Sunday, March 8, 2009

School Daze

Oh, about a week ago I promised pictures of us doing school when I posted pictures of some of our organizational systems. Better late than never? I have a few excuses, and they're even good ones, but I'll spare you and get to the point.

JW studying his Yo, Millard Fillmore book, a sequenced cartoon picture-recognition method of memorizing the presidents in order (you really have to see it to understand; sorry for my awkward explanation)

MA working in her Miquon book with her Cuisenaire Rods

Figured out the answer!

And afterwards, she got to free-play with the rods. This second one is the L family, ex-pat friends here in town. Two of the children are being held, hence their "flotation" in the air, according to MA. The two older girls' ages even correspond to the value of the rods used to make them.

MS moved to the dining table to work at some point this day, since he had a sore throat and wanted some hot tea. We have been choosing to work in the Family Area most recently, but I didn't want to risk the tea spilling.

Meanwhile, ZL played on the computer.

And read books.

And ML fixed the washing machine. (Yay Daddy!)

And, as a treat, I let them all listen to their memorization songs at the same time (they normally listen individually) while drinking cocoa (we had a late-season cold snap that week). Notice how far I had them sitting from the computer. :-/

For a more detailed description of our school day, read this post. Today was more a visual tour. :-)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A Place for Everything (Mom, don't laugh)

I actually remembered to take pictures during school time yesterday. I think I was motivated by the fact that we will be moving (to a new house in the area) in August (more on that later), and we're starting to pack for the US, so I don't know when the house will look quite the same again. I guess, technically, never, since it will be a different house.

I have some shots of the kids doing school, which I will post soon (possibly later today), but since I actually managed to have a post showing a setup that works in our house on a Wednesday, I decided to grab all the gusto I can get and do a Works For Me Wednesday post. Who knows if I'll actually get around to linking it on her post, but it still counts, right?

So, for now, I'm going to share the basics of how our daily work books and read-alouds are organized. I would show our readers and out-of-rotation read-aloud shelf, but, well, it's not that presentable right now. Maybe after we move.

After trying out having each child have a shelf or a 1/2 shelf in a cabinet to house their school books (workbooks, artpacs, mapwork, current readers, etc.) and having them avalanche constantly, we settled on "School Books Bins." MA's and JW's are stored on this little shelf under a coffee table in our family area. MS actually has a plastic basket (somehow I managed not to get a picture of his), because his won't fit in this sized bin, and it's stored underneath one of our family room chairs. The added benefit is that they can bring their basket or bin to where we're schooling, if it's somewhere other than the family area, which the boys do on Tuesdays when we have a meeting at our house.

In this picture you will also see my crochet bag (which I often work on while supervising schoolwork; it keeps me sitting) and a cloth wipes box (okay, a recycled disposable wipes box). A fairly appropriate homeschooling hodge-podge, I thought.

After running to the shelf daily for the read-alouds we needed (where they were shelved with all the read-alouds for the year), we settled on a "school books basket" that houses all of our current read-alouds (literature, science, history and Bible) and that year's Language Arts Instructor's Guides for handy access.

We started schooling with a pencil box for each child that housed their crayons, colored pencils, pencils, scissors, glue, ruler, etc. I had fond memories of my pencil box from when I went to school in England, and it sounded like a good idea at the time. Only no one ever had what they needed in their own box, and they were constantly having to borrow from one another, and the boxes took up precious shelf room for nothing. So, we now have the "Pencil Box," which is technically the "Pencil+ Box," as you can see from the label, because it houses pencils (periodically sharpened by Mommy, because there is a pencil sharpener-eating monster in our house, and Mommy's the only one who can manage to keep up with hers...barely), scissors, and glue. The first person to get started on his/her schooling in the morning (and, therefore, require a pencil) is responsible for bringing the Pencil Box to wherever we're working (usually either the family area or the dining table, but sometimes the kitchen or the kids' room on meeting days). The last person finished is responsible for putting it away.

