Real Life Homeschooling – Some Days Take a Little Longer

Today is Day 4 of the Real Life Homeschooling Blog Hop. This week I have been sharing a typical week in our life, even though each week is a little different. These posts are all based on the week before Easter, because this week is Spring Break and 5 posts about us doing nothing would be pretty boring! Here is how our third day of the week, Tuesday went.

Real Life Homeschooling - Some Days Take Longer

On Monday night I noticed that AJ wasn’t feeling too well. I soon found out that when she was with her grandma over the weekend she went swimming! The pool is not heated and it is still too cold to swim. We had just discussed this and told her that she could not go swimming a week ago, so when she woke up feeling sick I was more than a little irritated.  If the situation would have been a little different I probably would have just skipped school for the day and we would have just made it up later. But after finding out that she completely disobeyed and went in the pool knowing that she was not suppose to, I decided that she would have to just deal with school. Am I a mean mom? Maybe, but in life there are natural consequences and this was one of them.

Tuesday we were off to a slow start. We started school around 10 am. First we worked on her Bible study, and then she did her Bible reading for history.

Putting God First with Bible reading in our Homeschool!

Once she was done with her Bible reading we decided to work on spelling. She did her chunking, read the passage to me, and then asked if she could study some of the harder words for a few minutes before her final dictation. That caught me off guard! I gave her a few minutes to work on her spelling and then we started in on dictation. The dictation is suppose to be stopped after 10 minutes, but when I told her time was up she asked if we could finish. She ended up working on it for about 20 minutes, and was very proud of herself when she corrected it. There were over 100 words in the dictation and she only missed 3! Talk about a boost in confidence. I think Spelling You See is really going to be an answered prayer for us!

Spelling You See - Final Dictation.

After spelling she went and got dressed and did a few chores that she didn’t do before we started school.

Real Life Homeschooling Chores are just another part of school!

We were going to go onto science, but my leg was swelling so badly that I had to go inside and put it up. We decided to work on Star Toaster. It is this amazing reading program that uses an online story, a game, videos, and so many other exciting features to make learning fun. I have a full review coming soon, but here are the basics. She logs in and reads a chapter in the story, The Orphs of the Woodlands. Throughout the story she learns different vocabulary words, character traits, nutrition tips, and math skills. At the end of each chapter she has to do jobs (answer questions) to earn stars so that she can take care of her Orphs (orphaned animals) that she is helping. It is a really neat program and she really enjoys it. She was really into the story, so she ended up working on it for about an hour.

Working on Star Toaster - An Amazing online program for kids in grades 4-7

When I finally told her we had to move on she ended up finishing up her A+ math for the week. The first chapter was really easy, but she enjoyed it. I am crossing my fingers that the rest of the chapters will be as well done. She crossed off math for the week and noticed that the next day’s spelling was a Daily Puzzler from She loves those and asked if she could work on that next. As you can tell by the picture, she was starting to feel a little bit better.

Working of Daily Puzzlers from

After crossing off spelling for the week, it was time for science. Today we were learning about clouds. I had printed off a worksheet about the different types of clouds, but I had a hard time telling them apart. (See you don’t have to know all of the answers, just how to find them!)So we decided to do a google image search and learned more about the different types of clouds.

Learning about clouds using a google image search.

After finishing the worksheet we went outside to see how many types of clouds we could name.  Sadly, it was clear as could be other than this little cloud.

Learning about clouds, and this was the only one in the sky!

AJ sketched the cloud, and then it was time to make a cloud in a bottle.

Real Life Homeschooling - Hands on Learning

She had a lot of fun with the experiment!  After science it was time to finish up history. Today she had to do the first half of her vocabulary for history. I decided to try something different with this unit, and had her make flash cards instead of just doing a worksheet. She liked it and I think that she will practice the flash cards more than she will study them in a book, time will tell though.

Real Life Homeschooling -Flashcards for history vocabulary

When the history cards were done she had to read two more chapters in Because of Winn-Dixie. She surprised me and finished the book! She even took the test and aced it! This may seem like a little thing, but this is the first book that she has EVER read by herself, that doesn’t have pictures, where she has really read it and was able to answer questions! This was HUGE!!! After working and pushing, and backing off, and getting frustrated, our hard work has paid off and she willingly finished a book!

