December 2016 Homeschooling Update

December was filled with family, friends, blessings, and fun.

We started off the month with Madison’s Speech and Debate Tournament.

It was a 13 hour day and in the end, she placed 3rd in Junior Open Interpretation, 5th in Junior Informative and 6th in Sweepstakes. We were very proud of all the work she put into this. The best part was the knowledge she gained from learning how to write. She formulated a thesis statement, 3 main points, an introduction, and conclusion. She also learned how to cut a chapter book so it tells the story in 8 minutes. She learned so much from this experience.

Here are the videos of her speeches:

We decided it would be a good idea to take a break for the Spring semester so we can get more school in and to enroll again next Fall.

Madison participated in the Annual Great Hope Floats rain gutter regatta race with her American Heritage Girls troops and the Trial Life Troops. By a stroke of luck, her snowball making boat won first place.

Madison’s happy place is Color Me Mine and she enjoyed painting gifts for family and friends throughout the month.

We attended a Christmas party with our local co-op and Madison performed a piano piece for the recital. We also decorated gingerbread houses with friends, had an ornament exchange, and went on a horse drawn sleigh ride around town to enjoy the Christmas lights.

Madison really enjoyed the Dallas Art Museum Homeschool class this month.

They discussed the art while learning about the difference between fact and opinion. The art was very engaging.

Madison attended a very fun camp through NuMinds called Santa Runs on S.T.E.A.M. The camp was very engaging and creative. It was perfect for gifted children. The creative and fun way they were learning really engages gifted learners and brings out their desire to take their learning to the next level and encourages their critical and logical thinking without them even realizing it because they are having so much fun.

If only the public and private schools would embrace this curriculum and way of learning in their gifted programs…

I would encourage everyone to ‘like’ their Facebook page. They are doing some wonderful things for gifted learners.

Madison enjoyed decorating a STAR tree again this year. A STAR tree is a sad tree along the road. πŸ™‚ It’s a little thing we do in our town to spread the Christmas cheer.

My oldest daughter, Alyssa came home from Austin for Christmas and my parents came to visit too.

Jeff turned 50 this year! What a milestone to celebrate!

Madison enjoyed playing chess with my father.

She received Greek Mythology chess pieces from my parents for Christmas this year. She loves them!

Jeff, my dad, Alyssa, and Madison enjoyed spending quality time at Top Golf.

We visited Alyssa in Austin after Christmas and went to the Bullock Museum and the Texas State Capitol.

We also went to a pizza place called Rebel. Madison was excited to get dye free cotton candy.

We managed to squeeze in a visit to the Sistine Chapel Exhbition.

As far as curriculum goes, Madison did school up until the 20th of December minus the days we had activities. She did Daily Devotions, Jesus Our Guide, Wordly Wise book 6, Texas Citizenship, Space, Thinkwell Math 7, finished the History of Us and read the books on the December 2016 book list.

Now that Speech and Debate and the holidays are over, I have a plan that covers more for the new year. We will continue doing what we were doing in December, but will also add more writing and grammar as well as an easy Geography unit and coding and Microsoft Office. I will write a more detailed plan for January in the next post.

I hope everyone has a Happy New Year!  Here’s to rocking 2017! Cheers!


December 2016 Book List Update


Madison is continuing to work her way through the bookshelf. I have chosen the easier books first, so she is reading a lot for now, but as they get harder there will be fewer. Her all time favorite was the Emily Windsnap series. We will be checking out the rest of the series to read in January.  Here are a list of the books Madison read in December: 

 This post contains affiliate links. Please see my complete disclosure policy for more details.


The Castle in the Attic

A Thief in the Theater: A Kit Mystery (American Girl Mysteries (Quality))

Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator

Bright Shadow

The Case of the Ruby Slippers by Martha Freeman. (Holiday House,2012) [Hardcover]

The Tail of Emily Windsnap

Emily Windsnap and the Monster from the Deep

Emily Windsnap and the Castle in the Mist

Snow Treasure

Grace (American Girl Today)

26 Fairmount Avenue (Newbery Honor Book, 2000)

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library

The Long Winter (Little House)


I decided to include reviews of content for Flush and Scat. They were on the bookshelf and so Madison read them after she finished Hoot. Madison tells me about each book she reads in detail on her own, so after hearing about these two, I decided it would be better to include the review so parents can decide if they feel they are age appropriate or not. She didn’t have nightmares, so all was good for us. πŸ™‚


Common Sense Media Review of Flush


Common Sense Media Review of Scat

Sistine Chapel ExhibitionΒ 

We are fortunate that the Sistine Chapel Exhibition is currently in Dallas through January 8th, so we decided to visit it today. I was able to secure a Groupon so it made it a little more budget friendly.

It was a very intriguing exhibit to say the least. Each painting is a replica of the original size.

You can purchase an audio companion for  an additional $2. I definitely think it’s worth it. The audio takes about an hour and half to listen to. They do have signs that briefly describe each painting as well, but not as in depth as the audio does.
The display starts out with painting above you so there’s a lot of looking up while listening.