The Pencil Box's cousin is the "Color Box," which houses all crayons, markers and colored pencils. It is not always needed, but if someone needs it (and, most days, there's either an art project, mapwork or a Miquon page that needs colors), they are responsible for bringing it to our study area. And the last person finished puts it away at the same time as the Pencil Box.

All of our assignments are tracked on Homeschool Tracker where I laid them out at the beginning of the school year and assign them according to our school day calendar each six weeks. Even Mommy has assignments. I have all of our read-aloud assignments assigned to me. I tried e-mailing PDF versions of the kids' assignment sheets to them, but someone was always doing something on their computer when they needed to check them to see what they had next, and then I had to check them off on my computer, anyway, so now we just all work off of my laptop, which goes with us wherever we are in the house.

MA and JW both have a "Letters Page" and a "Number Line." Actually, they're supposed to have a Number Line per math book, so two each, one for Miquon and one for Singapore, but I think by this point in the year they may only each have one that just floats in their school books bin and is retrieved when needed. These help with basic letter/number formation in the beginning and are referred to to avoid reversals after that point. The number line goes to 20, and so can also be used for basic addition and subtraction, if needed. These were both created using StartWrite handwriting software, and I print new ones out (usually in new colors) at the beginning of each school year.

For long-term homeschoolers, I'm sure none of this is earth-shattering, but maybe you'll find an idea that's just what you've been needing. If you're starting out, hopefully it can spark a solution that would work perfectly for your family.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Happy Decade Birthday, MS!

Ten years this month (8 February, to be exact), ML and I became parents (okay, life begins at conception, but you get the point). It feels like just yesterday, and it feels like forever ago. I'm sure you understand, if you have kids.

One year, we did back-to-back birthday parties when MS and MA's birthdays fell on a Friday and a Saturday. One year. Just one year.

They pretty much alternate who gets the party closest to their birthday, and this was MS's year to have his the next week. He didn't mind. Much. Okay, so having to go to a little girl's fourth birthday party on his birthday was not exactly his idea of how to celebrate, but he survived. :-)

We're so grateful to have MS in our family. He adds humor and insight and not a little bit of help with everything from corner store grocery and bakery runs to dish washing.

The cake was all Webkinz all the way. After a brief hiatus, Webkinz once again reigns in our home, and it (both the stuffed animals and the on-line play) is the activity of choice for all three Bigs. He wanted the cake to also somehow reference his being a decade old, so we worked that in there, too. The cake itself was French Vanilla with chocolate chips, and the icing was chocolate. We finished it the next morning for breakfast (with eggs), of course.

All of MS's ex-pat friends who live in town were able to come to the party, as were all of the boys in our building around his age. Homeschooling friends in the capital had to miss due to other plans, and the English-speaking cousins of one of our neighbors were also not able to come.

Presents at the party* included a Webkinz (appropriately), the ever-popular money, and...two water turtles! The McB family gave MS a turtle bowl, rocks, turtle food, the turtles themselves, and the promise to care for them while we're gone to America. They were quite a hit.

For fun, the kids had sword and finger rocket battles, played Wii, and even learned a bit about playing guitar, thanks to Uncle J.

*On his actual birthday, MS received his family gifts, which included a Didj from Mommy & Daddy, a Star Wars Didj game from Nanny, and several Webkinz (well, the promise thereof upon arrival in the US) from other family members. He now has 10 Webkinz. :-P

Saturday, February 14, 2009

MA turns 6!

Saturday before last, 7 January, was MA's 6th birthday. This year, her birthday fell on a Saturday, which was an available day, so we actually had the party that day. Unfortunately for her, MS's birthday was the next day and his party the next week, so that, on top of the hecticness of life in general, meant that her pictures did not get posted in a timely manner.

But we did celebrate MA, even more than we do daily. She definitely adds more than just a touch of the feminine to our family and is growing to be quite a helper to me, especially in the kitchen, which she loves.

Her cake was Fetch with Ruff Ruffman inspired, as it is one of the kids' very favorite shows right now.

Excepting brothers, it was an all-girl party, just like MA.

There were, of course, presents, including a bead set from which she has made several bracelets and necklaces already.

