Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Week 14: A Short Week

Here's a quick look at our short Thanksgiving school week.


Jessie seems to have finally come to terms with word problems and percentages this week. We squeezed in 5 lessons over the course of 3 days going over every problem in the textbook and making up our own whenever she had a problem.
Violet continued working on the fractions section of the IP book this week. If I could just get her to remember to reduce her fractions, she would have finished much more quickly.
Benny started and finished a new unit on length in the 1A textbook and workbook. On Wednesday, he began the corresponding unit in the IP book. In Miquon Orange, he started working on fractions, so we broke out the rods to work through the exercises the first day until he understood what the top and bottom numbers each meant.

Jessie finished up her book report of Tolkein's The Two Towers on Monday. I found a sticky on the computer that read "Part 1: 633 words, Part 2: 567 words. Hope you like this. I did, but that might be because I worked so hard on it." Tuesday, she wrote a quick summary book report of The Striped Ships by McGraw. She completed 3 grammar lessons on verb pairs (lay/lie, raise/rise, sit/set) and squeezed in another spelling lesson. No CW or assigned literature this week.
Violet completed a review spelling lesson, 3 more grammar lessons on verbs, and 3 days of dictation from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. No CW, cursive copywork, or literature this week.

Benny completed 3 days of phonics in both Phonics Pathways and ETC 2. As an extra challenge, we read the book Go Dog Go by Eastman over 3 days as well. He also continued his regular handwriting work. For literature, we read Castle Diary by Platt.



Latin this week was simply vocabulary review for both Jessie and Violet. Jessie had the week off from Elementary Greek.


Jessie completed one day of anatomy this week successfully passing her chapter 10 test.

In astronomy, it was a wrap up week.
Benny and I assembled his space lapbook (with the exception of one missing booklet).
We also did some more rocket launching. Using our Mythbusters inspired background, we launched our chemical rocket 4 times slowly increasing the amount of baking powder from 1/4 teaspoon to 1 teaspoon.
We marked the lines on the backdrop for each launch. The conclusion: More baking powder equals a higher launch.


There were plenty of Henry antics as usual this week. He had a blast dumping out some buckets and a small cooler on the back porch that had collected some rain water, while the rest of us were launching rockets. He's been using one of our badminton rackets to pretend to play a guitar. (He wouldn't let me take a picture, and I have yet to successfully sneak up on him.) He practiced pedaling the ride-on tractor backwards, dumped math manipulatives all over the kitchen floor, and managed to help himself to M&Ms down at Grandma's twice before DH or I could stop him. New rule for Grandma's house: Put the M&Ms up as soon as you enter the house.

WW: Benny's Tinkertoy Dragon

Friday, November 19, 2010

Week 13, part 1: Castles, crusades, and astronauts

We've had a great week despite a few troubles with our hands on activities. Here's what we accomplished.


Jessie is continuing to do well with percentages. We got back into the word problems this week which had been giving her trouble. It seems that she was trying to solve them all using the same method instead of being more flexible in her approach. We focused on using fractions to solve the problems and on how to determine which set equals 100% when comparing two sets. She even (GASP!) showed her work on a couple of problems for a change. I think it's starting to sink in, so I might ease her back into her CWP section next week.

Violet worked steadily all week through the 4A IP section on fractions. She's been doing very well and seems to have a good grasp of the concepts. If I could just get her to read the directions more carefully, she would have very few mistakes.

Benny finished up the 1A section on shapes in the textbook and workbook and made it all the way through the corresponding IP section this week. In his Miquon Orange text, he completed section G. He's up for all new math topics in both books next week.


Jessie successfully completed unit 4 in R&S 6 and lesson 30 in SWO H. For literature, she read The Striped Ships by McGraw which is a historical fiction piece set during the time of the Battle of Hastings. She is still working on finishing up her book report of Tolkein's The Two Towers from last week. In CW, we skipped the writing assignment this week and just focused on analyzing the model, The Ugly Duckling. Naturally by Thursday, the model had disappeared into thin air (It's amazing how often that happens around here despite my best efforts at organization), so she used a Pooh model from a previous week to write a summary paragraph and a precis for the day 4 analysis.

Violet continues to progress through the unit on verbs in R&S 4. She completed lesson 11 in SWO F, rewrote the model "Bruce and the Spider" for CW Aesop, and completed reading Pollyanna for literature.

Benny is doing much better reading words with a double consonant at the beginning, began lesson 4 of ETC 2 on Friday, and managed 4 days of copywork. For literature, we finished reading Little Pilgrim's Progress and Mike's Mystery. We were supposed to read Castle Diary by Platt, but he spent lots of time in the afternoons with DH cleaning up leaves, cutting firewood, and even got to go out to the woods with DH one afternoon while he hunted.


Both girls completed lesson 12 in their respective LfC books. Jessie learned to decline Greek nouns in lesson 7 of Elementary Greek.


