The Solar System

Today we are wrapping up our unit study on the solar system.  My youngest prompted this unit study when he got a solar system map in a kid’s meal.  He looked at it, turned to me and said, “I want to learn about the solar system.”  Thanks to the library, online resources and YouTube, we have enjoyed learning about our solar system. And I’m seeing how much science has learned in the many years since I was in elementary school.

I thought I’d simply share some of our favorite clips from YouTube, and I’d share the unit study we used to make little notebooks on the solar system.  We didn’t use all aspects of this solar system unit from Teachers Pay Teachers, but it was a great resource!  Enjoy!







I’m taking part in a monthly blogging challenge through Two Writing Teachers. 

Slice of Life 2015

Closing out Third Grade and Preschool

Another school year has come to an end.  Can you hear me shouting with joy?

In all seriousness, this has been as stressful school year for us.  You’d hear me frustrated over the amount of time devoted to test prep through the virtual school my son attends. You’d hear me frustrated over the amount of times I had to direct a preschooler into what he should and should not be doing.

One day last week was a really horrible, horrible day. The kind of day where everything falls apart – people, appliances, computers, electricity.  A day where you stand with tears running down your face and you plead with your third grader to “please be so patient with me. I am having a horrible, horrible day.”  And then I chose to end the day with laughter and ice cream.

That’s how I am choosing to remember the closing of this year.  With the laughter and ice cream. Not the tears and frustration and horrible moments.

I want to remember a third grader who worked hard to excel at reading.  A third grader who repeated times tables.  A third grader who drew silly little superheroes on his math worksheets.  A third grader who practiced piano so diligently. A third grader who played in his first piano recital. A third grader who auditioned for his first piano guild membership.  A third grader who stood up to bat and effortlessly hit double after double after double.  A third grader who can swim the butterfly stroke and do a underwater flip when he comes to the end of the lap lane.  A third grader who completed “surgery” on “Patient Bob Paper” complete with a doctor’s coat, an Ironman glove and empty 3-D glasses.  A third grader who spoke a bit clearer, stood a bit taller and conversed a bit deeper.


Dr Kory and Patient Bob Paper Anatomy Class Spring 2013

Dr. Kory and Patient Bob Paper – Anatomy Class at Homeschool Co-op. It was also pj day.


I want to remember a preschooler who learned to write his name with an extra line in his E.  A preschooler who drew a line under his name “so the letters don’t fall off.” A preschooler who sat in the back of the car and used his fingers to add up to ten.  A preschooler who encouraged and lead his preschool co-op classmates.  A preschooler who still came to me for snuggles.  A preschooler who didn’t want help with puzzles.  A preschooler who swam hard in the pool and ran hard on the baseball field.  A preschooler who sat through endless piano practices. A preschooler who organized all our iPad icons into groups depending on who used which programs for specific purposes.  Yes, it is cute but also very frustrating when I can’t find my App. A preschooler who spoke a bit clearer, stood a bit taller and conversed a bit deeper.



Cade was so excited to write his name. He even wrote it on the wall over his bed.  Note the line below his name "so the letters don't fall off."

Cade was so excited to write his name. He even wrote it on the wall over his bed. Note the line below his name “so the letters don’t fall off.”


And now we will pack away the textbooks and celebrate with laughter and ice cream!


On Tuesdays, I attempt to post in the Slice of Life Challenge hosted by Two Writing Teachers. Click over to their site to find some amazing writing by others who post Slices!



Chili and Chilly – What’s your answer?

My son, who is in 3rd grade, and I were working on colorful adjectives as part of his school work today.

Which is the stronger adjective?  Cold Chilly

“Mommy, why is chili not chilly?”

That was followed by:

“Let’s start a blog called Kory’s Questions. And I can post my questions. And people can answer our questions. And we can pay the best answer $10,000.”

Okay. So I’m not paying the best answer $10,000, but how would you answer his question?

Why is chili not chilly?


