It's been a rather quiet week since everyone seems to have picked up a nasty cold, in addition to the stomach bug/flu we've had. We've all been seriously dragging, so there hasn't been much to share (nor have we accomplished a great deal). The highlight of my week was the arrival of our Winter Promise history curriculum. It showed up on Thursday - only two days after I'd called them to check the status of my order! I can't wait to begin using it next week -- provided that I find the energy to plan it all out this weekend.

This afternoon I went out to find a good volcano kit, so that we could also start on science next week (which, again, is going to take a lot of planning since I have no formal curriculum in place). I ended up purchasing a Thames & Kosmos/National Geographic Earthquakes & Volcanoes kit, which looks quite promising and contains many different experiments. Much to my delight, I also found a new board game that will tie into our studies perfectly - Tigris & Euphrates by Mayfair Games. Typically I never buy a game until I've checked the rating and read the reviews on Board Game Geek, so I was relieved to find that it all looked very positive (and it's a truly beautiful game). Sadly, we're all much too wiped out to play tonight, but I guess I should be doing some work - or sleeping - anyway!

Just as we seemed to be getting into a good routine, we all came down with the flu. So today we had our first sick day and I'm feeling very guilty about it, even though it can't exactly be helped. I tried to put the morning to good use and decided to re-work our daily schedule, which definitely needed some tweaking. Thus far, it's been taking us an awful lot of time to cover very little work each day. I can't imagine what our day will be like once we add Latin back in - and Science (oh, and let's not forget Geography next year!).

My biggest problem is that I also work from home and need to work a certain number of hours per day, so when school takes too long, the kids get antsy and my job suffers. Here's another problem - since we're starting our school year from the beginning, I don't have the luxury of spacing out lessons the way I'd like. We have a lot of material to get through!

Anyway, so here's the schedule I came up with:

I'm not entirely sure that it'll work yet (math, in particular, will probably require more time), but at least it's a good start. Our daily "Main Lesson" will include a mixture of Bible, history and literature. For English, I generally spend at least half an hour with my fourth graders while my eldest takes a break and/or eats lunch, then I spend the remaining time with him while they take a break. So far, that has worked very well, so I guess we'll see how this goes!

Bible: On Monday and Tuesday we had another lesson from Christian Studies I, and read about Eve in What Really Happened in Ancient Times. We also read A LOT from Little Pilgrim's Progress. While my initial plan had been a chapter per day, we averaged 5 or more each day because the kids never wanted me to stop reading. I didn't do much else since we'll be switching over to Winter Promise next week (hopefully!).

English: We slogged through Rod & Staff English every day this past week, learning about simple and complete subjects, simple and complete predicates, helping verbs, prepositions and more. While the kids hate it, for the most part they seem to be getting it. It's certainly much more advanced than their public school work had been and I probably should have started them at a lower level. However, I created flash cards each day for new terms and word lists to be memorized & we drill on those frequently -- it seems to be helping a lot! We also worked on some letter writing and thank you cards this week.

Latin: We've dropped Matin Latin and will be switching to Latina Christiana ASAP!

Handwriting: I am essentially re-teaching handwriting this year, so our work began this week using the Peterson Directed Handwriting program. Several years ago, our school district decided that teaching handwriting was unnecessary, and as a result, my three youngest only learned how to write their names in cursive. Rand Nelson, the owner of Peterson, has been enormously helpful with getting us started and answering all my questions.

Reading: We continued reading The Wheel on the School, and also read:
Math: We're waiting on some manipulatives to arrive for the Singapore curriculum, so we spent the week working on mental math skills with worksheets and timed drills from Whole Spirit Press. We also played some games with our Tree Blocks Math Kit.

(Yes, our wine rack doubles as my "desk")

History: We continued our Roman coin cleaning project (the coins are currently soaking), played Thebes, a game of "competitive archaeology," and completed several lessons from Archaeology by Judith Cochran. Tuesday, we took a break to watch the inauguration and learn a little presidential history; Thursday we enjoyed a layer cake dig.

(Nola, our little Pygmy goat, loves to watch our lessons.)

This morning we went on an edible archaeological excavation after learning about where artifacts are found, how they become buried, and how archaeologists excavate and document their discoveries. It was an especially good lesson since some of us will be participating in the Kansas Archaeology Training Program Field School this summer.

Our dig site was composed of three cake layers: chocolate, vanilla and strawberry, representing a stratified site, and many Playmobil "artifacts." This was the site before we began:

The extra cake batter was used for cupcakes, to snack on after the dig:

After removing the trees, we created a grid with four sections, so that each archaeologist could record their findings. (I should've taped the string down!)

