Sunday, October 31, 2010

Week 8

Only Monday and Tuesday were school days.  I think I've forgotten most of what we did.  DD15 & DD13 took the third LLfLotR vocab quiz (100%) and then the first test (100% before grading the short essay on friendship, which I have yet to do).  DS10 & DS8 each did two days of reading, writing and math. They also completed a single day of each two-day subject.  DS5 did all his work each day.  So much time off of phonics will probably require a day or two of review to start off this coming week!

Why did we take the rest of the week off?  My parents came to visit!  And DD15 became DD16!  No driver's license in her near future...she plans to walk or bike, and thinks the world would be a better place if everyone else did as well.

Her presents included a squirrel-proof bird feeder...

A hoard of books (all fantasy from the used book store) at the end of treasure hunt written by DD13 in dragon-script...

And jade ring that belonged to her great-grandmother...

We also played a hot potato-type pass the present game that involved me reading a dragon picture book.  Each time I said "dragon" you passed the present on your lap to the person on your left.  At the end, everyone opened a glow stick!  The holder of glow stick with the ribbon was the winner of the box as well! 

It was a wonderful birthday -- sunny & 70, perfect for being outdoors!  Two long walks were taken. One in the morning to Lowe's with Grandpa:  I'd heard you could walk to Lowe's and my dad is the adventurous sort who can't pass up the opportunity to visit a hardware store! While they were off on that trip, my mom & I went to Costco.  She has a membership and now I have lots of diapers, olive oil, and the like!  In the afternoon, we all went on a trail hike.  Dinner was vegetable stew with a 16-sword cake for dessert! 

Besides the birthday festivities, we went apple picking!  That day was COLD and WINDY and how our family is to survive winter after 10 years in Arizona, I do not know.  The apples are fabulous though and we've made chunky applesauce, apple-banana muffins, apple-oatmeal pancakes and are dehydrating a bunch of sliced apples now!

Tomorrow begins a new month! Tomorrow begins NaNoWriMo! 

Tomorrow also begins a new week of school...and other busyness!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Week 7

Noteworthy accomplishments this week: 
DD15 finished her herb research (pictured above)!
DD13 has scored another 100% A+ on a Literary Lessons from Lord of the Rings quiz!
DS10 finished Writing with Ease Level 1, on to Level 2!
DS8 finished Chapter 5 of Math-U-See Gamma!
DS5 can recognize the word THE and has stopped sounding it out!
DD10mo has her very first sippy cup!

Not accomplished this week:
Nature Study, Art, Poetry...

Coming up next month: NaNoWriMo!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Castle in Progress

Using the out-of-print book Make Your Own Model Forts & Castles by Richard Cummings (published 1977), DD15 has created the basis of her Norman Castle for Military History!

She started with a piece of drywall generously donated by the neighbor (instead of the book recommended plywood).

Between a utility knife and a small saw, she cut the drywall.  The lack of perfect edges will make the finished castle more realistic.  In computer terms, this would be a case of "It's a bug, but we'll call it a feature."

 Three walls cut...not sure how to attach them yet.

She decided to duct tape the walls together and texture the whole thing with vinyl spackling paste.  I think it's looking good.

She mixed black and white acrylic paint to create shades of stone.

A platform painted to look like wood is perched on a few nails.  And the basic castle is complete!  I'm so proud!

Once DD15 creates the drawbridge and grounds, I'll post more pictures!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Current Chore Chart

Like most families, we've tried a lot of different ways of parceling out the multitude of household chores.

At our old house we had "zones" -- each child was responsible for a zone for a week with the weekend including the big chores in the zone: dusting & cleaning one of the bathrooms, or scrubbing the kitchen floor.  It worked fairly well.  The big plus for me being whoever had the zone was responsible for daily pickup in that area.

Our new house doesn't have the same layout, nor does the family dynamic seem the same.  So after a couple months of settling in and a few false starts, I present the new 5 Week Chore Rotation schedule!
This chart is in a page protector on the fridge, near a dangling wet erase marker.  The children's initials are written in the first column.  I say children's but it is actually my own, DD13, DS10, DS8 and DS5's initials.  I'll explain why in a moment.

