Browsing the archives for the Kids category.

Resolutions 2014 Edition

California, Crafty, Domestic, Healthy, Homeschooling, Kids

I’m a big fan of setting goals and working hard to achieve them. Some of the biggest goals I’ve had and achieved were not resolutions at all, but I do love the ‘fresh start’ feeling of January, even though it’s already 1/4 of the way through the school year and doesn’t really actually change anything. Ahem. I love January! Resolutions are fun and I usually set a few for the blog and for my knitting and so far I’ve come pretty close to doing what I set out to do. The only times I really fall short of the goals set in January is when I unexpectedly set harder goals halfway through the year and kick my own butt to reach them. You know, like moving to a different country or homeschooling.

Two years ago, I listed all of my goals for the year (2012) in my blog sidebar and achieved almost all of them. Last year, I blogged a list of goals for 2013 but I didn’t add them to the sidebar and I mostly didn’t do them. I think I need the visual reminder. This year I will add them to the sidebar and use that to keep track of them. ๐Ÿ™‚

I think I will even set aside a day once a week where I post about them and how it is going. I have noticed that while most of my new visitors are not so into commenting, you’re there and knowing you’re reading is helpful motivation.

Personal Goals
1. stay at least one week ahead of our homeschool schedule
2. celebrate everyone’s birthday (local and long distance) with a card in the mail and a little letter
3. keep our family photo site updated (in the 10 years we’ve had that site, we’ve always been about 3-5 months behind)
4. start a ‘what we did today’ journal (index card version is cute)
5. quit social media that’s not blog related (this is part of a bigger move to be more present in all of my relationships)

Professional Goals
6. blog 3-5 times a week
7. make a lightbox and get better at food photography

Fun Stuff
8. a portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2014 (inspired by Miss James)
9. bake a cake every weekend (hoping to match my record in 2009 when I baked more than one pie every weekend)
10. participate in sockdown 2014 aka knit as many socks as possible (technically it goes August to August, but you can jump in whenever)
11. finally finish my knitted beekeeper quilt, I have all my puffs knitted I just have to piece it together

Miscy changes that are not really resolutions…
I’m replacing alcohol with coffee this year. Which really isn’t much of a stretch for me since I used to never drink at all and now my California bestie is more interested in coffee than cocktails!
My doctor gives me a print out of my blood work, which is new for me as none of my other doctors have ever done that, and I’m a little obsessed with stats, so I’m working on my vitamin levels and cholesterol (it’s not bad but it would be nice to make it even better).

No Comments

Happy New Year 2014

California, Kids

I hope you all had a wonderful New Years Eve full of whatever makes you happy. Over the years we have always either celebrated with my family, my husband’s family or just our little family at home. Since we’ve been living away from our families, we have been adding to and changing our traditions a little, and this year we added to something new we started last year. Last year we made all the kid’s favorite finger foods and got some miniature fancy glasses and had a cute party. The kids counted down to midnight on the East coast and were tucked in bed sleeping long before midnight local time. This year the two littlest wanted to stay up to midnight, so we came up with hourly activities to keep them busy. It was easily the best New Years Eve yet!

We started our countdown activities at 5pm and did something different every hour until midnight!

At 5, we made these countdown cupcakes with Twix clock hands. We used the Stir and Bake Chocolate Cake recipe that we all love so much (especially me because it’s so easy and always comes out right), and just some plain buttercream frosting.
At 6, we made a glittery photobooth and took about a zillion pictures. Then the girls got their American Girl dolls out and took a zillion more – I think it’s fair our son quit with the pictures as soon as the dolls came out!

7 was time for making (and breaking) the New Years crackers. All you do is wrap a cardboard tube with tissue paper, toss a few treats inside and tie the ends with curing ribbon. Each cracker maaaaybe takes 2 minutes to make and when you pull on the ends to open them the candy goes flying. They were a serious hit!

8 was party hat time! To make sure they were sturdier than the construction paper party hats of our past, we taped white paper on top of dollar store birthday party hats! Then the girls attacked them with pom poms and metallic sharpies. We attached them to cute F21 hair bands to keep them in place.

