General Thoughts on This School Year

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As I sit here on our second full day of school (technically, Wally started last week with a few subjects just to get back into the swing of things), I’m realizing how challenging this year is going to be.

Wally’s in 6th grade, and doing far more work independently, but he still needs supervision and help and there are still some subjects we do together. 6th grade is more challenging academically than 5th, and he’s covering more subjects.

Genna in first grade needs hands-on help for everything. She’s not a confident enough reader yet to even be left alone with simple written instructions. So her entire school time requires my attention.

And Teddy. Obviously anything I do with him needs to be completely him-focused, but he’s an ongoing challenge during school time. He’s loud and he plays loud and he’s crazy, and he’s like a cat. You know how cat people are always sharing pictures of their cat laying on the keyboard, or laying on the book they’re trying to read? Teddy has to drive his cars on whatever you’re doing. If you’re on the computer, he wants to drive his cars on your keyboard. Working from a binder? That makes a great road or surface to smash playdough. He is highly offended if you suggest that the little table is the PERFECT place to play with his toys. He wants to be with us. But not even at his designated spot at the table – he must be sitting on or with someone, in their space. Oy.

2015/2016 school year plans

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Alright, here are our plans for this year.

Wally, 6th grade

Math: Since Singapore Math changes at the 6th grade level, and we weren’t huge fans of the way it changes, we switched to Math Mammoth this year. Hopefully that works out.

Logic: We’re keeping up with materials from Critical Thinking Company.

History: We’re finishing up the last half of Story of the World book 4, using new methodology. He’ll read the selection, write down key facts he learned, fill out a timeline, locate the areas on a map, and we’ll find original sources or supplementary materials, read them, and work on outlining and summarizing.

Geography: In addition to the geography that goes with History, we have a geography workbook we’re slowly working through.

Spelling and Vocabulary: I decided not to do anything formal with this, but our selections for Reading will serve as a basis for working on spelling and vocab. If it seems apparent that we need formal spelling, we can always add it.

Grammar: We’re continuing with Analytical Grammar this year.

Reading: We’re starting with Treasure Island, and then moving on to the Chronicles of Narnia series. He also has 40 minutes of required fun reading daily – he’s currently reading Key to the Kingdom series about mysteries at Disneyworld. :)

Writing: We’re doing IEW’s Narnia set this year, at least to start.

Memory: Keeping on keeping on.

Science: Apologia’s General Science. This is technically a 7th grade text, so we’ll see how it goes. He’s also doing a Minecraft component through Skrafty.

Bible: We’re continuing with God’s Great Covenant.

Ethics: The kids will be working together on Ethics things. We’re starting off with 101 Questions Kids Ask About Right and Wrong.

Latin: Continuing with Latina Christiana.

Art and Music: The kids are doing these together. We are using Confessions of a Homeschooler’s art and music curricula.

Wally will have homework most weekends. We’ve also bought him a student planner fr the school year. He needs more practice writing down the things he’s supposed to do and remembering to check the list instead of just relying on his memory. Because his memory sucks.

Genna, 1st grade

Spelling/Language: We’re using a random Grade 1 workbook I found on my shelf.

Grammar: First Language Lessons, level 1, but we’re not starting with that.

Reading: We’re doing some reading comprehension from another random workbook. We’re also doing a lot of reading – her reading to me, me reading to her – and narration.

Memory: She will work on more poems and Bible verses this year.

Writing: We’re mostly doing copywork to practice writing, and narration to practice putting words together.

Math: Singapore Math 1

History and Geography: Our America by A Beka

Science: We’re following the suggestions in The Well Trained Mind – starting with Mammals, we’ll read a page from a general animal encyclopedia, narrate, watch some videos, read books from the library, etc.

Bible: Leading Little Ones to God.

Art and Music: see above

Ethics: see above

Logic/Thinking: We’re using materials from Critical Thinking Co, Developing Critical Thinking through Science, and First Grade Thinking Skills and Key Concepts.

Teddy – Preschool

We’re attempting to do some OT/PT type things at home, and also working through Slow and Steady Get Me Ready, we’re in the age 2 activities. He’s generally not interested, but he has a hard time with copying what someone else is doing, and that’s a skill he needs to work on.

WWI Unit

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Day 1: We watched the WWI video at BrainPop and also a few introductory videos (“One word” and “The One Thing”).

