Homeschooling, fall 2018, age 9.5



Our local co-op has placed her in the upper elementary level which does a lot of work in preparation for moving to the much more independent intermediate (middle school) grade levels. I know she was frustrated last year by the behavior of some of the younger kids; I hope that by being on the young end of the upper elementary age group will help alleviate that this school year.

By utilizing this reading level assessment she currently misses one or two words in grade levels 7 through 11. I think that shows the room for error in that sort of assessment…but by observing my kid she eagerly reads middle grade fiction as well as enjoys reading our local newspaper when it arrives in the mail. I have no concerns for her reading or comprehension abilities.


She will also be participating in the upper elementary level writing class in our local co-op. I do not know how their structure differs from lower elementary–I will update when I do!

Lily utilizes ofte to write fiction, share it with friends, and read her friends’ published pieces as well. It’s been a great addition to her creative writing at home.


We plan to continue using Khan Academy online for our math curriculum. She is starting the school year with 39% of 4th grade complete. We’ve been working on memorizing skip counting with different numbers…4 sung to “Dashing Through the Snow,” 7 sung to “Happy Birthday.” She can do 1, 2, 3, 5, and 10 already. 9 she uses the finger trick.


We are trialing a free membership to Mystery Science and plan to explore that throughout the school year, sometimes to compliment her Junior Naturalist projects, or just to dive into any subject she desires. I like keeping science inquiry-based.



We began reading Joy Hakim’s “History of US” for United States history and will continue with that this school year.


She continues to take violin lessons and is toward the end of Suzuki book 2. She also just upgraded to a 1/2 size violin! She plucks around independently on guitar, ukulele, and piano sometimes as well.

The homeschool Chicago Children’s Choir is continuing this year and she will be rejoining. It was such an excellent addition to all of our lives last year and I am very excited for it to continue, as is she!

Physical Education

Her focus and technical ability with rock climbing has really increased lately. I’m curious if she would enjoy joining the gym’s youth team or competing, but



Homeschooling, spring 2018, age 9


Lily continues to read for pleasure continuously, largely while we drive (which is often). The co-op has been continuing with Jr. Great Books and using the 3rd grade level, which is still good practice for her to analyze literature in a more formal setting with peers and a teacher.


She has weekly writing homework from her co-op that includes creative writing (anything goes–fiction, poetry, etc.), as well as formal writing by creating an outline and then a paragraph from that outline.


We’ve been using Khan Academy daily. She has been working the 3rd grade level quickly and is nearly done with it.


We’ve been continuing to dabble in Real Science Odyssey’s Chemistry. She also continues with lots of natural science in her life–nature class with our homeschool group, as well as participating in the local nature center’s Jr. Naturalist program.


Co-op includes a hands-on art class (which is a lot of craft-type projects), and she likes drawing and crafting miniature things for her toys at home.


We’ve been reading some historical fiction together and she occasionally still listens to her Story of the World audio books.


She continues to play violin and is in the second Suzuki book. She also LOVES the homeschool Chicago Children’s Choir that she joined this year! It’s a phenomenal group lead by an amazing instructor. I feel so lucky to have found it!

Physical Education

Continuing with musical and physical–ballet! She also takes gymnastics classes through the park district. On top of that she loves to go wall climbing at the indoor gym with the whole family.


Another year of Girl Scouts continues with the local grade school troop! Plus the random extra activity thrown in with the local homeschool group–ice skating, mini golfing, field trips, etc.

Triangle baby quilt from 5 fat quarters

I have a dear friend whose sister is due with a baby this summer, and since no other babies are getting born that are close enough to me, I am totally sewing for this new baby.

I didn’t have a lot to go on for colors and fabrics from the mom-to-be, but then the genius idea struck to stalk her registry, and as it turns out she likes greys and blues. Then I hemmed and hawed for FOREVER picking these 5 fat quarters out, and I knew I couldn’t possibly add a single other fabric into the fold, so 5 fat quarters it is.

Screen Shot 2017-04-12 at 10.20.43 AM

Finished size: Approximately 31″ x 43″

To make this quilt…

5 unique fat quarters
1/4 inch foot
ruler with 60 degree mark
rotary cutter and mat

Lay out one fat quarter and mark 4 lines going the length (20″ side) spaced 5 7/8″ apart.

Mark the diagonal lines using your 60 degree mark on your ruler making the sides of each triangle measure 6 3/4″.

Screen Shot 2017-04-10 at 11.32.14 AM

There is very little wiggle room on a fat quarter, but measure and mark carefully and you will get a total of 15 whole triangles and 6 half triangles.

Carefully stack all 5 fat quarters (putting your marked one on top) and cut out all the pieces using a rotary cutter and a fresh blade.

Lay out the triangles in 8 rows. Each row will have 9 whole triangles and 2 half triangles (at each end).

Screen Shot 2017-04-10 at 11.35.23 AM

Play with the arrangement until you like the look!


Sew together each row, pressing seams open, and being careful to line up points as you go. Use the pin trick from See Kate Sew to line up your points!


I haven’t finished piecing mine yet, but I needed to get all these numbers out of my head and somewhere to stay for reference 🙂

LEGO Snapology gator giveaway

As a homeschooling mom I’m always looking for more ways to make learning fun. That was such a cheesy sentence. Let me try again. As a homeschooling mom I’m always looking for more ways to consider the fun stuff in life as educationally valuable. Now that’s better! Kids are learning all the time. Really!

