The other morning when I was doing my daily information gathering–scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed–Lily spied an article about the new Harry Potter stamps from the USPS. We clicked over and she read it. Until the last few months getting her to read has been like pulling teeth.

For reading we had been working through Progressive Phonics. At the end of last year she had not completed her phonics program so I was under the impression she would be behind; I planned to review the intermediate level before moving into the advanced level of Progressive Phonics. She seemed completely bored with the program though, and I noticed that she really already knew the material. We are reading through the Harry Potter series as our read aloud. One day she asked to read it and curious to see how she would do, I let her. She only missed one or two words in two pages, and she read those pages aloud fluently.

We have stopped doing Progressive Phonics. For now, she reads independently for at least 20 minutes a day. I have gently pushed her to read outside of her comfort zone, which is still with beginning readers. We have some picture books and chapter books in our collections that I think are more her level so she is working on those. I generally have her do an oral narration of what she reads so that I can check her comprehension.

After reading the article about the stamps, she said she would be interested in more of the like, which would work well to supplement what we have at home since we have primarily fiction books. I pinned a few articles and blogs on a Pinterest board for her so that she can choose as she likes. Here are some of my favorites:

When she gets to reading them I will post what she likes.


Hello. Long time, no see.  Homeschooling here in the big woods has been going well lately. I thought I would share a bit about what we have been doing in math.

I had planned for Lily to work through Grade 2 Math Mammoth, but a thread on inspired me to do more with math this year. Lily is good at math, but it has been one of her least favorite subjects, especially after our experience with online school last year. The Brave Writer Lifestyle consists of activities to create a language-rich lifestyle. Applying the the Brave Writer Lifestyle to math seems like a great way to learn and support a healthier relationship between Lily, me, and math.  

In applying the BWL to math, I have created a routine of various math-y activities. In addition to working on Math Mammoth everyday, we generally do math games 2-3 days a week, read a math-related story at least once a week, and work on a math-related project once a week. Occasionally, we also look at math-related videos. I have also made a point of talking about the math she encounters in her play. And of course, there is always cooking and baking.

Here are some of the ways she has enjoyed learning and playing with math:

Minecraft pocket edition, app

building with LEGO

Math Dice Jr., game

Greg Tang interactive books

Vi Hart, on YouTube

Bedtime Math, daily math problem

Numberphile, on YouTube

Marley’s Math Farm, app

making smoothies

Building a geodesic dome

Building a geodesic dome

Rat-a-tat-cat , game

Reading Alice in Numberland

Setting a goal in soccer and charting her progress

starting fresh

August 3, 2013

We started back on the first.

I was a bit anxious about how it would go considering how oppositional and down she was on anything that could be perceived as especially schoolish.  I am happy to report though that she had a really great first day back to the point that upon waking the next day she was excited about embarking on her second day of school.

Those first two days were filled with lots of reading, including Matilda, math dice, the start of a geodesic fort, math placement test, which she did without complaint, science (not surprisingly her first choice of lessons both days), the yearly self- portrait, learning about rough green snakes, and some art talk.


Lily, reading to me


We also went to a park day for the co-op we’ve joined. Lily had kind of a sour attitude on the way there, but once we got there she got right in there with the others kids, ran rampant, climbed things, and generally had a grand old time. When I talked to her afterwards she said she had not looked forward to it because she thought we were going to something where she would have to sit and listen to grown-ups talk to each other, not where she could play with kids.

The way things have gone this so far has certainly lifted my spirits.  Even though I know there where will be bumps along the way, I am looking forward to this year of learning at home.

new toy

July 21, 2013

We  used  the computer frequently to do online school last year, but I also have allowed her to use it outside of that–she has her own account on our computer with access to some kid friendly software and internet pages that I have bookmarked for her. She is allowed free reign but doesn’t take gross advantage of that–she  spends maybe 30 minutes to upwards of an hour in a week on the computer.  I have been interested in getting a tablet for her–I love how they are portable and their ease-of-use–but I could never justify spending what it costs for new or even older models of the iPad (the only brand I had been considering). Then I saw an android-based mini tablet on sale for under $100 and went for it.

When we first got it she spent considerably more time on it than she ever had on the desktop computer but her usage has finally leveled out in the last month to a couple hours per week. I plan to use it rather than the desktop for her school–for capturing stories, for ready reference, etc.  I also would like it to be one more way to strew things for her; this means searching for good apps, e books, etc. which I have realized is a bit more work for android-based devices.  So far I have only installed free things but those that we like I will likely upgrade.

