Friday, January 30, 2009

Week 24: Icy outside, steady working inside

The kids were all very disappointed this week. They saw the weather forecast on Sunday calling for snow. (To be fair it also said turning to a wintry mix but they were to busy celebrating the snow part to catch the rest.) So Monday, I dragged them through school when they would have much preferred to stare out the window dreaming of snow, sledding, snowmen, and snowball fights. Tuesday, I dragged them away from the window where they kept running to watch the snowfall. By Tuesday afternoon into Wednesday, it was all ice. Benny still wanted to go outside, but I told him that if he stepped out the back door onto the ice he would slide all the way down to the woods. Although sledding on the ice might have been possible, there are too many trees for it to be safe. I'd prefer to avoid unnecessary trips to the ER. So they trudged through their work and here is what we accomplished.


Jessie completely finished the Intensive Practice section on decimals a day ahead of time despite the fact that I had already combined some lessons. She did very well with all of her math. A few careless mistakes here and there when she forgot missed writing down a zero or didn't read the directions carefully, but overall I'm proud to say she seems to have firmly cemented the decimal concepts in her brain. Friday, she completed a review exercise in the textbook.

Violet's had another easy week in math. She's started a new section in the textbook and workbook on picture graphs. She has done an excellent job. I expected a few mistakes once the pictures began to stand for more than one object. Not a mistake to be seen all week. I'm very proud of her for staying focused and reading carefully. I also had to introduce her to the bar diagrams for two of her CWP problems this morning. Since this was her first foray into bar diagrams, I drew the diagrams. After several tried, she finally understood what I was trying to say well enough to solve the problems.


Spelling for Jessie this week has been up and done. A much larger percentage of the words now are ones that she has not heard so it takes her longer to do the exercises when she has to constantly look words up in the back. Even then the answer in the back are not always very clear. I may have her try using a different dictionary next week. In grammar, we've finally finished the pronoun unit and begun a unit on adjectives. This times nicely with our CW lessons where I'm asking for more description. In dictation, we're jumping around The Voyage of the Dawn Treader to using smaller passages. We spent a few days at the beginning where Lucy and Edmund are looking at the picture of the sailing ship and another day on a paragraph containing Reepicheep's little verse. For CW, we finally stayed on track the entire week and completed Jessie's version of "The Three Billy Goats Gruff". We're still struggling a little bit with CW. Jessie is so used to summarizing everything for history that she has a hard time adding in details. She's continuing to read Caddie Woodlawn this week. I have finally settled on a consequence for "forgetting" to do her independent reading. If she's not ready to give me her oral narration at the appropriate time, then she has to complete a written one on her own time.

Violet's also been studying adjectives in her modified FLL program. Her spelling is going well and her cursive handwriting is coming along very nicely. This week when I had her write the alphabet, she didn't look up any of the letters. She's even begun doing some cursive writing on her own for fun. For reading, she has been thoroughly enjoying Five Children and It. We did have an issue with her story from The Blue Fairy Book. Since she couldn't remember much of the story, I made her reread it and write her narration later that afternoon as well. Hopefully, we can find a better balance next week between speed and quality of work.


We've spent the whole week reading Little House on the Prairie. I have a couple of activities which we have not completed yet, but I'll add some details and pictures once they are finished.

Science this week has been all about sea turtles. Tuesday's lesson covered all of the general information. Thursday's lesson describe the 8 different species of sea turtles. As usual we completed booklets for each.


This week's art lesson was drawing sea turtles. Jessie's is the spotted one, and the other is Violet's. Benny did draw one but it disappeared before I had a chance to take a picture. For music, we finished the woodwind section covering the bassoon and contra bassoon from a couple of weeks ago. We also started the brass section and learned about the trumpet and the french horn.


Jessie completed lesson 20 in LfC. We've finally switched back to nouns and learned about one of the jobs for the accusative case, acting as a direct object. Jessie did very well over all. The only surprise for her was that the words in the sentence could be scrambled in any order and still have the same meaning.

