Tuesday, June 30, 2009

My bean helpers...

I turned the job of snapping off the ends of the beans and breaking them into smaller pieces over to the three older kids the other morning. Meanwhile, I went to clean some very grubby showers and bathtubs. They had a grand time. Now if only I could think of a way to maintain that level of enthusiasm for the next month as we need to do this 2-3 times a week.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Lazy Summer Days?!?

When I was growing up, summer was huge. I had the whole day to spend however I wanted. (OK, sometimes it was boring, but I always figured bored was better than busy with homework.) I knew I would need to spend time planning this summer, but to be perfectly honest I still expected to have plenty of free time. (Boy, was I wrong.)

I am making progress with planning. I'm close to finishing the first 13 week unit of history. I have a few planninng sheets for other subjects. I've preread some literature books. I do still need to make a final decision and place one last RR order.

Still it seems like every day, I go to bed and wonder what exactly I've accomplished for the day. Meals are cooked, eaten, and cleaned up. The dog gets his walk. The vegetables in the garden are taken care of. The rest...well...it's a blur. I have no idea.

I miss my schedule. I'm not ready to start school back up, but I am ready to put back in some structure (at least enough to see that I am accomplishing something each day).

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

WW: Tractor Baby

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Time to Gear Up for Another Year, A Master To Do List

My school cabinet looks like a tornado hit. I have stacks of library books for ancient history all over my house. The curriculum I purchased from the convention Saturday is still sitting in the trunk of my van, and I really can't see the surface of my desk. It's not that I haven't started making plans for next year rather I've been working on different subjects here and there in more of a piecemeal fashion so that I'm beginning to have trouble remembering what I've done versus what still needs to be completed. To organize my chaos and unclutter my mind from a mishmash of to do lists, I thought I would put my master to do list here on the blog where it can't get lost. Items still to be done will be marked in red. Completed items are green, and purple items are in progress.

  • Still need to decide about music for next year
  • Still need to decide if I'm going to have Violet do Latin next year. (I'm not thrilled at the thought of using Prima Latina, but I didn't find anything I like better at the convention)

  • Purchased but waiting to receive: LfC B Mastery Bundle, The Story of the Greeks, 3rd edition, Usborne History of the Ancient World, and Usborne Encyclopedia of Planet Earth
  • Still to be purchased: Singapore Math IP 5A and 5B (want to double check list against books on shelf one last time before ordering to make sure I have what I think I have) and Apologia Human Body book which has not yet been published
  • Copy the standardized test results to send in to the county.
  • Print and complete the Notice of Intent for the next school year
  • Create and print curriculum description to be submitted (Rough descriptions complete, need to finalize)
  • Mail it all in to the county
  • Clean out school baskets and cabinet
  • Check general supplies and make a list of what is needed
  • Purchase supplies
  • Put new school books in baskets
  • Make a new MOTH schedule
  • Assemble my planner
  • For Jessie: Grammar, Spelling, Math, Word Problems, Latin and Logic (Grammar complete)
  • For Violet: Grammar, Spelling, Math, Word Problems, and Critical Thinking (Grammar complete)
  • For Benny: Math and Critical Thinking
  • For Jessie: CW Homer plans
  • <>For Jessie: poetry memorization list
  • For Jessie: create, preread, and roughly schedule <>literature list (Listened to Tuck Everlasting in van Saturday. Put on list.)
  • For Violet: CW Aesop plans
  • For Violet: poetry memorization list
  • For Violet: create, preread, and roughly schedule literature list
  • For Benny: Read aloud idea list
  • For girls: Need to correlate art with history plans using drawing books and choose art history resources
  • For all: Biblical history plans (Reading schedule for OT complete with notes on timeline figures and maps. Still need to find blank maps and fill in activities for OT. NT still to be completed.)
  • For all: Ancient history plans (Have first two weeks complete. Begun working on Near East and Ancient Egypt.)
  • For all: Science plans: Put together earth science lessons and labs
That's a lot of red. Maybe I'll clean the school cabinet or finish up the legal stuff today and tomorrow just so I can start marking some things in green.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Literature for 2008-2009

Before I erase the lists of books read from the website, I wanted to move them into a post to keep for future ideas for the boys. I know I probably won't reuse the list verbatim since I try to tailor them slightly according to the abilities and interests of my kids, but I think it will help to have a general idea of what books the kids liked, what they didn't, and about when they read them. (I'm happy to say that they liked all of the books that they read this year.) Most selections were scheduled to be read 3 times a week unless otherwise noted.

