Painted lady butterflies!

We ordered some caterpillars and watched them form their chrysalides and our first of five emerged this afternoon! Lily colored a journal (as a homeschool assignment, I feel bad she didn’t really like doing it) and it’s been amazing to watching this metamorphosis literally in front of our eyes.






She can sew!

Lily has been dying to sew on the machine for such a long time and I finally realized that putting the pedal on the ottoman under the desk means she can do it all (mostly) herself! She started practicing without thread just punching lines on paper, and then she made two pillows–one felt, one jersey knit. I only had to help with going in reverse to lock the stitches…she operated the presser foot, wheel, and pedal all by herself. The lines weren’t always the straightest but she trimmed the edges of the fabric where needed afterward ūüôā We went to the fabric store this afternoon and she made two more fleece pillows–one My Little Pony for herself and one with flowers for her grandma.






I’ve happened across Project Based Homeschooling¬†(PBH) on and off for quite a while now. Things seem to pop up on Pinterest, Facebook, and it always sounds so appealing.

In spite of my thorough list that I recently posted, truth be told I have no idea what I’m doing, and I feel like that’s mostly okay. We don’t “do school” as much as that list would have anyone think, and I’m 95% okay with that seeing as she’s only 5 years old and in her “kindergarten” year of homeschooling, and 5% of me is all what-if-we-don’t-set-good-habits-now-how-will-she-ever-learn.

We keep busy a lot with activities, but this summer I’ve seemed to really see the value in being home with unstructured time. Then PBH popped up again and again and it sparked an interest.

Now, I’m not looking to subscribe strictly to a philosophy here, but I feel like there’s a lot Lily can gain from some of what PBH outlines. For starters: make materials available and accessible¬†for projects. Duh. But really, every time I clean up our craft supplies and clear out her desk, suddenly she’s content to work for hours creatively. Surprise.

The next thing I need to get better at is letting her take the initiative with her work while simultaneously mentoring her…somehow. This is the bit that’s going to take the most effort¬†on my part. I’m 3/4 of the way through the book and I’m hoping I’ll hit a moment of clarity here with how to discover her deep interests and how to guide her through exploring them deeply.

So far, in my most recent paying attention to her interests, she decided to make a pouch and target for her bow and arrow. Version one of the target was way too much of me and way too little of her. The pouch I really had to hand-over-hand with her because she insisted it be sewn on the machine.


Version two happened when I got a nice plain box as part of a USPS shipment and I left it for her with the suggestion that maybe she’d like to “do something with it.” She quickly set to turning it into a target of her own design, and I was only summoned to help with one cut through the thick cardboard.


This evening I tossed an empty egg carton her way, and she started to work with it (not sure with what goal in mind), and then swapped it out for a selection of cardboard boxes from the recycling bin, finally settling on the smallest one, which was appropriately to scale for some of her small dolls.


She set to work taping up the flaps, making¬†a door (which she made me cut out), a garage door, two windows, and some eaves, all of which she taped on to her liking, and then played with her dolls for a bit inside the box before bed. She has some ideas for interior things too. Maybe tomorrow. Also, we’ve set up paper to jot down desired supplies (like double-sided tape) and places she’d like to go (like the local art gallery). Hopefully those ideas pan out too.

I’m working hard on stepping back, but it’s hard when she’s calling me in for help a lot. I try to ask things like “how do you think you might be able to ____?” instead of only offering suggestions straight away. Hopefully we’re making tiny baby steps toward more self sufficiency instead of frustration.

Sweet Squeak

He’s such a joy to have around!




Kindergarten, fall 2014

I’m writing this in August, so there’s a bit of projecting here.

In general, I’m¬†trying to make more of an accessible environment for creating for her. She has her desk set up with materials that she works at independently and can leave projects there to be on-going, though she tends to¬†work for an extended period all in one sitting and then not touch a project again the next day(s). Then after a few days of it going untouched I’ll straighten up her desk area and make her materials more appealing again and she’s back at it, creating away. I also cleaned up the cabinet in the dining room which has even more craft supplies in it. That makes a lot more materials accessible to her without help, and she can go and created whenever she wants. I’m trying to take ideas from Project-Based Homeschooling¬†and make them work for us.


