Well! It's been awhile. There've been many trips and some books finished... Let's see if I can catch this mess up.
In April we went to the Children's Festival in Hampton Roads and followed it up with an impromptu trip to the ocean.
The dogfish must've recently hatched, because mermaid purses were all over the beach. The kids collected a ton of them and they are now stinking up the break front :)
We also crashed a field trip in April. My nephew's class went to George Washington's Birthplace. The boys and I tagged along, it was a great deal of fun, even if GWB is a little old hat for us.
May has been very busy so far. Homeschooling day at King's Dominion, THANK YOU HEAV!!!!! Was a blast. Luke got to ride his first roller coaster and Andrew got to take his first solo ride on a big coaster.
We also took an impromptu trip to Washington DC, via both Amtrak and VRE. Amtrak was really nice (and super expensive), VRE was uber punctual and incredibly affordable. The boys LOVED riding the train and they were duly impressed with DC. We didn't stay too long, but we did see the Capital Bldg, the Washington Monument, the Air & Space Museum (always a hit), and we took a quick jaunt through the Natural History Museum. Luke's favorite part was this massive fountain in the center of an art gallery. Andrew, of course, loved the A&S Museum. The roses were in bloom and I have to say that was one of my favorite things.
Also, Andrew turned nine this month. His party was a lot of fun. I didn't plan a darn thing, but there was a water balloon fight, followed by water guns, followed by bicycle races, polished off with some go-kart racing. The boys really enjoyed themselves.
Grammar - We've made it all the way up to Lesson 62 (we're doing the third option in FLL3). Andrew's enjoying memorizing Poe's "The Bells" and he had a lot of fun diagramming sentences with conjunctions (go figure).
Reading - He's about halway through "Through the Looking Glass" and continues to love the absurdity of it all.
Writing - WWE3 week 24, we're using "Around the World in 80 Days" this week. I really like how this allows me to introduce him to books, and entice him into picking them up on his own. Last week he was sneaking peaks into Pinnochio and this week he's reading as much of Fogg's story as he can (he's not allowed to read to whatever part I'm planning on using next). Also, I picked up Writing Strands 3 for a song on Amazon and Andrew has done the work for Lesson 1. At first he was completely peeved over the idea of more writing, but the humor and the simplicity of the assignments has made this first week go smoothly.
Spelling - We're on Lesson 2 of Spelling Workout D. The orange pages continue to keep him interest. He earned over 100% on his spelling test Monday (for Lesson 1) and so far, his missed words page is empty, yeah Drew!
Math - Singapore Math continues to be great. Andrew is becoming much quicker in calculating values and his frustration and stubborn refusal to do math is starting to fade. Not to say I don't have to breath on his shoulder to keep him going, but he's already gone from a half hour for Mental Math to 10 MINUTES. Again, yeah Drew!
Latin - Ecce Romani continues to please and Latina Christiana plods along. We're actually on the same lesson we did last week. We are enjoying reading Latin so much that I think we're going to start taking two weeks per LC lesson and one week per story (give or take) for ER. That means we slow down, but it's so much more enjoyable this way that I'm not worried about it.
Greek - Same old same old. We did get to some new vocabulary in Hey Andrew! and I've left his Greek more in his lap. Now, he knows he has to do one verse a week for transcription and this week he's learning how being lazy means you end up with a lot to do on Friday. He paced himself better last week.
History - Uh, we watched some history channel and biography shows on hulu.
Science - Hulu again.
Devotions - We've been using Devotions for Kids, but it doesn't require much of Andrew, he just sits and listens. Today I found a Bible Study from back in 2000 that was in our church library. We went ahead and tried that out for today and I like it much better. So, goodbye devotions for kids, hello Bible study. We're now studying the power of the Spirit (Acts 1).
Nature - The birds are back in full force. We've read through a number of books and Andrew's definitely enjoyed his time outside observing, but I just don't have anything to show for it....
Reading - We continue to practice in our Bob Books
Writing - Well, he's practicing his name, but there's no pressure there. Luke, just enjoys writing.
Math - Luke's started doing some really loose addition and subtraction. Nothing with symbols, just me
saying things like: you have three marshmallows, how many would you have left if two of them disappeared and other such silliness.
