Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Regrouping in 2015

One of the things I love so much about homeschooling is that we can put aside things that are no longer working for us in order to make room for what we want to learn and find the best way for us to learn it.  We are adding a new vocabulary program, a new foreign language program and supplementing our science in 2015.  Allie and Jason have joined a snowboard/ski group and Piper will be taking pottery (and in a stroke of pure awesomeness, her pottery class is offered on Wednesdays near where Allie's Wednesday classes are offered!)


We are going to start using Word UP.  I wasn't quite sure exactly what to do with this program.  Jason was home one day when we were previewing it and he suggested an art journal/illustrations of the roots and the words.  For instance, if the root is "aqua" they would write the meaning of the word: water.  Then they would write aquarium and draw an aquarium; aquamarine and color in a square with that color, etc.  Between Jason's illustration idea and the quizzes, I am excited to get started with this new program!


My New Year's resolution is to SLOW DOWN.  Even the girls notice that I am always hurried, rushed and stressed.  Organizing has helped.  But I think I also just have too much going on--for me.  I work 12 hours a week, I run two library programs a week, homeschool my girls and run a bi-monthly writing group for their friends, I manage our home, get the girls to activities and honestly, sometimes I have more than one place to be at a time.  I have to slow down.  Jason has offered to take over our Chemistry program on Saturdays and Sundays this winter until work gets crazy for him in the spring and I have taken him up on the offer!

We They will continue using American Chemical Society's Middle School Chemistry online program.

We They will also supplement with experiments from this kit.

Additionally, the girls will continue to be responsible for a monthly independent experiment and science report.

The girls are also signed up for several classes at Liberty Science Center this winter.

I would also really like to watch Crash Course Chemistry with the girls and having them draw/write what they learn about, but this is really going to depend on time.  I would like to do it and I think it is important, but I am not sure if we will have time for it.  There are so many great things out there, but finding time for them all is a problem.

Foreign Language

This has been the most debated topic in our house.

Jason wanted the girls to study Spanish and they have off and on for years, he was happy that they while they can't speak fluently, they knew enough to get by and be understood and understand what people were saying to them in Costa Rica.

The girls wanted to learn American Sign Language after taking a class at a co-op, but we have been unable to find a class anywhere in our area.  We've learned many things using just books or online or video learning,  but after several different attempts, we found that we were not confident in our ability to learn sign language this way.

However...everything always just works out the way it is supposed to, right?  When we were at the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, we learned how immigrants tried to hold on to their cultural identity but over generations it does get lost.  I asked the girls if they would like to learn Italian and they both said they would.  So, we purchased Rosetta Stone Italian 1-5 and will ALL be working through the program individually, even Jason and I!


We spent a good portion of the fall reading for our history program and we will be reading several historical novels this winter, including Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Green and To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee and The Help by Kathryn Stockett.

Allie, who devours YA novels, has begged for a break from required reading so she can read some books that she wants to read and I have agreed to her request for the month of January.  So far, she has read 6 books in 2 weeks!


We will learn about the lives of the American people during WWII and the Japanese Internment Camps as part of our immigration study.  We have completed 50 hours of study as part of our Immigration Study (I do not count the time the girls spend actually reading or writing reports or doing other projects; I do count time spent discussing, watching documentaries or movies, visiting museums, watching plays, and other events where we are interacting around the topic).  I found a great study guide for Summer of My German Soldier as well as interviews with George Takei about his experience in a Japanese Interment camp.  Hopefully, George Takei's play Allegiance will get a Broadway run and we can get tickets to round out an additional ten hours of study to make this a complete half year course hour-wise and high school credit-wise.

We will begin a Segregation study in the Spring which will include reading books (see Language Arts), learning about the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, watching Mississippi Burning and A Raisin in the Sun, learning about The Black Panthers, Malcolm X and Muhammed Ali and will be rounded out by learning about Spike Lee and possibly watching some of his movies.  We will cover what happened in Howard Beach in the 1980s among other things.

Film Study *

*denotes an ongoing study that may not be completed in one year

We will be learning more about lighting and camera angles and how directors use these techniques to affect the viewer emotionally.

After watching Friday Night Lights, I became obsessed with Connie Britton.  Over the holidays I saw that she was in Edward Burns (one of my favorite directors) film Fitzgerald Family Christmas.  Allie and I have similar taste in movies and books, so Allie and I spent a lot of December watching Edward Burns realistic portrayals of family life in New York and New Jersey.  Allie was blown away when I told her about the budget ($9,000 for filming) for some of Edward Burns films which are so deep and layered and awesome and psychologically satisfying and how he does SO MUCH with SO LITTLE.  I just love, love, love the way things work out the way they are supposed to.


Both girls will continue using Teaching Textbooks as that does work for us quite well.



Allie and Jason have joined a homeschool ski/snowboard group.  This winter, they will leave early Monday morning and spend the whole day snowboarding.  Piper opted not to join this so that she can continue to volunteer at the library since the ski/snowboard group is on the same day as my library programs.


Piper has elected to take another pottery class this winter.


Allie will continue with e-cubed and Piper will be joining in the spring.

Writing/Art Journaling Circle

This group will continue to meet every other Thursday to share their writing and to do some fun writing exercises and/or art journaling exercises together.

Dog Walking = Money Management + PE

The girls have expanded their business and walk two dogs now every day.  Half the money they earn is deposited in their bank accounts, the other half is used for bedding, food and toys for their gerbils and hamsters, hermit crabs and fish and whatever is left over is used for going out with friends or lip glosses and other things they want.  We count the hour+ a day they spend walking dogs toward PE.