Homeschool Monday – Drab


The boy is reading The People of Sparks with his Moving Beyond The Page work, and today he had to define the word drab and then illustrate it in a small box. I decided to turn this into a bigger project, and I had him draw a drab picture and then a bright picture. He had to choose the colors to work with and he was allowed to draw whatever he wanted. There were no rules except for one had to be drab and dull, and the other had to be bright and vibrant.

He didn’t spend very long on his pictures, but he seemed to enjoy drawing them. Of course, being who he is, the pictures were of monsters.


Autry got in on the act too. She loves to draw, and if someone is working on something creative, she is never far behind.



Where was Tru while these two were drawing? Why he was in his room doing Algebra 2 for the second time today.


And he was happy about it.

Decca’s Fifth Grade Plan

Decca is a very creative learner who needs to be constantly challenged or he will tune out. Knowing this I have picked out materials that I think will keep him engaged and interested in the work. Most of these choices he used last year or the year before, so I know they fit his learning style.

Moving Beyond the Page

His main curriculum is Moving Beyond the Page for ages 10-12. Decca had previously used the 7-9 and 8-10 levels, and he loved both the books and the work. Last year I decided to try something different, but this year we are back. There is nothing else I have found that has matched my creative, gifted learner as perfectly as Moving Beyond the Page. He has already started the first unit, and he is happy to be working through it again.


Moving Beyond the Page covers language arts, science, and social studies, so it is a very complete curriculum.  Decca is a language arts nut though, so I have decided to add more studies to his year. We used Bravewriter’s Arrow last year, and we are using it again this year. A subscription to the Arrow is for the whole year, and it comes with ten issues for ten books. I like the selection of the books this year, as many of them are books Decca would not have read on his own. He finished the first book, The Lemonade War,
in two days and is now working through the work in the Arrow. I find these issues to be a nice supplement to his MBTP studies.

I have also decided to add in Latin this year. Decca will be using Latin for Children through Thinker’s Cap Academy. He has only just begun this, and although it is not his favorite part of the day, he does do the work without complaints.


For math we are sticking with the same materials as last year, Life of Fred and Beast Academy. Life of Fred and Beast Academy are the only math programs I have found that keep him interested and engaged in the work. Math will never be his passion, but with these programs he almost forgets that. I will also have him work through some apps on the iPad, as he always has fun doing that.

In addition to his formal work, he is going to continue working on his writing, his scratch projects (click here to see his latest game Life of a Gumball),  and his graphic design work. He is also taking piano.

I have to admit that I spent all summer worrying about the twins and their high school year. I spent very little time thinking about Decca’s year, and I didn’t order any curriculum for him until last week (and some this week). I am pleasantly surprised at how well this has turned out though. I may just leave planning to the last-minute again next year!

Weekly Update

This week we started a unit on the brain using Ellen McHenry’s curriculum. The boys are loving this, and I think if their enthusiasm lasts through out the unit we will order more of her materials.

Tru coloring in a brain image.

To go along with this unit Tru is reading Phineas Gage: A Gruesome but True Story About Brain Science. The story of Phineas Gage is a highly interesting one, and I recommend the book to anyone studying the brain.

Decca began a new unit on Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh. I am embarrassed to admit that I have never read this book before. We have only read the first five chapters, but Decca seems to be enjoying it. He did comment that we have read so many books about mice and rats lately that he is not sure he can read anymore for a long time.

We are making a lapbook to go along with our studies. I just decided this at the last minute, so this is not a fancy lapbook by any means, but Decca likes it. Along with the lapbook Decca is completing activities in his Moving Beyond the Page workbook.

The outside of his lapbook.

An activity on rats

An activity from the inside, here he wrote an original story featuring Mr. Ages.

Working on a plot flowchart from Moving Beyond the Page.

Also this week Decca continued working on math with Life of Fred, did language arts and math on Time4Learning, made a movie with his Legos, and wrote many, many stories. If he could he would write all day.

Making a movie

One of his stories he worked on this week.

Decca also got his braces on this week. He was not happy about this, but he is adjusting.

He truly has a metal mouth.

In other news my mom celebrated a birthday this week. The kids and I took her out to eat and gave her a travel book on Europe. She is hoping to go there next year, so I thought she would enjoy a book to help plan.

