Thursday, August 29, 2013

Week 2: our second week of 6th grade homeschool

Middle Beginnings: Week 2 World Cake

The highlight of week 2 was the world cake:

The world cake activity from MFW was a nice combination of home-ec and geography. I was a bit nervous about it, but Lindsey had fun and it turned out great :) We didn't use a cake mix. Instead this was Lindsey's first cake made from scratch all by herself. (I did help pour the batter into the pans & put them in the oven.) She used a yellow cake recipe and a vanilla frosting recipe from my Betty Crocker cookbook.

In order to fit the two cakes on my foil covered cookie sheet, I trimmed a piece out of one cake using the cake pan as a guide. Then I fit the two cakes together to make one cake. Lindsey used a toothpick to draw outlines of the continents on the cake before frosting it. Then she outlined the continents with green and piped some icing to fill them in. Next she piped on the blue and added white for Antarctica last. We used the back of a spoon to smooth and fill in the icing and it ended up with a nice texture.

It was delicious and looked great! This activity was a great success. She's already asked if she can make another one sometime. This was a fun way to wrap up the introduction, next we study North America beginning with the United States.

Edible Babylonian Clay Maps

On Monday for our Mapping The World With Art activity we made Babylonian "clay" maps using a modified cookie dough recipe. It calls for a wedge shaped stamp to make cuneiform markings and something to scratch lines with, we used corn holders because it's what we had on hand. It worked well and added some texture. This activity tied in nicely with our geography symbols lesson while adding a bit of history and home-ec.


We added grammar this week with All-In-One English Series. So far we've only used the beginning assessment test. It looks to be a very straight forward book so it should work well for us. It doesn't contain extra fluff, just learn the skill and move on to the next. When we add writing we will be using Writing Strands. I think the combination of these in conjunction with MFW should cover all the bases for English.


We started reading Kingdom Tales and Dad has been reading most of them while we snuggle up on the bed or sofa as a family. My daughter enjoys them and can't wait to read the next story. The discussion questions at the end are helpful in looking at the symbolism and deeper meaning of the stories. I called them Kingdom Stories by mistake one night and was quickly corrected that they are Kingdom Tales. Kids love it when they can catch us making a mistake don't they? LOL

Week 2 Surprises:

The cake turned out much better than I expected :) Another surprise to me, there are now five oceans! There were only four when I was in school. It seems the Southern Ocean around Antarctica was added in 2000.

Lindsey is getting quite skilled at drawing maps. She drew a map of our neighborhood complete with the alligator that lives behind our neighbors house across the street. We looked at Google Maps for reference.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Flat Lindsey's First Adventure: A Visit To New Jersey


Flat Lindsey arrived home from New Jersey on Monday! She was visiting friends of ours for a week and had tons of fun. Thank you Jenny, Jermey, Jessica, & Jacob!!

Jenny sent a travel log and photos of Flat Lindsey's adventures, here are the highlights:

Day 1: 

Flat Lindsey Arrives! Jessica is so excited and shows Flat Lindsey her flower garden. Then they enjoyed a family bike ride and Jessica made Flat Lindsey a bike helmet for safety :)

They took a short trip to Margate, NJ to see Lucy the Elephant. They walked inside the World's Largest Elephant! They went inside her belly and climbed the narrow steep stairs to the top. The eyes are round windows. It's 5 years older than the Statue of Liberty and 8 years older than the Eiffel Tower. From the top of the Lucy the Elephant they could see the white steeple that is the original Marvin Gardens - the original Monopoly places were named after places and streets in Atlantic City.


Day 2: 

Flat Lindsey went to karate class. She learned a dojo means a school in Japanese, karate means open hand, Sensei means teacher, and Tae Kwon Do means the way of the foot and fist.

Jessica has been taking lessons for about a year and a half, and has her purple stripe. Her Sensei is a Master Sensei with a 4th degree black belt.

Day 3: 

They went for a bike ride and it was pretty muggy outside. Then they made some zucchini bread with zucchini fresh from the garden. Yum!

