Tag Archives: AO Year 1

Wrapping Up Week 32 (2014-15)

weekly wrap-up
 This turned out to be a week for finishing things!  We came to the end of several books, and others I decided to just put away to make room for what we’ll be doing for the last month of school.

For the last few weeks I’ve talked about how we’re itching to be done, so I’m really excited about the change we’re making.  We’re getting a chance to review Knights and Nobles, a 4-week unit study from Homeschool Legacy.  Since it integrates all our subjects into a study of one of Ian’s favorite topics, this unit study seemed like the perfect opportunity to end our school year on a positive note.  Plus it will be a fun preview of the medieval part of our history lessons for next year.  As I’m looking over some of the books used in the unit study, I’m finding many I had already bought to go along with Year 2 of our history cycle, (which have been getting the boys excited as they arrived in the mail over the last few weeks), and a trip to the library added to the wealth of great books we’ll get to go through over the next few weeks.

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Bible/Circle Time

We started Little Pilgrim’s Progress way back in January when we started up after Christmas, and this week we finally got to the satisfying ending.  Ian and I both really enjoyed this book, and I know we’ll come back to it with our family as the little ones grow.

We spent a little bit of time each day talking about Holy Week.  Every year our children look forward to going through the Resurrection Eggs over and over.  The older boys enjoy opening the eggs as we read through Benjamin’s Box.  Arianna gets more out of watching Miss Patty Cake’s Egg-stravaganza and reading the book that goes along with it (The Story of the Resurrection Eggs in Rhyme and Song).  I find the DVD a bit cheesy, but it’s full of songs and Resurrection Eggs and all my kids enjoy it, from Ian (7) down to Nicholas (1), so we watch it several times each year.

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Arianna also enjoyed reading The Easter Story by Brian Wildsmith.  “It’s a Jesus book!” she said excitedly when she brought it to me.  I think she likes the size (we have a miniature version) and the shiny gold in the illustrations.

I left a basket out all week with all our Easter books and videos.  Here’s what the kids pulled out:

Math

Ian got really motivated this week on Mathletics, completing over 1500 points instead of the 1000 I require of him each week.  He enjoyed the sense of completion as he saw that he could finish up whole groups of lessons.  I’m not going to require him to finish all the 1st grade lessons since he’s done plenty on other programs this year, but it looks like he might get close to finishing everything.  (Even after we end our school year, I’ll still have him doing some math through our summer break just so he doesn’t get out of the habit.)

He had a rough week on xtramath.org as he worked through harder subtraction facts, but by Friday he had improved his scores , so I hope he’s not too frustrated.

Literature

We didn’t quite finish all the reading for Ambleside Online, Year 1, but we did get through most of the literature scheduled, and I’ve decided to just skip the last couple stories from The Blue Fairy book and Parables from Nature.  I’m hoping to get through Twelfth Night in Tales, but other than that I’m considering our year completed.  (Woohoo!)

Science

Similarly, I’ve decided to call it a day with The World of Plants.  We managed to get through lessons 26-30, and I don’t see any need to finish the last couple lessons with a first grader.  My main goal with using the God’s Design for Science series has been to provide exposure to a wide range of scientific topics.  I think we’ve accomplished that this year with the three books in God’s Design for Life.  I don’t think plants are ever going to be a favorite topic for Ian or myself, but I’m glad we persevered this term and got through most of the book.  (I think we covered more than I ever did in any elementary science book when I was in school!)

Moving On…

So now, onto four weeks of Knights and Nobles to finish out our year!

Upcoming Reviews

We’re currently getting familiar with several products.  Watch for reviews soon!

Wrapping Up Week 31 (2014-15)

weekly wrap-up
The closer we get to summer, the less structured school time we’re doing, so I’m not sure if I’ll really write about all 36 weeks of our school year.  I debated whether to write about last week at all since I took Friday afternoon through Sunday morning off for our homeschool group’s retreat, but since I’d already written most of this post I figured I’d go ahead and finish it even if it’s a little late.

Bible/Circle Time

We’re reading about three chapters in Little Pilgrim’s Progress most days.  This week we also got out the Pilgrim’s Progress game for a few rounds.  It was the first time we’ve played since finishing Part 1 of the book (Christian’s journey), so Ian liked that he knew all the people and places mentioned in the game this time around.

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(This picture is from the first week when we got out the game, but I wanted show all the little pieces included to set up around the board.  I like to use them with Ian because they’re a good review of different elements of the story, but they’re not really necessary.  This week I played with Elijah without getting it all set up, and it was still just as fun.)

