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

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Our week in review....

It has been a good week, although I must say my idea of having a "school time" hasn't been so successful, which does not mean I'm giving up on it! However, we did homeschool FOUR days this week, which to me is pretty impressive! We generally aim for a 4 day workweek anyhow, so I am happy with this.

Both the kids are moving along in Saxon. I moved each of them forward another 5 lessons with no trouble. Since we did so little the first half of the year, we are "behind" as to where I intended to be by now, but that's okay, since we're making such good progress. I introduced Cyrus to the concept of negative numbers this week, which he thinks is the strangest idea. How can you have less than nothing? I gave him the concrete idea of bank accounts being overdrafted (not that I ever have had any personal experience with that), that when a bank covers a payment you made without there being enough money, you owe them money... you have a negative balance. He seems to get it. We also worked on more regrouping, and a review of borrowing in subtraction.

Cassia is getting better with number identification. I give large credit for this to her Nonna (my mom) who has recently spent patient hours playing Uno with Cassia (and occasionally Cyrus, and sometimes myself). Cassia also loves coloring odds/evens, rows and columns in 100 number charts in different colors, patterns, etc., which I think is good for developing an awareness of the numbers. She is doing well with Saxon, and for some reason I can't quite fathom loves the 5 minute addition/subtraction challenge pages!

Language Arts
Cyrus is continuing to read through the Percy Jackson series... he is on book two now. He skipped his "assigned" reading this week - The Whipping Boy - but we'll get back to that next week. He did some work in Writing Tales, mostly grammar review, and most of that was nouns. I am planning to try him out on Intermediate Language Lessons next week instead, as I think the greater variety of the assignments will be beneficial. I have been struggling lately, planning out his writing path for next year, and looking through ILL, I think I will likely go that route. I like that there are three levels, for fourth through sixth grades, so if it works well with him I don't have to change again for a while! I'll put up a review next week on this and let you know what I think of the change!

Cassia continues to work in Explode the Code and The Reading Lesson. She is doing so well! I dug out our Bob Books from when Cyrus was littler, and she read through the first three with no trouble in under 10 minutes. She getting faster in building comprehension and I think we're ready to move to a whole lesson (from The Reading Lesson) a week, meaning she'll be reading, theoretically, at a second grade level by June! She is even trying to find and put together words she knows in her Ramona books, on street signs, and so forth. I am so excited to see this after all the trouble we have had with reading!!!

We reviewed lesson 1 in New World Explorers, and continued to read through Norse mythology. We didn't do as much as I hoped, in part because we had a lot of other activities this week. I do plan to be more disciplined in this next week. We are planning to bake spice cookies today, as some of the explorers were looking for routes to the Far East for exotic spices.

On Tuesday, I taught my monthly science class through 4H. This month we studied light, color and sound. I explained how sounds travels as vibrations, and how white light is made up of all the colors. I showed them, with a flashlight and the reverse side of a cd, how light is made of the entire rainbow. We made plastic cup phones and straw horns, spinning color wheels, and we found out how many colors there are in washable markers. In addition, the kids watched a couple of hours of Mythbusters, and played physics games on the computer.

Since the second level has been released, I am seriously reconsidering Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding, which I started to use and then abandoned. I went ahead and bought the ebook. I plan to start this in the fall, and between now and then, we'll do the threads from the first book that the author says are basically "prerequisites" for the second volume. I think this will build a more cohesive understanding of science than jumping around in unit studies, although the kids are still welcome to pursue their own scientific interests as well. I think Catherine Levison wrote something about that... that in a Charlotte Mason education, since the lessons are short, there is plenty of outside time for the children to follow their own interests.

We also had an art project this week, making the main portion of some placemats. The kids did wet-on-wet watercolor paintings. During the next two months, we'll gather and press some leaves and wildflowers, which will then be laminated onto the paintings, and presto! Placemats! The kids also got to explore a creekbed, a culvert, a fairy house made of interwoven branches, and a treehouse out back while the paintings started to dry (enough so we could take them home and store them away safely). They had a blast! Unfortunately for Cyrus, the boy he really hit it off with is moving away in a couple of months. I suggested that Cyrus ask him if he would like a penpal (a very practical way to work on writing).

Cyrus had his second piano lesson. He is doing quite well and has moved on to slightly harder songs for next week. He really likes his teacher and is happy to be learning to read music as well as play it. He is really good about practicing.

Cassia moved to a different ballet class this week, as it is easier for my schedule. Her new teacher is seemingly more patient, and is teaching them more advanced work. Cassia seemed able to keep up for the most part and I am sure she'll do better once she settles into the new class. While both classes she's gone to have been for 7-8 year olds, this one seems to have more of the latter and to be more demanding. She really liked her new teacher. as did I (from watching through the big windows and listening).

M is back in school, taking the first part of his paramedic classes. He was really, really nervous the first night, but found he loves it! The class is very hands-on which is a strong point for him, much like his son. I arranged my work schedule so that I could be home with the kids while he is in class, and I am enjoying the once weekly evening to ourselves.

Next week I start back to school. I am nervous about math (statistics) but hopefully I will get through it and then have my bachelor's degree in May, at long looooooong last!

On the whole, it has been a good week. We got most of the work I had planned done, although I would like a better history focus next week, and maybe more science.

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