In ASL, we watched the first DVD in the second series. I think next week we'll take a break from the DVDs to work on mastering the signs that we have learned so far.

I haven't talked about our memory work for several weeks, but we are keeping up with it still. Both the girls have decided to take a break from the Sunday School memory verses to start memorizing something together next week. Jessie is still progressing through the list of poems for the year. I'll try to update the layout later this afternoon to reflect her progress. Violet has needed some review of some of the longer poems after the two week Christmas break, so we've been shuffling old poems back up into the daily slot. She should be ready to begin a new poem in the next week or so.

I also wanted to say our geography drill is going very well. Violet only has 3 states left to learn. YEAH!! Jessie is about halfway through learning the capitals.


Benny is doing a great job. In counting today, we made it up to 80 with only two hints from me. In phonics, he is doing an excellent job with his three letter words. He likes to whisper the sounds to himself and then just tell me the word. We may take a break next week and try another Bob book. Our reading has just been off the shelf again. He's been building puzzles, playing with his space shuttle, and writing letters. He did make a few snowflakes on Monday, but I don't have a picture to show.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

WW: Has anyone seen Henry?

If you've ever wondered what baby Henry does while we do school, here's one answer. Sneaking up on siblings from below and grabbing or tickling their feet produces wonderously funny albeit disrupting responses.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Week 23: Real schooling...

It's been a long week. We did accomplish the majority of our school work this week; however, for once school wasn't really the focus of our week. At some point during the week, I put school on hold to work with one or the other of my kids on a few character issues. It irks me not to finish what I have planned for the week a tiny bit. (I like checking off boxes.) In the long run, however, I know it will always matter more who my kids are than what they know. So the school work had to wait a bit.


Jessie did complete several lessons this week. (We doubled up two or three days so I'm not sure of the exact number.) She's still working with decimals. The beginning of the week dealt with the thousandths place. I met with the same resistance as the previous week when she was asked to reduce the fractions. As it turns out, the problem was one of desire not of ability. In her own words, "Why do I have to simplify fractions? It's boring!" Whew! At least we don't have to go back and review fractions. The end of the week, her lessons involved rounding numbers with decimals to either the whole number or to one decimal place. She zipped right through those lessons and ended up with some extra free time on Friday. It's always nice to end the week on a good note.

Violet completed the last of the capacity section in the textbook and workbook as well as the entire capacity section in the Intensive Practice book. The words problems tripped her up a bit. A more careful reading of the problem solved several of the issues. The rest we worked out together. It's been a while since she needed to complete more than one step to solve a problem, but with a little coaching (and encouraging) she did just fine.


Jessie finally finished the last spelling test from Spelling Workout F. The abbreviation for merchandise (mdse.) tripped her up for a couple of days, but she finally got it straightened out. This was also her first week in the Spelling Workout G book. I was surprised to see that there was a big difference between the level F and level G workbooks. Level G has four pages of exercises to complete. There are either more exercises on the page or more words used in each exercise. It also no longer tells you how many mistakes are in the paragraph that you proofread. The bottom line is that I decided that we would slow the pace from 1 1/2 lessons a week down to just 1 lesson a week split over 3 days. I think next week we'll switch the third day from Friday to Thursday so we can test on Friday. In grammar she learned about possessive pronouns, using this, that, these, and those as pronouns, how to write a friendly letter, and to address the envelope. For CW, we've started rewriting "The Three Billy Goats Gruff". I again let Jessie write out by hand over two days. Then we spent two days doing about half of the editing work. It will be next week before we finish working through it. For reading she has continued with Caddie Woodlawn and seems to be thoroughly enjoying herself. Her narrations are much better and more detailed at least. In dictation, we completed a selection from The Voyage of the Dawn Treader where Caspian arrives at the first set of islands.

