Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Daily Journal 8/31/10

Boys got up and went to 9 a.m. Mass.

I made bacon and eggs for breakfast. We started lessons @ 10:15

Boys worked on drawing, ear training and music.

I worked with Becky
  • I began reading aloud from Wild Animals I Have Known from Ernest Thompson Seton. She wasn't that enthralled. She was having trouble settling down.
  • She didn't want to do work in her phonics workbook, so instead we played Phonics bingo with blends and digraphs. We played for about 20 minutes. Becky was the caller and read the words aloud. She read well. She misread Think for the word thick but she caught most of her mistakes. After 20 minutes neither of us had bingo and we were starting to get bored. During this we listened the first cd of music that came with our Discovering Music program. Beautiful background music.
  • We took a little break because Becky really wanted to play Connect 4 with me but she couldn't find the game.
  • After break, Becky did copy work from WWE. It took forever! Very slow, easily distracted but very perfectionistic when writing. Lots of erasing.
  • I told her she didn't have to do Map Skills today but she wanted to. She did almost 3 pages just for fun. She didn't quite finish up the 3rd page. Part of the exercise was learning about scale. So she got out a ruler and was figuring out how many miles things were from each other. Since this involved measuring and simple multiplying I decided that would do for math today as well.
  • She was fidgeting again. She really has the attention span of a gnat right now! So I got her some goldfish crackers and a cup of chocolate milk. We had a discussion about toilets! She's been listening to the Great Brain on audio and apparently there was a discussion about outhouses and the first toilets brought to Utah. She was very interested in the history of toilets. We wikipedia'd it and did you know there were flush toilets in Orkney in 31 BC?????
  • I read her Ch. 1 of Faith and Life 4.
  • She read one paragraph from McGuffey's 2nd reader. We discussed the fact that the meal Tea can mean a formal tea or is really just another word for supper.
Will took Josh to his first Biology class @ 12:25.

  • In P.M. Sean worked on math. Will and Sean worked on digital arts. Josh came home from Biology and then worked on gaming stuff.
  • Becky, inspired by our measuring during map skills, took all her magnetix and lined them up so and then measured them with a measuring tape. 192 inches, she informed me!
  • Read Becky a chapter of Little Women while she swam around in the bathtub. Then she listened to more Great Brain.
  • Josh did math.
  • Sean went swimming with his friend.
  • Signed Becky up for a fieldtrip to the National Building Museum, City by Design. They have a homeschool day on 11/22.
  • Will, Sean, Becky and I watched the first unit in Discovering Music. Promises to be good!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Daily Journal 8/30/10

This was supposed to be our first day of the Academic 2010-11 year. I awoke at 5:30 with a horrible migraine. It is now 12:39 and it is mostly gone but as usual I feel weak and spacey. I did manage to some lessons with Becky.

  • We looked over her new books.
  • I told her that at the end of this school year she would be reading chapter books and she'd be able to sit down and write a paragraph easily. She was impressed!
  • On her own initiative she wrote out words she knew how to spell in a brand new composition book. I think the newness of the book inspired her. She managed to write: the, to, too, two, at. Then she wrote out the word 'morning' because she knows how to spell that too. The whole time she was doing this she was chatting up a storm about everything! I had to constantly get her back on task to do the very simplest thing.
  • Then we did a page out of her new MCP Phonics C.
  • Then I showed her the Writing with Ease book from last year. We started up at Lesson 8 where we left off last spring. However, she balked at doing copywork, so we put it off until tomorrow. I told her a little about Caddie Woodlawn though, which is where the lesson is taken from.
  • I showed her the Kolbe Map Skills workbook and she was intrigued. So we did the first page which was a map of Washington DC and the monument and reflecting pool area. She knows that area! So that made it more interesting. I wrote out the fill in the blanks for her but she answered the questions. She then numbered the symbols in the chart and matched them to the different geographic points.
  • We did the first lesson in Saxon 5/4 orally. Not the problems just the mental math and intro to concept. She was losing focus at this point.
  • Took a 10 minute break then I read the next story from Bible History - Achab and Jezebel. What nasty people! Becky really was not engaged and didn't narrate well at all.
  • Started with first lesson of McGuffey's Reader. I read first little paragraph and then she read para. 2. She wouldn't let me help her but sounded through everything and then had to reread read it for comprehension. She read 'both' as 'doth' and struggled with other words like 'learned' pronounced it lean-red'
  • Will and he worked on memorizing and acting out the ferris wheel scene from The Third Man. We watched this movie over vacation and everybody was impressed by it.
  • Sean worked on typing out a script he is working on
  • Sean did the first lesson in Saxon 7/6
  • Sean went to his friend's house to play.
  • Josh finessed memorization of The Walrus and The Carpenter
  • Worked more on his 'idea bucket' for writing
  • Did Lesson 82 in Alg II (most of it)
There was a big break in the afternoon. Will kindly took Becky and Sean to their playdate and went grocery shopping for me.

In the evening all three boys worked on their drawing skills and digital arts and music. They were actually working up until 10 p.m.

Josh is reading Mockingjay. Sean was supposed to start a book. He chose The Treasure Seekers by E. Nesbit. Don't know how much he actually read.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Weekly Report 8/23-27 - the unschool edition

We aren't officially starting our fall studies until next week on 8/30. However, this week the three boys decided to take matters into their own hands. Really it was Will's idea.

Each morning they went to 9:00 a.m. Mass (except on Wednesday because something was wrong with the car - wound up taking into the shop the next day and getting it fixed.)

I decided to encourage them in this by providing them with nice breakfasts. I put out place mats and set the table nicely on our screen porch. We enjoyed the beautiful weather and dining outside each morning. Sean informed me that my breakfast skills were getting better! LOL!

After breakfast they worked on memorizing poems. Will worked on the soliloquy from Hamlet, Josh on The Walrus and the Carpenter (which he recited to me quite nicely Friday), Sean couldn't decide on a poem he wanted. He tried Poe's the Raven but decided it was too long, then he was going to memorize some of Lear's Limericks but none grabbed him. Then he decided to memorize The Owl and Pussycat but he soon realized he already had it memorized!

Next they worked on writing. I don't think any actual writing took place, though. Josh started a short story and Sean wrote a little poem but they gave up after the first day. However, they did have fun brainstorming and they came up with an 'idea bucket' which was making up a lot of creative writing prompts.

They also focused on music. Will on guitar and piano for many hours. Josh worked a bit on learning to play the Ocarina. Sean fooled around on the keyboard. Will did voice training with them. Becky joined in on that. Sean got a jaw harp on Wednesday and has been playing it ever since.

They've also been doing a lot of work out of Mark Kistler's Draw Squad. We've discovered Josh can really draw! Sean of course drew the most because he aspires to be an animator.

Josh really focused most of his attention on learning the more complex stuff off of Gamemaker. He really wants to learn game design and computer programming stuff. He designed a couple of video games, but I haven't seen them yet.

Josh went to his CLC meeting on Wed. night.

Becky was out of the loop on all this. She spent most of the week watching Phineas and Ferb shows. This is her last TV week. Next week we start a more austere schedule when it comes to tv viewing! We also started reading Little Women out loud. Love it! She's hung out with her brothers sometimes participating with them and sometimes just annoying them. She also did some impromptu science. She went through a rock collection we have and poured vinegar over each rock to see which would fizz (rocks will react to acid if they have carbonate in them.) She also made props for Sean's recitation of the Owl and the Pussycat out of cardboard. Very cute! She found a big cardboard box and decorated it and cut out windows for it. She danced and played dress up too. She picked flowers from around the pond. Today she helped me set up our nature table. She put on it her deer bone collection, her seashell collection, her pressed wildflowers (from a couple years ago) and the flowers she'd picked earlier in the week on the nature table. She also listened to The Horse and His Boy and Hoot on audio this week. She went to Vision Therapy.

Hannah got her wisdom teeth pulled on Tuesday morning. Was rather miserable Wednesday and Thursday and left this morning to return to the University of Dallas.

One thing the boys learned was that it is hard to get into a routine. We've been so used to staying up and sleeping in. The decision the get up every morning by 8:30 and go to a 9 a.m. mass took some effort. I was really proud of them for that. I was also quite impressed by how they worked hard on the things they were doing. Sean had the hardest time because he was trying to keep up with two teen boys and they kept forgetting he's only 11 and can't focus as intensely for as long as they can.

Will also did some job hunting. He went to the School of Rock, Music and Arts, Noodles and Co, Gamestop, Coldstone Creamery and Starbucks to ask for jobs. School of Rock said maybe he could sub. Music and Arts isn't hiring. Noodles and Co, Coldstone and Starbucks all said to apply online. Gamestop, though, gave him an application and said they might be looking for someone in October.

Next week I hope to fold in math, assigned reading (nobody seemed to be reading this week at all)and PE (except for Will, he's been going to the gym regularly).

Also, Josh will be starting his high school Biology class on Tuesday afternoon.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Becky's Old Fashioned Education

We are reading Little Women which I am enjoying more than I ever did before. It makes me all nostalgic and cozy feeling. Becky likes anything old-fashioned and since she is growing up and will soon, perhaps, not revel so in the quaint and charming, I thought maybe we could focus on getting an Old Fashioned Education this year. I've been looking at all my old books and also at Ambleside. I think I'd love to try Nature Study again this year with her. I have a wonderful 1906 A Child's Nature Field Study book that has charming day by day entries that give little interesting tidbits of information about nature in each season of the year. It would be excellent to start on January First. Becky has said she wants to study animals this year. I'm looking for an old fashioned read aloud about them. Still need to hunt a bit. I noticed that Ambleside divides at least one of its years (can't remember which one) into Term 1 - mammals, Term 2 - birds, Term 3 - flowers. For birds I just found a great guide to Thornton Burgess's Bird Book. And I happen to have a 1923 edition of Burgess Book of Flowers for Children. So except for the mammals bit, I'm pretty prepared for that.

I also like Ambleside's way of studying folksongs and hymns. I'm going to put my own spin on it. I think we'll focus on Stephen Foster songs this year. I have a cd of his songs sung in a gorgeous way by Thomas Hampson, who has an incredible baritone voice. Sends shivers down one's spine! And for hymns, I'm thinking of these:

September - Holy God, We Praise Thy Name (Hymn of praise)
October - (the month of the Rosary) a Marian Hymn. I realize I only know about 3: Sing of Mary, Hail Holy Queen and Immaculate Mary, so one of those!
November - Now Thank We All Our God (Thanksgiving of course!)
December - On Jordan's Bank (Advent)
January - Adeste Fideles (for the Christmas season - learn it in Latin)
February - Look Down to Us, Saint Joseph -I thought we could learn this in preparation for our St. Joseph Day's Talent Show. Maybe Becky could sing it or perhaps we could lead a sing along.
March - O Sacred Head Surrounded (Passiontide)
April - Jesus Christ is Risen Today (Easter)
May - Another Marian hymn
June - Where Charity and Love Prevail (just cuz I like it!)

For reading, I think we could work our way through McGuffey's 2nd Reader, or at least start there. McGuffey is fairly advanced and moves quickly and Becky moves slowly! However, hopefully this is the year she'll take off in reading.

We will use Writing with Ease for copy work which is very CM in its approach and uses mostly classic children's literature as models.

For Religion - Ignatius Schuster's Bible History - which was published way back when. It was on its 32 reprint in 1959. Also I think we'll read Apostle on Crutches. That looks like it will fit the bill.

For math, I think we'll stick with Saxon. Becky wanted to work in the same type of book that her older brothers are, so Saxon 5/4 is a brand new edition.

For Latin, Getting Started in Latin will have to suffice.

For read alouds - I do really want to read The Aeneid for Boys and Girls by Church. I don't know if we are going into a Louisa May Alcott kick, but we've got plenty we could read aloud by her. We also still need to read Noel Streatfeild's Dancing Shoes (not quite as old-fashioned, set more in the 1930's or 1940's). We've just read The Secret Garden this summer so we might read more of Burnett, like The Little Princess and Little Lord Fauntleroy. Also, I was hoping to read Hitty, Her First Hundred Years.

I am reinstituting a nature table to get our slightly more formal nature study off to a start this week.

I think it sounds like a really fun year! I am looking forward to lots of long walks, mother-daughter time cooking, baking, making things, singing together and reading together.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Homeschooling; A Family's Journey

I got this book out of the library a couple days ago. I went searching for something inspirational, as summer draws to a close, that would help me get in the mood for switching gears into our fall routine. So I pulled a couple of books off the shelf and brought them home. One of them was this book which I don't believe I had ever heard of before. It is by Gregory and Martine Millman. They are homeschoolers who've been at it since the mid 90's. They are both writers and editors with Mr. Millman working as a financial journalist and who has also written several books in that field. They have six children. The oldest 3 are girls who as of the publication of this book, 2007, were all in colleges. They still had three younger sons homeschooing at home at the high school and elementary levels. They are Catholic! That was a nice surprise for me.

I found this book really intelligently written and insightful. The Millmans chronicle their journey into homeschooling and how their philosophy of homeschooling and, well, life(!), developed. They talk about all aspects of it, the richness of learning, how learning at home must needs be different from learning in an institutional setting. This is mixed in with very practical advice. I especially liked the whole section they had on their experience getting their children into college. I felt Mr. Millman's voice most strongly in the telling. He writes like a reporter, interviewing various people, citing resources, studies, polls. He draws on his knowledge of business in analyzing the phenomenon of homeschooling. This aspect of the book presented the subject matter in a fresh light which I found thought provoking.

There's a lot of wisdom in this book! I think it would speak to any style of homeschooler from unschoolers (which the Millmans seem to identify strongly with) to those who are more conventional in how they educate their children. And even though the Millmans are Catholic and that very evidently influences their choices, the book is not a Catholic Homeschooling book. I think it would appeal to homeschoolers of all stripes.

Anyway, thank you to the Millmans for writing this book! It was just the ticket I needed. I keep going back and rereading sections. There's food for thought here that can guide me in our learning lifestyle this year. May God continue to bless them!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

What a Long, Strange Trip It's Been

Two points if you know what song that line is from!!!!!

I've been looking back over our summer, even though it isn't quite finished yet. Here's what's gone on so far:

  • Hannah came home from college. This always changes the dynamics around here somehow even though she spends lots of time in her room or out so that at times we forget she's home again!
  • Hannah gets a job for about 3 weeks at a pizza place. Boss turns out to be a sadistic megalomaniac. Hannah quits and then pieces together various nannying/housesitting jobs to earn money for her trip to Rome in the spring.
  • Josh, Sean and Becky go on an overnight campout with 4H. They have a good time until they are eaten alive by mosquitoes.
  • Becky who up to this point has loved, loved, loved her gymnastics class and who has begged to go to a week long camp there for homeschoolers, inexplicably refuses to go to the camp.
  • Becky freaks out taking CAT and I can't get her to work on it. I give up and don't make her. I'll think of something else, I say to myself.
  • Hannah paints her room and does a really good job. Maybe she could have a career as an interior decorator.
  • I realize I have let my driver's license expire. I can't find either my birth or marriage certificate. Spend way too much time waiting to receive documents and waiting at the DMV. Becomes a huge black cloud that hangs over me all summer.
  • I pay a lot of money to join a pool that we never wind up actually going to. Summer is not looking good.
  • Hannah's roommate from college comes to stay for a week. I hire both her and Hannah to clean/organize the house. They do an incredible job on the kitchen and the horrible mudroom/pantry. Life is good!
  • Will goes off to Workcamp - NC where he paints and repairs houses.
  • Will comes back from Workcamp and then a week later leaves for a 5 week stay in Boston at Berklee College of Music. I miss him terribly. He calls us every afternoon.
  • Becky begins a blissful three weeks at music camp. She loves it though she never does get a good sound out of her flute.
  • Meanwhile Josh is plugging through his 9th grade coursework, trying to finish it before 10th grade starts.
  • Becky has her birthday party. Hannah is a great help here and paints all the little girls nails for them. Becky refuses to write thank you notes. I keep thinking I'll get her in a better mood first but then get preoccupied with life.
  • Sean announces he no longer wants to be read aloud to. I decide I'll give him a break for the summer, but since he doesn't read enough on his own, he'll have to put up with it during the school year.
  • Becky and I continue to enjoy Noel Steatfeild books. We read Ballet Shoes.
  • Sean and Josh spend a week volunteering at our parish Vacation Bible School. Everyone praises Josh's work. Sean enjoys himself too.
  • Josh spends a weekend at Steubenville. Has a great time.
  • Florian, our Austrian Exchange Student arrives. Hannah wanted to me participate in the 4H program because she figures it would be cool to know someone in Europe when she goes over next spring. However, she is too busy/preoccupied to spend all that much time with him. Everybody is in throes of doing something else (like aforementioned activities). I wind up spending lots of time with him. He is a great guy, full of curiosity of about the US and intelligent observations. We have a very enjoyable 3 weeks, except for the fact that Becky is still acting crazed at times!
  • We go on field trips with Florian to Mount Vernon and the Bureau of Printing and Engraving.
  • Hannah goes off to California to visit some boy. She comes back all moody and distant. She openly acts as if she can't stand to be in the same room with us for more than 5 minutes (and that's a strain.). Sigh. If only my children were more sympathetic when suffering. Instead they are so prickly and difficult. Apparently, he broke her heart.
  • Sean participates in a Drama Camp at church where he is once again the only boy in his age level. He hates one of the skits they have to do which is based on a stupid pop song sung by a stupid pop singer. He tries to handle himself nobly but breaks down and cries a little too.
  • Florian leaves to continue his travels. It's weird to have a son for 3 weeks who then goes off and you'll probably never see him again. . . .
  • I miss Will.
  • Latin camp starts up. 13 kids, 9 of them boys. Everything goes well, but I am constantly planning as we go. Becky decides she's really in charge and can't understand why everybody won't let her boss them around. Week is exhausting! I am tired of Becky's constantly acting out. I've been reading parenting books all summer trying to figure her out.
  • Josh finishes his literature for 9th grade! Hurray!
  • Josh, Sean and Becky take lessons from Johnny for swimming. They love it. Josh finally likes being in the water! Life is looking up!
  • I finally renew my license. I also fill in paper work to be an AHG asst. leader. This has also been hanging over my head. Feel relief!
  • I forget to figure out what to do about Becky's lack of testing. Am now a week late getting in proof of progress for the county. Ugh. Another black cloud!
What's to come still:
  • Helen, the roommate, is back. She and Hannah are hired to clean/organize the study and basement.
  • Josh is working on finishing up his science requirements for the year. Hopefully today, he'll complete that. Then he'll only have history to finish up before vacation! Algebra II will continue into the fall. Then he'll cram all of Geometry into the remaining school year.
  • Sean has a stop motion camp to attend this coming week. He is very excited about it. I hope he doesn't get too disappointed about it. Seems like he always has such high aspirations that inevitably get dashed.
  • Must send in proof of progress and plans for next year to county this week. Must!
  • Must meet with M. Stender to discuss TORCH stuff for upcoming school year.
  • Must write those thank you notes!
  • Must get ready this week for vacation next week. OBX here we come. I can't wait. My sister Lisa and her family will be with us a few days. I haven't really talked to her in ages and ages. Can't wait to walk on the beach, have other adults take turns cooking, read lots of books, hang out with Will . . . .
  • William will be done with his program on Friday, it looks like! We've got to fly him home. Can't wait to see him!
  • Poor Hannah is getting her wisdom teeth pulled on 8/24. I'll need to nurse her for a couple of days. Also, recoup from vacation and get last minute things in order. Hannah leaves for school 8/27.
  • New school year starts up 8/30! Whew! It will be a relieve to have a set routine each week instead of bouncing around from one thing to another week after week! I'm looking forward to it!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Latin Camp

I'm hosting a Latin camp this week for 13 kids ages 6.5 to 11. It's only for 3 hours a day but it seems to swallow whole days. I'm just going to note what I've done each day for future reference:

Day 1

Kids got nametags as they came in.

Sat in circle. Led them in sign of the cross and Ave Maria (in Latin) Practiced it a couple of times.

Played an ice breaker game - batted balloon around and each kid said his/her name, age and either what their favorite food was or their favorite animal. Balloon turned into volley ball game. Too rowdy.

Learned short poem by Sara Coleridge - Father is Pater. . .

Learned about what a verb is and what a noun is. Stood up and we chanted Amo, amas, amat to the tune of the Mexican Hat Dance (got this from Latin for Children). Kids loved it.

Played a game. I had written out 50 nouns in Latin on one side and English on the other on post it notes. The kids broke into two or three in a group and went around sticking sticky notes on different things around the house. They liked this.

Made lunch while the kids had indoor free time. Chicken nuggets and fries, apples and carrots.

Served lunch, kids ate. Before I let them go outside to play we recapped what we had learned in the morning.

Then the kids went out and played on slip and slide and sprinklers. Some kids put on a show in the basement.

Day 2
Name tags, kids got here early so played downstairs for a few minutes.

Gathered in circle. Practiced prayers again. Did another icebreaker because a new child who hadn't made it on Monday was here.

Kids enjoyed getting up and reciting the poem. Many offered to stand up and recite. Others didn't want to.

Stood up and sang Amo, amas, amat song.

Broke into three groups. Then they rotated through 3 stations. 1) Latin bingo game - for some reason this didn't work. Not enough bingo cards were alike) 2) Me reading Quot Anamalia out loud. 3) The sticky post game from day 1.

Free time while I made lunch.

Lunch and recap.

Free play outside with slip and slide and sprinklers.

Day 3

Boy did I over plan this day. You would think by Day 3 I'd have a better idea of what I can fit into our little teaching time, but I don't seem to have that instinct. Also, the mood of the children is slightly different from day to day and that can affect their attentiveness and attention spans.

Did the nametag and folder thing

Sat in circle - practiced sign of the cross. Showed the kids a youtube video of the words of the Ave Maria while monks chanted it beautifully.

Did ice breaker - favorite book.

Kids took turns reciting poem. Reviewed Amo song.

Taught the kids Sum - I am, etc. Did the sum, es, est chant with arms punching the air.

Did animal game - had kids stay in the basement (Josh keep them in order) while Becky, Sean and I hid stuffed animals/puppets all over the mainfloor. Each child was given the name of an animal in Latin and English. They were supposed to each look for their animal. Some kids are great lookers and others, not so much!

Free play while I made lunch - bacon and pancakes and oj.

Kids played outside with squirt guns, water soaker balls and in too big storage tubs full of water.

Day 4

No nametags today.

We did a review of everything learned so far. Went over everything to make sure the kids were really pronouncing each word correctly and that they really understood what everything meant.

Played history game - put out cards I have from a homemade timeline game that had to do with Ancient Rome and early Church history. Each child got to pick a card. Then I would talk about whatever picture was on the card - Julius Caesar, roman ship, etc, whatever it was and then we'd pass it around. Kids got hungry and bored about halfway through.

Free play while I made lunch - frozen pizzas.

After lunch more of the same squirt gun/water play. But it was very hot and most of the kids lingered over lunch just chatting or they chose to play indoors or read books.

Day 5

Kids did a 5 minute tidy up of the downstairs (we had mostly set it up night before)

We went over the order of the show verbally. Then we went down to the stage and practiced one time.

The kids played while I got busy with making mac and cheese, tuna salad, put out baby carrots.

Moms came at 12. Brought food - water melon, homemade raisin bread (yummy!), cookies, donuts, fruit salad. One dad was late because his poor wife is recovering from surgery. Put on the show. The kids processed from the bedroom to the stage. Becky was the announcer. First they sang the amo song, then chanted sum, es, est. Then they recited the poem. Then they sat down and each child picked out the animal they had found the day before and took turns saying the word for their animal. Then we all stood up and said the sign of the cross and the Ave Maria.

Had lunch and kids played.

All in all, things went well. There was a lot more I could have taught them if I'd had another hour. However, I don't think I have the stamina to do another hour at this point! So be it!