Saturday, March 26, 2011

Our Week in Review, 3/21 - 3/36

We had another good, productive week this week.  It's amazing what we can get done when good attitudes, good health, and a lack of busyness coincide!

Math:  We are almost done with RightStart B!  We only have two more lessons and then the final test left.  We may spend more than one day on these last couple of lessons.  I'm planning to order level C in May at the homeschool book fair, so we'll spend the meantime doing "math lite:" playing the RightStart games, reviewing/practicing things he's learned, playing with the manipulatives, etc.  This week he worked on subtraction, reading scales, and telling time in lessons 102 - 104.  After working on subtraction a bit, I think we need to go back and cement some addition facts.  He knows them, but they're not quite automatic yet, and trying to figure it out as an extra step in subtraction takes long enough that he's getting frustrated.  If he stops and thinks about it, he knows that 8 + 5 = 13, but when he has to subtract 5 from 13, he's not automatically connecting it to 8 yet.  So I predict lots of addition war in our future!

History:  We've been working on SOTW chapter 20 ("The Early Greeks") this week.  We had fun connecting the story of Odysseus and the cyclops to a very similar (it's GOT to have the same origin!) story about Sinbad the Sailor from 1001 Arabian Nights by Geraldine McCaughrean.  He also enjoyed learning about the original Olympic games and was quick to point out anything he already knew from reading (several times!) The Hour of the Olympics (a Magic Treehouse book).  We're probably going to camp out here next week too so we can read some of the great library books we've got about ancient Greece and do a project or two, including finishing his Mycenaean war helmet, which is taking forever!  Here are a couple of pics of it in progress:

We WILL finish it this week!!

Reading: He read The Trojan Horse: How the Greeks Won the War by Emily Little.  I asked him to tell me about it, and he did without ever realizing he was doing a narration (which still causes the occasional foot dragging, although it's much better).  Sneaky mom. *grin*  We also started reading Black Ships Before Troy by Rosemary Sutcliff and are still reading and occasionally narrating Greek myths--this week was Orpheus and Eurydice (from the McElderry book).  

Science: We started learning about turtles and tortoises this week, but we haven't gotten too far yet--just read the animal encyclopedia entry and began a notebook page.

Grammar: He did FLL lesson 79 on writing abbreviations for titles of respect.  We missed getting spelling done one day, pushing it to the next day, which kept us from getting another grammar lesson in (we usually end up doing school 4 days/week).

Spelling: He finished AAS step 9 this week.  Trucking along!

Latin:  He did chapter 30 in SSL.  The last one with new content--only a review chapter left!

Handwriting:  He "officially" learned the letter "m" in cursive this week, although he'd looked ahead and has been writing it on his own for a couple of weeks now.  

Writing:  We started Writing with Ease this week!  I was already convinced that copywork/dictation/narration was the way to go, but reading Susan Wise Bauer's The Complete Writer: Writing with Ease (which goes with the student workbook) and this thread on the Well-Trained Mind forums really solidified it for me.  

We started with week 2.  It's super easy for him right now, but I think that starting out easy and working up (probably skipping some of the weeks) is the right approach for him.  He doesn't *need* the practice in what we're doing right now (we started with week 2), but I'm hoping that starting easy and gradually increasing the difficulty will work better than jumping into something more challenging just for the sake of being challenging.  He's loving the easy narrations, and the extra copywork certainly can't hurt!  

Memory Work: Ephesians 6:13-18 (continued), catechism question, Latin phrase ("terra firma"),  list of pronouns, list of the disciples, books of the Bible through Hosea, the hymn "O Worship the King," syllable division rules for spelling, and history chant.  We switched this week from reciting sentences for history (which  tended to get stalled) to a chant to go through our history cards.  He seems to enjoy the chant more, and I think the rhythm will help cement it easier than straight sentences.  I went through the cards we have so far and came up with a way to chant them.  Several people have asked me to share, so I've been working on finishing the chant to go with the rest of the cards for ancient history (found at Hannah's Homeschool Helps) and I'll share as soon as it's done.  Some of the cards for people/events we haven't gotten to yet are a little tough because I'm not sure what to emphasize.

Putting  the books of the Bible in order using popsicle sticks

Math: We didn't get much math done this week.  He likes to go IN ORDER, and math is in his #4 box (and he wouldn't be happy if I switched them), so there are times when we don't get to it.  Working on that . . . 