Day 4: 

A rainy day. They made strawberry smoothies and Flat Lindsey helped Jessica set up her Calico Critters doll house. Then they baked some peanut butter cookies using a new recipe with only 3 ingredients:
1 egg
1 C. peanut butter
1 C. sugar
Mix all together & roll into balls.
Bake 8-10 minutes.
(Jenny writes, "The cookies were easy and fast but pretty sweet ~ we need to work on it.")

Day 5: 

Another hot humid and rainy day. Played inside until karate again. Jessica goes 3 times a week!
They took Flat Lindsey to Boardwalk Hall on the Atlantic City Boardwalk to see the laser light show they now have going every night. This is a historic place that holds concerts etc...and was the birth place for the Miss America pageant! Jenny writes, "Everyone in Atlantic City is very happy because in 2 weeks the pageant will be back here in Atlantic City where it all started at Boardwalk Hall instead of in Las Vegas where it has been for the past few years."


Day 6: 

They took Flat Lindsey on the Cape May Ferry across to Delaware. Jenny's dad was on vacation in Bethany Beach. They spent all day on the beach, at the pool and then had birthday cake for her dad. Happy Birthday! On the way over they passed a replica ship that was the first to sail to the New World from Sweden! On the way home it was dark but the full moon was bright over the water.


Day 7: 

They were all tired from their busy day in Delaware. They went to karate class again and gathered up Flat Lindsey's stuff and mailed her back home.

Hope you enjoyed Flat Lindsey's visit to New Jersey! 

She is traveling to Hawaii now, we dropped her off at the post office yesterday afternoon. Real Lindsey said she wished she could fit in the envelope and be mailed to Hawaii :) We'll post about Flat Lindsey's adventures when she returns.

If you were flat and could fit in an envelope to travel, where would you want to visit? 

Monday, August 19, 2013

Our First Week Of 6th Grade Homeschool

We kept the first week light, I haven't added writing & language arts yet. We are following My Father's World: Exploring Countries and Cultures and we did get everything done that was listed :) We only skipped the handwriting review & the John 3:16 poster (started cartography instead). Here are some highlights from our first week of sixth grade:

Geography, History, and Art

In addition to MFW, we are drawing maps using Mapping The World With Art by Ellen McHenry - My daughter loves it! The program has excellent instructions and includes short historical lessons. Here are Lindsey's maps of Mesopotamia and the Nile River from the first week -

We also followed the recommended MFW activity of drawing the continents on an orange then peeling it to view the flattened result. Such a neat way to compare globes and maps!

globe on orangeglobe on orange 2

Lindsey has started collecting postcards and is currently trying to get all 50 states. You can read more about that here - Postcard Exchange: Fun Addition To Our Middle School Geography Study

She has also created a "Flat Lindsey" (a flat version of herself, like Flat Stanley) to travel the globe this year. This photo was taken just before mailing her out for the first time. We will post more about Flat Lindsey soon and continue to post about Flat Lindsey's adventures as she travels around the world. She is currently on her way back from her first adventure in New Jersey.

Math: Review

We are using Khan Academy for math right now & it is working well. I had Lindsey complete the addition and subtraction skills, and it was a good easy review for her to ease back into math with after being off all summer. She likes doing math on the computer and likes earning the little online rewards Khan Academy uses for incentives. I like that I can easily track her progress.

Science: Ecosystems and Zoology

In addition to studying Properties of Ecosystems with MFW, we are using Exploring Creation with Zoology 3: Land Animals of the Sixth Day from Apologia along with the notebook. Lindsey is enjoying both so far. The highlight of the week was an experiment for zoology using Skittles as "prey" and Lindsey as the "predator". She had to hunt for the candies in a basket of construction paper pieces the same colors as the candies, make predictions and compare the results. I gave her 30 seconds to hunt for her prey (the recommended 2 min. was too long). After completing the experiment she got to eat her prey ;) The prey vs. predator lesson worked well leading into the MFW Earthworm's Niche Activity. I am pleased with how complementary the two science programs are so far, and plan to study the different animals in zoology as they correspond to the different countries.  

