Category Archives: Five in a Row

The Saturdays


Sigh…  we finished our last Beyond Five in a Row book yesterday.  The Saturdays by Elizabeth Enright.  It was a quickie, too.  Only 8 chapters total, and we spread them out over three weeks.  We did have lots of fun, though. 

We learned a lot about the Melendy children in the process.  And a little about ourselves along the way, I hope.  There was Rush, who loved music, and Mona who wanted to be an actress…  Randy who loved Art, and Oliver, who was not quite sure what he wanted to be yet, and since he was only six, that was perfectly alright.  These siblings come up with a great plan, wherein they pooled their allowances every week so that one of them could do something grand- and they plan to take turns.  And we got to go on their adventures with them.   We held our breath when they nearly suffocated from coal gas, and rejoiced when they arrived in their summer home.  

For me, this was bittersweet.  I have so enjoyed reading all the Beyond Five in a Row titles, and sharing them with my children.  I know there are other books in The Saturdays quartet, and perhaps we will read them.  But for now, we are wrapping up for summer break.  This is a time of finishing up our goals for the year, testing later this month, and celebrating another successful year of homeschooling.


Leave a comment

Filed under FIAR-Beyond Vol 3, Five in a Row

Our School Year So Far

Hannah being baptized by Pastor Rick.

Wow!  When I realize it has been nearly a YEAR since my last post, I can’t believe it!  We have covered so much this year.  Zack has been working through 7th grade, Cody, 4th, and Hannah, 1st.   They’ve made amazing bounds in nearly all subject areas. 

I’ll begin with my favorite update!  Our youngest, Hannah, accepted Christ as her Savior in January and was baptized in February.  She loves telling people that she is a Christian and enjoys having a multitude of sisters in Christ. 

We have covered three of the titles in Beyond Five in a Row, Volume 3.   We read Neil Armstrong Young Flyer by Montrew Dunham, The Cricket in Times Square by George Selden, and Marie Curie and the Discovery of Radium by Ann E. Steinke.  Next week, will start our final Beyond title- The Saturdays by Elizabeth Enright.    I am excited to be starting a new book, but saddened that this is our last Beyond book.  I have SO enjoyed doing these over the last three years.  I hope I will be able to branch out on my own somewhat with other titles, although I doubt I will be able to do so to the extent that FIAR does it. 

Zack has been working on Apologia’s Exploring Creation with General Science.  He has really learned a lot through the experiments in the book and has (mostly) had fun doing so!  I am excited for him to begin Exploring Creation with Physical Science next year.   We have both enjoyed using Knowledge Box Central’s Apologia Lap books to take notes, study and write up labs. 

Cody & Hannah have been using Eagle’s Wings Considering God’s Creation for Science.  Most of this, we have found to be enjoyable, though some of it was tedious.  However, I am seeing great results in what they have retained, so it has been worth it.  Next year, we will go back to Apologia’s Elementary Sciences—probably starting with Astronomy. 

I started a new writing program with Zack and Cody this year.  We have been using the Institute for Excellence in Writing’s Student Writing Intensive, Level A.    Cody, who hated writing anything other than his daily journal at the start of the year, is producing full page (typed, double spaced) reports and stories now!  Zack is doing really well, too! 

Zack & Cody are also both using Math U See this year.  Zack is working in Pre-Algebra, and Cody is wrapping up the Delta Level, which focuses on Division.  They both like this much better than Saxon.  It is far more hands-on, and they can move more easily at their own paces- so both will have completed two levels this year.  As it gets harder, they slow down as much as necessary.  Hannah is working in Saxon, as I like Saxon a LOT for the younger grades.  She will use Saxon again next year, then I will switch her over to Math U See in 3rd grade, beginning with the Gamma level, which is multiplication. 

Probably the most exciting academic discovery we’ve made is using Hooked on Phonics to teach Hannah how to read!  She is now reading chapter books on her own!   Her comprehension is phenomenal, as well!  I enjoy listening to her read orally, as she does a wonderful job of demonstrating emotion, etc. as she reads. 

And last, but certainly not least, Cody & Hannah have been working their  way through the Bible using Disciple Land Curriculum.  They are working on 1st and 4th grade levels, respectively.  This curriculum is fun, colorful, and speaks God’s word to them, and teaches them how to hide it in their hearts.    Zack just finished up a Josh McDowell study Setting You Free to Make Right Choices.

So, that is where things stand from an academic standpoint.  The kids will all take their CATs in May, and we will wrap our year up at that point. 

I’m sure you’ve guessed that we’ve done some camping and backpacking this year, as well.  Well, the guys only made it on one backpacking trip, actually.  When they got back, Mike had scheduled surgery.  The surgery went well, but his meds had him feeling too dizzy to get up, and he developed a blood clot, which wound him in the hospital the following month.  They haven’t been able to go backpacking since then, but they are planning a trip in June sometime.   We have made a lot of camping trips, as a family, though (which I like better anyway).  We went to Manatee Springs, Little Manatee River, Reed Bingham State Park, and High Falls State Park.  Hannah is not quite up for a big backpacking trip yet, so she will have to wait another year or so to join the guys on their trips, but for now, camping is still fun for her.

And I THINK that is it for the updates for this year so far.  I’ll try to get a photo album posted later.   Sorry I’ve been away from my blog for so long..  I promise to do better in the future 🙂

Leave a comment

Filed under Bible, camping, Childhood of Famous Americans, curriculum, FIAR-Beyond Vol 3, hiking, homeschool

"Rowing" with Helen Keller

We’ve been “rowing” Helen Keller (Scholastic Biographies) by Margaret Davidson. We’re really enjoying learning about Helen and her triumphs over adversity… the highlights of our study so far have probably been dissecting a cow’s eye and making ear wax….

But we’ve also enjoyed other endeavors such as learning about the circus, learning braille and the finger alphabet, and about places such as Harvard & Radcliffe Universities, Perkins Institute, and Plymouth Rock, as well as the Steamboat.
Helen Keller has been an inspiration to all of us- knowing that she could overcome blindness and deafness and still accomplish so much in her life, reminds us to be grateful for the full use of our own faculties, and that we should be able to accomplish as much as she did with our own lives.

Leave a comment

Filed under braille, FIAR-Beyond Vol 2, Helen Keller, homeschool


We began our journey to Japan by reading Carole Marsh’s The Mystery at Mount Fuji. Grant and Christina found their usual adventures waiting for them in Japan. Their Japanese hosts helped them get around and solve the mystery, and we learned a LOT about Japan in here. As we were reading that, we were cracking our Top Secret Adventures for Japan. Highlights sent me the one for Japan when I first signed up- it was a freebie, except for shipping, and well worth it! When we visited Japan in EPCOT today, we knew more Japanese and more about Japan than any other country we’ve visited to date! Since each country runs about $14 plus shipping, I can’t decide if I would liked to have had these for each country we learned about or not- the puzzle book is consumable, so once it is finished, it is finished- you can’t do it again… but it was really fun and educational for all of us… We also “rowed” Grandfather’s Journey by Allen Say. We followed Say’s Great Grandfather and descendants from Japan to California, and back and forth again… It was a nice story about family and tradition and roots… we traced our own Great Grandparents (DD did pictures of herself, me, her grandma and Great Grandma, and DS’s found pictures of themselves, their dad, their grandfather and great grandfather). We enjoyed this book, and probably could have spent more time on it, but we had a lot to accomplish… Several of our crafts came from the Japan for Kids website.

All the kids painted Cherry Blossoms.
DS#1 created a Japanese Rock Garden. We learned that the ripples in his garden represent water. He also planted a Bonsai Tree he bought at EPCOT.
DS#2 made a Japanese folding fan…

DD made one, too, and even decorated hers…. We read about Kabuki and Geisha Girls and how they used fans to hide their emotions.

DD & I also made some Origami Cranes…

At EPCOT, we found a Japanese Rock Garden- life sized 🙂 Note the ripples!

We ate at Teppan Edo, where the Chef cooks right at your table. Our Chef was quite a ham! We loved it!! DS#1 ordered Crispy Eel Rolls, and he and Daddy LOVED them!! DS#2 and DD were not too sure about Eels, but they enjoyed the shrimp and steak (as did I)… Our servers were quite impressed with DS#1’s ability to speak limited Japanese- he was able to say “hello,” “yes,” “Thank you,” and “Good-bye.”

DD used her Birthday money to buy herself this beautiful purple Kimono- she looks like the Bamboo Princess here… We heard this Japanese fairy tale when watching Big Bird in Japan (although they told it a bit differently on there).

I would say the only “bad” experience we had, was when we asked one of the ladies in “Japan” what a traditional treat might be, and she sold us this little bag with four blocks in it. It turns out that those were blocks of red bean jelly, or Yokan, and even DS#1 (who eats just about EVERYTHING) spit it out quickly! Ah well, live and learn…

Reaching our last country in EPCOT is a bitter sweet achievement. Our passes expire in just about two weeks, and I’m glad we were able to learn about all of the countries, but it has been a fun trip, and I’m a bit sad to see it come to an end… We will be moving on to some Beyond FIAR books from here, and perhaps visiting other countries in books, etc- I know DS#1 would like us to study about Australia sometime soon, so that will probably be first on the list… “Arigato” for reading my blog, and, until next time, “Syonara!”

Leave a comment

Filed under Asia, crafts, EPCOT, FIAR Vol 1, field trips, gardening, homeschool, Japan


DS#1 and I read about Count Nicholas Ludwig Zinzendorf and how he provided refuge to persecuted Christians.

I read Berlioz the Bear by Jan Brett with all three children (even my 11 year old still enjoys hearing these stories)… we learned about music and musical instruments as well perseverance and pride. We used Homeschool Share’s Unit Study for this…

And of course, we read our Carole Marsh Around the World in 80 Mysteries book. We enjoyed following Christina and Grant on another Mystery and learning so much about Germany in the process!

Our trip to EPCOT included food, of course! We had apple strudel, a pretzel and brats with sauerkraut! We saw a giant cuckoo clock- the kids wanted to buy one, LOL! I think that would have made me… well… cuckoo!
We saw a glass blowing artisan and bought three ornaments from him. It was Mike’s parents’ 45h Anniversary today, so we had one of those engraved to that effect and gave that to them… I think it’s awesome that they’ve been married 45 years….
We learned that many of our American Christmas traditions came from Germany- the Advent Calendar, for example, and the story “The Nutcracker” as well. They even had a “live” Nutcracker come out and greet the children.

Finally, we learned about the Brothers Grimm’s Fairy Tales and the Fairy Tale Road, and each of the kids created their own Coat of Arms.

Leave a comment

Filed under books, EPCOT, Europe, FIAR Vol 1, Germany, homeschool, Missionaries


I just realized I never posted about our “journey” to France. We read through Mystery at the Eiffel Tower by Erin Kelly, and “rowed” Madeline, Madeline and the Gypsies, and Madeline’s Christmas by Ludwig Bemelmans, with plans to read Madeline in London when we “visit” England. Homeschool Share had loads of resources for our lapbooks of France and Madeline.

Of course, we had to go to EPCOT and visit the France Pavilion there. We saw one of the Gargoyles from Notre Dame, tried on berets and pretended we were Monet (or Van Gogh, or whomever catches your fancy)… and what trip to France would be complete without a sampling of French pastries?! Yep! We couldn’t decide on one thing, so we each picked something and shared with each other… YUMMMMMMMM!

Having our passports stamped is always a MUST!

And God is so cool! I had a hard time finding a biography for a Missionary or other Christian hero to study, but, as “luck” would have it,we had a visitor in AWANA come and tell us about a Missionary family who lives in- where else?- France! God’s timing is always perfect- even in the little things 🙂 I have marvelled this year at watching how things so nicely unfold for me in our “fly by the seat of your pants” homeschool… I can see God’s hand every way I turn…

Leave a comment

Filed under EPCOT, Europe, FIAR Vol 1, France, homeschool, lapbooks, Madeline


We started our study of Italy off by “rowing” the book “Angelo” by David Macaulay. This gentle story about a dedicated man in Italy will touch your heart. Angelo finds a sick pigeon, and nurses her back to health. Her concern for him as he ages and his concern for what will happen to her after he dies is very touching. We talked about the many buildings found in Italy and also about Angelo’s very dedicated work ethic.

Next, we enjoyed reading Carole Marsh’s Mystery at the Roman Colosseum. My kids SO enjoy reading these Mystery books! They are just packed with information! This time, Christina and Grant travelled all over Italy- Rome, Venice, Naples, just to name a few- and had their usual adventures. They told us about the fountains, the buildings, the ruins and the art, as well as many of the customs one might find in Italy.

Of course, we couldn’t study Italy and not learn about Michelangelo and the Sistine Chapel. From our “Geography Through Art” book, we found this idea of trying to paint pictures under the table. The kids enjoyed this project, but all agreed it was really difficult and they wouldn’t want to spend days/months/YEARS doing it!

I thought their paintings came out pretty good, though!

Finally, we made it to EPCOT and visited the Italy pavilion. The kids got a taste for some of the statues and architecture they’d read about. They enjoyed seeing the gondolas, too. We’ve been collecting stamps for our passports at each country in EPCOT. The people there take the time to write a personal greeting for each of the kids in their language. I think it will make quite a collection when it’s complete.

To add to our study of Paul, we watched International Bible Society’s DVD of Acts in the NIV.
We all enjoyed watching the Scriptures “come alive” and following Paul’s transformation and Journeys. After we watched them, we plotted out his routes on a map to see just how much travelling he had done! We were just amazed to think he did most of it on foot or by boat!!!

Leave a comment

Filed under books, EPCOT, Europe, FIAR Vol 4, homeschool, Italy, Missionaries