Day 2: We watched the Kahn Academy Video series “The Beginning of World War 1” https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/history/euro-hist/world-war-I-tutorial/v/empires-before-world-war-i

Day 3: We read through a Powerpoint by schoolhistory.co.uk on the causes of WWI, and also skimmed through a few of our library books. We read together the first part of “If WWI were a bar fight.” We looked at maps and discussed several times the timeline of events leading to the start of WWI. We discussed how futile it was, and ways that war could have been prevented several times along the way. We made a worksheet of the major causes of WWI (militarism, nationalism, alliances, imperialism) and the countries most involved in those causes. He labeled the major players on a map and color-coded them by alliance. We discussed, based on DIY Homeschooler’s page, the motivations and backgrounds of each of the major countries involved. (http://diyhomeschooler.com/how-wwi-began-a-mini-unit/)

Day 4: We finished up discussion of the stalemate by discussing the Schifflen Plan, why it failed, and how it might have been successful. He also read about the Lucitania, America’s response to the sinking of this ship, and then he did a History Scribe page on it. :)

Day 5: We read in our library books about trench warfare, looked at pictures, read first-person accounts we found online, and watched some videos we found via Google of trenches, attacks on trenches, etc.

Day 6: We reviewed trenches, Wally read PBS’s page about trench warfare, and he did a History Scribe page on Trench Warfare that included a drawing of a trench in great detail, as well as a discussion of how trench warfare contributed to the stalemate on the Western Front, and how the stalemate could have been avoided with the use of other military strategies.

Day 7 and 8: We discussed other technology used in WWI – tanks, gas, zepplins, machine guns, airplanes. Wally read an eyewitness account of an encounter with the Red Baron, we watched some videos on History.com, discussed the strategies deployed by either side and the benefits and drawbacks of each. Emphasized that military strategy wasn’t keeping up with technology, and how this mis-match contributed to the stalemate and needless deaths.

Day 9:Uboats. We basically did the same as we’ve done the other days, lol. Read in our books, read online, read some first person accounts, and did a History Scribe page. :)

Day 10 &11: We learned about the experience of being in a war for the soldiers of WWI. To this end, we read quite a bit in the various library books we have checked out, and looked at lots of pictures both in the books as well as online. We read lots of first-person accounts from soldiers (teacheroz’s website as well as eyewitnesstohistory.com). We found a few vintage movie clips online that showed soldiers engaging with the enemy. We also read about medical technology and discussed that a side effect of war is often not only an increase in technology for better killing people but also in technology for better saving lives. Blood transfusions and artificial limbs were beneficial effects of WWI, for example.

*I cannot believe I stopped keeping track of what we did.*

Other topics here included some detailed studies on the Treaty of Versailles, France before and after the war, etc. I suck.

Week 25

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Wally:

Nothing stands out about this week, in particular.

 

Genna:

Genna continues to work on letter recognition, reading, and writing. I think we’ll do another reading review next week. We both like our new schedule much better, where we’re doing fewer things per day and spending a longer amount of time on each. Genna loves math and asks for it daily. :)

Week 24, 2/1

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WordPress deleted my first draft of this post, so let’s try again.

Genna: Reading’s going well.

Writing’s going well. She’s forming the letters much more neatly.

Letter identification still isn’t great. We’re doing flashcards on the computer now, lol.

Math’s going great. She loves math.

Science/special topics: I’ve messed around with how I do this several times, but I think we’ve landed on a way that’s going to work better. We focus on either science or a special topic for 2 weeks at a time (1 science topic or 1 special topic during those 2 weeks). Reading books, doing activities, tying in art or a craft, etc. This week and next is Space.

Memory: She’s learning Gen 1:1

We’re doing other stuff too – reading from Christian Liberty Nature Reader, reading books from the library, reading books from Mighty Girl’s recommended books list, etc.

 

Wally

Did I mention we got Thinking Putty for Christmas? It’s helping him focus, reducing unwanted repetitive behaviors, and improving hand strength to boot. Love it.

Math: Going well. He finds % to be waaaay easier than decimals.

WWI: We’re focusing on WWI for a while for History. I’ll do a separate post on that.

Science: He’s working his way through Chem and Phys. He’s on Thermal Energy right now. He does science largely on his own with occasional help from me on experiments. He’s also doing a Skrafty Minecraft class that goes along with his lessons, but he’s about 5 weeks behind in that class, lol.

Writing: He just finished up this week writing three paragraphs (three separate paragraphs, not a three paragraph report) on a topic he chose and researched. He chose Lincoln. (Predictably, lol.) He did a good job, though this was DEFINITELY more challenging for him than the previous research paragraphs he wrote using materials provided by IEW.

Memory: He chose to memorize some of the major Egyptian Gods and Goddesses.

Reading: For fun reading, he’s working through the Rick Riordian series that starts with The Red Pyramid. For school, he’s reading both fiction books that have to do with WWI (there was a comic book, a book about a dog who worked with soldiers (Stubby the War Dog), and he’ll hit The War Horse next) as well as Holes. We’re doing a reading journal for Holes, which continues to be a challenge for him. I’m trying to purposefully give him work that requires expanding on a topic. He tends to answer questions very very briefly… a reading journal requires expounding on your thoughts.

Latin: We took the week off and focused on flashcards.

Art: Our current unit is Color. This is proving to be a challenge for him, as well. I’ve noticed over the years that he doesn’t use color. He NEVER liked coloring, and when he draws (all the time), it’s always in pencil and never colored. When he’s done drawings for, for example, Revolutionary War unit in history, I have to specifically instruct him that color was required, lol. He just doesn’t use color. Anyway… so this is proving to be challenging for him. He gets the concept behind warm colors and cool colors and he can pick them out… but actually using them. That’s hard.

 

Um… Week 23, 1/25

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Did I forget to come back to the blog after Christmas? I think I did.

So we’ve been doing school.

Mostly just plugging away.

All of a sudden, Genna WANTS to do school again and does NOT want to wait for it to be her turn (I like to get Wally past Math and into his more independent work before starting with Genna). She nags at me while I wash dishes that she’s ready. I’m ready, mom. I’m ready for school.

So. Genna.

Reading: We did another pretty thorough review of the sounds, but it didn’t net us as measurable of an improvement as the last time we did that. She’s keeping up with the lessons, but doesn’t seem to be as fluent as the book thinks she should be at this stage. But she hates reviewing and reading things she’s already read. And the book we’re using (Teach Your Child To Read In 100 Easy Lesson) uses a method that, while it works great for her, doesn’t lend itself easily to having your child read other books at quite this point in the process. :(

Math: Genna’s learned basic addition and subtraction. She’s doing great. She’s not quite at the point of doing just equations without pictures or objects, but she does great on understanding the concept. And she can do both addition and subtraction on her fingers, but that’s a little harder.

Writing: eh. It’s coming along.

Letter Identification: Not super great.

Science: We’ve done a few units that she enjoyed. Right now, we’re learning about rocks and land. We could probably spend a little more time on each unit, which I’ll take into account as I plan future weeks.

Social Studies: We finished up the My America portion of our book and are moving on to My World. Each week, we’ll learn about a different country. I’m not planning anything in-depth here.

Art: We’ve kind of let art slide a little. Whoops. She still does plenty of crafts and drawing, but as far as learning specific things… not so much.

Literature: We’re reading stories and talking about them, weekly at least. This week, we’re doing activities for the book Brown Bear Brown Bear What Do You See? She got to make her own version and LOVES it.

Memory: Genesis 1:1

Wally:

Math – he’s learning decimals and fractions and how they interact with each other.

Grammar – we have a review sheet every other week. This week’s sheet was GREAT!

Writing – he’s finished up the bulk of the IEW curriculum, and we’re moving into more review work, doing more writing projects on his own, etc. I’ve really liked this curriculum, but the real test will be how he does these next few weeks when he’s doing stuff that’s not so formally structured by them.

Science – plugging away!

Government – he started a Government class on Skrafty to learn about different forms of Goverment.

History – we read in SOTW up to the start of WWI. Now we’ve started on a WWI unit that I put together myself. It’s AWESOME.

Bible – still plugging away here, too.

Latin – same

Reading – we finished up Sign of the Beaver and his first attempt at a reading journal. Decided he needs more structure and guidance on expectations for a reading journal, as that attempt was consistently disappointing – he didn’t make any entries that weren’t specifically assigned (as in, he had an assignment to make notes on questions, observations, etc, while reading, but he didn’t, but he did do the assignments where I specifically told him what to write about. But even then he only wrote 2-3 sentences.).

We started on Holes. I actually bought him the book for his Kindle along with the audio Kindle version so he can read and also listen to it read. He has retention problems with just reading but does better listening while reading, so we’ll see how this goes. If this works well, I’ll probably start buying the audio version of Story of the World as well. Anyway, he also has guided journal entries for this one.

Art: We’ve moved into learning about color. Warm colors, cool colors, primary and secondary colors, and their uses. It’s kind of fun. I’d post a picture but I’m trying to hurry!!

Week 16, December 8

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Oy. Another hospital week. I attempted to have Wally go ahead and do most of his work in my absence, and sent along his call phone with him to his grandparents’ house so he could call with questions, but for a variety of reasons, it just didn’t happen how I envisioned it. When I leave him at a friend’s house for a day when we have clinic appointments, he does fine, so I’m not sure what exactly went wrong here, but… oh well.

5th grade:

Reading: We started a reading unit with Sign of the Beaver. He has journal writing to accompany the reading, and we do discussion about the reading, as well. We’re doing this as a read-along because he seems to retain better when listening than when reading. It’s a good story. :)

Writing: We’re just plugging along. Skipped some of the lessons that were rather repetitive.

Math: Area of various geometric shapes. The book has the student work out what the formula is, which is fun.

Science: I don’t even know. I think he’s finishing up a chapter on something or another.

History: Teddy Roosevelt and the Roughriders. :) He’s also reading Bully for You, Teddy Roosevelt for his History Reading.

Bible: This week was a section review.

Latin: Lesson 5 and a test, including Latin history, which he got 100% on. :)

Kindy:

It’s going well. This is the second week of our Winter unit. She’s done quite a few projects, none of which I photographed. :( It was a busy week with a sick kiddo. :(