What he did do this week was good, though!  We worked on finding out how many tiles he had by setting aside groups of five and entering them by fives on the abacus.  He also chose on his own to figure out how many tiles he had using the grouping by tens that we've done before, which is what he's doing here (each long row is ten shown by 2 sets of 5):

Phonics:  We finished up -nk endings this week.  On to long vowels next week!  He's been having a blast reading the Mercy Watson books (by Kate DiCamillo, who also wrote Because of Winn Dixie and The Tale of Despereaux) out loud to me a few pages at a time.  They're such fun, silly books!  He still needs help with some of the words, but I'm amazed at how much his fluency and endurance have grown in the two weeks or so since he started them.  He is getting better at trying to sound out words rather than guessing, but I still have to make him stop and work it out every now and then.

Handwriting: Continuing copywork!  It's so tempting to go ahead and start him in WWE too--I have to keep reminding myself that he's not even 5 yet.  Besides, there's plenty of copywork he can be working on in the meantime.  This week he copied the days of the week (split up) and a sentence about his birthday.

Reading (literature): Reddy Fox, continued.  

Bible: This week we read about Jesus walking on water and the parable of the Good Samaritan.  We used an activity from Heart of Dakota's Little Hearts for His Glory (a full K/1st homeschool curriculum that I used with Connor): they each drew a picture of the injured man, then put bandages (band-aids) on the picture and dabbed oil on the "wounds."  

Not so many pictures this week (sorry, Mom!), but lots of good learning.  Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday in particular were fun, mostly due to an awesome attitude and cooperation from Connor.  I praised him a lot and pointed out how great it was several times.  He was having fun too, so hopefully the consistently good attitude will continue!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Memory Work Monday (on Tuesday!)

A fellow poster on the Well-Trained Mind forums suggested we use Mondays to share what what/how we're doing memory work, a staple of classical education in the early years.  Since I'm still trying to figure out the best way to get this done for us, I'm excited about the idea of getting a peek at what others are doing.  Our memory work is a work in progress, and for the most part it has come about fairly organically in that I didn't sit down and plan it out this way.  The good thing about that is that it generally gets DONE; the bad thing is that it can be somewhat haphazard as far as what gets included.

We've been memorizing Bible verses since the boys were really young, and as we've moved further along our homeschooling journey, we've added things here and there.  Right now our memory work is a mix of things we're memorizing on our own and things that are curriculum-related.  Here's what we're working on currently (the starred items are things both boys are working on; the others are things only Connor is doing):

  • Bible verses: Ephesians 6:13-18*
  • Catechism question (from Truth and Grace Memory Book #1)*
  • The names of the 12 disciples (as a song)*
  • Hymn: O Worship the King*
  • Books of the Bible
  • Latin phrases (from Song School Latin)
  • Pronoun list (from First Language Lessons)
  • Syllable Division Rules (from All About Spelling)
  • History chant (related to, but not from, Story of the World)
Soon to be coming--a new poem for First Language Lessons and something related to plants for science (probably parts of a plant, possibly plant life cycle . . . ).

Although we're not really using the workbox system anymore, I still use the boxes to organize our school work/day, so one of our boxes is for memory work and a read-aloud.  I keep some things in the box, such as our popsicle stick game for the books of the Bible and our cards for the history chant:

Everything else we're currently memorizing is on our magnetic dry erase board:

It's not a perfect system, but I've discovered that getting started with SOMETHING and then tweaking is a much better plan than waiting to start until it's perfect.  The biggest tweaking-need: I'm still figuring out what to do for review of things previously memorized.  And that's where going and checking out everyone else's ideas comes in!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Read to Me: A Mama for Owen

I love children's books.  Well, I love just about any kind of book, but that's beside the point at the moment! *grin*  One of the things I've enjoyed most about being a mom (and a homeschooler, although I'm sure I'd be big on books with my kids even if I didn't homeschool) has been getting to share wonderful books with the boys.  Picture books, chapter books, new books, old books, books I loved as a child and want to share, books I missed somehow as a child . . .  we wallow in them.  Just check my library account!

Anyway, last year I was in charge of the newsletter for our MOPS (Mothers Of PreschoolerS) group, and I included a column of book recommendations.  I really enjoyed writing it, and I had several moms tell me that they appreciated and checked out the suggestions, so I thought I'd occasionally post some children's book reviews here as well.  So here goes!

A Mama for Owen

We're getting ready to study turtles for science this week, and I came across A Mama for Owen by Marion Dane Bauer, a heartwarming true story about the friendship between an orphaned hippopotamus baby and a giant tortoise.

Owen is a baby hippo who lost his mother in the 2004 tsunami.  He adopts Mzee, a 130-year old Aldabra tortoise as a surrogate mother, and Mzee "doesn't seem to mind one little bit."  Mamas might want to read with a kleenex handy--I got a little teary-eyed my first time through!  You might want to keep in mind that younger children or those who are sensitive might be upset at the idea of a baby losing its mother.

An unexpected benefit of doing a book review--I discovered while looking for the Amazon link that there are more books about Owen and Mzee and even a website, which I'm sure Connor and Brennan will love exploring!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Our Week in Review, 3/14 - 3/18

We had a really good week this week!  Not only did we get a lot accomplished, I think Connor is finally realizing that we get done much more quickly (and happily!) when he cooperates.


Math: He continued to work on measuring, perimeter, and subtraction in RS B lessons 100-102.  He struggled a bit with the idea of subtraction as going up (finding the answer by figuring out how much to go up from the lower number to the whole), not so much because he doesn't get the concept as because the answers weren't as simple as before when we introduced the concept.  He still has a hard time dealing with things he doesn't "get" right away--frustration, tears, etc. before he has even really tried or let me help him.  We need to work on the "keep at it" attitude.  It wasn't as bad this time, though, thankfully!
Measuring strips of paper to cut and make triangles.  One of the perks of homeschooling--doing school in your PJ's!

History:  We finished chapter 19 (Early Greeks) and began chapter 20 ("Greece Gets Civilized Again").  We're still working on his Mycenaean war helmet, so I'll post pictures of that later.  He was intrigued by looking at the Greek alphabet and seeing how similar it was to ours--only two letters of his name were different.  He continues to have a better attitude about narrations, even though it's still not his favorite thing to do.
Chariot and horse (with dust kicked up behind the chariot).  Realizing that I need to work on my OWN handwriting for his narrations . . . 

Reading: Continuing with the D'Aulaire and McElderry Greek myths books.  He asked this week if we could get the McElderry book to keep. *grin*  It's on my Amazon wishlist!  This week we read about Pygmalion and Galatea, King Midas and the Golden Touch, and Apollo, Artemis, and Hermes.

Science: He was pretty interested in lizards, so we stuck with lizards for another week.  He was fascinated by the flying lizard that can glide from tree to tree and the horned toad (which is actually a lizard) that can shoot blood out of its eyes at an attacker.

Grammar: He finished FLL lessons 77 and 78, reviewing abbreviations and beginning titles of respect.

Spelling: He finished AAS Step 8 and began Step 9.

Spelling "cupcake"

Dividing "cupcake" into syllables and labeling with syllable tags

Latin: He completed SSL chapter 29, learning the Latin words for flower, garden, ground/dirt, leaf, and plant--very timely since we're planning to start a square-foot garden next week!

Handwriting: This week he practiced how to connect after letters that end on the upper line (like o and w).

Memory work:  Continuing on Ephesians 6:13-18, the disciples, Latin phrases (added "Mea Culpa" this week), the pronoun list, catechism question, and history sentence.  A month or two ago, we started learning hymns--at their request (I was thrilled!).  Brennan had learned Holy, Holy, Holy at BSF (he goes with his grandmother), so he wanted to sing that together.  After a couple of weeks, I suggested a new one: Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee.  They both learned it willingly and were thrilled to hear it one day in the van when I was previewing Easter musicals for choir at church. *grin*  So this week we started O Worship the King.

We've been much more consistent this week about getting school done with Brennan.  It helps so much when his brother is being cooperative!

Math:  He did RS A lessons 31, 32, and part of 33: coins, halves, and grouping by 5's.  After we talked about the concept of "half" one day and demonstrated it by cutting shapes in half, I was surprised to see him use the same idea to divide a group of tiles in half.  Instead of passing them out one by one or counting to see if he and I had the same number, he made a rectangle of the tiles and divided the rectangle in half.  Then I asked him, and he was able to recognize that we each had the same number of tiles.  I love the way RightStart teaches them to think about math!

Phonics:  He has been less than enchanted with reading out of the phonics book lately (not that I blame him much!), so I took the time to print words from the book (-nk words, plus -ng, -tch, and -ch words to continue working on fluency) on cards and we've been playing memory (he reads the words as he turns them over), Go Fish, and hide-and-seek with them this week.  He LOVES hide-and-seek--I choose 10-15 of the cards, hide them in the living room, and he finds them and reads them.

Handwriting: First full week of real copywork!  This week he copied his name, part of a Bible verse, and a short poem with numbers (to work on the numbers).

Reading/Literature:  We're continuing to read about Reddy Fox, who managed to get himself shot by Farmer Brown's Boy this week!


Bible:  This week we read several stories about Jesus healing the sick and about how He calmed the storm.  For that lesson, we made a storm in a bottle with blue water, oil, and some glitter.  They enjoyed watching the "waves" as the oil and water sloshed around without mixing and seeing how they separated after being shaken.

I'm excited--we got Writing with Ease this week, and I can't wait to start using it.  I really debated over what level to start Connor in.  He *could* probably start in level 2, but I think going back and doing some really easy narrating for a while and then building up from there will be good for him, as well as starting to use parts of his own narrations for copywork.  He also really seems to like workbooks/worksheets, so I'm hoping he'll respond to that as well.  I also got a chance to really look at Prima Latina and Latin for Children, and we'll definitely be doing Prima Latina next.  I like LfC (we'll probably use it after PL), but while I think he's *capable* of doing LfC, I think it'll be too much added on top of everything else.  PL looks like a good step up from Song School Latin, and it has some good grammar review as well that looks like it's right in line with what he's been doing in FLL.  We also got How to Teach Art to Children, and I'm looking forward to using that as well.

Friday, March 11, 2011

SOTW Chapter 6: The Jewish People

Chapter 6 covers the stories of Abraham and Joseph.  In addition to books we already have as well as our story Bibles, we read The Coat of Many Colors by Jenny Koralek.

Our hands-on project for this chapter was making Joseph's coat of many colors.  I took some of Daddy's old t-shirts, cut the front vertically to make a cloak for each of them, and then they had a great time with the fabric paint!

SOTW Chapter 5: The First Sumerian Dictator

I'm working on going back and blogging about our SOTW activities and experiences.  I meant to do it as we went along, but that didn't happen, so here we go!

Chapter 5 jumps from Egypt back to Mesopotamia to cover the rise of the Akkadian Empire, the first (or at least one of the first) major empire.

Our hands-on project for this chapter was making a Sumerian seal.

First, he carved a design into a circle of clay and let it dry.

Here, he has just pressed his dry seal into wet clay to make an impression.

Rolling out more clay for another impression

Impression (left) and seal (right) side-by-side

He poked a hole in the impression and painted it to make a pendant.

Our Week in Review, 2/28- 3/5 and 3/7- 3/11

We have been doing school--making excellent progress, actually.  I just haven't been blogging about it!  I'm trying to get back into the habit of doing the weekly reviews.  I love the perspective it gives me--it's encouraging to see how much we've actually gotten done.  So here goes!

Over the last two weeks . . .


Math: Connor has been working on making change and measuring (RS B, lessons 95-99).  He loves playing store with coins during the money lessons, and he had a lot of fun measuring things all over the house with the ruler he made.  I loved how easily he was able to mentally add the measurements of the sides of a rectangle thanks to the strong addition skills he has from this program.  I love RightStart!

History:  We've had fun with history over the last couple of weeks!  We're finally getting into the ancient Greeks, and he's enjoying the history and is fascinated with the stories and myths.  We learned about the Minoans, the story of Theseus and the Minotaur, and the decline of the Minoan civilization due to a nearby volcanic eruption--so we built our own volcano.  That was a hit, as you can imagine!  This week we've been working on the Mycenaeans.  We haven't gotten to the hands-on project yet, so I'll write that up next week.
Finding Greece and Crete on the map

History narration about the Mycenaeans with picture of a warrior in a chariot

Volcano Time!
Building the mountain

Adding the paper mache surface

Clean-up took a while . . . 

Painting the volcano

Adding "plant life"

Our volcano!

Mixing up the baking soda, water, soap, and food coloring


Reading: We've been reading Greek myths from D'Aulaire's Book of Greek Myths and The McElderry Book of Greek Myths, and he's really enjoying them.  He's read a few on his own, but most of them we're reading together. 

I like the thoroughness of the D'Aulaire book, and I love the illustrations in the McElderry book.  The stories from the McElderry book are a bit easier to narrate back as well.  It's been a good combination.

Drawing Pandora's Box

Science:  He's been learning about lizards as well as doing some science things for our never-ending apple lapbook.  He enjoyed checking out gila monsters at the National Geographic Kids website (a handy resource when we haven't been able to get to the library).  We cut open an apple and talked about the symmetry, and they tried their hands at making a symmetrical apple picture.

We also did an evaporation experiment.  In the book How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World (which we're using as the focus for our lapbook), the little girl scoops up sea water and lets the water evaporate to get salt.  So we made some salt water and let it evaporate and discovered that the salt stayed behind!

Boiling water to help the salt dissolve faster
Mixing in salt
Tasting the salt that was left after 3 days

Grammar: He did FLL lessons 74, 75, and 76, doing copywork, a poem narration, and reviewing nouns, action verbs, and pronouns.
Working on copywork

Latin: He finished SSL chapters 27 and 28.  I'm trying to streeeetch SSL out a bit so I can figure out what to use next!  I'm leaning towards Prima Latina.  I like what I've seen of Latin for Children, but I don't know that we're ready to jump into that next.  I need to take a good look at it.  Plus, PL is a lot less expensive, which would be good at the moment.  Decisions, decisions . . . 

Spelling:  He finished step 7 and step 8 in AAS level 2.  If there's anything that's going to get skipped due to lack of time (or because it's been a rough day and we just need to stop), it's spelling.  Working on that.  The last few lessons have been pretty easy for him, though.

Handwriting:  He continues to enjoy learning cursive, and since his cursive is much neater than his printing AND it's much easier for him to maintain consistent letter sizes and to consistently use lowercase letters (rather than sprinkling in random capital letters), I'm very glad about that!  He finished lowercase V this week, and he should be done with the book in a few more weeks.  He loves writing everything he can in cursive, and he's even peeked ahead to find out how to write some letters he didn't already know.

Memory work: We're currently working on Ephesians 6:13-18, Jesus' disciples, syllable division rules for spelling, a couple of Latin phrases, a history sentence, and we started a catechism question this week.

I've officially/unofficially started Brennan in Kindergarten.  He's really been doing K-level work for a while, so it doesn't make much of a difference!

Math: Lately it seems like I can only get either math OR phonics done with Brennan.  It's been better this week, so hopefully we can continue that trend.  Lately we've been working on RS A lessons 29 and 30, talking about pennies, dimes, and nickels as well as figuring out how many objects we have without counting individually (by grouping into 10's).  

Playing an addition game online

Phonics:  He's been reading to me every night before bed for a while, and over the last week we've been working on finishing up 6 hours of reading to get free Six Flags tickets.  The extra practice has helped his fluency quite a bit.  He has a really bad tendency to guess based on the context, picture, or the first letter of the word.  It drives me crazy, because he's more than capable of sounding out the words he's not familiar with!

Handwriting:  He finished his handwriting book!  He's pretty proud of the fact that he gets to go on to big-boy copywork.  I think I'm going to go ahead and get the next Handwriting Without Tears book as well in a few weeks, just to make sure we keep reviewing in a systematic way.

All done!

Reading (literature): We've started using the storytime suggestions/instructions from Little Hearts for His Glory, which I used in its entirety for Connor for Kindergarten.  I love the program, but I don't want to try to do a complete separate curriculum for Brennan--way too much!  I really like the way it prepares them to do narrations, though (as well as the Thornton Burgess books, which are lots of fun).  He's been enjoying listening to the exploits of Reddy Fox this week, and yesterday he dictated a short letter advising Reddy not to be so bold (an activity from the book).  We'll continue to read lots and lots of library books too!


Bible: We've read several stories over the past couple of weeks.  When we learned about Jesus and the woman at the well, we made origami cups and talked about how Jesus gives us living water and what that means.  It wasn't a super-easy concept to discuss at a kid's level!

They also had a lot of fun acting out the story of the men who bring their friend to Jesus to be healed and have to let him down through the roof.

The over-crowded house
Making a hole in the roof
Carrying the friend
Lowering him down to Jesus

He is healed!

We've had  a really good couple of weeks.  I feel like we've finally hit our stride after the holidays, weather, and everyone being sick!