Math

Ian’s math routine has gotten so easy, and I love that he can do it all independently.  I set up the computer by opening a window with three tabs, and once he’s completed the activities in all three, he’s done with math.  Here’s what he sees each morning:

  • xtramath.org – Each day’s assignment is already clear.  He signs on, goes through three short flashcard sessions, and then he sees a message like “You’re done for the day!”  He checks to see how well he did (he’s given a green, yellow, or red mark both for the entire day and for each individual section), which tells him if he’s earned any time to play computer games.
  • Mathletics – Now that we’re using this for his main math curriculum, I require Ian to earn at least 200 points each day so he’ll reach the weekly goal of 1000.  Depending on how accurate his answers are, he’s usually done with that in 10-15 minutes.  If he finishes earning his points quickly, he has extra time to play the Mathletics games.
  • LaLaLogic – this is actually a preschool curriculum we’re reviewing, but I love the critical thinking involved, so I’m letting Ian go through at an accelerated pace so he can get to some of the more challenging activities.  The curriculum is set up with a particular set of activities for each week, but I have Ian complete two weeks worth of “Brain Challenges” each day.  So far it seems to be easy for him without being boring.  I think he likes checking off each “week” and seeing his progress. (Arianna is working through at the suggested pace, while Elijah is doing one level each day.)

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Literature

We’re still trying to chip away at the scheduled readings for Ambleside Online, Year 1.  This week we read “Daily Bread” from Leslie Laurio’s paraphrase of Parables from Nature by Margaret Gatty.  While I like the lessons in these stories, this has been our least favorite book this year, mostly because of the length of each story I think.  I saw the book is also on the schedule for AO Year 2, but since I’m already sort of picking and choosing what we’re going to use from that booklist (more on that another time), I’ve decided to drop Parable from Nature.

Science

This week in The World of Plants we moved onto learning about flowers and fruit (lessons 21- 25).  Ian was already somewhat familiar with the concept of pollination, so I tried to build upon what he already knew, since there were a lot of new vocabulary words that he found confusing.

I was hoping to find a Magic School Bus episode to go along with the lesson, but since we already watched one on seeds, we decided to watch The Magic School Bus Gets Planted about photosynthesis, which we covered last week.  (Unfortunately Amazon doesn’t have all the individual episodes available for instant streaming, but we got the complete series on sale a while back, which has been a great resource for our family.)

Spanish

Ian finished the Spanish 1 course from Middlebury Interactive Languages this week.  Unless we get to review a new product, this will be it for it foreign language for this year.

Upcoming Reviews

We’re currently getting familiar with several products.  Watch for reviews soon!

Wrapping Up Week 30 (2014-15)

weekly wrap-up
I feel like I’m approaching the finish line of a long race, and it’s just about time to make a final sprint before the end.  We definitely picked up the pace in working through the last few things I want to accomplish before the end of the school year, and Ian felt the satisfaction of completion several times this week as finished several books and put them away.

Bible/Circle Time

We’re still starting our days by reading a few chapters from Part 2 of Little Pilgrim’s Progress.  Ian continues to enjoy the story, especially since he now gets to play quietly while I read rather than working on the notebook pages I had him doing in Part 1.  He often asks me to read more than the two chapters I have planned, and I try to oblige as long as we’re not trying to get through our school work quickly before we have to go somewhere.

Math

After finishing up my review of GPALOVEMATH I decided to give the boys a little more flexibility when it comes to their math lessons.  Since we still have a subscription to Mathletics I told them they could choose between a lesson from GPALOVEMATH or earning 200 points from doing activities on Mathletics.  I don’t know if it’s because they really like the lessons better or just because they wanted some variety, but both boys chose Mathletics every day.

xtramathxIan is also still doing facts practice on xtramath.org each day, and this week I had him begin working on subtraction.  The first two days were a little rough, but he made definite improvement over the course of the week, which kept him from getting too discouraged by scores that were lower than he had been getting with addition practice.  I’ve also been trying to encourage Elijah to run through a session each day, though he’s not quite as consistent as Ian since I haven’t really required any school work from him up until this point.  Xtramath has been so helpful for Ian, however, and since Elijah is ready in many ways to advance quickly in math, I want to be sure he masters his facts before moving ahead.

Literature

We finished Paddle-to-the-Sea by Holling C. Holling this week, and then watched the movie version on YouTube.  Ian was disappointed by all the things that were left out of the movie (welcome to my world!)  He hadn’t expressed a lot of enthusiasm for this book over the course of the year, but when we reached the end he saw the pictures of other Holling C. Holling books and asked if we could start them.  I’m glad he has that sense of wanting more, and I told him we’d see about going through one in our next school year.

I’m hoping to finish up the literature readings for Ambleside Online, Year 1 before Week 36, so we started reading selections from most of the books, even those not scheduled for this week.  Ian loves Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling and James Herriot’s Treasury for Children, so he had no problem with a few extra stories.  We didn’t quite finish “King Lear” in Tales from Shakespeare, but we only have a couple pages left.