Even though I didn’t think I’d have time, I’m finding myself participating in the Slice of Life March challenge through Two Writing Teachers.  Jump over to their site to find inspiring writers and teachers sharing a slice of their day.



Brainstorming and Heroes


Who is your hero?  Tell why that person is your hero.

My 8-year-old son is participating in an online writing class over the next two weeks.  The session is focusing on “Writing to a Prompt.”    The prompt happens to be about your hero.  The first lesson is on brainstorming.  I got a glimpse of his brainstorming list after his class.


Mommy.  Mommy is a hero because she cooks.

Daddy. Daddy is a hero because he makes money.

God. God is a hero because he made me.

God is a real hero. He does everything.


My heart melted at all three. And also chuckled that I am a hero because I cook.  I’ve come along way from turkey sandwiches and Ramen Noodles in college.

Of course when I asked him about his hero homework for tomorrow, he said, “Oh I forgot to list Steve from Minecraft and Spiderman.  My (online) teacher said I can list make-believe heroes too.”

Tomorrow he has to tell his (online) teacher which hero will be his focus for his paper.

Which one does he want to write about?

Steve from Minecraft. Although he hasn’t mentioned yet why Steve is his hero.

It’s okay. At least I made his brainstorming list. 🙂


Who is your hero?  And why?


I’m attempting to post on Tuesdays as part of the weekly Slice of Life over at Two Writing Teachers.

Three hours to write

How do I balance it all?  Sometimes I ask that of myself.  Today I realized one of the systems I have in place.

Not only am I a wife, a (wanna be) athlete, and a freelance writer and editor. I am also a homeschooling mama.  We homeschool for many reasons, which I won’t go into today.

But today I realized how I can make it all work (successfully).  We use an online/virtual charter school as our method of homeschooling.  Basically what this means is that my son has a “real” teacher he has to interact with throughout the week.  His curriculum is already scheduled without my extra work.  His materials are sent every August in boxes.  All I have to do is review, prep and teach. And the best part:  he has online required classes, which it is really cool to watch him work his way around the computer in his classes – the skills he learns!

Today I need to work on a story due later this week.  I need to make phone calls. I need to learn about people. I need to prepare to be able to write tonight after my house is silent.

And the reason I love the way we homeschool. Today my son interacts with his teacher and his scheduled online classes. Tomorrow he interacts with his teacher and his scheduled online classes.

Three hours today. Three hours tomorrow. Three hours for me to focus on what I need to do to be a better me while making him a better him.


I’m  attempting to post every Tuesday as part of the weekly Slice of Life over at Two Writing Teachers.

Second Grade Summary – Slice of Life

Every summer I try to create a little end-of-the-school-year blog post. As a virtual school/homeschool family, it can be hard to see the “positives” day in and day out. The end of the school year posts are my way of reminding myself and my son of how far he came in the previous school year.

Kory had to fill out a little form to share with his online class for their last session. Here are his responses.

– What I learned that I didn’t know before:  Vikings flick fleas out of their beards to go North.

– Favorite part of his online classes in Elluminate :  Writing on the whiteboard. Can I say I LOVE watching my son maneuver his way around his online classes.  I can only imagine where his technical astuteness will take him!

– One thing he would share:  We participated in a monthly homeschool art class at our local library.  The theme  one month was Faith Ringgold’s Tar Beach.  Here is Kory’s version of it. His is titled “Candylane.”

– Name at least one thing you hope to learn about next year:  How do people make video games.

Kory has said the silliest things this year and the deepest this past year. Some I wrote down. Some I didn’t.  I have watched him struggle with reading and begging to stop after only a couple paragraphs. I have watched him endure hours of vision therapy sessions (makes great health time credit) and vision therapy homework sessions.  I have watched his reading transform into “Can I take this book into the office with me?” “Can I take this book in the van to read?”  “Can I get another book?” “Can I read before I go to bed?”

As I reflect on the year, I think of how I will remember second grade.