So each of us is responsible for something for the whole week.  This week I am on Dishwasher -- I empty it in the morning and then again in the afternoon.  Since DS5 is on Kitchen, I'm doing the bulk of that as well this week as well!  Kitchen means you clean up after every single meal.  That is a lot of meals!  BUT you only have to do this job every 5 weeks.

Now, why isn't DD15 on the rotation?  Well, she was.  But she didn't like being told what to do. Welcome to the real world, kid? Yes and no.

We're a family.  A family is about as real as it gets, since jobs come and go, houses come and go, friends come and go...but for better or worse, your family is always your family!  And in a family, I believe, you should be able to shine where you're strong and grow where you're not.

And how does letting DD15 "out of the chore rotation" accomplish this?  Well, she is already responsible for mowing the lawn.  And she independently pitches in with preparing meals & cleaning the kitchen.  And willing does whatever chore I ask of her -- take out the compost, hold the baby, take out the trash, etc.

And so, being a family and working with her strengths, I'm on the chore rotation and she's not.  She is responsible for everything out of doors -- mowing, taking out trash/recycling/compost, watering plants, sweeping the deck, shoveling in the winter, etc.  That is her domain.  And she happily helps where she sees a need in the house.  Which is primarily in the kitchen!

We're in the 4th week, and so far so good!  I might add a "zone" component so that each area includes a zone to keep picked up.  This would be good because with DD10mo walking she can strew toys and pick up small bits (Risk arrows? Dice? Paper scraps? Grape becoming a raisin? You drop it, she finds it.) faster and earlier than I expected!

What chore plan is currently working for you family? Because I know this won't last forever!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

5th grade (2010-11)

Current checklist for DS10 in 5th grade.  This sheet is in a page protector on the refrigerator with a wet-erase marker dangling nearby.  He fills in each square each week and then I wipe it off on Sunday night.   He can chose any order and any number of things each day -- as long as they get done!  And no doubling up.

Provide it is all done by "close of business" on Friday, he may get up at  6:00 on Saturday and Sunday to play on the computer.  Huge motivator.  He has never not finished.  But even if he didn't have this computer-carrot dangling he'd finish.  He's that kind of kid.

The three on the bottom (Nature Study, Poetry & Art) are done at my discretion.  Unfortunately we haven't done any of them in the last few weeks.

Reading:  Novel or other book of my choice.  I plan to work through the 1000 Good Book List plus use books from the historial time period we are focused on.  He's a good reader (taught himself at 4) but doesn't read for fun the way his sisters do!
Exercise: He is the only one of my children who has this requirement.  He's a (very slim) couch potato and now that we've moved and he's no longer in karate...well, I think he needs this requirement.  So do I, but that is another post!
MUS Pre-Algebra: He is currently doing 4 pages per week that his older sister didn't use (B, C, D, F, and the honors page, which we do together).  If he hits a wall, we'll slow down.  Next year I'm thinking Life of Fred Pre-Algebra with Biology before he does MUS Algebra.
Latin: Great Latin Adventure 2 -- he did GLA 1 over the course of last year.  Memorization comes easy and he is doing very well with this course.  Not sure about going into Henle 1 next year though (which DD13 is doing now!).
Writing: Going through Writing with Ease from the beginning at a very rapid pace.  I believe he'll accomplish all four levels this year.  Last year he did IEW's All Things Fun & Fascinating.
American History: All American History 2 (Civil War to the Present).  I had planned on using SOTW 4 but decided to just included him with his older sisters.  So far he is doing great listening to me read, filling out the battle info, and completing the reviews as quizzes.
Reading Comprehension:  Something new this year! I bought him Jane Ervin's Reading Comp Book 3. It would be easy, except I'm having him do the additional writing assignments. :)  One lesson a week.
Grammar:  Currently I'm using The New Handbook of Composition but I'm contemplating switching to something more current and applicable.  Or maybe just the 5th grade Spectrum Test Prep & Practice books! :)
Nature Reader: He is reading aloud to me from Christian Liberty Press Nature Reader 4, one section at a time.  He reads aloud veryveryquickly and we're working on slowing down.  Actually, he has much improved in this area since last year.  I should probably switch him to a higher level book, Nature Reader 6 or something different entirely.
CWP 4:  Singapore's Challenging Word Problems 4.  When I heard they were reformatting these I bought a complete set.  He does 3 problems (one page) each time.  The practice problems he can do without me and get correct.  The challenging problems we have to do together and don't always get correct!
Comic Math: Comic-Strip Math is just an easy addition to his week.  Keeps him thinking!  Lots of different applications!'s busy work.  :)
Chemistry: Real Science Odyssey Chemistry Level 1.  He knows the info already.  I should make a change to something more challenging.  Perhaps in January.  Yes, that is what I'll do.  Double or triple up on the reading pages and chose one experiment a week and finish in December.
Logic: Logic Liftoff is mostly easy & fun.  He did the first book in the 3 book series last year.  Some days he'll do a multitude of pages, other days just one.  I expect he'll finish this book before January.