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History

http://i0.wp.com/ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51hugfs0SJL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg?resize=137%2C165Officially we’re done with history for the year, but with St. Patrick’s Day on Tuesday I wanted to take some time to talk about the man behind the holiday.  I had stumbled across The Story of Saint Patrick by James A. Janda while back, and it was the perfect book to have Ian read through this week.  The chapters are all quite short, so we went through several a day.  I love how the book focuses on Patrick’s mission to share Christ with the Irish and goes beyond just the basic biographical facts we’ve read in other books.

Science

We got all the way through Unit 4 on leaves (lessons 16-20) in The World of Plants.  We didn’t do the final project on leaves, but we did take some time to observe the leaves on various trees, and that was enough for both Ian and me to feel like we were done.

Spanish

We finally got back into our Spanish lessons from Middlebury Interactive Languages.  (We’ve been using it sporadically since we reviewed it last fall, but I realized this week that it would be really easy to add it to Ian’s list of “computer school” tasks so he could finish the Spanish 1 course.  This week he  finished up Unit 5 on school-related words and began the final unit, which reviews everything he has learned in the course.  I have been really thankful for this program and how it has helped Ian continue learning without requiring anything from me.  Actually, it’s been great for all the kids, since I have the younger kids watch Ian work through the lessons on the TV hooked up to the computer.  Elijah has gone through several of the activities himself as well.

Middlebury
I’m not sure what we’re going to do for Spanish next year.  I had planned to go back to using the Salsa videos we were using before, but I think the lessons plans are essential for getting the most out of them, and I’m just not sure how much I’m going to be up to once the baby arrives at the end of summer.  I might try to get through at least one unit before that point (since we start our school year in July), but I’m hoping to find something that will help at least my two older kids continue building on what they’ve already learned.

Preschoolers

P1050596xAs I’ve been praying and planning about next year, I’ve decided I want to start working with Elijah and Arianna more intentionally, though they’ve certainly picked up a lot just from the learning environment in our home.  I’ll write a bit more about what that might look like once we’ve wrapped up this school year, but for now, I’m exploring different ways to include them.

I struggle with knowing what to do for Elijah.  On the one hand, he’s a 5-year old boy and needs lots of free time for playing, exploring, and just learning on his own.  On the other hand, I want to be sure I give him a chance to excel as much as he wants.  He’s not due to start Kindergarten until this summer, and yet his reading and math skills are at about a 2nd grade level.  I want to provide challenges for him and slowly start working toward more structured learning over the next year.

For now, I’m trying to work on establishing some structure and expectations with some fun activities.  We’re checking out LaLaLogic, a curriculum for preschoolers that focuses on critical thinking and problem solving skills, which is giving both Arianna and Elijah some time to do “lessons” like Ian without being too dry and academic.

Upcoming Reviews

Here’s what we’re taking a look at these days.  Watch for reviews soon!

Wrapping Up Week 29 (2014-15)

weekly wrap-up
 The weather feels like summer already in Southern California, and between the heat and the time change last weekend, it’s been really hard over the last few days to remember that we still have several weeks of school left!  Now that we’ve finished up with history, I’m thinking we need to just plow through and finish up a few other subjects so we can make the last month of school pretty light.

Math

This week was our last week with CTC Math, but I’m pretty sure we’ll be back.  Both boys covered fractions this week, and Ian blew me away.  We haven’t touched on the concept at all (though my husband tells me they’ve encountered fractions in some of their favorite games on abcya.com), so I was wondering if this was going to be challenging.  I couldn’t believe how quickly Ian was throwing out the answers about halves and quarters.  I think it’s because he seems to be grasping multiplication concepts really well.  Whatever the reason, I’m glad fractions aren’t a battle at this point!

I’m really going to miss CTC Math, which provided a great balance of structure and flexibility when it came to covering the full math curriculum.  In the meantime, Ian will continue working on his lessons in  GPALOVEMATH (review coming next week!), as well as his facts practice on xtramath.org.  He’s been doing so well with the addition facts, I’m changing his settings to start working on subtraction flash cards for a bit.

Literature

http://i1.wp.com/www.rainbowresource.com/products/thumbnails/012450.jpg?w=960One of the books we’re reading that I haven’t talked much about is Paddle-to-the-Sea by Holling C. Holling.  It traces the journey of a small carved wooden Indian in a canoe that travels through all the Great Lakes over the course of a couple years.  Each chapter covers a small part of the trip, teaching about the geography and industry of the Great Lakes region.  The Ambleside Online, Year 1 schedule spreads this book across the entire school year, and while I understand the reasoning behind that, it really hasn’t worked for us.  The chapters are so short we barely have time to get into them before the week’s reading is done. I’ve ended up intentionally skipping a few weeks in order to save up several chapters to read at once.

