Friday, February 26, 2010

Term D, Week 3 Report

Yeah, so I guess I missed Week 2.

This was another rough week, as I started out by getting absolutely NO sleep Sunday night. So, we spent the week kind of in survival mode, rather than Productive Mode. We got the basics done, though. We did manage to do one day of science and we finally got around to doing history today (it was originally scheduled for Tuesday!). We are studying Rome, and we learned about gladiators today, as well as about Roman construction/building. I had no idea that gladiators were slaves/POWs/criminals. Nor that they were so specific in their different types of gladiators. Nor did I know that they went to "gladiator school" in essentially a prison environment. All very interesting. Oh, and did you know these gladiator fights went on for SEVEN HUNDRED YEARS!?! Sometimes, when I think about the history of our own country, and how many people think we have gone so far astray of our founding, I have to think about the other nations/empires/etc that lasted so much longer. I wonder if the incredible advance of technology has sped up the process of weakening our national fiber. If we marched along more steadily in our advances, rather than in leaps and giant bounds, would we be able to keep more in line with our founding principles? Anyways, I digress.

So,we agreed to set aside some of our tax return for homeschooling materials, and I actually went down to the bank today and set up a separate account, just so I can track expenditures better. So now I am faced with the fun, but kind of daunting, task of deciding what we want most. We are planning to start Latin either this summer or next fall, so that is a definite. I also will need the next level of Writing With Ease. Oh, on a reporting note, we started doing the WWE1 lessons 2 per day, so we can get through the material faster. I guess Noodle should really be in WWE2 (and probably a bit further along in math) now, as a 2nd grader, so I think we will continue through summer with language arts and math, probably just 3x/week. I am sure other homeschoolers experience a similar "floundering" as they try and figure out what works best, and I know people's pproaches and methods evolve over time and depending on the child, but it can be unnerving to feel like you are trying to reinvent the wheel, but not just ANY wheel, a customized wheel tailored specifically to your child's unique gifts and abilities.

We have read a bunch of chapters of Inkheart the past couple of days. We started it over a year ago, and took MANY months off. I want to watch the movie with the kids, though, so we have recommitted ourselves to finishing it. Plus, I've started reading up in the playroom, so they can do other stuff while they listen instead of just sitting on the sofa. I think that makes a big difference for Spud. It's a good story, but I don't recommend it for a read-aloud simply because of the length. The language is quite descriptive, and the chapters are often long, and there are a lot of chapters. I think it would have a much better pace as a silent read.

Did I mention Noodle started the Math U See Beta book? I am excited for her to learn addition and subtraction of large numbers. I think that is kind of fun math to do. It's very orderly, but you do have a sense of accomplishment at the end because you have been dealing with BIG numbers! I told her as much this week. We'll see if I can spark some enthusiasm from her. She's not a big fan of math right now, which I think is too bad because it comes to her rather easily. Though she does like it now that I set a timer for 30 minutes, and if she finishes her math work in that amount of time, we will play a game of her choosing for 10 minutes, plus whatever time is left out of the 30. I've been teaching her to play Racko.

Noodle finished the last (seventh) Rainbow Fairy book this week, and while we have some of the Pet Fairies from the library, we are taking a fairy break and reading Rascal, from the Puppy Place series. It seems appropriate, since she is going to be getting her very own dog in a few months. She's enjoying it so far. We own a few of them, so it seemed like a good choice.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Term D, Week 1 Report

This was a ROUGH week. We had a couple different activities going on (Noodle had Imagination Club on Wednesday and we had a homeschool co-op President's Day party on Thursday), and silly me decided to get creative at the last possible minute and make up little Valentiney things. We made bean-bag hearts for all the kids in Imagination Club, and Teddy Roosevelt valentines (he was our selected president to share information about) for the co-op kids. So, we did very little actual "school" on W/Th.

Other than that, we started our Space half of our Earth Science study. Hopefully we can have some fun with it. Space is always so fascinating to kids.

In history this week we did the People of the Americas. The Story of the World does a good job to point out that the reason we don't know much about these people is because we don't have written records. I guess some of the Central American people did keep written records, but we don't know how to read them. It was kind of an epiphany to me to realize that. Yeah, I should have thought of it earlier, but it hit me in a different way. I guess that's why we are encouraged to keep a our existence is documented. Hopefully the internet and Google are here to stay (*wink*) and my blog will live on after my demise....future generations can read my random thoughts, I will speak like a voice from the dust! Or whatever.

Also, Sprout had about a five day streak of TERRIBLE nights. By Wednesday, I felt like the living dead. I ended up going to bed at 8:30 Wednesday night, and I felt human once again on Thursday. Then David had to go to bed at 8:30 on Thursday night. He seems to be over the worst of it (he had a fever for a couple nights and a horrendously runny nose). So, hopefully next week we will be back on track.

I have been reading the Charlotte Mason series in Modern English and while I don't think I'm likely to go full boar Charlotte Mason, there are some things that I would really like to incorporate into our homeschool. I want to have a more rich literature environment. To that end, I made a goal for us to read 100 books this term. Seeing as we are one week into the term and only have five books read (remember how this week kicked my trash?), this might have been a bit ambitious. Heck, the kids and I have been puttering our way through Inkheart for over a year now. David reads to the kids every night (unless it's a late movie night) from novels, so they are a bit slower pace than required for our book list. And I read various poems and stories from compilation books and the like, but those won't count as full books for this chart. So you can see that it is going to be a bit of a stretch. Oh well. And we already lost the chart and I'm printing a new one. ::sigh:: Such is life.

I am trying to prep the "spare room" for David's sisters to move in at the end of the month. Which has not been easy, since it was my craft/sewing room, plus it's where we keep Sprout's diapers and clothes. I'm not sure where his stuff will go. My stuff has been moved down to the office or will go out to the garage, which means some garage stuff needs to make it's way back to the shed. I'm also trying to purge stuff, which is a painful and slow process for me. I'm getting better...

Oh, one other thing that was crazy this week: some homeschooling mom friends and I decided to do a Preschool Activities in a Bag swap, and even though we met the end of November and divvied it all out, I was working on things up through the very last day. But I did finish them. I'm actually quite excited for the activities, as I think they will be fun for Spud, even though he is kind of advanced as far as "preschool" goes. I think he'll like the hands-on stuff, though he doesn't need the letters/numbers so much.

Oh yeah, I started teaching Spud (and Noodle since she likes to join in) a Skip Counting by 2s song to the tune of Row, Row, Row Your Boat. You go up to 30. This blog has song suggestions for different skip-counting songs.

Noodle finished Math U See Alpha at the end of Term C, and the rest of our Beta materials came this week, so we will be delving into that next week. She told me that since math is her least favorite, she'd rather do it last. Then she thought about it and said she'd rather have it first so it would be done with for the day. Smart girl. In order to promote doodle-free and dallying-free work, we have started playing a quick game (Racko, Blink, Guess Who?, UNO, Mastermind, etc) if she finished her math assignments in a set time. Anything she doesn't finish, she will need to do later in the day as "homework". After sitting down and thinking about just how much time I thought we should be spending in the different subjects each day, I decided it was silly that it seemed to take us so long to get through things. I know there are interruptions (especially with Sprout), but I wanted to get things a bit more streamlined. I timed a lot of our subjects this week, so I have a better idea of how long things take. I'd like to be finished with the main stuff by lunch, and only have Science or History to do after lunch, and maybe her piano practice.

Well, this is a long and rambling post. But maybe it makes up for my absence the last, oh, forever. I don't think I blogged a single update during term C.

One more thing I want to do once the weather turns nice: I think I'd like to have a weekly day "in nature", and I think I want to spend it up the canyon. We have some great parks. The kids can take their scooters (our bikes won't fit in our widdle car) and we can go on the trail and have a picnic...I think it would be a lot of fun. I tell myself it is too far and gas costs too much, but I think it would be <25 miles round trip (and quite a bit less, depending on which park we choose), and even at $3/gallon, that only would work out to be about $3 an outing, since our car gets about 30-33 mpg. So, totally worth it! And cheaper than most other things we could do!