Foreign Language: French

Lindsey wanted to learn French, but I couldn't afford to buy Rosetta Stone, so I searched out other programs and found Duolingo and decided to give it a try. I can't believe how much she's learned already! Best of all it's a FREE online program!! There's even an app for my phone! I took 3 years of French way back in high school, after trying the program out myself I was amazed how much I remembered. Now Lindsey keeps trying to beat me (and she does have more points). I'm so excited we found Duolingo!

Review of Week 1

Since Lindsey was asking to do school over the weekend, I'd say week one was a success! We are still getting into a routine, and we still need to finish organizing/unpacking our homeschool room (maybe over the weekend) and I think that will help us stay focused. The only thing that wasn't a good match for us was the Wee Sing cd - the first song anyway seems to be geared toward younger children. I will try to find music more on her level & maybe composers to study from different countries. She is also learning to play the Ukulele, so that covers music for us too. 

Merci d'avoir lu au sujet de notre première semaine. À bientôt!
(Thank you for reading about our first week. Goodbye for now!)


Sunday, August 18, 2013

Postcard Exchange: Fun Addition To Our Middle School Geography Study



My daughter has started collecting postcards -

Some are from friends and some we exchanged with other homeschool families. A couple of my friends have asked their Facebook friends (Thanks Betsy & Laura Kay and their friends) to send her postcards & the response has been great!

Since our study in My Father's World: Exploring Countries and Cultures starts with the United States she is trying to collect all 50 states right now. She loves getting mail and it's a fun way to learn about other states.

We joined a group on Facebook for homeschoolers who want to be involved with penpals, post card exchange, geo-cache swap, activity bag swap, flat traveler swap, birthday card exchange, and/or book exchanges. So far we are participating in the postcard exchange. Another Facebook group that we have joined is 50 States Postcard Exchange, admins maintain a list of participating families & you mail postcards to those you wish to exchange with.

We also signed-up at Post Crossing - where you "send a postcard and receive a postcard back from a random person in the world." We just started sending with Post Crossing so we haven't received any yet, but look forward to some international postcards.

One more related resource I found is Discover America Through Postcards  -  they offer "live-at-the-scene" postcards from a 3 year RV journey. You can subscribe to have virtual postcards delivered to your email. There are maps and facts about each state along with travel tips too. This is an award winning educational site and a wonderful way to learn more about the 50 states. 

postcard displayCheck out our display!

I printed a US map from MegaMaps - I used the 2x2 (4 pages) size, cut it out and attached it to a foam board that I covered in gift wrap. Now Lindsey has a fun way to track where her postcards come from :) Best of all it was FREE! The maps are free to print and I already had the foam board and the gift wrap. If you have the room to display it, you can print larger sizes (up to 8x8, 64 pages). They print on regular printer paper and tile to fit together. There are 11 different MegaMaps collections including world maps and maps of other countries.

Lindsey labeled all the states on her map with their postal abbreviations and colors the states in with colored pencils as we receive postcards from each state. She can't wait to check the mail everyday to see if there are any postcards to add to her project.

One thing I didn't expect -

It has been difficult to find postcards in our area. We've only been able to find them at one country store about 10 miles from us. None of our downtown shops or local retail stores carry them. The country store that does carry them only has a few to choose from, so we are planning to create our own & have some printed up.

After collecting all 50 states we move on to other countries as we study world geography. I'll post updates as the postcard collection grows & will try to add a gallery of postcards we've received in the near future so follow along to see Lindsey's collection. Thanks to everyone who sent postcards!!

Does your family exchange postcards? If so please comment below about your collecting, how you display them, or any tips you want to share.


Saturday, August 3, 2013

Our 6th Grade Math Curriculum


Our plan for 6th grade math consists mostly of 2 free online programs: Khan Academy & Master Math.

Khan Academy

If you are not yet familiar with Khan Academy you can check it out here -  They offer math, science, history, and more - but math is where they started. This is self-paced & I like the way it measures mastery of skills. You can see what areas need more work and know when your student is ready to move on.

Easy PeasyEasy Peasy

If you would like an ordered list to help you navigate the middle school lessons at Khan Academy you can find one at Easy Peasy - All in One Homeschool along with other amazing resources. They offer a complete, free online Christian homeschool curriculum with everything scheduled out in detail. 

