Planning, Plotting and Playing our way through 2014

This year there is change afoot.  I’m not sure why, and I’m not sure where this change will lead us, but there is most certainly an air of change.  When I sat down with Gary and the children to discuss our direction this year it was with one purpose in mind.  To simplify.

I want to simplify our home school, our home, our life style and most of all my mind!  I know I’ve mentioned it before, but my mind is so busy and never seems to shut down ever.  In many ways this is a blessing.  For instance it is the cogs of my brain that keeps our home school productive and moving on all the time.  I have more ideas than time and even when we achieve 50% of them we are doing well and keeping busy.  Thing is, I’m not sure such mind clutter is good for me.  So this year I want to simplify.

I gave the children the opportunity to try their hands at a fully unschooling project based approach and was very surprised when they looked at me horrified and stated with absolute certainty that there was no way they were going to stop history.  Oh, okay then.  That’s that.  Simplifying wasn’t quite as easy as I thought it would be.  In addition, they were all fairly sure they wanted to do maths each morning.  C11 even stating that she wanted no more to do with living maths, but wanted to take up Saxon again.  Phew!  Where do they get their opinionated personalities from?  (Gary, don’t answer that!)  C11 wanting to move back to Saxon doesn’t really surprise me.  She always looks like she is miles away when I am teaching.  L11, on the other hand, has taken to it like a duck to water, and her mathematical confidence is growing by the day.  So after much discussion, this is what the older one’s school will look like:


T11 will continue with Saxon 87, and he will do this independently for an hour every morning.  C11 will begin Saxon 65.  She did not complete Saxon 54 so I know we will have some catch up work to do.  I have purchased the workbook for 65, which is designed to help struggling students work through the problems.  I anticipate having to do a lot of side by side teaching with C11 this year to bring her up to the level required of Saxon 65.

L11 will continue with Living Maths and Life of Fred books.

I will probably include A5 in her maths lessons as well as I can already see that maths will be one of her stronger academic areas.  I may reread the elementary Life of Fred books aloud to both of them (L11 is currently on the intermediate level).  I read somewhere that Life of Fred has so much maths in each book, therefore it is really helpful if you revisit them again and again.  I also think A5 will enjoy the story line and if she picks up any maths along the way, all the better!  I think I will also use a basic English maths curriculum to make sure I’m heading in the right direction with L11.  I’m still nervous about taking on all of her maths myself, or even more scary (although very tempting) allowing her the freedom to discover maths for herself.

A5 and B2 will also continue with their Mr Men maths, which to be honest is much more about exploration than anything else.

Using the ruler

I rather wish I had left academics to a much older age with my older three so I am determined not to make the same mistake with my younger set.  I’ll not be starting formal maths for a loooong time, if at all (it will depend on the child).


Writing, as you all know is my nemesis.  Yet I have come to a conclusion.  To be a good writer, you have to write.  And that is what we will do.  Thanks to my blog, the children have pen pals all over the world, which is an excellent way of getting some much-needed practice in.  In addition, we have some close friends who are missionaries in Israel (hi Caroline!), so I see some potential for writing there.  Grandad and Granny live in Northern Ireland, and I am sure would be very pleased to receive the odd email from the children.  I am also going to start a Children’s Corner once a month on my blog, where the children will be encouraged to create an on-line children’s magazine…more writing.  And all this is in addition to their school writing.  This term I am abandoning the essay type questions and giving them more freedom in their writing.  Simply put, I just want them to write, and to write a lot.



Well, I have buckled under the enormous pressure put on me to continue with our history studies.  I was hoping to reduce my planning efforts and as history takes up most of my time there was definitely a part of me hoping the children would want to go to project based independent school but no it was not meant to be.  Secretly, of course, I am over the moon that the children love the very thing I have dedicated much of my time to!


As our history studies are actually composed of so very much more than simply history and include geography, food, clothes, religion, leadership, art and artists, music and so forth, these are our plans for a full-on 12 weeks:

  • We will be putting on a presentation to Gary’s parents on the people of Islam, along with some Islamic food and a display of all the work we did last term.
  • The older ones will be having a fun, full on learning experience about King John, vicariously learning so much more, including the Magna Charta.
  • We will finish up Dante and start Chaucer, which we are all looking forward to, with many hands on activities planned.
  • We will finish our art study of the Limbourg Brothers and begin one on Van Dyke
  • We will learn about the 100 year war, the plague and the War of the Roses.
  • This year I have done the same as last and asked the children to choose one area that interests them to research and learn about independently.  T11 has chosen (unsurprisingly) medicine and apocathary during the plague, L11 has chosen to learn about food and feasts during the middle ages and C11 has chosen to research fashions during the middle ages.  I have bought them a variety of books to get them started, but after that they are on their own:


  • We hope to finish off the term with a second presentation where the children will present their individual projects.  This will bring us up to the end of the middle ages and to the beginning of the renaissance period.  We are so looking forward to delving into Shakespeare and the explorative age next autumn.