This week we made it through chapter 23, where Paddle goes over Niagara Falls and ends up in the mists at the bottom.  Ian looked at the pictures of the Falls and said, “They don’t look very big,” which surprised me, since we’ve seen videos of them before and I thought he understood how huge they are.  So we watched the episode of 19 Kids and Counting where the Duggars visit Niagara Falls (“Duggars Over the Edge“), as well as an interview with Roger Woodward, the youngest person to ever go over the Falls (at age 7!) and survive.  He describes what it was like and gives a beautiful testimony of God’s grace.

History Cycle

We finished up the last series of Friends and Heroes and are now taking a break from history until Ian starts the self-paced history course on the Middle Ages, Renaissance and Reformation from Veritas Press.  (On sale only until tomorrow, March 14, so don’t wait to check it out!)

Veritas Middle Ages
I have to admit, the history lover in me wanted to jump into the Veritas Press program right away.  For one thing, I think Ian is really going to love studying this period in history.  I also think he’s going to enjoy the format of this course.  However, since Veritas Press allows you to delay the start of the 12-month course, I fought against my own nerd nature and forced myself to give Ian a well-deserved break.  I set our starting date for July, which is when we usually begin our school year.  That way he won’t be forced to finish up the work before the end of our school year next spring.

Science

We’re still plugging away through our last term of God’s Design for Life.  I have to admit, The World of Plants was the book I was least excited about out of the three that make up this year.  I have one of the blackest thumbs of anyone you’ll ever meet, and I’m horrible at remembering the names of different types of trees and flowers.  Plants just aren’t my thing.

Still, I’m really pleased with this curriculum.  It’s making a subject I find boring a little less so for Ian.  All the kids have really enjoyed watching the seeds we planted a few lessons ago grow.  In addition to the beans and popcorn kernels we planted back in the lesson on monocots and dicots, we also added a little jar with some sweet pea seeds I had lying around.  They’ve all grown SO much this week, which has been fun for all of us to observe (especially this mama, who somehow manages to kill succulents, which I mistakenly thought I could handle, given how I’ve heard they’re one of the easiest things to grow).

Anyway… here’s our little mini-garden.  On Monday we took the seedlings off their wet paper towels and planted them in soil.  I’d love to move them from my kitchen counter top to a planter outside where they’d have more room, but I’m sure that will be the end of them so I’m holding out a little longer.

seed garden

Upcoming Reviews

We’re currently getting familiar with several products.  Watch for reviews soon!

Wrapping Up Week 28 (2014-15)

weekly wrap-up
 This was supposed to be the week we got fully caught up and back into the swing of things.  Then I got sick (again).  We did manage not to get further behind, and sometimes that just has to be enough, doesn’t it?

Bible/Circle Time

We finished Part One of Little Pilgrim’s Progress this week, which was cause for celebration.  For one thing, I was only requiring Ian to write up pages for our daily reading through the end of Part One.  He ended up with a nice little book about Little Christian’s story.  The other nice thing about finishing was that we can move at a quicker pace through Part Two since Ian’s doesn’t have to keep up.  He often wanted me to read beyond our daily two chapters, but the writing was laborious for him and I didn’t want to make him do more than one page a day.  However, I think we’re going to finish Christiana’s story in Part Two much more quickly now that we’re not limited.  Ian’s even been asking to listen in the car to the dramatic reading of Pilgrim’s Progress (Bunyan’s original story) from Answers in Genesis so we can keep going with Christiana’s story when we’re not at home, but I think it only has Part One.

Pilgrim's Progress Final

Math

Ian is continuing to do well with our online math programs.  We’re almost at the end of our subscription to CTC Math, which I am really going to miss.  We may have to come back to it later.

Literature

Now that we finally read “East of the Sun, and West of the Moon” in The Blue Fairy Book, we are officially caught up with our literature selections from Ambleside Online, Year 1 (woo hoo!).  We also read Pictures at an Exhibition by Anna Harwell Celenza to learn the story of Modest Mussorgsky’s music by the same title, which the kids have been studying in their composer class on Fridays.

History Cycle

This week we pretty much wrapped up all that I had planned to cover in the first year of our history cycle.  We’re still finishing the last few episodes of Friends and Heroes, but we listened to the last few chapters of Story of the World, Vol. 1 by Susan Wise Bauer and discussed the demise of the Roman Empire.  Ian was especially fascinated about the secret burial of Attila the Hun (as was I, since the story was new to me as well).

Veritas Middle AgesI also made a rather big decision (and purchase) regarding our history lessons for next year.  I know it’s rather early to be talking about next year’s curriculum, but  I wanted to share about the great sale going on right now in case anyone else wants to take advantage of it ($100 off!).

