First Week Back to School: 2010-2011 School Year & New Curriculum

Lots of random delightful learning this week ~ planned, unplanned and life. =)

First day highlights:
  • The first thing we did was harvest potatoes.

I was going to leave them in the ground a little longer (to keep cool), but the chickens got out and dug them all up. They made quite a mess with the hay ~ and as we were picking up the potatoes we found what they were after ~ worms and slugs!
We put all the small ones in a box between layers of newspaper for winter storage ~ these will be our seed potatoes for next year.

So we are off to a great start ~ this is real life. And home-school is life. =)


  • Cleaned and organized boxes and I handed out school supplies, materials and textbooks
  • Bible, Think of Me (a daily encouragement journal written for a sibling)
  • Language Arts
  • Put chickens away again

We thought they flew over the fence and were due for a wing clipping, but the bungee on the back fence broke.  Yes, we all have to run out to put the chickens away ~ but really they are easy to get back in. ;-)

  • Mali 5K
  • Mali and Elli: Row Carrot Seed {boys independent work}
  • Math
  • Science
  • Lunch
After lunch, I did "my school" with the boys.
  • Wormbin-ology 101
Remember E is for Earl the Earthworm? (Click to read all about our first adventure with earthworm composting). Well, I put Earl, and offspring outside, forgot about them and they froze. I was sad that I killed them, they were multiplying nicely. But the worm castings and organic matter made wonderful compost for my tomatoes.

This time, we bought a vermicomposting kit from Azure Standard with 1,000 red worms. Our intent is to have them to process our organic waste, produce fertilizer for our garden, feed the chickens. . . and the best part ~ the boys are staring their own home-school based business/project. They will sell worms for bait (and probably use a few themselves!). We will need to buy at least one more kit, but this was to get us started.

We covered set up, maintenance and worm feeding ~ so very simple.  They just have to keep the bin moist and feed the worms. To feed them, they dig a hole, put the worm food in, and cover it (to prevent flies). Worms don't like to be disturbed, so we bury the food in a new spot each time. 

  • All About Spelling orientation: Since I was not ready (all set up), our first day of AAS was "orientation." =) The kids separated the cards while I read to them. (Elli is doing Match It! Shape Shuffle at the table with us and Malachi is playing cars or army guys in the play room upstairs.)

(The older boys will cover levels 3 and 4 this first semester and I will start level 1 with Malachi next semester.)

Continuing on:
  • Nutrition 101: We read Unit 2 Intro, did an overview of Unit 2, planned the projects we would do, and made a shopping list
  • Read Aloud: My Side of the Mountain
  • Jordan worked @ the YMCA from 3-6 {Jordan's first "real" job!} This means we have to be done with school by 3:00 pm and Jordan has to get up early to take care of the yard and chickens. By our state law, at the age of 14, he can work 3 hours a day on a school day, or 18 hours in a school week, and not past 7:00 pm after Labor Day. He has been working with the maintenance department staining the fence and mending soccer nets (for Luke). Next week he will start working with Luke as a facilitator for Itty Bitty Soccer. I love that he will be working with his dad! =)
  • Made a special dinner for The Carrot Seed with Mali and Elli (will share about this in our B4FIAR post coming up).
It really was a great first day of school and taking time to do "orientation" and first day type of school stuff really saved the day! 

First week highlights:

New curriculum!

I have made a few changes to what we are doing:

AE Human A&P

Nathan and Dylan really wanted to do the next book in Apologia Elementary ~ Human Anatomy and Physiology. I ordered the book, the journals and bought the science supplies kit that goes with the book and I am so happy I made this choice investment! I love the high quality of the journals, the schedule in the front and love that all the supplies I need are on hand. Well worth the money for me.

Activity ~ make an edible cell:

The boys did a notebooking page and drew a diagram of a cell in their notebook . . .
and then we made an edible cell.