At 9, we made the traditional Greek New Years Eve cake Vasilopita. Growing up, I knew that most Greek families did this tradition because all of our extended Greek family did, but I didn’t know that who the pieces were cut for was up to the family matriarch. I cut the cake similarly to the way my mother does it, starting with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Then it’s for all the impoverished, the suffering and then it starts with the oldest in our family (my husband’s grandmother) and down to the littlest. Since Chris’ family is really big, we cut for the ‘houses’ so his cousin, her husband and their new baby got a single piece. Once you’ve cut for all your family you move on to close friends. Last year, the impoverished got the coin in our cake and this year Jesus got it! My husband wants to keep this coin and always use it as the cake coin. Another new tradition!

We set out the dessert spread at 10, most of which the girls helped me make. We had the Vasilopita, mint chocolate pudding, vanilla pudding and really serious Oreo truffles. The truffles were big, covered in milk chocolate and sprinkled with edible golden glitter.

Not pictured was the 11pm picture of the kids tearing open their Christmas presents from their grandparents, delayed over a week by storms on the East coast and customs wanted to have a little look as well, but it worked out nicely for them to have a second little present opening session, these cute nightgowns are from Grandma and Grandpa! Midnight itself was toasted with ginger ale in plastic champagne glasses and honestly? It was perfect. Happy New Year!

Stuff from this post: Gold Curling Ribbon, 11″ Gold Balloons, Gold Metallic Fringe Curtain, Gold Foil Baking Cups, Tiny Pom Poms, Metallic Sharpies aaaaand I read them this book for a week before New Years and they got really into it (The Night Before New Year’s)

No Comments

Christmas 2013 Rewind

Domestic, Kids

Oh my goodness, this Christmas season really seemed to fly by faster than others have! I think it’s that this year we are involved in more activities than ever before. Several years ago, when we lived in the middle of nowhere, I felt like I had a pretty good grip on being fully present and that helps to make time feel a lot slower! I’m going to have to think about that and try to work out a way to be fully present when there is so much going on. Challenge accepted!

This holiday season I made a knitted advent calendar and it was so fun to do the activities with the kids. Some of the activities were seriously time consuming like making homemade marshmallows and some activities were especially messy like making window clings, but they were all a blast. The whole reason we do so many countdown activities with the kids is to spend time together, add to the magic of the season and stretch out the anticipation!

We celebrate Eastern Orthodox Christmas as well, though the focus on our ‘little Christmas’ is to make things for each other and to bake traditional Greek Christmas treats. I’ll post some of the other Christmas treats we have made between now and then (January 6) because they were all so good! This year we made peppermint fudge, Oreo truffles, a holiday version of cowgirl cookies, checkerboard cookies, English toffee, two kinds of peanut brittle (the accidental kind was voted the best), red and green velvet Ferrero Rocher cupcakes, chocolate dipped pie crust stars, and date cakes baked in tin cans with caramel sauce. Our oldest had a Jiu Jitsu tournament where he placed second, and a promotion ceremony where he moved on to his next belt! Our second had a weekend of dance workshops to prepare for her competitions next month, she danced for a fundraiser and her dance company had a Christmas party. The littlest and I were just trying to make sure everyone was where they needed to be and that we managed to have a healthy dinner on the table every night. She’s playing around in the kitchen a lot more lately and loves when she makes something she can share with her friends.

Oreo truffles peppermint fudge
checkerboard cookies peanut brittle

My husband and my sister both got me the bulk of my kitchen wish list, and I could not possible be more thankful or more excited! Aside from the glass bowls and the stainless steel measuring cups and spice rack (thank you so much guys), I got cookbooks from my two absolute faves – Bobby Flay and Ree Drummond. I am really excited to cook and bake my way through these books. I think I will start with some of The Pioneer Woman’s finger foods for New Years Eve and work on some cute mocktails. Today though, today is for knitting and relaxing and maaaaaaybe making some lemon curd, because why not?

Merry Christmas!!

No Comments

Knitted Advent Countdown

Crafty, Kids

I’m late to the game on this one, but it was just too cute and too fun to wait till next year!

While stocking up on yarn in November for my annual knitting marathon (every evening in November and December) at Knit Picks, I came across this pattern for Smitten, a Holiday Garland and, naturally, I bought everything I needed for it that very second. So so so cute!


Rounds 1-8: *K1, P1 repeat from * to end of round (8 rounds of ribbing)
Switch to stockinette and begin the body of the mitten
Round 9: K3, M1R, K6, M1R, K6, M1L, K6, M1L, K3 (28 sts)
Round 10: Knit
Round 11: K12, M1R, K4, M1L, K12
Rounds 12-15: Knit (4 rounds)
Round 16: K12, M1R, K6, M1L, K12
Rounds 17-19: Knit (3 rounds)
Round 20: K12, M1R, K8, M1L, K12
Rounds 21-22 Knit (2 rounds)
Round 23: K12 and move them onto needle 1, K10, move the remaining 2 stitches on needle 2
onto needle 3 for safe keeping (12-10-12)
Work back and forth on the 10 stitches on needle 2 to make the thumb.
Row 1 (WS): Purl
Row 2: Knit
Row 3: P2TOG 5 times
Break yarn, leaving a 6″ tail.
Draw the tail through the live stitches of the thumb, pull up and secure.
The tail will be used to sew up the side of the thumb when finishing.
Continue Round 23 by attaching the yarn at the beginning of needle three and knitting all of
the stitches on it.
Rearrange stitches evenly on three needles and mark start of round if needed. (8-8-8)
Round 24-30: Knit (7 rounds)
Round 31: SSK twice, K6, K2TOG, SSK, K6, K2TOG twice (18 sts)
Round 32: Knit
Round 33: *K2TOG repeat from * to end of round (9 sts)
Break yarn, draw tail through the remaining stitches, pull up and secure. Hide tail inside.
Using the tail on the thumb, sew up the side of the thumb. Yarn can be knotted with the cast on
tail (mid-round 23) at the thumb joint to secure. Hide the yarn ends inside.
Fold the end of the i-cord to the mitten cuff and sew in place with the cast-on tail to form a loop
for hanging. Weave in (or hide) all yarn ends.

I knitted them up over the course of a few nights at the end of November. You just knit 24 tiny mittens, feel free to use whatever colors go with the room you’re putting this in or just whatever makes you happy. I used six different colors, so I made four of each. I used Knit Picks worsted weight yarn Swish in Serrano (holly red), Rouge (pink), Honey (yellow), Gulfstream (bright blue), Dublin (green) and Amethyst Heather (purple). Each mitten has it’s own little i-cord knitted into the cuff to hang! Then you knit a long i-cord to hang them all from, I also used Split Rings to mark the countdown.

Knitted Advent Countdown
Knitted Advent Countdown
Knitted Advent Countdown Knitted Advent Countdown

Instead of putting candy or toys inside (we have a few advent calendars, our kids are big on counting down and we didn’t want to add any more trinkets or candy to our lives), my husband and I dreamed up 24 fun activities and opened these cute little characters in Photoshop and got to work. We printed them, cut them out, rolled them and tied them with red curling ribbon. Then we stuffed each mitten with an activity! The kids have such a blast picking out the activity for the day and since we know what they are, we can make sure we are prepared for them!

Knitted Advent Countdown
Knitted Advent Countdown

When we’re done, I’ll post pictures of all the activities we did! Here is the list:
1 – write letters to Santa
2 – make paper snowflakes
3 – make paper chain dolls
4 – bake bread
5 – make cinnamon ornaments
6 – read Christmas stories
7 – Christmas movie marathon
8 – make homemade marshmallows
9 – paint Christmasy pictures
10 – make hot chocolate balls
11 – have an M&M race (more on this later)
12 – make Borax snowflakes
13 – decorate a gingerbread house
14 – play minute it win it games
15 – make snow globes
16 – make botttlecap snowmen
17 – make gifts for each other
18 – make window clings
19 – make gingerbread and star garland
20 – try a new recipe
21 – make a huge blanket fort in the living room
22 – watch The Polar Express and drink hot chocolate
23 – play reindeer games
24 – read The Night Before Christmas


Homemade Ketchup

Healthy, Kids

Generally speaking, ketchup is king with little kids. I know a few littles that don’t like it at all (aliens, obviously) but as a rule, kids and ketchup are a great pair. I have seen a lot of parents (among other family members) make a meal and present it to a child and be horrified or disappointed when they ask for ketchup. As if it is so offensive to them that a 4 year old wants to drown the pot roast they worked on all day in tomatoes and sugar. As long as my kids eat it, I’m cool with pretty much whatever they want to smother it in. My only problem is when I do my best to make a nutritionally balanced meal and a good portion of it goes uneaten, usually the healthiest part.

Insert dramatic sigh? Never! Insert healthy ketchup recipe instead! This is another winner from Deceptively Delicious! Thank you (yet again), Mrs. Seinfeld.

When I make homemade chicken strips and a veggie medley and they skip the medley to dunk the chicken strips in this ketchup, I’m fine with it. They’re getting huge doses of vitamins C, A and K plus potassium from both the tomato paste and the carrot and the flavonones, flavonols and hydroxycinnamic acids from the tomato. That just means they’re both great with anti-cancer, cardiovascular benefits and bone health.

You probably have most of the ingredients in your pantry already, too! All you need is a couple of mason jars.

Homemade Ketchup

1 6oz can tomato pasts
1/2 cup carrot puree
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon chili powder (or not, taste it first and decide)

Crazy simple. Just dump all but the chili powder in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer for about 20 minutes, or until it has reduced by half.

It’s good in the fridge for 5 days at the most, but how long does a bottle of ketchup last with a few kids running around? Spoiler: not long at all. You can freeze it for 3 months though! I put about 1/4 of this recipe in a jar in the fridge, 1/4 in the freezer and I shared the other half with our neighbors.

Homemade Ketchup

1 Comment

Warm Chocolate Pudding

Domestic, Kids

I know that pumpkin and brown sugar generally take center stage in Thanksgiving desserts, maaaaaaybe something with apples too. None of our littles like pumpkin all that much, as far as I remember I didn’t like it much when I was a kid either. My granny always did Thanksgiving dinner and she always, always made sure there was something chocolaty for my sister and I to have for dessert. This chocolate pudding is served warm but instead of having a typical pudding skin on it, it bakes on top so you have a wonderful little layer of cake and then the warm pudding under it. So good – especially nice when it’s cold outside.

This recipe is another from Baking with Kids. All of the recipes in this book are well written and simple enough for small children to do with assistance either from an adult or an older child. Between our three, they can make these recipes by themselves and they love to be able to say they didn’t need any help. So sweet! It’s especially fun to have the littles involved in Thanksgiving dessert since the day is supposed to be about coming together as a family and celebrating what we are all thankful for – and most of the time, kids are shooed out of the kitchen!

Warm Chocolate Pudding

6 ramekins
5 1/2 oz bittersweet chocolate
7 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 extra large eggs, at room temperature
2 egg yolks, at room temperature
5 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons sliced almonds, ground

Warm Chocolate Pudding Warm Chocolate Pudding

First preheat your oven to 425, get a small helper to butter your ramekins, and then put your chocolate and butter in a heat proof bowl. Set it over a pan of simmering water until it melts.

Warm Chocolate Pudding Warm Chocolate Pudding
Warm Chocolate Pudding Warm Chocolate Pudding

Then have a small helper crack open the eggs into a mixing bowl and add the additional 2 egg yolks and sugar. The kids love using the kitchen power tools so this is the perfect time to let them use the mixer. Beat it until very light and foamy. Now add the ground almonds and whisk.

Warm Chocolate Pudding Warm Chocolate Pudding

With a slightly older helper, stir the melted chocolate mixture until smooth and pour the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture. Be sure to scrape the bowl and then whisk the mixture again, for about two minutes.

Warm Chocolate Pudding Warm Chocolate Pudding

Bake for about 10 minutes. You just want them to be a little puffed and still soft in the middle. They are so good warm from the oven (let the ramekins cool off first, duh), but they are also really good once they have cooled off.

Warm Chocolate Pudding
Warm Chocolate Pudding

No Comments

Gearing up for Thanksgiving!

California, Kids

One of the things I really love about the date difference between Canadian and American Thanksgiving is that since American Thanksgiving is after Halloween the holiday season kicks off with Halloween and keeps rolling until New Years! So fun! In Canada since Thanksgiving is before Halloween there is sort of a whole lot of nothing going on in November and then BAM, Christmas. I always say I’m going to leisurely knit my Christmas projects throughout the fall and be done comfortably before Christmas, and then I tend to knit it all in December. Not so awesome. I’ve already made a decent dent in my list!

Halloween really ran away from me! My aunt came to visit from Canada and we ran all over LA showing her some of our favorite places and had such a blast I was exhausted and half asleep before reaching my bed each night. Tiring but so so fun. Our second Halloween in California was spent the same as our first, in Manhattan Beach and it was just as much fun as last year – if not more so since we know where we are going now. Our girls went as princesses and our son went as a Minecraft creeper! Since all of us play Minecraft it was an especially silly costume for him to wear!

We had a Halloween party with my girls’ besties, we made caramel apples, pumpkin donuts with eyeballs, creepy soft green cookies (with more eyeballs), and played so many silly Halloweeny games!

Now we are gearing up for Thanksgiving! I’m testing out some fun and festive recipes I’ve never tried and I will also make some tried and true family favorites and I have about a dozen bread recipes I have been waiting to try. It’s hard to get into bread baking when it’s 80 degrees, and now that it’s cooling off a bit I’ll have a chance to make a few loaves. I’m also hoping to knit some leaves and pumpkins to hang in the window, this is our second autumn in California and while I love, love, love life without seasons, not going through them makes me want to decorate seasonally. So funny to me, as I have never really had the desire to decorate with leaves or snowflakes or anything. I don’t want to actually deal with real leaves or snow though!

No Comments

Candy Corn Brownies and 29 Sleeps Till Halloween

Domestic, Kids

When I find a recipe that works for run of the mill things like brownies, I tend to stick with it and only deviate when it changes the flavor. I don’t know how many times I’ve made this recipe, but I know it by heart and didn’t even bring the cookbook it’s in with us to California. I love that cookbook too, The All New Good Housekeeping Cook Book. My go-to chocolate chip cookie recipe is from the same book. ๐Ÿ˜‰

I love how 1953 it is to point to a Good Housekeeping recipe as my family’s favorite. Probably more than a person should, really.

Candy Corn Brownies

via The All New Good Housekeeping Cook Book

1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
+ handful of candy corn

The brownies are crazy simple. Melt the butter in a small saucepan and mix all the dry in a medium bowl and set aside. Add the sugar, eggs, and vanilla one at a time, stirring until each ingredient is mixed in. Whisk in the dry ingredients and pour it all into a greased brownie pan. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes.

Candy Corn Brownies and 29 Sleeps Till Halloween

Then? Make them Halloweeny by studding the tray with candy corn!

Candy Corn Brownies and 29 Sleeps Till Halloween
No Comments

Witchy Cupakes – 30 Sleeps Till Halloween


Let the countdown to Halloween begin!!

These little cupcakes are so cute!! I really like to get crafty with kid food, and holiday kid food is my favorite! I used one of my go to chocolate cake recipes. This one is from Robin Hood and I’ve been baking it since 2009 at least. It is one of those wonderfully simple ‘dump all the ingredients in one bowl, mix, pour and be done’ recipe. However, unlike most of those recipes, this one actually comes together with no lumps and it comes out just perfect.

Stir and Bake Chocolate Cake

via Robin Hood

1/2 cup flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup warm water
1/3 cup oil
1 tablespoon vinegar

Start with the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Whisk it all together. Then mix in the water. Then mix in the vinegar. Whisk, whisk, whisk and pour into 12 cupcake cups (cups you have previously lined with black or otherwise Halloweeny liners) and bake for about 30 minutes.

