Sunday, January 30, 2011

Watership Down - Book 4, 52 in 52

Watership Down by Adams is a delightful tale of courage and adventure, hardship and survival that is probably best appreciated by kids at least who are at least high school age.  Hazel and a band of rabbits escape their warren before its destruction and set out into the unknown to find a new home.  Upon reaching their new home, they begin to realize that a home is not simply a place where they are safe but also where they are happy, which leads them on a quest to find some does to join their warren.  Through all the risks, they work together relying on the strengths of each individual to achieve together what would be impossible for them individually.  Along the way, Adams weaves in a combination of rabbit history and folklore, sprinkles in bits of rabbit language, and succeeds in creating a sense of realism that makes the book a timeless classic.

I found the book a bit difficult to get into at first and on occasion the amount of description can make reading sections of the story a bit tedious; however, despite the slow start, the book is an exceptional read that can be enjoyed as a simple adventure or analyzed as an allegory.  At almost 500 pages, it's not a quick read (be prepared to stop and contemplate if you want to ponder the allegorical ideas), but it is definitely worth the time required to read it.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Week 22: Starting the Renaissance

It's been a bit slow this week.I spent a lot of time over the weekend planning some changes to Jessie's history.  I've also been trying to research different programs to nail down as many subjects as possible for next year to give me more time to look for used resources.  Add to that the time the kids spent outside in the snow, and we didn't accomplish everything on our normal list this week, but I still feel good about the week overall.


 Jessie continued to work with fractions this week.  Monday was a review of last week's topics, and then she spent the remainder of the week reviewing order of operation with a combination of fractions and whole numbers in the problems.

 Violet progressed slowly through the IP section on area and perimeter.  Although she made several mistakes due to carelessness, she did an excellent job if I just sat down and watched her work through the problems and explain to me as she went.  At least, I'm confident that she understands the concepts now.
Benny spent the week working in a new unit of Singapore 1B covering numbers to 40.  He matched words to numbers, grouped objects by ten before counting, compared numbers, and completed some simple addition and subtraction.  In Miquon, he completed the section on odd and even numbers, counted by 2s to complete his dot to dot, did some basic adding, and added by making ten first.

Jessie finished CW HOMER!!!!  For grammar, she finished the unit on pronouns and began working on a unit covering capitalization and punctuation.  VCFR seems to be going well.  She completed lesson 3 this week.  I didn't have a
new literature selection ready for her, so she had plenty of time this week to complete a book report of Tolkien's Return of the King.

Violet completed her grammar unit on pronouns and moved on to the unit on adjectives this week.  In spelling, she worked on lesson 20, but missed several words on her test so we'll continue that lesson next week.  In CW Aesop, she finished her revision of "The Three Little Pigs" from last week.  In addition to the regular copywork and dictation, she completed reading The Beggar's Bible by Vernon and began Adam of the Road by Gray. 

Benny and I continued some phonics review this week in Phonics Pathways.  He also read The Big Honey Hunt by Berenstain. Add in a little ETC, some SWO A, and a mix of copywork, and that sums up his week.  We didn't get to any read alouds as I spent a lot of time this week working on plans for next year at the beginning of the week and he spent a lot of time outside in the snow at the end of the week.

Jessie completed lesson 18 in LfC C and lesson 14 in EG1.  Violet and I spent the week review vocabulary and grammar chants.

History was the biggest change for us this week.  Up til now, I've primarily used the TruthQuest guides to line up topics so that everyone stayed together.  I decided this week with the start of the TruthQuest:  Renaissance, Reformation, and Exploration guide to start bridging Jessie over to focusing more on ideas and the relationship between events instead of just the events and the people taking part in them.  Step 1 was to get my brain in gear.  I actually went through the guide making notes, read a good portion of her assigned reading, and jotted down quotes and page numbers from the various sources to refer back to during our discussion.
Next, I assigned the commentary in the TruthQuest guide as part of Jessie's reading with 1 or 2 questions to help her pick out the most important points from each section of the commentary.  She considered and outlined the problems with the church in Europe with the guide and The Story of the Renaissance and Reformation by Miller; studied the beliefs of John Wycliffe and Jan Hus for her essay using the guide, the Guerber book, Famous Men of the Renaissance and Reformation, and Monks & Mystics; took a brief look at the changes in art and architecture by reading the commentary and looking at a two page timeline spread from The Story of Painting and read Filippo's Dome by Rockwell, summarized the contributions of Prince Henry the Navigator to exploration, and listed the events surrounding the fall of Constantinople and the results of its fall.  To tie it all together, I had her map the various locations mentioned.
Violet and Benny had a much simpler week.  We learned about the Renaissance from part 1 of chapter 35 of SOTW 2
and summarized and mapped the information.
Next we read about Henry the Navigator from the second part of chapter 28 in SOTW 2 and from Prince Henry the Navigator by Fisher, completed a narration, and mapped the relevant portion of the map exercise in SOTW.
Our first hands on activity was to write the kids names in Greek, which I didn't take a picture of.
Then we tried to make a compass by magnetizing a needle
and setting it to float on a piece of paper in a bowl of water.  It didn't turn out to be a very good compass.  I think we needed a stronger magnet.

Jessie completed her last chapter in Apologia's Exploring Creation with Anatomy and Physiology text.  YEAH!!!  (I think we were both getting a little tired of the topic).

No earth science this week.  I spent to much time focused on history and long range planning to get the activity supplies together.  We'll start up again next week.


This week Henry made more noise than mess.  He banged pot lids together for cymbals, spent some time hitting a metal measuring cup with a spoon, and sang along with various VeggieTales songs when no one was in the room with him.

This was the closest I came to getting a picture of any of that.

Friday, he decided to be silly and came walking down the hall calling, "Mom, look!"  I really don't know where he gets some of his ideas...

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

WW: The Ups and Downs of Curiosity

 On the one hand, watching the hail bounce on the back porch was great entertainment  for a hungry toddler waiting for his lunch to be fixed.
On the other hand, it proved quite distracting for his older sister who was already behind in her work for the day.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Week 21: Another Good Week

 Jessie spent the first three days of the week finishing up the last section of the mid-year review in her IP book.She is now officially finished with all of the 6A books.  YEAH!!  Thursday she began the first unit in the 6B textbook and workbook on fractions and learned how to divide whole numbers by fractions and how to divide fractions by whole numbers.

Violet and I started back at the beginning of the unit on area and perimeter, and it seems to be going much better this time around.  The number of mistakes is much lower and consists mostly of computation errors.  She continues to zip along through her CWP book with a couple of easy sections like the perpendicular and parallel lines pictured on the right.

Benny continued with picture graphs this week mostly in the IP.  He also continues to do very well with the CWP 1 book, which we are doing orally.  In Miquon Red, he continued to work on even and odd numbers.  We looked at patterns in addition (odd + even = odd, odd + odd = even, and even + even = odd).  We also practiced pairing objects to determine if a set of objects contained an even or odd number of items.


Jessie completed her 3rd week of CW Homer at the level 10 skill level.  Only one more week to go!  In VFCR A, we worked on lesson 2, and she did very well on the review exercise for the first two lessons.  In literature, she completed reading The Return of the King by Tolkien.  In grammar, she continues to work with pronouns covering demonstrative pronouns, interrogative pronouns, and relative pronouns this week.  I think I may have learned as much grammar as she did this week.

