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September School

October 12, 2014


And some October school.  See, I knew I couldn’t keep up with a weekly report.  But we have a pretty good routine going, although the mornings are never as smooth as I want and I always wish we could start an hour or so earlier.  DH is now finished with his early morning and late night trainings at work so hopefully he’ll start getting the boys up to exercise early in the morning again which will jumpstart our days.

Here’s what we’ve been up to:

Five in a Row:  I haven’t found a good way to fit this in, but we’ve managed to row one and a half books.  For The Story of Ping, we studied China and colored a map and a flag, and learned about ducks and their waterproof feathers, and buoyancy.  For Madeline, we talked about France and found the Eiffel Tower on Google Earth. There’s still so much more I want to do with this book. Visiting the ducks at Liberty Park:


We also did a “science spearmint” to see what things would float.  He didn’t predict very accurately but thought it was great fun to see things sink to the bottom.


Math: A finished up Life of Fred Pre-Algebra with Economics this week and is slowly working through Dolciani Algebra.  So far, so good.  C is moving right along in Singapore 5A, although we had one meltdown over long division.  (Long division always causes meltdowns around here for some reason!)  D has started working with decimals and so far, so good.

Spelling: Spelling is going well for C and D.  (Yay!  First time ever I’ve been able to say that.) It’s still on the easy side so I let them get out of quite a bit of the repetitious writing and spell aloud instead, but I can see that as the words get harder, they’ll need the written practice.  And the dictation sentences at the end of each level are hilarious. I’ll have to go back and see what some of my favorites have been.  We laugh quite a bit over them.  I like spelling books with a sense of humor.  A doesn’t do spelling; he’s a natural speller.  Every once in a while I’ll find a misspelled word and point it out to him, but that’s rare.

Grammar: A says he’s bored reading through his grammar book which is, in good part, a repeat of last year’s.  But review is always good.  C and D have been reading through Grammar Town, but we took this week off because of their writing program–

Writing: I started Treasured Conversations, a new writing program, with both C and D.  So far it’s just a grammar review so we’ve been speeding through the first few weeks on nouns and action verbs.  A is slowly getting back into the habit of writing with Writing With Skill 2.  Though it’s written to the student, I’m starting to realize it’s not meant to be as independent as we’ve been treating it, and I feel like I need to sit down and read ahead of where he is so I’ll know what he’s supposed to be doing.  Although I feel like I hardly have a spare moment these days to stay caught up with life, let alone get ahead!

Literature: I wish I had an extra hour in the day just to read aloud.  We’re trying multiple read alouds at the moment, but somedays we just don’t have time for them all.  Currently we’re working on The Narrative of Frederick Douglass and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn for our literature list, Elijah of Buxton for book club, and we’re listening to Little Women in the car now after finishing up A Little Princess.  I’m not quite sure what they’re reading individually; they’re keeping their own book lists this year which I will then use to periodically update our school reading list on the blog.

Latin: C did quite terribly on his first quiz covering some of what he worked on this summer, so we did a lot more studying and when he repeated that quiz, he got everything right.  Same thing for A, although I didn’t have him repeat the quiz.  (I probably should have.)  His main problem is the vocabulary.  He’s got all the different endings and cases down for his translations if he could just come up with the correct Latin word in the first place.  His excuse is that the flashcards are all messed up (which is true) so he hasn’t been reviewing them.  I have flashcards for three different programs in four (?) piles and they all look the same.  I thought they were all sorted out last year so I’m not sure what went wrong.  One of my projects soon is to sort them all out and label them Latina Christiana, First Form, or Second Form, before we even think of adding Third Form to the mix!  D is doing great with Latina Christiana. He’s up to lesson 5.  He loves the games in Ludere Latine and has figured out how to conjugate verbs quite easily.  I like that it requires a lot more writing from him.  His work this year (in all things) has required him to step up a bit and he’s meeting the challenge and doing well.

Memory: We’re usually halfway through the day when I remember memory work, or rather remember that we forgot to do it, but we’re on our third memory verse and working on the Gettysburg Address as well.

Science: This keeps us busy.  A is working on Physical Science by himself and is doing quite well, although it takes him about three weeks to do each module rather than the recommended two.  I’m hoping he’ll go a little faster the more he gets into it.  Meanwhile I read Chemistry/Physics with C and D.  And do experiments almost every other paragraph it seems like.  There are a lot of experiments in this book! The boys love them though.  Here are pictures of just a few:

Making tin foil boats and seeing how many pennies they could hold before sinking:




Yeast producing gas to blow up a balloon:


Trapping air inside a glass inside a pitcher of water so the wadded up paper in the glass didn’t get wet (learning about states of matter)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I think this was yeast dissolved in hydrogen peroxide, or science in our socks:


Also science in our pajamas (at noon) and only one kid wearing protective eyegear.  There are a few improvements we could make here . . .


We also learned about non-Newtonian fluids with cornstarch/water goo.  The boys were fascinated by how it was a solid when pressure was applied to it, then turned into liquid when pressure was removed.  And anything that makes this big of a mess is always a hit!


They’ve also made several flapbooks and other assorted items for their notebooks and even wrote a play about Archimedes figuring out the volume of the king’s crown.  Science is definitely a hit this year.

History: We’ve read the first five or six chapters of Story of the World so far and had two history club meetings.  Our first one focused on Queen Victoria and her Great Exhibition.  We had a homeschool great exhibition and everybody brought all kinds of things to “show and tell.”  C made a Crystal Palace replica on Minecraft as one of his projects.  I feel like we’re rushing through world history.  We read something about England, Crimean War, Japan, China, Africa, India, and Italy before coming back to the U.S. for the Civil War, which is where we’re camping out for a while.  Our history club this week was all about the Civil War.  The kids all talked about something they’ve studied, we did a read-aloud play about Mary Chestnut and the attack on Fort Sumter, and had sweet potato pie, cornbread, gingerbread, stewed apples, and hardtack.  Which wasn’t all that hard.  C made it while I was at orchestra Tuesday night and it turned out a lot softer and more edible than I remember it from last time we were in the 1860s.

One of the other moms made out the schedule for history club which calls for reading about five chapters of Story of the World a month so we’ll be sure to finish it by May.  I can see that we’re already behind and we’re not ready to leave the Civil War yet.  We may take a few weeks and just read a lot of world history so we can camp out in American history where we feel like it and still have something ready for history club with the others.  We’re still figuring out just how to do history this year anyway.  All the boys have timelines and mapwork and I’m trying to give them more time just to read.  Apparently it’s working.  D just brought me a stack of about 15 Civil War books he’s already read on his own and A just finished reading The Killer Angels this week so we could watch the movie Gettysburg this weekend.  Between that and Frederick Douglass, we’ve had some good discussions together lately.  I’m liking the maturing minds I get to work with around here.

And then there’s the baby (in the kepi) who always keeps life interesting.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. October 12, 2014 11:11 am

    That cornstarch goo has always been a huge hit around here, even with the kids getting older! And I’m terrible about safety gear. I too wish there was an extra hour in the day just for reading!

  2. Francesca permalink
    October 12, 2014 9:45 pm

    What science do you use? It looks really fun!

  3. October 14, 2014 11:53 pm

    Oh my. I must keep reminding myself that you are reporting a Whole Month, plus some, and not feel totally inadequate. What a great time you guys are having!

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