7 Quick Takes: All About The Kids

Seven Quick Takes

— 1 —

School started earlier in August, and I wasn’t entirely sure how things would go, since this is my first year having two official students, plus the baby is much more … troublesome … than she was when she was an actual baby. ๐Ÿ˜‰

So far, I’d have to say that things are going fairly well. My biggest issue currently is that I wish I had a bigger bookcase on the porch where we do most of our schooling. Two students in literature-based curriculum = twice as many books. Turns out we’re overflowing with books and other materials.

Kindergarten Book StackPartial Kindergarten Book Stack

— 2 —

G had a Cub Scout introductory meeting last night. Since I’m writing the post Thursday afternoon he hasn’t had the meeting yet and I have no idea how it’s going to go, what they would do, if if he’ll end up joining. But by the time you read this we should know all of that. Ok, maybe we won’t have decided about joining yet, but we’ll at least have the info to make that decision! He’s really excited about finding out about it at least.

— 3 —

H wants to join scouts too, so I need to get moving on finding out about something for her. Cub Scouts made it easy with signs by the local elementary school. Girl Scouts hasn’t done that, but I have a couple of emails out asking for info. ๐Ÿ˜‰

— 4 —

As I figure out how best to do school with two students and three kids, I’m tweaking things from last year. This week I’ve been splitting up their work into two groups, and doing mini sessions with each. That way they both get a break in the middle, and can do their own thing for a bit while I work with the other one. M also gets her school time – she knows to ask for it (her school time consists of sitting on my lap and listening to me read her books).

Things aren’t as polished as I’d like; I’m hoping we can to get a little bit faster with everything. My preference would be to finish all of school and have lunch eaten and cleaned up before M goes down for a nap at 1:30. We’re making it now, but we also haven’t added in everything I want to do for the year.

It’ll also be a change once the weather isn’t as nice to allow outside playtime. That’s been helpful right now, and I know we’ll miss it this winter. All the more reason to take advantage of it while we can!

School OutsideTaking Advantage of a Beautiful Day to Do Math Outside

— 5 —

The two big kids had dentist appointments this week, and luckily for me R ended up taking the day off of work, so I was able to leave M with him and just take the patients with me. So much easier than keeping her contained and out of trouble during their appointments!

G is going back next week for sealant on his molars and I’ve got my fingers crossed that R can take a longer lunch and come home and watch both girls while I run G over to that appointment. Assuming no crisis pops up that morning he should be able to do that, but I’m trying not to totally be counting on it.

— 6 —

We’ve had a super rainy start to soccer – they actually played their first game without having had a practice because of all the rain-outs. This week they had practice and once again I find myself amazed at my good fortune. Both practices are at the exact same time and location, and they even practice on back-to-back fields. I was able to set my chair in between the fields and swivel my head to watch both of them. I’m going to enjoy that this season, because I don’t imagine I’ll ever get so lucky again with concurrent practices. Or if I do they’ll be at different locations and I’ll be scrambling to get them both where they need to be!

Post Rainy Soccer GameAfter Her First (Very Rainy) Soccer Game

— 7 —

We had roughly a month-long break with chapter book readalouds, and now we’re back into the routine of reading them daily. We’ve recently finished up The Year of the Dog (we all loved it), Nancy Drew and the Clue Crew #1 (H loved it), and Gone Fishing (G & I loved it, and I’ve already gushed about it on Instagram I thought so much of it.).

I am having to pay more attention to library holds lists and pickup times, because adding an extra person I’m trying to intentionally select readalouds for, timed to school topics, is still something I’m getting used to. It’s one thing when I’m getting books for her but it doesn’t matter when they arrive, and another when I want them at particular times, or to be sure I’m getting a balance of topics.

Gone Fishing

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Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Previously on The Deliberate Reader

One year ago: Book Review: Daddy Long Legs by Jean Webster
Three years ago: Cooking the Book: Trader Joeโ€™s Vegetarian Cookbook

Cooking with Kids: What We’re Doing Now

Teaching My Kids to Cook Deliberate ReaderYesterday I shared about the books I tried in my attempt to teach my kids to cook, and admitted that I’m not using any of them currently, having found something else instead. And let me reiterate – it’s not that any of those books were bad; they’re not. They just weren’t what I was looking for.

I wanted something that laid out an entire cooking program to use with my early elementary aged kids. I wanted straightforward progression of skills, building on what had been learned previously, without asking for future skills before they were taught. I wanted it to be easy for me to use (have a prep list for each lesson, telling me what I’m going to have to do, and what ingredients and equipment we’ll need). I wanted it to include ideas on how to explain things well to young children (like how to use a knife safely). And if it wasn’t asking for too much, I wanted it to include ways to teach multiple ages/abilities.

I’d hoped I’d find this in a book, but after checking out all I could find from my library, and giving a real try to the best one they offered, I was still not completely thrilled with what I was using.

Trying Something New

Finally, on a day when I was frustrated with trying to force what I was using into something it wasn’t designed to be, I went searching online for other options, expecting to find a different book that my library hadn’t had. Instead I found an online course designed to teach kids cooking skills. I had NOT been looking for an online course – I wanted a book! – but I was not having the success I wanted with the books I tried. So looked into it more closely and found that it claimed to offer everything I wanted.

On first glance, I was really impressed with how the course was designed. There are three levels, for beginner, intermediate, and advanced. My older kids are right on the bubble between beginner and intermediate, and I started them with beginner (mostly so I could teach them together; the 7 year old could probably go straight into intermediate).

Here’s a chart showing the skills taught at the three levels:


It all sounded like just what I wanted, so I decided to give it a try.

Why It’s Working

I love how the skills truly do build on each other, and nothing is expected from a recipe that hasn’t been taught.

I’m pleased with how it all ties in together – it’s easy to see a lot of thought has gone into it all, and if you’re working on more than one level at the same time, the lessons often are integrated so you end up with a complete meal. How awesome is that? (We’re not getting that benefit because of my kids ages, but I can still appreciate it and daydream about how it could work someday.) They’ve got a curriculum map that lays all of this out.

It’s easy because my kids enjoy watching the videos. No surprise, but getting to watch on the tablet gets their attention more than me reading from that other book did.

Looking Ahead

We’re in the middle of using the beginner level, but I am so pleased with it that I’ve purchased the All Access plan, and we’ll move onto the intermediate lessons as soon as we finish the beginners. The plan is then to continue on to advanced lessons once they’re ready for those!

I’m also excited to see about including my youngest in on the lessons as well. She can almost participate the the very first ones, and I know she’ll be thrilled to join in as well. She’s always asking to cook too, and loves to put on an apron like the big kids have.

If You’re Interested

The course is only open for new sign ups occasionally. I’ve heard that it will open again soon, so if it sounds good to you, sign up to be notified. You can also read their FAQ page for more details on what it offers.

I’ve been really happy with it, and I’m surprised with how much I like it, considering it’s not at all what I thought I wanted for my kids. Turns out what I thought I wanted and what I ended up liking were two different things.

(I still think I’m getting my kids those fun cook books for Christmas, and by then they should have the skills to really use them).

Disclosure: This is not a sponsored review, and I paid for the course myself. I did sign up to be an affiliate for it once I realized how awesome of a course it was though, and the post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Previously on The Deliberate Reader

Three years ago: New on My Bookcase (vol. 7)

Homeschooling Kindergarten, Round Two: The Plans

This August will mark something new: my first time officially homeschooling TWO students.

The Familiar

Sonlight Core P 4 5While I already have the same Sonlight material I used so successfully with my oldest for his Kindergarten year, I was not completely enthusiastic about doing it again exactly the same. Apparently I get bored easily. ๐Ÿ™‚

So, in the interests of keeping my interest level high, I’m making some adaptations for my daughter’s year. Here’s the plan:

I will still be doing Sonlight’s P 4/5 level, more or less. I will almost certainly skip the Uncle Wiggly book again – while I’d like to say that I’ll try it and see if H likes it more than G did, I probably won’t because *I* hated reading the book so much. Sorry kiddo! I have the sequel to Milly Molly Mandy and will add it in instead.

I will skip some of the Children’s Book of Virtues – I really liked some of the stories and poems in the book, and really disliked others, so I’ll stick to the ones I enjoyed and skip the ones I didn’t.

The New

BYL K Around the WorldThe plan (this could change if things do not go well, or if life gets overwhelming) is to add in the Build Your Library Kindergarten schedule, more or less. It’s a round-the-world plan, which looks fun, and I already owned several of the books. I like the idea of spending some time in each continent, and we can add extra picture books from the library. It has a few simple crafts projects, and they may even be simple enough for me to manage them. It also schedules in cooking projects, and the kids are SUPER excited about that.

It’s unlikely I would have added this in if it wasn’t such an inexpensive option – I spotted it during a sale and so got it for under $20. I did spend a bit more adding some of the books for it (the spines for the year; the others I’ll get from the library) but they’re all really nice books I don’t mind adding to my collection.

Language Arts

AAR 1 Activity BookFor reading instruction, I’ll follow H’s lead. She says she wants to learn how to, but I’ve tried All About Reading Level 1 with her and she wasn’t quite ready back in February when she first asked. I would rather not push her at all and wait until she really is ready. I expect once that happens she’ll fly through it like her brother did.

Just to try something new, I got her the Reason for Handwriting book. I suspect not having her do everything exactly like her brother did will be a good thing for her, and handwriting is an easy one to vary. Her handwriting is already far ahead of where his was at that age, and I wouldn’t be all that surprised if she passes him this year.


I’ve got the same Mathematical Reasoning books I used with G waiting for her as well, and she’s been happily using some of the Preschool ones from them. Since I already have Miquon books, I may give them another try and let her play with them a bit.


Berenstain Bear's Big Book of Science and NatureIt’s already included in both the Sonlight P 4/5 guide and BYL K guide, and I’ll likely do both, since it’s almost entirely reading science books. The Sonlight books were some of our favorites for that entire year, and I know she’s going to love hearing them – my son saw the Berenstain Bears and How to Dig a Hole to the Other Side of the World books in the pile I was showing her and got so excited for her that she was going to get to hear them. Plus I’m a big fan of the Robert Wells books included (and I bought a couple extras from that series I like them so much). I’m halfway considering adding another science curriculum to the mix, again, just to keep from doing the exact same things as I did with her brother. That’s a big “maybe.”


Sonlight schedules the 101 Favorite Stories from the Bible, and I’ll probably read those and then move into another story Bible when we finish that one. I think with her brother the next one we read was the Jesus Storybook Bible (love that one!) and I may do the same with her. Or I’m considering a curriculum I can do with both of them together, but that’s still up in the air a bit as I haven’t found anything that looks like what I want and is appropriate for their ages.


The Deliberate Reader US and Canada GeoPuzzleShe’s continuing with taekwondo, and is currently a senior orange belt. Awana will start up again in September, and it’ll be her first year in Sparks – she is *so* excited about that!

She’s asked to do soccer in the fall, so I’m looking into that possibility. She also desperately wants to take dance lessons, so it’s another option I’ve got to investigate.

And of course I’ve got all the fun Timberdoodle games and materials that I used with her brother at this age. I know I’ll pull out the GeoPuzzles (these are SO AWESOME) and Lift the Flap Picture Atlas as we go to each new continent. She’s also wanting to use the Look Inside Your Body they include in their Kindergarten kits, and I may get her some of the art items for her birthday – she LOVES art. I did get her a world coloring book to add in with her geography studies – it was so inexpensive I couldn’t resist.

That’s the plan for the year, but I’m sure there will be some modifications as we go. I have no idea how it will really be doing school with two, but I anticipate the real challenge coming from the youngest, who will turn two right after we start back to school.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Planning Ahead for Second Grade

Sonlight Core B Readers 2As of yesterday (!) we’ve finished Sonlight Core A (what I’d planned for G’s first grade year), so it’s time to look ahead at what the plans are for second grade. Which yes, technically begins in August, but acknowledging that these are the plans for that year helps me keep things organized, both around the blog and in my brain. ๐Ÿ™‚

Using Core A for first grade worked really well – it would not have been as successful for his Kindergarten year, so I’m glad we held off on it. The last 9 weeks of the core went very fast, so we’ll be getting an earlier start on Core A than I originally expected. The same thing happened last year – I think we both see the new material waiting for us and can’t wait to dive into it!

The plan (as it stands now) is to move right into Core B, then breaking for summer in mid-June. We’ll pick back up with school work in mid-August, when the local schools go back. I’ll just stop the Core wherever we are, and begin again when we restart. If we’re in the middle of a chapter book I’ll probably finish it though!

This fall will mark the first year school is officially required for my son, but because of the laws in Indiana that won’t make much difference to what we do. I’ve already been tracking his attendance and keeping records for myself – more than what the state requires.

Core B will cover history and Bible. It’s the first half of World History, and I am *so* excited to really start diving into history with him – so far we’ve mostly just touched lightly on historical topics and the history nerd in me is anxious to go a little deeper into the past.

Sticker Dressing Greek MythsWhile there are many possibilities for extra books that will touch on the topics covered in this Core, I have two already on the shelf that will add a hands-on element which is usually a struggle for me. Ancient Egypt Sticker Book, and Sticker Dressing Greek Myths look like they’ll be hugely popular with G. And Look Inside Mummies & Pyramids is a lift-the-flap book so not really hands-on, but still interactive.

What I’m still considering adding is The Story of the World (and it’s Activity Book), as well as History Pockets: Ancient Civilizations and Famous Figures of Ancient Times. It all depends on just how much I want to try and stretch the Core, and how far my budget will stretch. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Language Arts

LA 2The main framework will once again be Sonlight, in this case LA 2, which will be really easy on the reading, but a better fit for everything else. G’s already finished all of the levels in All About Reading, so he doesn’t need any more reading instruction, just practice. Besides the readers from LA 2 I’ll add in extra books from the library and Usborne.

My First Story Writing BookLast year we did the Daily 6 Trait Writing I found thanks to Timberdoodle. He loved it, but it was so easy. I haven’t decided if I want to get it again. It’s very much written for a school setting, and I think it’s already covered through Sonlight’s LA so I’ll probably skip it. If he really misses it I can probably be persuaded to get it again though, but I may look at jumping him up a level. Or, what I’m *really* thinking about doing is using My First Story Writing Book, which we have and looks super fun.

Last year we also did Language Smarts B that was another discovery from Timberdoodle. I didn’t like the way it was organized (I’d have preferred it to spiral more, like Mathematical Reasoning books also published by the same company) but G loved it, and pleaded to get it again. So yeah, we’ll be doing Language Smarts C this year. ๐Ÿ˜‰ It’s mostly grammar, and it isn’t really necessary, but when he begs to do it, how can I resist?

I’m also adding in the Sonlight-recommended (and scheduled) resources Wordly Wise A and Explode the Code 4. Depending on how useful I think ETC 4 is, I may or may not add 5 & 6 which are also recommended and scheduled by Sonlight to go along with LA 2.

Not Your Everyday Illustrated ThesaurusAs a possible read-aloud or reference to go along with other LA materials, I’ve got Not-Your-Everyday Illustrated Thesaurus. It may not work as a read-aloud, but we’ll see. I like it a lot, but we’ll see what my son thinks of it. ๐Ÿ™‚

A final possibility is another readaloud: Word FunWord Fun by Michael Dahl and Nancy Loewen, illustrated by Sara Gray is a picture book about the eight parts of speech. It’s got fun illustrations and should be entertaining.

Handwriting continues with Getty-Dubay’s Italic Writing (he’ll be in book C) and copywork practice.

Spelling has also been going well, so it’ll just continue on – most of second grade will use All About Spelling, Level 3 (he’s currently on his final step in Level 2). Whenever he finishes that he’ll move on to Level 4.


Homeschooling Math Early Second GradeI just posted a math update, so I’ll summarize that here. He’s currently in Math Mammoth (MM) 2B and Mathematical Reasoning C. I like how they complement each other well, but don’t know that I’ll continue using both after he finishes them. Probable plans are to go into MM 3A and then try out Beast Academy (BA) 3A once he finishes MM 2B. I am also considering having him finish MM 3A and 3B before starting BA 3A because it’s such a challenging program.

That’s a couple of months away though, so we’ll see what happens.

Times Tables Activity BookUntil then, because G loves activity books so much, I’m considering getting him Usborne’s Times Tables Activity Book. I think he’s already got their Lift-the-Flap Times Tables coming to him from Grandma, or else I’d probably be getting that as well.

I’m also just starting to look for an app or game for him to practice his multiplication facts. He will start learning that next month or so, and I want him to learn them really well, because I never did and know how helpful it would have been in later grades if I had.


Science BWe’re about a month away from finishing up Sonlight’s Science A (we didn’t worry much about keeping it on the same schedule as the Core). Once that’s finished I’ll get their Science B, because I really liked their style of science for this level – it’s mostly good books. I also like how they’ve got videos for the experiments so even if I don’t get them done he can at least watch it.

I’m still considering finishing Apologia Exploring Creation with Astronomy, which we got halfway through during his Kindergarten year. I have the book, so it seems like of course we should, but I’m unmotivated to get back to it – I don’t love how it’s written or organized.

Other science-related readalouds we’ll get to this year will likely include the Wile E. Coyote Physical Science graphic novels, which were a Christmas gift for G this year. They remind me a lot of the Max Axiom graphic novels, which he loved.

100 Things to Know About ScienceLast year I ended up reading him the First Illustrated Science Dictionary, and it was a nice companion to the rest of Science A. This year I’ve already got 100 Things to Know About Science waiting – we’ll start it next week. I may not do well at getting experiments done, but I can read books to them!

Under consideration if I decide we need still more science: Science in the Beginning. Seems like it could be a fun one to go along with our history, but I’m not sure if I’ll like it more than the Apologia text; it’s still a textbook, even if I’m reading good things about it.


G is finishing up his 2nd year in AWANA’s Sparks program. We’re at a new location and overall I think it’s a better fit for us from a scheduling standpoint (Sunday night vs. Wednesday night). I do plan to have him continue with it next year. My big decision right now with it is whether or not to have H move into Sparks next year, or to hold her back for another year of Cubbies. She’s not ready for Sparks yet, but by August it may be obvious that she is. I’m reminding myself that in February of G’s final Cubbies year I was also doubting that he’d be ready for Sparks in the fall and he absolutely was.

G continues to advance in taekwondo. He’ll be testing for his blue belt tomorrow and H will be testing for her orange belt.

Step-by-Step DrawingWe’re very inconsistent about getting art or music appreciation done. I’m hoping to do better at that this year. My goal is to intentionally plan Fridays to be a light day, and then do some of that with the time. I still have Harmony Fine Arts to finish, and I also received a Step by Step Drawing book which looks like it will be really easy to add to our days.

Follow Along on Pinterest

I’ve set up a Pinterest board with all of these things, and am planning on adding the books I use to supplement. Sonlight does have a lot of books, but it’s still not enough for me. Especially since I want to stretch Core B!

I also set up a board with other ideas and possibilities. These are things I’m considering, and if I end up using them I’ll move them to the other board. Don’t worry that I’m going to overload my son by trying all of the things that may be on this board – these are my *possibilities* and I’m using the board as a way to remember those possibilities.

Recent Sequel Readalouds

I’m getting backlogged on writing about our readalouds (we’re moving through them faster now) so here’s a post catching me up to date on some of the sequels and pseudo-sequels I’ve read to my son, with my daughter listening in as she wants.

More Milly Molly MandyMore Milly-Molly-MandyMore Milly-Molly-Mandy by Joyce Lankester Brisley by Joyce Lankester Brisley

We’re all fans of Milly-Molly-Mandy, and this book is a not-essential sequel to the Sonlight book we read last year, The Milly-Molly-Mandy StorybookThe Milly-Molly-Mandy Storybook by Joyce Lankester Brisley. If you liked the first set of stories, you’ll likely enjoy this as well. It’s more of the same, with no surprises. However, it’s not really necessary to have read the first book, as you’ll quickly catch up on the setting and characters. These are excellent first-chapter books, as each chapter stands on its own, and helps develop those listening skills.

Penny and PeterPenny and PeterPenny and Peter by Carolyn Haywood by Carolyn Haywood

This sequel picks up right where Here’s a Penny left off. This book has a lot less of his next door friend, and the focus is instead on Peter as well as Penny (no surprise with the title). Another one where if you liked the first, you’ll probably like this one too. I would recommend not reading this one before Here’s a Penny – you’ll spoil yourself as far as some particulars go.

Dolphin TreasureDolphin TreasureDolphin Treasure by Wayne Grover, illustrated by Jim Fowler by Wayne Grover, illustrated by Jim Fowler

My son was not into this one as much as the first book, Dolphin Adventure. I’m not sure why, as I felt they were pretty similar stories, although this one did take a bit longer to get to the point of any significant action. That’s probably enough of a reason for him to have been less interested in it. ๐Ÿ™‚

Five True Dog StoriesFive True Dog StoriesFive True Dog Stories by Margaret Davidson by Margaret Davidson

A sentimental favorite for me, as I’d read this as a child, and recognized the stories and the illustrations. My son really liked 4 of the stories, but one of them did not keep his interest at all. I prefer this book to the Five True Horse Stories, so if you’re debating between them, go for this one. And yes, this isn’t a true sequel, but more of another book in a similar style.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Previously on The Deliberate Reader

One year ago: Book Review: The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie
Two years ago: Book Review: Buried in the Sky by Peter Zuckerman and Amanda Padoan
Three years ago: Reading Less / Reading More

Homeschooling Update: First Grade Math

Homeschooling First Grade MathBack in December 2014 I wrote about the issues I’d had with homeschooling math in kindergarten. I didn’t realize it’d been that long since I wrote specifically about math, beyond the small updates I give occasionally. Clearly it’s past time I gave some details about what we’re doing for math in first grade.

What We’ve Been Doing

Math Mammoth 2AIn that long-ago post I mentioned that I was interested in trying Math Mammoth (MM), with the hope of eventually moving on to Beast Academy. That’s exactly what we’ve been doing. MM has worked very well for us – I like how it’s structured, it’s *much* easier to actually teach than Right Start was for me (I *loved* the idea of Right Start, the research behind it, their goals, etc, but *detested* teaching it. So not a good fit for us.)

I like how MM is laid out, and the number of problems on a page. He does two pages a day, and that has him moving through the books at a nice pace. I often pull pages from different sections, so for example, he’ll be working through a chapter on addition and one on the clock at the same time. In the introduction the author tells you which chapters you can do “out of order” that way, so it doesn’t always work to do it like that, but much of the time it does, and G prefers it.

The “Second” Math Curriculum

Mathematical Reasoning BNot necessary at all – Math Mammoth is a full curriculum – but we had been using Mathematical Reasoning (MR) from Preschool on up, and G LOVES it, so we’ve continued. It’s much easier than MM is, but provides good practice for him at doing math quickly. He also does 2 pages of it each day, and I like how that has him doing more math each day, but he thinks it’s super fun.

They blend together quite well – MM is black and white (they pdfs are in color, but I didn’t want to pay for color printing), and MR is *very* colorful. It makes for a fun mix each day.

Where They Shine

Math Mammoth is extremely affordable – keep an eye out for sales, and you can download a complete math curriculum from 1st through 7th grade for a lower fee than some curriculum charge for one year. There’s currently one right now through the end of January for 25% off the downloadable version. That’s a great deal!

MM is also completely reusable – get the downloadable version and you can print off copies for each child – that’s fantastic when you have additional students coming along in later years.

MM emphasizes mental math and the why of things, not just memorizing methods – this is incredibly important to me, as it is not how I learned math.

MM excels in giving multiple ways of tackling problems. I’d never heard of some of the methods, but I *loved* how the author does that – giving the student different approaches to take. It’s a great way to get him thinking mathematically, and I love it.

Mathematical Reasoning is lots of fun for him, and includes more puzzles, especially as he gets later in the book. It’ll have a page of math problems, and he has to solve them in order to figure out the puzzle – either a mystery phrase, the answer to a riddle, or a dot to dot, etc. He loves those pages! He also absolutely adores the “Mind Benders” that are scattered throughout the book – so much so that I bought him a book just of those for Christmas. They’re like the Logic puzzles, scaled down for that age. Super fun, and I love how they get his brain turning. The book rarely feels like work to him.

Some Things to Be Aware Of

Math Mammoth is available as a download, on CD, or a printed version. While the pages are in color, if (like me) you get the download version and print it in black & white, there are things that don’t show correctly. It’s never been impossible to figure out, but be aware of the potential issue and be ready to help your child. Using alternatives to colors would have solved this issue – varying patterns or something similar – and it’s possible at some point that the author may address this small irritation. It’s not at all something that would keep me from using the curriculum in the future or recommending it.

Mathematical Reasoning claims to be a full math curriculum, but it doesn’t seem like it would be – that it isn’t complete enough as far as practice goes. As far as I can tell (and to be clear I am *not* an expert in math education), it covers all the topics that MM and other curriculum cover for each grade, just in less detail. It definitely doesn’t provide all of the alternative ways of doing the problems that MM provides. It doesn’t really seem to do much at all in the way of teaching anything – just gives practice.

What’s Next?

Beast Academy 3AG is within about a week of finishing Mathematical Reasoning B, and I need to hurry up and order C for him – he’s specifically requested it, so of course I want to get it for him. Math Mammoth 2B is already printed for him so he’ll move into that whenever he finishes 2A – at his current pace that should be early February. For now, we’ll just continue with the 2 pages of each every day routine we’ve got going, as it’s working so well.

Looking further ahead, shortly before Christmas I bought the first book from Beast Academy (BA), and skimmed through it, trying to get an idea of when he’ll be ready for it – it’s a *very* different curriculum, and I think he’ll enjoy it. It’ll be more obvious once he finished Math Mammoth’s 2B, so I didn’t worry about making a firm decision right now.

I may decide to do MM’s 3A & 3B, and then move to BA’s 3A. Because of the way we’re pacing things, he is working “ahead” technically based on his age, so having the extra curriculum won’t matter. Plus that may have him doing the harder BA work when he’s already covered it in a way through MM. Might make it a bit easier for him?

I don’t think I’ll continue with Mathematical Reasoning with him at that point, but if he still loves it and asks for it I can probably be persuaded. It’s hard to turn down a boy asking for a math book, even if they are kind of expensive for a supplemental math program. I’m *hoping* BA gives him that fun math approach he’s enjoying from MR, but we’ll see what happens. I may end up continuing on with MM as the “main” curriculum (it is working really well) and using BA as an occasional add on – letting him work through slowly, “behind” where he’d be grade-wise.

Previously on The Deliberate Reader

One year ago: What the Kids are Reading (in January 2015)
Two years ago: Book Review: The Spirit Rebellion (The Legend of Eli Monpress #2) by Rachel Aaron
Three years ago: Book Review: Momumental by Jennifer Grant

Homeschooling Update: 2/3 of the way through Core A

Core A IG CoverWhile it seems impossible to me, we’re currently on week 24 of our 36 week schedule for Sonlight’s Core A. So what was going to be a halfway-done update has turned into a two-thirds finished one instead.

(Curious about how the rest of the year has gone? Read our last update here.)

What’s Still Working

We’re still using the daily checklist to structure the day, and the extent of my planning is writing down the next day’s assignments on that card. Since that takes no more effort than looking at what the Sonlight instructor’s guide says to do, or what the next pages are for math, reading, and handwriting, this is blissfully simple.

Most of our school work is currently being done on our still somewhat new-to-us enclosed porch. What is very new is the loveseat we now have on it – perfect for reading aloud. I’m on the lookout for a great deal on a different table, as I hate the one we have out there, but it’s a low priority unless we do find one at a price I can’t resist. I like being able to look out at the backyard and see the trees and squirrels and birds while we work.

Family-Time BibleThe continuing readalouds are all going well (history, poetry, etc.). We have finished the Bible we were reading, The Story for ChildrenThe Story for Children, a Storybook Bible, and have now started using Family-Time Bible in PicturesFamily-Time Bible in Pictures by Kenneth N. Taylor.

I keep adding in extra readalouds, like lots of picture books (yes, still, even for G as a 1st grader), plus additional chapter books. I’m skeptical that when H gets to this Core (and definitely M 3 years after that, assuming we’re still using Sonlight) that I’ll be making any effort to add extra books to our reading day, but for now the schedule isn’t enough readalouds for us. Getting more books from the library is easy enough, and lets us have lots of variety, plus there are plenty of sequels to the books already scheduled in Core A.

What’s Not Working

Or, more accurately titled “what’s especially challenging right now.” But that was a lot longer and didn’t parallel the other title as well. ๐Ÿ™‚

Middle sister “H” is wanting to do school, but it’s usually just seems to mean interrupting whatever her brother is doing. She had been playing so nicely by herself for 20 – 30 minute stretches before, but right now that hasn’t been happening.

Baby sister “M” is also much more challenging, as she is into EVERYTHING. She can also reach up and grab things off of tables, so we have to watch and make sure anything she shouldn’t have is well out of reach. No more just cuddling her on my lap and reading!

Art & Music have not been happening. At all. Clearly I need to figure out a way to make it happen or else acknowledge that it’s not a priority while the baby is such a menace as far as getting into things. It is just a stage, although I don’t remember how long the other two were in it…

For similar reasons, we’ve done absolutely none of the experiments scheduled with the science curriculum. I may need to just take a week and do nothing but science experiments, but that sounds miserable for me. (I am not a fan of science experiments). Maybe grandma will come for a visit soonish and I can rope her into helping, or at least helping by keeping the toddler out of the way! ๐Ÿ™‚

What’s New Since Last Time

Math Mammoth 2AG finished Math Mammoth 1, and has started 2. He likes it, I like it, and fingers crossed it continues to work well.

