Wednesday, August 15, 2012

School these days...

Our 2011/2012 school year hasn't quite ended.  I am planning to take the boys during Colonial Williamsburg's homeschool week to Virginia.  We will spend 2 days in Fredericksburg visiting my sister.  She lives close to Ferry Farm so we will go there and we will also visit Mount Vernon.  We just finished reading the Sower Series biography of George Washington so I'm very excited to visit these places with the boys.  Steve is actually staying home with Isaac, Benjamin and Samuel.  Isaac needs to not miss a week of school so early and Benjamin and Samuel will be much happier at home.  Me and the middle boys will be gone 6 days.  I know I'm going to miss Steve and the boys but I also I'm looking forward to a break!  I try to spend some time alone with my older boys on short field trips or extended ones like this every once in a while.  It enables me to really teach them throughout our field trips rather than just tend to the toddlers.

So, I decided we would end our school year officially with our trip to Virginia.  We will start several new things including Beautiful Feet Books geography guide using the Hollings books, as well as a history program that I came up with pulling books from my extensive collection that I've somehow acquired (too many thrift store visits!).

So here is what we are currently working through...

Each morning during or right after breakfast we spend about 3-5 minutes singing a hymn that we are learning, we do Bible which I will talk about in a minute, and we do our bible memory work.  For hymns,  it typically takes us about 3-4 weeks to feel like we've memorized the hymn.  The kids will find themselves singing or humming these hymns later in the day.  I feel like hymns are a tremendous blessing, rich in theology and very comforting.  I find them essential for our schooling and discipleship of the boys (and me!).

Here is the Bible study guide we are using now.  I am SO glad we have done this!  I can picture in my head right now where key biblical cities are located and what happened there (and of course, so can the boys!), like Caesarea (where Paul was on house arrest for 2 years), Capernaum (where Jesus performed many miracles), to the Mount of Olives (where Jesus ascended into heaven) and Mount Hermon (where the transfiguration took place).  I plan to conclude this before we leave for Virginia and when we come back we will start a study of Acts using just the Bible and the Your Story Hour Dramatized version of Acts.  I can't wait to read the stories of the Bible and feel familiar with where those cities are located!  I love to see the boys faces as we hear in church the pastor read biblical text that includes a city that we've learned and see their eyes light up as they realize they know where that city is!  They know what happened there!

(Here is just a short list of the biblical cities covered:  Antioch (where we were first called Christians!), Babylon, Beersheba (where God was called El Roi by Hagaar because he was the God who saw her and Ishmael in their need), Beth Shan (where King Saul was killed in battle), Dothan (where Joseph was thrown in the well by his brothers), Emmaus (the disciples were on the road to Emmaus when Jesus came and walked with them unknown to them at the time...later "didn't our hearts burn within us as he opened the scriptures to us?"), Corinth, En Gedi (David spared Saul here in the caves of En Gedi), Gaza, Jerusalem, Lydda, Mountains of Ararat (the ark came to rest here!), and so many more!  What I do is spend Monday each week reviewing the past cities, and then we learn three more the remainder of the week.

The book doesn't contain a map for each city (this is the only bad part about it!) so I use this to help us locate the geographical location of the city.

I'm not proud of this map.  Not at all.  It is totally not to scale.  I couldn't find the right blank map for us to fill in so one night I quickly drew our own to use and had the boys color it in.  I think it works though for our purpose.  Once we locate where the city is that we are learning about either me or Micah marks it on the map.

This area is so cluttered that I need to print out a blank map of just this area (which is easy to find online) and have the boys fill it in with these cities.  I'll do this one Monday for a review day.

Since we are studying the 1700's, and specifically the time of the American Revolution, it seemed fitting that we would memorize a portion of the Declaration of Independence.  Just today I realized we have these first portions well memorized and we are ready to move on to the next portion.  I don't know why, but I LOVE memorizing this.  I'm so proud of our country, I'm proud of our rich heritage.  I'm not proud of the state of things now, but I believe that what we were built upon was right and good, and I want my boys to fall in love with the country God has placed them in, and hopefully inspire in their hearts a desire to grow up and lead in the ways of our forefathers!

Here is our Bible Memory box.  We use this system.  I can't say enough good things about it.  We wouldn't be able to memorize the amount of Scripture we do without it.

We aren't doing Classical Conversations this year, but I really love these cards and the idea of memorizing all the major events of world history-to serve as "pegs" for the boys (and I!) to "hang" what they learn on.  For right now, we just go through the cards once a week.  Every day would be a lot better, we would learn it faster, but for now I'll just try to add one more day in each week.  Much of our schooling in the mornings is done with a sense of "when is Benjamin going to throw a temper tantrum or when is Samuel going to burst out crying and super glue himself to my legs".  More on that next.  But I mention that to say we really have to pick and choose carefully what we spend our time doing, because calm and teaching time is scarce in our home with a 3year old and a 17 month old!