I used to think that was only true when Lily was little and she so obviously absorbed everything in the world around her simply through playing. But now as an 8 year old (OMG EIGHT) I still see how amazing play is for her every day. Sure we do some academic stuff during our homeschooling weeks, but there is so much more to learning in life than curriculum. Playing that board game? Writing in that diary? Playing with those LEGOS? All count toward “schooling?” Heck yes!

I love laying down a strong STEM base for her. We all know how important it is to encourage science and math in our girls, and LEGO sets like this one certainly help. And now I’m so exciting to learn that places like Snapology are popping up all over to offer hands-on learning experiences for kids!

I am also so lucky to be able to give away a LEGO® brick set of the Snapology mascot Sebastian Gator!


snapology, snapology gator, legos snapology, lego snapology, stem legos, kids, kids birthday, kids learning, kids legos

Note: this set is recommended for ages 6+. This giveaway is a partnership with Nakturnal.

Want to win a LEGO gator?

To enter this giveaway simply comment on this blog post!

Want an extra entry? Share on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook (and come back here and comment with a link of proof) to gain additional entries!

I will choose a winner at random on April 10th!

Year-long knitting

As the new year approaches I find myself thinking of year-long projects to start and (hope) to finish throughout the whole year of 2017. In my searching I happened across the Year in Temperatures and Knit the Sky projects. I thought (and over thought) about how to do these. I just love the conceptual idea of knitting the sky, one row a day, and adding a rainbow in when I see a real-life rainbow. But that would require also having an entire rainbow of compatible yarn on hand. And if I was going to have an entire rainbow anyway I might as well knit the weather as well!

So, I am!

Rebecca and I have decided to knit the weather together–her in Colorado after her January move and me in Illinois. It should be a neat way to compare the differences. I’ve purchased my yarn from Knit Picks and am eagerly await its arrival.

Here are the colors for the temperatures…


And here are the colors I chose for the sky…


Both projects will require just one row per day. So far I’ve been picturing a simple stockinette tube with the strands run up the middle and then likely kitchener joining it to be round like a super-sized cowl. That way I won’t have to weave in 365 loose ends, which I would very much like to avoid.

For the sky I will simply observe during my day and pick what I deem the best choice. For the temperature I’ve organized the colors in 10F degree  increments. If you’re joining, please feel free to adjust to your area’s climate!


I also anticipate falling behind, because that’s easy to have happen, especially on a long term project such as this. So I have created a one-page print out of a whole year calendar that can be used to document one or both projects in order to more easily play catch-up.

One project, row per date:


Both projects, two rows per date:


We would love it if you joined us on this knit-a-long! Or get creative! I’ve seen blankets done with this concept, even cross-stitch! I love that there can be so many variations of the same theme–observing and documenting the year.

Homeschooling, fall 2016, age 7.5



I still don’t touch this formally as she is an avid reader. She enjoys a variety of reading levels, from “too easy” for her ability to well beyond what I would ever imagine her reading and comprehending.

Once again we briefly used this “reading level assessment” and she could get through the 6th grade words easily and hung up in the 7th grade lists. Her compressension has tested around mid-3rd grade.



I’m trying to get better at adopting the Bravewriter lifestyle again for our family. Tuesday Teatime is difficult to remember; maybe we’ll do it as a family after dinner instead. Her handwriting is still tediously slow which means she prefers to dictate to me which I’m trying to feel more positive about because I’m pretty sure the more confident independent writing will come with time. Lily will also attend weekly homeschool classes again held by a group of families at our local library. This includes a writing class where she completes assignments in class and at home each week. She did well with this class last year!



We have found that Math in Focus is a good fit for her! It is Singapore-style math workbooks and we completed 2A and a lot of 2B over summer. Conceptually she’s ready to advance more but the computations and memorization aren’t quite there, so we’re going to circle around with some review and introducing concepts through stories like Sir Cumference and activities like Family Math. We also play math games such as Clumsy Thief and Mobi Max. I’m trying to convince her that memorizing her math facts will make those games easier 🙂



Science-y stuff continues to happen informally and happily. Nature class with our homeschool group is a great exposure to a lot of things, as well as being a part of the Jr. Naturalist program at our local nature center. We have also begun to slowly work through REAL Science Odyssey, Life as a more formal curriculum.




An art class is also included in our weekly gatherings at the library, and they vary from painting to drawing to repurposing recyclables. She also enjoys crafting a lot of miniatures for her dolls for play, as well as drawing along with the Art Hub for Kids YouTube videos.



Story of the World Volume 1 on audiobooks is still a hit, and I have also added volume 2 on her little iPod. We’ve begun to do some activities from the Story of the World 1 activity book. She’s still into reading historical fiction for pleasure, so I will continue to encourage that. Over summer we began reading the entire Little House series and she is a HUGE fan. We will also once again attend a monthly class at our local history center which touches on various topics from Abraham Lincoln to Frida Kahlo.




Lily is still playing her violin. She started in October of 2014 and has continued to practice just about every day since then. I’m continually amazed by how much she keeps improving at (what I consider) a difficult instrument. So many strings and a bow and fingers!

Physical Education

Also tied in with music is her ballet classes at the local park district. She has also chosen to begin gymnastics classes again. Oh, and monkey bars are a pretty consistent favorite pastime 🙂


Lily is also once again involved in Girl Scouts at the local grade school with friends that live on our street (amongst others who attend that school). The troop is bridging to Brownies this year! We make sure to schedule playdates with friends at least weekly. Im confident life will has hit a good weekly groove again once fall really gets going.