2017/2018: Block 2

Last week we wrapped up our second block.  I think that we are finally starting to get into a groove-yep, it took us two months.  It happens.  I still do not love the rhythm that we have, but the kids enjoy it and it works for them.  Last month I posted that I was not going to do blocks this year-well, things changed.  We are going to continue with blocks.  They just seem to work and they break things up.  Blocks also make the amount of information that I am responsible for more manageable.  I was not able to keep up with the three grades and all of the classes.  I feel that the block system allows us to dive deep and actually have some good discussions.

Grade 5-Ancient Egypt

Parks’ second block revolved around Ancient Egypt.  He read the book,” A Place in the Sun,” by Jill Rubalcaba and “Who was King Tut.”  He also read several of the Egyptian myths throughout the month.  He made a pyramid from clay and watched the pyramid movie by David MacCaulay.  Overall, he really enjoyed Ancient Egypt.  I think that he enjoyed learning about the pyramids the most.

Grade 7-Alchemy

Sawyer’s second block was one of my favorites with Sims, but since she had seen it all before-Sawyer was not all that impressed.  She began the block by reading the book, “Alchemy and Chemistry,” by Stefoff.  She learned about how the main elements were thought to be air, water, fire and earth.  We then looked at chemical processes that use the four elements such as photosynthesis and cellular respiration.  We ended the block playing with fire and learning why some things burn and some do not.  Of course she knew that a rock would not burn, but she did not know that it was due to its lack of carbon atoms.  She also read the book, “The Alchemist,” in preparation for our next block and to go along with this block.

Grade 9-Biology and Cells

So how are we going to do blocks for high school?  Well, Sims and I decided that he would continue with weekly/daily math, writing, forestry, geography and PE.  Then we will do history and biology in blocks.  This month, we continued with biology and the cell.  He learned about the cell membrane, the mitochondria, the nucleus, how ATP is made and used.  He did a lot of hands on work in the beginning of the month at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences.  In addition to biology, he finished up studying North America and has started into South America in Geography.  In Forestry, he helped with a Project Learning Tree event for local sixth graders and went on a couple more forest assessments where he has a list of things to document for each plot of land including invasive species, tree types, number of trees over a certain size, undergrowth identification and more.

Block 8: 2016/2017

Block 8!  I cannot believe we are getting close to the end of the year!  Not only was block 8 full of school, it was full of activities!

Grade 4: Norse Myths

This month, Parks finished up his study of the Norse myths.  He told me that the myths have been his favorite part of the year.  He loves the stories, which is good since he has heard them many times before.  We continued to use the D’Aularis book of Norse Myths.

Grade 6: Business Math

Sawyer LOVED this month (in fact, she is going to keep working on it through May).  For this block, I purchased the Bookstore curriculum from Simply Charlotte Mason.  She developed a logo, decided on her inventory, and began working through the book.  The program introduces real life scenarios, such as road construction occurred in front of your store; thus, you lost some of your sales.  Of course, these scenarios brought about a lot of discussions-especially about our small town that is going through quite a few construction projects lately.

Grade 8: Government and Civics

I originally planned on only going over US government with Sims, but our discussions turned us in another discussion.  This allowed him to learn about other types of governments and to compare/contrast them to the US government.  We also all fell in love with the game CIVITAS.  It is a quick card game that teaches about different government types.

Our month of activities!

Taproot Teacher Training 2017

Last August, I attended the 2016 Taproot Teacher Training hosted by Barbara Dewey and Jean Miller in Ohio.  I had no idea how life changing the experience would be.  Eight months later, I still refer back to my notes and think about the weekend.

Why do I bring up this training class now?  Well, registration for the 2017 Taproot Teacher Training is up!  I highly recommend this training!

If you think:

I am not a 100% follower of the Waldorf homeschooling method.  Well, neither am I.  I like the feel of Waldorf.  I like the way the information is taught through stories.  Humans have used stories for centuries.  We learn so much from stories.  I love the way creativity is weaved into the lessons.  I use pieces of the Waldorf method everyday, but I am far from 100% Waldorf.  This was probably my number one concern about attending, but I am so glad that I did not let it stop me.

It is too far.  I thought that too, but the drive was amazingly peaceful.  How long has it been since you got to drive in your car by yourself?  Listening to your own music?  Ohio is also surprisingly beautiful.

It is too expensive.  The weekend is worth every penny.  I gained an amazing education AND had fantastic accommodations, food, fellowship, and relaxation.

Most home school education activities push you to purchase their curriculum.  Nope.  There is no pressure here to purchase anything.  In fact, I went home with the courage to find books to use as my curriculum instead of purchasing.  I spent less on curriculum this year than I ever have!  I felt empowered to trust my own judgments on the stories I chose to support the lessons.

