Math Lesson 49 (Perimeter)
Bible Heroes Lesson 10 (Story Sequence – problem)
Handwriting – review print-to-cursive
AWANA section 2.4
Science – finished Astronomy “Moon”
Encyclopedia – “Christopher Gadsden”
CC Memory Work – reviewed Week 7


Math: Lesson 48 (division by 10 and by 1 – 3 ways to write division)
AWANA: T&T 2.4
IEW: Bible Heroes lesson 9 (Story Sequence Chart, part 1)
Encyclopedia: Gadolinium (element)
Handwriting: Freeze Tag game (review practice)
Science: Apologia Astronomy “Moon” continued
CC Memory Work: reviewed Week 6


Math: Saxon 3rd grade Lesson 47
IEW: Bible Heroes Lesson 8
AWANA: T&T 2.4
Handwriting: cursive f
Science: Apologia Astronomy, read 2 pages Moon
Encyclopedia: Gabriel, slave revolt 1800
Reviewed CC Memory Work Week 9


Today, the 8yo accomplished:

  • Lesson 15 in Saxon Math 3
  • A whole week of writing lessons in the IEW Bible Heroes book!
  • A section of Apologia Astronomy Lesson 2 (read to her and discussed)
  • Encyclopedia: G Gabon, Africa
  • AWANA memory work and workbook 1.1
  • CC memory work – reviewing weeks 1 & 2

In Astronomy, we’ve been discussing how we revolve around the sun (a year), spin (a day/night), and tilt (seasons). Yesterday, we watched a “They Might Be Giants” video about the gas/atomic composition of the sun, and it repeated the info in our textbook nicely (93,000,000 miles away, how we need it to survive, etc.).  Today, more info was added about revolving and rotating, adding the moon’s path to our orbit.

We took turns reading Gabon from G Encyclopedia aloud.  We talked about forestry, why the people speak French, the government party system, how President Bongo converted to Islam, and how he was president for a really long time.

We watched a video about how hurricanes form off of the West coast of Africa (dry, hot air mixes with cold, wet air and creates storms that are carried across the ocean).

Career Exploration

Carol Topp spoke about Career Exploration for High School Students at the Cincinnati Homeschool Convention.  I personally found her to be an energetic speaker, and her enthusiasm was contagious.  I attended two of her sessions and found myself feeling uplifted, encouraged and energized!

Finding a career is not like shooting an arrow into a bullseye.  Life isn’t like that.  It’s a process of exploration.  You don’t need to decide what you’re going to be by age 17; you just need to decide the next step.  Kids feel like God’s will is one thing or the other; however, the person is more important than the job.  She reminded us that –


She used the example of Joseph in the Bible, who had many careers – shepherd, slave, accountant for Potiphar, prisoner, manager of prisoners, and then after interpreting Pharaoh’s troubling dreams, he became 2nd in command in the country!  All of the past jobs helped Joseph in his next job.  Every job or opportunity gives the person more information to go into the next job.  Hence, Career Exploration is a Process.

She recommended this timeframe in college –

8th/9th grade: get a general idea.  Do you like to work with people? numbers? etc.

Repeat process in jr. year – help pick major, get idea for the “next step”.

Women – think about what you might want to do when you have children.  Will your career fit your kids?

Kids should make a long list of careers and take several tests.  Do you see the same things popping up again and again?  Brainstorm, but don’t eliminate.  Research the Bureau of Labor Statistics (bls.gov) Consider these questions –

  • What does it take to be a ____?
  • What do they make?
  • What kind of college is needed?

Also consider, Employment or Self-Employment?  Not all careers lead to self-employment (example: nurse)

Give teens lots of experience.  Is your teen interested in the medical field? Have them work in a retirement home.  Give teens opportunities to interview with people and job shadow.  After a job shadowing experience, ask – What do you like about it? What don’t you like about it?  Look at college catalogs – if your teen finds certain classes interesting, such as classes all in one subject, that might be what they want to do for their major.

