Wednesday, April 30, 2008

So who was paying attention in history yesterday?

ME: OK Violet, why were the British going to Lexington and Concord?

VIOLET: Umm.... to fight?

I sigh and shake my head when suddenly Benny decides to chime in....

BENNY: For the guns and the gunpowder.

ME: That's right. Good listening.

I hand the book to Violet, tell her to read it to herself, and then we'll try again.


BENNY: Do you know why they started fighting?

ME: Why?

BENNY: Because those men started to burn part of their town.

Of course, Benny also had the advantage of sitting on my lap where he could see all of the pictures as well.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Academic Calendar for 2008-2009

I decided to plan for 40 weeks of academics again this year. I like the flexibility of being able to stagger when we start subjects at the beginning of the year, so that both the beginning and end of the school year are lighter. The calendar will mainly cover the core subjects. I'm hoping that a shorter summer break and a few more weeks off during the year will help keep the kids refreshed and ready to work. We'll probably save some science and either some history or literature for the next summer break (depending on how well it works this year) to maintain a bit of structure (since last summer they were asking me when school started long before I was ready). I've printed of a one page school year calendar from to put in the front of my school binder and labeled the days off with pencil so that we can adjust if necessary as the year progresses. The hardest part will likely be the 10 week stretch in January to March, but I thought the kids would rather finish earlier in May when the weather is nice than have a break in the winter (and the March break is scheduled around the time of the girls birthdays which worked well this year).

Our 2008 -2009 school schedule

Week 1 - 8: July 7 - August 29
Off: September 1-5 (flexible)
Week 9 - 12: September 8 - October 3
Off: October 6 - October 10 (vacation)
Week 13-19 1/2: October 13 - November 26
Off: November 27 & 28 (holiday)
Week 19 1/2 - 22: December 1 - December 23
Off: December 24 - January 2 (holiday)
Week 23 - 33: January 5 - March 20
Off: March 23 - 27 (testing and spring break)
Week 34 - 40: March 30 - May 15
Off: May 18 - July 3 (summer planning break)

Monday, April 28, 2008

Planning for Baby #4 - update

Well April is almost over, and we're currently at 18 days and counting until my due date. Of course when the baby comes is up to the baby so we'll just have to wait and see on that. At any rate, I decided it was time to check on how I'm doing at getting everything ready and make sure I haven't left out anything critical at this point.

1. Pick out names.
2. Buy a carseat.
3. Buy newborn size diapers.
4. Wash cradle and crib bedding.
**I've only washed the cradle bedding so far because I haven't cleared out my office to make room for the crib yet.
5. Wash newborn clothing.
6. Set up crib.
**Need to clean up my office still.
7. Determine if I need to buy furniture for the baby's room.
**Also waiting on #8. I just can't plan with so much stuff.
8. Rearrange and/or clear out the office to make room for baby items.
**Taxes are finished. Still have a few things to consign or sell on EBay waiting for me. Hoping to make some real progress here this week.
9. Wash newborn toys.
**I had forgotten this one. Will try to work on this week.
10. Put together diaper bag of supplies and items needed to take to the hospital.
11. Write out another birth plan so I don't have to be arguing while in labor.
**Had also forgotten this one. Will try to find my last plan this week and make any modifications next week.

Overall, I think we have the essentials done if the baby were to come today. Still I would like to make some more progress on the list as I can over the next couple of weeks.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Week 33: Starting down the home stretch

It's hard to believe that April is almost over. With May just around the corner, it's almost time to welcome our newest baby, take a break from the full school schedule and relax more, and enjoy the beautiful weather that has already started. We had a bit of a rough start to our week, but overall we did accomplish alot.


Jessie is still really struggling with the CWP book this week. We actually only completed the second section because we worked through the whole section twice to give her more practice with the diagrams. For whatever reason she had a really hard time concentrating at the beginning of the week and was making lots of basic computation errors on her problems. Don't even ask me how many hours of math we did on Monday and Tuesday. It wasn't pretty, but we survived. On Wednesday we started the section over again. It still took her a long time to work the problems, but she did much better with basic computation and just focussing on the assignment. I've come to the conclusion that we simply need to work through the book very slowly so that she masters the technique of drawing and using the bar diagrams to solve the problems. We'll continue math over the summer a few times a week until it's finished.

