April Homeschool Update

If you are interested in what’s happening in our homeschool… keep reading to check out our April Homeschooling update!

So as you may or may not know we homeschool year round. For us it is just easier and I will probably make another blog post on how we schedule our year round school calendar and how we plan for our days off. It is easy to accomplish and we actually feel that it is better for us to school year round while living in Japan as the summer in Tokyo is not actually the best season for spending your time outside. We have an extensive list as to why we start our “school year” in the spring but that is for another time!

First of all, we can not believe that it is April already! It seems like March just started and it is already finished! We enjoyed a lot of great activities, books, and science experiences in March and even finished our Apologia science curriculum that we had been working through since last October. We really enjoyed many of the curriculum choices and add ins that we used but to be honest it has been a bit of a challenge. We were ending our scheduled school year and preparing for the next season to start.

We have been gearing up to start our next curriculum which will be based around My Father’s World: Exploring Countries and Cultures (aka MFW:ECC). We did end up buying almost all of the supplies used and this saved me a decent amount. I started shopping for the products one by one on Amazon a few months prior to our April start date. We are actually still waiting on a couple of items that we need for the school year but we are going to get started even thought they are not here yet. A couple of the books will not be used until later in the year so we can get by without them for now.

We also had a special couple of boxes that arrived form family in the United States that were loaded down with books. There were many good books that will help fill our book baskets and followed along with our countries and cultures themes and we plan to add those in as we see fit with the plan. There were also a few books that kind of tied in with our previous curriculum and my son was really interested in reading them before we started our new school year.

Soooo we have been finishing up :

(these are our just for fun books this month, not what we have been using for curriculum / planned study)

Daniel Boone

Who is Issac Newton

Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry

The Magic Tree House: Dragon of the Red Dawn

Various Pokemon Books

The Secret Garden

My son really got into Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry. I think he learned so much about history and could relate it to certain subject that currently come up on the news today. He has a broader understand and why people from different generations have different feelings and ideas about things than our family currently does. It really gave a great glimpse into history and no matter your age or where you come from you could really get lost in the main characters feelings like you were standing there with her. I won’t ruin the book for anyone who has not read it… but I think it is a book that all children should read. I do suggest it as a read aloud with a parent – especially if your child is young so that you can explain some of the language used and why it is inappropriate and some history to go along with the book. If I would not have been reading this book aloud with my 8 year old he would have bene very confused about some of the scenes because he would not understand about the state of the country after slavery and the changes in the south at that time. I never read this book as a student but I wish that my public school would have read this. Skim through the book before purchasing and make sure your child is at an appropriate age to really “get it” though. Some context would be too much for young readers. (FYI there is references to graphic things but the book does not always describe them… you will have to interpret them on your Childs level. This would make some parents uncomfortable. I think it needs to be told though. But maybe for children a little older)

We have also been working with fractions. We have finished Singapore Math 4A&B. We are kind of disappointed with this book. We used the US version and I did not think that there were enough practice problems for how quickly the book moved through each concept of fractions. So instead of moving right into the next level we are spending a few days just prating and reviewing with fractions. We are using the Ikea chalkboard and roller paper and just doing a quick quiz with different types of review problems. It is a fun change of pace from the regular book. I mix in some easier review multiplication with different types of fraction problems. Then we also add in some multistep word problems and try to make it enjoyable. We will be trying out teaching textbooks for the start of our next school year.

We have never used teaching textbooks before and I am not sure how it will go. It does take up a bit more space than our Singapore workbook and text book so that is unfortunate when we are traveling but it is still portable when needed. Most days we do complete our work at home so, I think this will still work out just fine! I also like the idea of a “teacher” on the computer to explain the lessons. this way, if my son is feeling confidant and really catching on he can keep on moving without my help. Then later I can log in and see his lessons results. It auto grades the answers and I can look for any problem areas very quickly. Then we can spend more time on difficult areas rather than wasting time.

We have finished Apologia: swimming creatures. If you have a child that is into seas life they will really enjoy it. I know a lot of people shy away from this as they feel it is a year long program. It was not an entire year long for us. We went through the entire book, did some note booking, and projects and still finished in 5 months. I think the thing to remember is that we did this in 5 months with holiday breaks and other breaks off. We didn’t rush but I did make it a priority. Science and Math are a big priority. We do them bother EVERY school day. However Science does not have to take too long. We do not have to do an activity or a project along with it everyday but we will AT MINIMUM read  a couple sections from the science book.

It has been really fun when my son sees something here in Tokyo that we have learned about in our science book. He loves being our “tour guide” and telling us all about nay sea life that we are seeing!

He has been asking for Apologia: Flying creatures and we have ordered it but have not received it just yet. We bought it used from Amazon. An important note is that any Military families can get 40% off all Apologia curriculum. That is a great deal and I just wanted to pass that along to anyone who might come across this site. (which is not many people! ha!)

We are still making our way through the book shark and Sonlight book lists. We just add in the books that fit in with what we are currently studying. We love them. We love to read. We might be banned from our library soon since we always have about 30 books or more at a time!

We wil be posting updates throughout our time with My Fathers world. We will try to include info on any projects we make or extras we add in. We like the curriculum but we do have to increase it for challenge and I don’t think that is a big issue though. My son loves the activities and hands on projects. It really reinforces what he has learned and he likes to show off his art! If you kid is not into crafty things they would not like this program. As a mom I find it so helpful because the projects are simple, fun, and the materials do not cost much.

