Friday, August 31, 2012

Yummy Science and the Not So Tasty Looking Science

While the local schools around here began their first week of school, we completed our fourth.   I'm so glad to have those first few behind us!  We are already one-third of the way through our first term.

C for Cat and D for Dinosaur
Today I met with a team at the local school to go over Cupcake's full evaluation.  It was encouraging that most areas of cognitive development, she is on target or pretty close.  Given her start in life, we feel she will catch up in the ones that were on the low side.  The greatest concern is her speech and language.  Articulation is a big area of concern, as well as some of the receptive language.  She will be getting two speech therapy appointments each week for a year.  The goal is to work on about eight sounds.  Some of her errors are consistent with what they see with previous hearing loss.  Now that she is hearing in normal limits, they must retrain her brain out of the habits set in place when she wasn't hearing the right sounds.    It finally clicked with me during the meeting that her problems with phonics are LARGELY related to the speech, which in turn relates to the hearing.  Another goal will be to increase her vocabulary so she can catch up to her age of peers.  I told her today that she would be getting help with her talking soon, and that the people are excited about helping her.  She said, "Oh, they excited? They jump up and down?"
Learning to work on a task indepedently

We did not do any new letters this week but gave more focused attention to "C" and "D".   Cupcake did much better with letter sound games this week.  I decided to give only three choices of letter cards to pick from for beginning sounds.  She did some very nice upper and lower case D handwriting pages.     For story time, we enjoyed cat stories, her favorites being Tom Kitten and Miss Moppet.  For art, we did a draw-write page on the cat.  Hers turned out so cute.  Aunt C., doesn't it look just like Picasso?  Another project involved cutting out the letter "D", some shapes, and glue for a D is for Dinosaur (see pic above).  For math, we began working with the Math-U-See colored bars, similar to c-rods.  This week she had to match up the bars for each number with the same number of units.  For example six ones (individual green units) to the purple bar that is one piece but the equivalent of six.  This is supposed to be very important concept before we begin adding them.  She's enjoyed continuing to create numbers with the hundreds, tens, and units.  I love that she is finding numbers EVERYWHERE and practicing what she's learned with the tens and hundreds-- in books, street signs, clocks, etc.

The edible cell--MMM mitochondria!
Muffy enjoyed a delicious science lesson this week.  She baked and decorated a cake to show the parts of an animal cell.  She spent a great deal of time making a list of what would best represent each part.  Needless to say, she likes her biology lessons.  For history, she did a very nice timeline notebook page of King Henry VIII, and in case you didn't know he had a tendency to cut off people's heads.  You would not want to have been one of his wives!  In literature, she thoroughly enjoyed The Merchant of Venice in Charles and Mary Lamb's Tales from Shakespeare.  She loves the Princess and the Goblin and wishes she would be allowed to read it faster.  It is scheduled for the whole first term.  I had to convince her dad that it is part of the philosophy and program to not read it straight through.  Charlotte Mason believed that children make more lasting connections with their studies if taken in challenging but small doses over a longer period of time.  Of course, her free reading can be done at whatever pace she chooses!  She is filling up a commonplace book of quotes in her books that strike her fancy-- from school selections and those for fun.

The pre-details before the experiment
S- continued reading in his many AO selections for school this week.  I think he's improving on his reading speed with the school load.  He says Ivanhoe is getting much more interesting and easier to read.  (I've dropped it for me now along with Birth of Britain, as his dad is covering those).  In Brenden Voyage, the ox-hide canoe replica is finished and ready to set sail.  It is amazing the lengths they went to in making the vessel as accurate as possible.  This was experiments week for his physical science module, so some messes were made in the kitchen.  He learned what happens when you use a little bit too much baking soda with your vinegar, oops!  Speaking of vinegar, I really need to put it in a permanent position on the grocery list like milk, or otherwise, buy an enormous bottle.  It seems when I need it to mop the floor, SOMEONE has used it up!  One of his experiments involved showing that a candle lit under a jar will go out due to lack of oxygen, but a balloon filled with oxygen gas pumped under the jar and into it will keep it lit.

E- and I were busy with Shakespeare's historical play, King John.  Thank goodness for Spark Notes on the computer.  At first we read a portion of the play, followed by the Spark Notes.  Then I got wise, and reversed that order.  The history curriculum guide said to read it out loud and that it should only take two sittings.  Well, we did four sittings this week and did not finish it.  Since the play is taking longer than planned for, I had him go ahead and begin Ivanhoe.  Yep, different curriculum from S- but same book.  Beautiful Feet's plan goes through it much quicker, as this counts for literature and history.  For free reading and extra literature, he finished Howard Pyle's Men of Iron.  I do believe that might be one of his most favorite books.  I never asked for narrations for this free-read----He ALWAYS gave them with lots of details.   This has been his experiment week for his module in biology too.  So, he and his dad have been enjoying the microscope (actually everyone wants to use it!).  They set up some yummy looking jars on my kitchen counter--- pond water cultures for bacteria being fed by various things- rice, egg yolk, grass, and dirt.  Hmm, I think my canning jars are going to get a lot of science use this year.  We added an elective that is still in the trial stage, although I'm inclined to keep it.  I found a physical geography e-book online for free.  I think we should be able to get at least a half credit from it.  Then we might do Bible geography for the other half.
The microscope owners-sometimes they share!

Matt and I seem to just manage to keep up the fort.  With two doing high school work, it is definitely becoming a bit more of a team effort to homeschool.  I'm thankful he has taken over S's history, two of S's  literature selections, E's biology, and one of the Muffy girl's literature selections.  I am making the time to run, and am finally starting to see better numbers on the scale.  Little sis encouraged me to time my 2 mile run, and I was pleasantly surprised with a total of 22 minutes!  Just like everything these days, discipline and slow but steady progress eventually pay off.

Happy weekend everyone.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Our Week 3, for Lack of a Better Title

The whole gang
This week in the life of  my big and little students:

The Cupcake worked on the letters "C" and "D" and spent much time in review of previously learned letters.  I made up some games to play with her letter cards.  We laid out the ones she knows and played
"We're going to the store and we need to buy some sss-soap, which letter do we need?" and "We're going on a picnic and we need to bring some ppp-potato chips, which letter do we need?"  She lost a tooth, the bottom one I've been trying to get her to blow air through to make the "S" sound.  It sounds so much closer now with the tooth gone, and she's so proud!  In math, we added "hundreds" blocks and numbers to our place value houses.  I think she's quite impressed when she can build 486 with the blocks and say such a large number!  We read books and poems about dogs, especially enjoying our Harry the Dirty Dog Treasury, along with a few new selections from the library.  Today Muffy commented that my English teacher's book had yellow pages, but hers had plain old white.  So, Cupcake felt so sorry for her that she said, "Mommy don't you think you could swap books with sissie?"  We got tickled and explained my book contained the answers so no there could be no trade.  
A little Visitor in the Neighbor's Yard
Muffy finished her first light units for math and for reading this week.  One down, nine to go.  She's been learning about figures of speech.  History this week involved readings on the explorer Pizarro,  King Henry VIII, Cardinal Wolsey, and Queen Katharine.  She's doing Real Science 4 Kids- Biology (elementary age Biology course) as well as a neat science book called Science Lab in the Supermarket.  I enjoyed overhearing her discuss her science tidbits with E over lunch.   As part of her AO studies, she and I began Pilgrim's Progress.  We are going to catch up to where S left off and resume it all together reading the various parts.  She handled the rich language beautifully.   In her free time, she and the Cupcake have been playing with their Calico Critters kitty house.  They have named all of the critters after themselves and the children from two families at church.  

S's Latest Masterpiece
S- has the heaviest school work load.  I feel downright sorry for him, but know it is good for him too!  He's really having to learn to pace himself to manage his time well to get the school work done as well as the daily practice for both instruments.  He learned about Britain as a Roman province in Birth of Britain, global warming in physical science, the Celtic story of Deirdre in The History of English Literature for Boys and Girls, cavemen paintings in The Story of Painting, Ambrose in Saints and Heroes, and continues to make progress in Ivanhoe and Watership Down.  

E finished a report on King John and the Magna Charta this week.  He seems to love the medieval time period.  He is almost finished with Men of Iron.  Although he does not like watching the lectures for his online biology class, he is somewhat interested in the topic.  This week was all about bacteria.  He also likes to share what he knows, especially about BACTERIA when we are eating.  Save it for later E!  I don't think I mentioned it before, but he's been writing song lyrics in his big black journal.

We added composer study and artist study this week for Fridays.  For this term we will listen to selections from Claude Debussy and view pictures of Renoir.  In addition, we worked on AO's hymn for the month, "For All the Saints Who From Their Labours Rest", and AO's folksong "Gypsy Rover" (Irish folk tune).  They don't care for "Gypsy Rover" but I think it is lovely.  To accompany our geography and missions homeschool enrichment classes, we've ben reading aloud  The Kite Fighters, about a masterful kite flyer in the 1400's in Korea.

Dad got some help from the girls
Matt finished his desk/bookcase for the living room.  The bead board back matches so well with the built in cabinets already in the room.  Once he puts puts it in, it will look like it is built in to the wall.  We'll have to post pictures soon.  We'll be able to get all those theology books off the living room floor!    

Busy week, so glad the weekend is here.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Back to School

Today marked the second full week of homeschool for us.  I must say this second week went much better than the first.  It is always tough in the beginning to get children and the momma back into gear.  For me, there is the remembering how to be a ping pong ball going back and forth between four individuals.  For them, it is adjusting to having to stretch the brain muscles.  Just like with exercise, at first it is hard.  However, with practice and routine it gets better.

Cupcake and Place Value Houses- that's 48!
Cupcake and I have been reviewing the letters we worked on last year, and working on letter recognition for the lower case letters that she struggles to remember.  I'm hopeful that phonemic awareness is going to CLICK one of these days.  For math, we are working with the same curriculum as E- uses, except Cupcake's book is the Primer and red, while E's book is blue.  She thinks Mr. Demie on the dvd is wonderful and requested we get to visit his house!  This week she's worked on place value in her workbook and with the blocks and place value houses.  For science, we have read various books about frogs.  Please ask her what tricks frogs do to keep from being eaten.  She loves to tell that part as well as the life cycle of the frog.  She dictated a paragraph with all she learned about frogs.  It was really cute.  She likes her knew talking microscope and the cool insect slides.  Other highlights were reading the Carrot Seed, reading our favorite Beatrix Potter story, The Two Bad Mice, and my personal favorite from my own early years, Stone Soup.  We started back over with Susan Hunt's, My ABC Bible Verses with the plan of learning a verse per week.  She's got Proverbs 15:1 down pat "A soft answer turns away wrath."
Cupcake's draw and write lesson-- lots of paint

Both girls enjoying the talking microscope!

Muffy loves 4th grade.  The Ambleside curriculum is such a good fit for her.  The only problem with it is she is prohibited from reading more than what is assigned for the week.  Her favorite AO book is the classic by George MacDonald, The Princess and the Goblin which she narrates to me with great enthusiasm.  In church history, we read about Martin Luther and the 95 Theses in Trial and Triumph.  She wrote about him, and used her draft for copywork on her history notebook page.  In world history, she studied King Henry VII, and in American history she learned about John Cabot's exploration of North America. She is giving Speedy Spanish I another try this year, and likes to learn the Spanish Bible verses.  For fun, she's reading one of my (actually my mom's) old Cherry Ames books.  She discovered Cherry Ames on the very top shelf of the built in bookcase (up near the ceiling), and since she's interested in becoming a nurse when she grows up, is enjoying it very much.  The biggest news for Miss Muffy is that she auditioned this week for a youth orchestra in the area, and will be playing second violin position.  Since, this is an intermediate orchestra, she was quite pleased as are we with this placement.
Muffy's Martin Luther notebook page

The long-awaited requested picture of THE QUILT!

S- also auditioned for the same orchestra, and will be playing in first violin position.  We are so excited for him too.  He has worked very hard to prepare his audition piece and scales, as well as working on his techniques and sight reading skills.  This is his 8th grade year, he is enjoying Apologia Physical Science in which he is doing some of the work through a free online at-your-own pace class at the Virtual Homeschool Group website.  The first module test was today and he made an A!  He loves the experiments, but isn't so thrilled with the lab reports--- yes, he has writing phobia.  Last week he turned electrical wire blue.   He is continuing in the Algebra I that we began last year.  The rest of his work is Ambleside Online House of Education Year 7 (which does NOT mean GRADE 7).  There are about ten different books he is reading from that cover lots of subjects including literature, economics, art, world history, church history, nature study, etc.  In Saints and Heroes, he learned about Cyprian and Athanasius.  In Winston Churchill's Birth of Britain and in Bede's Ecclesiastical History of the English People, S- learned about conquests of Britain under Roman rule.  His geography selection is The Brendan Voyage in which a man recreates a voyage from Ireland to Newfoundland in a ox-hide canoe, based on the accounts of St. Brendan, a celtic monk.  Thank goodness Ivanhoe is on the kindle so we can just click for the definition of some of the vocabulary.  He seems to like Watership Down which I didn't think he'd like since the characters are rabbits.  
S- and his physical science experiment

E- is doing much better this year with school.  We even moved him up to 9th grade since we have caught up in all subjects except math.  He completed his first module in Apologia Biology this week with an A on the test.  E- is also doing his science course through the Virtual Homeschool Group site.  It is wonderful that he can watch lectures to reinforce the readings and experiments, as well as complete quizzes and tests online.  Other than supervising the work load, he is working at it independently and getting help from his dad as needed.  For English, we are working through Jensen's Grammar, Punctuation, and Formal Writing books.  He is working through the Institute of Excellence in Writing's Grammar of Poetry.  This is one of the required AO books S- is working through, but since E- is the poet in the family, I knew it would appeal to him.  Instead of doing a full AO schedule, I decided the Beautiful Feet Senior High Medieval History and Renaissance might be a better fit.  He can receive literature credit and history credit for the readings and assignments.  However, I'm going to throw in a few additional classics.  So, it is a different course, but the time period overlaps a bit with S- and the Muffy girl's history studies.  E- gives excellent narrations of what he reads and is especially enjoying Howard Pyle's Men of Iron, and Jame's Daughtery's Magna Charta.  Did you know the Stephen Langston, Archbishop of Canterbury came up with the division of chapters and verses for the Bible?  I love this picture I captured of him reading about King John.  He is going through Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis with S- and I.  I'm still trying to think of another course we could get a credit hour from since the math won't count as a credit.  One possibility would be foreign language through Live Mocha.
Any other suggestions?
I wish you could see the grin on his face-- don't even think he knew I was getting a picture!
Matt traveled on business last week to Baltimore.  We were both glad when he was able to return home.  He's been busy working on our house (see dining room picture), teaching Sunday School, studying, and helping me more this year with school.  He is reading Birth of Britain, Brendan Voyage, and Ivanhoe too.  He's getting much farther ahead than me, but I'm reading many books for three different kids.
New heart of pine floors and finally finished walls, Yeah!

I think I'm the chicken running around looking for my head.  The AO curriculum and E's Beautiful Feet curriculum enables the kids to be a bit more independent in the day while I work with the Cupcake, but has given me much to do in the evening and between hours keeping up with their readings.  It is a good thing I love to read.  Also, I've been getting ready for our geography/missions homeschool enrichment classes for the coming year.  My parent's meeting for the classes was quite eventful when shortly before the meeting, the firefighters blocked off my part of the street, so they could do a controlled burn of the house across the street that was badly damaged from a fallen tree!  That had me a bit frazzled; would have helped to have known of that plan.  In the rest of my spare time, I've been studying the book of Ruth, to prepare for a once a month series of talks at my church for the women.  I've named it "Women of the Bible- People Like Me."  We will explore the lives of a different woman of the Bible each month.  I'm a bit nervous about it, but so excited about the things I'm learning and am praying I'll be able to share these truths with others.

Well, if you are still reading this, then you are probably tired out.  Especially long posts occur when there are new things going on, as well as when the blogger has not posted for a while.  I'll try to make the next one shorter.