10 Ways We’ve Learned and Played Lately

We’re 2 weeks into 2017 and hanging in there.  I had a birthday a week ago and Rhia has a birthday next week.  She’s turning 17 (how did that happen?) and I won’t tell you what age I turned.  😉


(Yes, our kitchen ceiling is completely covered with the children’s art!)

We had some more sadness, as my grandmother died right before the new year.  She was 93 and impatient to move on to her next adventure, but that doesn’t make it easier.  I am very glad that we made so many trips to Ohio for the kids to really get to know her, especially this year (3 trips in 6 months).

That doesn’t mean homeschooling was happening, though.  Or magical moments.  Here’s a bit of what we’ve been up to lately.

  1. Daryl has been doing “Teach Your Monster to Read” with Fiona just about every day.  She is beginning to get the hang of how phonics and words work, and she enjoys it.
  2. I got out an old science kit that I found at a thrift store years back, dusted it off, and started doing science experiments with Alex.  It contains a hand-held scope and lots of gadgets and chemicals.  We did things like examined different cloths under the scope, compared types of salt under magnification (black lava salt just looks dirty!) and did some simple experiments.  We’re going to try to finally start putting it to regular use.
  3. Daryl is acting in a winter play.  He has the lead in a community theater production in Worthington.  It’s a comedy and he plays a detective.  Rhia goes with him to rehearsals and all of the kids help him run his lines.
  4. Toria is working on getting our family Etsy store running.  She has some beautiful glass fox pendants that I got her for her birthday as a start to her own business (I purchased a large assortment wholesale for her to sell).  We are planning to sell a variety of things out of a family store.  Rhia creates elaborate zentangle-like artwork that she’d like to list and I have been creating magical homeschool sort of printables (such as colorful cards of hands-on ways to do all different subjects).  It has been a fun learning experience for all of us so far. Toria is taking pictures this week and then we should be able to finish creating the storefront.
  5. Rhia has been writing songs.  She is very talented on the guitar and writes amazing songs.  She wrote one last week that is quite feminist, and wrote another for a friend who needed cheering up.  She also has been learning how to cover other songs on the guitar.  Daryl and I heard a song I really liked during “Listen to Your Folks” on campus radio last week (Painting Houses) and she and Daryl learned to play it and performed it for me.
  6. I wrote a Kindle book.  I decided that it was time to start writing about the things that I am passionate about again, and that I finally needed to learn how to write Kindle books and give it a try.  There’s a steep learning curve but I got my first book written.  It is part of a series I’d like to write under the umbrella of “A Magical Homeschool.”  This one is A Magical Homeschool:  Nature Studies (52 Wonderful ways to use nature studies for science, math, art and more).  I am working on the cover today.
  7. Rhia is learning Spanish.  She has started doing Duolingo and has progressed quite far already.  Toria has been using Duolingo to master German for years, and Daryl does the free language app daily in German, French, Spanish, Norwegian and Swedish.
  8. Jack has been running D&D games for Alex.  This role playing game involves creating a world, drawing out maps, storytelling and running the game to create the adventure as the players go along.  Players roll dice to determine the outcome of decisions, battles, etc. and use miniatures to represent the players and the world.
  9. Alex, Fiona and I played a US states geography board game.  It involves drawing cards of states that you need to travel to and then answering questions about the states to move across the board and try to reach your state.  Once you visit all four of the states you’ve drawn (driving across the country in your car token), you win. A friend lent it to us and Alex really enjoys it.  Fiona doesn’t have to answer the questions.  We just let her roll the dice and travel across the country, and she is still picking up geography from the states she “visits.”
  10. Daryl and the kids have been shooting winter footage for a movie.  Daryl has a friend making a movie down south and she needs to incorporate footage of winter memories for the characters, who are supposed to be in Montana.  They have been shooting footage of snowy scenes and of the kids running in the snow and so on.  Daryl, Toria, Jack and Rhia have all shot footage, and Alex and Rhia have been in some of the scenes.

