Sunday, September 28, 2008

Weekly Report #5

Another week gone. We only have one more week to go until our first scheduled week off! I will admit that I am looking forward to it. I think it is good that we have a week off scheduled before any of us hits burnout. I haven't told the boys about it yet. Let them be surprised.
This week I am going to focus on one kid at a time instead of subjects. Ian especially is enjoying our math lessons. His kinder math program consists of brief lessons that use manipulatives--perfect for a four-year-old kid. We also spend time together every day on the calendar and building and recognizing patterns. Here is his workbook with September's calendar nearly completed. I'm trying to not get discouraged that he can't seem to remember the name of the month. He's a preschooler, after all. (He also loves our letter-of-the-week time and seems to grasp it well, but on Thursday he couldn't tell his aunt what the letter of the week was. Sigh. We learned the letter D this week. Here is a page from his Letter-of-the-Week journal:

We read Diary of Worm this week, all of our dinosaur and duck books, and picked out the D sound words in every other book we read together. We had apple cider donuts on Friday at Apple Hill, and and colored pictures of dolphins , dinosaurs (included Dimetridon), and dogs. Ian is going through a phase where he wants me to color for him after about 5 seconds. I'm not sure if it's attention related or his perfectionist tendencies (which seem to run in the family.) Any suggestions? For now, I'm just trying to encourage him to do the things but not pushing him too hard-- so as to avoid having him lose his taste for schoolwork.

Ian also had a lot of fun on Friday and Saturday with his same-age cousin, Talmage. Talmage and his baby sister, Audrey, are visiting from Utah. The boys are two days apart in age and really connect well. Here they are at Apple Hill, being cowboys (with Bronwen.) Ian also got to go (without the rest of us) with Grammy and Papa and Talmage's family to Fairy Tale Land on Saturday. He felt very grown up to be going without his big brothers. Henry told me that he "felt jealous of Ian." I reminded him gently that there are lots of times when Henry and Kimball get to go do something fun and Ian has to stay home because he's "too little." This was Ian's turn.

Henry is continues to eat up his math. Here is one of his worksheet
sfrom this week:

He is also making great progress in his reading. He does so well when we read the Book of Mormon aloud together with Daddy in the morning. He also reads aloud on his own each morning for personal study. He can usually read most of the words by himself, which is not an easy task. I truly believe that this practice of reading the Book of Mormon with our kids has improved their reading skills greatly. I didn't push him a lot this week to read on his own, since he had been resistant, but I did catch him reading plenty. Perhaps I need to relax a little on that--all of my kids eat up books as long as we have plenty around. Maybe I'm taking the fun out of it by telling them: Go read a book right now. What do you think?

Here are a couple of pages in Henry's journal this week:

Henry and Kimball enjoyed history this week. We studied the Assyrian Empire under Asherbanipal. We learned about how the Assyrians conquered everyone in Mesopotamia up to the Tigris River, over into Canaan, down into Egypt--a massive empire. We built this Assyrian Siege Tower to mimic those used (on wheels) to allow the Assyrians to ram down city walls and to attack from above as well.

We also learned about the world's first library, built by Asherbanipal in Nineveh. We got busy working on books to put in our own library. These boys have been writing their own books for years, but we are witnessing something of a revival at the moment. Henry wants to work on his book instead of coming to dinner, play outside, or play Sorry! with Kimball. Here are some samples of their books. As you can tell, I am not interfering on content or spelling.

Other subjects we covered together included a discussion on young David and David & Goliath; learning the hymn, "My Redeemer Lives", and a grammar lesson. We listened to A Little Princess in the van and studied Russian all week long. I'm sure we did more than that, but I am so tired of writing this post and it's already my third sitting since I started it!:)

In math this week, Kimball learned about the temperatures (Fahrenheit) where water freezes and boils, plus normal body temperature for humans. He learned about rounding to the nearest 10th, and we did some money work. We reviewed horizontal, vertical, and oblique. We are gradually adding in his multiplication tables. Here is a worksheet from this week:

Here is one of Kimball's journal pages this week. He obviously spent some time thinking about the Assyrians, since this was written a day or two after our first history lesson of the week.
Kimball also finished reading The Voyages of Dr. Dolittle, which he has worked on for a few weeks, while getting distracted with the bounty of library books in the basket in his bedroom. One of these days I'll remember to take pictures of some of the library books when the kids aren't sleeping. Off the top of my head, I know he/we read Forty Fortunes, an Iranian fairy tale; Great Wonders of the World (non-fiction),The Legend of the Flying Carpet, several books about Koko, the chimpanzee (which he checks out regularly), Mara, Daughter of the Nile, The Seven Voyages of Sinbad the Sailor, and lots more.

