Weekly Review 9-25-15: Recovering from Vacation

It’s the end of our third week of school, and I’m finally sitting down to get some thoughts sketched out. We eased in with our first week, hit it pretty hard during the second week, and then took a 9-day, 2000-mile road trip to visit family. This week, we’re back and trying to ease in again.

school schedule

This is a picture of our weekly schedule. This is actually the first year I’ve ever printed it out so the kids can see it. I used to get up every day and write the plans on our white board. The kids love knowing what we’ll be doing on any given day, and don’t try to avoid it like they used to. Across the top are our two “bare minimums.” Even on a rough day, we have to do math and reading. After starting with that, we’ll almost always hit all the other subjects (I confess we haven’t done Latin/Greek roots or spelling yet).

I’ve been keeping my records in Evernote this year, and I like it. I sit down and type out what we’ve worked on, and even attach a picture or two from the week. I used to do this all by hand in a notebook, but it’s super easy on the computer. I feel like the end-of-year reviews are going to be very easy for me this year.

Doodling to Learn

I recently read a report that doodling during note-taking actually helps you learn things better. Since my kids struggle to recall most of our history lessons, I decided to pitch the idea of doodling to them. I told them to just take notes however they wanted to — either drawing pictures or using words. I am so happy with how this is turning out. Both kids can tell me what we covered for all three weeks of history so far, and can use their notes to trigger their memories of the different stories we’ve talked about.

kids' history notes

They generally have to translate their notes for me to understand, but as they talk through what all the pictures mean, they basically recite all the important parts of the history lesson back to me. They’re finding it much more enjoyable to sit through the history reading this way.


For math, both of the kids are in Life of Fred books right now. My 6th grader is doing Pre-Algebra 0 with Physics, and he’s been diligent about it. In those books, there are “bridges” you have to pass in order to continue, kind of like tests. If you miss more than 2 out of 10 on them, you have to try again. There are 4 different tests, so you aren’t just repeating the same one over again. My son finally passed through the first section after the 3rd attempt. I’m glad it’s hard for him!

My daughter is working through Edgewood in the elementary series. She’s in 4th grade, so this might seem behind, but we’re going quickly through it. This week, she worked on problems about quadrilaterals, percentages, double-digit addition, and the difference between numbers and digits.

Physical Education

Sometime last year, I discovered the geek workouts from DAREBEE. The kids and I had been using the flash cards and doing exercises that were related to Avatar: the Last Airbender, Minecraft, and Batman. Recently, they came out with full RPG (role-playing game) programs. If you’re avid gamers like we are, these fitness programs are creative and fantastic. We’re several days in to the Hero’s Journey and feeling awesome about it. Well, the kids feel awesome. I’m mostly sore!

Preview of the Hero's Journey exercises from Darebee.com

Preview of the Hero’s Journey exercises from Darebee.com

Touch Typing

My kids are avid computer users, so I finally added typing to the school mix this year. Thanks to several recommendations, I got them set up on Dance Mat Typing, which is free. They loved it so much that they’ve both worked on it every day. I woke up late one morning and found them both diligently working away on their typing.


I mentioned how much I love Mango in my last post about language learning. The lessons we did this week mostly had to do with what language you can speak, which wasn’t all that useful. However, the kids and I did have an entire back-and-forth conversation with our apartment office manager, entirely in Spanish. That was exciting. I am incredibly grateful for the neighbors who know we’re trying to learn and let us practice with them.

Currently Reading

After devouring the entire Judy Moody series during the summer, the girl is on to Ivy + Bean and Babymouse. Due to some focus issues with her eyes, she was my late reader. I’m thrilled at how much she’s been reading lately. She also read through Diary of a Wimpy Kid while we were on our trip.

The boy is in the Cahills vs. Vespers branch of the 39 Clues books. It’s fun to see him work through the various codes as he finds them. I’m not sure what I’ll get him when those are done. I feel like he’s read every series that’s out there. Any recommendations?

Together, they’ve been listening to The Chronicles of Narnia in audiobook. I don’t know how many times they’ve listened to this set over the years, but it’s been a lot. I think I’m going to get the How to Train Your Dragon set next. I’ve heard it’s absolutely hilarious in audio.

We also spent a day at the beach with some visiting friends, spent our regular afternoon at the park, took a trip to the library, and spent some time with our new pet praying mantis. I feel like it was an incredibly full week.

How was your week? What are your kids reading right now?

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