April’s Science Experiments

We made things to fling: a boomerang (that actually worked if it was thrown a certain way) and a flying saucer frisbee.

We filled a container with water and Cameron demonstrated centripetal force by swinging it in circles around his head.


After being a smart aleck about the answer to what “the force” is, I managed to cut Cameron off in the middle of giving me the correct answer.

We used newspaper to make two different stools able to support a human.

We folded a circle of cardstock into a cone and spun coins around it and into a container.

We mixed up magnetic and non-magnetic things in a bowl and used bar magnets to separate the items.

We put magnetic things on paper, in a glass bowl, and in a plastic bowl to see if the magnet could move the items through the containers. We learned all three are possible, but it depends on how thick the container is and how strong the magnet is.

We poured some iron filings on a piece of paper and moved a bar magnet around underneath to show the flux lines.

We rubbed a piece of wool on a comb and then used the static electricity to bend a stream of water.

We rubbed the wool on two balloons and made them repel each other.

We rubbed the wool on a balloon and made the static electricity attract Cameron’s hair.

We made a potato clock. We tried making it work with lettuce (didn’t) and a lime (did). Potato clocks need the acid in fruits or vegetables in order to run. (A week later and the lime is still accurately keeping time!)

We made a racing car out of CDs, a toilet paper tube, and rubberbands. We were supposed to be able to wind it up and it would zoom away. This did not happen. We wound it up and it moved forward a few inches and backward a few inches over and over.

Sometimes our experiments don’t work at all. After a lot of cutting and maneuvering, we were supposed to be able to wind up the pencil and the construction paper birds would whirl around like on a merry-go-round. Instead, we wound it up and… nothing. While trying to adjust things to see if we could figure out how to make it work, it all came apart so we gave up on that one.

We made a catapult using soda bottles, rubberbands, and pencils. We pushed down on the pencil attached to the bucket, filled it with marshmallows, and let it go and the marshmallows went flying!

I Think I’m Going to Have to Buy More Math…

Over the last few weeks both Fritz and Adrian completed their math for the year (Math-U-See Delta and Beta). Adrian was anxious to start Gamma. Not wanting to let his little brother close the gap between them too much, Fritz got started on Epsilon this week.

Adrian has completed 11 lessons of Gamma. There are 30 lessons total. He loves multiplication and is picking it up super fast. I would not be surprised if he’ll be moving on to Delta by Christmas, if not the beginning of the next school year.

Legacy Class

Ani and Cameron have started a study group with a few other Legacy students from taekwondo. They are studying for their next collar testing in June (two are testing for their black-red collars and three, including Ani and Cameron, are testing for their black-red-black collars). At their first study session this weekend, they took turns leading a mini class covering various topics those testing for black-red-black collars will be tested on.


By the time it was Cameron’s turn the rest of the group was tired of pretending to be students so they called Fritz and Adrian in to be the students.


Adrian was being thoroughly (unmedicated) Adrian and was dancing around so Cameron had him come to the front to demonstrate the front kick-side kick Cameron was trying to teach them. Adrian could do the front kick part of it at least.


Fritz actually paid attention and successfully did a front kick followed immediately by a side kick without putting his foot down (and even properly pivoted his foot still on the ground).


So that’s 2 hours of their study group down, 28 hours to go!

Next Year

For the most part, next year we’ll be using the next level of what we’re already using. I’ve gotten our lesson plans done and have almost finished printing (just waiting for another black toner to get delivered so I can do the last few hundred pages). I won’t be assembling everything for another month and a half since I reuse binders from year to year.

Ani will be in 12th grade and will be using a combination of Dual Enrollment at the community college, Great Courses, Life of Fred, and Well-Trained Mind Academy. She’s planning on teaching writing and maybe a literature class for younger kids. She also works part time and will be training for her second degree black belt (should be testing for it June ’17).

Cameron will be in 9th grade. For language arts, he’ll be using Writing With Skill Level 3, Spelling You See Level E, Vocabulary From Classical Roots B, and Easy Grammar 9. He’ll be doing Math-U-See Geometry. He’ll be reading selections from the Bible and Book of Mormon, Epic of Gilgamesh, Iliad,Odyssey, Oedipus the King, The Histories, Medea, The History of the Peloponnesian War, The Republic, Rhetoric, Poetics, and Logic, The Odes of Horace, The Aeneid, Metamorphoses, The Histories, and On the Incarnation.

