Summer 2014: Indoor Boredom Busters




Last week we shared a few fun outdoor activities, so let’s look at some indoor suggestions too. Some of these can be done independently by kids, while others require a little parent (or big sibling) involvement and can turn a quiet afternoon into a fun time spent together. When the familiar “I’m bored” is heard around your house, perhaps one of these craft or activity ideas would be welcome:


{source, source, source, source, source}


1)Cave of Stars, from Life as Mama

2)Catapult craft game, from All For The Boys (this may come in handy during our study of the Middle Ages!)

3)Magical Play-dough mix, from Come Together Kids, which you can then use to make:

4)Play-dough bug fossils, from No Time for Flashcards

5)Black glue and watercolor, from Pink and Green Mama



{source, source, source, source, source}


6)Edible paint, from Living Locurto

7)Popsicle stick bracelets, from Suzy’s Artsy-Craftsy Sitcom

8)Balloon rockets, from Discover Explore Learn

9)Mini marshmallow shooters, from Come Together Kid

10)Wrapped sticks and stones, from Scrumdillydilly


See you tomorrow night at our parent reading group – 7pm! Even if you haven't quite finished the book, join us and let's discuss The Read-Aloud Handbook.


What indoor activities have you discovered to keep the kids busy? Please share your favorites 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 Life

Summer 2014: More Magical Moments




Last year was chock full of special memories and Magical Moments, and today we have a few more personal favorites from last school year sent in by parents:



From Sandi Twist, Track B:

There have been so many magical moments this past year:

  • When Kendra brought me to tears as she practiced her narrative as Odysseus and his loss.
  • The beautiful poetry journal she made in Mrs. Burns' class.
  • Gavin's giddiness at pumping up a pigs lungs with a bicycle pump.
  • The kids negotiating their nightly chores in Shakespearean banter: "dishes, tooth brushing, dog clean up etc."


With them both on the four day program I don't get the first hand highlights as much.  The highlight now is when I pick them up and they talk over each other trying to share something exciting from their school day.  The love of learning continues.




From Michelle Dorman, Track A:

Here is a one of my favorties from the past year.  Ultimate Frisbee in the cold rain!! All the supportive parents and coaches toughed it out during the chilly, wet weather.  SO FUN!!!


{photo by Michelle Dorman}



From Lisa Boyd, Track A:

I think my son Evan's two highlights of the year were being on the new basketball team with his SLOCA buddies and the Island of the Blue Dolphins Trip.  He was initially hesitant to go, but went and had the time of his life, and the parts of the trip he was most worried about were actually the highlights for him.  It was an amazing experience all around.  He came back with lots of stories of games and activities and my 'nature-wary' boy even informed me the other day when we were watching a bird scold our cat that he learned from the naturalists on the island why birds did that! 


We are incredibly grateful for people like Coach David Hazelback, Coach Kyle Kwiatek and Cindy Hilton (boutique travel agent extraordinaire) who go the extra mile to make these amazing experiences a reality for our kids...These are memories for a lifetime!


{photo by Lisa Boyd}



From Molly Trapp, Track A:

My husband Brian and two of our kids, Calvin and Heidi, rode their bikes to Firestone tonight and met Bridget and I there (we drove) for dinner. They had already gone in and ordered by the time Bridget and I got there and as we sat down Heidi wanted to tell me what they ordered. 


Heidi, enthusiastically: "Mommy, they had this salad in there that was... Oh, what was the name?! It was this super important guy in ancient times..." 

Me: "Caesar?"

Heidi with a smile: "Ya, they had a salad named after Julius Caesar! Can you believe it?!"


Not too many 5 years olds would make that connection. Made me so happy for the educational opportunities that we have at SLOCA. 




Thanks so much for sharing these moments with us, parents! We deeply appreciate our SLOCA community and it's fun to recall some of these precious memories from last year. Do you have a favorite moment from our last school year that comes to mind? Please share it in the comments!


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


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Categorized: Archive, Magical Moments

Summer 2014: The Rewards of Volunteering


Karen Riffenburgh volunteering at Fred & Betty's

{photo by Lillie Lamm}


We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give. 

~Winston Churchill


Today’s sneak peek into next year is all about Volunteer Hours and some of the changes happening with those.


Our exceptional program here at SLO Classical Academy could not thrive without parents who commit their time, talents, and resources to volunteering at the school in many ways. Being part of our school means we have mandatory volunteer hours throughout the school year. If you are returning to SLOCA, you know about the endless opportunities available to complete the hours. If you are new, some of volunteer options include supervising recesses, being a mentor or class liason, distributing jamba juice and pizza, taking out trash, helping organize files, buying supplies for class projects, helping with fundraisers or history day, shelving library books, directing parking at events, watering the plants, and working at Fred and Betty's, just to name a few!


Not only is volunteering essential for helping the school operate and to raise funds, it is also one of the best ways to get to know the kids on campus, to model the character traits that we are teaching them, and to build community by connecting with other parents and staff members. Volunteering improves the life of the school and the life of the volunteer as well! 


Track A parent Michelle Dorman was new to SLOCA last year, and shared the following with us about her experience volunteering at school:


Volunteering has been a great way for me to connect with others in the SLOCA community.  It has also been a wonderful way to gain a deeper appreciation for the rich education that our children have the privilege to partake in at our school.  I have gained a broader perspective on the ins and outs of what needs to be done in order to keep the ship sailing smoothly within our school walls. Volunteering is not without sacrifice, but I've found that the rewards are much greater than the cost. 