Devotions - We're reading about Moses and the Israelites.
Nature - He's starting to learn how to identify different types of birds.
We started using Ecce Romani with Latina Christiana. Andrew really enjoyed having a story to read and I've already seen growth in his Latin.
We read a few chapters for History and watched some History Channel stuff on Hulu about Japan that went along with some that we had read.
Greek is plodding right along, we did get to encounter some new vocabulary words and Andrew continues to work diligently at transcripting the book of John.
Grammar is grammar, writing went well... We did move up to Spelling Workout D last week. Andrew is ever so excited to read his new orange book, he got tired of the green (C). Oh and he continues to enjoy "Through the Looking Glass."
Singapore Math was fun and new for us. We're taking a break from the more challenging math and I'm very glad we have. Besides taking tons off my shoulders, it's also allowing Andrew some good math r&r.
In Science, we're slowly but surely catching up to where we should be. I really hope we'll be done with Chemistry by July (our longest break, four weeks off, woohoo!). Physics is starting to look SO good.
After seeing Daisy's weekly reports full of drawings from nature I've finally decided to get started and study nature with the kids! Thanks Daisy, for the motivation. Week One Challenge: Well, I read the required pages in the Handbook of Nature Study and was relieved to see I didn't have to continue this if the kids totally rebelled. Also, being reminded that "I don't know" is a valid answer was very nice.
We did do the one hour outside, but haven't gone out yet today. We actually spent an entire hour hiking around the nature trail at George Washington's Birthplace on Monday. That was so much fun. With all the snow all of the animal prints and their poo were very obvious. The boys were enjoyed "tracking" the different animals and guessing who made what print or pile. Tuesday and Wednesday we kept to the neighborhood, walked down to get the mail and things. One good observation Andrew made was that the birds are quieter as the day goes on. In the mornings they're so loud, but as it wears on to afternoon they seem to settle down. Luke was pretty impressed just to be able to climb over and under logs and things in the scanty woods left around the neighborhood. His biggest observation was that thorns still hurt, even in the winter.
We decided to investigate birds in general. This was a good time for a general study of them (February is feed the birds month). Andrew has been working on various bird calls, Luke has learned to whistle, and we all have started trying to identify the various birds we see on our daily travels.
No pictures this week (and everyone stops reading the blog) sorry, but we've been busy living and haven't stopped to keep momentos.
Greek, we're through lesson 19 in Hey Andrew! 3 and Andrew has finished transcribing 1.12 in John, which means he finally gets to flip to the next page! It may seem silly, but we take our triumphs where we can find them.
Latin, we've done lesson 16 this week. It's nice to have some more verbs to work with and conjugating them has proven pretty easy, for Andrew anyway.
Science, we finally finished Unit 4. It was a bit harrowing. I'm not sure that Andrew was ready to know how fission (nuclear power plants/bombs) could effect things. Sometimes I wish he was a little slower on the uptake.
History, we went ahead and did two chapters this week, 5 and 6. We covered some interesting stuff about Japan and then skimmed through the pilgrims. It may seem wierd to fly over that particular section of history, except that we already learned all that around Thanksgiving. There were some new little tidbits, especially from "You Would Not Want to Be an American Colonist." Ah, cannibalism, always a fun topic. I think everyone, Dad included, would say that learning the history of New York was the favorite part. Wall Street? Broadway? Those alone kept us in stitches.
Reading, Andrew has started 'Through the Looking Glass' and is loving it. He's also read a few books on the early colonies. We checked out a book called "Mouth Noises" from the library and he's been popping, barking, and clicking ever since. I really need to update his reading blog, I'm getting rediculously behind.
Writing, WWE 3, week 22, same old same old. Sometimes I worry about the monotony and wonder if I should get the workbooks, but I hate the idea of spending that much money for something I can do myself. I'm thinking about doing the end of year evaluation next week, just to see if he can do it (I'm pretty sure he could), but then what?
Spelling, we finished Spelling Workout C this week. D was supposed to be here last Friday, but apparently the shipper didn't put it out until this week. Wierd, because I had gotton a notice that it was on its way.
Grammar, FLL3 and the beat goes on. We both like grammar. This week Andrew got to diagram adverbs that described adjectives and other adverbs. We both thought this was really neat. There is something very satisfying about making a simple sentence turn into something with legs that looks impossible to decifer.