Master Math

Math Master is specifically for Middle School Math. There are 10-20 minute video lessons, printable worksheets (and answer sheets), online quizzes, and links to other sites for further practice - all for FREE! If your child needs extra help online tutoring is available for a reasonable fee. There are also quarterly exams included that you can grade yourself, or you can take advantage of their grading services.

Pathway to Pre-Algebra

I also wanted some math worksheets that were fun to reinforce her online learning & I found Pathway to Pre-Algebra from Susan Mercer for only $3.95! - After seeing this unique set of worksheets, I became an affiliate. In full disclosure this is an affiliate link - Click here to view more details (You may read our disclosure policy here.)

Here is a sample image:
Crossword Square Roots

I wish my math teachers had used puzzles like this! 

There are 30 puzzles & mini-lessons designed for preteens.

I think they are fun! Fingers crossed that Lindsey will like them as much as I do!
Teachers can use these for pre-algebra practice, review, or homework. I think they could also work well for parents looking to keep their children from forgetting their math skills during school vacations.

Math Freebies

One more resource I've discovered is - there are several free worksheets available and there are also demos & downloads, and a free placement test available through their website. I plan to use the worksheets if I need them for extra practice.

I'll post updates periodically and let you know how these math resources work for us. I hope they are helpful to some of you also! If you use them I'd love to know how you like them, or if you have other resources that you love please share them as well by commenting below.

Friday, August 2, 2013

(so many) Curriculum Choices

Being new to homeschooling I became quickly overwhelmed by all the curriculum choices. After reading lots of reviews, looking through catalogs, and suggestions from friends (Thanks Angie & Jill!), I eventually decided on the curriculum mix that I hope is best for my daughter this year. It's exciting when the boxes arrive with our books in them :)

Geography/Our Core

We are using My Father's World: Exploring Countries & Cultures Deluxe for our base curriculum. We want her to learn Geography before studying world history. Since her reading level is high, we're also using the 7th & 8th grade supplements to make it more challenging for her. In addition to the book basket suggestions we are also planning to include some books from the Sonlight reading list.

We are using the recommended Writing Strands and for grammar the All-in-one English Series. She's been writing in cursive since kindergarten, so we may try our hand at calligraphy this year.


For science we added Apologia Exploring Creation with Zoology 3: Land Animals of the Sixth Day and the journal book for it. My daughter loves animals and asked to study them. I plan to coordinate the animals we study with the countries, rather than in order of the zoology book.


We decided to base math on some free online programs with supplements and I'll have a separate post on that to follow. Update: Math choices are published here

The Arts

For Music we will include the Wee Sing Around the World and she is also learning to play the ukulele. We may add in a composer here and there based on the country we are studying.

We will include some projects from Global Art along with studying artists from different countries. I also found Mapping The World With Art to teach how to create maps and it looks AMAZING!

Foreign Language

Lindsey wants to study French as a foreign language, but we haven't decided what curriculum to use yet. Rosetta Stone looks great, but not sure I can afford it. We will probably add something in the 2nd quarter once we get into a routine with everything else. We love everything french & it's our dream to go to Paris one day. Our homeschool classroom is decorated with a French theme in black, white, & pink. I'll blog about it once we get it finished (hopefully soon).

Home Economics

We plan to prepare recipes from each country as part of Home Economics. I'm looking forward to eating our way around the world! Grocery lists, budgeting, and trips to the grocery store will be included. We will continue with sewing lessons; Lindsey has already sewn a curtain for her bedroom, clothing for her & her her American Girl Doll Felicity, and a sleeping bag for her doll. Since fashion is something she enjoys we will also look at fashion as it relates to the countries we are studying. Perhaps she will be inspired to design & sew new fashions for her dolls.

I'm excited to start our adventures around the globe soon & our passport is ready! Lindsey has created a Flat Lindsey (like Flat Stanley) that we will send around the globe. We'll post the travel adventures of Flat Lindsey on the blog, so stay tuned...

Where will your homeschool studies take you this year? Please share with us in the comments below.