Tag Archives: wrap up

Wrapping Up Week 36 (2014-15)

weekly wrap-up
Hallelujah, we crossed the finish line for our school year!  Granted, we sort of crawled across on our hands and knees, but we made it.  I’m not even going to let myself feel guilty about the fact that our last week consisted only of Ian’s online math work (xtramath.org, Mathletics, and La La Logic) and a few books to finish up our Knights and Nobles unit study from Homeschool Legacy, for two basic reasons.

  1. I’ve spent years in traditional elementary classrooms, both as a student and a teacher.  I guarantee that more learning happened this week in our home than gets accomplished in 99% of classrooms during the last week of school.
  2. Even when we’re officially on a break, plenty of learning happens simply because of the environment in our home.  For example, today (the first official day of summer break, and a Saturday to boot), Ian wanted to break out our Young Scientists Set and work on experiments from our final remaining kit.  I know there will be plenty of learning going on during our summer break, so who cares if we had a light last week of school, right?

I know most families still have a few (or several weeks) left, so take a deep breath and remember that the end is in sight!  (And when our family dives back into school in July, you can smile to yourself knowing that you’ve still got a few more weeks to relax.)

Here’s to the first day of our summer holiday!

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Upcoming Reviews

We’ll still be reviewing several products through our summer “break.”  Watch for these reviews in the next few weeks!

Wrapping Up Week 35 (2014-15)

weekly wrap-up
The end is so close we can taste it!  This week Ian finished up Level B of Spelling You See, so he gets to take a break until we start second grade in July.  Since he completed the first grade work in Mathletics already, I let him choose what he wanted to do for math each day, and he alternated between Mathletics and GPALOVEMATH.  He’ll work on 2nd grade lessons in both of those until I settle on what we’ll officially use next year.  The bulk of our week, however, was spent on the Knights and Nobles unit study from Homeschool Legacy.

“Knights and Nobles” Week 3: Knights

This week our focus was on knights, a subject that has long interested Ian.  He enjoyed everything we did this week as part of the unit study.

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Books

We already have so many books about knights, I didn’t bother trying to hunt down most of the free reads suggested in Knights and Nobles at the library.

The favorite book for both boys was Imagine You’re a Knight by Phillip Steele.  It has several projects included, such as constructing a knight’s helmet, and knight and horse paper dolls.  Ian had already completed the projects when Grandma first brought the book home from England last year, but there are little pockets to keep them in, so both he and Elijah enjoyed getting them out again and playing with them.  The book also is packed with information and fascinating illustrations.

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Other picture books we read this week were Young Lancelot by Robert D. San Souci and The Making of a Knight by Patrick O’Brien.  Our chapter book was The Sword in the Tree by Clyde Robert Bulla.  Ian and I took two weeks to read through it together, and we both really enjoyed the story.  I was unfamiliar with Bulla until I saw his books suggested on the Ambleside Online site as beginning chapter books.  While this book was easy enough for Ian to read, it was so well written that it didn’t feel awkward for me to read aloud (as I’ve noticed with other easy chapter books).  It was such a good story, Ian wanted to read more after we finished, so I encouraged him to start another book on his own.  (I put several of Bulla’s books on his Kindle.)

Videos

For a fun taste of the medieval period we watched Disney’s The Prince and the Pauper, and then later in the week we watched the rest of the episodes that are listed with it on Netflix (Pied Piper, Old King Cole, A Knight for a Day, and Ye Olden Days).  We also watched The Sword in the Stone now that we’d finished reading some Arthur stories.

Extras

At some point in the past I had bought a Knights Sticker Pack, so we pulled those out and the boys had fun creating sticker scenes (there were two sets in the pack).  Arianna had already used up one set of the similar Princess Sticker Pack, but thankfully we still had one more so she had some sticker fun as well.  It was a fun way to include the younger ones in our study.

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Upcoming Reviews

Watch for reviews on these products in the next few weeks!

Wrapping Up Week 34 (2014-15)

weekly wrap-up
You know those weeks where it feels impossible to get anything done?  Yeah, that was our week.   Between a funeral, a dentist appointment, a field trip, and rehearsal for the year-end performance in our homeschool music program (on top of our usual ballet and swimming lessons), we didn’t make it through nearly as much as I had planned.  We were supposed to finish up with Spelling You See, but we’ll have to stretch it out one more week. Ian did finish the first grade lessons in Mathletics and moved on to second grade, and we read several books for our Knights and Nobles unit study from Homeschool Legacy.

“Knights and Nobles” Week 2: Kings and Queens

We had actually done some of the Week 2 activities from Knights and Nobles last week, which helped us not be completely behind when the chaos of our week took over.  During the school hours we squeezed in at home this week we mostly focused on books and videos.

Books

http://i0.wp.com/ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51B3T3EY0KL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg?w=960I wasn’t sure we could make it through the suggested family read aloud for this week, but I did want to cover some of the stories about King Arthur, so I searched the library for some easier alternatives.  We read Young Arthur by Robert D. San Souci.  Through this beautifully illustrated picture book, Ian learned about Arthur’s childhood, Merlin, the sword in the stone, and Excalibur.  Some of the story was familiar from watching Disney’s The Sword in the Stone, but it helped reinforce that these stories exist outside of that context.  We talked about how stories about Arthur have been told for centuries.