Math.... well, a while ago I made the mistake of giving him some placement tests, just for giggles (I know, baaaad idea) and I discovered that while he can do some really difficult math on a white board, or in his head, if it's simple math on a worksheet he completely freezes up. So, he ended up testing at 3a for Singapore math, which is really where we're at age wise anyway, but STILL! I ordered it, in a panic, and we've done the first four lessons this week. It's much easier than what we had been doing (which means less time, I'm going to end up turbo lazy), but this is so thorough that I can relax knowing he won't choke on his standardized testing later. I do have to say, that while he misses the geometry games (we focused on Singapore this week), Drew is glad for the break.
Luke has had a wonderful week, mostly thanks to Joanne on the WTM boards and her web site Get Off Your Butt Parenting. I knew Luke was different, but I did not know how different extroverts are from introverts. My poor baby is living in a house with three people that define comfort by time alone. So, we are changing things and Luke is so much happier now that we're more considerate of his need to be with people. I even took him to McDonald's to play with the tons of other littles that congregate there with their tired mothers. He is, get this, peacefully napping at this very moment.
Besides all that, Luke made a little bird puppet and we learned the poem "Little Bird." He continues to practice writing. I had an 'aha' moment and found out I could tuck his books into the plastic sleeves on the outside of our trapper keepers and let him use my dry erase markers. His writing is really improving and he's even started drawing people. At library time today they read some bird books and made bird feeders from waffle cones smeared with peanut butter and rolled in bird seed. Luke did all the crafts all by himself, while Drew made various bird calls he learned from "Mouth Noises." I was one proud mommy.
Here's the first Challenge. If you go to the blog, there's a Mr. Linky, so you can post your finished challenge blog. Btw, the link for "The Handbook of Nature Study" goes to a site with free downloads.
Outdoor Hour Challenge #1
Let's Get Started!
1. Read pages 1-8 of the Handbook of Nature Study. Highlight or underline anything that you as the nature study teacher find will help you in your guiding your children. If you read a sentence that you agree with, mark it so you will remember to come back to it when you need some encouragement.
2. "In nature-study the work begins with any plant or creature which chances to interest the pupil." So here is your challenge this week. Spend 10-15 minutes outdoors with your children, even if it is really cold and yucky. Bundle up if you need to. Take a walk around your yard or down your own street. Enjoy being outdoors. After you come inside, sit the children down and ask them one at a time to tell you something that they saw on their walk. Ask them what was interesting to them. Maybe they picked up a leaf or a stick and brought it back indoors and now they can really take a look at it. Make a big deal about whatever it is that they talk about.
3. After your discussion, come up with two things to investigate further. For instance, if they saw a bird on their walk and they came inside and talked about it, ask them if they want to know more about that bird. You have a whole week to spend some time looking it up. Maybe they found an acorn or a berry on a bush that they were interested in. That could be your focus for the week.
4. After your nature study time with the children, pull out your Handbook of Nature Study and see if the item the children are interested in is listed in the index. If it is, look up the information for yourself and then relate interesting facts to the children sometime during the next week.
5. Post an entry on your blog listing out what you did for your Outdoor Hour. I would also love to see the list of the two things that you are investigating further. Come back to this post and add your blog link to Mr. Linky. Please do not link to your blog in general but to the entry that you make about your Outdoor Hour experience each week.
This was our week off! It should have been a great deal of fun, what with all the snow and Valentine's Day. Drew was grounded, though. So, it was a pretty lame week.
I ordered Singapore 3a on February 4th from bestedusource.com. Drew can do some crazy calculations and love 'fun' math (see Geometry, Algebra) but still panics when he sees a page of simple math. I gave him a placement test last week, for giggles, and he tested exacted where we are. However, I went into a tizzy realizing that his standardized testing is coming up in May and ... he freezes when he sees too many simple problems set out for him. So, we're going to do some Singapore and see if I can't get him over this fear of basic math.
As of today, my Singapore is still sitting exactly where it was on February 5th, when it was "processed" at the post office in California. I'm so glad I payed extra for expedited service.