Of course, we’re doing all the usual homeschool stuff too — reading books, playing games, texting, blogging, using educational apps and shows, nature studies, cooking, chores, math pages and so on.

And now, I’m off to work on that cover and pretend I’m going to get housework done.

Okay, really try to at least get a little housework done….

Have a magical week!

Ich heisse Alicia, no como carne.

The girls and I are really enjoying language classes. We had our second classes today and we’re thrilled with how quickly we’re learning.  I like that both teachers jumped right into teaching us conversations instead of having us memorize lists of words.

It’s a little wild for Victoria and me, because we are taking both German and Spanish (and the same day).  It can get us mixed up at times… you is tu in Spanish, du in German.  In Spanish, the numbers go one way after 20 and in German the other (twenty and one, versus one and twenty).  And I catch myself sometimes starting to answer in the wrong language.  🙂

It is really fun taking college classes with my daughters.  There’s something really neat about it, sitting in the back row and occasionally whispering or copying the other’s notes.  Afterwards, we stroll past the scuptures and fountains and talk about what we learned and just yap.

We’ll have to miss next Monday’s classes, because we’ll be in Nebraska.  We leave Wednesday for Tiffany’s house, to take part in the second annual AP Homeschool Jamboree.

Tiffany and I, along with all of the other mothers coming, met on an online AP HS yahoo group that I run.  I started it when Victoria was four years old and I was a fresh-eyed homeschool newbie.  I’ve known some of the moms online for 8 years, and they are like old friends even when we haven’t met.  By now I’ve been lucky enough to meet many of them, though, and you know how often we go crash at Tiffany’s house.

It should be a fun week.  Daryl will be teaching the kids to throw the atlatl, and helping them make their own.  We’ll do some wacky activities and perhaps some crafts and make giant communal suppers and I’m sure the noise level will be nearly supernatural.

Oh yes, and Daryl and I will be having a fairy tale wedding.  All the guests are invited to dress up as fairy tale characters (modern, traditional, anything).  We’re going to be Shrek and Fiona.  🙂

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it but Daryl and I get married again every year in a new way.  It all started the first time, when we couldn’t decide what type of wedding to have (and couldn’t afford much).  We decided to go with the old hand-fasting tradition of marrying for a year and then renewing it every year, and every year we do it all again in a new way.  It keeps us sappy and it’s nice to have the kids involved too.

Which reminds me, I have to find my Fiona dress…

I’ll talk to you soon!

I mean… Hasta luego!

First Day of Language Classes

We got to take part in some free foreign language classes this semester and the first ones were on Monday.

Victoria took German, and Victoria and Anna took Spanish.  I am attending with the girls so I guess I’m taking them too.  🙂  I’ve already taken both languages but that was many years ago!

The classes were fabulous!  They are held at the state college in Mankato, and put on by international exchange students.  We have a slightly nervous young woman from Germany for German and a very fun young man (who never said where he was from, though I’m guessing Mexico) for Spanish.

They are very different in teaching styles but I have a feeling we’ll enjoy both classes.  We’re already learning a lot and the girls had homework in Spanish.  They each had to write a paragraph about themselves and both did a fantastic job!  Perhaps I’ll post them later.

We’ll be going to Mankato each Monday for the classes through November.  We think it’s going to be a pretty neat thing.

FreeRice now quizzes math, chemistry and more!


I think most people know about FreeRice by now, the cool web site that tests your vocabulary and earns rice that’s donated to the hungry.  They’ve expanded and now have categories like chemistry symbols, multiplication, world capitals, foreign languages and more!  What a great way to help others and help your kids (or yourself) learn.  🙂

Current categories include:


Our kids have been using Free Rice for many years and they love being able to truly help folks around the world while learning.  They also have fun keeping track of their progress.  It’s such a great site and offers more and more for homeschoolers all the time.