Last year other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew had the pleasure of trying out the online self-paced history courses from Veritas Press.  Ian wasn’t old enough for the course at the time so we weren’t on the review, but as I’ve heard people raving about them it made me curious.  After checking out everything I could find online, I decided this would be a great fit for us for next year.  Normally I try to save our curriculum money for things I’ll be able to use with other children in the future, but since I already have a ton of books and resources for Year 2 of our history cycle, I’m not too worried.  With a new baby coming and Nico about to give up his morning nap, I’m planning on a very different sort of school day next year.  Ian learns really well from videos and computer activities, so I think he’s going to get a lot out of the Middle Ages, Renaissance, and Reformation class.  If you’re at all interested in finding a fun online history curriculum, check out these courses before the sale ends on March 14!  (There are 5 altogether, covering the whole spread of history.)

Science

We covered lessons 10-12 in The World of Plants, as well as talking about George Washington Carver.  I was kind of disappointed we didn’t get to do anything with our sprouts this week, but it looks like we’ll get back to them soon.  If I hadn’t been sick we might have gotten a little more into our study of roots, but all we did was read the lessons in the book and discuss them.  Hopefully next week we can have a little more hands on activity!

Upcoming Reviews

We’re currently getting familiar with several products.  Watch for reviews soon!

Wrapping Up Week 27 (2014-15)

weekly wrap-up
This week had lots of ups and downs.  Over the weekend Ian came down with a stomach bug and was miserable, especially when he had to miss his birthday party with our extended family.  Thankfully he had lots of little blessings that came his way over the few days he wasn’t feeling well, which helped make up for his disappointment.  Then just as we were getting back into the swing of things, my husband and I both came down with the bug.  In other words, school didn’t look quite like I had planned this week, but we improvised a bit and still managed a fairly decent week of school.

During our down time we finally got around to listening to the latest Jonathan Park album (The Journey Home?) and were delightfully surprised when the Creation Response Team bumped into the Brinkman family (from one our our other audio favorites, The Brinkman Adventures).

Bible/Circle Time

I don’t usually mention our main Bible lessons, which come from our family devotions in Old Story New , but this week’s lesson fit well with our science lessons.  We’re on Week 18: The Four Soils (a.k.a. the  parable of the sower), which tied in nicely with what we’re learning about seeds.

We only managed to get through four chapters of Little Pilgrim’s Progress this week, but that means we should be able to finish up Part 1 next week, barring any disruptions such as we faced this week.

Math

I was especially thankful for our online math programs this week.  Ian has made great progress with xtramath.org, and I think I’m going to start having him practice subtraction cards now that he has his addition facts pretty much nailed.  Our subscription to CTC Math is going to expire in the next couple weeks, so I tried to have Ian complete a few more lessons there in addition to several lessons in the program we’re currently reviewing, GPALOVEMATH.  I love CTC Math’s straightforward approach, which makes it very easy to see which concepts he needs to work on.  GPALOVEMATH seems to be pretty thorough as well, however, so I don’t see a need to renew our CTC Math subscription at this point.

Literature

Our scheduled reading for Ambleside Online, Year 1 are pretty thin for the next few weeks (mostly because they’re a bit heavier in the history books, which we’re not using), so we didn’t get any farther behind despite our crazy week.  We finally read the story about “The Law of the Wood” in Parable from Nature.  We’ve been using Leslie Laurio’s paraphrase because many moms on the AO Forum had said this book was one of the most challenging for their kids in Year 1.  I’m really glad I made that decision, because even with the paraphrase this book has been difficult for us, I think because the stories tend to be longer than most of our readings.  I’ve pushed through for various reasons, but I think it’s both Ian’s and my least favorite of our literature selections.

I also read Noah’s Wife: The Story of Naamah by Sandy Eisenberg Sasso to connect with our study of seeds.  It’s a beautiful story based on a traditional story from Hebrew midrash (which made for a quick lesson in and of itself).  In the story, Noah’s wife, Naamah (also sometimes called Naomi according to tradition) is tasked with collecting seeds from all the plants on earth to preserve on the ark and scatter after the flood.  Ian really liked the story, and it gave us a chance to review the meaning of alliteration.

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History Cycle

We are almost finished with Series 2 of Friends and Heroes.  These episodes have been set during the Roman siege of Jerusalem.  Even though we haven’t quite gotten to it yet, we spent some time talking about the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 and its significance.

Science

Somehow in the midst of all the sickness we still managed to get through lessons 4-6 in The World of Plants.  We also watched The Magic School Bus Goes to Seed.

We talked about monocots and dicots, dissecting beans and corn seeds and then putting some in jars to sprout.  Within a couple days we had several sprouts, and I think we’re supposed to be using these in the next few lessons.

