Wrapping Up Week 3 (2014-15)

weekly wrap-up

Our school year is in full swing, and so far everything’s running smoothly.  We’ve even managed to get in a few extras like art and Spanish now that we’ve settled into a regular routine with our basic subjects.


P1030515We finished Wisdom and the Millers and read the first three chapters of Prudence and the Millers, along with Proverbs 14:11-29.  This book talks about making healthy choices and what the Bible says about caring for our bodies, so part of me is wishing I’d saved it for when we study the human body in science next term, but I think if we keep only reading a chapter a day we’ll still be in it then.  Ian’s been begging to get out our new microscope, so we used the lesson on being sick as a good excuse to pull it out and look at a slide of bacteria (and a bunch of other things!)

This was our last week of Long Story Short by Marty Machowski!  We read the story of Nehemiah (and did the corresponding research in Bible Road Trip).  We started this journey almost 2 years ago, and it feels so good to finish the whole book!  There are 78 weeks of lessons, but we took time off for things like Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, and when we moved.  This book has really blessed our family.  Eric and I are actually using parts of it for the 5th grade Sunday School class we’re teaching this year because it’s taught our family so much.


Ian started Year 2 of the Mathematics Enhancement Programme.  Right now it’s review so the lessons are pretty easy for him.  I’m trying to get back in the habit of doing the full lesson plan with him and not just the practice book pages.   (During our VBS week we kept doing those but dropped all the other parts of the lessons.)  He actually enjoys those parts the best, and I’m finding it easier to include them now that I printed out all the lesson plans rather than just reading them on my Kindle.

As I’ve researched MEP a little more I’ve found that although schools in the UK use Year 1 as the equivalent of Kindergarten like we did (with 5-6 year olds), the Hungarian schools (where it was originally developed) use Reception that year and hold off on Year 1 until the students are 6-7 years old.  Currently Ian’s doing well with where I’ve placed him, but now that I know I’ve got him on the really advanced end of the spectrum I won’t hesitate to slow down and give him time to catch up if it looks like things are getting too challenging.

Literature (Ambleside Online)

We’re back to reading from A Child’s Garden of Verses each morning.  In the readings from AO Year 1, “Beauty and the Beast” in The Blue Fairy Book was a highlight of our week.  It had been years since I read the original story, and so much of it had been replaced in my memory by the Disney version (which I also love).  This was a story that really captured Ian’s attention.  At one point I paused to take care of Nicholas, and he begged me to continue, afraid I was putting it down for the day.  I kept reading a little more when I was able, but it was a really long story and we ended up splitting it over two days.

Part of our Ambleside Online lessons is narration, which means the child repeating what they heard back in their own words.  It’s an important part of the learning process and helps the child really process the information that’s being read.  Narration is new for Ian, and some days he does better than others.  I’m reading through a blog series from Simply Charlotte Mason hoping to find some ways to encourage him.

In Lightning Literature (review coming next week) our story was Caps for Sale (one of our favorites!)  The grammar lessons moved on from capital letters to ending punctuation.  Since we’re finishing up this review, we also went back to Spelling You See, picking up where we ended last year with Week 16 of Level B (Jack and Jill), which fits a little better with our style.

History Cycle

We continued using the lesson subjects from Mystery of History, Vol.1 as a framework for our history studies.  This week it seemed like we did a lot, but Ian and I both enjoyed it.  I didn’t like history class when I was in school, but I’ve always liked reading books about history on my own, so I’m hoping this will be one of Ian’s favorite subjects.  I love bringing the stories alive for him.

The Sumerians

I summarized the information about the Sumerians in Mystery of History, Vol.1 and then read about Sargon the Great in The Story of the World by Susan Wise Bauer.  Ian made a moveable figure of Sargon from Famous Figures of Ancient Times by Cathy Diez-Lucky.  He really liked that project, so I let him make the one for Narmer, the pharoah who united Upper and Lower Egypt as well.  (We read about him over our summer break.)


P1030507Ian played with those figures throughout the day.  As he showed them to Elijah I asked him to tell about each man, helping him to remember some of the key things we had read.  He couldn’t wait to show Daddy and tell him about these men as soon as he got home.  He’s already asking when he can put more of them together, so it will be fun getting to find lessons on the rest of the people in the book.  I had him add them to his history notebook by slipping them into plastic page protectors.

