Monday, February 01, 2010

October Through December Summary

Edited to add: Now this is an October thru January Summary. We have just completed week 11. Thankfully I'm better at teaching my children than I am at remembering to hit "publish post" since this has been ready for three weeks!

We are eight weeks into our studies this school year. That may not seem like a lot to you, but I'm not bothered about how long it takes us to get through the formal material as much as how much we live, breathe and learn a long the way. We didn't formally begin until after our trip to Turkey in October. Then I threw my back out which caused us to start Christmas holidays a little earlier than planned. Then a great two week break for Christmas. But, that is the joy of being a home ed family--we can do what we need to do as we need to do it.

And although formally we are on week 8, I cannot capture the learning that has taken place.

We've learned about the sciatic nerve and why it makes mommy's leg hurt sometimes, and her back other times.
Jewel has learned how to use the phone, and be safe in answering the door.
Jewel is becoming quite efficient helping with laundry as she has helped so much with my back hurting.
Bible stories have been re-enacted over and over with the Barbies received for Christmas. Barbie has been Elijah and the widow, Peter preaching to the crowds, and Jesus walking on the water. I haven't once seen them worry that they need to look like Barbie!
Thank you notes have been written and social niceties have been reinforced.
Grandparents have been loved on and have doted on them. De-programming from grandparents visits are ongoing.
New Years, change of calendar, celebration styles (fireworks or no?), writing new dates have all been practiced.
Big Ben, the Tower of London, the London Eye, and Buckingham Palace have been visited.
Warhol and Picasso have been seen at the Tate Modern.
Snowman construction has been taught by Daddy and then demonstrated by the girls during our two big snowstorms.
Walking on ice safely has been learned. Not walking on the lake in spite of the silly people doing it has been discussed.
Playdates have been shared.
The new laptop has been used daily, for hours on end.
"Jingle Bells" and "O Come All Ye Faithful" have been mastered on the piano.

and that is just the informal learning that is taking place....

Formally, we are doing well with Sonlight as our spine of study. Jewel has just finished looking at the Vikings and is starting Castles and Medieval times. We have not totally closed out the Viking study as we still want to go up to York to the Viking Center before we are done. The castle study was perfect to coincide with the Tower of London trip (totally a coincidence, I don't plan that well) and has made reviewing the parts of castle easier. She is finally grasping the concept of addition now that we have started subtraction. She is finding subtraction much easier. I am hopeful that the foundation is finally solidifying for her. She continues to read ahead of where we are in the books. She is a great reader, and loves it, which is encouraging. I'm only one week behind on science experiments with her which is truly amazing. And, we have completed two of the artists' studies that I am putting together as we go through the year (Van Eyck and Botticelli). Art continues to capture her imagination, so we will run with that some more.

Flower is reading almost fluently now. She is not nearly as frustrated with reading. She still sounds out unfamiliar words, but she does so in the flow of reading rather than just stopping on the word. She is completing the first of the "I Can Read" books this week and is so excited that she has completed a book. She continues with Explode the Code and Handwriting without Tears as well. This week we finally progressed past just writing numbers and counting in MUS Primer to place setting. She grasped the concept immediately. She told her daddy she was now doing "real math not just baby stuff." She continues to show an aptitude for math as being easy, so I'm glad she likes it. She is also doing the art studies with Jewel and me, but she finds it more tedious than fun. I let her rush through the activities and do her own thing. She is only four (almost five) after all! We are actually up to date with her science experiments and she loves it.

Daddy is still reading history or missionary stories to them at night time. They just finished a story about Florence Nightingale so the next time we are in London I'm going to surprise them by taking them to St. Thomas Hospital to the Nightingale museum. They are currently reading about Hudson Taylor.

Jewel keeps saying she wants to be an archaeologist when she grows up. So, we are encouraging it by showing her things that archaeologists do. She got a couple of archaeology "dig" games for Christmas that we look forward to doing. But in the meantime the coolest thing happened over the weekend. She and her daddy were shoveling the driveway and they found this:
peacock tracks

Can you tell what they are? They swept the snow away to reveal them better. They are peacock tracks! Where the peacock walked and melted the snow, it refroze into these tracks and then snowed on top of them. Jewel told me they uncovered them "just like a real archaeologist would". It was so cute!

