Free Printable Math Placement Tests for Grades K-7

Curious what level your kids are up to in math? K12 has all of its math placement tests online here.  You can print them out for free without registering or jumping through any hoops.

The tests go from kindergarten through 5th grade in two semesters per year, and then four semesters of pre-algebra, which is roughly middle school age.

Note that it automatically prints the answers too, which doubles the pages printed.  For instance, the kindergarten semester test is 4 pages but it prints 8 pages because it prints the test and then the test with the right answer circled.  If you want to save paper and ink, just print the first half of the pages and check the answers online (if you don’t know them yourself).

You know we don’t follow a structured curriculum, and this was a nice way for me to see what subjects to introduce next to Jack and Anna.  Alex just plain had fun with it, too.  🙂

Fun free printable to teach kids the branches of government

I love this free printable from Layers of Learning. She writes:

Using a copy of the Constitution go through the “Three Branches by the Constitution” worksheet. Each of the powers granted to the Federal Government are written in the boxes on the worksheet. Color code each box to show which entity of the government has the specific power mentioned. You’ll have to consult the Constitution for the answers.

The Legislative branch should have two colors in the same color family to designate it, like orange and yellow, and the President and vice president should also have two colors in the same color family to represent them, like dark blue and light blue. The Supreme Court justices can all be in the same color, like green. Many of the legislative functions are shared by the House and Senate, these can be colored with both orange and yellow.

If you like, you can obtain and print portraits of each of the people currently in office to paste into the boxes. Images should be about 80×100 pixels and can be re-sized with photo editing software or using Paint.

Head on over to print your B&W copies!

A Few Good Links (Spelling, cooking, plant families and more!)

Here’s a few assorted links I’ve found lately that I thought were worth keeping.

I’m posting these here in case they help others and also so I can find the sites later when I need them! 🙂  I’d pin them but in most cases, they don’t have pinnable images.

4th Grade Spelling lists… We don’t usually do anything formal in spelling.  (Here’s a tip from a mom who’s HSed to the teen years– spelling is one of those things that takes care of itself very well through the rest of life if you have a child who likes to read and write.) That said, Jack could use a boost and we’re doing some weekly spelling words now and trying to make it fun.  This site has lots of easy printable lists and you don’t need to sign up or jump through any hoops (and other grades, too).

Acids and Bases (Science Fair Projects and Experiments)… Wow, this site looks awesome.  The projects are categorized and look really interesting.  It’s a no-frills site, but one I want to spend more time investigating.

Culinary Skills Challenge… This is something I want to do with my kids this month.  It’s part of a group challenge that we’re not going to take part in because the official one is wheat-based and my girls would probably say they’re too shy to take part right now, where kids are challenged to bake a muffin recipe and then make changes and present an improved muffin to the judges.  I think it would be awesome fun to use one of my basic gluten free muffin recipes and do it as a family project.  I love the chart and the idea of changing one thing at a time and logging the results.  (Click on baking science guidelines for their rules, their basic wheat-based muffin recipe and their chart in PDF form.)

Foods and plants that are related… This is interesting to me as the mom of allergic kids and also just as science.  It’s a very comprehensive page of info about what families various plants, seafood, etc. are in and how people can react to other seemingly unrelated things because they are actually related, like this part:

Cross-Reactions between Trees and Foods – Oral Allergy Syndrome – AAIA Quarterly Volume 29 Fall 1993, Dr. Ham Pong “Oral Allergy Syndrome” — allergy to a pollen triggers itching of the mouth when related foods are eaten. See Oral Allergy article on Articles page.

Foods associated with BIRCH pollen allergy: apple family (apple, pear), Plum family (almond, apricot, cherry, nectarine, peach, plum, prune), Parsley family (carrot, celery, fennel, parsley, parsnip), Walnut.

Foods associated with RAGWEED pollen allergy: banana, melons.

Foods associated with GRASS pollen allergy: melons, orange, tomato.

