Gifted Homeschooling Curriculum Update February 2018

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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.

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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 6

Day 6 of our Washington D.C. Vacation was probably the longest day….

We started out visiting Mount Vernon in Virginia.

Madison didn’t feel it was appropriate to smile in front of the tombs.

Then we went back to D.C. and visited the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial.

Madison completed her National Mall Park Junior Ranger Badge.

And went on an evening bus tour of D.C.

I highly recommend seeing Washington D.C. at night. The moments are so much different when they are lit up.

Washington D.C. Day 5

On Day five of our Washington D.C vacation we had a wonderful visit with family in the area. It was great to catch up and spend time.

In the evening we decided to go to the World War II Memorial. Madison also worked on her National Mall Ranger Badge while we were there.

Then we headed back to the hotel to relax. (View of the lobby from our floor.)

This was hands down our best day of our trip.

Washington D.C. Day 4

On Day 4 of our Washington D.C. vacation we visited Ford’s Theater. It has changed a lot since I went when I was 12!

They now have a museum that you go through first. It was amazing! We opted for the audio companion as well. Madison also worked on her Ford’s Theater Ranger Badge during our visit.

Ford’s Theater still holds productions. The history of the Theater is intriguing.

After we toured the museum and the theater we went across the street to the Peterson house. They have added an amazing museum to this as well!

Madison was also sworn in for completing her Ford’s Theater Ranger packet and received her badge and patch.

We decided to explore the International Spy Museum next! Madison decided she would be Jane Meyer…

It was fun. I wouldn’t recommend doing it without purchasing tickets at a discount with the Explorer Pass. All in all, it was a fun filled day!

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.

Washington D.C. Day 1

This trip was very busy, but very rewarding. We had booked the airfare for this trip months in advance at a very good price. Finding a hotel was challenging, but in the end we feel we picked the perfect one within our price range. We ended up choosing the Grand Hyatt. It was in a safe area, was within walking distance to everything we wanted to see and we were able to access the metro from below the lobby.

September was a great month to visit because it wasn’t crowded and the weather was perfect. When we checked into our hotel we were offered to upgrade to the Club Level. We chose to do this because they offered breakfast, snacks, appetizers and deserts. It also included a coffee machine that made lattes and cappuccinos and included bottled water, sparkling water, milk, and sodas. We quickly added up the costs of bottled water ($4 in the gift shop), Starbucks for breakfast in the morning, etc. and the price for the upgrade was a better deal. We ended up eating a big lunch out everyday, but that was the only time we needed to eat a meal.




After we checked in we headed to the National Museum of American History. When we arrived, we took a Highlights tour. We learned the history behind many things including the Star Spangled Banner, George Washington’s uniform, Abraham Lincoln’s hat, the First Lady’s gowns, Julia Child’s Kitchen, Thomas Jefferson’s lap desk, Thomas Edison’s light bulb, the chairs and table used by Lee and Grant during the surrender ceremony at Appomattox Court House, and much more. The amount to see is overwhelming. Of course after all of the history Madison learned and even with her love of American History, her favorite sight was a doll house. Yep, a doll house. It is a super cool doll house and she is now inspired to build her own from scratch. She went back later in the trip just to have Jeff take a picture of each room. Here is more information on the Dolls’ House.

The top hat Abraham Lincoln wore the night he was shot. 

Madison posing as President with Regan’s administration.

After the American History museum we were tired. We had woken up at 3:30am to catch our 6am flight. We had watched the sunrise while in the air and we were exhausted by this point so we called it a night.

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. 

A Girl and Her Love of Chess


Madison has always ‘liked’ chess, but recently she has engulfed herself in it. The past six months she has taken her love for chess to a much higher level.

Madison discovered chess tournaments at North Texas Chess Academy. She participated and learned how to use a chess clock and notate the game. At first it was a little intimidating, but after attending a few it became much easier. She also started taking private lessons with Coach Chris. Every single time we get into the car after one of her lessons she says, “I love Chess so much!” She not only understands the game so much better and not just technically, but also now is starting to understand the history, wonder, and the players that have achieved greatness. She has also attended camps that she enjoyed as well. And she has had the opporutnity to meet the newest champions that live in our area at North Texas Chess Academy. It has been quite a special experience!


Over the summer Madison took another chess camp through Mosaic with Alexey Root. Throughout the week the kids in the class play each other. At the end, the top two winners play each other. It was a complicated and grueling game, but Madison ended up winning. This boosted her self-confidence and what encouraged her need to grow and learn more about chess.

Madison’s birthday is over the summer and her Pen Pal that she has been writing back and forth with for 2 years sent her the perfect gift!

 

Madison also has a unique opportunity to have weekly small group online chess sessions for two hours with a Grandmaster. She loves these sessions and looks forward to them every week!

For the Fall, Madison plans on continuing all of the things above and has decided to join two chess clubs. The first one is with a local Catholic Homeschool Association. They will practice together and compete as a team in local Scholastic Chess Tournaments. The second club is an Online Homeschool Chess Club. They have weekly lessons and then participate in live, rated online chess tournaments twice a week.

She is very excited for these new endeavors. She has been playing chess for hours already, but it is much more fun when they are organized events where you can build friendships. 🙂 

Her favorite person to play though is her Papa. 

His gift is what encouraged her to learn to begin with. 🙂 


 

 

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. 🙂