Monday, October 20, 2008

Things are going alright. This week is off to a much better start than last one ended. I was getting tired of the all day dawdle that R is famous for. Today we all 5 sat down at the table with E watching from a baby chair. I gave B(13) and R(11) a handwriting lesson and this interested J(4) and A(3). While the bigger boys moved on to Writing Strands, J taught A and I some prehandwriting skills. We took out the Handwriting Without Tears (HWT) shapes, J lead us in some exercises from my teacher's manual. He was showing off his reading skills. Then instead of letting mom do a lesson with him, he sat and followed the instructions in my book and wrote out the entire uppercase alphabet. A did a bunch of A's and doodling on her own.
I then pulled out some counting/number writing sheets I had downloaded and J did those. When he was done, he still wanted to do more writing so we did the b pages in Get Ready for the Code book A. This introduces the letter sounds, letter recognition, printing etc. He loves to do those worksheets, I think he did 10 or 12 pages.
The big boys did their math and were done by noon.
Instead of moving on to Social Studies and Science, we went to the rec centre this afternoon. The big guys went swimming and I took the little people to the indoor playground. Thankfully there were lots of kids to keep them occupied. It was a really nice day, no fighting, no frustration. We need to have many more days like that!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Today the boys got up early with dad and got a head start on their math. Yay! The littlest 3 and I went to chat and play at the church while the big guys worked on school. Not ideal for getting school done, but much needed for me and the preschoolers.

Social Studies:
B and R have been watching the Canada: A People's History videos. We are on episode 2 this week, it goes up to about 1670 and talks about the fur trade and New France, the life of Samuel de Champlain, etc. They are working together to write a 6 scene play about the fur trade and have chosen to follow the voyage of a beaver pelt through 6 interactions between different people involved. With a little prompting, their first 2 scenes look like a terrific start. B(13) wrote a scene where a native father is teaching his son how to catch a beaver and R(11) wrote the scene where they take the pelt to the trading post.
We are using various other resources: books from the Discovering Canada series, such as New France and The Fur Trade; Kids Can Press books such as The Kids Book of Canadian History and the Kids book of Canadian Exploration; Donna Ward's Courage and Conquest and various websites and other books.
As for the preschoolers, I read to them about beavers from the Fur Trade book. Of course A (3) has many more questions to ask than ears to listen.

Body Worlds is still playing at our Science Centre this week and I am still hoping Daddy will have time to take the older kids. I am kind of grossed out by it, so I don't want to take them. In preparation, we have been studying a bit about the human body using Lyrical Life Science 3: the Human Body as our base. The kids all enjoy the songs.
We are supplementing our reading with various Usborne books, websites and a life size skeleton model I am having the boys put together. I pulled out the Grey's Anatomy to help them label some bones not already labeled.
I am still trying to find our Science curriculum cd-rom, the boys have managed to misplace it since spring and I am frustrated with that. $75 and a month of time wasted because we can't find it. When we do, we will skip ahead to the human body section for now and then go back to earth science.
With the preschoolers today, I read the muscles pages of The Usborne First Encyclopedia of the Human Body and then we went the the linked websites and played some games.

Language arts:
Both boys are using Writing Strands this year, supplemented with weeks of Dictation exercises, Spelling workout for R(11) and Vocabulary from Classical Roots for B(13) and yet to be named grammar programs. We should be starting the Latin Road to English Grammar again soon.
B is on WS 4 lesson 5 this week and R is WS 3 lesson 3 as well as doing the dictation exercises that he only said he did last week.
The littles made an emergent reader booklet today of the Eensy Weensy Spider today and recited that with me a few times. This promotes fluency and success in reading for beginning and pre-readers. J (4) is actually reading quite well already, I literally cried last week when he read a passage from the Human Body encyclopedia. I couldn't believe how well he was reading.
The preschoolers also did a bit of cutting practice today.

Saxon Algebra 1/2 for B(13) and 6/5 for R(11) this year, continuing from the spring. B is on lesson 20 and R is on lesson (43)

B has started a formal logic program this year by way of Introductory Logic. We are also using Critical Thinking Co.'s Mind Bender's cd-roms and Red Herring stories with both boys as fun add-ons.

Latin and French:
We haven't attempted to start these subjects yet this year. French should be easy to add in, but I have to get ahead of the kids in Latin before starting again, and with a newborn I can't even think about it now.

I have been lax in formal elective instruction, but both boys have shown such an interest in cooking that I am going to consider this one of our electives this year.
So far this year R has made a curry - Butter Chicken and Naan bread which was his first yeast bread. He also had to clarify butter for the naan bread.
Both boys have made pancakes and cookies, grilled cheese and ... I can't remember! I will have to keep track of their experiments and successes in the kitchen as well as cover meal planning, shopping with a budget, substitutions, conversions, tools and terms, various skills and maybe even thematic menus.... should be fun.

I need to have both boys pick passages for memory work, I keep forgetting to do that...

I had planned on taking all of September off school. E was born on September 9th and I knew I would be tired and overwhelmed and just not up to keeping up with the boys. Brent decided that when he went back to work that the boys should be doing something so he set them up and took care of making sure they did what he assigned and marked. He was right, but it has been hard many days. By the end of the first week, I took over the planning, but he has been checking in with them most nights.
When R started his usual taking all day to finish a 30 minute math lesson, Brent started waking him up at 6 am the next day to work with R before going to work. This seems to be helping so far. I am trying to stay on top of everything and them each day. I plan out our schedules with my Homeschool Tracker software, print out their weekly assignment sheets so they know what is expected each day and then try to check their work and enter it into the software as done and their marks.
I got behind last week, so this week I am playing catch up. I discovered that R hadn't done his dictation exercises last week, so he has double writing assignments this week. B had some difficulties with his vocab assignments, so he is doing catch up and corrections this week. I feel good about where we are heading this year, but frustrated with monetary constraints that are preventing me from buying some much needed and some just much wanted supplies and curriculum. Like Braeden's science. Time is limited and he really does need to complete his science this year to stay on track for college. I guess I need to pray for God's provision! Hmm, maybe the school board would be able to order it for me... I have some phone calls to make.