Incredible Benefits of Horseback Riding

From this sweet scared little girl to this capable confident young lady.

I know several years have passed, and she has literally grown up. However, she has also grown so much from this experience. It has become so much more than an activity. The horseback lessons themselves have taught Caitlyn the value of hard work, even dirty work you don’t like. It has taught her to put something else’s needs in front of her own. It has given her poise and confidence.

She has also made two incredible little friends, who she lovingly refers to as her minions. She has had the opportunity to help them with their horseback lessons, read to them, and teach them little things. It’s good for her to have someone younger than her to be an example for.

Plus, Ms Michelle often generously and amazingly includes Caitlyn in fantastic activities. We have baked candy corn and horse treats. I can’t even count the arts and crafts activities. Michelle is an artist, and she does such a great job explaining the projects and concepts. Which is fantastic, because Caitlyn loves art and I stink at it!

This is now her happy place.

Solar Eclipse

In August, we were fortunate enough to be able to go visit my Aunt’s house for the solar eclipse. She lives in Missouri and her house fell right in the path of the total eclipse. Since we were traveling so far we decided to make more of a trip of it, and enjoyed some of the sites.

The Gateway Arch was at the top of my list of places to visit. We decided the view was enough, and that we didn’t want to go up inside of it. Richard found a great park across the river to go to for the view. He also offered to take us to the St Louis Zoo, which was amazing. The had an incredible butterfly house, which fell right in with our science studies.

It was fantastic to be able to just step outside to watch the eclipse. We were able to go in and out through out the afternoon, whenever we wanted. We were able to avoid the heat, and have a fantastic view with no crowds.

All in all, time with Aunt Kathy was Caitlyn’s favorite part of the trip.

Early Writing Forms and Mummification

Caitlyn wrote in hieroglyph (paper) and cuneiform (clay), and then she tested to see which would withstand the elements better. First we left it outside for a week, and neither form was impacted by that. Then we “flooded the Nile Delta”.

Unfortunately, our results were inaccurate (which happens sometimes). I used air dry clay, because that is what I had on hand, and I didn’t realize it wouldn’t harden the way baked clay does in the amount of time given. So, Our clay got slimy and gross, before there was any impact to our scroll.

While Caitlyn’s writing experiment was hanging out outside for a week, we started a new chapter of history and began the mummification experiment. I opted to do apples again. So we spent an afternoon weighing apple slices. Then burying wrapped (gauze) and unwrapped apples in table salt, epsom salt, baking soda, flour, and 50/50 mixtures of those. Each cup was labeled with the apple weight, whether it was wrapped or not, and which “preservative” was used.

Caitlyn hypothesized that the wrapped 50% table salt and 50% epsom salt apple would mummify the best. Then there was nothing to do but wait a week, and see what happened.

This was her reaction to the control apple, but the flour apple ended up being the grossest. It was complete mush and just had to be thrown away. We dug out, wiped off, unwrapped, and weighed all the apple slices again. Above is what the individual slices all looked like. Then we compared the weights at the beginning to the weight at the end to determine which apple slice lost the most moisture. Caitlyn was very close in her hypothesis, since the 50/50 epsom salt and table salt ended up being the most mummified. However, the wrapped apples all turned out worse, since the gauze trapped the moisture and prevented the preservative from actually touching the apple.

This may not have been Caitlyn’s ideal experiment, but she still loves hands on activities.

If you want a really cute comparison, this is the blog from when we did mummification four years ago.

Mummification Experiment


Leia is finally able to join us in the school room most of the time without being a disruption. She and Caitlyn, are enjoying hiding in the tent this year when they can. I love that Caitlyn can do school and hang out with our fur baby at the same time.

Apologia Flying Creatures – Lesson 1

We started our study of Apologia’s flying creatures this year, after doing land animals and swimming creatures the last two years. The first lesson was a general overview of flight and also a look at how animals are classified.

