Saturday, September 30, 2006

E and her Nature Reader

I love the Christian Liberty Nature Readers. They are better than most typical readers, in my opinion. Very interesting, good drawings, well written, and more detail on each topic (crabs, ants, spiders) than usual.

The one E is reading has a section on spiders. When she finished the previous section and saw that spiders were coming up, she approached me with her sweet, scared little face (all a put-on). "I don't want to read about spiders! It's going to scare me!" she whined.

Oh my. She's good at that. I suggested that maybe reading about spiders will lessen her fear of them. Oh no, she assured me. That would never happen.

Well, she will make sure it won't.

Week of 9/25

Another pretty good week. Nothing exciting, no new breakthroughs.

Bible: Continued with Psalms and completed 1 and 2 Peter. Catechism #22. Continued to memorize Psalm 33 but are slowing down on that... consistency = 0.

Writing: Still doing copywork and increasing little by little. Cursive is going OK except for the grumbling over "B" and "b." Yes, they are hard... Next week going to start Imitation in Writing: Aesop's Fables. More handwriting practice but also creative writing. I think they will like it if they can get beyond the tedium of holding a pen...

Math: This is getting ridiculous. The math facts are just not sticking. We've started keeping a chart of our math drills - seconds per problem. They are just up and down... it's very discouraging. Both can answer - with difficulty or with the MUS blocks - 7-4=3 but then not relate that to 7-3. Each problem seems to be new and different. Counting by 2s is just eluding E, or she is sandbagging. But why? There can't be any gratification in that. Continuing with Mathematical Reasoning, now on the geometry section. That is fine. Easy, though, I think.

Reading: They are reading the Nature Readers and doing fine. Also doing the Spectrum Test prep and doing fine with comprehension, vocabulary, etc. Started J on The Landing of the Pilgrims (Landmark History, Daugherty) and today got from the library a "girl book" for E, on Colonial America (name escapes me, too lazy to go look). It's one of those diary type things.

Spelling: Oh my. E is doing fine there, J is stumbling still. He doesn't get the rules at all. How many times have we gone over words with the "er" ending - letter, better, etc? He came across "lettr" today in a Spectrum exercise and thought it was spelled correctly.

Science: They still enjoy the History of Science study. We finished Archimedes and the Door to Science yesterday. The experiments are not particularly satisfying nor do they work well. But no matter, they are enjoying it.

Grammar: I added Daily Grams into the mix and they are enjoying that - no writing!

Latin: Still fun. Exciting even: "Libero - I free. Can you come up with any English derivatives?" "Hmm... no... oh! Liberty! Freedom! Liberate!"

History: Wonderful as always. Working on history pockets a couple times a week. E is avoiding the "hard stuff" like the map of Jamestown. Very much enjoying the Genevieve Foster history book The World of Captain John Smith. Unfortunately the next in the series, about William Penn, is out of print and not in the library... need to try interlibrary loan...

Other activities: Last week we had 2 OMSI trips, including one to see the movie Dolphins. Spent most of the time in the ball room. Planted the "Biblical Garden" from grandparents. Fun, quick activity. PE and Gymnastics Dance continue. Today went to the rock and gem show - mostly jewelry, but some interesting fossils and better yet, no begging for stuff, they spent their own money and didn't ask for treats. (We did use our Starbuck's "cool cards" from the summer reading program - good thing too, I hadn't realized they expire today.) Read lots of Coot Club, but not quite enough.

Listened to the audio book The House at Awful End. Very fun. Took the 2 sequels from the library in book form for J to read - not yet. He is burying himself in Tintins.

"Mother Culture:" Ha ha ha. I read Virgin Earth (Philippa Gregory), skimming the last 300 pages or so. Some interesting history, but overshadowed by the bodice-ripper aspect, the annoying characters and the unrealistic scenes. Starting Marriage to a Difficult Man. Submitted a blog post to the CoH, on gaps.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Week of 9/18

A good week.

Bible: continued in Psalms, 1 a day, and read all of 1 Peter. Continuing to memorize Psalm 33. Sunday School has started; I am dubious that any real learning will happen but we'll see.

Reading : each kid reads some in the Nature Reader (J 3, E 2) each day and talks about it. I supppose they are not formal narrations. But they relate back a few facts. Continue to work on Test Prep worksheets for reinforcement. They show reading comprehension is good.

Math: Continuing with MUS (single digit subtraction) and Mathematical Reasoning. Still a struggle. C suggested making a graph so they can see their progress in speeding up on the facts. Haven't done that yet.

Science: Continuing with BF History of Science. Going slowly. The math concepts were way beyong the kids. No experiments this week; we were supposed to do some gravity activities on Friday but went to Costco instead.

History: Working on History Pockets and reading about American history - Jamestown Settlement, John Smith. Old news but still exciting. J loves the history pocket projects.