To make them witchy you’ll need:
green buttercream icing
decorative chocolate wafer cookies
Hershey kisses
black sprinkles
M & Ms
black shoestring licorice
candy corn

Witchy Cupakes  Witchy Cupakes

First I frosted the cupcakes, then I made their little hats by ‘gluing’ the Hershey kisses to the chocolate wafer cookies with a little dab of buttercream icing. Then I piped orange frosting around it to secure it.

Witchy Cupakes  Witchy Cupakes

Next I added their black sprinkle eyebrows, M&M eyes and their candy corn noses! The personality is all in the eyebrows, amirite?! Some of them look confused but I think the overall effect of grumpy witches worked out.

Witchy Cupakes
1 Comment

3rd Grade This Year

California, Homeschooling, Kids

Starting tomorrow, I’m going to get into the spirit of Halloween and celebrate by counting down the days with silly and only slightly scary ideas. Before we get to that though, I want to do a little homeschool catch up post on what structure we’re working with in 3rd grade this year. Today is our 40th day of school for 2013/2014. I only know because we’re going to celebrate the 100th day of school this year and I figured that we should be counting so the days don’t get away from me. This will be our second full year homeschooling and I really feel like I have a better way of running our days than I did when we started. This was our schedule and our materials last year.

We work a standard schedule 5 days a week, taking Wednesdays and Saturdays off, though the weekend is usually when our 8th grader reads his assigned literature and our 3rd grader finishes all her art.

Since our youngest isn’t 5 yet, she can’t be enrolled in the same homeschooling program as our other two children. Obviously, she can still do a kinder program at home with me. The program I’ve set up for her is very similar to the junior kindergarten program in Ontario, it needs it’s own post. Our 8th grader works on a three classes per semester schedule and since it is technically an independent study program, he also has options open to add more and more onto what was assigned. I’m really impressed with the way he has chosen to build onto this system, and this will get it’s own post as well. For now though, the grade I think I end up spending the most combined hours on…3rd.

3rd Grade
8:00am – 8:45am Language Arts – Spelling / Reading
8:45am – 9:30am Language Arts – Grammar, Reading Response
9:30am – 9:45am first break
9:45am – 10:45am Math
10:45am – 11:45am Lunch
11:45am – 12:45pm Social Science or Science
12:45pm – 1:45pm Math or Language Arts Homework
1:45pm – 2:05pm Cursive
2:05pm – 3:00pm Art or Music
3:00pm – 4:30pm FREE TIME ๐Ÿ™‚
4:30pm – 6:30pm PE (swimming, dance/ballet)

Our 3rd grader is in her second year in the primary program and I really like the way it is laid out. Essentially, we work on a 5 day schedule and hand in the previous week’s work mid-week. We try to stay a day or two ahead of schedule as a buffer in case something comes up and of course something usually does so I try not to deviate from the schedule too often. As far as how each class breaks down, here is a general idea. Aside from the classes listed, our 15 minute breaks are spent however they choose to use them. Sometimes they’ll all go outside, sometimes they’ll all relax in the living room for a while and sometimes they all scatter and do different things. Lunch is almost always taken as a picnic poolside. Some days it is too cool to go to the pool, but it’s not like that enough days in a row to make it off limits for a prolonged period so they get to have a nice break mid-day. On days when it is too cool for the pool we have a backyard picnic instead. Just the concept of not having to think about school for an hour, and eat food you love with your siblings, preferably outside.

Language Arts – Spelling / Reading – 45 minutes
Each day, we start with the vocabulary words for the week by going over their spelling, definitions and using them in context. We do a pretest on Mondays and a spelling test on Fridays. There are also usually 4 or 5 worksheets related to our spelling words and the phonics we are working on and we do those now. She reads aloud the selection for the day and we go over the reading comprehension for it. There are usually a few worksheets we will do for this portion as well.

Language Arts – Grammar, Reading Response – 45 minutes
We have daily language activities we complete for grammar and the flow on my end goes; introduce the concept, teach the concept, review and practice, review and proofread, and then on Fridays I assess and reteach. There are always worksheets for grammar and we also do a daily composition book prompt and a paragraph practice exercise that we usually do twice a week.

