Wednesday, December 01, 2010


One hundred-fifty years ago, the Civil War (War Between the States, War of Northern Aggression) began.

The New York Times is running a wonderful series in honor of the anniversary entitled Disunion. Every day, a this-day-in-history story will be posted outlining an event or figure and its impact on American history and the Civil War.

Today's entry: The Assassin's Debut - actor John Wilkes Booth takes the stage on Montgomery, Alabama.

Carnival of Homeschooling - The Tryptophan Edition

Image Source
We are less than a week from Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving. The holiday is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November every year in the States but every homeschool parent knows that, no matter how hard we try, it creeps into the Wednesday, Tuesday, and Monday previous... travelling, cooking, planning, cleaning... each of these invades the days leading up to Thanksgiving. On Friday, the tryptophan hangover lingers and the weekend is filled with more travelling, post-celebratory cleaning, and (for some of us) the beginning of another holiday - Advent.

Wisdom dictates that we call a holiday from schooling and just enjoy the celebration and all that goes with it. Fear and panic sometimes push us to attempt school work despite the hustle and bustle of holiday prep and recovery.

Here at Apollos Academy, we are usually on holiday from the Monday before Thanksgiving until the end of the first full-week of the new year. Because of The Virus, we'll be plugging along through the month of December instead... or at least trying to.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
As visions of sugar plums danced in their heads.

Image Source
Sugar plums, gingerbread men, twinkling lights, and perfectly picked, beautifully wrapped gifts don't remain only in the night-time dreams of children this time of year. They haunt the daydreams (and panic attacks) of adults and children alike as the weather turns colder and Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer infects the airwaves. The proper use of the apostrophe ("Every time you use an apostrophe to pluralize, a kitten dies." - I definitely did not read that in an official grammar book, but I love it just the same) and Euclidean geometry are definitely not clogging up our dream journals.

And we are not the only ones to be suffering from Tryptophan-Effected-Homeschooling. How do I know? Because the majority of the submissions to this week's carnival revolved around the holiday season ushered in this past Thursday! There are wonderful holiday-themed lesson plans, imaginative plans for common subjects, and just some wonderful families enjoying life and their homeschooling journeys by kicking up their heels and taking advantage of this sometimes chaotic time of year to try something new and different.

So prop up your slippered toes and grab a cup of hot cocoa... it's time for school!

Need some ideas for some holiday-themed school activities? Jen (Best Family Adventures) held a contest recently where she discovered some great holiday activities for those cold winter days. (The contest is over, but you can still win by utilizing some of these activities with your brood.)

'Tis the season over at Eclectic Education to discover some homeschooling-the-holidays links from Lynn.

As homeschoolers, we're around our kids 24/7. However, Linda (Parent at the Helm) reminds us to focus on and take joy in the family-centered days the holidays provide us with.

And while we're having a blast with our families, let's take a moment to sit down with them and write a family mission statement. MamaChi's family (A Pilgrim's Heart) shows us how this exercise can provide something utterly useful during hectic times... perspective.

Want a little more art in your school (life)? Jimmie (Jimmie's Collage) insists that picture books are a great way to not only teach young children about art, but teens and adults as well. She provides some great printables so you can do your own Da Vinci study.

Adrienne (Four Bad Apples) is the matriarch of probably the most artistic homeschooling family I know. In her post, Finally..., she thought she was simply catching people up on what's been happening around their home, but it is also a wonderful glimpse into a season-in-the-life of a creative, homeschooling (or should that be "creative homeschooling") family.

Like all moms (and dads), we need to take a moment in our busy lives to... um... answer nature's call. Dana (Roscommon Acres) shares a cautionary tale of what one may discover upon returning to our energetic, creative children. The moral of the story: it takes a brave woman with a great sense of humor to be a mom. (Or is it, "never pee"? *grin*)

In the mood to try something new? Join Michelle (Handmade and Homegrown) in trying one new thing a month for a year in the 12 New Things Challenge.

Now hop on over to A Computer Mom where Allie will show you how you and your students can create a "plastic" model of the earth's inner mantle using common pantry supplies.

Maybe your family is like mine and although you would like to focus on all holiday-oriented lessons, you really just need to take some time to focus on academics every day. Go ahead! That's the beauty of homeschooling, right? Flexibility.

Another benefit of homeschooling is meeting your child when and where he is at. Henry (Why Homeschool) shared a wonderful article that reminds us (oh, we homeschoolers do like to push our students to advance, don't we?) that delaying even one of the three R's - reading - may prove beneficial to our children in the long run.

