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!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Week 5: All About Butterflies!

This week, we moved things around in Ron's kindergarten curriculum to focus on butterflies, because the caterpillars we'd been watching had all emerged into butterflies early this week!

A recently-hatched butterfly, resting above the leftover cocoons from our five painted ladies!
The My Father's World curriculum we use assigns each letter of the alphabet to a particular object or animal and then ties it together with a biblical truth. In this case, the butterfly reminds us that God can make us new.  So we spent the week focusing on the life stages of a butterfly, which we illustrated in a number of ways. But the most fun activity we did involved making our own caterpillars out of egg cartons. It looked so fun that even Harry couldn't resist joining in.

"That flash is always too bright for me, Mom!"

Dobby is more interested in making funny faces these days when the camera comes his way!
Each boy had fun picking out colors for his own caterpillar, painting, then adding pipe-cleaner antennae and legs. They drew their own faces and helped Dobby with his caterpillar's face as well. I found some old craft pom-pom balls lying around and offered those up as well for decoration. And the final result:

Harry's (L), Ron's, and Dobby's new friends. The expressions crack me up!

And of course, knowing we couldn't keep these butterflies inside forever, we had a releasing celebration to send our friends into the world. Painted ladies live all over the U.S. and can survive so long as the temperatures are high enough. It's been lovely here in Illinois of late, so we were confident the butterflies would be happier in the natural world than in our netted habitat!

Getting ready to unzip and free our butterflies! The plate in the net has orange wedges, which the butterflies are said to enjoy. Do you know that butterflies taste with their feet???

The last butterfly enjoys a brief rest on our nearby evergreen tree before making its way into the world!

In other topics, our focus this week in our world geography study was the country of Mexico, and I hope to have some fun photos to share next week as we continue on the same subject. The boys are also enjoying our simple lessons from Getting Started With Spanish and I'm thrilled that I actually remember and can use what I know from junior high/high school!

Harry went back to Singapore Math 2A this week, as we reviewed some topics with which  I want for him to be comfortable--addition and subtraction into the hundreds and thousands with renaming--and although I hear that homeschooled kids often jump ahead, in our case I feel as though we are doing the opposite. I'd much rather be convinced that Harry understands the concepts and my rule is that we don't move ahead unless he can score at least 90% on the cumulative review. So that meant we spent several days making sure he could reach that target. I don't think we are anywhere close to "jumping ahead" but that is really OK with me! As long as he is learning and continuing to progress at a reasonable pace, I'm fine with taking our time.

Today is co-op day, so I thought I'd end with a couple of photos from their classes. Ron and Harry both take gym, karate, and art, while their dad (who, in exchange for working late on Mondays and Thursdays, is off on Fridays, hooray!) stays home with Dobby. I wait for the boys at the church where the co-op is held and enjoy the free wi-fi (great time to update my blog!) =)

Ron after his gym class, ready to join Harry...

...for some karate action!

Lastly, this photo has nothing to do with homeschooling but it was an amazing exhibition of industriousness from one of our backyard spiders so I thought I would share it! The boys were impressed by it as well!

Thanks for visiting! Hope you had a great week as well.