Monday, August 31, 2009

Today was a nice day

Today was one of those days, that although not perfect, was just very nice. Overall, things went well. Overall, people were kind and cooperative. We were able to get our core subjects done in the morning, did some reading after lunch (I read to them and they read to me), and then spent 2 1/2 hours at the park with our friends. My oldest has 7 more pages to read in his current Hooked on Phonics chapter book (he is 7 pages from being done with the Red level - we started in the Orange level in April and he has made HUGE improvements) and then he'll move on to the Green level. I think, even though he fights reading, he's feeling pretty proud of himself.

I've also decided to do a semi-informal unit on birds. We have been reading The Burgess Bird Book for Children, which the boys are enjoying (especially my oldest), and from that we have begun flipping through a bird field guide and looking them up on-line as we read about different birds in the book. So, I picked up Take a Backyard Bird Walk and pulled What is a Bird? off the bookshelf in the living room to read. Though I don't want to structure our Nature Walks (when we finally get around to starting them), the boys have already expressed an interest in making sure we take a bird guide with us when we go to the park, so I think I'll make sure I pack it on our walks. :) 

We also just started reading Our Island Story. My oldest is loving it even though we are only a couple sections into it. We are using History Odyssey Middle Ages this year (we were "supposed" to get to it last year and never did), but I decided to start Our Island Story at the beginning instead of somewhere in the middle. I want to make sure we study the history of the world rather than focus on just one area (mostly, I want to avoid as much as possible being Euro-centric), I also know that British (and Western) history is very important to understand the origins of our own country. So, mixing History Odyssey with Our Island Story might do what I want - give us breadth and also some depth. We'll see ... we have to actually read the stories first. ;)

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Copywork meets Nature Study

When we decided to get more structured back in the spring, my oldest son started doing copywork or dictation every day. We tended to alternate, with the dictation coming from his spelling program All About Spelling. This summer my middle son started doing very simple dictation and copywork. After talking with the boys, we decided to drop the dictation for now and just stick with copywork (they prefer copywork, so I figure that some days I'll focus on writing elements from Writing With Ease and some days I'll just write out a sentence from their spelling program so they are practicing that day's spelling concepts without it having to be dictation). Here is what my oldest son did yesterday.

We have been reading The Burgess Bird Book for Children; my oldest son especially has been enjoying the stories. For the past couple weeks we have been working on abbreviations in writing - months of the year, days of the week, and common abbreviations like Mrs., Mr., Dr., and the such. So yesterday I had him write a sentence about Jenny (Mrs.) Wren and Mr. Wren. His picture is what really got me though. His writing is consistently neat and nice. He takes great pride in it. But he has never been huge on artwork. He'll illustrate most of his copywork and dictation sentences. And sometimes he really gets into it, but yesterday he really put a lot of time and attention into his drawing. He was so proud of his work and so am I. 
We keep writing, science (which is sorely lacking), history (lacking as well), and nature study/observations (this is the first) in a 3-ring binder. The boys really enjoy looking back over their work to see how much they have improved and matured in their work.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Goals for the year

I figured a blog would be as good as place as any to write out some goals for the year. 

*Fridays are art day: once a month we have an art coop with our friends using Meet the Masters; once a month we will also study another artist using Art in Story as our spine; and twice a month we will get out our supplies and just have some fun creating.

*Once a month field trips: I'm thinking if I aim for more than once a month, it will not only get overwhelming (and expensive), but will make it more ordinary than special. Some places we want to visit are the aquarium, zoo, art museum, science museum and observatory.

*Weekly PE class: This is not so much a goal as something that is already in the works. I guess the goal part comes in when I feel like not being committed every week to PE class even though it is nice to get out of the house, chat with friends, and watch the boys have fun playing with their friends.

*History: I would like to actually finish Medieval times this year considering I was hoping to finish it last year and never got around to it. That goes as well for things like science and foreign language. We tend to be really good about the "core" subjects - reading, writing, grammar, spelling, and math - but all the other stuff is pushed aside most of the time.

*Nature Study and Nature Walks: We decided to renew our pass to the local nature center. My goal is to get there once a month. I also plan on working our way through the first ten Outdoor Hour Challenges based on the Handbook of Nature Study

*Finally, my last goal, at least for now, is to not feel badly if I don't achieve 100% of my above posted goals. :)

"First" day of not going to school ;)

So, today was my husband's first day back at work (he teaches ironically), and though we homeschool year round (the boys definitely do better with more consistency than less), today is technically our first day back at homeschooling without an extra hand or two to help. That is, except two of my homeschoolers are missing. The two older boys (8 and 5 1/2) spent the night at Grandma's and Grandpa's house last night, so my three year old and I hung out together. We didn't do much - after an insanely unusually mild summer, the heat decided to kick in with today registering over 100 degrees. We did get to the local teacher's supply store to buy some art and craft supplies. We also read a book on bugs to see if it told us much about wasps or black carpenter bees. So, I suppose you could say some learning happened even if it were a rather small class. ;)