Category Archives: High School

Preschool At Home: Salmon Theme

Salmon Hatchery 4This week, we did our annual trek to the salmon hatchery.

Salmon Hatchery 3It was exciting to see the difference in Dora’s reaction from last year. She understood so much more and was so excited about it all.

Salmon Hatchery 11Somewhere along the way, however, just like at the zoo, her attention turned to plants and we spent an hour or so looking at their native plant garden and other landscaping.

Salmon Hatchery 12Dora is absolutely obsessed with berries and I feel like an idiotic, overprotective parent always saying, we can’t eat them if we don’t know what they are. Basically, the only wild berries that I can recognize are raspberries, blackberries, huckleberries, and salmonberries. So that kind of limits her ability to eat wild berries. For instance, does anyone recognize this berry? Salmon Hatchery 14Anyway, I decided that I need to better educate myself and just purchased this app.

I haven’t used it at all (literally just purchased it, though there is a free version also) and will let you know how well it works after I’ve tried it some. If I suddenly stop blogging one day soon, you can assume that it didn’t work well and that I have probably died from eating poisonous berries.We then read The Salmon Princess: An Alaska Cinderella Story, which, as the title implies, is a Cinderella story.  I had been expecting a Alaskan Native American version of Cinderella, but this book is a modern version, which while seemingly trying to hint at the Native American culture, falls flat on its face in that regard. In addition, though the cover shows the main character walking on salmon, she only says she will do that if she has to. Dora liked the “princess’” gown and that an eagle brought it, but overall I am not going to add this my list of favorite versions of Cinderella.

We then completed the river wildlife section of Maurice Pledger’s Animal World Sticker Book. As usual, Dora loved doing sticker pages about animals that we had just seen. We’ve now completed all of the aquatic wildlife sections of this book.

I’m in shock as I am only now realizing that we never did our planned salmon-themed art project, though Dora did lots of independent arts and crafts this. I am now going to go whip myself with a wet noodle for this oversight on my part!

Disclosure: Several item links in this post are affiliate links. I will make a small amount if you click on them and make a purchase. All opinions expressed, however, are 100% my own.

I’m linking this post to The Play Academy at NurtureStoreFootprints in the Butter’s Reading Aloud Challenge, and…

Shibley Smiles Chestnut Grove Academy Field Trip Friday Blog Hop Favorite Resource This Week Science Sunday

Tots and Me

Labels: High School, Preschool, Science, This and That, Wrapping Up Our Week
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Pre-School at Home: Pond Theme

Vivi at the Zoo

I have been bad about updating about what we have been doing in our homeschool, but things have just been super hectic around here. It seems like that each night I have time to either read blogs or write for my own blog, and I keep choosing to read blogs. I love reading period and the blog format really appeals to me, but I also love reading about everyone else’s great ideas.

I did quickly realize that I am better off with weekly wrap-ups than trying to do separate posts about each subject, like I had wanted to do when the school year started. So for Dora’s pre-school work, I’m going to post twice, once for practical life work and once for her “theme” of the week, which covers literature, art, fieldtrips, and science. I may also post about her phonics and math work sometimes, when something we are doing stands out.

This week’s theme was pond animals. We read Jump, Frog, Jump!which I had never read before. It is kind of like The Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly, with the repetitive chant/story, except it uses animals chasing/eating animals. The story is a really good way to introduce the concept of food chains/webs to young children. We especially enjoyed the ending, which I will not give away.Frog Art 2

For an art project, we made a pond habitat with a paper plate. We glued tissue paper squares of various shades of blues and greens to the plate and then glued plastic frogs and turtles from the Safari LTD Frogs and Turtles Toob set to the green “lily pads” (I will eventually pry them off an save them for future studies). Dora was very excited about this project, as she really loves gluing.

For science, we reviewed the frog life cycle using the set of Insect Lore Frog Life Cycle Stages plastic figurines. Then we used Maurice Pledger’s Animal World Sticker Book. We also used this book to review sea shore animals the week before. This book has at least two pages that briefly discuss the animals that live in each particular habitat, which is a good way to review each animal we have discussed and/or seen during the week. Then, for several of the habitats, there is a two-page spread of the habitat with stickers for the child to decorate as she wants. Dora put all of the animals in the pond habitat together, because they are all “friends”. She even told me a few stories about the pond friends.