And then the girls invented their very own party game: Hoppy Poppy Dance Floor, which consisted of laying bubble wrap on the floor, and dancing on top of it. They had quite a wonderful time, and it required no preparation/thought on my part, which is a good thing, because I do not do well with party games.

A good time was had by all, and we enjoyed celebrating our precious MA.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

25 Questions

The second in my "Viral Writing Exercises from Facebook" series.

Louisville, KY (Oh, the shame!)

Dogs, for sure. Dachshunds, preferably


Does marching band and flag corp count?

They expected me to actually clean up after myself and be neat. Hmph! (Just kidding, guys. Is it to soon to publicly apologize profusely again?)

Only if it’s cream of mushroom. Actually, I’d eat any kind of soup with mushrooms in it.

Trinity Baptist Church, Kerrville, TX

Share them on Facebook, and occasionally print books with them from

Roses and austrimariums

Three, if you count cracked and fingers

Micah Lawrence Key

Currently, Same Kind of Different as Me

13. SURGERY???
- tonsils out
- gall bladder removed

Depends on the occasion. Heels, if they’re called for, flats, if I can get away with it.

Both, in equal doses. I usually get enough time home alone, so I’m almost always up for a get-together.


None, but I barely passed.

Airborne and some suspected food sensitivities, at least. I hope to be tested this year.

19. YOU DRIVE A...
2003 Kia Carnival (overseas equivalent of a Sedona). A huge blessing that I never expected.


Mushroom, beef & extra cheese

Ones that fit

Disney World with my family

3-5 times a week. Aerobics and boxing on the Wii Fit.

’79 Chrystler La Baron

Please, feel free to take these and answer them on your own blog. And be sure and let me know, if you do. I've enjoyed learning things about people this way.

Friday, February 6, 2009

25 Random Things About Me (Don't worry, I'm not tagging.)

According to the New York Times article, the "25 Random Things" phenomenon is one of the biggest viral writing exercises ever (really). (I'll post the rules below, so you'll get the idea, even if you have no idea what I'm talking about.)

I was not going to get sucked in, even after the first 10-15 of my friends on Facebook tagged me. But then I started reading them. And they were interesting. And I enjoyed getting to know people or getting to know fun things about people I already knew (or used to know). And they made think of things that I could post that might interest people. So I caved (and, as you will find out later as I post them, caved more than once).

So, since I have a slightly different "readership" here on my blog, I thought I'd share the "25 Random Things" love (hey, it's a free blog post; that's too hard to pass up, okay?)

Rules: Once you've been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it's because I want to know more about you.

Naturally, feel free to ignore this and only participate if you want to. It's only for fun and for us to get to know each other a bit better!

1. Growing up, I always liked to have what everyone else had…but different. In Jr. High, I had both the Swatch watch that no one else had and the Coca-Cola shirt that was different. I’m still kind of like this, but more on the different end of the spectrum.
2. The first house I lived in was next door to Colonel Sanders’ farm (as in KFC), and I have a picture of me sitting in his lap at his piano. (Yes, I was actually born in KY. Shh. Don’t tell anyone. I got to TX as quickly as I could.)
3. I don’t know if I owned anything the color pink until I had a daughter, and now I love the color (in moderation and preferably paired with chocolate brown or turquoise).
4. I was on one of the sets of the movie A Perfect World as it was being filmed and have pictures of Clint Eastwood and Kevin Costner to prove it.
5. I have a playlist for everything. If you don’t believe me, just read my blog. See, you guys are already one step ahead!
6. I have yet to find a form of alcohol that I actually like, which is very disappointing for a Baptist preacher’s daughter who no longer lives by those strictures.
7. I was a 3rd generation Baylor student…and I actually had a choice as to where I would attend.
8. I chose to major in education in case I “had to” homeschool. I got the homeschool bug while researching the concept in college.
9. My first car had an 8-track tape player.
10. I have a high tolerance for pain…medication. It takes at least three times the normal amount to deaden for a local anesthetic, and then sometimes I still feel it.
11. I once went skinny dipping with another pastor’s daughter and a couple of other friends.
12. I had my first four children in less than four years (only by a day, but still…)
13. I seriously considered waiting until 25 people tagged me to write this note, so all I would have to do is tag them back.
14. I prefer written communication, if given an option (as is evidenced by my mad texting skills), and proof-read everything obsessively before I send.
15. If I ever teach public school again, I would like for it to be in the inner city or the prison system.
16. I have hiked to the highest point in Texas.
17. I lived in Abigndon, England for a semester in 3rd grade.
18. I was in Jerusalem on the 1st day of the Palestinian Intefada acting as tour guide for some visiting friends.
19. I have never had in mind the number of children I want to have. Still don’t know.
20. I am actually actively using my university degree.
21. I love hymns. I have a playlist entitled “Worship Hyms,” which are traditional hymns played in a contemporary worship style.
22. I have seriously considered getting both a tattoo and a nose stud.
23. I am not a good housekeeper (those of you who live here are not allowed to comment as to this not being a “random” thing, rather a fact of the universe), but I am getting better.
24. In spite of the above, I really like for things to be neat and in order.
25. I am almost exactly 50% extrovert/50% introvert, both of which would surprise some people.

