Saturday, August 25, 2018

Haylee’s 1st Day of Public School!!!

I mentioned last weekend that there were big changes coming to the Burgess house this week.  Haylee is now 14 and ready for high school, and we decided to let her go to public high school like Hayden did.  Now Hayden’s transition was pretty simple, because he went to a public charter school…smaller class sizes, student mentor’s, and a lot of personal interaction with staff.  In addition, every student was in the International Baccalaureate program, so the work was challenging, and the underachievers were quickly weeded out.

Haylee’s experience is much different.  She’s going to a mainstream public high school.  It’s a Title 1 school, as are most schools in Fort Worth.  I read this week that 78% of Fort Worth ISD’s student population is at or below poverty level.  Wow.  And 31% of students are ESL learners.  Already, it’s been an eye-opening experience for her. 

Haylee's First Day of School

Her basic evaluation of week 1 was that they really didn’t do any work because students can change classes for the first 10 days, so teachers didn’t want to get started on anything big during the first 2 weeks.  And she said the lunch room is really, really loud and annoying, but eating outside is just as bad with yelling and screaming going on.  She finally found some lounge chairs outside the lunch room where she feels more comfortable to eat her lunch, so that’s where she has started going.  They haven’t been issued any textbooks, and when they do get them, they won’t be allowed to take them home unless they check them out with permission.  They don’t get assigned lockers unless they request one, because they said there’s no time between classes to use them anyway.  They get homework early in the week, and it’s always due on Friday (strange not to have weekend homework).  They are supposed to get laptops at the end of next week.  They just did away with block scheduling here, so she has every class every day (8 periods).  One day, she spent a total of 3 different class periods watching a volleyball tournament in the gym, just because the teachers in those classes were needed to help with the tournament.  I was like, “HUH?!?”  They seem to waste a lot of time so far, so we’ll have to see if things pick up as time goes on.

Things are a little different here than in VA.  She gets to take soccer as her P.E. class, so they practice during the class period.  Isn’t that interesting?  I’ve never heard of such a thing.  They do that with a lot of different sports here.  But I guess that means she’ll also get a grade for soccer participation, which seems odd.  I guess there’s less practice time after school this way, so it’s fine with me.  And I know it’s nice to break up the day with a little exercise.  Hayden only got to take gym class in his freshman year, and he missed the physical activity in the middle of the day for the rest of his time there.  She is also ecstatic that her last class of the day is Art I.  She loves art!  She said it’s a great way to end the school day, and she really looks forward to it, so that’s cool. Here is her first art project this week, which she just finished yesterday.  They had to trace their arm and hand on a piece of paper and then draw different things of significance to them inside. Afterwards, they had to ink it, and next week they’ll be standing up in front of the class to explain their drawing.  I thought she did a great job with it!

Haylee's 1st Art Project

She said all of her teachers are really nice except for her male Spanish teacher.  She said he’s “less nice,” and she wouldn’t want to get on his bad side.  LOL.  That class is outside in a trailer.  The others are all in the building.  She said her English teacher is the nicest of all and plays music as they enter class every day.  That teacher even lets them have snacks in the classroom…she said she likes to eat, so she imagines they do, too!  LOL.  Sounds like a fun lady.  Even though Haylee took Algebra I at home for 8th grade, we decided she’d benefit from taking it again in school.  She has always struggled with math and takes longer to get the concepts, so she didn’t want to get into math that’s too advanced in high school, and taking Algebra I again will help firm up her understanding before moving on.  The counselor said if it turns out to be too easy, she can switch classes either in the first 10 days or after the first semester.

The school is literally across the intersection from our neighborhood.  We are officially in the walking zone.  But I’m not sending my 14-year old girl to walk alone to and from school around here.  I’ve read stories of young girls being abducted in broad daylight.  At the end of last school year, a girl that age was attacked on her way to the bus stop and nearly died fighting him off.  Luckily, the bus pulled up, and she got to the bus to ask for help.  She’s still in the hospital awaiting a heart transplant because of the damage done to her organs in the attack!  So with that in mind, I drive her up to school in the morning and drop her off out front, and then I pick her up across the intersection as soon as she gets out in the afternoon.  Better safe than sorry in my book!  Plus, it gives us a few minutes to talk about her day and catch up.

