Friday, February 26, 2010

Weekly Report...Week 25

While the majority of the US is still digging out from beneath a pile of snow, things are starting to bloom here. It's beautiful. However, don't let the mask of pinks and yellows fool you. Lying below is a nasty little thing called pollen. My body and pollen DO NOT get along. Think of it this way..."My body fought the pollen and the pollen won." But, we were able to accomplish a bit. Here is our week...

History (Both)
We are continuing to read from the Landmark book, "Liberty! How the Revolutionary War Began". I like this book. There isn't an graphic descriptions or pictures in it. It has made our study of the war easy to understand as the events are laid out clearly. We learned about the Boston Massacre, the Boston Tea Party, the First Continental Congress, Ben Franklin's famous "Unite or Die" wood carving, and Patrick Henry's speech which included his well known, "Give me liberty or give me death" phase. Magnus gets very animated when he performs it. I was finally able to introduce them to the Liberty's Kids DVD set I have been hiding from them since Sept. These 40 episodes are going to be a great addition to our study. For projects we added to our timeline, colored Ben Franklin's wood carving, filled in biography pages for Ben Franklin and Patrick Henry, and made a really cool map of Boston with an overlay of some main events that occurred there.

Science (Both)
The book and experiment selections NOEO uses for the Chemistry I study are great. I was a little apprehensive about using it since I didn't really care for the Biology I we used last year, but this has proved (proven? I'll let you decide.) to be an easy and fun way to learn about chemistry. This week we discussed various ways of measuring/weighing liquids. We talked about viscosity, volume, and density. We tested the viscosity of honey, cooking oil, and water by placing a small amount in a cake pan then tilted it up to see which one would get to the other end the fastest. The boys guessed the order in which they finished correctly. We also placed the same amount of the 3 in separate cups and weighed them on a scale. Even though they had the same volume, honey was more dense. Then we layered them in a jar. It was cool to see them still separate. Reminded me of candy corn.

Language Art (Magnus)
Writing is the only thing worth mentioning this week. Magnus worked on another reinforcement lesson for Lesson 1 in IEW SWI A. He completed it on his own and did a great job! That boy is never short on words. I am excited to watch him grow in this area.

Language Arts (Thane)
He completed a few episodes of Headsprout and read to me from the Beehive Reader. We also discussed the months of the year and their abbreviations as well as which season they belong to.

Magnus...Discussed and learned how to draw equilateral triangles with his drawing tools. He also completed a couple worksheets from Math Mammoth.

Thane...He learned how to make change and to use the smallest amount of coins to purchase something. He also completed a couple worksheets from Math Mammoth.

Who needs it? (Just kidding.)

Fun Day Friday
It was fun! We finished up our history projects, conducted our science experiments...

discussed NC Wyeth's painting of Pyle's Barn...

and created a color wheel as they painted along with the lady on the Atelier Art DVD...

The only not-so-fun thing about it was park day with our homeschool group was canceled due to rain. Boo.

Tuesday...sick, Drama (Magnus) and AWANA (Both)
Wednesday...sick, Fencing (Magnus)
Friday...Fun Day and date night for mom and dad (They love it when Daniel comes to watch them because they get to play Age of Mythology on the computer!)

Update on the Rockclimbing...I called the manager and he is having a tough time getting his staff finger printed for the verification. He said it should all be taken care of in a few weeks. I sure hope so!

Thanks for stopping by again!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Reminders Received at a Target Starbucks

Today started out full of promise but quickly took a turn. I became irritable, grumpy, and didn't want to be bothered. I needed a break. Just an hour or so. Luckily Collin was working from home this morning so I was able to take off.

I headed to a Starbucks that is located in our newly opened Target. I grabbed my tall vanilla latte and got cozy at a corner table.

A mom walked in with two toddlers. They were all smiling and chatting with each other. It appeared she was treating them to something special. The little girls were so excited. Their time together was full of promise but it quickly took a turn. Within 3 minutes of receiving their drinks, two of the drinks ended up on the floor. A minute later, one of the replacement drinks spilled all over one of the girls. The mom was clearly frustrated and disappointed. Little did she know, I needed to witness her mishap. I needed to be reminded that I am not the only one who tries and sometimes things don't quite go as planned.

Lady at Starbucks...I hope your day is going better. Mine is.

Sometimes when my days start out with promise, they quickly take turns because of the boys' behavior and my laziness to not want to deal with it at the moment.

After the lady gathered up her milk covered girls and left, in walked another mother with her kids and a girlfriend. As soon as I saw the kid, I knew it was his voice I had been hearing echo through the store..."Mom, I want this ball! Mom, I want this ball! MOM!!!! Mom, I said I want this ball! Mom, buy me this ball!" I could go on about the fireman's hat, the bag of chips, and the pencils he also wanted, but I think you get the picture. It was clear the women were there to chat and it was also clear the kid was not going to allow that to happen...AT ALL. I have never in my life watched a kid interrupt an adult, demand something from them, and the adult cater to that child so much as I did those 5 minutes. It was unreal. The one time the mother said no, she was met with fists and a bite to the leg. It worked...the child received the strawberry/banana smoothie he wanted. I could go on about the displays he knocked over, the handful of straws he wasted, and the shaker full of sugar he dumped out on the counter while his mother very gently said, "no, no" but I won't. Little did she know, I needed to witness her unruly child and her lack of discipline. I needed to be reminded that I am a good mom and that I have great kids.

Lady at Starbucks...I hope you learn to become a parent. Kid at Starbucks...I hope you receive the discipline you need. Lady's friend at Starbucks...I'm sorry.

Edited to add...I know there could be a number of reasons for that child's behavior (medications, emotional, mental, ect.) but I used he and his mother as an example because the lack of discipline was clearly evident.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Weekly Report...Week 24

I suffered with a migraine for two days, however, school got done...I think.

History (Both)
We started reading about the various Acts King George III was forcing upon the colonists in a Landmark book by Lucille Recht Penner called Liberty! How the Revolutionary War Began. The boys completed a notebook page showing the government structure during that time and created a couple mini books that will later be placed in their notebooks. Magnus read Johnny Tremain by Forbes but claimed he didn't like the ending. "It was sad." We also added to our timeline.

Science (Both)
What? I can't hear you.

Language Arts (Magnus)
Grammar...Still reviewing using the exercises in the Teacher Resource section.

Poetry...Music of the Hemispheres by Michael Clay Thompson is brilliant! The discussion of the various poetic elements is gently laid out and easy to understand. Magnus wrote his own line of poetry this week. He thought of something that makes sound and then chose words to describe that something using words that sound like that something. Clear as mud? Here is what he wrote:

She searches and surfs the waves seeking a sleepy peace.

He was writing about the waves at the beach. See how his choice of words (she, searches, surfs, seeking, sleepy, peace) and their placement gives you the sense of the waves movement? Brilliant! Magnus also painted the scene with watercolor paints.

Writing...He finished rewriting his paragraph on Desert Tarantulas. I was impressed with it.

Spelling...Moving onto List 12 in Phonetic Zoo. Love this program!

Literature...I lost track. That boy ALWAYS has his nose in a book.

Language Arts (Thane)
Grammar...We worked more with pronouns.

Reading/Phonics...Still working through Headsprout and OPGTR. I'll be adding in the Beehive Reader from Marie Rippel of All About Spelling fame next school week.

Spelling...All About Spelling is working great with Thane. He is enjoying it and learning to spell!

Writing...We are continuing to work through Writing With Ease. I am glad I decided not to sell my books!

Magnus...We are still working on beginning geometry. He has learned how to use a T-square and a triangle to draw various shapes. I think he likes having a break from "numbers".

Thane...My allergy infected mind can't remember what we did.

Please refer to last week.

Fun Day Friday
We met with our Advisor from our charter school in the morning. After she left, we drove to the other side of Sacramento for a surprise lunch...Chic-Fil-A!! They haven't had it since we left TN a year and a half ago! Collin and I found it a couple months ago. After that we spent a lot of time at a Christian bookstore. Magnus has been wanting to do an independent Bible study so he'll be doing the Discover 4 Yourself series by Kay Arthur starting with a study on Joseph.

Tuesday...Drama (Mangus) and AWANA (Both)
Wednesday...Fencing (Magnus)
Friday...see "Fun Day Friday", park day with homeschool group, fencing (Magnus)

For those of you keeping score at home, we are STILL waiting for approval from our charter school for rockclimbing for Thane.

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Friday, February 12, 2010

Weekly Report...Week 23

One word can describe this week: distracted. Not sure what was causing the distraction, but it was ever present. However, we pushed through it without a significant amount of tears, and had a productive week regardless.

History (Both)
We read a great book called George vs. George that tried to show both sides of the Revolution. I must admit, Magnus and I have been struggling with some complex issues as we are studying this together. Did King George have a right to tax the Colonists in order to help fund the French and Indian War? Did the Colonists have a right to claim the land further West, displacing the Native Americans yet again? These are just some of the questions that were brought up and discussed. I know there are many different answers with many different sides that can be taken and I'll be honest, we weren't able to come up with concluding answers to some of them. I just know that it had been an emotional journey for Magnus.
We added to our timeline, completed a mini book that will eventually go into our notebook, and watched several School House Rock videos and an Animated Hero Classics about George Washington. Magnus also read Can't You Make Them Behave, King George by Jean Fritz. He absolutely loves Fritz's books and cracks up at them.

Science (Both)
NOEO Chemistry I is turning out to be a lot of fun and is doing a thorough job of introducing chemistry concepts to the boys (and me too!) This week we talked about ways to weigh and measure solids and liquids. The boys made a "spring scale" out of a cereal box and elastic string. They calibrated it and marked the weight in grams. Then they weighed several small items and recorded the data.

We talked about measuring liquids by way of volume and discussed density. We did several experiments to figure out the density of a few liquids. Looks like we'll be doing some more next week too.

Language Arts (Magnus)
Grammar...We are finished with his grammar book, but we are working our way through the Teacher Resource section in the back of the book for review.

Poetry...This is going to be fun! We talked about how poets intentionally use certain words because of their sounds to convey a feeling or mood. Magnus pointed out that Shakespeare did it with his lines from "A Midsummer's Nights Dream"...
"You spotted snakes with double tongues."
His use of the "s" and "double tongue" bring your attention to the sound a snake makes with his tongue. It almost "flicks" as you say it. Right on, buddy! Gotta love a kid who can quote Shakespeare!

Writing...He finally finished writing his final draft about Sea Snakes. He was wanting perfection. I was just wanting it done! We compromised. He moved onto outlining and writing the first draft on Desert Tarantulas. He did the rewrite all on his own and did a pretty good job. There won't be many changes for his final draft. He really "gets" words.

Spelling...Moving right along to list 11.

Literature...I've lost track of how many and which books.

Language Arts (Thane)
Grammar...I read a story and he was able to identify the pronouns. We also talked about initials and he likes the idea of using his first and middle initials with his whole last name just like JRR Tolkein and CS Lewis.

Reading/Phonics...Completed a few episodes of Headsprout and is doing better with the "silent -e" in OPGTR. He is getting better about not flailing around too much when he sees me bring out the big blue book. Now he is able to contain it to just the couch. How many of your kids have that reaction to OPGTR?

Spelling...I am following the program (AAS) as outlined and it is working wonderfully for Thane. Magnus gave me fits when I tried to do it with him, but Thane enjoys it. He especially likes trying to "master" the cards. The only work that gave him trouble was "job". He spelled it "gob". Too much Arrested Development, I think. Just kidding. I don't let me kids watch that!

Writing...We worked through the second week of WWE. He only gave me a bit of trouble...okay...a lot of trouble...when I asked him to copy the longer sentence. I told him I would set the timer for 7 minutes and he was to do what he could in that amount of time. He smiled and was up for the challenge. He wrote it beautifully, and had 1 1/2 minutes remaining.

I introduced them to Times Attack. We are only doing the free version, but they both liked it. However, they have to do it without the sound because of the growling they hear in one part of the course. Glad they are being responsible and knowing what will give them nightmares.

Magnus...We worked on a bit of geometry and learned how to draw with a T Square and a triangle. I think he liked it. He also enthusiastically played some Right Start Card Games.

Thane...He worked some more on multiple digit addition and learned "greater than" and "less than".

No comment.

Fun Day Friday
Life happened and Fun Day Friday wasn't so fun...again. We did study another painting of NC Wyeth and finished up some stuff for history. It was beautiful out so Park Day with our homeschool friends was very much welcomed. Magnus also fenced with a friends at the academy. He is greatly improving and enjoying it.

Monday...Library Day
Tuesday...Drama (Magnus) and AWANA (Both)
Wednesday...Fencing (Magnus) and we're still trying to get Thane started with rockclimbing.
Thursday...I can't remember
Friday...Park Day and Fencing (Magnus)

That about does it! Thank you for coming to our open house. See you next week! :o)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Monday, February 8, 2010

Super Bowl Sunday

Um...who was playing? Well, we were! At the beach!

First we hit North Beach...

Then we went to Drake's Beach...

It was simply a lovely day!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Weekly Report...Week 22

Believe it or not, we have been doing school and getting a lot done in spite of the fact that I haven't reported on it for the last 11 weeks! Whew...that is a long time! A few changes have taken place since then:

I didn't feel like Magnus was being challenged enough and that my expectations of him were low. I have added a few things (Latin for Children and Writing via Institute for Excellence in Writing) and he is required to do more written narrations, to name a few. Also, he wasn't retaining anything with his current grammar program (Growing with Grammar). He was just going through the motions and checking it off the list. He is now doing a fantastic program created by Michael Clay Thompson. There are several levels and I started him at the beginning Island level. It includes Grammar, Vocabulary (Latin roots), Poetry, and Writing.

Thane is also being challenged more. He has had a bit of trouble in the reading area so I thought to add in spelling. All About Spelling is the perfect program for him to get the extra phonics practice he needs. I have started him on writing with the gentle approach of Writing With Ease, too.

I have also made better attempts at making sure our Friday Fun Days were, well, fun. We're doing picture study, some sort of art instruction, finishing up our history projects, doing science experiments if we didn't get to them during the week, playing math games, and getting together with our friends at Park Day.

The atmosphere continues to be relaxed, attitudes have been good (except on a few days), and lots of learning is taking place. Most importantly...the boys are in a nurturing, loving, safe environment all day. We are blessed to be able to homeschool!

History (Both)
We have finished our tour through the Colonial Days. It was a great unit full of fun projects. Now we've headed into the Revolutionary War. We're using another Time Travelers Unit from Homeschool in the Woods as our spine and adding in a bunch of books. Last week we learned about Benjamin Franklin and all the great things he has added to the world. This week we read about the French and Indian War in Struggle for a Continent by Maestro. We weren't able to make it through the whole book as Magnus is very sensitive to the inhumane treatment of others. Magnus read a biography about George Washington written by Mary Pope Osborne and we started our timeline.

Science (Both)
The past few weeks we have been learning about the 3 phases of matter (solids, liquids, and gases). The boys have a really good grasp on this concept. We did several experiments this week including inflating a balloon with the carbon dioxide that is released when baking soda and vinegar is mixed together. Things got messy in our lab!

Language Arts (Magnus)
Grammar...As I mentioned, we switched programs to MCT's Island Series. It's a no non-sense program and relies on total interaction between the parent and student. We sit on the couch and discuss words and sentences and how they form ideas. I won't go into how the program works in this post, but it is worth looking into if you need a change. Anyhow, we finished the grammar book this week. Don't worry...he'll still be getting LOTS of exposure and review as we work our way through the other components. That is the beauty of the program!

Magnus doing the analysis (MCT version of diagramming) on the white board.

Vocabulary...We started the vocabulary portion of the program last week and study the Latin stem re- and this week, sub-. However, I think I am going to put this on hold until we dig into the Poetry portion more. We'll be starting that next week.

Writing...Wanna talk about a thorn in my side? Ouch! I had planned on doing IEW, but then looked into Classical Writing. After evaluating that, I decided to do IEW again. However, I have heard that IEW will not be a compliment to the writing part of MCT Language Arts. Why am I worrying about doing a writing program when it is included in our new LA program? Well, I am not "sold" on the MCT writing portion yet. *Sigh*. But I also don't have experience with it yet. My feelings may change. But, for the time being, I think we'll go ahead with IEW and make changes as needed.
Anyhow...Magnus watched the first video portion of Andrew Pudewa teaching the first lesson and he laughed the whole time! Mr. Pudewa is such a character! Magnus read a short paragraph about Sea Snakes, completed the key word outline, produced his first draft (including the "which" clause), and is now working on writing his final draft. He is rightfully proud of it.

Spelling...on list 10 of Phonetic Zoo. I am amazed at how his spelling as improved!

Literature...He is working his way through the Redwall series...again. He has also read several books by Jean Fritz for history.

Enjoying some free reading time. He LOVES mythology.

Language Arts (Thane)
Grammar...First Language Lessons was not a good fit for Magnus, but it is perfect for Thane! We are finally done with nouns and have moved onto verbs. He loves doing the story narrations and picture studies throughout the book.

Reading/Phonics...He finished up the first 40 lessons of and is working his way through the last 40. He enjoys the program and is learning different things from OPGTR. The "silent -e" has given him a bit of trouble so we have camped out on those lessons, but I have seen the light bulb come on. ETC is still a constant companion. Oh, he did read all of Go Dog Go! to me this week! That is progress!

Spelling...It is amazing how different two boys from the same family can have such different learning styles. All About Spelling was not doing it for Magnus, but it is a great fit for Thane. He hasn't complained one time about spelling with the letter tiles and he looks forward to seeing if he has "mastered" any of the phonetic sound and key cards! We completed step 7 (short 'i" sounds) this week and he got his spelling list correct!

Writing...we worked through the first week of WWE.

Magnus...I don't get it. I can't figure out the strategies for subtraction that I am supposed to be teaching. They don't make sense to me. Luckily Magnus has been able to figure things out without a big struggle. I think we're just going to have to work extra hard on learning the facts without the strategies. This week, however, he has gotten a bit of a break and we've talked about perimeter. Looks like we'll be learning some geometry in the coming weeks.

Thane...whizzed through four digit addition.

Magnus started Latin For Children a few weeks ago. He is doing great on the vocabulary, but the conjugating of verbs has him too! I think we'll be parked there a bit. I don't want to introduce declensions until he (and me) understand conjugating. Oh I wish Collin didn't have so much on his plate so he could teach him (us).

The boys have also completed a keyboarding program called Keyboard Town Pals. It is a great way to teach them the skills, but there isn't any practice. I'll be trying to figure something out for that in the next few weeks. Just typing on the keyboard isn't enough. They'll need something to remind them of their finger placement and such.

Fun Day Friday
Well after I told you how I was making this more "fun", it didn't go as planned this week. I am sure the boys thought it was fun because they got to play their new video game, Oregon Trail. We did cover a new painting of NC Wyeth's. I'll post more about our picture study another time.


Monday...Library day
Tuesday...Drama (Magnus), AWANA (Both)
Wednesday...Fencing (Magnus)
Thursday...Play Date with friends
Friday...Fencing (Magnus)

I have been trying to get Thane signed up for a rock climbing team in our town, but am having A LOT of trouble with our vendor relations department at our charter school. They are not on the ball and it is frustrating. I just have to keep reminding myself of the money they provide for our activities, curricula, and supplies.

Thanks for stopping by! See you next week...I hope!