I know in my last post I said I was going to combine this into my main blog. But I find that I really do like being able to print an account of our school pursuits in one place. So, for now (or at least today), I'll keep it here. I've made a goal this year to update at least twice a month. Maybe that is doable, lol. But that is our first 3 months of school in a nutshell.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Another Year in Review

It is obvious that I am unable to keep up with two different blogs. I started a separate home school blog with intentions of getting more involved in the online home school community and thought that having them separate would facilitate that. Instead, I find that it just falls to the wayside. My life is separated into "school" "family" "church" and "other", so why should my writing life be separated? With that said, after this post, when we start our new school year mid-October, I am going to be posting school updates on my main blog, Miriam Pauline's Monologue. I may (or may not) remember to post a link from here for a while. I think all 3 or 4 of you who read here also read there so it shouldn't be a big issue.

All that said, this post is meant to put last year in review. We finished up our school year on September 10. In general we have had a wonderful year. Most of my goals were met, and we made some great memories along the way. Where we struggle just reminds me of why we home school--so we can go at their pace and meet their individual needs.

Jewel completed 1st Grade/Year 2 (US/UK equivalent). She is reading well beyond her age of seven years. I mean, just yesterday she read out of Acts for our family devotions and never missed a beat. During the course of the school year, in addition to the fictional stories assigned she has read aloud to me all of Genesis, all of Exodus, several Psalms, a couple chapters of Proverbs and all of Philippians. She loves to read and will spend hours curled up with a book--often it is her Bible that she is curled up and reading to Flower. We could get ten books a day from the library and she would stay caught up reading them. In the same vein, she loves history since it is reading based. This year we looked briefly at ancient civilizations then focused on Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome. We have visited the mummy room at the British Museum, the Parthenon exhibit at the British Museum, and Roman ruins in England to add to the learning experience. Although she talks the most about our Roman studies (probably because she remembers going to Rome and seeing so much of the forum and palaces and such) it is Greece that enamours her. She is desperate to visit Greece so that may have to move up our list of places to go. Missionary stories, which form much of our history and geography core, fascinate her. We studied George Mueller this year and she could not get enough. She even had her daddy read another history of George Mueller as bedtime stories "so he could learn about George as well." We hope to get down to Bristol this autumn and visit Ashley Down. She also read a biography of Billy Graham with her daddy. I definitely see a heart for other people in her, so there are more missionary stories on the horizon. Science continues to go well with introductions to how the body works, how to stay healthy, and Pasteur's discoveries and work with bacteria. We didn't do as many science experiments as planned, but I plan to do better next year. Our slower area continues to be math but she is making tremendous progress, especially the last few weeks. It seems to be finally "clicking" with her. I am so thankful that we could slow down to her pace and allow her the chance to "get it" without totally losing her love of learning in the process. We didn't quite finish our math book during the school year, so we will just pick up where we left off and when she is ready move to the next level.

She continues to do exceedingly well in swimming and has started piano lessons where she is also making great progress. She attends a weekly group at the church as well and has lots of friends. All in all, she is doing well!

Flower and I have had a great time doing PreK/Reception work this year. We have read lots of fun stories and some great introduction to easy science and history. We looked at things that live under the sea, we learned about the smallest and largest things in the universe, we learned the months of the year and the days of the week. She has done terrifically with handwriting and can happily write just about anything you give her to copy or spell aloud to her. Her reading is coming along great. She is sounding out cvc words with little effort and spends much of her time when we are out attempting to read everything around her. She's really proud of herself for learning to read. She has also learned to ride a bicycle without training wheels/stabilisers this year. She is in the same swimming classes as Jewel and is totally able to keep up with her big sister. She isn't old enough to start piano yet, but Jewel "teaches" her when she is practicing and she is learning quite quickly!

Of course, the thing I love about Sonlight is the great books that we get to read. Here is a sampling of what we have read this year:
*A Year with Miss Agnes
*Mr. Popper's Penguins
*Henry Huggins
*Detectives in Togas
*Understood Betsy (and we made butter which was wonderful!)
*Follow My Leader
*Charlotte's Web
*Little Pear
*Mountain Born
*Homer Price (made doughnuts, yum!)

It's been a great year. We are enjoying a little time off before getting into it again. The new Cores are on the shelf waiting to be used. I'm really having to encourage the girls to wait, but we did need a break. Our annual eval is this week and then I'll be able to focus more on the next stage.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Weekly wrap-up, November 17-23

We had a great week last week. Jewel is getting so much more confident with math, and is plugging along with her addition facts. We have finally arrived at more concrete history studies in the curriculum (as opposed to social studies of people groups and housing). Jewel is fascinated with early history. She is asking lots of questions and is very engaged with the study which is great for her mommy/teacher. Her Bible memory work this week is John 3:16. Here, again, she is asking lots of questions about the Bible stories we read and the "Leading Little Ones to God" book. It is wonderful to see her work at putting it all together in her head.