Bronwen worked hard at being a mommy to her babies, singing songs with us, looking at books, demanding that we sing more songs, and climbing up into every place she doesn't belong (like on top of the bar and in the middle of the dining room table, for instance.) She woke up so happy from her nap on Sunday that I snapped this photo. She has started saying, "cheese" as soon as she sees a camera. I didn't teach her that, did I?

We finished out our week going to one of our favorite autumn places, Apple Hill, with our cousins, grandparents, aunt, and uncle. We ate apples, apple cider donuts, played in the dirt, rode a tire swing, offered our fingers to goats for nibbling, wandered through pumpkin patches, loitered in apple orchards, and rolled down a big hill with Grammy. Here are a few shots from the fun we had there:

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Weekly Report #4

Why is it so hard to write these reports, especially in a timely manner? For one thing, they take a long time. For another, I feel so busy since school started. You may have noticed on my other blog that I'm not spending much time blogging lately. I feel that if I'm lucky I get an hour or so to myself in the evening before bed--and I have to choose between reading, blogging, spending time with my husband, ironing, and calling a friend. Yikes! I'm trying to use my afternoons more efficiently so that at least I don't have to do laundry or ironing between 8:00 pm and my bedtime (9:30).

But enough about me. Here's a quick glimpse at our week:

I just want to say that our littlest student is growing up so fast. I love watching her mother her babies, read her books, and mimic the sounds we make when we're talking about the alphabet. I love how she lights up when it's time for Morning Meeting and runs to sit down first. She claps her hands and can't wait to sing together and pray. And she has been so good at playing happily in her playpen while we do math (she kept climbing up on the table to get at the manipulatives, pencils, crayons, etc.)

In math, I decided that we weren't moving quickly enough. The lessons are too easy for my boys. I have heard that many people choose to work a year ahead in Saxon Math, but I have been nervous to skip some fundamental building block. A silly fear, I am sure, but real nonetheless. Anyhow, I went through the lessons again and we skipped lots of lessons that were simply too basic. Don't worry, Mom--I did the assessments on them to make sure that we hadn't skipped too far! For Ian we are just going one lesson at a time. I'm not worried about it being basic for him, I think it's appropriate for someone who is nearly 4. I'm glad I didn't wait until his kinder year to start this math, though.

So, Kimball did SM 22, 23, 32, 33, and 38. Henry did SM 31, 35, 36, and 38. I figure we'll work a little faster and start the next level in the spring or late winter. Ian did SM Kinder 7-9. He is so cute when we do math, and he really loves it. He really has changed so much from the problems we were having this summer, and I'm sure it's largely because I am doing one-on-one schoolwork with him now.

Russian continues. They are in lesson 2 now, learning to say things like, "the men eat the sandwiches" and "the girls swim," and "the woman eats rice and an apple." They are loving it. I finally remembered to pull out the accompanying CD for the car and we listen to it and practice our pronunciation and vocabulary when we have short errands to run. Longer rides require our book on CD,
The Little Princess.

Thank goodness we are listening to that because I only read one chapter last week from our read-aloud chapter book. We've been reading lots of library picture books this week. The one that gets chosen over and over is Me and My Cat? If I've read it once, I've read it forty times already. But it is entertaining and I love the illustrations.

I decided to tackle a writing assignment this week, since all we've been doing so far is journal writing. The boys each wrote a letter to Grammy and Papa, thanking them for the fun weekend they had together while Jared & I were away. We started with a web and planned out the letter ahead of time. They spent a couple of days writing it. I didn't think to take the picture until they had already folded them up 100 times and put them in the envelope, so they may be tricky to read. I felt good about what they accomplished, their grandparents were thrilled, and Kimball even checked off a Faith in God requirement.

We did three grammar lessons this week, which is actually what I plan but rarely accomplish. The lessons are short but always get put off if we are running behind. We continue to focus on common vs. proper nouns.

