Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Thinking about next year, part 3

It's been a rocky week since Christmas, and a lot of what I had hoped to get done has fallen by the wayside. Henry started getting sick the day after Christmas. In nice to see the fever gone and have him back to nursing again. It will be nice to get a good night's sleep again and have him back in his own bed instead of sharing the sofa bed. Benny also managed to catch whatever Henry had. He's stilling running a fever but is feeling much better as well. Back to thinking about next year.


Jessie has loved Latin for Children A this year so we'll continue with B for her next year. I don't think Violet will be ready for A in the fall for 3rd grade. I'm not sure whether to wait another year or start with a different program and then switch.


Jessie's been doing some of the MindBenders already. If we finish A4 this year, then we could do a couple of the level B books next year. I also want to look at the Red Herring books to see if we want to use those as well next year.


We have Apologia Botany that I would like to work on over the summer with the girls. We could also do Zoology 3 next year, but Jessie's already done a lot of this during first grade. Topics I'd like to cover with Jessie include the human body, earth science and some basic physics and chemistry experiments. I guess I'll need to look around and do some research. I also need to decide if I want to keep her combined with Violet for one or two more years.

Art and Music

I have no ideas here at the present time. I need to look and see what else my library has available. I'd like to try to start some art appreciation to coincide with our history studies next year.

Beyond that there's always geography and other languages. It will give me something to think about after I nail down the rest of the subjects.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

My Christmas Morning

3:30 am - I awake to the sound of footsteps in the living room and open my eyes just in time to see Jessie's face peek into the bedroom. "Santa's been here," she whispers. "It's 3:30. Go back to bed," I respond.

3:40 am - There are now multiple tiptoeing footsteps and whispering in the living room. I realize immediately I should have been more specific with my directions to Jessie. I meant go straight back to bed and don't wake up your sister or brothers. This is followed immediately by the sound of scattering footsteps when they hear me get out of bed. I peek into Henry's room. He, at least, is still asleep. I see Benny sitting up in bed and walk into his room. "Can we open up our Christmas stockings now?" he asks quietly. "Not until the sun comes up. In the mean time go back to sleep or you'll be too tired to have fun with your presents, " I whisper back. One down, two to go. I walk about half way into the girls' room. Jessie is peeking over the railing at me from the top bunk. Violet raises her head when she sees me. "Santa's come," Violet informs me. "If you say so," I answer. "The two of you need to be quiet and go back to sleep now. If you wake Henry up, we won't open presents in the morning." I leave the room hoping that I've given them enough of an incentive to go back to sleep.

3:50 am - My fil's dog is out in our front yard again barking. The barking wakes up Henry. I get back up to fetch baby Henry. We sit in the recliner for a bit and I nurse him back to sleep.

4:20 am - I take Henry back to bed, and finally crawl back under the covers to try to go to sleep again.

5:15 am - It's Henry again. This time I bring him back to bed with me, and we go back to sleep.

6:50 am - The sounds of footsteps, whispers, and giggles returns to the living room. I realize that if I want any pictures with the kids and their stocking that I have to get up. I take some pictures, help Henry with his stocking, and shoo the older three to their rooms to get dressed. DH goes straight into the kitchen to start coffee and then sits down to help Benny get his space shuttle out of the box. I head for the shower to wake up. I know that there will come a time when I will look back at this and miss it. For today, though, I'm just hoping that they are so tired I can get the kids to bed early so I can catch up on some sleep.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Week 20: A short week

So we actually put in two days this week. (I know I'm mean.) Basically we did just enough of the basics to add to our 3 day Thanksgiving week to squeeze in one more week before the end of the year.


Jessie did her last lesson in the Intensive Practice book on area and perimeter Monday. On Tuesday she did the final review at the end of the 4A textbook. A few more reviews in the workbook and Intensive Practice and she'll be on to the 4B series by mid-January.

Violet did a couple of more exercises on time. Basic clock reading review and some problems on elapsed time. Since this is really all review for her I'm sure she'll have no problem picking up mid-unit in January.


Jessie had a spelling test Monday. She had one lesson in grammar then tested to finish the 5th unit in R&S on Tuesday. We only did one day of dictation. I meant to finalize our last CW story and completely forgot. She also read two more chapters in Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh.

Violet also completed one day of cursive copywork, a spelling test, and the last grammar lesson on linking verbs. She read one more chapter in The Wheel on the School putting us at a good stopping place for the month.


