Unschooling: Living Without School; Living Free Range-Freedom to Learn What One Wants When One Wants

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Puzzles, Play, and Logic Games

I've said it before. I'll say it again. This year has been great.  My feet were already in the unschool pool the last two years,  so I just decided to go ahead and jump in.

Here are some things we do different:

-Playtime is ANYtime. As long as S is not being rude and using it as an excuse to quit something we are doing,  playtime is anytime she will go to her room and play with her toys. It can be when she wakes up. (Although she generally begs me to read to her first.) It can be in the middle of the day-before or after we play for a bit. And it can definitely be at night. I know once we start back activities we will be in the car more often,  so S has a bag of toys already packed so she can play on the go too!

-We no longer keep track of what S does every week. I'm sick of it. Doing things so that we can write them down in the book. I just want to scribble on the pages and write, "TALK TO HER AND YOU WILL SEE!!!" in ALL CAPS. I mean,  honestly,  anybody who talks to her sees how much she knows. And every one who took the time out to come and see her gallery-which sadly enough was only half the friends and family invited - were thoroughly impressed by her art. Enough to say something even when she wasn't standing there.

-No more big projects. Unless she is 100% the initiator.  And at that point,  I will help,  but I won't push. And I won't make sure it is done a certain way. That is all up to her.  It seems like we spend a whole year on these long projects and I end up seizing control until the end because I expect too much from her.

-And my very favorite change is-focus less on academics! MORE on problem solving.  I was at the store the other day and I was going to spend $12 on this group of card games that are trivia based.  Things like "What is the population of Kenya?"/"What geological formation is most common in Southern Australia?" Or, I could spend $6 for a puzzle and another Think Fun logic game. We discussed it and both chose logic.  Because in the end, who cares what she knows academically?  Who do I know who can name-and does so frequently-all the Civil War battles or the imports of South Africa? Who do I know that diagrams their sentences for work?  Even an author doesn't do that.  But I'm over here freaking out thinking that Fashion in History maybe isn't academic enough to use for a History Fair Project and then I thought,  you know what?  Who cares?  At this point it is all fun and games.  From here on out,  let's say we did the bare minimum. And no.  I don't mean sit her in her room in a pair of underwear, give her bread and water for meals,  and leave her to her own devices.  But I mean if we spent all our days bike riding, playing games, reading, laughing/playing, hiking, experimenting with her beakers and graduated cylinders, what is she missing? Nothing really.  What is she gaining? So. Much.  If we did what most people considered" minimum" for the rest of her life,  which I highly doubt she will continue to do as she grows older and wants internships and all, she will still leave my house equipped with basic math.  She will be well read. She will have common sense, logic, and plethora of problem solving skills. With a huge side helping of patience.  She will have experience and knowledge about all sorts of things in the World around her. She may not be a master at any one thing, but she lives to dabble and she impresses people with her knowledge.  About how the boat locks work. How candy canes are made.  She likes to talk about animal behavior and why the incline on trails is hard on the body. She knows how to camp and rock climb and she can tell you about canoe safety.  Fishing. She knows how to take videos and enjoys learning to edit them. She loves music.  She listens to it for hours a day. And she can interpret songs. She can tell you about Impressionism and Abstract art.  She likes to talk about the lives of famous painters and how classical music effects the emotions.  She already is-and will be - well rounded. She may not be academically gifted,  but just like every kid,  she excels at her top interests at the time. She has a Scientific mind. She can explain how things work with no need to tell her.  SHE was teaching ME about aerodynamics yesterday! And she did not even know there was a word for it!!

So here it is.

Here is our goal for the year:



-Spend time mind building instead of pushing things she won't remember in 10 years. Puzzles are great!  So much conversation can take place while doing a puzzle together. Especially if it is a puzzle of a nature scene,  famous painting,  or landmark.  Right now we are doing puppies! S LOVES animals.  We will play our Think Fun games that even give me a hard time and Chess as much as possible.  Strategy games like Battle Ship - Risk as she grows older.

-Keep on keeping on with anything she wants to learn without pushing.  If she is truly interested,  she will bring it to the table. Right now.  That's Science. Her microscope just came in and we haven't had a chance to use it. She's dying. We plan soon to go to the creek and collect samples to look at. Ah. We are both dying it seems. But if it goes back to something non academic like art or a sport - so be it! I think that might even be cooler.

-Let life happen. That pretty much sums it up. Throughout the year, lots of "Life" happens. And I won't freak because we got one less home day because of life-as long as it isn't something like errand running. We have many adventures to go on already: Camping with AHG where they will teach new things. Pumpkin Patch, Apple Festival, Vacation where she will get to zipline for the very first time. And hike a new trail with new land features she has never seen before. And probably more. The Challenger Center at UTC, Huntsville Space Station. This year she will build a float for the Christmas parade.  That's a first. And who knows what else? That's just what is on the list that I can remember! Then you have holidays and playdates. Many projects to do: History, Geography, Science Fair, Badges, Community Service together and with AHG, party planning for her birthday,  and classes!! Oh My. Yep. We are booked.

It is gonna be a good year if we just keep doing what we are doing and see where it leads us.  If I can keep doing what I have done the last 2 weeks. Not Worrying how many pages we read,  how many games we play, or hours we log, I know that we will lead a fuller life because when we do things it will be for the sake of having fun and doing them based on interest. NOT on what I can log in her journal.  (Although I am still required to write a progress report. And I will.  Those things tell more than any journal ever could anyway.)  I still have pictures. And all of Samantha's abilities to prove we do things.  But our "work" is must people's play and that's how it should be. Unschool For Life.

Thought provoking video,  but couldn't get it to load.
Google: Don't Stay In School Video.  First Hit.

Friday, August 21, 2015

What It's All About

Our "school year" is shaping up to be a good one. Really it is. Our rhythm has changed a bit. S wakes up an hour earlier on her own. (She tends to go to bed an hour earlier too.) And with her being a bit older-nearing 7-she has a better idea of what she wants to learn and how to carry it out. Not to mention, all the home time we seem to be getting the last few weeks. Even when activities start back regularly, I think we will still have lots of down time. I have a better handle on our schedule this year. I am learning how to stagger playdates and pile plans.

When S wakes up, we usually read. And the last week or so she picks something to do afterward. She likes to play her Reader Rabbit Game on the computer to help with her math. Some days she chooses experiments. Others she chooses to play chess. The rest of the day after about 2 or 3 hours is play. Just like usual. Some days we work for 5-6 hours and don't even realize it. Like the two days in a row we prepared her gallery to be "shown to the public." She set everything up the way she wanted it to make sure we had enough art and enough space. She talked about what she wanted to say. We made a video to put on a Facebook invite that we made. And picked a cover photo and all. Then I showed her how to make a slideshow-because she wanted to make one with all the pictures I have of her doing all different types of art that are not in her gallery. She did some crocheting, but not enough to make an exhibit. And her YouTube videos are too much to display, so I have several pictures I took while filming and we added those in. THANKFULLY we are closing out this chapter because last Spring it became more work than play. S didn't do it up as big as she had talked about because it turned out to be a LOT of work for a 6 year old. Like an unbearable amount. Lots of repetitiveness. So she opted out of the hand written invitations and she didn't feel right charging admission or selling her art. So no need for a cash register. But everything looks so nice. Her best art pieces will be displayed. And I have to say she learned a tremendous amount about art and artists during that time. It just started becoming something she asked to do less and less as time went on. When we stopped "working" in the Summer, she began doing her art again on her own time. And even more now that my brother is back in school. She has such a passion for it. Last night she drew me over and over again for hours critiquing her own work until she got it just the way she wanted it. That is what I like to

The next thing we will be spending large amounts of time doing is SCIENCE! I just ordered her a microscope with all kinds of cool goodies, 2 glass beakers, a glass flask, a glass graduated cylinder, 6 glass test tubes, a test tube rack, test tube clamp, beaker tongs, Lithmus Paper, a glass pipette, 20 petri dishes, and a pair of impact resistant goggles for each of us. Got it all for $80. Not a bad investment. And it all (including the microscope) had great reviews! I can't wait to let her start working with all of it. I found some simple experiments to begin with. Growing mold in a petri dish. Chemical reactions in the kitchen. Collecting pond water. S has a TON of things she wants to view under the microscope: pet hairs, human hairs, bugs, nails, food, leaves...the lists goes on. Then after we have exhausted out resources there, Hubby has given us the okay to move on to simple chemicals. Hydrochloric acid. Zinc powder. Sulfur. That sort of stuff. At that point I will get a mortar and pestal, evaporating dish, a crucible, and a BUNSEN BURNER! Ah. I can't wait. That may be a year from now. I do not see her losing interest in Science together. We may not do it as frequently, but Science is all about excitement and S LOVES excitement. For years, she has loved her experiments. We have done some and she creates her own. She is always full of questions and wants to experiment on her own to find answers. She loves to explore. Today at the creek she told me that the water was rushing so fast. She hypothesized it was because of all the rain and she explained WHY all the rain would cause that! Insanity.