Elli and Mali's cells were square since we were rowing The Carrot Seed and plant cells are square. =)

I reviewed this for the Crew last year, but with the heavy load of review products I was not able to use it. This week we picked up where we left off with Unit 2 ~ the digestive system. The timing really was perfect with N&D studying A&P this year and Jordan covering life and the human body this year in General Science. We did Unit 2 Chapter 1 this week ~ one chapter a week/ two days a week will be perfect for us.

{Digestive System} Power Recipe ~ Raw Fruit Salad:

About half way through our week, we started rowing Blueberries for Sal ~ so this tied in perfectly! We also watched "Rainbow Salad" from our Signing Time video - Story Time Volume 1. We were all singing "Rainbow Salad is my favorite treat to eat" and even watched it again while we ate.  =)

Chapter 1 Activities:

(Working on a Salivation Experiment and seeing how much food our stomach can hold.)

Story of the World:

I was so overwhelmed with trying to tie Biblical History in with what was going on with the rest of the world that I decided to keep them separate {somewhat}. We will continue with History Revealed and Grapevine's OT Overview, but we will use SOTW and make this SOTW lapbook to go along with.  We started this towards the end of the year, so this week we reviewed chapter 1-4 (listened to them on CD) and got caught up in the lapbook ~ which honestly, wasn't hard because this is a very easy, kid friendly {for those who don't LOVE lapbooks} lapbook!

Bible History:
  • Grapevine: Lesson 22 ~ Ruth
  • Victor Journey Through the Bible ~ The Story of Ruth

My Side of the Mountain:

This is our current read-aloud and we are doing some hands on activities to go along with the book. We are using Woodsman and His Hatchet: Eighty Years on Back Country Survival as a companion book. The boys all read the book over the Summer and I bought them each a new hatchet once they finished it. The hatchet is one of the most important back-country survival tools ~ and we were happy to see that Sam brought a hatchet (small ax) with him when he ran away to the Catskill Mountains. Woodsman and his Hatchet is about survival in the mountains in Montana, which is a much more practical book for us!

We read chapters 1-5 and our activity was to try a new edible plant.

I grow borage (to attract bees) in my garden, but I have never harvested it. We read in our Rodale's Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs, that borage leaves, stems and flowers taste like cucumber. The leaves should be harvested when young, otherwise they are fuzzy/prickly. Ours were fuzzy and prickly but we tried them anyways. :D They do taste like cucumber! Borage is grown for its medicinal value, but the seed is what is used for medicine. {I do not intend to harvest the seed} The cool thing is that borage will naturally reseed itself ~ this plant came up from last year! I pulled several plants this Spring not knowing what they were, but decided to let one grow to find out ~ glad I did. =) 

I also grow nasturtium. I started growing this a couple years ago because it is edible and pretty, but have never harvested it. We took a sample to taste and it tastes just like the book says ~ peppery. The younger leaves are less spicy. The nasturtium flowers are edible and spicy too. The leaves would be good in a creamed potato soup. 

Mali's 5K:

Malachi begins his official 5K year ~ we will continue with what we started in the Spring. (We made it 3 weeks into his 5K year, but I will start over counting).

(Working on finishing up his Kumon math book)

We did the first lesson in Writing Strands 1. This is an oral language manual with fun activities to encourage oral language development.

The first lesson is called "Making Up Words." In this activity, we invented new words that we could use in place of familiar objects. 

Here is a few that we came up with:
  • crayon --- color writer
  • chair --- bottom holder
  • desk --- think harder (loved this one!)
  • calender --- date holder
Tot School:

I do not normally blog all that we do in a week ~ I was partially up for that challenge since this is our first week back to school and I took a lot more pictures than usual. Usually, if it ties in with our B4FIAR lesson, I include it ~ otherwise, I don't for time's sake. Below is how Elli stayed occupied during school time this week (when she wasn't playing outside, doing a planned activity or playing with her dollies). 

