I’m pleased to say we’ve hit a nice groove in our schooling here.  What needs to get checked off the list, gets checked off most of the time.  The girls aren’t complaining about most of what they’re assigned.  Zee?   Well, Zee is Zee… and almost 8 years old.  I think that makes him legally bound to put up at least a little fight. 😛  Despite all that he’s still progressing in leaps and bounds.

Since we’re easily finishing all that work that makes that inner school teacher so happy, we’ve got time for all that other stuff. You know, the important stuff.

Gee’s been blowing through tutorials on programming apps using Corona.  Dad’s been heavily engaged in this also so the two are working together to share what they learn and show off their projects.  This girl has definite potential to be a computer programmer and I couldn’t be more thrilled. 😀

I sent Bee a link to http://ywp.nanowrimo.org/ on November 2nd.  She jumped at the chance to participate.  I helped her set up her account, showed her how to use the forums and let her loose.  We went with the default 50,000 word count, what the adults use.  Several times she’s come asking if maybe we should reduce it.  I encouraged her to keep it, that she could do it.  A week or so later, she’s glad we left her goal 50,000 because she really thinks she can do it! 

And Zee?  Well, yeah, he’s still reading like a madman.  I wasn’t able to get the 3rd Harry Potter book from the library ( can you believe they don’t have copies which aren’t out or lost?!) so that’s on hold. Meanwhile he’s whipping through every other book we own. 

Many of the earlier chapter books he sorta skipped over.  He wanted to get to the ‘good’ stuff already!  So now that’s he’s a proficient reader, he’s going back  to check them all out.  He’s read every Junie B. Jones book we own and several more from the library.  He’s read each and every picture book we own.  He’s working his way through the chapter book shelf right now. 

His birthday is in a couple of weeks.  What does he want?  His very own Kindle so he can read even more! 

I know for a fact that if my kids were in school, they wouldn’t have this much time to devote to all these important things.   I’m soooo glad I can give them this opportunity to explore, perfect and enjoy their favorite things.  🙂

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Soft Start

August 25, 2011

Amidst the chaos of starting a difficult diet with Adrian, we’ve also begun our homeschool year.  I learned the hard way in years past that a ‘soft start’ is best.  Even the short vacation we take during the summer is enough to put everyone’s brains into hibernation. 

I’ve started the kids out with about 1/2 of what will be their normal work load. I’ll slowly bring that up over the next couple of weeks.  By September we’ll be fully up to speed.

So what have we been doing?  Well, we’re looking at US history between the years 1776 and 1800 this month.  Zee’s read biographies about George Washington, they’ve all watched several episodes of Liberty’s Kids and the girls have seen several of the lessons on this site.

The kids have undertaken several other projects that relate to this time period including building a suspension bridge (the first modern day suspension bridge was built during this time), eating cupcakes (the first mention of this treat was in a cookbook written around this time)  and learning to play Yankee Doodle on their instruments.

 The girls have started the Integrated Algebra course.  Already that Algebra Unplugged book has come in handy in explaining things in a different way. 

The girls are back to working on essays.  We’re reviewing good outlining practices together.  The girls are writing persuasive essays from either a federalist or anti-federalist viewpoint on a topic that would have been pertinent at the Philadelphia convention.

Everyone did some vocabulary/grammar workbook stuff, looked at the art of John Trumbull, made some things with clay and had several hours of PE time.

Beyond that we’re just trying to keep Adrian busy and calm till school starts back up for him.  That’s a job all by itself.

Sunday’s School Prep

February 13, 2011

Haven’t done a Sunday’s School Prep post in a long, long time.  But I’ve been back to doing my prep work on Sundays for a while now.  Once the week begins, the pace quickly picks up and I find myself with 3 students wandering the halls (of our house) and the principal (Dad) wants to see their hall pass (where are you supposed to be and what are you supposed to be doing instead of playing outside my office door) and then say they say they don’t know cause the teacher (Mom) didn’t tell them. 

Um, yeah.  Not good. 😛

SO, here’s what’s going in the folders for the week…

7th graders 

Vocabulary and Language Arts: A couple of pages from Words, Words, Words and a couple of pages from Grammar.  The Grammar book, having been published back in 1984 (when I was in 4th grade), talks about subordinating conjunctions and adverbial clauses like everyone knows what the heck those are.  The girls usually find themselves doing a Google search on the grammar terms first since I’m quite candid about the fact I don’t know what a coordinating conjunction is or how to tell if a sentence is complex or compound… and yeah, and it’s good for ’em to look it up!  😛

Spelling: Can I tell you that I haven’t done spelling with the girls in MONTHS?!  I admit it.  Is it a bad thing?  Maybe.  But then again, maybe not.  Really, I think the vocabulary is far more important.  Hardly anything is handwritten any more and spell check is everywhere.  Heck, I personally use online dictionaries all the time because I’m a notoriously bad speller myself.   The written work they hand it shows they know how to use the spelling tools and other than occasionally mixing up some homonyms, they’re not making horrible spelling errors.  So I guess it’s likely we won’t be returning to the weekly spelling … least till the Principal finds out 😛

Writing:  Unlike spelling, writing is not a subject I’m willing to let slide.  For me, this is probably the single most important thing I want my kids to learn.  Writing well makes up for a multitude of sins in a multitude of careers and real life situations.  It’s important.  But it’s also the area where I most feel like I’m beating my head against the wall.  I’ve been teaching the girls how to write a well organized essay since they came home in second grade.  We’ve used the outline charts, we’ve outlined together, I’ve gone over assignments one on one with them over and over till it’s right and we’ve discussed at length the importance of each part of the essay.  I’ve sat next to them and written with them and sent them to write with Dad hoping a different perspective or some different explanation might do the trick. They’ve written literally hundreds of pieces over these past 5 years and I still feel like this isn’t something they’ve mastered. 

I admit I’m entirely frustrated by this.  So when I saw the Teaching the Essay program from Analytical Grammar, I jumped on it.  I’m going through this with the girls now as our only writing work (other than a short current event summary).  Not only is it great for teaching the organization every essay should have but it’s got the bonus of being geared towards writing a literary essay, something I’d hate to have to teach on my own.  Fingers crossed this means the end of poorly organized writing….

Science:  Speaking of things I’ve taught over and over… Bee asked this past week, “Where do the clouds go when the sky is blue?”  Um.  Yeah.  We’ve covered weather/clouds/water cycle officially in 2nd grade and 4th grade and twice on vacation trips as well.  Oh, and just this past summer she was reading books on the water cycle to the 1st grader as part of his introduction to this topic.  DOH!

So I’ve rounded up some internet sites and experiments including this and this.  Next week we can review the answer to her follow up question… “Why is the sky blue?”

Social Studies: We’re slowly working our way through American history. Last week  the girls finished their colonial life projects. 

Gee investigated money, how merchants operated and what was traded between the American colonies and England.  Her project included a collections of items that represented what a peddler might have sold and a trade map, complete with 3D boats to show the flow of goods and resources across the Atlantic. 

Bee researched all things food.  She made a diorama of an ice house and some very yummy cookies.  Both girls casually explained all they’d learned about their topics.

This week we’ll continue moving through the early to mid-1700’s.  We’ve already looked at the life of Benjamin Franklin some in exploring his scientific interests but we’ll continue learning more about him and his publications.  Also on the hold list at the library are books about Thomas Paine, the Salem witch trials, the Great Awakening and Fort Ticonderoga. 

We’re gearing up for our study of the Revolutionary War… which should be particularly interesting given how we’ve been watching Tunisa and Egypt’s revolutions in current events.

Math:  It’s that time of year again when I start anticipating the annual standardized test.  Looking at the math section, there’s a few topics we haven’t covered yet.  Of course, that’s mostly because Math-U-See follows a different order in teaching some things.  But I’m taking the opportunity to go over them now so they’ll be familiar with everything come test time.

Then finally, they have daily music practice, weekly music lessons, daily reading, art, physical education and homeschool co-op meets this week too!  Yikes!

1st Grade

Oh, this is so much easier 😛  

 Zee’s got his usual 1st/2nd grade math and  language arts workbooks, math flash card practice, reading, art, music, physical education and spelling.    Homeschool co-op gives us a bonus in reading, physical education and science.  Last week he watched the video on Colonial era wars with the girls and this week he’ll probably get in on some of the history stuff they do as well.

 

Introduction to the MMO

November 3, 2010

Almost 3 years ago I wrote about how I wished I could somehow share the MMO experience with the girls.   Besides the safety concerns I had back when they were 9, there was also the matter of cost. 

Fortunately, Lord of the Rings Online has recently gone free to play.  That coupled with my husband’s interest in trying it out led me to decide that this might be a good time to introduce the girls to the joys of playing a MMORPG. 

This past weekend we all created our characters and began our journey into Middle Earth.  The girls spent some time reading the wikis to choose their race and classes.  They read and tried to follow suggested naming conventions for each character as well. 

They were already familiar with many of the game concepts and lore from their exposure to the Lord of the Rings books and films as well as other similar games such as Neverwinter Nights 2.  I’d hoped to stick together, thereby increasing my fun and easing my doubts about letting them loose in a game full of other people, not all of them nice.  But they couldn’t wait to explore this new world and each took off in their own direction leaving my husband and I to quest together alone.

It didn’t come as a surprise to find that they each had a different style of game play.  Gee is like her father and jumped right into fighting and crafting, learning a lot about all the different skills quickly.  She leveled at a fair pace and while she earned quite a bit of money, she also spent it on skills and equipment as quickly as it came in.

 Bee takes after me and prefers to spend her time exploring the world and imagining her character to life.  Yes, it seems she has that dreaded roleplaying bug.  She’s spent a good deal of her game time trying to figure out what her character’s goals in life are, opening up MS Word to begin a journal for him and thinking about how to write about his adventures.

To aid in our in game communication, we’ve set up a kinship which allows us to be in a chat room together.  We also set up accounts on X-Fire so we could voice chat from the different rooms in which we play.  So far it’s been a lot of fun for all of us.  🙂

Advertising Savvy

November 10, 2008

So as we explore the cost of living the girls are seeing a lot of ads.  They’re decoding the help wanted ads in the newspaper, the apartment ads in the renter’s guide, ads for cars and car insurance, ads for various utilities packages, etc.

It’s a perfect time to do a little tangent study about advertising.  The Federal Trade Commission has a site directed at kids on this very topic.  You Are Here is cute and has some good activities and information.  But I wonder if the kids will pick up on the fact that the site is, in some ways, just an ad for the FTC. 😛

One of the great things about homeschooling is the ability to continue on a topic even when we’ve covered all that was planned.  As soon as we ‘finished’ our election studies I found this great game on the Cable in the Classroom site.   I don’t know how long they’ll keep the site up, but for now if you want to know what my girls are doing when the ‘school work’ is done for the day….you’ll find them running for President over and over and over….. 🙂

Election Study and Detours

October 23, 2008

We’ve been focusing most of our time and energy on election studies these past couple of weeks.  I’ve been using some of the materials from Lydia’s wonderful unit study over at Little Blue School.  Last year, when we began discussing the election, we found the girls were very interested in the subject.  They wanted to create their own campaigns and have our own family election.  As luck would have it, Lydia’s study walks through that process.  Thank you Little Blue School!

As we’ve explored various issues, detours of interest have presented themselves.  When talking about wars, the girls expressed interest in learning more about World War II.  We’ve also discussed and read about the different sides of the abortion issue.  Other topics we’ve touched on include the environment, education and health care.  The girls are quickly learning that these are all complicated issues with no one right answer.  We’ve got multiple political parties and many different opinions represented right here in our own family so the girls are getting different takes on all of them and forming their own opinions about the direction they think is best.

With all the great detours and information this study has brought us, I think I’m just going to ignore the dates on my homeschool plan and just let it continue till we’ve exhausted their enthusiasm. 🙂