Friday, October 29, 2010

Week 10: Starting Back Up

It's been a bit of a hectic week. We came back from the beach on Saturday and weren't really home very much of Sunday, so I didn't have the regular checksheets filled out on Monday morning. Add to that the fact that I hadn't even planned out Jessie's history for the week and it made for an interesting start. We managed to fumble through Monday using just my binder. By the end of Tuesday, I had managed to fill in most of the checksheets and unpack most of the bags from our trip. That doesn't even count the mountains of seasonal clothes that I need to deal with over the weekend.


Jessie picked back up with percentages this week and after a couple of review exercises focused mainly on word problems with percentages. We solved some of the problems with bar diagrams, others by converting the percentages to fractions, and the remainder by converting the percentages to decimals. She also caught me off guard with one or two problems which she solved rather creatively. It's not often that I have to ask her to explain what she was doing in a problem when she actually shows her work. Overall, I thought it was a good variety of problems in just the regular workbook pages for the week.

Violet continues to breeze through fractions this week. She has worked different methods to multiply a fraction and a whole number and then applying that ability to various word problems.

Benny finished the workbook section on adding and subtracting within 20 and has moved on to the corresponding section in the IP book. In his Miquon Orange, we've begun introducing the concept of multiplication and the relationship between multiplication and addition. Benny was also excited to finish up his Visual Perceptual Skill Building: Book 1 this week as well.


In spelling, Jessie hit her first lesson to repeat for the year. Part of the problem was the accent marks on words like fiancee, and part of the problem appears to be that she was pronouncing a few of the words incorrectly. Hopefully, it will sort out easily enough next week. Her grammar (much to her dismay) has corresponded very nicely with her Latin lessons covering the present, past, and future perfect tenses of English verbs. In literature, she was thrilled to be handed Tolkein's The Two Towers as her next selection. I need to look ahead in history over the weekend, so I can set a deadline for finishing the book. In CW, we began skill level 8. Unlike all of the previous writing assignments, the last three levels focus not on rewriting from a model but on editing a selection written by the student. I pulled out Jessie's rewriting of "The Tale of Peter Rabbit" from CW last year. The basic focus on the week was on the cohesion of the story. We looked at the characters, discussed how we would expect them to act, how that actually acted, and what caused any differences.
Violet succeeded in getting the week off from literature, since I hadn't even considered a new literature selection for her yet. She did complete another spelling lesson. In grammar, she worked on plural forms of nouns. In CW, I rearranged her models a little so that she was rewriting the story "King Alfred and the Cakes" which corresponded to our history lessons for the week. She also completed the normal daily copywork and dictation.
Benny picked back up in Phonics Pathways and did very well this week. On Friday, he completed the first ETC book. YEAH!! He is almost finished writing the 23rd Psalm for his copywork. For literature, we've been working on Little Pilgrim's Progress and Viking Adventure by Bulla.


Both Jessie and Violet completed chapter 9 in their respective LfC books. Jessie worked on the pluperfect tense, and Violet focused on neuter nouns. In EG, Jessie completed week 4, which introduces the Greek ending for the present tense and conjugating verbs.


This week in history, we shifted our focus back to England and looked at the Viking invasions of England.
Jessie read a combination of chapters from The Story of the Middle Ages and Famous Men of the Middle Ages. She covered Ragnar the Viking and Egbert the Saxon,
mapped England during the time of Alfred the Great, wrote a two paragraph essay on King Alfred, created a chart of the English kings after Alfred through Edward the Confessor, and outlined a chapter on MacBeth which although slightly off topic fit into the time period of the week.
Violet, Benny, and I worked on the first 2 sections of chapter 15 in SOTW this week. We learned about the Viking invasion of England. Violet read about Egbert the Saxon in FMMA.
We also read about Alfred the Great in SOTW. (Violet read more about in in Our Island Story.) Both completed maps of the location of Wessex and the Salisbury Plain where Alfred defeated the Vikings. As you can tell by the size of the summaries, they both enjoyed the reading. We added a picture of King Alfred from our HTTA timeline figures CDs.
Our first cooking project of the week was making Viking bread. We did have to add a couple extra tablespoons of liquid beyond what the recipe called for to get a good dough consistency. The bread was quite good and tasted rather like a biscuit. One change I will make next time is to divide the dough in half and shape two smaller loaves to make it easier to cut.
We also made a batch of Alfred cakes using the recipe from the activity book as a guide. We didn't bother with adding dates and substituted rice milk for the heavy cream and orange juice. Personally, I would try cutting back on the liquids by 1 or 2 tablespoons because the dough was extremely sticky, and we had to use lots of flour for the kids to be able to shape the cakes. Still, they were tasty.