Barbara Frank Online shares a wonderful interactive resource for adults and teens from the New York Times that lets users see how cutting certain programs or passing/ eliminating certain tax cuts will effect the federal budget deficit. Can you close the gap?

And if you like computer gadgets, Paula (PhD Online Degree) has a list of the top 100 iPhone apps for homeschoolers.

Frodo and I decided to take advantage of his relaxing schedule as semester break approaches to read through the Harry Potter series. This is my third or fourth read through (depending on the book) and Frodo's first.  I am a huge fan of the series and so was delighted to discover Pinon Knitter's (Knitted Thoughts) syllabus for a class covering the entire Harry Potter series in a semester and using the books as a springboard into topics as varied as chemistry and racism. I foresee a Harry Potter course in our school's future.

Aoide-Melete-Mneme (a la mode de les Muses) shares her thoughts on how strange it is that she has not come across more homeschooled students in PhD programs and encourages homeschoolers to look into pursuing higher degrees.

Do your kids need some encouragement to get their school work done (and with a good attitude)? Jill (Sweet Diva) shares a motivational trick... competitions where the winner gets to bake sweet creations with mom!

One sign that holiday season is upon us is the smell of baking... apples and cinnamon, pumpkins, stews. Jill isn't the only one thinking about food. Mrs. White and her girls (The Legacy of Home) are holding cooking classes and making delicious suppers together.

For most of us, December marks an ending for our school... either the end of a year or the end of a semester. Either way, a celebration is in order. Nak (Sage Parnassus) and their homeschool coop recently held a family night sharing what they have learned and having a lot of fun while doing it. Maybe you can find some ideas for your own family night!

If you have visited the Carnival of Homeschooling here before, you know that whenever I host it seems that a health or weather advisory should be issued... it is pretty much guaranteed that something is going to happen. I almost themed this carnival "Weather Advisories" since we were under several advisories and warnings when it was time to work on getting the carnival up. *grin* Fortunately, we only had enough thunderstorms here to block our satellite internet access and keep our weather-obsessed Quarto happy. South of here did not fare so well; happily there was no loss of life associated with the tornadoes that invaded those areas and your prayers for those suffering loss of home and security is appreciated. I was definitely in need of something lighthearted when I opened Witty Jester's contribution. Who knew floods could be so humorous?

Well, the fire is dwindling and the cocoa is all gone, so it's time to decorate the tree, put on some Christmas carols, then take a nap. Thank you for visiting and don't forget to visit the carnival next week at Our Curious Home.

Let me be the first to wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Silver Lining

For the last month or so, someone in our house has been sick. Why we can't just all get sick over a 3-4 day period and be done with it, I'll never know, but that's a kvetch for another time.

Having Frodo home sick or one of the boys isn't too big of a deal. They lay like slugs on the sofa, watch movies, drink ginger ale, and eat chicken soup until they feel better. All us healthy people can generally function around them... plus, when someone wanders off who should be doing school or chores I know where to find them - in front of the TV with sicko watching whatever movie they found completely uninteresting yesterday but find absolutely captivating today.

When I or one of the girls gets sick, however, it is another matter altogether.

The girls are 18 months apart in age and overlap in their academic studies quite a bit... well, completely. History, science, math, philosophy, Latin, writing, logic... they are both doing pretty much the exact same things. The only distinct subjects they have are geography and literature but even those are dependent on each other because we meet as a threesome one day a week to discuss their lit readings, logic, and philosophy. At least with Friday math lessons they are in different Life of Fred books. This means when one of them is sick and truly not able to do school work (or at least not the amount usually done in a day), it throws both of them off. Literature and geography are self-paced, so those aren't as big a deal, but the last thing I want to do is get behind in math and Latin. Both of those subjects take large amounts of time to learn, review, and master; a week of delays can push the school year back another month. (We do school year-round, but the timing completely messes up my plans for the holiday break.) So, when the girls got sick one after the other, I decided to take it in stride and had them continue math, lit, and geography and delay Latin with plans to just continue that through break. It worked... kind of.

Then I got sick. I teach Quarto all of his subjects myself. It only takes about an hour a day, but that was more than I could handle. Terzo stepped up and covered math with him, Secudno covered reading, and Primo made sure everyone ate. As you can see, the older kids are becoming more self-sufficient and can cover many school subjects independently with only occasional help from me. This is not the case for math, Latin, lit, or logic (or history and science for the boys). Another week lost.

I had promised myself at the beginning of this year that we were just going to chug along with our studies this year and take bumps in stride. No excessive lingering during focused school but lots of encouragement for the kids to explore on their own time. Our year was going splendidly until a month ago. The silver lining in all of this? I was forced to look at how our year had been progressing and how our plans were holding up to life's twists and turns.