History this week consisted only of assembling and decorating lapbooks. I'll post pictures up over the weekend when I have some time.

No science, art, music, or Latin (other than a some vocabulary review).


Benny read through the last of the two letter blending section again and did very well. Tuesday, I thought we'd read a book together so we worked through the first of the Bob books. He found it a bit harder than I expected but he did a great job of sticking with it until the end. Otherwise we did a bit of counting and read some Christmas books.

That's our week. Have a Merry Christmas!!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Thinking about next year, part 2


For the past two years, we have truly enjoyed using the TruthQuest American History for Young Student set. I'm certainly no history buff, but there were several topics in there about which I knew absolutely nothing. It's been fun learning alongside of the kids. What to do for history next year is a conundrum that I have no answer for as of yet. It's the question that's been stirring around in the back of my mind ever since I wrote part 1 of this series back on the 8th. (Hence the lack of blogging over the past couple of weeks. It's hard to blog when your mind keeps wandering off topic.) TheTruthQuest guides for Ancient Egypt/Greece and Ancient Rome are recommended for grades 5-12. I'll have a 5th, a 3rd, a K, and a toddler. I did look at the guide briefly last summer at our state convention. While I was impressed with the number of topics in the Ancient Egypt section. There seemed to be several topics without book recommendations. So I'm been contemplating my options over the past week or so and have narrowed my choices down to 3 basic options.

1. Do history a la TWTM for Jessie. I could use SOTW with Violet and Benny and just make changes to the portions of the text that I disagree with or I could go with the recommendations in the 1st edition and use the Usborne Encyclopedia with supplemental books. I guess it will come down to what the new suggestions for logic stage history will be when the 3rd edition comes out in a couple of months.

2. Switch to TOG. Of all the history programs I've seen, this one comes closest to how I want to do history. On the positive side, it has things planned out for me so I wouldn't have as much planning and reading to do. The biggest downside is that my library doesn't have a lot of the books listed on the bookshelf. I have also perused the 3 week sample of ancient Egypt. I'm sad to say that even using the supplemental book list, the number of books available at our library is appallingly small. Yes, I know that I can look for other books in the same section and substitute, but then I am back to prereading books and trying to choose appropriate material. That doesn't even consider that question of whether or not it would be in our budget to buy even just the program itself much less any additional books like the spines that I might need.

3. Go back to where I started, the CCH website by Christine Miller. Jessie and I used several of her choices during first grade from her 1st and 2nd grade ancient history selections. I skipped some of the books that I thought were too advanced at the time. There are additional suggestion for older children which I could use with Jessie. Violet should be able to handle most of the selections. I would just have to find a way to keep history light and fun for Benny, probably by focusing on more hands on projects. The other plus is that I still have my original 1st grade schedule to work off so I don't have to start completely from scratch.

Exploring the World with Benny, weeks 12 and 13

  • The Emperor's New Clothes by Nadine Bernard Westcott
  • The Little Mermaid by Anthea Bell
  • The Nightingale by Jerry Pinkney
  • The Princess and the Pea by Hans Christian Andersen
  • The Steadfast Tin Soldier by Tor Seidler
  • The Swineherd by Erik Blegvad
  • Thumbelina by Erik Haugaard
  • The Tinderbox by Barry Moser
  • The Ugly Duckling by Jerry Pinkney

  • Baby Beluga by Raffi
  • Down to the Sea With Mr. Magee by Chris Van Dusen
  • An Ocean World by Peter Sis
  • The Snail and the Whale by Julia Donaldson
  • The Snow Whale by Caroline Pitcher
For our whale craft this week, we made and origami whale. If you've never done it, my favorite craft of all time it the stuffed paper bag whale. It works great for older kids too.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Week 19: Pushing to the finish...

The girls have both worked very hard this week although not always on their school assignments. Jessie is finishing up her last few assignments as I type. Overall, we accomplished our work and had a good week. We are all looking forward to our short two day week next week followed by our Christmas break.


Jessie is still working on area and perimeter. Most of her assignments this week were in the Intensive Practice book. Math dragged on forever this week for a combination of reasons. The problems themselves were challenging with most requiring several steps. (On the bright side I do believe I am close to convincing Jessie about the merits of showing her work.) She's had a harder time concentrating with the increased distractions. (DH likes to watch tv in the morning while he drinks his coffee. Baby Henry's vocal volume has seen a substantial increase recently.) And let's face it, there are just more interesting things to think about at Christmas time than math. At any rate the work finally got accomplished, the concepts mastered, and it's time for a weekend break.

