Homeschool is in session!

On our way to Rocky Mountain National Park

On our way to Rocky Mountain National Park

Getting in some bouldering at a lunch rest area

Getting in some bouldering at a lunch rest area

Picking carrots after a freeze

Picking carrots after a freeze

Like everyone else, our school year has set off at a galloping  pace!  Here are some pics to recap.  Some of our adventures include a possible job relocation and trip to Colorado, harvesting veggies at the land garden, family swim nights, and continued piano lessons.  Thanks for checking in!

Week Thirty-Nine

Quick Picture Catch-Up

Last week we traveled out west to Jeffers Petroglyphs, Badlands National Park, and Custer State Park.  We returned just in time for the boys’ baseball game and piano lessons.


The potty-chair mobile was on the roll last week, covering over 1200 miles!


Very windy and chilly at our first stop, Jeffers Petroglyphs


Trying a stick and ball game during the Travois Naturalist Program


Preparing to throw the atlatl at the bison (the bison on the skateboard, as R put it)


The Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center. Checking out a display on the keelboat replica


One of the displays at the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center along HWY 90


Pre-thunderstorm hike in Badlands National Park


Brrrr, a quick chilly morning dip in the pool


Writing postcards before leaving for Custer State Park


Playing at the campground’s lake


Hopping across this shallow stream


Working on junior ranger booklets at the Peter Norbeck Visitor’s Center


Mount Rushmore



This convinced us that we should buy some of his ice cream


It WAS good!


Yes, it is light out yet and we’re making s’mores. What can we say, we’re bedtime light-weights.


The grass is really getting long down at our land. We checked on our veggies, only to find the left-overs from a bunny feast! Check out more pics at Our Bluff and Valley page.

More Bluff and Valley pics from this weekend.

And now we’re transitioning into our summer flow, which includes short, mid-day school sessions, field trips with buddies, a Silverwood class on owls with our homeschool group, regular library runs, soccer, and piano lessons (R will begin lessons with our teacher).  We’re still compiling our summer bucket list.  Thanks for checking in and see you soon with summer updates!

Week Thirty-Eight

Health and Wellness


P’s new skills this session: underwater somersaults and swimming

Last swimming night for the spring season.

Ride Right:  Bicycle Safety by Jill Urban Donahue good review.

Adding Popcorn recipe to the kids’ cookbook, with emphasis on putting the top back onto the hot air popper before plugging it in.



Using the iPad camera feature (self-portrait mode) as a mirror for pop style self-portraits

Roy Lichtenstein’s ABC by Bob Adelman and learning about pop art.  Drawing self-portraits and using Lichtenstein’s style to colorize with primaries.  National Gallery of Art’s site for more about Lichtenstein and a language art activity.


M working on Melody (Robert Schumann), Hanon exercises, and sight reading pieces.  P reviews book one songs with both hands (previously only played in right hand).  Continue listening daily to Suzuki songs from books one through three.

Math and Logic


Playing a game in Using Numbers Book 1 by Ann Montague-Smith

IXL Math online practice.  Clock bingo.  Using Numbers Book 1 by Ann Montague-Smith for games and practice using numbers 0-20.


Pattern snake to tie into learning about reptiles and snakes this week

Language Arts


It’s nearly the end of the ‘school year’ and I finally have a system to keep reading logs and reading time books at the ready. Good thing we’re carrying on into the summer…

Continue with spelling practice and creative writing and language arts work books


P is learning about compound words, so we are making cupcakes. He measured the ingredients. R is scooping the batter into the tin.


Frosting cupcakes

Our easy, nearly vegan cupcake recipe for 10 cupcakes:  Whisk together 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour, 1/3 cup brown sugar, 1 teaspoon each baking soda and salt, 1/4 cup cocoa.  In a glass measuring cup mix 1 teaspoon cider vinegar, 1/3 cup coconut (or veggie) oil, and 1 cup milk.  Mix with the dry ingredients and divide into cupcake pan.  Bake at 350 for about 12-15 minutes.

Played with Rory’s Story Cubes, which involves rolling the six dice and making up a story based on those pictures.



A thin, gray-brown snake slides over this piece of wood.

Looking into what type of snake we saw this weekend at the land.  More pictures at Our Bluff and Valley page (top menu bar at website).

Ant by John Woodward and being surprised at the upclose picture of their jaws.


Planting veggies transplants and fruits. Watering plants and seeds.

Turtles and Tortoises by Renee C. Rebman.  Illustrate and write key characteristics about these reptiles (and recall other reptiles).  Frogs by Nic Bishop and Snakes by Jeff Corwin and listing other amphibians.  Looking for other amphibians (The Salamander) in Greece! Rome! Monsters! by John Harris.