Violet's still breezing through her math. She's finished up the text and workbook section of multiplying and dividing by 2 and 3. That just leaves one IP section and the end of the semester reviews before she is finished with this year's math.


For memory work, the girls are continuing memorizing the 13th chapter of I Corinthians and the poem, The Swing. This will be the last new material we work on for this year and then we'll just review over the summer. Jessie was able to correctly spell the last 5 words on her missed words list this week so both girls are now done with spelling. Jessie has a few more grammar lessons, which we'll try to double up on and finish next week. For CW, we picked the fable The Farmer and the Nightengale to use for writing. Unfortunately, we didn't get a chance to finish editing it because we spent a lot of time at the end of the week getting ready for Benny's birthday party. For Literature, we finished reading The Sign of the Beaver and have started on Mr. Revere and I (although not very consistently this week.)


It's hard to believe that we've almost finished our US geography lapbooks. This week the girl's completed booklets for Virginia and Washington. That leaves 3 booklets for next week and then we can assemble the lapbook. YEAH!!! We still haven't learned all of the states and capitals, but I'm planning to just practice a few each day either over breakfast or lunch until we finish.

For history we got a lot accomplished this week. We caught up in reading by covering both Phillis Wheatley as well as Paul Revere and his midnight ride this week. We added timeline figures for Daniel Boone, Samuel Adams, the Boston Tea Party, and Paul Revere. We also assembled booklets to correspong with our timeline figures with an additional booklet for Phillis Wheatley. Rather than drawing our on maps, I found and printed a map of Paul Revere's ride which also has little clocks showing what time he was doing what.

For science, we started the Apologia chapter on bats. I will confess that the girls weren't too excited in the beginning, but have since decided that bats aren't so bad after all. We completed booklets on echolocation and types of bats. We also started a booklet with more general information that we'll be finishing up next week.


Benny has been quite busy with his new toys from various family members that he received for his birthday. He's spent a lot of time building with the Kids K'Nex Transportation set (which I also find to be really cool). We actually did preschool 3 days this week. In letters, we've added Xx. In numbers, we're just practicing counting. He still forgets fifteen most of the time. For number recognition, he's taken to reading the numbers on the VCR clock to his sisters several times a day. He does very well up to 8. He still gives me a skeptical look when I try to explain that what looks like a g is actually a 9.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

One of my excuses for not getting out of bed early...

Friday, April 18, 2008

Week 32: Moving Along

We didn't quite finish up everything on my list this week. DH found out Monday that he had the flu so we did a lot of extra disinfecting. Jessie woke up with a fever on Friday. Since I also had an OB appointment that morning, we cut school back to the absolute basics. Overall, it was still a good week.


Jessie really struggled with the Singapore Challenging Word Problems book this week. It was the first time that she had ever hit a problem that required drawing the bar diagrams in order to find a solution. It didn't help that on Monday, when she needed help, my brain was too tired and foggy to explain the bar diagrams in a way that she could understand. I spent Monday afternoon working through the problems myself, and Tuesday we tried again. We worked through two of the examples, and then I had her rework the first twelve problems doing only the odd ones with bar diagrams for each one. Wednesday, instead of working the second 12 problems, I cut it back to 6 of the more challenging ones and finished the section off on Thursday. I'm hoping the multiplication section will be easier for her next week.

Violet has spent the week multiplying by 3 and did a great job. I can only recall one careless mistake in her workbook exercises. She's loving math right now simply because it is fun and easy. She's also quite excited to be almost finished with herMiquon book.


There's not a lot to report here since we've started finishing up some of these subjects. The memory work was continued from last week. We're continuing copywork and dictation through the end of the month. Jessie has 5 words left on her misspelled list to work on next week, and then hopefully she'll be finished with spelling. We did do the grammar part of the CW lesson on Moses on the Mountain, but I've decided that I would rather have a shorter story to work with for the writing portion next week. We'll probably substitute a different fable from Aesop instead.


