Family of Four Taking Flight to Financial Independence

City Schooling: What Will School Look Like This Fall?

What will school look like this Fall?  This is a question many people are asking (myself included)!  

If you have children or teach children, what is your learning plan for the Fall?

As we mentioned previously, our FIRE (financial independence retire early) plans focused on Spain, but COVID-19 unexpectedly delayed our plans ... so we plan to City School this Fall.  I started working on our City School plans now because of two reasons 1) I knew it would be a time consuming endeavor for me and 2) There is an influx of families (due to COVID-19) that are Homeschooling (or may Homeschool) this Fall so I knew if I wanted materials, I may need to get a jump start on buying them (if any).

As much as I aim to embrace the non-traditional and some philosophies of Unschooling (these will both take work on my part and their part (the kids)), I have also been a public school teacher for the past 11 years ... much work to be done to shift our mindset!  As far as the what aspects I want to try to embrace ... I hope to center our learning around Field Trips, hands-on / real world experiences, very little textbooks / “worksheets”, and lots of choices (and exploring things that interest the kids!).

“Field Trip” to the Houston Zoo

What have I planned so far?  Am I finished?  Haha, no (I have a lot of work to go in the area of Spanish).  May these plans change?  Of course!

English Language Arts (ELA) / Spanish Language:

-Independent Reading: Free Choice! (English / Spanish)
-Guided Reading / Read Aloud with Me (Or Others) (English / Spanish)

-Independent Writing (I Survived COVID-19 Journals): Free Choice! (English / Spanish)
-I am also going to create a bucket of ideas / reading prompts in case they are stuck. (English / Spanish)
-Guided Writing: I will provide them with a prompt / focus on a skill, etc. (English / Spanish) 

-Word of the Day: Have you heard of Mrs. Wordsmith?  I actually found it via a Facebook ad.  Check out their Storyteller’s Word of the Day product (ages 7 to 11).  I purchased this, and I plan to use it as our daily (M - F) “Word of the Day.”  I may just translate the word into Spanish and use that as a daily Spanish word (unless I decide to use something else).  (They also have products for younger children).

-Blog: I may have each child write or participate in some way (once per month!?) on our very own blog - Four Take Flight. (English / Spanish)
-Write / Illustrate Their Own Book / Graphic Novel: I plan to work with the kids to write / illustrate their own book.  (English / Spanish)

-Night Zookeeper (English Only): Have you heard of the on-line program Night Zookeeper?  We haven’t tried it out yet (there is a free trial), but I’m leaning towards this may be a great supplement to our ELA learning.  From what I’ve seen / heard, it seems to be well done, and the cost is reasonable.

Night Zookeeper Cost: At the most expensive it would be $12.99 per month.  Other Cost Options: If you sign up for 12 months, it is $9.92 per month (one payment of $118.99).  You can also sign up for 3 months at $11.33.  As much as I would like to do as much as possible off of a screen, some screen learning would be okay.  Plus once we take flight to Spain (or elsewhere), it would be good to be as digital as possible (no or very few books / papers to tote around)!

So what else as far as ELA / Spanish?  We also plan to take advantage of our local library systems (that we mentioned in our last post).  I may also consider a subscription with Epic.  What is Epic?

Epic: We used Epic during Crisis Schooling, and I was pretty impressed.  We may not need it depending on what library resources we end up using (I need to look into that more), but what I like about it most is the read aloud in English and Spanish for both kids (especially Spanish!).  Also again ...when we take flight to Spain (or elsewhere!) going digital and using this service may be the best bet as far as accessing books.

What is Epic?  Epic is described as 40,000 books for children (in English, Spanish, and other languages).  I’m personally a big fan of websites that are visually appealing and organized well which Epic is both.  Besides books to read, read alouds, there are other features (that I am less familiar with) such as audio books, videos, etc.  I also think the categories are great along with the ways to search.

Epic Cost: $7.99 / Month or $71.99 Annually

(Again this cost may come later once we take off to Spain).

Handwriting: Both of our kids are going to practice print and cursive.  Ideally they practice in both English and Spanish.  I did find a resource on Teachers Pay Teachers (TPT) (in English) via The Sprinkle Topped Teacher.  This is an English resource so I need to do more research and decide what I want to use for Spanish.

Spanish Supplement (Homeschool Spanish Academy)... Again, Spanish is something I definitely need to research and plan out more, but a friend did recommend a company called the Homeschool Spanish Academy which I may consider as their primary form of Spanish Learning.  It is basically one-to-one virtual Spanish instruction by a live (digital) tutor with curriculum.  There are other services that are similar, but this one is standing out (so far).

Homeschool Spanish Academy Cost (for 25 min classes): 60 Classes = $399.  I’d probably want 2 classes per week for each child which would last about 15 weeks.  There is a free trial class available that I will look into first.

Another option could be Outschool or in person tutoring (but Homeschool Spanish Academy may actually be more affordable than both of those) ... and given COVID-19, that may not be as consistent (in person).  More research to go in this area!

What do I like most about the our ELA / Spanish plan?  I plan to take our reading and writing materials (and sometimes digital materials) with us ... and find spots in nature (Hermann Park?) or museums to do our learning (and make connections!).  (And really the same can be said for all of our subjects / learning areas).


I have this one planned out the best (most complete) so far because this was originally my weakest area as far as how to make learning fun.

I plan to center their math learning around Beast Academy with supplemental learning through hands-on / digital.  So what does that look like?