I ordered Spelling Workout D on Monday, we should have that today. Thank you Amazon shippers. I didn't even realize we had finished C until I went to set up our work for the next few weeks. Surprise surprise!
Luke has had a fun week, driving everyone insane. He ate some espresso beans Dad left on the counter yesterday... that was fun too ;)
I'm going to look into Alfie Kohn's books. There has to be some way to raise decent human beings without all the stress. There has to be. I finished reading "Uncle Tom's Cabin" this week and was struck by how kindly the Quakers were. There are times when I really wish we could live in the middle of nowhere. There has to be a better way.
Last Saturday we went sledding at the beach (only real hills nearby). You can see the Potomac at the top right hand corner.
This was how our yard looked. Plenty of the white stuff:
Sledding, fun fun fun.
This morning snowmaggedon was in full force:
I tried to take a picture of a cleared walk, to give an idea of the depth, but it's not very useful ;) Take my word for it, foot and a half in the low spots upwards of two feet elsewhere and........ it's still snowing.
Home Educators Association of Virginia sets up these wonderful homeschooling days and today we got to enjoy one! The discount was great, the drive was a little much (3 1/2 hours one way), but it was SO worth it.
We went to the Virginia Aquarium. The volunteers were so nice, and they knew everything! The exhibits were fantastic and the boys LOVED it. You know what though, I loved it too. You know it was a good trip when, after 7 hours of driving, you can tell your kids you had a wonderful time with them.
Now for the pictures:
Andrew loved the stingrays. He wants to write a report on them. I think we'll try to make a lapbook together.
They have so many hands-on exhibits. Here's Drew petting a variety of crabs.
Luke was more interested in looking. These little bubbles are a riot. They put the kids into the exhibit. Just behind the log, peeking over if you can see her, is a komodo dragon.
That's her in the next picture.
Andrew was followed by one fish. He did not notice, although Luke and I both thought it was hilarious.
Luke loved the turtles.
He also liked the sea horses. You can't see them, but Luke did.
Here we see a caiman:
At this point, Luke is just starting to get comfortable with the tanks, but that comfort did NOT last long...
The caiman woke up! We all three were amazed when it finally moved, okay and a little frightened.
We had such a wonderful time. Thank you HEAV! Thank you Virginia Aquarium! Thank you all you wonderful volunteers, you really made the day special.
Andrew getting help stretching a penny. Always a fun souvenier.
The results are in, 91% in Spelling and 97% in Latin! I cannot believe he retained so much after the week we had! Way to go Andrew!
On Thursday we'll be doing homeschooling day at the Virginia Beach Aquarium. Another exciting bit, as neither boy has ever been to an aquarium before and dd will be skipping school to join us. I've sort of decided it was time to start taking advantage of homeschooling days, so this is my not quite New Year's resolution. Next month we'll head out to the Science Museum in Richmond and in March we'll be going down to Jamestown and York. The prices are good (Virginians, head to heav.org) and it's about time we started doing something fun :)
Okay, it's not really over, but I'm posting, because we have to get to the library and .... I've had enough of this week already.
Andrew has managed to keep up with most of his work. We fell behind in grammar, but the plan is to catch up today and tomorrow (Saturday school?!? You bet!). His spelling is getting better, his writing is getting better, his Greek is getting really phenomenal (love Hey Andrew, but modified and now we're declining and conjugating ala Latina Christiana, instead of one at a time like they recommend), Latin continues on (we can almost converse now)... What else? He's reading "Stuart Little" as our library STILL hasn't gotten "Through the Looking Glass." Oh! History, Andrew made salt dough yesterday and then breached the walls with his Sea Beggars. That was fun. For science, we did not do Chemistry, but we've been doing some really interesting stuff with plants. We disected celery that had soaked up some dye for 24 hours. Then the boys ate it.
Luke is working on his plant book. He's made a little book, cut and colored some "vegetable soup," made a plant time-line and other such stuff. We'll keep working on plants next week, he's really enjoying this. The picture is Luke making dough seeds and planting them in his little dough garden.
Now, I'm going to bed... er the library... what a week.
