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!


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. 

November 2016 Gifted Homeschooling Update

This post may contain affliate links. Please see my disclosure policy for more details.

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.

Curriculum Update

We are going to change up our curriculum yet again. Ha! Ha! It will always be this way since I have to adapt to Madison and I’ve grown accustomed to it.

I’ve learned that Madison has ‘jumps’ and ‘windows.’ Those are part of her strengths.

Honestly, it’s really hard to use a set curriculum because most them review and repeat with added information. This doesn’t work for us because Madison remembers everything in usually one repetition so she gets frustrated when she has to read or learn anything she already knows.

This created a problem for me because the curriculum expanded on what she had learned and had more detail. We found this to be a problem in Moving Beyond the Page which we were using and any other curriculum available.

I think I found a solution. Madison really likes Moving Beyond the Page, so I went online and read through every syllabus at each level. I pinpointed the subject matter that was repetitive and I ordered the highest level of each of those and the ones that weren’t repetitive. She learns best from using Moving Beyond the Page, she just couldn’t handle the review that kids normally need. Even using a gifted curriculum that doesn’t have as much repetition as a regular curriculum would.

Testing and meeting with the psychologist confirmed that this was the right approach.

So for now, I am going to cut out the busy work we were doing. We are going to focus on using our Moving Beyond the Page curriculum. We’ll see how long it takes to get through it, but I am very grateful they are releasing their high school curriculum in the Fall of 2017.

We have a lot of science to get through before that though. I’m glad she likes science.

As for Math, we are currently using Thinkwell 7th grade. She is doing well with it, but really liked the algebraic reasoning. The Homeschool Buyers co-op is offering a discount on Thinkwell Math starting on 11/25, so I am going to purchase Algebra I and see how that goes. She will continue using the 7th grade until that point.

We are going to start the Moving Beyond the Page Wrinkle in Time unit next week. It is from the 9-11  age, but it looks like a good one and I already have it. After we complete it, she will read all of the books in the 10-12 age, but the only unit we will do in Language Arts will be The Secret if the Andes. We will also be doing our own thing for ancient history and will only do the Elizabethan social studies unit from the 11-13 age and probably won’t do any of the language arts from that age range.

As for Science, we are finishing up the cells unit from the 10-12 age range and then we will do the matter unit from that same age. We will also complete the Kitchen Chemistry book that goes with the chemical change unit, but we aren’t going to actually do the unit, just the book. I haven’t decided if we are going to go on to the Atmosphere from the 11-12 age or if we are going to do a unit study from Intelligo on Space first. I’ll decide that later.

As for Social Studies…reading our way through US history felt like it was taking too long. Granted she read and learned about each clause in the Constitution up to the Bill of Rights, but I still felt we had gaps, we had been doing this since last April and I didn’t want her to burn out on it. So, she is currently listening to the rest of US History by using the History of Us audio books. She loves listening to it and is gaining a great deal of knowledge. She loves to read, so I know she’ll end up reading the books we were working on in her own time. She finished A House of Tailors and If you had your name changed at Ellis Island in one day while still listening to the audio books as well, so we can get the best of both worlds.

After we complete US History, we will move on to World History. It’s been a couple of years since she listened to the Story of the World, so we will do that again and add more. I’m excited and I will share more on that when we get closer to it.

After the holidays we will pick back up with adding Wordly Wise book 6 and Latin. I am also checking out some really neat stuff on Kahn Academy and she will dive into coding some more as well. I also really like the independent learning courses that Duke Tip offers, so we may try those along the way too.

So that’s the new plan. 🙂 We’ll see how long it lasts. I’m sure I’ll have to readjust for her jumps and windows along the way, but I’m hoping this set up will help accommodate the jumps.

On Fire

Madison is ‘On Fire’ with her Redbird Mathematics lessons. She has kept the fire status bar for two and half lessons and counting! She not only hasn’t lost it, but her lessons have gone by faster when she has gotten all the answers correct on her first attempt.

I thought Madison was excited about Math before, but this brings it to a whole new level!!! She keeps saying, ‘Mom, I am on fire!!!’ After she finished she was SO proud of herself!

Here are some pictures from her recent lessons:

Use Area Diagram to Multiply by 1-Digit Number
Use Area Diagram to Multiply by 1-Digit Number
Use Distributive Property to Multiply by 1 – Digit Number
Use Distributive Property to Multiply by 1 – Digit Number
You can see as she advances, the fire goes farther along the status bar at the top.

Use Distributive Property to Multiply by 1 – Digit Number
Use Distributive Property to Multiply by 1 – Digit Number
This little guy is animated and when Madison completed her lesson this pops up and he jumps over hurdles. She thinks this is pretty cool!

When Madison completed her lesson she went in to the play the games.


