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Week of February 8, 2010

Lolling along in the February doldrums… ack. This is the time of year when I start getting philosophical about education and start analyzing what we’re doing. (You know you’re stuck in winter when analysis starts replacing diligence.) Still brewing on our goals, but I’ll post once I come to some conclusions.

As for this week, we took a snow day– about 2 inches of snow that was gone in a couple of days. OK, to be perfectly honest, the snow day was for me, not them. We spent another morning building a huge blanket fort in which to do school (you know, rather than actually doing school) and played more Wii than we should have. Made some Valentines and wrote pen pal letters. Played with geography cards I got at the Target dollar spot. Chased some rabbit trails about longest living animals (it’s the giant tortoise, by the way, but did you know a swan can live over a hundred years? And great horned owls almost seventy?) Laughed till we cried at silly youtube cat videos. Princepesa spent the week drawing and coloring a fashion collection of all the dresses Laura wore in the different Little House books. I had to laugh because it’s a sign how many times she has read those books – she was accurate down to details about boots and buttons.

Oh, and we did do some school work. 🙂

Princepesa – Second Grade

Language Arts

Spelling Spelling Workout D – Lesson 4

DSCN0987

Writing Writing with Ease 2, Week 21
Handwriting We haven’t done anything systematic in handwriting for a while. Princepesa has generally good handwriting and writes a lot quite voluntarily: letters, cards, etc. She is eager to learn cursive, however, and one of my goals for her is to have her writing her own narrations in third grade. Considering both of those things, I decided to go back to working on handwriting. I bought her a cool fountain pen as an incentive to get back to handwriting practice and to help her learn to write with less pressure so her hand doesn’t tire as easily. I downloaded a set of European handwriting practice pages and she’s been working through them at her own pace. Once we get through those, we’ll go back to Getty Dubay and transition to italics.

Handwriting practice with her new fountain pen


Grammar R&S Grammar 2, Lessons 4-9 – 4-11

Math

Horizons Math 2 Lessons 15-17

DSCN0989 DSCN0988

Finally found the freedom to slow down to make sure she’s really getting the material rather than worrying more about the schedule and my checkboxes. We’re doing lessons at half the pace we were before and I’ve started being intentional about a lot more drill work on math facts. Math is her weaker area and she needs extra work to reach mastery. I printed off some daily drill sheets and have her doing Flashmaster for a set time each day. The timer on the Flashmaster really stresses her out, but it’s the only way to force her to think quickly and not just count on to get her answers.

Latin

Minimus Lesson 1
I’m doing a schedule with two weeks of Prima Latina and one week of Minimus. This was our first Minimus week and I think it went well. It seems harder to teach – less intuitive, I guess – but Princepesa enjoyed the colorful look and the narrative feel. She chose the name Helena as her Latin name. I bought the first set of Minibooks and she’s looking forward to being able to read those.

Medusa

Bible

God’s Promises Lessons 17-2  – 17-5

DSCN0990

Reading

Viking- PreK

Handwriting w/o Tears Meant to make the letter piece shapes this week so we could start working with those, but I… uh… didn’t. Busy looking up longest living animals.
Singapore EB Math B Pages 35-39
ETC B Finished this book. Start book C next week.
OPGTR Finished through Lesson 60.
Developing the Early Learner Book 3, pgs 19-23.
Reading

Together

Memory Work

Classical Conversations Cycle 1 Week 18.

Intro to the orchestra Learning noun declensions

History

Medieval History SOTW 2 chapter 21 – The Mongol Invasion

Science

A pile of library books.

In all of my philosophizing, I have almost decided we are not going to do a science curriculum for the rest of this year or next. I’ll just be intentional about checking out books on science related topics, we’ll keep doing our Young Scientist Club kits as they come, and I’m going to step up the nature study using Barb’s Outdoor Hour Challenges. I bought her Getting Started ebook and was happy with the content and notebooking pages.

Planning Ahead

I’ve been working on planning Princepesa’s third grade work. Some things are easy because we’ll just do-the-next-thing, but there are a few subjects that I’ve been wrestling with. I’ve been working on this for a while because third grade seems to be where things really step up a notch, and also sets the direction for the next several years.

I’ve also been thinking about where she needs to be by the end of second grade in order to move into third grade work. In my mind this mostly involves doing more of her own writing. Right now she dictates all of her narrations and I do the writing, and I also do the writing for grammar. My goal is to have her writing her answers to grammar assignments and most of her own narrations by the end of this school year.

History – this is an easy one. We’ve done Story of the World 1, are doing 2 now, and will do 3 next year. We’ll do SOTW 4 for her fourth grade year, and then go to Tapestry of Grace for our remaining cycles through history.

Grammar – another easy one. Rod & Staff grammar has been perfect for us and we’ll stick with it for the long haul.

Bible – we’ve enjoyed the Explorer’s Bible study and will do the NT survey next year. It’s hard to find a systematic, expository Bible study for this age and this fits the bill perfectly.

Math – Horizons Math has finally helped us to find our groove and I’m hoping to finish level 2 by the end of this year so we will be able to start level 3 on time next year. I try to find the balance between moving her through the work and moving at a pace that allows her to master the material, so we’ll see if we achieve that. Right now I plan to stay with Horizons through level 6 for her.

Latin – we just started a combination of Prima Latina and Minimus in the last couple of weeks. Song School Latin was fun, and when I let her set the pace, she buzzed through it. She’s doing fine on PL for now, but I’m not sure if progressing to Latina Christiana I in third grade will be too difficult or if she’ll be able to do it. We’ll play this by ear and see where we end up.

Spelling – she’s a natural speller, so I just have her doing Spelling Workout. The thing is it feels so much like busy work – she rarely misspells a word and all I have to do it point it out and she gets it and moves on. I think a lot of that is because she reads so much, but I was always an intuitively good speller and I think she just is too. So I debate between just dropping spelling and addressing it as it comes up in her narrations and writing, going to vocabulary study, trying a different spelling curriculum like Spelling Wisdom, or just sticking with SWO. Oy. I have books D and E already, so we’ll go through those and then I will be forced to make a decision. 🙂

So –  there ends the easy choices.

Writing – we’ve done WWE 1 and are doing 2 now. It’s not something that we jump up and down about, but we don’t hate it either, and I think she’s making progress. I can tell that she is better at holding longer dictations in her mind as she writes them, and is getting better at summarizing rather than repeating the story back word for word.

We’re in Classical Conversations and I could put her in Essentials next year. I do think she could do the work, but have been wrestling with whether IEW is what we want to use for writing. After a lot of research, and several long discussions with my husband, I think we’re going the progymnasmata route, rather than the IEW route. We’ll use Writings Tales 1 and 2, then go to Classical Writing – Homer for 5th grade.

Science – We’ve never done science well or systematically. I think that’s mostly my fault, but still – I need to do better. We do read plenty of library books and they do science memory work and experiments through Classical Conversations. My debate here is between just doing a reading/nature study/science kit approach to science for a couple more years or finding a formal science curriculum that works for us. I wish there was a SOTW for science, but alas, I am not the one to create one.

I’ve looked at so many options – Noeo, Easy Classical schedules, and God’s Design for Science series. At one point I was sure we were going to do Singapore’s My Pals Are Here. Bottom line? I really need to find a science that allows us to read from a book, read some extra library books, do a notebook page or two, and move on. Complicated experiments just won’t happen. Another oy and a head slap.

How complicated can I make this?

Week of February 1, 2010

We had a strange week – lots of outside commitments that made school work something to hurry through so we could get to the other thing. We only did skill subjects this week because of that, so we’ll try to double time either history or science next week to catch up a bit. I’m not too worried about it though. We’re doing OK.

Princepesa – Second Grade

Language Arts

Spelling Spelling Workout D – Lessons 2-3
Writing Writing with Ease 2, Week 20
Grammar R&S Grammar 2, Lessons 4-5 – 4-8

Math

Horizons Math 2 Lessons 12-15
We took last week and this week to really drill on addition facts. I don’t feel like she has them memorized well enough yet and since math is a weaker subject for her, I don’t want to move on until this is a little stronger. We played a lot of RightStart math games and did a lot of Flashmaster drills, etc. Timed drills give her a panic attack so I pushed her on that this week too. 😉

Latin

Prima Latina Lesson 2

This is the first week we ran into pronunciation issues associated with graduating from Song School Latin to Prima Latina. The word caelum was in her vocab list for this week, and she’d already learned it in SSL, but with the other pronunciation. We just talked about the differences and went on, and she seemed OK with that.

I’m doing a schedule with two weeks of Prima Latina and one week of Minimus. I think PL is strong on vocab and grammar, but Minimus has much more historical context and Roman cultural information. Next week is our first Minimus week and I’m wondering how it will go.

Bible

God’s Promises Lessons 16-3  – 17-1

Reading

Not a lot of extra reading this week since we spent our days rushing off to something else. She did plenty of bedtime reading, but I didn’t record it. Probably read On the Banks of Plum Creek for the eighty-seventh time. 🙂

Viking- PreK

Handwriting w/o Tears Just started this so we did some of the beginner exercises.
Singapore EB Math B He did a few more pages in this book.
ETC B He did a few more pages in this book.
OPGTR Finished through Lesson 57.
Developing the Early Learner He did several pages in this book.
Reading

Together

Memory Work

Classical Conversations Cycle 1 Week 17.

History

Medieval History none

Science

none

Week of January 25, 2010

Princepesa – Second Grade

Language Arts

Spelling Spelling Workout C – finished this book and started SWO D.

She’s a natural speller, so this is kind of busy work for her. I’m thinking about doing AAS with her for next year, so I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do that now or go on to SWO book D, but decided we’ll do D for now and see how it goes.

Writing Writing with Ease 2, Week 19

This is pretty easy for her, so next week we are switching to double time on this. I’ll do days 1-3 in one day, then day 4 on one day. We’ll get through two WWE weeks in one calendar week that way, and hopefully make a good dent in WWE3 by the end of this school year. I’ve decided we’re going to do Writing Tales 1 next year, but didn’t want to give up on WWE3. I can accomplish both this way.

Grammar R&S Grammar 2, Lessons 4-1 through 4-4

This week introduced adjectives. Way more fun than proper and common nouns or pronouns. 🙂

Math

Horizons Math 2 none
We took the week off of workbook lessons to firm up math facts. We worked on several a day, played a lot of RightStart math games, did a lot of Flashmaster drills, etc. I’m going to do the same thing next week, I think.

Latin

Prima Latina Lesson 1

I wondered if the switch in pronunciations would be an issue for her, but it wasn’t a big deal after all. (We just finished Song School Latin.) I did make a full set of PL flashcards that you can download if you are interested. Just print double sided on card stock and then cut on the gray lines. I included gender and parts of speech on them, even though PL doesn’t cover them, thinking that it would help to just look at it now.

Bible

God’s Promises Lessons 14-2 thru 14-5

Reading

The Tough Winter

Alfred the Great

The Viking Adventure

Viking- PreK

Handwriting w/o Tears Just started this so we did some of the beginner exercises.
Singapore EB Math B He did a few more pages in this book.
ETC B He did a few more pages in this book.
OPGTR Finished through Lesson 54.
Developing the Early Learner We did not work in this book this week.
Reading The Foot Book

Together

Memory Work

Classical Conversations Cycle 1 Week 16.

History

Medieval History SOTW 2 – The Scattering of the Jews (ch 20)

Both kids really enjoyed the tale of the clever rabbi and told it to dad word for word when he got home. They loved that he outwitted the Emir.

Science

Nothing structured this week – just a pile of library books. We always seem to founder in this area. Sigh. The thing is, I feel like the kids are doing pretty well in science. My husband was very impressed this week when Viking gave him a looooong explanation of why we have night and day using his fist as the Earth and his other hand as the Sun. He was right, too!

