In Homeschool This Week (take 5)

Online Resources That I Love This Week:

Thug Notes (not for everyone and DEFINITELY for teens/High School): A very different take on literature analysis. My teens LOVE this.

ReadWriteThink: Excellent site with lots of free printables and ideas for reading, writing, and thinking!

Democracy Now: An independent, daily, global news resource that I find very valuable. I watch this daily with my kids for “Current Events”.

Crash Course: An insane amount of excellent videos on a wide range of topics. A must see.

Books That I Love This Week:

An Illustrated Book of Bad Arguments by Ali Almossawi
My teenage son LOVES to argue with me. The problem is, he doesn’t exactly use any LOGIC to win his arguments. This is an awesome book for all ages, even adults, to learn about that little thing called Reason.


Physics: Why Matter Matters by Simon Basher
This book is AWESOME. We found it at the library, and it is such a great introduction to all the different concepts in Physics. I might need to buy this one. Even my Kinder loved it, yet it still has enough information and detail to be appealing to the older kids. There are a whole series of these books — worth checking out.

On Thursday, the teens did their work for Math on Khan Academy and their Spanish on Duolingo right away in the morning while I was getting some of my own work done for our small business (i.e. accounting). Fiona did some art and imaginary play, and then we created special index cards with all of her school subjects and activities (along with some fun things like “do jumping jacks”) and put those into a basket so that she can pick them out throughout the day.

Then all three kids started a project I found on the website ReadWriteThink, which has some great resources! They created found poems! I set out a few books for this kids to pick from, without telling them what we were about to do. Then they selected a section of the text, and edited it down until they created a poem (essentially). The full instructions can be found here.  They turned out great!

During lunch we discussed poetry form a bit more and I read some poems aloud, which my teenage son promptly made fun of. Oiy.

After lunch, we continued our discussion about “Animal Farm” by Orwell. We watched the Thug Notes video on it (my kids love these….yes they are inappropriate, that’s why my kids love them).

After this, we were going to continue on with our movie-based Literature unit and start The Color Purple, when my son asked me, “Who was the first human?”

Well, that’s a big question. Let’s stop what we are doing and do some research about that. We ended up starting the Nova series “Becoming Human” on PBS (via YouTube).

Which leads to the next question from my son, “Who was the first white person?”

I responded, “Did you know that race is a social construct?”


Our research led us to the TED talk, “Nina Jablonski Breaks the Illusion of Skin Color”. Awesome video and explanation.

Side Discussion: Know Your Sources — how to sort through all the nonsense out there.

Also, Race may not be real, but racism is.

Question #3: “So what about the first ever life on this planet?”

OOOfta. They are hitting it hard today! We dipped our toe into the immense ocean of this discussion by watching a video on Crash Course – The Origin of Life. Obviously, it is a very short explanation but it started a discussion.

That discussion escalated very quickly into a heated debate between my son and I, where he used comedic tactics (and absolutely NO data or logical points of any kind) to try and win an argument with me against evolution. It was…..interesting.

So…we watched a little TED talk by David H. Cohen “For Argument’s Sake”, which was very interesting to me but my kids were still laughing so hard they didn’t pay much attention to it. Yeah, school was done after that.

However, I immediately looked up some teacher resources about LOGIC, and found this gem of a book, which I ordered immediately and cannot wait to dive into. It is called, “An Illustrated Book of Bad Arguments” by Ali Almossawi, and you can find the entire book for free on his website, or purchase the hard cover on Amazon.

Our afternoon of “Question School” was a success and a challenge. I want to continue doing this a lot, because I want to know what do my kids really think about and what do they want to know? If they are learning questions that they are asking themselves, they will definitely be learning and retaining the knowledge better!

In Other School….

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Fiona created a “twiggy hat” out of some found bits of nature

She also had fun at the Library this week, and played Blokus, I Spy, and read lots of books


And we’ve been playing a fun math game at home for adding and subtracting with dice and wooden shapes:


Most of all, I love it when my kids make music!


