Category Archives: Weekly Review

Week 5 in Review

We had a good week over all. I’m a bit short on time today so I’ll just make some observations about the week and end with some photos of our two homeschool field trips.

Here we are in week five and I’m still adding in subjects for EJ, working up to our full plan. We’ve been doing math, spelling, printing, science, and of course lots of reading. This week EJ added ancient history back into the mix and I quickly realized that I had made a bad decision in scheduling history and science on the same day. So some tweaking of our schedule is in order. I also decided that with all of the changes I keep making to the master schedule it’s just not worth keeping so I’m going back to my “wing and a prayer” method of having a general outline but no specific plan for each day. Okay, so that sounds like I’m making it up as I go along, I’m really not because most of our lessons are open and go (meaning little prep work) so it’s just a matter of getting them done and keeping track of what we did.

JD is doing fabulous and learning so much. He loves to show off his new-found knowledge at odd times throughout the day. This week in math he learned about evens and odds and routinely points out patterns of even and odd numbers as he comes across them. I love how he applies what he learns to his world.

Our BFSU science lesson this week was about maps. Learning what information is included in maps, how to read a map, and how to draw maps of our own. We had a chance to use our map reading skills during our field trip to Mt. Tom reservation.

We ended the week with two field trips with our local homeschool group. The first was a visit to a local fruit orchard that installs a self-guided sculpture trail each Autumn. The second was a trip led by an educator with the Massachusetts DCR at Mt. Tom state reservation. The focus was on finding and observing life on land (and follows up our previous field trip; life in the water, from last month).

Art in the Orchard

This was a lot of fun and we discovered a new place to get organic apples, blueberries, raspberries, and pears, practically around the corner from us! I really enjoyed taking pics of all the sculptures and reading about the local artists that created them. I have pictures of most of them on my Flickr page if you want to see more. The kids had a great time following the trail of sculptures. While I don’t think they learned much about art, they did get some good exposure. Afterwards they enjoyed ‘playing’ with the free range chickens. They even named several of them – my favorite was Hen-ry. Get it?


Portal to another Dimension


The chickens were a highlight


Zap! My favorite sculpture

Mt. Tom:  Finding Nature on Land

This group of kids are so enthusiastic! Usually they run through the trails trying to see what’s around the next corner. This time they were forced to slow down and explore a couple of small areas to see what they could find. They fully explored decomposing logs and found some unidentified buggies, several hiding salamanders, and a colony of ants with a rather large queen. We’ve had so much wet weather it was easy to spot quite a variety of mushrooms and fungi. We even looked in trees for folded leaves that were surely the work of one bug or another.


Mt. Tom

This photo was actually taken at the orchard the day before, but you can see Mt. Tom off in the distance.


Checking to see what is under a log

Gelly Shroom

I call this a Gelly Shroom because it felt like the gel inserts for your shoes.


Gathered around chewing on Black Birch branches.

Unknown fungi

Orange Fungi of some sort

As always, thanks for reading.


Week 3: Vacation in Pictures

What an interesting week. This was our first family vacation in 5 years. We returned to Boston where I spent nearly 20 years but haven’t visited in more than eight. Although I was born and raised in New Hampshire, I tend to think of Boston as the place I grew up. In a way it really felt like coming home.

Going on vacation when everyone else is in school is a wonderful perk of homeschooling. Although some places we visited were still pretty crowded – the New England Aquarium in particular, most were very quiet. It was so nice to see the kids exploring the Museum of Science without having to worry that another child was waiting for a chance, they could take their time. One disadvantage to visiting in the beginning of the quiet season we discovered was that in some cases the most popular exhibits were closed for routine maintenance. The Planetarium was closed, the famous electricity demonstration was modified because the giant Van Der Graaff generators were being cleaned. All in all, as a family that avoids crowds when possible, the upsides far outweighed any downside!

Home Away

Our lodgings for the week

Mathematica Room

Planetary Gravitation

Robot programing


Cownose Rays



Myrtle the Turtle coming up for air.

Myrtle grabs some air



Kid Power!



EJ and the plesiosaur


Hancock viewed from the Pru

Thanks for peeking!

Week 2 Wrap-Up: What Worked and What Didn’t

It’s Saturday already so I suppose that means we made it though another week. I don’t want to write a book again so I will mix it up and just comment on what went well this week and what went not so well.