Real Life homeschooling - Finishing her first book

She is just in the wheelchair so she can wheel around and spin while reading, she is fine!


I don’t know if it was the new schedule that gave her more responsibility, or the fact that she wanted to be on spring break, or if it was just a good book, but now I know she has it in her.

Overall it was a good day, but it was a long day. School lasted about 6 hours. Some days will be longer than others when your child decides to take forever, or when you dig deeper into a subject. We take each day and see how it goes. Tomorrow will be our final day in the real life homeschooling blog hop, come back to see how we finished out the week.

Check out some of the other members of the school house review crew who are participating in the blog hop!

Life at Rossmont
A Stable Beginning
Happy Little Homemaker
Joyful Hearts and Faces
Day by Day in Our World
Mama’s Coffee Shop
Delightful Learning
Double O Farms
Tales of a Homeschool Family
Home Sweet Life
A Rup Life

Discover real life in other homeschools with the Schoolhouse Review Crew bloggers! Join the blog hop to read more!

Real Life Homeschool Blog Hop


Real Life Homeschooling – A “Normal” Day

Today is day 3 in the Real Life Homeschooling Blog Hop. I am sharing the second day of our week, Monday.

I let AJ sleep in, because I slept in. I ended up sleeping through my alarm which happens a little too often. When I woke up around 9:30 this is what I found.

Working Independently on School Work

AJ was in the garage eating breakfast and working on some of her independent work for the day! She told me she wanted to get started so that she would have plenty of time to ride her bike. Maybe this new schedule really is working. She ended up reading the Bible stories for both today and tomorrow. This was part of her history work.

Next we went on to the Bible Study that we are reviewing. After reading a few verses and discussing them, she attempted to do a crossword puzzle. Unfortunately, the crossword puzzle questions and the answer squares didn’t add up. After a few minutes we decided to have her do the younger version of the crossword puzzle instead.

Next on the schedule was Spelling. Today was the dreaded day of dictation. She started out by reading the passage and chunking it. Then we covered the passage and I dictated it to her.

Chunking the passage from Spelling You See

She struggles with the dictation because one of the rules is that she can’t erase. If she spells a word wrong she has to cross it out and try again. She also doesn’t like to be timed. The dictation is only suppose to last for ten minutes, but today she was a little distracted and didn’t write very much after 10 minutes so I stopped her after 15 minutes. She did well, but I hope that we can get further along tomorrow when we do the final dictation.

Dictation with Spelling You See

After spelling we moved onto Science. Today’s lesson was about how to read a weather map. She read a little bit about weather maps and then had to answer six questions based on them. It was a quick activity that only took about 15 minutes.

Learning all about Weather Maps

I let AJ pick the next subject and she chose math. She started with her Key to Percent book and finished her two pages very quickly. Then she decided that she wanted to go ahead and finish off the book today, including the test.

Taking the final test for Key to Percent Book 1

This is where we normally get off course with our schedule. She wants to do more in a subject and we end up putting other subjects on hold. Last week we were so focused on history that we didn’t do any science. I told her that she could do as much math as she wanted, but that the other subjects had to get done too. She passed her test with 98% and wanted to start the next book, but I had to stop her there, because I didn’t want to do school work all day. Have I mentioned how much I love Key to Math?

Next up was History. She read a few verses in Joshua and then I put on the What in the World? CD for her to listen to while she colored in her What’s in the Bible? coloring book. I have found that she doesn’t pay attention unless she is doing something. She just spaces out and can’t tell me anything that has happened. Sometimes I let her play with play dough, kinetic sand, or putty. But today’s lesson fit in so well with the coloring pages so I had her color.

Coloring while listening to What in the World?

While she was listening to the CD I checked on Grandma and started preparing dinner – chicken and dumplings.

She looked at her spread sheet and realized that she forgot to do her A+ Math that we are reviewing. She logged into her account and started on lesson 6. After she did the lesson and got 100% on the after lesson questions, I realized that there were worksheets to go along with the lessons. She hadn’t completed any of the worksheets because I didn’t realize they existed. Oops! I had her do a few of the worksheets that we had missed and then it was time for lunch.

Working on A+ Math

Even with doing extra math and history, school was less that 4 hours long. I ended up running a few errands to the pharmacy and the store and then we worked on Star Toaster when I came back. When we were finished she rode her bike for over an hour. It was a very successful day!

