Monthly Archives: December 2011

Homeschool Questions: Part 2


As promised, I’ll be answering some more homeschool questions this evening.  I will, of course, include the questions that I received after yesterday’s post. 🙂


What kind of tests does Grace have to do?  Do these have to be sent in somewhere?

In our state, yearly testing is required.  As for which test, that’s up to me.  There are several options available, but I have chosen the Woodcock Johnson for this year.  I prefer this test because it is not multiple choice…Grace will actually interact with the test administrator.  I also like that the test isn’t solely grade-level material.  The test will get progressively more advanced/difficult until Grace consistently misses questions.  This way we will have a better idea of her level.  For example, if she were taking a grade-level test and excelled at reading, all we would know is that she did really well on the reading test for 5th grade.  With the Woodcock Johnson, we’ll find her reading level even if it’s well beyond 5th grade.  I also like that the Woodcock Johnson covers all subject areas.  Many of the multiple choice tests cover only reading and math.

Grace will be taking her yearly test in April.  Until recently, homeschool testing was required to be completed by April 15th.  That rule has changed (testing has to be completed within one year of the date your school year started), but we’re going to play it safe and test in April.

Test results do not need to be sent to anyone, but I am required to keep a copy of results on file for one year.

As for topic and skill assessments throughout the year, we do those too.  Grace has a variety of assessments (oral, written, project, video, blog, etc.) in all subjects.

What made us decide to do homeschool?

Several factors came together to form the decision.  Grace was struggling in public school.  She is a very bright young lady, but she had developed some damaging behaviors in the academic arena.  Additionally, we had a lot of concerns about the public school system, and if it was really the best environment for Grace’s education.  After having done homeschool for half a year, I can tell you with certainty that public school is *not* the best environment for Grace’s learning.  Grace is really developing an enthusiasm for learning and a pride in her work that she didn’t demonstrate before.  She will also be the first to tell you that she is much happier with homeschool. 🙂

Will we homeschool through high school?

That’s a tough one to answer.  Grace would love to never go back to public school.  (Of course, that is her opinion now…she may change her mind when she’s older.)  I would love to continue teaching Grace until she graduates, and John would love to see that happen too.  Grace does, however, come from a four-parent family, so everyone’s opinion has to be considered.  I can definitely say that I would be thrilled to continue homeschooling for as long as possible.

What type of record keeping do we do?

The state requires that I keep an attendance record for our school.  It’s a very simple form that involves checking off any day that we have school activities.  This has to be kept on file for one year after the end of our school year.

In addition to attendance, I also keep a record of each day’s activities and hours.  I created a form in Word that allows me to type in a brief summary of activities for each subject as well as the time spent on each.  I also keep a grand total of hours spent with school for the year.  I print two copies of each day’s record sheet…one stays on file (always good to have a hard copy) and one goes in a folder for Grace’s mom.  Each week, the folder, along with work samples and general information (upcoming field trips, assessment results, etc.) goes to Grace’s mom.  This way everyone is up to date on school activities and progress.

How do you handle lesson plans?

There are a gazillion different ways to handle lesson plans….this is just how I do it.  I do my plans a week at a time.  On the weekends, I plan out all lessons for the following week.  I created a google calendar just for homeschool.  In that calendar, I create an event for each subject for each day.  In the event heading, I give the “big picture” topic for each subject (example: Social Studies – World War II) and in the “description” for each event, I give details about activities and lessons.  I also include events for any field trips or classes.  I have shared this calendar with John and Grace’s mom…that way everyone knows what we’re up to. 😉  This is also a nice record to have as a backup to my other system.


Okay, I think that’s enough for now.  If anyone has more questions or would like more details about something I’ve written here, please leave a comment.  I’ll be glad to respond. 🙂  I hope to add to this tomorrow, but I’m not making any promises for a New Year’s Eve post. 😉




Homeschool Questions


As promised earlier in the week, I’m going to answer some frequently asked questions I get about homeschool.  If all goes according to plan, I’ll be adding to this tomorrow.  If you’re interested, you can check back.

What time do you get up?  What time do you go to bed?  Do you get to sleep as late as you want to?

We actually do have a start time for our school day, but it is quite a bit later than public school.  I usually get up around 8:00 to drink some coffee and spend quality time with my computer.  I wake Grace up at 9:00, and we start school at 10:00.  We’re pretty strict with this schedule.  The start time only varies when we’re going on a field trip that causes us to get our behinds in gear earlier than normal.  So, no, we don’t get to sleep as late as we want. 😉

Grace goes to bed at 10:00 pm every night that she’s here.  A bit late for a 10-year-old, but she seems to be a night owl by nature.  I’m usually in bed around midnight.

