A Weekend of Fun: Physics Fest and Waco

At the beginning of April, we took a quick weekend trip to College Station, TX to attend Physics Fest at Texas A&M. We pass through Waco, TX on our way so I decided we’d stop and visit things we have had on our bucket list on the way there and the way home.

We drove down on Friday so we decided to stop and visit Magnolia Market at the Silos on the way. This is a market that was built by Chip and Joanna Gaines from the show Fixer Upper. There was a line to the bakery the entire time we visited and the market was rather crowded. It was nice out on the lawn area with the food trucks and they had live music.

They also have a really nice garden area.

It was a very nice place to visit and I’m glad we stopped.

Unfortunately, it was really cold and rainy the day of Physics Fest. A lot of stations are outside, but the majority were inside so it was pretty packed. The highlight of Physics Fest for Madison was hanging out with kids and playing games with a group we stayed in the same hotel with. That was memorable for her. ❤️

We had a wonderful dinner at the Messina Hof Winery right outside of College Station in Byran, TX. It was fabulous!

On the way home we stopped again in Waco, TX to visit the Waco Mammoth National Monument. This is a must see in my opnion. They have guided tours that take you through the actual dig site.

Here is a life size picture of a mammoth so you can see the actual comparison to the size of it to yourself. Amazing!

We love Junior Ranger Badges and this was a fun one for Madison to get.

After Madison completed her Junior Ranger Badge, her and her sister sifted and identified ancient ocean fossils.

You get to keep what you find!

This was definitely a fun trip and we made the most of our weekend getaway! Nothing can replace the value of hands on learning and I am very grateful we have are able to embrace these moments!

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Gifted Homeschooling Curriculum Update February 2018

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my complete disclosure policy.

Here is an update on what Madison is currently learning by subject. 🙂

Math:

We began using ALEKS in October and it is working very well for Madison. This is the first Math curriculum that we have used that hasn’t been frustrating for her or has caused tears. She took the 5th grade math pre-test and started out just a bit over mastering 50% of the course and finished by mid November. Then she took the 6th grade pre-test and again scored around 50% mastery and she is just now finishing that grade up. As soon as she completes 6th grade we will move on to 7th in the same fashion. They do offer a free trial so if you wanted to check it out, you can without a charge first.

English:

The Introduction to Composition class Madison is taking through YS Middle School Online is a year long course. She absolutely loves it. I cannot say enough wonderful things about interaction with the teacher, the students and how far she has come with her writing. We signed up for the next level class for next year.

Madison is on Lesson 16 of the Wordly Wise 3000 Book 7. She uses the online version.

Science and Social Studies:

We are now using Study.com for our Science and Social Studies. Madison was moving at a lightening speed with Acellus and she was finding errors. When I compared what was covered for the same subjects, there was an astounding difference. I signed up for the study.com free trial and Madison couldn’t pass the final exams for the same subjects she had just completed with Acellus. She felt somewhat defeated, but I am glad we figured this out now and not later. So, with that said….

Madison is taking Middle School Life Science and Middle School Physics. She is also taking Middle School Geography. The cool part about the courses that Study.com offers is that if they take the end of year exam, it will show you when you start the course what they need to learn and they do not need to do the lessons with the information they already know. Madison is also currently doing the Ancient Asia Moving Beyond the Page unit and then she will do the Single Shard unit.

Madison learns best through videos, but she also likes to dig deeper with hands on projects as well. So, we are doing the study.com lessons and then when those are complete (or close to complete) we are going to start on her Moving Beyond the Page units.

That pretty much covers the “core” subjects. Madison is taking a couple of other online classes.

Other classes:

Introduction to Latin through Gifted Homeschoolers Forum is a huge hit with Madison. She picked this class out and she is really enjoying it. She is also taking Philosophy for Questioning Minds through Athena’s Advanced Academy and it is amazing. Madison is also going to begin The Electoral Process and Political Systems in March. Madison also does keyboarding with Touch-Type Read and Spell and vision training with Dyslexia Gold daily. Once a week she attends Homeschool PE and twice a month she has an online music appreciation class through Squilt.

Electives:

This semester Madison is participating in the DFW Speech Club. She has written and memorized a Persuasive speech and an Open Interpretation speech to compete in tournaments with and is also prepping to compete in the Impromptu and Constitutional Literacy categories as well. She goes to her club meeting once a week and will participate in tournaments in March and June. Next year she will be in the club all year versus just one semester.