For grammar this week, Violet has been learning about contractions. Her spelling is going well. Her cursive copywork came mostly from her independent reading. We copied a few sentences from and one from Five Children and It and one from The Reluctant Dragon. On Friday, I forgot to write the sentences out ahead of time, so she ended up with a couple of sentences from The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. (What can I say, the book was already on the table.) She also really seems to be enjoying Five Children and It. There were a several words in the first chapter that she didn't understand. We went through that section together so she could understand that the sand fairy was talking about different dinosaurs that people used to wish to receive for various reasons.


We didn't get all of our planned history done. As I said in Tuesday's post, we've started a new section of pioneers settling in the Great Plains. The pictures are some close ups of our sod house, which you can read more about in a couple of posts below this one. The rest of the week, we've been reading Little House on the Prairie both as our history selection as well as our read aloud. I had planned to finish the entire book, but we're only about halfway through as of this morning. I had also planned a second craft of making baskets which we didn't get time to complete. The girls are sure to keep reminding me over the weekend and next week, so I'm sure we'll get to it.


Tuesday's science covered manatees and dugongs. Thursday, we began lesson 4 learning a few basics such as what the terms herpetology, endothermic, and brumation mean. The booklets we created are pictured below.


The girls did some drawing on their own this week, but we didn't have a formal project. Nor did we get to any music this week. Maybe in the van tomorrow.


In lesson 19, we learned about the future tense, both the list of endings and how to translate. While it was nice that the endings are similar enough to the imperfect tense to make them easy to remember, it also meant that it was easier for me to mix the two tenses up when Jessie did some translating. (Naturally, Jessie translated them correctly, and I was incorrect when I checked her work.)


We did do a much better job of being consistent with Benny's work this week. On counting, we're still working on number to 60. Basically, all he needs to remember is that 60 comes after 59. He's memorized most of the days of the week already. For some reason he keeps leaving out Thursday. We're still tackling 1/2 page of phonics a day sounding out three letter words. One day, Violet finished early and took baby Henry to the back to play while we worked. Benny did much better both focusing and sounding out words. I may try having baby Henry play alone in his bed for 10 or 15 minutes next week. If Henry will cooperate, it would make phonics much easier for Benny. Our theme for the week was the arctic. No craft this week since DH had Friday off and the weather is nice enough for he and Benny to spend some time outside.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

WW: Ready or not, Here I come.

With the floor of the house mastered and explored, baby Henry begins setting his sights on higher ground.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Joy of Teamwork

Normally, I prefer to only have one helper in the kitchen at a time. It allows for closer supervision, more work space, and fewer chances of someone's foot getting stepped on accidentally (not to mention fewer spills to clean up:) ). Yesterday, I'm glad that I made an exception.

During history we began learning about the movement of pioneers into the Great Plains after the Civil War. Our focus for the day was the sod houses where they lived. I had found this really neat looking project in one of our library books which took what was basically a brownie recipe and showed you how to build a model sod house. In order to let everyone participate (except for Henry of course), I decided that we would all work together as a team. Each of them cracked an egg or two to start, then moved on to their assigned jobs. Jessie measured the brown sugar and greased the pan. Violet measured the flour and the coconut. (What's a sod brick without any grass?) Benny added the cocoa and the water. I mixed it up, put it in the pan (nearly forgetting to add the melted butter, of course), and put it in the oven to bake. For assembly of the house, Benny was in charge of the back wall, while the girls each built on of the side walls. Everybody added a bit to the roof. The result, three very happy children who each felt equally proud of their work (and naturally equally as eager to eat it after dinner).

It was great to see them working as a team. I just might have to start making more exceptions to my rule.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Exploring the World with Benny, week 14

In honor of the very cold January that we've experienced so far, the topic for the last couple of weeks has been Antarctica and penguins with most of the books being on the latter topic. Here's a look at what we read.

