Thursday, May 29, 2008

Weekly Report

I haven't reported on the past two weeks and it's almost time to report for a third week, so this may not be as thorough as usual. I just need to catch up my report so that I can keep it up.

We have been busy here with a camping trip (including preparation and clean up--ugh), many service opportunities, and schoolwork, of late. We have struggled to get in as much as I would like on a daily basis, but when I look back over the week we've accomplished a lot.

Read Alouds: We have been listening to Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder in the car. While we were on our trip, we switched over to The Horse and His Boy by C. S. Lewis (from the Chronicles of Narnia) and loved that, of course. Kimball read the series earlier this year but still enjoyed listening to the CD with the family. I am also reading aloud the last book in The Series of Unfortunate Events. I think we may need to have a party to celebrate when we finally finish this series. And write a lengthy book report!

Other Reading: Coming in my next post.

Math: We did Saxon Math--math fact worksheets everyday and three lessons a week. It is easy to slack on math lessons if we are busy because it isn't Kimball's favorite and I'm not doing a math curriculum yet with Henry beyond the basics. We have learned the multiplication facts now for 0, 1, 2, 5, and 10 and review them frequently. Kimball also helped on our many shopping trips to calculate our purchases as we went along, so we knew how much we were spending before we got to the checkout line. I taught Kimball & Henry how to play checkers correctly when I discovered that they were using crazy rules (probably concocted by Kimball). And our friends Rob & Teresa, who invited us to camp with them, taught the boys (Kimball) how to play chess, which surely counts as math!

Copywork: Did not happen.

History: We studied one chapter a week from SOTW. First, we learned about nomads and early farmers in the Fertile Crescent. We did cave paintings, did some map work, and wrote a paragraph about what we learned. The next week, we started on Egypt. We did map work, learned a story about Osiris and Set, and did an art project depicting King Narmer, the first king to combine Upper and Lower Egypt and to wear the Double Crown of Egypt. This is my boys' (and maybe my) favorite time of day.

Science: The kids went camping both weeks. The first week, with Daddy on the annual Fathers and Sons campout sponsored by the church. It was very hot that weekend--about 100 degrees. They did a little hiking near the lake but in the end drove home to cool off in Grammy & Papa's pool. The second week, the entire family went for four days to Santa Cruz. We got to explore the beach (where Bronwen continued her sand taste test, which she seems to be doing at every beach we hit this year),the wooded area where we camped, and the Monterey Bay Aquarium, one of our favorite spots. You can read more about it here and about previous visits here.

Music: We learned Come Unto Jesus and God, Our Father, Hear Us Pray for our Hymn of the week. Kimball continues to make progress in piano lessons. And everyone got a chance to jam on the harmonica while Chris, a fellow camper, played the guitar. I almost cried when I came back to camp from washing dishes near the bathrooms and found them playing together--camping with my family growing up always involved Daddy's guitar.

Scripture Study: Alma 14 and 15. There are some powerful stories found in those chapters that our children enjoyed. What little boy doesn't love a story about prison walls crumbling and crashing down, killing the wicked lawyers and leaving the prophet/missionaries untouched? I love how the chapters about Alma and Amulek's ministry show how powerful and miraculous missionary work can be, and how God watches over those who serve Him. As we saw in chapter 14, he doesn't always take away their adversity, but he does love and bless those who put their trust in him.
We also took some time to discuss the sacrifices that Amulek made for the Lord. ". . . Amulek having forsaken all his gold, and silver, and his precious things, which were in the land of Ammonihah, for the word of God, he being rejected by those who were once his friends and also by his father and his kindred;" We talked about how sometimes when people join the Church, their families and friends do not support their decision and even cast them out. We talked about how important it is to love Heavenly Father and His gospel more than we love the things of the world and more than we care about what others think.

Having Fun: This was a no-brainer with our trips. When we asked the kids what they liked best about camping, they said:
  • the s'mores
  • the aquarium
  • the beach
  • sleeping in a tent
  • playing games
I'm surprised that they didn't mention going a few days without baths! I know that my favorite part has not been the post-trip laundry. Finally, four days later, it is finally getting under control.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Weekly Book List

I am so behind my schedule when it comes to posting, but I figure it's not too late to post some books that we read last week. Here goes.

Mom: Nothing new. Mostly reading the Book of Mormon (I have five days left to meet the challenge,) and lots of blogs! I started reading Born on a Blue Day about autism spectrum disorder, but I'm not very far into it right now.

Dad: Still working on Children of the Mind by Orson Scott Card. It's the third in the Ender's series.

Kimball: Great Illustrated Classics Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne. This adaptation kept his interest well enough that he read it in one sitting. I can't wait for him to be ready to read some of these classics in their original form.

Great Illustrated Classics Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain. Another book devoured in about an hour and a half. And he's read it before.