Foods associated with MUGWORT (Artemisia vulgaris) pollen allergy: – apple, carrot, celery, melons

Reading which family various things are in is quite interesting, too.  Or perhaps I’m just a geek!  That’s pretty much confirmed, too!  🙂

In other news…

Don’t forget that Pi Day is coming up!  Here’s oodles of fun stuff to do to celebrate.

I’ve also written recently about How to prepare your daughter for her first period, a recipe for Easy (I swear!) gluten free and dairy free glazed donuts, a new site that features kids’ science projects with theme challenges, and how kids can sign up for a free 2-year subscription to LEGO Magazine.

And now, I’m back on toddler duty.  I wonder what the odds are that Fiona would like to relax in a bath and look through gluten free cookbooks and garden magazines with me?


99 Things I Did Yesterday

I’ve written before about how we don’t have a “typical” homeschool day. That said, I thought it could be interesting to log a day here at home while D is recovering from surgery.

Here’s 99 things I did yesterday.


I realize this is probably interesting to nobody except me, so you will not hurt my feelings in the least by skipping this completely!  I just thought it would be fun to log once.

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This one is going to get complicated.

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It should be noted that Victoria is up visiting friends in the Cities for the next week and a half, so I’m a mother of four for the time being instead of five.

This is not everything I did yesterday, just a random 99. I obviously changed Fiona more than once, and some things just don’t need to be logged.  It’s not necessarily in order, either.