Creating with the snap circuit set

Social Studies



Greece! Rome! Monsters! by John Harris and illustrating and writing about ancient monsters.  Recalling where we’ve heard of monsters such as Cyclops, Griffin, and Basilisk in books and movies.

Peggy Rathmann’s Officer Buckle and Gloria:  community helpers and how animals help them do their jobs.

Geography continent and ocean review.  Yankee Doodle Riddles:  American History Fun by Joan Holub for review.

And finally, in preparation for our trip out west next week, Smoke Jumpers One to Ten by Chris L. Demarest and John Perritano’s The Lewis and Clark Expedition.

Week Thirty-Seven



Pitcher plant in the kids’ section at Great River Road Learning Center


A bit more about the carnivorous plants on display


Many orioles and gold finches at the park


Checking for eagles and boats fishing

Great River Road Visitor Center in Prescott, WI


Learning more about ticks at EEK! (Environmental Education for Kids) and pitcher plants from National Geographic and Wisconsin DNR sites.

Math and Logic

Continue IXL practice, workbooks, and review games.

Health and Wellness

Family swim continues to have the kids diving into their suits after dinner.


P excited to join the team

Coach pitch practice and game.  Now we have two players on the team!


Working on water flow project


Building sand structures, rivers, and dams…and washing them away


The final purchases for fruit and veggie garden at the land

Began putting up deer fence at the land.  More pictures at Our Bluff and Valley (or at website, click on link at top of page.).

M visits dentist for well-check, review dental hygiene.


P cutting pepper swords. Then he colored the food pyramid’s veggie section on the recipe print out.

Adding Pepper Swords to the kid’s cookbook and reviewing Yellow Rice (yellow from tumeric) and Sunrise Smoothies.


The Fantastic Jungles of Henri Rousseau by Michelle Markel and A Jungle Expedition:  Henri Rousseau by Susanne Pfieger.  Practice illustrating jungle animals using colored chalk and cray-pas.


Play home made music ‘baseball’ and composer review (Bach, Schubert, Schumann, Beethoven, Liszt, Mozart) games (from a couple months ago).  Players answer a question and then move to the next base (piece of furniture).

Listening to Suzuki discs one through three in the morning.  All work on their practice songs throughout the day and at the pre-lunch designated time.  Having a regular practice time right before lunch seems to help make sure that we get to all the songs to work on, not just the easy and fun ones (that get played all day).

Social Studies


3rd Precinct Open House


Sheriff boat


SWAT’s armored truck was a favorite.

Explored all the exhibits at the 3rd Precinct’s Open House and community helpers review.  R loved the horses from the mounted patrol exhibit.

Yankee Doodle Riddles:  American History Fun by Joan Holub.  Work on Junior Ranger Activity Booklets for Mississippi River Visitor Center and St. Croix National Scenic Riverway.

Language Arts


Practicing spelling list on the sidewalk (a bit tricky with chalk)

Shel Silverstein’s A Giraffe and a Half, a clever story-poem for practicing rhyming words.  Continue workbooks, creative writing, and spelling practice.


One of the rewards of the 100 Days of Practice Program was a special medal from our Suzuki Piano Teacher.    The boys are very excited to have received medals from their favorite teacher.


Hooray for 100 days of practice and these cool medals! Here’s to the next 100 days…


On the back is an inscription with each boys’ name

Week Thirty-Six


M played Hungarian Folk Song by Bartok.  Click above to see the performance (if you’re at the website).

P played Lightly Row, a folk song in Suzuki Book 1.  Click above to see the performance (if you’re at the website).

M and P received perfect attendance award in group class!  Also got to attend special pool party with our teacher to celebrate 100 Days of Practice Club!

Our plan is to be part of the 10 Performances Program this upcoming school year.  M and P would need to play the same piece for 10 different performances during the year.


Checking out the Gamelan instruments at the Schubert Club

Guided tour at the Schubert Club with some members of our homeschool group.

Health and Wellness


First coach pitch baseball practice

Family Swim, good splashy fun

Plant a Row for the Hungry in our land’s garden (Second Harvest’s program).  We are hoping enough of our food grows so we can share.

We are starting a project to compile recipes that the boys and R like to eat and can learn to make (with supervision). Each simple recipe includes a picture of the food pyramid (for them to color in the group) and picture of them making or eating the food.  We will also discuss where the food comes from (a bit of geography).  This week we made Sunrise Smoothies and Yellow Rice.  After we finish making all the recipes, the boys will make a cover, number the pages, and create a table of contents and index.