Math – 60 minutes
Generally speaking, we introduce a concept each day that builds on what we did the previous day. The workload is usually about 20-30 questions in the textbook and about 15 questions on an accompanying homework sheet. Throughout the math text there are pages with mini tests, prompts to review work from the previous topics, and opportunities to reteach. We use the time left at the end of the formal lesson to go back and cover these extras to both keep older lessons fresh and to practice the new lessons until they become simple.

Social Science – 60 minutes
The curriculum we follow outlines one chapter a week in the textbook. The first day she reads the chapter aloud, goes over the captions, photos, charts and additional information and then we do the lesson review. The second day there is an art activity where the lesson is made creative, the third day the lesson is extended with a personalized activity. The fourth day is a writing activity or a skillbuilder activity that relates to things like map reading and finding information. The fifth day is used either for assessment or to work through a primary grades history of the United States program we have. There are also assigned worksheets for each lesson, two of them relate directly to the lesson, and two additional ones are for related reading comprehension and new related vocabulary.

Science – 60 minutes
Much like the social science curriculum, the outline for this program is one chapter per week, and there is plenty to build on in the text. We go over the whole chapter on the first day and do the lesson review. The following day and often also the day after we devote to that week’s experiment. This year we are also working with a second text that teaches different concepts from the main text. It’s neat to have a secondary lesson every week, and the homework completion for that one is one review page a week, usually no more than 5 questions, but her responses have to be detailed.

Math / Language Arts Homework – 60 minutes
This block of time is not always necessary. Sometimes, a new math concept will take a little longer to fully grasp and that’s more than understandable, it’s expected and totally normal. Other times, there is just a lot of writing to be done in the language arts program and in order to keep her writing neat she can’t rush though it so it can be time consuming. This period is just used to catch up on any class that had unfinished work after we moved on to the next. Some days there is no unfinished work. In that case we usually just work for an hour on whatever comes next in any subject she wants.

Cursive – 20 minutes
I assign one cursive writing page per day. Most of the time there are two letters on each page, with either a few words or even a phrase to write in cursive. Sometimes we’ll do a review of words we know by handwriting sentences with the letters she has learned.

Art – 55 minutes
We have been working through a really fun 3rd grade art program this year and so far she loves it. She has had to draw the same picture twice once with cool colors and once with warm colors, we’ve made air drying clay and she’s used it to make Native American style bowls and Greek style vases. She has made collages and worked with watercolors. There is so much going on in this program it deserves a post of it’s own! This week coming up she will be working a crayon resist project, create Greek theater masks and make a Romain coin!

Music – 55 minutes
I’m not a big fan of the recorder, but I appreciate that it is an approachable way to get kids to learn the basics of sheet music. Once they have that down we’ll move onto the piano, but for now we’re working through Recorder Karate, which is a program that relates songs for the recorder of increasing difficulty to karate belt levels. So first you learn the sheet music for the notes, then you practice the song and once a week she has to perform that week’s song to reach the next belt level. It’s actually pretty fun and all three of them try!

Free Time – 90 minutes
This is their anything (within reason) goes time between finishing school for the day and going to their physical programs of choice. Our 3rd grader is in dance and she is at the studio 5 days a week, since our other children are also involved in after school activities as well, they’re off to drop off and pick up even if they are not doing anything that afternoon. Since this block of time is right after art, she will often just keep working on whatever she’s working on that day or if she’s finished but still feels like being creative she will continue to paint or sculpt or paper mache it up.

There is always room for tweaking and of course we take a lot of field trips that we sometimes try to work into the programs we’re teaching from but we also just go on field trips to learn things for the sake of learning them. We also do one library day a week and now that she’s learned how to log in and request books from other branches she’s well on her way to reading every Nancy Drew in the County of Los Angeles Pubic Library system.

The 8th grade and kindergarten programs have been in full swing for the last 40 days as well and they are both also a lot of fun and have been working out well for each child and thankfully for me as well!

No Comments
« Older Posts
Newer Posts »