Category Archives: Organization and Scheduling

End of the school year musings

Things have been relatively quiet around here at Hope Is the Word, at least as far as homeschooling is concerned, because I’ve been too busy doing it to write about it.  It happens.  Things have been super busy and stressful–as they usually are this time of year–and I just haven’t had the energy to even keep up my Odds & Ends posts.   To borrow a very apt metaphor, I’d compare our springtime homeschool (with a super chatty almost 4-year old and a cruising 14 month old) to making sausage–I could tell you what went into it, but if I did, you certainly wouldn’t want to do it.  ;-)


You’d think I’d have this figured out by now.  I mean, things fall apart every May.  I plan hope to go out with a bang, and instead we just fizzle out.  The outdoors beckons, and I succumb.  We’ve had picnic table school several times, and I’ve tried to corral Benny on a quilt under the maple tree while I read aloud quite a few times, too.  One of my girls can disappear for hours at a time into the backyard, playing with her beloved seashells.  Both girls have finally learned to ride their bikes (y’all, they’ve had at least three bicycles each, which is scandalous, but they’ve finally earned to ride!), so the bicycles beckon, too.



We haven’t finished one single curriculum piece this year.  And do you know what?  I’m okay with that.  Really.  Some pieces (like math) really aren’t meant to be done in a year.  Most pieces we didn’t start at the beginning of the year.  The only thing we’re really putting closure to this May is our memory work.  I promised the girls a special something (as yet undetermined) if they both finished memorizing Colossians 3:1-17.  They’re both close enough.  We didn’t finish the introduction to the Declaration of Independence, but we all learned almost half of it.  That’s a good start.  The girls did a great job on their poetry and hymn memorization.  (My Circle Time posts are here.)

Fill in the blank from memory for review
Fill in the blank from memory for review

My only real regret this year is how we dropped the ball on science.  We did Apologia botany for a while (er, Steady Eddie did), but life got really hectic and it just fell off the list.  The girls did read self-selected science books throughout the year.  We took some pretty good trips–from Dauphin Island to lots of visits to the Huntsville Botanical Garden.  I’m letting it go this year.

First on my list: clean the window crayons OFF THE SCHOOLROOM WINDOWS! (They’ve only been there for a few months.)

Tomorrow, summer break begins as of lunchtime.  We have a few odds and ends to finish up in the morning, and then we’re calling it quits on the formal lessons for a month or two.  We might play some math games here and there, and we’ll keep on reading independently and together, but we all need a break.  Aside from piano lessons for one girl (her choice!), a volunteer job at the library, and interest-based 4-H activities, I’m looking forward to some rest.   I have a list of housework a mile long, but even that sounds like a relaxing change of pace.  One thing I’ve yet to achieve is the balance between tutoring my girls and keeping up with housework.  It’s time to give our home some attention.  That, and the swimming pool (as soon as the water warms up a bit).

"Reading" my devotional book--these boys keep me on my toes!
“Reading” my devotional book–these boys keep me on my toes!

Yippee!  School’s out!

Circle Time Easter 2014


February was sort of a topsy-turvy month in terms of Circle Time, so I decided to give our February memory work a few more weeks and then change to some new Easter-related pieces mid-March.   Some of February’s work will be carried over, too.

Hymn:  “In Christ Alone” by Getty and Townend

Review hymns:

  • “It Is Well with My Soul”
  • “This Is My Father’s World”
  • “O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing”

Bible passage:  Colossians 3:1-17 NIV–We’ve been working on this for a while, and we’re up through verse 8 pretty solidly now.  I’m sure we’ll be working on it until we break from our normal school routine for the summer.  In addition to this, I plan to read John 20 each Circle Time, in the same way we read the account of Jesus’ birth.  I figure if we do this every spring, we’ll eventually all know it.  :-)  Since we’re doing that, we won’t have any review passages this time.

English grammar:

  • prepositions
  • questions adjectives answer
  • questions adverbs answer

The English grammar section of our memory work is the section in which I’m the least consistent.  I keep seeing things in the girls’ grammar lessons that I want to pull out and work on during Circle Time, so this is subject to change or be added to.

History:  continue with The Declaration of Independence introduction and list of rights–so far we’ve up to the “unalienable Rights.”


  • Lulu–continue memorizing “Ozymandias.”  She has learned up through line six.  This is a tough one!
  • Louise–”I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud”
  • Both–“The Donkey” by Chesterton, just for Easter

I’m working on a better review system for all the poetry the girls have learned.  I hope to blog about it soon.


  • The Castle of Llyr by Lloyd Alexander
  • The Four-Story Mistake by Elizabeth Enright
  • Something else, probably.  Suggestions?

