Sunday, August 29, 2010

God is GOOD!

Things have been pretty lean for us financially for a while now, but God has been faithful to provide.  We were staring another really tight pay period in the face, and I was tempted to hold on to our tithe check this morning.  But I had decided ahead of time that I was going to trust God's faithfulness and be obedient, so I didn't.  Well, I checked Aaron's online paystub for his coming paycheck, and between overtime pay and an unexpected blessing we got yesterday, after our tithe we will still have enough to meet all of our expenses and pay a couple of doctor's bills that have been waiting, with more left over than we have had in months.  God is so faithful!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Our Week in Review, 8/23-8/28

This is our first week in review post!  I've decided to jump in with the group posting and encouraging each other over at the forums at The Well-Trained Mind, partly because I like reading what others are doing and sharing what we're doing and partly because I have a feeling it will be good to be able to look back and see that we really are accomplishing something!

Most "Week-in-Review" posts go Monday thru Friday, but due to Aaron's work schedule, we often end up doing at least some school work on Saturdays.  And today, we FINALLY finished our Farm lapbooks, so you'd better believe I'm counting it in the weekly review!  So that's why ours goes through 8/28 instead of 8/27.

Math:  We hit our very first bump in the road with math this week.  Most of the things we've been doing in RightStart have been either review from previous math activities or new things that he caught on to pretty quickly.  This week we worked on adding 10 to a number, and although he got there in the end, it was rough for a day or so.  Most of his problem was because he got frustrated when he didn't get the right answer to a problem, and he immediately got upset rather than trying to work it out or letting me work through it with him.  Since things usually come easily to him, I can see we're going to have to work on some problem solving/stick-with-it skills!  Once we were able to review a few things and he listened to me long enough to catch on to the pattern, he had no problems.

Reading:  With a marathon reading session (seriously, I think I read aloud for at least an hour) we finally finished The Golden Goblet.  We've been working on it a while, and both of us learned a few things (myself, namely, to make sure that narrations are for reading comprehension skills and verbal expression skills and that it's OKAY if we don't narrate EVERY chapter).  The book was incredible and very much worth the work!  He also read and narrated Once a Mouse by Marcia Brown and The Five Chinese Brothers by Claire Huchet BishopIndian and Chinese folk tales to correlate to our history studies.

History:  We finished SOTW chapter 9 on ancient India (we didn't do a hands-on project for this chapter) and moved on to chapter 10 on ancient China.  He's really enjoying the stories, and although he's been resisting narrating lately (which is frustrating since that's one of the main learning tools we use AND he's really pretty good at it!), he loves drawing pictures to go with his narrations.  He's also enjoying the map work, which surprised me a bit.  But no complaints here!  We've started making memory work cards (from Hannah's Homeschool Helps Yahoo group) for history since he memorizes so easily and eagerly, and I'm planning on getting a timeline going in the next week or so.  Hopefully.  He loves timelines in books, so I'm hoping it will go over well!

Grammar: We finished FLL lessons 45 and 46 this week (we alternate grammar and spelling daily), finishing up nouns and introducing pronouns.  I wasn't sure at first about the very slow pace of FLL, but the short lessons (10 minutes tops at this point) are working well for him and he's retaining what he's learned.

Spelling: We've been reviewing phonograms and rules from AAS level 1 (mostly going through the cards and playing some games) in preparation for level 2.  We'll be taking level 2 much more slowly since we've just about reached his actual learning point for spelling.

Latin:  Song School Latin, chapter 13, which is a review chapter.  I was really impressed when I handed him the workbook to do mostly on his own to see that he distinguished *on his own* between the singular and plural commands.  We did vocab review in the van one afternoon, and he really has it down.  He's enjoying this program so much, and Brennan is picking up words here and there as well (he loves coming into the room and saying, "Salve, Mater!" *grin*).  Little sponge . . .

Science: We finished up notebook pages for the Komodo dragon and began frogs.  We found Growing Frogs by Vivian French at the library, and he *loves* it.  He's read it several times already.  It's inspired me to check one of our local ponds to see if we can find some frog eggs to bring back and watch them hatch, although we may have to wait until next spring.