What's not working:
1. Math for the girls. I actually figured this out before The Virus (the delayed start in math this year was not helping my stress over the illness delay). Primo struggles with math (or so I thought), and we changed math programs about once a year from 4th-7th grade for her. Turns out, she's actually good at math; she just wasn't responding well to certain presentations, and my constant switching was hurting more than it was helping. At the beginning of the year, she told me, "Can we just go back to Rod and Staff? I liked it. It was hard, but I knew what to expect each day." Ugh: The Great Curriculum Hop started because of weeping and gnashing of teeth with Rod and Staff in fourth grade. Double Ugh: Rod and Staff doesn't go past 8th grade. I didn't want to switch her back into it only to have to find something new next year. Enter Saxon. We had done Saxon K-3rd, and it drove me bonkers. Scripted. Repetitive. Boring. I should have stuck it out into 4th; it becomes a completely different program. And it is laid-out similarly to Rod and Staff. Both girls are thriving with it. Primo is now a solid B student (and improving daily) and says math is her favorite subject. Yay!

2. Do the next thing. Up until now, our lesson plans were pretty simple: "See that curriculum on your school shelf? We're going to start with lesson one in each book and do one lesson per day until we are finished." That was pretty much it. Not working so much any more. I have planned out lessons this year, and they work great... when I am available to tell each kid what to do on a particular day. When I'm trying to teach four kids, those opportunities are few are far between. Since the kids are more independent now, we could have gotten a lot more done if I had been able to print off weekly assignment sheets and just hand them to the kids and say, "Do what you can without me." Yes, math and Latin would still have been behind, but everything else would have been close to on target. HomeschoolTracker Plus to the rescue! Sadly, I have owned this program for 5 years and just figured out how to do things beyond track attendance this year (not necessary in our state). Wow! I already have Latin lessons planned for the next 3 years. I'll be playing around with HST to figure out how to use it's assignment sheets and get us booking it again.

What's working:
1. Weekly meetings. This year, the girls and I started meeting every Friday at 11:30 to discuss our readings (I'm reading, too) in philosophy and literature. We also do a logic lesson and just chat about school and life. This has been wonderful! We all look forward to it.

2. The girls' new math. (see above)

3. Rod and Staff Math for Terzo. What doesn't work for one kid is a God-send for another. Terzo loves Rod and Staff Math 4. The girls have both inherited my metal block with memorizing math facts. Terzo knows them upside down and backward and it's not just because of rote memorization but because he has learned the relationships between numbers. Happily, I have also learned my math facts... although Terzo is still quicker and more accurate than I am.

4. Rod and Staff Penmanship for Quarto. I didn't use a penmanship curriculum for the older three. I would just write something on handwriting paper and have them copy it. (I can hear my parents laughing right now. My handwriting has always been bad; my fifth grade teacher requested that I type all but my math assignments.) Once they each hit about third grade, they started using Classically Cursive. Both girls have much better script than I do (the only thing worse than my printing is my script) and Terzo is getting there (he has mild dysgraphia, so he's just beginning to have writing outside of handwriting practice; a wise decision). Quarto has been able to write letters and small words for awhile now, but he forms them very oddly and I was worried that this was going to 1) slow him down and 2) make cursive more difficult. So, I decided to try a formal penmanship program. He loves it! I love it! It is all laid out with daily lessons and worksheets that take 10 minutes a day. And when he isn't using the worksheets, he's self-correcting! He'll start forming a letter or number his usually crazy, backwards, upside down way (honestly, I cannot explain how he writes or how he developed this technique) then stop himself and say, "Oops. I started in the wrong place" and erase and start over. And his handwriting (on handwriting paper, anyway) is great!

5. Google Calendar and CalenGoo. Google Calendar is a calendar program on Google that allows you to track multiple calendars and share them with others. CalenGoo is an iPhone/ iTouch app that allows you to use and update Google Calendar on the iPhone/ iTouch. I have a separate calendar for each member of the family, and I have been more organized and timely this year than I have ever been! Since I have an iTouch, I need a WiFi connection to sync my calendars (the online and handheld versions), but this has not yet been an issue (plus, it saves me the data fees of a smartphone). I can still add and delete items from my calendar on my iTouch; the changes just won't appear on Google Calendar until I can sync them. Now to just get Frodo to use Google Calendar and maybe those hold-out schedule conflicts will disappear.