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We also spent a day at the California Science Center, and Ian enjoyed a lesson on electronics from Daddy as they worked with the set of Snap Circuits he got for his birthday.  Thankfully, Daddy knows a lot about that kind of thing, because I would be pretty useless!  I’ve heard a lot of great things about Snap Circuits, and I’m so glad we gave them a try.  Ian’s already figuring out how to create his own projects, which amazes me since I really don’t have a mind for this kind of thing.  I’m looking forward to seeing what sort of things he comes up with.

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Upcoming Reviews

Watch for these reviews in the next few weeks!

Wrapping Up Week 26 (2014-15)

weekly wrap-up
 This week we had fun celebrating Valentine’s Day with some other homeschool families and talked a little bit about the story of St. Valentine.  I’m so thankful to have a wonderful community to share life with as our children grow up together.  Ian especially thrives on lots of time with other kids, so it has been great for us to have other homeschool friends.

Bible/Circle Time

We’re getting close to the end of Part 1 in Little Pilgrim’s Progress, and I’m going to let Ian finish doing his notebook pages once we reach that point.  It’s been a good discipline exercise for him, but we’d both like to move through the book more quickly than it allows.  He’s been doing a good job at narrating to me orally, so I’m ready to let him off the hook when it comes to the writing.  We just have about 5 more days’ worth of reading to finish up.

Pilgrim's Progress 4
(As these pictures show, my camera lens has gotten scratched and is ruining all my pictures.  I’m so bummed!)

Math

I’m really happy with our switch over to doing all Ian’s math online.  He has shown significant improvement in his addition facts thanks to xtramath.org, and I think the time on CTC Math and GPALOVEMATH has been really good for him.

One thing that has frustrating me in working with Ian has been how little he cared about getting a good score on a lesson, so I’ve been really pleased to see him repeating lessons on CTC Math to raise his standing (since it takes an average of the last three times).  He’s been totally self-motivated to move from “silver” to “gold” or even up to “platinum.”  I’m so glad he’s developing a sense of pride in doing his best work.

I think we’re both enjoying the independence that this switch has given him.  While I think MEP is a fantastic curriculum, it definitely requires teacher involvement, and with a house full of little ones, I need to prioritize which lessons I’m going to do with Ian.  For now (especially with a new baby coming in September), I think it’s more important that Ian can build a solid foundation and make steady progress at grade level than to push ahead with a rigorous program that’s continually challenging him.

Literature

This week we finished up the poetry of A.A. Milne and moved on to the Ambleside Online, Year 1 third term selection, A Child’s Book of Poems by Gyo Fujikawa.  Ian loved the playful Milne poems and often asked me to go back and read some of his favorites.  I like that this new work has a variety of poets, and I’m hoping Ian enjoys them as well.  He really liked Wynken, Blynken, and Nod, and I caught him telling Nicholas all about them, pointing out his eyes and head and he said the names.  So we’re off to a good start.

The one thing we were still really behind in with was our reading in Tales from Shakespeare.  This week we finally read “The Winter’s Tale” (over the course of three days), and then we watched the story in the Shakespeare: The Animated Tales series.  The story was new to me, so I enjoyed reading it with Ian.  He had an easier time following along than he has with some of the other Shakespeare stories we’ve read, probably because there weren’t a lot of characters.

History Cycle

We’re continuing to focus on the church of the first century.  After we finished the Storykeepers series on Monday we watched The Perpetua Story (from the Torchlighters series), as well as Polycarp and Perpetua, which wasn’t necessarily written for children, but contained many dramatizations and kept Ian’s attention.  I especially appreciated the section taken directly from Perpetua’s writings.  It was powerful to have a primary source and being able to hear the story in Perpetua’s own words (right up to the day before her execution, when someone else took on the task of completing it).

We also started watching the first series of Friends and Heroes, which is set in Alexandria in A.D. 69.  It’s about a group of Jews living under Roman rule during a time of unrest in Judea.  Each episode also contains Bible stories (from the Old and New Testaments) that the characters share to help each other make wise decisions.

(We’re watching the first series on the JellyTelly Roku channel since we already have a subscription, but for the second and third series we’ll subscribe to gMovies, the only place they’re currently available to watch without buying the DVDs, which is beyond our budget right now.)

Science

We read through lessons 4-6 in The World of Plants (part of God’s Design for Life).  We also watched two episodes of Bill Nye the Science Guy: Cells and Plants, and Ian and Elijah enjoyed getting our our microscope and looking at various kids of cells (lesson 4).