For letter of the week, we focused on letter C. We've started talking about our letter of the week at the morning meeting to get everyone involved. Then, Ian and I work in his letter of the week journal together each morning, reviewing previous weeks' entries. This week we spent the first two days just on the "k" sound, then I introduced situations in which c makes the "s" and "ch" sounds. We colored pictures of cows, camels, crocodiles, and chickens.
We looked for Cs in every book we read. We made carrot cupcakes and cinnamon rolls with cream cheese icing (notice the latter had all three kinds of c sounds.)
We took these treats to people, since I can't have them sitting around the house or I accidentally eat them. Plus, I am really trying to incorporate service into our week. So we shared with a friend whom I visit teach, a friend whose husband loves my carrot cake, a new couple in the ward, our piano teacher, and Aunt Alli and Isaac.
As far as history goes, I thought we'd spend another week on Egypt, since we still had work to do on the death mask and a chapter book to read on Egypt. But alas, we didn't get very far. I think I've realized that the novelty of these things has worn off a bit for all of us and it kept getting pushed to last and then until tomorrow. We'll eventually finish that death mask, but it's time to move on to a new civilization.

In Old Testament we read about King Saul. We talked about how the Lord warned the people against having a king and they asked for one anyway. We talked about why we should always listen to the Lord's counsel. We also talked about the principle learned through Saul, "to obey is better than to sacrifice."

For our Hymn of the Week, we learned, "A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief". Kimball also gave an excellent FHE lesson, planned entirely on his own, comparing three prophets: Lehi, Noah, and Abinadai, each of whom was called to warn the people of coming destruction if they would not repent.

We practiced tying shoes, a skill which has yet to be mastered by anyone under the age of 30 in our home. We played at the park. We attended speech, tae kwon do, soccer, piano lessons, and Cub Scouts. Kimball's Cub Scout den visited the fire station and he learned a lot about what fire fighters do, as well as how to fold a flag. We played with our cousins, Cooper and Catelyn. We went to a swim party, a birthday party, and a ward party (all on the same day.) So I think we got our social stuff in!
All in all, I am so grateful for this experience. I feel so blessed to be able to do this for my kids. I can feel it strengthening our family. I can feel it pushing me to improve. I can see it helping my kids individually. I can feel the Lord's hand in our lives. If only the ironing fairy would visit me this week!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Weekly Report #3

Another week has come and gone so quickly! We are really into the swing of things, now, and it feels good. In the interest of getting to bed at a decent hour (which is crucial to my success tomorrow,) and not wanting to waste the valuable time of my limited readership, I am going to be as brief as possible. Here's our week in a nutshell:

Kimball completed SM 15-21 this week (we skipped a few of them) and aced his assessments. Henry did SM 27-30 and love his doubles math facts. His response to a math facts worksheet is so different from his brother's--pure glee. Ian did SM 4-6 and learned to make a pictograph by graphing the people in our family.


We only got to one grammar lesson this week, even though I had three scheduled. We did FLL Lesson 5 on narration. I read the story of the Turtle and the Hare to the boys and then they narrated a summary to me. Kimball struggled with knowing which details to include and which to leave out, but that was to be expected on this first lesson. I wrote up what each boy said:

We're still doing it. Nothing big to report. Spelling drills/workbooks at least four days this week.

We lingered this week over the New Kingdom of Egypt. The boys were so fascinated that I didn't feel ready to move on. On Monday, we made a false beard like Hatshepsut's.

We spent the rest of the week working on Pharaoh's death mask. We haven't finished it yet--we did three layers of paper mache. The boys were so thrilled to be doing paper mache that I almost felt sorry for them. Their mother is just not the crafty type (or the messy type). I made a note to do more of these kinds of activities, since they seem to bring such joy.

We are also reading aloud His Majesty, Queen Hatshepsut, although not very quickly.

We finished Babe, the Gallant Pig last night for another read aloud. Everyone enjoyed it and we look forward to watching the movie together soon. We also finished our last Narnia book, The Last Battle, which we had been listening to in the van. The boys "didn't get" the ending, so we spent some time discussing it. I love C.S. Lewis and really enjoyed listening to these tales with my kids. I read The Chronicles of Narnia many times over in my childhood and still was captivated by them this time around.

Kimball has almost finished The Voyages of Dr. Dolittle. He spent more time this week reading the other library books we had around (see last week's post.)

Henry read aloud from our library books as well. I haven't taken a picture; the only one I can remember was Felix the Worrier by Rosemary Wells. But he read aloud to me every day and is obviously improving. I'm not sure how much he is actually reading when he has his independent reading time, but I'm not sweating it right now when reading aloud is his main task.