In geography, we completed booklets on Texas, Utah, and Vermont. It's hard to believe we'll be finished in two more weeks and ready to assemble the lapbooks. For history we've been reading about the Boston Tea Party and Samuel Adams. The timeline figures and booklets didn't get done Friday since Jessie was sick so we'll try to catch up with those on Monday.

In science we have finished the section on birds. On the right is a picture of our crossword puzzle booklet for this lesson.


Benny had a light week with lots of extra play time. We did do preschool 3 days. No new letters were added since he's still working on V and W. We also did some more counting. He does great except that he keeps leaving out 15. I'm sure it will sink in eventually. No Kumon books this week. He preferred to color in a regular coloring book or simply draw fish on a blank sheet of paper. He also pulled out his scissors and made boats from the scraps of cardstock left over from the girls' science booklets. (At least he cleaned up the mess without a complaint.)

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Figuring out how to end the year...

Have Jessie finish CWP book - hopefully by the 1st week of May, if not completed before baby comes then add remainder to summer schooling 2-3 days a week until complete
Have Violet finish 2A series of books - should be complete by the end of the first week of May

Language Arts
Memory work for both - continue reviewing some through summer taking a week off for the baby
Dictation for Jessie - Stop at the end of April
Spelling and grammar for Jessie - should finish this month
Copywork for Violet - Stop at the end of April
Reading aloud for Violet - Stop at the end of Charlotte's Web

Other subjects
Geography - should be finished by the end of April with booklets, continue state/capital memorization over summer
History - take one week off for baby and continue into June through TQ topic 45
Science - complete lessons on bats and flying reptiles and take off the rest of May, pick up in June with insects

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

If only it was always like this....

Monday, April 14, 2008

I'm so ready to be done with school this year...

This is the first year that I believe that I am more eager for school to be finished than my children. I keep looking at how many lessons are left in math and mentally tally how many weeks until we finish. I wonder where would be a good place in science and history to stop and take a break. I look at what we have scheduled for the day and ask myself do we really need to do all of this or could I cut a bit here and there.
Part of the problem is simply that with only 4 1/2 weeks left until the baby comes, I am tired. My mind is having trouble simply focusing and thinking. Jessie needed some help with her CWP exercises this morning. Now I love math and am generally good at it. I knew she needed to draw bar diagrams in order to come up with the right solution, but I couldn't for the life of me figure out what the best way to draw the diagram would be or how to explain it to her. We worked through a few problems, and then I simply gave up. It was like trying to find my way through a fog. I told her we would start the section over again the next day, and focus on how to draw the diagrams. I've never had that problem with math before. Don't even ask me how long it took to work through the first section on my own during the afternoon.
It's not only my mind having trouble. There are plenty of things that need done around the house, but I only have the energy to work on them in spurts before I need to sit down and take a break. Just thinking about a list of things to do is enough to make me want to take a nap. Even if I cut the list down to a handful of things that I would consider to be most essential, it's just not all getting done. I keep waiting for that end of pregnancy nesting time when I have always been energized and able to focus, organize, and get everything ready, but it just doesn't seem to be coming.
Those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.... I could really use some of His strength right now because my is just about gone.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Just when I thought I was starting to catch up....

poor DH has come down with the flu. He's trying not to spread his germs to anyone else and has spent most of the afternoon and evening since coming home from the doctor's office in self exile either in our basement, outside, or in my mil's basement (which has a tv). I've sprayed so much Clorox disinfectant on so many surfaces that I've lost count. Off to see if the sheets can go in the dryer now so I can get to bed soon.

Please pray that no one else gets sick with the flu. None of the kids got flu shots this year. I'm most concerned about Benny, who has probably been the most exposed to DH's germs over the weekend, simply because he's so snuggly.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Week 31: Entering the home stretch

This is my girls' favorite time of the year. We start getting more and more days of beautiful weather at the same time they are finishing up one subject after another making the school day shorter and shorter. At our current pace, we will most likely be done with all of our core subjects by the end of the year. I haven't determined a finishing date for history and science yet, but it's always better to have at least one structured task to do it each day (at least in this household). Here a look at our week...


