Homeschool Discoveries

Sharing a few things I've discovered along the way…

Happy Pancake Day! February 12, 2013

Filed under: Fun Stuff and Extras,Holidays — kirstenjoyhill @ 6:29 am

pancake stackHappy Pancake Day! Or maybe you know it as Shrove Tuesday, Mardi Gras or Carnival.    It’s also the day before Lent for Christian denominations that observe it.  We’re not from a Christian tradition that specifically observe Lent, but when I heard about Pancake Day a few years ago it just sounded like a fun “holiday” to do with the kids.  We love pancakes around here, and it sounded fun to eat pancakes on a day when, apparently, many, many other people are doing the same!

The tradition of eating pancakes the day before the start of Lent dates back centuries.  In times past, women wanted to use up fats and other rich foods that would be abstained from during lent, and pancakes were a tasty way to do this.  In England, children would run from house to house singing a little song about the shrovetide,  and demanding bits of food — pancakes, donuts or other rich foods, depending on the local custom.   More recently, a custom of “pancake races” has developed that involves running while flipping a pancake in a skillet.

Today we’ll be eating pancakes for lunch and talking about Pancake Day and other similar observances around the world!


Want to read more? Here are few links to check out:

History of Shrove Tuesday

Pancake Day in England

What is Shrove Tuesday?

An old book about British customs with a section on Shrove Tuesday and “goin a shrovin” (@ Google Books)

All about Pancake day celebrations in the US and UK


{Image Credit}


Collage Saturday: Christmas Fun Begins December 1, 2012

Filed under: Holidays,Weekly Highlights — kirstenjoyhill @ 10:54 am

After a quiet Thanksgiving at home, we enjoyed plenty of fun family time last weekend playing games, doing crafts, watching movies and a local Christmas parade on TV, and getting a bit more decorating done.  We also took the kids to an indoor play area (but I was too busy keeping track of them to take any pictures!).


On Monday it was back to school-days-as-usual.  Even though it was only a five day break, it was still hard to get everyone moving on Monday.  That made me reconsider taking a full three weeks off at Christmas!  😉  Overall it was a pretty quiet week with school in the mornings and plenty of time to enjoy Christmas activities in the afternoons:


1. Without really planning on it, we finished a lot of math lessons this week for both Miss M and Mr E.  Mr. E completed lessons 55-60 and started lesson 61 in Right Start B (though we skipped the midterm test — no need for a test for a Kindergartener).   We worked on telling time, adding coins, adding 9 by completing the 10, and he played his first game of corners.  The Corners game was definitely the highlight.   Unless something very surprising happens, we’ll finish B before the end of the year.  I’m not sure exactly what we’ll do after that — maybe some Singapore or Life of Fred?  Just play games? I just don’t think I want to start level C with a K’er!

2. Miss M worked on pages from early in the RightStart D workbook that she could work through on her own as review, plus we went through about 8 lessons together from the middle-ish portion of the book (starting with lesson 47, ending with lesson 68, and skipping a bunch in between).  We did some really interesting stuff, like learning about check numbers and “Terry’s Method” of subtraction.  We also got to assemble those “thousands cubes” to start talking about numbers in the ten thousands up to the millions.  Even the lessons we are covering together are pretty easy for Miss M so far (yea for easy math!), hence why we are able to cover so many lessons without a lot of effort.  We’ll start the section of Level D that’s all new in a week or two (but I’ll still be having her go back and do earlier pages for review and practice).  Now I’m starting to think that we may finish level D as well before the end of the year unless I significantly slow things down.   But I am not going to really “worry” about that at this point!!!

Academic Subjects Not Pictured:

  • Spelling/Phonics:  Mr. E read to me every day as usual, working a bit more on Danny and the Dinosaur as well as reading a few “I See Sam” books.  He also worked on lesson 6 in Logic of English.  Miss M did lesson 17 in Logic of English, and we were both proud that she scored 100% when tested at the end of the lesson!  I went the “lazy” route with spelling practice this week and just let them play Spelling City games for their respective lists instead of playing LOE games together.  😉
  • History:  We’ve “officially” moved on from the Revolutionary War in our American History studies and started studying the “new nation” period — with reading lots of living books it’s hard to keep things in a precise order, so I am considering events including the writing of the Constitution, the Louisiana Purchase and the War of 1812 to be all topics that are fair game right now!
  • Science:  Once again, no other science other than what Miss M is doing independently with Sassafras Science Adventures.  I think I’ll make it one of my New Year’s resolutions to get back on track with doing more science study as a family.

3.  Mr K randomly found a fun CD at the library: Kids Meet Composers by Wendy Rollin.  Kids are introduced to 10 composers with a short track giving a brief bio of each composer, plus a famous tune from each composer set to new words that again teach something about the composer and his/her music.  The kids all enjoyed listening to the CD and dancing or marching around the living room!

