My Outline for Science Plans for CC Cycle 1 (Part 1)

Science plans

Planning time!

I feel like I will have an extremely firm grasp on my science plan by the time I finish poring over all these books!

One interesting thing about the classical approach to education is that we pull the focus AWAY from good ol’ textbooks and look to real life experience and “living” books instead.  (By living books, I just mean books that are not sold as textbooks.)

However, I do actually have several ‘textbooks’ that we will reference this school year.

What I have in my planner for science this year is WAY more exciting than just textbooks. This is going to be a fabulously fun science year for us. I am stoked. Here’s a little preview of what I have in mind….

Field Trips

Last year we got to go to the aquarium, the redwood forest, the beach, Point Lobos, the Pinnacles, the San Diego Zoo, and a whale tour. THAT will be hard to top, eh?

Last year we covered land forms, aquatic animals, and all the major systems of the human body (and traced our bodies and painted, labeled, and assembled all the major organs). We also memorized the first 16 elements of the Periodic Table, the scientific method, learned about evolution, and learned the definition and parts of an atom (even to include leptons and quarks!). We built our own little atom, and we did 24 science experiments in the classroom. We also observed sea mammals in their natural habitat, observed kelp forests, and we learned about gradual and sudden geological changes. We even discussed creationism versus the Theory of Evolution.

You know, it’s true that things change gradually over time. It’s completely bonkers to think that the intricate people, animals, and plants that we have in this world magically appeared with no creator.  Bonkers! (But don’t worry. My children will be fully versed on both.)

This year is all about biology and earth science!

So here’s what I have for this year.. Most of these are in San Francisco

Japanese Tea Garden

Japanese Tea Garden, San Francisco, Golden Gate Park

1. The Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park (Okay, this ties in more with our history unit on ancient Japan.)

2. Bison Paddock

3. the San Francisco Botanical Garden

4. California Academy of Sciences (natural history museum, planetarium, and aquarium)

5. Conservatory of Flowers

6. Point Lobos

7. Yosemite National Park

8. The Tech Museum of Innovation in Silicon Valley

Yeah….I’m a little bit excited!

9. Sacramento, because it’s our state capital, and we’ve never been there.

10 Science Camp at Mount Hermon– We are already registered!

11. Backyard bucket garden. We’ve already started potatoes. We have too many gophers to put the plants in the ground!


preschool science centers

I have these to give Daniel something to do with his hands. Lots of sorting and puzzles.

Take It to Your Seat Science Centers, Grades PreK-K


Here’s an example of a pre-school activity that the book has.

This just gives Dan something to do while the big boys are drawing and labeling things in their science notebook.

Of course, Dan can also draw things. Labeling will come much later. Dan’s 4.

Here are a few books I’m looking forward to using for science this year:

Osborne Search books

I love these Usborne Search books!

Each page is full of animal names and facts.

Then I have this fun lift-the-flap Usborne science book that we used last year too:


Drawing plant and animal cells this year!! This was always one of my favorite things in school!! Sorry about the smudge on my camera lens! Must clean the camera!

Everything You Need to Know About Science Homework

I’ve got so many tabs in this Everything You Need to Know About Science Homework book, I don’t even know why I bothered. Almost every page is tabbed!

Everything You Need To Know About Science Homework: A Desk Reference for Students and Parents

From the Lift the Tab Usborne Science:

great science books

Simple reproduction


Childcraft Plants Volume

Child craft has interesting stories to go along with the facts.

Some people look neat, tidy, and organized when they are planning. This is what it looks like when I plan:

planning time

a library explosion and a baby foot…Do you see those tiny little toes?

Big Book of Science Activities

I have several of these activities ear marked.

great science books

This one has neat pictures. It makes me want to buy a microscope.


Dinosaurs. This is Joshua’s #1 science interest. We’re going to learn about Dinos for added enrichment.

No school is complete without a system for chores. I will DEFINITELY keep this chore system in place. It has worked beautifully. I no longer have to unload the dishwasher in the mornings or kick-start the laundry by myself. By the end of this year, I’m hoping to be done putting all of the boys’ laundry away as well.

Chore Charts for kids

This works really well for us!


My GIANT kitchen wipe-off board serves so many purposes! If I have to actually use it to teach, I have no idea where I’ll write my daily plan…

Outline of this year’s science topics:

Weeks 1 & 2: Dinosaurs!

