For us, the 2017-2018 school year has basically come to an end. The concerts are over, testing is done, paperwork has been sent in (to fulfill the requirements of our state) and sports (tryouts, end-of-season parties) have wrapped up. Plus, the spring planting season is done!
This post is going to chit-chat about how our semester wrapped up (everything from gardening to history, science) and our summer homeschool plans…
Gardening: We have quite a large bed of strawberries and had a good crop this spring. The veggie garden was a disaster this spring it was covered in foot-high weeds, but it looks pretty good now! This year on my Dad’s recommendation, we opted to do some container gardening. I bought felt/fabric gardening containers. I bought 10 gallon fabric pots (with handles) (affiliate link) for our tomatoes and peppers (pictured to the right). We also got two 3×3 Fabric Raised Garden Beds (affiliate link) which you can see at the back of the garden below. So far, so good!! We have a fabulous crop of lettuce, radishes and carrots in one and peas & green beans in the other. We’ve also planted cucumbers, zucchini, pumpkins, sunflowers, green beans, squash, etc. Let’s hope I can keep on top of the weeding, fingers crossed. 🙂
Remember we have some new notebook pages and worksheets about the Parts of a Flower, Parts of a Seed here. I’ll add to this Botany Unit next year when we go into depth about plant adaptations, ferns, mosses and things like that. 🙂The wildlife is also out in force. We live down in a hollow with hills on all sides and a creek running through the back of our yard. The frogs & toads are deafening at night! We’ve seen all kinds of critters. Here are a couple photos I took this year… both snakes were about three feet long (one’s a garter snake and the other is a black snake). Remember, round pupils are good! (Only examine the pupils safely on your computer, not by going up close and personal, of course!) We also see lots of ring necked snakes and countless types of frogs and toads. 🙂 And, we also disturbed a mouse’s nest this spring. We scooped up two (of the four) babies and put them back in their nest (but took a couple quick pics first). We don’t know if they survived (we haven’t disturbed the nest since), but did see Mama Mouse scurry back to the original spot. I know, I know… we have mice… therefore we have snakes… but we don’t have the heart to get rid of them as long as they are outside and away from the house!
As I was writing in the Homeschool Den Newsletter earlier this evening, May was pretty busy for us with concerts, sports & activities, testing (to fulfill the requirements of our state), and wrapping up a couple of big units. My youngest switched sports this year and started playing soccer last fall. She loved it and really took to it. She decided to try out for the travel soccer team and was super excited that she made it. We (Hubby and I) are happy for her, but you know how busy that can be especially with two other kids and their sports & activities, music lessons, homeschool band and more. 🙂 All that kept me out most afternoons/evenings driving around. It definitely cut into my business/writing time. No complaint, just pointing out how all of our seasons change and the demands on our time change all the time!
The end of school itself was really great. This year we did a huge study of the Age of Absolutism, Enlightenment, Scientific Revolution, French Revolution and Napoleon. This can be pretty detailed material, but the kids really enjoyed history this year. In fact, DD (my middle daughter), said that history is her *favorite* subject. We sprinkled in a lot of reading, documentaries, notebook pages, cut-and-paste review, and plenty of rounds of history bingo! 🙂
This material is not yet available on the blog, but I hope to get it polished and bundled in with all of the Renaissance and Reformation materials at some point this summer. (Remember, you can always drop me a message if you need something and I’ll try to make it a priority to get it done!)
The past two summers, we have spent a lot of time on the road. Two summers ago we did a huge trip out West and visited the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Mt. Rushmore and many other places. You can get a glimpse of some of our adventures here Our 7,000 Mile Trip Out West!! and here Petrified Forest, Grand Canyon, & Yellowstone Highlights Video and More!. And of course, if you want to download the free USA Road Trip Travel Log I made for the kids (they loved it!!) you can grab that here: Summer Travel Log Printable (Free!) – Travel Ideas for Kids!
Last summer, we spent time in Europe (in Germany, Austria, Hungary and a quick side-trip to Romania). I was in the Peace Corps in Hungary and spent two lovely weeks visiting my friends. (You can click on the picture below to see a bigger version. These are pictures of a castle in Romania (top left), towns in Germany top right, bottom left and Budapest in Hungary.)
Anyway, this summer our travels will not take us quite so long (or far!). We’ll be home a lot more of the summer. For that reason, we’ll be doing school off-and-on throughout the summer. In fact, we’ve started a couple of our new units.
For history, I am reading The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians) with ED. Our family decided to do a study of Ancient Greece again. (LD, my oldest, is great about saying, “I should probably spend some time learning about that again.” And besides, we were at a stopping point with European history. We’ll resume with 20th century history next fall.) We have loved the other history books by Suzanne Strauss Art and decided to try her Ancient Greece book: Early Times: The Story of Ancient Greece, 4th Edition. (affiliate link) We are loving this book as well! The way she writes make history really unfold like a mystery (particularly this first chapter or so about how archeology work revealed clues about the Minoan Civilization!).