4-6: I started pulling out our fun Christmas “stuff” this week.  The kids enjoyed spending a few afternoons making Christmas crafts, using the Christmas play-doh set, and playing with the Playmobil Nativity set.

I’m linking up with Collage Friday and the Weekly Wrap-Up!:

Homegrown Learners

Get Ready for Pi Day! March 11, 2012

Filed under: Holidays — kirstenjoyhill @ 4:04 pm
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I know there are lots, and lots of random holidays out there.  But Pi Day might be one of my most favorite!

Pi day is March 14th.  (Get it? 3-14?).  The past few years we have celebrated Pi day just by eating pie.  I serve something pie-like for dinner (like taco pie, shepherd’s pie, or a spinach pie…pizza would work too!), and, of course, a sweet pie for dessert.

This year we’re going to incorporate it into our homeschool day.

While we have done some nifty geometry lessons with RightStart math level C, we haven’t done anything with circles yet.  So one of the first things we’ll do is talk about measurement terms for circles (radius, diameter and circumference). Then we’ll try a “finding pi” activity. I thought this lesson plan did a nice job of explaining how it might be done.  Even though the grade level listed is significantly higher than that of my kids, I think at least Miss M will be able to “get it.” had another interesting “finding pi” activity, but I think we might save that one for another year.

I have requested a few Pi-themed books from the library.  I don’t know if I made my requests in time, but I am especially hoping that “Sir Cumference and the Dragon of Pi” arrives on the reserve shelf by Wednesday.

Since my kids love crafts, we might need to make some circular or pi-themed crafts.  I like the suggestions at Helping Little Hands, which includes some paper plate crafts and a pi-themed patterning worksheet!

I think we’ll also talk just a bit about the history of Pi.  Check out this page from the organization that founded pi day for a quick read on the history of Pi.

Until I saw this pin on Pinterest, I had never thought about incorporating Pirates (or would it be pi-rates?) into Pi Day, but I know that’s something Mr. E and Mr. K would love! Maybe we’ll read some pirate-themed books or do some pirate themed crafts or printables. (Photo Source: via Kirsten on Pinterest)

A fun Pi Day would definitely not be complete without some pie, of course (and perhaps some other circular foods?).  We’ll have Taco pie for dinner with Blueberry-Cherry Pie for dessert.  Maybe pancakes for breakfast and pizza for lunch? And don’t forget pi-neapple for snack.  🙂

If your are looking for even more amazing Pi Day ideas, check out my Pi Day board on Pinterest!

Are you going to celebrate Pi Day this year? Do you have any other fun Pi Day ideas?


Collage Friday: Leaping, Cutting and Pasting March 2, 2012

Filed under: Holidays,Weekly Highlights — kirstenjoyhill @ 11:20 am

1. We celebrated Leap Day with a “fun school” day.  Despite my previous aspirations, we did not do a 100 days celebration as well.  Between the amount of time I was able to find to prepare, and remembering how busy our fun school Valentines day was, I decided we would shelve the 100 days celebration for this year and plan for it next year (since we will, of course, have to wait another four years to celebrate Leap Day!).  In the picture, the kids are playing leaping lilly pad games inspired by this post at Toddler Approved.

2. Also inspired by Toddler Approved, we read Frog and Toad stories on Leap Day — including the story about cookies and willpower.  Then of course we had to make some cookies.  Peanut Butter kiss cookies are a favorite here…and who says they are only a Christmas cookie? Not us!  It was fun to talk about willpower and if there is any difference between willpower and self-control.  (The kids said “no” initially, but I tried to make the case that willpower is something of our own effort, while self-control is a fruit of the Spirit).

3.  Miss M helped daddy to make our second-ever batch of homemade rootbeer! I jumped the gun on opening the first 2 liter of homemade rootbeer, and it was not very fizzy.  We’ll open batch number two tonight!

4.  While getting out some science and geography worksheets for Miss M (she really likes these, and she is probably learning at least a little bit from them), I remembered I had a Kumon cutting and pasting book for the boys we hadn’t gotten out at all this school year.

5. and 6.  With completion of lesson 81 on Tessellations, Miss M has made it through the big section of geometry/drawing lessons in the middle of RightStart C.  We had a review day yesterday and a games day today.  Miss M was not pleased to hear that we are back to “regular” lessons after this involving mostly adding, subtracting and multiplying.  She really likes the drawing and geometry!

7. Mr. E wrote a star wars story inspired by a book we read together.  I printed it out on a few sheets of paper, and he enjoyed cutting out and pasting on pictures to illustrate it from the Star Wars preschool pack at homeschool creations and from printables found on the Star Wars website.  We even bound it together with my new ProClick binding machine.  He told me, “this is a real book now!”

8. Miss M has her own cutting and pasting project — she is working on the Horse lapbook from Hands of a Child.  She has chosen horses as the subject for her “Expert Day” project for our homeschool co-op.  More on expert day in coming weeks!

9. Aren’t Baby J and Mr. E cute in their almost-matching shirts? One was a hand-me-down and one was from the thrift store — they have the same picture but different words! It’s not the best picture of the two of them, but every picture I tried to take where the boys were looking at me, Baby J’s hands were blocking his shirt! Baby J turned 4 months old this week and is now 15lbs and 12 oz!

Have a wonderful weekend!

I’m linking up with:

Collage Friday @ Homegrown Learners and the Weekly Wrap-Up @ Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers!


Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers


100 Days and Leap Day February 22, 2012

Filed under: Holidays — kirstenjoyhill @ 10:40 pm
Tags: ,

I started the school year with great intentions of tracking exactly how many “school days” we had completed so that we too could have one of those cool “100th day” celebrations I had heard about.  Our state does not require a particular number of school days nor are we required to track or report “attendance” in our homeschool, so it was purely my own motivation driving me.  Obviously it was not a large amount of motivation, because my cute checklist fell out of use around day 20!

I had my planner out today to count how many weeks we had left before we take a summer break (we’ll do some school over the summer, but a much lighter load), and how this corresponded to the number of lessons we have left in RightStart Math level C.  (I think we’ll have somewhere between 10 and 20 lessons left in the level by the end of May).

On a whim, I decided to look at the calendar and attempt to count how many days of school we have completed.  While I am not 100% sure of my accuracy, I think today actually marked our 100th day.  Whoops!

Not being one to want to miss out on a celebration, I think we’ll have a slightly belated “100th day” celebration next week and celebrate “Leap Day” (aka February 29th) as well.

There are so many ways to celebrate 100 days — many of them involving math of course!  Here’s one link I liked with many, many ideas!

I also created a board on pinterest with some of the links and ideas I have found so far for celebrating both 100 days and Leap Day.

Do you celebrate 100 days of your homeschool year? Are you going to do anything special for Leap Day next week?

{photo credit}


Valentines 2012 Wrap-Up February 16, 2012

Filed under: Holidays — kirstenjoyhill @ 11:08 pm

We had a whole day of fun and “Valentines School” for Valentines Day this year…and we didn’t even get to everything that I had in mind! Here’s some of what we did:

Some years I have made a special breakfast for Valentine’s, but this year I just made a dish that is a favorite with my kids — baked apple french toast.  We started our day of “Valentines School” with fun printables.  Everyone enjoyed the Valentines Early Learning Printables from Homeschool Creations.  I also printed a couple of Valentine’s word searches for Miss M.

After everyone was bored of working at the table, we read a stack of books related to love or Valentines.  Most were selected by the kids during last week’s library trip.  I selected the classic “Guess How Much I love You” from our bookshelf.  None of the books the kids picked out were particularly classics, though “Zombie in Love” did get several readings this week at our house! I also re-read with Miss M the chapter from Mystery of History II on the true origins of Valentines Day.

Following the theme of love, we read 1st Corinthians 13, the traditional “love chapter” in the Bible.  I printed out the key words from the “love verses” and had the kids put the verses into categories of what love is or is not and we discussed those qualities of love.  The kids were very excited to decorate the poster when they were done.

Heart shaped food is great for Valentines of course, so I made the kids heart-shaped grilled cheese and I attempted to draw hearts in their tomato soup using whipping cream and a tooth pick.  The kids laughed at me in a good-natured way and said they didn’t look like hearts, but I think they appreciated the effort.  🙂

After lunch it was time for candy math! Using inspiration and printables from several sites (here, here, here, here and here) we tore into a bag of conversation hearts and went to work.  Miss M and Mr E both most enjoyed making a graph of the colors of candy hearts in each of their bowls, while Mr. K’s favorite activity was making patterns.

Miss M took some time to finish a “Heart Tree” craft kit she started last year at Valentines, but never finished.  It’s now decorating our buffet!  After that, she finished addressing envelopes to mail a few valentines.  Yes, our recipients got them a little belatedly since they went in the mail on valentines! This was Miss M’s first time addressing envelopes on her own, and it was a good practical lesson on our fun “valentines school” day!

We went out to drop off a few valentines at neighbor’s houses and take our larger envelopes to the post office.  Upon returning, we opened valentines mail and gifts we received!

We rounded out our special day with heart shaped pizza, homemade white chocolate pudding with strawberries and special drinks that daddy brought home.

It was a fun and full day…no wonder I was exhausted at the end of it.  🙂

I’m linking up with Love-ly-ideas at Homegrown Learners! I’ll be looking forward to reading what other bloggers have posted and bookmarking or pinning ideas for next year!