Prepare –

  • High school plan: what are your graduation requirements? Make high school plan of credits needed for graduation based upon where they are going and what is needed. (example: don’t bother with Physics if the student will be obtaining a Music degree)
  • College entrance requirements?
  • Find answers at Collegeboard.org
  • Visit College Fairs to help select a college
  • Look at online reviews of colleges – collegedirt.com (but read with a grain of salt)
  • Go for a college visit.  Read the student newspaper. Eat in the cafeteria.  Stay overnight in the dorm, if able.  The dorm will have more influence than the professors!

She recommended the book What Do I Do with a Degree in English?

Job Shadowing – put the word out that your interested in job shadowing for a particular field.  Send email to church, homeschool network.  Use your connections.  Most people WANT to talk about themselves and encourage others into that career.  Some organizations have job shadowing days.  Dayton Airforce Base offers this – from dental hygienist to bomb disposal expert.  Boy Scouts Explorers also does career exploration, and this opportunity is also available for girls.

Here is a link to her handout with good info and links: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B_mIAvc8Q0JMMFktNW5hcjhPdVE/view?usp=sharing


Challenge Class of One

Our school year has come to an end.  It was a beautiful year, in which I was the Challenge tutor of one student.  That 0ne student was my daughter, and I set out to prove that CC is do-able in any situation, even when no other students join the class.

We have a full campus that grew to max capacity in just 4 years.  We’re out in the country, where you wouldn’t think to find a campus this size.  I joined it when it began and we were a tiny campus of just a few families meeting together each Monday.  I loved those intimate days, getting to know each family on a deeper level.  I love seeing so many families fill a church now; and I’m thankful to have been a part of it’s growth.  Our campus has been everything we needed for my middle and youngest child; however, my oldest child was just a little outside of the age range for everything happening here.

We had to wait an extra year to find a Challenge A closer to us than 1.5 hours away.  If I’d known how much Challenge would complete my oldest’s education, maybe I would have driven those 1.5-2 hours each week.  Eventually, we were able to find either a close enough Challenge, or find another person driving that route, that could drive my daughter.  Last year, my daughter was worn out from the extra long days and wanted to be local.  Every year, I had made an attempt to start a Challenge level for her at our own campus, but despite my prayers and best efforts, no level could be created for her that would include other students.

This year, however, we decided to make it work, even if only one student, my daughter, made up our class. We set up space at our CC campus’s church, and created a Challenge II class of one.  We hoped that another student might join, so I endeavored to make the class as complete as if it were a class of 10.  Other students did not join our class, but we had a fantastic year just the two of us.  Often, I felt like I was the secret second student!  I learned a few things that made it work:

Tailor the class to the student
I think this is true whether you have 12 students or 1 student.  I began the year trying to make my Challenge II class look like any Challenge II class, at any campus.  I tried making generic plans for a class of imaginary students.  What I found is that class was better when I made the class fit my daughter.  Each week, I asked myself, “What does my daughter need? What would bless her in her studies?”  I wrote up my plans based on that.  Sometimes, we’d get to class, and she had something else to discuss or work on for that subject, and it wasn’t on my plan.  I soon learned to ditch the plan and go with my daughter’s needs.  I believe, now, that this is the key to tutoring any Challenge class, whether small or large.  Next year, I will tutor a class of 8 students, and I will ask myself the same question – “how can I bless them? what do they need?”  I will make plans that can fill a class, or drop the plans if something else speaks to my students’ hearts.

Discussion sometimes happens twice
I found that we’d discuss things at home as mother and daughter, and then again in class. Literature often had two discussions.  It was fun to read and discuss at home, but also fun to continue that conversation in class.

I had to find substitute students, sometimes
Some subjects just need another student.  You cannot have a debate team of 1.  We tweaked debate.  For the first debate, my daughter wrote up a note sheet about debate, and we invited everyone from age 12+ to an Information Meeting about Team Policy Debate. My daughter led the meeting and shared her notes.  We drummed up interest for the next debate scheduled in the guide.  Our next two debates had students.  Often, we’d have to meet outside of CC to hold our debate.  Sometimes it felt like we were putting in more work than the tutor of a class of 2 or more!  But we had an awesome debate experience, and were able to get other students on fire for debate, too.

We teamed up with other Challenge classes
We were able to benefit from having Challenge A and B classes on campus.  If my daughter had a presentation scheduled, we would ask the Challenge A or B tutor if we could present to them.  We were also able to get the students’ feedback.  It was nice for those other levels to see what is on the horizon for them, and learn about Challenge II.  If our guide scheduled a full hour for debate, but our debate was scheduled for another day, we’d ask Challenge A or B if they had any presentations.  We enjoyed watching Challenge A present LTW papers and Challenge B present Science Fair projects.  My daughter skipped Challenge B, and she was able to fill in on Mock Trial for one student that was unable to be there.  This was an amazing experience for her, and she did her role well.

All students have weaknesses and strengths. Go with it!
My daughter is not a lover of Biology.  She gets squeamish if someone says the word “eyeball”, thus the dissections of Challenge II were a “no deal”.  For her, I printed out the most cartoony sheets of creatures I could find, and we brought our science journals and coloring pencils.  We sat on the floor and sketched for that hour.  My daughter said this was extremely helpful.  She did well on her Biology tests because she sketched diagrams.  If we had dissected an animal, she would have missed this opportunity to quietly sketch and soak in the details.  I would love to incorporate the sketching of science diagrams into a future Challenge class, at least to model it as a study technique.

Sometimes, the class falls silent
Sometimes, with a class of 1, there just isn’t anything else to say.  With discussion often getting double duty at home and in Community day, sometimes a topic was discussed as fully as we both felt it could be.  It is very different to lead a class of 1 into discussion, instead of a chatty class of many.  Sometimes, we simply opened the book on the schedule and read aloud.  Sometimes we re-read last week’s reading, but often we’d look ahead into next week’s reading.  When something inspired thought, we’d stop to discuss it.  Many rich hours were filled this way, and I believe it brought new meaning and life into a subject during that week.

Add in movement!
As a class of 1, we were often on the move!  On nice days, we’d walk the parking lot, books in hand.  Sometimes, we’d move locations, out into the halls of the church (as long as it didn’t bother other classes).  When our big, happy campus gathered, just outside our little room, sometimes we’d swap places and borrow their space for awhile.  We moved and it helped us learn (and not fall asleep!)  It was not unusual for my pedometer to reach 8,000-10,000 steps by the end of Community day.  I loved this aspect of our tiny class.

A tiny class can fit almost anywhere
We met in the Mothers’ Nursing Room at our church, and sat in two big rocking chairs.  Sometimes we felt like we were grannies in rockers, and needed a pair of knitting needles and yarn to make the picture complete.  It was a small space that fit two people comfortably, but three was a little more of a stretch.  We have great memories of our rocking chair discussions!  And if we’d had a bigger class, we might not have had space at the church for us.  We were blessed to be small in number.

If you are considering tutoring a Challenge class of 1, I say “do it!”  It is do-able.  Make it work for you and your student.  A Challenge class is meant to be full of rich discussion, and that will look different for any class.  Don’t be afraid to lead a discussion with 1 student (or have that student lead a discussion with you!). Don’t be afraid to simply read from the text, and pause to discuss when thought-provoking material is revealed.  Don’t be afraid to tweak your class to bless Your student.  And don’t be afraid to make your classroom anywhere – or everywhere!

Challenge 2 week 3

Monday was the First Official Day for Foundations and Essentials, so we had a full campus with everyone in attendance.  It was great fun and I enjoyed seeing snippets of my 7yo throughout the day!

Devotion: we read through Philippians 1:1-11, with a focus on Phil 1:9-11.  I liked how love, knowledge, and discernment were tied together in verse 9.

Math: our math lesson was easy, although there were two that stumped us.  We’ll ask ‘the Dad’ later.  We worked on isolating variables.  It reminded me a lot of Logic…

Latin: we’ve found a groove here.  We start by walking the parking lot, working on vocab.  Next, we race (or copy) making a chart of something (yesterday, we did qui, quae, quod).  And then we work on translating.  My student is ahead of me, so she explains stuff:)  There is no better way to learn something or to understand something than to teach it!

Biology: we looked at bacteria under the microscope – streptococcus and e. coli.  Then, we looked at yogurt with live, active cultures (yum!) We reviewed the Lab Journal, and practiced with some entries and drawings.  We discussed the different shapes of bacteria.