She began reading pretty fluently a few months ago and now devours level 1 and level 2 books on a very regular basis. She completed the library’s summer reading program with 90% of her own reading, though I do still read aloud to her too. I’m not doing anything formal here other than allowing her unlimited access to books at home and from the library!

(Note for my own records: –¬†As of August 2, 2014 she can read up to the 3.8 level, or complete grade¬†2 using these assessments.)

September edit: We’ve added Explode The Code Online to things that we do together on the computer occasionally. I’d like to aim for using it at least once¬†weekly as a goal, not because she needs help reading, but because I think it will help her understand the mechanics and structure of words for spelling. She likes it enough now that I set the level to “book 3” (she was super bored on “book 1” and didn’t like it at all).


Handwriting Without Tears, My Printing Book РThis is technically the first grade level, though she has completed the K level book and a goal of mine for her this year is to work on printing with proper upper/lowercase and punctuation, so this is the perfect book for that. She can do a page independently for her work too with this, which is nice!

I¬†have picked up Brave Writer – Jot It Down¬†and have begun to implement some of the “brave writer lifestyle” routines such as Tuesday Teatime with poetry, and we plan to work through recreating and retelling some fairy tales, me taking down her story dictations, etc. So far she LOVES Tuesday Teatime.


Math U See, Alpha¬†– We briefly attempted Math Mammoth 1A over summer, but she was not impressed with the overwhelming amount of work on every page, the variety of ways the topics were presented, or the lack of integrated manipulatives. We went back to Math U See and she’s loving it still. I find that Alpha has a bit more review than Primer did, so I’m not so hesitant to continue with the program for now.

In this past week we also discovered Khan Academy¬†which I am really quite impressed with, especially considering it’s free. She likes doing the work on the computer much more than sitting down at the table and working through a workbook, and the subjects are much more varied than Math U See. We might just end up sticking with this as our math for now. September edit: Yes, we have all but ditched Math U See in favor of Khan Academy. I really like the variety of math subjects it presents. I’m contemplating finding a print material that complements it, but I also don’t want to mess up a good thing since she likes it so much.


I picked up a few Magic School Bus science kits at the local thrift store for a steal (brand new in package!) and she devoured them. She loved both the one on volcanoes and the one about electricity. I have a few more on her wishlist that we’re likely to pick up and have some fun with too.

She plays with Snap Circuits a lot. We recently raised caterpillars and watched them change into butterflies, and she wants to do that again, as well as observe some other insects and release them. I picked up a monthly subscription to which she is really into as well. Some of the activities are a bit beyond her, but I just let her roam around freely there so she’s able to “skip” whatever she feels like. She’s also REALLY into the videos about how the human body works on


HOUSE is¬†also offering¬†twice monthly art classes again this year, organized by a different group mom than last year. It will be in the “meet the masters” style again with learning about artists and then doing a project in the style of that artist.


I plan to integrate a little history with HOUSE’s monthly Culture Club this year, but otherwise we will continue dabbling in living history books from the library and just talking about topics as they come up in conversation.


Lily has decided to enroll in ballet all “school year” after a 6-week trial run over summer. She loved her teacher, Miss Maggie, and I feel like dance class plays a dual role in both music and…

Physical Education

So ballet fills a spot with physical education as well. We will enroll in open gym through the park district again for weekly 2 hours of gymnasium and/or indoor soccer turf access. She also decided she wanted to take swim lessons at the local (super expensive, but also super amazingly awesome) swim school, so we’re doing at least a month of that, hopefully a few, so she gets confident in the water.


We still have a membership to¬†¬†and will likely renew it; her favorite parts of the website are the sing-along songs and the read-aloud books. As part of HOUSE there will also be a¬†Curiosity Hacked Guild¬†forming which will focus on¬†STEAM centered projects and skills (science, technology, engineering, arts, mathematics). We’re strongly considering joining a Girl Scouts Daisy troop and are waiting to hear about the local¬†availability, or alternatively there’s a 4H club starting up with fellow homeschoolers. Other HOUSE activities include monthly Culture Club, book club, nature classes, and parties (like roller skating, bowling, miniature golf, etc.). We’re definitely not bored!


Summer has been so perfect and summery. I feel like we’ve been unintentionally checking off a summer bucket list…






And most recently AND most excitedly, our newest member of the family, Squeak!