I do not view homeschooling my older boys as my primary responsibility.  But yet, it does create a good structure for our day.  For Benjamin, I have purchased just recently a few more little "school" activities for him to do while we do school.  This boy can do puzzle after puzzle after puzzle after puzzle.  It's pretty cute!  He also learns along with us.  He can quote memory verses as well as portions of the Declaration of Independence.  He gets to watch about 45 minutes of television in the mornings as well.  (and because of this-no other TV is watched during the school week.  Micah and Andrew don't watch TV at all during the school week.  Dad puts TV on during the weekends some, but other than that-I avoid it!---it just seems so addictive and the boys seem drugged after watching it for any length of time)  Samuel just kind of plays around us with toys, or I sit on the floor and read to the boys and he crawls on me, or the boys and I sit in the playroom and they play with him while I read.  We just kind of go with the flow and make it work.

For history right now, after concluding the biography of George Washington (where I grew to love that great man), I decided I wanted to spend a little more time specifically on the Revolution.  We are reading The Brave Frontier which is a story of a boy and his family in New York during the time of the war.  It is so neat how, through this historical fiction, we are grasping, we are acquiring a sense of, what it would feel like to have lived during the war.  The fear of Indians or "Tories" raiding in the night, the sense of safety because all the men 16 and up would carry their guns with them everywhere-even church, the loyalty to the Patriot cause that would make even young boys refuse to sign "protection papers" ensuring their safety by the British.  We will learn so much about this time period because of this story that has captured our imaginations and our hearts.

This book is more of a textbook, but being a Landmark book, I knew it would be good.  And sure enough it is.  It gives us more details as from one battle to the next.  It gives us a lot of facts that we may not remember but I'm sure, reading it along with the historical fiction, it will all come together!  The boys love hearing about all the battles.  It's so amazing to hear about the sacrifices so many men made for the cause of freedom!

In the evenings we are reading this book about the life and ministry of David Brainerd, who was a pioneer missionary to the American Indians.  It is incredible and very inspiring.  We are loving it.

I decided for Andrew, my 6 year old (turning 7 in November), that we would stop using the book, Teach your child to read in 100 easy lessons.  We got through lesson 60 or so and it just wasn't clicking for him like I or he would have liked.  When I was at the homeschool conference a few weeks ago and walking through the My Father's World booth I remembered how much I liked their first grade curriculum.  I had used it with Isaac.  I had to borrow the teachers manual (thank you Leanne!) and I purchased the worksheets and workbook for him.  So we are now using this curriculum, just for phonics and handwriting.  It is already working!!!!!!!!  Just 8 days into it and last night he sounded out the title to a book we were reading, "A garden for a groundhog".  I only had to help him a tiny bit.  This was a first for him after over a year of reading instruction with the "teach your child to read" book.  If I weren't so free-spirited I would definitely opt to use My Father's World as our curriculum!

For Andrew for math, he is finishing up Saxon 1 (which he used for K), and we will soon be starting with Saxon 2.  I think I will use Saxon until he is ready to use Teaching Textbooks.  Which may be next year!  I also use this hundred board to help as we sing through our skip counting songs we learned from Classical Conversations.  I wish I could always remember the tune for each number!  If anyone knows I would love for you to share this with me!

For science, we are just reading Pagoo right now, we LOVE it.  Let me say that again.  We LOVE it!!!!  The boys always beg for me to read more chapters.  It helps to know that we plan to buy some hermit crabs when we finish the book!  I never had any interest at all, whatsoever, in hermit crabs, until now.  I think they are super cool now that I know so much about them through this story.  This story teaches you so much about them, without you even realizing you are learning!  I highly recommend it.  This is a precursor to our extensive ocean study that we will begin after we return home from Virginia.  We will be using Apologia's Exploring Creation with Swimming Creatures.  We are planning to get a year's pass to the Georgia Aquarium and visiting at least 4 times throughout the year.  The boys are super excited about this!

I ordered Beautiful Feet books Early American History Timeline for the boys.  It just makes me feel better that they are grasping the bigger picture.  We will also add entries to their Books of Centuries which you can print for free here!

To ease Micah into grammar because we haven't done much thus far, we are using A Journey Through Grammar Land.  So far he is loving it.  I will report back later as to whether it helps Micah master the grammar concepts it intends to teach.

For art study we are using this book of Early American art propped up in the school room and I will turn the page every so often.  Sometimes we sit down and look at it and study pictures and then describe them to one another without looking at the print.  Later in the year I plan to use these.

And, last but not least, a picture of Micah who is working out his math problems in his math text book.  Teaching Textbooks gives you an actual textbook which is optional.  I've heard it is good to have him go ahead and do the written work as well, so much to his dismay, after he finishes his lesson on the computer, he sits down and works out the problems in the textbook as well.  Poor little guy.

No comments: