Friday, October 19, 2007

Week 8 Report

Where am I? What am I doing here? And what are these three (adorable) rugrats doing around me all the time?

That is how I felt after DH left for work on Monday morning as I was trying to re-orient myself to my life. My grandfather passed away on Thursday of last week, and in the whirlwind of activity that follows an unexpected death, I was left numb trying to figure out where we were in our school and life in general.
I'm so thankful that we had gone to my childhood home to visit for two weeks this summer. Life changes in the blink of an eye; in June, he looked grate, but the cancer must've begun to spread towards the end of the summer.

My Dad asked me to pick a scripture to be read at grandpa's funeral. Immediately, I thought of Psalm 121 . On the plane, I had the opportunity to pray about it and read it again and mediate on it's appropriateness for my grandpa:

I look up to the mountains does my help come from there?
2 My help comes from the LORD, who made the heavens and the earth!
3 He will not let you stumble and fall; the one who watches over you will not sleep.
4 Indeed, he who watches over Israel never tires and never sleeps.
5 The LORD himself watches over you! The LORD stands beside you as your protective shade.
6 The sun will not hurt you by day, nor the moon at night.
7 The LORD keeps you from all evil and preserves your life.
8 The LORD keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever.

As I thought about my grandfather, I realized what a comfort this Psalm is for me when thinking about him: orphaned by his pre-teen years (11 or 12 when his father passed away and he went to live with aunts and uncles), volunteered for the Army (42th Rainbow Division);survived WWII and the European campaign (including being there when Dachau was liberated) and provided (persevering through good and hard times) for four children, who grew up to be successful contributors to their communities (and parents to a really cute/ handsome, intelligent, and fun group of offspring, if I do say so myself). Yes indeed, the Lord did shelter and protect him through all his days and grandpa now dwells in the house of the Lord forever....not because of anything that Grandpa did, but because of what Christ did for him 2000 years ago. I can't wait to see you in eternity, Grandpa. I love you.


So, school this week -- and much of last week after I learned of Grandpa's deteriorating condition -- has been survival mode. Still, I am amazed that we've accomplished some great things, though, and hope we can finish up our Renaissance unit next week.

History: I just mentioned we're in the Rensaissance. We're using Hand of a Child's Renaissance lapbook. It is going great! We made artist baseball cards this week for Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and Jan van Eyck. We've learned about what made art in the Renaissance different than art during the Middle Ages (just so you know, I have NO art history background. All you out there who think, "I could never teach my children about art" please know, that you can! The world of knowledge is just a mouse click away...). We've also learned about what makes a Renaissance Man.

Ben has picked out what projects ("I want to build something, Mom") he wants to build from this book: Amazing Leonardo da Vinci Inventions You Can Build Yourself (available as a free download at He wants to make walking-on-water shoes and a trebuchet. So, I'm hoping to get some time to go to Home Depot to buy the 3-inch foam insulation sheets we'll need for the water shoes. I've already put DH in charge of the trebuchet. As a matter of fact, DH is in charge of ALL projectiles from now until each boy turns 18.
Once we finish Leonardo, then we'll move on in our history book, Story of the World, to the reformation/ counter-reformation.

As far as where we are in our Grand Master Schedule.....well, we're behind. But I've got three years of homeschooling under my belt, and I know it just doesn't matter. We're having fun, we'll have more fun, we're learning and that is all that counts.

Latin: My5wolfcubs asked if I'd made a decision between Lively Latin and Latin for Children. I think I'm going with Lively Latin. For our needs now, I think the variety of learning activities will be a hit with the boys (Smiles is also learning Latin via osmosis). Basically, I was sold with the word "Lively" in the title. We are, though, plugging our way through Prima Latina, and it is getting better. We took off from Latin this week, and will restart Lesson 18 next week.
Math: I don't think I'm going to have a math freakout for awhile. Our math program is working really well right now. I'm loving Flashmaster, and seeing measureable progress in Hugs' mastery of math facts. My goal for him is to be able to do the flashcard program at 4 seconds per problem. And, he has to hve greater than 90 accuracy. The best thing about Flashmaster is had dramatically decreased my stress about math fact mastery and I think I'm being a better mommy and teacher because of it. Right now our math schedule looks like this:

Monday - Thursday Singapore Math Schedule & Flashmaster
Friday Singapore Math Challenging Word Problems & Flashmaster

Language Arts: We've finished All About Spelling's level 1, which was really far too easy for Ben to do, but I am pleased that it gave him a better understanding of the phonograms. I do have an old copy of Wanda Sanseri's Teaching Reading at Home and have used it as an independent measure of his spelling level. I gave him Test 2 and his scored at a grade status of 5.1. This tells me that he is performing at least at his grade level or above, and that I shouldn't be so worried with his spelling skills. However, I will keep using All About Spelling through level 2 because I do believe he needs to have more practice spelling with the phonograms and with the concept of syllablication. My plan now is to finish AAS 2 by Christmas (shouldn't be difficult; we usually do at least two lessons in each sitting) and then let him go back to his ACSI Spelling grade 3 book, which he'll likely fly through.
Fine Arts: I've come to group art and music under Fine Arts in my computer software (Homeschool Tracker), so I'll just lump it all together here, too. Art is going amazing well this year. We completed our first unit about the element of lines in art. We added four pieces to Hugs' art portfolio, the final being a piece รก la Piet Mondrian. Can you tell which is Hugs and which is Piet's?

Yes, you guessed right, #2 is Ben's. Isn't it great (it is tempra and charcol on, um, paper, unsigned)? This from a kid who "hates" art. Really, I think he hates art because I have shown impatience towards his artistic attempts. (Patience is a constant prayer for me as I educate and raise up my family.) This year's gentle investigation of the elements of art will, hopefully, capture his imagination and he will be more willing to try art.

I also found this great book, one of a series on elements of art: Lines, by Philip Yenawine.

We had a blast looking at it and being art critics ("That's really famous art, Mom?" he said looking at Jackson Pollock's One):
...From the mouths of babes!

Oops I forgot: Those dynamic warm up exercises I posted on a few back for our homeschool gym? Oh my, I did them for the first time on Friday, and I've been waddling with sore muscles since! (it's Sat. afternoon now). The boys? Not even a flinch from them. Hmmm, I wonder who Homeschool Gym is really for, the kids or me?

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