Weekly Wrap-Up: Focus on Fall


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Our weeks begin on Thurdsay instead of Monday, because that is when we begin working on a new assignment sheet from the kids' Wednesday hybrid program. Now I just have to remember what we did way back then.

The weather where we live has been lovely and pretty warm, and we drove up to some property we have in north Georgia for the fall festival there. (When I say property, I mean a small uncleared lot that may never see so much as a toothpick standing on it, but we'll see.) The "giant hay bale" was a highlight for the boys, until we they climbed down and all of the itching, coughing and sneezing started, that is.

Bearclaw completed a fall nature study assignment last week, which included sitting in the yard and sketching. I called him to work on this one afternoon while he was playing outside with Shortbread and a neighbor boy. Surprisingly, both Shortbread and the friend decided to abandon their play and sit down to sketch too. It was so sweet to see all three of them lined up, with paper and sketchpad in hand, gazing quietly out into the trees.

The sketching was followed by painting with watercolors. Here's Bearclaw's completed painting:

Our history studies this week focused on Charles I of England, and I teetered between amusement and horror when I saw the boys' narration drawings; they both drew what might catch the imagination of any boy listening to the story of Charles I - his beheading (complete with lots of red colored pencil)!

We also completed the book, Runaway's Revenge, which we picked up during our study of the slave trade a couple of weeks ago. The book is part of the "Trailblazers" series; each book in the series tells the story of a "hero of the faith" by placing a young person it the midst of the events of each hero's life. Runaway's Revenge is the story of John Newton.
Shortbread worked on the letter "L" over the week, and we read a few good "L" picture books, including:
Leaf Man
Angus Lost
The Very Lonely Firefly
The Little Rabbit
Blueberries for Sal (gotta get those "L's" in somewhere besides the beginning!)
We're on tap for yet another beautiful weekend...hope yours is lovely.

Weekly Wrap-Up: The First One



Most of what I've posted in the past has been in the "wrap-up" category, but over the summer I it was a recap of the whole academic year, and this past week it covered six weeks. Perhaps a weekly review would be better.

Bearclaw finished the novel Pocahontas and the Strangers by Clyde Robert Bulla. Much of the week, then, was spent preparing a project on the book for his humanities class. Despite seeing several on the given list that I thought would be right up his alley, he chose to build a Powhatan longhouse. They always choose the thing that will make the biggest disaster of the kitchen. Anyway, it WAS fun and turned out quite well.

While staying within this general time period, we took a look this week at both Japanese and Chinese history, discussing the shoguns in Japan and the end of the Ming Dynasty in China. We included a literature selection from each country, both of which were retellings of traditional stories. From China came Lon Po Po, which is similar to Little Red Riding Hood in many ways. The Boy of the Three-Year Nap, from Japan, is a fun folktale and a Cadlecott Honor book.

We try to cook at least one thing related to our the time or place of our history study each week, but time ran short on Wednesday, and instead of the homemade Gyoza I had planned, we cooked frozen potstickers. At least this was an option. Last week, when we covered the Thirty Years' War, we made Schnitzel. I don't think frozen would have been an option there. (too bad I missed doing a "wrap-up" that week - we even streamed polka music in on the laptop during dinner from "24-7 Polka Heaven". Check it out for your next Octoberfest!)

Bearclaw spent a good deal of time categorizing sentences and contructing topic sentences in grammar. In Singapore Math, he's working on adding and subtracting money. I'm better at the subtracting, because that's all I do! Tee-hee!

Shortbread's curriculum centers around a different "letterbook" each week in the humities hybrid program the boys attend. The kindergarteners do not progress trough these alphabetically, but in a way that allows them to begin to read and spell simple words. The week's letterbook was "Ss", and I'm thrilled that he is now beginning to sound out words. He's very proud too!

Each day, Shortbread and I sit down to read some of the wonderful children's books we own or have borrowed from the library. We try to pick one theme book (currently that's "autumn") and one book that has the letter of the week in the title. Some of our favorites from this week were:
When I'm Sleepy by Jane R. Howard
The Very Busy Spider by Eric Carle
A Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
The Berenstain Bears Learn About Strangers by Jan and Stan Berenstain

We weren't all work and no play. Dh and my dad took both boys to an airshow at a nearby Air Force Base. Going with "Papa" and their dad is extra fun for the boys, as Paps is a retired Air Force jet and helicopter pilot, and dh is a liscenced pilot as well. They had a great time, and I cleaned the living room carpet (which I thoroughly enjoyed, by the way).

I hope I can make a habit of summarizing our weeks and sharing them with all the other great homeschool bloggers at Weekly Wrap-ups, hosted by Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers

Random Acts of Science


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As a former science teacher, I should be leading my children in mind-blowing activities and experiments followed by enlightening and insightful analysis each week, right? If so, I'm in big trouble. You see, I didn't receive much of a history education myself, so I'm enjoying and focusing there. That's where I would sit if I could, and we'd address science in middle school. After all, I've been there and done all that science stuff before. My children, however, have not, and they are fascinated with all things science.

