Summer 2014: HLR Reading Party


{photos by Cami Smith and Haley Haynes-Carstens}


Greetings on this fine Monday! Today’s blast from the (recent) past comes from Sarah Shotwell, our High School History and Literature teacher and advisor for the Hanging Lantern Review literary magazine:



On May 27th, we had an incredible night at our second annual Hanging Lantern Review Spring Reading and Release Party at Kreuzberg, CA in downtown SLO. Students from SLOCA and other teen writers from around the Central Coast read their award-winning poetry, fiction, and nonfiction while parents, friends, teachers, and local bystanders sipped coffee and tea and thumbed through the brand new, beautiful summer issue of Hanging Lantern Review, sloCAHS' awesome student-run lit journal. The students reading at this event are truly some of the most talented young writers in our region, and hearing them read their work was a true pleasure. The baristas at Kreuzberg were even impressed! 



This year has been an adventure for those on staff at the magazine. As faculty advisor for this team, I got to watch as students really took ownership over their various staff roles. They learned to meet hard deadlines, to follow through on their commitments, and to dream big and see those goals realized. As with last year, we all have learned so much together about writing, editing, and the creative process, but also about planning, budgeting, fund-raising, graphic design, event coordination, and marketing. The resulting product is truly a testament to these kids' teamwork, and I couldn't be prouder of them. The quality of the writing included in this issue is tremendous, and visually, the magazine itself looks and feels like a work of art. 




Please stop in at the SLOCA Bookstore to pick up a copy for $10. We know you won't be disappointed, and 100% of your purchase will go towards Hanging Lantern Review and our continued efforts to build and nourish a community of young writers here on the Central Coast. 


SLO Classical Academy is not affiliated with the above mentioned business.


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Summer 2014: The Science Fair


{taken at the 2011 Science Fair – all photos from SLOCA’s Flickr site}


Our weekly peeks into the future continue today here at Down Home, and this time we hope to interest you in an exciting all-school event that will take place mid-year: the Science Fair! Each year we alternate between a science event and a math event for Trimester 2, and this year it will be science. During this event we will come together as a community and celebrate our students' curiosity and diligence!


Science teacher Heidi Frago has a few thoughts about the Science Fair to share with us:



The Science Fair is one of my favorite trimester projects.  Students step into the role of a scientist and start asking questions.  Each scientist maintains a lab notebook and records their work as they go through the scientific process.  At the end of the trimester students present their findings to friends and family in a wonder-filled night of science.


The perfectness of this project is that each student tailors their experiment to their personal interests.  Every experiment starts with a "Why?" or "Why not?"  If your student is interested in cooking, they can experiment with how an ingredient affects the "fluffy-ness" of a cake.  If your student loves all things mechanical, they can play around with gear ratios.  If your student is into gardening, they can play around with how gravity affects plant growth.  The sky is the limit and many experiments can be done with items around your home.



Thanks, Heidi! We are looking forward to this special event and know it will be something all the kids can get into.


Here are a few more photos from the last Science Fair, way back in 2011: 







Happy weekend, everyone!



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Categorized: Archive, Community, On Campus

Summer 2014: Summer Math Skills




Last week we talked about the importance of summer reading, and today we want to devote a little time to keeping those math skills sharp, too! Next week we’ll move on to fun summer activities…


Just about every teacher will recommend working on math facts over the summer as well as reinforcing skills learned throughout the year. While we may not want to make our kids sit down and “do math” every day during the summer break, we do want to incorporate math facts and mathematical thinking into our days when possible. Here are a few ideas on how to accomplish just that:


  • Make it a Game: You probably already have several math games using cards, dice, dominoes and things you have around the house. Our Singapre HIGs include several math games. If you're looking to freshen up your repertoire, here are lists of a few card gamesdice games, and domino games.


  • Family Math book series: These books offer games and activities families can do together, which might fit in well with summer vacation plans. Remember that many board games use math skills too.


  • Stackable Facts: This link shows another great idea that taps into the cup stacking craze, using paper cups to practice math facts and build towers. (You can use this to practice sight words for early readers, too!)





(Re-use those cups and play Dunk It Dominoes)


  • Our Math Mania games: You still have these, right? Get them out and play them!


  • Get out the sidewalk chalk and write math facts on your driveway, then have fun hosing them off or squirting them with a spray bottle as you learn them. This way you also get in a little water play on a warm day!


  • Fact Family Albums: This was an idea posted on Down Home a few years ago, so here it is again! Primary students can practice writing their fact families using this handy fact family album. Download the following pdf files, cut them apart, and slide them into an inexpensive plastic 4x6 photo album. Students can use a wet or dry erase marker to write out the four equations that make up the fact family.