DK Eyewitness Early Humans. This was picked out to correspond with our history lessons and he loved it. Kimball always love non fiction, and definitely enjoys the format and layout of the DK Eyewitness books.

One Halloween Night by Mark Teague. We've checked this one out before, but Henry brought it home from the school library and read it aloud to me this time. Very fun book (although admittedly more fun at Halloween time.)

Family Read Alouds:
We finished A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book the Twelfth: The Penultimate Peril. We immediately raced to the library and picked up the last book in the series. We have been listening to these on audio CD (they are read by Tim Curry, an actor whom I really enjoy anyway,) and were disappointed to find that the library didn't have this one on CD. So, we brought home the last book to read aloud. We'll report on it soon.

The Great Fuzz Frenzy by Janet Stevens. Henry got this one at the school book fair and it was pretty adorable. The grounhogs find a tennis ball in their colony and everyone fights over the bright green fuzz. They have to learn to come together in order to save the colony.

Alberto the Dancing Alligator by Richard Waring. Great for kids who love alligators, dancing, or reading about kids with unusual pets. Somewhat silly storyline, but that is fun for kids this age. Not my favorite book of the week, but the kids obviously loved it since I read it many times, and there was nothing objectionable about it.
Gorilla, Gorilla by Jeanne Willis. I actually thought the story line was rather stupid, but the kids enjoyed this. And in the end, you might say that the moral is to not judge people based on preconceived notions or what they look like. This is another book that I read over and over and over.
Falling for Rapunzel by Leah Wilcox. This was probably my favorite picture book of the week. The rhymes were clever, the twist on the story was unexpected, and we all laughed over the silliness. It didn't matter that I have a bunch of boys, they loved this book. (Don't tell their dad!:)

The Selfish Giant by Oscar Wilde. Classic story about a man who shuts little children out of his garden, which then decides to be winter year-round. Only when he opens his heart and his garden to the children does spring come--and joy into his life. There is a Christ figure in the book as well, although I felt like that could have been developed more, but who am I to criticize Oscar Wilde?

There were more, but these were the preferred books this week when I polled everyone. Go check them out at your local library!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Weekly Report

Here it is Tuesday night and I'm finally getting this posted. I've been working on it in snippets for days.

This week we tried to jump back into our routine after being out of town, but some days just came up short. A mid-week field trip and some personal issues thrown in didn't help. Still, one thing that I like about doing this report is that it allows me to see all that we accomplished even during a week that wasn't our best. As you can see by the picture, Bronwen is anxious to be included in our little academy.:)

Read Aloud: We had to return The Bronze Bow, as we had renewed it the maximum number of times. It's probably just as well; although there were elements that held the boys' interest, this is probably a couple of years away from being a great read for them. Instead, we did lots of shorter read alouds this week. Check for our weekly book list coming soon. We'll start a new chapter book in the next couple of days.

Math: We only did two formal math lessons this week (98 & 99), but Kimball did a math facts drill everyday besides. Henry and I worked on subtraction facts under 10. Ian played with tanagrams when he wasn't trying to make Kimball scream. We also played Blokus, which is a great board game that helps with spatial math.

Copywork: This is another that only happened on two days. The boys copied Moses 1:39.
Ian ran around being a pest and trying to get my attention by making Kimball scream. Not fun. Why didn't I spend more effort getting him to do copywork instead? It didn't occur to me that a kid acting that wild would be interested. Now, it seems obvious that he was craving just that kind of attention.

History: We did the Introductory Chapter of Story of the World. The boys ate it up, as I knew they would. Kimball is got most of the interviews done on his parents and grandparents for their History of My Family book. He will finish that up this week. It is fun to see him learning about his family's history in a way that is meaningful to him.

Science: Besides our Nature Walk to the zoo and gardening, we didn't have a formal science lesson this week. But our garden is providing us with great experience in weeding, watering, and taking note of changes as everything begins to blossom and grows higher and higher with each passing week. Sadly, this week still did not find us planting those fall raspberries. Now I'll need to research to find out if we are too late!

P.E.: Two hours of martial arts for Kimball. We also taught the kids kickball and played it with another family on Monday evening. And Kimball learned to do a flip on the trampoline, which he spent the next two days trying to teach his brothers!

Writing: Journal entries were the extent of it. Here's one of Kimball's:Henry also wrote a book report on his newest acquisition, The Great Fuzz Frenzy.
Cub Scouts: Kimball worked with his den on building bird houses.

Hymn of the Week: Home Can Be a Heaven on Earth, No. 298

Music: Piano lesson. Still struggling with keeping a beat/counting. Kimball's teacher says it is a common problem among her students, but I also know it to be a challenge for Kimball in other situations. We are trying hard to work on it without taking the fun out of piano.