Odds & Ends


  • We’ve had an interesting week here in the Deep South, though since we live in North Alabama, we haven’t dealt with it too much.  A very unexpected snowstorm in the central part of the state stranded people in strange places, including in schools thousands of children spent the night in schools in various parts of the state when it was unsafe for their buses to run or their parents to come pick them up.  One of Steady Eddie’s colleagues was driving home from Tuscaloosa, a normal 3 hour or so trip.  It took her seven hours!  Another colleague was coming home from Montgomery, another 3 1/2 hour or so drive, and she literally spent the night in her car on the interstate.  After three or four times the length of time the drive would normally take, she was home.  Whew!  It’s one week I was glad I could stay snugged up in our warm home!  It has been so cold–single digits–this week.
  • We did have snow one day, but it didn’t stick.  I didn’t even let my children go out in it!
  • The reason I was a mean mom and didn’t allow the kids to go outside is that for about two weeks now, we’ve dealt with extreme snottiness and congestion.  This week (I HOPE!) we finally hit the low point, with two children having fevers in the past week and one having a sore throat.  CBS was cancelled due to the cold weather, and the girls missed basketball practice due to sickness.  I am ready for spring!
  • Yesterday, the outdoor temperature registered 67 degrees on our indoor thermometer, so I sent the big kids outside after Circle Time to shoot hoops, ride scooters, whatever–just to get outside and get some fresh air!  I snapped a picture of them and texted it to Steady Eddie and told him they were skipping school (and they were–I intended to do some dictation from their individual read-alouds this afternoon), but given the week we had, I’d say it was justified.



  • School was such a challenge this week.  I’m really struggling with my cute three year old.  He asked me this week when he’d get to do with Lulu does, meaning school.  I feel so guilty for not spending more time with him, like I did the girls at his age.  I remember reading about this dilemma on the WTM boards or on some homeschooling blog a few years ago, and I never dreamed I’d be afflicted with the guilt myself.  My rational side tells me of course their lives will be different from their siblings’; my emotional side mourns for the time I don’t have to just sit and play with them, talk to them, and read to them.
  • With that being said, the way I’ve saved my sanity (which might be debatable anyway) this week is by coming up with specific things for the girls to do with the DLM while I do math with the other girl.  I’ve always sort of done this, but this week I did more than just say, “Go play with your brother.”  I pulled out the big guns–play-doh, Memory, a stack of pre-selected books.  I’m re-reading through the Preschoolers and Peace archives and considering a letter-of-the-week “curriculum” (a term I use very, very loosely) using No Time for Flashcards as a starting place.  If you’ve hit upon a no-fail solution for managing the chatty preschooler in your homeschool, I’d sure love to hear about it!


  •  Steady Eddie finally got both the girls’ loft beds and their craft desks (Christmas gifts) assembled last weekend, so they were quite anxious to be in their room this week, working.  Lulu finished putting together her quilt top and Louise drew and drew and drew.


  •  This was a good math week, with both girls making lots of progress (5 lessons each) in their respective RightStart levels.  Lulu is working hard on fractions and was introduced to percents in level E.  (Let me say that RightStart’s way of introducing fractions using the drawing tools and fraction chart is brilliant!)  Louise is in the thick of the geometry/drawing section in level C, which includes basic fractions.  This week, instead of assigning any extra math via Math Mammoth, I concentrated on playing RS math games with them instead, and we managed to do it four days out of five.  Lulu played fractions games–One, fractions memory, and percent memory (which I really stink at); Louise played a speed skip counting a couple of days and Multiples Memory a couple of days.  Playing games is a much more pleasant way of doing practice than is doing pages from an alternate math curriculum.  Now if I can just stick with it!


  • This week we took a break from First Language Lessons to spend some time in Michael Clay Thompson’s Grammar Island (Louise, grade 2) and Sentence Island (Lulu, grade 4).  Lulu has been doing four level analyses for a while now–all year and some last year, too–but we never got around to doing Sentence Island.  It has been a good review and an alternate way to look at it.  Plus, it’s just fun.  We didn’t do it as many days as I wanted to, though.  (Isn’t that the way of it?)
  • I’m reaching the conclusion that Or should be the theme of our homeschool–do this OR this, not both.  Do CC or our regular history/memory work/etc. stuff, not both.  (This is essentially why we’re not doing CC this year!)   Do RS or Math Mammoth, not both.  Do FLL or MCT, not both.  It has been a hard lesson for this mama to learn.