I have not received any compensation for writing this page.  I simply believe in this workshop!  You can read about my experience last year on this page.

If you are interested and/or have any questions, check out the Taproot Teacher Training website! 


Block Five 2016/2017

2017 started off a little rough emotionally, but school-wise it started off well.  The first block of the year was a lot of fun for everyone.


Grade 4-Local History

Parks’ block began by looking at the Native American tribe that inhabited our area before the European settlers came, which was the Catawba Tribe.  We visited the Charlotte Museum of History which had some information on the tribe (and a  TON of information on the beginnings of Charlotte, the biggest city that we are near and the where many of the NC history stories that we have read about take place).  He then looked at the town that we live in, Cornelius, and how it has changed over the years.  Our area was drastically changed in the 60s when the area was flooded to build a lake.  We visited the Energy Explorium for our area which had a terrific history of the area and pictures of the area before and after the lake was built.  He finished up the block with a study of his choice which was Blackbeard, a pirate who resided in NC.  Overall, I think Parks really enjoyed the block.

Grade 6- Economics/Business

Sawyer’s block focused on business using the book Striker Jones.  I am not a business person.  When I did this block with Sims, I used this book and Sims really enjoyed it!  Well, Sawyer did too.  Each chapter had vocabulary and insightful questions that got everyone discussing business!  During the field trip to the Charlotte Museum of History, the guide spoke about bartering and trading which was perfectly timed with her chapter.  She also interviewed several people about their jobs and what kept them at their jobs (she was pretty shocked to find out that money was not enough to keep people at their jobs).  She wrote a business letter to Jelly Belly about her love for their product!  We also went to watch the new movie, “The Founder.”  After that movie, she wasn’t so sure how she felt about being a part of a big business in her future!

Grade 8-US History 1910-Modern Times

I wanted to try to make history more relevant for Sims during this block, and I think it worked.  We did history backwards.  I had him look at 2016 (the year that he turned 13) and describe historical events and his life.  We then went back in 10 year increments to look at what happened during that decade.  He also interviewed people of different ages.  During each interview, he asked: in what year was the person 13? what and where were the activities that the person participated in? what big events in history does the person remember? what was an event that had a big impact on the person’s life? anything else that the person wanted to add?  Most people did not know what was going on in the country, such as the depression, the vastness of the wars, the economic ups or downs, etc.  Three of the four field trips tied in very nicely with this block for him.  The Charlotte Museum of History was filled with information on the area from the present time back to the 1700s.  The movie, “Hidden Figures,” went through civil rights, the cold war, and the space program (and many more historical events).  Finally, the Energy Explorium went through the impact of electricity through the US and many other changes in the US over the past 100 years.  Like Sawyer, we had SO many amazing discussions, looked through videos, and made so many connections during this block.  Sims also learned how to make a simple power point presentation during this block as a way to make an outline for the century.


I love it when all three blocks come together so nicely.  They all had pieces that tied them together.  We read about many business practices during our local history and US history blocks that put what Sawyer was learning into real life.  We learned how the small town that we live in was impacted by events happening around the US.

A Day in the Life 2017- Tuesday

I am posting my daily schedule and activities for the week.  I enjoy doing this each year to review where we are and how we are doing.  Yesterday’s post is here.  Today was another busy day.

715 Woke up and chatted with Nick.  I woke up late.  I was sleeping so soundly that I did not hear Nick get up and leave to go work out.

745 Everyone started getting up and heading to the kitchen for breakfast and to empty the dishwasher/feed the pets.  I worked on my journal for a bit and got the supplies ready for the lesson today.

840 15 minute cleanup (If you are curious what this is, it goes like this.  Each person is responsible for one room for the week.  The room must be tidy, dusted and vacuumed.  After that is done, everyone is responsible for their bathroom as well.  This method has changed our lives as far as cleaning goes.  I highly recommend it. I read about the concept on another homeschooling family blog.)

900 Group work.  We discussed World War II, more business math and worked on a map of present day Cornelius.

1000 Everyone began their independent work and I went among each of them doing individual lessons and helping where needed.


I am hoping this person is coming back.

1130 Sawyer took the dog for a walk.  Parks was tinkering with a project, and Sims was still working on math.

1200 Lunch and laundry and shower.


Laundry..so much laundry!

100 We headed out to drop off the boys off at the lake house so that they could ride their bikes home (they left them there).  Lucky for me, my dad pulled in the street right as we were leaving.  The boys jumped out of my car and into his.  Sawyer and I headed north for gymnastics.  While Sawyer was in gym, I headed out to run a couple of errands.  I am trying to finish up the rooms that we are redecorating, but I am not having much luck. On our way home, we picked up the groceries (yep, I order my groceries online and pick them up.  I find that I save a lot of money and don’t waste as much food this way. I felt odd about doing it initially, but now I am comfortable in that decision).