Another one of Madison’s favorite things to do is to learn and play chess. She does this many different ways. Madison is part of a local chess team and they participate in scholastic tournaments. They took Second Place in a tournament in January.  They also take weekly online chess lessons from Chris Toolin. Madison also tries to participate in weekly local tournaments at North Texas Chess Academy when it works in our schedule. She takes weekly lessons from a Grandmaster through the Davidson Young Scholar Program. Madison also enjoys being a part of the Online Homeschool Chess Club.  Madison also made the Top 100 Girls Age 10 US Chess Federation List.

Madison also attends Catechism class at church weekly and takes weekly piano lessons. She just moved up a level and is excited for the challenge of new books!

We decided to drop her co-op this semester. Loosing a day was making it hard for her to do all of her extra classes she signed up for this Spring and for her to have the down time she needs to be creative. We are continuing her Tinker Crate kits and she loves those as well as the Raddish cooking kits. The Raddish kits come with an email that includes a homeschool curriculum. It is a great value! Madison enjoys writing her penpal and participating in our local Mensa Youth activities when our schedule allows. She was able to fly a plane again and today she did an Escape Room event that was a lot of fun.

Madison loves to create and so she has made some interesting things in her free time. The most recent has been a woman made out of mud and has a two-toned leaf dress and the other is re-purposing Amazon boxes.

Madison is also in the process of tumbling her rocks to make into jewelry. It takes 4 stages and about a month of tumbling for each batch.

I haven’t been able to keep a booklist for all of the books she has read, but recently she finished the The Wrinkle in Time Quintet Boxed Set (A Wrinkle in Time, A Wind in the Door, A Swiftly Tilting Planet, Many Waters, An Acceptable Time) and now she is reading the Redwall series.

Washington D.C. Day 7

Day 7 was our last day in Washington D.C. Jeff took Madison back to the Museum of Natural History while I got everything packed up. She insisted on going back to the butterfly garden again. 😂

They stopped to take pictures along the National Mall.

After we checked out of our hotel we headed to the Library of Congress.

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Before heading to the airport was none other than Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum. We purchased tickets using our Explorer pass. Maybe I just like wax museums, but I thought this was a lot of fun. Some were much better than others, but being able to get up close and pose and have outfits to put on made it a lot more fun than just walking through and looking at them. I apologize in advance for the abundance of pictures. Madison really got into each scene so it cracked me up! I think she enjoyed this as much as I did!

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They have a bus seat after her wax figure that you can sit down in. When you do a light above you starts flashing and a voice of a bus driver comes on over a loud speaker telling you to move. Then it tells you to get off the bus. You hear sirens…it was surreal. An excellent part of the exhibit that really brings it to life.

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Madison for President!


That sums up our trip to Washington D.C.! We had a blast and cannot wait to go back and do everything we didn’t get a chance to do!

Washington D.C. Day 2

Madison had to get a picture of her on Madison Drive. 😉

We started out day 2 with a docent tour of the National Archives Museum. We saw the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights and the Constitution. The best part pf this tour is that we were in a small group and we were in the museum before it opened to the public, so we didn’t have to deal with crowds to see these magnificent documents. The rest of the tour was amazing and we learned a lot. We also were able to view the Magna Carta. Next time, we will go into the Boeing Learning Center. This museum is one that you should reserve online tickets for even if you do not take the tour.

Next, we set out to tour the monuments. The metro does not cover this area, so we chose to buy tickets for a hop on- hop off bus. I highly recommend doing this. There are several to choose from. We chose one from Groupon, but it did have downsides. The buses didn’t come as frequently and there were not as many stops. We did get a free night tour, so that made up for the other inconveniences. The Big Bus was popular and it can be bought at a discounted price with a purchase of the Washington D.C. Explorer Pass. We did end up purchasing an Explorer Pass for other things, but we found a better deal on it on Groupon.

Our first memorial stop was the Jefferson Memorial.


The second stop was the FDR memorial.



And the final memorial of the day was the Lincoln Memorial.


Before we went to the memorials we picked up a National Junior Ranger National Mall and Memorial folder with sheets to complete for each memorial for Madison to turn in and earn a National Junior Ranger pin. She was also able to stamp the back of the folder  with a stamp that had the date and the memorial name. The stamps were located in the bookstores by the registers of each memorial. The Jefferson Memorial had a really neat Park Ranger store.

Gifted Homeschooling Update September 2017

The past month has been a whirlwind. We have mainly focused on Madison’s online Intro to Composition class and completing US History II.

I feel that writing is a basic need for every other subject. It is a life skill. I wasn’t able to hold Madison accountable or motivate her like an outside resource could. I also knew that she needed feedback on her writing from someone other than me. And she also needed to learn how to meet deadlines and follow a schedule.

