2015/2016 Year End Review

Well I guess before I start planning for next year, I should look back on last year.  My planning pages for each grade are here: Grade 3, Grade 5 and Grade 7.  (Heads up-this is a long and boring post that is mainly written for my own documentation purposes.)

Grade 3: Cooperation and Confidence themes


  1. Find a method for getting thoughts onto paper– Parks did learn to journal his feeling into a small journal.  He continues to prefer to draw instead of write, but he is progressing on this goal.
  2. Work independently for 30 minutes- Parks did accomplish this goal, although it varied day to day.  He occasionally had days that he had a difficult time working on his own.
  3. Understand the concept of multiplication and division and apply to practical life. – Parks rocked this goal.  He does not enjoy doing math worksheets but he does an excellent job at practical and daily math such as cooking, time, and money.
  4. Find and utilize effective strategies to reduce anxiety and increase self confidence.-Parks really worked hard in this area this year.  He will have to work on this forever, I suspect.  He feels very confident in certain areas of his life such as horse back riding, bike riding, drawing, pottery, and outdoor activities.
  5. Work in groups effectively.-I saw this goal accomplished nicely in his last class.  He participated in a robotics class which required a lot of team work, communication, and out-of-the-box thinking.
  6. Investigate how the environment effects the choices made on shelter, food and clothing. I think this was one of Parks’ favorite goals so of course he accomplished it.

Overall, Parks year was a mixed bag of sorts.  At times, I was pulling my hair out and at other times, I was so excited for what he was inventing and wanting to do on his own.  At the last minute, I changed math curriculum to Math-U-See.  Parks worked through Gamma or Multiplication.  We worked through it slowly and he did well.  He worked through blocks on Mr.Popper’s Penguins, Shelters, Farmer Boy and Diary of an Early American Boy, The Giving Tree, Creation Stories from around the world, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, Fort, and Cooking.  He also took a biology class throughout the year at Latta Plantation Nature Preserve.  Other activities included African drumming, clay class, robotics, horse back riding, and gymnastics.

Grade 5– Self-awareness, compassion and empathy themes


  1. Utilize effective communication to inform others of her emotions.  Sawyer tends to keep her emotions to herself.  She worked a lot on letting us know if she needed some space or a friend over and how she is feeling.
  2. Find and utilize an effective time management strategy.-Unless she is reading, Sawyer is rocking this goal!  When she is in a book, she has no idea what time it is.  However, she is doing well with the schedule and judging her timing.  Occasionally, leaving the house is still difficult but overall she is doing well.
  3. Find and utilize an effective organizational strategy for school work and room.- This is another area that Sawyer did very well in this year.  Her school work stayed together and fairly organized.  Her room drives me a little crazy, but she knows where everything is and has her own organization strategy.
  4. Utilizing previously taught grammar skills, write a variety of papers to learn the skills of prewriting, editing, drafting and final copy.- Sawyer did well with her writing skills this year.
  5. Increase confidence in utilizing math concepts in everyday life.- Sawyer’s confidence in math really increased this year.  With the increase in her confidence with her school math, I really noticed an increase in her confidence with doubling and halfing recipes, making change with her money and time management.
  6. Increase awareness of how other’s are feeling around her and other people’s plans.- Similar to her time management goal, Sawyer did well with this goal unless she is reading.

Sawyer really grew up this year.  I really enjoy watching her grow into her own person.  For math, Sawyer dropped back to the Math-U-See Gamma or multiplication to increase her confidence in her math knowledge.  She worked through that book and through the next Math-U -See book called Delta or Division.  She also worked through Latin Word Roots book A.  She worked through blocks on the Ancient Incas, Secret of the Andes, US Geography, The Mossflower, Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, Ida, and Botany.  She participated in the Environthon class.  Extracurricular classes included African drumming, clay, gymnastics, and horse back riding.

Grade 7 communication, vision and exploration themes


  1. Find and utilize effective strategies for time management and organization for school.-Sims had a lot of activities that required a lot of management.  Overall, he did very well.  Occasionally, he needed a little prodding to keep motivated.
  2. Be able to recognize and respond appropriately/effectively to other’s emotions- One of the nice parts about goals is that you have time to achieve them!  I was nervous about this one up until April.  I am not sure what happened but he started working on this goal in April.  I would not say that he has 100% met this goal, but I definitely think that he has made terrific progress towards it.
  3. Find and utilize an effective and efficient note-taking method – Not met.  We learned about note taking.  We made T’s, note cards, highlighting, traditional note taking and he really did not take to one.  I guess this one will keep going through next year.
  4. Articulate ideas clearly and effectively- Sims did an excellent job with this goal.  He has always had terrific ideas but didn’t always know how to explain them or to make them come to fruition.  This year, he worked through his plans on his own before presenting them to the group or to me.
  5. Find and utilize a method to organize though in the form of written communication using prewriting, drafting, editing and final copy.– So Sims did not figure out note taking but he did a terrific job with writing!  In fact, he did it without my help.  He utilized the hand method (draw a hand on a sheet of paper.  The palm is the main idea.  The thumb is the introduction.  Three fingers are the supporting ideas and the pinky is the final idea).  In the past, Sims never wanted to write a rough draft but this year he was very comfortable with writing multiple drafts.