As of next week (assuming things don’t fall apart between now and then) he’ll finish All About Reading Level 4 (!) and be done with official reading instruction. Then it’ll be all about practice!

H wants to learn to read, and I told her I’d start teaching her in January. Yes, I am making her wait until her brother finishes his reading lessons – it only pushed her back a couple of weeks and it seemed like it’d be easier on me.

I added in an extra science text – The Usborne First Illustrated Science Dictionary. It does have some overlap with the encyclopedia we’re using as the science spine, but not really all that much. G likes it, and the Sonlight schedule is a little light on science for his tastes, so this way we have something to read every day, whether an encyclopedia entry from the schedule, or a section from the dictionary.

Other Updates

H has also moved up to the “big kid” classes in taekwondo. She’s “officially” too young for them still, but she was more than ready, so they’re letting her go for it. While for the next two months this may make my life more of a challenge (her class times are kind of obnoxious, when paired with G’s), in February she’ll hopefully pass her next belt test and move to a better class time. So work hard these next months kiddo, and pass that test!

Where her new classes will help is with getting school done during the morning. Her previous class schedule included 11:30 classes on Monday and Wednesday morning. While theoretically we “should” be able to get everything done before leaving for her class, it was a challenge, and almost never happened. Now those days can be like the rest of the week, and that should make our mornings easier.

And if she does pass that belt test in February, I may have FOUR MONTHS where both kids are in the same class again. Four glorious months of only one class time to attend (and keep the baby happy during). At that point G (if he keeps passing belt tests) would move up to the final class level and they’d be back in separate classes, but those two class times work together reasonably well for me. At least as they’re currently scheduled. ๐Ÿ™‚

Looking Ahead

Sonlight Core B IG CoverAssuming we don’t hit any major bumps, we *should* finish Core A in late February or early March. That’s including lots of days off along the way. I have Core B ready to start (well, some of it’s currently on loan to a friend, but I’ll have it back by then), and I *think* we may be able to finish 9 weeks of it before breaking for the summer.

Because yes, I am planning on having this summer be like last summer: about 7 -8 weeks off to go to VBS and taekwondo camp, play with the neighbor kids outside, and have lots of time for going to the park or other outings.

Although I reserve the right to change my mind in any way regarding schedules and plans. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Previously on The Deliberate Reader

One year ago: What the Kids are Reading (in December 2014)
Two years ago: Bookworm Problems: Iโ€™ve Got Them
Three years ago: Favorite eBooks

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Homeschooling Update: Finished with the First Quarter of Core A

Sonlight Core A 1st Quarter CompletedLast week we finished week 9 of Sonlight’s Core A, which is the backbone for our homeschooling year. Something about finishing a quarter seems like a real accomplishment, and that I need to stop thinking of us as having just started the curriculum. ๐Ÿ™‚

Structuring Our Day

Daily checklist September 2015Last year I briefly tried writing the day’s tasks in a spiral notebook (idea found via Catherine I believe), but that didn’t last long. What works better for us is a 3×5 card, flipped sideways, where I write the tasks. Why the difference? I’m not entirely sure. Some of it might be because there is more limited space that way, and some of it may be because when we’re done he gets to throw the card away (a.k.a. put it in the recycling bin), so it’s more satisfying.

Whatever the reason, it’s working well for us, so I’m continuing with it.

Daily assignments are done in no particular order, although we do usually have to work around the baby’s needs. Some of the readalouds happen while they eat breakfas – it’s helped break the watching tv in the morning habit we fell into over the summer, so I’m happy to continue with it lest they start asking for a show again.

History & Geography

Ongoing reads:

Usborne Children's EncyclopediaThe Childrenโ€™s EncyclopediaThe Usborne Childrenโ€™s Encyclopedia endures as the biggest hit of the entire curriculum – G loves it so much. Most days he clicks through the links that are included as well – they’re hit-or-miss, but every so often he finds a real gem, so it’s worth trying them all.

Living Long AgoThe Usborne Book of Living Long Ago: Everyday life through the Ages (Explainers Series) is still lots of fun, although I wish I’d remember to look ahead and see what projects are mentioned in it – they look like some easy ways to add a hands-on element to the curriculum. G really wanted to make a ruff like they wore back in the day, and I was scrambling to find some paper that would work.

Our substitute for I Heard Good News Today is The Story of ExplorationThe Story of Exploration, and I am quite impressed with it. Invariably I learn something new from each section, and feel compelled to pass it along to my husband. I really enjoyed the section on Marco Polo, and now want to read more about him. What an incredible story!

New this month

Sticker Dressing ExplorersWe’ve added in Sticker Dressing – Explorers, which combines beautifully with that Story of Exploration book. So much fun, and the easiest hands-on-element I can imagine. Love this book! G is always delighted when it’s time to do another page in it.

Read Alouds

Ongoing reads:

The Llama Who Had No PajamaWe continue to read from the poetry books The Arnold Lobel Book of Mother GooseThe Arnold Lobel Book of Mother Goose: A Treasury of More Than 300 Classic Nursery Rhymes and The Llama Who Had No Pajama, although our pacing has slowed down; we’re roughly on schedule with what the Instructor’s Guide says.

New since last time

In Grandma's AtticIn Grandma’s AtticIn Grandma's Attic (Grandma's Attic Series) by Arleta Richardson. I tried, really I did, but I’ve shelved this one. I hoped it would be like Little House books, and I think it wants to be, but the framing of each story is clunky, and the moralizing is heavy-handed. It was disappointing, especially because when Amazon had a sale on the other books in the series I bought them all. At least they were inexpensive, because I don’t think we’ll be reading them.