This Intro to Comp class has been wonderful. Overwhelming at first to work ahead for our vacation we took to Washington DC, but it was well worth it . She absolutely loves this class. She gets to work with other kids and is gaining so much knowledge in writing at the same time. I highly recommend any writing course that meets that criteria. It’s worth the push and I honestly believe it is better for kids in the end. The longer writing is put off the harder it is. It has to be a continual effort to succeed. It has taken up a majority of Madison’s time and it is times like this that I am so grateful we Homeschool. Madison is at different grades for each subject she is in, so we have the flexibility to put some things off while focusing and digging deeper into others.

She did complete US History II and US Government. By completing those before our trip to Washington DC, I felt she was able to get the most she could out of it because she had the background she needed to understand the references that were made. She was able to apply her knowledge to what she saw and experienced.

It was only our first trip. We plan on making another trip in the future, but this trip was phenomenal and I can’t wait to share it in upcoming posts.

Aside from her classes, Madison is enjoying piano lessons, chess, religion, and co-op which consists of Homeschool PE, lunch, cooking and Math mania.

She is beginning Wordly Wise 3000 book 7, continuing in Geography, Physical Science and Touch-Type Read and Spell.

For Math, we have gone backwards. Madison needed some more foundation skills in fractions to be able to successfully move forward to ratios and the conversion of fractions and decimals. I decided to try ST Math as one last attempt before getting a tutor. The Psychologist said she was a visual learner and this program is totally visual. There are no words. So far it seems to be working. We’ll see after she completes 5th grade and moves up. She says it is helping, so I am going to go off of that for now.

Madison is also working on programs called Dyslexia Gold and Luminocity. She is working on eye tracking and fluency with Dyslexia Gold and cognitive skills with Luminocity. We just started both so I hope to see improvement in these areas in the future.

I’m also going to write a future post regarding homeschooling and socialization. I do believe there is a strong stigma regarding the two that needs to be addressed. 

Our Homeschool Curriculum and Activities for 2017-2018


Here we go on our fourth year of homeschooling! I have finally learned that I always have a plan or an idea for a plan for what we are going to do for the year curriculum wise and then it ALWAYS changes. So here is my initial plan for this year. Ha! Ha! Also, this post contains affiliate links, so please see my disclosure policy for more information.

English:

  1.  Madison is going to be taking an Introduction to Composition course this year. It is an accredited, online class and she is really looking forward to it. I think it will be a great challenge for her and will help her writing immensely.
  2. Madison will also continue to use Wordly Wise 3000 online. She has just begun book 7. This is probably the only curriculum that we still use from the beginning. It is wonderful!

Math:

I just don’t even want to talk about Math right now. I think we are going to try AELKS. I will update with a post when I figure it out.

Science:

Madison finished Life and Earth Science through Accellus and just began Physical Science. While she onePhysical Science lesson a day, will begin our Moving Beyond the Page 11-13 units. We are going to start with Technological Design and then Earth Cycles and Systems, Force and Motion, The Hydrosphere again and The Atmosphere. This way she gets some hands on experiments. There are a TON of hands on activities in each of these units. She learns best visually, but she isn’t going to have fun just watching videos all of the time.

Social Studies/History:

Madison completed US History I and is finishing up US History II and US Government High School courses through Accellus in preparation for our upcoming trip to Washington D.C. Then she will finish up Middle School Geography. She was half way through this course and we stopped to focus on US History. Geography is not her favorite subject so this course was perfect for her. While it’s a long course, the videos are relatively short so even if it takes us forever to get through it, at least she will have it under her belt. She has already listened to all four volumes of Story of the World, so we are going to do Personal Finance next. Then we will look into CLEP and AP tests for US and World History.

Electives and Activities:

We joined a homeschool co-op and so once a week Madison will be taking a Homeschool PE class, a cooking class, and a Math Mania class. She is excited and is really looking forward to this co-op.

Madison will continue to do art through HomeArtSTudio and Meet the Masters.

She will continue her third year of piano lessons.

Madison will also continue her foreign language learning with Rosetta Stone Learn Spanish: Rosetta Stone Spanish (Latin America) – Level 1-5 Set, Learn French: Rosetta Stone French – Level 1-5 Set, and Learn Italian: Rosetta Stone Italian – Level 1-5 Set.

Most of her free time has been dedicated to playing Chess. See my post on A Girl and Her Love of Chess for more details.

Madison will also be doing Speech and Debate this Spring with the DFW Speech Club. Madison is not old enough yet, but when she turns 12, she cannot wait to join the Debate Club too!