Jessie has now finished up the review at the end of her Intensive Practice book. The only remaining math work that she has to do now is to work through the Challenging Word Problems book 3, which should take her until about the end of this month. She did an excellent job this morning of staying focused and working through both steps of the problems to answer the question.

Violet is working on the last section in the 2A books on multiplying and dividing by 2 and 3. Since she already knew how to count by 2s, the first half of this section has been a breeze for her this week. We doubled up lessons several days, and she didn't mind a bit because it was so easy. I've never really done any counting by 3s with her, so I expect to revert back to a slightly slower pace next week.


Our memory work selections for this week are both new. For Bible memory, the girls are working on I Corinthians 13. I expect this to take us through the end of the month and mostly likely to be finished up over the summer. Our new poem is The Swing by Robert Louis Stevenson. We still have 2 other short poems in the box. We'll wait to see if we get them in this month or move one to next year instead.

Jessie finished her final draft of The Lion and the Mouse in CW Aesop (see the post below for pictures and what we actually did differently.) Today she finished up the last lesson in SWO E, so spelling next week will just be a test of lesson 35, review of missed words, and hopefully a final test on those words. She's still plugging happily through the creation part of The Magician's Nephew for dictation. I'm beginning to wonder if we are going to finish everything she wants to write before we run out of paper now that she's filling a full page every day. We've also started to increase our pace through the last section of the grammar book so that it will be finished by the end of the month as well.

Violet is now officially finished with spelling for the year after correctly spelling her remaining list of trouble words this week. For copywork, she wrote our new poem and started on the verses from our Bible memory work. She'd reading aloud to me from Charlotte's Web. The one change we've made is that I have started asking her to tell me what the chapter is about at the end of each reading in order to transition her to some more independent reading next year.


In geography, the girls completed booklets for South Dakota and Tennessee as well as the first half of the Texas booklet. We haven't started memorizing capitals because I didn't write it down on my schedule (and hence forgot). I need to make a modified schedule for the remainder of April anyway since several subjects are now complete or nearly complete.

For history this week, we read about Daniel Boone and the expansion into the Kentucky territory. I asked Jessie if she would try giving me a written narration instead of an oral one. She actually had fun and included lots of details. We'll do the timeline and booklets for next week and I'll post pictures then.

For science, we are on our final chapter about birds. On the right is a picture of the booklet we made covering the parts of an egg. I'll post a picture of the crossword booklet next week when we finish the chapter on mating and raising young.


Benny's preschool was short and simple this week. He had his own agenda of things he wanted to play and do for the most part. We did add the letters Ww. Other than that it was just a few books, a few songs, and a bit of counting.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Classical Writing: The Lion and the Mouse