Week of January 18, 2010

Language Arts

Spelling Spelling Workout C, Lessons 33-34
Writing Writing with Ease 2, Week 18
Grammar R&S Grammar 2, Lessons 3-23 – 4-2

Math

Horizons Math 2 Lessons 5-12

Latin

Song School Latin Lessons 27 and 28 – Finished! We start Prima Latina next week.

Bible

God’s Promises Lessons 15-1 – 15-4

History

Ancient History SOTW 2 – A Different Kind of King (ch 19)

Science

Magnets We did more experiments in Kit 3 from the Young Scientists Club.

Memory Work

Classical Conversations Cycle 1 Week 15.

Reading

Princepesa The Door in the Wall by Marguerite De Angeli

Charlotte’s Web

Viking Dr. Seuss’s ABC Book

Week of January 11, 2009

Language Arts

Spelling Spelling Workout C, Lessons 31-33
Writing Writing with Ease 2, Week 17
Grammar R&S Grammar 2, Lessons 3-19 thru 3-22

Math

Horizons Math 1 Lessons 155-160 (serious cause for celebration here…)
Horizons Math 2 Lessons 1-2

Latin

Song School Latin Lessons 25 and 26

Bible

God’s Promises Lessons 14-2 thru 14-5

History

Ancient History SOTW 2 – Crusades (ch 18)

Science

Magnets We did the experiments in Kit 3 from the Young Scientists Club.

Memory Work

Classical Conversations Cycle 1 Week 14.

Reading

Princepesa Sarah Plain and Tall

Mr. Popper’s Penguins

Dr. Dolittle

The Borrowers

Joan of Arc

Days of Knights

Viking Put Me in the Zoo

And now we are off for a field trip to the aquarium at the City Museum.

My Newest Homeschooling Tool

My parents have a running joke about whether the newest technology “tool” my dad bought should be called a t-o-o-l or a t-o-y.

Well, we have a new t-o-o-l in our home. Let me introduce you to this marvel…

We have stalled on this for a long time. Frankly, I am anti-game system. In a serious way. I grew without a television even, and it irks me to no end to see kids connected to a phone/DS/videogame wherever they go. I wanna holler “put that down and talk to someone!”(A side note: read Boys Adrift by Leonard Sax for a disturbing commentary of video game use among boys and its long term results.)

But then that’s very insensitive of me and besides it’s none of my business what other parents allow their children to do. Our kids have just always known that they will never, ever, have a video game system or DS.

Ahem. Ok – that’s the back story. This Christmas we discussed for a long time the balance between pie-in-the-sky standards and well-balanced, homeschooled children. In the end we decided to purchase a Wii system for our family with the understanding that we would be very deliberate about the games we purchased and how much time we spent playing with it.

SO.

School used to take hours and hours because a certain child o’ mine can drag things out to unbelievable lengths. The Wii is now my uber-bribe. I grabbed a handful of plastic coins from our play money stash and a “Wii token” is awarded for each school subject they complete in the time limit. I set the timer for each subject, depending on the content and their aptitude in that subject. Math gets thirty minutes, spelling gets ten, Latin gets ten, and so on. At the end of all the school work they buy Wii time from me. Each token is worth five minutes, and they usually earn about thirty minutes of playing time. Thirty minutes of running and swinging and jumping and laughing.

We are finishing our work in almost half the time it used to take us, mommy is becoming sane again, and we haven’t cried through school in days. Neither of us.

The thing is, at first it was all about the Wii time. Each token that was awarded made them recalculate how much time they had earned and it was a rush to get done and get to playing. As days have gone on, though, it seems the habit of doing school promptly and easily is taking the place of the habit of school being drawn out and painful. It’s not about the Wii anymore and I’m so thrilled.

Half an hour of Wii time for three hours of school work, and then the whole afternoon for each of us to do whatever we want? That is, in my opinion, worth every penny.