Monday, April 28, 2008

Weekly Report

This was one of those weeks where it feels like a miracle that we homeschooled. I had a lot of other things going on, but am determined to make schooling a part of our everyday life, busy or not. We were much better about spending the mornings doing seatwork, which really helped.

Read Aloud: The Bronze Bow seems to be growing on them, but we aren't getting in a chapter a day, which is what I'd like to see happening. We aren't far enough into it yet that the kids beg me to read it and it keeps falling off the radar. But we did read three more chapters this week and the boys decided that they do want me to finish reading it to them. So I'm glad we persevered. We also finished listening to the 11th book in the Series of Unfortunate Events. On to Book the 12th!

Writing: I completely forgot to post about this last week. This week we tackled some of the challenges of writing descriptively. When I mentioned that Kimball was struggling with this, Mindy suggested describing things that we had tangibly in front of us, so we took on a pineapple. We touched, smelled, listened to, looked at, and tasted a pineapple, then we wrote about it.
Henry chose to write a poem: (his spelling is cuter than mine, but I'll include a translation below.)

Pineapples are yummy
I love to eat them so
And even though they're kind of spicy,
I eat them anyway.
The end.

Kimball opted for a paragraph:

Additionally, Kimball wrote a book report on The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White. We'll post that separately.

Math: Kimball completed Saxon 94-97 and aced his assessment. He was very overwhelmed with the drill that had 100 problems on it, even though they were easy problems. I have noticed this before and tried to help him cover up all but one row while he worked. I'm not sure if the issue is sensory overload, if it's tied to his Asperger's brain at all, or if it's just typical second grader, but he seemed to shut down when it was time for the drill. He did finish it in the end (with no mistakes) but it took A LOT longer than it should have. Any suggestions?
Henry wrote his numbers to 100 and continues to improve in his subtracting. I love watching him gain confidence in his own abilities.

Copywork: Kimball copied Alma 32:21 on faith. I did not take a picture of it before I left town. I mentioned last week that Kimball struggles to complete this unless he is highly motivated (translate: bribed). This week's copywork was a bit shorter and some of the days he did fine. Actually, he seems to do fine the first couple of days, so maybe I should change the verse daily instead of trying to have it double as a memorization exercise? I hate nagging him to finish. Henry copied the First Article of Faith. He loves doing copywork. I need to go get some of the lined paper for kinders. Ian is getting better at his name and at making the letter I properly.

Science: No nature walk this week. We all missed that. We did work in the garden. Henry got really excited about weeds and cleared out all the weeds by the trashcan. He is hoping for some weeds in the garden soon, so that he can pull them out! We observed that our plants are continuing to grow and a couple of them are blossoming now. We planted cucumbers this week and researched organic fertilizer. Daddy promised to fertilize and water while we are out of town this week.
Daddy also did a lesson about yeast and gluten with lots of chemistry. Then the boys and I made bread. And even though I do this once or twice a week, this time the dough over-raised and went yeasty. At least we had talked about that during the lesson, so they knew that the yeast had gotten so bulky that it broke the gluten bonds and collapsed the bread. Yuck.

P.E.: Martial Arts for Kimball two days. He is really improving in his skills. We are working on when it is appropriate to use said skills. We spent one day jogging our age in laps around the cul-de-sac. The boys did a great job and even let me off the hook before I got to 34 so that I could go in and make lunch for them.

Reading: Watch for our book list post, coming soon. We also paid a trip to the library and got as many books as they would let us check out.

History: On Thursday our new books came! We are so excited. I hope to get some lessons planned and deliver at least one this week. We will be working on history through the summer so that we can cover everything we want to before the fall. Luckily, we've done quite a bit on our own on Old Testament and Ancient Greece already.

Music: I forgot this one last week, too. Kimball is making great progress in his piano and enjoys practicing every day--some days twice. He and I are working together to be consistent in counting. Henry is anxiously awaiting the fall, when he gets to start piano.

Hymn of the Week: Lead, Kindly Light Hymn 97. Since we were focusing on faith this week, this was the perfect song. I love the end of the first verse that says, "Keep thou my feet; I do not ask to see the distant scene--one step enough for me!" So often I beg the Lord to let me see the distant scene, but our faith is strengthened as we move forward one step at a time, relying on Him and trusting that He will lead us to the best place.

