Thursday, March 17, 2011

Homeschool Highlights, Week 21

As you know, we spent half of last week in Pennsylvania, arriving back home Saturday night. With unpacking, stocking up on groceries, and (most stressful of all) planning meals in the absence of my personal chef who was on a long business trip overseas, I did not get as organized for this week as I like to be. But we did pull it together and get some things accomplished.

The 3Rs

Readin' - I focused a lot this week on working with Audrey on her reading. We've been working through a set of 10 phonics books written by a local CT teacher and published here by innovativeKids.


They not only entertain Audrey, but they are also very effective because they build on each other so well. I like the BOB Books, but they are a little bit harder and introduce words seemingly out of the blue, whereas these take it a bit slower. For example, in The Wet Pup, the book we are reading right now, each page builds on the preceding one:

The pup.

The wet pup.

The wet pup dug.

The wet pup dug up a net.

The set of 10 books comes with 4 reward stickers for each book, and Audrey looks forward to reading each book 4 times so she can place one of the stickers in the back of the book each time.

Before we read each day, we do a little bit of letter play. I use LeapFrog magnetic letters, and we preview any words that will be in the book.

We also go over any special sounds that might be in the book (ie: /ck/ or /ink/). I often use the visual aids Abeka puts out to review these.

'Ritin' - I am already planning for next year as many homeschoolers are, and I've decided my biggest goal for next year is going to be writing. I have held back a lot with the boys because they simply have not been ready, but the rest of this year and next year I'm really going to focus on it. This week, I had the boys write a little narrative about their trip to PA. Jacob's was by far the funniest:


Once we went to Pennsylvania. We went to Choceleate World. I do not think I spelled choceleate right. We went on a tour ride, and it had creepy cows. Before we left, we went to a farm, but it kinda smelled like POOP! We went on a buggy ride on a horse. Not on a horse, in a cart that a horse pulled. And I saw POOP! that the horse left behind. Then we went to this really weird restaurant, and I got root beer to drink and chicken tenders but not real tenders. (He is, of course, referring to the tenders Kung Fu Panda got kicked in.) I had to go to the bathroom twice! And then we left to go home.

I wrote about our trip to PA.

The End

For everyone's benefit, I have added and corrected the punctuation. Like I said, clearly we need to focus on writing for these boys! I am hoping The Writing Menu will help. Michelle at Eagle Eye Academy recommended this, and I just received my copy and hope to implement it soon.

As for Alex, she finished up the writing curriculum she was working on, and I got One Year Adventure Novel for her.

This is a high school curriculum, but she insisted that she could do it, and I believe she can. She is a really strong writer, and her creative writing is amazing. So we're 3 lessons in. Had a little struggle with it today because the workbook asked her for some details about the novel she will write during the course. I think her method of writing is just to let the story play out as it goes; I don't think she plans in her head much. So she had a hard time sitting down to mull over a plan, but I think she'll get it.

'Rithmetic - Alex and Jacob finished/are about to finish their math, so I am having them return to the Teaching Textbooks courses (Level 4 & 6) they found too difficult at the beginning of the year. Funny how they're able to do it now!

Useful Resources

I tell you, ever since my GA Co-Op with my friend Tisha got messed up by our move, History just hasn't been quite right. Though I continue to flounder a bit in this subject, I am continuing to read books to the kids about a list of topics I wanted to cover for US History. I also made up 2 charts called "Important Historical Figures" and "Important Conflicts". Today we studied Thomas Jefferson, so we noted on our charts important dates and accomplishments as well as character traits that describe him.

One thing I have kept my eye open for is an interesting video series to accompany our studies. We have watched some episodes of Liberty Kids which is available for instant download through Netflix, and those sort of hold their interest. The last non-animated DVD I made us watch was so incredibly boring I couldn't even stand it! Just this week, I received the American History Drive-Thru History series. So far, it's pretty good. The guy who does it is funny in a silly, sarcastic way that entertains the kids, and I love the cinematography. Hopefully, this one'll be a keeper. I try to allay my irritation with the kids' apathy towards history by reminding myself that, really, until I began homeschooling, I had no fascination for the subject either. Moreover, I honestly don't think I remember a thing I learned in 3rd, 4th, or 5th grade social studies, and I grew up to be a high-functioning, successful human being, so we're all going to be just fine. Right?

Books We're Reading

We have just started reading Johnny Tremain, which takes place in Boston right at the beginning of the Revolution. This was my favorite of all of the books I read when I was preparing for this year, so I hope the kids find it as enthralling.


We didn't get a whole lot of socialization this week--Alex was sick, so we missed both her drama class and church--but I think last week's trip to PA with our friends made up for that. And, hey, we're off to the park tomorrow with some friends because...are you ready for this? It's going to be 64 degrees here in the Arctic!!

Other Noteworthy Tidbits

I think it was Tisha who gave me this idea, and I think it was Pioneer Woman she directed me to for the's been in the back of my mind, and I finally implemented it. I bought a laminated world map at Staples and a variety of colored map pins. I found the huge bulletin board that came with my new whiteboard was more than adequate to fit the map. We then created a code for it:

black - places we go

blue - places Dad goes

yellow - where we have family

red - missionaries

green - friends

our traveling map

The kids enjoyed mapping everything and were excited to affix a pin to PA for our trip last week. We know missionaries all over the world, but rather than cover the map with red pins, I want us to really focus on these missionaries...learning about where they are serving, what they do, who they are - all details I want us to collect so we can pray specfically as a family for these missionaries. Right now we have a pin in Cameroon for Shawn, a missionary the kids met at church; and we have a prayer card and pin placed for the Sanfords serving in France, another family we met during Missions Week at church.


Dina @ 4 Lettre Words said...

You are such an inspiration, my friend. What a blessing!

Sure hope y'all have a beautiful weekend.

Queen Wifey said...

I'm in awe of those who homeschool. That essay was just perfect and too funny! I remember reading Johnny Tremain in the sixth grade - it was a great book.
Have a great weekend. ~Dee

Mama Zen said...

I love the Pennsylvania narrative! So cute!

Amy @ Cheeky Cocoa Beans said...

I love reading your Homeschool Highlights. :) I have to admit that I have homeschool envy...The One Year Adventure Novel AND Drive Thru History? :) I think my oldest could do well with TOYAN but the problem with him is motivation. He's barely motivated to get dressed each day.

It's been a hard week.

But it'll get better! Right?

I loved your son's Pennsylvania essay. :) He did a great job!

Stef said...

great wrap up! my 8yr old hates writing - but once I let him start writing star wars stories - things got a bit better!! Hoping its not too difficult next year.

Jenn said...

Great update on what you are all learning! We read Johnny Tremain and LOVED it! It is a great book!

Chef Penny said...

Sounds like a great week after all. I especially liked the wall map idea!