Friday, February 19, 2010

Nature Challenge Week 1

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.

Week 22 in Review

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.

Monday, February 15, 2010

We're starting a nature study :)

Here's a free nature study challenge.  I'm so excited, we need to do more outside, but I have not been able to really find the time to put something together.

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.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Week off!

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  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.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

I took too many pictures today........ here's some more :)

Drew decided to build a sledding hill...
Luke thought it was a great idea...
Little Drew and his friend agreed.....
It worked well...
My poor cherry tree...
The first star of the evening.  Goodnight Snowmaggeden.

Last Sunday versus Today!

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.