She chose a game called ‘Blocks.’ It is like playing with pentominoes. She loves it! The blocks have eyes that blink and move side to side. She couldn’t stop talking about how cool that is!


Use Area Diagram to Multiply by 2-Digit Number
Then she went on to the next lesson.

Use Area Diagram to Multiply by 2-Digit Number
And mastered it!

And she’s still on fire for the next lesson!  If she ever has a question on how to complete a problem, she just clicks on the question mark in the upper right hand corner and it gives a complete explanation!

Use Distributive Property to Multiply by 2-Digit Number
It is so much fun watching Madison have so much fun and enjoy Math. This is the way it should be!

Our Week of Gifted Homeschooling – April – June 2015

The last week in April to the first week in June have been a blur. 🙂 We went to Disney World and had an awesome vacation. Madison also turned 8.

Madison has finished 3rd grade Math in Redbird Advanced Mathematics and is continuing on to 4th grade. She is almost to 4th grade in the EPGY Language Arts Program. It will go a little slower for the summer because of the weeks she is at summer camp, but we will continue over the summer to prevent any brain drain that usually occurs. Here are some pictures from the first section of Fourth grade:

This is the challenge problem at the end:

Redbird Advanced Mathematics

Here are pictures of the final project:

Redbird Advanced Mathematics Redbird Advanced Mathematics

During the past couple of months we completed the Moving Beyond the Page Charlotte’s Web and Water Cycle Units, Rainforest units, The Family Under the Bridge and we are still working on Economics.

For the summer Madison will continue to homeschool as well as take art classes and piano lessons. She’s looking forward to playdates, meeting friends at the pool, roller skating, going to the movies and summer camps. Madison just finished a camp at LLELA where she spent the week hiking, ‘swimming’ in the trails, catching frogs and making frog habitats, keeping a nature journal and kayaking. She had a blast!

We decided to enroll Madison part-time in a interest-led democratic community learning environment that starts in the Fall. I know that is how she learns best, but I am still hesitant to commit that type of learning 100%, so I am committing to part-time. She is very excited about it. It will give her the time to collaborate with many other students on anything that interests her. I think she’ll thrive in this environment.  http://www.makarioslearningcommunity.org/

Madison has also discovered Skrafty Homeschool Minecraft. She LOVES it and I feel better about letting her play because she is learning. It is really awesome! Lots of classes that are self-paced and fun!

My posts going forward will be more detailed, but I wanted to do a quick update for the time being. 🙂

Redbird Advanced Learning Courses and my Take on Common Core

Recently another online Math program was circulated for free summer practice for the kids in public schools. I tried it to see how Madison would do with the Common Core problems and Madison passed second grade level with flying colors which made me feel better since they were totally crazy common core questions. I did it as a ‘test’ to see if she could do them. Part of me was worried that the ‘crazy and frustrating’ part of common core won’t go away by the time I needed it to and she would ‘bomb’ tests and quizzes to get into college because she refuses to do ‘typical’ common core Math. What I found out was without giftedantalented.com she would have failed this ‘test.’

By using giftedantalented.com for our Homeschool Math curriculum, Madison has learned math in such an in depth way that she can ace these crazy problems by applying the critical and logical thinking skills she is using in Redbird’s Advanced Math Learning program which isn’t ‘crazy and frustrating’ for her to do. It does dig deeper so that she has a deeper level of understanding, but not in the ridiculous and confusing way as others that are free and popular do. The free programs are not intuitive and are very frustrating. Not to mention a complete waste of time. For a gifted kid, especially one that is PG in Math, that says a lot. I am extremely confident that she is learning Math in a way that she understands, loves and that prepares her for the future, regardless of what form the testing is in. I did this to do a ‘double check’ for myself and her and of course I am still forever grateful for Redbird Advanced Math’s programs. We are going strong on fourth grade! 

I now know not to make her ‘try’ a true Common Core Math program test that is free to ‘see’ if she can do it, because it almost killed her love of Math for my ‘just checking to see’ moment. Lesson learned. 🙂 I am grateful Redbird Advanced Math is ‘associated’ but is normal so Madison can learn and be challenged, but not will not refuse to do it because she thinks it’s ridiculous. Common Core isn’t a curriculum, it’s a set of standards and how those standards are taught is the true definition of success for a student. Kudos to Redbird Math for doing it the right way. The way that engages students and takes their love of learning Math to a whole new level. A level that is the same Math I did, but is presented in a different way and that will prepare her for the ACT and SAT. 

Below is a link with a promo code to save if you would like to try an excellent and fun Math program over the summer. I think it’s important to keep kids’ minds engaged so they don’t regress. It only makes it harder for the next school year. We use the independent version which is only $18 a month after the discount, but the code is good for any class they offer. We also do the independent EPGY Language Arts and it is an excellent program as well. 

Here is the link to save 10% and review videos and the coursework outline:


We will have her take the Iowa Basic Skills Test. Twice. Once for Second grade and then one for 3rd – 5th. We ordered the prep for 2nd and after reviewing it I realized she needs to take both. I will post how she does in both for Math and other subjects once we receive the scoring result detail, but I am confident she is prepared to be successful in both because Redbird Advanced Math’s program prepares her for anything. Common Core or not, she’s good. And that is awesome! 

I know I haven’t written an update on our homeschooling progress in awhile. First we were packing and prepping for our Disney World vacation, then we went and had a fabulous time and came home and have been ‘recovering’ from it since. 😉 I have been taking pictures and will be posting an update next week. Madison is at a summer camp for the week, so I will finally have the time. 🙂 

Our Week/Month of Gifted Homeschooling – March 2015

Over the past couple of weeks we have been fighting an awful cold. Here’s what we have been up to the past couple of weeks….

Madison completed the Understand Division and Use Mixed Operations to Solve Problems Units and has almost completed The Measurement: Time, Volume and Mass unit in her Redbird Advanced Math. I only took one picture, because I am taking advantage of having time to get other things done while she learns math independently. 🙂 She is still loving it and I am grateful she can do it all on her own. I also like that I can go back and review a replay of each lesson she has done if I have any questions. I am grateful that even though it is ‘associated’ with Common Core standards that it doesn’t incorporate anything abnormal. That was one of the issues I had with Pearson in her public school. Madison was beyond frustrated with doing extra steps that didn’t make logical sense to her.  I will admit I was very concerned about that to begin with because I have many issues with Common Core, but after seeing the videos and how it works, we gave it a try anyway. I wanted to do what is best for Madison to advance at the pace that she needs and  she has loved every minute of it. Thank goodness!!! We have tried other online Math programs that were aligned with Common Core and Madison wouldn’t continue once she ran into the typical Common Core Math problems. She would state that they were ridiculous and I agreed with her. Madison says that Redbird Advanced Math “thinks like she does.” That is why we are so happy with it. After Madison completes Mass in this Redbird Advanced Math unit, she will move on to Fraction Concepts which will wrap up 3rd grade. If you would like to save 10% on this amazing online Math curriculum that specifically personalizes to your child, please use promo code EFPJMRRedbird Advanced Math Review

We finished our Moving Beyond the Page Communities and Culture and Communities Change Over Time units as well as our American Heroes and People Change the World Units.

In Communities and Cultures Madison compared the two adventures and cultures between Adventures in Egypt and Adventures in the Middle Ages. She also practiced making nouns plural by adding ‘s’, ‘es’ or changing the word to a new one. Madison created a book cover of Ancient Rome and included herself in the setting of the story. Next, she wrote a story to go with her book cover including fiction and fantasy. She really enjoyed this lesson. We finished up this unit with a final project on the elements of change.

In our Communities Change Over Time unit, Madison learned what a historian is and why they are important and then we reflected on what America has learned from past events. She had fun learning about how transportation and technology has changed over the years and designed her own new form of transportation. For her final project she created a time capsule.

The American Hero and People Change the World units were awesome! Madison learned about 24 American Heroes that included Early Americans, Heroes of Freedom, Presidents, Recent and Current Heroes, African-American Heroes, Female Heroes, and Heroes of Science and Invention using the book 50 American heroes Every Kids Should Meet. She also created a book with facts about the 24 Heroes she learned about. One of the assignments was to write about her favorite hero. I teared up and my heart melted when I read what she wrote. I shared it on the Moving Beyond the Page Facebook Page and you can view it HERE.  She also reviewed contractions, adjectives and adverbs. Madison learned very important character training qualities in the People Change the World unit. She learned about the characteristics of a leader and a good citizen and much more using the books Miss Rumphius and Starry Messenger. We have recently begun our Poppy and Lifecycles units. Madison is really enjoying them!

Moving Beyond the Page is currently having a Spring Fling sale that ends April 6th. You can save an extra 10% on packages. Click HERE for details.

Madison made a cool Lego Goalie with a sensor that moved in her Lego Robotics class through our homeschool association. The computer program kept track of how many goals were made. It was really cool and she had fun making it.

We had a hiccup with art class, but it’s fixed now. 🙂 We had a couple of art camps during Spring Break. Now we are resuming classes at the Southlake location with Madison’s favorite art teacher and she came home and reported it was the BEST art class ever!

Madison had fun visiting the Frontiers of Flight Museum. Here are some pictures from her visit.

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Madison had a great time mastering her Ninja Skills with the Creative Crew at Ninjago Training Camp at Legoland!

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You can also view Madison in the awesome laser maze in a news clip HERE

 We are excited to be feeling better and that the weather is warming up as well. I am in the process of planning a Disney World Trip, next year’s homeschooling and decluttering and painting rooms in our house. Wish me luck! 🙂