Ironically, right after reading Jump, Frog, Jump!, we went outside to play and there was a small frog in our backyard. Unfortunately, that frog quickly jumped, frog, jump, so Dora never actually saw it and I never was able to get a photo of it. We later went to the Woodland Park Zoo, but Dora refused to go in the Day and Night exhibit, which is where they keep the amphibians and reptiles, so she did not see any frogs there either. In addition, Dora is obsessed with botany right now and spent most of the time at the zoo examining the various foliage and berries. As a result, we didn’t even see many animals, though Dora did really enjoy the chimpanzees.

Vivi Looking at a Chimpanzee

She did have to take one day off this week to get her teeth worked on, which I posted a photo of on Wordless Wednesday (picture below again in case you missed the photo the first time). No one is quite sure what to make of her teeth. None of my four older children has had one single cavity (and I didn’t do sealants with them either), while she has had too many to count. Three of her front teeth were actually pulled last year as they had dissolved down to nubs before the dentist could get an anesthesiologist who worked with children that young in to the office. This time, she just had fillings put in and is old enough that they just gave her some Demerol (?), followed by laughing gas, rather than full anesthesia. She behaved wonderfully and things went very smoothly.

Vivi Getting Her Teeth Filled

Unfortunately, there are already signs of decay on one of her two year molars, which haven’t even fully come in. We are hoping that her adult teeth will be stronger and that as she gets older, she will fight us less about brushing her teeth. The current belief in dentistry is that cavities have more to do with the bacteria that live in a person’s mouth, than with a person’s diet and brushing habits. Ironically, she is the healthiest eater of all my children at this age. I have tried looking into alternative approaches to dentistry and experimenting with chlorophyll, xylitol, and non-alcohol-containing pH neutral rinses, but thus far, nothing has made much of a difference.

Disclosure: Several item links in this post are affiliate links. I will make a small amount if you click on them and make a purchase. All opinions expressed, however, are 100% my own.

I’m linking this post to The Play Academy at NurtureStore:

  Shibley Smiles Chestnut Grove Academy Field Trip Friday Blog Hop Favorite Resource This Week Science Sunday

Labels: High School, Literature, Preschool, Science, This and That, Wrapping Up Our Week
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

College Fairs

Asian student

This will be my last “preparing for college” post for a while, but it is kind of that time of year when people may be feeling a bit overwhelmed with all that goes into choosing and applying to colleges. We personally, did not enjoy college fairs, as we found them to be horribly crowded, so much so, that we often just left. At the same time, they are a good way to learn about different colleges and what a college’s expectations are. Some of the big college fairs are:

There are also many regional fairs, some of which are specifically aimed at homeschoolers, that may be happening near you, such as the Pacific Northwest Homeschool College Fair.

Labels: High School, This and That, Wrapping Up Our Week
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Registering for College Entrance Exams as a Homeschooler


I recently posted about registering for the PSAT, but the SAT or ACT score is the score that colleges actually look at when considering a student for admission (except for some select schools, which no longer use standardized test scores as part of their admissions process). The SAT and ACT may be taken at younger ages, but are traditionally taken during a student’s junior or senior year of high school. Both are offered at multiple times and locations throughout the year. Registration is done online.

Currently the written portion of the ACT is optional, but before opting out of that portion, students should ensure that the colleges they are interested in applying to don’t require it.

In addition, some colleges require SAT subject tests. These tests are best taken as soon as the student completes the subject. So if a student studies world history in 10th grade, it would be best to take that subject test in 10th grade, rather than wait until 12th grade. Some schools require more subject tests from homeschooled applicants than from public and private-schooled applicants. Many homeschoolers refuse to apply to such schools, but if your student really has his heart set on such a school, he may need to take four or more subject tests.

