Thursday, July 28, 2011

Summer Learning

Did you notice my new handy-dandy pull down tabs?  I am still tweaking them.  I love how this blog has encouraged me to learn more about Html and web design.  I was just telling Jason that I think I want to take a class in webpage design.  I love how you enter a code...and it looks like...something!  Too cool!

My blog lists were getting out of hand.  So I am going to try reading them in reader on the ipad now.  My blog lists are now under the tab Things We Love.  If your blog is not there, it is completely just an oversight.  Please let me know if I missed you!

As for school...

We had decided to school all year because last year I felt like we couldn't take time off for a playdate or a field trip  because I felt tied to curriculum.  It's honestly partly that it was our first year and I had something to prove.  But I want to be able to take a reading day when the girls can't put down their books, or take a day to just chill with's all important.  So, we have been doing Science, Grammar, Vocabulary, Geography and Math this summer.  We should be finishing up in a couple of weeks, then we will enjoy a break for a few weeks before starting our fall term.

Science - Apologia Botany
We finished Chapter 6 in Apologia Botany last week.  There was a lot to learn about leaves, thankfully Jason was able to pull out the salient parts.  It helps to have a hubby in the field ;-)

So many things that we had seen at the lake and around our house just came full circle in our discussion on photosynthesis and chlorophyll!  It was one of those moments where we said: THIS is WHY we HOMESCHOOL!  The kids made connections and you could hear the little synapses in our brains firing away as we excitedly talked about the need for water, CO2 and sunlight.  The girls LOVE to say CO2, I think they feel cool knowing the "code" for carbon dioxide.

Looking at the stomata with Jason's loop ;-)
We found it worked even better than the microscope.

The girls and I have whizzed through Chapter 7 earlier this week and should complete Chapter 8 tomorrow.  It seems that now that we got the more technical info down, things are flowing along rather seamlessly.  We have been really enjoying the free notebooking pages available at Jeanne Fulbight's site.

Jason is going to cover Chapter 9 on trees over the weekend and I am very hopeful that we can get the book done in the next week or two and then take the rest of the month of August to just relax before starting back up in the fall.  It makes so much more sense to take 2 or 3 week breaks throughout the year than to take a LONG 10 week summer break.

Something else I am learning...

I get bored easily.  Curriculum feels like a noose around my neck at a certain point.  We were using Easy Grammar in the spring, then I got bored with it.  We were using Daily Grams this summer.  Now I am bored with it.  So we are switching back to Easy Grammar for a bit, til I get bored again-ha!  I am thinking that by rotating the two we will cover everything in two years.  I am considering doing this with writing and maybe some other subjects as well, change it up a bit when we (meaning ME) get bored with teaching it.

I also learned....

That not everyone on Craiglist is a lying cheat.  HA!  Seriously, most people that post on these sites are probably really good people.  But you only hear about the bad.  P was using Teaching Textbooks, but I realized that it was great for HER for review, but not great for HER for learning new things.  It may be completely different for another child.  This was just our experience.  Anyway, A was using Math U See and we loved it and she was learning a TON.  So, I decided to buy Math U See for P.  She is pretty good with multiplication, but not completely confident with three and four digit BY three and four digit I was undecided as to whether or not to order Gamma or Delta....One morning I googled it and found a seller on Craigslist that was selling BOTH Gamma and Delta as well as Zeta (what A needs next!).  They had all of the manipulatives that I needed as well and were selling in a big lot, instead of individually.  They only had what I needed and nothing that I didn't and it saved me $300!  But, because of the stories you hear...I was nervous.  The seller was gracious and gave me her phone number and we chatted and I decided that the fact that they had everything I needed and nothing that I did not need was meant to be.

I didn't buy the workbook for Gamma, but P and I have been watching the videos and I have been using the Worksheet Generator on the Math U See website and she is progressing along beautifully, MUCH more confident about multiplication!  She should be finishing up Gamma within the next week or two...once again, I could not have planned this so well!

A is 2/3 the way through Epsilon (we didn't start until January).  I have no doubt that she will finish Zeta by the spring of 2012 and we will be able to do Life of Fred Decimals & Percents.  I love how Life of Fred follows a similar course line to Math U See...and A LOVED Life of Fred!

I have also realized that I had some strong opinions about my kids education when they were in school.

I was always annoyed about their vocabulary.  Lists of random words seemed too arbitrary to be REALLY effective and the fact that the kids were GIVEN the definitions grated on my nerves.  I think learning to use reference materials is important, even in this day of technology.  Quite frankly, as a librarian I am outraged when I can not even send an adult to find a fiction book by the author's last name!

I believe that learning Latin & Greek roots, as well as prefixes and suffixes is a great way to learn vocabulary.  I purchased the Vocabulary Vine program--AWESOME!!  We learn 2 or 3 roots a week (we are in no rush, lifetime memorization is what we are after with these roots!), we play games with them and review them constantly.  The girls are finding roots everywhere and pointing them out...and saying, "Well, we KNOW geo means Earth, so geotropism..." or "We KNOW bio means Life so biodiversity must mean different forms of life?"  Stuff like that, which I think is awesome as far as making connections and higher order thinking...

We think this is such a great program that I just ordered the Science Roots program!


The girls memorized all fifty states and are now working on memorizing the capitals.  We have been reinforcing geography by playing The Scrambled States of America, which my mom gave the girls as a gift.  It is an awesome fun game!  Teaches so many skills!

Independent Study
I created a History of Fashion study for the girls since they are both really interested in fashion.  I plan to post more about this when I have time.  We have been so go, go, go all summer-- I have tons of ideas for posts and no time to write them!

I believe that children enjoy reading when they get to pick books that interest them.  Of course, it is the parent's job to make sure the books are appropriate.  A has read every Nancy Drew in existence over the last few months - both the old ones and the newer ones and the notebooks!  She is now into the Winnie series by Lauren Myracle.  P loves all things American Girl, she has read all of the series books over the last several months and is making her way through the mysteries.

I do periodically come across books that I want the girls to read.  I usually read it, take notes and look for on-line study guides to help facilitate a conversation and then I have the girls read it and we discuss.   A and I recently did this with When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead.  We both recommend the book highly!