The Week of The Happiness Patrol

Homeschoolers can call themselves "The Doctor"

FINALLY!!!.. We have our books and our supplies and we have one week of full-on first grade under our belts in this new year!  It has been quite a change for Robbie, who has had to go from "grandparents-will-make-sure-he's-not-unhappy-about-ANYTHING" mode back into school mode, but I think we're getting there.

RockerMom's Note: This post got a big wordy at the beginning. If you'd like to skip straight to the actual weekly wrap-up with photos, please click here.

I was pretty dead-set against having a "word" for the new year, but I honestly feel that I've been slapped in the face with one.


No family is perfect.  No matter how much that blogger we look up to seems to be a supermom.. she has her struggles.  I have felt inferior so many times while reading other homeschooling blogs.. thinking that I could never measure up.  Their house seems perfect, their children seem perfect, their lives seem perfect... but that's just an illusion in an online memory book.  We all want to remember the good and shove the less-than-fun parts of everyday life in the closet where the company won't see them.

It's so easy to gloss over the difficult parts of a homeschooling day.  It's sort of a knee-jerk reaction (for me, anyway) to want to plaster on a fake smile and show the world that things are perfect.  They're not.  Things go wrong.. life happens... attitudes/pouting/sulking/etc. happen.  The lovely plans I made for the week (that I have been soooooo excited about for so long) go out the door for any number of reasons.

So, I'm thinking that I shall try to be more "real" in my posts.  (I'm going to shut up now and simply try to be real.)

I've recently realized (i.e. had sense knocked into me by a wiser homeschool mom) that Robbie will not always enjoy his schoolwork.  (Yes, yes, I already knew this, but that didn't stop me from constantly trying to make him "happy".. and adjusting things to stop the whining and complaining.)  This weeks was about gritting my teeth and making him do the hard things, the boring things, the lengthy things.. even if I nearly went totally grey in the process.

By the end of the week, it was getting easier, but I know it will take quite some time for us to reach a "happy" point in our school weeks.  Baby steps, right?

Okay, enough about that.  How about a glimpse of school in our new home?

We still need to paint our kitchen and replace the flooring, but I have set up our temporary school area and it seems to function well for us.

Kitchen Homeschool
Our (temporary) new school area.

Okay, enough of that... on to the nitty-gritty, eh?  Much of our week was review, to help ease us into the new material next week.

Robbie continues to despise reading, but I am cracking down and making him do it.  I can't force him to do it for pleasure, but he can no longer get out of reading the things I assign.  I've also created a "First Grade Reading Challenge", which includes Read Alouds, Shared Readings and Independent Readings.  This is for our family and I hope it will be encouraging to see what we've accomplished by the end of this school year.

  My Father's Dragon      Captain Awesome to the Rescue    Do Pirates Take Baths?
Read-Aloud Read TogetherOn His Own

*Jumps up and down like a fool.*  He did pick up a book this week and read it on his own.. no prompting.  It was no great piece of literature, but he CHOSE to read!!!

A close second to reading on Robbie's List of Horrible Things is writing.  He's doing (most of) his copywork, but he's very vocal (and dramatic.. he could win awards!) about how awful it is.  Seriously... copying a 5 word sentence can take 15-20 minutes.  Of those, approximately 14-19 minutes are spent complaining, whining and bargaining.

Thankfully, spelling and grammar are going smoothly (except for the copywork).  WOOHOO!!  I'll take what I can get!  ;)

All About Spelling Level 2
Spelling: Reviewing open and closed syllables


Robbie does well with math.  He doesn't like the length of the lessons (but.. let's face it, anything longer than a minute-and-a-half and he thinks it's too long.. he's got things to do, you see..).   My husband thinks that Robbie puts up a fuss with math (a subject he used to adore) because the lessons are too easy.  I'm afraid of glossing over or skipping things, though.  I want him to have a strong foundation.  This is an area where I'm unsure and I will be reevaluating soon.

We're taking a few minutes twice a week to review skip-counting by a particular number.  One day, he does a Skip-Counting Drill Sheet (found at CurrClick) and on the other, he does a Skip-Counting Maze (Confessions of a Homeschooler).  His daily math was a review of adding and subtracting within one hundred.

Singapore Primary Math, Level 2
The many faces of "Math" in our homeschool.

History and Geography

We are almost studying ancient history in chronological order.  Almost.  While going through my Usborne Book of World History and Story of the World, Vol. 1, it occurred to me that it might make more sense to study the ancients by civilization (instead of constantly jumping from one to another and then back again).  I know that's not quite how Story of the World is structured and it sometimes throws us a bit ahead in time when we see a civilization through to its decline (or logical stopping point), but we're okay with that.  We use the Usborne book as our spine and Story as our main supplement.

The first cities of Jericho and Catal Huyuk were our history topics for the week.  After learning about these ancient cities in our spine, we read about Jericho in a few of his Bible storybooks and made some mud bricks for a hands-on project.  He was determined to bring down a wall with noise.

Our bricks got a bit "puffy" in the middle as we baked them in the sun (our oven), so we improvised some mortar (play-doh) and he was off on a building spree!!

Ancient History:  Mud Bricks
Mud bricks made from a salt dough recipe.  Play-Doh was a great mortar!

Books used this week:
The Usborne Book of World History The Beginner's Bible Student Discovery Bible


For science, we simply finished up our jellyfish studies, which we started WAY back here.  Ummm.. OOPS!  I guess with our move last summer, I never got around to posting the beginning of this.  Well, here is a bit of what we did THIS week.

Yep, below is a shining example of Robbie when he's stubborn.  He did the bare (and I mean the barest) minimum on this sheet.  I am hoping that this notebooking thing will get better/easier/more enjoyable as time passes... yes??

We were using a generic Animal notebooking page from The Notebooking Fairy (that's the one you see below), but it wasn't quite what we needed.  So, I tweaked it a bit here and there (not much, actually) and made a version that I think will fit our needs and contain more relevant information for Robbie.  (I may post more about this once it's been properly test-driven.)

Jellyfish Notebooking Page
I know this notebooking page looks rather blank, but I was lucky to get THIS out of him that day.

Books used this week:

World of Animals

Greek and Latin

I wish Robbie approached every subject like he does Greek.  He is truly a smiling, happy boy when we're working on these lessons.  We're taking things slow, since it would be too easy to zip very quickly through The Greek Alphabet Code Cracker (he's already zipped ahead on his own time and can identify all letters, but he still needs work on writing and such), but I hope that the letters and sounds are nearly second nature to him when we're finished.  Honestly, I fear that I'm going a bit too slow for him, but he's not complaining (and I don't have another level to move on to if we finish early), so I'll keep this pace until there is a problem.

Greek Alphabet Code Cracker
Greek is Robbie's favorite part of the school day!!

Learning Websites, Games and Apps

He didn't do much electronic schooling this week, but that's just fine with me.  ;)

Apps from this week:
Math Bingo Learn Greek Alphabet

Art and Music

I'm ashamed to admit that we forgot to bring his guitar down from my parents' house, so he was working on theory in music this week.  He didn't seem to mind, though.  He is working through his Doodle Book during art time (since we both found our spirits dashed whenever I brought out "Drawing With Children', which was no fun for us at all).  I plan to add some artist studies in, but I'm not sure when or how (since I'm not very well-versed in this area).  We're an artistic and musical family (hubby plays guitar, draws and inks comics for an independent company; I draw for fun and used to play bass guitar for a living and play many other instruments), but I seem to get a bit overwhelmed in this area, at times.  My main goal is to show him the beauty in art and music.

Music and Art
Learning to draw treble clefs and making a wanted poster of the Eleventh Doctor.

Extracurriculars, Playtime, Family... etc...

It wasn't all whining, meltdowns and academics this week.  When even the longest days last only three hours, there's plenty of time for fun.

Robbie loves to play chess!
He recently taught himself chess (by playing it on his computer).  He challenges everyone to a game!

Time to relax
Robbie's reward(s) for finishing his work with a good attitude...

Well, that was a peek into our first week of 2014.  Sorry if this post got a bit wordy.  I guess stepping back in after doing the bare minimum gave me a new perspective.

I can't wait to see what everyone else has been up to!

Linking Up At (when applicable)
Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers History and Geography Trivium Tuesdays Collage Friday Hip Homeschool Hop


  1. You are doing a great job. I'm sure the other homeschool blogs just choose to not highlight their struggles but still have them nonetheless. I know I struggle with my son everyday to get him to do his school work…esp phonics and handwriting.

    1. Oh, I realize that everyone has their struggles. I just thought I'd do my best not to edit them out... wouldn't want people to think it's all sunshine and roses. :) Thank you for commenting!

  2. Robbie and my daughter could get together and form an acting troop for their drama about their studies, this week on math, oh the pain......... Tears, whining, terrible.

    I love your making brick activities for Jericho, we had a lot of fun when we reached Jericho knocking down our pretend city, especially with all the noise those empty cans made.

    1. Is it wrong to say that I'm glad to know I'm not alone? LOL

      We always enjoy our hands-on learning. :)

  3. My son is a lot like yours it sounds =) The material is not too hard for him and he could get it done quickly, but chooses to complain and be distracted by other things instead =)

    We're doing animal for science this year too (per the recommendation of WTM) and I made some notebooking pages to go along with them. Check them out. Maybe they would work for you too!


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