Ian and I read tons and tons of books, mostly from his bookcase, which is overflowing, and looked for the letter B. Which brings us to . . .

Letter of the Week:
We did the Letter B again this week because I didn't feel like we'd done enough last week. Ian doesn't know very many of his letters and so I'm trying to remember that the point is to help him learn them, not to race to the end. This week we listed tons of B words in his little journal dictionary. His "B" words there were bear, bean, baby, Bronwen, blueberry, baseball, balloon, and bus. We also made some "B" treats, including blueberry muffins,

bean burritos, butterscotch bonanza cookies (a recipe that my sister and I came up with on Monday when we really wanted to justify making cookies), and a friend dropped by some banana bread! We've started talking about the letter of the week at our Morning Meeting and everyone suggests words then, so it reinforces the learning. Bronwen mimicked us saying "Buh-buh-bear" or whatever b word were were saying all week long.

Kimball started lesson 2 this week, while Henry finished up lesson 1. Kimball is doing the complete curriculum, which includes reading, writing, spelling, grammar, speaking, listening, etc. Henry is doing an abbreviated course that focuses on speaking, grammar, and listening comprehension. Ian is participating every day but isn't moving as quickly as his brothers. I'm okay with that.

Besides Soccer and Tae Kwon Do, we added a bike ride this week. Henry started his speech class at the public school on Wednesday, so we decided to walk (me with the double stroller) and ride bikes (the big boys) the 3 mile round trip journey. They had a great time and I wished I had a bike (and a trailer). Maybe it's time to check craigslist. While Henry was in speech, we played at the park adjacent to the school. It felt like a nice break mid-week, even if it meant we were doing seat work later in the day than usual.

Hymn of the Week:
As I Search the Holy Scriptures, Hymn 277

Field Trip:
As Jared and I were having a get-away (local) weekend, Grammy and Papa took the kids to the circus on Friday. They had a fabulous time and came back with tales of acrobats, bubble-blowing clowns, motorcyclists who did amazing feats, and more. I was thrilled that they got the experience (the second year that their grandparents have taken them) and even more thrilled to get a break with my sweetie. We took our own field trip to Lake Natomas and kayaked until my arms wouldn't move anymore. Then I loaded up on ibuprofen for the rest of the weekend!:)

Monday, September 8, 2008

Weekly Report #2

This week went by quickly and felt more relaxed than our first week. I'm hoping that it wasn't because of Labor Day, although we did spend a couple of hours on Labor Day doing schoolwork before going to swim with cousins and bbq with Grammy & Papa. I'm hoping that wasn't the difference because this week felt more like something we can keep up all year, whereas the week before . . . well, I just had to keep telling myself that it was the first week.

We introduced a new subject of study this week: Russian.
We are using Rosetta Stone Homeschool (see the sidebar) Level 1. It allowed me to set up as many users as I needed to, so each boy can move at his own pace. I set myself up as well just to be able to know what they are learning, since Kimball is doing his independently and Henry semi-independently. Ian also loves learning this way, but needs me sitting with him and has a much shorter attention span. We learned this week how to say "man", "woman", "girl", "boy", as well as a few verbs in third person singular and plural (Russian is pretty complex and I was happy to see that they weren't trying to teach all the declensions at once.) The boys are very enthusiastic about it and love using their new words.

Kimball completed SM Lessons 6, 10, and 12. He beat the clock on one of his math drills, completing the entire page in 37 seconds! This was a first for him; speed is a struggle when you are easily distracted in math.

Henry finished SM lessons 24-26 and loves doing the math facts drills although we haven't started timing him yet. In fact at one point on Friday afternoon, motivated to earn one last point towards a reward, he went digging in his cubby and a few minutes later presented a completed math facts drill page that he'd found in his workbook--about 100 pages farther than we've worked.

Ian and I did SM lessons 1-3, which is mostly just getting used to manipulatives (which he already loves) and learning about how the calendar works. He loves the attention he gets during math.

We did FLL #3 & 4 this week and reviewed The Caterpillar, which everyone has memorized now. The theme of the lessons continues to be common and proper nouns.

Henry continues to do two to three pages a day in his spelling workbook, but I wonder if it is too easy. It is reviewing word families, but so far very very basic word families. I know that is important that he master these but it doesn't seem to be very challenging. Suggestions?