Well it's taken us three weeks instead of two to work on this particular writing assignment, but overall I am pleased with the results. Rather than simply posting the final draft in by weekly review as usual, I decided to explain how we got to that point in hopes that someone else may find it helpful.
Here is the model on which we based our drafts. The biggest change that we made with this assignment was to stop doing the key word outline. While in general I love outlines and find them to be very helpful, it had become increasingly apparent that Jessie was using the outline as a crutch to basically reproduce the story without tapping into her imagination or even really stopping to think through the sequence of events and how they fit together.
Getting this first draft out was excruciating for several reasons. First, Jessie thrives on routine. I knew up front that there was a chance that changing the routine by omitting the key word outline would result in a confrontation. Second, Jessie likes things to be black and white. She wants to know ahead of time exactly what is expected of her before starting on a new assignment so that she can complete the assignment correctly. Asking her to retell the story in her own words was too ambiguous. I changed tactics and asked her to narrate the story back to me like she does in history thinking this would give her a better point of comparison. It turned out not to be the best comparison to use since the result was a "just the facts" type narration. Fine for history, but not really what I was looking for in a writing assignment.
To get started with rough draft number two, I tried a different tact. I asked Jessie to close her eyes and imagine what the story would look like in her mind. Again too ambiguous so we broke the story down into parts. We started by trying to imagine the lion sleeping and asked the following questions: What did the lion look like? How was he laying? Where might he have been laying? What time of day do you think it was? Why do you think he was asleep? The answers to a few of these made their way into the first sentence. Then we moved on to the next sentence asking, "Why was the mouse running over the lion?" For the sentence after I queried, "How did the mouse grab the lion?" To be fair, Jessie didn't answer all of these questions on her own. Whenever she got stumped, I would offer her some suggestions. For instance for the last question I suggested the lion might pick the mouse up by wrapping it's paw around it or pin the mouse by smashing it flat with it's paw, catch it by the tail, etc. We continued on in this manner until we had worked our way through the entire draft. It took nearly an hour, but we did make progress.
We kept the second set of revisions a bit simply. Jessie loves to write phrases with the words that and which, so the first step was to rewrite the second sentence omitting the word which. We discussed how the lion felt when awakened and added to the second sentence. Then we skipped down and talked about the hunters and what they were doing (how they felt, what their plan was, and what they did?). The sentence Jessie gave me ended up rather long so we went back and edited it to take out the word that. Then I asked her to try to thinking about a way to start the write the remaining portion of the sentence by beginning with a form of want instead of the words they or the hunter. She quickly took the pencil and paper from me and rewrote the sentence. Here is the final result.
Considering our change of tact, I consider this to be a good first start. We'll see how the next lesson goes.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Wordless Wednesday:

Proven wrong again. Here I was certain that he had to have fallen asleep because I didn't hear a sound from his room.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Looking back at this year's goals for Jessie

As the end of school is approaching and I begin to put more thought into school for next year, I realized that I haven't taken time to evaluate how well or even if we have met our goals for this year. We've been so busy simply doing our work that I have lost sight of where I hoped to be by the end of the year. So how did we do?

Goals for Jessie's 3rd grade:

Language arts goals:

1. Improve spelling skills by completing SWO D & E and memorizing spelling rules.

We are set to finish up SWO E in the next week or so (depending on how long it takes to master the last few words on the list). We haven't memorized a lot of spelling rules, but we have taken time to go over a few key rules that were giving her some trouble (i before e... and doubling consonants before adding endings). Subjectively, I would say that her confidence in her ability to spell words has increased tremendously. She is no longer constantly asking me how to spell a word. The number of spelling mistakes when she writes is much better than last year, and her ability to find and correct her own mistakes has also greatly improved. Overall, I would say that we have successfully met this goal.

2. More legible penmanship by correcting pencil grip and monitoring handwriting

Unfortunately I didn't save any of Jessie's handwriting from last year to have a comparison. Looking at her handwriting from the beginning of the year until now, it's actually hard to notice much difference on the paper. Her handwriting is certainly legible (I don't have to ask her what a word says). It is probably comparable to other children her age. What I can say is that the fluidity of her handwriting is improving. She doesn't have to stop to remember how to write certain letters or how one letter should connect to the next. Her pencil grip could still use some improvement, but at least I can simply ask her to fix it now and she can without me actually moving her fingers into place on the pencil. Although not part of the original goal, we have also managed to switch completely from copywork to dictation this year while at the same time increasing the amount of handwriting that she is completing. Overall, I would say that we have made some progress, but will still need to work on this next year as well.

3. Begin to work on writing skills using Classical Writing.

Overall, I would say Classical Writing has been successful this year. The biggest improvement has simply been in Jessie's willingness to edit her work not only for grammatical errors but also to look at the style of her writing as well. On the downside, I think we spent too much of the year doing keyword outlines of the models. Jessie became very good at reproducing a final draft that was very similar to the original, but she hasn't really made the stories her own. I really wanted her to be comfortable retelling the story in her own way and to get into the story enough to imagine what it would look like in her mind. Needless to say, we haven't gotten to that point yet but at least I can say that we have made progress in her writing this year.

