A Happy Season for Me: Wrapping Up Homeschool Year 2


Joshua had several different speaking parts in this year’s school program. I was so excited and nervous for him. You would’ve thought I was the one with lines.

Well, if you’re new here you might not realize that I’m sort of a reluctant teacher. It’s not that I don’t possess the joy of teaching. Sometimes it is fun. The thing is that I cannot enjoy having so many things to do. There’s a fourth grader to teach, a third grader to teach, and a toddler running around. I finally threw in the hat and sent Daniel to pre-school, but it’s only three days per week, so sometimes he’s home too.

Then there’s the blog, the meals, I should at least talk to my husband occasionally (sarcasm. It’s just sarcasm), and the laundry, and heaven forbid, social outings or extracurricular activities.

It is not my cup of tea. I was not built to run around like a chicken with my head cut off and try to do so many things at one time. In the words of my adorable 2-year-old nephew in the swimming pool last year, “Don’t like it. Don’t like it. Don’t like it.”

I feel like I have so many things to do that I can’t do any of them well, because that’s exactly how it is.

So yes, this is the HAPPIEST season of all. Why? Because the school year is ending!!! I calculated very carefully. We will reach exactly 180 days on May the 24th.

We are all so ready for summer.

So we have a few pictures of the end-of-year-Classical Conversations program for ya and a little synopsis of what we covered at our humble little school. It was an intense year.


For Joshua, this year was all about learning the parts of speech and how to write essays. Each 4th-6th grade student diagrammed a sentence for the program.


Nonna and Alan. I was thankful we got to have a grandparent with us for the program. Living so far away from everyone, this is a rarity for us.


Caleb did a great job too. His class all recited their science facts together. They recited the parts of the atmosphere, types of leaves and leaf parts, and types of volcanoes.


These two were happy to be audience members. JD loves Daniel with the sort of undying devotion that only a sweet little sibling can give.


Not the best photo of Dan, but look at how HAPPY JD is! He’s ready for Mom to be done teaching and become his personal servant again.

What We Learned About This Year:

161 events and people in a chronological timeline (We love our time line song. Check it out here.)

44 U.S. Presidents– This is Caleb’s favorite memory work. He says them at lightning speed.
24 history sentences to add depth to our timeline
144 locations and geographic features in Africa, Europe, and the Old World


Caleb’s freehand watercolor world painting

24 biology and earth science facts including the classifications of living things and each continent’s highest mountain) Joshua totally rocked the highest mountains on each continent. I still can’t tell you them, but Joshua can.

5 Latin noun cases and noun endings and their singular and plural declensions
English Grammar Facts (including 53 prepositions, 23 helping verbs, and 12 linking verbs)
Multiplication tables up to 15×15, common squares and cubes, as well as basic geometry formulas and unit conversions

Oh! And we read the most interesting history text-book I’ve ever read. I’m pleased as punch to tell you that we finished the entire book. Alan even enjoyed getting in on this one. He would read it to them before bed at night. Home school is flexible like that!:


You may remember how I ran off all the corresponding activity sheets to go with Story of the World last summer. I thought we’d do so many of them. We did like 5, but that’s okay. We were perfectly happy to listen, learn, and memorize.

Joshua even wrote essays on the Trojan War and Greek mythology.

So now we’ve started on volume II. Caleb enjoys listening to the stories in the car, and Joshua enjoys reading them during silent reading time.

Joshua is 80% of the way through Teaching Textbooks Math 4, which was a much better fit for him than the A Beka curriculum, mostly because it took ME out of the equation. Ha!

Caleb is still doing well with his A Beka math. He’s our math stud. Joshua’s our master speller.

It was a hard year. I brought on board a reading tutor, a part-time nanny (just on Fridays), several doctors (for me), and a cleaning lady just to make it sort of work. But it’s almost done! CC is done! AWANA will be done as of next Wednesday (Thank goodness!), and school will totally be finished May 24th. I’m counting the hours.

Meanwhile, I have not had a fever today, so whoo-hoo!!! Now I’m off to feed the children and head to Joshua’s baseball game!


School Planning Time! Story of the World History plans are in the works.

Photo on 7-13-15 at 1.36 PM

It is 2:30. Nobody mess this up. JD is sleeping. Dan is voluntarily in his room building something with Lego blocks, Caleb is building a stunt course out of train tracks down stairs, and Joshua is in the Lego closet building something too. I have to make sure no one sees or hears me. If I am seen, this wonderful moment will be spoiled, and they will start asking me questions…

Caleb is majorly into building things. JD is obsessed with cars.

Uh-oh. They are all together again, but at least they are getting along.

What am I doing? Well, I have spent all afternoon making COPIES!!! Last year, I did not have a chance to make the year’s school work copies in advance. I’m sure more work will still arise in the school year, but it feels INCREDIBLE to already have the 1st nine weeks’ history and math lessons torn out, printed out, and separated out by weeks in my files, and ready to GO!

In order to match up Story of the World lessons with CC Cycle 1 memory work, I turned to this fabulous lady: halfahundredacrewood.com. She has already done a lot of that for me, so I’m now online scouring that site!

I found this extremely helpful in setting up my history lessons. It also provides resource lists for science:

Story of the World Chapter Match-ups for CC Cycle 1

If there’s one thing I dislike about lesson planning, it’s not having a make-it-simple guide. Give me a guide, for sure! I do not want to have to dream up engaging activities, and my children NEED engaging activities. They need to be involved in the learning in order for it to stick.

That’s why I forked over the money and bought the Story of the World Activity Book. We also bought the Story of the World book. It’s history in a story format. They make an audio version. My kids hate it. (I just wanted to let you know, lest you feel tempted to assume it’s theatrical. It’s not.) I either read it out loud, or I let the older boys read it to themselves. They like it just fine if I’m doing the reading. I have to confess, I didn’t actually have to spend money on this. Technically, I told my mother-in-law I wanted it for Christmas, and she forked over the money. She was even able to find some of them on eBay!

The Activity Book has a printable or 2 or 3 for every single chapter of the history stories. And just like that, I feel like my planning is done. No scouring the internet for freebie printables. Do you know what bothers me the most about freebies? Some of them download other stuff onto your computer, along with the history crossword, or whatever, like malware that slows my computer down.

I like it all easily laid out for me in a book. I’m old-fashioned like that.

Here’s a peak inside the lesson plans. If you prefer crafts and such to crossword puzzles, maps, and color sheets, there are plenty of suggestions in here for all of that.


Sample of lesson plans, from chapter 27, The Rise of Rome


a close up view: I printed out all of these review cards, mentioned at the top of this page, for the boys to color them, read them, and cut them out and glue them in their books in order. Very hands on.

The Roman Empire is just one of our topics this year. Sounds like a fun year, doesn’t it?


These are a few other books we plan to read:

If you can’t tell, we love those “You Wouldn’t Want” books here!

I also figure we’ll watch The Night at the Smithsonian movies, especially the first one. The boys and I will be learning about Attila the Hun this year! Do you remember him in the first Museum movie?

Here’s a little outline of what we will be learning, to include a few Brain Pop Jr. match-ups!

I and II. The Ten Commandments  I love that this is included.

III. Greek and Roman Gods

IV. 7 Wonders of the Ancient World

V. Split of Roman Empire   (Brain Pop Jr. FREE Video on Ancient Rome)

VI. Fall of Rome


VIII. Age of Imperialism

IV. Confucius      (Brain Pop Jr. Video on Ancient China)

X. Heian Empire

XI. Byzantine Empire

XII. Muslim Empire

XIII. Kush

XIV. Songhai

XV. Henry the Navigator

XVI. Mesoamerican Civilizations   (B. Pop Jr. Maya Civilization)

XVII. Aztecs

XVIII. Mound Builders

XIX. Anasazi     (Brain Pop Jr.)

XX. Mexican Revolution    (B. Pop Jr. Mexico)

XXI. Exploration of Canada

XXII. British North American Act

XXIII. Liberation of South America

XXIV. Napoleon

These topics are meaty history lessons! I may need to up my Brain Pop subscription to include Brain Pop, not just Junior. Anyone want to go in with me, as a home school group? Just send me a message if you’re interested: storiesofourboys@gmail.com.

I’ve hesitated to post about home schooling in the past because most of my readers aren’t actually home schoolers. If any of you are interested in more education posts, please let me know.

I’d love to hear what you’re excited about doing in history this year. I’d especially like field trip ideas. That is our favorite kind of learning. Does anyone know any history-related field trips, here in central-ish California? Please share!!