Then, the digging began:

After excavating the artifacts from a layer and recording their locations, each artifact had to be carefully cleaned.

Some of the objects from layer one included:

Layer two included many gold artifacts, part of a palace wall, and an especially well-preserved king who had been buried with a gold crown and cloak:

Artifacts from each layer were carefully described and sketched, along with an explanation of the stratum:

Layer three appears to have been a battleground. Many weapons and a partial skeleton were unearthed:

Needless to say, the project was very messy, but a lot of fun!

Our book basket for February will include:

February 3:
Rockwell: A Boy and his Dog by Loren Spiotta DiMare; Norman Rockwell born February 3, 1894

February 7: Pioneer Girl: The Story of Laura Ingalls Wilder by William Anderson; Laura Ingalls Wilder born February 7, 1865

February 9: Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs; Wilson A. Bentley born February 9, 1865

February 11: Thomas Edison: Inventor, Scientist, and Genius by Lori Mortensen; Thomas A. Edison born February 11, 1847

February 12: Abe Lincoln the Boy Who Loved Books by Kay Winters, Abe Lincoln Remembers by Ann Turner; Abraham Lincoln born February 12, 1809

February 14: Saint Valentine by Robert Sabuda

February 17: The Story of the H.L. Hunley and Queenie's Coin by Fran Hank; Event February 17, 1864 (more info here and here)

February 19: Nicolaus Copernicus: The Earth is a Planet by Dennis B. Fraden; Nicolaus Copernicus born February 19, 1473

February 22: George Washington by James Giblin, George Washington's Teeth by Deborah Chandra; George Washington born February 22, 1732

February 26: The Sweetwater Run by Andrew Glass; Buffalo Bill Cody born February 26, 1845

February 27: When Marian Sang: The True Recital of Marian Anderson by Pam Munoz Ryan; Marian Anderson born February 27, 1897

February 28: Mr. Williams by Karen Barbour; J.W. Williams born February 28, 1929

Other Books for February:

For the past few months I've gone back and forth about our history curriculum for the year. Finally, I decided on Winter Promise: Quest for the Ancient World and Story of the World (Volume I). Winter Promise uses Mystery of History (Volume I) as the primary spine for its curriculum, so this guide to corresponding chapters between the two has been enormously helpful. The following supplements are included in the Winter Promise package:

Additional books for the year include:

Unfortunately, I'd already purchased a lot of books before selecting Winter Promise, so I'm not sure how much we'll actually be able to get through. Fortunately, we all love history!

We'll also be using an Ancient History Copybook by Julie Shields and these History of Ancient Times Notebooking Pages. Additional activities include:
I'm sure I'll have more to add - I'm especially interested in finding more crafts and activities because we really enjoy those. has some great resources, so I may purchase a few extra supplements from them, but first I'll need to see how everything comes together.

This past week I made an attempt to begin homeschooling the kids. Needless to say, because I was not done with my planning (and still recovering from a recent surgery), it wasn't quite the start I'd hoped for. However, they were so bored we had to do something, so we jumped right into our lessons -- for better or worse.

While I'm already sensing that there will be some changes to my initial curriculum choices, here's what we're currently using:


Christian Studies I
Little Pilgrims Progress


Rod & Staff English


Matin Latin I


Singapore Math


We'll be studying ancient civilizations this year, so to preface this we began with a unit on archaeology. Our spine is Archaeology: Digging Deeper to Learn About the Past by Judith Cochran.



For our first read aloud, The Wheel on the School by Meindert Dejong.

I had the grandest plans for our history curriculum this year, thinking that I would write it myself. Though I'd started my planning early in December, I am nowhere near done. Furthermore, at the rate I'm going, I'll never be done. I have a tendency to overwhelm myself with resources and then get quite 'stuck' when trying to organize them all. Finally this afternoon, I made the decision to order from Winter Promise.

For science, I chose geology as our focus and the boys also requested physics. I purchased a few books and lots of rocks and minerals, but got no further.

I definitely need to spend some time planning this weekend, but overall I suppose it coud have been much worse. The highlights of our week were an ancient Roman coin cleaning kit from Dirty Old Coins and a lesson on deciphering ancient writing (which led to the Egyptian cartouche project shown below).

Within the next week or so our homeschool adventure will begin. Every day, as new books and supplies arrive, our excitement grows. We've decided to start our school year anew and continue through the summer, since the children attended public school last semester.

We will be pursuing a classical education, also greatly influenced by Charlotte Mason and Waldorf education. The students are: Maddie, age 8 (grade 3/4), Jaymon & Elon, age 10, (grade 4) and Dominic, age 11 (grade 6).

Welcome! :-)