Scripture Study: We finished Alma 13 and started Alma 14, which has always been a very powerful chapter to me. We talked about why God allows bad things to happen to good people rather than using His power to stop evil from being done. I felt a sweet spirit as we read and discussed together the horrors of the martyrs in that chapter and the peace that can come through the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Having Fun: We went to visit Aunt Alli one afternoon and the boys decided to take a dip in her not-so-hot hot tub. The water was probably around 70 degrees. They eased their way in slowly, but did get all the way in eventually. When they started shivering, they moved out to towels in the sunshine to dry off. Bronwen preferred to play on the grass and in the bag of popcorn that Auntie popped.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Thanks, Wonder Years!

We received a treat in the mail this week! We were lucky enough to win a book give away from our friends at Wonder Years in honor of Sam's birthday. This book has been a hot commodity ever since, requiring our best negotiating skills in order to have the most independent reading time with it.

Even though our home library already boasts a vast collection of books on sharks (we do have three boys, after all,) this one was different--it had flaps to lift. And even Kimball is not too old to appreciate a good lift-the-flap book. We also liked that the text wasn't too intimidating for our budding reader, Henry. In short, it was the perfect book to add to our bookshelf. If you have a little shark enthusiast at home (or know one,) drop by Sonja's online bookstore and pick one up. You may find others there you're dying to have, like this one I've been eyeing:
or this one, which we already have and love:
Whatever topic your kiddos like (or you want them to like), you are sure to find a book there that you simply MUST have!

Thanks again, Sam!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Nature Walk

This week's nature walk was a trip to a nearby zoo sanctuary with Ian's preschool class. I love this little zoo because it is a great size for young children to explore in an hour or so. I am not very happy with the pictures that I took, now that I look at them. I'll admit that I was preoccupied with other things that day and was glad that my kids were getting a learning experience without much mental exertion on my part.

This zoo has tigers, which is our favorite exhibit, but also goats, grazing deer, fox, a bobcat, monkeys, and roosters, hens, and peacocks who wander around like they own the place. This one was screeching at us through most of our visit. The picture doesn't do it justice, but I had to get a shot of that brilliant sapphire head and neck.
One of my favorite exhibits is the bears. They have five or six of them and most of the time a couple of them are rough-housing like brothers, which is always entertaining (unless the brothers happen to be your kids). When we first got to the bear exhibit, none of them were down close to us, but after a few minutes one came down closer and another stood up on his hind legs and scratched his back on a post. Then the brothers at play kicked in. I was too busy watching to grab my camera. We'll just have to go back again when I'm not so distracted.
We finished up the morning with a ride on the train, which runs outside of the zoo. The kids clambered into the cattle car--the hands down favorite. It was hilarious watching child after child shove in; it reminded me of the public transportation in Russia--there's always room for one more.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Weekly Book List

Here are the books that we read and enjoyed this past week.

Mommy: I am in the middle of a couple of books right now, which I haven't read enough to recommend. The only book I read much of this past week was The Book of Mormon, which I highly recommend:). My goal is to finish by May 19th, as I signed up to participate in the Hinckley Challenge back in February. If I read 9-10 pages a day, I'll make it.

Jared: Working on Children of the Mind by Orson Scott Card.

Kimball: Great Illustrated Classics adaptation of Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott. (Spoiler alert! This is a brief and choppy synopsis in Kimball's words.)"There's this knight named Ivanhoe and he's fighting and then he becomes really sick and then he gets better in the end. I've forgotten a little bit of the plot, but in the end, the Black Knight reveals his identity as King Richard. Ivanhoe is a good guy, and so is the Black Knight. Ivanhoe fights in the war and somehow he escapes from the fire when he's sick." (Note from Mom--sounds like we need to review and write a book report to make sure he read the entire book!)

Star Wars: Mission from Mount Yoda by Paul Davids and Hollace Davids. This is the non-school book that Kimball chose from the library last week. He is allowed to read it after his assigned independent reading time. Kimball recommends the book to all Star Wars fans.

Treasury of Illustrated Classics adaptation of Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie. This was a reread for Kimball. I have tried him out on the original and he's not quite ready for it. But he loves this version.

The Awesome Book of Sharks by Clizia Gussoni. This is a thick, informative book about sharks, with lots of pictures and diagrams. One fact that Kimball wanted to share from this book is that sharks can go for long periods of time without eating, while recycling oils found in their livers. The longest known fast was by a captive swell shark for more than two months.

Henry: Minnie and Moo and the Potato from Planet X by Denys Cazet. Henry is still working on reading this aloud to me. Minnie and Moo are silly and entertaining for young readers.

The Selfish Crocodile by Faustin Charles. Henry enjoyed reading this great story with a moral about the power of serving others and the change it can make in their lives.

Henry & the Buccaneer Bunnies by Carolyn Crimi. Henry enjoyed this book for obvious reasons. Who doesn't like a pirate who shares your name? This particular Henry Bunny is a bookworm. At first, the other pirates pooh-pooh his bookish ways, but Henry's book smarts turn out to be helpful when the pirates are marooned.

Ian: (Read Aloud Picture Books) The standout favorite that we read over and over was Lasso Lou and Cowboy McCoy by Barbara Larmon Failing. This book didn't teach a lesson and it wasn't full of brilliant literary moments. But Ian loved the cowboy theme and laughed at Cowboy McCoy's silly mistakes as he goes from city slicker to cow boy--all because the cowboy hat fit him best at the hat store.

Seal Surfer by Michael Foreman. This one was more enjoyable for me to read aloud. It tells of a boy and his grandfather (the boy is crippled, but you only see that in illustrations--it doesn't mention it in the text) who go to the shore to watch the seals. Ben (the boy) develops a bond with a seal and her pup and watches them and even body surfs with them year after year, observing the circle of life as the mother seal and grandfather pass on and the new generation rises. This is a sweet and sometimes poignant book. I loved that the main character has some disabilities, but that doesn't define who he is or what he strives to do.

A is for Artist: A Getty Museum Alphabet. This is a book that Ian discovered on his shelf. We bought it at the Getty years ago. Each letter is represented by a painting or detail from a painting. It is a great way to learn the alphabet and expose children to art--especially if you follow it up with a trip to the Getty, which is unforgettable anyway. (Warning: this book contains some art which shows nudity of the classical art variety, ie: Mythological Scene by Dosso Dossi, 1520s.)

Family Read Alouds: We are still plugging away at The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare. Slow and steady. We are listening to The Series of Unfortunate Events; Book the Twelfth: The Penultimate Peril by Lemony Snicket on CD.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Weekly Report

As we were out of town for much of this week, we did less formal seat work and more hands-on activities (see previous post for our beach adventures and aquarium visit.) We did, however, manage to continue learning, even if we never did a Saxon Math lesson. Here's the week in a nutshell:

Read Aloud: We read one chapter of the Bronze Bow (it is coming so slowly, I know.) We started listening to Lemony Snicket's Book the Twelfth: The Penultimate Peril (one more to go after this.) Our weekly book list post will be up in the next 24 hours for other read alouds and independent reading we enjoyed.

Writing: Henry faithfully kept a vacation journal. He never needed reminding--he asked me each day if he could write in it. Kimball wrote a couple of journal entries about our new van and our trip to the aquarium.
Math: We did math drills each morning that we were gone. I had planned to do Saxon Math lessons, but that never happened. I'm okay with that once in a while. We also played Uno and a math dice game.

Copywork: We only did this on two days because I have to nag them a little (especially Kimball) and I didn't want to do that on this trip. Henry copied the 2nd Article of Faith.
And I finally got some first grade writing paper (thanks, Mom!). So this should be our last week of copywork on notebook paper.
I can't find Kimball's copywork, although I know that he completed it at least one day. I had them in individual notebooks, so I'm not sure why it is missing.

Science: See our previous entry about our trip to the tide pools and the Cabrillo Aquarium. This was a great outing and very friendly on the budget (except that we went twice, which took some gas.) When we got home, we marveled at the changes in our garden. A big thanks to Daddy who fertilized and watered while we were gone. All of our plants now have either blossoms or buds and all have grown quite a bit since we planted.
We can even see small signs that our carrot seeds are growing!

We are so anxious to be able to eat the vegetables that we are growing. Hopefully we'll get some raspberries planted this week.

P.E.: On Wednesday, after Mom, Nana, and Aunt Alli had done some work on Nana's house, we all went to a new park in La Mirada. The equipment was like nothing we'd ever seen before. There were so many different ways to climb, spin, and slide.
We spent a very long time there, getting some great Occupational Therapy.
Hymn of the Week: This week, we chose a song from the Children's Songbook instead. Since in our scripture study we have been talking about the priesthood, we chose A Young Man Prepared for this week. I am so proud of the boys that they are and of the men that they are striving to become. Here are the three boys performing this for us on Sunday morning before Church:

Life Skills: Kimball & Henry learned how to change a wet diaper. Bronwen actually cooperated. I've been thinking lately about how I changed diapers (cloth ones, with diaper pins) as a six year old and decided that they need to learn. Ian is still learning to remember to wash his hand after using the bathroom, but he has gotten so much better at dressing himself. Kimball also learned the important skill of taking care of a cockroach for his terrified mom (I know it's illogical--but it's psychological, and therefore, very real to me.)

Having Fun: I don't think that this even needs saying. We did something fun every day and enjoyed our time together away from home, even if we missed Daddy. We can't wait to take another trip.

All in all, it was a great week. We are ready to get down to business this week, but are glad that homeschooling gives us the opportunity to have weeks like this past one, spending time with family, exploring new places, and getting a change of scenery.