Discover real life in other homeschools with the Schoolhouse Review Crew bloggers! Join the blog hop to read more!

Real Life Homeschool Blog Hop
 Here are 10 more amazing bloggers who are participating in the Blog Hop, check them out!

Treasuring Life’s Blessings
Double O Farms
Simple Living Mama
Fried Clams and Sweet Tea
This Sweet Life
A Net In Time
Counting Pinecones
Some Call It Natural
Kingdom Academy Homeschool
Debbie’s Homeschool Corner

See how others spend their day by checking out A Day in our Homeschool!





Real Life Homeschooling – Fitting It All In

Today is day 2 of the Real Life Homeschooling Blog Hop. (You can see day 1 here) I will be taking you through a typical homeschooling week at our house. This week we decided to do school Sunday through Wednesday. (This post is based on the week before Easter, because we are on Spring Break this week.)

Sundays are busy around here. It is our day that we do the major cleaning, so it is not the “best day” to do school, but we have to fit in school when we can. Here is how our day went.

My alarm went off at 8:30 and I woke AJ up about 9am. She didn’t want to get up until I reminded her that she had church that night and if her work wasn’t done (As long as she puts in a decent effort she can go, even if everything isn’t finished.) she couldn’t go to church.

Homeschooling in Real Life - Fitting it all in

From about 9 to 11 she got up, ate breakfast (eggs, toast, and an apple), took a shower, and made her bed. She moves so SLOWLY in the mornings sometimes. So slowly that it drives me nuts!

From 11 to about 1:30 we cleaned. The floors were swept and mopped, everything was dusted, and then……. Grandma woke up. She had a wet diaper so we changed her and made her some breakfast. I put a Shirley Temple movie on to occupy Grandma and then supervised as AJ vacuumed the house. Then it was time for lunch. Lunch was simple, a tuna sandwich, chips, pickles, and cucumber.

At about 2pm we started school. I was afraid we wouldn’t get much finished since church was at 5:45. We do the majority of her school work in the garage.

Normally, I would let AJ pick the order of the subjects for the day, but not today. Since we were in a time crunch I decided to start off with history. This week in history we are starting a new unit all about The Children of Israel. It covers quite a few books in the Bible, from Joshua to 1 Kings. Today on the schedule was reading the article, reading a few stories in the Action Bible, and reading a few major verses in her Bible.

Homeschooling in Real Life - History

We read the article and Bible verses together and then she read a few stories in the Action Bible.

The Action Bible - A great way to help kids understand the Bible.

After history was finished, she moved onto Bible. We are reviewing a Bible Study from Heidi St. John called; Firmly Planted The Gospels Part 1 Today we read the first part of Luke 1, and discussed it.

Firmly Planted Bible Study, Luke 1

Then she worked on the vocabulary section while I put dinner on. We need to get a better dictionary, because the one we have just isn’t cutting it any more. She had to use the computer to look up most of the words, and they were basic words.

Looking up words using

Next on the list was spelling. We are reviewing Spelling You See, and so far AJ loves it. I was concerned about the amount of writing at first, but she has been doing very well with it.

Spelling You See - A hands on way to practice spelling.

First she reads it to me and then she chunks the words based on the vowels. After we go over the chunking, she copies the passage.

Spelling You See - A hands on way to practice spelling.

Spelling only took about 15 minutes total. Today for some odd reason she decided to cooperate and get her work done in a timely manner.  After spelling we moved onto math.

Today’s math was in 2 parts. First she did some online math (more on that tomorrow) then she worked on her Key to Percent book. Today’s lesson was on finding percent by using what she already knew. She had to find  49% by finding both 50% and 1% and subtracting, or find 35% by adding up 25% and 10% of a number.

No need for paper, we do math on the whiteboard!

She worked her problems out on the whiteboard after I went over what she had to do. While she worked on math I folded some laundry and checked on Grandma. Then I checked Facebook and my email. A few minutes later I checked her math and she had them all correct. I love this math! Everything is step by step and she enjoys doing it.

The last major subject for the day was science. We are using Digital Science Online and are working on Weather. Today she watched the video all about weather in action and filled out a worksheet. She watched it alone while I went inside and put my foot up because I was hurting a lot.

