Monday, August 24, 2009

I am confused, was Charlemagne good or bad?

We started week 4 today. I was hoping to start the week with a "geography adventure", but due to weather we postponed our trip.

We started the skeletal system today. The girls were full of questions. I am please with R.E.A.L. science so far.

The hardest question that I was asked today was about Charlemagne. I have to be honest and say that I underestimated my third grader's ability to integrate information. I did start her on the Upper Grammar track, but I was completely prepared to adjust to lower grammar. Since I was so unsure about which level we would find ourselves using I focused on lower grammar details over the summer. So, when I was asked today about the details of Charlemagne's life, I had to pause for a moment.

Our history time ended with a conversation about the fact that christians' lives are full of mistakes. I reminded McKenzie of a question that she had asked me earlier in the day. She had asked, "how can we abide in Christ? I know that we want to do that, but we do still sin, so how can we do both?" A great question. One that I suspect she will be revisiting for the rest of her life. We know that Paul wrestled with that same concept. I focused our discussion on the desire to love and follow Christ. After we finish 1 John, I think that Galatians would be a good follow up. ("our righteous acts are filthy rags")

These are the kinds of discussions that drew me to use Tapestry of Grace. I feel better equipped to navigate these spiritual questions couched in the context of history.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Week 3

The girls filled the geography challenge jar this week. That means that week 4 will start with a field trip. I think that it will be good for all of us to spend some extra time outside. This idea worked well, and I would use it again.

I was hoping to get in some of the art projects this week, but that did not happen. I think that once winter sets in we will do the weekly art projects.

Math is going well. So far the balance of Saxon and mathematical reasoning is working. I would like to spend some time playing math related games next week.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Week 2

Last week was quite full for us. We did manage to get in a reasonable amount of school, but there was no time to blog.

Here are a few questions that were on my mind last week. I would love to hear your thoughts.

Cursive - - any tips on teaching cursive? I am using startwrite to create worksheets and I use Donna Young's cursive animations. Any other ideas?

The silly cycle of home school mom guilt - - - "Oh great, she finished a 4 week literature assignment during week 2. I am not challenging her enough." Then, later the same day, "I am expecting too much from her. I should have gone with the grade level spelling workbook." Does anyone else struggle with this roller coaster? How do you find mental balance?

Friday, August 7, 2009

Off to a good start

Here are a few highlights from our first week of school:
1. McKenzie read two week's worth of literature this week (I am sure this will slow down as the writing assignments increase, but I took that to be a great sign)

2. Thanks to the webinars that I participated in this summer I felt the freedom to let McKenzie read on her own. She retained far more than I thought she would. When I read aloud to both girls McKenzie would say things like, "oh the Huns. I read about the Huns today." That was usually followed up by a description of the Huns or another people group that she had read about. This will revolutionize our school day. I have been grateful for the advice all week.

3. Paige (1st grade) begging to go first on the assignments that she does with my help.

4. The geography challenge is working. Yesterday while they were cleaning up their toys the girls kept asking each other questions like, "what is a mesa?" Our jar is filling up.

5. Base 10 blocks are awesome. This summer I bought a set of base 10 blocks. Saxon math does not use base 10 blocks. When I added them to an order the woman on the phone questioned me. "Aren't you using Saxon?" I figure a great teacher would not strictly follow one curriculum. A great teacher would combine ideas from several different programs. This week right as Mckenzie was starting to get frustrated with a few work book pages I pulled out the base 10 blocks. Her demeanor totally changed. She was able to finish the assignment with a smile.

6. Both girls are responding well to a Bible study method that I thought I would try. Again, I got this idea from the webinars. Basically we are trying a scaled back version of the Kay Arthur method. Now, this particular method has never appealed to me. However, when I heard Marcia Somerville talk about using the Kay Arthur method with her children, a light went off in my head. I printed off 1John in large font and we are color/picture coding the words. They are enjoying it. I will let you know in a few weeks if they are learning more about 1 John this way.

This first week was not without typical bumps in the road. My three year old got sick, we had a church event that kept us out way too late, and had some of the general chaos that comes with small children. Overall, a great start to our school year.

Monday, August 3, 2009

School is in session (Year 2, Unit 1, Week 1)

We are off to a smooth start. In the interest of honesty, we started about 30 minutes later than I had hoped due to a toothpaste explosion. I would say that flexibility is on the top ten requirements list for home schooling moms.

This year I have created a schedule for us to follow. I am hoping that it will help the girls move forward when I get distracted by toothpaste explosions created by my younger two. I am also hoping that the schedule will help me re-enter school mode post-toothpaste explosion.

Tapestry of Grace eases into the school year. Today McKenzie read the first two chapters of King Arthur and the first chapter of The story of the Middle Ages. We started reviewing geography terms, completed placement tests for Spelling Power, and started math.

For the most part we are sticking to the basic Tapestry of Grace plan for the next few weeks. I have added a "Family geography challenge" I knew that we would need to focus on math facts this month. Handing the girls another stack of flash cards did not seem like a good idea. They are still making the flash cards, but after that they can ask anyone in the family the definition of the term. We have a jar that they can put a token in for each correct answer. When the jar is full we will go on a geography adventure (i.e. - hiking, berry picking, fishing, etc.).

My goal for the year is to post on Mondays and Fridays. I would love to trade ideas with other moms. How do you start your school year? What fun ideas are you using this year? Leave a comment. If you have already answered the questions on a blog feel free to leave the link as a comment.

Author's note: Sorry that there are no pictures. The camera is broken currently. I hope to have that problem fixed by the end of the month.