Over the holidays we did a brief study on an Islamic scientist, Alhazen.


It was wonderful just letting the children discover for themselves the anatomy of the eye, how light travels in straight lines and making a camera obscura to demonstrate it all.  It was always my intention to teach some science using the actual scientist through history to do so and this very quick study over Christmas showed me the great potential to be found in this method.  This term we will certainly be covering Bacon and may well cover a couple more.

We have decided to stop General Science and Anatomy & Physiology and restart during our Easter break.  The children don’t like being completely on a break, so I decided we’d keep A & P and do it all together for those four weeks before we go into our summer adventures.  T11 will go up to the start of the A &P chapters in his General Science and then stop and join up with us (Apologia’s General Science is half A & P)

We will also be continuing with our pond study.

Our pond

With only 13 weeks left to go, the end is in sight.  In fact, the pond study will end about the same time as our term, so it all falls into place rather nicely!  We will then decide where we might like to take our nature studies after Easter – whether we stick to pond study or move on to somewhere different.

Mr Men School

My littles will be covering lots more Mr Men and Little Miss characters and any topic which comes up in each book.  Mr Men have really captured their imagination and it has been a fabulous learning choice.  A5 will continue with her All About Reading and do hands on maths with both her younger sister and also will join her older sister.

Contents of our Easter Adventure Box
There you have it. Twelve weeks of full on learning, quite possibly not as simplified as I’d first thought! Next term maybe….


  1. Wow, what a programme, Claire. That doesnt surprise me as you are an amazing home ed mum. Hoping to get a laptop pretty soon so will be happy to share experiences here in you all. Caroline

    1. Thank you for your lovely words, Caroline. It’s all well and good having plans, now I just need to put them into action! Gary’s parents are here this week so I can’t see us getting much done!

  2. Love the new plans! I am always impressed with your homeschool!
    Writing is an area we will be focusing on as well. I see many pen-pal letters/emails in the future. 🙂
    Wishing you all a wonderful year!

    1. Looking forward to my family getting to know yours better this year! C11 will write once her Grandparents have left (they’re over from Ireland until next Tuesday)
      Have a great New Year

  3. I love that your kids enjoy history and all that you have done for them. What a wonderful pat on the back! You are doing great. I so understand wanting to step back for a time though. I hope you end up with a lovely balance.
    Blessings, Dawn

  4. Sounds like a busy twelve weeks for Angelicscalliwags. You are blessed in that your children love history and want to continue on the path you have led them. That is the one area my children love the most, also. I understand about writing. We have done much written narration in our home school, and, yes, the best way to become a writer is to write.
    I am looking forward to seeing what has been happening at your pond over these last few weeks.
    There are days when I would like to give them a packaged curriculum and say, “Here. Do it.” It would simplify my life, but I know I only have them for a short time and then they will fly on their own. Best to give them my all while I can.
    As I sign off here, I am going to spend a few minutes praying for you and thanking the Lord for your friendship through your blog.
    Have a marvelous day, Claire.

    1. Thank you Donna. I could do with all the prayers and help I can get. I really did try to simplify this year but to no avail.
      I know that feeling of being tempted to just hand them a workbook and tell them to get on with it! Ultimately though, that would be unsatisfying, so I shall continue doggedly onwards and hope I don’t crumble under all the work!!

  5. When I read your plans I’m always struck by your zest for life as well as the love in your family which shines through everything you write!
    You clearly have a wonderful relationship with your children that they are able to express so openly what and how they want to learn. They are very lucky that they have a mum with the energy (?!) to accommodate their different needs and preferences. (I can just about keep up with two!!)
    I too am really looking forward to seeing how things unfold in the AngelicScalliwag homeschool this term – and to learning lots of history!

    1. Aww, thanks Ticia! I’m not sure I would have anything to blog about if we stopped history, so maybe it’s a good job they wanted to continue. I shall just have to pray for more energy!

  6. Like everyone else, am very much looking forward to your history posts 🙂 Their choices for independent research sound like such fun – feasts, apothecaries and fashion from the Middle Ages – can’t wait to see what they come up with (we once had a dress up middle age feast – it was messy but lots of fun) And can’t wait to see the Children’s corner – that sounds like a fabulous idea! Having said all this – I wish you many opportunities to recharge your batteries, and find the rest and balance that you need and deserve.

    1. It’s me that needs to put the breaks on. I remember saying to mum in my teens that I never really understood the appeal of the whole sleep thing. It seemed such a waste of time to lie, eyes shut, and not actually be doing anything. Now I’m older, my body can’t keep up with the reality of that. Problem is, I still think I’m a teen, with teenager energy levels, instead of a nearly forty year old woman who frankly should know better than to stay up all night getting excited over the plague or Mr Tickle! It’s not normal I tell you!!

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