  • Something to Tell the Grandcows by Eileen Spinelli

  • The Emperor Lays an Egg by Brenda Z. Guiberson
  • The Emperor Penguin's New Clothes by Janet Perlman
  • The Emperor's Egg by Martin Jenkins
  • Leonardo's Dream by Hans de Beer
  • Penguin Pete, Ahoy! by Marcus Pfister
  • Penguin Pete's New Friends by Marcus Pfister
  • A Penguin Pup for Pinkerton by Steven Kellogg
  • Please Say Please! : Penguin's Guide to Manners by Margery Cuyler
  • Solo by Paul Geraghty **MUST READ
  • Tacky and the Emperor by Helen Lester
  • Tacky and the Winter Games by Helen Lester
  • Tacky the Penguin by Helen Lester
  • Tackylocks and the Three Bears by Helen Lester
  • Where Is Home, Little Pip? by Karma Wilson
Paper Penguin Craft

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Mid Year Status Check

It's hard to believe that another school year is already halfway over. I really don't know where all the time goes. Anyway, I couldn't think of a better way to spend an absolutely frigid day than to look ahead and see if we are on track to spend more time outside whenever spring arrives. The lightest squares are complete. The medium ones are partially completed, and the rest is our remaining work. Basically everything is supposed to be completed through week 21. Here's a look at Jessie's year so far...

Looks like we're a few lessons ahead in math. Grammar, spelling, Latin, and science are all on track. Critical thinking is only behind because Jessie wanted to try the A3 Mindbenders book again by herself after needing my help with several of the puzzles the first time through. She finished A3 for the second time this week and has plenty of time left for A4. I did skip one CW lesson because we were a bit behind. We may come back to it later. No surprise we're a bit behind in history, and I still have several weeks of history and science planning left to accomplish. For the most part, it looks like we're right on track.

Here's Violet's year...
So Singapore math, grammar, spelling, critical thinking, and science are all on track. I knew we were behind in the CWP book. I'm not sure why we're two weeks behind in Miquon. I'm sure we can double up somewhere. Then of course there's history. One of these year's I may actually stay on track for that. Still it's nice to see how much we have accomplished so far (and of course take a sneak peek at the end while dreaming of warmer temperatures).

Friday, January 16, 2009

Week 22: Treading water...

It's been a long week here. Baby Henry hasn't had a fever, but all of the stuffy noses and congestion have made sleeping anytime a struggle. He has at least learned to appreciate my suctioning out his nose instead of screaming while fighting me with all his might. We got our core work done along with some but not all of the extras that I had planned.


Jessie continued in her unit on decimals in the new 4B books. She learned about the hundredths place, did some converting between fractions and decimals, and did some addition and subtraction of either a few tenths or a few hundredths to solidify those places. She did an excellent job all week. Most of the lessons have been fairly easy for her so we did some doubling up on assignments. She did struggle a bit with the conversion between decimals and fractions. I was surprised to see that she struggled with the fraction part of the problem. It may just have been that she didn't write out the fraction when she was simplifying or multiplying. I'll wait to see how she does next week with the thousandths place before I add in any more practice.

Violet is still breezing through the unit on capacity. Truthfully I could have combined several of these lessons and been done with the unit already, but I'm trying to slow down the pace because I don't want to go too far into the 3A book this year. For once her Miquon lessons have actually corresponded with her Singapore ones. While the Singapore lessons were in liters, the Miquon lessons introduced gallons, quarts, pints, and cups using rods to represent the amounts. One day she had a square represent one gallon and had to figure out how many quarts, pints, and cups made a gallon. Another day she had different rods in the middle of the page to match with amounts around the outside (ie. an 8 rod = 1/2 gallon, 2 quarts, and 4 pints). I think she surprised even herself with how well she did.


Jessie grammar has definitely improved this week. The difference between subject and object pronouns and how they are used in a sentence seems to be sinking in at last. In spelling, she has finished the exercises in the SWO F book. She'll start SWO G on Monday, and I'm sure will finish the last test from F on abbreviations with flying colors on Tuesday. In dictation, she did a happy dance Thursday after we finished up the scene where Lucy meets Aslan again in Prince Caspian. Friday we did a short paragraph describing the actions of Reepicheep and the other mice during the battle with the Telmarines. In CW, we finally finished editing Jessie's version of "Goldilocks and the Three Bears." For independent reading, she began Caddie Woodlawn by Brink and had the week off from Shakespeare and history biographies.