Here are some of the favorites–

BrainPOP Jr. Movie of the Week

Moby and Annie were introduced to her through the online school. The videos are little bites of information about a given topic. They would be a good way to introduce a topic because I found many times that the info presented has lead her to ask for more.

KIDO’Z Play Mode-Safe For Kids

This is how she accesses the tablet b/c I’d rather her not buy me any 1962 Austin Healey Sprites. It comes with some preloaded games and videos but you can also add approval to any apps you have on your device, remove games you don’t want, add YouTube videos, remove and add links to web pages. I have really taken advantage of the ability to add YouTube videos and web links, adding things for fun and learning.

Eggy 100 HD

She laughs so much when she plays this. They have a 250 word app but I wish they had more.

Marley’s Math Farm

The favorite math app so far; it’s for doing addition and subtraction with money.

Minecraft – Pocket Ed. Demo

This is by far what she spends the most time on–on the building portion not the survival b/c the monsters are too creepy. I have to admit that I have had fun building, too.


I really don’t see a need to buy any e books. These are classic stories with beautiful illustrations, interactive features, and are narrated, too. Right now they are just right for where she is in her reading level.

Princesses Learn Spanish

She has fallen prey to the princesses. The app blends English and Spanish in story format and has coloring pages and interactives to go with each story.

I am taking a Coursera class, the Science of Gastronmy. Lily has shown interest in what I am doing so I had her help me do the following experiment. We had to decide which recorded sound matched eating a chip, while we ate the chip. It was a funny experiment because we didn’t choose the chip sound we chose the cracking bones sound–we really like crunchy chips, I guess. Anywho. I was also assigned to conduct the experiment myself with a different food.  I had Lily help and she chose carrots.  You can help us out, too.

  • Take a bite of a raw carrot while playing each sound clip below.
  • Then use the poll to share which sound you felt made biting into the carrot most satisfying.

Sound A

Sound B

Sound C

Sounds revealed

quarterly report

July 10, 2013

That is about how often I blog isn’t it.

So far we have spent the summer recovering from last year. She said I was banned from saying the virtual school’s name and that she didn’t want to do anything schoolish at all over the summer. And I have obliged her in this because I would really love for her attitude to turn around.

knuckle wrapper

A caricature of me, perhaps. LOL.

This summer has been playing mermaid at the lake, me reading Harry Potter to her until I am hoarse, a few adventures with friends here and there, and lots of free time at home, doing projects on her own whim as she pleases.

I have slacked off in my planning until very recently–guess I needed the recovery time, too. After reflecting on last year and thinking about how she learns best and our goals for this journey, I have changed gears in a few areas. I am going for more balance between formal and informal learning and trying earnestly to be led by her interest.

So no more unit planning for history, far less worksheets, more time for play, etc. I have updated the 2013-2014 Curriculum page and updated some of my pinterest boards to better reflect my goals.


summer on the brain

March 28, 2013

We have spring break this week, which has consisted of being lazy, playing LEGO Harry Potter on the Wii, spending time outside when it is not freezing cold, and spending time with fam and friends. I am relishing all this time away from both of our schooling.

This break marks the end of two of my classes and the halfway point of the other. Her school will be done at the end of May (I will be glad to be going back to a more natural approach to learning–this year I have felt like all we have done is worked to get our 6.5 hours in everyday  and to get the 3.whatever % progress per week she is supposed to have.) With school winding down, I find myself thinking about how I will make next year better. Recently I have also started to have summer on the brain.

I always have a hard time getting out of the house, even to play in our yard, during the summer because it is so dang hot and buggy around here so I am trying to find things that will entice me out. I made a pinboard of Summer fun. Ways to battle the heat and bugs that I have come up with so far: air-conditioned museums, caves, ice cream parlors, water fun, cold drinks, and diy bug spray.

 pinboard 2


Also, I have been trying to find fun things for us to do when we are in the house that will keep us from turning into slugs. I don’t want her to just play the Wii all summer so I ‘ve been trying to think of how we can have fun and turn her attitude about learning around–these days she is pushing and fighting against anything that resembles school or learning. We are going to take the summer to deschool.

Summer fun Pinterest board


I want her to practice math, reading, and writing so I have been trying to think of ways to make them fun and seem like less of a chore. For math I think all we are going to do is play games. For reading, we have plans to read the first Harry Potter since she loves the games so; otherwise I am going to have her do the summer reading challenge through the library and let her pick her own books. Some writing ideas are to work on a journal together of our summer adventures, make a zine, and make her own board game(s). Otherwise, I am trying to find her hands-on projects she can work on since she is a maker at heart. I like having ideas on hand but I may just end up letting her loose to do her own thing.

 Most of all I am looking forward to spending time with her and making the most of these sweet childhood days.



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