Review Olympics. Hot Lava Required.

hard at work

Any science project or craft attempt done by this momma/teacher has to be brain-dead simple. This is an atom we made from fruit loops and pipe cleaners. Beautiful? nah. Fun and easy? absolutely.

We had a surprisingly fun day of school today at Ants in Our Pants Elementary School! 🙂

We introduced all of our new memory work for the week, and then we spent about half an hour on reviewing work from past weeks. I’ve been wanting to do this game that’s been floating in my head for weeks, and we finally did it today!

The Review Olympics!!

It’s more like a centers relay race, only I had the boys do it together. It’s so much less confusing that way.

We did this in multiple rounds. They started at the board. They had to answer the question and then do the assigned P.E. type task. I alternated between math and grammar questions at station #1:

Fill in the blanks. Then crab walk from the kitchen sink to the garage door.

They loved this. Then they had to go to station #2: Sing the assigned history song. That’s their favorite memory work. They love that part. I hear them singing history songs all week long, all over the place.

Then do 10 push ups.

They love this stuff.

Then to station #3: Color the listed geographical features. Shew! They struggle with the mountain ranges and lakes. I think it’s so easy, but we are all different.

endless possibilities with sentence strips

Then to station #4: Latin

The first time, they had to match the Latin to the English and put them in order.

The second time, I put them on the floor, and they had to hop across, reading them as they hopped. Don’t fall off!!  The floor is lava!!! Hot lava is always popular in learning games!!!

He can’t actually read the Latin sentence strips, but he does everything they do, so he sure does enjoy the hopping.

Then to station #5: Timeline Chairs. They had to sing the time line song, switching chairs for each subsequent event.

The chair game could be used for anything. You can’t move to the next chair until you’ve said each part. For example:

Protons, hop chairs, Electrons, hop, Quarks….

I bet every single CC family does this center. Put these 8 timeline cards in order.

Station #6: Put timeline cards in order. Run up and down the stairs.

They did great today. I was so proud of Caleb’s behavior, I gave him a Twizzler and let them have at the arts and crafts box. They had a BALL.

He says there will be a puppet show at our house tonight.

Resourcefulness: If you flip him over, there’s another puppet on the back:


I did not do so great. I had a total melt down when I lost my dust pan again. I just knew someone had taken it….. Turned out it was right where it was supposed to be, but it had fallen under the extra broom, just lodged in the corner, hard to see.

Mom had to do some apologizing.

This sort of patience-losing that I do always shakes me up and makes me question if I am really fit to teach my children.

Then I remind myself that I have seen plenty of teachers in my day have melt downs too… This is something I need to work on myself. I need to commit it to prayer. No one is perfect. I remind myself of that constantly.

Sometimes I wonder WHY am I doing this??? Why am I home schooling?


1. Have I improved their academics?

Yes and no.

Here are the improvements I feel like I’ve made, academically:

the whole “classically trained” bit

I can’t begin to tell you how much information we have memorized. It’s tempting to say, “But it’s only memorized, what if they forget?” That’s the beauty of Classical Conversations. There are 3 cycles of memory work. For example, if a child starts CC in grade 2, like Caleb, and does cycle 3 in 2nd grade, then he will do cycle 1 in 3rd grade, cycle 2 in 4th grade…….and this is where it gets good:  He will do cycle 3 again in 5th grade, and cycle 1 again in 6th grade. If a kid started in 1st grade, he’d get all three cycles twice. This repetition over the years really sets that info into the memory.

The boys and I made this poster of this week’s memory work.

I love that!

For example, this week we are learning:

1. “In 1889, Theodore Roosevelt and his Rough Riders defeated the Spanish at the Battle of San Juan Hill, while trying to help the Cubans win their independence.”

2. more of our timeline song: Japan’s Isolation through The Seven Years’ War

3. Name and label the Great Lakes: Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, Superior, and Niagara Falls

4. “omnia per ipsum facta sunt”

“All things were made through him.”  John 1:3

5. Name some parts of an atom:  nucleus, protons, electrons, quarks, lepton, and neutrons

6. 10 millimeters = 1 cm

100 cm = 1 meter

1,000 meters = 1 kilometer

7. Irregular Verb conjugation:  to write, write, writes, wrote, writing, written

8. the art works of Georgia O’Keefe

And that’s just this week!

2. Have I helped Joshua in math, as I’d hoped?

YES!!! That boy is SO ridiculously smart. He is easy to teach, and he definitely is not ADD. He is just really good at tuning out when he’s bored, and he thinks school is:



“Yawn City.”

Not just public school, ALL school, my school included. He sure wasn’t bored during my little Olympics today, though. 🙂 Pat, pat, pat my back.

I can teach Joshua anything in just 1 or 2 explanations.

3. Thankfully, Caleb was already soaring in math, so there wasn’t serious improvements to be made there, just plunging forward….

4. Is Caleb reading better?  Yes. Maybe he would be anyway, though. I don’t know if I’ve helped him any more than a regular class would have helped him, honestly. Either way, I’ve enjoyed being with him and watching him learn.

But do you know what my biggest concern was?

My sanity. Am I sane? Can I handle this?

hmmmm Not the way that I’ve been doing it. I’ve been ‘stressed out’ for months. I don’t think the way I have been trying to do so much, all at once, all the time, with no help was healthy for me. The things that I don’t get to bother me too much.