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Wrapping Up Week 25 (2014-15)

weekly wrap-up
 This week had one main focus, and pretty much everything else just got squeezed in.  We kept up with Little Pilgrim’s Progress and Ian’s online math programs, as well as our literature from Ambleside Online, Year 1, and we started our final book in the God’s Design for Life series: The World of PlantsHowever most of our time was centered around our history/Bible lessons because all the kids loved what we were doing.

History Cycle

As a follow up to what we talked about last week, we kicked off our history lessons by watching Julius Caesar from the Shakespeare: The Animated Tales series.  I wasn’t sure how well it would capture Ian’s attention, but he and Elijah were both into the whole thing.  When it was done he asked me if I had any other movies about Julius Caesar and was disappointed I hadn’t been able to find anything else at the library.

I asked Ian to tell me what he knew about Jesus and the beginning of the church and decided to move on to the persecution of Christians under Nero.  I read to him about Nero in A Child’s History of the World by V.M. Hillyer, and then pulled out The Complete Storykeepers Collection, a book of all the stories in the Storykeepers video series.

The thirteen episodes include stories about Jesus (a nice Bible review!), but mostly they provide a glimpse at life as persecuted Christians living in Rome at the time of Nero.  I don’t remember how I first heard of these stories, but I started trying to track down copies of the videos a couple months ago to get ready for this part of our history cycle.  Amazon had some used copies, but they were all more than I could spend.  Several of the episodes are on YouTube, but I couldn’t find them all.  Finally I tracked down a fabulous clearance sale at happybuys.com, where I was able to get the entire series on 3 DVDs for $8 (plus shipping).  The only problem (as we discovered this week when we went to watch them) was that the DVDs aren’t Region 1 and wouldn’t play in our DVD player.  Luckily they played fine on my computer, so I still think it was worth it.  (It’s hooked up to our TV anyway, so it really didn’t matter except that I couldn’t use my computer while they watched.)

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The kids LOVED these videos.  I’m letting them watch two each day (one for our morning Bible movie, and one at lunch time) so we can get through the whole series before I want to move on with our history lessons.  The Complete Storykeepers Collection is easy for Ian to read, and he gets excited about the stories before I let them watch the videos (which have a lot more details).  P1050424Then as interesting topics come up we pull out other resources to go into a little more depth.  This week we looked through a book I’d bought in Rome about the catacombs, as well as doing a couple pages in The Storykeepers Activity Book to learn about the ichthus symbol.

It’s going to be hard to go back to our regular routine after spending this week (and weekend) with the Storykeepers.  Secret symbols, underground hideouts, daring adventure… what’s not to love?

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Wrapping Up Week 24 (2014-15)

weekly wrap-up
IMG_20150129_213756 Last week we finished our 2nd term (of three) for school this year, which felt really good!  Along with that came a milestone I’ve been eagerly awaiting.  Ian is a good reader, but he’s never really gotten into it.  He loves books if he’s being read to, but he just couldn’t be convinced that they were equally enjoyable to read himself.  Then this week when we were at the library, he grabbed a Geronimo Stilton book as we were walking out, and for the rest of the day, he had his nose glued to that book.  At home, in the car, in bed… I think he spent about 4 hours total, finishing up that night as Daddy went in to turn out his lights when we went to bed.  That’s how I spent most of my childhood, and I’ve seen my nieces develop a similar love and wondered if Ian would ever get there.  So this mama was celebrating at the sight!

Bible/Circle Time

Our morning Bible videos have become something all the kids look forward to, and I love how familiar they’re becoming with the stories of Jesus.  Ian continued to create pages to go along with the two chapters we read from Little Pilgrim’s Progress each day.

Pilgrim's Progress 3

Math

We made some major in changes in math this week!  Last week I shared about how I was thinking of letting Ian take a break from Mathematics Enhancement Programme once we finished Year 2 so Elijah could catch up and I could teach them together.  After praying about it more, however, I felt that we shouldn’t even wait to finish out this year.  It’s not that things seem too hard, but I felt like we should just stop where we were.

Instead, Ian is doing all of his work on the computer using various programs we have subscriptions to thanks to reviews I’ve done in the last year.  We still have a little time left on CTC Math, and I’m using that as his main lesson source since it systematically works through the curriculum without any distracting game options.  Ian really enjoys it and has been completing multiple lessons each day all on his own initiative.  I’m hoping we can finish the 1st grade curriculum before our subscription expires in March.

CTC Math

A couple days I had him do some activities on Mathletics, but since he really enjoys all the “extras” on that site I prefer to save it for a reward.  (He earns time on Mathletics by scoring well on his xtramath.org flashcard work.)  He’s also been enjoying a trial of GPALOVEMATH.  We’re about to start officially reviewing this program, so it will probably become his primary math curriculum in the weeks to come.

