Weekly Wrap-Up, March 25

03.25.2011 | 4:50 pm | Homeschooling

Just a regular week, mostly, thank goodness! A couple of doctor’s appointments crammed in with all the schoolwork, but we worked around them. For instance, while I was getting my blood drawn on Tuesday morning, G sat outside in the grass & shade outside the medical park while P gave him his math & memory tests, and while D played nearby. Homeschoolers just make things work.

This week in math, G learned to divide by fours, which is easy once a child knows how to multiply by fours. He also learned the concept of estimation, which allows him to quickly add large numbers in his head and get an estimated sum to work with.

In language, we’re wrapping up our unit on nouns & verbs, with lots of review work.
For his reading, G worked on his second Henry Huggins book most of the week. Otherwise, he’s still doing a lot of reading in both his real Bible and also in his Picture Bible. He’s been toting the Picture Bible around with him all week, reading intently. I totally understand. ;)

History lessons were fun this week, as we branched out into the world a bit and studied Pythagorus, Confucius, and then Kings Belshazzar and Cyrus the Great. In studying Confucius, G learned that our elders are to be honored and respected, and decided to write a note to Gram, telling her he loved her and her quilts (something he appreciated about her). It was a nice little activity for him and I’m glad it came up in our lesson.

Writing With Ease was the usual. He summarized excerpts and practiced dictation. Stories read from were The Plant That Ate Dirty Socks and The Elephant’s Child. We both enjoyed these two excerpts. G actually complained at the end of the first one, because he wanted to know what happened after the excerpt ended—guess we’ll have to track down that book and hopefully find it at the library!

G is still spending a lot of time drawing & sketching in that big sketchbook I mentioned last week. His drawings are still cracking me up; he is so creative and funny!

I spent most mornings outside this week, working on getting my plants pruned for the season, and doing some yardwork and planting. I planted 2 crape myrtles and an orange tree. I also did a lot of weeding in the yard; we have a yardful of weeds every spring, and I get rid of them the old-fashioned way (no poison): I pull them up by the roots. I had the boys come outside with me, and G was my pick-up man. I pulled weeds, and he carried a 5-gallon bucket, putting all the discarded weeds into it and then dumping it out into the woods whenever we filled it up. It’s great character-building for him (learning to work hard), and it was nice to be outside in the cool, fresh spring air together each morning! We finished up at lunchtime each day, and then went inside to eat and do our schoolwork. Again, homeschoolers just make schedules work with our needs—all while being with our kids throughout each day. We’re blessed beyond measure in choosing this lifestyle.

G made an exciting discovery this week. Back before Christmas, he’d gathered up acorns and planted quite a few of them out in the far end of the back yard, near his swingset. He was sure he’d get oak trees in return for his hard work. I wasn’t as optimistic. Who was right? Well, there are now quite a few tiny little oaks sprouting down there! He is over the moon about it. You can even see little half-acorns under the dirt, from where the tiny oaks sprouted.

In other news, I’m in the middle of a neat project that I came up with for displaying the boys’ art and schoolwork in our dining/homeschool area. I hope to be finished with it this weekend and will be sure to post pics in the next update.

In closing, I’ll share a picture of our Wisteria tree with this year’s blooms. It is flourishing more than it ever has, which is cool since we transplanted it from our old yard, when we moved into this house two years ago. For those who don’t know, it’s the boys’ very own bush, and it’s a placenta tree. It’s buried over D’s placenta, as well as the placenta & body of the little 11-weeks’ gestation baby we lost in November ’06. It is also G’s tree, because it was first planted in our old yard in March 2003, just as G was conceived. I have no doubt that the placentas are part of the reason the bush has grown and bloomed better than ever since we planted it over them.

Two Weekly Wrap-Ups, with an Emergency Hospitalization in Between :(

03.18.2011 | 12:53 pm | Homeschooling, Uncategorized

Most of you reading already know about my terrifying health issue that went down last Wednesday night/Thursday morning. Last Thursday morning, my very first ambulance ride whisked me away for an ER trip and a subsequent four-day stay in the hospital, with various doctors, nurses, techs, and every kind of employee in between telling me that I came very close to dying. I don’t doubt it, with the way I felt when Philip decided to call the ambulance. Thankfully though, God was with me, I got help in time, and, FIVE blood transfusions later, I left the hospital and came home on Sunday.

