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Thread: Roll Call, 1/27

  1. #1

    Default Roll Call, 1/27

    PLEASE tell me how warm it is where you are!! Some of us in the middle of the country are bracing for extreme cold...wind chills anywhere from -30 to -60!! I think I should just try to figure out how to hibernate and come out when it is all over.

    To change the topic, it's time once again to hear how things are going for you. What did you start this year that is working phenomenally well? What turned out to be lemon? This can be educational, personal, home routine-related, meal prep...... Tell us why. It's always helpful to hear what works and doesn't work for others.

    I'll start. The homeschool physics class I've been doing this year is just not turning out the way I wanted. I think my expectations were too high? So I've been dialing back the difficulty. Also, it is just hard to do everything I want to in a 2-hour session per week--new content, review old content, do labs.

    On the other hand, I think the geometry and algebra 1 classes are going really well. Even though I've been teaching in some form or another for almost 30 years, I still find new ways to explain things that seem to click with the students. It's so fun to see the gears turning and then the look on their faces that say "I got it!!"

    So, what's working, what's not?

    Homeschooled two kids for 11 years, now trying to pay it forward

    Daughter -- a University of Iowa graduate: BA in English with Creative Writing, BA in Journalism, and a minor in Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies

    Son -- a Purdue University senior majoring in Computer Science, minoring in math, geology, anthropology, and history

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  3. #2


    We have a week of 75–80 įF coming up for the last week of the school holidays. I don't know how you managed in those temps. I cannot imagine being in an environment that cold. The coldest of the cold here in winter is usually around 28 įF.

    As we have not started our school year yet, I don't have much to say for what is/isn't working for school. Life wise, everything just feels a bit blah at the moment. Not looking forward to DD5 going back to school next week. She is still very enamored with the whole thing and has started saying things like art is better at school, math is better at school etc., which is so is not as I have seen the quality and quantity of what she has done for those at school. DD10 is being a tyrant and screaming/yelling/rampaging round the house whenever she feels slightly put out by something. I would love to send her to therapy but a) not sure it would help and b) its so blooming expensive (in USD: $260 for an initial appt and $120 per appt after that). But I am so tired of her making all our lives miserable with her attitude.

    On a positive note, I got to go on an Icelandic horse ride at the weekend. I have always wanted to ride one and it was so fun. They are such strong and sweet little horses. And their extra gait (tolt, like a running walk) is great to ride.
    Last edited by NZ_Mama; 01-27-2019 at 03:16 PM.
    New Zealand-based freelance science copyeditor. Homeschooling DD 11 (year 7) and DD 6 (year 2).

  4. #3
    Senior Member Arrived RTB's Avatar
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    Feb 2012


    Oh my - that is so cold. Stay warm! The weather people say it is going to be in the mid-50s and sunny here next week.

    We are having a pretty good homeschool year -

    What is working:
    Using CNN 10 to take notes is helping DS focus on the main point of a story and write quickly at the same time. DS is getting much better at short answer questions - we've been using The Article of the Day by New York Times, short stories, and a monthly movie as literature for this. DH being in charge of math, it frees me up to focus on all the other things. The kids love using Khan, but are not so hot on the other curriculum we incorporate from Arbor Center for Teaching (Jousting Armadillos and such). However, DH feels it is well written and important, so it stays. WriteShop (not secular) has been a big win for us this year - both kids enjoy it and their writing has improved (we just ignore the religious stuff). Then, finally, Logic of English . . . this has been by far the best curriculum we've used in our homeschool. It is tedious, but the results have been well worth it. Both kids, despite not liking it have chosen to stay with it (when I've offered them the choice) because they have seen what a difference it has made in their reading / spelling ability. Finally, letting the kids read whatever they want this year vs. assigned reading. I know that DS and I will have to meet in the middle once high school starts, but for now it has been great.

    What is not:
    History. I've been using A History of US by Hakim. Love the books, but this is the 'it's not you, it's me' resource of the year. I'm not sure what to do to bring the information to life - the teacher guides were less than inspiring.

    What we need:
    WriteShop stresses the importance of self editing - and I'd like to see DS get even better at this. DS needs to also work on his outlining skills. I'd like to have DD begin working on longer dictation passages. I need to work on getting DD more to do. She is my hard to homeschool kid - smart but argues everything. I'd like to get her day more organized and get her a bit more used to sitting down and focusing.

    Have a lovely week all!
    DS 14, DD 12
    Year 8

  5. #4
    Senior Member Enlightened
    Join Date
    Apr 2018


    The weather has been a bit weird lately. We had about an entire week of heavy rain and now temps are in the mid 70s to maybe 80s? I do see some really rich soil in the yard though, so I never complain about rain.

    What's been working: We're reading the Childhood of Famous Americans series, starting with George and Martha Washington. It's a very good series and brings history to life. I learned all sorts of incidental facts about colonial life that I wouldn't have known otherwise. For example, boys wore dresses and petticoats till they were deemed old enough to wear breeches, from ages 2-9. It has to do with being able to undo the ties to use the bathroom. We are tying this in with practice with cursive, abbreviations, memory work and discussion of when territories were ratified into states. This coming week, we're going to experiment with making natural dyes, dyeing fabrics and making quill pens. We'll probably find ourselves baking some Colonial bread.

    We've also done some artwork on canvas with acrylic paint and melted crayons, which DS really enjoyed. So I'm going to try to incorporate more art.

    What's not working: I think it still takes me much too long to get through a school day. We start late morning and finish late afternoon. I've been lax about writing down what we do each day and the academic stuff like math and writing just feels like a drag. And my house and garden are still a mess....
    Homeschooling an only, DS10

    Trains move quickly
    To their journey's end

    Are where we begin again

  6. #5


    Roll Call, 1/27
    Here is some Icelandic horse cuteness from the weekend.

    New Zealand-based freelance science copyeditor. Homeschooling DD 11 (year 7) and DD 6 (year 2).

  7. #6


    I love these Roll Call threads. I learn so much--Icelandic horses, colonial boys and petticoats. You all have such varied lives!

    Homeschooled two kids for 11 years, now trying to pay it forward

    Daughter -- a University of Iowa graduate: BA in English with Creative Writing, BA in Journalism, and a minor in Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies

    Son -- a Purdue University senior majoring in Computer Science, minoring in math, geology, anthropology, and history

  8. #7


    Icelandic horses are quite cool to learn about as a history project if anyone is ever doing that country or region of the world. They go back to the viking age, and because of import restrictions, they have been a pure breed for >1000 years.
    New Zealand-based freelance science copyeditor. Homeschooling DD 11 (year 7) and DD 6 (year 2).

  9. #8


    So warm here, the sliding door has been open all day! The cat spent the day sleeping on one of our patio chairs, because it was a nice warm spot for her.

    I like roll call too!

    RTB Im totally stealing your use of CNN10! We are trudging through Hakimís History of Science, at least BYL gives it A LOT of supplementation.

    NZ - I didnt know Icelandics tolted too! I guess when the Norwegian Fjord (the horses, not the geological features) settled in Iceland, they passed on the traits to their smaller descendants?

    What isnt working? Reading programs for DS6. EtC was too much writing for DS. AAR was too much busywork for me. The charter recommended Reading Horizons online (so he wouldnt have to talk), but that isnt working well, either. We had our best luck reading the (free) Progressive Phonics together, and now I am just reading the AAR readers with him - and skipping the rest of the program. Poor kid, hes been ready to learn everything, just none of the programs have been right for him.

    This week Im going to try offering zucchini noodles with a pesto dinner, and quinoa alongside rice to try boosting DHs veggie consumption and reducing our simple carb consumption. If the white starch is used just as a way to get more sauce, Im hoping he will find the healthier alternative just as palatable. (Im still dubious about quinoa in general.)
    Homeschooling DS13, DS6.


    My spelling was fine, then my brain left me.

  10. #9


    AM – I don't know much about the different horse/pony breeds of that region (just that they are super cute and I want to try riding them all ). But your comment made me want to read more about them as its all so interesting! Maybe the Icelandic came before the Fjord for the gait (no idea about the breed)? (and I did not know other horses tolted as from what I have read its mainly an Icelandic thing but that is from Icelandic breeders/owners/websites so may have an Icelandic bias). Anyway, I found this article linked from wiki, which says "Here, we examine historic horse remains for the DMRT3 SNP, tracking the origin of gaitedness to Medieval England between 850 and 900 AD. The presence of the corresponding allele in Icelandic horses (9th–11th century) strongly suggests that ambling horses were brought from the British Isles to Iceland by Norse people...The absence of the allele in samples from continental Europe (including Scandinavia) at this time implies that ambling horses may have spread from Iceland and maybe also the British Isles across the continent at a later date."
    New Zealand-based freelance science copyeditor. Homeschooling DD 11 (year 7) and DD 6 (year 2).