Finally, Advanced Placement tests are often used as a means for students to further impress colleges. AP tests can also be used to earn college credit for students, as can CLEP tests. If a student hopes to obtain college credit with these tests, he should investigate his college preferences first, as not all schools will grant credit. Not all AP tests are offered at all locations. You will need to call AP Services, no later than March 1, to coordinate testing for an AP exam. CLEP tests tend to be administered at colleges and after you find a test center through the CLEP website, you will need to contact the test center to make arrangements for testing.

As with the PSAT, homeschoolers have a special school code for these tests that they should provide if they want their scores sent to them. For all SAT tests, it is 970000. For the ACT it is 969-999 (please verify that these codes are still current before going to take the test). The HSLDA has a list of each state’s test codes for homeschoolers for AP exams, but you probably should verify with the AP coordinator that the code is current.

With all of these testing options, it is a good idea for students, seniors in particular, to plan out their annual testing schedule now, rather than waiting until closer to admission packet deadlines.

Labels: High School, This and That, Wrapping Up Our Week
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

“B” and Beach Animal Studies

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         This week, Dora focused on the letter “B”. She seemed to have a better comprehension of the “buh” sound than she had with the “A” sounds.

I have encountered a bit of a quandary. I just learned that in Montessori schools, they teach lowercase letters first since the majority of letters in books are lowercase, which makes perfect sense. In addition, Explode the Code, the phonics program I intend to be Dora’s main program, also emphasizes lowercase letters first. Yet, Bob’s Books, which I also plan to use, emphasizes upper and lower case letters equally. At the same time, I am a big fan of the Handwriting Without Tears curriculum, which starts by teaching uppercase letters first, as they are the easiest to form and letter reversals are less likely to occur. In the end, I decided to teach both upper and lower case letters when we are working on pre-reading skills and upper case only when we are working on pre-writing skills. Hopefully this will not leave her too confused!

In regards to Gohan’s Language Arts, I have encountered many quandaries, but I will post about them next week, when I hope to have them resolved.

For literature this week, I read Good Night, Little Sea Otter (as an FYI, I read many books to her every week, we just have one book that we emphasize each week). Good Night, Little Sea Otter is a very sweet and tender book about a sea otter who seems to be trying to put off his bedtime by saying good night to everybody and everything. This was a bit of an ironic book for us, as we are currently having a terrible time with Dora pulling all sorts of tricks to delay her bedtime. The pictures in Good Night, Little Sea Otter seemed, at first, to be almost too sweet and cute. Later in the week, however we went to the Seattle Aquarium and spent a long time watching the sea otters swim and play. And lo and behold,  they  really are as cute as Little Sea Otter is.Aquarium 9

Aquarium 8Aquarium 6

Dora was utterly fascinated with the Seattle Aquarium this time (sorry for blurry photos, I had to use my iPhone for these photos – long story). A few of the fish scared her, but for the most part, she loved it. We stayed there until she became loopy with fatigue. The Seattle Waterfront continues to get nicer and nicer every time I visit, though I do wish they could do something about the many homeless people. I feel incredibly sorry that the people are homeless, but some of them are just downright scary.


For an art project this week, we made a collage of Little Sea Otter sleeping in a kelp bed (I had no idea that otters anchored themselves in kelp so that they didn’t float away while they were asleep). We used sand paper to represent the beach and shiny origami paper to represent the water. We used green tissue paper to make kelp and glued shells to the “sandy beach”. Dora insisted on some piles of sea weed on the sand, as it does wash ashore (which she is correct about). We made Little Sea Otter and his mama out of pompoms and googly eyes. Dora insisted on mounting all of this on orange construction paper, which made the scene a bit less beach-like, but over all we were both very happy with the project.

I’m linking this post to Nurture Store’s Play Academy and Footprints in the Butter Read Aloud Challenge and:

Favorite Resource This WeekChestnut Grove Academy Field Trip Friday Blog Hop

Labels: High School, Language Arts, Preschool, This and That, Wrapping Up Our Week
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Apple Art for the Week

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         As I mentioned in my previous post, Dora has pretty well established who is in charge around here in regards to her homeschooling preschool, and it isn’t me. I had thought it would be cute to make some prints using apples. She really likes painting with a variety of brushes, texturizers, and materials, so I assumed apples would be a great addition. Well, here is her print and as you may or may not be able to tell, it went like this.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Me: “See you dip that apple in the paint and stamp it on the paper”.

