At the park near our new home. . .
This year instead of weekly school wrap-ups, I thought I’d try something that seems a little less daunting and more do-able for me: a six-weeks-in-review sort of write-up. (Never mind that I’ve been trying to work on it all week. . . )
We eased into the school year on August 13, which means yesterday was the end of the six week. I’ve shared our curricula (which has already changed a little bit) and our circle time plans already. Here’s the nitty-gritty of what we’ve been up to:
Lulu is working steadily through Singapore 5B. We’re just a few units from the end of this, and we’re knee-deep in geometry right now. Geometry isn’t her first love, but we’re making it through ok. Each week I try to give her several problems from the Challenging Word Problems book, too, and these sometimes challenge both of us. This, along with the math games class I’m facilitating at co-op, is a winning combination for our math-lover.
Louise started out the year in Singapore 4A, and all was well with that until we got to a unit on division. There was a bit of a gap there between where we stopped RightStart and where we picked up Singapore, so last week we picked RightStart back up to cover division and possibly fractions before going ahead in Singapore. I’ve enjoyed Singapore, but I am happy to be back in RightStart. I do love it! Louise is also in the math games class, so this ensures that she plays a math game at least once a week. 🙂
The DLM and I started in on RightStart level A and we’ve made steady progress of about two lessons a week. We’re up to lesson 14 or so, and for a while he didn’t believe we were doing math. (I think he expected it to be like his sisters’.) He’s warmed up to it now, and I am SO enjoying watching him make connections and gain number sense. Still, his favorite thing to do is play the game Rat-a-Tat-Cat (which is math-related, but maybe not quite as beneficial as the time we give to it would indicate)–I just can’t resist when he asks me if we can play it.
What a broad topic! Since we’ve ditched formal grammar for the year (thanks to Brave Writer!), some days I feel a bit discombobulated because just about everything we do that relates to language requires my direct involvement. We’ve consistently done dictation (four weeks’ worth with passages from By the Great Horn Spoon! and one so far from Heart of a Samurai) and copywork of our own choosing. That has been fun. We’ve attempted a few projects from Brave Writer products (Faltering Ownership and Partnership Writing), the most successful of which was the wild words project in which we collected words and did some fun things with them. We didn’t finish the project, but I feel like what we did do was worth the effort and beneficial despite the fact that it was unfinished.
Poetry tea time continues to be a much-anticipated part of our week. I aim for every-other-week, though everyone would be happy if we did it weekly.
Full disclosure: the tablecloth’s terribly wrinkled and only half the table is cleaned off 🙂
I suppose read-alouds fall into this category, too, though they mostly feel like just what we do instead of like school. You can check out some of what we’ve been reading this month here in this post.
One more thing we did this six weeks is a close reading of a short story. I was inspired by Farrar at I Capture the Rowhouse to do this this year. Our first short story was “Thank You, Ma’am” by Langston Hughes. I had the girls read it and mark anything they noticed special about it one day and we discussed it over tea the next day. I think it was a hit, though one girl liked it much better than the other. I couldn’t help but follow it up with a bit of Langston Hughes’ poetry, too.
We’re trucking along in Apologia’s Exploring Creation Through Chemistry and Physics thanks to a class the girls are taking at co-op. They’re up through lesson 3 on this. We’ve been supplementing at home all along with American Chemical Society’s Middle School Chemistry curriculum (FREE!), which is fantastic. We completed the last part of the first lesson on Wednesday. Last week we also plunged into Ellen McHenry’s The Elements because parts of the Apologia course seemed a little too complex for the amount of coverage they were given in the book. We’ve completed two chapters of this. This is the first time in a long time that I feel like I’ve engaged with my girls in their science studies, and it feels good.
One of my goals this year is to utilize more documentaries in our homescholing. We started watching NOVA’s Hunting the Elements this week, and everyone was immediately engrossed. I’m looking forward to finishing it!