Jessie finished up lesson 7 on the circulatory system this week.
She did the normal outlining and summarizing and scored very well on both her vocabulary review and her chapter test.
I didn't really care for the activities in the Apologia book, so this activity came from The Human Body by Van Cleave to demonstrate the process of clotting by using a stretched cotton ball over a hole in the paper.
In astronomy this week, I opted to complete only a half week of lessons to free up time in the afternoons for myself to do some more planning and start tackling the mess in the kids rooms from the seasonal clothing shift.
We read about the plutoids Pluto and Eris, and Benny completed a matchbook on Pluto. The girls and I completed a worksheet that designed to calculate a person's weight on different planets. We also used the table of planet facts and calculated the girl's ages on the different planets based on the amount of time each takes to revolve around the sun. As we got farther out, it became more of an estimate as I tried to calculate fractions of a year, but there were lots of giggles so it was worth the effort.


Henry's been his normal mischievous self this week. He managed to grab one of Jessie's dry erase markers when no one was looking and scribble all over my dining room wall. (Thank goodness we had some magic erasers to clean it up.)
This is Henry's first attempt at our shape sorter.
Friday was colder than the rest of the week, so he decided to run around in his blanket for a while.
He and Benny made a sticker picture, but for some reason he didn't want to sit still so I could take a picture of his finished work.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

WW: Beach Break Pictures

We had a great vacation at the Outer Banks last week. On the way there, we stopped at the aquarium on Roanoke Island. Watching Henry run from tank to tank pointing at animals was definitely the most entertaining part of the stop.

He ran so fast that Jessie and I took turns picking him up to look at different tanks.

We did manage to catch a few fish although it was a slow fishing week overall. Benny specialized in catching pufferfish although he did catch a few other species as well.
Jessie built a small town with a castle and some houses.

Violet and Benny enjoyed working together on some road construction.

Henry ran the trucks on the road once they were built. Overall everyone had a nice relaxing week. It was a great break!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Big John's Secret, Book 23 of 52

12 year old John is full of questions and dreams. Although a free worker on a manor, he dreams of being a knight. At night Old Marm teaches him as much as she can of the duties and manners of a page in a castle. When a visiting knight comments that John reminds him of someone, he tries again to convince Old Marm to tell him of his past, of his father's name, of what happened to his parents, and of where his father may be. But always Old Marm bids him to wait and be patient. The knight takes Big John on as a page and then a squire and tells him about the knight whom John resembles and where he was last seen. Big John's deepest longing is to find the father whom he has never known, and his chance finally comes as Sir Alwyn embarks to the Holy Land with John on the 5th Crusade. Along the way he faces discouragement and setbacks, capture and release, and friendship with a remarkable friar who touches the heart of the lonely boy.

Big John's Secret by Eleanore M. Jewett is a mixture of a coming of age tale, historical fiction, and an adventure. The plot is extremely well written with lots of twists and turns to keep the reader guessing where the story will go next. I would consider it an excellent read aloud for ages 8 and up especially for boys and an independent read for the 10 and up crowd. I continue to be impressed by the depth and quality of the stories in Bethlehem Books' Living History Library; and although not as well known as some of the other books in the series, I think Big John's Secret would make an excellent addition to any home library.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Story of Rolf and the Viking Bow, Book 22 of 52

16 year old Rolf lives a simple life on his father's small farm in Iceland until their wicked, covetous neighbors hatch a plan to gain possession of their farm. The injustice mounts as slaves are enticed to run away and deceitful lawsuits force his father to be confined to their farm causing life on the farm to become increasingly difficult for the family. Then Rolf's father is unjustly murdered, and his murderous neighbors make Rolf an outlaw so that he is forced to flee Iceland or be killed. Even abroad his misfortunes continue as he is captured by pirates and forced unjustly into slavery by the pride of the son of the very neighbor who was the source of all his grief at home. Despite numerous hardships as Rolf seeks to regain his freedom, he continues to strive in every situation to do that which is right and never gives up hope that he will find a bow with which to prove under Icelandic law that his father's killing was unjust thereby regaining his home for himself and for his mother.

The Story of Rolf and the Viking Bow by French is an intriguing and thought-provoking tale that I would wholeheartedly recommend for anyone over the age of 10. It has an excellent balance of suspense and depth so that the reader is not only drawn into the story but challenged by the decisions of the main character to grapple with issues of injustice, perseverance, and forgiveness. I'm definitely keeping this one as a must-read for the kids and a permanent part of our home library to be enjoyed again and again.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Week 9: First Quarter Down!!

It's been a crazy week with lots of extra projects going on around the house. We dropped a couple of school subjects for the week to give me some extra time. Overall, I'm still pleased with everything we did accomplish.


Jessie completed her review lessons in her textbook and workbook and began a new unit in percentages, which she did very well in.
Violet has been working with mixed numbers and improper fraction all week Either converting between the two or adding and subtracting them.

