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

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Weekly Report... 3/26-3/30... Books & More Books...

I've been influenced heavily this week by some fantastic discussions over at The Well Trained Mind forums, discussions that led me to the Great Books Academy (where I found this schedule) and the Circe Institute.

What I have taken away from all the conversation is that reading good books can be the center of our homeschooling, that I don't need to tie every book I read aloud to our history studies, that beauty and truth should be central themes in homeschooling/life. I then purged my library hold lists, and piles of books, of all the so-so books I had gotten simply because they fit into our history or science studies.

And we're reading... a lot.

Literature this Week
  • The Red Fairy Book, by Andrew Lang - This has some of our favorite, familiar stories, so if you're going to read through the Fairy books, this is a good place to start. Amazon has them all for free for Kindle!
  • Johnny Tremain, by Esther Forbes (yes, a history related book that made it through the purge!) We just started this, but the kids seem to be enjoying it so far.
  • Knight's Castle, by Edward Eager. A fabulous bedtime book! It has gotten the kids interested in Robin Hood and Ivanhoe! I'll think we'll follow this up with Eager's The Time Garden.
  • We finished The Phantom Tollbooth, by Norman Juster (audio book), and have started The Cricket in Times Square, by George Selden. I have to say that The Phantom Tollbooth is one of the best audio books we've listened to yet! Plenty of information and humor, packed into one adventurous book.
  • I'm reading the second book in the All of a Kind Family series, by Sydney Taylor, to Cricket. The setting works well with our audio book, and it is a series she really enjoys.
  • Bug is finishing The Lost Hero, by Rick Riordan, and he has started Abel's Island, by William Steig, at my request. I loved Abel's Island as a kid, and am hoping he'll enjoy it too!

Language Arts
  • Bug is working on an alliterative poem (of sorts) assignment I gave him - I will make sure to share it when he is done! I came up with this after he spent two days rambling off alliterative sentences, so I asked him to write one down for every letter of the alphabet. This biggest stumbling block has been "K", because so many descriptive words that start with the k sound actually are spelled with a "C".
  • Cricket and I worked in Phonics Pathways some more this week. I think this book is just what she needs right now! The early work in it is going quickly, since it is review. My goal is to finish it with her by the end of summer.

  • We decided just this week that we are going to go back to Teaching Textbooks in the fall. We miss the ease, and thoroughness, of it. So I printed out the placement tests for grades 4 and 6, and now am deciding which lessons from Math Mammoth's Blue Series should be done to get the kids ready.
  • Cricket did some work on place value this week, using our base 10 blocks, while Bug focused on a little more division.
  • We read another 2 chapters in Life of Fred: Apples. We'll likely keep Life of Fred as a supplement to Teaching Textbooks in the fall.

  • They watched several episodes of How It's Made. Bug is interested in silver-smithing (thanks to Johnny Tremain), so I am going to see if there are any metal-working episodes.
  • We are watching the bird's nest out the master bedroom window, which this year has house finches. We think the female is laying her eggs, but don't want to get too close in order to find out. I started reading from The Burgess Bird Book for Children again.
  • We have weekend plans for a couple of experiments from The Book of Totally Irresponsible Science. There is one in particular that caught their interest... turning milk to stone! (From what I remember in glancing at it, it involves milk and vinegar)

  • We watched episode two of America: The Story of US, which was focused on the American Revolution. It led to a lot of good discussion! We talked about the winter at Valley Forge, inoculations, guns, military strategy, the American flag, and more! I learned a fair amount from this episode as well.
  • We read in Johnny Tremain, as mentioned under Literature.
  • We read George Versus George: The Revolutionary War as Seen by Both Sides, by Rosalyn Schanzer, over the weekend. Yes, another book to make it through the purging! I like that actual quotes from both Georges are part of the story.

  • We read some more in Richard Halliburton's book... The Complete Book of Marvels. This week's chapters were on the Grand Canyon and the Boulder (aka Hoover) Dam. Bug then suggested that we look at these two marvels on Google Earth, which was better than just locating them on a map/globe!

  • Well, let's see... there was a lot of drawing, and some paper crafting.
  • Some watching of the animated Sabrina the Teenage Witch series (Cricket), and Life After People (Bug).
  • We started planning for next year, and as a family, I think we have made some good decisions! Still not sure whether we want to do this, or just continue our haphazard way through history. Think I'll make my decision when I have the actual guide (linked above) in my hands.
  • I've been reading more this week too. I started Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis, and read all of Heart and Soul by Maeve Binchy, who firmly remains one of my all-time favorite authors. Her books are both touching and very humorous at the same time. I also wrapped up another reading of up the Earth's Children series, by Jean M. Auel, and have to say I am very disappointed with book six, The Land of the Painted Caves. The entire middle of the book is descriptions of cave after cave, and nothing gets resolved with the characters. One of the main characters, Jondular, is reduced to a very small overall part in the book. I was so unhappy with it that I went back and immediately re-read books four and five (Plains of Passage, Shelters of Stone) to get the bad flavor from book six out of my mind. I don't know if I want a book seven or not, not that it seems likely there will be one!
  • Bug did well in piano this week. He has fewer pieces to work on in the upcoming week, but they are more complex. He also needs to finish writing a piece he's been working on.
And that's our week! I hope you had a good one - you can share it over at Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers' Weekly Wrap-up!

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