Saturday, March 21, 2009

Getty Villa

This was the BEST place to take the kids after studying ancient Greece, the Etruscans, and Rome (although our Roman studies aren't complete yet.) The Villa is based on an actual Roman Villa, which was buried by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius and later excavated. The architecture is stunning and we kept looking up to see intricate ceilings, gorgeous columns, and frescoes everywhere.
The Getty Villa has a large collection of antiquities from ancient Greece, Etruria, and Rome. There were lots and lots of vases with paintings depicting the gods and goddesses, the tales of the Odyssey, and other familiar myths. There were statues, mosaics, frescoes, and even a couple of intricately carved marble sarcophaguses. Kimball and Henry lingered at each artifact, anxious to read about it, study it, and recount how it related to what they already knew. I couldn't have been more thrilled with their reaction to the galleries.

Bronwen and Ian were less impressed. Thankfully, my mom was with us, and she took them exploring the gardens. We all spent quite a while in the "Family Forum", where there were hands-on activities including drawing on dozens of vases with dry-erase markers, posing in front of a screen to make our shadows resemble the art on the vases, and coloring our own.

We spent much longer there than we'd planned and had to travel home in LA's rush hour traffic, but it was well worth it. I highly reccommend this museum to any family studying ancient cultures.

Open House

So it has been nearly 2 months since my last Open House report. Can you tell that writing these reports is something that I procrastinate? The problem is that when I wait so long, there is too much to tell (and too much to forget) in one post. But I'll do my best.

I decided that what we were doing with grammar was inadequate and rarely happening, plus I wanted a more structured spelling curriculum. I finally went in to a local homeschool store and was thrilled with all the resources I found there. So, in February Kimball started Spelling Workout E, Henry started Explode the Code 2 (which seems to be a little low for him, but I like that it is teaching phonics and he's moving through it quickly,) and Ian started Get Ready for the Code. We are trying to spend 10 or 15 minutes a day in these books and the boys seem to enjoy it and are moving along.

Reading is going well. Henry is much more comfortable in independent reading these days and chooses more challenging (and more interesting) books to read. He reads aloud to me most days, reads aloud to Bronwen and Ian, and reads aloud to himself. He has always loved books, but it makes me happy to see him feeling confident enough about his reading to curl up with a book and actually READ rather than just look at the pictures. Kimball has been enjoying several books lately, including Where the Red Fern Grows, Peter Pan, Famous Men of Ancient Rome, Gladiator, Julius Caesar--Great Dictator of Rome, See You Later, Gladiator, Roman Roads and Aquaducts, and Viking it and Liking It. As you can see, he really loves learning about ancient Rome. Ian and I are getting burned out on Letter of the Week--we are stuck on P and I just need to find the motivation for us to go on and finish the alphabet.

We have also listened to several books on CD lately: Little House on the Prairie, On the Banks of Plum Creek, A Wrinkle in Time, The Mouse and the Motorcycle, Spiderwick Chronicles . . . that's all I can remember, although I'm sure that there have been more.

In history, we've been all about the Romans. The boys are fascinated by the people, especially Caesar and Hannibal. We've written narratives about Caesar being kidnapped by pirates, attempted to build a Roman aquaduct (which was a fabulous failure), done bean mosaics, measured ourselves to see if our Celtic blood has made us big like the Celts, and taken one of our favorite field trips of the year. I must dedicate an entire post to our visit to the Getty Villa in Malibu-- we went a couple of weeks ago while visiting my mom and the boys were captivated by all of the art, mosaics, architecture, and artifacts. Here are some photos of our work and activities in the area of history:

In math we have been plugging away. I got a book for Kimball to help him with his multiplication tables because he just hasn't wanted to commit them to memory. It seems to be helping, as he is much more drawn to books and the written word than to numbers, and this books incorporates both. It's also available on DVD or CD-ROM, but I always choose books over screen-time for my kids. If you are interested, go here. Henry only has about 25 lessons to go before he starts Saxon 2, which is exciting. Ian and I haven't done math in weeks. I have got to start making his learning more of a priority. I know that he is still preschool aged, but he is capable of learning more than I am teaching him right now.

In science, we have been doing studies on birds and birdwatching. We also planted a spring garden in January and have enjoyed eating lettuce and spinach from the garden for the past month. The peas don't seem to be doing anything, but the beans are up and growing and the onions seem to be thriving. The strawberries are blossoming, which has us very excited. We've had a lot of rain with warmish temperatures in the past couple of months, which has helped a lot. We hope to get our tomatoes, herbs, peppers, zucchini, squash, cucumbers, and melons planted in the next two weeks. We are really expanding from last year's garden, since we enjoyed it so much.

We also have acquired a pet, a bearded dragon, named Drazil. So we have spent a lot of time online learning about beardies, their diets, needs, temperaments. I really don't mind having a reptile in the house as much as I thought I would--the worst part is keeping live crickets to feed the little guy. I DO NOT LIKE BUGS.

In terms of life skills, the boys have become quite proficient and clearing the table and loading the dishwasher, which I love. Kimball is riding his bike to and from Cub Scouts each week without me (it's 2 blocks away), which makes him feel very responsible. They are also learning how to do some simple things like make peanut butter sandwiches, warm up frozen burritos, pop microwave popcorn . . . things that will be a blessing to me when the new baby comes. Henry loves the responsibility of watering the garden and taking out the compost bowl each morning.

In piano both Kimball and Henry are preparing for a spring recital. I see a lot of improvement in their playing and they never complain about practicing. I am proud of what they are accomplishing.

In Russian, we have been working on the numbers to 20, saying how old we are, and the confusing personal pronouns. Russian is pretty complicated gramatically (although those of you who have already studied Latin would have a leg up--I know that my background in Latin helped Russian grammar click for me.) I want to look into a Russian speaking playgroup or having a native come to our home on a regular basis to get us all conversing more. It would help me, too!

Kimball also earned his Wolf badge last month as well as 3 arrow points. He is excited to get started on his Bear requirements. He and his dad made a teepee cake for the America theme at the Blue and Gold Banquet last month, and Kimball was very particular about painting on the sides some actual Native American word-pictures.

For Valentine's Day, we were invited to a party, which the kids were sooooo excited about. There were crafts, cookies, and other kids--all the perfect ingredients. I was thrilled that someone else was hosting!

We also made cookies to take to friends, but we had to bake them at my sister's house because my oven died; on the way home, they all slid right off their cookie sheet and into the carpet of the van. Yuck! Some of them were salvaged enough for us to eat, but not to share.

For St. Patrick's Day, they made a leprachaun trap and were thrilled to find that a leprachaun had come while we were out. He managed to get out of the trap, but left behind lots of gold chocolate nuggets, which was better than nothing. We also wrote essays on how we would use three wishes if we caught a leprachaun, and I made Irish Soda bread, spinach smoothies, and green shamrock spritz cookies.

We have memorized James 1:5-6 and have been reading sections from The Family: A Proclamation to the World each morning at our morning meeting. We also continue to read from the Book of Mormon each day before Daddy leaves for work and study one Old Testament story per week. I love being able to speak so freely about the gospel in all areas of our learning--it feels natural to discuss and enriches our studies greatly.

Although some days are quite challenging and I have to strive with all my might to stay on track, I am finding this experience to be rewarding for me and my family. I pray that the Lord will continue to guide me and help me to give them the education that they need and deserve.