last time we did that. She’s keeping up with the lessons, but doesn’t seem to be as fluent as the book thinks she should be at this stage. But she hates reviewing and reading things she’s already read. And the book we’re using (Teach Your Child To Read In 100 Easy Lesson) uses a method that, while it works great for her, doesn’t lend itself easily to having your child read other books at quite this point in the process. :(

Math: Genna’s learned basic addition and subtraction. She’s doing great. She’s not quite at the point of doing just equations without pictures or objects, but she does great on understanding the concept. And she can do both addition and subtraction on her fingers, but that’s a little harder.

Writing: eh. It’s coming along.

Letter Identification: Not super great.

Science: We’ve done a few units that she enjoyed. Right now, we’re learning about rocks and land. We could probably spend a little more time on each unit, which I’ll take into account as I plan future weeks.

Social Studies: We finished up the My America portion of our book and are moving on to My World. Each week, we’ll learn about a different country. I’m not planning anything in-depth here.

Art: We’ve kind of let art slide a little. Whoops. She still does plenty of crafts and drawing, but as far as learning specific things… not so much.

Literature: We’re reading stories and talking about them, weekly at least. This week, we’re doing activities for the book Brown Bear Brown Bear What Do You See? She got to make her own version and LOVES it.

Memory: Genesis 1:1


Math – he’s learning decimals and fractions and how they interact with each other.

Grammar – we have a review sheet every other week. This week’s sheet was GREAT!

Writing – he’s finished up the bulk of the IEW curriculum, and we’re moving into more review work, doing more writing projects on his own, etc. I’ve really liked this curriculum, but the real test will be how he does these next few weeks when he’s doing stuff that’s not so formally structured by them.

Science – plugging away!

Government – he started a Government class on Skrafty to learn about different forms of Goverment.

History – we read in SOTW up to the start of WWI. Now we’ve started on a WWI unit that I put together myself. It’s AWESOME.

Bible – still plugging away here, too.

Latin – same

Reading – we finished up Sign of the Beaver and his first attempt at a reading journal. Decided he needs more structure and guidance on expectations for a reading journal, as that attempt was consistently disappointing – he didn’t make any entries that weren’t specifically assigned (as in, he had an assignment to make notes on questions, observations, etc, while reading, but he didn’t, but he did do the assignments where I specifically told him what to write about. But even then he only wrote 2-3 sentences.).

We started on Holes. I actually bought him the book for his Kindle along with the audio Kindle version so he can read and also listen to it read. He has retention problems with just reading but does better listening while reading, so we’ll see how this goes. If this works well, I’ll probably start buying the audio version of Story of the World as well. Anyway, he also has guided journal entries for this one.

Art: We’ve moved into learning about color. Warm colors, cool colors, primary and secondary colors, and their uses. It’s kind of fun. I’d post a picture but I’m trying to hurry!!

Week 16, December 8


Oy. Another hospital week. I attempted to have Wally go ahead and do most of his work in my absence, and sent along his call phone with him to his grandparents’ house so he could call with questions, but for a variety of reasons, it just didn’t happen how I envisioned it. When I leave him at a friend’s house for a day when we have clinic appointments, he does fine, so I’m not sure what exactly went wrong here, but… oh well.

5th grade:

Reading: We started a reading unit with Sign of the Beaver. He has journal writing to accompany the reading, and we do discussion about the reading, as well. We’re doing this as a read-along because he seems to retain better when listening than when reading. It’s a good story. :)

Writing: We’re just plugging along. Skipped some of the lessons that were rather repetitive.

Math: Area of various geometric shapes. The book has the student work out what the formula is, which is fun.

Science: I don’t even know. I think he’s finishing up a chapter on something or another.

History: Teddy Roosevelt and the Roughriders. :) He’s also reading Bully for You, Teddy Roosevelt for his History Reading.

Bible: This week was a section review.

Latin: Lesson 5 and a test, including Latin history, which he got 100% on. :)


It’s going well. This is the second week of our Winter unit. She’s done quite a few projects, none of which I photographed. :( It was a busy week with a sick kiddo. :(

Week 15, Dec 1


Skipped a few weeks, eh? Oops.


We finished up Grammar for Cycle 1, so now we just have reviews, but we’re not there yet.

He’s learning about motion and Newton’s laws in science. This week, one of the activities involved experimenting with things that cause friction and things that reduce friction.

20141202_103432 20141202_103425

Math: Kicking butt and taking names as always. Again, now that we’re through the bulky grammar, we’ll probably start moving a little more swiftly through math.

History: I don’t know. I’m not feeling it this year. We’re not doing as many fun activities – there aren’t as many fun activities. It’s become kind of boring reading and answering questions. We’re getting ready to hit WWI in a few weeks, so that should be fun.

Latin: We backed up and started at the beginning again, and I’m doing it with him. I think that’s been a good thing.

Art: The two of them are doing art together a lot of the time. This week was more focus on Shape. I did not take pictures. :(

Reading: He’s reading Speaker for the Dead for fun and Wind in the Willows as assigned. I should probably be doing some sort of discussion about Wind in the Willows, but I’m not.



She’s doing really well!

This is a video of her reading: https://flic.kr/p/qguv7q

Math is going really well, too. We’re starting addition. :)

Science/topics/Bible/social studies are all going fine, we just dabble in them every week.

She continues to do art with Wally.

