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.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

WW: His Little Highness

aka - DH's way to entertain boys while still getting work done

Friday, November 14, 2008

Week 14: Too much on my plate

I personally had a hard time focusing on school this week. I've been trying to catch up with the housework, trying to figure out what to get for the girls for Christmas so I can send my Mom and sister a list of ideas (It's much easier to come up with ideas for Benny and Henry), and trying to find birthday and Christmas gifts for my sister's family so I can ship it all in one box before my bil's birthday next week.. The kids took advantage of my distraction a few times to sneak away from their work to play, which led to a few discussions about responsibility. All I can say is TGIF.

Jessie's had an easy week in math. On Monday she finished up the last of the Intensive Practice section on fractions. The remainder of the week was spent with data tables and bar graphs. Friday she started her first section of challenging problems in the CWP 4 book. Hopefully, she'll find the rest as easy as she found #16. In math drill, she's breezing through her keys very quickly. I think it might be time for some timed math worksheets. Once she is comfortable with those, we can decrease the number of days we do math drill to maybe once a week or so.

Violet is still in the money section of 2B. This week was all about subtracting dollar amounts. As with the addition portion, most of the subtraction portion focuses on mental math. There was only one day of stacking numbers and borrowing on paper. She's done an excellent job this week. Her CWP 2 book is also going very well. She's getting better at reading the problem and solving to find the answer when more than one step is required. As far as math drill, she goes through her flash cards at a decent speed, but if I ask her to do the addition keys instead, it can take forever. I'm not sure what the next step needs to be here.

Language arts has really dragged this week. I have decided that we are going to give up on the writing claw. Jessie's grip has changed, but it is still awkward. Instead, I've given her one of my mechanical pencils to use, which is fatter than the standard wooden pencil. As long as she is conscious of her grip, it is working much better. Hopefully, a bit of diligence will go a long way. Spelling and grammar are progressing well. In dictation, we've decreased our amount of writing in favor of focusing on her grip. In literature, she got the week off from Shakespeare because we had to return the library book for a couple of days. She's got a few more chapters left in Little Lord Fauntleroy, but should be finishing up in another week. In CW we rewrote King Canute and the Seashore. I'll add in a picture once I've had a chance to go back and make the corrections on the computer tomorrow.

Violet's cursive is coming along very well. We've made it through the letter L so far. Thursday, we reviewed by writing sentences using all of the letters we have covered so far, both uppercase and lowercase. Friday, I gave her what I guess you could call an open book test. Basically, I asked her to try to write all the letters from A-:L from memory. If she couldn't remember a letter, then she was allowed to look back in her handwriting notebook to see how to write it. I wasn't watching very carefully, but I believe she only looked back 3 times. Spelling is going very well. I've stopped writing out the words for her. She has been figuring out the cursive on her own. Grammar was dropped this week. Her reading assignments have been a little hit and miss since she has forgotten to do them a couple of days. We'll pick up next week and try again.

In history this week, we learned about The Underground Railroad and Harriet Tubman. The girls' biography reading covered Sojourner Truth. We did booklets on all three. We added Harriet Tubman and Sojourner Truth to our timelines as well as four more presidents: Taylor, Fillmore, Pierce, and Buchanan. The girls got the timelines put away while I was feeding Baby Henry so I didn't get pictures this week. I only have one more week planned covering Abraham Lincoln because I haven't decided how I want to cover the Civil War yet. I find that most of the books either oversimplify it too much or go into more detail of the battles than I want to cover. If we take Thanksgiving week off, that gives me two weeks to make a final decision and get something in place.

Science only got done one day this week because I went into town on Wednesday to do some Christmas shopping. Science covered water basically. We discussed the oceans and how they get supplied with salt and freshwater bodies and how they are formed.


In memory work, the girls each have a new poem. Jessie's poem is The Parts of Speech. Violet is working on Mr. Nobody. Jessie is still working on adjectives in Latin with Lesson 12. Next week's lesson will be another review, and then we'll play some review games Thanksgiving week. For art they did both draw pictures of seashells, but I haven't taken a picture of them. For music, I'm still waiting for the book to come back in to the library.