Luke and I sprouted some seeds last week. I did not expect them to do well, they were from store bought veggies and I really thought those were incapable of growth... I could not have been more wrong! By Sunday, our acorn squash needed to be put in a pot (we'd grown them in wet paper towels) and our potato looked pretty desparate too. We spent Monday potting them:
We've been reading Growing Vegetable Soup and so in January Luke is learning about plants... aren't I the best planner?!?
We're heading out to the library to print out some things from here and this may be Luke's first really coehesive, everything works together week! Granted, it's starting on Tuesday, but Monday would've just ruined it anyway.
It all started badly. I needed to cover in the church office today. Instead of getting up and dressed, Drew decides to argue:
'You don't work in the office on Monday, Mom.'
'I do today, getupdressedbrushedandlet'sgo!'
'No, you don't work on Mondays.'
Twenty minutes later, Luke is dressed, the car is warmed up and Drew is... asleep in bed. It took everything I had to keep from dragging him to church in his pjs.
I was on time, just. Then, I start working and it turns out that someone else needs to use the printer. That's okay, it just meant I had to put off doing any of the printing/typing (99% of the work). Then, the boys start getting antsy. Then, they start arguing. I was climbing the walls, trying to be patient with everything...
Then, Luke climbed on the stage. This wasn't in the chapel, it was downstairs in the common room. Luke climbed up there (like he always does), only this time Drew took it upon himself to get Luke down. He grabbed Luke and promptly tripped and fell backwards... slamming Luke's face into the floor. Thankfully, he still has a mouthful of teeth. The only difference is the lovely kissy lips that swelled up... and the blood... everywhere (it seemed like it anyway).
By the time we got home I was ready to implode. We've managed to take our quizes, but very little other than that got done.
Today was, according to my Pack Leader (Cub Scouts), a free day in honor of Robert E. Lee's Birthday (which is Tuesday) at Stratford Hall (his birthplace). Little Drew and I scrambledish to get there an hour late... I had to go to the coffee shop this morning and pick up some joe and then ran over to the bakery to get breakfast, so we were late. Anyway, we get to the ticket gate at Stratford Hall and... the gate keeper denied us entrance. He said it was most definitely NOT a free day.
Now, I love Stratford Hall, it's beautiful and educational, and beautiful, but... it's 10 big ones for an adult (rediculous when you consider George Washington's Birthplace is HALF that) and 5 smackers for a kid. We usually only go on Lee's birthday, when it's free, because I'm a tightwad... This time, though... those big brown eyes next to me pleading, I shelled out the $15.
I am SO GLAD I did! We were, literally, the only two visitors.
We had a private tour of Lee's home with a grandmotherly type guide that made it feel like she was telling us gossip about people she knew (she was not a period worker). Here's some more pics!
The oval site is a new archaeological dig. They found a basement and some other stuff underneath fields that have been farmed as long as there have been records.
Andrew took a few pictures, this is one of the carraiges. These aren't all display only, they actually use them for carraige days.
This is the view out of one of the lower floor doors. You can see the family tomb (forgot who's there, I'm terrible!) and the compass/weather vain, they all line up, I thought that was pretty neat.
This is the bridge you cross to between the visitor's center and the main touristy area. It's really hard to show the drop in the middle, but years of erosion mean that you're quite a ways up. You can just see Andrew halway down the bridge.
These are the cliffs. When you hike down to where the mill is at you get some really nice views of the Potomac and the cliffs. These are in worse shape than the others in the area. Andrew and I watched rocks and earth slipping down. It seemed like anytime you looked at them bits and pieces were falling off. It is beautiful, though.
See how happy!
This is the mill. It's rediculous, I've lived her over 20 years, I've been to Lee's birthplace countless times, yet this is the first time I've ever wandered down to the mill. It was, of course, not open, but splendid all the same. We have about 14 pictures just of the ice under where the water goes and around the big wheel.
The mill pond, it's much larger than you might think and besides sporting a mill, it also has a nifty little overrun ditch that has rapids and waterfalls. It's a concrete ditch, nothing fancy, but I think we spent about twenty minutes here, just dropping gumballs into the little creek to watch them bounce over the rapids and go flying into the oblivion off the falls.
The hike back from the mill. It's always harder going back than it is embarking.
We really had a wonderful time, my boy and me, but now we must run out and procur dinner for Dad and Luke (who were out doing manly shopping).