Here's a PennyHere’s a PennyHere's a Penny by Carolyn Haywood and Penny and PeterPenny and Peter by Carolyn Haywood. We liked Here’s a Penny enough to get the sequel, which I finished reading last week. Cute, old-fashioned stories that my kids enjoyed. Did they love them as much as some other books? No, but that’s ok.

5 True Horse StoriesFive True Horse StoriesFive True Horse Stories by Margaret Davidson. Five True Dog StoriesFive True Dog Stories by Margaret Davidson is scheduled for later in the Core, and I added this on somewhat impulsively. It’s a great fit for this level, although the writing is nothing special. I shared more about it yesterday.

CapyboppyCapyboppyCapyboppy by Bill Peet was previously included in this core, and I added it in – I’m so glad I did! It was a cute story, with charming illustrations. The full story of what happened with Capyboppy is not cute, and the book reflects different values regarding wild animals, but it was still worth reading.


The Story for ChildrenWe’re continuing on with our substitute Bible, The Story for ChildrenThe Story for Children, a Storybook Bible. We’ll likely finish it well before we finish the Core, but I’ll just add in another Bible (we have several children’s versions that we already own)


Math Mammoth 1A We just finished chapter 2 of Math Mammoth 1A, and have started chapter 3 on place value. So far, he has no trouble with place value, and thinks it’s super easy. Chapter 3 is the final one in 1A, and then we’ll move on to 1B (which I already have printed and waiting).

For whatever reason, math seems to be the subject where I am most tempted by other options, and can’t seem to stop looking into what else is available. Why do I do this, when as far as I can tell Math Mammoth is working?


The “spine” of science is the Encyclopedia mentioned above, but it’s supplemented with other books, both officially according to Sonlight’s schedule, and unofficially according to my own picks. ๐Ÿ™‚

Eggs and ChicksWe read Eggs and ChicksEggs and Chicks in one day (love those books!) and we’ve finally started the Science ActivitiesUsborne Science Activities, Vol. 2 book – reading it, watching the DVD that goes along with it, and doing some of the experiments. The one where we put a coin on the top of a bottle’s mouth, and then poured warm water on the bottle to heat up the air inside? Big hit here. Both with the kids who love seeing the coin “jump” and with me because of how easy it is.

A Journey Through the Digestive SystemWe’ve also been reading the Max Axiom graphic novels. He got some for Christmas, and some for his birthday, and he loves them. He goes and gets a new one off the shelf whenever he’s ready for it, and he’s already talking about how he needs more of them. Maybe Christmas again?

Language Arts

All About Reading Level 4 Soar with Reading Activity BookAfter breaking from it over the summer, we’ve started All About Reading Level 4. Lesson 1 was a review, and it took us about 3 weeks to get through it (there was a lot of sickness in there too delaying things). We’ve since moved on to the new material, and that’s a lot more fun than review.

All About Spelling Level 2All About Spelling Level 2 was added in last week, and after a slow start through the review of lesson 1 he’s back learning new material. Once again I am so pleased with the letter tiles – they make it so much easier for him to spell! He does it that way about half the time, and the rest of the time he dictates to me, but either way he does not want to do any of the writing himself. Which is kind of funny, because…

Getty Dubay Italic Handwriting AHandwriting has seen a dramatic change – it used to be his most loathed subject, and now he’s saying it’s his favorite! I have to watch him, because he wants to do it on his own, and do extra pages, but I try to see what he’s doing as he occasionally tries to form letters in … creative ways, and I want to correct that before the habit gets ingrained.

Billy and BlazeHe’s doing a lot more reading on his own, and that’s lots of fun to see. He picks out his own books at the library (they’re invariably silly ones with super heroes, ninja turtles, or lego characters, but whatever. Have fun kid.), and then I also give him ones to read. Lately he’s working his way through the Billy and Blaze series. He’s finished the first two books, and is waiting (somewhat impatiently) for me to get him the third. I mix that in with Syd Hoff and Dr. Seuss books and other easy readers, and it ends up being nice practice for him. He still needs/wants lots of white space on the page, or he gets overwhelmed. The reading he does with All About Reading is challenging for him, so I like also giving him other books that are easier, to build his confidence, improve his fluency, and help show him that reading is fun.


He’s now a senior green belt in tae kwon do – not sure if he’ll be ready to test in October for the next belt or not. We’ve missed a lot of classes due to visitors and life getting in the way of things, so he’s a bit behind as far as prepping for the test as far as I can tell. But, I am far from an expert so he might be just fine to test then. We’ll see.

I keep looking into continuing swimming lessons, especially through the winter when I’m always hunting for ways to keep the kids active when it’s hard to play outside. I’m praying about finding a way to pay for that, because right now it’s not in the budget. They’d love it though, especially since our summer lesson season was even shorter than expected because of our unexpected trip west.

Art & Music

Harmony Fine Arts Grade 1 I mentioned in the last update that I was doing a “graduated” restart – not adding all of the subjects in at once. Art and music are the ones that have had to wait. We’re starting them next week, now that everything else is in a good routine. We’ll still be using Harmony Fine Arts Grade 1 as we’d barely started it last year before putting it aside for the summer.


Awana has started up again – G is in his second year as a Spark (his sister is in her last year as a Cubbie). We’ve switched locations, and although it’s not as close as the previous church, they have their program on Sunday evenings, and I think that’s going to work better for our schedules.

Looking Ahead

We don’t have any visitors planned, or anything else of significance that should disrupt our schedule and routine, so I *should* have lots to report next month as far as progress goes. However, I know that nothing is certain, so we’ll just have to see how it goes! We had a couple of bumpy days as we got restarted with it all, but overall it’s going really well and I think we’re all enjoying it!

Previously on The Deliberate Reader

Two years ago: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine Lโ€™Engle

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Homeschooling Update: We Have a First Grader!

2015 2016 first day of schoolWe also have a Pre-Kindergartner, and a Toddler, but we’ve had those before. Sorry, non-oldest children, but the first one gets the headline. I’m a middle child, I survived it, and you will too.

Scheduling Decisions

I grew up in Florida, and the school systems were county-wide. Whichever county you lived in, that was your school system, and so all public schools in the entire county were on the same schedule.

