Friday, March 26, 2010

Weekly Report 3/22-3/26

Every time I write the dates for the weekly report I really think about how they should include the weekends because learning does not only happen on weekdays! I wonder why I am so rigid and somehow feel it is improper to include all the dates of the week? Boy, am I silly with my nonsensical internal struggles!

Last weekend I read a great book on Unschooling, called Homeschooling our Children, Unschooling Ourselves by Alison McKee. I highly recommend it. So I was really in an unschoolish mode this week. We did nothing mommy directed on Monday. I didn't even bother to keep a record each day, which is what I usually do because my memory is too poor and I don't seem to be organized enough to recall what we've done any other way. So this week, what occurred? Let me think!

  • Lots and lots and lots of discussion about politics generated by the passing of the health care reform bill.
  • Further discussion, planning, trigonometry and building of the dollhouse. Design changes are being made to the original plan which generates much thought. I think not one but two trips were taken to Once Upon a Time, our favorite toy/dollhouse store.
  • Lots of playing with puppets.
  • Lots of playing outdoors when the weather was nice during the week.
  • Still lots of jumping rope. B and I played basketball some.
  • Lots of discussions about good and bad animation and stop motion techniques. S seems fascinated with all the mechanical aspects of this. We watched Fantastic Mr. Fox which is a really funny, well done movie and S was able to analyze in great detail about the quality of the production.
  • R started reading The Doll's House by Rumer Godden to B. S is without a read aloud right now from R. I'm still reading Theater Shoes by Noel Streatfield. It leads to discussion about WWII, since it is set there. Lots of references to 'coupons' and rationing.
  • W decided S was old enough to watch Invader Zim, so he's been doing a lot of that.
  • S didn't go to piano lesson on Monday. He came to me and begged me not to make him go. He was ashamed he had not done any practicing and he was supposed to know his pieces perfectly. W overheard this and made a deal with S: if you practice your pieces every day and learn all your major and minor scales, he would buy S some comic book he's been longing for. Deal made and S has been playing piano beautifully and working hard on his music theory. Sometimes big brothers are so great!
  • I finally read about the Louisiana Purchase to B and S. But I didn't get our other regularly schedule readings in.
  • B has been working through Math It. She's got her addition facts down and now she's on the Double It section.
  • S learned about adding and subtracting mixed numbers.
  • They did some WWE and cursive practice. And a little bit of spelling/phonics
  • J finished The Fellowship of the Ring and is now reading The Two Towers.
  • J went to his second 4H shooting class. He loves it. His new love, firearms. Oh dear.
  • W is off in his own world. He is busy though, practicing and writing music. On his own he found out about a full scholarship to Berklee's 5 week program which he's going to attend. You have to send in an MP3 recording. He listened to the winners last year and he's decided he has a chance. So he's been practicing and recording that. He got the bass line recorded.
  • W and J went to their CLC meeting on Wed.
  • We went to Latin class Tuesday. The 3rd declension is a monster! Lots of homework to do over the weekend and on Monday. W borrowed a Teaching Co. lecture series from the Latin teacher (who is also very into music; she sings in a Latin choir). W's been watching that.
  • B and S went to VT
  • S had his (late) 11 yo check up with the dr and had to get 3 shots. He was very brave.
  • I led our Little Flowers group that B is in. We did the Stations of the Cross and then painted crosses. S got to play with Jack during this time.
  • This week J finished reading Book 1 and started Book 2 of the Aeneid. He did some dictation. We watched the next lecture in How the Earth Works on the water cycle. He also watched the next lecture in Foundations of Western Civ on the Hebrews. Great lecture. I made J take notes while watching. We also watched more Teaching the Classics about the Socractic method. J also finally made it back to the math tutor. The tutor decided just to focus on bad habits that J had gotten into that cause him to make errors, even though he gets the concepts right away. She didn't give him any homework. The poor guy has to move around a lot still because of his back. It's only been 4 weeks since the surgery. But he sits for a while and then he gets uncomfortable so he stands and then he wants to lie down for a while. . . the tutor was so distressed at his discomfort! He just can't ever seem to find a comfortable position.
  • Today (Friday) W went to his music comp. class. We have Socratic Discussion for J, and B and S have art club - we are going to learn about Medieval Heraldry, St. Louis of France, and we're going to make our own coat of arms. We also have the homeschool groups' last game day at the library this afternoon and the kids said they wanted to go to it. J and I want to play Made for Trade.
  • R and I are going to see Porgy and Bess tonight at the Kennedy Center. I am so excited!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Owl Box