Using Digital Science online to promote independence

When she finished science (about 25 minutes) she asked if she could do her literature at bed time. I decided we would try it and she did her PE. I had to add PE to the schedule because otherwise I tend to put it off so that she gets more book work done. In all honestly, if it wouldn’t have been on the schedule I would have skipped it. She loves to ride her bike though, and I think seeing it on the schedule actually makes her work harder.

After PE she watered the plants, and then it was time to eat a snack and go to church. She ended up finishing up everything except literature by 5:15. She says that she really likes the new schedule and if more days go like today, I will gladly take the extra time to schedule each week.

After church, at about 7:15, we ate dinner. Tonight was ham, mashed potatoes, and steamed carrots. When it was time for her to do her literature, she gave a little attitude because she wanted to watch TV.

Working on independence in Home School

After a few minutes of moaning about how she could do it tomorrow, she went in and read her book and answered the questions. She actually ended up doing both Sunday’s and Monday’s work, because, “The book was just so interesting.” I don’t know who kidnapped my child and replaced her, but I am gladly keeping this one!

Each day is different and today everything seemed to work out well. AJ cooperated with her school work, Grandma willingly stayed out of trouble, and the house was cleaned. Most days are not this smooth, but I am thankful when days like today happen.

Discover real life in other homeschools with the Schoolhouse Review Crew bloggers! Join the blog hop to read more!

Real Life Homeschool Blog Hop
 Here are 10 more blogs that are participating in the blog hop, check them out!

For This Season
Unexpected Homeschool
For Him and My Family
As We Walk Along the Road
Growing in His Glory
Homeschool Coffee Break
Daily Life
There Will Be A $5 Charge For Whining
Proverbial Homemaker
ElCloud Homeschool


Digital Science Online – Review

Science is a favorite subject around here. If AJ had her way we would do science all day. She loves the experiments, the pictures, and learning new things, she doesn’t like all of the reading though. When we were given the opportunity to review an amazing science curriculum from Visual Learning Systems, I was hopeful that it would be the perfect product. I was given a year long subscription for both the Digital Science Online: Elementary Edition Grades K-5 and the Digital Science Online: Secondary Edition  Grades 6-12. We looked around the elementary edition, but decided to use the secondary edition.

Visual Learning Systems Review

What is Digital Science Online?

Digital Science Online is a video based science program created by Visual Learning Systems.  It includes videos that can be watched all at once which takes about 20 minutes, or watched in segments that are only a few minutes long. To go along with the videos there are; animations, images and teachers guides. The teachers guides include a copy of the video transcript, learning objectives, student activities, and answer keys. Student activities include a pretest, a video review, post test, vocabulary, and other activities that vary depending on the topic.

The Secondary Edition is for grades 6-12 and is broken up into six sections of science; physical science, earth science, life science, integrated science, health, and biology. Each section is then further broken down into topics. The program is completely online and can be accesses from any device with internet capabilities. The teacher guides and student activities are downloadable and need to be printed out to be used.

How did we use it?

We finished our study on geology right before this science curriculum arrived. We wanted to continue with earth science so we dove right in with the topic of oceanography. I printed off the student activity worksheets and the answer key and then we got started. We don’t test very often, so when AJ saw that there was both a pretest and a post test she was a little nervous. I gave her the pretest and she was overwhelmed. We hadn’t ever studied the oceans before so she didn’t know very many answers. She was frustrated, so we decided to skip the pretests for the rest of the units.

Then we watched the videos about oceanography. We watched them straight through. She loved the videos! They were entertaining, and full of information. After the video she filled out the video review worksheet.

Fun videos on visual learning systems

The next day we watched two of the short videos again and then did a few fun activities. She completed three different science experiments to learn about pressure, salinity and density, and temperature and density.

Learning about Ocean Properties

The following day we watched three different short videos again and then did a few experiments about waves.

Science Experiment about waves

The next week we watched the short video about the ocean floor again. After refreshing her memory she read about the ocean floor and then drew a diagram of it. She finished up the day with a vocabulary worksheet.

Ocean Floor diagram


On the final day of our oceanography study she did a reading comprehension worksheet about ocean animals. Then we went through all of the animations to make sure she remembered all of the key topics. Finally, she took the  post test. It was 20 questions, ten true and false questions and ten fill in the blank questions. She aced it!

