Friday, September 28, 2007

Week 4 winding down....slowly...

This has been one kind of a week.

The schedule got all twisted up, I don't know how many times I erased my scheduled plans and rewrote things, only to erase again. And then I gave up erasing and just started scratching things out, circling and x-ing and marking arrows. My schedule book for Th/Fr looks like one of John Madden's replay screens during a particularly messed up special play in the 4th quarter of the playoffs leading up to the superbowl. whew! grrr... just one of those weeks.

We did accomplish a few things.

We finished our poetry unit, but didn't write any poetry this time. I decided to keep that assignment for the next poetry unit. I will keep reading poetry to them daily, however, so they don't lose the feel for it.

We started our 6th grade Math books. Decimals! yay! At first, they just weren't getting it. But the moment it finally clicked they went to town and finished their assignments lickety-split. Now the homework in fractions?.....that didn't go so well. And DD is refusing to do her long division. I know it's hateful and that's what calculators are for, but it's still a skill that needs to be learned.

We did some more work on similes and metaphors. They're getting the hang of it now. Similes are much easier for them to come up with and understand. I think that's natural to the way most people speak. Metaphors are more difficult to come up with. Synonyms and Antonyms are in the bag.

K is still reading Dragon Rider. J finished Ninjas Don't Bake Pumpkin Pies. I picked up Tut! Tut! for him because he asked for some more Time Warp Trio books, but he informed me that he'd already read that one, so back to the library we go. I never did finish The Pirate Queen. I tried to renew it but someone is waiting for it so I have to give it up. So now I'm reading Blackwork, by Mary Gostelow. As soon as the new JoAnn's opens I'll go get some black floss so I can start learning how to do some of the blackwork stitches. That'll be fun.

Over the weekend I'll be re-evaluating the schedule, once again. Wish me luck. :P

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Sweet Number Three!

Week number three is officially under our belts! The headaches haven't been bothering me too much this week. Thanks for all the well-wishes! I did have to flex my "ingenuity muscles" just a tad, nothing like three wistful faces (2 kids, 1 husband) looking at you to make your insides quiver and your brain turn to mush. Of course, I had to give in. Not only did the kids get their regular Wed w/Dad, but they got Thursday as well, and convinced me to go along. I had to do some major rescheduling, but hey, that's why homeschooling is so great! You can change things whenever you want! So here is what we've accomplished this week.

In Bible/History we talked about the Ice Age, the Tower of Babel ,Stonehenge, and the growing civilizations in Mesopotamia. We read from the Bible, Ancient History by J.M. Roberts, Ancient Mesopotamia by Shilpa Mehta-Jones, Charge! Weapons and Warfare in Ancient Times by Rivka Gonen, and Archaeology for Kids by Richard Panchyk. We've been using AOP LifePac #7 which focuses on archaeology and is helping the kids understand how the history of the world is wrapped up in the Bible, and how just because the Bible doesn't mention something by name doesn't mean it wasn't there.

We haven't done much in sciences this week. We finished up the inner planets. We were supposed to start the outer planets, but that got put on hold with the extra day off.

In Language Arts we've been doing the "word of the day". I've been using this website which is geared toward 4-6th graders. I started keeping a list back in August so I could pick and choose and then, if I miss a day, I'm not short. We've been doing worksheets on figurative language. The kids really enjoyed the hyperbole and idioms. My son got just a tad bit silly with personification. And they loved alliteration and onomatopoeia. Similie and metaphor are not their friends. Still working on that! They're doing great with syllabication and compound words. We also started our Journals for the year.

The Literature Study is going swimmingly. We are currently reading The Year of the Dog. Which is a great book. It goes along great with our cultural studies. For poetry we are reading from A Child's Introduction to Poetry, Side by Side: Poems to Read Together, Poetry for Young People, by Langston Hughes, and The Earth is Painted Green. We haven't started writing any of our own poetry yet. I think we'll do that next week.

In our Cultural Studies we are doing a "festival". We've chosen 3 cultures: Native American, German, and Japanese. We're going to a study of these cultures and compare them to each other as well as to our own American culture. In our cultural readings this week we read Liang and the Magic Paintbrush by DEMI (chinese) and Little Oh! by L.C. Melmed (Japanese). We also read Raising Yoder's Barn by Jane Yolen (Amish).

In Art we did a lesson on ancient art and another prism project. Most of the art lessons show up during the history lessons as well as the culture lessons. Eventually, we'll begin putting art on the timeline as well.

In Music we've been studying the instruments. This week we learned about some African instruments and how they are used. And we read I See the Rhythm by Toyomi Igus. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this book. It's so beautiful and it fits into not only music, but culture, art, and LA (poetry) as well!

We worked a little bit in our geography books, talking about how the land can be divided into different regions based on either natural or human characteristics. This seems to be confusing to them so we're going to do some more work on this.

They finished their 5th grade math books this week and spent Friday and Saturday finishing up the grade level test. It's a 4 page test in the back of the book. I pick and choose which problems I want them to do, so they're not doing ALL of it! It's just so I can see what they've retained well and what still needs some work.

In our English workbooks J worked on antonyms and K worked on verb tenses. They both completed 2 vocab sections and 4 reading comp sections. And they've both passed their spelling tests.

On our extra day off we went to Sea World. We always stop and play with the dolphins and touch the sting rays, and of course cruise through the shark tube. Since I went this time too we had to stop to see the manatees. On our way to the water ride we took a "path less travelled" and ran into a python! A 40lb. Albino Burmese Python! Not something you see everyday. And we got to touch it! J was a little leery of doing anything so crazy but K jumped right up there and was rubbing its belly! I had to touch it too after I took the pic. It was really smooth and soft! What an experience! Chalk the day up to science!

I snapped this one just as J's fingertips made contact. And then he snatched his hand right back!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Week number 2

I can't believe how fast this week flew by! Especially since I've had a headache all stinking week. Nothing is helping. But I sucked it up and kept at it. I just couldn't face falling behind when we've made such good progress.

We've been reading a lot of poetry. I think the kids favorite was a book called Sad Underwear and Other Complications. I liked some of the poems by Robert Frost in his collection called You Come Too. We also read several selections from A Child's Garden of Verses and At The Top of My Voice. I'm also reading from A Child's Introduction to Poetry which includes a handy CD to listen to. This book is nice as it covers several styles. Next week we will hopefully try our hand at writing a few!

Our Bible/History study is starting to pick up. We finished up this week at The Great Flood. Next week we'll go over The Ice Age and begin learning about civilizations. This is where our Art History will begin as well. I picked up a book called CHARGE! Weapons and Warfare in Ancient Times that I think will pique my son's interest. I have a couple other books on Mesopotamia as well. So far the timeline has been pretty barebones. Next week will see quite a few new additions and hopefully I'll find some way of studying some topics a little more in depth. I'm hoping to begin a unit study on Dinosaurs. We'll see what happens with that.

Science is off to a slow start. We're doing some review work on the planets, working on getting our notebook put together. Once we finish the planets we'll begin an in-depth study on Earth and they'll each pick a planet to study as well. I'm hoping this will spark some unit studies. My dd wants to be an astronaut, so we'll read some biographies and use the NASA website quite a bit.

Next week the kids will take their final tests on 5th grade Math. By Friday we'll be working in our 6th grade books. I'm really dissapointed with the grade 6 book. Half the book is just review work of basic operations and reviewing fractions. I do realize that the more you practice basic operations, the better you remember and recall them. So we're going to start the year in chapter 7, I think, with decimals, and I'll have them do the basics as "homework". I'll assign 4 pages per week and let them decide when they complete them, as long as they're done by Friday.

We've been learning about the different kinds of instruments and where they were invented. We haven't gotten our recorders yet, so I'm thinking I'll pencil those in for sometime in October. Next week we begin learning about the different instruments used in different cultures. Which works out great as part of our MultiCultural Unit for social studies. We've been reading different books about Jewish and Chinese cultures, as well as a book about immigration, called Coming to America. Next week we'll begin what I'm calling a Culture Festival. We're going to pick 3 cultures to study.

For art projects we pulled out the prism and went outside to break up sunlight. They took turns focusing the light on sand in full sun, outdoor carpet, shaded sand, and their feet. The kids thought that was way cool! (also fits into science!) Then we used a worksheet with a prism outline and colored the order of the light. Next week we'll do another project based on the prism.

English/Grammar/L. Arts has been an eye-opening experience for me. I've discovered that my son is further along than I thought, and that my daughter rushes through her work and doesn't read the directions! They are at two different levels in English, but I'm teaching most of the LA together. They each have a workbook at their level for English/Grammar and Reading Comprehension. Then I pull out worksheets for different things. This week we worked on Syllables, Alliteration, Idioms and Hyperboles. We had a lot of fun with alliteration. Apparently, Dogs Dance in the Dirt, not dig! LOL

We finished reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory today. We'll begin The Year of the Dog on Monday. I was hoping they would choose Inkheart next, but they didn't. We'll get to it. My son finished reading Night of the Ninjas and will begin reading Ninjas Don't Bake Pumpkin Pies. This time I will ask for a verbal summary of the book from him. My daughter is reading Dragon Rider. It's a very large book and I'm excited she wanted to tackle it. I asked her today what has been happening so far, and she looked at me, shrugged her shoulders, and said "I dunno". So I had to make a few very direct questions to get her talking. I think I'll need to ask her everyday just so she keeps things in mind while reading. In whatever spare time I can muster I am reading several school books as well as The Pirate Queen: Queen Elizabeth I, Her Pirate Adventures and the Dawn of Empire. I'm also doing some sewing on my dress and beginning dh's shirt for his Tudor outfit. I'm excited about getting his shirt going, because I get to do some blackwork embroidery. Though I think I'm going to use white on white instead of black on white. {shrug} We'll see what happens when I get to that point!

Even despite the headache that is still raging in my head, it's been a good week. Things have gone smoothly, including the kids doing their chores (dishes and garbage). The only hitch I can think of was when I tried to print something today the printer said I couldn't because it was missing a cartridge. DH took the empty color cartridge to be refilled for me. I couldn't be angry. Oh, and it stormed yesterday just as we were heading for the pool. :( that's always sad.

Since I couldn't print until I got my cartridge back, I'll be working on school for awhile tomorrow to get ready for the next week. No biggie, most of it is done, just need to tweak a few things, make a few copies for the timeline and make sure worksheets are all ready. And then the weekend is mine to do with as I please. (read: sewing!)

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Week One

Or should I say week "won"?

Off to a bumpy start, grant you, but it got better. I switched some things around, got rid of a few things, added more reading time. And I'm still considering getting rid of some more things.

I'm finding myself constantly reevaluating my goals for my children. My goals for the school year have undergone constant change for the last 5 years, so this year was no exception. But have I really thought about my goals for my kids? Or what my kids' goals might be?

By Friday, Jeremy was totally into the reading time. We're reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. A movie they have seen countless times. But the book obviously has some differences. And I'm having fun coming up with weird voices for the characters. Kylie isn't so enthused. But I'm hoping before too much longer she'll find interest in it. Maybe with the next book, as this one was Jeremy's choice.

I've also noticed that Kylie has no problem getting to work on the worksheets and workbooks and getting it done. But she doesn't read all of the directions and sometimes I want us to work together and she wants to move ahead. Jeremy, on the other hand, hates writing with a passion. He can't stand worksheets, and he doesn't like his workbooks. I have yet to find an answer to this dilemma.

We're off to a bit of a slow start with our Ancient History study. But I know things will pick up soon. I'm really excited about it. I love history, and I hope they will pick up on it and find a love of history themselves. It's really very interesting seeing history unfold from the Bible and see how it fits together with the "World" History texts. Because the world assumes the Big Bang Theory is no longer a theory, the texts no longer present it as such. And the texts no longer present Creation either. So it's quite a challenge using secular texts for history. I just leave things out or I let them know that unbelievers think theory "x" is true, while as believers, we believe creation is true. As we continue on, I'm sure they'll have a great many questions about this.

In the next month or so, I'm hoping to start adding in field trips. I really want us to start a nature journal. And as we start doing some of these other things, the amount of "bookwork" will be reduced. I want to implement more learning by reading and research than filling out worksheets. I want them to find the answers to their questions and really learn.

So while week one didn't get off to a great start, I still think we've won something in the process. So let's just call this week WON!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

First "Official" Day of School

Did not go as well as I had hoped. No one, including me, was really ready for this.

I've been doing my homework for 5 weeks now, finding new books to read, working on lesson plans, putting together unit studies. I've been hoping that the kids would be excited to try some new things for school.

But today just didn't go so well. I had originally planned to roll us all out of bed at 7 and begin school by 8. A few days ago I read that again and told myself that was just plain crazy.

So we were up a little before 8 and began sometime after 9. Not too late a start. But things just started off on the wrong foot I guess. I'm going to rethink this morning thing.

I'm also going to change the order and do the workbooks at the END of the lessons. Doing them in the middle left Kylie hanging while I was trying to coax Jeremy into getting a move on and finishing up his Reading Comp. Like pulling taffy in the middle of winter.

We managed to finish our day a little after 3 with an hour break for lunch and rest time. And the only thing I skipped was spanish review. I think I'm going to hold off on Spanish and Sign Language for a couple weeks yet.

We did our fist art assignment. I wanted the kids to draw self portraits. They did them in like 5 minutes. When we do this again at the end of the year, I'm hoping the years' lessons will have matured their thinking a bit, and they'll take their time to produce something more lifelike. This is my hope.

As we were dong some of the worksheets my mind was thinking about how we'd be putting all these things together in our notebooks. The little folders I have now are not going to work in a couple weeks. But that gives me a little time to figure out exactly what I need. I hate buying supplies and then not using them. So we'll probably use those little folders for something, I just don't know what yet.

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This is the first lesson in our Bible/History course. The days of Creation. As they said, "We've heard this so many times!" We won't spend too much time talking about it before moving on. But we'll be adding it to the timeline next week when we get it set up somewhere.

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Here they are, working in their workbooks.

Even though the day didn't go according to plan, I did see where I can improve things a little. Jeremy hopes tomorrow won't be quite as boring. I hope so too. I'm trying. But I can only throw out so much of the plan at a time!

Sunday, September 2, 2007

School starts in 2 days!

I'm so excited for school to start!

The kids aren't, obviously. They have no interest in school. Which is quite unfortunate. I really wish they enjoyed learning. But I guess all those TV shows about kids not liking school have rotted their brains.

I'll just have to fix that.

We're trying something new this year. Really new. I'm loosening up the schedule a bit, in the hopes that the kids will take more interest in choosing topics. I'm also going to have them start notebooking some of our topics and doing more crafts. AND, we're going to start a nature journal! I can't wait for the Florida heat to turn off so we can get out to some of these amazing parks and start sketching!

Hopefully, the kids will develop a love of learning. And I hope they learn lots of amazing and fun things this year! And I'll be learning right along side them.

Oh! We're also going to learn to play the recorder together! I'm picturing family nights where we all play and dad adds in his drum. I'm sure it'll take quite a bit of practice to get to that, but I think it'll be a blast!