Jessie's 4th grade literature:
  • The Book of Three
  • Swiss Family Robinson
  • Lad, A Dog
  • Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea
  • Caddie Woodlawn
  • Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh
  • Little Lord Fauntleroy
  • The Light Princess
  • Pollyanna Grows Up
  • Tales From Shakespeare (scheduled once a week)
  • Pollyanna
Violet's 2nd grade literature:
  • A Little Princess
  • The Rocking Horse Secret (1 day)
  • The Cricket in Times Square
  • The Paint Brush Kid (1 day)
  • The Chalk Box Kid (1day)
  • The Twenty-One Balloons
  • The Bears on Hemlock Mountain (1 day)
  • All-of-a-Kind Family
  • Capyboppy
  • Five Children and It
  • The Reluctant Dragon
  • The Wheel on the School
  • Follow My Leader
  • Ginger Pye
  • Alice in Wonderland
  • Pinocchio
  • Just So Stories (scheduled once a week)
  • The Blue Fairy Book (scheduled once or twice a week)

Friday, June 12, 2009

2009-10 Goals for Violet: Math, Logic, and Latin

1. Review previous math facts and related concepts.
Singapore Math 3A
2. Memorization of all multiplication and division facts.
Singapore Math 3A, Multiplication Wrap-up, and drill
3. Introduce and master long division.
Singapore Math 3A
4. Apply all four operations to topics such as length, weight, and capacity.
Singapore Math 3B
5. Introduce the concepts of angles, area, and perimeter.Singapore Math 3B
1. Continue to develop reasoning and analytical skillsfinish Building Thinking Skills 1,
Visual Perceptual Skills 2
2. Develop logic and problem solving abilitiesMind Benders Beginning Book 2
1. Gentle introduction to Latin vocabulary and very basic grammar.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

2009-10 Goals for Violet: Language Arts

I'm really cutting it close this year as I try to get these goals completed before going to our state convention this year. Here we go.
1. Review definitions of the 8 parts of speech.
Part of memory box.
2. Improve ability to identify the parts of speech in a sentence.
R&S 3
3. Introduce the two basic parts of a sentence.
R&S 3
4. Introduce sentence diagramming.
R&S 3
1. Continue to improve spelling skills and vocabulary.SWO E
2. Continue to improve editing skills.SWO E and CW Aesop
1. Improve legibility of writingCopywork
2. Begin working to put together spelling, punctuation skills, and basic grammar without a model.
3. Introduce the editting process of writing rough and final drafts.CW Aesop
4. Introduce more dialogue into her writing.CW Aesop
1. Continue variety of books read beyond fiction.Assigned weekly history biographies and science books.
2. Increase attention to details and content.Narrations and discussions of assigned literature. Analysis in CW Aesop
3. Increase independence. More assigned reading to replace reading aloud.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Teaching the Classics: Initial Impressions

I wasn't completely certain about Teaching the Classics when I finally decided to purchase it. Even on sale the hefty $75 price made me wince despite the fact that mathematically I knew that it would be less expensive than purchasing several individual literature guides for specific books per year over the course of several years. I confess that I was also a bit skeptical that one course could help me learn to analyze any literature book. After all if that were true why did people even create guides for individual titles. Then there was the issue of motivating myself to watch the dvds. I was quite certain that it would be less painful to have a root canal than to learn how to analyze literature. So why torture myself? Simply put, for Jessie's sake.

Logic stage should be a time of discussion. When I tried to imagine a literary discussion with Jessie, it would go something like this.

Me: "So what did you think of the book?"
J: "It was good."
Me: "Well, did you like it?"
J: "Yeah, I guess."

I do not profess to be a literary expert (on a scale between dunce and expert, I'm certain to be closer to the dunce end), but I was quite certain that I wanted a better discussion than that. So I finally convinced myself that it would be more helpful to watch the dvds before I started reading selections for Jessie next year, and I must say after watching all 4 dvds over the course of a few days that I am pleasantly surprised. While the dvd quality wasn't the best I've ever seen, the content is excellent. The presentation is very straight forward and not at all overwhelming. I realize that it's going to take some practice on my part, but I'm feeling fairly confident that a literary discussion is actually doable (even for me). Now I'm off to read a book to try completing a story chart and working through some of the questions on the Socratic list on my own. (And perhaps the most surprising of all, I'm actually looking forward to it.)

Monday, June 8, 2009

A Classical Education, part 5

A few thoughts on history...

History is another area where I find myself diverging from TWTM. I like the 4 year history cycles. We basically follow a chronological format for three of the four years. (I personally find it easier to teach ancient history from more of a geographical approach.) I have never, however, used the suggested resources from TWTM for three basic reasons.

1. Because TWTM tries to include both western and non-western history in its scope, I have always felt that it barely skims the surface of history. I prefer to use more of a "better deep than wide approach" to history so that my kids can stay with a given civilization long enough to really soak in the story. Practically, this has meant focusing primarily on western culture for the first two years of history before studying American history in depth for years 3 and 4 for the grammar stage.

2. In order to appeal to a wider cross section of homeschoolers, TWTM recommendations are primarily secular. I personally find it easier to put together my own history program rather than try to add in Biblical history and church history into TWTM suggestions.

