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.

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