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Monthly school update

November 18, 2013

Or Weeks 9, 10, 11, and 12 plus a week of Fall Break, my birthday, and Halloween.  In my last report, I mentioned that I was almost afraid to talk about well things were going for fear I’d jinx our progress.  Apparently that’s exactly what happened because in reviewing the past four weeks’ worth of work, we haven’t accomplished nearly what I had hoped to!  We are moving forward, however it’s at a snail’s pace in a few subjects.

Taking a week off for fall break was really nice, but we did have a hard time getting going again, and it’s November which I hear is when every homeschool mom feels like quitting! Personally I don’t really feel like quitting just yet, but I’d love to find 3 or 4 free hours to get ahead of the boys in a few of our subjects–read ahead, make plans, print pages off, shop for supplies for science experiments and art projects, stuff like that.  I just feel like I’m running, trying to keep up and just barely making it most days.


Preschool: I’m a preschool failure!  Not that it matters, E is really enjoying his life right now, but I am certainly not keeping to my letter a week plan.  He’s really funny though.  I tried teaching him the letter F, and he wanted nothing to do with it saying, “It’s missing its bottom line.”  Meaning it’s not E, which is his letter.  I finally convinced him F was a nice letter too, but it’s the only letter we’ve gotten to.  We read way too many books about fire engines and firefighters, made a flag, and talked about farms, feet, and fish.  That’s about it!


Speaking of flags, DH had this past Monday off and took the boys to the Veteran’s Day program up at the University.

Math: Everyone’s moving right along.  I should take a moment this week and figure out just how far along we are.  A just finished some massively long reviews in Singapore 6B and is getting close to finishing, I believe.  C and D both hit fractions on the same week; that was slow going and not one of our better weeks, but we got past it.

Language: Everyone is moving right along in grammar as well.  D has been reviewing adjectives, adverbs, and sentence diagramming.  And have I mentioned how much I love MCT Grammar?  C is almost done reading his grammar book and will move into the sentence analysis book soon.  A is not as far along, but we’re both learning so much from it and love comments like “we would rather be boiled in oil than use a comma to break a subject and verb apart.”  Boiled in oil?  It’s little things like that that make us giggle through grammar.

Writing: Still no one’s favorite subject, but we’re persevering!  A must have taken a week or two off from writing.  Since the last report, he’s only completed the next four assignments dealing with a chapter from Anne of Green Gables and writing a literary analysis essay about protagonists, antagonists, and supporting characters. D is getting the hang of IEW rewrites with new dress-ups every week.  He’s retold and rewritten several stories, fables, and a short selection from The Pilgrim’s Progress.  C did a long assignment on colonial medicine, but has taken the past week or two off while waiting (not so patiently) for me to print off his new student resource notebook and basically wrap my head around the US History-based writing course.  That’s my next priority, along with spelling.  In reviewing the boys journals (which I don’t correct) I am realizing D has abominable spelling, so I’m rethinking what we’re doing there and still haven’t had a chance to figure it out yet.  I’ll get back to you . . .

Logic: D took a day and a half to zoom through the first book and a half of Mind Benders, which he loves.  C has done a few of them too, but those are harder for him.  He’s mainly been working in his Building Thinking Skills book.  A has been reading through lessons in Critical Thinking in US History dealing with Salem Witch trials, the Roanoke colony, John Smith and Pocahontas, and women in colonial Maryland.  I wish there was an answer guide; we’ve had some good discussions but I sometimes wonder if I’m leading him in the right direction.  Some of the exercises are hard!  He’s now moved back into the Art of Argument and learned about “tu quoque” fallacies this week.

Memory Work: We pulled out our old memory notebooks to organize and add all the new scripture verses from this year.  All three boys have a different combination of poetry and scripture from previous years (I don’t think we used their notebooks at all last year), so every day is interesting as they recite whatever is behind that day’s tab, some of which is still memorized and some of which isn’t.  We’ve heard everything from “Eletelephony” and “In Flanders Fields” to “Jabberwocky”, the preamble to the Constitution and the Gettysburg Address.  Our current scripture is Helaman 5:12 which is taking forever to memorize:

Latin: This is one of those subjects we’re moving slowly in, but moving forward counts, right?  12 weeks of school and A is almost finished with lesson 5. C has finished lessons 3 and 4 and is doing well on his quizzes.  D is . . . somewhere.  I have no idea where, chapter 9 maybe? He does this all on his own.  

Science: This is another subject where I need to get ahead of the boys.  A gets so frustrated that I still haven’t gotten to the store to buy everything we need for experiments.  I think tomorrow I’ll put him in charge of making my shopping list for me.  We did have fun with Tom Lehrer’s Elements song on YouTube and we made NaCl crystal lattice models out of marshmallows and toothpicks a few weeks ago.





Art: We began studying Michaelangelo, reading a biography and looking at the Pieta and David sculptures.  We had a fascinating time reading about when the Pieta was attacked by a crazed Hungarian in 1972.

Music: We’ve moved on from studying the orchestra to the music of J. S. Bach and learning about the Brandenburg Concerti, the Unaccompanied Cello Suites, “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring,” Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, and the Prelude and Fugue No. 1 in C from the Well-Tempered Clavier.  A few times a week we’ll have “Name that tune” listening quizzes.  So far C is always the winner, although I’m going more for exposure than master at this point.  It reminds me of my BYU days when my roommate would help me prepare for my Baroque music history listening tests.  Within about 4 seconds of the cd track, I could identify the piece.  Good times!  E is still going to Kindermusik class with Daddy on Fridays and the other three continue their piano lessons.  A is working on memorizing the Moonlight Sonata and they just got new Christmas music to learn.

History: We skipped some chapters on Japan and  India so we could stay in Europe in the 1600 and 1700s, reading about the Thirty Years’ War, Frederick of Prussia, Richelieu, King Louis XIV “the Sun King,” the beheading of King Charles I of England, Oliver Cromwell, and Fire and Plague in London in 1666 (and probably a few other things I’m forgetting.)  C and A read the corresponding sections in our history encylopedias, done mapwork, and added to their timelines.  D has mainly colored his maps and a few coloring pages.  We took a virtual tour of Versailles when we studied King Louis.  Our one big project was coloring London street scenes and then setting them on fire for history club.  There was something so satisfying about watching them burn!  We’re just glad it was only a cardstock street scene and not 4/5 of the actual city.

We also played the “Man in the Iron Mask” game at history club where they had to ask the other team questions to figure out the historical figure’s name hidden behind the “iron mask.”  It was a fun way to review the past few months’ history characters.  We spent this past week catching up on reading some Grimm’s fairy tales and other folk stories from Europe and North America and capped it off with a movie night with the 1948 Three Musketeers with Gene Kelly.  The boys loved it!

Here are some of the books we’ve read:


Our London street scenes:


E didn’t want to color his; we decided it must be new construction.

A look down Pudding Lane (prior to the conflagration):OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The rooftops are alight:


(Ignore the maps on the back.  I have a habit of printing the wrong pages out so I reuse them and print on the other side.)

Soon there were some pretty impressive flames!


Best history club ever!

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