For math, Sims used the Pre-Algebra book from Math-U-See. He finished Latin Word Roots book A.   He then worked through blocks on the Middle Ages (The Door in the Wall, Good Masters Sweet Ladies, Castle and Cathedral), Alchemy, The Alchemist, Chemistry, Wish/Wonder/Surprise, Astronomy, the Renaissance, Anatomy/Physiology, and Carry On Mr.Bowditch.  He participated in the area Environthon and the NC state Environthon.  He also participated in African drumming, competitive gymnastics, horse back riding, small engine repair and photography.

As a group, we worked on land and water forms using Pin It Maps.  We read Hawksmaid and The One and Only Ivan together (although, everyone listens to all of the books read).  We went to several shows including Breakin Convention, Momix, Flamenco, Black Violin, and Diavolo.  We hiked.  We went on a lot of trips including Washington D.C., Durham, Florida Keys, NC Mountains and Sebastian-Florida.

Friday Hike-Stephens Road Nature Preserve

Environthon proved to be an amazing experience for my older two children.  The downside of the class was that we were not able to take our Friday hikes.  Well with environthon over, we decided to hit the trails at Stephens Road Nature Preserve.

Friday Hike-Rural Hill

Untitled drawing

Today we headed out into the rain to hike the trail around Rural Hill (a historic farm in Huntersville, NC).  Typically, we hike in areas where there are few signs of people.  Today, the trail had bricks, old asphalt, and rocks all through it.  A very rare telephone poll tree stood in the forest.  😉  We found that the trail is more of a historic walk than a hiking trail.  Throughout the walk, information plates shared the history of the land and the dwelling remnants around us.  The land is beautiful and mystical.






Chicken Egg? Our guess is that this egg was another animal’s lunch.


Through the fields


Through the fields


Beautiful Clover


More Clover


No idea, but a really neat plant


I love the rain drops on this daisy!

Pin It! Maps

The following is simply my thoughts on this curriculum.  I purchased it on my own and did not receive any items for this review.

Do your kids enjoy geography?  Are you looking for a way to bring more geography into your home?  Check out Pin It! Maps.

I read about Pin It! Maps first on Simple Homeschool.  I fell in love with the program when I read through the website.  The curriculum uses a hands-on approach to teaching geography.

So far, we only have the land and water forms map.  The package came with two pieces of Styrofoam, a laminated map, a control sheet, and “flags” with the land and water forms.  The website contains a wealth of information including activity cards, three part cards with the land forms, and more.

All of us enjoy the program and finding real life examples of each land and water form.  We also love that we can do the program individually or as a group.

I look forward to adding the world map and the map of the USA next year to expand our geography knowledge!

A Day in the Life-Thursday

I am finding our week slightly boring this year!  LOL!  I guess we have finally found a rhythm!  (I wrote this around 2 or 3 when I was catching up on emails.  I think that I spoke too soon.  The afternoon was a bit nuts.)

6:30 I woke and headed to walk with my friend.

8:20 I came home to find the kids doing their chores and school work.  Sawyer did her spelling.  Sims did his math.  They all had eaten breakfast and finished their chores.  While I cooked and ate breakfast, I sat ad listened to them as they played legos.  They have very intricate stories with their lego characters and buildings.


Lego World

9:05  Everyone cleaned up their area.  Today was vacuuming day.

9:25-9:45 Logic of English together

9:45 Sims read aloud while Sawyer and Parks did math.

10:15 Parks decided to cook macaroni and cheese (no idea where this idea came from but suddenly, everyone was hungry).  Sims helped Parks as needed while I jumped in the shower.  Sawyer was still working on math.

11:30 All three kids rode horses today.  It was a good day at the barn.  Parks and “his” horse had a terrific connection.  Sawyer cantered all around with only a kiss, kiss sound which thrilled her (the horse that she rides can be a bit ornery requiring a lot more than a sound to move-let alone, canter).  Sims finally trotted again and ventured into some of the obstacles.  He is starting to get back to his normal self with the horses since his fall.

1:30 We arrived back home, and everyone ate some lunch.

2:00 Everyone had some “quiet” time.  I journaled and went through some emails.  The kids played in their rooms.  Sawyer invented doll furniture with boxes.

By 3:00 everyone was out of their rooms and Parks was doing everything that he could to get some attention (aka-drive everyone around him nuts!).  So we convinced him to go outside.  Sims laid down on the couch (he is fighting a cold).  Sawyer played with her dolls.


4:00 We all sat and counted coins from the coin jar.  Mindless activity.  They were going stir crazy.


