I’m attempting a new thing here in my efforts to share some of what we do in our homeschool. Instead of weekly wrap-ups, I’ve decided to write up a monthly wrap-up post. It does my heart good to see what we’ve accomplished. We’ll see if this is any more time efficient than the other way.
Morning time: reading aloud and devotions
This is something that has evolved over time, and currently it is reduced to
- We do a daily devotional reading from Jesus Calling for Kids. The girls take turns reading paragraphs and Bible passages. We do this over breakfast, and then we pray together.
- I read a picture book or two.
- After breakfast chores, etc., one girl practices the piano and the other girl and I tackle some laundry folding and a one-on-one read aloud/together. This month Lulu and I have been reading The Princess and the Goblin, and according to the progress bar on the Kindle we’re about half-way through it. Louise and I have been reading The Blue Fairy Book, and we’re about a quarter of the way through it. (I don’t think I realized how long it is when we began.) I suppose this is not too bad considering that in a perfect week, each girl and I will read together for forty minutes, tops.
All in all, I think math is one of the strengths of our homeschool. I have no complaints about the curriculum we’re using, other than it’s very teach intensive and time-consuming. However, I really feel like the time investment is worth it. Coupled with the CC memory work we’re doing, I feel like the girls are getting a strong foundation, and they both cite math as one of their favorite subjects.
Goals for next month:
- Check Math Mammoth immediately, or at least that day, and give feedback
- Be more intentional about playing math games, especially with Lulu. Shoot for one a week.
Lulu: Completed a minimum of three days a week of weeks 14-17 in Writing With Ease 3. I appreciate the fact that informational texts were introduced in this group of lessons, especially because my ear is (sometimes unfortunately) to the ground regarding trends in public education, and I know this is a huge push with the Common Core standards. (Why I even think about this, I don’t know. It’s how I operate.) Dictation continues to be a challenge, but hey–I don’t think I could do it! Lulu also completed a three (?) book reports, two using this format. (Secrets at Sea by Peck, Miranda the Cat by Estes, and Gladys Aylward: The Little Woman by Gladys Aylward) She wrote one thank you note and mailed it, and she even wrote her own book, which was greatly inspired by the American Girl stories she’s so fond of. ;-) She also did a bit of writing for an AWANA assignment. She is showing a tiny bit more initiative regarding writing on her own, and that’s a very good thing.
Louise: Louise completed at least three days a week of weeks 15-18 in Writing With Ease 1. Honestly, I probably should’ve bumped her up to WWE 2 at the beginning of the year; she really, really gets how to do this, and I think she could easily handle WWE 2. Since she is my second child, though, I have come to appreciate not rushing things. One of the high points for me this month as her tutor/teacher was one day when she read one of the Cybils informational books–Nic Bishop Snakes (a finalist, so my review will have to wait until the awards are announced) and took it upon herself to sit and write a rather lengthy narration of it. This month she has also written one thank you note and mailed it. (That’s the accompanying illustration above.)
Goals: I really need to go back and get a grasp on narration and how it changes as the student matures. I feel like I need to give Lulu better, more pointed instruction, but sometime I just am not sure what to say or do. I think listening to Susan Wise Bauer’s lectures again might help, as well as reading (or listening?) to some stuff I’ve gotten from IEW might help.
Lulu: Completed lessons 14-22 in First Language Lessons 3. This seems like a low number considering the fact that we schooled for 4 1/2 solid weeks. However, taking CC days and Fun Fridays (when we usually throw our normal schedule to the wind) into consideration, I guess this is pretty good. Last week we also added back in doing 4 level analysis of sentences using Practice Island by Michael Clay Thompson. I intended to take it slowly and do one sentence a week, but Lulu remembered how to do it fairly quickly (we went through the Grammar Island first semester) and wanted to do a sentence a day. I’m mostly pleased with where we are right now. Lulu seems to be grasping these rather abstract concepts well enough for her age, and she likes it.
Louise: Completed lessons 43-52 in First Language Lessons 1. Sometimes I get a bit antsy because this is a very slow and gentle approach to language, but then I remember–Hey! She’s only in first grade. It’s okay! And I calm back down. ;-) Like in writing, I could probably skip level 1 and go to level 2, but I really see no reason to do this now.
