Oct 092010

This wrap-up will have to cover 2 weeks or more. I’m not sure how long it’s been since I’ve posted.

Our core subjects are moving along well for both of my older children. My son is not particularly fond of all the practice in Analytical Grammar, but we’ve only got 3 more weeks to go. That part he likes! I like that I am sure he is really mastering grammar. I won’t have any hesitation about not teaching grammar after finishing the Analytical Grammar course, though I do plan to use the review materials.

Life of Fred – Beginning Algebra is a super program for my older son. I love the Home Companion that goes along with it. It has all the chapters broken down into daily lessons AND includes additional problems. It is sufficient practice for him. I don’t think there is enough practice for everyone, but he really gets math. I’m having a great time explaining some of the problems when he has difficulty.

Science is well, stalled again. We’ve finished Module 2 in General Science, but I still haven’t found the time to give him the test! This week I will and we’ll start moving again. I also need to get to science with the others.

We’re still studying Colonial U.S. in Tapestry of Grace. We’ve taken 2 weeks to finish one week of material because we were so busy, and there was a LOT of reading in that one week. To supplement our studies, we visited the NC Museum of History Colonial Days. There was a wonderful traveling exhibit about George Washington.

You could dress in period costumes,

or play in a Revolutionary War tent.

Since the museum was right across the street from the State Capitol building, we walked over and took a look around. This statue shows the 3 U.S. Presidents that North Carolina has claim to (though somewhat disputed).

Last weekend we went to the fair. We didn’t ride many rides this year. (I rode none since I’m pregnant.)

The younger children had NOT gone to Carowinds this summer, so we did let them ride a few.

We looked at the animals. This rabbit has the softest fur. I think it was a Rex.

We also checked on our project entries. My daughter won 3rd prize for her candle and my son 2nd for his technology poster.

But the biggest thing that has kept me so busy lately is Cross Country. I am so proud of my son and what he’s accomplished. It has been a great experience for him, even if it has been exhausting for me.

Sep 172010

Hopefully this will be a title that I want to use frequently! But after a very rough start on Monday, this turned out to be a great week of school for us. Monday was rough because  my oldest woke up with conjunctivitis which sent us to the eye doctor in the morning, followed by 4H, a Cross Country Meet, and violin lessons in the afternoon. Definitely a tiring day for me!

The bigger kids did a great job on all their independent work this week. There were no tears and a minimum of complaining. Hmm, maybe I didn’t give them enough?? (Just kidding)

My younger son hit a road block in math…Telling time. I was able to teach him to tell the time in 5 minute increments, but what he doesn’t get is the passage of time. For example, right now it’s 4:10. What time will it be in 5 minutes? So, I decided to skip this section in math for now. (That was VERY hard for me to do.) Today we worked on some calendar pages and he completely gets those. But on the positive side with him, I did see great improvement in his reading today. He is reading through the All About Reading books that correspond with All About Spelling (which I absolutely LOVE for him, by the way!). Today he was able to get through some of the sentences without so many L…O…N…G pauses between words. He also seems to have gotten the idea about putting spaces between words in a sentence and beginning with a capital letter in his dictation sentences.

We finished up our study of the Pilgrims this week. I took two weeks instead of one, but there was so much to cover that I didn’t think we had done it justice. We finished our read-aloud literature book, Almost Home, at lunch today. It is excellent historical fiction. I highly recommend it for a study of the Pilgrims. We also watched Desperate Crossing: The Untold Story of the Mayflower, which we borrowed from Netflix. This was a reasonably balanced account, especially for The History Channel. (i.e. they didn’t make fun of the religion of the Pilgrims.) My daughter has started 2 of her colonial times projects: a fan and a cross stitch project. My son still hasn’t figured out what to do for his project.

I also taught my daughter how to make brownies this week. She’s entering them in the fair. I know that seems backwards, but I never seem to teach her to cook without some sort of deadline. For the last several years, she’s found something she wanted to learn how to make, entered that contest in the fair, and then I teach her how to do it. She placed with her peanut butter cookies the first year. Last year she didn’t win any ribbons for her muffins or cookies, but won a blue ribbon for her weaving project. This year she’s making brownies and a candle. We have already worked on candle-making for 4H so at least that is not totally new.

My son has a Cross Country meet bright and early tomorrow morning. I’d like to figure out a way for the whole family to go, but I’m just not seeing it. He’s supposed to be at the course (an hour away) at 7:30 tomorrow morning. Maybe we’ll come up with something.

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Sep 042010

OK, I know it is ridiculous to be so tired so early into the school year, but this week really wore me out! Part of it is because I think I may have overscheduled myself. (OK, I know I have.) You remember that old commercial where the guy is at his desk saying, “I can do that. I can do that. I can do that. How am I going to do this????” That’s a little how I’ve been feeling. Thankfully a few of the things are short term commitments.

The biggest difficulty has been my son and his cross country practices. He has practices on both Mondays and Wednesdays at 7 am. (Not to mention 6 pm on Tuesday, Thursday, and Fridays and 9 am on Saturdays! He doesn’t have to attend all of them, but needs to run if he doesn’t.) Thankfully my husband drops him off in the morning, but I have to get the other kids ready to pick him up by 8! So 2 mornings this week have started by my frantically yanking children out of bed, having them throw clothes on, choke down a bite of breakfast, then run to the van to pick up their brother. Unfortunately, the practices have run late! So then I’ve ended up sitting in the van with tired, hungry, irritable kids waiting…. I did find out that I can be there at 8:15 from  now on. Those 15 minutes may make a big difference in my morning.

The good news is, we started back with Tapestry of Grace Year 2 this week. We’re picking up where we left off, so we’re starting Unit 3 which begins with Jamestown. I’ve been reading the Dialectic history selections (from This Country of Ours) aloud in the mornings for all the kids. Then I’ve been reading the Dialectic literature selection, Almost Home, aloud at lunch. We’re on track with This Country of Ours, but a bit behind on Almost Home. I don’t necessarily plan on doing all the reading aloud for the whole unit. (Actually, I know I can’t possibly do that.) But this time I liked the literature selection for Dialectic level better than the Upper Grammar one, so I decided to have both the older kids do the same literature.

We did one fun (and yummy) project this week.

Cookie dough maps! Because I am a martyr like to cook from scratch, I made homemade sugar cookie dough. (It would work just as well with store bought.) There are maps taped to the table under the parchment paper. Then the kids spread the dough to cover the maps. We decorated with chocolate chips for the mountain ranges and green sugar.

Then we baked the maps on the parchment paper on a cookie sheet. I think this is after we baked it. My daughter added blue sugar for the Great Lakes.

This is my older son’s map after baking. He thought the others used too many chocolate chips (like there could be such a thing!) for the mountains. He also was NOT interested in having his picture made with a cookie!

All the other subjects are going well for the older two children. Teaching my younger son anything is like pulling teeth. I’m really struggling with him. It is very difficult to get his attention.

My older son has almost finished Module 1 of Apologia General Science. I expect an “interesting” discussion when I explain to him that he needs to study for a test! My plan is to also add some science in for the middle kids this week. We’ll see. Thankfully I’ve got Monday off!


Aug 272010

I am happy to report that we made it through our first week back to school. Overall it was a very productive week.

We managed to do Latin, Greek, English, and Math everyday.

My younger 2 kids are very happy with Song School Latin. I thought it would be a hit, and I was right! My older daughter started First Form Latin by Memoria Press. I think this will also be a great fit for her. I got a chuckle when the DVD instructor used the word y’all for the 2nd person plural verb conjugations. I have no problem with that! My older son picked up in Latin Alive 1 where he left off at the end of last year. Thankfully, this chapter was on numbers, so it was something he could do fairly easily while we also did daily review of the rest of the book.

Elementary Greek 3 started with a good review of the alphabet and pronunciation rules. The next few weeks will also be review which we definitely need!

For English my older son is starting Analytical Grammar. While I can’t say that he is loving it, I am very impressed with the program. I think he will love it when he doesn’t have to do it everyday! My daughter is continuing with Rod & Staff. There were a few tears shed with the first writing assignment. But I didn’t give in, and she did the assignment. I haven’t started my younger son on English yet. I’ll probably work through First Language Lessons with him this year, but we’re focusing on reading, phonics, handwriting, and spelling first.

Math is going great for my older son. He loves Life of Fred. This year he’s doing Algebra. I purchased the Home Companion as well as the text, and it is fantastic! It has extra problems and has scheduled out the reading for me. My daughter is continuing with Singapore 4B. I had hoped to finish it over the summer, but well…not as much school got accomplished over the summer as I had hoped. (i.e. none) But that’s ok. Younger son is starting Math Mammoth 2A. He is a very difficult child to teach. I know he knows certain things, but it’s so difficult to get him to answer a simple question at times. Working with him has been my biggest struggle this week.

I also started Apologia General Science with my older son. So far that is going well. I need to do some more work with scheduling that. I am reading along with him, which I’d rather not do, but my husband and I both agree that he will learn the material better this way. I’m just struggling on balancing the needs of everyone. What else is new?

Next week we add in Tapestry of Grace Year 2 Unit 3. Also, my older daughter is going to be doing some activities with my younger daughter. Speaking of my younger daughter, she has been very good at entertaining herself this week.

Plus, she’s always good for some comic relief!

Finally, I am absolutely LOVING the library cart I won from Guidecraft and Homeschool Creations! It’s great to have everything in the dining room, but still have the ability to easily move it out when I want to.

So how was your week?

Jun 042010

Can you tell I’m excited? It has been quite a year for us, and honestly I am ready for a break!

There were many things that I think went well this year, and many that went not so well. Maybe abysmal is a good description. This was my second year on the Homeschool Crew, and while I really loved it and don’t regret my time spent there at all, I can’t deny that it did influence how much of “my plan” we got done.

The good–

My older children did a great job with completing their skill-based, independent subjects this year. My son (12) worked through 3 Life of Fred math books (Fractions, Decimals and Percents, and Pre-Algebra with Biology). He did 2 Editor in Chief workbooks and a large portion of Our Mother Tongue. We finished Elementary Greek Level 2. That was a subject we got half-way through last year. This year we didn’t start it until after Christmas, but still worked our way through the book.

My daughter (10) completed Rod and Staff English 5 and Latina Christiana I. In Math she finished Singapore 3B, 4A, and is still working on 4B.

My younger guy (8), who was in the 2nd grade according to his age, made great strides in his reading, writing, and math this year. He went from struggling with c-v-c words at the beginning of the year to being confident with those and has learned lots more phonics too. He finished Explode the Code books 2 and 3 and is starting on 4. He also completed All About Spelling Level 1. He’s working slowly through Math Mammoth 1B, but will finish this summer.

The bad–

My son (12) got through Unit 5 of Latin Alive Book 1. OK, that’s not bad, but I really don’t believe he knows the material well enough to move forward. Which leaves me a quandry. I guess we’ll start the year with “review” and have him practice vocabulary over the summer on www.headventureland.com. It’s not really the vocabulary that’s the problem, it’s the endings that are more troublesome though. He also was working through Introductory Logic. Good program, but he was supposed to be doing it with my husband, and unfortunately that didn’t happen often enough.

My daughter (10) did very little spelling. She likes Spelling Power. I personally think she needs something different, but maybe consistency in the future will show some improvement. Her problem is that she can learn the words in spelling, but makes really strange errors in her writing.

Which, we really didn’t do enough of for anyone. I was going to do the writing assignments in Tapestry of Grace, but…ahem…Tapestry of Grace belongs in the bad category for us. Not because the curriculum is bad (I still love it), but because I was very bad at implementing it. Things did improve after Christmas, but we’re going to be doing some history reading for a few weeks to finish up Unit 2 (of 4) for Year 2.

The ugly–

Science. Simply put, we didn’t do science. We completed a grand total of about 3 chapters in Apologia Zoology 1 and Zoology 3. The really pathetic thing is my husband is a science teacher and I’m an engineer! There is no good reason for us to not do science. Zero. Zilch. Nada. Just pure overscheduling.

What am I doing differently next year?

I’m not totally sure. One big change is that I’m not going to be on the Crew. I was planning on it until the beginning of this week. But I decided (with some strong encouragement from my husband) that I needed to put more focus on our chosen studies. Plus my job with HSB takes time, enough time that I don’t have the extra to devote to Crew reviewing.

My school plans for next year will be taking shape over the summer. I know what materials we’re going to use, I just need to come up with a solid plan for implementing them.