I have many complaints about our local hospital on one hand, but one thing I can say for sure: they knew what they were doing in the ER. I came in with life-threatening symptoms, near death, and with no real idea what was wrong. They set right to work and within an hour, they knew exactly what the problem was and were working on getting it fixed. It was amazing, and I was so grateful. If you don’t know the details but would like to know, just ask and I’ll share via comment email.

I’ve been weak and trying to build up my strength all week, but even so, we still managed to get in an entire week of school, plus make-up work for last Thursday & Friday’s missed days while I was hospitalized. We just did everything while sitting on the couch or loveseat in the living room. I didn’t have the strength to sit up at the table, but am hoping that next week we can be back to normal for our lessons.
I’m just going to combine last week’s work with this week’s, as one big wrap-up.

G’s math consisted of more practice of the “three” times tables, and the introduction of the “four” times table. He also learned how to make change with money, how to round to ten, and how to divide by twos and threes, as well as a few other smaller functions. Everything went smoothly and he’s moving right along.

During G’s language lessons we finished up with nouns, and we moved on to verbs. This week has focused almost entirely on verbs. He’s enjoyed the lessons and has a good grasp on these parts of speech. I’m still very pleased with this curriculum.

G’s Writing With Ease lessons consisted of me reading aloud excerpts from several stories, and him answering questions about what he heard, and then summarizing each passage on paper in his own words. He’s doing wonderfully with this skill! He also did several dictation exercises (where I read out loud a particular sentence, and he wrote it down word for word, by memory). The stories we read exerpts from were: The Hare That Ran Away, Little Women, The Invincible Louisa, and The Plant That Ate Dirty Socks.

History lessons were mostly Biblical-based, with a couple of interesting exceptions. We covered King Nebuchadnezzar & the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the Ishtar Gate, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, & Abed-Nego, Ezekiel, Aesop, and Buddha. Did you know that Aesop lived in Greece during the same years Daniel was captive & prophesying in Babylonia? And that Buddha was a young man in India during these years, searching for truth (and did NOT like being called a god)? I love this History course! Everything is taught chronologically, lining up world events and people with Biblical history. It’s fascinating.

For his reading, G has still been in Ramona Quimby’s world. He read Ramona and Her Mother and Ramona and Her Father, and this week has started Henry Huggins (who was a friend of Ramona’s). He’s also still reading a good bit of his Bible every day, usually in the mornings when he wakes up, before the rest of us are up. He’s up to the Chronicles right now, and he is learning. The other night he surprised me by asking me if I wanted to hear a chronological list of all the main characters of the Bible, up until Solomon. He proceeded to give me an exhaustive, yet accurate listing, from Adam all the way to Solomon—by memory. I can’t gush enough about how wonderful the Adventure Bible is for stimulating interest, but even moreso, The Picture Bible. I may post about it on its own later, but for now, I can say that it’s an incredible tool for interesting a child in the Bible and for teaching detailed accounts of every Bible story imaginable, in a way that kids retain and remember. I should know, because I had a copy as a child, and I devoured it. I received it for my 8th birthday, and I read it over & over & over, for years. I attribute my extensive detailed knowledge of Bible stories & characters to this book. I remember in Sunday School, I knew all the answers, all the characters, all the details of all the stories, because of what I read over & over in The Picture Bible. When I read or hear about Bible stories today, I still picture every character and scene just as they were pictured in The Picture Bible. Nothing had a greater impact on me, Biblically, while growing up. It seems the same thing is happening with G as he reads his copy over & over & over. If your child doesn’t have The Picture Bible, check it out, and get a copy in his or her hands as soon as possible. It is an amazing companion to the Bible!

G spent a lot of time outdoors enjoying the Spring weather, both during my stay in the hospital, and this week since I’ve been home. The days are sunny and warm, everything is blooming and growing now, and the bees & wasps are everywhere. He spent one morning observing ants carrying tiny pieces of paper on their backs. That’s science if I’ve ever seen it. ;-) He also observed the carpenter bees that are hovering all around his swingset. He told me he’d even made a treaty with the bees, that he would leave them alone, if they wouldn’t sting him. I told him we’ll see how that works out. ;-) He’s also picked lots of flowers, meticulously arranging them in a vase he got out for me and set up on the coffee table in the living room. There’s nothing like a vaseful of wildflowers, picked for you by your sweet little boy.
We haven’t done any official art in a while, but G has spent an enormous amount of time doing artwork over the past couple of weeks. Philip gave him an old sketchpad that he didn’t need anymore, and this inspired something major in G’s inner-artist. He’s nearly filled up every page with various drawings and sketches, both realistic and cartooned. Some of them are really quite good. Most of them are funny—he has a slightly “off” sense of humor that will serve him well (and I can’t imagine where he got it from), and these little drawings display that talent quite nicely. I will scan some, soon.

Speaking of artwork, when I came home from my follow-up doctor’s appointment on Tuesday, G had this message waiting for me in the kitchen:

He’s a sweetie! I missed my boys so much while I was in the hospital. I pray I never have to go back again. Here’s hoping next week is a much better week, but at least we got all our schoolwork done this week!

Weekly Wrap-Up, March 4

03.4.2011 | 5:38 pm | Homeschooling, Uncategorized

The one where we were bu-sy!

We spent all five days this week doing schoolwork; usually we do four school days and take Fridays off. But this week there was still much to get done playing catch-up after our sickness, so we had another week of doubling up on lessons.

We dove back into math this week, and G learned the “3” multiplication table. He tried to pull it off without spending time memorizing, but after the second day where he couldn’t answer the drills, I told him he was going to have to stay in his room with his “3x” study card until he could come out and answer all the various combinations without hesitation. Some say that’s mean, but I say it’s good parenting. ;-) And imagine this: it worked. That very day, he spent a chunk of his quiet time in his room studying the card & memorizing the facts, and now he knows the “3” table. It’s the first time he’s ever had to work at anything in math, and I think he’s proud of himself for making the effort to learn something that was a little more difficult.
In learning the 3 multiplication table, we’ve also covered the concept of 1/3, since obviously it’s related.

Language was fun for G this week, as we studied nouns! He’s enjoying the lessons and I have to say I’m quite pleased with Rod & Staff’s Building Christian English. It’s very thorough. It seems to me like it would be a bit boring to a kid, but G hasn’t found it that way (yet), mainly because he loves getting to work out of a textbook, copying answers and sentences into a notebook.

Writing With Ease lessons were doubled up again. I read to him excerpts from several stories: Alexander the Great, Nurse Matilda, and The Horse that Aroused the Town, and he worked to summarize what happened in each excerpt in his own words. He’s really come a long way with this skill since we started this unique writing program; at first he couldn’t summarize very well at all, but after several lessons, his summary skills improved greatly. He’s now quite adept at pulling out the main details and constructing two or three sentences that summarize the story.

History lessons covered the destruction of Ninevah, the prophet Habakkuk, and the Babylonian defeat of the kingdom of Judah. G declared history to be his favorite subject this week, as on top of our regular studies, we did an entire semester review. For two days, I went through our 50+ memory cards that cover each lesson all the way back to the beginning of time/Creation. The boy knows his history; I don’t know where he stores all those facts, but he is retaining them amazingly well—better than I have, actually. Today I gave him the semester exam, and he made a 95! He got one answer wrong.

G read Ramona Quimby, Age 8 during his reading time. He thoroughly enjoyed this book and read it quickly—he even read it outside his assigned reading time and finished it up one morning before getting out of bed for the day. We only own three of the Ramona books: this one, as well as Ramona and Her Father and Ramona and Her Mother. He was excited to know there was even more Ramona reading available, so he’s now a few chapters into Ramona and her Father. I wish we had them all! Our library is terribly hit or miss, so I won’t count on them having any of the others, but I’m going to check.

We started a new Bible study this week. I’m using a book he got for Christmas called Journey to the Cross, which is a daily lesson about Jesus’…journey to the cross, lasting up until Easter.
And speaking of our Bible lessons, it’s been weeks since he’s had a memory verse to learn. Why? Because I decided to break from that for a while in order to teach him the books of the Bible in order. We’ve worked for weeks, him learning 3-4 more books from the Old Testament each week. We finally finished this week—G now knows every book of the Old Testament, in order! We’re starting the New Testament next week and I hope to have him knowing them all by the time we wrap this year up in June.

Spring is blooming here, with flowers and leaf buds all over the place (as well as loads of pollen). G spent lots of time outside playing this week once his studies were done, enjoying the warm, breezy weather.
This may be my most boring wrap-up yet. Hope it’s useful to someone out there.

Tonight we’re watching The Neverending Story, which is an incredible kids’ film from the 80s. It blew my mind back when I was young, and I’m guessing G is going to love it, also. Highly recommended if you or your kids haven’t seen it!