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.


Karen said...

Fun week!

Mandy in TN said...

I surprised they hadn't eaten all the marshmellows before the catapult was ready! Looks like a very fun week.

Lisa said...

I love the Kix castle. When we made spoon catapults we used pencils.

Bright Sky Mom said...

You had some wonderful and tasty fun this week! Glad Benny got to spend some time in the woods with Dad -- wish we had that opportunity here.