Flower added two more letters (k and r) to the ones she has learned to write. She is so proud of herself when she learns something new. She was a little distracted this week during story time. I'm thinking she needs a short break.

Saturday we went to a stage production of "Seussical" a musical based on Dr. Seuss characters. It was really good. Flower was especially mesmerized. Then Sunday both girls were cast as angels for the upcoming church production and began learning how to sing "Away in a Manger." They are very cute, even if they are totally cast against character!

This week we are slowing down and just doing some Thanksgiving activities and some activities to complete our latest book Mr. Popper's Penguins. We'll go back to a light schedule next week, then spend the rest of December concentrating on Advent activities. They are ready for a lighter schedule for a little while.

Got to Make the Doughnuts

We recently completed Homer Price as our lunch time reader. One of the favorite Homer stories is when the doughnut making machine goes haywire. In honor of finishing the book, we made doughnuts. The girls helped cut them out, I fried them and then I glazed half of them. The other half, we covered with chocolate sauce and the girls decorated with sprinkles! What a fun way to end a book!

Carnation Experiment

I finally uploaded the pictures of our carnations that we changed the color.

Here they are on day 1:

Here they are on day 10. Jewel's is red, Flower's is blue and mine is green. Green doesn't work very well.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Wrap Up--Week of November 2-8

Wow, I'm actually getting a wrap up done within a couple days of the completed week. What a concept!

We had a great week this week. It started on Sunday, when our family presented about our recent mission trip to Romania. (You can read more here, there are five posts in total) German and I led the service, Jewel and Flower sang with the praise band and then we hosted a typical Romanian meal afterwards. We had over eighty people stay for the meal and it was amazing. It was great to see the girls talking about the trip, remembering different aspects and placing things into context for others.

Monday began week six of our Sonlight year. We are nearing the more "meaty" part of the history and social studies in the curriculum. I'm so ready to get to ancient civilaztions! I would move quicker through what I consider tedious, but Jewel loves Usborne books and doesn't want to rush. Child led, MiPa, child led!

Monday night we went to visit friends who had their first baby on Friday evening. Flower, especially, was enthralled by the tiny hands and feet. He slept the whole time we were their, but I was able to enjoy the cuddles.

Reading is going well. She really loves that she is able to read the Bible to me. So cool! Flower is half-way through her first "Get Ready for the Code" book and is doing great. She has learned to write most of her letters and now we are beginning to work on more consistency.

Math is going so much smoother now that we have begun the Math*U*See curriculum. Jewel is finally getting to grips with basics such as place value and she now says that she loves math. We haven't heard that in a long time!

We finished reading Homer Price last night. The girls loved it. We will make doughnuts sometime next week to complete the experience. In Science this week in addition to continuing our study of flowers we completed a few water experiments that we had not been able to do before. We created a syphon to make water flow upwards. The girls were convinced that I would not be able to do it, but I did. Yay me! We are also changing the color of white carnations. Jewel's carnations in red food color are a beautiful pink color. Flower's in blue food color are beginning to tinge blue. Mine in green food color are still white. ;-( Oh well! Next week we will do similar experiments with celery to see how the water is taken up the stalk.

It should be a quiet weekend around here. Tomorrow the girls will present their current memory verse to someone at church. They have spent the last six weeks learning all of Psalm One. There is a young man at church that they love to tell their verses to, and he is so encouraging of them! Then we have our house group Bible Study. One of the families has two year old twins so the the girls love that.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Wrap Up--Weeks 1-3

We are now into week four of this school year, and finally settling into a pattern. Once again, I really love Sonlight's use of literature. Jewel's absolute favorite things we are doing is Missionary Stories with the Millers and From Abeku to Zapotec, both about mission work in the world. I love watching her eyes light up as we discuss how people are serving God. She has memorized Psalm 1:1-4 and we are working on verses 5 and 6. Even Flower has the Psalm almost completely memorized. Jewel does all of the Bible reading now, or alternates verses with me. She is proud of herself that she can read the words, and is so excited when she reads a story that she remembers from Sunday School. We continue to work on handwriting and spelling rules. She is still fighting against any creative writing, saying she can't make things up. Of course I know that isn't true because she engages in imaginative play all the time. Just need to find a way for her to bridge it from play to the school time. We are 2/3 the way through Charlotte's Web and both girls are enjoying it as well. Flower is enjoying her Get Ready for the Code workbooks and is so proud that she has learned to write "f" and "b." It is so cute to see them connect things for the first time! I've dropped German from Flower's regimem right now since she was just not ready for it. Jewel continues to enjoy German. In fact, she is two lessons ahead of me so I need to catch up. lol

Last week we took a day off to go to see Beauty and the Beast on stage. Really great show! Jewel was fascinated with the stage changes and how they brought things to "life." I also gave them a day off when I hosted a Pampered Chef party. Instead we practiced social skills and they happily helped entertain the guests and helped with the cooking demonstration. That was school in and of itself.