Download them here:

Addition/Subtraction fact families

Multiplication/Division fact families




  • Unlock the Code: This game idea is from Help your child recognize numbers and think critically by appealing to his love of mystery. Write out all the letters in the alphabet on a sheet of paper, leaving room underneath each letter for a number. Under each letter, write the numbers from 1 to 26. In other words, a=1, b=2, etc. Practice writing coded messages using numbers rather than letters. You can use the code to leave simple messages from one another.


Another way to use this code is to try to find words whose corresponding numbers add up to a specified target, like 25, 50, or 100. (Here’s one word to get you started: ‘cousins’ = 100)


  • Good old Singapore mental math strips: We already have these in our HIGs, so why not sprinkle them in here and there this summer? It’s easy, if not the most creative or fun method. Flash cards are another standby that can be used occasionally to mix things up. You might offer a chocolate chip for each correct fact, or some other incentive to help ease the pain of practicing math over the summer. :)


And then there’s always technology to help us when we need it…



  • Bedtime Math is a “nonprofit that helps kids love math like playtime or dessert.” This website delivers a different, interesting math challenge each day. It starts with a story and then offers a problem to solve, with three levels of difficulty for “wee ones, little kids, and big kids.” These engaging math problems are fun! You can have the daily math challenge sent to your email, view it on their website, or download the mobile app. They now have a book as well.



  • Play math games on the computer: If the kids want “screen time” they might as well be honing their math skills! There are SO many sites out there that offer everything from straight math fact practice (like Math Fact Cafe or XtraMath), to skills practice by grade (like IXL), to interactive math games at sites like Fun BrainSheppard SoftwareABCYa, and Math Playground, to name a few. 


  • Get some Apps: This is along the same lines as above, only sometimes apps are more handy when you want to squeeze in a little math on the go. Earlier this year Down Home posted several links to homeschooling apps, including a handful of math games. Here are a few more apps (among the many that are available) that focus on math. If you have a favorite, please share in the comments below. And again, these are for Apple products – if you know of some great Android math apps, please share in the comments too!):


 My Math Flash Cards (FREE for iPhone and iPad)

This is a basic flash cards app for practicing addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. 


 Mathmateer (FREE or there is a $0.99 version for iPhone and iPad)

Go on math missions to practice arithmetic, time, money and 3D shapes. 


 Sushi Monster (FREE for iPhone and iPad)

This one is aimed at ages 9-11, and works on strengthening reasoning strategies for whole number addition and multiplication by helping monsters make a target sum or product. 


 Marble Math ($2.99 for iPhone and iPad)

Another great one for older kids – solve a variety of math problems by collecting numbers as you roll or drag your marble through a series of fun mazes for ages 9-12 and up.


 Medieval Math Battle  (FREE for iPhone and iPad)

Here’s an app that conveniently fits into our history theme for next year! From the developer:

PARENTS PLEASE NOTE: Medieval Math Battle addition is free to play, however, subtraction, multiplication, and division cost $.99 each, or you can unlock all for $1.99. Your child will earn gold from battles, but you also have the option to buy gold with real money. If you do not want to use these features, please disable or password protect in-app purchasing in your devices settings.



What are you favorite ways to work on math skills over the summer? Please share your ideas in the comments!



SLO Classical Academy is not affiliated with any of the above mentioned websites or businesses.


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Categorized: Archive, Home Schooling

Summer 2014: Little Wonders Tea Parties


{photo by Hannah Mahaffey}


NOTE: This Wednesday, July 16th,  is another SLOCA work day and we sure can use the help! Please come from 10am-2pm and get some volunteer hours in, while helping to get our classrooms and campus ready for the new year.



So many precious and magical moments happened in our Little Wonders classrooms last year, but we asked Director Merideth Eades and Preschool Teacher Jessica Wilson to each give us one of their favorite moments from the year to share here on Down Home. 


From Mrs. Eades and the Jr. Kinder class:

Our end of the year Character Tea was wonderful. The children dressed up as their favorite character from one the books we have read this year. Some memorized a line from the story or shared their favorite part then we had a tea party. It was an amazing culmination activity. 



{photos by Hannah Mahaffey}



From Mrs. Wilson and the Preschool class:

The book during Memorial Day week was free choice so I chose Miss Spider's Tea Party. We played with our classroom tea set and explored tea in many ways. There was a tea painting station using a variety of tea flavors as paint, tea tasting where we sampled three kinds of herbal teas, and a tea blend activity where the children created their own herbal teas. They worked their fine motor skills as they filled their glass bottles with a blend of dried herbs such as chamomile, spearmint, rose petals, amaranth, and more. The children then created their own tea label, named their tea and took them home for their very own tea party. We also examined a beautiful pitcher of flowering tea. The children enjoyed their day of all-things-tea so much so that the tea adventures continued until the end of the year as we played and played and played some more with our tea set, brewed our favorite jujube tea and planned our costumes for our end of year Character Tea Party. 


{photos by Jessica Wilson}



Thank you so much for sharing this peek into the magical world of Little Wonders. We know there are amazing things in store next year for these adorable learners!