This week in history, we took a bit of a breather from the academics and focused on more of the fun. Jessie read Castle by Macaulay, Castle by Biesty, and Castle at War by Langley. She wrote 2 paragraphs on castle defenses and different siege strategies. She outlined a chapter on the First Crusade and completed a map of the route using The Story of the Middle Ages. She was really excited to rearrange her schedule and be included in our hands on activities for a change.
Violet, Benny, and I read about castles in SOTW. We also read The Truth About Castles by Clements. We looked through the book by Langley on sieges and discussed the pictures. Violet read the Macaulay book as well as Castle Diary by Platt. We read the chapters in Monks & Mystics covering the division of the church and Anselm of Canterbury. I didn't require them to narrate any of their material until Thursday.
Thursday we read the first section in SOTW on the crusades, narrated, and completed the accompanying map work. Most of our history time was spent with hands on projects.

Our first hands on project of the week was to make a spoon catapult. The kids were really excited about the prospect of launching large marshmallows across the table at one another. Unfortunately, we couldn't follow the directions as written because the only skill sticks I could find were very cheaply made so they broke easily and the notches wouldn't connect with one stick on its side and the other stick flat. So while I quickly tried to redesigned the catapult to make it work, the kids launched marshmallows at each other using just the spoons. I finally managed to get one working model after about 20 minutes and several broken sticks.

They each took turns both launching and eating, and
we had several successful launches. I made a second catapult for Violet, and Jessie managed to assemble one on her own. They weren't the sturdiest catapults in the world because of the poor stick quality, so I did catapult repairs off and on throughout the afternoon until they were finished playing with them. At least, they had fun, and I managed to keep my promise to them about launching marshmallows. If you can find better quality skill sticks than I did, I still think the original project was excellent.
Our second hands on project was making a medieval castle out of Kix, marshmallows, and butter following the directions in the activity book. It was actually a lot easier than I thought. We increased the size of the recipe to 1 and a half times the book's recommendations. We used the mini-marshmallows instead of the large ones. Four cups of mini-marshmallows equals 1 10 oz bag of the larger ones, so there were just enough marshmallows in one bag of minis for the 6 cups we needed.
Here's a close up of the castle's walls, towers, and keep. Jessie, Violet, Benny, and I each made one tower and one wall. Everyone took a turn at forming the keep. The biggest tip I have for those trying this activity is to use lots of butter on the kids hands and reapply it periodically. I put butter on the kids' hads before they made their tower, before they made their wall, and before the took their turn on the keep. Otherwise, it can get very sticky and messy quickly. A couple ideas for improving the craft: 1. Rice Krispies pack together more tightly and would have held together better even though the Kix do look really cool. 2. Consider shaping the castle pieces and then letting them cool to room temperature before using toothpicks to attached them. I'll think they will hold their shape better. Ours tended to slowly droop over time.
Naturally, the best part about the project is eating the results

which everyone agreed were delicious.


Jessie covered chapter 10 in Apologia's Exploring Creation with Anatomy and Physiology. She learned about the different part of the cerebrum and their function. There was a little more information on the cerebellum and spinal cord and a more detailed description of how reflexes work.
She did a great job on her vocabulary quiz and just needs to take her chapter test to finish up the lesson next week.
As one of her hands-on activities, Jessie made another playdough model of the brain. This model was designed to show the different lobes of the cerebrum. The only other activity that I recall had her cover a 4" square of paper with dots and draw as many connecting lines as she could in between them to illustrate all the neuron connections in the brain. Somehow, I missed getting a picture of that one.
Astronomy this week was all about wrapping up the last lessons in the book.
We read about space shuttles and astronauts. Benny did one booklet on the latter. The girls had a worksheet on space shuttles to label. They also complete the final vocabulary quiz, unit test, and final exam. Our one hands on activity for the week talked about how water in space forms into water balls. We took some drops of water on wax paper, played around using a toothpick to connect two drops together, and watched them merge. Then we tried to divide the drops of water with the toothpick. I think the kids would like to go into space just to play with floating balls of water. Next week we'll do our final astronomy wrap up with some hands on labs.

Week 13, part 2: Henry's Corner

Henry spent lots of time outside with DH this week, who is off for the remainder of the month using up his comp time for hunting and wood cutting. Here are a couple of his more memorable antics of the week. Thursday evening, Henry decided to try his skill at drawing with dry erase markers.
As expected, not all of the marker made it onto the board.

Violet invented a new way to get Henry to eat his Cheerios this week. She took our monkey puppet, scooped up a few Cheerios,

and had the monkey chew on the cereal which sent Cheerios falling all over the table sending Henry into gales of laughter.
Once he recovered from his laughter, Henry scooped the fallen Cheerios off the table and ate them up. It's really too bad I can't use the same technique on some of his vegetables.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

WW: Where's Jessie

Jessie decided to stay home with DH Sunday when I took Violet and Benny to choir practice with Henry in tow as usual. When DH first looked out to check on her, he couldn't see her anywhere
until she decided to stretch a bit.

Having a pile of leaves to yourself is a rare treat around here.