The math books finally arrived so we added Math to the mix this week. We are one science experiment behind in the curriculum, so I need to catch that up today. Otherwise, things are going right according to plan. YAY!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A New School Year Approacheth

Just a note, this was written on Saturday, but I couldn't add the pics so I didn't publish it. We did start yesterday and updates will come.

I am probably getting the latest start of school of anyone out there, but there was a definite method to our madness! And it was totally blessed because our last two weeks of "summer vacation" have been a gorgeous Indian Summer! Jewel has had opportunities to really learn how to ride her new bike, we have taken lots of walks and just enjoyed being outside. This week the forecast is for what better time than to start school?

Actually, I am very ready to start. We have not received the ordered math curriculum or Flower's handwriting program (since I ordered the wrong one the first time around) but we can start without those subjects.

Box day arrived here two days before we left for Romania.

The girls had such a good time going through the box, seeing what we would be studying

and even getting a jumpstart on the reading.

Then, being the mean mom that I am, I put the books up on our shelves and had them help me organize the toy room. They thought I was horrible, but my main goal was to make room for more craft stuff, so they should be pleased in the coming weeks.

Then we headed off for two weeks in Romania (the posts are coming, I promise!) While in Romania, I was left three messages that the LEA reviewer would be coming to check out our school efforts...four days after we returned! ACK!! I spent two days franctically trying to make sure that everything they would need to see was organized enough to tell the story of our educative process. I needn't have worried, the reviewer was quite impressed with how well Jewel presented herself and the work she had been doing. Even math, which I was fretting about so much, was no problem. She felt that we were "way ahead" of what was expected in school. She should know, she was a retired maths teacher. Of course the thing one always worries about is that "s-word" (you know, socialization). That, too, was a piece of cake. The first thing she said was "I see you are involved in church, she will get plenty of socialization opportunities there so we can move on." YAY!! She went on to talk about what they did in their church (so not the norm in England) and then asked where we went. When Jewel told her, she said "my niece goes there!" In fact her niece has been a part of my Ladies Bible Study. God was definitely going ahead of us in this review. AND we do not have to worry about another review until next Autumn, so it is good.

As far as Monday, the plan is to start everything but math and Flower's handwriting. Our curriculum will be:
Jewel will be doing Sonlight Core 1 World History, Geography with Level 2 readers and language arts, MathUSee, Reason for Handwriting and Rosetta Stone German.
Flower will be doing Sonilight P4/5 (a mix of what they have updated and what Jewel did because they have eliminated a couple of our favorite things), Handwriting Without Tears pre-school, and Rosetta Stone German.
They will both continue with swim lessons and Jewel will continue with SPARKS at church. I am still working on finding a piano teacher for them both. A friend will teach Jewel if I don't find anyone, but she is moving in January and we are not sure that it is best to start and then change approaches that quickly.

I plan to do weekly re-caps on Mondays and hopefully will be able to participate in some homeschool memes on Fridays. We'll see how well I do.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Hmmmm...nine months without an update

Maybe that is a little excessive. Nine months! You know what they say about good intentions...

Well, here is the update! Today, we finished Kindergarten!!! It has been such a great year!

When we started, Jewel was reading letters and sounds, but not doing much in terms of words. Today she is reading fairly fluidly, even learning to read in her head. She loves to read! I find her reading to Flower all the time. Her favorite books to read are a book of fairy tales and a Disney princesses book. Neither are "beginner" books. Both were bought as read-alouds, but she has taken them over. Today, for her last beginning to read story for K, she read the story of Balto the dog to me. She did great! There were several words she had never seen before, and she sounded them out without any issue. I have not worked intentionally at all with Flower, but she has learned her alphabet and all the sounds just by being with Jewel. She has taken over Jewel's Barbie computer and does a great job recognizing the letters and the sounds. She is so ready to start school. As much as I'd planned to wait until after her fourth birthday, I've relented and will start her in October as well.

Back in September, Jewel had learned how to write all of her letters. This year, her handwriting has improved immensely and she loves to sit and spell out words on her magnetic drawing board. She has been teaching Flower how to write the letters and she can now write her own name without any help, and the rest of the family's names with spelling help. Jewel has written all of her own thank you notes this year. The proof is in the pudding, and a few weeks ago a substitute Sunday School teacher, who is skeptical about home ed, came to me afterwards to tell me that they had never seen such neat and precise handwriting in a child before. Yay! (He was even more shocked when Flower wrote her name on her paper--his son is one month older than Flower and doesn't even know his letters yet.) To me, it is just verification that it is working.

Reading together has been great fun this year. Sonlight has some amazing books to read. We've read:
*The Boxcar Children (books 1 and 2)
*James Herriot's Treasury for Children
*The Apple and the Arrow
*My Father's Dragon
*The Hundred Dresses
*Johnny Appleseed
*The Light at Tern Rock
*Five True Dog Stories
*The Family Under the Bridge (Jewel's favorite)
*Twenty and Ten
*Mary on Horseback
*Dolphin Adventure and Dolphin Treasure
*The Story About Ping
*The Story of Doctor Dolittle
*In Grandma's Attic
*The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (Flower's favorite)
*The House at Pooh Corner
*A Grain of Rice
*Richard Scarry's Please and Thank you Book

We have also really enjoyed the reading about missionaries as part of history. Granny Han's Breakfast amazed them both. It is so great to be able to use the stories we read to enhance their love of God. The Bible readings coupled with coloring sheets from Calvary Chapel have made this a rich year in terms of learning about God.

Science may be where we have had the most fun. Although we have not done all of the experiments, we have done several. They loved growing beans,


and watching caterpillars become chrysalids then become butterflies that we released.

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Plus we have learned lots from watching the peachicks from last summer grow up and now one of the females has a set of chicks of her own. They bring us hours of entertainment and education in our own back garden. That coupled with the cygnets and ducklings have given them a good sense of the growth of birds.

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If Science is where we have had the most fun, math has definitely been the least. Jewel is just not conceptualizing what she needs to be able to do. She is adding and subtracting double digits, but it is hard work and rote. She has no idea why it works or how to make it work outside one presentation. I have decided that the problem is really three-fold: she is only 5 and in the States none of this would be started until first grade!; Singapore Math is just not a good fit for her in how it is presented; and her math major parents have a very difficult time communicating math to her in simple terms. The first problem will correct with age, and I'm trying not to sweat it. As far as the latter two, I am changing her curriculum next year to something a little more visual and that has a dvd "teacher" to help explain the concepts in simpler terms. I hope that helps her learn to enjoy and not dread math!

PE has been all about learning to swim. Last week Jewel was the only one in her class to achieve Level 2 badge (breast stroke, back stroke, front crawl plus other water skills) and has achieved her 5m distance badge. She is just slightly off achieving her 10m distance badge. Flower has already achieved her Level 1 badge (front crawl, able to swim pool length on her back--no stroke requirement, able to get out of pool on her own, able to jump in and get on her back safely, able to collect something off the pool floor) and she also has her 5m distance badge. She is just starting to learn the breast stroke and should start back stroke next week. They both love their swimming teacher and he is really incredible in how far he has taken them in a short time. Jewel started just over a year ago with lessons and Flower started in January!


Finally we have incorporated school into as much travel as we could. We have been to an old textile mill where they demonstrated how the machines actually worked, we have gone to a horse rescue center and saw them caring for the horses and the veterinarian's work area, we explored a Sherlock Holmes museum and worked on deductive logic, we have visited several castles and gardens in stately homes, we have been to a planetarium (in addition to getting our own telescope out on a few occassions), we have had a demonstration of Krispy Kreme donuts being made, we have walked on a proper Roman walls in York and Chester as well as a real Roman Road in Rome (and so many more sites in Rome), we have visited the Egyptian room at the British Museum and saw mummies, we learned about Hadrian and his wall (and even *met* him to ask him questions about the Pantheon), we have learned about dinosaurs at the Natural History Museum and about Shakespeare at the Globe Theatre, we have gone to the ballet (Angelina dances Sleeping Beauty) and the theatre (Chitty Chitty Bang Bang), we have learned about the early days of Rock'n'Roll at the Beatles museum and so much more. How could we not love home education? I won't show you pictures of all of that, but here is a couple of my favorites from the Media Museum where they were learning to interact with a blue screen. Jewel did some weather presenting (but she couldn't find where we lived on the map) and then they played with the tellytubbies. Too funny!

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It has been a great year. We will be taking the rest of August off for Holiday Bible Club (VBS) and then a mission trip to Romania. When we return, I plan to use September as down time and preparation. We will start back the first of October! Wow!