330 Once we got home, we decided that we would hit a local mountain bike trail.  I wouldn’t normally try to stuff this in, but the kids got bikes for Christmas.  We have been so crazy that we haven’t gone mountain biking with them yet.  It is supposed to rain for the rest of the week, so today seemed like a good day to go.

530 The boys cleaned off the bikes and got them off of the car.  Sawyer and I worked on a quick dinner.

615 We headed back out.  Sims went to scouts.  Parks and I headed to BMX.  Sawyer relaxed at home.


800  Parks and I got home.  He and Sawyer got ready for bed and then drew for a bit.

900  Nick met Sims at scouts and brought him home.  Everyone headed off to bed soon after this.

Today was another full day.  We should all sleep well!



A Day in the Life 2017-Monday

For the past few years, I have posted our activities each day for one week.  I try to keep the week around the same period of time each year.  You can find 2014/2015 here.  And you can find 2015/2016 here.  I am not sure what this week will look like due to the craziness that the rest of the month held.  (You can read about our last couple of week here.)  We definitely have changed some since last year. So here goes:

645 I wake up, shower and blog.  I planned our week last night so we are ready to go.

730 Parks is up, feeds the cats, and empties his part of dishwasher.

750 Sims and Sawyer are up.  We all eat breakfast and discuss our dinner situation.  I am struggling with getting good, healthy dinners for everyone, and I need some help.  Everyone came up with one meal that he or she can make this week.  Everyone scatters before we begin the day officially.

840 We begin our 15 minute clean up.

900 We meet in the sunroom to do our lessons.  Parks works on a map of our town (which I learn that he only thinks of our neighborhood and the neighborhood beside us as part of his town).  I read aloud a chapter from Striker Jones and we discuss the chapter as a group for Sawyer’s business math block.  We discussed events in the US during the 1950s and 1960s for Sims’ US history (this was nicely timed with MLK, Jr Day today).

1000 Everyone begins his or her independent work.  I work with each child individually on lessons that they need.  Parks and I worked on math.  Sawyer and I worked on business math.  Sims and I worked on his presentation for US history and more discussion on history.

1140 I go for a walk while the kids eat lunch and finish up their work.  By this time, Parks is done with his work and is riding his bike outside. but the other two are still finishing up math.

1230 I head to the city to take the dog to the vet and to pick up my curtains that are at the alterations shop.  The kids hang out.  Sims rode his bike to the lake house to fish with his friends.


215 I come home ravished.  I ate lunch.  Lucky for me, Nick is home too so we got to eat together.  🙂  After lunch, I started some laundry and put up the curtains.

305 I head back out to run an errand and to pick up Sims and his friend from the lake house.

405 I drive by the house to pick up the younger two and we all head to Mooresville (two towns north of us).  Here Parks and Sawyer take music lessons, and Sims climbs.

545 I meet Nick to drop off Parks, so that they can go to cub scouts tonight.  Sawyer and I head to dinner and then to climb for a bit.

800 We arrive home.  I cooked dinner for Sims and chatted with Parks.  Since all five of us are together, we sat and worked on our 2017 goals as a family.  By 910, we were all fried and exhausted.


915 Parks headed to bed.  Sawyer headed to get a shower.  Sims headed up to his room and I began this post.  I plan to head to bed here in a bit!  That was an exhausting day of driving.  This is close to my usual Monday except for the driving to the city at noon and the errand at 3.  I am not usually in the car nearly that much.



2016/2017 Block Three

Our third block filled November.  Parks worked through a man/animal block.  Sawyer worked through an introduction to Ancient Rome.  Sims worked through an appropriately timed Civics block.

Grade Four: Man/Animal

Parks’ third block started off by looking at the three parts of the body-the head, the body and the limbs.  He went over all of the activities that he can use his hands for and how he is different than other animals.  Over the next three weeks, he learned about three different animals that are all native to NC: the shark, the box turtle, and the opossum.

Grade Six: Ancient Rome Introduction

After some discussion, we decided to start studying Ancient Rome through a story.  We read through the book, “Our Roman Cousin from Long Ago,” and researched many of the ideas discussed throughout the story.  We have read this book once before, and everyone was excited to read it again.

Grade 8: Civics

Sims’ third block on Civics was purposely timed in November to go along with the elections.  We used the Oak Meadow Civics book, lots of websites and a lot of discussion throughout the block.  Sims went over the key values in the US, laws that affect his life, the Preamble to Constitution, the Constitution, Federalists and Anti-federalists, and the Bill of Rights.


Now we are onto a short block on North American Geography and Cursive!