She and Malachi both love to do the Kumon cut and paste, color and paste, sticker and paste, mazes and tracing books.  They have 6 books total and I have kept them high on a shelf over the Summer just for this reason! They are convenient for keeping little hands busy with fine motor skill activities. 

Elli initiated the puzzle time ~ she did a couple Melissa and Doug puzzles like this one and we reviewed the shapes in the puzzle. She did a color one, too.

All of our other activities focused on our B4FIAR books: The Carrot Seed and then Blueberries For Sal. 


Well, as I mentioned in my last post, I decided that life will go on even when school starts. . . and it did. We canned nectarines this week.  {We also made blueberry jam for B4}

We will not do a raw pack next time. We did not get all the air bubbles out of them. But they taste so yummy blended in the blender with a container of plain yogurt.

We also dehydrated more zucchini . . .

. . . and harvested our first buttercup squash. I baked it upside down in a pan with some water and then turned it over, filled it will butter, brown sugar and cinnamon. Even Dylan {Mr. Won't Eat Veggies/Fruits} liked it! It should have been dessert instead of a side dish. =)

In the Scriptures:

I am doing my own version of the B90 challenge ~ using the Scriptures version from the Institute for Scripture Research. It is a literal translation with the restored name of God, and uses the Hebrew names.  Anyways, I was 13 days ahead in the challenge starting this school week and I am so glad because I only managed to read an average of 2 chapters a day this week putting me at day 65 of the readings on day 57 of the challenge (so still technically ahead where I need to be to feel that I can do this). Luke is on day 53 in the readings and is moving up fast behind me! Nathan is on day 30. =)


Looking at our "school room", I can see that there are still several things that I wanted to get done before school started, but they will get done soon enough and we still had a wonderful week of learning together. I am so blessed to be able to homeschool my children and appreciate every minute that I have with all of them ~ even when, especially when everything is not "perfect!"

Delightful Links:

The Feast of Trumpets {Ideas for Little Ones}


  1. Monica @ Family Fun NotebookAugust 28, 2010 at 6:38 PM

    Thanks for sharing your week. It's really interesting for me to see what a homeschool week might look like, since my children are young and I'm just starting to think about homeschooling. It looks like a great week...I'm tired just reading about it, but I also kept thinking how lucky your children are to have such an amazing home and school!
    Also, I like your B4FIAR posts, since we're starting B4FIAR ourselves. We took a bus trip for Big Green Pocketbook last spring and my 2 1/2 year old is still talking about it. I love the wonderful memories we are making because of B4FIAR.

  2. Wow!! You guys have been busy! Awesome stuff!

  3. I love seeing what you are doing...always inspiring! Keep up the good work!

  4. Inspiring indeed, but you always are :D
    What a wonderful first week. I pray Abba bless your upcoming weeks with more delightful learning.

    Love to you, my friend!

  5. I loved reading about your first week!! You guys did so many great activities. I just love the way real life is part of homeschooling and our kids get to experience that with us. Oh yeah, we LOVE the signing time videos as well!

  6. Wow, can we come play! You are one busy lady and looks great what you are doing. By the way what is in the top of your dehydrated jars? Thanks, Karen
    Sippy Cup Central Mom

  7. Wow, you've been busy! You got a lot done too! I haven't done so well in taking pictures our first couple of weeks. Hopefully I'll improve, but we'll see.

    I enjoy reading about all that y'all are doing!


  8. Thank you Monica! I love the weekly highlights because often I look back and wonder what we did all week! I am wondering that about *this* week!

    I am looking forward to reading your blog and seeing all that you do. :-) Thanks for stopping by!

  9. :-)

    Karen, those are oxygen absorbers to keep the zucchini fresh. I use new canning jar lids and the O2 absorbers seal the jars after sucking the O2 out. :-)

  10. Thank you! I think real life makes "schooling" so real. :-)

  11. Thank you, Leslie!

    & If I don't photograph it, I forget! It helps me to know that I have been productive, I guess. Otherwise, I wonder what we do all week.