Spelling: same old same old.

Latin: On lesson 4, still enjoying it.

Copywork/Writing: Still writing out the catechism each day. Also started cursive, which is well-received. J is doing better than expected. E got to "B" and decided she hates it and wants to quit. So we moved on to "C" and will come back to "B" later on...

PE for J, Gymnastics dance for E.

On Saturday, participated in the House of Ruth "Walk for Life" 2mile walkathon.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

It still amazes me...

that that boy cannot read simple words just as "that," "than," "but," etc. He just misses them, or just changes them to something he thinks might work. But "harder" words like authority and Mesopotamia and Bartholomew are fine. The little words are too small, I guess, to seem important. But the big words are easy to remember? Hard to say. I guess I should do more research on it. He seems to get the content of whatever he's reading so I shouldn't get too bent out of shape with it. Hard not to, though.

Week of 9/11

This was a pretty good week. Nothing extraordinary, though.

Continued to read Psalms (40 - 43) and began 1 Peter (1:1 - 2:12). Question 20 of Shorter Catechism, which was also their copywork. Memorizing Psalm 33 - up to verse 11 now.

Both have started reading Christian Liberty Nature Readers for silent reading - they read individually and I ask questions about the reading. J is reading #3 and E is reading #2. She told me after her first session that it was boring because she already knew everything it had to say about crabs. A few questions showed her, um, lie. So she continues.

We had a "unit test" in MUS. 48 problems. It took J 50 minutes to complete. He got 100% though... E took not quite as long and got 83%. This is the only area in which I give grades - mainly because they ask for them. I pointed out that in a testing or classroom situation they would not have been given so much time and would have failed. As always we will persevere. Also working on Mathematical Reasoning book a few times a week. Right now it's quite simple - numbers and numeration - but moving into geography soon which will raise J's interest immensely. I figure any exposure to numbers is a good thing.

Have completed lesson 3 in Latin and love it. But it's only lesson 3...

Started cursive writing. As I predicted, J likes it much better than manuscript. But he is only on "I." E started strong but got frustrated on upper-case "I" and wanted to quit.

Studied Jamestown for history. Started the history pockets.

Science - completed lesson 5 in the History of Science. Still very interesting. One of the experiments didn't come out very well, though. A pencil was supposed to float upright in water. It didn't. I find that so often these "simple" experiment just don't work.

Explode the Code is causing real problems. They need the exposure to the phonics rules but it is too simple and juvenile for them now. Will have to look for something else.

Both continue working in their Spectrum Test prep books. We just do a couple of pages, a couple times a week.

Spelling is going OK. Too simple for E, too hard for J.

We also watched a DVD: Coral Reef. That wa the extent of tv/video this week. I had gotten Stuart Little from the library to watch and compare with the book but there hasn't been time yet. Y'day we met some friends at a pizza parlor with a play area.

J has started writing a story using some story-starter cards from his aunt. (Will find the name and update later.) Very cool. But very time-consuming for me as I have to type it all up for him. Need Mavis Beacon now! But that won't help with spelling... J is also doing PE.

E starts gymnastic dance next week. She is crafting like crazy but nothing, um, worthy of keeping yet. She keeps getting craft books from the library but still prefers to do her own thing.

We spent a lot of time organizing craft materials and getting rid of old coloring books and other useless, outgrown stuff. I have a bag of stuff to take to Exodus to sell next week.

A very productive week.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Wherein I actually start writing about what we are doing

This is the end of our 2nd week of homeschooling for the 2006/2007 school year.

How silly does that sound? I really dislike the idea of the school year. We live, we learn. Sometimes we have to deal with learning things we don't really care about, but that get us to a goal. The dreaded math facts, for ex. Anyway, here's what we did the past 2 weeks.

J and E together:

Bible and Catechism - we continued with reading a Psalm and a chapter of Proverbs each day. We are memorizing Psalm 33. Finished Proverbs and are starting 1 Peter. Should have started Friday but it was hard to concentrate with the road work trauma going on outside. In Catechism, we are on question 19. J has them down cold; E kind of follows along with him. But we will be coming 'round again so she should have them next time. Well, that'll be in 2 years... hm.

Math: Continued working on facts via MUS and and theory/concepts via Mathematical Reasoning. We're almost finished with the Alpha level of MUS; just a few more chapters of single-digit subtraction, then time (which ought to be an easy review for J) and then move to Beta which is just double-digit. We ought to fly through that, as theoretically the basic facts are down. Maybe.

Copywork/handwriting: They both write out their catechism answers each week. I am too easy with J on this; he should be writing more each day. But I'm not pushing it, yet. E is actually sloppier than him but doesn't hate it as much. Go figure. Next week we are starting cursive using A Reason for Handwriting. I am not sure how all this writing is going to work.

