Monthly Archives: May 2012



This is Grace’s final story from her Young Writers’ Academy class.  🙂  Enjoy!




My hearts slammed in my chest. Sweat trickled down my neck, right over my clan-symbol tattoo. Callisto, the eldest player, hovered the ball over her hand. She took a deep breath, closed her four eyes, and jumped into the air. She did a spinning kick, but I was quick. I grabbed the ball and let the crumpling platform under me fall, sending me tumbling toward Callisto’s goal. I was about to get rid of Callisto when a flash of white stole the ball. It threw the ball into my goal, making me lose the game. Annah, the youngest player, dropped to the ground.


I was playing Flash Ball, a game created by the Elders to train the youth of the planet hand-eye coordination. There’s one ball and three players. The ball is placed with the eldest player. You are to get the ball and to throw it into another player’s goal without being crushed by life-threatening obstacles. When you do, that player loses. The next week you meet with the rest of the players and do it again. You keep doing this until there is a winner.


“What was that all about!” I shouted. “That was a matter for Callisto and me, not you!” Annah frowned.


“I was only trying to win the game like instructed,” she said. Her silver hair was in a long braid, and her red eyes scanned me like I was something she owned. I clenched my fists and ran out of the game room. My legs were a blur as I sped home. I was one of the cross-breeds, a mix of strength and speed. I could lift a bus with one hand and run 100 miles in ten minutes.


I dashed up into my room too quickly for my mother to notice. I flopped on my bed and stared at the ceiling. Drawings and photos covered every wall. I was just falling asleep when a low rumbling came from outside. I left the house, confused. When I saw the cause of the noise, I gasped. A huge metal monster sat in the middle of town, starlight reflecting off its sides. My mother was standing in the doorway, still holding her cleaning rag.


“What in the name of sanity is that?” she said, her voice barely over a whisper. I set my jaw, determined to answer my mother’s question. I ran up to the side of the monster, my hand skimming the hard flesh. I took of fistful of it and pulled myself up. I did this until I reached the top of the creature. I saw an opening on the side and shifted my way in. I heard voices, so I followed them into a big metal room. The air was thick and suffocating and I had to hold my breath. Three humans sat in soft looking chairs and pushed buttons. One of them was male, he had gray hair and a thin line for a mouth. The other two were female, they had their hair tied into tight buns on the back of their heads’.


“You can place the school there, a factory there, houses there, and the oxygen tank here,” the male said. “After we kick the monkeys out, it’ll be home sweet home.” The females smiled. I was about to pass out, so I ran back out of the portal I came through. I took a deep breath and prepared to go back inside when Annah shouted my name.


“Kittley! Kittley!” she shouted. I jumped back down to the ground, landing on both feet and hands.


“I told you, I go by Kit,” I said. Annah sighed, but nodded.


“I think I know why the creature is here,” she said.


“I think I’ve gotta pretty good idea too,” I laughed.


Annah said we could talk in her room, so I followed close behind her. She led me to a small house with just enough room to hold all of the furniture. Annah lead me into a small, brightly lit room which I guessed was hers.  Annah sat on the bed and motioned for me to sit next to her. Once I did, she started talking.


“I found a file in the Relic Market about those creatures steering that..that thing around, and guess what I found?”


I shrugged. “What?” Annah pulled out a crumpled paper and handed it to me.


“It’s a report on the last time the creatures came here. Apparently they sided with us during the Great War. They were fierce fighters, so going one-on-one is out of the question.”


I frowned. “Why would we fight them?”


“To get rid of them. Now, these humans are pro-”


“Wait,” I interrupted, my eyes skimming over the page. “According to this they are great fighters during an airship battle, not one-on-one,” I said, a slow smile creeping to my lips. Annah shook her head.


“No, I will not allow you to go back to that thing without some sort of cover. Besides, the air they breath is toxic to us.” As soon as Annah finished her sentence, my eyes grew wide.


“Oh no!”


“What?” Annah asked.


“The humans said they were going to plant an oxygen tank! That would kill all of us!” I cried. Annah’s expression didn’t change, but she started digging through piles of paper more frantically than before. She soon stopped and sighed, turning back to me.


“We have to come up with some sort of plan if we want to get the humans out of here before it’s time to implant the oxygen tank. First, we need to figure out how we’re going to get into their base, which is that thing people think is a huge metal creature, without being seen.”


“Or suffocating,” I added.


“You will have to find some way of infiltrating the base while I see if I can crash their computer system. They do have a computer system, don’t they?” Annah asked. I nodded. “Good. Now, go get them!”


* * *


I walked to the military base slowly, a spring in my step. I needed them to think I just came by to say hello. My boots clicked on the tile floor as I walked to the big marble desk. Mirrocco, the secretary robot, flickered on when I pushed the small metal button with my foot.


“Hello, and welcome to the quadrant 409 military base. How may I serve you?” She asked.


“May I look at the gas masks please?”


“I’m sorry, but pedestrians are not permitted to enter the Gear Room without a pass.”


“Where exactly is the Gear Room? You know, so I can avoid it.”


“Room three-o-four on your left.”


“Thanks. You’ve got no idea how much that helps me.”