Do you have a Preschool or Jr. Kinder student? What was one of your highlights from the past year?



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Summer 2014: Upcoming Parent Trainings




Parent training is one of the many excellent benefits SLO Classical Academy offers. Last year we had the privilege of hosting Andrew Pudewa from the Institute for Excellence in Writing, and Adam Andrews from the Center for Literary Education for some amazing parent training seminars. And of course, we always have our insightful history and literature trainings each trimester, and our back-to-school trainings for all families right before school starts. 


This coming year we have a few new trainings you can anticipate, starting this summer! Today we’ll tell you a little more about what’s coming up to assist you as you help educate and support your students at home:



Singapore Math Training – Friday, July 25

Are you ready to take a long-awaited voyage to discover the hidden secrets of the Singapore Math program?  This July we are thrilled to present an evening with Anni Stipek, a nationally acclaimed Singapore Math trainer.  Ever get stumped on Number Bonds, Mental Math, or Model Drawing?  How about conversions?  After this training, you will understand this program from the inside – you'll be speaking Singaporese fluently.  You will be well equipped to help your student navigate the waters as you cruise from milliliters to liters, grams to kilograms , inches to feet, minutes to hours and onward.  We know this training will be well worth your time and we will all feel the benefit as we come into the new year ready to set sail!


Starting at 5:00 - 5:45 pm - training for Preschool through Primary 1st.

This is required for Kinder - Primary 1st.  It is highly recommended for Preschool/Junior Kinder as we will not have another opportunity like this for some time. 


Starting at 6:00 - 9:00 pm - training for Kinder through 6th grade

We are requiring Kinder as well as Primary 1 parents to remain through the full training.  


Parents, please note that this math training is mandatory. We need to know if you are going to be at the live training.  If you are not, we need to know which recorded training you will attend.  Here is the link to RSVP:   Singapore Training


If you cannot attend the live training, there will be two recorded trainings presented on Tuesday, August 19 @ 6:00 pm and Wednesday, August 20 @ 9:00 am.   



{photo by Jenny Bischoff}



Latin/Writing Intensive – August 18-22

This one is for students rather than parents but it is such an important one that we want to highlight it here. This year we are offering a very special week of training for all new to SLOCA Upper Middle School students.  It is crucial that all our new to SLOCA UMS students attend this mandatory training. It will prepare these new students to jump in and quickly get up to speed with the returning SLOCA students in Latin and Writing.  


9 am-12 pm: Latin Intensive

12:30-3 pm: Writing Intensive



Back to School Trainings – Friday, August 22

We have a new format this year for our mandatory Back to School Trainings on the Friday before school starts.  We hope that this new set up will allow parents to go to each level they need.  We did have to combine a couple of sessions, but hope we have made it easier for you.  If you have children in levels that are at the same time, please go to your oldest child's session.  These trainings will be an "intro to the classroom."  You will learn about the specifics of each level and will be prepared and informed for the new school year.  


Here is the schedule:


9:00 – 10am Primary

10:10 – 11:10am Intermediate

11:20 – 12:20pm Little Wonders (Preschool and Junior Kinder)

11:20 – 12:20pm Lower Middle School

12:30 – 1:30pm Kindergarten

12:30 – 1:30pm  Upper Middle School

1:30 – 2:00pm  Upper Middle School Optional Q&A Session



Handwriting Seminar

We are excited to announce that this upcoming winter, Jan McCleskey, occupational therapist and handwriting expert, will be coming to SLOCA all the way from Plano, TX to present a three day handwriting seminar.  Are you interested in improving your older child/ren’s legibility?  What about introducing cursive?  Or developing fine motor skills, excellent pencil grip and quality penmanship for your younger child/ren?  If you answered yes to any of the above you will want to plan on attending this seminar that will have you actively participating and engaged.  Over the course of three days there will be a total of four different workshops offered:


Intro to Cursive

Legibility for 3rd-6th graders

Legibility for 7th- 12th graders

Multi-Sensory Handwriting for Preschool – 2nd graders


We will be encouraging you (and in some cases your child) to attend the workshop/s that would be most beneficial to you as a homeschooling family – a full three day commitment is not necessary.  Specific dates and times will be announced soon. 





Don’t they sound great?! We hope you are excited to attend these seminars and trainings and we look forward to learning together as a community. 



SLO Classical Academy is not affiliated with any of the above mentioned websites or businesses.


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About Down Home

Welcome to Down Home, San Luis Obispo Classical Academy's blog! We are a classical school offering options to make education work for families. We have a full hybrid program for grades K-8, which means two days at school with three days of home education, all days following the classical model and curricula carefully laid out by the school. We also have a four day program available for grades 5-8. Our high school students attend school three days each week. This blog is meant to support and encourage on the home front because in so many ways, the heart of what happens at SLO Classical Academy happens down home. Semper discentes - always learning together.

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