I. Classifications of Living Things

II. 5 Kingdoms of Living Things


III. Parts of animal cells

IV.Plant Cell parts

V. Major Groups of Invertebrates

VI. Vertebrates


VII. Animal Reproduction (live birth, eggs, etc.)

VIII. Types of Seed Plants

IX. Parts of a Plant

X. Kinds of Leaves and Leaf Parts

XI. Parts of a Flower

XII. Plant Systems


Science Camp: 1 Week at Mount Hermon Science Camp

XIII. Parts of the Earth

XIV. 3 Kinds of Rock

XV. Each continent’s highest mountain

XVI. 4 Kinds of Volcanoes

XVII. Parts of a Volcano


XVIII. 4 types of ocean floor

XIX. 3 Ocean Zones

XX. Parts of the Atmosphere

XXI. 5 Major circles of latitude


XXII. Kinds of weather fronts

XXIII. Types of clouds

XXIV. Markings on the globe

Memory Masters

I’ve already gotten each plan written on paper, and each print-out filed into that week’s folder.

I have a folder created for each of my students, for each week of the school year.


My file system: The old, rough-looking ones in front are the completed work from the last quarter of last year. The shiny new ones are for this coming school year.

Nonna (a retired school teacher herself) gave me this organizational idea, and I love it. All the plans and printed materials I need for each week of the year is filed by boy and week, so when I need it, I can just grab it all from one place.

As their work is completed, I file it right back in their folder.

excellent file system for homeschool

My File System. For example: Caleb- 3rd grade- Quarter 1- Week 1


Open the folder up, and there’s everything you need for that week. Here’s a peek into one of their folders.

This frees up daily space, as we don’t have to keep up with a bunch of workbooks. Hurray!

Science is the subject I’m most excited for this year. What are you looking forward to most? Do you have any more California field trip suggestions for us? That’s our favorite, so DO share!!



Me Time? Or God Time? Juice, Or Milk?

beautiful rose garden in San Juan Bautista, California

beautiful rose garden in San Juan Bautista, California

Last night, I felt restless in my spirit. You know that sensation that you get when you have plenty to do, but you don’t WANT to do any of it? I had the need to get out. Some people call it “ME” time.

I don’t call it “ME” time. I never found spending an hour pampering myself to be refreshing at all. However, I DO find a nice, long, not too slow, and not too fast, walk to work WONDERS. I didn’t allow any little boys to come with me, because that would have been counterproductive. This was not family time. This was not ME time. This was God time. Oh yeah, I’m talkin’ Jesus again.

In person, I’m not comfortable sharing my spiritual thoughts with others, but I have become so accustomed to sharing them right out loud on the internet that I honestly forget that anyone reads it.

I’ve been hearing the Holy Spirit speaking to me a lot lately. (I’ve discussed this before. It’s not an audible voice. Please don’t mail me a straight jacket.)

“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.” John 14:25-26

Lately this is what I have heard from God.
-Trust me.
-If you stay in tune with Me, it will go so much better for you.

I sometimes joke that I am “just not good at life.” Of course, I am no better or worse than most folks at life, but I love to exaggerate to the negative, focus on the problems rather than the blessings, and forget to just trust God.

I am still slowly reading through the New Testament this year. My focus is on learning more about Jesus. Jesus is an amazing window into the heart of God.

“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.” John 14:12

It is greater, but I had a hard time figuring out how anything we could do could be greater than anything Jesus did, so I looked it up in my favorite reference book:

The works that we do are greater in that we are doing these works in the power of the Holy Spirit. This is a miraculous thing in this world!! For God to have taken His Spirit, and rested it on the heart of every single HUMAN believer, that we may be his agents here on Earth, that is AMAZING. How can we be so unholy, and yet be agents of God?

Only through Jesus, only through God’s grace.

Today I got to do something, at church, that is great fun to me. I got to sing. I love to sing. However, singing in front of an audience is not as fun, because I get so nervous my body actually shakes. I quiver, right down to my legs. I can’t steady my spirit. I’m a sickly, selfish, vain little soul, but if I rely on the Holy Spirit, I can. God will help us do things that are done for his glory.


Stories of our boys……from this week:

JD loves to poke me in my dimples, over and over again. He probably does this since everyone is always poking HIM in HIS darling dimples.