Reading: We finished up Stuart Little. They would read, then we'd discuss together. I didn't use a canned literature study guide but just went over the book with them. No written reports. Not quite ready for that yet. J's skills at narrating (though we don't call it that) are quite good - that auditory memory. He is working on not rambling quite so much, and keeping events in order. We are also continuing to work on Explode the Code for phonics reinforcement and rules. They don't like it, much, but it's good practice for them so we will press on for now. If I could find something a little more "grownup" for phonics rules, syllables, etc., I would change.

Latin: We started lesson 3. They still like it; it's still fun. And not too much writing.

Science: Have completed lesson 3 of BF's History of Science. E likes the story about Archimedes; J like the reading in The New Way Things Work. As usual we are doing far less of the writing than is recommended. Next year.

History: Restarted/reviewed first few chapters of SOTW. Updated the timeline to show Dutch Revolt, Guy Fawkes and James 1. J told me the story of Guy Fawkes - remembered from previous reading and our trip to UK - before I read it to him. Reading HA Geurber's The Story of the Thirteen Colonies as a review. Started working on History Pockets: Colonial America.

Test Prep: Both kids do work a few times a week in a test prep workbook - 3rd grade for J, 2nd for E.

Spelling: We are still doing AVKO Sequential Spelling, level 1. It is too easy for E, too hard for J. He can't get the patterns down. I'm trying to think of a better way.

Now, individually:

J continues to be very engaged in science and history. He hates the "boring basics" of writing, copywork, spelling, math facts. He is curious and anxious to learn. He occasionally still works on his Maps, Charts, and Graphs book but I think it has become too easy for him. His reading skills are improving greatly. His comprehension is good though I am still concerned because when reading aloud he skips small but important words that can change the meaning of a sentence or concept, such as "not." Maybe he gets it when reading silently. His narrations of books read, and his test prep work, shows he is getting it.

E is reading very well. She is lazy, though in a different way from J. Her printing is more sloppy. She doesn't like to listen to history or science as much. (Of course some of the science is just hard for her to understand, for ex the different classes of levers.) She is weak on memorization but I think that is laziness too. This all sounds so negative. She is also reading very well (though she tends toward twaddle, which I have to deal with) and is very creative with her crafts. She is resistant to math (brings to mind the talking Barbie: "math is hard").

I don't want to get bogged down in page numbers completed each week. Until such time as we live in a state which requires something more structured, I will continue to progress at our own pace.

Thursday, September 07, 2006


It still amazes me that spelling simple words is such a mystery to J. He can be looking at a word and still be unable to spell it. He misses vowels, he adds in consonant blends that aren't there... where's the "r" in "spill?" He switches letters around - classic dyslexia? - and apparently has no understanding that the letters are generally written in the order they are pronounced.

It is all I can do not to scream in frustration sometimes. He's not stupid. He just doesn't get phonics. I just laugh every time I read something about phonics being the only way to learn to read well. No, it's not. Not for everyone.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Update September 3

I've decided to try this again - using this as a place to keep track of our work. Not daily! I'm thinking about a weekly summary of each kids' progress in various areas.

Our daily planning/recordkeeping now consists of a weekly checklist which I print for the kids. It has all the subject areas they need to work on for the week. J's looks like this:

E Week of:_________________________________________

[] [] [] [] [] [] [] Chores: Clear Table, Make Bed, Clean Up Toys, Dry Dishes, Other as required.

[] [] [] [] [] [] [] Bible____________________________________

[] [] [] [] [] [] [] Catechism________________________________

[] [] [] [] [] [] [] Christian Almanac/Artist&Composer Birthdays

[] [] [] [] [] [] [] Silent Reading__________________________

[] [] [] [] [] Latin

[] [] [] [] Math U See

[] [] [] [] [] Copywork/other writing

[] [] [] Mathematical Reasoning

[] [] [] Spelling Test

[] [] [] History

[] [] Logic or other puzzles

[] [] [] Explode the Code

[] [] [] History of Science

Other Activities________________________________

See, we don't do everything every day. I'm trying for a 4-day "work" week, with a floating day off - and we can do "schoolwork" on Saturday if we end up with empty spaces where checks should be. Each night I will write up a list of my own, of what to do, so I am not bumbling around the house looking for various resources.

It worked for a week. And we have no plans next week so it should work for two!

Anyway, the plan is to consolidate this into a summary which I will keep track of here. So we'll see how this goes. I am optimistic even though everything else I have tried has not worked.

I suppose if my kids produced more "stuff" from our work this wouldn't be a problem. They'd have history and science notebooks full of "stuff" they've done. Problem is they don't like doing "stuff." Coloring pages? Aaahhhh! I should be more diligent with the narrations. They both do very good oral narrations. But written? Too much work for me.