Beast Academy: I’m so glad I discovered Beast Academy.  I’m hopeful this will be successful!  What is Beast Academy?  It’s described as “A complete math curriculum recommended for ages 8 - 13.  Students learn problem-solving skills through rigorous math lessons taught by engaging, comic-book style characters.”  But earlier you said ... limit textbooks?  Yes, this is true, but I think (we shall see!) these won’t be like a typical textbook approach.

There is a book option, and an on-line option.  At this point, I am opting to try the book option ... again, I like the idea of the on-line option once we take off to Spain.  Each level is divided into 4 units, and the books come with a guide book and a practice book.  I decided to just order the first unit for each child to see how it goes.  What did I like about this program?  I like that it seems to be well-organized, appealing for kids, and rigorous.  We will let you know how it goes!

Beast Academy Cost: This varies depending on what you purchase.  At this point I only purchased one unit (guide book and practice book) for each child which was $27 each.  If you buy the bundle of all 4 units (plus a puzzle book) it is $118.  But I thought trying it out first was the smarter option (for us).

The on-line option cost varies also (and can be combined with the books).  You can purchase the on-line access for $15 a month (no commitment) or yearly for $96 (note, additional students are more).  Check out their website for more complete details on costs.

Besides Beast Academy, we definitely want to explore math through non-traditional means.

STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Art Math) Station / Bucket: I plan to set up a STEAM Station / Bucket where the kids can do free choice exploring or choose task cards.  I did find some STEM cards I may purchase on Teachers Pay Teachers: Science Demo Guy STEM Task Cards for the Year.

FIRE (financial independence retire early): Yep, of course a FIRE family has to teach their young kids about FIRE.  At this point I plan to create this learning material / instruction myself.  More to come on this one!

Coding: I think City Schooling will be a great time for us to be able to explore things we may not normally have the time to explore during a regular public school / activity schedule.  There are lots of great (mostly free!) options to explore coding for kids such as Scratch Jr., Scratch, Hour of Code, and  We had the chance to start exploring these because of Girl Scouts and just also with some extra time because of COVID-19 and summer.

Chess, Board Games, Legos: I think one of the best ways for young kids to explore math and critical thinking skills is through hands-on play such as through board games and Legos.  Max and I started playing chess during COVID-19, and we have an abundance of Legos (we could open a Lego store!).  I donated quite a few board games to our school since we were planning to leave for Spain in August, but I also kept quite a few so we are good to go here!

I would like to incorporate some of our math learning to also be in Spanish, but again I need to do some more research on this (the same for science, history, the arts, and so on).

Science: Our science and history learning may be the most work for me (possibly!?) because I plan to piece together our own learning opportunities.

I would like to center our learning experiences around Field Trips (such as at museums, cultural organizations, nature, etc.) and hands-on experiences (experiments!).  We may rotate through several topics such as humans, nature (earth, plants, etc.), animals, astronomy, chemistry / physics / machines, and more!  And before we dive into all of that I want to start with ... what is science?  And what does it mean to be scientist?

They will also explore our STEAM Station / Bucket for science learning (see above under math).

Cooking is another way all three of us (Erik is the cook!) can improve our cooking skills and explore science and other subjects.  One option to explore cooking is ...

Eat2Explore: eat2explore are subscription cooking / learning boxes geared towards families.  There are quite a few different kinds of cooking boxes for kids available on the market, but I liked the educational materials that came with this one ...and they also come with spices and sauces (and not just recipes).  Finally, I like how they offer options such as vegetarian.  I probably won’t get a subscription, but maybe just try one or a few boxes out to fit in with our learning.  They are also centered around a location which can tie in well with History.

Eat2Explore Cost: One box is $24.95 (and the larger your subscription the less it is).

History: Like I mentioned above in the science section, science and history may be the most work for me since I plan to piece together our learning experiences on my own.

Similar to science, I will try to tie History around Field Trip experiences (and maybe even try to align with our science learning).  Some questions I have for myself ... (or us!) ... how can we integrate Art History? Current events with past events?  Service / Activism?  Historically accurate history (not whitewashed) (one resource a friend and educator directed me to - Teaching Tolerance)...?

At this point my plan is to maybe divide Fall (September - December) into diving into US History and Spring (Jan - ?) into World History (and hopefully we will take off to exploring the world in March / April!).  I know that is very broad at this point.  I may start in September with Texas History ... not because the world revolves around Texas, but we can’t leave Texas without getting in some of our history!  I did find a resource on TPT that I may use as a part of our Texas History learning experience ... Teaching in the Fast Lane - Texas History Interactive Notebook 4th Grade.  It is actually quite a bit of information so I may just end up choosing some of the smaller packages within the bundle.

Arts: My strength and expertise lies with the arts (specifically visual), and we will explore both the performing arts (maybe mostly virtual due to COVID-19?) and the visual arts.  Again, we will rely heavily on City Schooling Field Trip experiences along with hands-on.

I actually have worked on this plan the least (I guess I started with my weaknesses!) so I have some work to do here.  I think for our visual arts experiences I will also prep so that I can teach them on Outschool as one of my side hustles.

So there you have it ... what our learning may look like this Fall.  This is just the beginning!  What may this look like during a week?  Or a day?  (Flexible plan / schedule?!). That will come in another post.

What do you think?  What are your plans come this new school year?  Do you plan to do any learning (or supplemental learning) at home?


No comments