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

Friday, March 18, 2011

A Weekly Review...

Overall it has been a good week. As usual, I changed a few things, we tried a couple of new things, and so forth. But I think the changes I made were good ones, and that we can stick with them a while.

Language Arts
Cyrus has dropped Writing Tales. While we love the simplicity of the grammar portions, re-writing their stories week after week was a drag for him. It made him reluctant to even start writing. Instead, we are trying a combination of Intermediate Language Lessons and free writing (with prompts). When Scholastic had their great $1 download sale, I picked up a bunch of writing prompt books and so I am using some of those. For example, there is a comic strip one. Cyrus had to read the Peanuts comic strip at the top, which involved Lucy making quite an excuse for missing a catch, and then come up with 10 more excuses. He loved this exercise, as he got to be very creative. Maybe I'll write a second post and give you his excuses! ILL has been working well too. The assignments are more varied than Writing Tales - he did a picture study, made a rule for capital letters for proper nouns, read and copied a poem (and is working on memorization), and is working on a story. He also worked on ie/ei words on Spelling City. I never have trouble getting him to do his spelling now!

Cassia... well, I wrote a short time ago about the struggle we are having with reading, and now I feel absolutely terrible. I think a large part of it is my fault, the inconsistancy OR maybe it is just that she is finally ready to learn this stuff. My mom and I have been drilling her with flash cards, having her do ClickNKids lessons (we started back at lesson 1), and reviewing the ClickNKids letters on Starfall, and guess what? In one week, she has gone from knowing about 8 letters of the alphabet to knowing, yesterday, 21 of the 26. Seriously. So we've dropped ETC for now, and The Reading Lesson. I did add in Primary Language Lessons though, which she is mainly doing by narration. This week she did a picture study, read and copied a poem, and we discussed proper use of "is" and"are". I like the gentlness of this program.

Cyrus focused on multiplication this week, mainly three's, six's, and nine's. He is surprised at how quickly he is learning the entire table! I had him fill out as much of a blank one as he could, and he was pleasantly shocked at how little he has left to memorize. After he gets this down, we'll move onto geometry for a while and then we'll tackle division, after which we'll finish up our school year with double digit multiplication and division, all in preparation for Life of Fred in the fall. He has looked at the sample pages on Polka Dot Publishing several times, and is very excited about Fred! I think I have decided to use the Key To... series to supplement this.

Cassia has spent the week working on a unit in place value. She does her workpages very quickly when she wants to! Next week we'll cycle back into addition facts, followed by subtraction facts, and finally a unit on money. Listening to Cyrus work through his times tables seems to be rubbing off too... I think by the time she gets there, she'll have no trouble with these! I'm just trying right now to have her develop a good, strong base for future math. We'll probably stick with Math Mammoth in the fall, although I am trying to decide between the Blue and Light Blue series.

We started the week with episode 1 of America: The Story of US. I know a lot of people had complaints about this series (too many "famous" people voicing their opinions, the series moves too fast, etc.), but for us it works! The kids love the graphics - houses building themselves, etc. - and it provides a great introduction to a lot of American history... I even learned some things they never taught me in school, way back in the day. It definately got the kids extremely interested in colonial times! I also started printing out and prepping Colonial Life lessons from Homeschool in the Woods. This unit looks much more interesting than New World Explorers turned out to be (which essentially was 23 explorer profiles with a few games and crafts thrown in... sorry, not trying to be harsh). The colonial one has dioramas, pop-up houses, cooking, sewing, and much, much more. It covers all the kinds of things I always wanted to know in history; not just the famous people/events, but the day-to-day life of everyday people. You can read a little more about our history this week here. They also watched the first episode of Liberty's Kids... gotta love streaming Netflix!

We didn't get to much of this! Since I already have it downloaded, I am thinking of having Cyrus use Mr. Q's Earth and Space science for a while. It is written in a really humorous fashion, which I know he enjoys. For Cassia, we are waiting on her ladybug kit, which she is really, really looking forward to. M also got an ant farm - we're just waiting on ants. Oh, and Cyrus's wolf spider turned out to be a female and this week she made her egg sack. Both kids reported that it is just like seeing Charlotte's web come to life!

Cyrus continues to blaze his way through the How to Train Your Dragon series. He is now on book six. He is also making himself a tiny dictionary of "Dragonese" from the books. He's also looking forward to book 4 in the Percy Jackson series.

Cassia and I went through another couple of chapters in both Ramona the Brave and Little House in the Big Woods. I need to check on the shipping of my Amazon order since we're anxious to get our Little House paper dolls and activity book. I put the cookbook on hold at the library.

Together, we read from both Stuart Little and The Phantom Tollbooth this week. I read two chapters from the second at my mom's house yesterday, and she gave me quite a compliment, telling me that I read aloud very well and it is a pleasure to listen to!

In social studies, we watched Little Buddha this week. Cassia loved the scenes in India, and Cyrus loved the entire film. He is intrigued by Buddhists, reincarnation, and so on. Next week we have our international potluck, which this month is focused on India. I wonder what next month will be? We also got another postcard from another state yesterday, which has renewed our interest in exchanging postcards across the country (a fun form of geography).

Wow, all this and we took a day off yesterday! It has been a good week, hopefully next week will be too! Today, we have on the agenda math, ILL/PLL, phonics, and a book about the spring equinox. Nice and simple work on a very rainy day.


  1. Sounds like a good productive week. My son is a reluctant writer so I've been using Writing Tales with him, but he's really bored with it. He already knows the grammar so he's mostly just reading the stories and writing the summaries, but he complains the whole time. I need to look for something that he'll find more interesting. Glad you've found something that's working better.

  2. Wow! You did get a lot done this week!! It always feels so good to accomplish so much, doesn't it?


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