This whole week is exciting for our family. This week we fly again. We are flying back to the South. First, just the boys and I are going. Alan will join us later. I will get to go to Destin TWO times, once with my mom, and once with Alan and the boys.

I’ve had a sore throat all week. Thursday I couldn’t even read out loud to the boys without coughing, so I had to cancel reading time. Joshua had all of his brothers stop what they were doing right there and pray for their mom to feel better. LOVE!!

Joshua, showing off his FOUR all-A ribbons. Caleb, showing off his 2 A/B ribbons and 2 All A ribbons. So proud!

a better Caleb photo

Candid reality

I took this photo from the boys’ window. JD and Dan love to play in their dirt pile, usually with cars. Joshua was eating watermelon, which he consumes unbelievable amounts of. Caleb was repairing the trampoline net, where he had ripped it straight across.

JD and his buddy at a Memorial Day BBQ

JD has earned the name “the Great Communicator”. This boy cracks me up. He is so good at getting his point across. He always knows exactly what he wants and finds the words to get that across. Sometimes we have to guess…

“Eck. Uck. Ruck!”


*Scowl.* “No,” in his cute little tiny voice.


*Smile. Giggle.* Then he runs in the direction of whatever he is currently calling a truck. Any vehicle that is not a car is a truck, even motorcycles.


“Juice?” (By far, his favorite word)

“No, JD, you’ve already had enough juice. I will pour you some milk. You need to drink a little milk.”

*Scowl.* Then he almost howls, in a fretful, fretful voice, “Noooo! Juice. Juice.”

Poor dear. I don’t drink milk either, but disappointment is just one of those things you have to learn how to deal with. Besides, if he drank all the juice he wanted that’d be a never-ending case of runny poop….

By the way, JD has finally fully recovered from his ear infection and is sleeping through the night again. 🙂 Hallelujah! By the fourth kid, I’ve just forgotten to worry about sleep issues. I just go with the phases, and eventually, “This too will pass.” It takes a long time to fully recover from colds sometimes, and sleeping is the hardest when you have snot in the back of your throat.



One last thing I’m excited about this week:
Money Saving Mom is teaching a course on increasing productivity by “making over your mornings”. Oh, you’d better believe I will be there!
Money Saving Mom is one of my favorite blogs. Crystal has accomplished an insane amount to include writing several best sellers, maintaining a successful website, keeping a tidy house, and home schooling her 3 children. As you can imagine, I feel like I can learn a lot from her! Click here to learn more, if you’re interested in taking this class with me!

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This Week: Library Days, Bed Sharing, and Amanda

Art by Joshua: Grandaddy, with rocket boosters and lasers.

There are cupcakes in the oven. I can hear two children having a discussion about who knows what downstairs. JD is asleep, and another boy is serving penance in his room.

It’s over. I can’t believe it. The school year is over. I’ve been keeping records of grades and attendance all year, and now I need to actually put that into an official document. I printed out this one from

Click here if you need one too! Report Card Printable

It’ll do for now, but I want to personalize it with the typed out name, address, and contact information of our school. Alan, do you think you could help me with that?

Poor Alan. He has been doing my helping me with my computer assignments since my senior year of college. I never bothered to learn Excel, and as an adult, wouldn’t you know, that’s the one computer program from my adolescence that is still relevant!

So here’s what’s new with us this week:

The boys have become obsessed with baking. Once one discovers that delicious food is actually not that hard to make, it’s really unavoidable.  This has become quite the delicious house to live in!

They are such practical boys:

Caleb was admiring Daniel’s uniform the other day, and he asked me, “Where’s my old soccer uniform?”

“You had to turn it in,” I reminded him.

“Oh. What sports let you keep your uniform?”

“Baseball. Would you like to sign up for baseball?”

“No, I just don’t want to ruin my own Saturdays.”


Joshua feels the same way, so when it comes to the sports circuit, we have it very easy as parents!

Daniel only has two games left, and he’s going to miss the last one because we will be on vacation. None of you are allowed to tell him that. He would be crushed.

sweet brothers

What we did on our last day of school:

We did quite a bit of testing, to make up for the teacher that had spring fever and wasn’t taking very many grades the last few weeks. Then I made them tell me everything they liked best and least this year and things they’d like to do this summer.

For Joshua, everything seems to revolve around Big Nate.