After mastering, counting up to 20 last week, we moved the bar up to 40 for this week. Actually, the girls had already taught him to count from 20 to 30 so we just had to work on 31-40. Today, he made it up to 39 all on his own. In phonics, we have been doing a bit of reviewing before starting anymore new sounds. Today we pulled out his magnets, and I let him match any of the consonant that we have learned with any of the vowels. Then we tried blending them together. When he substituted a different sound for a letter, I had the letter correct him in a silly voice. He thought it was hilarious, and then was deliberately messing up just to hear my wacky voices. Not exactly what I had in mind. We did eventually buckle down and decipher 10 blends. The stories this week were from Germany or about dogs. The first picture below is the dog that Benny made all by himself one morning while waiting for Jessie to play with him. The second is the craft that I had selected for him.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Exploring the World with Benny, week 9

  • Big Anthony : His Story by Tomie dePaola
  • The Crab Prince : An Entertainment For Children by Christopher Manson
  • Days of the Blackbird : A Tale of Northern Italy by Tomie dePaola
  • The Mysterious Giant of Barletta : an Italian Folktale by Tomie DePaola
  • Petrosinella : a Neapolitan Rapunzel by Diane Stanley
  • Strega Nona : an Old Tale by Tomie de Paola
  • Toads and Diamonds by Charlotte Huck
  • Tony's Bread : an Italian Folktale by Tomie dePaola

  • The Church Mice Adrift by Graham Oakley
  • The Church Mouse by Graham Oakley
  • Doctor De Soto by William Steig
  • The King, the Mice and the Cheese by Nancy and Eric Gurney
  • Norman the Doorman
  • Town Mouse, Country Mouse by Jan Brett
  • The Very Busy Day by Diana Hendry
  • The Very Noisy Night by Diana Hendry
Mouse paper bag puppet

Friday, November 7, 2008

Week 13: Trying to focus...

It's been a very long week. For some reason it just seemed like everything took twice as long as it should. I'm hoping that it's just a matter of adjusting to the end of daylight savings time. Baby Henry has been waking up every night and coughing for an hour or so before going back to sleep. The other kids haven't complained that he kept them awake, but they have seemed more tired than usual this week. At any rate, we managed to trudge through the week and get almost all of our work accomplished.

Jessie spent the entire week working through the fractions sections of the Intensive Practice book. Conceptually, I believe she has mastered what she needed to master for this unit. Most of the mistakes this week were either computation errors or errors made simply because she did not read either the directions or the problem carefully. I guess it would be fair to say that the biggest problem was simply concentration. At any rate, I for one have had enough of fractions for awhile and am glad that we only have one more lesson before moving on next week. YEAH!! As far as her CWP book goes, she began CWP 4 this week and has done very well.

Violet is steadily plugging away through the money section of 2B. She spent a couple of days working on mental addition with dollars and cents and did an excellent job. Her confidence level in her ability to add mentally has certainly grown by leaps and bounds since August. Today, she was finally back to doing the work with pencil and paper. I've also seen an improvement in her CWP work. She's done very well at setting up the problems correctly and making certain that she answers the question. She's still making mistakes with her borrowing, but once I tell her she has made a borrowing mistake, she is doing a much better job of correcting it on her own.

Jessie has begun work in the verb unit of R&S 4. For the most part she has done very well at identifying verbs and verb phrases. Spelling was a bit of a struggle this week. There have been more spelling errors in her workbook pages and on her test. I've decided to put it down as part of her overall concentration problem for this week. Hopefully, next week will be much better. We did finish revising "King Alfred and the Cakes" on Monday, and she did well with the exercises in Reading Detective for the remainder of the week. Dictation kind of dragged along this week, but we're still progressing at least. She's about halfway through Little Lord Fauntleroy and read the story of "The Taming of the Shrew" this week.

Violet learned about questions this week for FLL. On Tuesday, we covered the actual question lesson in the book. On Thursday, we played a guessing game where we took turns thinking of an animal while the other asked questions to try to guess the answer. Violet's spelling is going very well. In cursive, we've made it through the letter Ii. I gave myself a challenge on Thursday when I tried to come up with a few sentences using all of the upper and lowercase letters that we had learned so far. I finally settled for Hi Gabe as the last sentence to get in the rest of my letters. I'll be glad when we go back to copywork. Scrambling letters to make words when sleep deprived is much harder than it should be. Violet struggled a bit more with her narrations this wee than usual. She is still reading Follow My Leader. Her fairy tale for the week was "Beuty and the Beast".

In history this week, we covered the California Gold Rush and the Pony Express. The girls also read a biography about Buffalo Bill covering his life as a Pony Express rider. We assemble booklets for all three and added timeline figures for the first two. For map work, we drew the route of the Pony Express. The girls decided to label the oceans, the gulf, Mexico, and Canada on their own. I'm thrilled to say that Violet put the Atlantic and Pacific in the correct places YEAH!:) Jessie's history narration on Buffalo Bill sounded like one of her CW narrations this week. She insisted on including dialogue and everything. After one full page, I insisted that she be more concise. I'm considering having her write out one narration a week on her own after Christmas to start bridging into next year's work.

In science this week we covered currents and tides. I added a bit again in the section that covered tides. I drew the girls diagrams trying to better explain spring and neap tides. Then since I was still getting blank stares, we took a ball and put a small rubber band around it. I had Violet be the moon and Jessie the sun. First they both stretched the rubber band in the same direction to represent the spring tides. The they stretch it in opposite directions to represent the neap tides. It definitely seemed to help them.


Memory work is going well. Jessie has finished yet another poem. Violet still has a few lines to go. I think I'll hold Jessie back to let Violet catch up. It will give her a new chance to focus on learning Psalm 121 before her Sunday school class starts new memory work later this month. In Latin this week, we were introduced to adjectives. Jessie was a little bit intimidated because she does really feel like she has a good grasp on what an adjective is in English grammar. The lesson focused more on learning the endings and making the adjectives agree with the nouns so it went well. No art or music this week.


Drum roll please..... This morning Benny counted up to 20 all by himself correctly!!! No hints required for 15, 16, or 17. His PP for the week has gone OK. He was also having some trouble concentrating this week. We're just going to review the consonant pages that we have already learned for a few days before adding any new sounds. Themes for the week were Italy and mice. Below is a picture of the mouse puppet we made this morning.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Please PRAY for our country and be sure to cast your VOTE

We made it to the poles this morning. Yes, I took all 4 kids with me. I thought it went very well despite the cold rainy weather. Jessie and Violet worked on their math keys while we stood in line, but the wait was only about 10 minutes. Benny just stood there quietly, and baby Henry passed the time observing the other people in line. Jessie held baby Henry for me while I actually went in the booth to vote, and then we came back home and picked up school where we had left off.

As I was perusing this afternoon, I noticed a blog entitle "A Prayer For Our Country". I've copied the contents of the blog below to keep for myself for the long term. To be honest, I found the prayer to be rather convicting. It asks for many of the things that I want for my kids and this country, but it never occurred to me to pray for them. So in the midst of your day, please take the time to pray with me to the one who is really in charge and who will continue to be so regardless of who is named the next president of the United States.

This is a prayer for our country from the 1928 Book of Common Prayer:

Almightly God, who hast given us this good land for our heritage; We humbly beseech thee that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of thy favour and glad to do thy will. Bless our land with honourable industry, sound learning, and pure manners. Save us from violence, discord and confusion; from pride and arrogancy, and from every evil way. Defend our liberties, and fashion into our united people the multitudes brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues. Endue with the spirit of wisdom those to whom in thy Name we entrust the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that, through obedience to thy law, we may show forth thy praise among the nations of the earth. In the time of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulnesss, and in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in thee to fail; all which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

This week's art

Jessie's plankton

Violet's plankton
Benny's traced whales in black
Benny also drew his own green whale