Violet has finished up the lessons on verbs this week. Friday we took the story "The Quarrel" from one of the lessons and picked out a few sentences to identify nouns, pronouns, and verbs. With a little coaching she did fairly well. In spelling she is officially half way through SWO D. Most of her copywork for the week came from The Wheel on the School. She finished up the last chapter of the book on Wednesday, read a story called "Goldilocks" (This one was a princess not the three bears girl as I had assumed when I made the assignment.) in the Blue Fairy Book, and read another third of The Reluctant Dragon, which she seems to be enjoying immensely.


Part of our history lessons fell by the wayside this week. I had hoped to finish reconstruction and start on pioneers this week. We are almost finished with Be Ever Hopeful, Hannalee to cover reconstruction. I hope to finish reading the last few chapters either this afternoon or tomorrow. No booklets, maps, etc. this week. I do have a couple of fun projects lined up for next week.

For science this week we learned about sea lions, fur seals, and walruses. Benny spent both days looking at the seal pictures while I read until he could correctly distinguish a true seal from a sea lion and a fur seal. Jessie and Violet were both surprised to hear that walruses change colors. Even I didn't know that a normally brown walrus became pink when it is warm and white when it is cold. ART / MUSIC

No art this week. For music we learned about the bassoon and contra bassoon.


Latin this week was a review lesson giving Jessie time to catch up on the vocabulary. Because we have finally reached lesson 18, Jessie has now finally started using the history reader that came with LfC A. She was very excited and did a great job with her translations. For sign language, we watched the second Signing Time DVD and practiced the signs.


Benny only had two days of school this week. I overslept one morning and was still eating breakfast when it was his school time. On DH's day off, he was having such a blast downstairs with his play dough that I didn't call him up. Today, I've been trying to complete the last of the carpet shampooing so we can return the shampooer to my MIL this weekend. Despite the lack of consistency, he's been doing his magnetic calendar every day. He did very well on his two phonics lessons reading the three letter words. I didn't prepare any craft for his this week. He did take some computer paper and make some very fancy crowns on his own.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

WW: Playing with Baby Henry and Having Fun Too

After months of peek-a-boo, rattles, etc., we now have a game to challenge both the baby and the babysitter. The baby's mission is to knock the tower down. The babysitter's challenge is to complete the tower before it is demolished. Sometimes the simplest games are the best.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Week 21: Starting up again...

Usually I detest starting up again after giving the girls a break. I expected to hear a lot of whining when we started up on Monday, but this time the girls surprised me. They stepped right back into the schedule as if we had only taken the weekend off. Not only that but they did a better job of staying on schedule than we did all of last month. I'm not going to say the entire week was perfect with no whining and no problems, but it definitely went much better than I was expecting. It's nice to be wrong on occasion.

Jessie spent most of this week reviewing. Monday she completed the last review exercise in her 4A workbook. The next three days were spent completing the semester review at the end of the 4A Intensive Practice book. Friday morning we finally began our first unit in the 4B books. I think Jessie was as happy as I was to realize that we are now halfway through our year. The first unit in the 4B text is on decimals. She started by learning how to write a fraction like five tenths as a decimal. The first lesson was easy enough that we went ahead and did two lessons today, and she still finished early.

Violet is continuing where she left off with the topic of time in the 2B books. This week she completed the Intensive Practice section on time. She read some times, drew some clock hands, and determined the amount of elapsed time in some word problems. She did a great job!

In grammar, Jessie started a new unit on pronouns this week. R&S separates subject pronouns from object pronouns and teaches them in different lessons. Jessie struggled a little bit since she is used to just identifying pronouns and not differentiating between them. In spelling we're up to lesson 34 of SWO F, so it's great to know that we'll start a new spelling book soon as well. Dictation is going. Jessie and I are still battling over how she holds the pencil. I think next week we'll try a really short pencil to see if that helps any. In CW, we started rewriting Goldilocks and the Three Bears. I've let Jessie do most of the work alone this week while I used the time to shampoo our carpets. I gave her both Tuesday and Wednesday to write the story since she was writing it out by hand. Thursday, she did some of her own editing. Next week we'll sit down together and work through the rough draft. As far as reading, this week she finished up Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh.