Ian is LOVING this change.  He’s thrilled to have time to work on the computer, and it’s no longer a struggle to get through math each day.  I do want to go back to MEP eventually (at least that’s my plan at this point), but I’m hoping that this break will help Ian finish building a really solid math foundation.

Literature

Ian is continuing to love the Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling.  This week we read the chapter about the first letter, and he was cracking up at all the confusion.  He’s also really improving at narrating things back to me, particularly the Aesop’s fables.  I’m glad he’s enjoying the literature selections from Ambleside Online, Year 1 so much.

History Cycle

http://i1.wp.com/ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51WZE1XRECL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg?resize=167%2C256We finished Our Little Roman Cousin of Long Ago by Julia Darrow Cowles.  It wasn’t my favorite book in the series, but maybe it was just because the Roman culture didn’t seem quite so distinct as that of Athens and Sparta.  We continued learning about Rome by reading about Roman builders and gladiators in Story of the World, Vol. 1 by Susan Wise Bauer, and we read the chapters about Julius Caesar and Augustus in A Child’s History of the World by V.M. Hillyer.

Then for fun, we started reading See You Later, Gladiator (from the Time Warp Trio series) by Jon Scieszka.  It’s a great one for Ian and I to take turns reading to each other.

Science

With the end of the term, we finished our second book in God’s Design for Life, getting through the last few lessons  The Human Body.  There were several great videos we watched about the immune system:

Ian was an expert by the time we finished all of that!  We also watched Bill Nye the Science Guy: Genes, which both boys found fascinating.  Elijah was rather indignant that he’d never heard about genes before.  (He loves going through See Inside Your Body, and he couldn’t believe it didn’t include a section on genetics.)

As a little extra, we’ve been watching some caterpillars go through metamorphosis, and this was a big week.  On Monday most had already entered the chrysalis stage, though we had one late bloomer who was still crawling around.  By Friday we had several butterflies!  We’ve been wanting to get caterpillars for years so we could watch this whole process up close, so we were excited to get a butterfly habitat from Grandma for Christmas!

Butterfly Collage

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Wrapping Up Week 23 (2014-15)

weekly wrap-up
 This was one of those weeks where I’m amazed we managed to get any schoolwork done at all.  In addition to our regularly scheduled activities (ballet, gymnastics, music, park day…), three of the kids had to go in to the doctor for their regular check-ups.  Then you throw in the fact that I am in the blessed throes of first trimester nausea (we found out 3 days after I wrote about my Word for 2015!), and you can understand my amazement that we somehow got anything accomplished this week.

Bible/Circle Time

Ian is really enjoying Little Pilgrim’s Progress, and it I weren’t having him write a little for each chapter, we’d probably read a lot more than two each day.  Still, I think it’s good to pace ourselves, as it’s giving him time to really think about the story.  I found a Pilgrim’s Progress game on eBay, which Ian was really excited to set up and play.  Some of the characters and places are from parts of the book we’ve yet to read, and he’s eager to find out more about them now that he’s seen them in the game.

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Math

Mondo Math; Addition Facts 1-12In our continued attempts to help Ian master his addition facts, I decided to try listening to songs from Mondo Math that cover the facts from 1-12 using various fun musical styles.  I’m not sure if they’re going to help Ian, but Elijah absolutely loves them, especially the second half of the songs, where they don’t say the answers and he gets to call them out himself.  I can guarantee that Elijah is going to have his facts memorized long before first grade.  Hopefully Ian’s natural competitiveness will help push him to learn them as well, rather than being outdone by his little brother.

He’s doing pretty well with his daily practice on xtramath.org, though some new facts were added in this week, which threw him for a loop.  When he scores well, he’s rewarded with free time on Mathletics, which ironically he’s been choosing to spend in the section with songs for learning his times tables.  I pray that will be a less painful process for him than the addition facts!

Through it all, he’s still working through MEP (Year 2).  I adore MEP, but it definitely requires quite a bit of teacher involvement, so I’m wondering if it’s going to be the best choice for us next year when we’re adjusting to a new baby.  I’m considering letting Ian take some time off MEP to do something he can work on more independently while letting Elijah catch up (he’s about halfway through MEP Year 1).  Then they can move onto Year 3 together so I’d only be teaching one math lesson each day.  This idea has been in my head for almost a year, but the new baby is making me think about it more seriously.  My main hesitation is simply in not letting Ian move forward when he’s been doing so well.  But it would probably do him good to just sit on what he’s learned for a while.

Everything Else

Apart from math and spelling, our week was pretty thin.  We managed to keep our heads above water as far as our Ambleside Online, Year 1 readings.  We got through a few chapters of Our Little Roman Cousin of Long Ago, and covered lessons 29-31 on skin in The Human Body (including fingerprints, which led to a messy time of exploration), but we didn’t manage to do any notebooking or extras of any kind.

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