  • I made soups three times this week: taco soup, some kind of Chinese chicken soup (pictured), and chicken stew.  (Too bad my children do not like it as much as I do.)
  • We read aloud a lot this week.  We finished our fun chapter book on Monday, so between finishing it and getting the next book in the series in via Amazon, I picked up Because of Winn Dixie to read aloud.  We’ve all already read it, but it’s next month’s mother-daughter bookclub selection, so I thought we’d enjoy reading it together to refresh our memories.  It’s such a sweet, quick read, and it brings back so many memories of when I was a library media specialist in a public elementary school before Lulu was born.  I read it to my third grade classes (if my memory serves me correctly) back then.

  • We were supposed to have art with friends on Friday, but since 3/4 of our kiddos were sick this week, I decided to postpone it until next week.   Fun Friday entailed making painted paper, doing math (review sheet for Louise and games for both girls), having poetry tea time, reading aloud, doing our final January check-in on our Circle Time memory work.

Making painted paper is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, so Friday presented the perfect opportunity:

PicMonkey Collage



For poetry tea time, I read lots of A.A. Milne poems in honor of the anniversary of his death.  The girls, Louise especially, like to pick out poems to read aloud for me to guess the poets who wrote them.  They especially like to pick out Robert Frost poems since he’s my favorite.


  • I worked out (which is a very generous appraisal of what I actually did) once this week at the YMCA. We joined in the middle of January and now I’ve been once. Small steps, right? :-)
  • This week’s funny comes courtesy of eight year old Louise.  We were discussing hexagons in math, and she called them “jinxagons.”  (Get it?)  A hex is a jinx, right?  Ahhh, right.  ;-)

How was your week?

Circle Time December 2013


Poetry:  “Christmas Everywhere” by Phillips Brooks

This selections is a review from last year, though obviously we didn’t really learn it well.  (We went to Disney World last year in the middle of December, so December 2012 is kind of a muddle.)

Bible: Luke 2: 1-40 KJV

We’ll read this as often as we have Circle Time, as we did last year.  By the time my children are grown, I hope this is embedded in their memories.  I think that’s the way I learned it, just by hearing it year after year after year.  We will dispense with any review since this passage is long.

Hymn (Carol):  “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”  (The version I found on iTunes has only three of the verses.  This is one of my frustrations with hymns–it’s hard to find versions with all or even most of the verses included.  Any ideas?)

Sing other carols as the mood strikes us.

Open a book or three from our Christmas Book Basket.  This is the most anticipated part of our morning.  :-)

We’re still reading Pagoo aloud, and the girls are writing a narration after every chapter. I expect that this will take us the rest of the month, at least.  We’re almost through reading Nurse Matilda:  The Collected Tales as our fun read, and after we finish it, I hope to read The Thirteen Days of Christmas by Jenny Overton.   We started it last year, but I ultimately abandoned it because of how busy we were and because of our trip.  It’s funny, so I’m going to start again and finish it this year!

October 2013 Circle Time


Memory Work

Hymn:  “Come, Ye Faithful People, Come”

Review hymns:

  • “Be Thou My Vision”
  • “Rejoice, Ye Pure in Heart”
  • “Take My Life and Let It Be”

Bible: Psalm 100

Review Bible:

  • The Beatitudes Matthew 5:3-12
  • Psalm 24

English Grammar:  Continue “A Grammar Rhyme” by David B. Tower and Benjamin F. Tweed

Review English Grammar:

  • Linking verbs
  • State of being verbs

Science: Add parts of a flower, flowering plant reproduction cycle; review all from last month

Math:  Finish sum chart; learn/review measurements:

  • tablespoons and teaspoons
  • liquid equivalents
  • linear equivalents
  • metric measurements

Poetry:  Lulu–”A Slash of Blue” by Dickinson; “The Bells” by Poe

Louise–”All Things Bright and Beautiful” by Cecil Alexander and ???

Both girls will continue with the review begun last month, plus they will both add the new poem(s) they learned last month to their review.

I am hoping to encourage the girls to do their Bible study reading and questions independently as a part of what we might call their own quiet time one day.  I will be available to help them, of course, but I’d like to switch back to reading aloud a chapter from the Bible instead of helping them do their study.  To that end yesterday I read a chapter from Proverbs.  We’ll see how that goes.

The last part of our Circle Time is spent reading aloud.  I read while the children eat a snack.  Right now we have three books going:

I hope to get to this one sooner rather than later, too, because we have a beach trip planned for the not too distant future:

I also hope to work in a logic puzzle or two a few times a week, though so far I’ve ended up doing this at lunch time instead of CT:

My feeling right now is that we’re spending a little too much time on memory work.  I flip flop so much between my Charlotte Mason leanings and my Classical leanings, especially as CC has informed those leanings.  I’m striving to make our memory work meaningful, at least.  Cindy’s posts on Morning Time and Brandy’s posts on Charlotte Mason (especially this one) have given me much food for thought.