Benny has been adding and subtracting larger numbers this week. Most of the workbook exercises had pictures to solve the problems. The one exercise that didn't, we pulled out the cuisenaire rods to complete. He did manage to solve a few of the problems in his head with no help at all. In Miquon, we finished the section on addition and subtraction.


Jessie completed her spelling and grammar work for the week. (I have no idea what we covered.) She wrote a book report on The Fellowship of the Ring after we completed a story chart together on Monday. It's hand-written this time since I caught playing solitaire instead of working on the computer. I gave her the week off from CW because I didn't really have time to plan or figure out the level 8 work yet. For literature, she read The Story of Rolf and the Viking Bow. We didn't complete a story chart yet because I have yet to finish the book. This time Mom has some homework to do over the weekend.
Violet completed lesson 7 in SWO F on her second try. In grammar, she worked mostly with nouns, but also completed a lesson on poetry. In addition to her regular copywork and dictation, she rewrote "The Lark and Her Young Ones" for CW Aesop, but we still need to edit and finalize it next week. She also finished reading Beorn the Proud for literature.
Benny continues to plug along with his phonics. In Phonics Pathways we covered multisyllable words. He also read a few more pages from Pyramid and completed another 10 pages in ETC (noting to me that he is almost finished with the first book). His copywork for the week was the 5th verse of Psalm 23. He finished memorizing "Caterpillar" by Rosetti, his first poem. We read all of The Sword in the Tree by Bulla, several more chapters in Little Pilgrim's Progress, and the first few chapters of Viking Adventure by Bulla.


This week in history, we covered knights, the break up of Charlemagne's empire, and the Viking attacks and settlement of Normandy.
Jessie summarized the events after the death of Charlemagne and outlined the chapter in The Story of the Middle Ages about the Viking raids.
She also read Life in the Middle Ages by Williams and Medieval Knights by Nicolle. She took the information that she learned and wrote one paragraph on feudalism plus a 3 paragraph essay on knights with paragraph covering the steps to becoming a knight, the knight's role in society, and the code of chivalry.
Violet, Benny, and I read the first half of SOTW 17 on knights, The Making of a Knight by O'Brien, Knights in Shining Armor by Gibbons, and A Tournament of Knights by Lasker. Each gave a narration on knights and colored in a coloring page I found online. For Vikings, we read about the Viking invasion of France in SOTW chapter 14 as well as a story about Thor. We read portions of Vikings by Petty and East O' the Sun and West O' the Moon by Lynch.
For hands on, they put together their own paper knight. Somehow I missed getting a picture of Benny's.
Everyone including Jessie took a turn at an online activity where you put a knight in his armor and then label the different pieces.Both wanted to make shields out of poster board, and Benny and I made a simple helmet for him. Their Viking related activity was to write their names in runes using the alphabet I found online.


In anatomy this week, Jessie finished the chapter on the respiratory system, completed her crossword, and did very well on her test.
She also began a new chapter on the heart and filled in a diagram of the blood flow in the circulatory system from The Body Book.
Her experiment for the week was to compared the amount of air in a normal expiration versus a forced expiration by measuring the amount of water that she displaced. Not counting the water she splashed on her face our end results were 1/4 cup versus 1 cup.

We took the week off from astronomy so I could focus on other projects in the afternoons this week.


DH had the week off, and Henry spent a lot of time following him around. While DH was waxing his truck, Henry plays inside. While there, he reaches over and turns off the radio.
Then he returns to driving. When DH asks why he turned the radio off, he was told, "There's no music in race cars."
In addition to playing, he wanted to help with the work as well so DH let him sweep off one of our tarps.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Week 8: Moving Along

It's been another busy week here. We've been trying to get school done, get fall/winter clothes out and washed, and start planning for our upcoming beach trip. The worst part is bringing in the clothes from the clothesline in the evening and having to look through checking for stink bugs. We found almost 3 dozen last night. I guess I'll either have to shake each piece out individually before putting it in the basket or switch to using the clothes dryer a month earlier than usual this year.


Math for Jessie this week has been all review. There were two 4 page reviews in the textbook, which I spread over 2 days each and another 4 page review in the workbook which she completed the first half on Friday. It has been a lot of word problems, and she's needed a few hints here and there and some help drawing a picture or two, but overall she's done very well.

Violet is doing extremely well in fractions. She had a few review pages as well this week before I introduced mixed numbers and improper fractions. She does forget to simplify on occasion, but I'm sure that will become more automatic with practice.

Benny and I continue to work with addition up to 20. We've practiced making ten to add numbers together for a couple of days and compared addition sentences like 4+3=7 to 14+3=17. We've also been doing a page of Miquon Orange orally reviewing simpler addition and subtraction facts.


