Thursday, February 24, 2011

Back in the Saddle Again

(Disclaimer: Yes, I do have a habit of breaking into songs to fit a given conversation.)

It's nice getting back to school after being sick for the last couple weeks. I wish we could figure out how to start sooner in the day, but by the time I'm done getting ready, getting Miss K ready (and nursed and changed and nursed again ... you get the picture), making breakfast, doing the dishes ... well, it's always later than I wish.

Mr. I is struggling a bit with math this week. It's a Bridge week in Life of Fred, and though the book says that if you score 90% on one, you can move on, John and I have decided that he needs to do all five bridges. But, we also have 4 days of Singapore Math. Today went more smoothly than yesterday, but oh it was a struggle yesterday and Tuesday. Tomorrow he's happy that he only has two bridges to complete and no SM.




Mr. E is making some big fine motor strides lately. He is determined to learn to fold paper airplanes and is getting better at folding the paper in half. He's also improving his cutting skills - today he did a great job cutting out an oval, with very few chunks missing here and there.

We finally got back to Sentence Composing today. I do like that program a lot. I think it'll work well for both older boys - it seems, at least right now, formulaic enough for them to catch on quickly. We have only been putting sentences together given the pieces, to match their models. I think upcoming practices have them creating their own sentences based on the models.

And I realize now why we normally do spelling five days a week, every week. Fortunately the dictation sentences have so much built-in review that it's easy to recall previously learned spelling rules.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Welcome Back, Kotter ;)

A year and a half ... that's a long time. I've updated the sidebar with what we are doing now. After our newest addition, I decided I needed to streamline our days a bit. Even though Mr. I and Mr. A are two school years apart, I am able to combine them in quite a few subjects including Latin, history, science, art, nature study, and parts of language arts. (For L/A, we do MCT series, Sentence Composing, and WWE-Mr. Popper's Penguins together; I just modify what I need for Mr. A, which isn't usually very much.)

I'm liking not using the WWE workbooks. I have had a love/hate relationship with them since we started. I loved the open-and-go aspect, but didn't like how disjointed they felt since the subject matter/book being used changed each week. It was also getting a bit tricky juggling Mr. I's dictations with Mr. A's narrations, and vice versa. I love reading to them from Mr. Popper's Penguins, doing some oral narration together (they both are pretty good at this), and then doing a writing assignment together. Some chapters, we do vocabulary using a couple of the sentences from Memoria Press's M.P.P study guide. What they do is copy the sentence from the book, underlining the vocabulary word, and then one of them looks it up in the dictionary. Then they copy the definition. They do two-three sentences, so they each get a chance to use the dictionary. One of these chapters, we'll use the thesaurus instead and look up synonyms and antonyms. Other chapters I'll give them each dictation sentences (usually Mr. A has one or two sentences from a paragraph and Mr. I will have the entire paragraph). I do a modified mash-up of the WWE way and the Charlotte Mason "studied dictation". I also write words on a small white board that I think they might need help with spelling.

We also just started Life of Fred: Fractions this January and it is a hit. I'm teaching Mr. I how to read the chapter for learning (rather than learning to read), and then to do his work on a separate piece of paper instead of having a workbook. We bought him a 70-page spiral notebook, and he's learning to write his name and date in the corner, and label each new chapter. I need to remember that slow and steady wins the race. :)

The past month and a half, we have been focusing on Latin, math, and language arts. Sometimes we get some history in there. But, with 38 weeks of school planned for this year, and the local school only getting in about 35 weeks with the furloughs, I think we're doing pretty darn well.

In the midst of everything else, I can say I finally cleaned up the homeschooling area (also known as the dining area and the only table in the house for meals!). I boxed up what we are currently not using, and organized the rest. It's not perfect, but with hubby's laptop and papers at work, someone could actually sit on the spare chair. ;)