We Will be posting our first week asap! Happy Spring Break!




Homeschool Reading List – February 2nd Grade

This is our homeschool reading list for 2nd grade this month. Our second grader is reading:

Book List:

  1. Matilda
  2. Tangerine
  3. Alvin Ho
  4. Tales of Famous Americans
  5. The Cat who went to Heaven
  6. The Complete Tales of Winnie The Pooh
  7. Hardy Boys Adventures – Secret of the red Arrow
  8. Kaya – Meet Kaya
  9. Kaya- Kaya’s Escape
  10. Kaya- Kaya’s Hero
  11. Whats So Great About Texas

Alvin Ho- Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things

The favorite book out of this list has to be Alvin Ho by Lenore Look. We have read most of the Alvin Ho series and we really enjoy them. We crack up over the humor and reread every Alvin Ho book. My 2nd grader has read some of the Alvin Ho books about 3 times. Yes, they are that funny. They are hilarious for adults as well. Even my husband sometimes reads through the Alvin Ho books just too see what we have been reading about during the day. He thinks they are rather comical as well. I wish these books were more popular. They are just so cute and funny I am surprised that more children are not reading them. We have a relative we wanted to purchase another Alvin Ho book for my son and when she went to Barns and Noble they informed her that they do not carry it but they could order it and then she could pick it up once it comes in. I am surprised about this because I think this series would be a really popular read for middle grade readers if it was more readily available. Until then I will continue to tell everyone about author  Lenore Look and her hilarious Alvin Ho series.

What’s So Great About Texas

We are skimming through “What’s so great about Texas” as our 2nd grader will be working on a report about Texas/ Texas history in the next couple of weeks. We have many other Texas books to help with the report research, but we have been concentrating on this book for the last week or so.

Kaya- American Girl Series

I have to admit, I was not sure how the books about “Kaya” were going to go over. They have a big American girl logo on the cover. I was not so sure that my 8 year old son was going to be too into reading these. I told him before we started that they were more so historical fiction short reads and really had nothing to do with the dolls! Yes, the stories go along with the doll and her time period and all of that but there was nothing “girly” about a Native American girl being captured by another tribe who has raided her home in an effort to steal horses! He agreed by the third book that they were not so bad. However I would say they were not the most interesting of historical fiction stories that we have ever read! We did not mind them- but I think that our household has such a love for long detailed historical fiction chapter books (thanks Sonlight curriculum homeschooling year 1!!) that we just couldn’t give them a fair chance at first!

If you have an elementary schooler who likes shorter stories and needs to feel the accomplishment in finishing a book sooner this may be a helpful series to keep them plugging along this school year. There are also many lap books and free study guides online for the Kaya series. We did not use these to supplement our Kaya reading but I did check into them. Since we weren’t especially into the stories we just decided to finish them but not add in any projects and the like. We decided that we would spend more time on digging into our other longer chapter books for this month.

The Cat Who Went to Heaven

We are enjoying The Cat Who Went To Heaven. This is another quick read. It is on the Sonlight Curriculum reading list for the Eastern Hemisphere (not sure of the corresponding letter for this level) and I happened to find this at our local library here in Tokyo. I have been ordering all of the readers and read-clouds that are mentioned in the Sonlight eastern hemisphere list. We really enjoy the Sonlight readers and we do incorporate them into our “My Fathers World” spine. (this probably sounds more complicated than it is!)


My mom actually read Matilda to me in first grade. It was a gift from my favorite teacher of all time (Shout out Ms. Steamen in Carroll, OH!) and I really loved this book. My 2nd graders also has been really enjoying Rohald Dahl books and I knew he would also really get into Matilda. The first Rohald Dahl book we read was The B.F.G. in Kindy and he really enjoyed it.  We plan to read the rest by this author and will do so as we purchased them used off of amazon. I know that we will also be reading them with my youngest child in a few years so we would like to add these to our home library.

Tales of Famous Americans

Tales of Famous Americans has been a pretty good into to much of the *important* figures of American History that you would be reading about in any social studies book! We have been enjoying this and the artwork keeps the kids interested. The stories and information are short and to the point hitting the main points about each historical figure. I think this book is an interesting supplement for fun and we using it in a “book basket” type of method. My 2nd grader just reads about a person or two every couple of days and there is no pressure on this title. No memorizing or quizzing on anything in the book… just learning about important Americans for enjoyment and a knowledge base for more intense history timelines and information to build upon in the future. We also will be venturing to the Alamo in the near future so we are really diving into some of the people who were there and Daniel Boone happens to be featured in the book. I really want him to have a basis of history involving the Alamo so that our visit makes more of an impact. I am trying to avoid a “this is really boring mom” type of field trip on this one!


Tangerine seems to be holding his interest but I haven’t gotten the feedback on this one yet. He is not quite finished with it yet. I will post an update on this book later if it is a winner!

The complete Tales of Winnie the Pooh

And least but certainly not least, The Complete Tales Of Winnie The Pooh…. is a total hit! I thought my son would find this babyish but he totally gets the humor this year. I think 8 was a great age to read this with him. He gets the humor and is really laughing out loud at the silly antics and nonsense conversations between the animals. I would tell any homeschooling family to read together. It is cute and funny… it is just adorable but yet hilarious enough for even boys to enjoy it. I got my copy on Amazon used for only a penny! ($4 for shipping added in of course). totally worth it. If I can find some more I will buy other copies and gift them. Reading this can really brighten your day. Very Nostalgic!