There, now wasn't that fascinating? :-P

Feel free to participate, if you'd like, and please do let me know, if you do. I've really enjoyed reading these as they make the rounds. More random Facebook lists about me soon.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Rock/Alternative Playlist

And now, for the spin-off of the Pop Playlist: Rock/Alternative (maybe eventually they, too, will be separate; you never know).

1. What I Like About You - The Romantics: Um, a Numb3rs episode, maybe? Or NCIS? I really don't remember, but it was on my iTunes To-Buy list, so I did.
2. Where is My Mind? - Pixies: from the ending of a 4400 episode (I also heard it in another show, but I can't find anywhere on the internet where that was. Frustrating. ETA: Just figured out where it was. Not another show, but a great LOST fan video montage.)
3. Shiny Happy People - R.E.M: Would you believe it was a Sesame Street short that led me to get this song? I was looking up various Sesame Street shorts from my childhood to put on my iPod, and I came across a bunch of celebrity appearances, too, most of which are very fun, including R.E.M's "Smiling, Happy Monsters." :-P Then, I had to have the original, harkening back to my jr. high/high school days.
4. Bohemian Rhapsody - Queen: re-introduced to this song thanks to the amusing "LOST Rhapsody" YouTube video
5. White Flag – Dido: I heard this in the video store and remembered liking it, so I dug it up.
6. In The Sun – Joesph Arthur: from the alternate, alternate ending to Bourne Identity (took some digging on the internet to figure that out, if you can imagine)
7. Who Will Save Your Soul - Jewel: I think I just like it.
8. Istanbul (Not Constantinople) - They Might Be Giants: Just fun. Plus, ML sings it occasionally.
*9. Whole Wide World - Wreckless Eric: From the movie Stranger Than Fiction. According to ML's research, it is a common first song to learn on the guitar because of the simplicity of the chords (it may actually have just one chord).
*10. Summer of '69 - Bryan Adams: Once again, I'm not sure if this was on Numb3rs or NCIS, but I heard it and remembered it and wanted it, which is basically a running theme, in case you hadn't picked up on that.
*11. Everybody Hurts - R.E.M.: Numb3rs, I'm pretty sure.

*New song.

Pop Playlist

As promised, my original Pop Playlist grew cumbersome, so I split it into Pop and Rock/Alternative. Some of my choices as to what went where defy iTunes designations for those songs, but, by golly, they're my playlists. I can put the songs where I want them.