By the way, I really recommend the 4th edition because they have updated it to include color photos & maps and the paper is a glossy really nice quality. Earlier versions have black & white illustrations which are not nearly as nice. That’s just my opinion if you often buy your books used (like I normally do).If you have younger kids, you might want to check out this post Ancient Greece Unit for Kindergarten, Grade 1 or 2 and some of the free Ancient Greece worksheets I made for ED a year or so ago here: Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome Worksheets and Activities.
Biology: We are moving on to a more in-depth study of Biology this coming year (remember, LD is now 14 going on 15 and DD will be turning 13). We decided to use Thinkwell’s AP Biology Course. So far, we’ve done the first chapter and LD and DD are really enjoying George Wolfe’s lectures. We watch the lectures together and the kids work on the exercises (multiple choice questions) that go with that lecture. Each lecture is about 10 to 12 minutes long. You can try it for free for 14 days to see if it would be a good fit for your family. It’ll let you examine the first two chapters and all the videos. I think this will be a good fit for my older two kids (we’ve done a lot of science), but I’ll keep you posted!! (I’m glad we did the Chemistry Unit first, there was a section on isotopes and the kids totally understood that material!) Some of you may want to know that this course covers evolution in quite some detail. If you do decide to purchase a Thinkwell course, you can enter my email (Liesl@homeschoolden.com) “Referred by” field for an additional $10 off for you. I would get a referral reward (an Amazon card) if you use this option.
We also are incredibly lucky to have a friend who is a retired high school biology teacher, Frank Gregorio. You may have seen some of his Introductory Science Videos like this Introduction to Biology:
or his Introduction to Cells:
Do a search on youtube for more of Frank Gregorio’s amazing intro videos… like Cell Division and the Cell Cycle and many others!
Frank let me download his entire Biology course… which includes the power points he made for each class (with embedded videos, photos), plus his student notes, tests, quizzes, and more. It is an incredible resource. I wish more people could join us for those!! We regularly go to his (Frank Gregorio’s) professional science lecture series (we just did several in May) and they are unbelievable! Anyway, that’s another huge resource we’ll be using this year for Biology.
Many of you know we have been learning German (as the kids’ foreign language). We plan to go to the German immersion camp called Waldsee in Minnesota this summer. It’s run by Concordia Language Villages (They offer 12 different languages!!). We’ll spend a week speaking only in German, playing in German, eating and going to the “bank”… all in German! We’re really looking forward to it and I’m hoping it helps the kids become more comfortable speaking. This year we’ve watched a lot of TV programs, movies and read lots of stories in German, but we don’t do as good a job talking in German.
See you again soon here or over at our Homeschool Den Facebook Page! Don’t forget to Subscribe to our Homeschool Den Newsletter. You might also want to check out some of our resources pages above (such as our Science, Language Arts, or History Units Resource Pages) which have links to dozens of posts. You might want to join our free Homeschool Den Chat Facebook group. Don’t forget to check out Our Store as well. ~Liesl
Disclosure: Please note that some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase.
P.S. If you are making plans for next year, you might be interested in our Free Homeschool Planning Pages. There are two options (both are free)
These are some free Homeschool Planning Pages that I use as I try to figure out our long-range homeschooling goals. This post shares share the process I go through… and also will share the planning pages that I’ve been using the past few years. I like having colorful planning pages to work on. This isn’t really a weekly/monthly planner, but rather a homeschool vision planner. This 30+-page pdf is currently FREE to download! Let me know if it’s helpful! ~Liesl
And, if you are looking for some printables to create your own Homeschool Planner, you might want to check out our free Homeschool Planner. This unique homeschool planning packet is currently FREE to download! It is nearly 100 pages! Not only does this packet include daily and weekly planning pages, checklists and record keeping pages, but it also includes various homeschool journaling pages… think gratitude journal meets homeschool goal setting! Again, you’ll find it at this post: Free Homeschool Planner and Discovery Journal. I tend to change up my homeschool planning pages regularly as our needs change, so this packet of materials has steadily grown in size! There might be something you can use there! 🙂
When I’m planning our units for the upcoming year, I think a lot about the science topics should we cover in our homeschool by the time they finish 8th grade. I have a general checklist of topics that I go consider… and try to fill in the gaps as we go (and as the kids’ interests change). We actually circle back around to cover these units every few years and go into more depth each time we cover it. I have shared this checklist before, but I’ve updated (and added in a few things). I know that many of us are planning for the new school year, so this is the perfect time to share it again. This checklist is free to download here at this post: