Friday, April 10, 2009

Learning is still going on...

...though at a slower pace. Neighborhood kids have been on spring break, so naturally, my children want to be outside where all the action is. With this lovely spring weather, it just feels right to be outside more. Especially since it gets blazing hot around here by May and continues through October!

Here are some highlights from the last few weeks...we'd all be here forever if I journaled everything we've been doing!

Missing Daddy
The consensus around here is that we all miss my husband. He's been deployed since January, and life has definitely been a challenge. A HUGE challenge! He called today, which is always a wonderful surprise, but it also gets the kids emotional. We are all trying to keep trekking along, and whatever we don't get to now, we eventually will at a later time! We will be working through the summer just because we have slowed our pace a bit to adjust to life. When daddy gets back, we'll take a well deserved vacation camping at the beach!

Almond and Pistachio had state testing this past week... It was a huge dilemma for me, which I won't go into the details here... Let's just say I don't agree that it's necessary for 2nd graders, and the test content was more than we have covered this year. Really, do most 2nd graders know multiplication and division??? We don't "test" at home, but do more oral work and discussion. I just told Almond that if she comes to a question she doesn't know, it just means we haven't learned it yet, and that's ok! She decided to fill in the bubble next to "A" for all the questions she didn't know, for her first initial. LOL!

Language Arts
Almond has had a hard time retaining what we've learned, and it really wasn't a concern for me. But she became frustrated when she had to ask, "what does a verb mean again?" So we made some homemade flash cards with definitions of terms she has been learning. Every week, she reads them a few times, and it has helped her to memorize a noun, proper noun, verb, and synomym. She woke up one day reading at a level I didn't know she could! lol... funny how one day reading just clicks for some kids...

Macadamia has been lagging a bit on all subjects, or should I say going at her own pace due to many reasons... She asked me this past week to make out a schedule for her as she thinks this will help her stay on task. In the past she was fine with wanting just a general idea of what she needed to do each week. She is starting poetry study, with The Harp and Laurel Wreath. Though it's not an in-depth analysis, I think it does a good job of exposing your child to poetry and training them to first read it as a whole, then go back and think about rhyme, literary elements, etc... She is working at the rhetoric level, and the poems are very enjoyable!

For the boys, it has been challenging finding a book that they want to really dig into to... I'm encouraging some C.S. Lewis and Jules Verne, as I really enjoyed these books as a child, and these are the type of books that science fiction movies are based on... We'll see how that goes!

Science/Nature Study
The highschoolers are in biology and working on dissections.

This is a fresh duck, not preserved...juicy!

We've been trying to get outdoors more. Almond is studying birds with our co-op and interested in flowers. We've been going on walks around the neighborhood, and snapping pictures of anything we see that is interesting, lovely, or odd! We ordered a sketch book, and she will be pasting the pictures we took into her book, write a sentence about it, then she'll try to draw some of the pictures. This is our lovebird Harold. Isn't he just cute?

Here are some of the flowers we spotted around our neighborhood...

I just ordered more dissection specimens, including a cow's eye. They should arrive next week.

We're also going to start some gardening next week and have been studying about plants. Perhaps an herb garden...

The Arts
If we ever stopped doing "school" around here, I know the kids would never stop studying the arts.

All of the girls, including Peanut are studying ballet, and are rehearsing for their upcoming ballet, Cinderella. I've even started dancing one night a week for exercise...But you won't catch me dead in a leotard! LOL... Well, maybe if I lost 30 lbs...

Macadamia continues to study piano on her own time, and violin with private lessons. She's been drawing faces and working on friendship bracelets that are more complicated than usual. I'll try to scan some of her drawings next time.

Almond is practicing her piano and learned how to spool knit. At this point, she doesn't have the patience to be a crafter, and is yet to complete a project! But she is enjoying art class at co-op and recently has been painting with water colors.

Cashew has been playing the bass like crazy! He's continuing with private lessons and becoming faster and working on techniques like slapping...

Pistachio is still playing guitar. He takes private electric guitar lessons and an acoustic worship class at co-op. He's been working on composing his own rock music.

We're continuing to listen to classical music, mostly Bach, Beethoven, Vivaldi, and Tchaikovsky, since those are the composers we studied this year.

The kids enjoy Come Look with Me for art study. Study questions are provided with each classic reprint, as well as a short biography on each artist. A total no-brainer! I'll definitely be ordering the other books for next year...

Homeschool Group
It's been difficult finding a homeschool group that we fit into. I've been blessed to have 3 other women in our small church that homeschool...So we decided to start our own little group and we're in the process of planning some fieldtrips and fun get togethers!

I'm in the process of planning for next year, and have decided to go full fledged Charlotte Mason! I'm still going to maintain a relaxed learning environment, and will be using Ambleside for the youngers and putting together the olders curriculum (they will be taking some Community College and co-op classes too). Oh, but I'm still going to incorporate notebooking and some lapbooking. All of this curriculum focus made me re-think what we're doing right now. For Almond, we'll be dropping our history curriculum (which I think was over her head and not too exciting) and we'll be focusing on biographies of well admired people, artists, and composers, as well as some world geography out of a fun workbook we found for 99 cents! We'll also be spending more time outside, trying to tie in language arts into our nature studies.

Peanut is showing a desire to learn more. She's been asking to read more books and asking more questions than usual. She has also asked for her own "work" so we bought some fun activity books and more ABC and counting books... I can't believe she only has one more year until kinder!
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