Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Open House

I haven't posted a weekly report in ages and have been overwhelmed with the thought of catching up. So this post isn't meant to cover EVERYTHING that we've learned since Week 11 (we are currently in week 19, but merely to give a sampling of some of what we've accomplished and discovered in the past couple of months.

In math, Kimball is still working on his multiplication tables. We've learned about perfect squares and square roots. He's currently working on a line graph comparing the daily low temperatures in Albany, NY and Sacramento, CA. Henry has been working on comparing numbers on graphs, figuring out how many more and how many less, and has mastered his doubles plus one facts. Both boys are on track to finish Saxon Math in about 12 weeks. We'll have a little celebration and start the next level. I'm hoping to do some math through the summer so they don't lose their skills, but with a new baby coming in July, we'll see how that turns out.

Ian and I have been doing math regularly, but taking it a bit more slowly. He and I have really been focusing in the past two weeks on numerical order and on recognizing the numbers between 6 and 10. We have also been counting backwards from 10 to blast off, which he enjoys. We spent a week doing the same lesson each day, just so that I was sure he was solid on the principles. I'm just trying to establish fundamentals with him at this point--if he were going to public school, he'd still have almost 2 years until I sent him (as he has a late fall birthday). That is one of the perks that I see with homeschooling him--I can help him learn in the areas where he's ready without holding him back until he's mature enough for public school kindergarten.

In history, we finished up the ancient Greeks before Christmas, as well as learning about Alexander the Great and his empire. We spent the first couple of weeks after the New Year learning about the Etruscans. I was a docent at the BYU MOA the first year it was opened, when it featured an exhibit from the Vatican about the Etruscans. I will admit that my memories are more broad than specific about the people, but my mom had acquired a teacher curriculum that the museum published then, which we had lots of fun with. We made dioramas of an Etruscan home, studied the Etruscan alphabet (Kimball loves and alphabet), and pored over Etruscan art. Last week we made an Etruscan-style family portrait. (Henry's has a knight and princess theme, not quite true to the period, but I allowed the artistic license.)

This week, we move on to the Romans, whom we will study for several weeks. We hope to take a trip to the Getty Villa this spring to see some of the antiquities there.

In Russian, everyone has been making progress. The boys have learned numbers to ten, colors, and the names of family members (father, mother, baby, grandma, etc.) Their sentences are getting more complex, and I am impressed at how intuitively the kids seem to know what they mean. I am really pleased with the Rosetta Stone program. Kimball got a pocket Russian-English dictionary for Christmas, and Henry got this book, which Jared & I had so much fun looking through before we wrapped it up. (If Usborne offers this book in the language that you are studying, I highly recommend it. Check out Sonja's bookstore to find out.) We also had an unexpected Russian visitor this month. Jared & I recently got on facebook and have discovered many of our Russian friends there. One of them contacted us to say that her 21 year old son was visiting San Francisco and wondered if he could come for a visit. So he caught the train to see us and came for dinner and the evening, then took the train back the next day. So the boys got to try out their language skills on a native!

We've been trying to work in more memorization and have learned some poems and scriptures. We are currently working on Alma 37:35 "Oh, remember my son, and learn wisdom in thy youth. Yeah, learn in thy youth to keep the commandments of God." We have also tried copywork again--still not the boys' favorite, but I'm aiming for once a week right now, copying the scripture or poem we are working on.

In December, Henry was lamenting that they had done more fun holiday activities in public school last year, so we decided to up it a bit. The boys created their own Christmas ornaments for a small tree in their bedroom, we decorated gingerbread houses (thanks, Grammy & Papa!),

and hosted a cousins' Christmas party where we did an art project and decorated cookies.

We also learned Silent Night in Russian. We also learned about Hannukah and spent one evening eating traditional Hannukah foods, playing with a dreidle, and (not) lighting the menorah--as I forgot to get candles to fit in the one I bought in Jerusalem.

In reading, Henry has been reading the Flat Stanley books. Kimball has read a slew of books, including all of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books in a matter of hours, which a friend loaned him. Those books have spawned a whole series of knock-offs by Kimball and Henry, as well as lots of conversations about why it's not nice or funny to put people down. Why is it that so many books written for young boys involve put-downs? Every time I buckle and let them read a book that is popular in their age group, I regret it. Kimball is reading and loving The Black Stallion at the moment, which is a much better choice in my mind. They've also read a lot of books about Greece, wildfires, polar animals (again), and all the Christmas books I keep under the tree in December. I have accumulated around 40 0r 50 Christmas children's books that only come out after Thanksgiving. I love watching them lay on their bellies around the tree, rediscovering old favorites.

I also tried to focus on service more in December. We chose a needy family and shopped for Christmas gifts and a tree for them, then delivered it as a family. We made cinnamon rolls for all of our neighbors and some other families.

I was touched to see them empty their spending money banks to buy Christmas gifts for each other, and each one spent a lot of time and thought choosing what they would give each other.

Jared just finished reading The Princess Bride to them at bedtime, and we have been listening to Little House on the Prarie in the car. I am also trying to make sure that the little ones hear me read aloud books a few times a day. Trips to the library keep me from getting tired of reading the same things over and over.

The kids have been helping me in the kitchen more, have acquired a new nightly chore of clearing the table and loading the dishwasher, and we all worked to prepare our garden bed for planting a couple of weeks ago. If the rain will let up for long enough, we are anxious to plant lettuce, spinach, cauliflower, broccoli, and peas.

Science really hasn't been happening regularly, but they have had a couple of lessons using Kimball's new microscope. We are planning on participating in The Great Backyard Bird Count next month.

There is more, but I'm out of time now, and this at least gives some record of what we've accomplished. I'll try to post more often, but I'm not making any promises.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

What They Did Today Instead of Math

I really intended to have our individual math lessons today. Really, I did. But we decided to do history first this morning and had so much fun with it. Then, after Henry went to speech, we went to the park because you never know how long this 65 degree weather will last. When we got home, I put Bronwen down for a nap and sat down to check my email, telling the kids that we'd start math in 10 minutes. But they have been so busy being creative and brilliant that I haven't wanted to interfere. So, instead, I have spent the past hour and a half online (gulp--where does the time go?) and they have built a "habitat" for Henry's plastic lizard

and then discovered some dinosaur bones in the backyard.

Warning: you may need a dramamine before you watch this. We haven't studied cinematography quite yet, and this was filmed by our students.

I guess it's not too late for math to happen. We are heading out for a walk next because we all need some exercise and did I mention how gorgeous the weather is? But I'll commit now that they will at least do some math worksheets before the day is over. In the meantime, I am remembering how much learning takes place away from the dining room table.

Still Homeschooling

I haven't posted in forever and this is not going to be an update either, except to let you know that we are still having school 5 days a week. I promise that my children are not as neglected as this blog is. I plan to do a little bloggy Open House soon that updates what we've been learning, but I just don't want to take the time right now (or in the past six weeks, apparently!) I know that I need to do report and feel some accountability, but I am telling myself that the actual learning is more important than reporting it.

This sounds so lame that it makes me sigh and think that I really need to get a report written soon. Leave me a comment if you still care!:)