Violet continued reading The Beggar's Bible by Vernon for literature.  For CW Aesop, she began rewriting "The Three Little Pigs".  Instead of a keywork outline, we tried a one level outline with the model again this week.  I divided the story into sections and she had to write one sentence per section.  It went much better this week.  Copywork and dictation continue as always.  In grammar, she got a brief break from pronouns to complete a couple of lessons on letter writing.  I had her write thank you letters to my parents and my sister's family for her Christmas presents since she had forgotten to do it earlier instead of completing the exercises in the textbook.  She was quite happy at the prospect of getting out her new stationary for the first time.
Benny and I decided that we would spend some time reviewing all of the new vowel sounds and vowel digraphs for a week or two in Phonics Pathways before moving on to new material.  This week we review the ar, or, and er sounds with their different spellings.  He's been giving me a little push back in the increase in ETC from 2 pages to 3 pages per day, but he is doing very well with the work.  In spelling, he finished lessons 7 and 8 this week and has done well on his spelling tests.  His copywork was a Bible verse and then we started writing the letters of the alphabet.  For literature we began The Woodshed Mystery by Warner and The Canterbury Tales by Cohen.


Jessie completed lesson 17 in LfC C and lesson 13 in EG1.  Violet struggled with her review crossword in lesson 18 because it was english to latin.  I've decided to take next week to work just on vocab until she's comfortable translating in both directions.  She also started her history reader this week.  We worked through the first lesson together on a dry erase board, and she did a great job.


This week in the Middle Ages, everyone learned about the end of the Hundred Years War.  This also marks the completion of our Truthquest:  Middle Ages guide.  Considering that we didn't start history our first week at school, I'm very excited at our progress in history this year (and also a little intimidated because my planning for the next guide is only in the beginning stages).

Jessie as always read about Henry V and Joan of Arc in The Story of the Middle Ages.  She used this information for her summary of Henry V.  Wednesday she read the Landmark book Joan of Arc by Ross for her summary on Thursday.

Violet and Benny completed chapter 26 in SOTW 2 and did narrations of Henry V and Joan of Arc as well.  We also finished up out Monks & Mystics book learning about John Hus and a brief summary of several other church figures of the time.  Violet read Joan of Arc by Stanley, and Benny and I read Joan of Arc by Poole as supplementary reading.

Along with the reading, the kids completed both the mapwork and the coloring page from the chapter and assembled their notebook pages.
 Beyond the mapwork and coloring page, we did the Bowl for the Crown game from the SOTW activity guide.
 I opted to skip the step where you make little crowns to tape on the cans and just told the kids to imagine the crowns were there.
As usual any activity involving a tennis ball also involves some dog obedience training (because he believes all the tennis balls are his).  Still he followed me back upstairs and stayed there when I told him to stay.


Jessie completed chapter 13 in her anatomy next.  I think we'll both be glad to finish next week because there really aren't as many good hands on activities in the later chapters.

In earth science this week we started learning about rocks.
After a bit of reading we pull out our set of 15 rocks.  The first challenge was to guess which row of rocks corresponded to each of the three types:  igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic.  Benny managed to guess all three correctly.  Then we took a Rocks & Minerals guide from the library and identified each of the five igneous and sedimentary rocks.  (I'm not thrilled with the guide.  If you know of a better one please leave a comment with the title.)
For igneous rocks, we also melted some wax and added it to a bowl of cold water and a bowl of ice (crushed would have worked better) to illustrate the differences in extrusive and intrusive rock formations.   
For sedimentary rocks, I chose to skip the activity of making our own sandstone (because I didn't have anywhere to keep the completed projects that they wouldn't have ended up broken within a week) and instead we illustrated by making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (with buns because we're out of bread).  The idea being the peanut butter and jelly cemented together the two layers of bread like minerals cement together the sedimentary rocks.


There was no official art this week.  Jessie has a painting in progress that I'll post when it's completed.
Benny worked hard on the sticker mosaic pictures he received for Christmas.


Henry was a handful this week.  On the down side, he deleted Jessie's Joan of Arc summary from the computer so that she had to rewrite it and managed to coat himself, the carpet around the sink, and the bathroom floor with baby powder.  I think I'm going to have to go back and shampoo that portion of the rug thi weekend.
On the up side, he has spent a lot of time this week listening to Veggietales CDs.  He wanders around the house singing the chorus of "The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything" (unless of course I have the video camera handy).