Speaking of today-It was good too. I woke S up-last minute decision as usual-and said, "Let's go ride bikes in the middle of town!" She was ecstatic. We rode for 2-1/2 hours. It was off and on. We looked in a few stores for a bit. And we stopped at a baseball field where she asked about how to play baseball. We desperately needed a break at that point so we lingered for about 10 minutes. We finally made it back to the car and the creek where we set up our hammock and enjoyed doing one of our favorite things-reading in the hammock! Then went to the playground and visited a friend. Came home. And pretty much crashed. S played and played and played in her room. Now this is what homeschool is about. Play. Spending time together. Doing the things you would do in the Summer all year long. I can tell this is going to be one of our best years!

Side Note: Tomorrow S's chess book come in! I will be looking over it first so I can correct the ways I am teaching her. Then we will go over it together. That is another thing to work on this year. She opted against the chess lessons because the class was so large it made her uncomfortable. So we talked about it and decided to use the book the instructor uses and go over it ourselves. S also had her first Heritage Girls meeting last Tuesday! She had a blast. She didn't make any new friends, but she talked to everybody and they worked on a project to teach them a little about the group. It was just the new girls that night, but the week after next it will be all of them. This year-like every year-is just making us both so giddy with excitement over new adventures and new things to learn. To yet another year.

Making Another You Tube Video!

Making a Slideshow

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Academic Schedule

I was going to go on a rant tonight, but I'm just too tired. Let's just say, kids are pushed too hard these days. Just because they CAN do something, doesn't mean the stress of pushing themselves isn't damaging them. I don't want my child stuck in the cycle of always pushing. Always thinking she has to be better, do better. The rat race I talked about before. I want her to find contentment in herself and her life. I don't want her to stay stagnant. But I want her to live life at a pace that allows enjoyment each and every day. That's all I'm going to say about that.

So while I agree that there are things S must learn certain things to function in society, I don't believe she needs long daily drills to learn them. She proved this to me with her reading the last year or so.

This year S does not need me quiet as much as she usually does, like I stated in my last post, so our unschooling day is about to REALLY start looking like unschooling. It won't always be Mommy hanging over Sami shoulder coming up with cool activities that pertain to what she enjoys. No. It will be S coming up with what she loves and beginning to learn to lead herself down the path to learning when and how she learns best. And I facilitate.

Having a natural rhythm to the week helps, so we went over some things for her to make sure she works on each week. Yes, to assuage me, but I don't think it is over doing it. And t certainly leaves time for other activities. Here is what it looks like:

She will get to choose how and what math she wants to practice on which days. This year will include addition and subtraction up to 3 digits, fractions, money, and beginning multiplication. (S already told me she knows it is simple because it is just skip counting.) I have bought her a few supplies and now she can choose from Reader Rabbit software with math, math board games, using her play money to practice, or going over it on the marker board. Plus, if she has any other ideas, we can try them out.

We also made a list of other goals for the year including badges she wants to earn, interests to follow, books to read, etc. This will be on top of the weekly schedule:

I think this will be a great well rounded schedule. It gives her at least an hour a week for math and then I know that I know that I know she will want to do more once she gets started, but it is her choice. (I know it because she always does. She already did twice this week.) It also makes sure we have time to read all the books we want. Although, we never have an issue with that. I am sure we will even add more to the list.

I know this year she will be filling a lot of her extra time doing her art and playing toys. She also likes to research things. And she will do lots of experiments. No doubt about that. She has even become really enthusiastic about her You Tube channel again, which has been somewhat steady over Summer. She also seems to like spending a lot of time outside, but once the cold weather approaches she may not feel that way. Funny. We saw a picture of a waterfall tonight and she started begging to go on a hike to a waterfall. It's a shame we haven't been able to hike much due to the truck situation, but I promised her as soon as it is back up and running we will make it happen. Fall and Winter hikes are Beautiful too! Even with just 20 minutes a day on math and an hour of reading, I can already tell that our schedule will be filling up fast. I better get sleep while I can. These next few weeks will be slow between my brother going back to school and all her activities starting up. I am just so excited, but trying to savor the down time now. Tomorrow S and I are going to walk downtown Ringgold and visit an art studio, an outdoor store, some junk shops. She wants to paint, and we will probably end up at a local coffee shop for drinks. I want to enjoy her and see what her "art eye" catches while we are in the downtown area. It always sees something completely different than mine. So we will see. Good Night, All.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Progress 2014-2015

It's that time of year. You know the time of year where I freak out and wonder if we are doing enough at home. Although this year it is really just a small voice in the back of my head that is pretty easy to ignore because when I really look back, she isn't lacking in character or knowledge/experience. Nope. In fact, she has a great character and her experiences thus far have varied so much and have really enriched her life. She is knowledgable about many thing and very enthusiastic about learning so I have practically no worries. 