5:00 We all sat and watched The Ellen Show-well, sat is far from the truth.  Parks was still crazy hyped up.  He and Sawyer went out and jumped on the trampoline during commercials.  Of course-during the last commercial break, they collided.  Sawyer chipped her teeth and now we have a dentist appointment in the morning.  Yeah!

6:30  Everyone ate dinner.  It was a fend for yourself dinner night due to the drama of the tooth.

I am finishing this post up early.  I am not sure what the night will hold, but I am hoping we can calm Parks down and get him to bed early.  🙂


A Day in the Life-Wednesday

Hump Day!  This week I am joining Simple Homeschool (Not on their site, just in the spirit of sharing) in sharing our homeschool days!  I like to write out our schedule for the whole week so that I can reflect on our schedule.

After the late night, I totally bailed on walking this morning.  I slept until 7:30!  In fact by the time I woke up, Sims and Parks were already awake and had done their chores.

7:30 Woke up and ate breakfast while I checked email and got caught up on some paperwork.  Logic of English prep work.

8:15 Sawyer woke up and ate breakfast while Parks drew.

9:00 Everyone cleaned up.

9:15-10 Everyone worked on Logic of English Lesson.

10:00 Everyone worked on math.

10:30 Sims and Parks finished up and went to play lego-complete with argument over lego pieces.  Sawyer worked on her paragraph for the week.

11:00 Snack and get ready to leave.

11:30 Parks took his horse back riding lesson while Sawyer and Sims played around the barn.

1:00 Lunch

1:30 Parks attended a Biology class while Sims, Sawyer and I went for a hike.  The biology class was on birds and bird identification.  We investigated the prairie that went through a controlled burn yesterday.  We also found lots of terrific animal prints around a creek.


3:30 We headed home for Sims to change.  I also dropped Sawyer and Parks off at a friend’s house to help with a science project.

Wednesday afternoons are my least favorite!  From this point on, I felt like I was in my car!

4:00 Drove Sims to gym.  Picked up Parks at friend’s house and took him to his art class at 5:00.

5:00-6:00 Sims was at gym.  Sawyer was at a friend’s and Parks was at art class.  I went to the YMCA to fill out some paperwork for a class and went to the market for veggies for dinner.


6:00-6:30 I drove Parks home, picked up Sawyer and headed HOME!  FINALLY!

6:30 I cooked dinner while Sawyer read the rest of her book aloud and we discussed the ending.

7:00 We ate dinner.  Sims and Nick came in and ate with us.

7:30 Parks read a story for his main lesson work while Sims and Sawyer showered.

8:00 Parks showered and we cleaned up dinner dishes.

8:25.  I typed this blog and everyone got ready for bed and played Legos!  Early night tonight! Hopefully.



A Day in the Life-Tuesday

I am joining in on the theme at Simple Homeschool this week and writing out our days.  You can view our life on Monday here.

I think today may sound a little redundant. Overall, the day was pretty much the same as yesterday.

6:30 Woke up and walked with my friend.

8:20 I returned home to find EVERYONE awake (whew-hew Sawyer!).  Sims had already completed math and spelling.  Parks and Sawyer were playing legos.  Everyone had already eaten and done their morning chores.  I made my breakfast and listed to Sawyer read aloud while I ate.  Meanwhile, Sims worked on typing and Parks was off doing something.

9:00 Cleaning time for 15 minutes (this plan is working really well!  We started using it in October and no one complains about it.  The time goes by quickly and we are all amazed at how much we can get done in such a short amount of time.)

9:15-9:50 Logic of English- Everyone sat together and worked through the lesson together.  Today, they played a game of Old Maid with the phonograms.

9:50-11:30 I listened to Sims read his Astronomy lesson aloud while Parks and Sawyer cleaned up their stuff from the car.  Sawyer and I worked through multiplication of three digit numbers by two digit numbers (the beginning of this lesson was PAINFUL-for BOTH of us.  Thankfully after three LONG examples, she got it!  Hopefully, the information will carry over tomorrow!)  Next I listened to Parks read aloud while Sawyer worked on Spelling and Sims meandered through the house.

11:30 Lunch

12:00 I finally took a shower while the kids played legos.  The room they were in is located over my bathroom.  They sounded like they were killing each other-not sure how legos gets physical but they told me that all they were doing was playing legos.  ???  No matter what, they were HYPED for the next hour or so while I folded laundry.

1:10 We got in the car and headed to gym.  Sawyer and Parks did gymnastics for an hour and then we headed home.

2:45 We arrived home.  The kids got a snack and I started on dinner.I also had to do some research for a play that Sawyer and I went to tonight.

4:30 Sawyer and I got ready to go out tonight.  Sims went to visit our next door neighbor, and Parks just hung out.

5:00  We ate dinner before Sawyer and I headed into the city to pick up both grandmothers to go see Wicked!

7:00 I assume that Sims went to scouts but I am not positive.  I will check that in the morning.

11:30 Sawyer and  I arrived home.  I am finishing up this post and CRASHING into my bed.  I am not a late nighter any more (not sure that I ever was, but it is even worse now).

Good Night.