We survived our first week back to school after a long Christmas break. We more than survived, really; it was a good week. Dictation and other work went more smoothly on Monday, thanks to the gianormous pencils given to the kids by their grandparents.
We’ve begun Story of the World, Volume 2 about the Middle Ages. Brianna has been a little disappointed this week that we haven’t jumped right into kings, queens and castles, but I’ve tried to explain that we have to spend a little time bridging the time period we were studying (Ancient Rome) with what we will be studying (the Middle Ages).
Everyone did seem to enjoy the rather gruesome tale of Beowulf. I’ve made a mental note to check for the movie in Blockbuster. I have no idea what it’s even rated, but I thought I’d see if Brianna might be able to watch it with some possible editing by Mom and Dad. I know Megan and Josh probably won’t be able to at all. Has anyone seen it?
In science, we’ll be studying the Earth and space this year. The first unit was basically just an introduction, so we talked about the continents and the oceans and will be working on memorizing those (the younger guys — Brianna knows them). To that end, we labeled a map. I had a little place mat with a labeled world map that I was going to use, but not everyone could see it. So, I tried to draw a map on the white board. I’m going to post in here, in the interests of full disclosure, so that you can see why we trace our maps for our salt-dough maps, instead of doing freehand. See?
Hey, they got the idea.
Wednesday, we resumed music class and co-op, and Thursday I introduced the writing mini-offices, which you can see in action here:
Surprisingly, Josh and Megan both loved them! I got no complaints from either of the kids Thursday or Friday…and they were writing some good stuff. Right now I’m only requiring two sentences, but I plan to increase it as they get more confident. I know that doesn’t sound like a lot and Megan would probably willingly write more (I’ve told them that they can), but I didn’t want to overwhelm Josh, for whom imperfection of any sort is very difficult.
Reading is going well. I’ve been having Josh and Megan do some “reading warm-up” with Phonics Pathways each day, then, reading to me from a book of their choice. I let Brianna choose between two books set in the Middle Ages: Adam of the Road and A Door in the Wall. She chose Adam of the Road and will be using that for her daily reading and writing the dreaded book report on it when she finishes (her first one, really — an assignment in her Jump In book). Nim has enjoyed both the letter matching and number matching games that I made for her.
I have committed to getting back into the habit of keeping our timeline updated. I had printed off some pages that were designed to be used in a timeline notebook. I was going to put them on our bulletin board, but I didn’t like the way it looked once I got it up. So, I went to the local school supply store to buy a nifty “create your own timeline” set I’d seen.
They were sold out.
So, I found sentence strips that are erasable! You use a dry erase marker on them. I thought these would be perfect for me, since my biggest hang-up with timelines is figuring out where to place the lines and dates. Since it’s erasable, I can start over easily if I mess up. The only problem, as I’ve discovered, is that the lines get erased when people get against them.
So far, it’s not been too bad. I figured that I can always go over the dates in permanent marker once I’m satisfied that they’re spaced right. And, the sentence strips will be handy for other things, such as letting Nim practice writing letters and numbers.
Today we started our study of the United States. My plan, for now, is just to go through the states, one at a time, on Fridays. We’ll read a book about that state and learn some facts, which we can work on memorizing through the week until the next Friday when we choose a new state. We’ll also be doing some sort of project with each state — a recipe or a craft. Yes, I realize it will take awhile to complete the study using this method, but I finally decided that, well, we homeschool; we’ve got all the time we need.
Today, I simply introduced the study. I showed the kids the pages we’ll be using, explained how we’ll set up the notebooks and we made an edible map of the United States (more on that in a separate post later):
Wouldn’t you know I was out of blue food coloring? That’s why are Great Lakes are green. Or maybe it’s algae. While the map baked, we read one of Megan’s favorite books, The Scrambled State of America, played The Scrambled States card game and listened to a CD featuring the states and capitals.
All in all, I think it was a very good week.
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