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

Friday, February 21, 2014

Life is a Seesaw...

A combination of looking ahead, and another week in review...

Up and down, up and down. I posted the other day a link to the idea of Tidal Homeschooling, and I have to say, I think our own is more like a seesaw these days!

I wrote in that post that "I need to remember, especially when all the "planning" comes up, to remember to focus instead on goals, and then on what tools we will use to get there, instead of the other way around."

So we talked, about what they want to do, and where they want to go in the next year, and what I want for them as well. And how we get from where we are now, to there. It was a good, and deep conversation.

The Boy
Math... Now:
He's still working hard on Life of Fred. I asked him if he felt he needed just a little supplementation, specifically on fractions, and he said yes, so I went ahead and ordered the Key to Fractions set, which are very straightforward, well conceived, and inexpensive! When the time comes, I'll get the Key to Decimals and Key to Percents books as well.

Math...Coming Up:
He absolutely fell in love with some samples of the Art of Problem Solving Prealgebra that I showed him the other day. We looked at the placement test, and decided that a combination of Fred and the Keys to... would definitely get him prepared for this text. He wants something that is challenging, but not totally overwhelming. With possible goals of engineering or physics, he realizes that he needs a solid math background. AoPs is supposed to be very strong, and The Boy is intrigued by the discovery method that they use. I like that they have online support and extensions!

Language Arts... Now:
He worked on a couple of exercises from Thinking in Threes this week, and then a Brave Writer free-writing challenge. I told him that next week, he is going to take the [very] short story he wrote, and use it as an outline to expand upon. I want him to brainstorm, add detail, polish it, and make it a longer piece. He agreed! We both feel good right now about using a multitude of resources to hit different angles in writing. I might also pull out the Winston Grammar that has been sitting in my closet, and let him try it out.

In reading, he started The Hunger Games, and is completely hooked. We watched the movie last Friday, after the kids asked me about it, since, along with Dr. Who, it is something that comes up frequently at park day. As soon as the movie was over, The Boy turned to me and asked if there was a book - you should have seen his face when I told him there were three! He also started I, Robot this week, and loves it as well.

Language Arts... Coming Up:
We're going to continue this path. I love the idea of the many writing tools I own as just that, tools in a toolkit, and we can choose whichever one suits our needs at the moment. I want him to be able to write a basic research paper, a very solid essay, and a decent short story by the end of his eighth grade year. Free reading will continue to be just that, free choice, though I plan to continue making suggestions now and then! Maybe some word roots, etc., as well.

The Girl
Math... Now:
She moved into the next Fred book (Goldfish) and then asked if that could just be "extra, fun math", because once again she misses Saxon. I told her that will be just fine, and we'll get back to that this upcoming week. I am also looking at supplemental multiplication resources to help her memorize her times tables more thoroughly.

Math... Coming Up:
I think she'll stick with a combination of Saxon and maybe Life of Fred for fall.

Language Arts... Now:
We worked this week on endings and suffixes this week. I bought a new white board, so we could use different colors to work out words. This approach seems to help! She also read a few passages from Reading Pathways, and then I dictated some of the words she had read to her for spelling. She also wrote I don't know how many short stories, and she started keeping a journal! I am going to check out The Writing Road to Reading from the library to look for useful tips. I am hoping that next week we will get around to rewriting and illustrating one of her many stories, or maybe two of them! And I want her to try reading aloud from an actual book next week. I picked up a couple of Cam Jansen books at the library because they are a) below her current level so they shouldn't be too hard, and b) she likes girl detectives!

Language Arts... Coming Up:
I'd like to tackle grammar with her more next year, and I think she would do best with Grammar-Land: Or Grammar in Fun for the Children of Schoolroomshire. We've read the first and second chapters before, but never got past that! We might also use the free worksheets, as The Girl does seem to thrive on worksheets. I also want her to work on writing narrations, spelling, and writing a solid paragraph. We will continue, of course, to work on reading fluency. As for fre reading, well... let's just say I hope there will be some! (She still says she is just NOT interested in reading, though she knows that she needs to know how)

Everything Else...Now: 
The Boy watched another couple of lectures from How Things Work (Coursera), and read about Archimedes in Breakthroughs in Science. He worked on some soft-body physics/animations on the computer, and rebuilt a scooter. He carefully started turning an old water pistol into a Steampunk work of art, and made a miniature Steampunk double-barrel canon that he and his dad are going to try to actually make work.

The Girl and I read some more about Kaya/Native Americans in Welcome to Kaya's World. We read about seals, and finished up The Quest for the Tree Kangaroo. She spent a lot of time writing! She made a map for The Hunger Games, with the arena, Capitol City, all the districts, and so on (all out of her own imagination, not from any guide or anything). She helped my mom make some more jam -- pear-cardomom and blood-orange marmelade.

Together we watched another episode of Mankind: The Story of Us All. We read about Santa Sophia in The Complete Book of Marvels, and we read another chapter in Harry Stottlemeier's Discovery. We learned about the Mycenaeans, and the battle of Troy in The Ancient Greek World, enjoyed a couple more chapters from Black Ships Before Troy, and several more chapters from A Wrinkle in Time (which had the side effect of causing The Boy to spend maybe half an hour staring off into nothing with a very dazed look on his face. When I asked him what he was doing, he said "I'm trying to cube a cube and then cube that in my head. It's not working though.").

Everything Else...Coming Up:
I also want them to continue following their own interests. Next week, The Boy will start reading a biography of Henry Ford biography of Nikola Tesla, and The Girl and I will be reading about Sacajawea. I think I'll just fall back on a variation of this (my variations shown below the quote) fr history and science...
On each library visit, I had them check out the following books: one science book, one history book, one art or music appreciation book, one practical book (a craft, hobby, or "how-to"), a biography or autobiography, a classic novel (or adaptation suited to age), an imaginative storybook. They were allowed to choose the titles, but I asked them to follow this pattern. And they were also allowed to check out other books on any topic they pleased.

So what I am thinking, if we go this route, is one science book, one history AND/OR biography or autobiography, a classic or just plain-good novel, one practical book per month, and then one-two books of choice (free reading) each with some sort of output at the end (except the free reading). A picture, a narration, an experiment, a craft... We already cover poetry as a family, and music and art appreciation, which is why I am not including those in the list.

And I think, at least at the moment, that we will keep our Afternoon Basket going, though naturally I'll be switching out some books!

So To Wrap It All Up...
I am basically planning on purchasing next-to-nothing for fall at this point. Yes, I will have to buy the AoPs text, and plenty of craft supplies. But, everything else we already have, or we can get from the library. I have a few things to buy in the meantime, and a few books I would like to read over again in preparation, but our path is looking pretty good right now!

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