Post Test Visual Learning System

The study was really interesting and in-depth. She had a lot of hands on fun and really seemed to grasp the concepts. After  our study on oceanography was over, we continued with the water theme and learned about freshwater. We explored a few other topics including climate, mapping, and atmosphere.  Each day was different and each topic had different student activities. Some topics had more hands on activities and others had more worksheets and graphing activities.Learning about Fresh Water

There is not a set sequence to follow when using this program. You can pick and choose what topic to learn about and even which type of science to study. The program is very easy to navigate, everything is laid out  and it is easy to find what you are looking for. There is a student log in where they have access to everything except the teachers guide and then a parent log in. I decided to just use the parent log in since I was doing the lessons with her.

What did we think?

Prior to finding Digital  Science Online we were just doing lapbooks based on different science topics because I couldn’t find a curriculum that I really liked. I have found one I love now! This was the perfect curriculum for AJ.  She learns really well from videos, and instead of supplementing with videos, the majority of the learning is taking place by watching the videos. The videos were well made and the narration was clear and easy to understand. I also love the fact that there is an offline component to the program. It includes some reading and writing, but not too much. AJ found the activities exciting, and I found that she was really retaining the information. The best part is that it is flexible and easy to customize to fit your learning. If you don’t like an activity, you can skip it. Want to add in a few extra science experiments that you found on Pinterest, go ahead. You can also search for a topic. If you are learning about fish and want to learn a little more, you can type “fish” into the search box and it will bring up any videos, animations, or photos on the topic. It really is flexible!

Graphs and worksheets

There were only two thing that I didn’t care for. First is that it is a secular based program, there are topics on evolution, and almost all of the geology topics talked about the earth being millions of years old. I didn’t find that to be too big of an issue though, it gave us a chance to reinforce why we believe what we believe.  Right now the list of science topics are in alphabetical order. I think that if they were grouped by topic instead (geology, weather, astronomy exec) it would be easier to see which topics went together.

Overall we love Digital science. We plan to continue to use it for the rest of this year and then next year as well. I do plan to add in a few library books on the topics we are studying just to add in a little bit more reading, but that wouldn’t be necessary. If you have a visual learner or a child who likes to watch videos, this may be the perfect science program for you. Take a look at the sample lessons and see what you think. It is really a good deal, and I would absolutly recommend it. One product, either the elementary (k-5) or secondary level (6-12) , can cover all of your students (up to 8) for a full year of science even if you want them to work on different topics. For homeschoolers the cost is $99.

You can connect with Visual Learning Systems on Facebook and Twitter.


Visual Learning Systems Review

Standard Deviants Accelerate – Review

AJ learns better if she doesn’t have to read about a subject. She can read all about science or history in a book and the information may or may not click. If she can see the information or interact with it in some way it brings learning to life. We were contacted by Standard Deviants Accelerate to do a review, and after looking into their product, I thought it would be a great fit for us.

Standard Deviants Accelerate – An online homeschool supplement.

What is Standard Deviants Accelerate?

Standard Deviants Accelerate is an online learning system for select subjects for grades 3 to 12. Videos explain/teach the information and then follow up activities are completed online. Currently the subjects offered include the following.

  • Arithmetic Grades 3+
  •  Fundamental Math Grades 4+
  •  Algebra Grades 7+
  •  Earth Science Grades 6+
  •  Biology Grades 7+
  •  Chemistry Grades 9+
  •  US History Grades 9+
  •  English Composition Grades 9+
  •  Nutrition Grades 6+
  •  AP Biology Grades 11+
  •  AP Chemistry Grades 11+
  •  AP US History Grades 11+
  •  AP American Govt. Grades 11+
  •  AP English Composition Grades 11+

The AP classes are only 1 chapter long and while they don’t exactly teach all of the information you need to pass the AP test, they teach how to take the test and then some important information. Topics covered include when you should guess at an answer, what to expect on the test, test taking strategies in general, and the topics you need to know. There is some material covered, but just an overview of the topics.

The regular classes are broken into chapters. Most of them have the same structure; a chapter introduction, between three to five lessons on the topics, and then a chapter review. Within each lesson the activities also follow a similar structure.

Each lesson starts off with a video. Next to the video there is a copy of the video transcript where you can follow along if you want. Under the video there is a place to take notes on the video. You can even copy and paste information from the transcript directly into your notes.

