“The Best Day Ever”

Yesterday we had our back to school celebration. Ani declared it the Best Day Ever. I made sure the kids got dressed as soon as they got up and took their picture in front of a “Welcome Back to School” banner I made for them.

I told them to look in their pencil boxes. There they found the first of six clues for a scavenger hunt.

And off they went reading the clues and figuring out where they should go to find the next clue.

They both had a great time looking for their clues.

The sixth clues led them to the surprises they were looking for.

Backpacks filled with school supplies (plus a few fun things)!

I even sewed Calvert School patches onto the backs of their backpacks.

They had fun looking through their backpacks to see what they got.

They were both very happy with their things.

Then they got to look over their school things. Cameron was thrilled with his dry erase board.

And then it was off to breakfast at IHOP. Jamie stayed home from work for the morning (the kids didn’t know he was going to until they got up) so it was the whole family.

The kids all ate very well.

We returned home to another surprise: Cirkis.

We played a couple games before Jamie had to head to work.

A few “back to school” pictures…

…and we’re ready for our new year to start on Monday!

Download N Go Expedition China

We did the Expedition China Download N Go last week. We learned all sorts of things about China, the most interesting being that all of the cities we learned about are exactly 12 hours off of our time (eastern) and the temperatures were very similar to our own. For some reason Cameron was fascinated by the fact that there is golf in China.


After we finished the five day study, we went to a Chinese restaurant for dinner. The first thing we were greeted with when we walked in was a lovely water display.

After we ate lots (and lots – it was a buffet) of food, we had fortune cookies.


Another really fun study!

Box Day for Ani

Last weekend we received the last of our Calvert boxes. This box day was for Ani.

We went through the fifth, sixth, and seventh grade samples on-line and really agonized over the grade to put her in. She would be going into 5th grade if she went to public school. However, because of what we’ve used for school over the years we can’t point to a grade and say she’s completed that grade.

We initially had planned to put her in 5th because of her age and lack of much US History. But it was clear from the sample that she was well beyond what that would provide her. I leaned strongly toward putting her in 6th grade. It would not be difficult for her, but she would be able to get a lot out of it.

Ani and Jamie wanted her in 7th grade. It was obvious she’d be able to do the work. She had no problem with the sample. But, it would be challenging for her. Ani said she’s never been challenged in school. It’s always been easy. And so she wanted the challenge of 7th grade. I still wasn’t sold on skipping her two grades, but in the end, with a lot of pressure from Ani and Jamie, I ordered 7th grade (Scholastic version) for her. Looking through everything I do think it’s a perfect fit for her.

We got such awesome stuff in the box. I ordered a couple enrichments for her to go along with her regular curriculum.

Discoveries in Reading 7a and b. These each came with several books and activities and lessons to go with them. Through this program, she’ll be reading Julie of the Wolves, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Giver, Medieval Times Through the Enlightenment, Red Scarf Girl, Hatchet, The Call of the Wild, and Famous Stories for Performance over the course of the year.

I gave her the choice of Latin, French, or Spanish. She chose Spanish. The first year of Spanish came with a lesson manual, textbook, and workbook. I took 2 1/2 years of Spanish and have forgotten most of it so I am excited to get to relearn it along with Ani.

Since we are not using ATS I also ordered the Calvert Test Series for core and for math. I also got the printed answer keys for core and for math.

The 7th grade curriculum is very complete. Ani was so excited going through everything. She’s been begging to start it right now. I think I’ve got her convinced that it’s okay to wait until our planned start date of August 2nd.

She’ll be reading Around the World in Eighty Days, Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry, Classic Poems to Read Aloud, The Diary of Anne Frank, and The Miracle Worker. Before we decided to switch to Calvert I had actually planned for her to read Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry and The Diary of Anne Frank this coming year.

She will be studying architecture this year. She’s quite excited about that both because she loves looking at old buildings and because Annabeth (from the Percy Jackson series) was into architecture. There’s a book about architecture and a spiral bound book of pictures of old buildings. Ani’s already spent quite some time going through those pictures. Also pictured are two pads of lined paper and a pad of blank paper.

Somehow my daughter figured out negative numbers on her own. I’m not quite sure how. That’s what 7th grade math starts with. The math includes a textbook, workbook, and a huge lesson manual.

Calvert gives you a lot of lesson manuals. These are the computer applications and skills manual and the two huge regular lesson manuals.

Her textbooks look nice. There’s an Everyday Spelling workbook, Elements of Language textbook, Across the Centuries textbook, and The World and Its People Geography textbook.

She got lots of science textbooks. There’s a set of science activity sheets and five textbooks: Animals, From Bacteria to Plants, Human Biology and Health, Motion, Forces, and Energy, and Sound and Light.

Ani was very interested in her science kit. She got some graduated cylinders, a prism, a hand lens, and a few other things. She also got a compass to draw circles and a little composition book. Totally awesome stuff!