Thoughts On Institute for Excellence in Writing’s Student Writing Intensive Level A


I will update this throughout the year.


After 1 week, I’m enjoying this curriculum, but not yet in love. I’ll fall in love if it works, lol.

We’re now in week 15 of our school year… the writing is going really really slowly. And the video segments are sometimes so long that he loses interest and doesn’t listen any more. :(   I think this would have been better if we’d started in 3rd instead of in 5th. It’s just SOOOOO SLOW. I think now that we’re done with the bulk of the grammar book, we’ll pick up the pace a little more.


War Between the States


Here’s what we did.

I looked at A LOT of online lesson plans for a Civil War unit. Many of them were awful, but there were quite a few good ones, too. Ultimately, I settled on using THIS ONE (we’ll call it A) as the basis for our unit, as I thought it was really really well done. I supplemented with some discussion points from HERE (we’ll call it B).

Day 1:

We went over the Disunion lesson from A and added discussions from P6-7 of B. We also watched the video Division from PBS and a blurb about the cotton gin.  We did a LOT of talking about differences between the north and the south – culture, lifestyle, beliefs. A lot of the basis for this discussion came from The Fall Of The House of Dixie, which I read prior to starting this unit.

I also had him pick a page from our HistoryScribe Civil War packet (from CurrClick).

He drew a picture illustrating the differences between life in the North and life in the South.

Day 2:

We discussed the causes of the war. We read Abraham Lincoln’s letter to Horace Greely and discussed. We discussed how deeply slavery was entrenched in the south, and how you had to have convinced yourself of a number of things in order to be OK with it. We discussed other points of contention, such as tariffs, and the issue of how to handle the Louisiana Purchase lands. We added discussion points from p 4-5 of the Day 2 lesson plan from B.

We printed out a map of the US from 1861 and colored it by Northern states, Southern states, and Border states. (using this as a guide) I had him also list out differences between the North and the South from our discussion yesterday, and then he also made a list of the strengths of each side. This actually took several attempts due to total lack of concentration.  (We planned to watch this video, but didn’t realize it was only going to show us part before making us sign up for a free trial with our credit card. Poo.)

We watched the BrainPop videos Civil War Overview and Civil War Causes.

This day was heavy on conversation.

Day 3:

We did the “The Country Goes to War” lesson from A.

We discussed how the Constitution of the Confederacy was similar to and different from the US Constitution, and what those differences said about the Confederacy.  We listed alternate names for the war and why people might choose to frame the war the way they do. (“War of Northern Aggression,” for example.) We decided War Between the States is most accurate.

We read excerpts from the inaugural addresses of both Lincoln and Davis and discussed. (Both gave excellent speeches, by the way. I love reading them.)

I had him do another page from the HistoryScribe book.

We planned to watch one of the many general overview type videos I found online, but did not.

I also made Sausage and Apples for lunch.

Day 4:

We did the 3rd lesson from A. Talked about Lincoln’s legal basis for the Emancipation Proclamation. Watched several videos from History.

I also had him pick a person from the list found on this link to research and write a paper about. He chose Booth. He’ll start researching as soon as we get our library books this week. :)

We did some discussion about slavery.

He played this game on the iPad (also available as a download for computer)

I made Johnnycakes for dinner.

Day 5:  Underground Railroad

We listened to/discussed Follow the Drinking Gourd and read through Follow the Drinking Gourd by Jeanette Winter

We watched the Brainpop video on the Underground Railroad

We read Unspoken by Henry Cole (I had Wally read it to Genna)

We drove by Jordan House.

Wally already knew a lot about the Underground Railroad from other books he’s read recently.

Day 6: Life of Soldiers
We did the Life at War lesson from A.
We looked at this video.

We read the letters and did some of the activities from the lesson in A.

We listened to some songs from Civil War era CDs we got from the library.

Day 7: Life on Homefront

We did the Home Front lesson from A

We looked at the book Dressing a Nation: Civil War Fashions.

We listened to more music.

Day 8: Shifting Tides

We did the Shifting Tides lesson from A UP TO the Gettysburg Address

Wally was still finishing up his report on Booth, so we didn’t go any further (we were also heading into a holiday weekend).

Day 9: Gettysburg and Battles

We read about the battle at Gettysburg and then about the Gettysburg address a few years later. We talked about the way that the dead soldiers were treated on each side, how it was different. Read the Gettysburg Address and discussed.

Read Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, a beautiful picture book

Wally chose a battle to research and make a poster on, and he worked on this independently for 4 days.

Day 10: Ending the War

We followed the lesson plan

We discussed a bit of the North’s atrocities during the war.

We tried to put ourselves in the shoes of the people in the south.

We read several first-person accounts of the surrender and discussed how people on each side felt.

We brainstormed a list of the problems that would have to be overcome to really get going again as a nation and move on.



Wally also read:

Two Miserable Presidents

A Picture Book Of… books for everyone from this era we could find.

You Wouldn’t Want to Be… books for this era

Nurse, Soldier, Spy by Edmonds

Mary Walker Wears the Pants

Harriet Tubman, Secret Agent

Civil War Interactive History Adventure

The Journal of James Edmond Pease, a Civil War Union Soldier

United No More

Dressing a Nation (we just looked through this)

Timeline of the Civil War (we just browsed)

Fleeing to Freedom on the Underground Railroad (more browsing)

Abraham Lincoln Photobook


We read Red Badge of Courage as a read-aloud during lunch.