“Have a nice day!”


I walked over to the Gear Room and cracked my knuckles. “Okay door, prepare to be opened.” I grabbed the edges of the door and pulled as hard as I could, tearing it off at the hinges. I threw it on the ground and walked into the Gear Room. Masks of every sort lay in crates and boxes on the floor. I grabbed two labeled “filters” and headed toward the invaders. I placed a mask over my face and ran up to the side of the huge creature. I climbed into the base and turned on the filter, taking a deep breath. Carefully, I tiptoed into the main control room, trying to find some way of shutting off the giant metal creature. I shrugged and started pressing buttons and turning dials. The screen turned blue, then red, then green, then the words “oxygen tank settings” came up. I couldn’t figure out how to stop the implant, so I typed in “Implant in 48 hours.” That should give Annah enough time to send the creatures back were they came from, I thought. Carefully, I jumped back outside, slipping the mask off as I hit the ground. I ran back to Annah’s house ready to give her some good news.


* * *

“You only gave me 2 days!?!?!” Annah shouted. “That’s like giving mom two minutes to cook dinner!”


“Well, you’re going to have to do something!” I said, already frustrated. “We can’t just let them wipe us out.”


“How about we find some other place for them to live?”


“Annah, this isn’t some kids’ story.”


“It could work! All I would have to do is reverse the setting in the main computer, and they’re off!”

“Okay, you do that and I’ll go back in time and stop the universe from happening! It’s about equally possible.”


“Stop making fun of me and hand that laptop over.”


Annah’s fingers moved too fast for me to see, and the numbers on the screen didn’t make any sense. She closed he eyes, crossed her fingers, and whispered, “Please work, please work, please work.” Then she pressed enter. A low humming came from outside and the wind whipped hard. The human base shot up into the air, leaving only dust. I laughed and jumped up and down, but Annah only sighed. She sat on her bed and gave me a smug smile.


“Okay, you’re awesome,” I said.


“I know. Hey, wanna go out for tube worms?”


“Sure!” I said. This world is definitely worth saving.


Skills and Topics – May 29 through June 1


We have a crazier than normal week ahead.  We’ll actually only be having school for 3 days, but we’re going to make them count. 😉

  • Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies:  We will continue doing review activities in each subject.  🙂
  • Field Trips:  Grace has a class about kites coming up this week.  She’ll be learning to make and fly kites in addition to looking at the science behind kite flying.  She also has a survival hike…she’ll be learning how to take care of herself in the woods.  We’ll be going to her final class at Young Writers’ Academy this week where she will read her story for the group.  (I’m sure the story will be appearing here after her final class.)
  • Testing:  Yep, the time has come for us to take care of that pesky mandatory testing.  We’ll take care of that on Thursday.  I have seen Grace grow and learn so much this year…I’m not even a little worried about what those test results say, but we’ll both be glad to have it out of the way. 🙂  To celebrate, we’re taking the day off on Friday.  To top off a year well done?  Cake, ice cream, and a day at the pool. 😀
  • Where do we go from here?  We will be homeschooling again next year.  (Insert hoots and hollers of glee here.)  In order to not suffer from the summer slump (and to get a bit ahead), we’ll continue with our school pursuits as frequently as possible over the summer.  We’ll be taking things easy though.  We’re looking at short “school days” and afternoons spent swimming, hiking, and goofing off. 😉

Have a great week!


Ambushed: Part 9


I awoke to the sound of Shauna loudly flipping pages in the library, giggling. I peeled my head off the damp floor and shook Carver awake. He growled and snapped playfully. I smiled. Quickly, I pulled a brush through my hair and threw on a clean ruffled black skirt and black T-shirt that had both loose long sleeves and straps. I hopped down stairs and crept into the library. When Shauna looked up, she smiled.


“Morning!” She whisper-shouted. When she saw my new clothes, her eyebrows pulled together.


“What?” I quietly asked.


“Where do you get your clothes?”


“Costume bin in the attic. There’s some really good stuff in there!”


Shauna’s eyes grew big.


“What now?”


“You have a dog,” she said, her eyes not moving. I glanced back at Carver and nodded.


“It’s okay, he won’t bite.” Carver ran up to Shauna and jumped on her, licking her face. Shauna tried to contain her laugh, but failed. She covered her mouth, waiting for Lynn to snap at her. When nothing happened, I pulled the covers off of the sleeping bag and saw nothing. Lynn was gone.


“Where could she have gone?” Shauna asked. I shrugged. I lock the bathroom doors at night, so she couldn’t have been there.


“You go check the cafeteria and I’ll take the halls,” I said. I ran down the main hall and through all the classrooms when the door suddenly swung open. Three men dressed in black ran toward me with a really big bag. I wasn’t going to get dragged out of here and they totally just ruined my good mood, so I decided to fight. One man threw a punch, but I ducked and kicked the back of his leg, sending him to the ground. Another one threw a punch at my head, which I easily dodged. He bent down to pick up his buddy’s pocket knife when I kicked him in the mouth, sending him running out. The last one grabbed my neck from behind, but I got a hold on his arm and threw him over me, crashing him onto his friend who was on the floor. After that I kicked him in the stomach, just for good measure. Shauna then ran into the main hallway, gasping.