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Weekly Report 3/13-3/19


  • The weekend was rather mathy! First of all R started building a dollhouse for B. B is totally enthralled by this and is building her own dollhouse from wood scraps right alongside him. They spent much of the weekend together in the garage working away. He had her learning how to use the protractor in measuring and I overheard her talking very knowingly about degrees of angles.
  • R also had J do some trig problems to help with designing the dollhouse.
  • Sunday was 3/14 - Pi day! We ate pie and S and B learned what 3.14159 is. They made posters (on their own; I didn't ask them to).
  • On Sat. morning W announced he'd finished composing his piece for piano and violin. I was blown away by it! His piano teacher is playing the piano part and W called a girl we know who plays violin and she's going to play the violin. I think W is recording it to show to teachers at Berklee this summer.
  • Monday - B and S played with puppets, did more jumproping (a sudden passion of S's) and watched Between the Lions.
  • B is suddenly playing with an old Lego set (a girlie set with ponies)
  • B's been relistening to C.S. Lewis' The Horse and His Boy
  • J is still reading The Fellowship of the Ring
  • B played on Starfall a lot
  • S is obsessed with jump roping
  • B made stamps out of cardboard, rubber bands and glue. She glues the rubberband in shapes on the cardboard. Then she colors with marker to make the print.
  • Beautiful weather, kids played outside lots and lots
  • S made a sock puppet.
  • W went to meet his piano teacher and a professional violinist the teacher knows (White House Orchestra and National Symphony!!!!!) to record W's piece for piano and violin. So cool!
  • J went to CLC
  • S is very into learning about stop motion animations. He's been going to this website to learn about it. He's also been playing with clay a lot.
  • B got into a cleaning mood and cleaned up the screen porch!
  • W and S worked on music theory
  • J went to first 4H event - learning gun safety and how to shoot a shotgun
  • Read B and S Theater Shoes
  • W went to concert with his piano teacher
  • B collected some deer bones she found in the woods: a jawbone with teeth, two ribs, something that looks like a shoulder blade? and another bone that looks like a leg bone?
  • Friday (projected) - B and S and I are finishing the Egyptian Mummy Cases we started last Friday. If we still have time, we'll make seder plates (coloring on paper plates) and I'll read about Passover.
  • This afternoon we have our homeschool Talent Show. None of my kids are in it this year. I guess J's surgery just knocked that idea right out of our lives. B regrets this. She recited a poem last year and S did also and played a piano piece. W is MC'ing. He did it last year and he's such a natural comedian, everybody loved him and asked him to do it again!
  • Tonight we are going to our church's Stations of the Cross for kids/pizza night. B loves it. S is getting a tad too old for it, I think.
  • Sunday, J and I sat down and I told him all we'd learned about the 3rd declension in Latin class. Then we managed to do a little bit of homework.
  • Monday - B and S did WWE
  • B practiced math facts with Math It; S did some work on fractions and some review problems in Saxon L. 39
  • B and S and I studied some new Greek words in our workbook
  • J watched the netflixed movie of Oedipus Rex
  • J and I watched lecture on History of Plate Motions - the Atlantic is widening, the Pacific will close up. Africa is rapidly moving north and closing up the Mediterranean sea. Australia is going to smash into China at some point!
  • J and I worked on Latin homework
  • W went to guitar lessons, S went to piano
  • Tuesday - Latin class - J was so uncomfortable and didn't pay attention at all. He didn't go to his math tutor
  • B and S did cursive, spelling/phonics and math
  • J, S and I watched more of Teaching the Classics
  • J and I watched lecture two on West. Civ - History Starts with Sumer
  • B went to gymnastics
  • Wednesday - B did her WWE very well and then balked at learning to tell time in math.
  • S did his copy work from WWE then read from M. Burns book I Hate Mathematics. Did a bit of work in his Latin workbook; practiced piano
  • J did his logic lesson
  • J reviewed answers he got wrong on his last Alg. test he took 3 weeks ago.
  • Read aloud to S and B about Alexander the Great from Before America
  • J and I watched lecture on Egyptians
  • B and S did WWE
  • B worked on telling time for a few minutes
  • S worked in his Latin workbook reviewing vocabulary
  • J took some dictation from me (from Intro to the Devout Life)
  • J and I watched next science lecture on the continent of North America
  • J and I read Aeneid - more of Book 1
  • Did a tiny bit of math with S about angles and protractors
  • Read about Louisiana Purchase from Time Traveler's
  • Friday - W went to his Music Composition class
  • J needs to study for science quiz and then go to his Intro to Chem class this afternoon. He'll miss the Talent Show.
  • At some point this evening (after Talent Show and before Stations - we need to sit down and do some Latin. Tons of homework to do!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Weekly Report 3/8 - 3/12

  • Read next Chapter of King of the Golden City to B and S. S gets the allegory; B is puzzled often by it.
  • WWE copywork and narration
  • Greek Decoder - studied vowel diphthongs some more
  • Math - B did two subtraction word problems in MCP and S worked on lesson 35 in Saxon which coincidentally was also about subtraction word problems
  • Both B and S drew pictures, played with puppets and played outside quite a bit (weather was lovely!); they also took S's camera and were trying to make a movie but got frustrated when it ran out of batteries and they couldn't find the recharger!
  • J and I took the last NLE practice exam
  • J took his NLE this a.m. The teacher came over. Then he played on the computer some and then he crashed and took a long nap; woke up completely out of it.
  • W is on spring break. Played lots of music
  • H got up and went to lunch with a friend; then proceeded to summer job hunt.
  • Took S to piano lessons and wrote thank you notes while I waited. Then I took a walk. Spring is in the air!
  • J was completely knocked out when I got home. He slept from about 3 to 6 when I woke him up because I was afraid he wouldn't sleep tonight.
  • S is being tormented by a very loose tooth.
  • B and S put on a 'circus' in the front yard doing a mime act.
  • W and I went to take the NLE but I drove to the wrong library! So we wound up arriving a half hour late. But we still finished before the end. I think I got 100%. Of course this is the intro level so it is pretty darn easy.
  • R read Mysterious Benedict Society and I read a bit of Theater Shoes
  • J stayed home from Latin class. It was a great class though.
  • B and S did some penmanship, and math, neither got to their phonics/spelling though. They drew a lot of pictures and then played outside during the class. The weather was gorgeous!
  • After lunch worked with B on her phonics and S on his spelling.
  • J was really out of it today.
  • W and I talked to the rep from College Plus about the possibility of having him take clep tests and clep into some college credits instead of going to the Comm. Coll. which he really hates. Looks like it might be a real option!
  • S was all out of sorts so I let him watch a movie (Mr Magorium's Magic Emporium), even though he's been trying to give up screen for Lent (except for animating.)
  • S and B played outside some more.
  • B went to gymnastics
  • H slept in, trying to get over her cold, went to lunch with another friend. Dinner was nice R came home for dinner on a weeknight! And all seven of us sat around the table.
  • Read more Mysterious Benedict Society and Theater Shoes
  • B and S played much of the morning planning and playing with puppets and making videos
  • We did WWE, S did very well on his dictation.
  • We watched Lesson 19 in LfC to review since we hadn't done it in two weeks
  • Did very short Saxon lesson on drawing fractions with S. B worked on her Math It
  • Went to VT; B and S both read aloud to me in the waiting room while the other was seeing the therapist
  • We went to Michael's and got clay and sewing supplies and lots of odds and endsy things. In the discount aisle the kids found two little puppets which they immediately fell in love with. One boy and one girl puppet.
  • J started reading Oedipus Rex this a.m. I netflixed the movie version of it.
  • J took himself to bed to read Fellowship of the Ring
  • W has been practicing lots of music and working on Writeguide
  • H is still fighting the nasty cough she's got. Slept late, got up, cleaned kitchen, went grocery shopping with me, then went out with friend to drink coffee and do her reading for college.
  • Watched next lecture on Sumatran Earthquake with J
  • Read about Ancient Greek culture from Before America to B and S
  • R read Mysterious Benedict Society
  • Read next ch. in Theater Shoes.
  • B and S played with puppets again almost all morning. Didn't start formal stuff until 11:00
  • S did WWE, next lesson in Saxon on fractions, mixed numbers and number lines. He was having fun.
  • I read the synopsis of the first lesson in our Time Travelers early 19th c. Am. Hist unit. B was booorrrreeed. Next time I'll read it myself and retell it making it more interesting. Reading it straight from the cd wasn't great. It was interesting learning about the Barbary Pirates. I knew very little about that. I sang them the Marine Hymn.
  • B, tho' was in a bad mood and balking at doing any work. Then she announced she had a headache to the point where she didn't want to to Little Flowers this p.m. This is unheard of! She loves LF! So that told me she really wasn't being difficult, she truly didn't feel up to snuff.
  • J did his logic lesson
  • J finished reading Oedipus Tyrannus
  • J and I watched the first lecture in Foundations of Western Civ.
  • J, S and I watched more Teaching the Classics - literary style
  • S did more of Ch. 19 in LfC - we reviewed present, imperfect, future, 1st & 2nd declensions and vocabulary
  • B and S watched Prince of Egypt - Passover's coming!
  • Read Mysterious Benedict Society
  • Read Theater Shoes
  • S finished up the short Roald Dahl book he was reading (Giraffes, Pelicans and . . . can't quite remember the title!).
Friday (projected!)
  • S needs to do his music theory lesson
  • Socratic discussion for J
  • Art club for S and B - we'll be learning about Joseph in Egypt and then beginning to make mummy cases
  • If J is up for it, he'll go to the Intro to Science class this afternoon
  • W has no class today - spring break
  • H went off very early this a.m. for a job interview. She's trying to get work as a camp counselor for the county's summer camps.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Reassessing Josh's 9th Grade

I'm trying to figure out why 9th grade for J has gone so poorly this year. This is my 3rd time doing 9th grade; you'd think it would be old hat, but no, not. at. all.

With H, since she was my oldest and first homeschooling high schooler, I think I was just so overly focused on it, so anxious to get it right and to prove to myself we could do this thing, that I had lots of energy and drive. And W being the easy-going guy he is, just went along with everything H did, practically, until he discovered music and then he took off on his own. I've had to do very little directly to get him through high school. Very little planning, I mean.

With J, who truly is more academic than the older two, in that he loves to read and enjoys math more than they ever did. And he enjoys learning Latin. But he's been going through this adolescent slump where all his interests have narrowed and eating and sleeping are paramount as well as spending lots of time alone. So all the former enthusiasm that he had for learning before has gotten swallowed up. I am expecting it to resurface at some point, but it has been a major drag on this year's progress. Combine that with my tendency to unschoolish ideas, it is really hard to stand over him with a whip and force him to finish stuff. I can't bear to seem him unhappy in his learning so I don't push.

So here's the assessment:

Religion - CLC is a good thing, both Religion and socialization - so that's a positive there!

Math - he's been going so slowly through Alg II, but now we have a tutor and we know we'll be going most of the summer to try to finish up the book.

Science - we've been pretty steadily watching our Teaching Co. lectures and he did sign up for the Intro the Science class which because of his operation he missed at least two of the six meetings. Fortunately the snow canceled at least one meeting so he's not so very far behind as he could be. I think if he reads a couple of science based books, I'll say he's got enough credit for 1 year. So he might be able to wrap that up in June sometime.