It looks like everyone is finally out of the woods, illness wise, so we are back to school as usual. Although I was sorry to have sick kiddos (and a sick hubby and a sick me), I am so glad for the time it allowed me to evaluate and readjust. It has been a blessing!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Alfred Yankovic, Editor

CNN posted a pretty typical article about homeschooling last week: Less Families Homeschooling Primarily for Religious Reasons

However, maybe CNN should make sure they edit properly, especially when writing on the topic of education. Or maybe just make watching Weird Al's grammar videos on YouTube part of their employee training?

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Prove It

We have homeschooled our children since birth (theirs, not ours).

We would practice letters and numbers. Do arts and crafts. Learn songs. Explore our house, our yard, our neighborhood, and wherever our car or a Metro ticket could take us.

When our oldest child reached school-reporting age, we lived in the second-most difficult state to homeschool in. ("Difficulty" being determined by level of government involvement and required reporting.) It was promoted to the rank of most difficult during our tenure there. One of the reporting requirements (in addition to the notarized affidavit, maintaining attendance records, covering mandatory subjects, and taking and reporting standardized tests) was to keep a portfolio. The law covering the maintenance and evaluation of the portfolio is as follows:

(1) A portfolio of records and materials. The portfolio shall consist of a log, made contemporaneously with the instruction, which designates by title the reading materials used, samples of any writings, worksheets, workbooks or creative materials used or developed by the student and in grades three, five and eight results of nationally normed standardized achievement tests in reading/language arts and mathematics or the results of Statewide tests administered in these grade levels. The department shall establish a list, with a minimum of five tests, of nationally normed standardized tests from which the supervisor of the home education program shall select a test to be administered if the supervisor does not choose the Statewide tests. At the discretion of the supervisor, the portfolio may include the results of nationally normed standardized achievement tests for other subject areas or grade levels. The supervisor shall ensure that the nationally normed standardized tests or the Statewide tests shall not be administered by the child's parent or guardian.
(i) A teacher or administrator who evaluates a portfolio at the elementary level (grades kindergarten through six) shall have at least two years of experience in grading any of the following subjects: English, to include spelling, reading and writing; arithmetic; science; geography; history of the United States and Pennsylvania; and civics.
(ii) A teacher or administrator who evaluates a portfolio at the secondary level (grades seven through twelve) shall have at least two years of experience in grading any of the following subjects: English, to include language, literature, speech, reading and composition; science, to include biology, chemistry and physics; geography; social studies, to include economics, civics, world history, history of the United States and Pennsylvania; foreign language; and mathematics, to include general mathematics, algebra, trigonometry, calculus and geometry.
(iii) As used in this clause, the term "grading" shall mean evaluation of classwork, homework, quizzes, classwork-based tests and prepared tests related to classwork subject matter.
(2) An annual written evaluation of the student's educational progress as determined by a licensed clinical or school psychologist or a teacher certified by the Commonwealth or by a nonpublic school teacher or administrator. Any such nonpublic teacher or administrator shall have at least two years of teaching experience in a Pennsylvania public or nonpublic school within the last ten years. Such nonpublic teacher or administrator shall have the required experience at the elementary level to evaluate elementary students or at the secondary level to evaluate secondary students. The certified teacher shall have experience at the elementary level to evaluate elementary students or at the secondary level to evaluate secondary students. The evaluation shall also be based on an interview of the child and a review of the portfolio required in clause (1) and shall certify whether or not an appropriate education is occurring. At the request of the supervisor, persons with other qualifications may conduct the evaluation with the prior consent of the district of residence superintendent. In no event shall the evaluator be the supervisor or their spouse.
(f) The school district of residence shall, at the request of the supervisor, lend to the home education program copies of the school district's planned courses, textbooks and other curriculum materials appropriate to the student's age and grade level.
(g) When documentation is required by this section to be submitted to the district of residence superintendent or the hearing examiner, the superintendent or the hearing examiner shall return, upon completion of his review, all such documentation to the supervisor of the home education program. The superintendent or hearing examiner may photocopy all or portions of the documentation for his files.
(h) Such documentation required by subsection (e)(1) and (2) shall be provided to the public school district of residence superintendent at the conclusion of each public school year. In addition, if the superintendent has a reasonable belief that, at any time during the school year, appropriate education may not be occurring in the home education program, he may, by certified mail, return receipt requested, require documentation pertaining to the portfolio of records and materials required by subsection (e)(1) to be submitted to the district within fifteen (15) days; and documentation pertaining to subsection (e)(2) to be submitted to the district within thirty (30) days. If the tests as required in subsection (e) (1) have not been administered at the time of the receipt of the certified letter by the supervisor, the supervisor shall submit the other required documentation and shall submit the test results with the documentation at the conclusion of the school year.
(i) If the superintendent of the public school district determines, based on the documentation provided, at the end of or during the school year, that appropriate education is not taking place for the child in the home education program, the superintendent shall send a letter by certified mail, return receipt requested, to the supervisor of the home education program stating that in his opinion appropriate education is not taking place for the child in the home education program and shall return all documentation, specifying what aspect or aspects of the documentation are inadequate.