Monday, November 15, 2010

More Fall Fun

One of the kids favorite fall traditions is burning a pile of brush and roasting marshmallows to make S'Mores. This weather this weekend was perfect: not too warm, not too cold, not too wet, and not too dry. Henry did a great job this year of not getting too close to the fire.
All the kids had a great time. Here they are happy and full of S'mores. (I didn't get any pictures until after all the S'mores were done since I was too busy helping them put them together.)

Of course, being silly with Dad only adds to the fun.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Week 12: Back up to Speed

It's been a great week albeit a slightly disorganized one. While it's always great to have DH home (even if it's by injury), it does require a bit of flexibility in how we schedule school. Here's our week.


Jessie really struggled with the IP section of the percentages book this week, so Friday we decided to stop the IP work and go back through the textbook and workbook to try to figure out which concepts she needs to work on. She's not thrilled, but hopefully the second time through will be easier for her. We've also temporarily stopped the CWP book because she is already in the section on percentages and has struggled with the problems. On the plus side, it gives her a little free time first thing in the morning for a few weeks.

Violet has spent the four days doing various reviews in the textbook and workbook before finally starting the fractions section of the IP book on Friday. Overall, she did an excellent job this week.

Benny has moved on to a new section on shapes in the textbook and workbook this week. In Miquon, he also finish the F pages on multiplication and division and started the G section on a combination of addition, subtraction, and multiplication.


Jessie is moving steadily along in grammar covering predicate nominatives and adjectives and spelling completing lesson 29. She got the week off from literature because I hadn't picked out the next book selection yet and instead spent the time writing a book report on Tolkein's The Two Towers. I think she's already mastered level 8 in CW Homer, so I'll probably have her move on to level 9 a week early.

Violet continues to read Pollyanna for literature. In SWO, she successfully completed lesson 10. Grammar was more verbs, helping verbs, and verb tenses. In CW, she rewrote and illustrated "Canute and the Sea". She continues to copy Psalms for cursive handwriting.

Benny finally reached the first page in Phonics Pathways covering two letter blends at the beginning of words of Friday. He's been struggling a bit with the blends in ETC 2, so hopefully having both books on the same topic will help next week. This week he copied by poem "Hearts Are Like Doors" for handwriting. We finished reading Viking Adventure, picked up in Mike's Mystery where my Mom left off reading while we were at the beach, and are nearing the end of Little Pilgrim's Progress.


In history, Jessie learned about the expectations surrounding the year 1000 on Monday. Tuesday, she read about William the Conqueror in both The Story of the Middle Ages and The Norman Invasion by Hodges.
She mapped the locations of Normandy and the Battle of Hastings, wrote an essay on William and a very brief summary of his sons,
and finished off the rest of her reading with a couple of outlines.
Violet, Benny, and I read about William the Conqueror and the Battle of Hastings in SOTW. Violet also read additional information in FMMA. They mapped the locations of Normandy and the Battle of Hastings. We read about all the different languages that English words come from and completed a map illustrating what we learned.
We also read about the feudal system in STOW, Constantine and Methodius in Monks & Mystics, and medieval feasts using A Medieval Feast by Aliki. For hands on we played the trivia game called William and Harold from the SOTW activity guide on Monday with mixed responses. Violet loved it, and Benny didn't. He kept getting the hard questions that I had to look back in the book for the correct answers.
Wednesday we tried our first sewing project of the year, making coin purses. Violet loves to sew and was very excited. Benny didn't want to make a coin purse at first (he was thinking purses were girly) until I explained what they were. He did a great job weaving his yarn around the fabric.
Both of them were very proud of the results.
They also tried playing a medieval game called Fox and Geese. Benny found the strategy game to be a little frustrating, but he liked it enough to ask me to play it with him a second time.


This week in anatomy, Jessie studied the nervous system and the endocrine system, and has only the chapter test to take on Monday to complete another lesson. She did the normal outlining, summarizing, and review crossword,
made a playdough model of a brain showing the 3 parts (cerebrum, cerebellum, and brain stem) in 3 colors (the blue and green are blending together in the picture),
and a playdough model of a neuron.
This week in astronomy, we covered 2 lessons on space exploration and the Apollo program. Most of the time was spent with hands-on launching of various rockets.
We used our T&K kit to launch a tiny plastic rocket off of a straw using air pressure.
We took the same plastic rocket, added some baking powder, placed it on it's base filled with water, and
anxiously watched the reaction start seeping out of the bottom
until the carbon dioxide finally built up enough pressure to launched the rocket a little more than a foot in the air before heading down to the grass.
Next it was time for a single stage balloon rocket taped to a straw on a line of dental floss.
The rocket successfully reached it's destination, the door handle.
Finally, our most complex rocket, the two stage balloon rocket.
We went for a steeper angle of ascent and reached the top bunk with plenty of fuel to spare every time.


With DH's ankle still badly swollen, he was home with us for another week. Henry, of course, was thrilled. They went outside a couple of days and mowed grass together.
They started an evening game of tug-o'-war
that everyone joined in on.
When investigating the cause of Henry's gales of laughter one morning, I discovered them using the UNO attack game to shoot cards out at themselves.
Both boys were having a blast. Overall, it was a great week!