Despite my background, I was struggling with how to teach something like Biology at a level that would be interesting and helpful to my young boys (which is why my then first grader knew, and still knows, all the major invertebrate phyla). So I began to search for a science curriculum, and I didn't care for most of them. I will go into my objections to most of what's out there some other time, but I did finally find something I love. It's called Real Science 4 Kids, and it's written by homeschool mom and biochemical physicist (no, no one knows what that is) Dr. Rebecca Keller.

Even better, one of my homeschool friends was interested in using the same curriculum with her two boys - instant co-op! We've done pretty well at this, but Friday is our science day, and so it's also the day that people go out of town, have relatives coming in, go on field trips, etc.

Real Science 4 Kids has several levels and covers Physics, Biology, Chemistry, and (they're working on) Earth Science. We started with the lowest level Physics for our first 10 week term. We won't quite manage to get everything in within the 10 weeks, but hey, we did succeed at setting up the "Lemon Battery".

Aside from such organized lessons, there are always the opportunistic science activities, many of which involve nature study.

On a recent trip to the Sea Grove beach on the Florida panhandle, dh corralled a crab into a bucket (not without first suffering a small laceration from the cornered crab's claw) and we watched as he burrowed backward into the sand.

We also visited Gulf World in Panama City Beach on that trip, which was not exactly Sea World, but then, I wasn't exactly looking for Sea World crowds. We did learn some interesting things about marine animals, including what they eat:

Yep, I'm raising little biochemical physicists all right. Yes, indeedy.

Menu Plan Monday: A Little Bit Chili



It's getting cooler here, especially at night, so I'm beginning to think more about soups and stews, which I love to cook and to eat. That will also give me a chance to use some of the vegetables I froze this summer, since I missed the farmers' market this week and am low on produce. Also, we're studying Japanese and Chinese history this week, so we'll dabble in some Asian cuisine.

I've posted before about the meal plan outline that I use every week. Due to some schedule changes, it's been modified somewhat, so I put the categories in this plan too.

  • Monday (vegetarian) - Curried Lentil Stew and Brown Rice

  • Tuesday (spaghetti) - Spaghetti Night

  • Wednesday (meal to match history/geography study) - Gyoza

  • Thursday (seafood) - Chili-Lime Glazed Salmon w/ Cornbread casserole and Green Tomato Salad

  • Friday (Pizza) - Grilled Pizza with Olives, Peppers, and Onions

  • Saturday (soup/stew or sandwiches) - Chili

  • Sunday (big Sunday dinner) - BBQ Chicken, Green Beans, Yellow Squash w/ Bacon and Onions, Cheese Biscuits, and Homemade Frozen Pumpkin Yogurt with Maple syrup for dessert.

I just love being able to have stew and chili in the same week; if the highs get down into the 60's, we'll have to have soup everyday!

Picking Up Where I Left Off


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Did you ever start something, fall behind, and then resist picking it up again because you were so far behind that the thought of catching up overwhelmed you? So it is with the blog for me. I also had this ridiculous idea that I would blog after all of my other work was finished. You know, instead of sitting around twiddling my thumbs as I usually do.

One of the purposes of this blog is to log our homeschooling activities and accomplishments. In the six weeks since I last posted we've been working our way through the humanities curricula for third grade and kindergarten provided by the hybrid school we're using this year, while continuing with our own math and science programs. The boys, especially Bearclaw, have been challenged by the amount of work required for the humanities program.

Shortbread's kindergarten class at the hybrid program is focusing on early phonics and handwriting as they go through a set of "letterbooks". As you can imagine, there is one book for each letter. They are cute, but on the first day of use, Shortbread exclaimed, "That looks like a baby book!" He had a point. However, he's warmed to using them and loves going to class, taking part in "sharing time", and playing with his friends.

Bearclaw's class puts a heavy emphasis on grammar, using both Shurley English and some exercises from Easy Grammar. The best thing to come from this is their recent work in writing, which has helped Bearclaw learn to outline and write a 3-point expository paragraph. This is not something I expected him to be able to do this year, and I'm happy to have had the help of his teacher in working on it.

The third grade curriculum also includes spelling, vocabulary, and critical thinking, but history consumes the bulk of time not spent on grammar. Using Biblioplan and SOTW, we've been using Bearclaw's history work as our family history study. Currently we are studying the early colonial period of America, beginning with Jamestown and moving on to Plymouth Plantation. Our studies have included investigating the Native American populations that the colonists were in contact with, and the growth of the slave trade in North America. We've also looked at what was happening in Europe during this time, including the government of England and Scotland and the Thirty Years' War. Throughout it all, we've seen the overarching impact of the divide between Protestantism and Roman Catholocism.

Here are some of the highlights:

The first day of classes-

Making Native American pinchpots and colonial hand-dipped candles-

Making hasty pudding as the Indians taught the colonists-

And making homemade shortbread when we studied Scotland-

So now I think it's time I joined Kris's Weekly Wrap-Ups. Six weeks of review forces me to drag around too many photos!