Science! What? The topic we live for? I do love our science curriculum. I’m having trouble keeping us together and on track. The kids have a tendency to become wild whenever we ‘sit down’ to do science. I’m trying to analyze what is going wrong because lately it’s been nothing but frustration. I’m constantly saying things such as: Come back. Didn’t you just get water before we started? Sit on your bottom not your head. And so much, much more. It is wearing me out to the point that I. don’t. want. to. do. science. Which would be a shame because we all do enjoy it when it goes well.


EJ continues to rock in math. This week he learned how to use drawing tools; T-square, and 30-60 triangle and was a natural at it. He doesn’t spend much time drawing on his own, but I think something more technical, like the geometric shapes he worked on this week might be more up his alley.

JD is also rockin’ in math. I just started him on Right Start Level A late last week. He’s getting the concept that 5 is special and he learned the days of the week this week. I’m finding that much more than EJ, he needs a cheerleader. Too bad I’m a lousy cheerleader. I’m trying though.

2011-Sep-16_010 We had a fun afternoon with our homeschool group on Friday learning about critters that live in the water. It was pretty informal and mostly the kids all had a great time mucking about and collecting tiny fish, tadpoles, and a couple of itty bitty critters. I love seeing them all work together!

Hoping to find aquatic life

“A Vacation spot out of season always has a very special magic.” Max Von Sydow

This coming week we will be in Boston for a fun family vacation. It will be the first time Mr. Hamp and I have been back since we moved from the area eight years ago. It feels just a bit decadent taking vacation when all of the kids peers will be in school. Even though it’s just Boston, I think it will feel like a vacation out of season.

Have a terrific week!

Week 1 Wrap-Up

The Secret in education lies in respecting the student.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

This was our first week back to our curriculum for EJ who would now be considered a third grader, and a beginning of sorts for JD who would be in kindergarten. I prefer to ease back into our lessons rather than BOOM, try to fit everything in right from the start. Easing back into lessons for me means starting with the basics. For EJ that means math, spelling, printing, and of course reading. For JD, just starting out – it’s math, printing, and pre-reading skills. To round out the week I added in a science lesson about friction.

Monarch TaggingFirst some fun stuff. We spent some time at the local nature center with our homeschool group this week. The center catches and tags monarch butterflies in last summer for Monarch Watch and they invite kids of all ages to come, help capture the butterflies, tag them, and then release them. Unfortunately we’ve been having very wet weather so the butterflies weren’t fluttering.  They did get to learn about the tags and watch one monarch be tagged and released.

Red Spotted NewtToday the boys found a red-spotted newt in the pool which was very exciting for them because while frogs and toads are plentiful, they have not seen any salamanders. They actually identified it incorrectly as a tadpole. Oops! I guess we’d better learn a bit more about that.

JD has been eager to “do school” as he puts it. The challenge is that he has his own very strong opinion about what constitutes school. In a way I think he is more playing at school, which is fine, he’s still young and I don’t feel the need to rush him, but sometimes our goals don’t mesh. One of his favorite “games” is for me to act like the dunce so he gets to show off how smart he is. I’ve started him on Right Start math level A which he is more than ready for. We are also working on letter writing, and pre-reading skills using Handwriting Without Tears, and All About Reading Pre-1. He had a good week, I think he enjoys the extra attention and I enjoyed spending the extra time with him.

EJ was also eager to get started particularly when he realized that all of his friends were heading back to school and would not be available to play during the early part of the day. He put in a great effort this week as we muddled through spelling rules that we had both forgotten since the spring, and argued over math. 

Full disclaimer, everything is not always sunshine and rainbows here at the meandering homeschool. EJ and I had quite a row during math one day this week. It is obvious that he is a natural mathematician while I am, well, not! I’m still processing the event but I believe that I need to work on getting out of his way a bit more, work on being more respectful of HIS math process and not let my own math insecurity get in his way.

EJ loves to read but has trouble finding books to his liking. It’s not the only area where he is picky so I suppose I should not be surprised. We recently discovered the series Secrets of a Lab Rat. He loved the first book, No Girls Allowed, and has requested the other two. So that’s a win!. Our literature read aloud, and narration title is E.B. White’s The Trumpet of the Swan. Although I’m very familiar with Charlotte’s Web and even Stuart Little, this book is new to me and quickly becoming my favorite of the three.