Standard Deviants Accelerate – An online homeschool supplement.

After the video there may be vocabulary. This is simply a screen that lists any new vocabulary from the lesson along with the definitions. The words are clickable, and once they are clicked the word and definition are read to you. Some lessons do not contain a vocabulary section.

Standard Deviants Accelerate – An online homeschool supplement.

The next section is the diagram. In this section there may be a list, a matching activity, or a picture where you need to label the parts. There is a word bank at the bottom and the correct answer will stick once it is put in the correct place.

Standard Deviants Accelerate – An online homeschool supplement.

Next comes the quiz. The quizzes are about five questions long and are multiple choice. Once the quiz is submitted it is automatically graded and any incorrect answers have a link to the section in the video that explains the correct answer.

Standard Deviants Accelerate – An online homeschool supplement.

The final section is the written answer. In this section they are asked a few questions about the “big question”  that they are thinking about throughout the chapter. The answers are typed in and the submitted to the teacher (you) for review.

Standard Deviants Accelerate – An online homeschool supplement.

You can purchase each class based on your needs. There is a monthly or yearly subscription option.  It is accessible 24/7 on your computer, laptop, iPad, or any device with an internet connection.

How we used it

AJ is in 6th grade so unfortunately there were not many classes for her age. We had a choice of Earth Science, Nutrition, Arithmetic, and Fundamental Math. We could have also tried the Algebra or Biology that is for grades 7 and up.  She was really beyond most of the chapters in Arithmetic, and Fundamental Math had a few topics she hasn’t mastered. I gave her the choice on which math to use and she wanted to try Algebra.

We used algebra as a supplement to her current math program. She hasn’t ever had any algebra prior to this course and while she enjoyed it and learned a lot, she was not quite ready for it. My plan is to go back over some of the things she needs to work on in Fundamental Math and then try the Algebra course again. In my opinion this course would be a great supplement for an algebra course or even a remedial class for someone who needed more information. It wasn’t a good fit for someone who was just learning about algebra. There simply wasn’t enough practice and the pace was too fast. The explanations provided in the video were wonderful but they only showed how to do a few problems and then it was off to the activities and quiz. I saw no retention, and when she was asked to do a problem that was similar to the video she couldn’t figure it out. On the other hand she did learn a lot of vocabulary that I think will help when we do get to algebra later on.

We used the chapter on Mountains, Volcanoes, and Earthquakes to finish out our study on geology. This is a secular program so it does refer to millions of years, (and there is a section on evolution in Biology) but I am ok with that. The fact is that a lot of people believe differently from us, so before we try any new science or history AJ and I always talk about our beliefs and why we believe that way. She learned a lot of information from the videos. Some of it was a review of things we had learned earlier in the year, but most was new information. It was great to see the science explained visually. She seemed to retain it and enjoyed watching the videos. I think the main downfall for the science section was the lack of experiments. It is wonderful to see things explained  but hands on learning is a lot of fun too. She ended up watching a lot more of the videos just for fun.

What we liked

  • I love the idea of Standard Deviants Accelerate. The student logs on and there is little involvement needed from the teacher.
  • The videos had a “Bill Nye the Science Guy” feel to them. They are kind of corny, funny, and full of information. I didn’t care for them at first, but they grew on me. AJ loved them from the start and was laughing and learning at the same time.
  • There is a lot of information covered in each video, and taking notes is encouraged.
  • One of AJ’s favorite parts was that there is no physical writing, everything is done on the computer.
  • The lessons are fairly short, an entire lesson usually took about 45 minutes. They can even be broken up into shorter sections if you want.
  • There was a big focus of vocabulary – something we often struggle with.
  • Your work can be saved in your locker and you can go over it at another time when you want to study. It can also be printed out.
  • The final chapter review takes questions that you originally answered incorrectly and asks them again. I love this because if you got it wrong the first time you were suppose to watch that part of the video again and you should be able to get the right answer now.

What we didn’t care for

  • I didn’t like that all of the answers were multiple choice. I think that on the quizzes it would have been nice to have some fill in the blank or matching questions as well. Often some of the choices on the quizzes were obviously incorrect.
  • We didn’t care for the writing section of the chapters at all. We honestly just skipped it. The idea of thinking about a main idea throughout the chapter is good, but we felt discussing the main idea was more than sufficient.
  • There isn’t enough practice in the math sections.
  • There were no hands on learning opportunities.