4. Improve reading comprehension and analysis by using Reading Detective.

Of all of our language arts goals, we have struggled the most with this one. I think that downfall wasn't in the program so much as that we simply didn't invest the time that we needed to see improvement here. Jessie does a very good job of answering factual questions, but the goal was to help her look beyond just the facts and draw some conclusions based on what was written. I think what we will need to do whether it is over the summer or during the next school year is to work through the book again together from the beginning before I can know how to help her. I'm not sure if she's just not ready to make some of the connections, if she reads too quickly and needs to learn to slow down and soak in the story, or if it's something else I haven't considered. One thing I can say for sure, having her work through the assignment and then discussing it with her certainly didn't work for us this year.


1. Memorize multiplication facts through x10.

We're very close on this one with probably only a handful of facts left to memorize, but we haven't been very consistent so this will be our math focus for summer break.

2. Master multiplying on paper with larger numbers, long division with remainders, and fraction concepts as presented in Singapore Primary .


As far as our goals for other subjects, we have successfully increased her enjoyment of history, science, and music appreciation. We've made good progress in basic US geography. We didn't really make any progress on having her do more independent reading for history, which is my fault for not planning it out better. Art and art appreciation fell by the wayside. We're not quite as far along with her piano lessons as I had hoped, but again the fault lies with poor implementation on my part for the first part of the year. Overall, I would say academically the year has been very successful, and I certainly have a better idea of which areas will need more emphasis for next year.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Week 30: Starting down the home stretch

We struggled a bit to get going at the beginning of the week. I actually had to assign the girls homework to finish just the basics on Monday afternoon (something we haven't done in several months). By Tuesday, they were beginning to get back into the rhythm. Next week, we'll just have to concentrate on getting up and started on time in the morning, and our routine should be back to normal. Overall it was great week. We got a lot accomplished.


Jessie has finished up all of the new topics in her Singapore math. This week was spent doing the review exercises in the textbook and workbook. Jessie is thrilled to have completed both of them. That just leaves some review in her Intensive Practice book, and a couple of weeks of Challenging Word Problems before she finished for the year.

Violet has started a new section introducing multiplication and division, which she has declared to be both fun and easy. She finished her work so quickly that we doubled up the assignments on several of the days and accomplished nearly two weeks' worth of work in one week. With only one more section to go after this one covering multiplying and dividing by 2 and 3, it looks like she will be finishing up the entire 2A book by May after all. This week she also finished her lessons in The Complete Book of Time and Money.


We introduced new memory work for both girls this week. Their new poem is The Rain by Robert Louis Steveson. The poem is only four lines long so I expect we'll move on to another poem by the middle of next week. For their Bible memory work, we started memorizing I Corinthians 13. I expect this to take us through the end of the school year. Violet has completed through lesson 17 in spelling workout, which is as far as I planned for her to go this year. Next week, we just have a handfull of missed words to go back over before we declare her spelling done for the year. Jessie still has one more lesson and a few missed words to go next week before finishing up as well. We'll continue copywork and dictation with the girls through the end of the month. Jessie is still working through sections of The Magician's Nephew. Violet copied our new poem this week and started copying our Bible memory selection. This should last us a couple of weeks before I'll have to actually comes up with copywork for her again. Jessie's rough draft of The Lion and the Mouse is complete. We have a bit more editing that we didn't get to so that will have to be added onto next week.


In geography, the girls completed booklets for Rhode Island and South Carolina this week. After giving both of the girls the words to the Fifty Nifty United States song to practice on their own, they have finally finished learning the names of all of the states. The last several states are sung to a tune that the girls created themselves instead of the original tune, but I don't really think it makes any difference. That shifts the focus for the rest of April and part of May into learning the state capitals. I think we'll try practicing this at lunch next week since I'm usually doing something with Benny when the girls work on their geography booklets.
In history, we finished up the French and Indian war. Since I had another doctor's appointment Friday morning, we spent an hour on today finishing up. The girls completed maps of America before and after the war. We assembled booklets on William Penn, the French and Indian War, and James Cook. We also added the French and Indian War and James Cook figures to our timelines. The history booklet bags were getting to be a bit over full, so we took out all the booklets created so far and put them together in lapbooks. I'll post final pictures of the lapbooks in the next couple of weeks after the girls have had an opportunity to decorate the outside.
No science this week. I spent so much time and effort planning and having birthday parties for both girls over the weekend that the booklet for the last chapter on birds didn't get typed up. We'll add science back in next week.