The signs show you where each picture is placed on the ceiling. They are all numbered, but aren’t all in order so there is some searching required to find the next one.

The paintings are amazing and this is the next best thing to seeing the originals.

I totally would have brought a Clorox wipe for the audio companion if I had known it was going to be so close to her face for hours. πŸ™‚ But that’s me…


They have a video that explains everything Michelangelo had to do to paint these and it’s kind of hidden to the right, but is a must to see and preferably before viewing the paintings.

I think this exhibition was amazing and I’m glad we went. It’s not the same viewing pictures of the paintings from a book or on the computer. And the wealth of knowledge Madison gained was worth the price of the admission. It is during the Renaissance period, so there is a lack of clothing (none) on people in the majority of the paintings. I thought I had better mention that so there are no surprises. πŸ™‚ I had to watch how I phrased that so I wouldn’t come up in searches that I didn’t want to come up in. πŸ™‚

It is in Dallas until January 8th and it’s a gem!

Visiting the Texas State Capitol

The second day we were in Austin, TX we decided to visit the Texas State Capitol.

Way up at the top of the dome is Lady Liberty. Madison is posing as lady liberty in front of the Capitol. The original Lady Liberty is on display at the Bullock Museum.

We started off with a tour of the Texas State Capitol. The tours are free and very comprehensive. Our tour guide, Elizabeth, was wonderful!

Here is a picture of the dome from the inside. If you stand on a star on the floor directly below it and clap or talk you can hear an echo that no one else around you can hear. That was pretty cool.

The hinges on the doors are really neat. They had a problem with people stealing them, so now they can be purchased in the gift shop. Madison was wanting to purchase one until she saw that they were $215.00.

We visited the Senate first and she learned all about what the Senate does and when. The desks are from 1890.

Then we visited the House of Representatives. Madison learned all about the House and what they do and when.

Madison located our Representative.

Then we toured the extension. The Texas State Capitol is the largest State Capitol in the United States. When we looked up we could see the Lady Liberty through the windows.

There are several QR codes placed inside the Capitol that you can scan to learn more about each area. We plan on doing that the next time we visit. They also have an interactive learning space to learn about each of the Texas War Heroes.

After the tour, we ventured outside to do a scavenger hunt of the grounds. They have one for the North side and one for the South. I printed them off prior to our visit. They do not have them available on site. Madison was tired after we completed the North side and suggested we save the South side so we would have something to do when we went back to visit again. She’s a hoot.

Here is a list of all of the memorials on both grounds. Here are explanations and pictures of each memorial.

This was the Korean War Veterans Memorial. It wasn’t on the scavenger hunt, but she visited all of them regardless.

Pioneer Woman

Texas Children. It represents all of the Texas children in public school. Madison is in full support of the public schools as long as she doesn’t have to attend. πŸ™‚

And…she chose to do a mannequin pose as well.

We were delighted and grateful that our State Capitol has the 10 Commandments on its grounds.

That pretty much sums up our visit to the Texas State Capitol. It was our first, but will not be our last.

Madison is interested in taking a leadership class here in upcoming years though Teenpact.

They offer camps and classes in many states for ages 8 & up.

We are so grateful for the opportunities to be able to teach Madison through hands on and engaging experiences by homeschooling.

Learning Texas History at the Bullock Museum Β 

Madison loves US history and World history, and even though Texas history is still US history, she has not really been interested in learning all of it in depth.

So when we decided to go to Austin, TX for a couple of days I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to learn Texas history at the Bullock Museum. Madison loves museums, so I figured we’d give it a shot and it was a homeschool win!

I LOVED that museum was arranged in chronological order by floor.

We started out on the first floor with an exhibit on La Belle, the ship that changed history.

La Belle is the oldest and most comprehensive shipwreck in United States history and it was recovered off of the Texas coast.


Click the link below for more details on this amazing discovery.

La Belle Information

Before we arrived I downloaded the student activity guides that go with the museum’s exhibits so that Madison could fill them in as we went along.

Madison enjoyed looking at the artifacts from the ship that were on display, labeling them and deciding if they were brought on the ship to use or to trade.

On the second floor we explored the history of Texas’ relationship with Spain, Mexico, and the United States. As well as how the economy grew through immigration, the legacy of slavery, the fight for justice and civil rights.

Here is Madison with a statue of Sam Houston.

Madison learned about how Texas became its own Republic and then became a state.

Madison had read about this prior to our visit, so she was excited she recognized the Come and Take it flag. She was surprised at how small the cannon really was. Here is the story behind the Come and Take it flag and the cannon. In this section, Madison learned about the Texas Revolution.

Behind this display of the Alamo they had a great short video explaining the history through the words of the only Texan to survive.


Madison learned how cotton was like white gold in Texas and its importance to the state’s economy.

The Bullock Museum has interactive learning as well. Here Madison is learning about 6 historical figures and placed them on a timeline by historical events.

Madison watched a video where she realized the 1936 Centennial Celebrations was at Fair Park. It was really neat to see it during that time period.

