Afterschooling Update Feb 2016

I just finished listening to the Ed Snapshots podcast where Melissa Wiley talks about Tidal Homeschooling.   This philosophy really resonated with me and right now we are in a low time with organized Afterschooling.  The boys are doing more of their own learning.  I thought I would post a quick update as to what Afterschooling PS Kindergarten looks like in our house right now.


My boys are still under the misconception that they are required to do the reading for the BookIt program.   Grandma is very good at making sure that they read every day.  So far they have read every single day since October.   Conor is really enjoying reading Skylander Comic books.  Owen is enjoying reading the Billy & Blaze series.

For read-alouds we are slowly working through Pinocchio and just started Betsy-Tacy.

We just finished listening to Peter Pan which we all loved!  We started up with Sparkle Stories again.  There is a new set of stories where Martin & Sylvia are going to Nature School.  The boys are loving it.

Math & Engineering:

A bit of Life of Fred and we also have been playing the game Shut the Box.  I upgraded our rules for a game with the Cribbage board to be addition and subtraction.  I am also adding the game Snap Circuits, they are obsessed with it.

Nature Studies & Outdoor life:

We have not been out much.   The temperatures have been dipping to below zero so we are primarily indoors.  The boys have been enjoying some Burgess Bird stories though.  Currently a favorite game that we are all enjoying is Wild Craft, it was a Christmas gift from Grandma Jenny.

Ambleside Online:

We have slowed down quite a bit here.   Truthfully I needed a bit of a break and we have been pretty sick for the last few weeks.  I’m hoping to pick back up this week and keep working through our ‘Sections’.

Video Games:

I decided to add this section because this time of year we spend a lot of time playing video games.   The boys have been enjoying time with Reading Rainbow and PBS Kids on the computer.   We set up an older iMac so that they can start getting used to using a mouse and keyboard.  They have also been playing a lot of Skylanders.  The skills I see them improving while playing games are reading, spatial reasoning, hand eye coordination, and working cooperatively.

Public School:

School seems to be going really well.  The boys missed quite a bit of school recently due to illness but it didn’t seem to affect them at all.   Their teachers are both trying to give them more challenging work.  I don’t feel like either one is truly being challenged academically in the classroom.  Socially though they are both enjoying time with their friends and classmates.


Rememborizing Poetry



Rememborizing = A word invented by my children that means to practice remembering things until they are perfectly memorized.




A while back I heard a speech by Andrew Pudewa on the importance of poetry memorization in young children.   I picked up a copy of his program and started it with our boys.  So far we are 1 year and 2 months into the project with 24 poems perfectly rememborized and 2 in the works.   Here is what it looks like in our Afterschooling home.

I have a small notebook that I keep track of our poems in.  Each poem we pick to “rememborize” gets hand written, by me, into the book. I add the date as well as the person who chose the poem.  It’s fun to look back and see who chose our favorites.  Each poem also gets a number.

We are doing a slow and steady pass at AOY1 and I add our poetry list to each weeks list to do.  Both of my boys are at the same level and I found that having them recite the same poems each week was a bit much.  So each week one boy recites the even numbered and the other does the odd ones.   They recite 3 rememborized poems each, 4 days a week.  If they say it perfectly they only say it one time.  If they mess up any words they recite the poem 3 times with me correcting the words they get wrong.

For new poems we keep a list of fun ones that we run across when we are reading poetry or stories.   Sometimes a poem or a set of song lyrics just jumps out at one of us and we automatically add it to the book. When I feel like they have a good grasp on the existing poem list I choose 2 new ones to add to the bucket.   Each boy gets one new poem to start learning.  They have to recite it 3 times each, 4 times during the week.  Then it goes into our regular rotation.

My boys LOVE reciting poems and getting to check the little boxes off the list.  It’s fun when we are out in public and they hear a word or phrase and recite a poem from our list.

My end goal is to continue with them long term and for their high school graduation give each boy a copy of our family poetry book.  I want to hand write the poems into a really nice leather bound journal.   It’s a long term project and I really hope I can keep on track with it.

Afterschooling Ambleside Year 1

I have twin boys who are in Public School Kindergarten.  While they are doing awesome in Kindergarten I wanted to supplement it with extra stuff at home.  After doing a ton of research I settled on Ambleside Online as the program that would work best for us.  We also supplement with Life of Fred, Ray’s Arithmetic, tons of early readers, and I just picked up All About Spelling to play around with.

The key to doing it as an after schooling program is to “Go. Very. Very. Slow.” Each week is taking us around 2 – 3 weeks to accomplish, and I don’t expect to finish Y1 until around October which gives us a full 52 weeks to get through it.  I am planning that next summer we will pick up the pace a bit.

We read a story or two each night before bed and on the weekends we do things that take longer such as Math,  the Burgess Bird book with coloring, extra nature studies, kitchen fun, and habit training.   I also have found that allowing video games on a limited basis has really helped to boost their reading and reasoning skills at a dramatic level.

All of this is kept light weight and fun.  If things start to get to heavy we take a break and stick with stories instead. They love Section time.   They also have homework sometimes that they need to do and that always comes first.

I took a composition book and printed up the Y1 plan (I removed a few things that we aren’t doing and added in their replacements).  I glued and taped the plan into the front of the book.



I started to call them Sections instead of weeks to appease my very literal 5yo boy who got upset that we didn’t finish it in a single week.  We are also doing poetry memorization.  So far they have memorized 24 poems and I rotate each boy through the full list.  When they recite a poem properly we cross it off the list.  We also read new poems 5 times during the Section.  When we come across one that they like and might want to memorize it goes on a separate list.  Each time I create a new section I add one or two new ones to the list and they do those 4 – 5 times during the Section.  We also do free reads on audible in the car on the way to and from school and those will also get added to this page.   The boys are doing the BookIt program for school (I’m not a big fan but don’t fight it).  Each day they read to me out of a book at their reading levels for around 10 minutes or so.

We also tracked December Christmas books.   The boys got to open one each day during the month of December.   They loved it and we all had a blast with it.

Plus I found super cute scrapbook paper that I can cover the book with🙂   

Booklet of Book lists

FullSizeRender FullSizeRender (1)


I am working hard to raise boys who love to read and are good at it.  This means that I get to spend time reading aloud to them all the children’s books that I loved, as well as those that I’ve never read.  I’ve been searching for suggestions and keep finding fantastic book lists everywhere.  I’ve been searching for a way to keep them handy when I am at the library or book shopping.  I finally stumbled across the perfect way!  I now have my own book of book lists!

Here is how I put it together. Warning, these instructions require Microsoft Word.  There may be another way to do it but I haven’t tried any.

Create your master list:

  1. Open up all your favorite book lists.  Some of mine are The Read-Aloud Revival, Simply Charlotte Mason, Ambleside Online Year 0 – 1, 20 Classic Chapter Books for 5-8 year olds, and the Mensa K-3 list.
  2. Start a single Microsoft Word file and copy each list in.
  3. Title each section with the name of the booklist that you took it from.
  4. Take the time to format each list so that it is roughly in “Book Title – Author Name” format.

Create your booklet:

  1. Select all the text in the file and set the font to roughly 8pt.  I know, it’s small, but I wanted to keep down the total number of pages.
  2. You don’t have to, but I also added two little squares at the front of each row using the WingDings font.  They are for checking off books as I either buy them or as we read them.
  3. Follow the instructions on this website to use Word to create your booklet.  I suggest making sure that there are a few blank pages at the end for writing on.
  4. Print it up!

Make it pretty!

  1. I wanted mine to be pretty and to fit in my Composition Notebook Day Planner
  2. I found a cute piece of scrapbook paper that I liked and a piece of cardstock that matched.
  3. Then I followed the instructions from the Damask Love – Book Binding University series to create a cute little notebook that fits in my dayplanner🙂

From start to finish it took me a few hours to figure it all out but I love the results.  The best part is that I will digitally keep the master file updated, removing books that we have read and adding new ones that are recommended.  Every few months I can print it up again and have an up-to-date list to carry with me!