Literature - well, my huge schemes for doing an intensive Greek/Roman year have vanished in the dust! However, he has read: The Book of Job, The Epic of Gilgamesh, The Iliad, The Odyssey and now we are about to start the Aeneid. I'd also like to read a couple of Greek plays and watch them on netflix dvds. And I'd like him to read a retelling of Caesar's Gallic Wars by Olivia Coolidge. He is motivated to read the Aeneid (he's read the children's retelling before) because for some reason he really, really wants to read Dante's Inferno (videogame that just came out inspired this perhaps?) and he knows he'll get a lot more out of it if he reads the Aeneid first. So say it takes us March, April and into May to read the Aeneid (at the rate we've been going it will take this long!), we can squeeze in a couple of plays somehow as well. He can read the Coolidge book in June. This can be a Dante summer for him! H will be home, maybe they can watch the Teaching Co. videos on Dante together (with me of course!).

History - this has really fallen by the wayside. How did I let this happen??? I'd like to pick up where we left off on the SWB's History of the Ancient World and finish reading this. Also, instead of doing Trisms which J really dragged about, maybe we'll just sit down and watch Foundations of Western Civilization.

Writing - J hates to write. There is no getting around it. He used to like it somewhat. He enjoyed things like Freewrites and one year he wanted to do the November National Writing Month, and he did start his novel but that petered out before Nov ended. So now my approach is this: he likes doing dictation because it gives him handwriting practice, spelling, grammar, etc. It gets him warmed up so to speak. But he hates these formatted programs like Learn to Write the Novel Way or Writeshop. He dreads them. So I was thinking that what we'd do is continue with the video school approach in hopes this will inspire him. Last night we started watching Teaching the Classics. I think we should work through that program and then continue on perhaps with the Teaching Co. lectures on Sentences. That will probably continue through the summer. Perhaps next year, he'll be ready to focus on his writing skills.

So summer school looks like this:

  • CLC continues through the summer
  • Math tutoring continues through the summer
  • History - read HAW and watch videos
  • Writing - watch videos on writing
  • Literature - read Dante and watch videos
Hopefully we wind all this stuff up by mid-August before our beach trip. He'll have a couple of weeks off before we start up studies again.

NB: I can't believe I forgot Latin and Logic!

  • J will have a credit for Latin
  • J started taking the online logic course from LPH and it continues through the summer. That'll be .5 credit.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Weekly Recap 3/1/10 - 3/5/10

Last week had some academic stuff in it but I can't remember it because it is a blur! Wednesday J had his back surgery. We were at the hospital 15 minutes early @ 7:45 and wound up waiting until almost 12:00! The surgery got pushed back because our dr who seems to be THE pediatric orthopedist had to do emergency surgery on a little boy who fell out of a 6 or 7 story window! He lived, incredibly, because he landed on a big snow pile! But he broke his femur and that's what made us wait for hours in the waiting room at the hospital. J finished reading The Screwtape Letters and then napped while we waited. I won't go into the gory details of the surgery and the arduous days at the hospital. J is now home asleep on a bed we've put up in our family room. On J's last day in the hospital he read the book The Hunger Games. I read it too. Really good book!


  • Read aloud from The King of the Golden City
  • Read aloud from Frontier Bishop
  • Btw, finally finished Five Little Peppers Sunday evening.
  • J and B have been watching lots of movies/tv - The Incredible Journey, PW Herman's Big Adventure and lots of Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends.
  • S went early to piano lessons. W is doing a make up lesson there just before S's. S took his saint book on St. Hubert, the Archer Saint (not the the exact title!) to read while he waited.
  • B has been watching Wordgirl on the computer and playing games affiliated with the show.
  • B found her old mp3 player and listened to songs her older sister put on it when she was six. Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, Would You Like to Swing on a Star? and lots of Christian Rock songs.
  • S and B watched the director's commentary on the Series of Unfortunate Events and laughed hysterically the whole time. Lemony Snickett must be very funny!
  • W and I did a practice NLE
  • J slept most of the day!
  • I read the first chapter of Amos Fortune to S who was asking for a read aloud for the evening from me.
  • Finished up Latin homework this a.m. with W but only W went to Latin class
  • J had a rough night
  • While I was taking a shower B and S started watching the Lemony Snickett movie w/ commentary to J. This was good because the incoming storm triggered a weird migraine so I spent most of the morning fighting pain and nausea!
  • B and S announced they wanted a total unschooling day and that I was not allowed to read to them! What?? I was in a weakened condition and consented.
  • B (and S) bickered and fought and screamed horribly making me threaten B with no gymnastics this p.m. unless she straightened up. She, of course, misbehaved again so no class for her!
  • Suddenly right before what would have been time for gymnastics, B made me a lovely card saying I love you mom. She cut out strips of different colored construction paper to make a rainbow in the card.
  • B and S then began to make puppets. S took went to this site and got instructions to make a duck shadow puppet out of cardstock, those little joint pins (what do you call them) that I happened to have from some project long ago and bamboo skewers. Then they tied string to a stuffed dog to make a marionette and B took a couple of skewers and stuck them through the paw of another stuffed dog to make a rod puppet.
  • J gave himself a little sponge bath, brushed his teeth and changed into clean clothes. He went outside for about one minute but it was cold. He has definitely lost weight. I hope he gets his appetite back soon!
  • W practiced music all afternoon and then worked on Writeguide
  • B and S taped up a sheet in the basement and then with a flashlight made hand shadows and put on a really clever show!
  • B made a plate with spaghetti and meatballs out of construction paper!
  • J and I watched the next Earth Science lecture on Mt. St. Helens.
  • S keeps going to this site to look at their puppets.
  • B and S drew pictures of W
  • J watched Murder by Death again (he watched it last night as well.) He thinks that movie is hysterical!
  • B and S finally allowed me to read to them but it was a completely different book than we've been reading: Theater Shoes by Noel Streatfield. Both pronounced the first ch to promise good things.
  • S listened to Jim Weiss cd on Abraham Lincoln. B is listening to The House Beyond the Trees. J is going to try to sleep in his own bed upstairs tonight. Hopefully he'll sleep better.

  • Totally lax day. In a.m. J, S and B watched Peanuts episodes while I ran errands.
  • W practiced lots of music
  • S and W went to VT
  • B and I went on a little date to Chick Fil A - had a nice time
  • J started reading sequel to The Hunger Games
  • B read some from the Chick Fil A booklet on horse she got and then proceeded to play for quite awhile on Starfall
  • S went over to friend's house
  • W went to CLC
  • R read B and S Mysterious Benedict Society 3 and I read them next ch. of Theatre Shoes
  • Still in complete unschooling mode. I think in my head I'll say this is spring break! Maybe start afresh next week when H is home. I'm thinking of using her as a motivational factor for S and B.
  • B and S are still in the lots of drawing and playing with puppets mode
  • J finished reading sequel (what is it's name?)
  • B and S joined me (somewhat) while I actually pulled out an exercise dvd and did the exercise. Yeah for me!
  • B and talked about starting a vegetable garden. Last year R built me this nice square foot garden raised bed but we came to a standstill about how to keep deer away and then we never planted the garden. But this year I'm already planning. So I ordered deer repellant and organic seeds: carrots, melons. tomatoes, peas, broccoli, sweet bell peppers, cucumbers.
  • We are getting 4 baby chicks to raise on 4/5! That'll be fun (I hope!)
  • S and I went out for a date to Panera for lunch
  • W and I went to CC to figure out how to get into his account and drop his music theory class before it is too late. Got it all straightened out.
  • W is designing a new look for his electric guitar. He went to Home depot and bought spray paint. He took apart the guitar and is using paint tape to make some kind of design on it. He's hard at work at it!
  • B and S went out to play for a while; chilly day but the sky was blue.
  • B and S begged me to take them to our really quaint and cool local toystore where we looked at all the great puppets and dollhouses. R says he's going to build a dollhouse for B.
  • J slept all afternoon.
  • J, S and I watched the first part of Teaching the Classics dvd (up through elements of plot and theme.)
  • R read Mysterious Benedict Society
  • I read Theater Shoes
  • nothing academic is planned for tomorrow either!
  • J has his follow up drs. appt in the a.m.
  • Another lady who co-leads the homeschool support group we are in is coming over for a meeting
  • My friend is bringing me food!
  • H is coming home for spring break. Home a whole week!