  11. #10


    50-ish degrees during the day and upper 20's at night but there is still snow and ice on the top of the mountain. We live at the base of the mountain and took a drive to the top last week. I think the milder weather is quite nice and a change from the bitingly cold wind we had the last couple of weeks. We've had a very mild winter this year... we are going to be swarming with mosquitoes this summer if we don't get a good hard snow, sigh.

    NZ_Mama - Ds(6) is a horse lover and has been since he was a toddler. He got to ride his first horse just before his birthday this month and is now begging to start riding lessons but finding someone around here with a riding stable has proven tough. He thought your picture of the Icelandic horse was amazing and wanted me to print it out to put on his wall of horse pictures lol!

    What's working:

    Logic of English Foundations is hands down my new favorite reading and spelling curriculum for early elementary school. It is everything I tried to do with Spell To Write and Read and felt like I failed at making it fun for my older kids. It is so easy to make the lessons in Foundations as involved or as simple as you want. I have been keeping it very simple and ds still loves it! Some of the most simple and seemingly boring games to me end up being the ones that ds asks to play over and over, even outside of school work sometimes. I have only been buying the pdf version of the teacher manual and workbook for each level as I need them so it is only costing me about $50 for each level. I use the tablet or my computer to read the teacher manual and only print off workbook pages as needed. Sometimes I just have ds point on the computer screen if the workbook page is just about finding a picture that matches as sound I give him. Rather than buying the whole (expensive) kit, I made my own phonogram cards which we also use for game cards and I made tactile cards. We also just use the lined dry erase boards that we already had . Oh and I made our own magnetic phonogram tiles that I keep in a divided craft box rather than on the board AAS style (I always hated trying to keep them straight on the board when we tried AAS) He is making great progress with learning to read and write and I love that I can spread a lesson out over several days if needed so if he is having an "I'm allergic to pencils" kind of day, I can just do other parts of the lesson and save the writing portion for when he is more cooperative. I just really cannot say enough good things about it.

    HP Instant Ink has been life changing for us. We have the $10 per month plan and it is more than enough to print whatever we want whenever we want. I can print in full color and best quality without worrying about running out of ink. It really does work just as advertised, they always make sure we have new cartridges ready and waiting and send us new ones immediately so we always have one set of cartridges in waiting. So for $120 a year (which was about 2 sets of cartridges when we bought them at the store) we have as many cartridges as need.

    Dh and I watched a few episodes of Marie Kondo on Netflix and I started folding our clothes Konmari style and that has been awesome as well. Clothes are actually getting put away now which is a huge change. We were often getting clothes out of Mount Clean Laundry but now all of the clothes actually fit in the dresser drawers! I'm not a convert to all of her ways but the clothes folding tips certainly helped out a lot.

    What's not working:

    Torchlight has become a bust here for us. I think we will just be picking and choosing from the booklists from here on out. I still use some of the ideas from it but I'm glad we didn't fully invest in all the books and we were able to get many of them from the library because there were quite a few that just didn't catch ds's interest like I hoped they would. I think the strong emphasis on female protagonists (which I was a little weary of from the start) was a bit much, I would have liked to see more of a mix of male and female and the emphasis on social justice was a bit over ds's head at times. We will still pull ideas from the book lists in the future but I don't think we will continue with it as our main curriculum.

    Not really a "not working" but more of a not working as well as we had hoped, dh's intercranial hypertension was only relieved for about 2 weeks after his spinal tap and now he is in pain again. We don't see the university doctors again for another 3 weeks but luckily, his pcp was willing to prescribe him the first line drug for his condition so while it doesn't seem to be helping him at all (not to mention the side effects are making him even more miserable), we can say "we already tried that" when we see the university doctors and hopefully we can move on to the next step which will probably be more spinal taps. We are hoping by this summer they will be ready to say he needs a brain shunt. That sounds weird to say that we are hoping they will suggest brain surgery but as quickly as the pressure went back up, we are really thinking that is his only option for long term relief.
    Last edited by MapleHillAcademy; 01-29-2019 at 06:43 AM.

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Roll Call, 1/27