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School catch up

January 18, 2014

I see that I haven’t written about school since November!  I intended to over Thanksgiving break and didn’t.  I intended to over Christmas break and didn’t.  Now here it is January and we’re still going pretty strong, trying to get as much done as possible before baby break!  A had a really bad head cold last week though and then developed a cough on Friday which D and E picked up as well, so we’ve taken it a bit easier the past little while–lots of reading and maybe too many dvds!

Baby could come any day now so I’m writing one of those overly long school catch up posts so I’ll know where things stand before our lives erupt in chaos.  Of course as I was telling someone yesterday, homeschooling with a newborn is infinitely easier than say, with a 12-month-old.  So maybe it won’t be that bad.  We’re just waiting to see . . .

Preschool:  Once again I’m a preschool failure.  We’ve done the letter G.  And if I never have to read The Three Billy Goats Gruff again, I’ll be happy.  But E adores that book!  He can almost read it himself and will do different voices for the three goats. It’s hilarious.  Maybe one day we’ll move on to the rest of the alphabet.

Painting the letter G g-g-green:

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Math:  C and D both finished their math books and started new ones after Christmas, Singapore 4B and 4A respectively.  I thought A was close to finishing 6B in November, but as it turns out he wasn’t.  He’s really close now though.  He just finished a section on angles, which reminded me I really need to brush up on geometry if I’m going to be able to help him. I loved geometry in school though so it’s a good thing.  I think he’s down to the final reviews of everything.  We were going to work hard on math over Christmas break, but . . . we didn’t!

Language: A and C both finished reading their grammar books and are into the 4-step sentence analysis practice books.  I need to add in the MCT poetry book this week.  D is moving right along in First Language Lessons 3 with lots of diagramming of linking verbs and predicate nominatives and adjectives.  C and D haven’t done spelling since Christmas, but I’ve noticed a great improvement in their spelling in journals and other writing, so all the talking we’ve done about spelling rules and patterns has been sinking in.  

Writing:  On the other hand, we’ve been very diligent about writing.  D is still working through IEW’s All Things Fun and Fascinating and it’s becoming easier for him.  I see marked improvement.  C is in IEW’s US History book and has written some longer assignments about the French and Indian War and the Boston Tea Party.  I do a lot of scribing for both of them and need to transition them to writing their own work, but for now it’s easier for them to put things into words if they don’t have to worry about their handwriting and spelling as well.  It’s a much faster process to have me be the scribe.  It also gives us a chance to talk about writing and word choice and grammar as well, so it’s working for us.  A finished the literary criticism section in Writing with Skill with an essay about Arthur Machen’s short story “The Bowmen.”  We then skipped ahead to get to the weeks of poetry analysis.  Can I say that I just love this section?  I never studied poetry so interestingly and in depth (especially not in the 7th grade!)  Together we’ve read, discussed, analyzed, and then A’s written about Poe’s “The Bells” and Shelley’s “Ozymandias.”  He’s now in the middle of studying “The Charge of the Light Brigade.”   I wish Susan Wise Bauer would write an entire book on poetry!  We’ve had some wonderful discussions together.  The writing process is still slow for him though.

Memory Work: We’ve actually been diligent about this as a part of our morning scripture study routine.  Even on the days I’d rather skip it, they pull out their memory notebooks and get to work.  (Evidence I shouldn’t be in charge here!)  So far we’ve mainly been memorizing scripture, but I want to add some poetry in.

Latin: I think D is up to lesson 13.  C finished section 1 of First Form on the present system of verbs and is now on lesson 7 moving into the perfect system.  A is ready to take the test covering his section 1 on nouns and adjectives.  I just laugh when he comes to me for help with his translations.  Even C is ahead of me at this point.  I’ve vowed to catch up to him, at least.  Sometime . . .

Logic:  This has been the subject most likely to get skipped on busy weeks.  I think A’s only done one exercise in his US history critical thinking skills book since Christmas.  C and D have mainly been working on Mind Benders although sometimes they finish and I wonder who did more of the work, them or me?  

History: Where to start?  We’ve covered a lot since I last reported–India, Russia, the Taj Mahal, Japan, English kings from Charles I through George III, Peter the Great, King Philip’s War, the French and Indian Wars, probably some other wars, and life in colonial America.  There’s not a lot of photograph though–we’ve done lots of reading, mapwork, and timeline work. 