Family Principle: Respect. Again, we discussed this in Family Home Evening. We set goals for ourselves this week to:
  • Continue to develop the habit of daily morning and evening personal prayers
  • Have family devotional (scripture study) every day--not just on Daddy's work days
  • Try to think about Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father throughout the day and do what they would want us to do.
We did pretty well at these goals, although we did miss Saturday for scripture study. I noticed Henry this morning go back to his bedside to pray about an hour after he got up and was proud of him for remembering and acting on it. To support our focus on this principle, we chose copywork verses and the hymn along the same theme.

Scripture Study: We finished Alma 12 and started Alma 13. We talked a lot about the priesthood of God--how it is given and received, how to prepare to receive it, and what it is used for. I taught the boys "A Young Man Prepared" one day after scripture study as we discussed their need to prepare for this important responsibility. We decided to make that song our hymn of the week for next week, even though it's not in the hymn book.

Life Skills: Kimball stayed for the entire process of making bread, and read through the recipe, giving me directions. Kimball and Henry both learned how to vacuum in straight lines this week. Kimball also made peanut butter-mnm cookies for Pack Meeting with very little help from me (they did start out as premade dough from a fundraiser, but he learned how to place them on the cookie sheet, press them with the fork in a criss-cross fashion, decorate with mnm's, bake, and cool on a rack.)

Cub Scouts: Kimball received his Bobcat award at Pack Meeting this week. I was serving at a wedding reception, but Daddy was there to see him receive his award.

Having Fun: We went to the park on Friday with some friends from Church. We rode bikes in our cul-de-sac. We played Golf, War, and Connect Four.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Weekly Book List

Here are some of the books we read and enjoyed this past week:

Mommy: Two Women of Galilee by Mary Rourke. Read my review on Goodreads. This was not my favorite, but I didn't dislike it. It was just not as good as I think it should have been.

Dad: Xenocide by Orson Scott Card. Second book in the Ender's series. Recommended if you like sci-fi. He's on to book three!

Kimball: The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum. He enjoyed it and said that he identifies most with the tin man. One day this week he'll do a book report on it and we'll post it here.

Moby Dick by Herman Melville-- Retold by Will Eisner. Tells the story of Moby Dick in comic book format, which Kimball has learned to love thanks to Calvin & Hobbes. He gobbled it up, and I figure it gives him some background into the novel. I can't compare it to the real thing because I have never made it through Moby Dick.

Henry: Nate The Great Goes Undercover by Marjorie Sharmat. This was the longest book that Henry has ever read aloud. I was so proud of him--he did a great job and surprised himself. Since then, he has been doing a lot more independent reading of books that I knew he could read but he didn't! I have a small basket of books at the foot of his and Kimball's beds that I have selected as their reading level or a bit challenging that they are allowed to read if they wake up before 7:00 am, or are having a hard time falling asleep, or if they just need a break from the family. I've noticed that this week he's been actually reading them. Yeah!

McElligot's Pool by Dr. Suess. Henry checked this out at the school library and after I'd read it to him once he decided he could do it on his own. He and Ian both love the silliness of the book.

Ian/Family Read Alouds: The Giant of Seville by Dan Andreasen. This is based on a true story of the tallest known married couple. It's a cute, feel good picture book of 19th century America.

I, Crocodile by Fred Marcellino. Tells the story of a crocodile captured by Napoleon and brought to Paris. He enjoys being all the rage for a while, then discovers that he's a has-been. Funny picture book.

Tacky and the Emperor by Helen Lester. The kids love the Tacky books. I'm sure that it's because Tacky always does things that are silly and unconventional (although what really is conventional for a penguin?) Tacky's friends are always doing everything perfectly and concerned about appearances.The message of them is always good, but I find the books to be a bit trite. Still, since Ian picked it out and there's nothing truly objectionable about it, I must have read this book aloud 37 times this week. Time to return it to the library!:)

A Plump and Perky Turkey by Teresa Bateman. This is really more appropriate at Thanksgiving, but it was a fun little story about a turkey who outfoxes the townsfolk. They have to eat shredded wheat for Thanksgiving dinner, while he relaxes on the beach with his buddies.

These were the standouts this week. I don't have time to highlight every book we read, but these were worth mentioning.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Weekly Report

Here's the blogger who started the concept of the Weekly Report. If you aren't already doing it in your school, check it out.