Overall we enjoyed Standard Deviants Accelerate! I plan to have AJ continue to use it to supplement our current courses. If you have a student that learns well visually this may be the answer for you! They are currently offering a free two month trial, so check it out.




A Fun Way to Learn about the Moon

In Little House in the Big Woods, Mary and Laura were told that people use to think that the moon was made of cheese. That of course prompted a moon study. We learned a little bit about the moon phases last year so AJ was excited to learn more. We used the book, Eye on the Universe The Moon.  She read everything except for the first few pages that explained how the moon was formed because it didn’t correspond with our beliefs. As we read we stopped and did a few fun experiments along the way.

The first thing she did was learned about the landscape of the moon and the craters. To understand a little bit more about how the craters were formed, we did a simple activity. I filled a cake pan with about an inch of flour.

Then using different sized items she dropped them into the flour to see the indents (craters) that were formed. She experimented with heavier and lighter items, and with dropping them from different distances. We talked about why the different size craters were formed and what it would be like to walk on the moon. It was a messy project, but nothing a broom couldn’t fix in a few minutes.

She also made a book about the moon. It had pages about gravity, waves, the moon’s landscape, and the phases of the moon. It was a simple book made out of construction paper stapled together, but she had fun making it. I have learned that if I can take the writing that she would normally do in a report or on plain paper and  put it into a small book of some type that she not only writes more, but writes with a better attitude. The best part is that she likes to show off her work to other people so she tries to do her best.

Then we did the moon phase project that is all over Pinterest. I originally saw the idea here, but I have since seen it on a few other blogs as well. We used chocolate sandwich cookies to show the phases of the moon. AJ had a blast doing this product. I think she had even more fun eating it though.

We also watched a few different  You Tube about the moon.

Since our study about the moon, AJ has been looking at the moon each night and figuring out which phase it is in. She had a great time learning about the moon!

A Fun Way to Learn about Skin

In the Little House in the Big Woods, Mary and Laura could only walk around bare foot for a short time after being in shoes all winter. They had to go bare foot a little bit each day and wait until the soft skin on the bottom of their feet had calloused so that they were able to run around with out their feet hurting.

This brought on a skin study. AJ learned a little bit about the skin last year so I was looking to do an easy review and to go in to a little more depth. Other than our 2 books we will be using all year, everything that we did I found for free online or made up myself. Here was our study on the skin.

 First AJ read about the skin in The Young Scientist Book of the Human Body. She learned about the parts of the skin, fingerprints, cuts, and more. Then she read a short story from Inspector Bodyguard Patrols the Land of U. This is a fun and informative book that I would recommend to anyone studying the body. The story she read was, The Siege in Toe Print Ridge. It is a cute short story that explains the body’s reaction when you get hurt.

After reading a little bit about the skin, I found a FREE file folder game from File Folder Fun. I have seen file folder games all over and thought that AJ would enjoy them, that was not the case. She told me, “It isn’t a game, it is just a worksheet the only difference is I don’t have to write.” You win some you loose some, she did use the file folder game to help her remember the different parts of the skin and then did a worksheet once she knew all of the different parts. If your child enjoys file folder games you should check out their site. I will probably use some of the free worksheets even if I don’t make any more file folder games.

When I was a kid the best time in science class was when we were able to watch Bill Nye the Science Guy. I was able to find the episode all about skin on YouTube. AJ watched it and filled in a free worksheet that I found here. It was a good worksheet but it did not include free answer keys. The questions were easy enough though, that I didn’t feel they were necessary.

After reading, watching the video, a file folder game, and a few worksheets, AJ was ready for some hands on learning.

We first compared our fingerprints. It was easy! Using a washable marker she colored the tips of her fingers and then pressed them onto white paper. I did the same and she compared the differences using a magnifying glass. We did that a few different times, comparing right and left hands and how the print changed depending on the amount of pressure.

Then it was time to play detective! We tried to lift fingerprints off of the mirror on the wall, but had a hard time. We ended up using a small hand held mirror, powder, a brush, tape, and black construction paper.