Be very consistent in the next month about doing language. This is one of the things that slips through the cracks if we are running short of time. I need to watch that.
Spelling: For both girls I’ve thrown in the towel on All About Spelling and have given them Spelling Workout workbooks. Lulu is finishing up level B since our spelling instruction had been hit-or-miss, and Louise is finishing up level A. (This reminds me–I need to order the next books for them!) This is one of the few things they do all day long that is almost independent, and for this I am grateful. Both girls usually do spelling lessons 3 days a week.
I finally did start Lulu back up doing dictation sentences from Spelling Wisdom last week, too. This time I’m using an amended (due to our day out each week for CC) version of Beth’s dictation schedule, and I think it’s going to be good.
Remember to order the girls’ spelling workbooks! :-) Done!
Handwriting : I hesitate to even mention this because this is the one thing that sort of buffaloes me. My handwriting is pretty bad at this point in my life, although at one time I had nice penmanship. Too many years of taking notes in college robbed me of it, I guess. Anyway, the girls do this independently about 3 days a week, and I often require them to do it over. I try to stress the habit of attention and doing a little bit of work perfectly, but it doesn’t always “take.” I suppose legible is what I’m really shooting for at the end of the day.
Goals: At least begin thinking about when Lulu will begin using the italic script (Getty-Dubay) for her other work.
Science: Science is the thing that causes me the most angst, probably, because I don’t feel we do it consistently enough. Way back before Steady Eddie went back to graduate school again, we had a weekly science lesson from BFSU one night a week. It was good. Then I went to work on Saturdays and Steady Eddie tried to do a lesson most Saturdays. This works out fairly well, though with his increased workload and just life in general, we don’t always get a lesson in. Since Christmas our focus has been on rocks since earth science is the topic right now for CC. Here are some things they have done (mostly without any input from me, I confess):
- Read about and discussed the layers of the earth via the book What’s Inside Earth by Jane Kelly Kosek.
- Looked at and discussed the three different types of rocks using a rock sample kit we own.
- Grew salt crystals and discussed the effect of temperature on crystal formation. (I wish I’d taken a picture of this.)
- Taken a field trip to look at some rock and crystal samples. More on this in a bit.
- Memorized the appropriate CC science sentences and completed science activities at CC.
The girls also had a little impromptu science lesson one week, which is just the way I envisioned science happening in my own little dream homeschool.
Goals: I really, really meant to resume nature study this month, but the bleak January weather in Alabama (rainy, often cold) and my physical condition (as big as a house, clumsy, and just all around blah) conspired against us. Maybe February will be better. Hope springs eternal, right? :-)
We’ve done about a chapter a week in SotW volume 2 this month, which means we’ve covered chapters 26 through 29. Mostly we’ve done this over lunch, with Jim Weiss doing the narrating. I then ask the girls the review questions from the activity guide and sometimes require an oral narration and call it good. We’ve also supplemented with a few picture books:
- More Tales from Shakespeare by Marcia Williams for its retelling of Richard III in comic book format. I did this little bit as a read-aloud, which is decidedly not the best method for it. My girls would probably enjoy this more if they were a bit older and if they had time to pore over it themselves.
- Prince Henry the Navigatorby Leonard Everett Fisher helped us flesh out Prince Henry a bit more, though honestly, the black and white illustrations leave much to be desired. Still, it was nice to learn more about someone in our CC timeline.
- Sundiata by David Wisniewski added to our study of the western kingdoms of Africa, which also fit nicely with our CC timeline. This one is the best of the picture books we read.
Lulu (and possibly Louise, too?) read a few more books that related to our history studies that we just didn’t get to as read-alouds, including one book on Joan of Arc (I hadn’t the stamina to discuss all the mysticism in it with them at the time, but Lulu beat me to it and read it anyway) and a book with what is likely a decidedly feministic viewpoint about famous European women of the Middle Ages. My girls’ reading is now outstripping my ability to keep up.
Right now history in our homeschool consists of read-alouds and some oral discussion, plus our CC history sentences and timeline. It’s all I can manage. I’d say the girls get a healthy exposure to other time periods through their own interest in history and our nonfiction read-alouds.