  1. Made coffee.
  2. Fed the pets (even though it’s Jack’s job).
  3. Got dressed and used two lint rolling sheets getting all the dog and cat hair off of my sweater.
  4. Dressed Fiona.
  5. Changed Fiona.
  6. Brought breakfast to Daryl (still on bed rest from surgery).
  7. Set Fiona up with breakfast in her high chair.  (Jack took care of breakfast for himself and Alex, and Anna takes care of herself.)
  8. Checked email.
  9. Took pictures of some delightful creations Jack and Alex made with clementines, blueberries and bananas (and ate one).
  10. Gathered compost.
  11. Hugged kids.
  12. Blogged 10 Ways to Make Today Magical.
  13. Taught Jack how to add and subtract fractions.
  14. Browsed Pinterest and pinned some of my articles to various boards.
  15. Went to the grocery store to pick up four dozen cartons of local farm eggs.
  16. Made corned beef hash and eggs for Daryl, myself and the boys.  We are a mostly vegetarian family (Anna is always vegetarian).  Mostly does not include hash in the case of most of us.
  17. Did four loads of laundry.
  18. Turned off the TV and told the boys to do something educational.
  19. Answered questions on email lists about surveys for money, homeschooling high school and various other topics.
  20. Posted about a friend’s missing dog on Facebook.  Also shared a meme about having an awesome husband, a missing teen notice, an article about organic gardening and probably at least one cartoon about wine.
  21. Answered questions about multiplication, money, spelling, erosion and spiritual beliefs.
  22. Set Fiona up with a bunch of boxes and cupboard items she could stack and play with rather than the jars of lentils she was trying to stack.
  23. Went to the post office.
  24. Played with our new foam clock to work on telling time with Alex.
  25. Helped Fiona draw with markers.
  26. Cleaned markers off of Fiona’s hands, arms and face.
  27. Sent a message to Victoria telling her about homeschool days at an indoor climbing place in the Cities tomorrow.
  28. Followed through to be sure that my four winners for my NuNaturals giveaway would be getting their goodies this week.
  29. Talked to Daryl while snuggling Fiona.
  30. Folded laundry.
  31. Called out words for Jack to spell while I folded laundry.
  32. Trimmed Daryl’s surgical tape.
  33. Nursed Fiona.
  34. Caught up with Anna, who was up late helping Daryl out and sleeps late right now to balance out the night shift.
  35. Fixed the couch and cushions after Alex made pillow forts.
  36. Had Alex fix the couch and cushions after Alex made pillow forts (it should be noted that this could count as ten entries throughout the day).
  37. Sent Jack outside with Layla and a ham bone I picked up for her at the grocery store.  Got a very happy dog.
  38. Checked my Examiner earnings, pinned and shared articles in columns that were low earners yesterday.
  39. Read anti-HSLDA sites, the NYT article about the baby who was allegedly cured of HIV, a blog by a mom with stage IV breast cancer, federal financial aid information and learned various other topics.
  40. Sent ice packs, mail, seconds of meals, ice cream and assorted other necessities with various children up to Daryl.
  41. Pawned Fiona off on various family members to watch.
  42. Looked for colored tissue paper and baggie of tiny pretties (dyed feathers, metallic shapes, etc.) to do a contact paper craft with Alex.  Couldn’t find them, got out oil pastels instead.
  43. Did altered book pages with Alex and Fiona.
  44. Changed Fiona into a new outfit that wasn’t covered in marker and banana.
  45. Doled out vitamins and supplements.
  46. Treated and bandaged a wound on Alex’s foot.
  47. Taught Jack the nines finger trick for figuring out multiples of nines.
  48. Dropped off folded laundry in Victoria’s room, chased the giant dog off of her bed.
  49. Rescued various items from the trash and recycling bins (courtesy of a one year-old girl who likes to toss things).
  50. Talked to Anna about country music lyrics, scrapbooking, Westboro Baptist Church, friends, childhood memories and so on.
  51. Gave various assignments to Anna (do Khan Academy, gather dirty laundry from her room and bring it to the basement, help with Fiona…).
  52. Posted a picture of Jack’s awesome philosophical drawing on Facebook via Instagram.  It’s called “The Spirit of Peace.” He said “It’s fire and water coming together to form life and peace because life is not possible without harmony.” Deep, huh? 😉 He even made up a song to go with it.
  53. Responded to an email asking me to review KIND snack products.
  54. Showed Jack and Alex how to use my exercise band and helped them do lifts and stretches with it.
  55. Gave Anna a fancy new box for her new scrapbooking hobby, letter stickers and some colorful cardstock pieces.
  56. Listed the A-C bulk spice list on the Plum Creek Food Co-op’s Facebook page.
  57. Read books to Alex and Fiona.
  58. Talked about reasons for poverty and world hunger with Alex as Jack was doing Free Rice to earn rice to donate to the hungry.
  59. Helped Jack with vocabulary and multiplication on Free Rice.
  60. Tidied the living room.
  61. Made supper (stir fried veggies with rice, crazy fattening mini sweet pepper poppers).
  62. Ate way too many poppers.  And stir fry, but mostly poppers.
  63. Settled squabbles.
  64. Drank a very nice, very large glass of wine.
  65. Watched Bones with the kids.
  66. Ate chocolate.
  67. Talked to Jack about his moral dilemma of wanting to donate all of his savings in the bank (nearly $100) to feed the hungry, but he also had been saving up for things he really wanted.  He finally decided it was okay to keep his money but he’d set a personal goal of donating 1,000 grains of rice per day to help make a difference.
  68. Replied to comments and questions that had come in on Facebook.
  69. Snuggled with Alex on the couch.
  70. Got Fiona to sleep.
  71. Got Fiona to sleep again.  And again.  And so forth.
  72. Checked D’s incision.
  73. Started cleaning the table, had Jack take over.
  74. Set up two experiments on the Electronic Playground (affiliate link) with Jack, as promised all day (morse code and blinking LED lights).  electronic playground
  75. Put together the first half of my (way too large) order from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.
  76. Gave kids rock candy swizzle sticks for a special treat for dessert (ingredient: sugar, note: make these for science class).
  77. Unpacked new mini donut maker, looked for the cookbook that had the GF mini donut recipe that spurned the impulse buy.  No luck.
  78. Loved on the dog.
  79. Helped Alex and Jack pick out their classes for the upcoming science conference.
  80. Emailed Victoria.
  81. Talked to Anna about her new goal to write a musical about her life.
  82. Loved on the cat.
  83. Officially applied for a PIN from the federal government for financial aid forms once the kids are ready to start applying to colleges.
  84. Fixed my necklace after Fiona broke it.  Twice.
  85. Debated about ordering stir fry rice noodles, sorgum flour, organic (non-GMO) corn starch,  organic GF corn flakes,  tapioca flour and potato starch straight up or through Subscribe and Save on  Dilemma — if you order five or more items that will be delivered at the same time, you get 15% off now (and only 5% off through subscribe and save) and it’s a better deal on gluten free items I use a lot.  On the other hand, it stings to drop that kind of money on bulk flours and such. Hemmed and hawed and left it all to think about tomorrow.
  86. Watched MythBusters on Netflix with Jack and Alex.
  87. Snuggled with Alex until he fell asleep.
  88. Planned my garden out on paper.
  89. Planned our menus for the week.
  90. Ate more chocolate.
  91. Made sure kids did nightly chores (take dog out, put leftovers away, etc.).
  92. Got out frozen pumpkin to thaw in the fridge for GF mix and match quick bread tomorrow.
  93. Shared chocolate with hubby.
  94. Gave Anna the new Discover Magazine and asked her to read it and talk to me tomorrow about some of the stories she found most interesting.
  95. Swept cobwebs from the ceilings upstairs.  Note:  Especially cold winters really do seem to mean many more spiders!  Good grief.  Every two weeks we seem ready for haunted house status.
  96. Helped Anna find chocolate chips to make trail mix (raw almonds, cranberries, dark chocolate chips) for a midnight snack.  Yes, there is a chocolate theme at our house.
  97. Posted a couple of nifties to the Magical Homeschool page on Facebook.
  98. Watched CNN.
  99. Logged this.  😉

There were a lot of things that I didn’t do that I usually do.  I didn’t bake anything, didn’t get any of the littles into real baths, didn’t have long talks with Toria, didn’t do much one-on-one with Anna or homeschool with Alex, didn’t write any articles… I didn’t even do the dishes.

I can’t imagine why I don’t get more done…

It was fun to log, though, and I highly recommend it for those days when you’re sure you never get anything accomplished!

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Doing altered book pages with Alex and Fiona.

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A Quick Little Learning-to-Read Game

read Here’s an example of how we play with words to help our kids learn to read.

This is a game Alex and I played yesterday.  I’ve done something similar with all of the kids and it always works well and is fun.

I wrote and illustrated 15 sets of words (drawings on blue, words on yellow) and then I just spread them all out and have him look for pairs.

Our words (short and easy to draw) were hand, sun, moon, egg, ball, flag, fish, owl, boot, door, cup, car, leaf, bug, hat and tree.

Owl ended up being a fail. My owl looked like a buddha.  😉

Later on, the game can be played concentration style (flipped over, try to remember where matches are) but when kids are newly learning to read, just spread them out facing up.

Have the child look for matches.  Try not to help much, other than when asked for help remembering how to sound out letters.

Alex (5) was able to figure them all out with occasional reminders about letter sounds.

He can read MUCH easier in this sort of way than just sitting and sounding words out. As a matter of fact, when I just flipped through the cards afterwards, he got very frustrated trying to read the same words he had just matched up.

The pictures give just the right amount of help to let kids see themselves as successful readers.

He really enjoyed it and was very proud of his stack of accomplished words.

When our kids learned to read:

Victoria sounded her first word out (boo) at three and was reading fluently at four. 

Anna was nearly six when it really clicked. 

Jack was five. 

Alex is five now and I think he will be six before it really clicks.

We did not use a phonics curriculum, How to Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, Bob books or any of that.

We read to our kids a lot, we played phonics games, we talked about letter sounds and we let it happen naturally.  (See the articles below for more examples.)

It’s important to note that all of our older kids are voracious readers now (at 9, 13 and 14).

Remember that when a child learns to read has no bearing on how well the child will eventually read. Children walk, talk, read and learn to use the potty at their own paces.

If you do “walking lessons” with a baby who is not ready to walk, I sure hope you make it fun.  It will not help the baby walk much sooner and is completely unnecessary.

Reading lessons are the same.  If you’re going to use phonics curricula and reading lessons with a young child, do be sure to make it fantastically fun.  🙂