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Category Archives: Homeschool

2013-14 School Year–Week Twenty-Three

This was an especially busy week of school, because in addition to all of our regular work, we added in our Lenten activities as well (Amon’s Adventure and the Jesus Tree), which mean a lot more reading out loud for me…my throat is parched! We also started memorizing a new hymn on Wednesday this week, instead of our usual Monday…”Christ the Life of All the Living.” I’m planning on us memorizing three or four Lenten hymns, plus a Palm Sunday hymn, and a Holy Week hymn, before Easter…we’ll see how that goes.

Turkey and Bunny continued to work on fractions in math. Adding and subtracting fractions with different denominators, adding and subtracting mixed number and improper fractions, finding common factors and lowest common denominators…it was all fractions, all the time this week! Ladybug has been working on adding three-digit numbers and continues to memorize her subtraction facts. And Chickadee has been working on number identification and counting to three! When you’re observing older siblings, I guess “school” begins early!

In language arts, Turkey and Bunny worked on identifying different adverbs, as well as the questions those adverbs answered (how, when, and where). Ladybug has been reviewing pronouns, because they’ve been giving her a little difficulty. She knows them until she’s asked to identify them in a sentence, at which point she promptly forgets them! So, we’re going over the pronoun lessons again.

Our history lessons focused on ancient China this week. We learned about the period of the warring states, the Qin dynasty and the building of the Great Wall. We also learned about Confucius and some of his teachings. Next week, we return to ancient Rome, and most of our remaining lessons will focus on that famous Empire.

We finished our study of Saturn in science this week, and got to have an outdoor experiment, since the weather today was nice. We made an Alka-Seltzer powered rocket! It traveled about eight feet, but due to how not level our front sidewalk is, it tipped over and traveled horizontally instead of vertically. The point was still made, though, and we were impressed that one tablet could create enough gas to make it travel that far!

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Next week, in addition to our regular studies, we’ll be learning about Ireland and St. Patrick’s Day, and I’m hopeful that we’ll be having a St. Patrick’s Day field trip this year, too…details to come!

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2013-14 School Year–Week Twenty-Two

Well, now that the Olympics are over, we’re back to our normal school schedule! As normal as it gets, anyway, when a certain toddler keeps trying to sneak into people’s’ laps!

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Turkey and Bunny’s math this week was very fraction-heavy. They’ve been working a lot on lowest common denominator and common factors. I can’t say that they’re enjoying it too much, but they’re doing well at it, so I guess that’s all that matters. Ladybug is still working on subtraction, and has also started adding two three-digit numbers, which she both enjoys and does well at.

Our history lessons (it was nice to get back to ancient history after a few weeks off!), took us to India.  We learned about both the Aryan and Mauryan civilizations, as well as a bit about Hinduism and Buddhism. We’ll remain in the east next week, when we learn more about ancient China.

We’ve continued reading The Bronze Bow. The children weren’t too excited about it at first, but now that things are getting more exciting, they’re more eager to hear what’s going to happen next. Since this is a new book to me, too, I’m curious to see what happens, as well!

Our science lessons focused on Saturn. We were very disappointed that the chapter was so short, but the farther we get from the Earth, the less there is to learn about each planet, because there are so many unknowns. The bulk of the lesson focused on how Saturn and Jupiter are similar…the children had a fun time creating a Venn Diagram to illustrate the similarities, as well as differences.

We finally finished the section on Robert the Bruce in Scotland’s Story. There were around a dozen chapters related to him in the book, so it was beginning to feel like his part of the story was never going to end! It was such interesting reading, though, that it was hard to say goodbye!

2013-14 School Year–Week Twenty-One

This was another crazy week! I’m ready for this ride to stop so I can get off…

On Monday, since Moose had the day off, we had a field trip day. St. Louis is celebrating her 250th birthday this year, and last weekend was the official founding date. In honor of the event, the Missouri History Museum in Forest Park opened a new exhibit, 250 in 250, to share the city’s history. We had a fun time checking it out, and looking in on the other exhibits, too!

We tried to get some regular school work done this week, too. The children kept up with their math, spelling, and reading. I used the Olympics as the basis for all of their writing assignments, though, instead of our standard curriculum. We watched two more ballets: Swan Lake, and our favorite version of the Nutcracker. In total, we watched five productions of four different ballets, and got to see two different Russian ballet companies in the process. We learned more about Russian history and culture (although, I fear that in the end, the only thing the children are going to remember are beets!) We also read a few Olympics and winter sports books, including G is for Gold Medal and The Hockey Sweater.