And Then It Was May


Life has been a whirlwind the past couple of months. Not just for me, but many others as well. 

At the end of March, Madison was accepted into the Davidson Young Scholar Program. Along with her testing it has opened many doors and is worth the time it takes to apply. The amount of resources and connections have been amazing and it has only been a couple of months…

I truly do believe we do not meet people by accident and that there is a higher power that leads us when we need it the most. I thank God for that every day. 

Madison’s testing solidified that she learns best visually. So, we switched things up a bit again. She is now using the program from Acellus. It has its pros and cons, but it is working. I’ll post more on the pros and cons and how we are getting around them in a separate post, but I am extremely grateful for this program and how well she’s doing with it. 

I had her look through the curriulum for the 11-13 age from Moving Beyond the Page and she chose which units she wanted to do. It has fun projects and presents itself well so we are digging deeper with it in the topics she is interested in. 

For the Fall, Madison has chosen to take an online Intro to Composition course, Speech and Debate, continuing piano, homeschool band, homeschool PE, and chess tournaments. 



I wanted to keep her schedule to just those things so that we are not ‘go, go, go’ all of the time and so she has downtime to collect all of her thoughts and work on projects, to play games and to have the freedom to be creative in an unstructured environment. 

I have not kept track of the books she has read which kills me, however I have a summer book list and so it will be easier going forward. She is re-reading a lot of her favorites that she enjoyed. 

Speech and Debate and Chess will take up a lot of her time. We are not used to that, but she loves them both so she is adjusting quite well. 

We are continuing school until Madison starts summer camps. 

I will get into more detail when I post about acellus, but Madison has blown me away with her progress. It actually freaks me out and is hard to digest sometimes. 

Chronologically, she would be at the end of Fourth Grade. 

Currently she is in 7th grade Math, 7th Grade Science, 7th grade Social Studies (Geography), she is finishing up 8th grade Language Arts and is in 9th grade US History I and US Governement. 

She is digging deeper into Greece and Rome and Greek Myths with Moving Beyond the Page. 

Her electives include computer science, keyboarding, piano, clarinet, Spanish, French, Italian, Chess and Speech and Debate. 

All of this is driven by her with the exception of Math. She is not fond of the Math she is doing now and we will have to figure out why, but so far she is getting A’s in all of her subjects and loves them. 

Then add in exercise. 

And I am tired. I’m not even teaching, but trying to make sure she is fulfilled is exhausting. And she’s verbally gifted, so even though I am not teaching, I am learning every detail she is. Trying to figure out tools to help her achieve her dreams is daunting at times.

I love her for who she is and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world, but it isn’t a walk in the park. Not when you couple the thirst of knowledge and drive with how she learns best and the lack of executive functioning skills. We are working on those. One day at a time. Along with the rest of life’s duties. 

I fully get why gifted children are considered Special Needs. The time required to ensure their needs are met qualifies them 100%. 

And there are many positives and I try not to miss them and count my blessings. 

That’s another post for another day. 

Right now I’m just taking it one day at a time. 🙂 

Our Incredible Journey of Giftedness Continues 


Just when I thought the road we are traveling along was amazing, it becomes more amazing and with deeper meaning. 

I was struggling with how Madison could meet friends that she truly identified with. And don’t get me wrong, she has amazing friends. But there seemed to be something missing and she expressed knowing that. 

So fast forward and she met a friend. A friend that had the same interest level at chess as she did. Someone who challenged her. It was utopia for her.

And then we attended a class where she met another friend. And the conversations between the three were mind blowing to her. 

And I saw her smile and her eyes light up. She talked about that outing for days. 

And at that point, I realized I needed to apply for the Davidson Young Scholars Program on her behalf. And with an amazing amount of support, I did. And she was accepted. 

By doing this, I am helping her by supporting her social and emotional needs as well as her intellectual needs. And they are needs. 

I am so grateful for all of the support we have received throughout this process.. It has been amazing and we do not go one day without praising God and the path she has been lead to take. We are extremely appreciative of the support we are receiving. She really needed it. 

Testing her was the best decision I have ever made. It not only gave me the insight on how to educate her in the best manner possible, it opened the doors she really needed. To be she is. And to be supported. And to open doors for me to support her in the best possible way. 

And all of this was made possible by the encouragement and the support of friends and a special person that understands Madison and provides the opportunity to encourage her and to go out of their way to make a huge impact in her life. 

God is good. Always. 

I will post more to come on how we have learned to choose to focus on what really benefits Madison. What she loves and how she learns best. 

