We’re wrapping up the 2012-13 school year this week. Originally, I had planned to have school next week, too, but we’re at a point where almost all we’re doing is review, and it’s not really beneficial to anyone to keep going over stuff that’s already been mastered. Also, Moose’s last day is Friday, and I thought it might be nice if we could all celebrate the last day of school together. As much as I don’t want our homeschool to be tied to the public school schedule, the fact of the matter is that one of the students in this house does have to follow it, so it does influence our school year, anyway. It’s not like anyone is going to complain that we’re done early…that just mean we’re closer to summer school, and a whole new school year with new books and things to learn!
That’s one of the great things about homeschooling. I can look at our schedule, and what we’ve accomplished this year, and decide to be done early. We’re over the state-required number of days already, even though my weekly count doesn’t reflect that, because for the weekly count, I only use whole weeks of school. All of the weeks where we only had school for two days, or weekends where we took field trips, aren’t included in that tally. So, even though it looks like we should probably have a month of school left, we’re really already “done,” as far as days are concerned!
I have a few fun things planned for the end of the week, to celebrate the end of another school year. We’re going to have the Pentecost tea party I had planned for yesterday, but didn’t have time to prepare for, and we’re going to build the Lego Brandenburg Gate, to round out our history studies of WWII, the Cold War, and the Berlin Wall. I’ve even heard a rumor that we may be going out to dinner on Friday, but that’s unsubstantiated at this point!
I’m looking forward to finishing up. It’s been a fun, and sometimes challenging, year. I’m ready to move on to new things, and the children all have certain subjects that they can’t wait to get started on for their fifth and first grade years!
Not a whole lot to report this week, as we’re mainly continuing to wrap things up. Math and history are really the only two subjects we have any considerable work left in. We still have some religion, writing, and spelling to do, and our read-aloud isn’t anywhere near finished, but those things take up a lot less time than math and history!
We’re taking next week off. I know it probably seems silly, taking a week of vacation when we only have two weeks of school left, but if we don’t take a break, I may not have the energy to finish the school year! We will be taking our annual field trip to our local art fair, though, so at least we’ll be doing something!
I’m looking forward to wrapping up this school year. The boxes of curriculum for next year are just too enticing to focus on this year much longer!
You can really tell we’re almost to the end of the school year. Only one lesson left in our grammar workbooks, our writing book is almost done, we’re on the last chapter of science, and history is starting to feel more current!
Turkey and Bunny have been working on different types of graphs this week…pie graphs, line graphs, bar graphs, pictographs, and coordinate graphs. They’ve seen most of these graphs before, but I don’t think they’re ever compared the different types so closely and intentionally before. They’ve had a lot of fun creating different graphs to illustrate different scenarios…I didn’t think that graphing would be so exciting!
Ladybug has been begging me to start on her first grade math workbooks this week. I placed our curriculum order last week, and it’s all arrived. I haven’t done “box day” yet, but the boxes were still spotted and peeked into. She found her math workbooks right away, and is so excited about all of the things she’s going to get to do! Turkey is feeling the same way about our science curriculum for next year, because we’ll be studying his favorite subject–astronomy. Bunny just cares about what new books there are to read, and also spent a little complaining about having to do grammar, which is weird, because she used to be very strict about proper grammar. I’m not sure what happened there!
In science, we’re learning fun things about growth and development and genetics. Of course, a lot of the details are hard to understand, but the children are having fun figuring out what traits they have in common with other relatives. It was amusing to try to get them to see if any of them can roll their tongues…none of them could do it, but I know I’ve seen Bunny do it in the past, so she must only be able to accomplish that trick when she’s not thinking about it. Just like Daddy…
I will be very relieved when we start Ladybug’s new handwriting curriculum next year. She truly hates doing it, and I’ve gotten to the point where I hate asking her. I’m pretty sure she’s going to find Handwriting Without Tears to be much more fun, especially since she gets her own little chalkboard. Of course, Turkey and Bunny feel like they missed out on something fun, but that’s just how it goes.
In history, we’ve been learning about the civil rights movement, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Rosa Parks. I’m glad that my children can’t comprehend how people used to be treated in this country, and also a little sad that they have to know how cruel people can be at all. But part of history is learning from our mistakes, so it is good for them to know about it, even if it is unpleasant.
We finally finished our read-aloud. Next week, we’ll be starting Cracker! The Best Dog in Vietnam. We’ll be getting a little bit ahead of ourselves compared to where we are in history, although we did learn about French Indochina as well this week, and how that set the stage for the Vietnam War, so it won’t be completely out-of-place. It’s a pretty long book, so it should take us through the end of the school year. We didn’t get to just one read-aloud this year, In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson, so that will be a book basket option. I’m disappointed that we didn’t get to read it together, but there were just too many days last month where my voice couldn’t make it through one more reading…these things happen.
Nothing particularly exciting planned for next week, just wrapping up more subjects as we draw closer to the end of the 2012-13 school year!
I can’t believe we’ve finished 30+ weeks of school! Just about four more to go…we might have a little break in there somewhere, or we may just go for four more weeks straight, but we’re almost done with the fifth year of what started as a one-year experiment!