1. I Will Survive – Gloria Gaynor: from an episode of Medium (You can all collectively gasp at the fact that we watch that show. Would you believe that my mom recommended it?)
2. Bubbly - Colbie Caillat: On our family vacation a couple of years ago, the pop (meaning, American) radio station that they had on in the restaurant each morning at breakfast played this song. It's catchy, and it reminds me of our vacation (which had its high points, although we will be returning to the Dead Sea from here on out and probably not deviating from that tradition again).
3. That’s Not Me - Bianca Ryan: I discovered this song after seeing the Bianca Ryan YouTube video from America's Got Talent. I know it's just a cover she does, but I like the song and the way she sings it.
4. Lullaby – Dixie Chicks: another Medium episode
5. The Rose - Bianca Ryan: Another Bianca Ryan cover that I liked. Reminds me of seeing Beaches at the drive-in with my mom and a friend.
6. I’m Still Here – Johnny Rzeznik: from the sleeper Disney movie, Treasure Planet
7. American Pie – Don McLean: Not quite sure on this one.
8. Complicated - Avril Lagrine: Think I just liked it.
9. Extreme Ways - Moby: Bourne movie credits theme
*10. Mad World - Michael Andrews & Gary Jules: From the opening scenes of a Without a Trace episode. The openings of the episodes tend to be without dialogue, because they depict the disappearance, which is, of course, shrouded in mystery, since the missing person is not there to explain, so I've gotten to hear some interesting songs. Oh, and this is not a song I would play with my kids listening (and since I control the iPod in the car and my computer in the kitchen, the two places I listen to my own music, this is easily accomplished). The lyrics are too negative and depressing and might be latched onto particularly by my one more melancholy child. They do, unfortunately, portray the perspective of many adolescents.
*11. Chain of Fools - Aretha Franklin: I know, this does not belong in a "Pop" playlist, but I just don't have enough R&B yet to spin it off. Eventually, maybe. Inspired by discussion of her music following her inaugural performance. Also reminds me of a scene in the movie Sneakers.
*12. Rich Girl - Gwen Stefani & Eve: Random, I know. The kids were watching Beverly Hills Chihuahua (which I do not recommend; they were not glued to it, fortunately, and will not be seeing it again; I was giving it a chance at a friend's house), and I got a kick out of the song behind the opening credits, which was a hip hop version of "If I Were a Rich Man" from Fiddler on the Roof. Yeah, I wouldn't have been able to imagine it, if I hadn't heard it myself, either. I do not recommend watching the video [I wanted to listen to the whole song to make sure I wanted it, so I pulled it up on YouTube], nor purchasing any other of her songs without first researching them for content, from what I've read). This one, though, is just fun, and I'm enjoying listening to it.
*13. If I Were a Boy - Beyoncé: I'm just surprising you all over the place today, aren't I? Saw the video for this song at our favorite ice cream parlor in the capital when ML and I were on a date a couple of months ago. Although I don't recommend watching it with the kids, the video is interesting in a cultural literacy/cultural commentary way. And I just like the sound of the song.

It's late, so the Rock/Alternative Playlist will have to wait until tomorrow. I know you're all just waiting with bated breath.

*New song.

- Be OK - Ingrid Michaelson: from a commercial

Folk Playlist

Okay, folks, it's been entirely too long since I've done a playlist post. I know, there for a while, those of you who were reading my blog at the time (Hi, GfG!) thought there would be nothing *but* playlist posts, but it's been six.whole.months since the Birthday Playlist post, and it's high time.

Drumroll, please...

I have a *new* playlist! Yes, you've all guessed it by now (because you're all smart people who can read blog post titles): I created a Folk Playlist.

1. Scarborough Fair/Canticle - Simon and Garfunkle: another song that my family has owned in more than one medium. I remember listening to the record (or maybe the 8-track) on my parents stereo in elementary school. It's a classic.
2. Send in the Clowns - Judy Collins: I've got to start taking better notes on where I hear songs. Either this was in an episode of a TV show I watched recently or another song was and when I looked up that song this one came up as a Genius recommendation on iTunes. Either way, I remember hearing this as a child, too, and it has a nice mellow tone to it.
3. Blowin' In the Wind - Peter, Paul and Mary: You guessed it: a record of my parents'. Takes me back.
4. Piano Man - Billy Joel: I'm thinking this was the song that was in the TV episode that then led me to Send in the Clowns, a Without a Trace episode, I'm guessing. Okay, the theme of this playlist is definitely "Songs I Remember Hearing as a Child."
5. Time in a Bottle - Jim Croce: Mm hm. See above

Definitely needs to be fleshed out. Unfortunately, I can't get the Genius Bar in iTunes to work when I want it to, just when some song that I never want anything else of that genre is playing. Suggestions are welcome. Mom, maybe you should just go flip through the records and type me up a list.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

It's a...

