After five years in school, will homeschooling be a fit for our family? Walk with us as we try to find out!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Weekly Wrap Up: October 21, 2011

Kris from the Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers blog has lost a dear friend suddenly.  As many in my community are trying to come to grips with a similar loss, I understand her bewilderment and grief.  If you are so inclined, click over to her blog and pray for Kris, her family and the family and loved ones of Christina.

I thought it would be fun to switch up my Weekly Wrap Up Post by trying a different format today.  Instead of sharing what we did each day this week, I thought I'd post about what each of the test subjects is working on in each academic area right now.

TS 1 had been working through How to Study Your Bible for Kids.  He really was not enjoying it at all and I think it was just a little bit too challenging for him.  My goals for BIble time for the boys is to spend time with God, to learn more about Him, to learn how to read and understand the Bible for themselves and to grow in their faith.  None of this will happen for TS 1 if he is miserable with the study guide he is using so we are switching gears.  Bible time was becoming frustrating and negative for him, so we are taking a break from How to Study Your Bible for Kids and instead reading through some of the Question and Answer pages of his Hands On Bible.  I ordered Starting Strong from Sonlight and hope it is more appropriate and enjoyable.

TS 2 has been working through Book B of Studying God's Word.  It is simple enough for him to work through fairly independently while learning important truths about God and His Word.  We discuss what he has read or completed each morning.  He seems to be enjoying it so far.

Language Arts:
TS 1 is working on Unit 2 of his Fifth Grade grammar book, Growing with Grammar. In Unit 1 he reviewed nouns and verbs, learned how to diagram simple and compound sentences as well as commands and questions, learned how to identify and correct run on sentences and learned how to use quotations.  In this unit, he is learning more about the different kinds of nouns as well as reviewing capitalization rules.

He is also working through the first and third units of the Student Writing Intensive from the Institutes for Excellence in Writing.  The lessons are presented on DVD every 2 weeks or so and then he works on completing the reinforcement activities in between the DVD segments.  His current lesson utilizes short fictional passages to teach the paragraph writing process from key word outline, to rough draft to final copy.  He is learning stylistic techniques along the way such as adverbial clauses, strong verbs and choosing a captivating title. I've noticed that he seems to enjoy the fictional passages much more than the non fiction ones.  I'm happy with his progress so far.

TS 2 is using Explode the Code Online for his phonics and spelling program.  Unfortunately, he does not enjoy it at all.  He complains that it is too babyish and easy for him.  He is actually a strong reader and speller so I am wondering whether I need a phonics program for him at all.  I am trying to decide if I should simply get him a stand alone spelling program and use that in conjunction with First Language Lessons and Writing with Ease(If you have a spelling program for second grade that you love, please share!)  First Language Lessons provides a gentle introduction to grammatical concepts as well as poem memorization.  Writing with Ease focuses on the skills of narration, dictation and copywork.  He enjoys working from both of these books, even when the content is challenging.  I think the exposure to and practice of skills such as narration are wonderful and quite unlike what he would be asked to do in a school setting.

TS 1 is working through selected lessons from the Delta Level of Math U See.  He is actually a strong math student but I decided to start him at the Delta level since he had been in a spiral math program at school.  Because Math U See is a mastery math program, I knew he would have to work through some of the Delta level division before proceeding to fractions in the Epsilon level.  He is moving through the selected lessons quickly so far.  

TS 2 is working through the Beta Level of Math U See.  He is doing just fine and so far has reviewed place value and addition facts, learned rounding, estimation and skip counting by 2s.  I also have him drill his addition facts everyday either online or via flashcards.

We are doing Units 1 and 2 of Year 2 of Tapestry of Grace for our history program.  This course of study will take us from the Fall of Rome through the Reformation.  Over the summer, we read Story of the World, Volume 1, The Ancients to bring us up to speed on world history for TOG.  So far, we have studied the Fall of the Western Roman Empire, the Byzantine Empire and the Eastern Orthodox Church.  This week, we are finishing up our lesson on the Rise of Islam.  