The Tower of Babel

This was a familiar story to Ian, so we didn’t spend a lot of time on it.  We read the biblical account of the Tower of Babel in Genesis 11:1-9 and then talked about languages.  Ian enjoyed listening to Spanish children’s songs while he worked on his notebook pages.

“I can’t understand what they’re saying!” he kept telling me.

“That’s the point!” I reminded him.


The Epic of Gilgamesh

The ancient story of Gilgamesh is included in both Mystery of History and The Story of the World by Susan Wise Bauer.  Rather than reading it from either of those books, however, I chose to use the picture book trilogy by Ludmila Zeman.


On Monday we started with Gilgamesh the King (I wrongly assumed we would have to stretch out the series over the whole week, so I wanted to get a jump on it.)  Ian listened intently and enjoyed the rich illustrations.  We talked about how old legends often have bits of truth in them, but then people also make up details of their own (like about Gilgamesh being half-god).  On Tuesday we read The Revenge of Ishtar, and Ian liked it so much we went ahead and just read The Last Quest of Gilgamesh that day as well.  I’m glad I found these books.  Ian really remembered the stories well and I think they made a much bigger impression than he would have gotten just reading from the MoH text or Story of the World.


So far I am really pleased with my decision to use the God’s Design for Life curriculum from Answers in Genesis for science this year.  Right now we’re just reading the “Beginners” section of each lesson in the textbook, though I look through the section for older kids and point out anything I think would interest Ian.  Although these lessons alone are probably sufficient for a 1st grade level, they’re simple enough that I’m using them as a framework for selecting related books to explore with Ian a little deeper.

This was our last week talking about mammals.  We watched Bill Nye the Science Guy: Mammals, which even Elijah (not usually a fan) really enjoyed.  He caught onto a lot of the “mammal” talk going on this week and was definitely starting to classify things in his head.  Several times throughout the week he’d check with me, “So an elephant is a mammal?”  “So Shamu is a mammal?”  It’s rare for him to show interest in any of our lessons besides math, so I was more than happy to draw him into discussions.

Here’s what Ian and I read to expand on the lessons in the book:

Aquatic Mammals

Ian read If a Dolphin Were a Fish by Loren Wlodarski to me, and then I read him Baby Whales Drink Milk by Barbara Juster Esbensen.  We watched Bill Nye the Science Guy: Marine Mammals (there were several evolutionary references we discussed).  Ian also got out A Whale of a Tale: All About Porpoises, Dolphins, and Whales by Bonnie Worth from The Cat in the Hat’s Learning Library series.



After reading the lesson in The World of Animals, we read About Marsupials by Cathryn Sill.  I usually think of this series as being for younger children, but even I learned a few things from this particular book.  Ian also really enjoyed The Life Cycle of a Koala by Bobbie Kalman.  This is the series we’re starting to use more often because the books have a lot more information.  So far, Ian’s found them fascinating.


For his notebook, Ian finished up his page from last week with a section about whales and then wanted to devote a whole page to marsupials.  We searched for pictures online and printed them out so he could make a collage.

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Now that we’ve finished three weeks of notebooking through our history and science studies, Ian is really enjoying seeing the book he’s creating.  He pulled them out several times this week to flip through the books from beginning to end, reviewing the pages he’s made and remembering what they were about.  I think this is going to be a powerful learning tool for him as well as a wonderful record of what we study.


We finally managed to spend some time in ARTistic Pursuits K-3 Vol. 2: Stories of Artists and Their Art. (We got through the first third last year when we review it, and I’d really like to complete the book.)  Ian’s portrait of Nicholas didn’t turn out quite the way he hoped, but he had fun painting it and learned a valuable lesson.  (Don’t make the background “skin colored” or you won’t be able to see your subject very well!)

The kids really missed our Spanish lessons, so they were glad to go back to the Salsa videos, picking up with #111, which is the fifth in the series of six episodes written around the story of Little Red Riding Hood.  I kept using the Salsa materials from the Wyoming Department of Education with Ian, though I’m starting to be really stretched in my Spanish abilities.  Even though everything is scripted for the teacher, it’s just not rolling off my tongue very well.  I’m determined to push through though, because I think it’s really important for my kids to know Spanish in Southern California.  I’ve definitely seen Ian’s comprehension growing (as well as my own), and I hope I can at least help build a foundation for him to learn the language on his own as he gets older.

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