Violet's grammar topic for the week has been helping verbs. She had already memorized most of the helping verb list just by hearing Jessie recite it for me so she was really excited to show me what she already knew. For handwriting, I had her do some copywork from The Reluctant Dragon, write the cursive alphabet, and then made up a few sentences to work on the capital letters that she couldn't remember (Q, W, and Z). Spelling is going well. In reading she is almost finished with The Wheel on the School. Her story in the Blue Fairy book was called "The Terrible Head" about Medusa and Perseus. For her Thursday reading assignment, I've started her reading The Reluctant Dragon by Grahame. The story itself it fairly short, but the vocabulary is a little more advance than she is used to so I've divided it into three sections.

History this week has been all about historical fiction. Our actual topic for the week was reconstruction. We read a page from Story of the Great Republic. We spent the rest of our history and literature time this week working through two books. Turn Homeward, Hannalee covers the story of a young mill girl who is sent up north during Sherman's march to the sea. Be Ever Hopeful, Hannalee picks up the story of what happens to her family during the Reconstruction period. Of all of the books that I read taking place in this time period, I found these to be the most balanced in their presentation. Although it is told from a Southern viewpoint, the story isn't so simplified that one side is shown as good and the other bad. Instead there are clearly good and bad folks on both sides both during the war and after. Friday we added figures for Andrew Johnson and Reconstruction to our timeline. Our map shows the US states as of 1870. The date in the ex-confederate states shows the year in which they were readmitted to the Union.

This week we started lesson 3. Tuesday booklet covered some basic information on the order Pinnipedia. Thursday we learned about true seals and how they are different from eared seals and fur seals.

For art this week, there weren't any pictures corresponding with our lesson in the 1, 2, 3, Draw Ocean Animals book. Instead, we took some time Tuesday afternoon to paint the magnet in the kits the kids received in their stockings. Jessie painted the seahorse, Violet the octopus, and Benny the shark. It's a good thing I remembered to take a picture on Tuesday because all three have either been chipped or cracked since then for one reason or the other. For music this week we learned about the clarinet and the saxophone listening to examples of each.

In Latin this week Jessie is working on lesson 17. The grammar is a continuation of the imperfect tense. I should have had her do her flash cards last week because she has forgotten some of her vocabulary. Thankfully next week is another review lesson so we can spend some time catching up. (Yes, I have a few words to work on also.) Our new addition to the year is sign language. Our library finally purchased or was given the series of Signing Time DVDs. On Monday we watched the first DVD. Wednesday and Friday we reviewed the signs. Jessie and Violet love it. Benny told me that it was boring but he still chose to stay and watch the whole DVD.

Benny's preK has gone very well this week. He's suddenly started remembering the number 15 in his counting. YEAH!! We're currently working on counting up to 60. He received a magnetic calendar for Christmas. We've been changing out the day and the weather magnets all week and learning the days of the week. In Phonics Pathways we started on the section of three letter words. He's doing very well, but is having a harder time so we've cut back to covering half a page a day instead of a full one. Today we reviewed the last page of the previous section just so I could see if he remembered all of his letter sounds so far. We just need to work on Y. For reading this week, our topic was Antarctica. Almost all of the books that I checked out were on penguins. We'll actually have plenty of penguin books left to read next week since I spent most of this week rereading Solo by Paul Geraghty over and over and over for school and bedtime too. Normally I would groan by the third time he asks me to read a book, but this one is truly a delightful read with beautiful illustrations. It will definitely make my must read list when I get time to start putting it together.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

WW: Finally finished

I took these photos a day or two before Christmas. Jessie and Violet both worked very hard last month to finish up their current latchhook kits before receiving new crafts at Christmas.