Now we’ve landed in the American Revolution where we will camp out for a while.  I love reading Story of the World and getting world history along with American history, but I’m sorry, one chapter on the Revolution just doesn’t do it justice!  And I’m having a baby so the next month will be spent reading our way through the Revolution and Constitutional Convention.  A has started McCullough’s 1776 and we have a giant stack of library books to get through including Common Sense and The 5000 Year Leap.  This is our second time through this period (oddly enough, the last time we were here, I had just had a baby!)  and I want to talk about ideas, not just events this time around–founding principles, liberty, and the proper role of government!

Literature:  The boys have read copious amounts of picture books corresponding to our history studies–Japanese folk tales, Russian folktales, and Colonial American stories.  Before Christmas we listened to Bunyan’s A Pilgrim’s Progress–the original, which I had a hard time focusing on while driving.  I would have done better actually reading the book.  A liked it though and C, who slept through the last disc, caught up with a retelling by Gary Schmidt.  We also read A Christmas Carol together and really enjoyed it.  We’re now listening to the third Peter and the Starcatchers book.  A read Amos Fortune: free man, but has mostly been reading The Silmarillion since his birthday.  D got a How to Train Your Dragon book for his birthday and had a lot of fun reading it which finally convinced him that he’s a reader so of course what does he decide to jump into? The Fellowship of the Ring and he’s actually making progress!  C is our little speed reader and reads voraciously so I won’t even try to sum up what he’s plowed through in the last two months!  (Check our booklist!)

Here are some of the books we’ve read together:

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Science: We finally finished The Elements before Christmas, although A was miffed that we didn’t finish every last one of the experiments.  We did have fun one day making molecules of different substances with marshmallows, gumdrops, and gummy bears.  The three older boys got the Thames Kosmos C2000 chemistry set for Christmas and the past few weeks we’ve just been working through the first ten or so experiments in the accompanying book and learning how to be safe so as to not blow up the kitchen, and how to dispose of our chemicals correctly.  

Check out the new equipment:

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Trying to boil water:

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Music/Art: I’ll admit I’ve gotten a little bit bored with our composer and artist studies and lapbooks, and they are a little on the young side for A at least, but it’s probably partly because I don’t have them scheduled at a good time.  It’s too easy to just skip art and music and be done for the day on Friday afternoon because, well, it’s Friday afternoon and Daddy is home and we’re just ready to end a little bit early.  This past week went better though.

We kind of skipped over Handel in December as we were reading about and listening to Messiah with our Advent reader.  After Christmas I didn’t want to go back and cover all the other pieces we should have studied, so we moved on to Mozart instead and I checked out the Great Courses dvd lectures on his life from the library.  At 45 minutes each though, they’re too long to hold the boys’ attention although they are enjoying them.  Maybe we’ll just start watching in 15-minute increments while we eat lunch every day.  

We finished up Michelangelo and I did the same thing to beef up our studies.  Khan Academy has a nice little collection of art history videos that are fairly short so we watched some about the Sistine Chapel ceiling and the David statue.  On our last day of school before Christmas, we watched The Agony and the Ecstasy.  (Who knew Moses was also a painter?!)  We also tried sculpting out of Ivory soap, but it was somewhat of a disaster.  A and D were not in a serious mood and just tried to see how big of a mess they could make, but C at least tried to make a face in his soap like Michelangelo.  Last week C and D tried their hand at painting upside down on the underside of the kitchen table, which turned out much better.
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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Soap carving:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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That’s where things stand.  I think we’re up to week 18, so we’re officially half-way done with the school year!  

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. January 20, 2014 7:16 am

    Great report! 🙂 Zeddie loves The Three Billy Goats Gruff.

    We use Story of the World too. Do you put your books on hold at the library? It seems I have to order most of the books through inter-library in order to get the ones we want to read as our local library doesn’t seem to have the ones recommended. Then if I am not organized enough they never arrive in time when we are doing that section!

    So excited to hear of your little girl’s arrival! 🙂

    Judi 🙂

  2. January 20, 2014 9:39 am

    Great report. Its a challenge to remember all that’s been accomplished when you post as its happening. Way to go mom for remembering. When I need to catch up I feel those posts are not the best because its not all fresh in my mind. Keep up the good work.

  3. Emily T permalink
    January 20, 2014 11:34 am

    I loved reading this. It made me miss home schooling!

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