Logic: we reviewed our past Traditional Logic lesson and then worked ahead by reading aloud, discussing, and answering questions.  We played with words, and added new “analogous” terms to our list throughout the day as we thought of them. (Literature discussion, later, is an awesome time to add in analogous terms).  We ended with a rousing rendition of Strunk & White.  So far, I’ve adopted the “omit needless words” and “if you don’t know how to pronounce something, say it loud!” mantras:)

LUNCH!  I checked on the 7yo, who was really more interested in playing with friends at lunch.

Literature: I love the literature and the discussions we have.  (Happy sigh).  My student liked Knight’s Tale far better than Beowulf, and this really sparked the conversation on heroes and comparing the characters of Knight’s Tale with Beowulf.  We also did a play-by-play on what happened in Knight’s Tale and analyzed it.  We ended the class with beginning a read-aloud of Sir Gawain.  We spent this class period outside at the church/youth campfire and swing area.

Debate:  We learned about/discussed the moral, ethical, and artistic ramifications of the Renaissance, and added to the timeline in class.



Week 2 – Challenge 2

My daughter and I met for our 2nd week of Challenge 2.  Here is a recap:

  • Devotional centered on Phil 4:8-9, and we did a topic wheel using our 6 subjects and how they might tie into this verse:

    Finally, brethren, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy – meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.

    This was an important verse for this week.  We both were getting a little overwhelmed by the workload and the inability to “do it all”. I was convicted that, perhaps – somehow! – we need to be focused more on truth, goodness, and beauty, and getting to know our Creator through our studies, rather than the momentary thrill (or frustration) of striving after checklists.  It’s a hard balance!

  • We tailored our math time to focus on percents and calculating sales tax, wholesale, retail, etc.
  • In Latin, we raced on the whiteboard to write all the forms of SUM in indicative.  Then, we walked about our church parking lot memorizing and quizzing vocab.  We finished with an oral Latin translation from Henle 2.
  • In Biology, I introduced the LAB journal; rules and why the rules exist.  We played with our new microscope and practiced focusing on threads, hair, and cheek cells.  We did not succeed finding 400x with the cheek cells, but we made another attempt after CC and found it hooray!
  • In Logic, we learned about Porphyry and the Porphyrean tree.  We read aloud the intro to Strunk & White.
  • LUNCH – we enjoyed visiting with other tutors and students, and finding out about their day.
  • Literature is our favorite subject:)  My daughter was really expecting Beowulf to be revealed as a phony at the end, or expected some big reveal about his flawed character.  Nope. And so, Beowulf is not her favorite classic; although she thought Wiglaf was the real hero in the story.  We enjoyed talking about heroes and what makes a hero.
  • Last came Western Cultural History for Debate.  We explored art in the Middle Ages, pulling in some examples.  My daughter had an interesting view of this picture:
    It looks like the Baby Jesus is holding a red crayon:)  Seeing it online after the fact, I realize it’s probably a scroll – but my printout that we hung on the wall sure did look like a Crayola crayon!

We’re taking next week off, although we may keep plugging ahead.  We don’t have any breaks planned later in the year before Christmas, so we may need to steal a break later on.

1st Day of High School

Today, my 15 year old and I began Challenge 2 with Classical Conversations.  Last year, she commuted a long distance each week in order to participate in the Challenge 1 program.  She had an amazing tutor, great classmates, and it was a wonderful experience.  The downside was the travel time and the great distance we needed to travel to meet for group projects and events.  We opted to try starting our own Challenge 2 program this year, and decided to run with it – students or no students.

We had a fantastic day!
Yeah, another student or two would be a huge blessing.  But we’ll be finding ways to bring the group learning into our tiny little group of 2 (tutor and student; mom and daughter).  I’ll share a few highlights of our day:

