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.

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