Sunday, September 21, 2008

Weeks 3, 4 & 5 Report, and a little from this week, too!

(I started this post last Friday, at the end of week 5. But, life is just a ton busier now, and it was hard to get back to documenting our week. Honestly, I am trying to be more intentional about not being on the computer so much, and being available to the kids, playing with them more, pushing them on the swings more, feeding them more -- I think they are all having growth spurts right now -- so I have tried to cut back on my computer time and thus my blogging time.)

Oh, my. I am not doing good on this weekly report thing, am I? Honestly, homeschooling two is a lot more work. Even though Luke's schedule is really quite light (compared with the overkill I made Ben endure in Kindergarten), it still takes a lot of coordination and time to get all that we are doing done. Oh, and don't forget the "baby" -- my almost three-year-old is bound and determined to be like the big boys. Here's highlights from the past 3+ weeks....

  • Levi discovered Duplo blocks this past week -- and his older brothers have re-discovered them as well. All three have spend free time constructing multi-storied hotels/police headquarters/apartment buildings with covered parking. He's also been using our Kumon Let's Sticker and Paste. I need to get a few more of these types books for him for his "school". Oh, I did become brilliant for a brief moment this past week -- Luke finished two of the three pre-Explode the Code books. I decided he wasn't going to do the third, because it was far too easy for him from a phonics standpoint. I gave the used books to Levi to color. Now, I might have regrets about this later, since I'll have very messy books for Luke's permanent record. However, it is keeping the peace and kindergarten is not mandatory where we live, so keeping a pristine portfolio for Luke is more for my own benefit than his.

  • Luke is getting this whole reading thing! We are using Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons (100EZ); He's on lesson 40. He is blending sounds together so much better now -- and I am not needing to restrain myself from pulling my hair out. He is even reading short words "the fast way" without having to sound them out phonogram by phonogram. I am trying to decide what to do when we hit the lessons in the 60s. When Ben arrived at that point in 100EZ, I switched to another phonics program entirely -- The Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading (OPG). I am considering this switch for Luke as well, and trying to decide how to use All About Spelling for Luke as well. I would like for his understanding and knowledge of the phonograms to begin at the beginning of his education. Ben didn't learn this concept until 3rd grade, when we started AAS. I am also loving Horizon's math. I love how it teaches kids to read the clock and count pennies right from the beginning, not as separate units. I love how organized it is. And, I love having an instructor's guide (even though I haven't needed it) -- it gives me confidence in my teaching.
  • Luke's science deserves it's own bullet point. We are working our way through the Pond People book. Great stories. In the past two weeks (weeks 4 & 5), we decided to draw a picture of the pond habitat and find photos online of all the animals we've read about. I even found directions for drawing frogs. Luke glued the pictures to the background and we were able to review the animals we'd read about so far. It was a great project and he is very proud of his hard work: We'll continue with this project until we finish the book. I do need to be more mindful to not forget this fun part of Luke's education.
  • Ben is still working hard at getting his multiplication and division facts back into his brain. It is coming! We have moved ahead, however, with math. Right now we're talking about metrics and standard measurements. He has a good sense of estimating in metrics and standard measurements, which I'm thankful for. I am loving Growing with Grammar 4. By the end of GWG4, we will be a the point in diagramming that we were in with FLL3, though that was "directed" diagramming (I provided questions, prompts and cues to help him diagram all the parts of speech). I am thankful for the thorough review and the way it is weaning Ben from the support I provided last year. What do I miss from FLL? The poetry memorization that was automatic in the program. I must admit I haven't been diligent in this area so far this year. Latin is swimming along -- We started Lesson 4 this week (week 6). We're back in grove with All About Spelling 3 (finished step 17 today and will move on to 18 of 28 tomorrow). Ben has forgotten how to write a few capital letters in cursive, so I've backed off of my requirement that he do all 4th grade work in cursive. We'll do occasional copywork practice and make it a 'rule' in 5th. Oh! We finally started Writing With Ease. I'm pleased that we're concentrating on good, concise summaries of narrative stories (Ben has always been good at narration, but not necessarily at conciseness) and dictation.