Jessie finished chapter 3 in R&S on nouns, tested well, and began chapter 4 on verbs. She successfully completed another spelling lesson in SWO H. In CW Homer, it was our last week at level 7 where we had to write the models from end to beginning. YEAH!!! Her model for the week was "The Birth of Christ". In literature, she finished reading The Fellowship of the Ring. She loved the book, wants to memorize one of the poems in it for her memory work, and can't wait until she can read the rest of the trilogy. I had planned to complete a story chart using Teaching the Classics, but I think we'll wait until Monday so I can look over the discussion questions and choose which to cover first.

Violet continues to work on nouns in R&S 4. In spelling, she worked on lesson 7 this week. We'll continue to work on the words next week since she missed 5 on her test today. For cursive copywork, I've written out several Psalms for her to copy over the next few weeks. This week was Psalm 1. In CW Aesop, she rewrote the fable "The Cock and the Fox" with the same focus on dialogue and a few more descriptive words as last week. In literature, she completed read Son of Charlemagne and began Beorn the Proud this week.

Benny continues to make steady progress in phonics covering 1 page of Phonics Pathways, 1 page of Pyramid, and 2 pages of ETC daily. He did very well at the beginning of the week adding -ing, -ed, and -er to short vowel words. He struggled a little bit Friday when the endings were added to long vowel words. The next page is a combination of the two, so we'll see how Monday goes and decide if we need to spend extra time on it next week or not. In handwriting, he's been working on verse 4 of the 23rd Psalm.


Jessie completed her second week of Elementary Greek, finished the review of the Greek alphabet, and reviewed breathing marks and diphthongs. In LfC C, she completed chapter 7 which was a review of the verb tenses she had covered so far. Violet completed chapter 7 in LfC A covering 2nd declension masculine endings and the present tense conjugation of sum, esse.


In history this week, Violet and Benny covered the Islamic invasion of Spain and Charles Martel. the main focus for the week was Charlemagne and the famous French knight Roland. Jessie started off the week with an outline of the chapter on Pepin from The Story of the Middle Ages. Then she took notes on the chapters covering Charlemagne in that same book as well as from a chapter in Trial and Triumph. The notes were turned into a 3 paragraph essay on Thursday describing Charlemagne as king, as a person, and as emperor.

She also read The Story of Roland by Baldwin. I mostly wanted her to simply enjoy the story, so I simply asked for one paragraph with at least 3 examples of why Roland was called the best and bravest knight of his time.

Violet, Benny, and I started off with chapter 12 of SOTW covering the Islamic invasion. We wrote summaries of the events, completed the associated map work, and read 1 piece of corresponding literature The Beautiful Butterfly by Sierra.

Then we moved on to Charles Martel and Charlemagne in chapter 13 of SOTW. We also read more about Charlemagne in Monks & Mystics. After mapping Charlemagne's kingdom, we read a bit of historical fiction, The Two Travelers by Manson, as well as "The Song of Roland" from Favorite Medieval Tales by Osborne. For corresponding literature, we read Puss in Boots by Galdone. (This was a favorite of Benny and Henry, so we read it over and over again all week.)

Our only other hands on activity this week was to make simplified versions of Charlemagne's crown. I decided to skip the step of painting with gold or silver paint or covering with aluminum foil and just use yellow cardstock for the crowns instead. Rather than gluing on jewels, I gave them the option to draw them with markers instead. It made for a quick, fun craft with minimal expense or mess.


This week in Anatomy, Jessie finished off the lesson on nutrition completing the lab at the end of the chapter which tests for vitamin C.
She mixed cornstarch and water and then added iodine to made our indicator.

We added 20 drops of juice to 4 teaspoons of indicator.

First, we compared the vitamin C content of oranges, lemons, and tomatoes.

Then we compared freshly squeezed orange juice to our regular carton of store bought juice, and she wrote up the results. After successfully passing her test on Tuesday, she started a new chapter on the respiratory system.
She had to explain what happened to air while it is in the nose and outline the sections on the lungs. She also labeled a diagram of the respiratory system.

Then of course, it was time to add a complete respiratory system to Mr. Bones.

In astronomy this week, we covered the 4 gas planets: Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune.

The girls continued filling in their planet facts chart and answering the chapter questions. Nathan and I completed 4 more matchbook booklets.

For Jupiter, we illustrated the relative size of Earth and Jupiter with a marble and pair of cereal bowls. I let each of the kids guess how many Earths would fit in side of Jupiter. They all underestimated and were surprised to find out the answer of more than 1300.

For Uranus, we focused on its tilt.
Using a 2 color ball, we illustrated the tilt of Earth.

Then we rotated the ball to show the tilt of Uranus. We also orbited the ball around our "sun" to show how both sides of the planet get light.

For Neptune, we looked at planet color.

Using three cups containing plain water, red water, and blue water, we shined a flashlight through each to see the results.

Next we discussed what colors of light were absorbed by the dyes versus what color was let through. Then I read the explanation from the book on Neptune's blue color.