Science Summary


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The boys, exhibiting their maternal influence, love life science. Unlike their mother, they are obsessed (beyond the normal length of their usual obsessions) with dinosaurs. When they begged for us to spend this past year studying that very topic in science, I realized that I was far outmatched in "dino-knowledge" (No, Shortbread, I don't remember what Postosuchus is...tell me again), and I chose Anatomy instead. I think I'm still one step ahead of them on this one.

Despite some initial disappointment and pleading to fit a dinosaur unit in at some point, the boys soon warmed to the idea of studying their bodies, and they usually had to remind me when it was time to work on science.

We broke up our study into 9 units:

  • Cells
  • Brain & Nervous System
  • Senses
  • Digestive System
  • Respiratory System
  • Circulatory System
  • Muscles
  • Skeletal System
  • Skin

Each unit was planned for two weeks, but we didn't finish until the end of the year, so you can do the math and figure out that I wasn't diligent about staying on that schedule and skipped science about half of the time.

When we were on task, we used the My Body book for readings and to make a paper model of each boy's body. This involved tracing an outline of each boy on a large piece of paper and then cutting it out and hanging it in our school room. For each unit we would cut and color a new body part or parts and attach them to our bodies.

Here are the boys with their "empty" bodies:

Then, full of organs (with faces peeled down to reveal their brains!):

To accompany our activities in My Body, we used Jim Weise's Head to Toe Science, which provided hands-on activities and experiments for each body system. Though this book is geared toward 3rd - 6th graders, we found plenty of activities that were easy, even for Shortbread. He might not have truly grasped the significance of every activity, but he surely enjoyed them!

Oh, and we started the year by making a Jell-O cell. Enchanted Learning has directions.

Math Memories


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That title makes it sound so much more enjoyable than it was. Don't get me wrong. It wasn't bad. It was fine, and some of it was even a bit amusing. Mostly it was just, well, second-grade math. (Begging the pardon of my former graduate school roommate, who is a math person.)

This was our first year using Singapore Math, and so far it's been a fairly good choice for us. The text is easy for Bearclaw to understand, and the teachers' guide provides solid explanations of concepts as well as plenty of enrichment ideas. Singapore says it runs about 1/2 year ahead in terms of grade level, so we spent almost the entire school year on Level 2A, and this summer we're slowly getting into 2B. At the moment, we're focusing on multiplication tables; Bearclaw is learning the 4s right now and enjoying practicing on Multiplication.com.

Skills attained this school year include the ability to:

  • read, order, and compare whole numbers up to 1,000
  • identify place values in three-digit numerals
  • add and subtract two- and three-digit numbers (with and without regrouping)
  • solve simple word problems involving addition or subtraction
  • measure, estimate, and compare objects by size
  • write the date numerically
  • write and recite multiplication table through the 3s

Skills that Bearclaw has yet to master include:

  • telling or writing time to five-minute intervals
  • solving problems about elapsed time
  • writing number (using number-words)

I don't have any math pictures...I'll work on that next year.

History Highlights


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I've finally gotten all of my materials together for this post. When I look back over everything we did this year, I start to think we actually accomplished some things. Now I just have to avoid glimpsing at the elaborate plan I made before the school year began...

Finished or not, history has been loads of fun, and I especially enjoy the fact that it's a subject we can all do together. We're using a somewhat classical model in our homeschool, while still giving a nod to Charlotte Mason and other styles (how original). So far, the four-year history cycle is working for us, and this was our Medieval/Renaissance year.

We used Story of the World as our spine and supplemented with both independent reading for Bearclaw and read-alouds for all of us. Most of those came from Biblioplan, which is a multi-level history curriculum comprised mostly of book lists. It's a very useful resource, and it provides, in each unit, independent reading ideas for each age group and a family read-aloud selection.

Some of our favorite read-alouds this past year:

Saint Patrick: Pioneer Missionary to Ireland by McHugh
Beorn the Proud by Bulla
The Door in the Wall by Angel
Explorers Who Got Lost by Sansevere-Dreher

We also enjoyed the following recordings by Jim Weiss and Greathall Productions:

"King Arthur and His Knights"
"Arabian Nights"
"Shakespeare for Children"
"Galileo and the Stargazers"
"Masters of the Renaissance"

I find the Activity Guides for Story of the World to be fairly user-friendly, so we did the map work and, sometimes, the review questions for each chapter. Notice I didn't mention the activity projects. I don't have anything against activiy projects, but I always schedule them for Friday, and by Friday I'm in a different mood than I was in when I wrote the lesson plan. Thankfully, the children attneded a homeschool history/arts program on Wednesday afternoons, so they did a multitude of projects. And I did not.

Here are some of the projects/pieces of art they created this year:

We also started a timeline this year, using the figures from Homeschool in the Woods, which has been very helpful (especially for me):

Of course, what the kids remember most are the few big projects we managed to complete at home, including dressing up as Celtic warriors (or maybe something closer to how they were depicted in Bravheart) when we kicked-off in last August:

And the grand finale this spring- a medievel feast with our dear friends, complete with period dress, entertainment, and authentice recipes from Gode Cookery:

The one thing we're still working on is the Reformation. I don't think we'll do any stake burnings, but I'll post pics if I change my mind.