By Katja Kromann

Yes, we started homeschooling - part II

Yes, we started homeschooling - part II
Yesterday, I shared a little bit about why we chose to homeschool, our essentials and what we are doing for math.

Today, I would like to share our plans for the rest of the subjects: Science, Social Studies, PE, Language Arts, and Arts. I also added our daily activity starter: Critical thinking. See near the end of the post.


1. Word skeleton by Aaron Kuehn -  1$ pdf download, 2. 3D skeleton in a bottle, 3 R.E.A.L Science Odyssey, 4. Real-Life Science Mysteries.

Something we both like to do is to do hands on experiments. Last year we came up with our own experiments such as testing the effects of different kinds of water (tap, salt, microwaved, bottled, boiled, sugary electrolyte water) on the sprouting ability of standard black beans. It was very illuminating!

This year we want to do much more of this and my son has a big interest in the human body, the skeleton, cells and how everything works, so this year we are going to look at plants, animals and the human body.

I just found the above print (by Aaron Kuehn) which I am going to frame and hang somewhere. I like the esthetics of it as well as how practical it is, that each bone is labelled with its own name.

We also bought an anatomically correct miniature model which he put together. It came with a red plastic stand that I switched out with a wooden one that looks better.

Our main book is going to be the REAL life Science Odyssey level 1. It is meant for 1-4 grade and I really wanted to get level 2, but it is not out yet. The R.E.A.L book has a ton of experiments that look good, through, so I still got it and then also got the other book which is more a 5-8 grade level. I am going to be looking for one or two other companion books that are a bit more advanced as well to round out the experience.

Social Studies

1. Huge map from IKEA, 2. The Story of the World - the Middle Ages, by Susan Wise Bauer (It is considered Christian literature, but it covers the time after the dinosaurs AND comes highly recommended by the secular community), 3. Globe - I hope I can find a nice one with nice colors and a pretty stand and hopefully a second hand one. 4. I signed us up to see Robin Hood as a play, which I think will go nicely with our medieval theme. 5. We will also be using movies and documentaries from Netflix

This Story of the World book comes with a work book which will also cover geography as it pertains to the history. I think this is a phenomenal way of learning geography. Very relatable.

I love our big map from Ikea. It hangs in our upstairs hall way so we look at it often. I hope to find a globe to get more of a sense of the roundness of the earth as well as the distortion of proportions that happen on the flat maps with Europe as the center - especially as it pertains to Africa which is usually always shown as having the aproximate size of the US, which is of course all wrong as Africa is much bigger:

(Image source)

Social Studies will also contain quite a bit of:

(Image source)

We have signed up for a local program, where we are going to study wild life and ecology once a month out in nature.

We are also going to get a group together to do once a month hikes with a local naturalist to learn about our local wildflowers, insects and other animals. We did this last year and some of the highlights were discovering a local waterfall and catching Salamanders (Newts).

 For our goal of learning the 50 states and their capitals, I bought this fandex and I already had some flash cards from Target's $1 section. We have set aside half an hour a week for this work.


1. Golf, 2. Daily walks, 3. Park days with the homeschooling communities.

For PE my son has chosen to take up golf and he has been to golf camp twice this summer.

We have talked about possibly adding Karate or Taek Won Do to the mix, but this is still undecided at this point.

In addition to this I have scheduled a half our walk in the neighbor hood every morning, just get us moving a little bit.

Another part of our PE program is PLAYing with all our friends in the homeschooling community. We belong to a number of groups and meet as much as possible with them for park days and field trips. We have already made quite a few friends which has made our homeschooling journey even more pleasant.

Language Arts

1. The Story of the World - Ancient times by Susan Bauer (Technically a Christian book), 2. Haddix series for silent reading, 3 Pizza, pigs & poetry by Jack Prelutzky, 4. It's raining pigs and noodles by Jack Preluzky, 5. Creative writing class and book club, 6. Reading Eggspress.- an online reading game.