It might look like a long list but he finishes quickly and easily almost every day.  He could use more challenges, more depth and richness.  I really need to get Nature Study, Poetry and Art added in!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Week 6

No pictures...I inadvertently converted the iPhoto picture files on the laptop to the newer version we have running on the desktop computers.  Oops.  Posting pictures will now require me to use a desktop computer in our basement office.  It might be a very long time before I get the cool castle-building pictures uploaded!

DD15, DD13 & I have developed a good evening routine.  When I put the boys to bed around 8pm, they start watching a Great Battles of the Ancient World Lecture (Teaching Company).  I come down to watch the end and discuss it with them.  Then we go over their Literary Lessons from Lord of the Rings pages and discuss those.  Both girls are enjoying LLfLotR -- I think when we get to the Unit Studies they'll like it even more.  I've read this curriculum can kill a love of the books, but I don't think that will be the case here!

I'm not thrilled with my choices for science or grammar for DS10.  Science is Real Science Odyssey's Chemistry Level 1 for 2nd-5th grade.  Having done Ellen McHenry's The Elements a few years ago he hasn't learned anything new.  And he doesn't really enjoy experiments, which is the basis for the course!

For grammar I borrowed a book while at my parents' house in August.  The text my mom and her brother had used in high school: Woolley's The New Handbook of Composition.  Really.  I thought it would be a great free source, something we could sit on the couch and do together.  Well, it is all that.  But some of rules are over my head.  Way over.  And I'm not certain that some grammar rules haven't changed! And with no teacher's manual...

DS10 finished reading No Man's Land (a Civil War story) and will take the Writing with Ease Level 1 evaluation next week.  I'm just doing the example weeks with him from the teacher's book until we get to where he's not comfortable.

I'm not happy with science for DS8 either.  Its a slim book on Sound & Light -- but almost all the experiments have been a bust!  I don't think he has retained much at all.  What I am happy about for him is he is starting to fix things around the house!  For years he's been taking things apart.  This week he reversed the door knob to the boys' bedroom.  It was on backwards when we moved into the house.  And I gave him my little kitchen scale that was broken.  He took it apart and brought it back, working!

DS5 doesn't even have science and I'm grumpy about that too! :)  He is doing great with what he has though -- Singapore's Earlybird Math B, Handwriting without Tears, Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading, and Explode the Code 1.  A pile of workbooks.  But they get done and he doesn't mind school at all.  He'd rather be outside playing though!

DD10mo has almost completely given up crawling.  She's toddling everywhere!  I must buy her some shoes.  This week.

I've been reading several interesting books including the following:

The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun (Gretchen Rubin -- on February.)

Inside the Kingdom: Kings, Clerics, Modernists, Terrorists, and the Struggle for Saudi Arabia (Robert Lacey -- about 50 pages into it, learning a lot!)

Virginia's General: Robert E Lee and the Civil War (Albert Marrin -- he had nicknames for his 7 children.)

Handbook of Nature Study (Anna Botsford Comstock -- I've been trying to read the first part for weeks as part of Barb's Handbook of Nature Study blog.)

Thus ends another week.  Now to read about all your weeks!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Week 5

The days are long but the years are short.  
I heard this somewhere along my homeschooling true!  

DD15:  Norman Castle for Military History

DD13: A page from her "Soldier's Life" compilation

DS10:  School done? Check.  Chores done? Check.  Computer play time? Check.  Exercise? Check.  This boy needs a hobby.  Or three.

DS8: Whizzed through Lesson 3 of Math-U-See Gamma!  Struggled with "answering in complete sentences" in WWE.  Almost done reading Little House in the Big Woods.

DS5:  On Monday we rushed to the store on the way to our afternoon D&D group.  As I hurried the children through the parking lot, in the wind and drizzle:
     DS5: What day is it?
     Me: Monday.
     DS5: Awesome!
There was no reason for it to be "awesome" -- we were going to a store (not for him), in the cold (and we don't have seasonal-appropriate clothing yet), before going to yet another place (not for him)...and yet! It was Monday.  It was awesome.  It's good to be five.  And it's good to be a five year old's mom, too!

DD10mo: Worst -- Waking in the night a lot.  Best -- Looking at books and making little noises as she "reads" to herself.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Elven Magic...a quicktime video

I just came across this creation by my DD15 and DD13 from last summer.  It's a little unpolished at the beginning but has lots of cool elven magic spells!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Menu(less) Plan Monday

Last Monday I was so excited about my menu plan a la Orgjunkie.  It was fabulous.  I followed it all week.

This Monday I am not so excited because I have no menu plan.  Why not? I just haven't made one.  And I have to go to the grocery store tomorrow.

Monday: Baked Eggplant, raw veggies, muffins...tasty enough, although the boys said it was a "do not make again" recipe.








Friday, October 1, 2010

Week 4

Week 4 Announcement: All my curriculum has finally arrived including Literary Lessons from Lord of the Rings!  Oh, happiest of days!  DD15 & DD13 started immediately and plan do lessons on Saturday and Sunday, too.

We probably won't do that every weekend but DD15 has to get 4 permanent teeth pulled next week.  We have a new orthodontist -- his assessment & x-rays reveal a myriad of problems that have been caused by the braces and/or should have been corrected over the course of these past two years.  I'm angry.  But DD15 (to my amazement and motherly pride) is willing to do what it takes to get it right, even if that means two more years in braces.

DD13 has been researching sugars and sweeteners for her nutrition course.  I told her to put all the informations she learns about polysaccharides, glactose, xylitol, etc, etc into an easy to read format so that I can read and understand and join knowledgeably into conversations!

DS10 started The Great Latin Adventure 2!  He did GLA 1 last year and I had planned to review all summer, but alas...  He is reading Chemistry: Getting a Big Reaction this week.  Not a literary tome but I couldn't remember what book I'd picked for him this week!  He does read a lot on his own but all fantasy brought home from the library by his sisters...primarily Dragonlance novels this month.

DS8 has been reading a lot.  I still can not believe that he has only been reading since last summer!  He started Little House in the Big Woods (thank you, Writing with Ease!) and I read him the first few chapters of the original Pinocchio (again, thank you, WWE!).  He then read the next six or so on his own and I read 3 more aloud tonight.  I've never read it before.  Only watched the Disney movie, years and years ago.

DS5 is wrapping up learning the sounds of the letters with OPGTR.  We'll do XYZ tomorrow so we can start reading on Monday.  He is easily making his way through Singapore's Earlybird B...academics are seeming to come naturally for him!  Which means less stress for mom & student. :)

DD9mo is taking more and more little steps...often two at a time.  I'll say she's toddling. Her new favorite game is "roll the ball."  Her 1st top tooth as finally cut through -- and she's slept better the last two nights.  Happy baby! Happy Mommy!

Yesterday it rained and rained and rained some more. DD15 &13 took a long walk. Elves don't mind the rain, you know. DS8 & DS5 played outside for most of the day. They came in to "do school" and have their "computer time" but the rest was spent outside. Several changes of clothing and washings of muddy feet and many worms rescued... DS10 & DD9mo & I stayed inside, though it was neither warm nor dry. Sort of damp and clammy. We've some adjusting to do from moving from the Western Desert to the Eastern Swampland! Including to the size of the insects. The person who told me "the bugs are bigger" was not kidding.

Thus ends the first month of the 2010-2011 school year!