But after deciding to implement more time specifically for play, I started wondering if 2-3 hours a day was enough to "work." Yes. In fact it is. If we just did the bare minimum, we would accomplish all these things in a year: 

She will read (at the minimum the Kit Mysteries, Stuart Little, a Biography on Thomas Edison, a Bible Study called Battlefield of the Mind, and part of the Tinkerbell Series.) But I KNOW it will be more than that. She will write on a pretty much daily basis as needed. She will practice her addition and subtraction, fractions and money-because I know that I know that I know we will be playing board games and half our board games are math based or at least involve adding up the dice. She will complete a project for the History Fair, Geography Fair, and Science Fair. Her topics (could change) are History-Inventors of the Past, Geography-Egypt, and Science-Undecided. She will finish her Art Gallery, Movie, and Board Game. She will learn more about swimming. She will bike ride regularly. She will practice and learn chess. She will continue her own outside interests with the family such as boating and hiking and camping. And she will go lots of places with CHEA and AHG. I know one of those places is the Huntsville Space Station. I do believe this is all just Fall semester alone. So we will see where Spring and Summer bring us. 

I also pasted her progress report down below, and I was blown away by the fact that my little descriptions barely even skimmed the surface! The lists of books and activities are just examples and don't truly show the amount of in depth learning and conversations we had unscripted. But it still unbelievable the amount of "work" we got done in a year. It doesn't even include all her play and individual projects! And I know, without a doubt, next year will be the same. 

Samantha Anne Mays Progress Report 2014-2015

Curriculum Description: Samantha learns using a relaxed custom curriculum meant to teach her the basic concepts of each subject and allow for growth in areas that interests her most. She uses a range of learning tools and experiences from books, games, and movies to real life and hands on activities. Samantha choices her own units of study, which is then extended to include all the core subjects as well as other areas such as Bible Study, Arts, and Music.

Unit Studies

Samantha has completed a variety of unit studies (of her choosing) this year.

How Things Work: Samantha briefly worked on a study at the beginning of the year where she experimented and read as much as she could to see How Things Work.

Activities: Experiments, How It’s Made Videos and Books

Dogs: Samantha really enjoys dogs and has two of her own, so she chose to complete a short study on dogs. During that time everything she did was about dogs, from looking up images of dogs to consistently looking up questions about dogs. Her goal was to train her newest dog to sit, stay, and roll over on command.

Activities: You Tube Dog Training Videos-Zac George’s Channel, Clicker Training, Care and Observation

Books: Marley and Me, Bad Dogs, and various informational books about dog breeds, caring for dogs, and dog training and competitions


Art: Samantha’s main unit of study this year has been art. She has covered various form of art from sewing and knitting to drawing and painting. She has used numerous mediums to make her creations and finds her inspiration in many different places from outdoor scenes and nature studies to imitating another artist’s work. She has even been inspired by classical music selections. (Her favorite artists to imitate are Van Gogh and Monet.) Samantha’s art unit brought about so many opportunities for art exploration. She spent time in many areas looking for inspiration and paying attention to details, asking questions to help her get a more accurate idea of what she is painting or drawing. She would ask about what kind of stone the statues in the Chickamauga Battle Field were made of. She would question the History of places we went. She would ask why the water flowed a certain way and if it would be wrong to paint it the other way. She noticed bugs in the grass and wanted to know if they came in other colors. She would see the sunset reflecting in the water as she fished and would ask about why the reflection happened or why the Canadian Geese across the water were so aggressive. Were they nesting? Her art has brought her closer to the world around her and made her more aware of her surroundings over the past year, which has given her a depth of understanding that only art can give a person.
For her big project, Samantha spent the entire school year preparing an art gallery to display several mediums of work for all her friends and family to see. The gallery contained clay statues, sewing projects, drawings, and many, many paintings-watercolor and acrylic. She will continue this project into next school year.

Sewing: Samantha continued to hold an interest in sewing from last year and has learned many new skills. She can thread a needle and has been practicing needlepoint in order to make her sewing more precise. She can also prepare her sewing machine and use it with minimal assistance to complete a project. Some projects she has completed include a pillow, cat outfit and doll clothes.

Crocheting: Samantha also showed an interest in learning to crochet this year and went to her grandmother for assistance. She started by learning to cast on and hand placement and can now finish a complete chain. She hopes to be able to complete a dishcloth in the next few months.

You Tube Videos: Samantha has taken her art to a new level by making her own instructional videos, usually containing instructions on how to make Play-Doh figurines based on video game characters-inspired by the sweet treat You Tube channel Nerdy Nummies by Rosanna Pansino. Samantha has also made videos on cake decorating, clay making, and magic tricks. Samantha goes through the process of planning: what to make, how to make it, gathering materials, rehearsing what she will say. Then I assist her in filming the videos, sometimes taking several takes for one scene.  She has her own You Tube account and has learned to post her videos/upload, name, and type a description. (She follows a few channels such as How It’s Made, the History Channel, Zac George, and Nerdy Nummies. She also enjoys browsing the videos on You Tube for art videos and other topics of interest.) Samantha will soon learn how to edit videos on her own.

Drawing and Painting: Samantha loves drawing and painting and practices several hours a day. She loves reading How To books and looking up videos to help her understand how to make things look more realistic. She has started a few projects including several of her own books.
One day she spent at the library looking for Children’s books about foxes to get an idea of the illustration style she wanted to use. She named her book The Fox and the Chicks. She illustrated the cover, typed the story with some assistance, and completed the pictures inside using sketch pencils and charcoals.
Her paintings have made a marked improvement over the last year. She is learning to control her brush strokes better. She can mix colors to make the colors she wants. And she knows the effects each type of paint makes. Some of the projects she completed with painting include her own interpretation of Starry Night, her favorite painting by Van Gogh and her painting interpreting The Four Seasons classical music by Vivaldi.
She has studied on Impressionism artists, sparked by her interest in the storybook called, Katie Meets the Impressionist. She subsequently signed up for a Homeschool class on Impressionism and toured a museum exhibit that included paintings from famous Impressionists like Monet.

Books: Katie Meets the Impressionist, Katie and the Sunflowers, Artist to Artist, several “How To” books

Birding: Samantha participated in a group fundraising event through Audubon Acres called Bird-A-Thon. As a participant, Samantha used was to identify as many birds as possible and collect pledges based on the number of species she identified. Samantha learned how to use a field guide for identifying not only birds, but also other animals and plants in the Southeast area. She learned to use binoculars to see far away objects. Samantha set up and observed several different types of bird feeders including a Humming Bird feeder and homemade toilet paper roll with seed feeders. Samantha participated in some group bird watching activities at Gilbert Stevenson Park.

Geography Fair: Samantha completed a geography project on England this April and displayed it at the CHEA Geography Fair. Samantha researched information including the country’s flag, population, climate, culture, native animals, and government. Her finished project was a tri-board filled with information she found, which she presented to a group of about 15 children and 20 adults.

Field Trips: One of Samantha’s big field trips this year was to the Downtown Chattanooga Bluff View Art District. Samantha took a walk through Downtown Chattanooga, an art focused area. As she walked to the Art District she saw many statues, some that were abstract and others that were merely statues of people. She read about each one and talked about it, what she liked, what she didn’t like, what it could mean. Once she entered Bluff View, she visited the River Cress Art Gallery where there were many different styles of art. Each medium of art was in in a separate room. There was a glass room, a room with pottery, yard art, wood, paintings, drawings, etc. (Samantha found inspiration in an oil painting on wood and was determined to learn to use oil paints. She received a set of oil paints for Christmas and has been experimenting with them ever since.) After the art gallery she discussed what it must be like being an artist, starting out as an artist, how to get displayed in an art gallery, the prices of art, art styles, mediums, and interpretations.


Samantha started the year being able to read simple sentences without having to stop and sound out each word. Most of her reading has evolved into recognition more than phonics. By December Samantha was able to read storybooks on her own and intermediate elementary chapter books (8+) with some assistance. She practices her reading throughout the day without being prompted by challenging herself to read road signs, text messages, instruction manuals, game boards, etc. She also challenges herself to spell out the word she is trying to convey when she talks as opposed to saying the word. She writes out lists, stories, and prayers, spelling the best she can. By the end of the Summer, she was had greatly improved, but still has not broke the barrier to being a completely independent reader.