We had a cold hit our house last week, and while it wasn’t as bad as when I had strep throat earlier in the month, I’m just tired of runny noses, coughing, and people being crabby because they don’t feel quite right. I’m hoping things are better next week…it makes school so much easier when everybody is feeling normal!
We started our school week last on Sunday, with a field trip at our local orchard/farm. It was a lot of fun, and we learned way more than I was expecting. Some of the topics of the tour including greenhouse growing, peach thinning, crop rotation, the use of beehives for cross-pollination, and how rotating trellises work and are useful. The children each got to plant some parsley seeds while we were there, too…so far, only one pot has sprouted, but the again, we haven’t seen much sun this week. Hopefully we’ll see some more parsley plants in the next few days!
Since we learned so much about farms and plants on Sunday, we carried on that theme in science this week (which was helpful, since we only have one chapter left in our science textbook, which will take us a maximum of two weeks to complete). We learned more about farms, and what happens during the different months of the year, and also learned all about plants. We also did some more flower identification, since there is a new group of trees blossoming locally.
In history, we continued learning about the post WWII era. We spent a lot of time discussing the movement of people from urban areas to the new suburbs that were popping up. It’s hard to imagine America without suburbs! We also learned about the advent of new things like McDonald’s and Holiday Inn.
Turkey and Bunny’s math lessons focused primarily on the metric system, and how to convert measurements from centimeters to meters to dekameters and back to millimeters. They then did the same conversions with grams and liters. They also worked on reviewing decimals, which comes in handy when doing the aforementioned conversions!
We did do more last week, but it’s all kind of a blur…too many sleepless nights, I guess. Hopefully tomorrow will dawn bright and germ-free!
Our summer school theme this year is British Children’s Literature (OK, British and U.K. lit) and British history. I realize that my definition of literature and the true definition of literature may be different, but I want to make sure we have a good sampling of the well-known British authors. Here’s a list of books we’ll be reading, either as book basket selections, or read-alouds:
- Peter Pan
- The Complete Adventures of Peter Rabbit
- The Complete Tales of Winnie-the-Pooh
- A Bear Called Paddington
- Mary Poppins (the collection)
- The Story of Dr. Dolittle
- Alice in Wonderland
- The Borrowers
- The Lion Storyteller Bedtime Book
- The Milly-Molly-Mandy Storybook
- Just So Stories
- The Jungle Book
- The Adventures of Robin Hood
- Treasure Island
- Wind in the Willows
- King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table
- A Little Princess
- The Secret Garden
- The Complete Adventures of Charlie and Mr. Willy Wonka
- James and the Giant Peach
- A Child’s Garden of Verses
- Chronicles of Narnia Box Set
- J.R.R. Tolkien Box Set–(The Hobbit and the complete The Lord of the Rings)
We’ll also be using one book for our British history survey: Our Island Story. We’re going to have a lot of reading to do this summer…I can’t wait!
Even though we still have a few weeks left of the 2012-13 school year, I’ve been working on plans for this year’s summer school. This is something we’ve done every year, beginning in 2008 when we started homeschooling. That year, it was a test before Turkey and Bunny officially started kindergarten, to see if we thought homeschooling would work, which it obviously did. I’ve come up with a different theme every year since then, and we usually spend 2-3 weeks studying the year’s topic. Here’s what we’ve done so far:
- 2008–The Beijing Summer Olympics
- 2009–Astronomy (This just happened to coincide with the 40th anniversary of Apollo 11)
- 2010–The Revolutionary War
- 2012–The London 2012 Olympics
This year, I’m planning on a British Children’s Lit and British history theme. We’ve focused a lot on science, world cultures, and history in previous years, so I thought a literature-heavy unit would be a nice change of pace, with a little history thrown in for fun. Plus, this way we get to continue our British studies that we started last year during the Diamond Jubilee and the London Olympics!
Our summer school days are shorter than the regular school year…last summer, I think we spent about 1-2 hours each morning on school. The amount of time we spend also depends partially on the topic (I think in 2011, our summer school days were shorter, because it was such a focused topic), and partly on the age of the students (in 2008, because my oldest students hadn’t even started kindergarten, our days were short, and consisted mostly of craft projects). We do try to involve all of the regular subjects in summer school, where appropriate, including math, reading, and handwriting, but there is definitely a more relaxed feeling to ur summer school lessons.
I’ve also used a wide variety of resources in summer school. Some things I’ve had to buy, like a Magic School Bus science kit the year we studied astronomy. Other times, I’ve printed a lot of our materials off of various websites, especially in Olympic years. We’ve also used videos to anchor our curriculum…the Liberty’s Kids DVDs have been essential in helping the children learn the “who’s who” of the American Revolution. Of course, the library is a great resource no matter the topic, and this was never more true than the year we studied birds…we came up with quite the bibliography for our science project!
This is something I really look forward to every year, along with our Thanksgiving and Christmas studies. It’s one of the few times where I work really hard to find craft projects, or other unique things we can do to help us learn. It’s also a time when I do most of the curriculum planning myself, and don’t depend on another resource to put it together for me. It can be exhausting, but it’s also fun to take an opportunity to be really creative!