In her math class, they had a worksheet for homework.  It was really just an easy little review of pre-algebra concepts…just enough to see if they were where they needed to be to begin Algebra I.  By the end of the week, she was the ONLY student in her class who even turned it in!  Many students hadn’t even started on it.  Isn’t that crazy?  I said to Steve, “Wouldn’t it be funny if our struggling math student ended up being the star of the class, simply because she actually tries?”  Too funny.  She got her paper back with a blue star stamped on it. 

I know Haylee felt a little nervous that first day about finding her classrooms and all, but she seemed to get around okay and wasn’t late for any of her classes.  By the end of the week, she had it down pretty well.  She doesn’t seem to mind going to school at all, so that’s good.  It seems like she will transition well, just as Hayden did.  And another student asked her to write something for them, just because she has pretty cursive handwriting.  I remember Hayden being the only kid in his class who could write in cursive, simply because it’s no longer taught in schools these days.  That’s so weird to me! 

Anyway, it seems so odd having only one student in my homeschool now.  It’s a lot quieter without Haylee and Holden fighting all day, so that’s a welcome change.  But it’s also a little lonely for me, now that I don’t have any adult-like person to engage in conversation with all day long.  Not having any close friends here, Steve and Hayden being gone to work all day, and Haylee being at school all day leaves me here with just a 10-year old boy to communicate with!  It’s definitely different.  Since my parents are deceased, I don’t even have them to call and chat on the phone.  It’s definitely different.  I guess it will take some getting used to.  For now, Haylee seems to enjoy chatting with me on Google Hangouts while she is at school.  She instant messages me between classes, at lunch, and when she has free time in class, just to let me know how her day is goes.  That’s really nice and keeps us both company, I guess.

It’ll only be 4 more years of homeschooling before Holden finds himself going to public high school, as well, and then it will really be quiet around here!  It’s interesting the way the Lord brings us into different seasons of our lives, each one with its own purpose.  I can’t wait to fall into a new routine of things and see what this season has in store for us!

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Hayden’s 19th Birthday!!!

Another year has passed, and Hayden got to celebrate his 19th birthday with a visit from his FL cousin, George, and a homemade NY cheesecake with strawberry topping.  Yum!   


Hayden already had all of his birthday presents early, so I surprised him with a giant gift bag stuffed with all of his favorite, snacks, drinks, and candy.  He said that was cool, because he has treats whenever he wants them!

All the cousins enjoyed being together again.  They went out to a movie together the night before.  It’s unfortunate that it rained cats and dogs the entire weekend, so no fun in the pool and spa!


We missed the deadline for fall college registration (couldn’t get his scores and documents from VA in time once we realized what we needed.  But the winter semester starts in January, so we’ll just have to try again.  He’s kind of iffy about going to college now, which I figured would happen after taking a gap year when we moved and messed up his prepaid in-state tuition, so we’ll have to see how it plays out.


I can hardly believe I’m the mom of an adult son, a high school daughter, and an upper-elementary-aged son.  I guess the big age gap between them all is really starting to show! 

There are more big changes for the Burgess crew coming up this week, but more on that later.

Public school here starts on Monday, and I know summer is quickly drawing to a close for everyone everywhere.  Enjoy your final moments of family fun before the new routine sets in!

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

REVIEW: Paddington Bear Literature Study by Branch Out World

Being from England myself, I though it would be cool to review a literature study with Holden on Paddington Bear from Branch Out World.


This is a literature-based study on the original story of Paddington Bear.  It’s part of the Picture Book Explorers series from Branch Out World.

Students can learn more about the geography and culture of England and Peru as they follow Paddington on his journey to his new family.

This study is intended for ages 5-10, but being as this is written from a British perspective, it really can be used with older students, as well. 

The study includes lots of mapwork and activities to entertain and teach your child as you explore the story together. 

This is a digital product and can be purchased and downloaded for £9.00 (approximately $11.49).


I was actually born in England, so I thought this review would be a neat opportunity to expose my son to some things that are familiar to me but not to him.  I really like the story of Paddington Bear, which Holden knows from having seen the movie in recent years, so I figured exploring the book would be great, too.  He’s not to old to enjoy a good picture book, so I knew it would be a great fit.