Happy learning! My house is unusually quiet. I’m off to check on the munchkins. (Don’t worry. The two smallest are napping.)




How To Make a School Supply Cake



Yes, I actually made this.  Nope, it wasn’t hard.

I’m always saying I’m not a crafty person, but then I do have so much fun putting stuff like this together.  I’m beginning to wonder if I actually DO enjoy crafts after all….


Next week is Staff Appreciation Week at the boys’ school, and I am “room mom” for Caleb’s class.

Don’t be impressed.  I am never ‘room mom.’  This is simply what happens when you are the last parent to leave Open House, and you realize that no one signed up for that position.  Thankfully, the position really hasn’t required that much of my time.  I’m not able to volunteer during school hours, as I have two babies at home, but I can organize class events from right here at home.

Now, let’s talk about this ‘supply cake.’

That term sounds goofy to me, so let’s call it a tower here.  I found this idea on my favorite idea zone, Pinterest!  I found several towers like this, read about them, and none of them were exactly what I wanted, but this particular one served as my inspiration because it is just so darn cute:


Shout out to darlingdoodlesdesign.com and to whatsscrapping.blogspot.com for the inspiration on this!!

I wasn’t able to come up with exactly the same supplies that were used here, so I decided to just ‘wing it’ a bit.

Like it??  You can totally make this.  If I can do it, anyone can!! I’m including directions here for exactly how I made this, to make it as easy as possible for you!!

 To print the directions: click here (Page 1 comes last on the printable. But don’t worry. It is there.)

how-to-make a school supply cake

First, buy this:

scrapbook paper

paper plate

a pretty color masking tape to match the scrapbook paper

16 boxes 24 count crayon boxes

10 bottles Elmer’s glue

26 glue sticks

1 paper towel roll

1 full size Dixie cup

2 boxes 24 count #2 pencils

2 packs of 100 count index cards

5 rubber bands

4 jumbo paper clips

alternative:  You can also use packs of glue sticks instead of glue sticks, and that’s a little cheaper and easier.  If you do the packs of glue sticks, you will need 7 packs of glue sticks.  Each pack has two glue sticks.

Here’s a photo of what the glue stick pack version looks like.  I made this one for Joshua’s teacher. Families from the class chipped in and paid for these.  I just put them together.  : )




1. Take a sturdy paper plate, turn it upside down, and tape the scrapbook paper to the plate.

2. Don’t stick the paper towel roll to the plate until you have secured layer 1 to the paper towel roll.  Trust me.  It’s easier to do layer one  if it’s not stuck down to the plate yet.

Layer 1:

3. Line 6 boxes of 24 count Crayola crayons around the paper towel roll. Secure with a rubber band.

4. Line 8 boxes of 24 count Crayola crayons around the other boxes of crayons.  Secure with a rubber band.  Wrap the masking tape around the rubber band.  You could also use ribbon.  In the middle, clamp on a jumbo paper clip.

5. Now put tape all over the bottom of the paper towel roll and stick it to the prepped paper plate with scrapbook paper.

Layer 2:

6. Take 9 or 10 bottles of Elmer’s glue to form a ring around the paper towels, sitting on top of the inner ring of crayon boxes. Secure with a rubber band.  Wrap the tape around the rubber band.  Fasten in the center with a jumbo paper clip.

Layer 3:

7.  This is the trickiest part, though none of it was hard.  The glue doesn’t make a shelf, so you have to tape the glue sticks to the paper towel roll.  I just lined up multiple little bundles of masking tape, and stuck the glue sticks to it.

Don’t worry.  Here are some photos to help:


3/4 of the way done


the tricky part

Once all the glue sticks are on, secure layer 3 with a rubber band, cover with the masking tape, and clip on your jumbo paper clip.


8. I folded some more tape onto the top of the roll, covering most of the hole.  Then I pushed the cup onto the top.


not overly sophisticated, but it will do



Stick on the Dixie cup. Then I added 24 pre-sharpened #2 pencils.

Stick on the Dixie cup. Then I added 24 pre-sharpened #2 pencils.

9. I put a crayon box on the north and south sides and index card packs on the east and west.  Our class also chipped in for some gift cards, so I stuck those in there too.  This would also be great as a Christmas or end of the year gift for your teacher.  It was surprisingly easy to make!




Thanks for stopping by! I hope you will follow me on Facebook for more fun ideas. 🙂

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