Several other big homeschool develops have occurred in the past three weeks:

  1. We dumped Physics II from Noeo. We are just not ready for it. Since we haven't studied physics yet, I felt we needed a foundation to start with, and Noeo just seemed too advanced for our needs right now. I finally settled on Real Science 4 Kids Physics 1. I loved that it starts with "What is Physics?" and then moves into talking about the laws of physics. The downside is that it is only 10 lessons long. However, there is an experiment for each lesson, and I've purchased a Critical Thinking Skills book that has additional physics-type experiments that we'll do as well. My plan is that we'll make it last approximately 20 weeks, completing the RS4K lessons one week, then using the Critical Thinking book the next. When we finish with this, we'll have a computers unit, and I will teach Ben about using computer applications and we'll investigate computer programming as well (I did suggest to him that he could start a blog and write stories on it; this would help him to learn some basic html and css).
  2. Next, I changed our SL plan from the 5 day a week schedule to the 4 day a week schedule. I felt like I was killing the joy of homeschooling by doing the 5 day schedule in only 4 days a week. It only cuts out a few books at this point, but we'll still read about Eli Whitney another time. By doing his, I am convinced we'll finish by Christmas and be able to move on to Tapestry of Grace. I'll order the Redesigned units 3 and 4 for Year 2. Then (change #3)...
  3. We will continue with TOG for Year Plan 4, instead of my original plan to return to Ancients (year 1). Ben asked to study about World War 1 and 2. I appreciate his helpful comments about school, and want to honor this request for him.

Other than this, Webelos (WEBS) has been keeping us busy. Ben never went on his den camping trip because it was cancelled twice in September due to heavy rain. I'll be taking him on an overnight in October to a nature center because Dave has a road race he must do some marketing at. It will be good to have just some "us" time without school.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

This is a picture from the beginning of the summer, when we started our state's summer park program. It's been a while since I posted a family picture.

God Spotting -- Math

Because all good things come from God -- including, I am convinced, remembering a summer's worth of forgotten math facts -- I'm shouting up a hallelujah to the Lord. Ben's math facts are resurfacing and this period of patience and endurance (on both our parts) is paying off. Thank you, Lord!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

A Day at the Fair

Confession time: I've lived in this town/area for 7 years and this is the first year we went to our local fair. Really, we are not that lame; it just comes at a time in the school year that has been inconvenient. Well, despite inconvenience, I decided this year to take the kiddos to the fair. Oh, and we didn't spend a day there, just a couple hours. While it is a much talked about event here in my little neck of the woods, it is quite small in the grand scheme of County Fairs. Besides, I'm not a fan of spending an "easy" $40 for hot dogs, drinks, fries and dessert at these places.

Anyway, Here's what we saw:

A 500-650 pound pig. Oh. my. goodness. Of course, this isn't the pig. I forgot my camera, so I'm using pics I pulled off the web.

Alpacas, Llamas and a real live Zebus (anyone breaking out in a Larry Boy "Cebu" silly song?). Couldn't find a good Zebu picture on the web. Shoulda had my camera.

Fried dough. My friend Heidi met us to swap God's World News issues for a read aloud book I needed, and they shared their absolutely giganormous slab of fried dough. Lukie's eyes got big when he saw it, and enjoyed about 10 bites before he passed the solid cholesterol-laden dough to me.

It was dollar day for the kiddie rides, so I bought them all a ticket for one ride. Sadly, only SIX rides were eligible for the reduced ticket and they were all for 3-4 year olds. When they said kiddie rides, they meant kiddie rides. Ben and Luke went down the "super" slide and Levi wasted his ticket on the car ride, which he asked to be removed from because the bumps on the ride down scared him. Oh well.

We also found the 4-H barn, and enjoyed looking at the projects the kids completed. Then, we found the Cub Scout/ Boy Scout project area and Ben decided to submit something he will make this year for the fair next year. As we searched out these exhibit halls, we found walls of great photos from the photo contest. The boys really enjoyed looking at those, too.