So far this year we’ve meandered through the first sixty years or so of the 19th century with Joy Hakim’s History of US volume 5. Most weeks the girls have written at least one narration. I try to hold sixth grade Lulu to a stricter standard than fourth grade Louise. This means that some weeks Louise might just narrate orally. (I’m being nebulous because that’s what I am in reality–nebulous. 😉 ) This week both girls began working on a special little project involving someone from the pre-Civil War era. I did this because I realized that if we read every single chapter in the history text that we would never get through the Civil War before Christmas, which is not exactly where I want to mire up in our studies. Louise is writing an obituary for Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Lulu is writing a skit about the lives of William and Ellen Craft. Louise has also been reading Shipwrecked by Rhoda Blumberg and writing short narrations of each chapter.
We’ve watched one history documentary-National Geographic’s Lewis and Clark: Great Journey West.
We’re up to lesson 7 in Latin for Children Primer A. So far this has been a huge success for us. I will admit that the volume of material we’ve covered is almost more than my middle aged brain is able to retain, but my girls are handling much better than I am. We listen to the chants almost every time we go somewhere (they’re loaded on the hard drive of our van’s sound system–yippee for technology!). I also purchased Clash Cards, and that has been a really fun way to practice all the vocabulary words. I know I need a visual way to help myself remember all this material; that’s something I hope to work on this weekend.
The DLM is blazing through All About Reading level one. We’re up through lesson 11, so we’re averaging about two lessons a week. I don’t review with him like I should, but so far it doesn’t seem to have hindered him in any way. I do think he could zoom ahead if I had the time to devote to working with him, but he’s happy just going along at the pace we’re working at, so I try not to feel too guilty.
I haven’t even started teaching him to write yet. He can write his name, and he often does write–quite a bit. I just haven’t had the time to tackle proper form, etc. I hope to get to that after Christmas, maybe. He draws and colors a lot, and I’ve tried to take to heart the Brave Writer philosophy about this age/stage of development and Jot It Down occasionally. We made a book about “Destroy Spiders” last week:
Just below Wilson Dam
Lulu is working on a project for National History Day. I attended a workshop about this program a few weeks ago and was so impressed by what a great program it is for homeschoolers. (It’s open to homeschooled and traditionally schooled students.) It’s quite an undertaking, but I hope to encourage her along in it as long as she remains motivated.
Snails on a rock, discovered by Louise (of course)
Louise is still obsessed with sea shells, so she’s working on a sea shell project right now. I’ve let this be almost entirely student-directed. First, though, before tackling the actual sea shells, she has decided that she has to make a poster about about gastropods. I’ll share it if she’ll let me once she’s finished.
The big, huge project that Lulu’s a part of right now is our homeschool co-op’s BEST Robotics team. This started at the end of September, and game day is mid-October. Lulu is a part of the engineering team and is the notetaker. They meet four nights a week, so this is quite a commitment. She has enjoyed it very much and has learned a lot already.
Piano lessons continue weekly. Both girls are practicing for hymn fest next month. All three school aged children are involved with AWANA and choir at church. Louise has also joined 4H.
We’ve only had a couple: we made a trip up to the Huntsville Botanical Garden one HOT Friday when I really needed to get out of the house. Then, the next Friday was Oka Kapassa. I hope to get outside more now that it has finally cooled off!
One of Steady Eddie’s projects since we moved over the summer is to build the kids a playscape in the back yard. All the kids pitched in, and this is how far they’ve gotten:
One thing we have instituted is a family movie night. It’s on hold right now due to robotics, but it’s a highly anticipated part of our week and we’ll all be glad when we can get back to it. So far we’ve watched
- The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
- Despicable Me
- Black Beauty
- Batman (1966 version)
- Robin Hood (Disney cartoon version–without Steady Eddie and Lulu)
Audiobooks also continue to be an important part of our learning. I’m attempting to keep up with what we listen to here. I shared a few brief reviews here.
Louise has officially begun the process of learning to type.
The girls read non-stop, and I’m attempting this year to have them keep up with what they read. I’m pretty sure the lists won’t really be complete, but I hope to share what they’ve recorded soon.
I find this homeschooling journey just as full of self-doubt as ever, despite the fact that we’ve been at it for a while now. Spelling out what we’ve done reminds me of what a rich life we have here at home. We have a lot to be thankful for.