Bible:  Brennan joins us for Bible.  We finished the first book of KidsQuest Catechism Club a few weeks ago and will be ordering the next one soon, but in the meantime we've been filling the gap with the Pray and Play Bible for Young Children.  We've had this for a while and have done activities from it here and there, but we're working our way through it doing one story a week and choosing several activities and songs to do.  We usually read the story from this the first day and from other story Bibles the other days to fill in any gaps and get different perspectives.  We've been working on Moses this week, which is fitting since Connor has been driving me crazy singing "The 10 Commandment Boogie" from the Go Fish Guys album Snazzy this week!

We've been working on phonics using Phonics Pathways for a few weeks now, and he's doing great.  He had been reading CVC words already, but going through that section in PP greatly increased his confidence and fluency.  We're working on -ck words now, taking it a page (or half a page) at a time and including lots of games.  He loves to read me books, even ones that are really still a bit beyond him, but he doesn't mind me helping with words he's not ready for yet.

We officially started math with RightStart A a couple of weeks ago, and he's flying through it, partly because I've already been using some of the activities and games with him.  He's been identifying parallel lines everywhere we go these days.

After much begging on his part, we've also officially started handwriting.  I knew he was ready--both boys have been ahead of the curve with fine motor skills, and he was already writing most letters and numbers on his own.  Thankfully, he's not giving me any resistance with learning form the letters the correct way.  I didn't have a workbook on hand for Handwriting Without Tears, so I made some worksheets on my own and we're using the HWT techniques for writing the letters.  He LOVES it--he always wants to do another page, and he asked to do handwriting today even though it wasn't really a school day.  I ended up printing off *3* pages for him to do.  

He also wanted to do narrations like Connor, so I grabbed a blank narration page, read him The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry, and The Big, Hungry Bear by Don and Audrey Wood, and wrote feverishly as he proceeded to tell me back nearly every detail of the story.  And he drew a picture of the mouse, the ladder, and the strawberry to go with it!  I'm absolutely tickled with his enthusiasm, which I want to encourage without burning him out.

Overall, aside from a few power struggles that seem to go hand-in-hand with Mondays, we've had a good week.  And oh, yeah--did I mention that we FINALLY finished our Farm lapbooks today???  I'll take some pcitures and post them soon.  It was fun, but we're glad to be done!

Friday, August 27, 2010


See, I'm getting better already.  Two posts in one night! *grin*

One of the unexpected benefits of homeschooling has been realizing the importance and the joy of reading aloud with our boys.  Most people agree that it's good to read to young children who can't read themselves, but in general it seems like it dies out once the child can read on his own.  While looking for good books to check out from the library, I came across The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease.  It had a great list of excellent children's books, but Trelease also makes a strong case for continuing to read to children.  It's been a while since I read it, so I won't try to summarize the reasons here (hint, hint--read it yourself!), but suffice it to say that it transformed my thinking about reading with my kids.  I couldn't wait to get started--and we were off!

Since then, we've read quite a few books (beyond picture books), including the entire Chronicles of Narnia series (for quite a while after we read the first two, all of the characters in the boys' pretend play were Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy, with the occasional White Witch or Prince Caspian thrown in for good measure.  Oh, and both of them named a stuffed animal Aslan. *grin*).  I love curling up on the couch with the boys to read a chapter (or two!).  Our most recent conquest--just finished tonight--is Pinocchio.  This oversize version included beautiful illustrations by Roberto Innocenti.

Let's just say that the Disney version sweetens things up a bit!  We enjoyed it, but I really think that Carlo Collodi (the author of Pinocchio) and his contemporary Lewis Carroll (whose Alice's Adventures in Wonderland has prompted unfounded speculation about possible drug use on his part) may have been drinking the same Kool-Aid.  But reading such a strange tale has made me realize one thing--children don't have to be able to understand everything to appreciate beautiful literature.  And the more we expose them to it, the more of a taste they'll develop for it themselves.

I also thought it was interesting that the first blog post I noticed on my reader tonight when I logged in to write this was on a similar subject.  Check out this post by Jenn at The MOB Society on the importance of reading classic books to boys.  Good stuff!

Now, where to go from here.  Too many books, too little time!  Maybe The Secret Garden--I've already got that on the shelf . . .  Off to check some lists!

Catching up

It's been a crazy summer.  It seems like every time I turned around we had something else going on!  Anyway, I'm planning to try to be a bit more consistent with blogging, partly because I know friends and family like to keep up with us, but also partly so I can journal about what we're up to and be able to look back on it later.  So here's to resolutions . . .