And, who couldn't help but notice all the cool carnival games! The boys did lots of rubber neckin' as we passed these activities. I think I'll have to loosen my grip on their spending habits (now that they have allowances) and next year let them decide if they'd like to use their hard earned allowance spending money on the shoot 'em up games. If they want to use up their money, fine. It will be a lesson learned, I'm sure, in making wise financial decisions. It is best to start young.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

I Want This for Me!

Jessica at Trivium Academy has done it again -- she's created more work for me! I just love her checklist for her goals for this year. I always have these sorts of thing in my head. Well, last year I typed out goals, but not for each academic subject. I love this idea and will work through it over the next few nights. I think this will help me focus on some of the non-skill based work we do -- art, music, poetry, etc, character and responsibility training, etc. I love that she included communication skills. Hmmm, me thinks it will take me more than a couple nights to work through all this.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Weeks 1 & 2 Report

I've survived two weeks of homeschooling two boys, yea! They are all still well-fed, the house isn't a mess, and Levi has been having a great time doing his "school." Oh, and we've gotten Daisy to boot, so all in all -- praise God! -- homeschooling is off to a pretty good start (despite a nasty first day).

Fourth Grade: We spent the first week re-reading "If You Were There When They Signed the Constitution" just so we could get a firm footing on what we were studying in June. Ben did a narration for me and drew a great picture. I can tell school is a little rusty because we had to work hard together to get the narration; Ben was very vague at first, but I backed-up, went through some basic questions with him, and encouraged him to the put his answers in full sentences.

Someone asked me how we did narrations and I have found this article by Susan Wise Bauer extremely helpful and encouraging as we go through the process.

We have started using Growing with Grammar. It is a lot of review right now of subjects/ predicates, but I am enjoying the ease right now. I'm not sure GWG 4 was the right level to move to from FLL 3; I've thumbed through the student manual, and it looks like a lot of review of what we did last year, however, I maintain that it is heads and shoulders above what is expected at this level, so I'm content to let the material solidify in Ben's brain by using GWG and let him understand the information better. It is certainly providing more practice with the concepts than FLL3 did.

We've just been reviewing Latin vocabulary and chants for the past 2 weeks and lessons 1-12 from All About Spelling. Next week we'll move forward in both these subjects. We'll start Lesson 3 in Lively Latin and Lesson 13 in AAS. Math is also just a review of math facts at this point. I think we camped, swam, and played all the math facts our of Ben's brain this summer; fortunately they seem to be returning.

I am trying a new approach to History and Science this year. We will do 2 days of each -- MW for History, TTh for Science, and Friday we'll use to fill in as needed. I want to make a switch to the 4 day a week schedule for SL, and need to spend some time looking at where we are in the 5 day schedule vs. the 4 day schedule. This new block scheduling, however, is helping our science time. It doesn't seem as rushed, we're able to read, talk, do a couple activities and then I send Ben off to review the internet links (which have reinforced our lessons on energy just fabulously!)

Kindergarten: Luke has been reviewing the nearly 30 first lessons in 100EZ lessons. I'm so thankful he hasn't forgotten anything. He is reading the little stories at the end of each lesson fairly easily. I have to remind him, though, to blend the letter sounds together like rrrrraaaaat instead of r-a-t. We've also started Horizons K for math. it is far too easy for him right now, but that is OK because we're working hard on the reading. We're also working through the DEL books, but honestly I think it is a waste of time at this point to do all the activities. Luke needs help with following auditory directions and motor skills, so I think I'm going to bag the rest. Instead, we'll move on to the Critical Thinking books that I have for him.

We have been reading our science stories from the Pond People book. It is well written and very enjoyable for Luke. He is definitely my nature boy. We even discovered tomato hornworms on our plants this week.

This coming week swim lessons start. We'll switch our twice weekly art lessons from Wednesday/ Friday to Tuesday/Friday for now.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

(Not a) Wordless Wednesday

This is Daisy. We adopted the 5 yo Golden Retriever from my husband's o-worker. She needed more activity and to re-experience life out of a dog crate. I'm thinkin' a home with 3 boys should give her plenty of activity! We just got her on Monday. We're still trying to figure out her schedule and her cues, but she is a smart dog and we all love her!