  • We began with a devotional by reading Joshua 1:1-18.  After wandering the desert for 40 years, now the people were going to enter the promised land!  It was a new beginning for the Israelites.  They were continually reminded in the first chapter of Joshua to “be strong and of good courage”.  They were also admonished to keep God’s commandments and to obey Him.  This seemed a good verse to start our year, and tie into our Challenge 2 theme of “Choices”.
  • In Math, we used the CC Trivium tables to warm up with numbers by manipulating a single number to be a whole number, integer, fraction, decimal, percent, and scientific notation.  We also began this seminar with a quote: “A mathematical theory is not to be considered complete until you have made it so clear that you can explain it to the first man whom you meet on the street.” – David Hilbert.  We collaboratively worked some math problems and word problems together from Algebra 2.
  • Latin involved exploration of Napolean, Caesar, and Jesus.  We learned more about Napolean and Julius Caesar, and compared them to each other, and to Jesus.  We reviewed 3rd declension endings, and worked some examples.  We took a walk outside and quizzed each other on forms of SUM.
  • We kicked off our Science – Biology discussion over this article: http://www.thenakedscientists.com/HTML/articles/article/even-insects-have-distinct-personalities/
    I liked how my daughter called personality a “spunk”, and that God has given each of us our own spunk 😉  We previewed what’s ahead, and talked about scientific classification.
  • Logic was a fun discussion of truth, validity, and soundness. We ended the last 10 minutes with a rousing reading of Strunk & White.  Note: when your child is your student, you BOTH need a copy of the book. Listening to correct punctuation is difficult – you really need to see it.  I’ll have that fixed for next week!
  • Lunch. I need to pack food that can be made and eaten faster.  Half an hour lunches go quick!
  • Literature: Beowulf.  We had a great time reading Beowulf together and picking out “kennings” (literary technique).  Our favorite phrase from Beowulf was “unlocked his word-hoard”.  We’re so going to use that! It was great hashing out the plot and mapping the family tree.
  • We ended our day with a glimpse of future speech assignments, and a discussion of How Shall We Then Live by Francis Shaffer. Note: I need to organize a group field trip to an art museum.  I’m looking forward to that!
  • We carried over the *mint* tradition from Challenge 1.  Life Saver Wint-o-green flavored mints were a big hit in my classroom of 2.
  • Having a timeline on the wall that we filled in as names and dates popped up was helpful.  I think I’d want to do that for any Challenge level.  It’ll be neat to see it by the end of the year!  Hint: the timeline is not perfection – we made it on cardstock and wrote with sharpie.  Mistakes were made, and we scribbled and re-wrote.  But the process is a beautiful thing.

How to learn Logic – an update

I’m pleased to announce that I finished Introductory Logic (Nance) earlier this summer.  A few of us moms made a schedule, and I doggedly stuck to it until the book’s completion.  Sailing along at the pace of one lesson per day, 5 lessons per week was do-able, and I only occasionally hit the slight snag.  After that, I confidently strode into Intermediate Logic.  This one has been a bit trickier.  In my previous post, I detailed making charts to aid in my memorization and comprehension.  Intermediate was not the same animal.  Whereas Intro was words and predictable word patterns to reach a valid conclusion, Intermediate was symbols and bore a striking resemblance to math laws.  Intermediate is just plain mathy.  For some of us, mathy = undecipherable alien gibberish.

I sailed through, hit the occasional snag, and then sailed through again; until lesson 14. (Queue suspense music).  And then lesson 15.  Lesson 16.  And now Lesson 17.  I’ve learned a few lessons that make these hiccups easier, and I will share them with you:

  1. Step away from the book.  (Don’t throw the book.  Don’t curse the book.  Walk away.  Walk away.)
  2. Come back to the book at a calmer, happier time:)  Go back a lesson or three.  Re-work them until you feel pretty brave and confident.
  3. Start that tricky lesson at your fresh time of day.  This seems like a no-brainer, but seriously – trying to work a hard lesson while kids were mom, Mom, MOM’ing me to tears was counter-productive.
  4. Have a cup of coffee, and set up a time of – ah, no kids – relaxation, while working the lesson.

Yeah, you’re probably thinking “why would I want to use my relaxation and coffee time to tackle Logic?”  Because the feeling you get finally conquering that massive, ugly string of alphabet letters and alien symbols is amazing!  (Queue Rocky music).  And, you can help your struggling kids with it later in the year.  Ultimately, though, if you can prove “A. Therefore, if B then A”, then you can accomplish anything.  (Bonus points if you can make that into an argument and prove it.  Just kidding!)