Violet finished up with the topic of money, did a couple days of review, and began a new unit on time this week. Violet naturally had the opposite problem from Jessie. Her assignments were short enough and easy enough for her that she could dawdle through breakfast, stop to talk with Benny, or take a peek to see what DH was watching on tv.


In grammar this week, Jessie learned some basics like when to use sit versus set or don't versus doesn't. She took last week's notes on seahorses and turned them into a rough draft on Monday. On Wednesday, she rewrote the rough draft and added in some topic sentences. On Friday, her lesson was about writing a book report. She chose to write about A Little Princess. Both the composition and book report turned out very well. I also decided that she had done enough writing for grammar this week, so we skipped our CW work. Spelling and reading are still progressing well. In dictation, she wanted to skip towards the end of the book and just do one more paragraph out of Prince Caspian. I vetoed that and chose the section of the book where Lucy encounters Aslan. She rolled her eyes the first day, but hasn't complained since then.

Violet's grammar this week has been about using linking verbs. In handwriting, we finished the cursive alphabet and celebrated by writing the first stanza of "Away in the Manger" for copywork on Thursday and Friday. She's still reading The Wheel on the School but managed to get out of reading any fables this week because I forgot to write those assignments on her sheet. (Naturally this was not pointed out to me until the day after the assignment would normally be done.)


In history this week, we finished up the Civil War by reading about Sherman's March to the Sea and Lee's surrender at Appomattox. The girl's assigned biographies covered Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee. We did narrations and booklets for all four. We also added the appropriate timeline figures. Jessie also insisted that we add a figure for Sherman in addition to the one about his march, so we did that.


Science this week was all about baleen whales. We learned about baleen, blue whales, gray whales, humpback whales, and right whales. Jessie and Violet both cheered for the gray whales who were known to overturn many whaling ships and laughed at the right whales frowning face. I had hoped to go outside and measure off how large a blue whale is, but it has rained too much this week. We may do that next week one day just for fun if I remember.


For memory work, both girls are currently continuing to learn the verses with their Sunday school classes even though I am not really excited about the selections this quarter. Rather than working on one selection over several weeks, we are back to a new short verses or even just a partial verse each week. I can already see Violet having trouble remembering the references for the verses. I haven't decided if we will split off and do our own Bible memory work again or not. For poems, Jessie is working on Obedience and Violet is learning The Coin. I've decided to let each one work at their own pace for the remainder of the year. Jessie is doing very well and will continue learning new material. Violet needs to go back and review a few of the poems once we start up in January as I find I am having to prompt her more than I would like.

In Latin for Children A, Jessie completed lesson 16. We learned what the imperfect verb endings are and how to conjugate them. Jessie wasn't the only one I caught chanting the new endings. (Just don't tell Violet and Benny that I overheard them.) For art the girls each drew a mother and baby humpback whale. For music we learned about oboes and clarinets and listened to selections featuring both.


Benny is still working on counting to 50. He's still skipping 15 frequently. He forgets sometimes when to say 30 and when to say 40 or 50. I think starting in January we'll work on number recognition to 20 as a means of reinforcing the number 15. We will probably also take a break from counting by ones and count by 10s. This should help him remember when to say 30, 40, etc. when we start counting by ones again. In phonics, we have reached the end of the first section. We have a couple of consonants that we are reinforcing by matching up consonants and vowel pairs with our magnets. He's spent a lot of time with DH, so we still have a few Anderson tales to finish up. For his craft this week, we made a Christmas ornament with baby Jesus in the manger, a few Popsicle sticks, and a bit of ribbon.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Week 18: On our own...

It has been a loooong week. DH went to the beach to fish with some friends so we have been on our own. Baby Henry didn't sleep very well and ended up in bed with me almost every night. (He makes a great bed warmer albeit a wiggly one.) School was a bit disorganized and took much longer than it should a few days, but we finally managed to get the bulk of our work done.


This week in math Jessie finished up her Intensive Practice book section on parallel and perpendicular lines. Basically, it was just another combination of drawing and identifying the line pairs. Wednesday she began a new unit on perimeter and area. We started with regular rectangle, moved on to two or more rectangle put together, and finished up finding what I call the picture frame area when you stack on rectangle on top of the other. She did an excellent job this week.

Violet finished up her workbook section on fractions and moved on to her Intensive Practice. Again more pictures to determine the fraction, fractions to illustrate, pairs of fractions to compare, and pairs to match up to make a whole. Her favorite part of math was lining up the orange rods for Miquon to make a meter stick.


On Thursday, Jessie finally finished up the chapter in The Horse and His Boy that we have been using for dictation. So Friday, we pulled out Prince Caspian. Jessie's first selection is a long paragraph describing Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy entering the treasure chamber at Cair Paravel after being brought back to Narnia. In grammar this week, we looked at pairs of words such as raise and rise, set and sit, etc. She also had a lesson on taking notes. Rather than follow the grammar assignment, I let her pick any animal she wanted for the lesson. She chose seahorses and took notes from three different sources. Sometime next week, we'll go back and do the actual writing. CW didn't get done yet this week past the outline. The plan is to complete the assignment tomorrow and move on next week. For reading she's on her second week with Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh and read "The Comedy of Errors" in Shakespeare. Her one complaint with Shakespeare was that he didn't give the twins different names so it made the story more confusing.

Violet has made it through the letter X in her cursive handwriting, so we'll finally be ready to switch back to copywork next week. In grammar, we covered state of being verbs. She continues to read The Wheel on the School and selections from The Blue Fairy Book. One area both girls need some work on is simply being more careful in completing spelling assignments. There's been a recent rash of misspelled words in the lessons themselves when the list of words is right there to look at, so we've established a consequence of writing any misspelled word 20 times since simply asking them to be more careful hasn't accomplished anything.


In history, this is our second of three weeks on the Civil War. The highlight of the week was our lesson on the Monitor and the Virginia (or Merrimack as the Union called it). We also spent a day reading about the battle of Gettysburg and the Gettysburg Address. For independent reading, the girls were assigned biographies on David Glasgow Farragut and Clara Barton. We completed booklets for all four and added the corresponding four time line figures.


Science this week was all about toothed whales. We read about dolphins, porpoises, orcas, belugas, narwhals, and sperm whales. Each section in our tabbed booklet has 2 to 4 questions about each topic. There is also a tab for learning about the melon and echolocation. We completed another lab this week as well. The test was to determine whether fresh water or salt water would freeze more quickly. Truthfully, the hardest part of the lab is making sure everyone has their own part to do in the experiment. Jessie filled the cups with water. Violet added the salt, and Benny stirred. Jessie was the only one who correctly guessed that the salt water would take longer to freeze.


Another week, another Latin lesson. We learned 10 new nouns in lesson 15, otherwise it was basically another review of grammar. For art, the girls each drew pictures of orca whales. Music will probably get done tomorrow in the van when we run errands.


Benny's preK is still going very well. I think we have one more letter to learn in Phonics Pathways before moving on to three letter words. In the interim Benny has decided to move himself on. He and Jessie have been drawing maps for a bike race in the basement this week. He brought me a map with the letters MAP written at the bottom and asked me what other letters go in the word map. I told him he had it all figured out and gave him a high five for his work. We've been reading stories from Denmark (basically picture books of Anderson's fairy tales) and books about whales. The Anderson fairy tales are long so we'll need another week to get through them. For a craft Benny chose to fold an origami whale together since he already has a stuffed paper bag one made a couple of years ago.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Monday, December 8, 2008

Thinking about next year, part 1

It's hard to believe that it's already December. I still have plenty of work and planning to do for this years history and science, but still I feel compelled to take a few days to think about next year so that I can start looking for some used curriculum. Today I'll look at core subjects for Jessie for 5th, Violet for 3rd, and Benny for K.


Singapore math continues to work well for both Jessie and Violet. I'm happy with the scope and sequence. I love the mental math strategies. I love the reasoning required with the word problems (except when I'm so tired that I can't figure out how to draw the bar graphs without working the solution algebraically first). For Jessie, we would need to purchase:
  • Singapore Primary Math 5A Textbook ($7.95)
  • Singapore Primary Math 5A Workbook ($7.15)
  • Singapore Primary Math 5A Intensive Practice ($7.95)
  • Singapore Primary Math 5B Textbook ($7.95)
  • Singapore Primary Math 5B Workbook ($7.15)
  • Singapore Primary Math 5B Intensive Practice ($7.95)
  • Singapore Primary Math Challenging Word Problems 5 ($7.55)
For Violet, we already have the 3A and 3B level books as well as the remaining Miquon books for next year. Benny can used our 1A books and Miquon Red book for Kindergarten.