No formal art this week. I consider the crafts from the girl's birthday parties last weekend to be enough. At both parties, the girls made paper butterfly suncatchers. At Violet's party, we made butterfly pencil toppers. At Jessie's, we made flower bookmarks. Piano lessons and practice were a little sporadic this week mainly because we kept oversleeping. The girls picked up the tape Beethoven Lives Upstairs at the library yesterday and listened to it today at lunch time. Jessie's reading the Venezia book on Beethoven from the Getting to Know the World's Greatest Composers series as I type this.


Benny got off with a light week on preschool this week. We did add the letters Vv. He did his egg puzzles one day and stuck the matching letter magnets together on two other days. For counting, we did one day of finger counting and counted the letter magnets to find out how many letter pairs that he has learned on another day. He did a Kumon maze on his own one day. (I only know about iit because he left the book laying out.) He did one cutting page today while the girls were assembling their booklets. On Thursday, I did show him how to sign the letters a, b, and c in ASL. He caught on very quickly and went running in to the dining room to show his sisters the new signs.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Thoughts on science....

Although I personally love science and even majored in it for college, for some reason finding a good science program that works for our family has been next to impossible.
When my oldest was in 1st grade, we tried science a la WTM. We were supposed to cover animals, plants, and the human body; but ended up only completing animals and a few human body lessons.
In second grade, we made one more attempt to do WTM science and did cover some lessons on astronomy. Finding books, getting them on hold to use at the right time, and keeping track of where we were proved to be overwhelming with everything else going on that year. So we dumped astronomy and tried Apologia's Botany instead. Alas the botany book was also a bomb that year. Both DDs found the lessons in the book to be boring. The concept of notebooking sounded nice, but didn't really go over well. I personally thought that much of the information was well over their heads. (Long latin words like angiosperms and gymnosperms simply resulted in a dazed and confused look on their faces no matter how many times I explained what they meant.)
Last summer, I ended up taking all 3 children with me to the state convention to go shopping since my DH was working that weekend. I showed Jessie some chemistry books, and she had no interest in learning about chemistry. So I let the girls look at several different books, and they ended up choosing Apologia's Exploring Creation with Zoology 1. Although I love the concept of the book, I have mixed feelings about the overall set up and content. My girls do enjoy hands on projects, but most of the projects and experiments haven't really be feasible for us to do. The girls love making the booklets for our lapbook during science, but still glaze over about half the time while I'm reading the text. Adding in the reading from the Burgess book and buying a field guide so that they could try to identify birds themselves has certainly made science more fun. Still I feel like for a program that should be open and go, I'm having to put in a lot of time and effort making it work for our family.
What do I do for next year? Jessie is interested in studying dolphins, cats, chemistry, and earth science. Violet is interested in studying flowers, dolphins, and shells. Both girls have also asked when we would get back to studying astronomy. ( I think they are mainly interested in identifying more constellations than Orion.) A few thoughts...
1. What is working this year?
  • lapbooking
  • reading living books
2. What else do the girls get excited about?
  • hands on activities and experiments
  • getting outside and applying what they have learned
3. What is not working this year?
  • using the Apologia text as written
  • I feel like I'm scrambling from week to week trying to prepare for science and make it fun.
That's where I'm at right now. I'd like to put together at least a preliminary list of ideas over the next couple of months. If I'm going to try to put together my own program again, I need to spend more time putting it together than I have in the past. If all the lessons aren't ready to go at the beginning of the school year, then chances are the program won't get done (especially with a baby in tow for the year). If I'm going to try to purchase another program, then I'll need a list of things to looks at when I go to the convention.