Friday, March 30, 2007


Today is Friday so it's a softer day, academically.

Science: Dragon and Monkey both wrote reports about their science experiments. They are posted on their blog.
Spelling: Dragon and Monkey wrote out their spelling lists.
Math: 6 pages completed.
Dog Lover: Completed her Language Arts and Math. What happened to her Spelling? Hmmm.....
This afternoon, we are off to tae kwon do.
I also spent some time helping Monkey form good cursive a's.
Family reading time: We read some more from Wheel on the School.
Chores: Dog Lover cleaned the bathroom, I vacuumed. Dragon was supposed to, but I got soft because there was really a lot of dirt that had been tracked in. I wanted to be sure it all got up!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Mission accomplished

Math: Dragon took a placement test and passed it. Woohoo!
Monkey is coming along.
Dog Lover is coming along.
Tomorrow, six more pages.

Language Arts: Corrected worksheets.
Tomorrow, assign paper telling story about a picture due Monday. I'm tired of worksheets.

Reading: Select book. Read first of it to me.
Tomorrow, continue reading it. Ultimately write a book report in their blog for their own book.

Geography: Found about 10 different isthmuses, including the Isthmus of Panama (arguably the most famous), Isthmus of Suez, Aukland Isthmus, Isthmus of Avalon in Canada, Isthmus of Chignecto, Isthmus of Corinth in Greece, Isthmus of East Falklands, Rama's Bridge (a former isthmus), Isthmus of Tehuantepec.
Tomorrow, peninsula
Next week, review and test

Science: Build rockets. We built a paper rocket around a film canister, filled the canister 1/3 full with water, and dropped a tablet of Airborne into it. Then we shut the canister tightly and quickly, set it on the railing and waited. It shook then exploded. Dog Lover had the longest rocket, and it flew the furthest.
Tomorrow, write a report about it.

Spelling: Have a spelling bee for lesson 2. Monkey and Dog Lover participated.
Tomorrow, written spelling for lesson 2. Dragon will use each in a sentence since he would not participate in the bee.
Monday, Written test.

Family reading time: We are continuing to read Wheel on the School, by Mendert DeJong and illustrated by Maurice Sendak.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Today's happenings, tomorrow's plans

Today we got back into The History of the World and have begun learning about Ancient Africa. I just learned that my sister is going to be using that next year, starting with the Medieval History volume. I am most eager to be able to join her on that even though we are half a country apart.

My children thoroughly enjoyed the stories about Anansi the Spider. We read the one with Anansi and the Turtle where Anansi grudgingly offers dinner to his friend, Turtle, but makes it impossible for him to have any. The other one is about him setting out to get food for his village, finding some, and bypassing village after village because he wanted something better. He finally reaches his home and faints from lack of food. The kids' favorite was Anansi and the Turtle. I think they understood that one better. It has a moral, but it's a good stand-alone story too. We'll be reading both again and talking about them more.

I was pleased to find that the local library has most of the recommended books on hand for the Ancient Africa unit. This is the first time they have had the books although they had more of the storybooks than the non-fiction ones. I was able to find one of the non-fiction ones on desert animals so I put that on reserve. I think they are all available so I should have them in a couple of days.

Happily, too, I re-found a Goode's atlas that I had forgotten I had, and we were able to look at the average rainfall in Africa today vs. here in the United States. It has quite a few maps: 15 or more just for Africa. I guess I had forgotten how much weather diversity that continent has!

Tomorrow we will be doing some more geography, such as learning about the land form called an isthmus. One is the Isthmus of Panama. I have personally been learning quite a lot. For example, I didn't know what an archipelago was, and it was fun to locate so many different straits. (Thanks to the map of Africa, I was reminded where the Atlas Mountains were. I think the myth of Atlas would be a good read for the Africa unit too.)

For Math, they will be doing several more pages in their workbooks.

In Language Arts, we are preparing to test on punctuation, capitalization, and possessives. You know, we English speakers really know how to confuse kids! We spend 2 years teaching them to make a plural noun by adding an s, and then tell them to make a singular noun possessive by adding 's. Dragon is pretty decent speller, and he is all mixed up over this! Monkey, who struggles with the whole concept of English in its written form, often quietly blinks back tears because it's so hard. I need ideas to make this more concrete to him. He is a very concrete learner, and also a very creative boy so these "rules" tie him up in knots. I would absolutely love a good writing curriculum that is kinetically oriented.

We'll be having a spelling test tomorrow too. We had a spelling bee yesterday that went very well. All three kids missed one word apiece. We might have another bee instead and push off the test a few days.

In Science, I think we'll be doing rockets. I have a cool experiment my mother-in-law sent me that I think we will try. It uses antacids which I don't have, but I do have some Airborne. Hopefully it will work.

Music time will be piano practicing time. We missed today; shame on me. Monkey practiced off and on all day today. A couple of years ago, a friend tried to teach a "Music" class that was okay, but the concepts didn't mean anything to them. Now, the idea of quarter notes, quarter rests, time signatures, grand staff, etc. mean something to them. It's important now.

Books and CDs

Yesterday I was watching some friends' daughters while they were out of town. When I took them home that night, one of the girls saw a book on audio CDs that was laying on the van floor. She commented, "You get a lot of CDs to listen to instead of getting books!"

That comment startled me, because we only have a few audio CDs and tapes. On the other hand, our home is literally *filled* with books! I'm still not sure where she came up with that observation, but it makes me shake my head with wonder!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007


I'm a homeschooling mom, and I'm looking for a spot to post anonymously. Promise, it's all clean. We've been homeschooling for five years, and we've had rough spots and smooth sailing in all that time. I wish I had all the "answers" that you're supposed to figure out along the way, but all I know for sure is that I don't know anything for sure. I am very grateful to be blessed with solutions along the way.

I originally started homeschooling because my husband traveled quite a lot for his job, and I wanted a way to be able to go with him. But since schools frown on pulling your kids out of school so often, I turned to homeschooling. We've been at it ever since.

The first year was basically a de-tox year, where we got public schooling out of our awareness and just got on with living. The second year we got back to educating. The third year, two of my children began to read willingly. The fourth year, things went smoothly. The fifth year, my third child is learning to read. All in all, readers are far easier to homeschool. My third reader is also much the same style of learner as I am so it has been much simpler. Another point of jubilation is that I've finally found a math program that works for my children *and* works for me!!!

We are now using Singapore Math, and I cannot recommend it highly enough. It is visual, but it also comes with a decent workbook with enough practice for my kids. This translates to being able to say, "Go do your math, and I'll check it for you." This is very important to me, because sometimes I am just not on top of my game. We are also working very hard on other things, and I just cannot have everything be "mom-dependent".

We are also using Abeka Language workbooks, which I'm not sure I'll continue with. I need to do something different with them, because my kids are hating them. It is an excellent program though! I have had to supplement a lot though because my children haven't done well on the tests in the past without plenty of extra practice. I graduated in English though, and that's a blessing because coming up with more practice is not difficult. My boys have a more difficult time with the written word though. We are working on the comprehension!

I've recently abandoned our Science curriculum with disgust. Too much cut and paste and not enough active learning. For now, the library has some wonderful resources!

We are also using History of the World with forays into "other materials", and that has gone well although we would all like more in each country/time frame. My boys have gotten into the Civil War pretty deeply, and love Abraham Lincoln and Robert E. Lee. Interesting twist, but I have to agree. Both were great men, confronted with difficult circumstances. (BTW, I did not want to even like General Lee, let along respect him, so that opinion switch required some in depth reading. Now I'm not a bit upset that they want to be like him. He was a good, moral man who worked with the circumstances he was handed and made the best of them.)

We are also active members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and include gospel and scripture study in our day. Okay, I've slipped in the last month so the gospel study hasn't been as regular. Since it is such a big part of our lives, it is daily though. Just not in a "formal" sense. I am grateful for the direction that has given our lives.

That is enough of a post for one day. Have a great day!