We did this short simple experiment on air pressure. Caitlyn loved it, and she cracked up every time the water spurted.

She also built two gliders and did test flights to determine which design was more aerodynamic.

So far she’s really enjoying science!

1st Day of School

I made a few small changes to our school room, but mostly I just cleaned and organized all of our resources.

Caitlyn was so excited she got up and insisted on doing a couple of subjects before we even had breakfast.

Learning to code, using SCRATCH, has been her favorite so far. She was also intrigued by our new daily notebook, which is in Spanish this year.

Overall we had a good start to 5th Grade:

All About Caitlyn – 5th Grade Version

One of our back to school traditions is having Caitlyn complete an all about me worksheet. These were Caitlyn’s answers this year.

Activity: Horseback Riding and Baton


Favorite Place: Beach

Favorite Color: Blue

Favorite Song: Ride by 21 Pilots

Movie: Moana

Favorite Book to Read: Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo

Favorite Subject in School: Reading

Favorite Food: Pizza or Mac and Cheese

Drink: Apple Juice

Favorite Animal: Orca

Best Friend: Sarah Day

Game: 7 Wonders

Toy: My Phone

Time of Day: 1:00 PM

Holiday: Christmas

When I grow up I want to be an: Author

We also did a new sheet this year, Caitlyn by the numbers. She really enjoyed this, surprisingly. 

Going clockwise around:

946 books read (on her Goodreads Account)

4ft 1.5 in tall

3 favorite animals

6 states she has been to

1 teacher

10 years old

2 years of having Leia

5th grade

5th Grade Curriculum

Here is an overview of our plan for this year.

  • Math – Teaching Textbooks 6
  • Language Arts – All About Spelling and joining a book club
  • Science – Apologia Zoology Flying Creatures
  • History – Story of the World Volume I Ancient History
  • PE – Horseback Riding, Baton, and exercise at home
  • Bible – Apologia Who Is God
  • Geography
  • Typing
  • Scratch Coding
  • Spanish

We will also continue writing and cursive handwriting work through the other subjects.

What would you pack?

On February 8th we were studying WWII, and how children in London were sent by train to the English countryside. I reminded her about the journeys like this that we have read about in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and our current read aloud, The War That Saved My Life (which is excellent by the way). I told Caitlyn that we were going to pretend we were living in London in WWII.

Once pretending, I told her that I had decided to evacuate her to keep her safe, and that the training was coming and we had to leave soon. I gave her a suitcase and backpack that she could carry on her own, and told her she only had five minutes to pack.

  • one bra
  • five pairs of underwear
  • a hankerchief
  • one pair of socks
  • one night gown
  • two play/sleep tshirts
  • two pairs of shorts play/sleep
  • one pair of leggings
  • two shirts (one short sleeve and one long sleeve)
  • her phone and kindle
  • her favorite book
  • a notebook
  • a diary
  • a pencil
  • some snacks for the train ride

After the five minutes was up we evaluated her choices. I was really surprised by her clothing choices, because she is normally very picky and this was not anything she would normally be seen in. She explained that she was trying to get the most things and not be picky, because it was an emergency. We also talked about other things she might need: medicine; toiletries; water; flashlight; and shoes. Then we talked about things she might have wished she had: photos; a charger for her phone/kindle (she was thinking similar situation now and not about the fact these things didn’t exist then); a stuffed animal for comfort; clothes she actually likes; and colored pencils (she moved them to get other things and had plenty of room in her backpack for them).

Overall, I thought she did a pretty good job in a short period of time.

Mitchell Dam Field Trip

In August, I scheduled us a field trip with Mitchell Dam. As typical I really didn’t know exactly what we were going to do or how it was going to go. This was one of our best field trips yet. The tour guide was very animated and extremely knowledgeable. He did an excellent job presenting and fielding questions.

Caitlyn said her favorite part of the tour was that we actually got to watch them do a release. She thought it was really cool how the water bubbled up and churned the lake water.