Happy Birthday Mom!

Autry has been working hard practicing for her first solo at a concert in a few weeks. In addition she has been working on her Christmas concert which is just a week after the solo concert. Tomorrow we will be going to Disney Hall to hear the Los Angeles Chamber Singers perform. It is a dress rehearsal, and the kids at OCHSA were given free tickets. I can’t wait to see the performance tomorrow, and I look forward to hearing Autry in her own concerts.

Autry with her class performing a concert at OCHSA. She is third one from the left in the second row.

And that is our week in review.

Weekly Update

Decca started a new unit in Moving Beyond the Page. It is a study of early explorers. He is reading Pedro’s Journal and studying navigation. He is enjoying this unit more than his last, which I am happy about. He especially loves his explorer cards, and he has already cut them out and put them in a case. He wants some bubble gum, so they seem like a collectible pack you would buy in a store. He did the same thing with his American Heroes cards that he had last year.

Decca is also working on Time4Learning again. After many years the company has finally updated some of their lessons, and I am so glad they did. Decca is enjoying them, and he spends over an hour a day on the work. I am so happy that we have re-discovered Time4Learning.

Decca working on Time4Learning

Decca also made more books this week. He is working on the Tio Chuy mysteries (named after his uncle, Tio Chuy).

The Tio Chuy Mysteries

Tru is plugging along with all his work.  I am ecstatic that everything is working out, and I think this may be his best year ever. I can’t tell you how amazed I am that he is still plugging along with Writing With Skill. It is amazing that my reluctant writer has become so confident in his writing.

A first draft of a writing assignment from Writing with Skill. Ignore his heading, it was wishful thinking. 😉

Grandpa had the boys were out at the driving range this week. Decca is getting better every time he goes, but I think he should be wearing his shoes. Tru at least has on some flip-flops. You can tell they are my kids. Autry didn’t wear shoes consistently until she was 9. definitely a homeschooler….

Autry has had a few good weeks at school. She has her first vocal concert tonight which she is looking forward to. She lost her voice yesterday morning, but she rested it for a while and got it back thankfully.

Autry on the way to OCHSA with her "friend" Hillman MacMillman (named by Decca).

She is enjoying the creativity and open-mindedness found at the school. The students at OCHSA seem to have few rules, and the environment supports the kids and their creativity. This week in dance they are learning the routine to Thriller for a dance they will do on Halloween.

In science she worked on a plant cell project. Projects like this are not our strong suit, but she had fun making her edible cell.

Other happenings this week…

Autry and I spent some quality time together. We went out all day Saturday, and it was great to spend some time with her.

Tru and I also had some quality time together. We went out to dinner together and then came home and watched a movie. One-on-one time is so important at this age.

Tru couldn't help sharing his feelings about the math on Time4Learning. He felt they made this problem too complicated and that everyone should be able to add up 50+50+50 on their own.

And that is our week in review.

Weekly Update

Decca modeling his lower metal. He also has metal on the roof of his mouth and on the inside of his cheeks. It is not fun!

We had a light week this week. There was not much done in the way of tangible work, but that does not matter, as we needed some days off. Decca got an expander and an herbst appliance placed in his mouth on Tuesday, and it caused so much discomfort. Although the pain is subsiding today, he still cannot eat. I am hoping he figures that out soon, or he will be drinking smoothies and shakes for the next 6 months to a year.

Since Decca was in so much pain this week, I kept the school light and fun. We played a few games in math from Kitchen Table Math. He had fun playing them, although they were a little easy.

In this game he would build up numbers and write them down.

In this game he and I would take turns drawing numbers to try and create the larger number.

He also completed a few Mom-made worksheets based on the lessons of Kitchen Table Math.

He still reverses many of his numbers. We are working on this, and it seems to be getting a little better.

We also finished Little House in the Big Woods, and Grandma helped him make a cabin for a final project. This was a time-consuming project, but it was worth it. He took so much pride in making it, and he has been playing with it everyday since. Although it started out as a cabin from Little House in the Big Woods, it quickly morphed into a playset for his Scooby Doo games.

Making his cabin with Grandma's help.

A monster hiding in the trees.

Scooby and Shaggy trying to solve the case.