Garden eels at Sea Life


Jellyfish exhibit


Trip to Minnesota Sea Life Aquarium with buddies, learning about sharks.

Understanding Food and Digestion by Robert Snedden.  Illustrating and writing about favorite foods, discussing taste buds and basic food digestion process and vocabulary.


Bringing water back for the terrarium project at Silverwood Park


Adding an animal, plant, soil, and water to complete habitat


Completed terrariums

We enjoyed a class about ecosystems and habitats with our homeschool group at Silverwood Park.

Social Studies

The Great Race:  The Story of the Chinese Zodiac by Dawn Casey.  Discussing calendars.  Review continents.

Explore different types of homes and how they’re built in Gail Gibbons How a House Is Built.  Illustrating one type of home using cray-pas.  Let’s Go Home by Cynthia Rylant highlighted the emotional, instead of structural, reasons why each room is unique.  Good Deed Scouts Help Their Neighbors by Jan Berenstain and thinking of ways we can be good neighbors and friends.

Week Thirty-Five

Quick catch up:  Everyone under the weather for a week plus main basement drain backing up plus awesome weather for a few days equals no time for blogging.  Glad you checked in and happy to be back to our daily flow!

Health and Wellness


Finding a possible fox hole at the land while playing catch.


Pitch-back at the land. Great for grounder and pop-up practice.

Awwww, family swim was canceled (plumbing problem).  But hooray for coach pitch baseball begins after a week’s delay due to the snow-covered field.  Awwww, coach pitch canceled due to freezing rain.


R supremely satisfied to get the hang of her bike AND be able to put her feet on the rest.

Late afternoon bike rides to play park continue (unless it’s snowing).

You Can Cook by Annabel Karmel for recipe choices, measuring practice, reading recipes, and food group review.


How Your Eyes Work by Carol Ballard.  Illustrating and drawing major parts of the eye and discussing purposes.  P thought this experiment (from book) was cool:  First cover eyes and then count to 100.  Look in mirror to observe pupil dilation.

One Small Square:  Forest by Donald Silver.  Illustrating mammal, insect, bird, and plant of the forest.  Looked for deer and other forest details in Henry Lewis’ painting Indians Hunting Deer at Night on the Mississippi (from the Art Treasure Hunt by Doris Kutschbach).

Math and Logic


When weather permitted, we brought our work outside. This made for a quick transition to movement time.

Both boys finished their Singapore math workbooks and are embarking on Critical Thinking Company’s Mathematical Reasoning books.  We are planning to carry on with Math (Language Arts, and Chemistry) through the summer, and will of course add lots of summer fun activities.  Adding post-lunch math games to review facts (some homemade and some from First Grade a la Carte).

Although we are pretty tight on screen time here and encourage more outside time, we are trying a month’s subscription of IXL to cover our math bases and change things up.

Social Studies


Railroad scene created as we read. Illustration included choice of bird, mammal, fish, insect, and reptile.

What was the Gold Rush? by Joan Holub and learning how it was related to the transcontinental railroad.  Practiced rhyming words in Rickety Train Ride by Tony Mitton (Here’s a Little Poem by Jane Yolen) and I’ve Been Working on the Railroad (A Children’s Treasury of Songs by Linda Bleck).

Wrapping up Beginning Geography book with continent of Europe study.  Rome Antics by David Macaulay had a good, basic overview of major structures in Rome.

Study of the largest continent, Asia.  Reading The Prince Who Ran Away:  The Story of Guatama Buddha by Anne Rockwell.  The Story That Grew (based on a story from Bengal) from Two-Minute Bedtime Stories by Elena Pasquali.  The Cool Continents section of Geogra-fleas: Riddles All Over the Map by Joan Holub was a fun way to review continent names.

Language Arts

Both boys also completed their various language arts books, and are beginning Critical Thinking Company’s Language Arts.

Continuing with types of poetry with Guyku:  A Year of Haiku for Boys by Rob Raczka and Here’s a Little Poem by Jane Yolen and Andrew Fusek Peters.


Learning about Cinco de Mayo.  Viva Mexico:  The Folk Arts by George Acona.  Using the book’s guidelines to make paper mache fruits and vegetables.


Painting in fresco, or on plaster of paris, in the fashion of artist Raphael

Raphael by Mike Venezia.


Daily listening continues (Suzuki piano books one through three).  Of the various weekly lesson assignments, M’s favorite piece is Minuet in G Major (Bach).  He is also preparing Hungarian Folk Song (Bartok) for next week’s Honor’s Recital.   Last group class for the school year.  P  will perform Lightly Row with both hands (block chords in left) and M will play Minuet in G Major.    Singing songs from A Children’s Treasury of Songs by Linda Bleck.

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