Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Dark Is Rising - Book 7, 52 in 52

The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper is the second book in "The Dark is Rising Sequence" of fantasy books.  On his 11th birthday, Will Stanton, the seventh son of a seventh son, discovers that he is the last of the Old Ones who protect the world from the dark forces of evil.  It is his task to find the six magical Signs that must be merged to help the Old Ones in the coming final battle between Dark and Light.  But time is short for the season of darkness has started with the midwinter, and the dark forces are strengthening daily using all of their power to keep him from completing his task.

The Dark is Rising is an excellent follow-up to Over Sea, Under Stone with plenty of action and a lot more supernatural/fantasy elements that bring the battle between light and dark out into the foreground for this book.  I thoroughly enjoyed it, and Jessie devoured it the moment I finished.  I would recommend it for ages 11 and up especially for those who enjoy a good fantasy read.  I'm looking forward to reading the remainder of the series.  (Jessie wants me to hurry up and get started, so she can read them as well.)  Great book!

The Lark and the Laurel - Book 6, 52 in 52

The Lark and the Laurel by Barbara Willard is set against the historical backdrop of the end of the War of the Roses and the beginning of the reign of Henry Tudor.  Cecily Jolland finds herself abrupted dropped off at her aunt's home when her father has to flee from England.  Here she is no longer sheltered away from the world but must participate in the daily activities of her aunt's home.  She becomes friends with her neighbor Lewis Mallory and learns to love the freedom her aunt has given her.  By the end of the first winter, she dreads the thought of her father returning to her for it would mean the end of her freedom and the end of her friendship.  She finds that the key to her future comes from remembering her past and offers an escape from the life her father plans for her.

The Lark and the Laurel is an excellent read for ages 10 and up.  Unlike some of Willard's other historical fiction, this one is only loosely tied to its historical setting and focuses solely on the fictional lives of its two main characters Cecily Jolland and Lewis Mallory.  It's definitely a girly book with themes of independence woven in with a bit of romance.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Week 26: Moving Steadily Along

It's been a chilly week here after a beautiful weekend.  The kids were a little stir crazy about being stuck inside again, but we managed somehow.


Jessie finished up her textbook and workbook section on area and circumference of circles, semicircles, and quarter circles and began the corresponding section in the IP book on Friday.  We have really struggled this week with a lot of careless errors.  Either she was forgetting to divide by 2 or by 4 when she didn't have a complete circle, or she was making a computation error somewhere in the multiplication.  Needless to say math has taken much longer than usual this week.

Violet continues to work on decimals in her 4B text.  This week she learned the thousandths place.  The only part that gave her any trouble was reducing the fraction after converting the decimal to the fraction.  By midweek, I ended up telling both girls that I would not check off any work that didn't show me step by step how they got the answers.  TGIF.

Benny sailed through his math this week as usual making working with him a nice change of pace from correcting the girls.  He's working in his IP section on addition and subtraction within 40.  It took us a while, but he really enjoyed completing this plane by solving the problems and them coloring them according to the answer.  In Miquon, he's doing a combination of addition and subtraction but with smaller numbers. 


Jessie continues to fly through the material in CW Poetry for Beginners.  One of her assignments for the week was to rewrite the children's song "Do You Know the Muffin Man?".  Her literature selection for the week was Thunderstorm in the Church by Vernon.  In grammar, she took the test for the unit on capitalization and punctuation and has moved on to adjectives.  We tried having a week of vocabulary review, but Jessie is apparently retaining very little of her VFCR A work.  I'm trying to decide if there's improve her retention and continue with the program or if it would be better to switch to a different program.

Violet successfully completed another week of SWO F and has been working with adverbs in R&S 4.  Friday she got a break from adverbs for a quick lesson on rhyme in poetry.  She completed editing "The Gingerbread Man", but we didn't do a final copy for CW Aesop.  After giving her a quick cursive test last week, I realized that she basically just needed work on some of the capital cursive letters.  For copywork this week, I've been having her do two letters a day from Dr. Seuss's ABC.  We're still using The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe for dictation.  She's still working through All Things Bright and Beautiful by Herriot for literature.

Benny read The Bears' Vacation by Berenstain this week for his reader in addition to his regular Phonics Pathways pages.  He completed his regular ETC and copywork, and aced another spelling test in SWO A.  For literature, we completed reading The Lighthouse Mystery by Warner.


For Latin this week, Jessie and I did a review week.  She drilled through all of the vocabulary from LfC C over 3 days on her own.  Together we reviewed all of the grammar chants from the back of the LfC C primer that we have covered up to this point.  In Greek, she completed lesson 18.  Violet had a regular Latin week and completed lesson 22.


This week in history we covered topics 18 to 20 in TruthQuest Renaissance, Reformation, and Exploration.
 Jessie read mainly from The Story of the Renaissance and Reformation this week.  She outlined the chapters on Cesare Borgia and answered questions from the TruthQuest commentary on Machiavelli.
 She wrote brief paragraphs on Savanarola and Erasmus on Tuesday.  Wednesday she took notes on all of the chapters covering Martin Luther and wrote a longer summary of the information on Thursday.
With the younger crew we focused solely on the Reformation this week reading a portion of chapter 34 on Martin Luther and a portion of chapter 36 on the Reformation.  We also started the third book in the History Lives series, Courage and Conviction by Withrow reading portions of the chapter on the Reformation as well as chapters on Erasmus and Martin Luther.
I was rather disappointed in the suggested activities in the SOTW activity guide this week, so we came up with our own.  After reading about how Erasmus was caught between the Catholic church and Martin Luther with both sides demanding he support them and criticizing him, I thought a game of tug o' war would be appropriate.
One of the things we read in SOTW on Thursday was that Protestants believed that everyone should be able to read the Bible on their own.  I made little puzzle strips with John 1:1 and Genesis 1:1 in Latin on one side and in English on the other. 
The kids had to arrange the Latin side in order like a puzzle.  Then we read the verse in Latin and flipped it over to read the same verse in English.


Jessie has been learning about different types of chemical bonds this week including ionic, covalent, and metallic.  She also covered alloys and crystals in God's Design for Chemistry.
For the bonding lessons, she created atomic models using colored mini-marshmallows.  That's Li and F on the left, water in the middle and Be on the right.

 For the crystals lesson, she cracked open a geode
 to reveal the crystals inside.
Everyone pitched in to start the flowering rock experiment from our earth science kit that we didn't get to a few weeks ago.  We added food coloring and vinegar in sufficient amounts to cover the two rocks in the bag.  Now we just have to wait for the crystals to form.

In earth science this week we covered mountains and earthquakes.
We used a piece of newspaper to demonstrate how fold mountains are formed,

built several different block structures to see
how well they survived an earthquake (Shaking the table to knock down the buildings was Henry's favorite activity of the week.), and

modeled a seismograph.

We also checked back in with our fossilized sponge experiment from a few weeks back and compared our control sponge with the "fossilized" one now that all the water has finally evaporated.


In his more mischievous moments this week, Henry thought my dining room would look nice decorated in plastic wrap; and he delighted in emptying the ashes out of the wood stove (which then I had Benny put back so I could get a fire going).
 In his more adorable moments, he snuggled up between Violet and Pooh and friends for a pretend nap,
 was utterly delighted to discover how to make the colored pencil lead come in and out,
and worked on his fine motor skills by stacking Battleship pieces into a tower.

Monday, February 21, 2011

7th Grade Latin

I'm not sure why picking Latin for Jessie has been so hard this year, but I finally reached a conclusion.

Option 1:  Oxford Latin Reader
This was the recommended follow up for LfC before the creation of the new Latin Alive series.  Honestly, I thought we needed some more work on grammar because we're both struggling with remembering all of the different chants, so it may be a great book but I marked it off the list without even looking at it.

Option 2:  Henle Year 1
This is the recommendation of current edition of TWTM.  For awhile I considered it, but then I looked at an online sample.  It looks simple and straight forward with no frills, and I was almost sold.  Then I looked at the table of contents.  I really don't want to begin the all five noun declensions.  That means no sentence translation until at least the 6th unit.  I don't really understand how the different cases can make sense if you're not putting them in sentences.

Option 3:  First Form
I briefly looked at First Form by Memoria Press.  Jessie thought it looked like too much work.  I thought it was OK, but it takes 4 sets of books to cover the same material in Henle Year 1.  When I had been looking at Henle, I had been thinking two years in books 1 and 2 would leave one year each for books 3 and 4.  Memoria Press also uses ecclesiastical Latin and I prefer to stick with classical Latin since that is the pronunciation that we have been using.

Option 4:  Wheelock's
I'll grant you that I still don't know a lot about Wheelock's except that it was recommended in an older edition of TWTM, is used as a college text by some, and is said to be not as teacher friendly.  I've also heard there are online helps available, but I didn't really feel confident enough in my Latin ability to tackle it even if I had the time to work through it and figure it out.

Option 5:  Latin Alive!
When I had originally looked at Latin Alive, I had dismissed it because I didn't want all of the fluff of the Latin culture portions that were included.  But, when I decided Henle was a no, I went back for a second look.  The series is based on Wheelock's Latin and takes 3 years to cover the same material as Wheelock's according to the website.  The website also claims it will prepare students for both the National Latin Exam and the AP Latin test.  It starts with verbs, which is a plus.  The lessons are well laid out with what looks to be a sufficient amount of practice.  It turns out Jessie finds those cultural blurbs like looking at the different Latin phrases on the different state seals fascinating.  I have the option of getting the DVDs if I want, and that will leave us with 3 years of high school to work on real Latin texts, do years 2-4 of Henle, take an online AP class, or well whatever else we may be inspired to do when we get to that point of time.

So in the end, I ended up right back where we started.  We're just moving on to the next Latin text by Classical Academic Press.  Hopefully, we'll both enjoy Latin Alive 1 next year.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Week 25: Spring is in the Air

It has been a beautiful week with some very welcome spring like temperatures.  We did drop one science lesson in favor of getting outside for the afternoon, but otherwise we completed out scheduled work.
Jessie started a new unit in Singapore 6B this week on circles.  She learned the terms diameter, radius, and circumference, and how to calculate the circumference and the area of a circle using the value of pi.  She also took that knowledge and applied it to calculating the perimeter and area of semicircles, quarter circles, and other figures which were a combination of squares, rectangles, and some portion of a circle.

Violet continued working with decimals.  She learned the hundredth place this week, practiced converting back and forth between decimals and fractions, compared decimal numbers, determined the value of different digits in a number, and added up the parts to make the complete number.
Benny finished up subtracting numbers within 40, spent a couple of days working on addition of three numbers, and moved on to the corresponding section of his IP book in Singapore.  In his Miquon book, he completed the last pages in the subtraction section.  His favorite pages were the game pages.  One had a frog and a grasshopper and the other a truck and a car each with their own number line.  We took turns rolling the die and moving along the number to see who reached the end first.

Jessie completed almost all of the remainder of the chapter on capitalization and punctuation.  That leaves just the chapter review and the test for next week before she is on to a new topic.  She completed another vocabulary unit, but she really is not liking VFCR at all.  I'm going to sit down over the weekend and decide if we can make some changes to improve the program or if we need to look for something new.  We completed another week of CW Poetry, learned how to do a basic outline of a poem, continued working with rhythm and meter in couplets, and discussed quatrains this week.  For literature, I gave her The Lark and the Laurel by Willard.  She started off with a skeptical look.  Then I pointed out that she had enjoyed other historical books by the same author, which helped pique her interest.  On Tuesday, when I asked her where she was in the book and how it was going, she informed me that she had already read the entire book five times.  I guess it must be pretty good.  I'm hoping to read it tomorrow, so we can do some analysis on Monday.

Violet successfully completed lesson 22 in SWO and has been working on adverbs in R&S 4. She had one grammar writing assignment this week on giving directions. In CW Aesop, we discussed "The Gingerbread Man" and looked for adjectives and adverbs in the model. She completed the first half of the writing assignment by outlining and completing a rough draft. For literature, I started her on All Things Bright and Beautiful by Herriot.  She's taking it at a slow one chapter a day pace. 

Benny worked on the oi and oy as well as  ou and ow this week in Phonics Pathways  We also read The Berenstain Detectives: The Case of the Missing Pumpkin slowly over the course of four days.  For copywork, he finished the second stanza of the poem "Work" which he has also been memorizing.  Literature is naturally the next Boxcar children book, The Lighthouse Mystery by Warner.

For history this week, we covered only two TruthQuest topics with our main focus on Christopher Columbus and other early explorers.
Jessie covered 3 chapters in Miller's The Story of the Renaissance and Reformation catching up on the events in the Holy Roman Empire and France including the reigns of Maximilian of Austria and Charles VIII and Louis XII of France.
As you might notice these outlines are much longer than her more recent ones.  I made her switch back to outlining paragraph by paragraph.  (Hence the reason I was very unpopular at the beginning of the week.)  For explorers, she read mostly from the Guerber book and wrote a paragraph on Columbus while outlining for Amerigo Vespucci and John Cabot.
For Vasco da Gama, I found a picture book called A Long and Uncertain Journey by Goodman for her to read and summarize.

Violet, Benny, and I spent the entire week on explorers. We used SOTW for learning about Columbus and
Cabot.  We briefly touched on Vespucci and Balboa using selected pages from Discovery of the Americas by Maestro.
I read them the same book on da Gama as Jessie read.  It was a bit long for Benny's taste, but I thought it was well written.  It was the also the only age appropriate book I could find on the topic.
On Tuesday, our craft for Cabot was to create a Popsicle stick fish puzzle.
Both Violet and Benny had fun mixing up the sticks and then trying to reassemble their puzzles.
On Monday and Wednesday, we worked on a Spanish Galleon using directions I found on the internet.    Violet and Benny were much more excited about this craft and immediately disappeared to play with them.  (Henry learned how to make a playdough ball, which he though should be in the picture as well.)

Jessie completed unit 2 of God's Design Atoms and Molecules.  Monday she covered hydrogen, how it reacts, hydrogenation, and hydrogen fuel cells.
Tuesday she covered carbon and held a plate over a lighted candle to collect a small sample of carbon to study.  She also learned about allotropes and the three different forms of carbon as well as how carbon is used in nanotechnology.
Wednesday, it was on to oxygen and extinguishing a flame by cutting off its oxygen supply.  She did very well on both her vocabulary crossword review and her unit test.

Monday and Tuesday, Jessie and Violet finished up unit 2 of God's Design Planet Earth with a vocabulary crossword and quiz.  Wednesday, we moved on to unit 3 on mountains and movement.

We discussed the theory that once there was only one continent called Rodinia.  Then we cut up a map of the world
and taped the continents together to make our own.


Henry's favorite discovery of the week was that construction paper sticks to the television set without any glue or tape needed.
He also wanted to look like he's doing school with the big kids, so he's diligently marking up Violet's check sheet although neither of us could decipher the new assignments.