COST: $53.65


Spelling: Both girls continue to do well in the Spelling Workout program. I've already purchased the remaining levels in the series. Jessie can finish levels G and H. Violet should be working in level E. Benny would use level A assuming we progress far enough in phonics. No purchasing required:)

Phonics/Reading: Both girls are doing very well with their independent reading this year. We'll plan to continue using the library and selections from Ambleside or the 1000 Good Books list. I would like to move Jessie from move of a narration to a discussion of her reading. Maybe Teaching the Classics for me. I'll have to decide if I need the DVD. Benny will continue with Phonics Pathways and add library books as needed. Lots of reading for Mom. We may buy one or two books here, but who am I kidding, I haven't even finished this year's list yet.
  • Teaching the Classics, DVD and workbook ($89.00)

Grammar: Last year I had some reservations about Rod and Staff but decided to give it one more try. Wouldn't you know that it works just fine if you actually follow the program the way it's laid out in the teacher's manual. The worksheets and tests provide good additional work. For Jessie, we would need to purchase:

  • Following the Plan: R&S 5 pupil book ($15.30)
  • Following the Plan: R&S 5 worksheets ($2.95)
  • Following the Plan: R&S 5 teacher's manual ($21.90)
  • Following the Plan: R&S 5 tests ($1.95)
For Violet I have the level 3 student and teacher's books. We would only need to purchase the worksheets ($2.95) and the tests ($1.95). No grammar needed for Benny.

Writing: Classical Writing has also worked better for us this year making my own lesson plans instead of buying the instructor's guide and student workbook. Jessie will be ready to move on to CW Homer and CW Poetry for Beginners, and I already purchase both core guides last year used. I'm hoping we can do these with just the core guides as well. Hopefully, I can sit down and read through them after Christmas. Violet should be ready for Aesop. I just need to rethink some lesson plans. Dictation for Jessie and copywork maybe changing over to dictation for Violet can be done with library books or classics that we own. I should have plenty of 3rd grade paper for Violet as well as some K paper to use with Benny to teach the letters and begin some simple copywork.

COST: $136.00


Saturday, December 6, 2008

Exploring the World with Benny, week 12

Our actual topics for the week were the Netherlands and turkeys. (I know I'm a week behind with the turkey theme, but unless you reserve the books 3 weeks ahead it's impossible to get turkey books for the week of Thanksgiving.) There weren't many choices for stories from the Netherlands, but we made up for it by reading Christmas books all week since we unpacked the advent wreaths, books, and kid's nativity set on Sunday. (Now if I could just convince Benny that we don't need to read Merry Christmas Charlie Brown every day.)

The Netherlands
  • The Hole in the Dike by Norma Green
  • Katje, the Windmill Cat by Gretchen Woelfle

  • Farmer Goff and His Turkey Sam by Brian Schatell
  • Sam's No Dummy, Farmer Goff by Brian Schatell
  • Setting the Turkeys Free by W. Nikola-Lisa
  • 'Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving by Dav Pilkey
  • Turkey Surprise by Peggy Archer

No craft link this week. Benny made handprints with fingerpaint and added in some extra tail and wing feathers in different colors. I used a Sharpie to add the eyes and beak. He had a blast!!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Week 17: A Great Week!!

It's been a great week. Things didn't go exactly as I planned, but we accomplished our school work. I caught up on the laundry, and we picked out a Christmas tree on Wednesday after DH got off from work. But the best part of the week by far has been getting TWO FULL NIGHT'S of sleep. WAHOO!!! My brain's beginning to work again. Now that our week is done, we can concentrate on setting up the rest of the Christmas decorations and decorating the tree.


This has been a lightning fast week as far as math goes. Jessie finished up the Intensive Practice section on angles and began a new section in the textbook on perpendicular and parallel lines. Wednesday's math assignment took her all of 10 minutes maybe. Thursday she ended up doing 3 assignments. Basically she's been identifying which lines are perpendicular and which are not, which are parallel and which are not, sometimes as just two lines and sometimes as part of a figure. She's also been drawing both types of lines. We don't have a square so the lines she drew weren't as precise as they could have been, but I figured it was a math lesson not a drafting lesson.