On the third floor Madison discovered how ranching, agriculture, oil, war and technology shaped Texas in the 20th century. We also watched a film on how the Hollywood cowboy legend developed.

Madison also learned all about oil and its importance to Texas.

The mosaic on the floor in the entrance of the museum shows many people, plants and animals that are important to Texas history. Madison identified the Conquistadors, Vaqueros, Buffalo Soldiers, Women Air Force Service Pilots, Frontier Folk, American Indians, African Americans, Texas Rangers, Missionaries, and Cattle Folk.

Also on the third floor there are many flags from different decades on display. They were really neat to look at. They even had the flag from Bull Run.

If you are even in the Austin area, I highly recommend visiting the Bullock Museum. And make sure you allow enough time to enjoy it all. We were there for 3 hours and closed the museum down. We could have spent another couple hours there easily. Madison wasn’t ready to leave yet, but when they close you have no other choice. πŸ™‚

November 2016 Gifted Homeschooling Update

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Thankfully November was slower than September and October. Not entirely by choice though, Jeff and I came down with awful colds at the end of the month and life kind of got put on hold for a while.

Madison had a good time making Christmas ornaments to sell at the local kids homeschool craft fair.

She also went on a field trip to the Coppell Nature Park with the Perot Junior Naturalist Program. She was able to find animal tracks including an armadillo.

I had the feedback session for her testing with Madison’s psychologist and then I decided Let’s Get Crackin’.

We made a family Advent Wreath during Madison’s religion class. It was a lot of fun and we are enjoying it each Sunday as we pray and light the candles. Jeff is reading Stories of the Child Jesus from Many Lands to Madison during Advent.

Madison turned in her Operation Christmas boxes during one of her American Heritage Girls meetings. She spent a lot of time gathering items and putting a lot of thought and her own money into these. It will be neat to see where they end up going. Jeff and I also enjoyed teaching the Living in the US badge to her troop.

We enjoyed painting Christmas ornaments during a homeschool field trip to Color Me Mine. This is Madison’s ‘happy place’ and there will be several pictures of her painting there this upcoming year.

Madison and Jeff attended a local Mineral and Gem show. It was the first one Madison has ever been to and she loved it! She brought all the money she had saved up and it was a shopping treat for her! She loved browsing all of the wonderful items they had for sale.

She panned for gold and bought a dish and a bag to pan her own at home.

And bought a geode that they cracked open for her.

She cannot wait to go to another mineral and gem show again soon!

Madison has been practicing for months for the piano for her Christmas recital in December. God bless her teacher, she taught Madison to play Heart and Soul with both hands without music. Her piano teacher is so amazing and we are very grateful for her!!!

I ordered the Lego Architecture White House for Madison and she enjoyed building it. The bags aren’t numbered like they are on the sets for kids. Go figure!

And here it is all finished.

For Homeschooling, Madison continued to practice her speeches for her upcoming tournament, listening to the History of Us book 10 on Audible, reading her daily devotions, finished A Wrinkle in Time language arts unit from Moving Beyond on the Page as well as her Matter unit.

Here she is learning about acids and bases:

And she learned how to separate hydrogen from oxygen by using electricity:

As for Math, we are trying a new approach. Madison is now speeding through. She watches the lectures for each lesson and then does one problem. If she gets it right she moves on, if she doesn’t then she does another problem. She is going through about 3 or 4 lessons a day. I purchased Thinkwell’s Algebra I while it was 45% off at Homeschool Buyers Co-Op and I am thinking she’ll probably be ready to start that shortly after the new year. She really enjoys algebra. Much more than the rest, so instead of skipping  to it, we are speeding our way through it. So far, so good. I wouldn’t have the confidence to do this without the scores we received from her testing. She does not need repetition, so I’m not going to make her do it just for the sake of doing it. It will be much better when she gets to do the math she enjoys doing and thinks is fun. I’m looking forward to that.

Madison also finished up her Fall 2016 book list and her favorite was the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series.
We had a wonderful and relaxing Thanksgiving and are looking forward to Jeff’s birthday and the Christmas season.

Madison’s Book List – Fall 2016

We are continuing to make our way through the bookshelf. πŸ™‚  After Madison finished her Summer book list she dove headfirst into Fall. Here are the books she read in September, October and November:

*This post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosure policy for more details.

The Ballad of Lucy Whipple

A House of Tailors

The Invention of Hugo Cabret

The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 1)

The Sea of Monsters (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 2)

The Titan’s Curse (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 3)

The Battle of the Labyrinth (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 4) She read this one twice!

The Last Olympian (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 5)

A Wrinkle in Time (Time Quintet) This was a re-read.

The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup, and a Spool of Thread

Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin

The Middle Moffat

Ella Enchanted (Trophy Newbery)

What Was Ellis Island?

The Wanderer

The People of Sparks (The City of Ember)

Tuck Everlasting

Number the Stars

Jeff finished reading The Children’s Homer: The Adventures of Odysseus and the Tale of Troy to Madison as well.