GfG's comment on my earlier post made me realize I'd forgotten to post the results of our Saturday ultrasound. Please forgive me. Sometimes I forget there are worlds outside of Facebook.

So, without further ado...

This was the image on my favorite piece of flair that I found to include the announcement on my board on Facebook (yes, I, the last Flair hold-out on the Facebook planet, have given in and become addicted). I was glad to find it when I google image'd "It's a Boy." Appropriately boyish, don't you think?

MA was, of course, hoping for a sister. She teared up originally, but seems okay with it now.

Yes, we have discussed names. No, we have not made a decision yet. Yes, we've re-shelved our girl name for a second time.

When I was calling my parents to let them know, I couldn't help thinking of this commercial. This, of course, is the re-make Geico did of the old 1-800-COLLECT commercial that I actually remember, but it's still funny, all the same.

Now, I just have to figure out how to crochet cool booties like Claire on LOST.

Fortunately, the site where I found this image (which amuses me; it's all about knit/crocheted items spotted on television) includes a link to a similar pattern (fortunately, although the poster is Hispanic and most of the site is in Spanish, the pattern itself is in English; I'm not sure I'm quite up for crocheting in Spanish yet; ETA: I just now looked back at the pattern page, which finally fully loaded and noticed that the author is Portuquese; oops; well, I'm *definitely* not up for crocheting in Portuguese! :-P).

Our School Day

I had an e-mail from a new friend the other day* asking a few questions. Among them, she wanted to know what curriculum we use and what our school day looks like. She and her family are moving to our area of the world this spring, and she will begin homeschooling at that point. Although she has been a classroom teacher in the past, she has this wild idea that homeschooling will be somewhat different. Hm, probably because it will be. Anyway, I'm shamelessly cutting and pasting from my e-mail reply to share with you here.

The short answer is that we use Sonlight. We are, by definition, a "Sonlight Family." The literature-rich educational track very much fits who ML and I are (basically, bibliovores :-). It also fits with the educational philosophy I was taught under at Baylor, which I really resonated with. In my earliest days of planning to homeschool (before we had kids, even, when I knew I would be raising kids overseas), what I thought out is exactly what Sonlight has done for me. Bottom line, I have come to realize just in the last year that my personal educational philosophy is to surround my kids with books and then supplement with workbooks, as needed.

Now, when I say we use Sonlight, that's going to look very different from someone who orders the deluxe, all-in-one package and teaches straight from the Instructor's Guide. There's absolutely nothing wrong with doing just that, and it will get your kids a great education. Curriculum planning, though, was my favorite part of teacher training and of teaching public school (6th grade Language Arts, Reading and History for two years), so while I am infinitely grateful to Sonlight for all of the planning they do for me, I just can't leave it alone. :-P

For example, we're finishing up Core 4 right now, having done Cores K-3 the previous years (and bits and pieces of Core Pre-K 4/5 here and there for whomever it was age-appropriate), but for K, I added lots of sequels, and for Cores 1-4, I have rearranged them to flow with the Story of the World series, books 1-4, which we've read as our history "spine" each year (Sonlight uses two different spines over those four years). If you want to see how I laid all that out, I'd be happy to show it to you, but I share that more to say: you can make whatever you pick work for you.

CM, for example, when she homeschooled her kids, used a workbook curriculum that some would consider very dry. She, though, supplemented with so many fun projects and tie-ins that many, if not most, of her homeschool days looked a heck of a lot more fun than ours. :-)

As for our homeschool days, I'll lay out a basic one for you. Of course, it doesn't always go like this, actually, but this is the general flow (keep in mind, this is with a 4th and 2nd grader and a K'er, so it's much more intense than when they were younger).