Box Day! And the Enrichments We Got

At 9:52 yesterday morning our boxes from Calvert School were on the FedEx truck for delivery. Being the box stalker I am (oh, how I wish those trucks were trackable as they drive around making deliveries), I checked it several times as the day wore on and, sure enough, at 6 it was changed to “delivery exception.” Delivery was rescheduled for today and it said the reason was “local weather.” Except of course we had lovely weather yesterday. And this is the second time our FedEx guy has not delivered as scheduled due to a made up reason.

So I called FedEx to complain. The nice lady I talked to put me on hold and called the depot and told them the boxes were to be delivered during the morning hours (usually they don’t deliver here until 7 or later) and she filed a quality complaint. So imagine my surprise when the FedEx truck drove up at nearly 9 pm to deliver our boxes. Guess someone got chewed out.




Cameron happily pulled out his pocket knife to help me open his box of second grade things. His box was full of awesome stuff. And the other box was full of the enrichment items I ordered.

Discoveries in Reading 2 in a nice storage box to hold the books
lesson manual with activities and a card to mail in when he completes all the books to get a reward, a map and stickers to mark his progress through the books, crayons, and 20 books: Solo Girl, A Toad for Tuesday, Something from Nothing, Chibi, Grandaddy and Janetta, It Takes a Village, Benito Juarez, Eleanor Roosevelt: First Lady of the World, Benjamin Franklin, Young Goat’s Discovery, Harry’s Pony, How Many Stars in the Sky?, Annie’s Gifts, Frederick Douglass, Christa McAuliffe, I.M. Pei, Abraham Lincoln, The Adventures of Sugar and Junior, Tonight is Carnaval, and Barbara Jordan

Discoveries in Early Reading
This used to be called Come Read With Me back when we used Calvert with Ani. In fact, that’s what Ani learned to read using. I wasn’t going to get this, but Ani has such fond memories of it and Fritz really wants to learn to read, so I got it. We’ll see if it works as well with him as it did with her.
40 lessons on 3 DVDs (we had them on VHS tapes back in 2004!), Me? A Mess? book, Nik and Dilsey finger puppets, yarn, activity workbook, two pencils, pencil sharpener, guidebook, pad of newsprint, pack of construction paper (100 sheets)

Writing Fun (for Ani and Cameron to learn Calvert Script)
lesson manual, workbook, pack of four pencils and a sharpener (not pictured), and a big pad of newsprint

Gods of Greece (for Ani… it’s a 3rd grade level, but she really loves Greek gods)
lesson manual, story and coloring book

Maryland History (for Ani)
lesson manual, textbook about Maryland

We’ve already done three or four lessons of Writing Fun, two lessons of Gods of Greece, and one lesson of Maryland History. So much fun! And Ani is thrilled to be doing “real” school because, apparently, Download N Go alone is just nowhere near enough to make her happy. Even in the summer.

What Came in Cameron’s Calvert 2 Box

Cameron is very excited about the stuff that came in his Calvert 2 box. Everything is perfectly on his reading level which means he can read his textbooks to himself. That’s something he’s never been able to do before. He is officially “behind” his age mates since we got second grade for him. He would be going into third if he was in public school and if he had been born just a few days earlier, he’d be going into fourth. The fact is, though, he is not ready for third yet because of his reading level. Hopefully the extra time kept at second grade will help him to not be frustrated and to be able to really learn (and to possibly catch up to age-mate level in the future).

We are not using ATS so I decided to get the Calvert Test Series. These do not come in the box. In the box you get the ATS tests. The Calvert Test Series tests are given every 20 lessons like the ATS tests but come with answer keys and are graded at home. I figure they’ll make it very easy to put together the portfolios in the spring and since the kids really want report grades and real grades, these tests make that easy, too.

I got the printed answer keys (laying in front) added to the box. The answer keys are included on-line, but I wanted them printed, too. The rest of these books are manuals. Two thick lesson manuals (each is half the school year), computer skills and applications manual, and the math manual.

school supply box, science supplies, and composition book (the pencils came with the Writing Fun enrichment and I ordered the patches separately just because I wanted them, as well as a couple books about the history of Calvert)

art cards, royalroad device (a reading thingy), Explore Your World II, Calvert Writer with Spelling, and Rhymes and Verses

Calvert Math book, math practice and enrichment workbook, and 50 unifix cubes (10 each in 5 colors)

science activity pages, Science: A Closer Look textbook (Cameron’s especially excited about that), Maps, Globes, Graphs Level B

reading workbook and Houghton Mifflin Reading: Adventures and Delights textbooks and Phonics Library

pack of manila paper (50 pages), 2 pads of lined paper, and a ruler

Educational TV Shows

My 8 year old son reads excruciatingly slowly and on about a second grade level. He loves to learn about science-y things that are well above his reading level. Sometimes I’ll read to him, but I can’t do that all the time.

Then we noticed that he retains what he has watched on TV incredibly well. And so we started making sure he watches lots of educational TV shows. He’s able to learn about stuff he otherwise couldn’t. Plus I often watch with him because I like those shows, too!