Friday, December 3, 2010

Winter Break!

Our first marking period, or semester, or term or trimester or whatever it's called is DONE. D-O-N-E!

It seems like just yesterday that I blogged about our first day of homeschooling.  When we began, I knew that I wanted to take the month of December off.  I have been looking forward to this moment for so, so, so, so, so, so, so long.  I am a complete Christmas-o-phile (I think I just made that up!).  I LOVE Christmas.  I start shopping in the summer, decorate in November and spend the month of December baking and crafting and visiting and enjoying the spirit of the best season of the year!

The trundle beds have been pulled out, the friends are here indulging in Christmas movies and popcorn and pizza.  We are celebrating!  We learned A LOT.  We did a lot of great work and I am really proud of us!!!!

In Math, A finished Life of Fred: Fractions.  We had realized a few weeks in that Life of Fred was over P's head, and she had opted for Teaching Textbooks.  When A finished LoF, she wanted Teaching Textbooks, too.  After looking more into Teaching Textbooks, I have read some reviews that feel Teaching Textbooks is behind other programs.  The girls will continue to do Teaching Textbooks over our Winter Break, doubling up on lessons and doing two a day in an attempt to perhaps finish early and begin the next unit early.  It's our compromise, since they love the program and I realize that no program is perfect - but having my girls (who are more Reading/Writing girls than Math girls) not fuss over Math is priceless!

In History, we have been using Story of the World, we really enjoyed our study of Ancient Egypt, but have made our way through Sumeria and India.  We have made cuneiform scrolls, clay sarcophagus, perfumed oils, and written our own fairy tales.  We will begin our study of Ancient China when we return to formal lessons after our Winter Break.

We started a TimeLine, that wraps around the walls of our classroom area.  We have everything from the  believed year of the first bacteria (4.5 billion B.C.) to the year Piper was born on the TimeLine.  We read several biographies, and all of those dates are listed, as well as various dates from Story of the World and our study on our state.

In Geography, we have a lovely World Map, courtesy of my boss (I {heart} my boss!!). We have located and marked all of the areas that we have studied.

We studied the history of our state.  We made informative lapbooks, hiked through Jockey Hollow and spent some time exploring the soldiers' huts.  We also studied a map of the state and the girls can tell you that Cumberland county is in the Southeast region of the state and CapeMay is in the South, Bergen is in the Northwest corner of the state and Middlesex is in the center, on the Western side.  When we go to New York City, they know we are traveling West; when we go to Philadelphia, they realize we are traveling Southwest.  They know my aunt and uncle live East of us.

We finished a wonderful Chemistry kit by ScienceWiz.  We did experiments almost every day (including a few on Thanksgiving Day with my family!)  The girls have an understanding of gases, liquids, solids, evaporation, condensation, air pressure, water conduction, physical reaction and chemical reaction, among other things that I am probably not remembering.  I highly recommend Science Wiz Science kits.
Putting lit paper in bottle.

Hard boiled egg on top of bottle.
The burning paper uses up the oxygen (O 2).

The egg is tight in there.

Unfortunately the mouth of the bottle was not wide enough to suck the whole egg in.
We need to find a wider mouth bottle.

The girls have worked hard in writing.  We completed several exercises in Writing Strands 2 that really allowed the girls' imagination and creativity to soar.  We also worked our way through the entire Writing Fabulous Sentences and Paragraphs workbook, so now I know that they understand the mechanics of writing.  When we return from Winter Break, we will be using a combination of Writer's Workshop and Writing Strands, we will also begin our Grammar curriculum.

 The girls have read dozens upon dozens of books.  A has read biographies of Amelia Earhart, the Wright brothers and Laura Ingalls Wilder.  P read biographies of Clara Barton, Pocahontas and Florence Nightingale.  A has read Deenie, Blubber, Iggy's House and The Pain and the Great One by Judy Blume.  P has read the Mackenzie Blue series and the Amelia's Notebook series.  A has read the Julia Gillian series and several other single title books.  A is now on the 5th book in the Julie series by American Girl.  P is on the second book in the Samantha series of the American Girl books.  We have had a long-standing rule of "in bed by 8".  I used to allow the girls to read until 9, sometimes later if they asked, said they were at a good part.  When we began homeschooling, I let them stay up as late as they wanted reading.  P can't do that, she is her father's daughter.  A, is my daughter, and would read a book a night!  But then be grumpy and hard to wake up in the morning, so we settled on lights out at 10pm, giving them 2 hours to read at night.  P seldom makes it until 10; A often begs to finish a chapter, and I usually give in.  I really should have kept a better list of everything she read.  I am guessing it's at least 30 chapter book/novels.

We have been using workbooks for Reading Comprehension and the girls have each done several lessons in the workbooks, as well as several exercises in Reading Detective.  I sort of long to let the workbooks go, and I may after our break. The girls are reading so many chapter books, and I would prefer to have them work through lit circle discussion sheets rather than workbooks, but I have not made the time.  I have been lazy, workbooks are easy.  But, my goal over winter break is to really sit down and peruse Drawn Into the Heart of Reading and a few other of the reproducible reading comprehension books I have purchases and really make some plans up as far as books I think the girls will enjoy and worksheets to use with them.  We will be using these worksheets with "Little Women" this month, so I can also see how that goes.

Over our break we will be reading "Little Women" and using character webs and picture word worksheets and settings worksheets to further our study.  We will continue our penmanship with copy work from Luke Chapter 1.  And the girls will double up on Math.  We will be making gifts and baking, attending several holiday performances.  The girls will be singing and ringing in church for Christmas Eve and participating in our church Christmas pageant.

I will spend some time preparing for our grammar lessons, our Writer's Workshop and challenging the girls with lit circle discussion sheets for their reading.  As much as I enjoy everything that we are doing, I need this time to prepare for our next term or semester or trimester or marking period or whatever it's called.