If we value the pursuit of knowledge, we must be free to follow wherever that search may lead us. ~ Adlai Stevenson

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Wordy Wednesday... Either/Or... And a Prodigy review...

It's that time of year again, when I start thinking "well, what if we did this?" or "we could do this...". So I've basically come up with an Option A and an Option B+.

For both options, regardless:
  • Math
  • Language Arts
  • Literature

Then, Option A would simply be to continue as is... basically unschooling all other subjects, following interests, etc.

  • The kids get to figure out what they are interested in, and explore it
  • Flexibility
  • Empowerment
  • They tend to jump around from subject to subject sometimes, which can make getting resources in a timely fashion hard
  • Lack of follow-through
  • Sometimes even they feel they're not "doing" or "learning" enough!

Option B is a little more "schooly". We would use The Big History Project for history*, and this awesome science book (biology) that I found, called Life on Earth**.

  • More organized
  • Might get around to more projects in science, as they are part of the text
  • Would introduce The Boy to a good study of biology (he's always been the physics guy here), and would introduce The Girl to more biology than animals
  • Could develop a better understanding of history as a whole
  • Having to follow through!
  • Less room for rabbit trails
*Other options for history that are under consideration would include Hakim's Story of Science series, OR K12's World History: Our Human Story, the latter of which we could read from just once a week, leaving room for rabbit trails the rest of the time.

**I think we're most likely to use the biology text mentioned if we do formal science, but I'm also considering science tied in with history, if we use The Big History Project or Hakim's Story of Science

Anyhow, I obviously need to think on this some more! In the meantime, let's talk about Prodigy, the free interactive math game I found through a message board recently. The Girl took the placement test a few days ago (which is within the framework of the game, so she didn't even realize it was a placement test!), and then she's worked with it twice since. For hours, literally. The first day after the placement test, she spent about two or three hours doing math, and yesterday, another 2 hours, roughly. Maybe a little more, maybe a little less....

She's worked on multiplication, division, mode, median, angles, addition, subtraction, perimeter, and more during those hours. Yesterday, I found I could give her assignments too, to focus on a skill area I think she needs help with! And, when I login, I can see how well she did on the assignment, and exactly which problems she struggled with. After she completes the assignment, she can move into free play, and that's where she's getting an intro to geometry, fraction work, and a lot more. She has to answer math questions to move ahead through the game, defeating various creatures with math, and collecting new "pets" along the way.

I think we'll finish out our year with her working on this, and she can play it over the summer. In the fall.. well, we'll see!

I feel like I'm on one of these!

Friday, April 22, 2016

Weekly Wrap-Up... Rain, Gardening, Books, & More!

It is pouring outside! And we might have a thunderstorm mid-day! Since we seem to be living in a "state" (pun intended) of perpetual drought these days, I don't mind the rain. And that means we have an afternoon at home, rather than the park, to play a little catch-up!

From one of my morning walks this week

...Homeschooling This Week...

The Boy is making progress with one and two step equations in algebra, while The Girl and I played Totally Tut yesterday. I think we may play it again today, and I want her to work on multiplication and division facts with Circles & Stars (up to four dice). Remedial work, yes, but once she's really got this stuff down, I know (from experience teaching her addition and subtraction) that she'll make a big leap, mathematically speaking. And I found something that looks awesome for a little later on... the Interactive Mathematics Program (samples here). In the meantime, I think she might try Prodigy (online free math-wizarding game).

The Girl is making great progress through her spelling book too.

We did some reading from Outbreak! Plagues That Changed History, learning about the Black Death, and how it shifted the balance of power in feudal society. I'd definitely recommend this book for a different view of world history—lots of interesting tidbits, and a good, conversational writing tone.

And of course we watched some Downton Abbey, which led to a discussion on mourning practices. 

The Boy has been reading lots of recent articles on Hawking Radiation, Planet X, and other space phenomena. He keeps me up to date on what he's learned! The Girl has cycled back to her sea creature fascination, and at the same time, very sadly pointed out to  me this week that she does not remember ever visiting a zoo. I plan to remedy that in a couple of weeks, when M's day off cycles back to a Saturday.

Today's agenda includes math, spelling, nailing down The Boy's essay topic, A Wind in the Door, and the first chapter of DNA. And possibly an early evening trip to the indoor trampoline park! The Boy and I are also planning on watching Contact tonight, while The Girl and M watch Drop Dead Fred. We'll do a family movie tomorrow!

...Everything Else This Week...

The Boy misplaced The Martian, so he's working on finishing Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, book 1. The Girl is deep in Harry Potter. I am reading The Longest Night, a novel centered around the 1961 nuclear disaster in Idaho Falls, and The Sisters: The Saga of the Mitford Family, which is just fascinating!

The Boy had parkour last night, and has decided he needs to strength train more at home. The Girl had derby practice, and said it was really tough, as they were (finally) learning some new skills this week. I tried out kickboxing, did a HIIT workout, and worked on my running.

My plantings/transplantings from last Sunday seem to be doing well, and I am sure the rain will help! Tomorrow, we're picking up a few tomato plants, herbs, and pepper plants... at last. It turns out it is just as well that we did not get them sooner, as we had a freak late frost last week that killed a lot of people's veggie starts. We're not doing a big veggie garden right off the bat. Instead, we're starting slowly and adding things in over time. I'm hoping to get a lot more done in the front yard too!

...Goals for Next Week...

Math, of course. And spelling for The Girl, and some writing/grammar for her. Some light essay work for The Boy, and I think I'll have him try out Excavating English with the two-week free sample, as I bet he'd really enjoy it. I'm hoping during our Sunday lessons, that we can either finally watch another episode of Human Planet, or work in Mapping the World with Art (or both?!?). And we need to get going next week with The Private Eye! All this means a trip to the store for spiral bound sketchbooks.

My other goal: more of our Afternoon Basket read-alouds!

Hope you all had a good week, and that you have a great weekend!