Friday, March 20, 2009

The Trouble We've Been Up To

Hee, hee, hee, did I getcha hooked by my post's title?

Really, we've been up to no trouble (thankfully). Just doing our school thing. I just looked back through my posts, and I realize it has been since the beginning of December that I posted a real weekly report or summary of our homeschool journey this year. Wow. That is a long time!

I'd have to get up off the couch (I'm wireless now, yipee!) to get our weekly lesson plans to see what we had actually done in the past four months. Since I use this blog as a digital scrapbook of our homeschool journey, I'm going to go ahead and give a brief summary. (Oh, cool, I just realized I've got Homeschool Tracker on this laptop, and I can open it and see what we did.)

December: The goal for this month, after finishing Core 3, was to continue on pace with math, grammar, Latin, and spelling. We continued our trips to the library and Ben read whatever he wanted. We also tried to catch up on science. I had been really excited about Real Science 4 Kids Physics I initially. I appreciated that the book was written to students; I liked that there was a science experiment for each chapter. I really liked that each experiment was written to follow the scientific method. But, I have to admit, I miss the "pile of books" method of elementary science discovery. That is what I call our previous science curriculae (Sonlight Science and Noeo) because we are given a schedule and a "pile of books" to read through that covers a whole variety of topics for the subjects given. Then, we sit on the couch and read, do an experiment, read more.

January: January was full of skiing. The boys skiied on Thursdays, and it was honestly hard to get them to re-focus on Friday mornings. So, January and part of February is three to three-and-a-half days of school. Since we finished SL, we moved onto our state study. We decided to use a lapbook as the method to collate what we learned about our state. Never heard of a lapbook before? Here is a site that seems pretty comprehensive (I have not completely read it, however). Instead of buying Hand of a Child's state specific lapbook, I decided to buy their type-in template books (thinking that we'd get a lot of use from this) and using this free site as a guide as well. I found a few books at the library (historical fiction) that were about our state, and we used non-fiction resources to learn about the geography, history, resources and people in our state (as well as many other interesting facts).

It was about this time that I decided to cut our loses with our physics program and just finish the reading, do a minimal amount of notebooking, finish appropriate experiements and sell it so I could purchase something else. We've had Snap Circuits since Ben was about 5, so I decided we'd use the student and teacher guides to learn more about electricity and electronics. One of the things I'd love for all of our boys is to leave our home with useful skills which can be their primary or secondary source of income for their family. Perhaps this fantastic set will inspire Ben to become an electrician or explore small engine repair or...who knows what.

About this time, homeschooler in our area became aware of some new homeschooling legislation in our state that in my mind would significantly limit the freedoms that we enjoy in creating an education tailored to the needs of our children. As I write this, we are awaiting an "inexpedient to legislate" vote in the house of representatives here but are gritting our teach in expectation of what will come when the second of the two bills is reviewed by the education committe for future legislation. Honestly, I feel like the "golden years" of homeschooling freedom are coming to an end, especially given the current political climate in which parental rights are under attack and individual liberties are being assaulted.

Now: So, here we are nearing the end of March. We are nearing the end of our study of our state. We are learning about famous people in our state and Ben has a map to complete which shows the locations of major industries in our state. I think the spring will bring many field trips to attractions in our state, and we'll compile that for our lapbook. Books are ordered for our next unit study, the civil war using Tapestry of Grace. Luke has just yesterday finished All About Spelling Level 1 and is doing great reading and spelling. He was doodling on the dry erase board and wrote "Bostin Bruins" -- exactly like that! I was so shocked at how he figured out how to spell bruins. We are on pace to finish Horizons math in May, and will move onto Singapore Math 1A immediately (no break over the summer).

I also came to realize that Ben is really, really looking forward to reading about WWI and WWII. Originally, I thought we'd spend 5th grade working through TOG year 4, which covers the early 1900s to 2000. This wasn't what I had really, really wanted to do -- I really had wanted to restart our history rotation in 5th grade and re-start with creation to the fall of Rome. Just this past weekend, I realized that if I gave Ben every book I could find on WWI and WWII, he'd be perfectly happy. I shared this with him, and he was thrilled. Our library had the DK Eye Witness books about both of these wars, and within a day and a half, Ben had finished them. both. I'll puruse other booklists to find historical fiction and nonfiction for him. And, I'm working on convincing a good friend of mine to work through TOG 1 with me next year. wink. wink.

I'm going to post pictures from these past missed Wordless Wednesdays later.

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