Tru worked on all his normal studies: French, Pre Algebra, History, and Writing with Skill. We also got in another chemistry lesson. This week the kids studied thermometers and how temperature and molecules work in the thermometer. It was another great lesson from Middle School Chemistry.

Reading the temperature on the thermometer.

Filling out his lab worksheet.

We also played a fun game this week called I’ve Got a New Business. This turned out to be the best game. The kids, my mom, and I played it all day. I decided to make a little video of it, as it was so much fun.

And that is our week in review.

Weekly Update

Some highlights from our week:

Tru made it through another week of Writing with Skill. I am amazed that he has been able to work through this for five weeks now without much trouble. It is great that we have finally found a strong writing curriculum that works for him.

A sample of his writing, with drawings of course.

Tru studied Africa in MBTP. He worked on his African map, and he began reading A Girl Named Disaster.

Reading in his sister's room.

Tru was able to do Rosetta Stone every day this week. I love to hear his French accent.

Relaxing while working on Rosetta Stone

He also had another golf lesson this week. He is taking what he is learning and teaching it to Decca. He is a great teacher!

At his golf lesson

Helping Decca with his follow through

Autry did a great job on an assignment in school this week, and I wanted to share it. She had to create a super hero and write about the hero. Her hero was Operetta, and her power is singing.

All about Operetta

Autry sang The Star Spangled Banner this week at an equestrian fair. She was nervous, but she did it. I was very proud!

She had fun at the fair. She even tried riding the bull!

I caught her warming up one day and taped it. She doesn’t think she sounds that great, but I disagree. I love to hear her warm-ups.

Decca at the beach. He is sporting another hand-drawn mustache. He is obsessed!

I don’t know why, but I don’t have many (actually I don’t have any) pics of Decca working on school this week. He went to homeschool PE, worked on math, continued reading Little House in the Big Woods, and drew tons of pictures and made some movies.

Also this week we managed to get out to Crystal Cove. The highlight of the day was Tru almost stepping on a rattle snake in the sand. Although there are many rattlesnakes at the park, we had never seen one in the sand so close to the beach. It was very cool! I only had my iPhone, so I didn’t get a great of a pic, but I thought I would share.

The snake in the sand

Decca set up a science lab.

The view never gets old.

The boys loved the little waterfall.

We spotted many small lizards. This one was maybe two inches.

And that is our week in review.

Weekly Update

We started our week with a nature walk in the bird preserve. It was a nice day for all of us.

Decca enjoyed the wind.

Autry spotted these insects. She was fascinated by them.

The bird sanctuary is at the water district. Usually this pond is full of water, but it was dry. I wasn't sure why.

Autry and me on our nature walk.

Autry worked hard on school and voice all week. Homework takes up a chunk of her free time, but it is not nearly as bad as I thought it would be.

Autry working on homework.

Kingsley decided to help Autry with her math.

Tru finished up his units in MBTP. Next week he will begin a unit on modern Africa which should be interesting, as he has not studied modern Africa before.

Tru spent time watching BrainPop this week.

He and I jogged every other day this week. On this morning he found a cool walking stick.

Tru is on week 4 of Writing with Skill. The work is getting slightly harder, but he is able to keep up.

Decca and I started two new books this week, Little House in the Big Woods and Native American Animal Stories. We studied the early history of America, and he watched Nightmare in Jamestown.

Reading a Native american story

Working on a map with his Babushka.

And enjoying Starbucks together.

Decca and I also made some butter this week to go along with his study of Little House in the Big Woods. It was a fun little project.

Shaking up the cream

He and I shook it for ten minutes. Then we had butter.

After he made and tried the butter, he filled out a worksheet. Then he went on to sweeten the butter with honey. He liked it much better.

And that is our week in review.

Weekly Update

This week the kids, Grandma and I played some great board games for the Million Minute Family Challenge. Sushi Roll turned out to be our favorite.

Autry and Grandma playing Sushi Roll

The kids completed their first chemistry lesson using Middle School Chemistry. This is a great program, and the kids declared it their favorite science ever after just one lesson. We are only doing it once a week, as Autry and her friend both want to participate. Even though it will only be once a week I think the kids will learn a great deal from it.

Building a water molecule before the chemistry lesson.

Trying to divide a water drop.

Decca joined the lesson and had fun uniting his water.