Kimball continues to use his PC software for spelling and is enjoying the challenge. He was excited to spell "experiment" right on the first try. Again, it bugs me that they don't get to see the words before they spell them, but I suppose there's no penalty for spelling a word wrong so it might not be that big of a deal.

This week we went back to SOTW Chapter 13 on the New Kingdom of Egypt. I had planned on doing it with them during the last couple of weeks of summer, but as the first official school day loomed closer I was too focused on preparing to do much history. However, since I had already planned to do some of the Phoenician activities on the first week of school, I just decided to go back and do this chapter on the second week. We studied a lot about ancient Egypt over the summer together, through the Hyksos. This week we learned about Ahmose, who drove out the Hyksos, and some of the Pharoahs of the 18th dynasty, including Tutmose, Hatshepsut, Amenhotep (Akhenaten), and Tutenkhamen/Tutankhaten. The boys were really fascinated by these pharoahs and remembered the book that we had read this summer (aloud), Casting the Gods Adrift, which told of a boy growing up under King Akhenaten when he tried to make the Egyptians become monotheists and worship only the sun god, Aten.

We colored the death mask of King Tut, something that the boys spent days getting just right. I love that they are more interested this year in making their coloring pages look nice. Ian wanted me to color his while he dictated which colors when where--something that I found to be rather obnxious, but I did it because I thought he might just want the attention.

We also started an additional read aloud, "His Majesty, Queen Hatshepsut." Kimball and I are taking turns reading it aloud to our group.

We liked this unit so much that we are going to continue studying this chapter next week and do a couple more of the activities suggested in our book.

Besides HMQH, we have been reading aloud Babe, the Gallant Pig, and very much enjoying it. I love the lesson that treating others well can have better results than treating them poorly (something I sometimes need to remember as a mother.) We've also talked about the theme of taking the time to get to know people who are different from you. Fly (the sheepdog's) prejudice against sheep has been passed down from all the other dogs to her, but Pig has no preconceived notions and discovers that the sheep are very nice and easy to work with. We have a few chapters to go on this one and then we'll start something new.

We've also been listening to The Last Battle in the van. We've been listening to the Chronicles of Narnia on CD for many months now and I love the discussions that come from them. The first thing Kimball did when we pulled him out of public school last November was read the Chronicles of Narnia, and listening to these together as a family has helped him to digest what he read. Henry often pops up from the backseat with some profound insight about C.S. Lewis' themes and characters. This will probably finish up tomorrow or Tuesday.

Kimball has enjoyed reading The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle this week, as well as a variety of library books on various animals, on ancient Egypt, and on Persian fairy tales. He has also set a goal to read one chapter from the Bible and one chapter from the Book of Mormon each morning, which he has done now for two weeks.

Henry read several books aloud to me this week, including Julius, Mouse Soup, and Little Bear's Friend. He is gaining confidence each week in his reading abilities. His goal for scripture study is to read 2-3 verses out loud from the Book of Mormon each morning in addition to the reading that he does during our family scripture study.

Here are a few of the library books that I read aloud to the younger kids this week.

Letter of the Week
I'm afraid that we did very few letter B activities this week and we will revisit B next week. This was one of the things that fell by the wayside in my efforts to not stress out about staying on schedule too much. We'll find our balance. At least Ian learned some new Russian words!

Old Testament
We learned about Samuel, who was called to be a prophet as a boy. We talked about how you don't have to be old to hear the voice of God via the Holy Ghost and remembered times when each of us had felt the Holy Ghost. Another day we talked about how the Lord asked Samuel (and all of us) to do hard things, but with His help, we can do hard things. I felt that this was important to address, since they have been feeling overwhelmed when something is challenging.

Jared took the boys to the park on Friday and taught them all about plants and the different parts of the plants. Kimball and Henry each labeled their plants, (see below) before going to play at the park. Jared decided that next time he'll take them somewhere outside the line of sight of the play equipment, which was very distracting!

Soccer and Tae Kwon Do
Both Kimball and Henry had their first soccer games this week in triple digit heat. They both played well, got some good kicks in, and felt good about what they had accomplished. They had one TKD lesson as well.

Great lesson, learned new songs, practiced all week. Can you tell that I'm ready to go to bed?:)

Hymn of the Week
O, My Father, Hymn 292

I have got to figure out a way to report without it taking me so long! See you next week!