We also started The Sword in the Tree by Clyde Robert Bulla.  This chapter book is easy enough for Ian to read on his own, though it’s more than he usually tackles.  I chose to trade off reading with him so he doesn’t develop a distaste for it.  (This is actually a read-aloud scheduled for next week, but I wanted to take a little more time with it so we could go through it together.)

Videos

Everyone enjoyed watching the Reading Rainbow episode “Rumpelstiltskin,” in which LeVar visits a Renaissance Faire and learns about medieval life.

We didn’t get to the suggested family movie (A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court) during the week, but I’m hoping for a chance at some point this weekend (though we’ll be watching an animated version of the story instead just because we already have it).

Extras

The highlight of our week was definitely the field trip to Medieval Times with our homeschool group.  We left the two younger children at a friend’s house and took the older boys for a fun lunchtime performance, complete with a tournament between competing knights.  We don’t join a lot of field trips these days, but since this one happened to fall in the middle of our unit study, we couldn’t pass it up!

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Upcoming Reviews

We’ll still be we checking out new products even through our summer break, so watch for these reviews soon!

Wrapping Up Week 33 (2014-15)

weekly wrap-up
 What better way to spend the last four weeks of Ian’s first grade year than doing a unit study about the Middle Ages?  This week the only “regular” school work I required of him was Spelling You See (we took a few months off from this in the fall, but now he’s almost to the end of Level B), and his daily math work on the computer.  Ian went a little crazy in Mathletics this week, earning a whopping 3500 points as he pushed himself to finish up the four main categories in the 1st grade program (usually I require 1000 points each week).  He’ll easily finish in the first few days of next week and then we’ll move on to the second grade program since I like to have him do math year-round.

Aside from spelling and math, however, everything we did revolved around the suggestions from Knights and Nobles from Homeschool Legacy.  While I followed the main theme of the week, we found plenty of rabbit trails to follow as things captured Ian’s interest or as I wanted to expand a bit on things we read.

“Knights and Nobles” Week 1: Castles

Although this week was mostly about castles, there were also suggestions for learning about the cathedrals built in medieval times, which I expanded into a mini-study on aspects of religious life at the time.

Books

Our main literature focus this week was the Newbery Medal winning book The Door in the Wall by Marguerite De Angeli.  It’s the story of Robin, a 14th century boy who over comes his personal fears and weakness, showing great courage and becomes a hero.  The first part of the book takes place at a monastery, and there were references to things like the scriptorium, chanting, and the various offices the monks observed throughout the day and night, which lead to several discussions.  Spinning off from these topics, we read Illuminations by Jonathan Hunt and Marguerite Makes a Book by Bruce Robertson as well as leading into our study of cathedrals toward the end of the week.

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“Knights and Nobles” has a great list of reading suggestions, so I set out a basket with all the options I found for free reading (both from our family collection and the local library), and let Ian go through them mostly on his own.  He’s already looked through Ms. Frizzle’s Adventures: Medieval Castle many times before, so I made sure I read it with him this time so he wouldn’t miss any of the detailed information. He enjoyed reading Castles by Stephanie Turnbull on his own as well as looking at some the pictures in some of the more advanced books.

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Videos

After reading Castle by David Macaulay, we watched the video based on the book, which I found at our library.  I thought they were going to cover mostly the same material, but they were actually more complementary than similar. I wouldn’t have wanted to choose one over the other.

After unsuccessfully searching for the DVD of Cathedral at several of our local libraries, it finally occurred to me to check YouTube, and sure enough, there it was, along with several other PBS specials based on David Macaulay’s books.  (I wish I’d known about Pyramid and Roman City earlier this year!)

Actually, turned out well that the library didn’t have Cathedral, because it prompted me to check out another option, Building the Great Cathedrals, which turned out to be fascinating and informative.  Elijah is especially interested in building design, and he gladly joined Ian and I for this part of our schoolwork.  We enjoyed this DVD so much I considered purchasing it for our family library, but then I realized it’s available for free streaming through Amazon Prime.

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Watching the movies about cathedrals (and reading David Macaulay’s book Cathedral) led to many discussions about different aspects about the buildings: flying buttresses, different kinds of arches, gargoyles, stained glass, and church bells, so we ended the week with a family movie night watching Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame, which gave Ian a fun opportunity to point out to Daddy all the things he’d learned.

Extras

Several times throughout the week I put on various CD’s with music from the medieval time period.  I wish I’d thought to get some some instrumental CDs from the library, but I have few recordings of Gregorian chant and medieval motets and carols that gave us a sense of the time period as well.

Ian really wanted to build a catapult after all our reading.  There are instructions included for later in this unit, but they required several things we don’t have around the house and I really didn’t want to have to buy anything, so I found a simple alternative using popsicle sticks and rubber bands at Little Bins for Little Hands.  At first he wanted to attempt the more complex version on that page, but it started turning into Mom’s catapult, so I told him he needed to go back to the simple one.  Even then, we had to make some adjustments because we only had notched craft sticks, which kept breaking.  Eventually we tried Tegu planks, which worked well.  All Ian’s hard work was rewarded with some marshmallow boulders to launch.

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Ian spent most of his free inside hours this week playing with the Playmobil castle he got for his birthday three years ago.  While he’s always enjoyed it, he seemed to take his play to a new level this week after everything we learned about.  I’m glad he still has so much fun with it, and I was thankful for the many quiet hours of play it provided this week!

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Upcoming Reviews

We’ll still be we checking out new products through our even summer break, so watch for these reviews soon!

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

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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!

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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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