If we value the pursuit of knowledge, we must be free to follow wherever that search may lead ~ Adlai Stevenson

Tuesday, August 19, 2014


The days of "vacation" are quickly running out. I have ordered this year's books, decided we need more art supplies, and  have started designing  found a [very basic] "planner" for Cyrus, as he wants more autonomy this year. I think it is good practice for college/after high school, so I'll give it a go!

Thankfully I was able to find the books we needed used, and inexpensively. I did settle on a slightly older version of the physics text for Cyrus, as I could get both the student and teacher books at a great price that way, plus I have been reassured that unless he's doing an advanced course in physics, older editions are fine.

I have also decided to practice writing a transcript this year. With both kids planning to start at the local junior college first, I won't really need them, but if either child changes their mind and wants a different college approach, I think it is better to be prepared than not. Thankfully, the same site that offers the school calendars I use, etc., has a simple transcript form!

In the meantime...

We've been hunting down a few "needed" items at thrift stores! I put needed in quotation marks, as Cyrus felt he needed a blazer for his coat collection. We were very lucky and found a gorgeous wool one for only $3...

Cassia found a pretty new shirt, and I got some great capri pants as well as a new top for work.

Cassia has discovered Xena: Warrior Princess this summer. This has brought about a rekindling of the love for foam weaponry (sorry this one is a little blurry, but it IS an action shot!)...

Can you believe that at 11, she's only about 3 inches shorter than me? And no, I'm not short, but rather am 5'7". Well, I did stop growing at 13, so she might be aiming for the same timeline.

I've been back at work for a few days now. The Other Secretary did nothing in my absence (I guess she started her other position?), so it's been a lot of catch up. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel now, so I feel better. And I met my new supervisor, and liked her! I also start back to school today, with the lecture series on law, ethics, and society being offered through the Philosophy department. The syllabus looks interesting. The other class I am taking, on adolescent development, starts next week.

Now it is down to choosing which books I'll choose first for Cyrus and Cassia. I think we'll go with A Wrinkle in Time for Cyrus's first assigned reading, and either Hitty: Her First 100 Years OR , for Cassia and I to enjoy together. Right now, we are working on finishing our re-read of The Twenty One Balloons, and then we'll move into The Phantom Tollbooth or Black Ships Before Troy

Both kids (thanks in part to Xena for Cassia) are really looking forward to starting the year with some Greek history. This will be the focus of history for the first block of our year, and I'll be fleshing out the 6 or so chapters in Human Odyssey with Famous Men of Greece. I know Cyrus really wants Rick Riordan's new book too. And I have A Wonder Book for Boys & Girls, and Tanglewood Tales, on hand, which are beautifully written. I know, I know... too many resources! But, while we've skimmed through ancient Greece before, we want to settle down in it a bit this time around.

I may have some other very good news to share later in the week -- I am hesitant to share it now as we aren't 100% sure (and NO, it isn't another baby or anything along those lines).

Have a good week!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Language Arts Lineup...

We're getting ready to start a new academic year at the end of the month, and are taking a mishmash approach to language arts. It blends the Brave Writer Lifestyle with some great tools I have compiled, and I think it will work well for us.

So, here's the WRITING plan...

Each day (Monday through Thursday anyway), we'll start with a rotating focus, with both kids and I working together (a lot of this will be oral work, a little more so than written).

Mondays (our short day due to my college schedule) will be for poetry. Now, I have not quite decided yet if I want to use a poetry teaching resource (Rose, Where Did You Get That Red?, or Knock at a Star: A Child's Introduction to Poetry, or ???) OR if I simply want to introduce the kids to poets and go for the full poetry teatime experience. Hmmm. This will be followed by free writing for both (just 10-15 minutes) . Cyrus will be using Unjournaling for ideas when needed, while Cassia and I are embarking on a year-long adventure (see below).

Tuesdays will have a grammar focus. We're going to try out The Giggly Guide to Grammar, which is described as "Shel Silverstein meets Strunk and White and the results are both hilarious and instructive." Then the kids will split up for other work (see below).

Wednesdays will be all about literary elements, with Figuratively Speaking, again followed by independent work.

And on Thursdays, we'll explore the history of our language, and its oddities, word roots, and more, with The Word Snoop. This will also be another day of more independent work for each, though sometimes I am sure we'll take a break from the "work" of writing to play language games.

As far as independent work, Cyrus will be working on more academic writing -- essays and the like. We've decided that he will finish working through Thinking in Threes, which is really thorough for basic essay writing. After that, he'll move into BWL writing projects and written history/science narrations, creative writing, etc.

For Cassia, we (she and I together) decided to really foster creativity and just get her more at ease with writing. So on Mondays and Tuesdays, she'll be working on free writing -- short stories, or longer ones if she chooses. Tuesday evenings, I can correct spelling, etc., and then on Wednesday and Thursday, she can work on copying (copywork!) the story out and illustrating it. Sometimes we may work in other ideas/activities, and leave the "rough drafts" as is. At the end of the year though, the hope is her spelling will improve in context, AND she'll have a whole book of her own illustrated writings!

As fa as the READING plan, Cassia will continue to work through the Reading Horizons program, then I'm hoping she'll move into active reading. After reading my friend Jessica's posts on this series, I think Cassia may enjoy many of the titles. And she's been talking about wanting to read the original Oz series, which we are lucky enough to own in its entirety. And of course, I will continue reading aloud to her -- you can see the list of hopefuls here.

I also plan on actually assigning some reading to Cyrus, just one book per "block" of scheduled study. He's interested mainly in dystopian/Steampunk/sci-fi literature right now, so his list of assigned books (bottom of the post) reflects that. I will re-read/skim them alongside him, so we can discuss the books, something we enjoyed doing with The Hunger Games trilogy. I am certain he will continue his fairly heavy load of free reading as well!

Can't wait to see how it all works! And if you have any recommendations on the poetry bit, I would love to hear them!