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Ever since I began homeschooling, I have sustained a love/hate relationship with the month of December. I love Christmas, but because it's my favorite holiday, there are so many things I aspire to get done for the holiday: baking, shopping, decorating, crafting, relaxing, fellowshipping. But with all the curriculum and the attendance sheet squares staring me in the face, I typically allow homeschooling to turn this cherished season into frenzied chaos.
I'm not going to go through that stress this year. This year, I have given my calendar a major facelift. We are going full-fledged into this year-round schooling thing. Next week will be our last week of school until 2010 because we are taking from Thanksgiving week all the way through the New Year OFF! I'm so excited. Of course, this will mean we school in June and July, but the kids are often so bored during the summer anyway, it's not a big deal. In fact, Alex just shrugged when I told her it would mean school during the summer.
With only two weeks left before a long break, I have to make them count. This week has been a fruitful one. Here's a wrap-up:
Some time ago, I halted all book work and spent a week emerging the boys in Math Fact Boot Camp. Well, turns out Michael only committed the facts he learned that week to his short term memory. We have hit the proverbial brick wall with long division, and much of his problem is due to the fact that he cannot recall the facts we "learned" that week. (Incidentally, he can tell you all the names of and prices for every Lego set on the market.)
I have been frustrated to say the least. And I've been eyeing that big, yellow school bus with more and more wistfulness because how great would it be to ship him off for someone else to teach him his math facts? 'Course he'd probably just come home with a note from his teacher asking me to help him learn them.
Anyway, I was a little stumped about what to do. Knowing my little boy likes computer games, I had perused the internet for math games, but most of them were rather boring. Then, by chance, I happened to be discussing math and other homeschooling issues with my friend Mitzi at co-op
Not to be left out, the Princess has now decided she is interested in the computer as well. So I dug out the kids' old Jumpstart Kindergarten CD. Showing it's age, it makes the computer sound like it may blow up while it is running, but she is having a great time. She has never before shown interest in the computer, so Alex sat down with her to show her how to work the touch mouse. And within a few minutes, she was comparing shapes, discovering numbers, and digitally coloring pictures.
About the same time we had Math Fact Boot Camp, we had a sick week and thus a day when we did not make it to co-op. The boys are in a Backyard Science class there, and their teachers were kind enough to send home the materials they needed to do the project they missed.
In science, we are also finishing up our brief look at anatomy. Some time ago, I got a wonderful idea and link from Casey at Bumpin' Along. We printed out near life-sized skeletons which the kids labeled. Today we added some guts and labeled those as well. Next week we'll finish them up by adding the digestive system. It's been fun having our own skeletons.
In one of my efforts to cement those math facts into Michael's head, I bought a Multiplication Lapbook from Hands of a Child. I knew I might be met with some indignation from the other 3 when I pulled out lapbook materials for Michael alone to work on, but I had no idea the indignation would be a firestorm. They ALL had to do a lapbook NOW. While I'm not the parent who gives in to each child's whims whenever they surface, I also hate to turn my back on potential learning experiences, especially those met with such enthusiasm, so I visited Homeschool Share which offers many, many FREE lapbooks (but none on multiplication). I allowed the other two older ones to look through the exhaustive topic list and pick a lapbook. Both of them chose one on cats.
I printed out the materials, and they did the rest. Even Audrey got into independent lapbooking. I printed some things out for her for a Dr. Seuss Are You My Mother? lapbook. She cut everything herself. The affixing to the folder part of her project is still underway, but she pulls it out everyday to work on it.