Neither my son, nor I, are the biggest fans of fiction literature, so instead I have chosen to use the Story of the World - Ancient times as our reading a loud book. This will catch us up to the middle ages which we are doing for Social Studies. We got the work book for this book as well, but I don't see us doing too much with this. We will see.

We found an amazing reading and writing class that my son is going to take once a week. The teacher is really great and my son really likes her. We chose this because reading and writing is pretty far down the list of favorites for my son and English is not our first language. Therefore it feels like an excellent choice to source this out to an enthusiastic native speaker (ha).

She recommended the Haddix books to my son which he is trying to embrace ;). They will meet once a week for two hours (oh what will I do with all that time to myself?) and do one hour of book club and one hour of creative writing such as essay writing and resumes.

I am also considering signing up for Reading Eggspress which is a reading game through Reading Eggs. The Eggspress version is for older kids. Depending on their reading level I would say 3rd grade and up. We did a trial of it last year with moderate success.


1. Mango Japanese, 2. Art class, 3. Cooking, 4. Wood working, 5. Graphics design and computer programming.

I am psyched about being able to offer all these subjects now that we are homeschooling.

My son expressed interest in learning Japanese. He has been into origami for 5 years and he likes the manga cartoon style as well as the Japanese video game Zelda.

We found out that one of our local libraries offers online Mango language lessons, not only in our native tongue Danish, which we will also check out, but in Japanese. It is being compared to Rosetta stone but with the price tag of FREE. We went and signed up and got all the download instructions.

I hope at some point that I can find  a Japanese speaking origami folder that my son could take some classes with. He would just love that.

We have been learning to draw for over a year - this penguin was one of my son's first color pencil drawings in class. He already has quite a talent in drawing and now we are adding some technique to this. I am taking the class with him and I have learned so much which I use for my work as a Graphic Artist.

My son loves to cook, so this is on our schedule. We will continue to cover how to plan a shopping trip, estimating the totals while at the market, shopping at the local farmers markets, how to haggle or get a good deal, how to prepare whole foods and cook them.

Wood working is something else he has been interested in. This is something he will be doing with Dad as well as learning computer programming. He has touched on some html markup language and simple code so far and they will continue to build on this.

I will teach him graphic design such as when I taught him how to create a realistic looking 3D pencil like the one above, which he made in Photoshop a couple of years ago.

I think I might have saved the best for last:

Critical Thinking

1. Critical Thinking Daily Spark, 2. Grid perplexors, 3. Brain Quest

Every morning we are going to start the same way: Breakfast and critical thinking. They go together fabulously, don't they?.

I simply love the first book I found which has 180 "thinking starters". For instance:
Measure out 4 gallons of water using a three-gallon jug and a five-gallon jug.  This was featured in one of the Die Hard movies.
Hint: There are two solutions.

The Brain Quest deck has 10 or so questions on each card with answers on the next one. This is like playing Trivial Pursuit, but without the board. I got the one for 5th grade. You can get these for all grade levels.

The Grid Perplexors are the kind where you have 3 people in each problem and there is a description of each person and then you have to figure out who is who.

First there is a short story, then some clues such as:
Betty's Carrot weighed exactly twice as much as Bert's carrot.

I am looking forward to those.

As you probably realize by now, I am a planner. I am, however, also a flexible planner and our plan and schedule are living documents so they can change with our changing needs.

While I do want to focus on all the basic knowledge and make sure the standards are covered, I also want to make sure that we are taking advantage of everything that makes homeschooling so great to us, which includes picking our own curriculum, adding lots of field trips and hands on experiences and switching it up when something really interesting and worth while comes along.

With this I am ready to let the year begin.

Next: Homeschooling 5th grade part I - how we spent our time.

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This article: Yes, we started homeschooling - part II first appeared on

Katja Kromann
About Katja Kromann

I am a Danish American decorating life in Seattle. I love all things design and DIY.

I can’t think of anything more fun than coming up with project, making it, photographing it and sharing it with you on my websites.

I am a Graphic Artist, a remodeller and home maker by day. My Portfolio
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