Goals: Maintain our pace of one chapter a week. Encourage other outside reading.
Books: Books are definitely the meat-n-potatoes of our homeschool. We finished one chapter book read aloud together: The Moffats by Eleanor Estes, and started another–A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I also attempted to give Lulu an assigned book to read on her own each week, and she did a few written book reports (mostly when I remembered to tell her to do one). She keeps a booklist of books she’s never read before. These are the new-to-her titles for January, at least so far as she kept up with them:
- Mandie by Lois Gladys Leppard *
- Mandie and the Ghost Bandits by Lois Gladys Leppard *
- The Vampire Mystery by Gertrude Chandler Warner
- The Mystery in Washington, D.C. by Gertrude Chandler Warner
- The Mystery of the Dinosaur Bones by Gertrude Chandler Warner
- The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum (despite my reservations from reading it aloud; read on Nook)
- Gladys Aylward: The Little Woman by Gladys Aylward*
- Miranda the Great by Eleanor Estes*
The books I actually assigned are marked with an asterisk.
While I don’t usually assign Louise a book each week, I do have her keep up with what she reads. She has developed into quite the chapter book aficionado this year, too. This is her list:
- The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall
- The Boxcar Children Beginning by Patricia MacLachlan
- The Yellow House Mystery by Gertrude Chandler Warner
- Grandma’s Attic series by Arleta Richardson
- The Fair Mystery by Gertrude Chandler Warner
- City Kid Farmer by Jeanette Gilge
- Jet Plane by David Macaulay
- Toys Go Out by Emily Jenkins
Obviously, both girls are still quite fond of the Boxcar Children, and both girls have spent a lot of time with all the Penderwicks books this month. In fact, I’m pretty sure that Louise labored through the other two this month, too, and failed to add them to her list. Both girls, but Lulu especially, love to re-read their favorites. It seems odd to me that her list is this short since it seems to me that she reads all the time (and I really do mean that almost literally!), but I guess there’s something valuable about revisiting old friends.
Overall January was a good month of school, somewhat by force. The weather has been yucky, so we’ve pretty much stayed home. We had one field trip, and that was on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day when Steady Eddie was off work and could go with us. :-) We went to the Cook’s Natural Science Museum in Decatur, Alabama. This is an entirely free little museum founded by a man who also founded and owned a pest control company that serves the southeast. Mostly it’s filled with taxidermied (?) specimens of animals, but there is also a big rock, mineral, and crystal collection, as well as lots of seashells and insects. It only takes about an hour to see the whole thing, but I recommend it. (As a side note, I remember visiting here as a little girl myself, about 30 years ago. Talk about making me feel old!)
The weather was cooperative enough one Fun Friday for us to take a picnic to the park and have lunch with Steady Eddie. I hate to admit it, but that has been almost all of the time we’ve spent in the great outdoors this month. We started well with exercising to a walking DVD, but that fizzled out due to time crunch and my lack of motivation and energy. The girls have started a weekly gymnastics class at the YMCA, with the hope of twice weekly karate class once Steady Eddie’s work schedule calms down a bit. Louise will also begin an art class this week at a local craft store. (This is a November birthday gift from Mamaw and Papaw which we’re just now getting around to doing. :-) )
Honestly, it has been an emotional month full of angst for me. (That’s my personality, but it’s magnified a hundredfold when I’m pregnant. Poor Steady Eddie.) Looking back now I can see that it has been a rich month of learning, though, and that makes me feel better. I’m working hard to silence the negative voices and think about how much fun my children have had playing together this month of being virtually shut in. (My favorite thing from the entire month is that last week, the girls decided to teach the DLM to read. He was actually a very attentive student, for a two-and-a-half-year-old.) These relationships are perhaps the best part of our homeschool.
ETA: See, I knew I’d leave something out! One thing is the girls’ piano practice and lessons. We shoot for four weekdays of practice, and these practice times serve as markers and guideposts for our days since it’s one of the first things they do each morning.
ETA #2: Can you believe it? I forgot to mention the thing that we spent a lot of time on at the beginning of the month: CC lapbooks from Wisdom and Righteousness. These will be a great addition to our CC review, if only we can finish them. One day I hope to write a post about how we use them (when we use them ).