Samantha has read a variety of texts including those listed above in her unit study topics, hundreds of easy reader books, children’s classics, cookbooks, poetry books, historical fiction, and books about topics she is interested in such as books about horses and gymnastics.

She listened to and assisted in reading chapter books such as Marley and Me, The Samantha American Girl series including Meet Samantha, Samantha Learns a Lesson, Samantha’s Surprise, Happy Birthday, Samantha, Samantha Saves the Day, and Changes for Samantha as well as the Samantha Mystery series including The Curse of Ravens Court, The Case of the Stolen Sapphire, and The Call of the Loon, the Kit American Girl series including Meet Kit, Kit Learns a Lesson, Kit’s Surprise, Happy Birthday Kit, Kit Saves the Day, and Changes for Kit, The Boxcar Children series including the first Boxcar Children and part of Surprise Island, and Who Was Leonard DaVinci?.

Samantha also began her own books, which included several Tinkerbell Story collections and the beginning of the fairy book, “Rani and the Mermaid Lagoon.”

Grammar and Punctuation: Samantha has a firm grasp on tenses as well as a beginning understanding of punctuation. She knows what periods, exclamation points, question marks, and quotation marks are for. She is beginning to use capitalization and punctuation in her writing when she writes letters to friends, notes in her diary, or when writing her own stories.

Activities: Samantha takes bi-weekly trips to the Library. Each visit she checks out 20+ books, some related to her unit studies and others not. Some she reads individually and others are read to her in a variety of environments such as the Library, home, outside, and in the store or car.

Side Notes: Samantha is excelling in her reading without being coerced into practicing or showing interest in certain books. Samantha goes to the Library by request where she is able to find the books she is looking for with little assistance (just spelling). She has several book series that she enjoys and reads continuously. Even when Samantha is being read to, she enjoys following along and pointing out the words. I have sometimes found her reading ahead of me in her head. It was too difficult for me to keep up with all the book series she wants to read, so she has taken it upon herself to read some of her chapter books to herself at night before bed.


Samantha began the school year true counting to 100. By December she was able to true count to 1,000 by 1s and 10s. And can, although does not when prompted, count by 2s and 5s. She has continued to work on her addition and subtraction fact memorization and by December was familiar with most of her addition facts from 1 to 10. By August, she was able to complete most one digit facts quickly in her head. Those that she could not, she was able to do on her hands. She also began working with double and triple digit addition, including “carrying the 1.” To help her better understand the concept, we covered place value by learning expanded form and using an “underlining method” on the marker board.

Samantha has continued to be exposed to and learn a little about fractions. However, by August, she still a has limited understanding of what a fraction is. For example, she understands that if the pizza is cut in half, we both get one piece. And that when something is divided into 3 pieces it is called “thirds” But she does not understand how to complete word problems with fractions and has limited knowledge on how to write out a fraction. (Although, she can occasionally read them out of a recipe book.)

Samantha continued working with money this year by becoming more familiar with the value of each coin, how to add totals in columns, and how to skip count to add money. She knows how many quarters equals 25 cents, 50 cents, and a dollar. She also knows how to give change in quarters back from a dollar. She can add cash easily and can read totals and prices. She still struggles to add quarters, dimes, and nickles together, but is in the process of learning it. She is around money daily whether she is making a purchase herself and receiving change, watching others make a purchase, going to the bank, and watching budgets be made.
She has also been made familiar with the use of debit and credit cards as well as checks as forms of “currency.”

Activities: Samantha learns math through playing board/card games such as Go to the Dump by Right Start Math, Smath, Math War, Math Mat, and Race to a Quarter. She frequently plays computer games such as funbrain.com, fun4the brain.com, powermylearning.com, and cool-mathgames.com.

Side Note: Samantha struggles with math at times because numbers are a hard concept for her to grasp. This year, we came to the conclusion that she needs to complete lower level maths in order for her brain to understand the concepts taught. Samantha is slowly learning mathematic basics as she shows readiness signs.


For Science this year, Samantha has been focusing on Earth (Geology) and Life (plants and animals) Science as well as basic Physics.
Earth and Life: Samantha has been camping and hiking on several occasions. She has been to many different parks and trails in the southeastern part of the United States. Samantha is familiar with some of the plants and animals in the parks and is continuously identifying every plant or animal she sees in her Audubon Society Field Guide. She has learned about which insects are poisonous and which are safe. She has learned about some of Earth’s formations (caves, stalactites and stalagmites, mountains, plains, etc.) and she knows how to identify them on the map. (Beginners Map Reading) She has learned about weather patterns and causes for specific patterns, while being stuck in the rain many times. She has also learned to start predicting the weather. She has watched and assisted in building fires, giving her better understanding of its properties and uses.

Samantha has also spent much of the warmer months fishing where her understanding of fishing as a sport and fish behavior has really surfaced. Samantha has learned about which types of baits which fish like the most. She has caught and held a fish and seen the different types of forms they come in, and also identified them in her Guide. She can name many of the common species by sight and can tell you how to handle each one.

Samantha, just like in previous years, assisted with a small garden this Spring. The garden included potatoes from seed and bell peppers from plant. Samantha helped to plant them in containers, watered them, and watched them as they grew. She helped to harvest the potatoes also.

Physics: Samantha has performed several experiments, some that were preplanned and some that she came up with on her own. She uses the scientific method to carry out her experiments. Some of the preplanned experiments included Elephants Toothpaste, Density, and Goop.
Her own experiments include mixing things up in the kitchen to see what happens. Two of her successful experiments include baking soda mixed with vinegar and a mixture she made to dye flowers blue (using food coloring).

Samantha has covered some Medicinal Science, holistic form. Throughout the year Samantha has learned more on how to make and measure the PPM of colloidal silver. She has also begun learning about essential and carrier oils and how to mix or diffuse them to help with illness or injury.

Samantha has completed several Nature Studies every month. She has a nature journal and art set with pencils, colored pencils, pastels, and water colored paints, any of which she can use in her portraits. She has used each of these individually as well a mixture of them together. Topics range from unit study related, such as dogs, based on what she has heard, or seen in pictures and videos, to nature related topics based on close observation such as the top of the clouds from the Chimney Tops Trail in Gatlinburg.

Samantha has also used a variety tools throughout the year. She has used measurement tools such as a ruler, scale, and measuring cups/spoons, as well as observation tools like a magnifying glass. Microscope, and binoculars. She is learning more in depth how to use these tools and why we use them.



       Bird-A-Thon (See Unit Studies)
       Nature Sketch Book
       Caring for Pets
       Fishing Trips
       Camping Trips
       Everyday Questions


Civil War: Samantha’s carried her focus on the Civil War through the first part of the school year.

Activities: She continued to look through non-fiction books, watch documentaries online, and visit local sites. (Our area is full of Civil War History including the local Battle Field which has many statues with inscribed histories and stories on display as well as a museum where they show a historically based film, put models on display along with several gun cases full of era guns, and put on reenactments.)

Field Trips: Samantha took a trip to a local reenactment at the Western Atlantic Railroad Tunnels. She was able to visit several tents set up to tell about popular sports and hobbies of the time such as archery and quilting. She sat through an outdoor reenactment and asked questions about the battle. She also was able to tour the WAR Tunnels museum, which included Civil War relics such as guns, bullets, and old letters, and even walked through the actual tunnels.

Early 1900s: Once Samantha completed her Civil War study, she started began studying the Victorian time period, starting in 1904. She read several of the American Girl Samantha books, which tell the story of a little girl growing up in the Victorian era. We made the study come to life while looking through a book that discussed all aspects of the Victorian era: hobbies, clothes, toys, etc. She also cooked recipes from a Victorian recipes book.

Great Depression: After completing her study on the Victorian era, Samantha began learning about the Great Depression. She read several American Girl Kit books, which tell the story of a little girl growing up in that time and enduring many of the hardships families of those days did. The readings sparked many questions and subsequent discussions about the Great Depression including questions about Herbert Hoover, President Roosevelt, the stock market, soup kitchens, and more.

Geography: Samantha knows all over her US States and is working on reviewing the oceans and continents, at the same time that she is trying to become familiar with placement of countries. She has also learned about map keys and legends, direction, and geographical feature maps.

Activities: See Unit Studies England

Physical Education: Samantha stays active during the day by playing outside-doing flips, running, playing games with friends, playing on the playground, learning to skate, or simply taking a nature hike. She also spends much of her time on her trampoline practicing her gymnastics.

Samantha participated in a homeschool gymnastics class for the second year through Southern Adventist University. This year, however, she only attends class once a week for an hour. She was placed in a mixed class that put emphasis on form for basic exercises including rolls, cartwheels, headstands, stall bars, trampolines, ropes, and other exercise.

For Spring semester, she continued gymnastics and also began swim classes through the University. In swim class she learned the basics floats: back float, front float, jellyfish, tuck, etc. and strokes. She passed Level 2 Swim in April. During the Summer, after lessons ended, she continued to swim at least twice a week where she mastered most of the skills she learned in Level 2 of swim. In September, she will begin Level 3 swim class.