February 2017 Gifted Homeschooling Update

This month was a lighter month as far as activities go. Madison decided she wanted to join Homeschool Band and play the clarinet so we added one more weekly activity to the list. She enjoys practicing and does it on her own, so it’s been good so far. This month she learned about aquatic science in her Junior Master Naturalist program at the Perot and went on a field trip to the Trinity River Audubon Center. She lost me when she came home and started taking about leaches and eggs. 🤢

Madison is continuing her piano lessons and catechism classes as well as homeschool PE. 

We decided to spend a day at the zoo and Madison loves to take her treasures into the Nature Trading Center. She is collecting points and saving them up for something that has a high value. Madison also brought some additional items to get help identifying them. She loves to talk to the experts! 


Here she is feeding the giraffe. 


And she enjoyed hanging out with the birds.

It was Engineer Week and the American Society of Civil Engineers had a booth at the Perot Museum. They had a contest to see who could build the tallest building that could stand on its own by only using 2 sheets of paper, 10 inches of tape and 5 paper clips. 

This was an excellent challenge for Madison because she didn’t realize how hard it would be and it took her out of her comfort zone. She was very focused and was irritated when I tried talking to her while she was building it because she didn’t want me to give her any hints. She wanted to figure it out herself and it wasn’t coming easily for her. This ended up being a great thing, because she was happy to build it tall enough to get her name on the board and then when we got home she decided she needed to learn more so that she could understand structures and engineering better. It lit a fire. 🙂 I have a knex bridge education set I’ll pull out and I’ve been researching more STEM ideas on Pinterest. 


Bless the Engineers who were working the booth that day. When Madison is determined and focused she can be quite a bear. That’s a work in progress. She wanted to go back and try again before we left, but I figured we had enough for one day. 

I think it will be easier for her to grasp the concept once she has high school physics and higher math. But it is so awesome to have activities like this to drive her to want to learn more and we’ll practice with other ideas in the meantime. 

It was also neat to hear from friends on Facebook who went on Monday and Friday and shared the different heights that were in the lead and to see pictures of their kids building their structures. 

We ended the month with an art class at the DMA. The theme this month was ‘Fantastic Beasts’ and the class learned about real and mythical creatures in a special exhibition called Art and Nature in the Middle Ages. Madison really enjoyed this class and learned a lot. 


Then they went to the studio and created their own mythical creature and wrote with calligraphy pens.


Madison also decided it was time to cut her hair. She is now 7 inches lighter. Thank goodness! It will be so much easier to maintain now.



Madison finished up Secret of the Andes and Incas, Aztecs and Mayans this month with a final project that consisted of writing a 5 paragraph narrative essay. We are trucking along through the rest and I am in the process of exploring more tools to help her socially and with her education. More to come on that next month. 🙂 

January 2017 Book List


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

We didn’t really make it through too many books on the bookshelf this month. The majority were either checked out from the library or Madison re-read. But that’s ok, sometimes it works out that way. Also, NuMinds recommended a book to me that is AMAZING! It is called Some of My Best Friends Are Books: Guiding Gifted Readers (3rd Edition). (A huge thank you to NuMinds and if you would like to follow them, click HERE for their Facebook page.) This book not only has book lists and questions to discuss for ages preschool-high school, it also entails how parents and educators can guide gifted children through the books they read. It covers every aspect of the social, emotional, and intellectual needs of gifted children and the books that are listed have characters and text they can identify with. The questions listed for each book really helps tie the characters and the book together with a thoughtful and encouraging process that helps gifted children learn how to address big feelings and thoughts they encounter in a positive way. I cannot express how much I love this book. And with that said, Madison has read a couple from the list and will be reading many more in the future!

This month Madison read:

Out of My Mind (Thank you Jen for the wonderful recommendation! This was a great book for Madison to read!)

Zeb! the Cow’s on the Roof Again: And Other Tales of Early Texas Dwellings

Ida B: . . . and Her Plans to Maximize Fun, Avoid Disaster, and (Possibly) Save the World

The Silent Stranger: A Kaya Mystery (American Girl Beforever Mysteries)

Anastasia Krupnik

Emily Windsnap and the Siren’s Secret

Emily Windsnap and the Land of the Midnight Sun

Millicent Min, Girl Genius

The third book was released from the Story Thieves Series and so when it was delivered Madison decided she wanted to read the first two again before reading the third. She hasn’t started the third one yet.

Story Thieves

The Stolen Chapters (Story Thieves)

And Madison decided to re-read the Percy Jackson series before moving on to the next series by Rick Riordan. She’s a little obsessed so I’ve had to hold the rest of the series hostage so she will do other things like school work, eat, sleep….

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

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