Weekly Wrap-Up: Week 4-2011



I really need to come up with some better titles for my wrap-ups. They're easy to keep track of this way, though.

As we're closing in on our first month of schooling, I think I have a pretty good idea as to how our schedule is working for us (and how it's not).

Since I don't have a whole lot of highlights from this weeks studies, I think I'll concentrate on the changes we're making.

1. Bible - I want to sing hymns every morning, I really do, but my stress level actually goes down more when I use part of breakfast to get ready for the day's lessons. We can sing hymns in the car.

2. P.E. - OK, so I know I haven't mentioned this. It's a little embarrassing. I mean, really, isn't "no P.E." one of the reasons TO homeschool? Perhaps I can elaborate on another post, but lets just say I thought it would be a good way for all of us who could use a little morning exercise to get some in. What better way to exercise, too, than as a family? Can't you just hear the laughter (it's probably just a suppressed memory of the laughter that my gym uniform evoked)?

On the positive side, the kids are using this time to ride their bikes in the driveway. (I guess you know who's not getting their exercise, now.)

3. Nature Study - I put 3 nature walks a week on our schedule. I know. I'm laughing looking at it now, too. I have to re-type the schedules. One will be all we can manage.

As I look back over these items, they all represent images of how I think our homeschool is supposed to look. That's always gets me in trouble.

Thankfully, I have friends like Ellen who caution me against things like paying up front for the entire year's P.E. curriculum.

Weekly Wrap-Up: Weeks 2 & 3 - 2011



Our morning Bible time is working well, now that we've moved our devotion to dinnertime. We practice reciting our memory verses and character traits and then read some related Bible passages. I'm finding that it's better to do just a little bit everyday, rather than skip it completely because time is too short to finish everything.

The one thing I would like to include, though, is prayer at the end. As we wrap up Bible and breakfast together, everything has been a little chao
tic, and we (I) frequently let myself get carried to the next thing without stopping to pray.

We are all still enjoying our evening devotion time using Long Story Short. The short passages and simple but thoughtful questions have really stirred some great discussions around the dinner table.


Bearclaw's class covered India, Afghanistan and Africa in the late 19th century over the last two weeks. The section on Africa focused on David Livingstone's work, about which I was fairly ignorant (save all but the Stanley quote).

Shortbread began his study of ancient Egypt with looking at the significance of the Nile river to that culture. I'm sure he's having a bit a deja vu , as I know he remembers quite a bit from when Bearclaw studied the ancient period.

While Bearclaw finds Abraham Lincoln an interesting study, he is not thrilled with reading a biography. He's slightly more excited about this one than the Paul Revere biography that they read last year, but he's still rather read historical fiction or fantasy.

Shortbread is enjoying The Real Story of Creation, which accompanies the first weeks of digging into the ancient time period in history. The illustrations are lovely, and it covers the creation story from Genesis in a way that could work with almost any Christian viewpoint.

If review is helpful in grammar, then Bearclaw should be gaining a lot right now, since his class has been in review mode for all of these first weeks.

Spelling presents the opposite situation, since the class has skipped from Spelling Workout C to Spelling Workout E.
It's been challenging!

Shortbread has also been reviewing, using Saxon Phonics. So far, it's not my favorite, but then, I didn't do a great job of giving Bearclaw a solid foundation in phonics, so I'll wait and see.

More of the same: review. But next week, Bearclaw starts measurement (length, weight, etc).

We're continuing to use The Handbook of Nature Study blog (by Barb) for our nature study. Last week, we took a trip to a local park for some hiking/walking and found some items of interest to log as the first entries in our nature journals.

I was pleased with both boys willingness to take a break from their digging, wandering, wading, etc. to focus on sketching. Bradley focused on acorns (which he needs find "further evidence" about). Shortbread zeroed in on the Common Pawpaw tree, which has huge leaves and looks as if it belongs in a prehistoric tropical forest somewhere.

I'm so far behind on Wrap-ups (crud, it's only September), that I can't even link to the other Wrap-Ups.

Weekly Wrap-Up: Week 1/2011


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Yeah! We all lived through our first week of school. There were a few scrapes, bumps and bruises, but nothing permanent.

The boys had a great first day at their one-day-a-week program (the dog didn't go):

As for the school work - it went something like this:

We finally have a plan that I hope will work. We will continue to memorize the verses that our hybrid program sends home, as well as study the Christian character trait they assign each month, but we're moving our daily devotion/study to dinner time. Dh has agreed to lead; he's doing a fabulous job (he's much funnier than I am). We're using a new book called Long Story Short, and it goes through the Old Testament in very short, manageable pieces, while showing how each weekly topic points to Jesus. I was skeptical of it's claim that it only takes 10 minutes a day, but it's true. All of us are loving it!

The year I've dreaded has arrived: the boys are studying completely different time periods for history. It IS more work for me, as I predicted, but it's also proving to be easier in some respects, because the discussions are a little smoother one-on-one. I guess it's like many things, and much of the outcome will depend upon my attitude.

4th grade - Bearclaw is starting the "modern" time period, from 1850 to the present. This week we looked at the huge British Empire during Queen Victoria's reign and also discussed the increasing tension over slavery in the U.S.

I began reading Courage to Run as a family read-aloud, which is based on Harriet Tubman's early years. We also listened to the beginning of Oliver Twist on audio, read by Dick Cavet. Unfortunately, he read so fast, even I had trouble following it, so we never finished it. We'll try again in a few years.

Finally, we discussed the work of George Mueller in England on behalf of poor orphans. We listened to and audio recording about him from Your Story Hour, which the children enjoyed.

1st grade - This is Shortbread's first year of narrating for history. In the past, he has followed along with our history using coloring pages, maps, and projects, but now he has his own history narration book and he'll be doing the same things he saw his brother doing over the last few years.

Bearclaw is reading a biography of Abraham Lincoln. He made the classic "milk carton log cabin" by attaching pretzels to a sawed-off half-n-half container (no school cafeteria to provide the 8-ounce milk carton) with royal icing:

1st grade -
Shortbread's first literature book is The Real Story of Creation. I do most of the reading to him, and then he narrates to me and works on the literature assignments.

4th grade - Bearclaw is feeling pretty comfortable with language arts this year, as his spelling, vocabulary, grammar and writing curricula haven't changed since last year. He's humming right along with much less dawdling. Halleluhia!

1st grade - Shortbread has not yet started spelling, but for handwriting and phonics, his class is using Saxon Phonics. The jury is still out, I guess, but the work seems rather dry to me. Conversely, I'm a big fan of the grammar curriculum, First Language Lessons. Bearclaw and I used this in first grade, and we both enjoyed most of the lessons.

4th grade -

Yeah! Bearclaw has moved on to Primary Mathematics 3B, which is from Singapore Math. So far, so good. Of course, it 's mostly review now. He did manage to figure out one of their methods for mental calculation that I just couldn't get. You know, old dog and all.

1st grade -
Shortbread is zipping along in Primary Mathematics 1A. He is definitely a math guy.

With Bearclaw in 4th grade and Shortbread in 1st, I'm beginning to see this year as the last year I'll have "young" children. Because of this neurosis, I have decided to chuck formal, classical science and cling to what's left of their childhoods with nature study.

We're using the "Handbook of Nature Study" blog, by Barb, who is also the Harmony Arts gal, I found out. We purchase her "getting started" packet, with the first 10 lessons and some sketch
pages. I'll try to post pics of our adventures.

Here's our first nature "walk" with some local friends:

It evolved into a sand/dirt castle building session, but we did see a black rat snake slither down the opposite bank of this creek, and then two frogs jumped into the water from the area where the snake was. Later, another snake swam down the creek a little ways from us.

We fear slightly that the next trek might be a bit of a let down. At least for them.

That's it for this week one! Only 35 left...