Fritz will be in 5th grade. He’ll be using Writing With Ease Level 4, Spelling You See Level F, and Vocabulary From Classical Roots 5. What he will use for grammar totally depends on Susan Wise Bauer and Well-Trained Mind Press (formerly Peace Hill Press). She has said she is working on Advanced Language Lessons and hopes to have it out in the fall. We’re crossing our fingers that that happens because we have loved First Language Lessons and it would be great for Fritz to be able to continue on with that. If it doesn’t come out by fall, we’ll probably use Voyages in English 5. (Edited 5/12: Advanced Language Lessons will not be out until Fall 2017… too late.  I decided I didn’t want to use Voyages in English 5 because it only has a very small chapter on diagramming and I want him to keep his diagramming skills up.  So we are going with Rod & Staff English 5.) He’ll be using Critical Thinking Company Building Thinking Skills Level 2 software for logic. He’ll be doing Math-U-See Epsilon (might start on it before the end of this school year since he already finished Delta). He’ll be reading Tales of Ancient Egypt by Roger Lancelyn Green, Heroes, Gods, and Monsters of Greek Myths by Bernard Evslin, The Golden Fleece and the Heroes Who Lived Before Achilles by Padraic Colum, Tales of Greek Heroes by Roger Lancelyn Green, The Tale of Troy by Roger Lancelyn Green, Aesop’s Fables by Ann McGovern, The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare, Outcast by Rosemary Sutcliff, The Eagle of the Ninth by Rosemary Sutcliff, The Silver Branch by Rosemary Sutcliff, and The Lantern Bearers by Rosemary Sutcliff.

Adrian will be in 3rd grade. He’ll be using First Language Lesson 3, Writing With Ease 2, Spelling You See Level C, and Explode the Code and Beyond the Code for language arts. He’ll be doing Math-U-See Gamma (which he has already started). He’ll be reading Magic Tree House books and filling in his passport, though he may be done with the books by fall in which case he will probably read the books Fritz read when he was in 3rd grade.

For history all three boys will be using History Odyssey Ancients Level 2. Adrian will be adding readings from Story of the World Volume 1 and Cameron will be adding readings from History of the Ancient World. Science will be REAL Science Odyssey Biology 2. They will be doing art as instructed in Discovering Great Artists. All four will be learning to play the piano using Hoffman Academy. The two little guys will be using Old Testament lessons from The Red-Headed Hostess for religion (Cameron will be attending early morning seminary at church; they will be studying the New Testament next year). They will all, of course, continue with Classical Academic Press Latin for Children A and keep doing taekwondo for PE.

This Year’s Reading and Math Assessments

Just like last year, I gave the kids the reading and math assessments from Let’s Go Learn ordered through Seton.

This year I only did the math assessment (ADAM) for the little boys and reading (DORA) for the three boys (since Ani pretty much maxed it out last year so it wouldn’t have been useful information this year).

Adrian: 7y10m, late 2nd grade
High Frequency Words: mid 2nd
Word Recognition: mid sixth
Phonemic Awareness: 100%
Phonics: mid 4th
Spelling: mid 1st
Oral Vocabulary: late 5th
Reading Comprehension: early 6th
Lexile Measure: 700
Reading Grade Level: 6

Numbers and Operations: late 3rd
Measurement: early 4th
Data Analysis: early 4th
Geometry: early 3rd
Algebraic Thinking: mid 4th
Overall Grade: late 3rd

Adrian made significant gains over the last year in both reading and math. I was most surprised by his reading level. Honestly, since he went on Adderall a month ago, he has soared ahead in reading. I always suspected he could read well. It’s just his performance wasn’t showing what he could do because he was always so distracted. Now that the medicine is helping him concentrate, he can demonstrate what he already could do. His high frequency words score is artificially low. He got all the answers correct on that part, but it is timed and even on medication he still doesn’t always actually write down (or click) the answer as soon as he says it. His math results tell me Math-U-See is working very well for him (he has finished alpha and beta and started gamma this week).

