Friday, January 18, 2013

Week 19 in Review

I was zapped this week with a cold bug.  It took much of my energy, so the boys were on their own more than is ideal.

Nicholas had his 2nd piano lesson, and he's loving it.  The other big news is that I'm stopping phonics with him.  I'd been debating, but when we were working on Writing with Ease he read "supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" to me.  I figure if he can sound that out without issue, he's doing well and I can just address any issues that come up when they present themselves.  He'll continue with Master Reader, mostly because he likes it and it helps keep him out of trouble.  For the first time in 9 years, I won't be faced with doing a Phonics Pathways lesson.  It's bittersweet.

Jacob and Micah plugged along as best they could.  Jacob is loving learning about electricity, and Micah spent a lot of time reading and playing with Zoobs.

Luke & Ezekiel continued reading The Codes of Hammurabi and Moses.  They both really like this book.  The discussion from Omnibus today had them deciding cases according to the code of Hammurabi and according to Biblical law.  We're also discussing Biblical allusions, and they had to write two of their own.  We worked on writing a chronological paragraph as well.  Progress was made in other subjects as well.

We started cursive, and it's going better than expected.  So far everyone is forming their letters correctly, even the tricky lowercase cursive "f".

I'm looking forward to next week...hopefully I'll be healthy and well-rested!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Homeschool Humor, Monday Edition

Micah's been learning about apostrophes in grammar.  He's gone from calling them "the line that hangs in the air" to calling them "assTROphies".  Can I count that as progress?

One of the words on Nicholas's spelling list this week is "but". He doesn't understand that it is the conjunction, not the body part.  So far he's tried to use it to answer the question "What is the opposite of bottom?" and to fill in the blank in the sentence "Joseph feeds _____ dog every day."

While discussing the difference between fatalism and predestination with Luke and Ezekiel, Ezekiel piped up with "That reminds me of a Calvin & Hobbes strip."  At least we've moved on from relating these discussions  to Phineas and Ferb.

We moved along to discussing paragraph unity.  During this discussion, Ezekiel told me he had a 10 watt idea to unify his paragraph.  A bit later he told me he's going to write a book titled Thirty Watt Thoughts.  Finally, he told me that he's considered his audience and he shouldn't write using any of his 50 watt ideas if he wanted anyone to understand him.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Week 18 in Review

This is our first week back.  Re-entry is always painful, but all in all this week went really, really well.

I changed our schedule up over Christmas break.  Last semester, I had time with Luke & Ezekiel scheduled first thing, followed by Jacob, and then Micah and Nicholas in the afternoon.  This didn't work for a couple of reasons, most notably:  Micah & Nicholas wouldn't be very focused by the afternoon, especially if they'd spent the morning playing and Luke & Ezekiel wouldn't make progress if for some reason I wasn't available to teach them or if we had an interruption, which seems to happen mostly in the mornings.

This semester, I basically flipped the schedule.  I work with Micah first, and while I work with him Nicholas works on hands on logic puzzles (like Color Code or Q-Bitz, Master Reader, and Miquon).  Then I work with Nicholas while Micah reads, does his independent work, and finishes up anything from our teaching time.  After I finish with Nicholas, I move along to Jacob.  He's got enough independent work to keep him busy while I work with Micah & Nicholas, and then he's got work to finish from our teaching time in the afternoon.

I teach Luke & Ezekiel in the afternoon.  The big change, though, is that I teach the next day's lesson.  On Monday, I'm teaching the material for Tuesday, on Tuesday, I'm teaching the material for Wednesday, and so on.  This way they have a full day's work to do before we have our teaching time.  Our days are feeling shorter, it seems like the boys are working faster, and I feel more engaged and on top of things.  It's funny how a little switch can make such a large impact.  Of course, I've been at this long enough to know that in a couple of weeks something will change, and I'll have to adjust what we do, but for now I'm going to be happy.

As far as what we accomplished:

Luke and Ezekiel:

  • Finished The Ancient Near Eastern World and started on The Ancient Egyptian World
  • Finished Chosen by God and started on The Codes of Hammurabi and Moses
  • Discussed ad hominem circumstantial and tu quoque fallacies
  • Learned about predicate nouns and the 3rd declension in Latin
  • Started lesson 6 in Elementary Greek 2
  • Took the chapter 2 test in Rod & Staff's English 7, and started chapter 3 (on nouns)
  • Finished lesson 10 in spelling
  • Learned about magnetism, nuclear force, and how atoms can be different
  • Read through chapter 8 of Prince Caspian
  • Began the annotating lesson in Windows to the World
  • They both made progress in math
  • Finally started his Spanish program
  • Started lesson 7 in spelling
  • Began The Creative Writer and worked a few more lessons in Sentence Composing for Elementary Students
  • Finished chapter 1 in Rod & Staff's English 5
  • Started reading Super Grammar
  • Read through chapter 8 in Prince Caspian
  • Started chapter 6 (masculine 2nd declension nouns) in Latin for Children A
  • Learned about the Old Kingdom in Egypt (with Micah and Nicholas)
  • Worked through a bit more of Soaring into Flight with Micah & Nicholas (he's teaching this)
  • Read The Nature of Magnetism (Prentice Hall's Science Explorer Electricity and Magnetism)
  • Made progress in math (fractions, place value, and Roman numerals, among other things)
  • Started week 8 in Writing With Ease 2
  • Learned about "the lines that hang in the air", otherwise known as apostrophes, in Rod & Staff English 3
  • Finished lesson 8 in spelling
  • Read through chapter 8 in Prince Caspian
  • Started reading Super Grammar
  • Learned about the Old Kingdom in Egypt
  • Worked through a bit more of Soaring into Flight
  • Read through chapter 3 in Henry and Ribsy
  • Completed chapters 5-8 in Life of Fred Butterflies
  • Made progress in math (including learning about perfect squares)
  • Finished week 5 in Writing with Ease 1
  • Read Owl at Home
  • Started Rod & Staff Spelling 2
  • Nearly completed Plaid Phonics A
  • Worked on Master Reader, logic puzzles, and Miquon
  • Learned about the Old Kingdom in Egypt
  • Worked through a bit more of Soaring into Flight
  • Made progress in math

Over the weekend I'm going to figure out where to go with teaching Luke & Ezekiel writing; I need to firm up a plan and get it entered in Homeschool Tracker.  I'm kind of lost with my plans for Classical Writing Aesop and Homer for Older Beginners--they've gotten out of whack over the last semester.  Since fixing it will mean rewriting the plans, I might as well evaluate whether or not it's still suiting our needs or if I should switch them to something else.

I also need to get our New American Cursive worksheets printed and ready, and get Jacob's Snap Circuit science plans entered in.

All in all, I was pleased with how this week went.  Hopefully it's a harbinger of things to come.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

If You Give a Homeschool Mom a Bookshelf

The holidays are over and Craig is back to work.  This week I'm supposed to be working on school plans for this semester, finding spots for the new Christmas toys by packing up and purging the toys that the boys have outgrown, catching up on know, all the things that are needed to recover from December so that we can hit the ground running when we start back to school.

We have this desktop computer on our old kitchen island in the school room.  It rarely gets used and takes up a lot of space.  The shelves are used to hold laptops, but it's cumbersome.  Inside the drawer and cabinet are lots of computer things that are outdated.

Then there is the loveseat.  Craig & I bought this and the sofa on our honeymoon (side note:  if you're getting married, I'd recommend against going shopping for major furniture on your honeymoon--it might lead to bickering about whether or not sofas need arms or what kind of fabric is best or other minor details).  I decided awhile back that I'd like to get rid of the loveseat and replace it with an IKEA chair or two (the boys sit on the loveseat to read and end up kicking each other or wrestling).

I was on the treadmill the other day and realized that if I could get rid of the computer/island, I could put in 2-3 more bookshelves.  I ran the idea by Craig, and he said okay.

Then, it exploded.

To get the loveseat and island out of the schoolroom, two cabinets in the hallway had to be emptied and moved.  One holds movies; the other craft supplies.  The boys were able to unload them and they helped me move them.

I purged the old CD Roms and computer stuff in the island, and the boys helped me get the loveseat and island out of the schoolroom.  They helped me get the cabinets moved back, and they were able to load the movie cabinet back up.  I want to go through the craft items and purge instead of just loading it back into the cabinet, so it's all piled in the playroom--on top of the new Christmas toys & kits that I'm supposed to be finding homes for.

Did I mention that Craig decided to fix the severely slanted floor in the basement bathroom over Christmas break?  So there is a toilet and sink in the playroom while the floor cures.

Back to the school room.

The next step was moving my desk.  I should've measured, because it didn't fit how I wanted.  I still didn't get a tape measure; instead I moved the treadmill and then moved my desk.  That was even worse, so I put the treadmill back and moved my desk to a third and then a fourth spot before I decided it would do.

I sat down at my desk and surveyed the damage, and realized that the two fully loaded 5 shelf bookcases should be moved down the wall about 3 feet to make room for the two chairs.  I unloaded the shelves, piling the books where ever I could, and got the bookshelves moved.


Next came the assembly of the 3 new bookshelves, which was actually pretty painless.  I got them easily moved into place.

And then it was time to load the bookshelves up.  And of course, when you load them up, you need to reorganize the books.  And when you're reorganizing books, you should look for any you don't need anymore.  This part took forever.

Finally, I finished.

Did I mention I was supposed to spend this week getting Homeschool Tracker Plus updated and ready to go for the semester?  And that I was supposed to get the boys' binders ready for this semester?

Of course, I still need to deal with the Christmas toys and craft supplies in the playroom.

And while I was moving everything around, I realized how much the whole basement needs a fresh coat of paint.  I think that will be my summer project...