Dora: Takes apple, dips it in paint, makes one print and then proceeds to smear the paint everywhere, which still would have been fine had she not then thrown the apple across the table and said, “I don’t like this!”

Sigh… later in the week, we reached a point where I was desperate to find something to keep her entertained for a while, so I got out the Stockmar Modeling Beeswax. Honestly, I have never had much luck with modeling beeswax, but Dora was completely enthralled with the stuff. Once we soaked it in hot water for a while, it really did become quite malleable. Ironically, a couple of my older kids came in, asked what we were doing, and sat for a while to work with the wax. More ironically, Dora wanted to make wax apples!

I’m linking this post to


Favorite Resource This Week

Labels: Arts and Crafts, High School, This and That, Wrapping Up Our Week
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Fieldtrip to St. Edward State Park

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         This week I took Dora to St. Edward State Park. Though this park is on the eastside of Seattle, it is quite a drive for us, so I had only been there once before many, many years ago.

Ironically, we went there to pick apples as there does not appear to be any real apple orchards within an hour’s drive of us. This is especially strange, given that Washington State produces 42% of the apples grown in the United States.

I had been told by a friend that there were apple trees at this park and she theorized that the priests had originally had an orchard and that their trees were left to go wild. Once I saw the apple trees, however, I remembered that I had seen similarly planted apple trees in other state parks as well. I have not been able to find anything that explains why there are apple trees in at least some, if not all, of Washington State parks, but my theory is that is because apples are the official state fruit.


Sadly, these apple trees were completely barren. There weren’t even any partially eaten apples on the ground. I have no good explanation for this. I have heard this has not been a good year for apples in Western Washington, due to the harsh and long winter we had, but I would have at least expected some evidence of apples.


Fortunately, this park is a wonderful park with lots of hiking trails and a really cool playground and Dora spent two hours there, despite the lack of apples. The park has a bit of interesting history to it.

In the late 1920s, the archbishop of Seattle donated the property to the Diocese of Seattle for use as a seminary by the Sulpician Order of Catholic Priests. In 1931, St. Edward Seminary was constructed. In the fall of 1977, because of declining enrollment and changes in the education of seminarians, the diocese sold 316 acres, including the seminary, to the state for use as a state park. In 1978, the property was dedicated and received its current name.

Unfortunately, the seminary has fallen into disrepair, so it is not open for touring. The outside of the building, while somewhat run down, is quite beautiful and gives one an idea of all the potential the building holds if funding is ever obtained to restore it.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         The best part of the trip for Dora was enjoying the sheer volume of dandelion puffs to blow and make wishes on, which is the one thing that Dora considers imperative for a successful nature outing.

How about your area? Do you have orchards near you? If so, are you getting out and harvesting some of the season’s fruits?

I am linking this post to:

Chestnut Grove Academy Field Trip Friday Blog Hop

Labels: High School, This and That, Wrapping Up Our Week
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

It’s Time to Register for the PSAT

ExamIt’s that time of year where high school students who are considering applying to college should be looking into what standardized tests they want/need to take this year. The one test that is the most complicated for homeschoolers to register for is the PSAT. For some reason, the PSAT test administration is arranged by the school itself, so you cannot just go online and register for it like you can for all of the other standardized college entrance exams. Instead, you need to contact your local high school(s) and see if they will allow your student to test there. I have heard that private schools can be more homeschool friendly in this regard, though none of my three older children had any trouble with the local school (other than it was weird to show up at the school on a Wed. and try to figure out where to go).

The PSAT is administered only one time a year. This year, schools will be administering the PSAT on Wednesday, October 12th OR Saturday, October 15th (the school chooses one date). If your student is going to take the PSAT this year, you should start contacting your local high school(s) ASAP.