FrictionRounding out the week, we took some time out for science. In the spring we concentrated on the physics thread in BFSU and because we only have two more physics lessons I decided to finish them off first. This week we learned about friction. Using a variety of non-round objects they compared how different materials will slide, or not slide, down a ramp. This led to a discussion of rubber, when they discovered that a rubber eraser didn’t slide at all, and how rubber can be used when we want lots of friction. The next day we compared sliding objects with rolling objects and of course found that even the fastest sliding object (the play slice of pizza) was slower than the rolling object. The boys were great during the busy activities, but in hindsight, this lesson needed to have one more day because I felt they got lost a bit toward the end of the second day. Every day is a learning experience in so many ways!

Jewel Weed

Photo by MemeNH

I’ll close with one more photo of JD looking for Jewelweed seeds to explode. We learned about these cool and edible seeds last week during a foraging for food gathering we had with our  local homeschool group.

Jewelweed, also called Impatiens or “touch-me-nots” grows in damp spots, has lovely little orange flowers, and when the seeds are ripe one only needs to touch the seed pod to see a little mini explosion! This is of course how they propagate, as animals brush past them the seeds are released and are carried on their body or fall to the ground. The tiny seeds are edible and taste like walnuts. The plant also has a sap that can be used to ease poison ivy rash. They have one final secret. If you remove the outer husk the inside seed is robin’s egg blue! How cool is that!

Touching the "Touch-me-not's"

JD looking for ripe seeds to pop.

As always, thanks for reading! I love to receive comments so if you enjoyed this post or have a question just let me know!

Monthly Wrap-up: April

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these. To be honest there isn’t much of any variety to talk about so I haven’t bothered. Maybe I need to think about doing this just once a month. I’ll probably ramble a bit today because there are a lot of different things on my mind. My apologies for that.

We are scheduled to close on our new house Monday, although a bit annoyed at the people involved right now. Our bank told us we were all set, but failed to tell us that we needed to pay for a year of insurance up front. Because they didn’t have proof that we paid the insurance, they didn’t send the paperwork to the lawyer as expected on Wednesday. The lawyer didn’t bother to call us or the bank to find out what the delay was. And this morning, Friday, an hour before my husband was to leave for the airport, we find out we have to scramble to get a payment to our insurance company. But it’s done and will probably result in only a few hours delay on the closing.

We’re very excited but a bit overwhelmed. Mr. Hamp is in Chicago this weekend taking the second part of his board exam. He’ll get home Sunday in time to do the final walkthrough. Close Monday, then we have to slap some paint colors on the walls and let the painters know what colors to buy. We will have a pool (yay!) but it hasn’t been opened yet and with all the rain we’ve had here the cover has slipped and most likely let in a lot of debris. Yuck! We don’t plan on moving everything over until May 23rd, but the house is just down the street so I’m sure I’ll be bringing things over sooner than that.

Needless to say we probably won’t be doing a lot of schooling over the next few weeks. I think that’s okay though because we’ve really covered an amazing amount of material this year and will continue working through the summer. Although, it will be hard with that lovely pool in our back yard!

I’ll start with JD (5yo). He is doing only about 10-15 minutes of work most days:

Reading: I started him on Click N Read Phonics last week. He’s doing really well and can now recognize the words: am, Sam, sat, cat, mat, Cam, and dad. After he started CNR, I realized he didn’t recognize all of the lower case letters. So we worked on that a bit with our All About Spelling letter tiles.

Writing: He’s also having some success with writing. We’ve been working through Handwriting without Tears pre-k book for a while now. He loves writing his letters and coloring with me. I’ll have him continue practicing through the summer and then move to the Kindergarten HWT book.

Math: We continue to work through Mathematical Reasoning book 2 from the Critical Thinking company. For the most part this is easy stuff for him, he has developed a good number sense and hopefully will be ready to move to Right Start Level A in the fall.

On to EJ. He and I do about 3 hours of work each day together and then he typically does another hour independently after lunch. This post is getting long so I’ll just cover a few things.

Spelling: After completing the our second level of All About Spelling in January we decided to take a break for a bit. Two weeks ago we started in on Level 3 and it would seem that the break didn’t cost us too much time. Spelling for EJ is so much easier since we started this program and it’s so easy to teach that I really love it.

History/Science: We are studying Ancient Egypt after two months with pre-history. History is the one subject that will be the most interrupted with our move because we are right in the middle of our several week Egyptian study. We’ve missed out on doing science for a couple of weeks but will get back to it eventually. It’s an area where I’m not too worried because we are ahead of what the public schools expect.