I will remember a silly boy, a serious boy, a tired boy, and active boy. Baseball, gymnastics, and swimming – yes some times they all overlapped on the same day. And yes, I will plan better next year. I will remember a boy who tried new things like piano lessons and sitting at orchestra concerts.  I will remember a boy who drove me crazy when he didn’t focus. I will remember a boy who tried his hardest and never gave up.  I  will remember a boy who was so very flexible when schedules and available programs changed. I will remember a boy who cheered when he started his weekly homeschool co-op fall and spring sessions. Best. Homeschool. Decision. Ever! I will remember a boy who was sad when co-op ended for the school year. I will remember a boy who has gone on so many field trips, waited in so many lines and learned in so many “real life” situations.

I will remember that he is only finishing second grade.  He has so much in front of him.

I will remember that I’m so grateful to be a part of his daily learning because sometimes, sometimes he becomes my teacher.

I’m posting every Tuesday as part of the weekly Slice of Life over at Two Writing Teachers.

It’s Monday – What are you reading? June 18

Today I’m focusing on my son’s books for my It’s Monday – What are you reading post, which is hosted weekly by Teach Mentor Texts.

As a little background, my son just finished second grade and has struggled with reading.  He has been in vision therapy for the past few months with three more months to go through the remaining sessions. You can read about the specifics on his reading and vision therapy on an earlier blog post:  Vision Therapy.

We are half way through his recommended vision therapy sessions, and I’m noticing huge improvements this past week. And thanks to my real-life friend, Maria, for continually recommending books of possible interest. This week we found a match.  His interests met the joy of reading! Instead of begging to take a sketch pad or a gaming system with him in the road, it is now, “Mommy, can I take my book?”  My son, who has struggled with reading, is now reading on his own. In the car. In waiting rooms. On drives with friends.  BOOKS!  He actually is reading BOOKS!

I am so proud of him and so thankful for the books he has read this past week.  I’ve been having him write the names and titles of his books, so he can work further on his handwriting, which has significantly improved with his vision therapy sessions.

So here is his list for the week!

Missile Mouse books by Jake Parker and Lunch Lady books by Jarrett J. Krosoczka


my dad, a dead mouse and a fraction kit

  • My dad likes to tell this story.
  • He had an art project due.  He remembered the hour before it was due.  He was in shop class. The same teacher I would have years later thanks to a small town school.  He and his friends literally threw together a cityscape with left over wood pieces.  Throw in some saw dust for good measure. And the best part, he and his friends found a dead mouse.
  • The perfect accessory for a “well thought out” art project.
  • He turned in the art project to rave reviews. “Oh Glenn. The time and thought you put into this” he likes to tell us while he chuckles.  He reminds us that he and his friends stifled laughter as the art teacher went on and on and on.
  • His art project got a prized location of display. The school library.  The entire art project – even the dead mouse – was on display.  He likes to share how eventually the librarian said, “Glenn, can we at least get rid of the mouse?”
  • I love this story my dad shares. It reminds me of all my dad has done.  How he has built homes for himself as he and my mom build their second house together. How he has built a successful business. How he has recycled materials before it was the “cool” thing to do.
  • If I could give you a tour of the first house they built. The house I grew up in.  The house my sister and family now live in.  I could tell you where each piece of wood came from. Each accessory. Especially the water fountains that used to work.  The doors. The staircase. The light fixtures.
  • And now they are doing the same with their new home.  How cool that their fireplace has the exact same slate that used to be a school chalkboard.  The very school where once my dad was throwing togehter pieces of wood, dirt and a dead mouse.
  • What prompted this memory?
  • My goal for the summer is to purge though “stuff” I’ve collected over the years with a promise to finally organize them.  What did I find yesterday?
  • A fraction kit with my dad’s name on it in my grandma’s handwriting. A reminder that my dad was once a little boy using his creativity in unusal ways – complete with dust, wood and a mouse to the rave reviews of his instructors. A reminder that he became a strong man who has created and valued every person and thing around him. A reminder that I want my boys to grow up like that too.
  • Kory will have a lesson on fractions today.  A lesson that includes his grandpa’s fraction kit along with a story about his grandpa and a dead mouse.