In Homeschool This Week (take 2)

Last week I said that I would not “plan any short weeks that also included two field trips” but then this week we had a regular 5 day school week that included FOUR. What is wrong with me?! Clearly, I am a homeschool newbie haha. In my defense, we do live in Wisconsin, so I have to take advantage of the good weather while I can. I will not be driving so much in the snow.

Monday started bright and early with a twenty minute drive to Kali’s first horseback riding lesson. She had taken some lessons before when she was younger, but she hadn’t ridden for a long time. She has always had a passion for horses and I am so excited that she is getting back into it. I highly recommend the Country View Equestrian Center if you are in the Monroe, WI area.


As luck would have it, Kali was offered an opportunity to earn more riding time by working doing chores at the stable. So now, we will be heading there on Monday AND Friday mornings! It is such great work experience while also being FUN!

On Tuesday, we headed over to Janesville to attend a picnic for the Rock Valley Homeschool Group. It was a great occasion to meet up with yet another group in our area and meet new friends. We had a blast at Peace Park, and I am constantly amazed at how nice and welcoming all of the other homeschooling families are. This is truly a great community!


We paused our Social Studies about the Sioux Nation to start a long-term study about Buddhism. We had the most amazing opportunity to see Tibetan monks creating a sand mandala at the Memorial Union in Madison. On Wednesday, we went to the Madison Public Library Central Branch (amazing) to read books about Buddhism and do a bit of Minecraft. I totally count Minecraft as school.


Then we walked over to see the sand mandala creation. We were all mesmerized by the beauty of the work and the concentration of the monks! In addition, we talked with one of the monks who showed us how to use a prayer wheel, let each of the children use it, and taught us about the symbolism and language in Tibetan Buddhism. It was a really special experience.


We bought a prayer flag from the monks, and we studied about that on Thursday and hung it up outside so the wind can carry our prayers and wishes for peace around the world. We also continued our mandala studies, and learned about the Eightfold Path. I found two wonderful PowerPoint presentations at One was about the Eightfold Path and the other was about the prayer flags, so now we fully understand the significance and also made sure we hung it up the right way. I also found this great worksheet about the Eightfold Path, and the older kids did that Follow the link for more worksheets on Buddhism and other religions as well.

Here’s another link I found with great teaching resources about Buddhism (via PBS).


Lunch with grandma at the iconic Memorial Union Terrace in Madison. We didn’t just eat chips and beer, btw…


So Thursday was our big at home day. The older kids finished their PowerPoint presentation about bees. All of the kids did their core studies on Time4Learning. We read books, did art, music, and more!


Fiona said, “Am I concentrating as hard as the monks?”


On Friday, my 14 year old son communicated (which is nothing short of a miracle sometimes) that he did not like Time4Learning. So, we looked into some other ways of doing his core High School curriculum and we decided on using Khan Academy for math and science, along with other science projects and experiments, and that I would assign him English and Social Studies projects (those are my personal strong subjects, so I feel comfortable teaching those myself).

We absolutely love Khan Academy. Along with using it for math and science, he has also started learning about Drug Addiction in the Health and Medicine section, and is currently writing a research paper on the topic.

Below is a wonderful video about educating for mastery by the founder of Khan Academy:

In Kindergarten this week, Fiona and I made a “hundreds box”. We filled it with 100 pennies, 20 nickles (to practice counting by 5s), 10 dimes (to practice counting by 10s), 4 quarters (to start understanding fractions and coin recognition), a $1 bill (understanding the concept of what is equal to $1), and Fiona’s choice of 100 safety pins, 100 beads, 100 white buttons, and 100 smiley faces (which she drew herself).


Then we added 100 stickers to the outside of the box and a 100 chart to help her count! Big brother was really sweet and helped Fiona count and taught her some tricks for working with the number chart. Fiona did a lot of work with math this week. She LOVES this box and carries it around everywhere using it for practice!

Overall, we had a great, yet very exhausting week!!!


via eclectic homeschool