So, here's how the week actually played out (you really don't have to compare it to my original plans, do you?) I am going to work hard at keeping this real, rather than putting a pretty sheen on things. So please be forgiving!

Read Aloud: The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare. I read one chapter, during which they were not riveted. Kimball did ask lots of questions, but towards the end of the chapter they timed out. I had every intention of reading more, but as this gets tucked in between other things, and they weren't begging me to read more, I didn't. I think I'll try one more chapter with them tomorrow and see if I can draw them in more. It might be a bit too old for them, but I so want it to work, since the time in history would be great (it takes place at the time of Christ.) I'll let you know if this makes it past chapter two as our read aloud. We will do a separate post every week on books we have enjoyed this week, so I won't talk about all the shorter books we read aloud together here. We are also truly loving the Lemony Snicket books in our car CD player. We've checked them out at the library and are currently listening to Book the Eleventh: The Grim Grotto.

Math: Kimball--Saxon 2 lessons 90-93. I had hoped to get in a lesson on Friday, which is why I had five lessons planned, but by Friday I was wiped out and PMS-ing and Jared had various Chamber of Commerce events going on and so we went to the park and met some friends. It was the only way for any of us to have a good day!:) And it was a great choice. But we did not do a math lesson. Kimball is enjoying learning multiplication. So far, we've only introduced 10s, but he seems to grasp the concept and is already figuring out what multiplication means and what it will look like with the other numbers. I am finally using the flashcards, which I think is a good habit to get into. With Henry, we did his math homework that was assigned for kindergarten. He is subtracting numbers less than ten right now and writing numbers to 30. He feels pretty confident with that. I have to remind him to check his numbers to make sure they are facing the right direction--he likes to flip-flop them. Ian loves "doing his math," which involves making designs with tanagrams and covering tanagram pictures. He is doing great with those. So far, he is using the linking cubes to build Star Wars action figures. I guess I need to work with him if I expect him to make patterns!:)

Copywork: Kimball copied a paragraph from The Family: A Proclamation to the World every day, Monday-Thursday. He struggled with focusing and I wonder if it was too long for him. I think I will try to choose something slightly shorter this week and see if it can be a more positive experience. The good news? He has it memorized (which was what I wanted most, anyway!)

Henry copied part of the First Article of Faith. Ian copied his name. On the whiteboard. And I didn't take a picture of it. I worked with Ian on letter formation; he and Henry have both learned some bad writing habits in preschool, where their writing is more like drawing and they have their own way of drawing the letters. So we worked on his three favorite letters: I, X, and O; on starting at the top and moving down. I wish I'd taken a picture of it.

Science: Nature Walk Monday (see previous post). And, I actually ordered the Handbook of Nature Study. It should be here in a week. Yeah! That is progress! We worked in the garden every day, adding to our compost pile, watering, and observing plant growth. Our tomato plants are definitely growing. We haven't seen any blossoms yet. We also planted carrot seeds and a few sunflower seeds. Saturday, Daddy did a lesson on Food Chemisty. I should have taken a picture of the white board. I should have stayed for the lesson, since the notes on the white board where way over my head. They did an overview of macromolecules, and focused on amino acids, peptide bonds, proteins--and how they are changed or denatured through heat, whipping, and how they act as an emulsifier. (I had to have him dictate that to me. Did I mention it was over my head? I just have never been that interested in chemistry.) The kids loved it.

Physical Fitness: Martial Arts: Kimball, two hours a week. Check. Other than that, there was lots of bike riding but nothing formal. And we didn't do the jogging that I had planned. I do want to, though, since I am trying to become a runner and it would help Henry in soccer season if we were running year round.

Reading: We'll do a separate post on this. We read. LOTS. That's the easy part around here.

History: I finally ordered The Story of the World Part 1 (Ancient history) and the workbook that goes with it . When it comes, I'll choose a few lesson plans to do this spring and summer before we start with the Renaissance/Middle Ages next year.

Hymn of the Week: Did You Think To Pray, Hymn 140--Kimball & Henry each know if perfectly. Ian glosses over a few words but can sing along.

Family Principle: Respect. We introduced this at Family Home Evening on Monday. We talked about why respect was important in a family. The kids came up with some ways that we could show respect in our family: respect to God, to parents, to each other, and for our property. We came up with these things to work on this week:
  • Have personal prayers morning and night (respect for God)
  • Do what Mom & Dad ask (respect for parents)
  • Speak without sassing (respect for parents)
  • Listen to each other without interrupting (respect each other)
  • Not tease in a mean way (respect each other)
  • Treat our things well (respect our property)
Each member of the family signed the bottom of the paper and we put it on the fridge for the week. Most mornings at our family devotional we reviewed it, and then we reviewed it again if someone was struggling with one of the above items. Everyone really tried hard and we saw some improvements in the harmony in our home this week.

Scripture Study: We read Alma 12 and discussed it together (we only read a few verses each day and discuss, because of attention spans). It led to some discussions about Adam and the fall and about resurrection, big topics, which are crucial to understanding the plan of salvation. I am so grateful for the clarity with which the Book of Mormon teaches these principles.

Life Skills: Kimball and I worked together on this blog, which was exciting for him. Henry and Kimball have both made big strides in loading the dishwasher properly. They have been very helpful in the gardening, as mentioned in the Science section.

Cub Scouts: Kimball has fulfilled the requirements to receive his Bobcat at pack meeting this week.

Having Fun: We went to the park three times, which is more than usual. We played Connect Four many times, and I taught Kimball how to play Golf (the card game). As I mentioned, on Friday I wasn't having much fun, but it was my own bad attitude and a little burnout. I'm feeling much better now and ready to face a new week.

I also decided this week that we really need to stick to a schedule, at least for the mornings. We let a few things get in the way at the beginning of the week and when I was ready to sit down and do seatwork, the kids had a hard time focusing. This shouldn't be news to me, since I know that at least my two oldest kids thrive on a schedule. So instead of embracing the flexibility that homeschooling provides, we are going to embrace the opportunity to learn together without distractions until noon each day. I'll let you know how that works out.

I am grateful for this opportunity that I have to teach my children and to be with them so much. I am humbled by the influence that I can have in their lives and am really striving to make improvements in my areas of weakness. I love these sweet kiddos.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Monday's Nature Walk

Monday we took a nature walk. Near our home is a creek and a wilderness area with a winding walkway. We love that we are in the neighborhood and yet feel like we are taking a walk in the woods (except for the paved path.) We were especially paying attention to birds as we walked and listened.

We heard woodpeckers and eventually Mom spied one, but he blended in so well with the tree that the others had a hard time spotting him, and when she tried to take a photo, he disappeared. We saw some birds that looked like this one:

We haven't researched it yet. We really need to get the Handbook of Nature Study. Anyone know a good website for identifying birds?

The boys took one path that wasn't fit for strollers and got a little closer to the creek. They took these pictures:

The bottom one is out of focus, but we were excited to see a mother duck with her ducklings. We counted seven of them and wondered if mommies can have seven babies at a time (Mom says it is rare.) The duck and ducklings were all quacking while they swam.

We found lots of acorn tops with the nut inside gone. We wondered if birds or squirrels had eaten them. The boys estimated that there were 1,000 squirrels living along the stream (I think that the neighbors would complain if that were true.) We wondered how we could get a better count.

We also picked up trash that we found along our walk and deposited it in the trash can at the end of our walk. This has been a habit instituted by the boys since our trip to Monterey last summer, when they learned that litter ends up in streams and then in the ocean, which can be dangerous for humans, fish, and animals.

We love taking these nature walks and wish that they lasted longer. We always seem to be hurrying back to get Henry to afternoon kindergarten. We are looking forward to having everyone home full time in June and next school year.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Week's Plans

Read Aloud: The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare
Math: Saxon Lessons 90-94 (K), assigned homework (H), tanagrams and linking cubes (I)
Copywork: Paragraph from The Family: A Proclamation
Science: Nature Walk, gardening, Science Friday lesson TBD
Physical Fitness: Martial Arts (K), bike riding, jogging
Reading: The Wizard of Oz (K), Nate the Great (H), Two Women of Galilee (Mommy), plus assorted library books (all)
History: Um . . . library books and The Bronze Bow. I need to work on this.
Hymn of the Week: Ere You Left Your Room This Morning, Hymn 140
Family Principle: Respect
Scripture Study: Alma 12-13
Life Skills: Build a website/blog, dishwasher loading, gardening
Remember to have fun!