Friday, December 17, 2010

Weeks 12 and 13: Lots of Paint!

We are ALMOST done with school for 2010! But we have just a few more days to do next week...we lost a week after Thanksgiving because the teacher (aka, me!) was so sick she could barely function. So, we will do school next week right almost right up to Christmas Eve. As for the past two weeks, here is our update. Not so much detail because I am starting to run out of steam! Thank goodness for a break coming up...

Harry's highlights:

  • Started learning the countries of Europe, with a focus on Norway. Did you know there are 450,000 lakes there?
  • Finally nearing the end of Singapore Math 2A. He has been cruising through multiplication and has learned his 2x and 3x tables. We're hoping to finish up the book by the end of 2010.
  • Has reached Chapter 9 in Latin for Children; he is starting to understand what all those declensions are all about but also finding Latin harder than last year. I miss that Harry is not learning any Latin prayers as he did in Prima Latina, so I may think about re-including elements of Latina Christiana since we are still using ecclesiastical pronunciation.
  • Is on "Book 4" of his fantasy/sci-fi "Series of Acroban," 12,000 words total and counting!
  • Celebrated with mom when her book arrived, as he was the only non-napping son awake to witness the box opening!

Ron's highlights:
  • Getting to the end of Singapore Earlybird B, which means I better order Singapore 1A for him soon!
  • Finished forming all his letters in cursive, and writes his name in a lovely script! As for other words...well, we have to keep working on connecting letters into words. A goal for 2011!
  • Enjoyed the "turtle" theme in his MFW-K curriculum, which was tied with the idea that "I don't quit, I persevere." Ron made his own turtle to commemorate the unit, and of course his little brother had to follow suit!

  • Ron also began attending AWANA and has been really enjoying his Sparks class. He has surprised me with how much he likes memorizing Bible verses so far...hope it continues! His enthusiasm has "sparked" interest in his older brother, who was more cautious and uncertain about the idea, but now Harry will also attend starting in January. Never having gone to or known about AWANA as a child, I think it's great that my kids have the opportunity to get so much exposure to God's Word at a young age. What could be better?
"How does it look?" =)

As for Dobby, I have been feeling a little guilty that I haven't been doing too much intentional "preschool" activities with him. My work with him is all pretty haphazard, yet somehow he seems to be absorbing material around him. For example...
  • Using a 100 chart, he can count all the way through it, without having been specifically taught it!
  • Can write a number of different letters, including many in his own name. I'm hoping he'll be able to write his actual name out within a few months.
  • Enjoys using his Kumon workbooks to practicing skills such as cutting, pasting, and sticking!

Lastly, we ended our week with a fun painting project; Ron also studied the theme "God made us wonderful" this week, so we had everyone paint their own life-sized figure, which all three enjoyed. They've also been enjoying the very little bit of snow we've had here in Chicagoland, just a few inches at one point, but enough to build a snowman!

We'll have one last report of 2010 (I hope!) with our last partial week of school next week. Advent blessings to all!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Week 11: Eggs Are Strong!

This week, I am going to keep our post short and sweet! Let's try a different format...

Harry's highlights: (3rd grade)

  • Finished his time in South America; he learned to read bar graphs, conduct research on the ten tallest mountains on the continent, and continued to learn about all manner of flora and fauna in the rainforest
  • Progressed in his Singapore Math book with a re-introduction of multiplication and division
  • Wrote 1,000 more words in his fantasy novel series, entitled "The Series of Acroban"
Ron's highlights: (K)
  • Finished the letter "U" in his cursive handwriting book
  • Started doing simple addition and subtraction
  • Survived the extraction of one of his baby teeth! (We went out to lunch to celebrate at a local cafe, featuring wonderful ice cream and the little cow below):

Dobby's highlights (Preschool)
    • Can spell a number of random words, such as his own name, "GAP" (which makes an appearance on many of his sweatshirts!) and "GUM" (one of his favorite things to chew now that he has learned not to swallow it!)
    • Can count past 20
    • Can sing melodies of songs his brothers play after hearing them only once or twice
    We were focusing on birds this week in science, and did an eggshell experiment to demonstrate how strong eggshells really are. They can hold up many more books than any of us thought! 

      Dobby was so inspired by the egg experiment that he built his own tower of books afterwards!

      And today marks the last day of homeschool co-op for the semester, as hard as it is to believe! Twelve weeks went by super-fast! Here Harry and Ron pose with their final art projects--Christmas wreaths! Is it really getting that close to the holidays???

      Speaking of holidays, have a wonderful Thanksgiving! We will catch up with you next time, when we begin our study of European nations!

      Friday, November 12, 2010

      Week 10: Getting to Know South America

      This week we spent time learning about South America a variety of ways, particularly Harry. Ron, Harry and I have all become much more adept at identifying all the South American countries, and Harry has additionally learned about people groups such as the Yanomami Indians, for whom he has been praying this week, thanks to the wonderful book Window on the World. We're reading the biography of Nate Saint together now as well, although I'm feeling a need to read ahead to see how they handle the tragic end of his life (and whether they cover the amazing story of the reconciliation between Nate's son Steve and the tribesman who ended his father's life.) Feels pretty intense for the ears of little children, so we'll see how the book goes!

      The boys also had fun playing soccer together--or, I should say, futbol!--a sport they had rarely enjoyed before, but that they tried given how much soccer is loved in S. America. And they fell in love with it! Now I'm wondering if I should have encouraged them to play soccer all these years. Harry even has a Brazilian soccer shirt given to him by his uncle years ago, and has put it to good use this week!

      Harry also continued his study of the tropical rainforest this week, which we started last week and experienced up close in our zoo field trip. This week, Harry created a "Layers of the Rainforest" poster, which gave him a chance to use some of those technology-related skills I mentioned last week. He drew trees, labeled the layers, then researched examples of animals that reside in each layer, and used Google to find images of those animals which he printed out and affixed to his poster. I was surprised by how excited he was to do this project--I thought he would not get into it as much as he did! It makes me think that he is at an age where he can do more multi-step projects on his own, and how I should keep looking for ways to encourage this in his school experience.

      The final poster!

      Little brothers Ron and Dobby keep busy with their own projects; in addition to his usual activities in handwriting, reading, and math, Ron has focused on the topic of the "nest" this week in his kindergarten curriculum, which reminds him that God takes good care of him. Dobby mainly dabbles in play and likes to pretend to work alongside Sean, which seems pretty fitting for the age!

      Currriculum-wise, we have finally settled down into our choices; I decided to continue with the First Language Lessons series for Harry's grammar, since we had invested so much time already in the first book and are used to the style and content. We did switch to Latin for Children but I am stubbornly keeping with the ecclesiastical pronunciation and wondering if that will ultimately feel like a misstep! But it sounds so much nicer to my ear and we still want to keep learning prayers in Latin, so hopefully if my kids do continue long-term with Latin, they will be able to make the switch to the classical pronunciation easily someday. Ron is wading into Latin slowly by using Song School Latin, the CD to which even Dobby enjoys! (I myself have learned many helpful Latin phrases through the cute and singable songs!)

      We have one more week before we take a week off for Thanksgiving! How fast the holidays are approaching. Thanks for visiting!

      Friday, November 5, 2010

      Weeks 8-9: Fun Outings and Some School, Too!

      I knew my streak of posting two weeks in a row would not last! October hit us like a ton of bricks, and now here we are in November, amazingly. We took a Fall Break week this year after week 7, which was perfectly timed as I was definitely feeling the need for a respite by that point in the year. Among our fun Fall Break activities was a visit to a local farm to pick out pumkpins, enjoy the attractions, and meet a few animals up close and personal:

      "I don't think I'm ready to hug you quite yet!"
      "We did it!!" Celebrating the accomplishment of going down the two-story slide.

      Once our break was over, we finished up our time in North America by getting to know Canada, which our boys enjoyed as Canadian citizens themselves (their dad is a Canadian citizen, so our kids are dual citizens.) We had fun understanding the difference between American and Canadian currency, which still makes them laugh--what other country has coins called "Loonies" and "Two-nies"?

      The boys also tried their hand at Inuit-styled soap carvings, and we ended our time in Canada with a high tea such as is common British Columbia. (Only in our case, it was a "high hot chocolate"!)

      Notice Ron's two little Lego minifigures he brought to be his audience.

      Harry creates a lovely cross!

      This week, we have moved onto South America, and Harry in particular has devoted time learning about the ecosystem of the tropical rainforest. Our curriculum suggested a trip to the zoo to experience the climate and see the animals in that context, so our kids and I willingly complied.

      There are two monkeys in this photo. Can you spot them?

      A gorilla lounges comfortably on a tree limb.

      This life-sized sea turtle model was not in the tropical rainforest section, but it was fun to take a photo with!

      Up close and personal with a polar bear. Thank goodness for that plexiglass!

      In other school news, Ron has been working in his kindergarten curriculum on different objects which teach a Bible principle and which also allows opportunities for fun activities. "Apple" was one of the recent topics, which reminds him that "If we stay in Jesus, we bear much fruit," and he discovered the hidden star in each apple, plus how much fun it is to make caramel apples!

      Harry couldn't help but join in. =)
      We also started Ron on a typing program, which he appreciated as he has been looking longingly at Harry's increasing ability to use email and programs such as Microsoft Word. Kids today have to be technologically savvy, so it's definitely a part of our homeschooling experience to give them exposure and facility with these skills.

      Harry writing his original story on how his bicycle was crushed by a recycling truck!

      I still find myself wrestling with numerous questions in this second year of homeschooling...such as, are we doing the appropriate activities for writing for Harry? (I have been going through Writing With Ease 2, as I felt Harry needed more work in narration and dictation, but it feels a little tedious and I am thinking about adding something to give him more experience with original writing.) Am I doing enough "academic" work with Ron? (We keep it very short and simple: a reading lesson in Ordinary Parents' Guide to Teaching Reading, a handwriting lesson, and a math lesson, plus whatever activities we can from the My Father's World-Kindergarten program, such as the apple lesson above, plus any geography activities that he is interested in because he loves geography!) Will I ever find ways to do more with Dobby for school? (He knows his letters and numbers but I wonder if I need to be more proactive with him...)

      And surrounding all these questions is, how do I fit any more in? Already our schedule feels tight; we are not fast-moving in the morning and by the time we finish breakfast and music practice, "school" doesn't usually start for us until 9:30 a.m. at the earliest! It's a blessing to be able to take our time but it means we're still doing school up to 3:30 p.m. The homeschoolers who can finish everything by lunch have my admiration!

      So, that's our long and overdue update. I'll close here with a photo of our Harry, Ron, and Dobby, dressed for the parts for Halloween. Thanks for visiting!

      Friday, October 15, 2010

      Weeks 6 and 7: Visiting Mexico!

      I knew it would be hard to keep up the pace of posting every week! So here is an update from our past two weeks. We've been continuing our tour of North America, spending time in Mexico and attempting to learn all the countries in Central America. (I was shocked at how poor my own knowledge was of all those Central American countries! It's a good thing I'm being challenged to brush up on my own geography as well as the kids! We're also reading the story of Cameron Townsend, a missionary who was committed to helping tribes in Mexico and Central America learn to read the Bible in their own language--he ultimately founded Wycliffe Bible Translators. It's been inspiring to learn of his life's work and to see how he was never afraid to dream big and reach high in pursuit of the Lord's calling for him.

      We ended our time in Mexico with a fiesta, of course! The boys worked hard on two craft projects--small pinatas, made of paper-mached balloons, and tissue paper flowers for decoration. Here are some photos of the works in progress:

      We have also spent a good deal of time with leaves, as fitting with the season. Ron's kindergarten lesson about leaves focused on the idea that "I will live and grow in Jesus," and he did a number of leaf-related projects (Dobby also wanted to join in!):

      Harry had his own leaf lesson as he did a simple experiment to see the process of transpiration--how leaves release water in the atmosphere--in action. It helped him to understand why, in an oasis, the air is cooler!

      In math, Harry has been working on a unit on measuring length. Sometimes I forget that facts that are so engrained in my head--12 inches to a foot, 3 feet to a yard, etc.--are all new to him! It's easy for me to understand which unit to use when measuring what, but I have to remember that these are fairly recent concepts for him. It's taken us longer than I expected to master these ideas, but I'd rather he understand them well and demonstrate this with 90% or more correct on his worksheets than to keep pushing through to new topics. A fun activity we did to illustrate yards--or 10 yards, an important measurement in football!--was to see how far 10 yards really is (below, the distance from Harry to Ron!) Longer than we all thought!

      We also had a great time this week going to a children's concert at Wheaton College, put on by the music students who did a great job--I wish I had a photo but our camera battery stopped working this week! I'm off to get a new battery...otherwise there won't be any more updates for a while! Thanks for visiting and hope you had a great week!