Violet has started a new section on fractions this week. We talked about what 1/2 and 1/4 meant and what each number in the fraction tells us. Basically she either took a fraction and shaded the figure or looked at a figure to determine the fraction. She had so much fun "playing" with the fractions in her math lesson that she went downstairs to play with some more fractions on the dry erase board. She showed DH what she had been doing and they started adding and subtracting fractions as well. So YEAH!! it's been a good math week. I love the easy chapters.


In grammar, we moved on from direct objects to predicate nouns. Jessie did very well in the initial lessons where all of the sentences had one or the other. Once we reached a point where sentences could have either a direct object or a predicate noun or neither she struggled. I think we'll try adding a sentence or two of daily review next week. In reading, Jessie has started Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh and was so engrossed in the story on Monday that she read an extra chapter. I also haven't had to remind her to do her reading this week although I'm not sure if that's due to her interest in the new book or all of our discussions on responsibility. In CW, Jessie rewrote "The Story of William Tell". She did an excellent job of outlining on her own. To be quite honest, I believe it's the best retelling she's done to date. I really couldn't find that much editing to do. Spelling and dictation are still progressing well.

Violet did some grammar catch up this week. We finished off sentence types, introduce the definition of a verb, and discussed action verbs. In handwriting, we learned the cursive R, S, T, and U. Friday I gave her another quiz to see how many of the letters she could remember. She did very well with the lowercase letters only forgetting p and q. She left a few more of the capital letters blank. I'm not sure if she didn't remember them at all or just didn't want to write down the wrong thing. In reading, Violet has also begun a new book, The Wheel on the School, in addition to her weekly reading from The Blue Fairy Book.


In history this week we started learning about the American Civil War. We discussed the attacks on Fort Sumter. I tried to get the girls to look at the situation from both sides. They gravitate towards making it black and white with good guys and bad guys, so it's harder to make them understand that sometimes it's just not that simple. Independently they read a biography of Jefferson Davis. On Wednesday we read (with Mom editing on the fly) about the Battle of Bull Run. We noted the mistakes that the Union troops made by going in without a plan and with untrained troops. We discussed Stonewall Jackson since I couldn't find a good elementary level biography on him. Our map work shows the secession of states from the Union after Lincoln's election and after the first shots were fired. It also shows which slave states did not leave the Union. The booklets cover Fort Sumter, Bull Run, and Jefferson Davis. In addition to these we also added Stonewall Jackson and a general Civil War figure to our time lines.


In Zoology 2, we took one day to do the Lesson 1 experiment testing whether hot water or cold water was heavier. Jessie voted for cold water. Violet thought they would be about the same. Benny just wanted to start the experiment. It actually worked better than I thought. When we added the yellow cold water to the blue hot water, you could definitely tell that the bottom was turning green first. We also started lesson 2 this week on Cetaceans. We filled out one booklet with some general information on whales.


Yes, we actually got all three of these in this week. YEAH!! In Latin Jessie completed lesson 14 covering second conjugation verbs and first declension masculine nouns. In art this week, both of the girls drew dolphins. Violet decided to draw a whole family of them so they wouldn't be lonely. For music, we began learning about the woodwind section of the orchestra by covering the flute and the piccolo.


Benny is still working on counting to 50. He still skips 15 sometimes when he gets in a hurry, but he's definitely improving. In phonics we covered the letter sounds for j, g, and v this week. We read several Christmas books in addition to a few titles that I found relating to the Netherlands and turkeys. For art this week Benny used fingerpaints to make some handprint turkeys. After our science experiment with the girls, he spent quite a bit of time mixing warm and cold water and blowing bubbles through a straw. I told him that his bubble "experiment" showed that air was lighter than water, and he just beamed to be doing his own "real" science experiment.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Henry's Version of Crawling

Here's my first attempt at a blog video. Sorry it's sideways. I'll have to come back and try again later, but it's still very cute to watch. (Yes, I shamelessly baited him with Jessie's library book to get this video.)

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Week 16: Short and light

We had a three day school week here. The kids wanted to watch the Macy's parade on Thursday. I had a list of cleaning, shopping, wrapping, shipping, and organizing that I wanted a few days to work on . (I got the wrapping and shipping accomplished. The rest still needs some work.) Here's a brief look at our week.


Jessie spent the week working on the angle section of the Intensive Practice book. She did some angle measuring and identified different types of angles in various figures. We ran into a few unexpected snags with the latter assignment. Once I explained that she could only count angles on the inside of the figure and modeled what she needed to do, she did very well. She also finished her first section in her CWP 4 book this week. She got the week off from math drill since I hadn't made a drill sheet for her and the wrap up developed a very large tangle in its cord (seemingly all on its own while it was in the school cabinet). Hmm. I still need to go take care of that.

Violet finished up the money section of her Intensive Practice book on Tuesday and did a general review exercise on Wednesday. Her borrowing has improved quite a bit over the past week. She still brings me her problems frequently just to hear me say that her borrowing is fine. My plan for now is to continue through the book. We can revisit the hows and whys of borrowing later if we run into problems again. Her Miquon assignments are still covering square numbers. This week she switched to the abacus in order to come up with her answers. Hopefully by next week, she start to remember the answers. Her CWP problems are going very well.


In grammar Jessie finished up her 4th unit on Monday. Tuesday and Wednesday were spent identifying and then diagramming direct objects. In spelling we squeezed in a full week by taking the week off from critical thinking. That will allow us to take off spelling completely the week of Christmas. In dictation, we're still plugging away. No assigned reading. For CW, we completed our retelling of "Bruce and the Spider".

Violet also completed a full week of spelling. We forgot (technically I forgot and she didn't bother to remind me) to do her grammar lesson on Tuesday, so she got the week off from that. In cursive, she learned the letters P, Q, and R. I'm excited to think that in a couple of weeks we can switch over to cursive copywork. No assigned reading this week.


We took the week off from both.


Instead of starting the next lesson in Latin, we spent a few days reviewing. All three days Jessie went through her Latin vocabulary cards. On Monday, I gave her 3 verbs to conjugate in the present tense. Tuesday, she declined 3 nouns. She also had 4 sentences each day where she had to choose the correct form of the verb and predicate noun or adjective if included before translating.

No music this week. (I did finally get the book from the library so we can start again next week.) For art the girls each drew an anglerfish.


Benny and I played with the letter magnets this week to practice his phonics. In counting he made it to 50 on Wednesday. YEAH! No themes or crafts this week. We read a few books, and he spent as much time as he could helping DH.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Exploring the world with Benny, weeks 10 and 11

I noticed on Friday when I uploaded my last weekly report that I had forgotten to list the books that Benny and I had read the week before so I'll do two weeks today. We actually ended up spending about a week and a half on Germany and dogs. There are so many adaptations of fairy tales from the Brothers Grimm that the list could have been much longer than it was. The numbers of books about dogs is equally lengthy so I simply stuck to some of the books that I remembered the girls enjoying when they were younger. The second half of last week and this week we are reading books about Spain and dinosaurs. There are a lot of books that have kids pretending to be or play with dinosaurs. I chose to limit our selections to books that actually had a dinosaur as a character as a means of simply reducing the number of choices. Here are the books that we enjoyed.

Week 10

  • The Fisherman and His Wife by the Brothers Grimm
  • The Frog Prince by Paul Galdone
  • The Goose Girl : A Story from the Brothers Grimm by Eric A. Kimmel
  • Hansel and Gretel by James Marshall
  • Iron John by Eric A. Kimmel
  • Little Red Riding Hood by Jerry Pinkney
  • Mrs. Goat and Her Seven Little Kids by Tony Ross
  • Seven at One Blow : A Tale from the Brothers Grimm by Eric A. Kimmel
  • The Three Spinning Fairies : A Tale from the Brothers Grimm by Lisa Campbell Ernst
  • The Turnip by Walter de la Mare

  • Angus and the Cat by Marjorie Flack
  • Angus and the Ducks by Marjorie Flack
  • Angus Lost by Marjorie Flack
  • Bark, George by Jules Feiffer
  • Harry, the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion
  • McDuff Comes Home by Rosemary Wells
  • McDuff Moves In by Rosemary Wells
  • McDuff's Wild Romp by Rosemary Wells
  • Pinkerton, Behave! by Steven Kellogg
  • A Rose for Pinkerton by Steven Kellogg
Dalmation Craft

Week 11

  • The Beautiful Butterfly : A Folktale from Spain by Judy Sierra
  • Don Quixote and the Windmills by Eric A. Kimmel
  • The Girl, the Fish & the Crown : A Spanish Folktale by Marilee Heyer
  • Squash It! : A True and Ridiculous Tale by Eric A. Kimmel