She also began playing outside on her bicycle. She learned to ride with two wheels and has been riding at parks with the family regularly the last few weeks. Next year she plans to ride more trails.

When the weather warmed up closer to Summer, Samantha began boating more with family and friends. She has learned to tube and is beginning to learn wakeboarding. Samantha enjoys exciting physical activities on the water the most.

Music: Samantha is surrounded by a variety of different music in her everyday life including Gospel, Classical, Rock, Pop, Country, and traditional music from other countries.

Her favorite music is Classical Music, with her favorite artists being Vivaldi and Beethoven. (She enjoys Bach’s softer music.) She could sit and listen to Classical music for hours and hours. Many of the more famous pieces she has memorized and likes to create art to accompany the music.

Art: (See Unit Studies: Art)

Fine Arts: This year Samantha attended a play called Seussical Musical. Samantha thoroughly enjoying seeing a live play in theatre and intends to see more. While at the play, we discussed casts, scenes, acts, and other stage procedures and vocabulary. Leading up to the play, Samantha completed a small study on Dr. Seuss. She spent many of her days reading as many of her books as she could find. She even spent a day at the library sorting through and reading all the Dr. Seuss books on the shelf.

Technology: Samantha has started learning many basic programs on the computer including Paint and Word Processor. She has been allowed many hours to just play around with the programs and explore the buttons.

Now that Samantha can read and spell and enjoys writing her own books, she showed interest in learning to type. She practices and plays games on http://www.freetypinggame.net/ By December she knew where her home row keys were located and knew how to place her hands and reach each key without moving her other fingers. She can type at an average of 12 words per minute, 8 words adjusted speed. Her practice tapered downward when warm weather began. Although, she still remembers what she learned.


·      Playing on the Computer, Wii U, etc.
·      Taking objects apart.
·      You Tube Channel (See Unit Studies Art)

Home Economics: Samantha is able to do a variety of housework with little or no assistance. She understands the basic concepts of cooking/baking from scratch, simple cleaning, and household errands. Samantha has ample knowledge about the health benefits of eating organic foods. She is familiar with the process of making household detergents and cleaners. Samantha goes grocery shopping on a regular basis and knows to look at the labels and ingredients and what to look for. She has been taught the benefit of buying from local farmers and is encouraged to do so. Samantha is also learning ways to be more economical with her money.

Bible Study: Samantha has a basic knowledge of the Bible and some of the stories in it. She knows who her creator is and what he sent his Son to do for us. Recently we have begun putting emphasis on reading the Bible for herself and interpreting it based on its Hebrew origins.

During Easter/Passover, Samantha completed a family study on Exodus. To begin, she attended a Seder at a friend’s house where she learned about Jewish traditions and customs. (Samantha’s friends are not Jewish, so the Haggadah was adjusted accordingly.) The book of Exodus was retold. Games were played. Songs were sung. And prayer was the main focus of the day. With assistance, Samantha completed reading Exodus in her Adventure Bible.

As part of the holiday celebration of Christmas, Samantha was retold the story of Jesus’s birth. She also decorated the Christmas Tree using traditional ornaments and homemade garland.

For Easter, Samantha was retold the story of Jesus’s death and resurrection. She dyed eggs using natural dyes (carrots, onion skins, spices, etc.), as well as made traditional pace eggs.

Volunteer Work: Samantha assists in volunteering three places: Women’s Enrichment Center in Dalton, West Side Elementary School, and Christ Chapel Share and Care Mission Food Bank in Ringgold.

WEC: Twice a month Samantha assists me in volunteering at the Women’s Enrichment Center. This year she has been able to complete more simple office work such as making copies, licking envelopes, and placing stamps.

WES: Samantha takes bi-weekly trips to WES during the school year where she helps with clerical work such as making copies (like at WEC) or classroom assistance such as making work samples.

Share and Care Mission: Samantha volunteer sporadically at the food bank filling bags for families in need.

Special Field Trips: Ripley’s Believe it or Not Gatlinburg, TN, Cades Cove Smokey Mountain, TN Ruby Falls Chattanooga, TN, Pumpkin Patch Riceville, GA, Apple Picking Elijay, GA Pioneer Days Audubon Acres Chattanooga, TN, Strawberry Picking at Sims Farm Ringgold, GA, and Hunter art Museum Chattanooga, TN

Conclusion/Main Goals: Samantha is on track and met her goals for the 2014-2015 school year.