Tru continued working on his MBTP curriculum. He is nearly done with his unit, and he is excited to start his next one. For an assignment today in Language Arts he had to do a lesson on greed, and how greed often leads to corruption and wrongdoing. He had to find three examples in history and two in current events to demonstrate this idea. I thought it was a good lesson, and he seemed to enjoy it.

Tru watching CNN student news.

He watched CNN student news to get some ideas, and we had a great conversation about examples in history. Discussions like this is why I like the logic stage so much.

Decca is done with The Sign of the Beaver, and I dragged out some books to supplement the material today. He enjoyed reading with me for nearly an hour, which I appreciated, as he usually doesn’t enjoy doing that. He then decided to do a Draw Write Now lesson, but he put his own spin on it.

This drawing led to a twenty page book which took most of his day. I never want to stop Decca’s creativity though, so when he is working on projects like this his formal school work gets pushed to the back burner.

Autry got partial braces and an expander on this week. I had no idea what an expander was, but I can tell you she and I were not prepared for it. I have to tighten it every night, but I couldn’t figure it out. I had to watch this video numerous times to finally understand it, not fun at all.

Tru and Decca started back with their piano lessons. Decca did great, and Tru did not. He is done with piano, and he wanted everyone to know. I don’t usually let the kids quit anything, but he is 12 and discovering his own interests. I want to make sure I listen to him as he gets older, and that I allow him to make some of his own decisions, so piano is out.

In other news, it has been hot here this week. Kingsley does not appreciate the heat at all; it must be all that fur.

And that is our week in review.


Weekly Update

Our week started out great. Everyone was working hard, I was feeling good about OCHSA and the drive, and curriculum was working out. I was feeling great about everything, and then the inevitable happened. We all got sick!

Apparently Autry was feeling bad in the beginning of the week with a sore throat. She didn’t want to tell me because she was afraid she would have to stay home sick from school, and she didn’t want to do that. So she was sick in the beginning of the week, then Tru and I started having a sore throat Wednesday night, and then Decca got sick.  He always seems to get a high fever every time he gets sick, even if the rest of us don’t. He has been sick in bed for the last two days with a 104 degree fever. I am hoping it breaks soon, and that he sleeps tonight, because I am so tired.

We did get some work done in the beginning of the week. Tru is still enjoying his MBTP work. He is working his way through The Hobbit and learning about the history and culture of Australia and Oceania. He is working on maps in both areas, and for literature he is enjoying making his own fictional creature that could be part of the world of The Hobbit. He is going to sculpt a figure of his creature this weekend with his Grandma, and I hope to have a pic up next week of it.

Hobbit map

Map of Australia and Oceania

In science Tru continued studying the lithosphere. He studied shock waves, seismometers, Alfred Wegener, tectonic plates, and the continents. He did two experiments, both of which he enjoyed immensely, even though I thought they were rather simplistic for his age.

In this experiment he was testing how sound travels through different solids and liquids.

A rebound model in which Tru tried to show how the ice age affected the earth's crust. He decided he needed an audience, hence the Lego guys.

In math Tru continued to plug along in LoF pre-algebra. We haven’t received his AoPS book yet. When we do we will share our reactions.  Tru had another speech class, and he is still liking it. He gave a short speech on why he wants to become a better speaker. He told the class that he either wants to be a history professor or an attorney when he gets older, and he thinks being able to speak in public would be helpful for either of those jobs. I thought that was funny.

Decca did a little work this week. We worked through most of LoF Apples. He still loves it. He also continued working in his Singapore Word Problems book. We read more of The Sign of the Beaver, and he did some worksheets on cause and effect and on vocabulary.

He also watched the Sign of the Beaver on Hulu. It is free, and I thought it would be fun to watch. The makers of the movie felt it necessary to add a whole story about Matt’s parents, which I felt was very unnecessary. I skipped all those parts, and we just watched the scenes with Matt and Attean. Decca liked it, and we had a great discussion on how books change when they are made into movies.

Autry started conservatory at OCHSA, and she loves it. She has choir on Monday/Wednesday, theory on Tuesday, and solo work on Thursday. This is why she is at OCHSA, and the drive now seems worth it. She is very happy there, and I am adjusting. I love to see her so enthusiastic for school every morning.

On her way to school in the morning

And that is our week in review.