For the 2014-2015 school year, each family is required to serve 5 of their 15 volunteer hours each trimester either on the playground or at our thrift store, Fred & Betty’s. These are our greatest volunteering needs and they directly help keep our students safe and help raise money to run our program and stay on budget. This is an exciting opportunity to invest in your children and your school! 


Today we will focus on Fred & Betty’s, because you can start giving your time there this summer and it will count toward your Trimester 1 hours. It’s actually very easy to help out at our thrift store. Here’s what you can expect: 


  • Spend any amount of time you have (30 minutes to 3+ hours).  The time goes by so quickly!
  • Our biggest job for volunteers is hanging up clothing that has been pre-sorted and adding them to our inventory out on the floor.  This is a constant need.
  • The next biggest job is keeping our clothing section nice and tidy.  With clothing being one of our top sellers, it can get a little messy from all the browsing.  Our items get sorted by type/style, then by size, then by color, making sure the clothing is all facing the same direction for easiest shopping.


{photo by Lillie Lamm}


  • We have a department board in the back office.  Each of the different departments are listed and volunteers can choose any department they want to focus on and organize 'til their heart is content.



  • Books always need organizing.  We constantly have books coming in and going out, so our used book section needs ongoing attention.


{photo by Lillie Lamm}


  • Dusting shelves is also a daily need.
  • There are even jobs kids can do, if they are old enough to follow instructions and have a good attitude. Examples: searching for empty hangers, organizing hangers, sweeping, dusting, and straightening books. We know sometimes bringing younger kids just makes it difficult for the parent, so use your judgement. Older or mature kids and middle schoolers can definitely pitch in, allowing you to get in those volunteer hours and giving middle schoolers Community Service hours too.


{photo by Lindsey Cheney}


  • Another extremely helpful (and easy for the mom on the go!) task is to pick up Goodwill bags from F&Bs and take them to goodwill. This greatly increases our ability to be productive in the workroom. 
  • We have flyers at F&Bs (and can provide them at school during the year) to be passed out at farmers market. Anytime a family wants to take a stack and hand them out they can get a fun, easy hour of volunteer time!  
  • One more thing you might not be aware of: you can do a childcare swap with another family. One of you volunteers at the store while the other is babysitting, and you both get credit for the hours!


The overall goal of Fred & Betty’s is to raise money for SLO Classical Academy, and we can all help make this happen by giving just a little time to help out with these simple needs. 


You can always contact our store manager, Lillie Lamm, directly for anything regarding Fred & Betty’s. Call 805-593-0255 or email her at Let her know if you’d like to be added to the volunteer email list – she periodically sends out emails for specific help. 


We leave you today with some encouraging testimonials from a couple of our regular Fred & Betty’s volunteer parents.


One writes:

Our school opened Fred and Betty's in October 2013. The staff and volunteers have worked extremely hard over the past ten months turning it into a chic store with great finds. Running the store with only staff can be very expensive. Volunteers help keep costs down and will greatly increase the success of our store. 


By volunteering at Fred and Betty's you may even become a spokesperson for our school. Who could be a better advocate for our school than the devoted parents? Some of the questions that have been asked include: What is classical education? How does our hybrid model work? How does homeschooling work? etc.


You can get a jump start on your volunteer hours this summer by helping out at Fred and Betty's. It truly is a fun way to help keep school costs down and show our children one example of what being part of a larger community means.


Marisa Luskey (Track B) shares:

This school year I had the pleasure of volunteering at Fred & Betty’s several times a month. The staff was always so appreciative for the extra help and I was happy to complete my volunteer hours in this well-organized, stylishly-hip one stop shop. During my volunteer shifts I was impressed with the steady stream of customers that flowed through the store. As I hung clothes, priced items, cleaned shelves and assisted customers, I couldn’t help but think about how beneficial this thrift store is to our community. Customers get good quality products for bargain prices, and SLOCA benefits from the sales and having its name and mission made public. And volunteers always have jobs to do to help make the store a lasting landmark in our community.


Marisa Luskey

{photo by Lillie Lamm}



Doesn’t it sounds like a great place to work? Thank you ladies, for sharing, and for your devoted service to SLOCA and Fred & Betty’s! We are so grateful to all of our parent volunteers, and know they are what keep our school running strong. Parents, we hope you are looking forward to getting out there and being part of the wonderful things happening at SLOCA by volunteering this year. 


Stay tuned for a later blog post about playground duty… an equally important area of need at SLOCA! 


For more information about volunteer hours, see the yellow sheet that came in your packet about the upcoming school year, or email the volunteer coordinator at



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Categorized: Archive, Character, On Campus

Summer 2014: Outdoor Fun




During the summer we’re always wanting our kids to play outdoors, so today we have a few outdoor games and activities to share to help keep your kiddos busy and healthy. Here are a few suggestions to try next time they ask “What can we do?”:


{source, source, source, source}


1)Chalk dress up dolls, from The Iowa Farmer’s Wife (and here are more chalk games),  

2)Spray chalk, from The Clever Pink Pirate

3)Make your own hula-hoop, from Six Sisters’ Stuff 

4)Glow in the dark bowling, from Kix



{source, source, source, source}


5)River out of tinfoil, from Hus & Hem (you’ll have to just go off the photo for this one, unless you read Swedish), 

6)Ice cube sailboats, from Alpha Mom

7)Mud Pie Kitchen, from Inner Child Fun

8)Solar S’mores, from Spoonful


And here’s a Summer Activity Ideas List to inspire a few more ideas…


We will see you this Friday evening for the Soaring with Singapore math training! And don’t forget about the parent reading group next week – we look forward to discussing The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease with other SLOCA parents next Thursday, July 31 at 7pm!


What are your favorite outdoor kid games and activities? Share 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 Life

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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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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