Full disclosure: this week was really, really hard. Ladybug has been having some problems, especially with reading, and I finally had to face up to it, and figure out what to do about it. The good thing about also having a child in the public school, though, is that I have some connections to people who can give me suggestions and recommendations. I think I have a plan of action figured out, and the person I talked to at the school agreed that homeschooling is still the best option for her, especially in light of some bureaucratic stuff happening at the state level. Next year I’ll be trying a new handwriting program with her, and possibly a new reading curriculum. I’m not going to bother getting anything new now, though, because we’re so close to the end of our school year.
Other than that, the week was pretty good. We got to have Christmas this week, as our religion lessons were all about the births of John the Baptist and Jesus. It was nice to read the familiar Christmas stories again! Bunny recited her lines from the Christmas program when we got to the angels and shepherds…her memory is excellent!
Turkey and Bunny had to write their autobiography in Language Arts this week. It was fun to see what things they wanted to share about themselves. What is important to them was very evident in their stories!
We moved on to the post-war era in history, learning about Truman defeating Dewey against all odds in the 1948 presidential election, and focusing a lot on McCarthyism and the “Red Scare.” It’s interesting to see the same mistakes being made over and over in U.S. history…you’d think at some point we’d learn from the past! On Monday, our lessons just happened to line up so that we got to learn about Jackie Robinson on Jackie Robinson Day. I love when things like that happen…I couldn’t have planned it if I tried!
In science, we finally finished up our lesson on the lymphatic system. We’re currently growing some bacteria in petri dishes…I’ve been dreading this experiment since the beginning of the year! I really don’t want to see how much bacteria is in our house, but I’m a good sport, so I suggested some areas for the children to swab that are likely to be bacteria-prone. Ladybug chose the toilet (gross!), Turkey chose the kitchen sink (which is what I’ve heard is one of the dirtiest areas in any house), and Bunny picked the phone handset (something that often gets overlooked in routine cleaning). It’ll be interesting to see which one grows the most bacteria…I’m sure I’ll be cleaning whatever it is with bleach once I see the growth!
I’m hoping for a field trip next week, and finally finishing up our current read-aloud: Miracles on Maple Hill!
Better late than never, right?
School was interesting last week, because the teacher had the nerve to get sick! Somehow, after going 10 years without having an illness that required a visit to the doctor and antibiotics, and 15 years with getting strep throat, I picked it up somewhere last week. And somehow, and I’m not sure how, we managed to have school every day. Bunny was a big help to me–she did a lot of the reading for me, since my throat hurt so badly. We didn’t read Miracles on Maple Hill every day, though…some of those chapters were just too long to ask her to read, and were completely out of the question for me to get through!
Actually, all things considered, I picked a pretty good week to get sick. Turkey and Bunny continued working with decimals in math, so they didn’t need a whole lot of instruction from me there, and spelling was also a review week. Ladybug was on week two of the letter “U,” so even she didn’t have a whole lot of new stuff.
We did finish World War II in history this week. In addition to our regular reading from A History of US, we also listened to a few different old-time radio shows that were recorded during the war, and they were a big hit with everyone (especially me!). We talked about the different things that were mentioned that related to the war: rationing, the sugar shortage, the draft, war bonds, and drives of different kinds. Some of the episodes were totally focused around the war effort; others had more subtle references, but there was definitely a common theme in all of the radio shows from that time period! As an added bonus, when we went to the Cardinals game on Friday night, we saw a B25 flyover, which was one of the planes we learned about in history. Turkey was beside himself when heard the announcement before the game…he couldn’t believe we actually got to see one of the planes we read about in flight!
We also finished the Old Testament in religion. We talked a lot about the Israelites in captivity, and their return to Jerusalem. We also talked about how the Bible isn’t always arranged chronologically, and you have to keep in mind when things happened when you’re reading about it. We’re looking forward to reading the Christmas story next week!
In science, we took a break from our anatomy study to learn a bit about the flowering trees in our area. We took a nature walk, and took lots of pictures, and then identified the different trees by their blossoms. The children were particularly interested to learn that a red maple has different blossoms based on whether the tree is male or female. To be honest, that was news to me, as well!
I’m hoping that nobody else gets sick, and next week, we can get into the post-war period and the New Testament, and pick up again with our read-aloud!
Since the weather was actually nice yesterday morning, we took our math outside. Ladybug worked on filling in a number grid, using different colors for the 10s numbers, and the 5s numbers that aren’t also 10s. She loves math and sidewalk chalk, so this was great fun!
Turkey and Bunny worked on adding decimals, which isn’t difficult in and of itself, but they do need practice keeping the numbers in the right place value columns.
They also added fractions with different denominators. Also not too challenging, but the practice was good for them!
Bunny wanted to give me a problem to solve, too, but she came up with one too complicated for her to know if I was correct! I guess she’ll just have to take my word for it! Next time, I’ll have to add some equations to the mix, and see if I can stump them.