3. To me TWTM history is set up to be topically driven. Read a few pages in an encyclopedia and then find more books on a topic, or read a section in The Story of the World (as an intro to a given topic) and then read through some library resources for more information. I feel like a ping pong ball bouncing to and fro. I may be bouncing in a given direction, but the topics lack a sense of flow to me. Here again, I find that by focusing more on depth I find the flow that I am seeking. Instead of a string of potentially unrealted topics, I can follow one group of people through a given period of time whether it be the ancient Greeks, Europeans in the Middle Ages, or Americans from the colonists through the founding fathers to modern day using living books.

Our output has also not followed the recommendations in TWTM for the grammar years. I've blogged before about how our narrations tend to be more CMish. I also choose not to use my children's narrations as a source of copywork or dictation. Honestly, I prefer that they copy and dictate from good literature. While I often find their narrations to be quirky and entertaining, I don't believe that they will improve their writing skills by spending time rewriting their own narrations. Turning their oral narrations into booklets for lapbooks has been an excellent way for us to keep a record of what we have learned and have some fun crafty time cutting and pasting without ending up with large art projects that we have no place to put.

Friday, June 5, 2009

2009-10: Goals for Jessie - Math, Logic, and Latin

1. Continue to improve multiplication and division skills. Learn to divide by a two digit number. Learn the order of operations.
Singapore Math 5A
2. Continue to improve on understanding of fractions, addition and subtracting of unlike fractions, and addition and subtraction of mixed numbers.Singapore Math 5A.
3. Improve 2D geometry skills learning about triangle (area, sum of angles, types), working with angles, and 4 sided figures
Singapore Math 5A and 5B
4. Introduce the concepts of ratios, percentages, averages, and rates. Expand on the concept of decimals.
Singapore Math 5A and 5B
5. Improve 3D geometry skills by calculating volumes.
Singapore Math 5B
6. Continue to improve computation speed in multiplication and division.Weekly timed math drills
1. Continue to improve reasoning and analytical skills.Building Thinking Skills 2
2. Continue to improve logic and problem solving skillsMind Benders B series
Think-a-grams A1 and A2
1. Improve Latin vocabulary and grammarLatin For Children Primer B
2. Continue making Latin more fun.LfC Activity book and DVD
3. Continue reading and translating Latin.LfC History Reader

Thursday, June 4, 2009

2009-10: Goals for Jessie - Language Arts

It's that time of year again. Time to focus my brain and think about what I actually want to accomplish with Jessie next year to make sure that the time and money I invest in curriculum and planning bears some fruit next year as we enter into a new stage of learning.

1. Solidify an understanding of the 8 parts of speech.Accomplish using R&S 5 exercises and grammar work in CW Homer
2. Improve ability to identify the parts of speech.
Accomplish using analysis exercises in CW Homer
3. Improve ability to parse words and diagram sentences.
Accomplish using R&S 5 exercises and grammar work in CW Homer.
4. Continue to improve punctuation skills.
Learn new skills using R&S 5. Reinforce through dictation and CW draft editing.
5. Become familiar with using a thesaurus
CW Homer
1. Continue to improve vocabulary.To be practiced using SWO G and H.
2. Continue to improve editing skills.To be practiced using SWO G and H, dictation, and CW.
3. Increase emphasis on identifying word roots, prefixes, and suffixes.
To be practiced using SWO G and H and Latin for Children B derivatives exercises.
1. Continue to improve legibility, speed, and length of handwriting.Dictation
2. Understand the six parts of a narrative scene and be able to analyze a scene to determine each part.
CW Homer
3. Analyze a piece of writing to identify the author's emphasis and message
CW Homer
4. Summarize, paraphrase, and outline a narrative
CW Homer
5. Improve word choice and variety using synonyms and a thesaurus.
CW Homer
6. Learn to manipulate a sentence using the six sentence shuffle to write it multiple ways.
CW Homer
7. Improve structure and style of narrative writing.
CW Homer
1. Continue variety of books read beyond fiction.Assigned weekly history biographies and science books.
2. Increase attention to details and content.Assigned literature readings to be discussed with Mom.
3. Introduce basic literary anaylsis and discuss select readings throughout the course of the year.
Teaching the Classics

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Parental Rights

Pardon the departure from my normal family and homeschooling posts; but if you haven't already, I hope you will take a few minutes to read the information below and consider signing the petition sponsored by parentalrights.org.

A parent’s right to raise their children as they see fit is a time-honored American tradition, but today it is being threatened. The Supreme Court’s Troxel v. Granville decision in 2000 undermined a 75-year heritage of Constitutionally-protected, fundamental parental rights, which 8 of the 9 justices abandoned. At the same time, a growing body of international law fuels activist judges to legislate foreign standards from the American bench, while treaties such as the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child would subject parental decisions to government oversight and international review.

Rep. Pete Hoekstra (MI-2) has proposed HJR-42, the Parental Rights Amendment, to stop the erosion of parental rights in American courts while simultaneously defending our laws from international invasion. Please, visit parentalrights.org to learn more about the Amendment, and to join their email network by signing the petition to protect parental rights.