Reading: EJ has had a breakthrough in reading I think. He’s a good reader and has made lots of progress this year, but struggles to find reading material that engages him. Actually I think the library is just overwhelming to him. I haven’t pushed too hard, instead trying to help him search out books that were interesting to him. He spend a good many months reading nothing but comic books which I think was the gateway into more independent reading. He recently discovered the Secrets of Droon series and has read nine or ten of them multiple times over the last couple of weeks. At the moment, he can’t seem to get enough reading! This makes me so happy because I have such high hopes of having two readers in the family. I did some informal reading assessments and I think he’s reading at about a high fourth grade level. Knowing this will help me pick out books at, and just above his comfortable reading level.

So that’s us for the last few weeks. Stay tuned for a review of some of the books we read this month.

As always, thanks for reading.

Weekly Wrap-up 3/19

JD’s Week:

JD turned five on the 10th and seems to be taking his new big boy status in stride. All week he came to me to tell me it was time for him to “do school”.

We worked on his Handwriting Without Tears “Get Set For School” workbook. We practiced the letters G, S, and J. As we practice writing he reviews the phonograms for each letter. He enjoys his Mathematical Reasoning workbook from Critical Thinking company. Here he was working on writing his numbers. He really succeeded at correcting his ‘3’ and ‘5’.

2011-Mar-19_001 2011-Mar-19_002

He also has been putting in a lot of time with his new Star Wars Jedi Reading game for Leapster that Aunt Kana sent for his birthday. For better or worse, video games are big around here so if we can make them educational and fun it’s a good thing.


EJ’s Week:

Math: In Right Start, we skipped a few lessons on telling time and moved right into multiplication. To supplement he played the iPhone app Rocket Math, did some practice exercises on, and worked on some puzzles in Balance Math from the Critical Thinking Company to round out the week.

Social Studies/History: We completed our study of prehistory. This week we concentrated on human evolution from Australopithicus through Homo sapiens, ending with the advent of farming. The boys watched the BBC series Walking with Cavemen on Netflix Streaming. I really like the “Walking With…” series for making the time before people come alive.

2011-Mar-18_022 EJ finished his pre-history notebook, we added some pages on people and then finally a cover.

He started learning about U.S. Geography using the iPhone app Stacking the States. I’m impressed really at how much he is learning from this little game. It won’t replace formal geography but it seems like a great start.

Language Arts: This week we finished reading Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle. This is a cute book that I wasn’t familiar with. I enjoyed reading about all of Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle’s somewhat unconventional cures for bad childhood behavior. EJ also did some independent reading including finishing up the chapter book Wind Spell (Magic Elements 3) by Mallory Loehr

This week’s poem from Caroline Kennedy’s A Family of Poems was “First Fig” by Edna St. Vincent Millay. He memorized and did dictation for writing practice on this short four line poem. We covered some new vocabulary words from the poem, particularly the word “foes”, and discussed the meaning of the idiom “candle burns at both ends”.

Logic/Independent: This week I started writing down assignments each day for EJ to do independently in his logic book from the Critical Thinking company. I’ve discovered that he isn’t great about following directions; some days he did the wrong problems, one day he did an entirely different set of pages than I had written down. Because it’s uncovering some issues I will continue doing these assignments in preparation for more independent work next year.

Finally we finished the week with our first Science Friday after NPR’s Science Friday podcast, which I’ve nicknamed Sci-Fri. See how cute I am! I posted about that separately yesterday.

Friday was a beautiful warm spring day so the boys spent most of the afternoon playing outside with the neighborhood kids. So far today, although it’s not nearly as warm, looks to be more of the same. We are all so glad to have spring finally arriving after a snowy winter!

Weekly Wrap-up 3/4/11

After two really light weeks we got back to business again.

Math: EJ covered lessons 19-21 in Right Start. I still feel like this is mostly review for him but he is getting some good practice adding two digit numbers mentally. For fun he did a few pages from his Balance Math book.


We continued our study of pre-history after the dinosaur mass extinction with the rise of mammals. We read from the Usborne World History Encyclopedia and the boys watched Walking with Beasts which takes off where Walking with Dinosaurs leaves off.

In BFSU both boys completed lesson C-4: Distinguishing between Matter and Energy. EJ completed a page for his science notebook comparing attributes of matter vs. attributes of energy.

Language Arts: The poem this week was The Pasture, by Robert Frost. Our literature selection is Mrs. Piggle Wiggle (what a cute story!), which will continue next week. We also spent some time reviewing the poems covered during the last 5 weeks. EJ did some writing practice as part of his science work.

EJ continued typing with Typing Instructor, continued drawing with Mark Kistler online. You can see some of our work here.

This week I’m going to try something different and put our reading wrap-up in a separate post.

Thanks for reading!