We start schoolwork after breakfast, between 8 & 9, ideally closer to 8, but we sometimes have late nights, so occasionally it's even 10 (devotionals and Bible reading happen before breakfast, so I don't include that as part of the school day). We start with "independent work," which includes their Math (currently, we do Singapore and Miquon and the boys have drill books from Rod & Staff with a 1/2 page of basic problems to quickly work) and Language Arts (sometimes more independent than others) every day and art, music, map work, timeline, science and/or history projects, depending on the day.

I lay out each book at the beginning of the year and input them into a software program called Homeschool Tracker. Each six weeks, I then lay that out into daily assignments, so they know to check my computer for their list when they need to know what to do. I'm sitting with them during this time (unless I'm off changing a diaper), but I'm not always available to give the next assignment, if I'm helping someone else. They come to me when they have questions, and I'm just generally interacting with them as they do their work, so although we call it independent work, it's still pretty hands-on for me (I often knit or crochet to keep me sitting still; I find if I'm on the computer, I'm not as tuned in as I need to be, even if I'm still sitting right there).

When they've finished with their independent work (which is usually youngest to oldest, since my K'er has just a few things she works on), they listen to their memorization songs on their computer (in another room). In their assignments, I list which songs they're supposed to memorize each week, and MS sets those up in playlists at the beginning of the week with each song repeated three times, so they just listen through their playlists each day. This year, this includes two Wee Sing America songs, a Bible memory song (we've finished the GodRocks! series and just started Seeds Family Worship), and a Schoolhouse Rock multiplication song for all of them (the multiplication song was just supposed to be for JW, but MA and MS wanted them, too, because they are actually videos, and they enjoy them). MS also has a geography song to listen to about every other week. This year, his are US geography. When we start back through our four-year cycle of history, JW and MA will also have geography songs.

At this point, I don't quiz them on their songs. They just listen to them, and in the process, usually memorize them. I plan to be more purposeful about making sure they're memorizing the second time we use these same songs when they're older (although probably not with the Wee Sing America songs, since it's mainly things like Yankee Doodle Dandy :-). Many people have the kids listen to songs at the same time and sing them together. For us, it's more difficult/disruptive to try to find a time that everyone's at a good stopping point or just stop everyone in the middle of something to do this. Up until now, we've still done this weekly to watch our science DVD (since I'm not the best about getting around to the science experiments, I'm super-grateful that Sonlight provides a DVD demonstrating them), and once a week is hard enough. Next year, I think I'm going to rip the DVD and import the experiments into iTunes to include in their memorization songs time, too.

After memorization songs, they each do a lesson of Rosetta Stone Arabic and then have "learning game" time. This rotates between computer, LeapPad, Leapster and Wii. They pick what they play, but it has to be educational (and I make the call on that). Some days, MSi and JW do not get to this point, since they have a decent amount of work to do and/or they dawdle. It's a nice incentive, though, for them to work quickly.

During this time, as long as they've been putting effort into their work, they can get a snack (most often fruit) once breakfast starts to wear off. We break for lunch later or they eat as they finish their independent work, either before or after doing computer schoolwork.

Usually, we then have rest time, which is reading (Sonlight or history-related readers, unless they're way ahead of the game in these). After a little while, I will allow MA (my K'er) to move on to listening to audio books or songs on the iPod once she's read for long enough (she was an early reader, but she still has an age-average attention span).

After rest time, we do read-alouds, which is literature every day, history 1-2 days/week and science 1 day/week. MS has outlining to do for each history chapter and a test to take afterwards (another thing which MA and JW will join in on next time through history).

And that's our school day.

Oh, and what's my 3-year-old doing this whole time? Unfortunately, spending way too much time on the computer, but also often playing independently or sitting to be read a book or stopping in for a snuggle in my lap. Next year, he will be more incorporated into our routine. He's very introverted, though, so it suits him well to kind of keep out of the thick of things at this point, and I make sure he gets some one-on-one attention later in the day, in addition to what he gets during school time.

*(read: over a month ago. I'm very bad about putting off things that I think will take a while to do. Like e-mails that require more than one-sentence replies. I'm working on that. I promised I would reply to her follow-up questions with less than a month turn-around. I'm sure that encouraged her.)