We cleaned the mirror and then put a finger print in the middle. Then she sprinkled powder over the print and used the brush to brush off the extra. After that she took the piece of tape and lifted the print. She placed the print on the black paper and successfully lifted a finger print. It wasn’t perfect, a few times she pressed too hard with the brush and messed up the print. Other times she touched the tape and messed up the print. She got the point and had a lot of fun lifting prints. She tried to compare the prints she lifted to the finger prints she had made on the white paper and learned how hard it could be.

AJ learned great deal about the skin and everything we used was either free or something we had on hand. I am really enjoying being able to put these little units together to help AJ learn.

Animal Tracks

One of the neat things that we were able to learn about as part of the Prairie Primer was animal tracks. After searching for a while I found a few free work sheets about animal tracks. The one we ended up using was from Danielle’s Place. There are a few ideas on the page that we didn’t do, but they look like a lot of fun. AJ did a simple worksheet where you match the animals to their tracks but we used it as a learning tool. AJ thought that she knew what type of tracks some of the animals made, but we looked them all up anyways. Some she knew and others she was surprised by. She ended up cutting up the worksheet and gluing it into a mini book about animal tracks.

Here are a few other websites we used while learning:

Bear Tracker – This one has a ton of information about animal tracks and has a lot of pictures.
EEK – This one has an interactive quiz about animal tracks.

Squidoo – This is an amazing resource that is an entire unit study on animal tracks.

After learning all about animal tracks AJ made her own tracks in playdough. She had a lot of fun with this simple activity. She spent quite a while trying to make the tracks just right. Now every where we go she is on the look out for tracks. We are looking forward to a lot more hands on activities to help make learning fun!

Owl Cookies

To go along with our owl study we made owl cookies. I found the idea on Facebook and as soon as I saw it I knew we were going to try it out. You can find the recipe here.

Basically you make a large batch of peanut butter cookie dough. Then you take a third of the dough and add coco to it. You put the chocolate dough on top of the regular dough and then roll it into a log. Then you slice the cookies and decorate your owl.

You take 2 cookie slices and put them together so that the ends are pushed together and make the face of the owl. Then you use a cashew for the beak, cream cheese for the whites of the eyes, and chocolate chips for the eyes.

The cookies turned out very cute, but they didn’t taste very good. To be fair it was the first time I have ever made log cookies and I had a hard time getting the dough to stay together. The dough tasted like it had too much flour in it and they kept falling apart when we were slicing them. I also had to change to recipe to make it corn free. (Baking powder has corn) If I was going to make them again I would just use my own cookie recipe and then decorate them the same way.

AJ had a great time making the cookies. I think they made a great end to our study of owls.

Dissecting Owl Pellets

We recently finished our study on owls. AJ completed a lapbook from Hands of a Child. It was a great study that covered life cycles, anatomy, vocabulary, habitat, migration, and a lot more.
This was the first lapbook that I have paid for, and I think it was well worth it. The study was very informative and AJ learned so much. The best part about completing the lapbooks is that AJ loves to show them to everyone and tell them what she has learned. She is already asking when we will do the next one. This is only the second lapbook we she has worked on so we are still learning how to make them even better. The first one she did I had printed everything on white paper so the finished product looked a little bland. This one is way more colorful, but we learned that the dark purple is too hard to read. For the next one we will stick to brighter colors.

Towards the end of the lapbook there was a lesson that involved dissecting an owl pellet. I had purchased this kit from Rainbow Resource Center at the same time that I purchased our school supplies for the year. At the time I thought it was a good value. It comes with two owl pellets, tweezers, a magnifying glass, and a booklet all about pellets. I was disappointed with the booklet it didn’t give very much information, the tweezers were flimsy, and the magnifying glass was broken when we opened it. If I was going to do this lesson again I would opt for a cheaper set that did not include the booklet. The owl pellets themselves were great though.

AJ was excited to start dissecting until she realized that it was a real owl pellet. She thought we were going to dissect a model of a pellet. Her face was priceless.
Owls eat a lot of their prey whole, they can’t chew it so the indigestible parts of their prey go to their gizzard. Hours later the bones, fur, feathers and other parts that can’t be digested are coughed up in a pellet.
The owl pellet was full of bones. According to the chart AJ determined that her owl had eaten a vole, mole, and rat. It took a long time to dissect the pellets but she really enjoyed it after the initial shock of it, in her words, “Touching something that use to be inside an animal….ewww!”
We both learned a lot about owls. In another post I will share the owl cookies we made to finish out our study.