Why do I mention this? Because I *still* find it somewhat weird how Indiana has so. many. school. systems. All in the same county! There are townships here (also something new-to-me) and those may have their own system. Some townships combine to form a system. Some systems I still don’t fully understand their boundaries.

What it all means is that back-to-school around here is so spread out. I have friends whose kids went back in July. Some started the first week in August, some the second. Some probably still haven’t started, and I won’t realize that until their “first day of school!” pictures pop up on my facebook feed. It’s not one-county-one-system here.

On the plus side, it makes it not so obvious when I’ve got the kids out around town on a “school day” – no one can keep track of days off for the various systems so no one seems to bat an eye at us. I realize this may change as my kids get older and they’re all obviously of school age.

Anyway, it made for a not so clear “when” of when to restart school for G after our break. We could follow the school calendar , but which one? Ultimately I followed one of the closest locations, because it also worked out really nicely with us no longer having house guests. Back to reality kiddos! I don’t promise to follow that same system’s schedule all year, but it worked well as a start date.

Our Restart, and Where We’re At with Curriculum

G first day of 1st gradeWe’ve been back at it for a week and a half, and we will soon be taking a little break (yes, already!) because Grandma and Grandpa will hopefully be visiting from Arizona. When they’re at our house, we won’t do school. When they aren’t (because they’re here for a reunion, and won’t always be with us), we will. We’ll see how much we get done between now and our next update, but I’m not too concerned.

So far with the newly-titled 1st grader we’ve gotten back to reading (beginning All About Reading Level 4 this week), math (closing in on the end of Math Mammoth 1A), history (Sonlight Core A, week 8), and science (Sonlight Science A, week 6).

I have not resumed spelling (where we’ll be starting All About Spelling Level 2), but will add that in next week. We’ve done a “graduated restart” with the intent of making for a smoother time, and I think it’s worked well.

Next month I hope to get back to art and music (Harmony Fine Arts Year One), and begin Spanish (Song School Spanish, requested by my son). That should have us back to doing everything!

However, when I mention science above, that’s with a big caveat. We have done zero science experiments. We may need to take a day and just get a bunch of them done. Which means *I* need to suck it up and get myself mentally prepared to do a bunch of science experiments. They’re not my favorite. ๐Ÿ™‚

The Other Two

H first day of PreKAnd for the Pre-K student? We’re reading through Sonlight’s Core P 3/4 books, doing All About Readings Pre-Reading Level (when she requests it), and Mathematical Reasoning or Miquon (when she requests it).

She sits in on any of the Sonlight A reading she wants to, as well as the extra library books we read, but I don’t force her to listen to them if she’s not interested. She also enthusiastically participates in art, so I know she’ll be happy when we resume that.

She adores workbooks, and I got her a set of 4 to do. She finished the first one in 2 days, so who knows what else we might end up doing once she gets through them.

The baby pulls books off the shelf, is a menace with any writing implements she can grab, and is delighted if we ever forget to put the gate up on the stairs to then let her practice her stair climbing. She’s also super cute and likes listening to stories, although she has to be watched lest she rip pages in her enthusiasm to flip to the next one.


First Grade August 2015 Deliberate Reader
I’ve done some rearranging of my house, and some re-figuring on our scheduling. It’s still so new that I want to wait until next month’s update to report back on how it’s working. So far it’s going well, but at only a week and a half into it (less than that when I’m actually writing this post), it’s still in the honeymoon stage. I know enough to know that doesn’t always mean something will work well long-term.

I also made some additions to my binder for organizational help. I briefly thought about making my own forms to have them be exactly what I wanted. Then I acknowledged that the time that would take me was better spent elsewhere, and using “close enough” printables I found online was a smarter choice. If I end up liking what I’ve got, I’ll share about it as well.

Disclosure: This post contains some affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

7 Quick Takes on essential oils, 31 days planning, homeschooling, and books.

Seven Quick Takes

— 1 —

Today was supposed to be the last day that Young Living Premium Starter Kits are $10 off, but they’ve extended that promotion through the end of the month. It’s still a great opportunity to get started with essential oils, if you’ve been considering trying them. Curious about what you might do with them? I’ve got a list of ideas.


— 2 —

I’m working on a new 31 Days series for October. Yes, really. I’ve only gone back and forth on about 4 different ideas before finally settling on one. Now I’m in the midst of organizing content and drafting posts, because my goal is to have it all written by the end of September. That should give me plenty of cushion for life to happen. ๐Ÿ™‚

— 3 —

I’m super excited about what I’ve got planned, and for another idea that will possibly go along with it. Vague blogging here, but it won’t be a secret for long and then I’ll share all about what I’m considering. One part might involve Facebook and/or Instagram, so if you haven’t already liked my page or followed my ‘gram, head over and do that.

— 4 —

In part because of that 31 Days project, I’m planning on doing some additional “throwback” posts if you will, like I did on Wednesday. What’s a throwback post you ask? It’s about a book that I read but never posted about, either because I wasn’t blogging when I read it or I just skipped it for whatever reason. I’m wanting to feature some of the books I love that otherwise haven’t been mentioned here.

— 5 —

We restarted homeschooling this week. I kind of like having had a enough of a break to make a clear deliniation between grades if you will. Awana does that too, but it was fun having our own. G is now a 1st grader, and H is in Pre-K. And M is turning 1 next week, so now I get to see what it’ll be like doing school with a toddler instead of a baby.

— 6 —

My inlaws will be back in town next week (tentatively) so we’ll be having a break from school just as we get started again. I am quite ok with that, and I’m trying to think of anything I might need to try to accomplish while they’re in the state.

— 7 —

The best book I finished lately was Jen Hatmaker’s For the Love: Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible StandardsFor the Love: Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible Standards by Jen Hatmaker. Funny and thought-provoking, I’m hoping it’s the final one to pull me out of my reading slump. It releases on Tuesday, and I’ll have a review posting that day.

For the Love

For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain’t The Lyceum!

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!