Each day, I read aloud a chapter for either Story of the World, Volume 2 or Famous Men of the Middle Ages to both test subjects while they work on a coloring page that is related to the chapter.  Then each TS has his own reading to do on his level.  TS 1 has been reading Story of the Middle Ages for the history component and Tales of the King Arthur for the literature component of the curriculum.  TS 2 is reading through the Usborne Internet-Linked Medieval World for his history component and he reads various related picture books for his literature component.

We also work on a map together for each lesson for Geography.  We are creating lapbooks as well to reinforce the information we are learning in history.  Here is a peek at our lapbooks so far:

Our other lead investigator, aka Dad, teaches science to the test subjects.  They are working through the Exploring Creation through Astronomy text and workbooks together.  They also do hands on projects related to the readings every other week.  They watch content related videos on You Tube and the Apologia website, too.  

So far, they have covered lessons on What is Astronomy, The Sun, Mercury and Venus.  They made a model using ballons to show the relative size of each planet and a instrument to use to view a solar eclipse.

My biggest contribution to science has been to stay out of their way :)

Foreign Language:
We have been using Rosetta Stone Homeschool Edition for our Foreign Language study.  Both boys had been learning Spanish at school beginning in pre-school.  My side of the family is Puerto Rican.  RA was born in Guatemala.   Latin American Spanish was the obvious choice for our our Foreign Language study right now.  Not to mention that fact that we live in a part of the country where many Spanish speakers live and work.

The test subjects tolerate this program but do not love it.  It's so funny because I thought these computer driven programs would be the most fun for the boys but that has not proven true.  The thing that frustrates them the most with Rosetta Stone is the pronunciation lessons, because try as they might, they are simply unable to produce the sounds the program is requiring at times.  We are going to continue to work through this curriculum, though.  My goal for Spanish at this point is simply to continually to expose them to the language, increasing their comprehension, vocabulary and communication.

TS 2 is working on the second grade level of A Reason for Handwriting.  He seems to enjoy it and I have definitely seen an improvement in his carefulness and neatness since we began.

TS 1 is developing keyboarding skills using Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing.  He was enjoying it tremendously and asking to use it in his free time, even.  He was progressing very quickly at first and enjoying those results.  His speed of progress has slowed down a bit and he is frustrated with that.  We will continue to use this program and I'm helping him readjust his expectations for progress :)

Art/PE/Science Enrichment:
Each Friday at Co-op the boys take enrichment classes in Art, PE and Science.  The Art class is actually the fine arts component of our history curriculum so the projects they work on correlate almost perfectly with what we are studying each week in TOG.  So far, they have created a mosaic, a tapestry and a stained glass window.  I think I've posted pictures of all of these projects on this blog.

The PE classes at co-op are designed to enhance the physical fitness level of the students so each of our test subjects is learning age appropriate exercises to increase coordination, endurance, etc.  At the end of each PE class, the students play one or two fun games to wrap up.  The boys are also enrolled in a 6 week baseball clinic on Saturdays this fall.  TS 2 just began basketball practices again last week.

TS 1's science enrichment class is Gizmos and Gadgets.  Each week the students learn about a scientific concept and/or inventor and then create a gadget that models that concept in action.  This is a fun, hands on class that TS 1 seems to love.  I think I've posted descriptions and pictures of all his projects so far. 

TS 2's science enrichment class is all about the Honeybee.  They have brought in real insects to peer at through a magnifying glass.  They have seen a bee hive and tasted different kinds of honey.  It's a class he would never get at home with this bug phobic home school mama!

About a month ago, we began weekly private piano lessons here at home.  The boys have a wonderful, encouraging gentleman for a teacher, Mr. B.  As I've mentioned here before, they seem to be loving the piano and spend lots of time practicing.  I do not think I have had to remind them once to practice.  In fact, we've had to ask them to give our ears a rest at times!  Mr. B. remarked yesterday that they both have very strong fingers.  Could it be all the baseball they play in their free time???

I think that about covers it.  Writing it all out like that is encouraging.  They really are learning a lot!

How is your school year going so far?

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