On Thursday afternoon, we had another field trip, to see a curling demonstration. The children really enjoyed seeing the equipment up close, but we didn’t get to see many stones thrown or swept, because the power went out at the ice rink while we there. That was a little disappointing, but at least it happened after we got to hear how the scoring works and what’s involved in curling well!

On Friday, we had a mostly fun day (after math was out of the way). I had the children pick music and design costumes for a figure skating routine. I love what Turkey came up with…he chose to do a pairs routine, and the costumes were modeled after The Doctor and Rose. And, of course, his music was the theme from Doctor Who. We also watched Anastasia, not for true historical accuracy, but just for a little Russian flavor, and fun, of course!

That’s pretty much it for our Olympics school…we’re having a tea party tomorrow, and a family tabletop hockey tournament tomorrow night. We haven’t had as many activities as we did for the London Olympics, but we’ve still managed to find some things to learn and do!

I think I’m relieved that we don’t have anything special planned for next week…all of these events are exhausting!

2013-14 School Year–Week Twenty

This was a really good week of school!

First of all, everybody scored 100% on their math tests…success!

We learned more about Russia and the Winter Olympics…fun!

And, today was Valentine’s Day…more fun!

We did eliminate our regular history and Scottish history studies, to make room for special Russia, Olympics and Valentine’s Day books. We learned about the Winter Olympics and how technology has changed them in Eyewitness: Olympics. We also learned more about figure skating in A is for Axel, a wonderful book by champion figure skater Kurt Browning. And, we read a nice Russian tale in The Littlest Matryoshka, a story about a family of nesting dolls. We also watched the Royal Ballet production of Giselle, one of Bunny’s favorite ballets, as well as the Bolshoi Ballet Nutcracker, and listened to several different Russian composers, as well as some other classical music commonly used in figure skating.

We also made family valentines this week (since we made valentines for others last week). The chidden have gotten very creative in their valentine making! I saw a few Tardis valentines, and I personally received two different valentines that said, “Hello Sweetie!” I guess it’s obvious which show we’ve been watching in the evenings (when we haven’t been watching the Olympics, of course!). Today we read our two favorite Valentine’s Day books…a serious book about the life of Saint Valentine, and a fun little book called The Night Before Valentine’s Day.

Of course, we did our regular schoolwork, too. Turkey and Bunny continued to work on geometry in math, and Ladybug worked more on counting money in different denominations. We continued working on spelling, writing, and reading…we definitely had the “Three Rs” covered! We also started reading The Bronze Bow, and Turkey and Bunny started on the accompanying workbook. Science was another subject that was abandoned this week, in the interest of spending extra time on the arts, but that’s OK…we don’t have very much of the text left, because the children have been so eager to learn about space!

Next week, we’ll probably follow a similar schedule, to make sure we have enough time to finish our Olympics studies. I’m hoping we might fit in a field trip, as well!

2013-14 School Year–Week Twenty

This week went by so fast, I hardly know where it went!

On Monday, in addition to our regular activities, we made valentines for our soldiers and veterans. This was for the “Valentines for Heroes” program that a local (although not our), Congressman sponsors. On Thursday, we went to his office and delivered them. The children were very excited to make something for the men and women that have served our country, and I was touched by their enthusiasm!

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We also started our Olympics studies this week. We learned a bit about Russian history and culture. But only a bit…there’s too much to cover in a short time! We especially focused on music (Tchaikovsky is my favorite composer, after all!), and ballet. We’ll be watching a few ballets over the next few weeks, but we started with one we’ve never seen before…Coppelia. Bunny is very familiar with the plot lines of most of the major ballets, and this has always been her favorite. She wasn’t disappointed! She loved the dancing and the costumes, and she especially loved being the one to tell her siblings what was going on.

We did our regular school work, too. Math continued to be easy for everyone, which, in turn, gives the teacher a break. I’m not complaining! We finished our Greek mythology study…next we’re going to read The Bronze Bow. We learned more about ancient Rome and the Punic Wars. The children were especially interested in Hannibal and his war elephants. This week’s science lesson focused on Jupiter, and we made a tornado in a bottle, to mimic the storm that is the Great Red Spot.

Next week…more Olympics, more ballet, and more music!

2013-14 School Year–Week Nineteen

This has been a fun week of school! Math was very hands on for Turkey and Bunny, which makes it more enjoyable for them. They got to use both compass and protractor in their lessons, and I also got out the geo board and the tangrams to experiment with. Since we were learning about polygons this week, the geo board was very helpful. We learned that’s it’s much easier to make a decagon that way, than to try to draw it! Ladybug also had fun experimenting with shapes, even though it didn’t have anything to do with her lessons. And Moose has been learning about shapes in school, too, so he enjoyed using our geo board when he got home!

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Turkey and Bunny worked on some more creative writing assignments this week. They’re actually becoming quite good writers in this regard. One of their assignments was to write about the tree that eventually became their school desks, and Turkey, especially, did an outstanding job on the assignment.

In history, we learned about the rise of Rome. This is an exciting period to study, and we’ll be visiting Rome quite a lot in the coming weeks. We only have one lesson left in our mythology study (plus the test), and then we’ll be moving on to The Bronze Bow, which will go perfectly with Rome, just as the mythology did with ancient Greece.

Our science lessons focused on space rocks. The bulk of the information was on comets, but we also learned about asteroids and meteoroids. We discussed the Exploding Planet Theory, and came up with our own hypotheses as well…who knows if we’re right!

The entire week of Scottish history focused on Robert the Bruce, and we’re still not done with him! I think we’ll probably reading about his battles for the better part of the next week, too. Such a complicated and interesting time in the history of Scotland.

The Olympics start next week…almost time to learn about winter sports, Russia, and ballet!

2013-14 School Year–Week Eighteen

Another week hard at work!

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Well, kind of. We did take Monday off, since Moose had off anyway, and Ryan took the boys to St. Louis for the Cardinals Winter Warm-Up. But we kept going the rest of the week, even though Moose had a snow day on Tuesday, and another scheduled day off on Friday!

We finished memorizing the first of two Epiphany hymns we’re learning this year…”As with Gladness Men of Old.” I’ve really enjoyed selecting hymns to go with where we’re at in the church year for the children to memorize. I’m not always so good at singing them, though!

Turkey and Bunny are delving deeper into geometry in math. They finally got to use their protractors this week, and started measuring angles. They also learned about the different types of triangles…they were very surprised to learn that not all triangles are created equal, although it made sense to them once I explained it. Next week, they get to use their compasses. Ladybug is continuing to work on subtraction, and I’m very happy with how her fact memorization is coming along.

We learned about Alexander the Great (and his horse!), in history this week, which was a lot of fun. We also jumped across the ocean and learned a bit about the Americas in ancient days. I was a bit disappointed that our text didn’t mention the Mississippian settlement that’s so close to us, as it was one of the largest settlements in what is now the U.S., but then again, I don’t think we really needed to learn more about it, since we’ve studied it so often in the past!

Our mythology studies had us learning about Theseus (again), and Oedipus. That’s always a fun myth to discuss with children! Fortunately, our text handled it in a very benign way, so we didn’t have to have too disturbing of a conversation!

For science this week, we reviewed and wrapped up our study of Mars. We were supposed to get started on space rocks this week, but with Moose home, that’s the one thing we didn’t really get to, which is ironic, because he’s very interested in space. I would have thought he would have wanted to sit in on those lessons if possible!

Our study of Scotland had us learn the story of William Wallace. The children found it very interesting, especially compared to what they heard of that story from the English point of view in Our Island Story. I just want to watch Braveheart, now! Next week, we’ll be learning about Robert the Bruce.

I spent this afternoon researching curriculum for next year. There’s something about January that always makes me want to do that, even though the next school year is over six months away. It’s fun to look ahead and see what we’ll be learning, though!

2013-14 School Year–Week Seventeen

Well, this week was about what you’d expect after about a month off. We got everything done, but it all took longer than usual. And some of the tests were…less than stellar. I’ll take responsibility for the Greek myths test…I should have given them more review of the stories we had read back in December before throwing a test at them. But the spelling test…well, I guess we really need some work on “i before e!”

Anyway, it was a pretty good week, tests aside. We’re working on memorizing an Epiphany hymn…”As with Gladness Men of Old.”  All of Turkey’s and Bunny’s writing assignments focused on activities they did over Christmas vacation, which they enjoyed, while Ladybug worked on classifying different nouns. Math was primarily review for everyone…Turkey and Bunny will be starting on some more in-depth geometry next week, including measuring angles! We learned about mythology in history, as well as the Peloponnesian War. Next week, we’ll be learning about Alexander the Great! I’m really looking forward to that.

In science, we learned all about Mars. The children really enjoyed this lesson. They had the chance to plan their own development on Mars, and Turkey, especially, really went into a lot of detail, including things like a monetary system, in addition to architecture, agriculture, and government. It was fascinating to see what they think it would be like to live on a different planet! We also made a volcano…a kind of replica of Olympus Mons. It worked pretty well, and wasn’t quite as messy as I feared. My knowledge of homemade volcanos comes from watching the Brady Bunch, I guess!

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In Scottish history, we made it almost to William Wallace and Robert the Bruce. I’ve promised the children that once we finish Scotland’s Story, I’ll buy Brave, which we somehow haven’t seen yet. I’ve even considered buying the new Brave Lego set…I’m always looking for a way to incorporate Lego sets into school!

We’re getting close to the start of Olympics…we’ll be adding some extra studies about Tchaikovsky and ballet and anything else I can think of soon!

2013-14 School Year–The Snow Week

Who else is tired of hearing the words “polar vortex?”

Me, too, but like most of the country, we were affected by that huge winter weather system. We got hit with almost a foot and a half of snow, and had nighttime lows of close to -20, and wind chills in the minus 30s! Now, I know what you’re thinking…that’s the beauty of homeschooling, right? No matter what the weather does, or what decisions the public school makes, a homeschool can keep chugging along.

And that was my plan. Actually, I was pretty freaked out about getting back to work this week, especially after our last week of school before Christmas vacation fell apart due to illness. I knew Sunday night that Moose wouldn’t have school on Monday, obviously, but I had already planned for us to have a four day week, so we could enjoy Ryan’s last day of vacation with him on Monday. But on Monday night, we got word that his school was cancelled again on Tuesday.

That’s when I began to panic. We had already missed one day of school, and I was scheduled to be in court on Thursday (long story), so I had to figure out what to do about Tuesday with Moose home again. Remember, I was wanting to get back into the full swing of things as soon as possible. So I started panicking about what I was going to do.

And then…I just stopped. Stopped worrying, stopped trying to figure out what we were going to get accomplished, and how we were going to accomplish it. I decided that we just wouldn’t do school this week. At all. And I let go of everything else…all of my plans, and expectations, and worries.

It ended up being a good decision, because Moose’s two snow days turned into five (although I ended up not needing to go to court). Instead of school, we played games, and watched movies, and read books, and built a lot of Lego creations. Tons of Lego creations, actually! We just had fun. There were a lot of jammies days, even for me, since I didn’t have to worry about dropping Moose off in the morning. After how hectic Christmas was, I really think this week was a gift from God, forcing me to slow down a bit. It wasn’t a full vacation for me…there was still plenty of cooking and cleaning and laundry. But I didn’t have to worry about school or schedules, and that a much needed relief!

And that’s the other beauty of homeschooling. We’re not anchored to a schedule. We’ll make up the time we missed, maybe on a few Saturdays, or in the early summer, or whenever. Because we can. And for this week, I got to relax, without worrying about Christmas plans or lesson plans, or anything other than planning dinner!

2013-14 School Year–The Week That Wasn’t

I had grand plans for Christmas School this year. And, I guess it wasn’t all wasted. We did pretty well learning about Christmas in Greece, Russia/Ukraine, and Sweden. And Christmas in Germany was really just a review, anyway, so that was alright, although, we never did get to our Christmas in Germany handprint Christmas tree craft.

But, we’ve had this stomach virus circulating through the house since before Thanksgiving, when I look back on it. And I reached my breaking point this week. There are just so many loads of laundry you can do before something has to give.

So, even though I had big plans for Christmas in France, and baking, and making ornaments, those things just didn’t happen. We did listen to a French Christmas CD, and I’m hoping to squeeze in a few French Christmas stories at some point (not today, though, because we’re helping Ryan with his video game marathon), but Christmas School fell flat this year, as did my plans to get a few extra math lessons done this week. We did keep up with religion and the Jesse Tree, plus our Advent read-aloud, so that’s something. But I can’t count this as a week of school by any stretch of the imagination. If you put together everything we did get to this week, I don’t think it even counts as a whole day!

So, we’ll regroup over our scheduled vacation, and hopefully by the time January rolls around, we’ll be ready to get back to work!

Merry Christmas!

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