  • Danny and the Dinosaur by Syd Hoff
  • Danny and the Dinosaur Go to Camp by Syd Hoff
  • Dinosaur Roar! by Paul and Henrietta Stickland
  • Dinosaurs, Dinosaurs by Byron Barton
  • Happy Birthday, Danny and the Dinosaur! by Syd Hoff
  • Sammy and the Dinosaurs by Ian Whybrow
  • Too Big! by Claire Masurel
  • The Trouble with Tyrannosaurus Rex by Lorinda Bryan Cauley
Our pattern came from T-Rex Paper Craft. Instead of following the directions and using string or straws to make the parts movable, Benny chose to simply use a few brads.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Week 15: Improving Our Responsibility

It's been a good week. We've gotten the bulk of our school work done. Both girls have improved this week in being more responsible for their own work and have done a much better job of staying focused as it went along. I feel like we're in a good position to lighten up next week instead of trying to play catch up before the holiday. Here a look at our week.


We finished fractions! WooHoo!! Jessie has started a new unit in math Wednesday and is working on angles. Wednesday, she practiced reading the protractor that was drawn on the page. Thursday, she measured her own angles between zero and 180 degrees. Friday she learned how to figure out angles larger than 180. Her CWP is still going well. She still working through a section of challenging problems this week. She needed my help a couple of days with the problem set up. Today, even I couldn't set up the diagrams correctly without working the problem algebraically first.

Violet is still plugging away at the money topic. After a couple of review pages in the text, she has begun the money section in the Intensive Practice book, and has done very well. In Miquon, she been working with square numbers. The first two days, she was only working with numbers up to 5 squared. Wednesday, she had to figured out 6 through 10 squared. She pulled out the cuisenaire rods and worked through the page all by herself without asking for my help. I love to see her confident enough to try to work a problem out on her own.


The one area that isn't quite finished yet this week is Jessie's language arts. In CW, we were supposed to be rewriting "Bruce and the Spider". We did get it outlined on Monday, but that was the only day we got to it. Spelling is going well. In grammar, she has almost finished the unit on verbs. She did finish reading Little Lord Fauntleroy, and her Shakespeare story for the week was "Much Ado About Nothing". Dictation is still going well. I think we'll finish up the battle scene in The Horse and His Boy sometime next month. (I wonder what she'll pick next?)

Violet is continuing to do well with spelling. She's done a better job this week of looking up words that she doesn't know in the dictionary at the back of the spelling book. In grammar, we discussed exclamatory sentences on Tuesday and practiced identifying types of sentences on Thursday. In reading, she has finished up Follow My Leader today and will be ready for a new selection after Thanksgiving. Her cursive handwriting is coming along very well. We're up to the letter O now. On the right are her sentences we used to review today. Not the best sentences in the world, but I did manage to use all of the upper and lowercase letters that we had learned so far. The only letter that gave her any problem was the uppercase K. I'll have to make an effort to work it in more next week for some additional practice.


History this week was all about Abraham Lincoln. We read about his boyhood up through the point where he became president. Independently, the girls read a biography of Allan Pinkerton, the first American detective. We made booklets for both men and added Lincoln and a figure for the new states added in the 1860s to our time lines. For map work this week, we did an updated map of what America looked like in 1860.

We finally finished the first chapter of Zoology 2 this week. Our topics were the ocean floor and the abyss. After we finally found a balloon and a two liter bottle, I demonstrated how an increase in pressure can cause the balloon to shrink in size. There is one other experiment at the end of the chapter that we might try next week for fun, but I don't think we'll do a write up on it.

No music or art. Maybe next week. In Latin, we've completed lesson 13. Our memory work is still plugging along.


Benny has done very well this week. We're still working on counting to 40. Sometimes he goes too fast and skips a few numbers. When he gets to 39, he usually stops and looks at me. All I have to do is repeat 39 to prompt him to remember the last number. In phonics, he learned the sounds for the letters b, d, p, and t this week. He still mixes up the letters b and d sometimes, but once I tell him which letter it is he chooses the correct sound. His blending is improving. He doesn't always want to take time to sound things out and tends to make more mistakes when he's in a hurry. I think we'll probably just scramble some letters with the magnets next week before introducing more new sounds. Our reading topics for this week and into next week have been Spain and dinosaurs. I only found a couple of tales from Spain, but we've had plenty of dinosaur books to choose from. Below is the T Rex we made together this morning.