Of course, this is just what works for us.  I know lots of homeschoolers with very different schedules.

What time do you finish your school day?

This actually varies a lot more than our start time.  Sometimes our school day is over by 3:00 pm, and sometimes we don’t really finish until after dinner.  It really depends on our lesson plans for the day.  Some days don’t involve any science experiments or field trips, and we finish pretty early.  Sometimes we have a documentary on the agenda that John (Grace’s dad/my husband) also wants to watch, so we wait until after dinner to finish.  On an “average” day we finish our school day around 4:30 or 5:00.

Do you have school in your pajamas?

Yep.  It is one of the many joys of homeschooling.  If we don’t have a field trip or errands to run, we spend the whole day in whatever we feel like wearing.  Honestly, Grace is better about getting dressed than I am. 😉

Is your house always clean since you’re home to clean it?

No, no, no.  Honestly, I had hoped this would be the case, but, sadly the opposite is true.  There are factors that I didn’t consider when I had the daydream of the perpetually clean house.  Yes, I’m home during the day now, but I’m not spending that time cleaning….I’m teaching.  We have three people eating three meals a day at home (yep, John works from home most of the time, so we’re all here), so our kitchen is in a constant state of chaos.  When John and I both worked outside the home, home wasn’t getting messed up during the day.  Now we’re all here all day making messes.  With homeschool, some of those messes are pretty interesting. 🙂

Where do you get your materials?

Well, I’ve lucked up on this one a bit.  Since I was a public school teacher for several years before I started homeschooling, I was already familiar with tons of resources.  In fact, I still get ideas from friends I used to work with.  Aside from that, I spend quite a bit of time poking around the internet looking for needed resources.  The library is a fantastic resource.  Amazon is great for finding any textbooks we may need.  You can check out the Resources link on this page to see some of our favorites and where we found them.

Do you take off a lot of days?

Nope.  Recently we’ve taken two weeks off, but those were for holidays and travel.  We normally have school every weekday…even if we don’t feel like it. 😉


When I add to this tomorrow, I’ll focus more on record-keeping and lesson plans.  If you have any questions, please leave a comment….I’ll be glad to answer in tomorrow’s post.


Skills and Topics – December 26 through December 30


Our skills and topics for the week are super-easy once again because Grace is out of school for the week.  She’ll be spending a holiday-tastic week at her mom’s. 🙂

Don’t fret though….I will be posting some things throughout the week.  I get a lot of questions from people about homeschooling (friends, family, strangers who see us out and about during the day), and I’ll be addressing some of those questions here this week.  If you’re interested in our “schedule” or record-keeping or curriculum, be sure to check back.  And, of course, if you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments. 🙂


Matched Book Review


Grace didn’t have school today, but she wrote a bit about Matched earlier in the week…enjoy! 🙂

On Monday I typed up the first section in my story “The Escape,” which I based on the book Matched.  Today I finished that book, and now I will review it. =)

Cassia is a normal girl:  she lives in Mapletree Borough, goes to second school, and she follows the Society’s rules.  On her 17th birthday, she goes to City Hall to find out who she will marry, her Match.  All Matches are chosen by the Society, so a happy marriage is guaranteed.  Cassia stands up ready to see her Match’s face on the screen, when she sees that her Match is here in her city.  She is matched with her best friend, Xander.  They both receive a microcard that holds information about each other, but Cassia is certain that she doesn’t need it.  She already knows so much about her Match.  When she gets home, she puts the microcard in the port (computer) and a picture of Xander appears on the screen.  Suddenly, the screen goes black, and then a new face appears on the screen, but it isn’t Xander.  It’s Ky.  Cassia has to choose, follow the rules and be with Xander, or break the rules and be with Ky.  Who will she choose?  Find out, in Matched. =D

My friends would love this book. They love dystopian society stories just as much as I do!  I think that this book is slightly better than Hunger Games, but that’s just my opinion.

My favorite character in the book would have to be Cassia.  She tries to follow the rules of the Society, and she’s been doing it all her life, but since the Matching mistake, she has just a hint of rebellion in her.  Happy reading!  =)


How to Make Pasta Beads


Christmas is coming up, so Emily and I made jewelry kits for Kylie and Anna.  The cool thing is the beads are made of noodles!  We dyed them using food coloring, and here’s how you do it.

Thing you need

  •  large plastic bags
  •  rubbing alcohol
  •  food coloring
  • bead-like noodles

What to do

  1. Pour three tsp. of rubbing alcohol in your bag.  (Make sure it’s RUBBING alcohol ;))
  2. Choose your color of food coloring.
  3. Pour one tsp. of your coloring in the bag with the rubbing alcohol.
  4. Pour in some noodles.  We used a lot of noodles in one batch of beads.
  5. Shake thoroughly or until the beads are colored the way you want.  Add more color and alcohol if needed.
  6. Pour colored beads onto a plate covered with paper towels.
  7. Let them dry overnight.  Do not make if you can’t stand the smell of rubbing alcohol.

These were really fun to make, but they do stink when they are wet.  Don’t worry, they stop smelling so bad after they dry.  😉


Zootastic Is Fantastic!


Yesterday I went to Zootastic to look at the lights. I thought it would be a few lights and some hot chocolate, and then we would go home. Well, there was a lot more than that! First we drove through the road of lights and fed the goats and the llama. We bought two cups of food and walked over toward the animals. The goats stuck their heads through to bars to get to the food, and the llama stuck his head over the bars. The goats licked the food out of your hands, while the llama used his llama-lips to grab the food out of the cup. I liked the goats better. After that, we went to a place where you can feed even more animals. Emily fed a kangaroo while I was looking at the pigs. They have some huge horses there! One was taller than daddy! My favorite thing was the fennec which is kind of like a mix between a fox and a cat. It’s tiny and really soft. I think that Emily’s favorite thing was the baby tiger, and daddy’s was the camels. Zootastic is fantastic!



The Escape: Part 1


Grace is working on a new story for us. 🙂  This one will be in three parts….the next two installments will be on the blog next week, so be sure to check back for the rest of the story.

Dear Papa,

Work here is slow.  I guess people just don’t care for food any more…they’ve been delivering the government’s “Health Packets.”  Who could eat that kind of stuff?  All I know is that we were wondering when you would get the week off?  Your bird misses you!  Oh, and by the way, Mom said hello. (Smiles)

Love Ya,



I stuck the letter into the mail shoot and entered my public name into the computer.  “Mary 10230.43.”  I stepped onto the platform and entered the code.

“Welcome to your perfect government’s mail system.  Please say your public name and your address.”

“Mary 1023.43.  Address.  Apartment 3042.  Street.  223.”

“Welcome, MARY 10230.43.  Would you like to send your letter to your father, BOB 10230.267?”


“Thank you for choosing your perfect government’s mail system.  Remember, all you need to know is that your government is perfect.  Thank you.”

“She says that like I have a choice,”  I grumbled.  Life here is simple and useless, anyone could tell you. It’s like the year 6043 is meant to be that way, though everybody knows that something is happening outside the border.

I walk to the apartments, the only ones on the planet, and the ones that I am “privileged” to live in.  I step into the elevator and enter my room number.  Room 3042, second floor, left.  I enter it just like that.  The wires hum as I am lifted off the ground.  I walk into my house and sit down at the table.  Dinner has arrived.  I open the package and look at the contents.  A banana for flavor, milk for protein, and the small bowl of mush for the rest.
“I own a restaurant and I still have to eat the same thing that the pigs get.”

“At least you don’t try to eat the banana peel,” my mother says.  We are not allowed to greet one another, so I’m not surprised that she didn’t say hello.  I give my mother a hug and ask her if I have to do anything today.

“Well, there’s just one thing, and it’s quick.  The “perfect government” wants you to perform at the Lobster Basket at noon.  Sorry I can’t come with you, but I just got a call from work, and they want me to come work on some ‘Top Secret Project.’  Oh, and some words of wisdom, don’t become an astrophysicist when you get a real job.”  She smiled.  I slumped to my room and got out my best dress, the same one I wore when I went to watch a ballet a few months ago.  It’s black with some red designs on the skirt.  I hate it, but it is the only dress that still fits me.  I was about to tie my hair up when I got a call on the P.I.P, or Personal Information Processor.  It was the owner of the Lobster Basket.

“Livia, I mean, Mary 10230.43, there has been a slight change in plans…

Pythagorean Theorem


After a week of being away from home, I’m finally back in school.  My favorite thing that we learned about today was the Pythagorean Theorem.

We went to the chalkboard table and started talking (and writing) about shapes and their angles.  When we got to the right triangle, we started talking about how to find the distance of the longest side (the hypotenuse)using the Pythagorean Theorem.  You have to know a little bit about exponents to find it.

A few things you should know are that the longest side on a right triangle is called a hypotenuse and the shorter sides are called the legs.  Let’s say that the legs are a and b, and that they both measure 4 in.  You would write down c2 = a2 +b2.   We already know that both a and b equal 4, so all you need to do is add 42 and 42.  That would equal 32 in.  Now we know that 32 in. = c2.  All we need to do now is figure out what the square root of 32 is.  The answer is 5.7.  After that much work, you now know that the length of the hypotenuse is 5.7 in.  Wasn’t that easy? 😉

Oh, and by the way, it makes a lot more sense on paper. 😉