If I am going to do this next year, I have to change a couple of things.


I need to separate the little ones from the big ones for a few hours a day so that I can focus better without getting so frustrated and having such a mess to clean up afterwards. I’m planning to enroll at least JD in a Mom’s Day Out type program. I did that with my little ones, and I wasn’t trying to do anywhere near as much back then as I am doing now!

I’ve also been researching new cleaning schedules. I found a mom who does a once-month deep cleaning, like we used to have Betty do, and I liked that idea.

This is the best advice I’ve seen:

“It’s amazing how clean people THINK your house is if you just keep the clutter out.” That’s not an exact quote, and I have no idea where I heard or read it, but you get the idea.

I was never a proponent of being “super mom”, “warrior woman”, or such. They don’t give out medals for never letting anyone help you. Delegating tasks is wisdom, not weakness.

I would love to hear from other moms how they get it all done without feeling so overwhelmed!!






  • McMom

    What a GREAT idea! How much fun us that?!! That’s the kind of idea that bears repeating at LEAST once a week…maybe more! PERFECT for active little boys 🙂

    “They don’t give out medals for never letting anyone help you. Delegating tasks is wisdom, not weakness.” Can I quote you on that? I need to remember that big time. I have NO secrets on getting things done – I’m in survival mode. God did remind me last night, though, that I should focus on just ENJOYING my children, which I also needed reminding of. They are such precious gifts.

    • Oh, Amy, you are in newborn territory. That is a whole other thing, isn’t it? You are doing a phenomenal job.
      They are precious gifts, and when my babies are newborns, I have the hardest time fully waking up enough to appreciate it. And really, what can you do about biology? All I know is to take lots of pictures, and I know you’re good about that too!
      I’m glad you liked my Olympics. 🙂

  • What are you talking about? You ARE Super Mom!! Ha!!! I always heard that the 1st year was the hardest but I also recently heard that the 1st 5 years are the hardest. This is year 7 for us and I can for sure say that life is much easier and homeschooling is just a part of who we are. How do I get is all done? Simple. I don’t. I have clutter, dirt, undone tasks, etc… I do not get to blog, check email, create, etc.. as much as I would prefer, but somehow we manage to make it to the end of each day and as long as I have kept their hearts and turned them toward the Lord, I know that my day’s work is done. As far as delegation… Get someone to come in and clean the house. You will get back to it eventually but now with so many little ones + a full time teaching job on your plate. It is a sacrifice financially, but a huge help mentally + physically.

    • hehe Thank you, Jamie. I have been holding out on the house cleaning help because of all the money I want to spend on seeing the West while we’re here and traveling to Alabama over the summer. You know how it is. But yes, you are right, I might just do it! Tonight we put 4 sweet, happy, giggly boys to bed, and that is such a blessing. I guess we got a few things right.

  • Kim

    Very nice!! I admire your creativity and energy! Wow. 🙂 I homeschooled for two years and did Classical Conversations! So I recognized those timeline cards. What a fun mommy your kids have… keep up the great work with your kiddos. They are blessed.

  • Donna

    I agree with Jamie. I think I have mentioned before that you need and deserve housecleaning help. You can’t do it all, especially with FOUR boys! I loved your Olympics game! Like Amy said, that could be used often!

  • Just as these women have stated; we can’t do it all. At the beginning of our school year I had all these plans and projects. My scedule and ideas have changed so much since then. We have struggled and succeeded throughout this year. I also do classical conversations and it’s hard work. We schedule our year in a way that allows me a week off about every six weeks. I also have planning parties with my friend. I am not creative and I have to work at this with my boys. I appreciate your post and I tell you that you are not alone!!!

  • Other than being a little hard on yourself (at times), I think you’ve got the whole home-schooling thing down pat. I would just say try to remember it needs to be not just educational and fun for the students, but for the hard-working teacher also. God likes to see His children smiling (all of them). : ) I know if I had learned that much as quickly as your children are learning it, I would have enjoyed the school experience a lot more in my day. God bless.

    • Yeah, I’m hard on myself at all times. Freakishly so sometimes. When I was in 1st grade, I got an AB construction paper ribbon instead of an All A ribbon one six weeks, so I ripped it up and threw it in the trashcan. That is me. I’m insane. You are right about the smiling too. I should smile more. Goodness knows I have enough to smile about. Gracious, I am blessed! Why I like to see how hard I can make it for myself, I have no idea! Thanks so much for reading!

  • I agree with other commentators – you are indeed a Super Mom! You are doing a great job.

    Many people would not be bothered so much about the state of their home if cluttered but if it bothers you, then it matters that someone helps – keeps the sanity up.

    Love your blog and always sneak in to get a dose of inspiration. Thank you.

  • queenmommyjen

    I don’t do it all and i am overwhelmed. Sometimes I just want to run screaming from the house, “I’m done”. That probably isn’t my best bet, so instead I will lock myself in the bathroom, breathe and maybe dip into my secret candy supply and come out a new person. At least till the next catastrophe strikes that sends me back to the candy stash 🙂

  • Pingback: First Year Of Homeschool in Review: and 4 Things I Will CHANGE for Next Year | Stories of Our Boys

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