Friday, August 28, 2009

Weekly Report...Week2

I learned something about myself this week. I am not flexible. If I have a plan or an idea of the way something is suppose to go and something happens to throw it off, I have a hard time bouncing back. It is especially difficult when you are the mother of a child who has his own ideas about things and is just as inflexible as you! Hopefully this will be a year of growth for the two of us.

History (Both)
I've decided to not continue our pirate study. The book I was using became rather detailed in it's description of pirate life and I (and Collin) didn't think it would be appropriate for the boys to hear. So we finished up a few mini books and began piecing our lapbook/notebook together. I am not prepared to start our Colonial Unit yet, so I am not quite sure what we are going to do for the next few weeks. Maybe we'll do an Orchestra Unit I have worked on or complete the Giant Panda Lapbook from homeschoolshare,com Thane has been begging me to do.


We did some great projects and cool experiment with atoms, molecules, and elements. Click here to see what we did!

Bible (Both)
We are using Bible Study Guide for all Ages for the first time this year. The boys are really excited about it because Dad is joining in. We open with a reading from The Book of Common Prayer, we pray together, and then Collin reads the selection from the Bible. I complete the timeline, maps, and worksheets with them. We're learning about Joseph right now and the boys are retaining a lot of details.

Language Arts (Magnus)

Grammar...completed a few lessons in Growing With Grammar.

Spelling...List two of Phonetic Zoo level A is giving him some trouble. However, he is persevering and not letting it frustrate him...too much. He is determined to get the "ie" rule down.

Writing...I ordered IEW US History Based Writing Projects and am waiting for it to get here. Not sure if we will use it or just do our own thing using the SWI A.

Copywork...I wrote a post about how we do copywork here.

Literature...Magnus read Robinson Crusoe last week and then created a scence from the book using his Playmobil guys. Who says Playmobil isn't educational?

Language Arts (Thane)

Grammar...Still working on common and proper nouns this week. He is catching on pretty quickly. He recited The Caterpillar several times again this week and is very proud.

Phonics...I am not ready to post about our plan for this yet because I still have to figure it out. I bought him a first grade reader from the Pathway Readers and he has enjoyed reading that too me. He also completed a few sheets from his ETC workbook.

Copywork...If you missed the link under Magnus' LA section, you can get to it here.

Magnus...Learned about Roman Numerals

Thane...Learned how to add 4 digit numeral together. I was amazed at how fast he understood. He said it is fun.

Latin (Magnus)

Did I say we were going to add this in this week? I don't recall ever saying that!

Nature Study (Both)
We observed some really cool spiders...

Fun Day Friday (Both)
Composer Study...We have been listening to Bach all week.

Artist Study...Still working on this, but we did look at and discuss some pirate pictures painted by Howard Pyle.

Art Project...The boys drew some squiggly lines with pencil, traced over them (hard) with crayon, and then painted the design with watercolors. The finished products were lovely.


Monday...Played some fun, organized games with the group of homeschoolers we get together with for weekly play dates.
Wednesday...fencing lessons (Magnus)
Friday...Mad Scientists!

Thanks for stopping by! See you next week! :o)

Mad Scientists Week 2

We read a book about Atoms this week from a series called Simply Science. I was very pleased with the boys' narrations and Thane would not let me forget that "everything is made of matter".

We did a few different things with the boys this week. My friend, Tina, came up with a great atom model mobile for them to create. Do I dare tell you that she had a dream about it and then pieced it together the next day? They all turned out awesome!

Here Magnus is threading his electrons (plastic beads) onto the "path" (pipe cleaner).

Thane is creating his protons and neutrons (clay).

Ameer and Tamir are carefully piecing their atoms together.

The finished products!

Next, Miss Tina explained molecules to them...specifically water and carbon dioxide. I am not sure how much they got out of it, but I finally understood it pretty well by the time she was done!

Magnus showing off his carbon dioxide model. I think they really enjoyed eating the elements (marshmellows)!

Next the boys created CO2.

They were each given vinegar and sodium bicarbonate (baking soda...I didn't know that was it's "official" name.)

Mad scientist at work!

Thursday, August 27, 2009


I can only offer a few hints on the teaching of writing, though much might be said. First, let the child accomplish something perfectly in every lesson––a stroke, a pothook, a letter. Let the writing lesson be short; it should not last more than five or ten minutes. Ease in.

Charlotte Mason~vol 1 pg 234

Copywork is not something we have done regularly in our school. To be honest, I never saw a "need" for it. I viewed it as "busy work". That has changed since I spent this past summer sitting at the feet of Miss Mason.

My purposes in using copywork are these:

1. Handwriting practice

2. Establishing the Habit of Attention

3. Exposure to well written literature and character building selections

(This is a sample of Magnus' work from the Book of Common Prayer.)

I create my own copy sheets using this tool from Zaner-Bloser. I love that it allows me to choose the line size and to type in my own words. I have Thane using the first grade level and Magnus is working on the second grade level.

I read on another homeschool mom's blog (forgive me, I can't remember who) how she has her kids working on a different selection of copywork every day. I liked that idea and thought it would change things up a bit.

Here is the schedule we have adopted:


Tuesday-Selection from the Book of Common Prayer or the Bible

Wednesday-Famous Quote

Thursday-Great Literature

(This is a sample of Thane's work on a quote from George Washington)

Let's say it is Tuesday and they are working on a selection from the Book of Common Prayer. If they don't finish it that week, it gets put into the folder until next week and they pick up where they left off on the famous quote on Wednesday.

I have explained to the boys that I want them to concentrate on forming their letters correctly and proper letter/word spacing. They are to give it their full attention for 5 minutes. I set the timer and away they go! I sit between them with eraser in hand. If I see a letter that is "off", it gets erased and they must do it over. If I notice them "rushing", I remind them to stay on task. After the timer goes off, the boys (me too) encourage each other by picking out 3 perfectly formed letters on their pages.

Wanna know something? This is working! Thane has asked to do his copywork everyday and claims it to be his favorite subject. Magnus hasn't complained about it either.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Weekly Report...Week 1

I don't even know where to begin! I wish I could say things went smoothly. They mostly did, but there were are few bumps in the road.

History (Both)
We are finishing up a Pirate Unit Study we started over the summer. We are reading through Pirate Diary and doing the corresponding lapbook/notebook elements. We've also been using the illustrations in the book for picture study. What swashbuckling, adventure seeking boy wouldn't want to look at the details of a Pirate battle!?! We should be done with this unit in two weeks.

Science (Both)
I am WAY excited about science this year! We are using NOEO Chemistry 1. The boys and I are going to complete the scheduled reading and narration pages on Tuesday and Thursday. On Friday, we are getting together with my friend (Tina) and her boys to do the experiments!

This week we read What's Smaller Than a Pygmy Shrew...great book! There wasn't an experiment planned but we wanted to get the boys excited about learning chemistry, so we found one. A really cool one. You can read about it here, but this is a sneak peek...

Language Arts (Magnus)
Grammar...Still working through Growing With Grammar Level 2. I am slowing down a bit in this subject as I am planning to use Junior Analytical Grammar in 4th or 5th grade. It is intense and to the point. The creators of this curriculum recommend you not having a background in grammar. So, the plan is to finish this up and then just review what we have learned for the rest of the year. Of course, the plan may change.

Spelling...According to Magnus, "Spelling is my favorite subject!" You wouldn't have known that the day I introduced his new list to him though. Tears. And lots of them. After a long talk about expectations (his...not mine) it was all good. We are still using Phonetic Zoo (IEW) and have progressed onto list 2 now. Being an auditory learner (him...not me) I thought to put some of the more "troubling" words to a rhythm and that seemed to help! He (and Thane!) know how to spell 'conveive' without a problem!

Writing...I spent some time watching my IEW Teaching Writing: Structure and Style DVDs to refamiliarize myself with the program. I am debating whether or not to get the U.S. History Based Writing Lessons or just work though the Student Writing Intensive Level A. I think we will add in a "keyword" outline project next week.

Copywork...This will be a post fo it's own soon. We had great sucess this week!

Literature...He read Robinson Crusoe by Defoe and A Horse and His Boy by CS Lewis.

Language Arts (Thane)
Grammar...We completed the first four lessons in First Language Lessons. The second lesson he had a short poem to memorize (The Caterpillar by Christina G. Rossetti) and he did it beautifully! We are learned about nouns (common and proper) this week.

Phonics...This kid had/has me stumped. I bring out the nice, blue book (OPGTR) and I get a fit. "Mom! I don't want to read from that book. Those stories are stupid (the boys are not allowed to use that word, so I knew he was serious). I want to read a real book." How can I argue with that? Problem is, he doesn't have a strong phonics foundation yet. Harmony Art Mom Barb, shared her wisdom and experience with me so I have a clearer idea of how to proceed. I am not getting rid of the big, blue book...he just won't know I am using it! He'll continue working his way through the ETC books and playing games from our Happy Phonics bin. He's also going to be reading more from real books. To track the books he has read to me, he is creating a caterillar on his wall. For every book, he gets one circle. He has to record the title on it and place it on his wall.

Copywork...As I mentioned, look for this to be it's own post soon!

Magnus...We reviewed a bit and completed a few lessons in Right Start Level C. I had hoped to get him cought up a bit this summer, but that didn't happen.

Thane...He is moving right along in Level B. Still comes pretty easy to him.

Latin (Magnus)
We're going to add it in next week. I gave hime the option of starting Latin For Children Level A now or finishing up Song School Latin. He chose to finish SSL.

In two weeks, I am planning to add English from the Roots Up. We will only be learning one root word a week. Should be doable.

Nature Study (Both)
We captured a California Katydid and observed it for awhile before sketching it in our nature journals. The boys also "adopted" a tree. We are going to pay attention to how it changes from season to season. Thane chose a Black Cottonwood and we are still trying to figure out what kind of tree Magnus picked out.