He had to take the reading assessment twice, however, because the first time it took a few tries to click the right spot every time. He’d click the wrong answer and immediately say he clicked the wrong one (part of the problem is one section has flies you click on and one of the four flies moves higher than the others every time and sometimes that’s the right answer and sometimes it is not – and often the moving fly would catch his attention and he’d click it even if he knew it was the wrong answer). Because it is computer adaptive, once he got a certain number in a row wrong it assumed he didn’t know the correct answers. When he got to the spelling section it immediately gave him words like operation, trudge, and curious. Of course he had no idea how to spell those words and he started saying he was a bad speller and didn’t know how to spell anything. After a few words, it switched to me, do, and sit which of course he could spell no problem. The damage was done, however and he was frustrated and not interested in even trying on the reading comprehension portion that followed the spelling portion. So that was quite annoying and, in my opinion, the ridiculous spelling words given first is a flaw in their test (and the moving flies is just dumb, particularly for kids with attention issues). The first time his lexile level was only 300, the same as last year, but I knew that was not correct since last year he was barely sounding out words and this year he is able to read chapter books. So, if you use DORA with your kids, watch for issues like Adrian experienced when you administer it.

Fritz: 9y9m, late 4th grade
High Frequency Words: max (late 3rd)
Word Recognition: mid 10th
Phonics: max (late 4th)
Spelling: late 2nd
Oral Vocabulary: late 6th
Reading Comprehension: late 11th
Lexile Measure: 1200
Reading Grade Level: 11

Numbers and Operations: early 5th
Measurement: late 5th
Data Analysis: late 5th
Geometry: late 3rd
Algebraic Thinking: late 5th
Overall Grade: early 5th

I was completely shocked by Fritz’s reading grade level. His response was to ask if he could read The Hobbit now. Maybe after Harry Potter and Artemis Fowl (that was the first I heard he was interested in reading The Hobbit). His spelling is low, but the important thing is he knew he was spelling the words wrong. He could see that they didn’t look right. This is a bit of a relief (since he has a brother who doesn’t see that words don’t look right). Spelling You See is working perfectly in that he can chunk words when attempting to spell them. He just doesn’t always put the chunks together exactly right. I am sure that will come in time. His math score is a bit surprising because we use Math-U-See. He has done through Delta (division), but won’t start fractions until next school year. Math-U-See’s levels definitely don’t line up with grade levels. The geometry score is low, but that is definitely due to the order MUS teaches things. He had perimeter and area down, but some of the other stuff he hasn’t yet been exposed to. Glancing over his shoulder now and then I noticed that he was successfully figuring out how to do some things in fractions, decimals, and percents even though he hasn’t been actually taught any of those.

Cameron: 14y6m, late 8th grade
High Frequency Words: max (late 3rd)
Word Recognition: mid 12th
Phonics: max (late 4th)
Spelling: early 2nd
Oral Vocabulary: late 11th
Reading Comprehension: late 9th
Lexile Measure: 1000
Reading Grade Level: 9

As much as Cameron dislikes immersion reading, it is obviously working for him. He made quite a gain in reading level this year. I totally attribute that to listening to the audiobook of all of his assigned reading books while seeing the words being spoken highlighted in the ebook on his Fire. Immersion reading is an amazing invention. He is very, very slow at reading, but the fact that he can read that level at all is amazing to me. His spelling is very bad, but that’s no surprise nor do we really expect it to get much better. Using Spelling You See this year has made a big difference, though, in how he spells words wrong. Before his misspellings pretty much made no sense. Now they phonetically do make sense since he is learning and recognizing various chunks and how letters work together.

Once again the kids’ assessments were enlightening. Even though we don’t have to test them, I like to just to see where they are. I’d never have guessed any of the three had made such amazing gains in reading levels over the last year so that information alone makes testing totally worth it.

I am 38


I turned 38 yesterday. Jamie took off work so I didn’t have to cook and I didn’t do any cleaning. I spent most of the day reading an excellent book (Mindsurge by Heather Sunseri). I went to taekwondo with everyone except Ani (since she has a Well-Trained Mind Academy class Tuesdays during taekwondo). I had dinner at a Brazilian steakhouse where, after eating amazing meat with extra meat, I got their incredible flan (that’s what’s in the picture above) for dessert. The day ended with a hike with my lovely young women. It was seriously the most perfect birthday ever.