I broke the news gently to them, “I’m making you each a packet of papers, and over the summer you will still need to practice spelling and math…”

*Sounds of agony and protest*

“That way you don’t lose everything you learned over the summer. You have to practice to keep your brain working,” I explained to my reluctant work force.

Joshua was surprisingly calm and rational about it, “Oh, yeah, I read about that in Big Nate, so yeah.”

Yes, we have a new obsession. Yes, I sometimes exploit that to my advantage. For every 3 chapter books he reads, he gets 1 new Big Nate book.

I went on to tell the boys a few things we’ll be learning about next year. I mentioned ancient Greece and the Roman Empire. Joshua perked up, “Like Greek myths!! I know all about Achilles, and his heel.”

He went on to tell the full story about Achilles’ heel, and that people now refer to it, meaning weakness. He learned all of this from Big Nate’s sister’s school assignment.

See, everything revolves around Big Nate. Wedgies aside, this has been one hobby that I have viewed favorably. He LOVES those books, and I love that he’s reading and learning so much.

Some parents look down on comic books. We do not. I love that my boys read Garfield, Charlie Brown, Calvin and Hobbes, and Big Nate. It encourages a love for reading. It’s a great bridge between picture books and longer chapter books. When I was their age, I read every single Charlie Brown book our library owned. I remember we had to dress as a book character for one of the Summer Reading Program days at our library. I went as Lucy. A local talk show host came and filmed it all, so I even got to be on t.v., in my royal blue flower girl dress, and my hair in the bun that almost never was. Trying to get my 30 pounds of hair into a bun was about impossible.

My mom hauled us to the library faithfully every summer. We went to every puppet show or children’s reading day there was. Those were great times. My mom was quite the trooper. My sister, Amanda, cannot walk, talk, see, or think past a 16-month or so level, due to a neural tube birth defect. Amanda was a year older than I was, so we’re talking about a 50-ish pound child, but Mom would rise to the challenge, and load up that wheelchair in the trunk of the car. Then she’d pile us in, along with the three kids she babysat, and cart us all off to swimming lessons and library days all crammed into the Mercury, sharing seat-belts. Those were the days! All total, that was 6 kids, including my sister who you can’t leave for a second.

I remember we would all take turns sitting next to Amanda. See, blind people have a need to touch things more. Amanda loves to grab the arm of whoever she’s sitting next to. That’s not so bad, except her hand was usually wet. Plus, she had this talent for squeezing your arm with her fingers, right between the two bones in your forearm—eeeek! I still shudder at the thought! Ha! It was just the kind of minor nuisance that would take you by surprise and about make you jump out of your seat! You better believe we were pretty happy when my parents bought their first mini-van!

Just thinking about those summers makes me smile. I hope I can give my own boys those kind of memories.

I’ll leave you with one more story: sharing beds!

The boys love each other so much, sometimes they try this, and we go along with it. Last night was one of those nights. JD climbed into the bottom of Dan’s bunk while we were putting Dan to bed. We let them try it, and they were very good and quiet for a little while. Eventually, Dan got JD out of bed, and we had to send him back to his own room, but they were awfully cute and happy for a little while.

Joshua and Caleb also tried sharing beds last night. They begged us to let them sleep in the double bed in the guest room so they could watch for our owl. There’s a great horned owl that frequents our yard. It’s as though he knew they were waiting for him last night, though. For the first time in ages, we never heard him once. Those poor boys. They waited in that room, silently, believe it or not, for a long time. By the time I went to bed, Joshua and Caleb were both passed out, each in their regular twin beds, as usual. Oh well. It is terribly difficult to sleep in a different bed than your own!

They might think it’s hard to share a bed with their brother, but you don’t know anything until you’ve shared a bed with Amanda, my sister! She used to pat the wall, over and over again, and she hummed a lot. The humming never bothered me, but she sure got me one night. I’ll never forget it. I was already asleep, and I was the kind of kid that had an overactive imagination. I regularly saw toys moving on my shelves and couldn’t get to sleep because I just knew a ghost was going to come into my room. (I read one too many 13 Ghosts of Alabama books.) I had just drifted off, when SPLAT! A hand cupped my face, straight across. I’m pretty sure I screamed. Poor Amanda. She was just giving me a good-night pat.

Caleb, showing off his latest drawing

I hope you all have a great weekend. I’ll be announcing the winner of the give-away tomorrow!

Click and done! It registers your visit from my site as a vote.


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