I saved everything. Everything.

Every scrap of paper our school generated the kids put into their subject folders. If there was an activity, book, or lesson for which a scrap of paper was not produced, I created something - a coloring page, a reading list, a photo journal. Something that could go into the portfolio.

Now, I didn't overwhelm the evaluator or the school district with all of this paper. I'd get a hernia trying to lug it all around. The law simply stipulates a reading log and samples, so we would include the book list for each subject (and when you use living books rather than text books, this is a very long list) plus three samples for each subject (one each from the beginning, middle, and end of the year). Sometimes the kids had a couple items they were particularly proud of, so we included these items as well. We also included certificates showing that we covered fire safety (found at the back of every coloring book handed out by the fire department). We knew one mom who took three pictures of each of her kids for fire safety: stopping, dropping, and rolling. Any papers that didn't make it into the final portfolio (after it was approved... I was scared to death of having to provide more proof of education) went into the trash. What a waste. Although it was nice to have a scrapbook of each school year, I hate to think of all of the trees that were sacrificed to the government's Altar of Proof.

After all, that was the point of all those pieces of paper, wasn't it? To prove that my kids learned something? To prove that we weren't slacking off? To prove that I wasn't using my children as child labor while I sat around eating bon-bons?

But is that really what all that paper proved? It proved that we went through books. That I can alphabetize book lists. Make check marks on a calendar. It appears to be better proof of my lesson planning or my ability to pull together government-approvable forms and exemplars than of what my children learned. (As a bad standardized test taker myself, I am not going to go into the value, or lack thereof, of standardized testing as a measure of learning,)

There is one thing all this portfolio-compiling did achieve... I am now terrified of doing any activity which might be of even the slightest educational value without having documentation that we did it. This is good on one hand since I am generally very bad at keeping updated photo albums or scrapbooks, so the kids love having work samples, pictures, and souvenirs from all of their activities. However, I have two boys whose fine motor skills have taken awhile to develop. We do a lot of their work orally, on the white board, or via other creative means - Quarto takes spelling quizzes using Scrabble tiles. I am not about to take pictures of every word spelled in Scrabble tiles! Fortunately, we live in much less intrusive state, now, but I still can't get over the fact that we are about a month into school and I have very little physical proof of my children's educations... or that we sat down and did something. Those 3-ring binders look sadly empty to me.

My children are intelligent. They are the proof that they have absorbed knowledge. Some of it came from books. Some of it came from working on maps, coloring pages, and worksheets. Some of it came from movies and television shows. Some of it came from digging in dirt, playing sports, talking with friends, baking brownies, buying gifts, or dinner table talk. I know this. But until this year, I had a hard time letting go of having reams of paper to "prove" I was educating my children.

Now we are on the verge of high school. Another piece of paper, the high school diploma, is now haunting my dreams. We have a plan for high school. It will probably change, but not too much. Because I have reached the place of having to "prove" something again. I have to teach to the test and get my kids ready to take the SAT and ACT. I have to have a curriculum which will pass NCAA muster so Secundo can fence in college. These are serious considerations.

I don't like that my children's futures (hopefully another 60 years or so) are determined by grades and scores earned when they are teenagers. But that is the system in which they will need to function. So, we will learn the 5 paragraph essay and analogies and how to properly fill-in a bubble sheet so that my children will be able to go to the police academy and fence at a Division I school. But between these lessons on how to survive the system, we will read, and talk, and create. We will still take pictures and put together small portfolios, scrapbooks of their "school age" years. But I want my children to learn, above all, that an education is not something that can be tested for or evaluated or put into a portfolio. An education is lived.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Fly on the Wall

Quarto, commenting on the thunderstorms accompanying a cold front overnight:

"Mom! I know why there wasn't any lighting in the back! Because it was a front!"

Monday, August 16, 2010

Fly on the Wall

Primo and Secondo were playing a video game when I heard Secondo ask, "Can we please play a game I don't always win? This is getting irritating!"

Oh, to have her problems. *grin*

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Carnival of Homeschooling: May Flowers Edition

April showers bring May flowers.

Has the weather where you are been as topsy-turvy as it has been here? If so, you probably received your May flowers in April and your April showers in May like we did. Here at the Carnival of Homeschooling, we may not have the power to change the weather (although it would be nice since we've gone from 70 to 90 to 50 and back to 90 in a span of about 5 days here), but we can enjoy some May blooms.

Bird of Paradise = Magnificence

Bird-watching is a popular hobby that can be done by anyone, anywhere. And the first time a child can identify a bird by sight without asking or looking in a book for help or simply by recognizing its song... magnificent!

Ornithology is a wonderful subject to unschool, but sometimes it can be a bit... unpredictable. Just as the "Bird Brains" over at Life-Led Learning.

Orange Blossom = Brings Wisdom

When you boil it all down, isn't that the homeschool parent's job? To bring wisdom? No small task.

Katherine at No Fighting, No Biting! shares just how difficult this task can be in her post abcd... where she lets us in on her pep talk to herself as she works through her anxiety over teaching her young son letter identification.

Need some help teaching your kids how to identify prime numbers? The Nerd Mom can help you with that in her post An Enhanced Sieve of Eratosthenes. (Definitely check this out and click on the link she provides in the post. I thought that the post name alone was going to make my head explode, but then I had an a-ha moment. I am definitely teaching this to my kids!)

Technology can be a wonderful tool in the imparting of wisdom. Melissa, at Bugs, Knights, and Turkeys In The Yard, shares a video explaining the difference between a Republic and a Democracy (as well as some other political philosophies) that would be a wonderful addition to a history lesson on government.

Looking to get some current events into your school day? Tatiana shares some Great News Sources at World Star Academy.

With the tightening economy, the wise choice is free materials to help us instruct our children. Serfonya shows us where to go to access free reading primers.

Much of the wisdom we share with our kids cannot be found in a textbook. As The Thinking Mothera lesson on setting priorities. discovered, a conflict over video games + a captive, car-bound audience = the perfect time for

And sometimes we are bringing wisdom as much to ourselves as to our children. But as Pamela at Blah, Blah, Blog discovered, sometimes you wish you could just go back and claim ignorance... especially where amoebas, pinworms, and parasites are involved!

Poppy = Imagination

 The creativity of my fellow human beings astounds me! Whether composing a painting, framing a photograph, spinning a tale, or sharing information in a provocative way, these people wield a mastery over art that should inspire us to creativity ourselves.

At Farm Girl Brainwaves, a homeschool student shares her review of the book After The Dancing Days.

Another homeschool student, over at Nate's Nook, shares his original short story, The McDonalds.

The Art for Homeschoolers art show may be just the inspiration you need to get your creative juices flowing. Lara, The Texas Homesteader, gives us a glimpse.

Laura Grace Weldon shares her review of the documentary Horse Boy about a homeschooling family who helps their autistic son through horse therapy.

Susan at The Expanding Life reviews the non-fiction film (she hesitates to call it a documentary) Babies.

Thyme = Strength and Courage

In the day-in and day-out education of our children, every homeschool parent could use a little thyme.

Linda, at Parent at the Helm, reminds us that when it comes to our children's educations, the buck stops with us and we need to accept responsibility (both good and bad).

Parents in the San Juan Capistrano school district, many of whom were thrust into temporary homescholing by a teacher's strike, can find a little extra encouragement and assistance from Jenny over at Home Is Where You Start From.

I tend to be a shy person, so I'd need an injection of courage before getting up the guts to give museum tours. If you'd like to exercise your courage (or you just think volunteering at your local museum would be cool), check out Museum Docenting 101 at a la mode de les Muses. (Our daughter will be the first participant in our university museum's junior docent program this coming fall... she is beyond excited!)

Homeschooling itself takes a bit of  courage and a lot of strength. That is even more true when homeschooling children with special educational needs. Heather shares some ideas on teaching special education students at TeachTechTopia.

Yellow Zinnia = Daily Remembrance

It's good to take a minute at the end of the day to think back on how far we've come and where we are going. A time to sit back, enjoy a cup of tea, and stop and smell the zinnias.

It can be hard to know exactly where you are going in your homeschooling if you haven't sat down to enumerate your philosophy of education. And as The Headmistress points out over at The Common Room, a philosophy of education is valuable beyond the homeschool room. 

Now you can head on over to Why Homeschool and challenge your newly developed educational philosophy as Janine shares her thoughts on boarding schools for foster children in the UK.

At BenMakesTen, Judy shares her list of the benefits of homeschooling which she has gleaned over the years homeschooling her ten children.

As you'll read at Lionden Landing, reflecting back can help us clarify how we are going to move ahead... including in Reading, Riting, and Rithmetic.

Cristina at Home Spun Juggling shares how a little child led them to embrace their inner unschoolers.

Head on over to Let's Play Math! where Denise shares her memories of videos that remind her (and us) that calculus can be fun!

Chrysanthemum = Cheerfulness; You're a wonderful friend

This past weekend was Mother's Day. Like may of you, I received handmade cards and handpicked flowers from my children. Don't forget to give that special friend, the one you can call on whenever you need a hug or a pep talk, a big thank you and a large bouquet of chrysanthemums just to let him/ her know how much the friendship means to you.

Barbara Frank knows how important socialization is for her kids. But she is amazed at all the wonderful people she's met through homeschooling and getting some of that socialization herself!

Sunflower = Loyalty; Wishes

When I think of summer, the sunflower is the first flower that comes to mind. Most of us as probably focused on finishing up our school year before the sunflower forts are over our children's heads but that doesn't stop us from looking ahead to our summer plans.

So don't forget to put a vase of sunflowers on the kitchen table to look at while you work on math or cook up a big pot of tomato sauce from your garden's tomatoes. Every time you look at them, think of all the wishes you have for your children... and your children can be reminded of their parents' loyalty to them and their educations.

A big thank you to all of the contributors to this week's carnival and to all of you who stop by every week to read and learn and support one another in this homeschooling journey we are on together. 

If you enjoy the carnival, please help promote it every week by linking to it on your blog. (Henry at Why Homeschooling even has some Carnival of Homeschooling images you can put on your blog to advertise the carnival to your readers. You can find them here.) And please consider contributing. For more information on how to submit a post to be included in the Carnival of Homeschooling, check here for more information.

If you would like to learn more about flowers and their meanings, go to Pioneer Thinking's The Language of Flowers. That is  where I found the meanings of the flowers included in this week's carnival.

Hope you have a bouquet of productivity and joy this week! I'll meet you all Under The Golden Apple Tree for next week's carnival!

Carnival of Homeschooling

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Coming Soon: Carnival of Homeschooling

Carnival of Homeschooling

Next Tuesday, the Carnival of Homeschooling will stop here at Apollos Academy. If you would like an entry included in the carnival, follow the instructions here. Whether or not you can contribute a post this week, please make sure to stop by here next Tuesday and visit the carnival... and don't forget to bring your cotton candy!

Monday, May 03, 2010

He Collects Sea Shells By The Seashore

This past Christmas, we went to visit Frodo's parents. They live near the beach, so of course we had to go walking and collect shells on every walk. I wish I had taken pictures of the kids' collections before they pared them down! There were thousands of shells, urchins, corals, and even a starfish spread all over the floor of my in-laws' garage... and the place smelled like fish! And there was sand. Lots of lots of sand. Everywhere. Have I mentioned how much patience my in-laws have? Lots and lots of patience. Lots. Almost equal to the volume of shells and sand that was spread over their garage floor for three days in December.

This is all very interesting, you are probably thinking. But why are you mentioning your Christmas trip and patient in-laws now? It's May. This all happened four months ago!

You have a very good point. First of all, I have been very remiss in updating my blog these last 4 months, so I have a lot of stuff that has been piling up. This is one of those things, and when I am overwhelmed with lots of real work to do, I will amazingly find plenty of time to share the backlog of events here. However, this post is not as untimely as it seems because...

Terzo and I just got around to mounting his (vastly pared-down) collection a couple of weeks ago. He chose his favorite items (we let each kid bring home their favorites from the garage floor with a max of 50 items each; the rest were returned to the beach), looked up the items online and in field guides, typed labels, and glued them into the frame. Because we mounted them with hot glue, I did most of the gluing and he did all of the sticking for each item... but you get the idea.

He cannot wait until we paint his room this summer so that we can hang the display on his wall.

Good job, Terzo!

This was not only an excellent school project, btw (not that he thought of it as school; too much fun!). He also needed to mount a collection for display as a Cub Scout project. I love educational multitasking!

Monday, April 26, 2010


A few weeks ago, I decided that I needed to go out and take some pictures of our quince bush. Some people crave chocolate, I crave alone time taking photos... I haven't tried alone time + photos + chocolate, though. Hmmm... What was I talking about? Oh yeah, the quince bush. It gets some beautiful flowers and even has a pretty shelf fungus on it this year.

As I was crawling under, around, and in the bush, I noticed that the bush was humming. There were about 50 bees buzzing around the flowers collecting nectar. They were beautiful and preoccupied, so I figured that they wouldn't mind (i.e. sting me) if I hung around taking their pictures.

They were moving from flower to flower so quickly that I was just snapping picture after picture hoping something would come out. I stopped to check the digital display and see which angle's pictures were coming out the best so I could adjust as necessary, and I noticed three things: 1) the pictures were all fuzzy (I needed to focus on the more sedentary bees), 2) the pics were from too far away (I was going to have to get right on top of them to get a good picture), and 3) the bees had beautiful pollen sacs on their legs! I just had to get a good picture of the pollen sacs. I just had to. My life would not be complete without the perfect pollen sac picture. (Maybe I need to get out more? Nah.)

And guess what?

After about 20 minutes...

I got some...

Yay, me!

I rewarded myself with some hot tea. Because hot tea + alone time + photography + beautiful flowers + bees that don't sting me + the perfect pollen sac pic x4 = 1 happy me. I'm pretty easy to please. *grin*

Saturday, March 06, 2010


This is a cross-post from my other blog 11:36. (When you have problems keeping one blog updated, it is perfectly logical to begin a second one, right?) Enjoy!

My plan today was to be at the local Maker's Market selling. Then I found out that Primo had a rifle shoot scheduled, Secundo had a fencing lesson, and Terzo and Frodo had a camping trip scheduled... all when I was supposed to be at the market.


I told Primo she couldn't go to the shoot (she has two others scheduled this month), Secundo could go to fencing, and Frodo would take Terzo camping, and I would hold-down the fort at home and go for a walk at the walking park.


Primo and Secundo were invited to a sleepover. Their friends are moving out of state this summer, so I want them to spend as much time as possible together. This didn't change my plans too much, though. My house just became the kid-exchange rendezvous point for Saturday morning.


I get a call Saturday morning from sleepover mom that Secundo has a fever, so she is going to give her meds and let her rest until it's time to drop the girls off. This is quickly followed by a text from The Man's mom asking if Quarto is going to storytime with them today. (Quarto loves going to storytime with The Man, and The Man is moving this summer, too, so I follow the "hanging out with friends who are moving" philosophy and say he'll be ready to go in 20 minutes.)


I get another call from sleepover mom that they are on their way, but can Primo go to friend's little brother's soccer game with friend. I say yes. (See "Thennnnn...." #1) So she goes to the game (so I think... see below) and Secundo gets dropped-off and promptly falls asleep on the sofa. This results in my sending an email to the fencing instructor (can't find her phone number anywhere) letting her know that Secundo is sick and won't be at class. Quarto gets picked up for storytime. All is quiet.


Primo is dropped off by sleepover dad. She discovers new SpongeBob DVDs and disappears into my room (Secundo is still asleep in the living room) to watch them. (I got a call from sleepover mom about 20 minutes after Primo gets home apologizing for the miscommunication. Sleepover dad brought Primo straight home rather than to the soccer game. I thought that was a rather short game.) Then Quarto gets dropped off and quickly joins her.


I am not at the park walking (although I guess I could go now that Primo is home and Secundo is asleep and Quarto is fixated on the TV), and I am not at the Maker's Market as a browser (the seller ship has passed). I am instead listening to Saturday NPR (one of my favorite things to do) and folding laundry and getting ready to plant some seeds then head to the grocery store. Not the day I planned, but a good day. I like good days. And it can only get better when Frodo and Terzo come home... I miss them.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Fly on the Wall

After lunch, Quarto and The Man were in the bathroom washing their hands and had the following conversation:

The Man: Remember that time we weed an X?

Quarto: Yeah, that was funny!

The Man: Hey! Next time we both have to wee, let's do it again!

Quarto: Yeah! Okay!

Sigh. Boys.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Fly on the Wall

Quarto is fascinated with weather, so yesterday morning when I turned on the weather radio to listen to the forecast, it was not a surprise when Quarto appeared within seconds and became fixated on the forecast himself. He would share his thoughts on everything being said to anyone who happened to be within eye-shot and shouting distance. (He is testing out a new tone - indignation, so every one of his comments was seething with it.)

As I entered Quarto's sphere of communication, he turned to me and the following conversation ensued:

Weather Man: The following is a severe weather alert for east Arkansas, the ...

Quarto: [indignantly] There is no such state as Arkansas!

Me: [with shocked laughter] Yes there is.

Quarto: Really? I thought they were making that up.

Arkansas... a conspiracy of cartographers, apparently (to quote Rosencrantz... or Guildenstern).