“I heard the noise and…uh,” she stopped when she saw the men. “I see you made some new friends there,” she said. I nodded and ran out of the school.


“What about Carver? We can’t just leave him here!” Shauna said.


“He’ll be fine,” I said. When I saw that Lynn’s bike was missing, I grabbed mine and pedaled down the road. Shauna soon followed.


“Why are we leaving?” Shauna shouted over the wind.


“Because,” I said. “I think I know where Lynn is.”



Narrative: Surfing


We have begun a review of different types of writing, and today we tackled narratives.  Here is the short story Grace wrote to show her narrative-writing skills.  I think she’s done another fabulous job! 😀


Alex didn’t understand why Becky was so nervous. Her hard legs and strong arms were perfect for surfing. She even looked like a beach girl. Her black hair was in a short side braid and her skin was darkly tanned. Becky’s arms and legs were long like Alex’s, but weak. Even her tan didn’t look as intense. The best friends were going to the beach, the only place to be in Hawaii.

“Remember to keep your legs parted and your stomach muscles tight,” Alex whispered. Becky was shaking so much she could barely hold her black and red board.

“Here we go,” she said, her voice surprisingly strong. She ran up to the edge of the shore, throwing both the board and herself onto the water. She pushed her arms through the water, sending her and her board shooting toward the nearest wave. Not at all scared, she forced herself farther up the hill of water. Slowly, she brought her arms up to the board and pushed herself upward. She was standing. Over on the shore, Alex was jumping up and down and shouting. After a few minutes of surfing, her board jolted forward, and Becky was plunged into the cool ocean water. Soon, she resurfaced, laughing. Okay, she thought. Maybe I need a little more practice.


Skills and Topics – May 21 through May 26


Here’s what we’ll be up to this week…

  • Language Arts:  Grace started reading The Hero and the Crown last week, so we’ll continue with that for several days.  We’ll also be working on reviewing different styles of writing and tending to the ever-present grammar and spelling.
  • Math, Science, and Social Studies:  Not much is new this week….review, review, review with some experiments and news thrown in for fun. 🙂
  • Field Trips:  Of course, Grace will be going to her Young Writers’ Academy class.  We’ll also be going to an Imax movie called Sea Rex:  Journey to a Prehistoric World.  We’ll also be attending a “Living History” day at a local historical site.  Throw in some canoeing, swimming, and outdoor time, and we should have a pretty complete week.

That’s our plan in a nutshell.  Have a great week! 😀

How Circuits Work


Grace has been working on writing short, factual reports for the past few weeks.  Here is her final draft of her short report on circuits. 🙂

How Circuits Work

Circuits are used almost everywhere.  They’re in lights, computers, and even radios.  If you’re reading this, you probably want to learn about circuits and how they work.  Let’s start by talking about insulators and conductors.

An insulator is a material that does not have a strong electrical current and will not allow electricity to flow through it easily.  A conductor is a material that does have a strong current and allows electricity to easily flow.  They are both very important parts of any circuit.  Conductors are used as wires and insulators as wire covers.

Wires are made of thin strings of metals such as copper, which is a good conductor.  They lead the current through the circuit.  Wires are often covered in thick layers of rubber, a good insulator. This is so the fast current doesn’t shock you if you touch the wire.  The covered wire is connected to a power source, or a battery.  The power from the battery to flow through the wire until it hits a switch or a resistor.

A switch is a gap in the circuit that can be opened or closed to control the flow of electricity.  A closed switch allows the current to continue to flow, but an open switch cuts off the current.  This current flows until it reaches a resistor.  Resistors are materials that have no current and transform electricity into thermal energy, light energy, and more.

To summarize, a circuit starts with a battery which is attached to a wire.  This wire runs until it hits a switch.  If the switch is closed, the current can flow on.  It flows to a resistor which turns the electricity into energy we can use.


Science Class Field Trip


I know I just had science class Monday, but this is about a different Science Center and a field trip.

We boarded the buses and headed to the park to look at the wetlands. We were greeted by a horde of ducks and geese. The teachers gave us a clipboard with a paper that had three categories: consumers, producers and decomposers. We put ducks down under “consumers” and went on with the trip. We saw mostly ducks, but also some fish and turtles. We put those on the list and moved on.

Next, we found lichen. I was about to put it under producers, but the teacher stopped me. She said that lichen was actually a decomposer, and that it was a plant, not a fungus.

This trip was another example of why homeschool rocks WAY more than public school (in my opinion). Here’s a few reasons why:

1. One kid asked if he could walk around like a crab for the rest of the trip and the teacher said “sure.” He spent the rest of the day on the ground.

2. Instead of being in an orderly line, we were a small mob.

3. We were allowed to talk.

4. We didn’t have to be part of a big group.

5. The people my age weren’t annoying.

The only new thing I really learned was that lichen is a plant, but review is always great. We got in touch with nature and got some walking done all at the same time! Plus we got to see baby ducks. Who doesn’t like baby ducks? ;^)

Doesn’t science rock?