Composer Study (Both)
These next few weeks will be full of Johann Sebastian Bach. We read a biography, Getting to Know the World's Greatest Composers by Mike Venezia, and have been listening to his works. I am sure at some point we'll listen to Mr. Bach Comes to Call again.

Artist Study (Both)
I haven't been able to get this planned yet. It's on my "to do" list.

Tuesday...Homeschool Park Day with our friends
Wednesday...Fencing Lessons (Magnus)...more about this in another post soon
...Science Experiment Day

Hope you will check in with us next week! Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Mad Scientists Week 1

I am way excited about science this year. We are using NOEO Chemistry 1. I love that it suggests a variety of (mostly) living books, notebooking pages for narration, and lots of experiments. We're doing things a bit different than we did last year and I am sure it will have a positive outcome. During the week, I am completing the reading and narrations with the boys, then on Friday afternoons, we are getting together with my friend (Tina) and her sons (Ameer and Tamir) to do the experiments!

This week, due to scheduling conflicts, we did our experiment today. We read "What's Smaller Than a Pygmy Shrew"...highly recommend this great book...and learned about cells, atoms, ect. It only seemed appropriate to create our own model of a cell. BUT...ours was edible! We followed this plan.. Before we got our hands dirty, Tina went over the various parts of a cell and what their functions are. The boys kept saying, "My nucleus is telling my vacuole to store some food!" We didn't make them wait long...

Our little scientists!

We used Jello for the cytoplasm and Thane used a red candy for his nucleus and jelly bellies for his vacuole.

Magnus is carefully placing his ribosomes (Nerds) in his cytoplasm. The green blob is a golgi body (some sort of jelly candy) and I believe the white mass is a lysome (marshmellow).

This is Magnus's cell. Tina had the fabulous idea of using a Fruit Roll-Up for the cell membrane! Isn't she creative!?! It came in handy because the Jello started "melting" after awhile.

A view of Thane's cell from the top!

Thane and his cell.

Time to eat!

This was the best project to get started with. The boys were really into it and can not wait for next week! Tina's got some sort of wire mobile model idea whirling around in her head so we may be trying something like that next time!

Monday, August 17, 2009

First Day of School!

Magnus...3rd Grade
Thane...1st Grade

To celebrate the official start of the 2009-2010 King Alfred Academy school year, we all rode our bikes downtown and had breakfast at Posh Bagel. It was yummy!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

This Past Month...

Here is the low-down...

The boys and I flew out to Iowa in July to visit my family. It had been 14 months since we last saw them which was difficult because we were used to seeing them every 3-4 months when we lived in TN. We had a great trip (except for the extreme turbulence we encountered while flying) and spent a lot of time hanging out and doing some fun things.

The boys loved playing with my brother's dog, Wrigley. The previous visits, Thane was very unsure of Wrigley and maintained a safe distance. Not this time. It was good to see.

We went miniature golfing...

That's Poppy (my Dad), Nana (my Mom), Uncle Corey (yep, my little brother), and soon-to-be Aunt Erin (yep...I like her!). They are getting married in June 2010 and we are all in the wedding party! How cool is that?!?

The water behind them is pretty scary, huh?!?

I got a huge laugh at this. Fake palm trees. (Tee Hee!) Alright, I have to admit...the first time I saw a palm tree in CA, I thought it was pretty cool. You just don't have those in IA. Unless of course you are at the miniature golf course!

We went to Blank Park Zoo in Des Moines...

And no trip to IA is complete without spending the day at Adventureland!!!!!

I know what you are thinking..."An amusement park? In Iowa?" Seriously, this is the BEST park too! Lots of great rides, not overly crowded, and very clean. It's fabulous!

What was really cool about this trip is a couple of my cousins and their kids joined us. It was great getting to share it with all of our kids since we all used to go together when we were younger.

The Kids

The Frog Hopper...favorite ride of all the kids. Well, I guess one of them didn't care for it too much. But she hung on until the end of the ride! And it's not the cute lil' girl in this pic.

My cousin, her husband and their kids, plus Nana and Magnus.

Thane and Nana

When we got home to CA, Magnus spent a week organizing a bicycle race for the neighborhood kids. He gathered participants, made medals, and created flags. Collin was the photographer for the day. Despite 6 kids signing up, only 3 actually raced...

Last Sunday, Collin woke me up by saying, "Wanna go to the beach?" Yep. I did.

First we stopped at a picnic area in Pt. Reyes Recreational Area. It's just north of San Fransisco. Then we stumbled upon this...'s the Earthquake Trail. The 1906 earthquake that destroyed San Fransisco moved this fence 16 feet. It spanned the San Andreas Fault.

Check out this way cool tree! It was just screaming, "Climb me!" So, we did.

Then we hit the beach...

This is Drake's Beach

Then we went to North Beach...

So, now that summer is over, guess that means it is back to the books for us...starting next week.