I think if anything, I would refer to this product as a cross-curricular study that’s loosely based on the Paddington Bear storybook.  It’s broken into five sections or “days” in the table of contents, but there are honestly so many activities included that you could make it last much longer if you chose more rather than fewer of those activities to do.  We chose to spread it out rather than do it for five consecutive days, and we only chose activities that were of interest to us. All of the facts and information you need for most of the activities is included in the provided text, and anything else can be easily obtained through a quick internet search.  The first thing I did was to print out the study materials and put them into a binder for organization.  I added some blank pages at the end to give me a place to glue in the many notebooking activities we’d be making.


The first section is titled “Exploring the Setting.”  All of the activities pertain to the countries of England and Peru from the story and comparing information about the two places.  The activities in this section include coloring their flags, making maps, making tourist posters, finding out facts, studying migration, and looking at the setting of the story.  Using the provided information, we also got to create a timeline of events in the two countries for the period during which the story took place.

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The second section is titled “Exploring the Words.”  Here, we discussed the author and themes from the story. There were also spelling and narration activities, vocabulary discussion, some creative inspiration, and a grammar exercise.  If you have both the chapter book and the picture book version of the story, there’s also an activity to compare the two and their intended audiences.  One of the included printable activities for grammar practice was a mini-book where he got to create sentences to practice subject-verb agreement.  Another was to define some vocabulary words from the story and create a pocket to hold the definitions we recorded.

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The third section is titled “Exploring the Pictures.”  We learned more about the illustrator, did a picture study of one of the illustrations in the book, learned about architectural features of buildings in the picture, and discussed principles of design like overlapping and emphasis.  We did some printable activities about those topics, like creating a tabbed book with definitions of some of the architectural elements and drawing samples that illustrate emphasis in illustrations.

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The fourth section is titled “Exploring Science.”  This was probably my favorite part!  We learned about the spectacled bear found in Peru and made a fact sheet all about it.  We also did a sensory activity about the textures of shaving creams and how they are easily foam can be washed away with water the way it was in the story when Paddington overflowed the bathtub with suds.  We learned a lot about how foam is created in this section!  It was really neat.  There are some other science activities here that we hope to come back to when we have more time, like observing the reaction between peroxide, yeast, and dish soap and making a foamy food like meringue!  We also learned about condensation that comes from steam settling on a mirror.  And it suggested doing a nature study in the garden.  One of the printables also provides your child with a place to record what they learned from doing any one of the science activities.

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The fifth section was titled “Exploring Maths, Crafts, and More.”  This section discusses parallel lines, numbers in the story, what you might pack in a suitcase to go on vacation (and the application of spatial awareness…it has to fit!), shaving foam art (which we also hope to come back and do another time), making tablas (pictures painted on wooden boards), and some cooking activities for making strawberry tarts marmalade.  Holden doesn’t have any interest in arts and crafts so we mostly skipped this section.  But it suggests additional activities such as having a tea party or visiting a train station.  We didn’t have the necessary ingredients for the tarts, and marmalade, but we know all about tea parties with some of our English favorites!

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And I wanted to show you how some of the notebooking pages turn out once you glue in your completed elements.

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All in all, this is a really thorough cross-curricular study that helps your child learn more about England and Peru, and it includes a lot of hands-on, diverse activities to choose from so you can make it as minimal or as in-depth as you choose.  Once you’ve enjoyed the storybook itself and the interesting study guide, I highly recommend rewarding your child by an afternoon of watching any or all of the Paddington Bear movies as a way to finish out your studies!

Check out what other Crew members have to say about this great literature study by clicking the banner below.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Happy 14th Birthday, Haylee!!!

My sweet baby girl, Haylee, turned 14 on July 31st.  How is that possible?  The time has flown.


And being 14 now, that means it is time to begin high school!  She has always been homeschooled, but like Hayden before her, she will be going to public high school.  This week, we went over and got her all registered for school.  They made her student ID, and she went to freshman orientation!

Image result for southwest high school fort worthImage result for southwest high school fort worth 

School starts much earlier here than in VA, so the first day of school is August 20th, and the school year ends by Memorial Day.  She just has one more week at home, and then it’s a whole new world for her and for us, too!  For the first time since Hayden was little, I’m left at home teaching just one child.  We’re in the home stretch!  Just 4 years to go and then my 19 years of homeschooling will come to an end when Holden goes to high school, too.  I can finally retire from this gig! Smile

Saturday, August 4, 2018

National Root Beer Float Day 2018!

Monday, August 6th, is National Root Beer Float Day at A&W Restaurants!  Stop by from 2-8 PM and get a FREE small root beer float!  No purchase is required, but a donation for veterans is encouraged.