The PSAT is a good practice test to prepare for the SAT, but more importantly, if taken during the student’s junior year, it can get him entered into the running for a National Merit Scholarship. While, not the largest scholarship, monetary-wise, a National Merit Scholarship looks really good on college applications and I have heard via the grapevine that it can help pave the way for other scholarships.

Your student should also enter in your state’s homeschool code on the test form so that the test results will be sent to you and not the school that administered the test. Your student should also be wary of “helpful” test administrators who try to get him to change his code to the “correct” school code (some administrators have been known to actually change the code on a student’s form, thinking the student made a mistake).

Labels: High School
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

2011 Lego Smart Creativity Contest

This year, the Lego Smart Creativity Contest has a page just for homeschoolers! This contest is a little different than many contests as the entrant is the homeschool educator, not the student. From the site:

Each contestant will have exactly 150 seconds (2.5 minutes) to create a video that showcases how they use LEGO® Education materials within their homeschool curriculum to engage students and create tomorrow’s innovators…

…Prizes will consist of LEGO Education gift certificates valued at $2,500 for the first place winner and $5,000 for the grand prize winner! All winners will receive an all-expense paid trip to the Education Summit hosted by LEGO Education and National Instruments in St. Louis, Missouri, on November 16, 2011, where they will participate in a panel discussion about their entry and the use of LEGO Education materials in their classroom…

…To participate in the 2011 LEGO Smart Creativity Contest you must be a registered K-12 homeschool educator residing in the United States. Contest registration begins August 1, 2011, and ends October 14, 2011. No late registrations will be accepted.

The most important thing to note right now is that the deadline for entries is 5 p.m. CST on Friday, October 14, 2011.

Labels: High School
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Tot Time: A Week of Montessori and Good Potty Reading

Bellingham Bay 3The big event of our week was that we went to Secunda’s freshman orientation for college in Bellingham, WA! We spent two days there and Dora hated sleeping in a hotel. We all came back completely exhausted! Above is Dora on the boardwalk, below is a view of the bay. I forgot to bring my good camera, so these was taken with my phone.

Bellingham Bay 2

I had a package arrive from Montessori Services and Dora was there when I opened it, so we spent the week focusing on those materials.


I ordered a sorting tray and some wooden buttons. I’ve tried to get by with cheap sorting trays, but this one works so much better. It has the main holder with three small holders for sorting. The wooden buttons are very nice and we sorted them by size. This task challenged Dora some, but once I helped her get going, she was able to finish it on her own with just a little prompting.


I also set up a pouring/water play area for her. Most of the glasses and pouring containers, we already owned, but the larger white 8 oz. porcelain pitcher was new. She pours water back and forth from containers and glasses. I have introduced a funnel and turkey baster, but those don’t really interest her. Sometimes I color the water with these fizzy color tablets from Steve Spangler, but she is really quite happy pouring just plain water. I have her keep everything in this dishwashing tub so that we don’t have a total mess.


She spent hours playing with this tiny music box and knew what the song was right away (Twinkle Little Star). She occasionally has to be reminded which direction to turn the handle to get the box to play. It is such good fine motor work!


Finally, I brought out her open-close basket again, and added a few new containers. I put finger flashlights in the containers to encourage her to open them. She enjoyed it a couple of times, but I really need to find some more advanced containers.

Oddly, Dora has developed a fear of dolphins! Nothing anyone says will convince her that she has nothing to fear from dolphins, especially while on dry land. She will suddenly run up to me and cling to my leg, because “dolphins are chasing her”. When you have five children, sometimes you start to think you’ve seen it all. Then your toddler becomes terrified of imaginary dolphins and you realize you will never see it all. Smile

I think Dora may be gearing up to potty train! She has been having us read all of our potty books over and over. The ones she has enjoyed the most are (all of these are affiliate links):

Do you know of any other good potty training books for girls?

I’m linking this post to:
  Tot School Shibley Smiles


Labels: High School, Montessori, This and That, Toddlers, Wrapping Up Our Week
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff