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!