Friday, August 15, 2008

Week in Review: Week 1

Let me tell you, I am feelin' the love. I have gotten emails. Comments on other posts. Asking where are the Friday Follies. And even more importantly, asking where I am. Rest assured, I am right here. In my disaster of a basement. While I gather everything for my consignment sale. But more about that another day. And Friday Follies - tune in tomorrow for their new incarnation.

Both girls had great weeks - even after Madalyn's refusal to get on the bus the first day of school. All of the second grade is outside the school in trailers. Oh, wait. Excuse me. They are called "Learning Cottages." I am constantly corrected on that one.

Before I delve into what we did this week, I thought I'd tell you a little bit about why and how we homeschool. Hopefully there will be no snoozing. And hasn't this just been an educational week? Not a lot of flash. Well, except for the lightning. But then again, there is not a lot of flash in my life. I have to invent it.

As usual, I tend to digress. HEY! Are you all back with me? Good. Moving along. I did not want to homeschool. Not at all. I wanted to put my child on the bus. Wave good bye. And have some me time. A lot of me time. But that is not the way things worked out. We used to live in a horrid school district. Where the public school was so not an option. And the price of private wsan't an option either. I went to schools outside of our district to try and convince random principals how much they would enjoy having my child at their school. But no one was buying my stories.

And then, serendipity steps in. In the form of the book The Well trained Mind. I read this book from cover to cover. Including all the parts that were about homeschooling high schoolers. And I knew. I just knew that this was something I could do. Do well. And love doing.

The Well Trained Mind advocates for the classical method of homeschooling. Which is history based. So, in year one, you start at the beginning. With Ancient history. There is no seperate reading/literature program, because along with your history, you read stories from that time period. We studied ancient Egypt - so we read Egyptian myths and legends. We studied Ancient Mesopotamia, and we read The Epic of Gilgamesh. Can you believe that there are beautiful picture books of this story? There are. If you haven't read them...go to your library and get them for your kids. Or for you. (Gligamesh the King, The Revenge of Ishtar, and The Last Quest of Gilgamesh - all by Ludmila Zeman.)

There is a four year cycle for history - ancients, middle ages, Rennaissance/Early modern, and Modern. As well as a four year cycle for science - that corresponds with what the people of that period knew: biology (plants, animals, and humans); Earth Science/Astronomy; Chemistry; and Physics. What I love about this is that Katie will read Shakespeare three times. The first time more in story method. The second time, at a junior level, and the third time in the original. And it won't be scary. Or overwhelming. Because we will have done it before.

Also, central to The Well Trained Mind is learning to write. And learning to write well. It starts with copy work. The idea being that you know good writing when you read it. And when you write it yourself. Copy work moves into dictation. Which is an excellent precursor to note taking. And I will have a child that has been doing that since first grade. So when she is in a class with a lecture portion, she will be well prepared.

When she reads - for any of her subjects, she writes a narrative.(This is what she wrote for Bio today. Can you even read it?) A simple one or two paragraphs telling me what she read (in the beginning it might have just been one or two sentences - and now we are moving to outlining). This is a huge skill. To learn how to summarize. And pull out the most important pieces (instead of the strange or fantastical like she tended to do in the beginning).

So, this year for fifth grade, we are starting over our four year cycle. And we are going to dig a little deeper. This is what we learned:

BIOLOGY: We are using Noeo Biology II for our curriculum this year. And the lessons started with Usborne's Complete Book of the Microscope and learning about their history(since the 1600's) up through modern optical and electron microscopes. We even made a microscope using a piece of cardboard, plastic film, and a drop of water. (although it was more like a magnifying glass than a microscope...but still quite cool!)

HISTORY: We have not started on our History Odyssey curriculum because I wanted to back track a little. And go over some early forms of hominids. We started with Australopithecus and moved up to Homo Habilis, Erectus, Neanderthals, and then Sapiens. We finished off our week discussing the ice age and reading the hilarious book You wouldn't want to be a Mammoth Hunter. (This is another book series I highly recommend - there are lots of book - all by different authors. I am sure you could look up "You wouldn't want to be" as the series at your library or amazon)

MATH: We had not quite finished with Singapore Math's 5B last we picked up where we left off: the chapter on Averages.

LOGIC: We started with the workbook Logic Countdown - which is listed for 3-4th grade - but after thumbing through it - there are a number of difficult problems. It starts with lists of items and you have to tell what they all have in common. Like: book, poster, tablet, envelope: all are made with paper; cup, vase, bucket, pot: all are containers. But the difficult one for Katie: salt, sugar, flour, soda. She thought of soda - like Coke. But when I told her it was baking soda, she decided that it was things in the kitchen. Of course it could be things you use to bake. Or, they are all white. Or how about this one: what do these have in common: peach, cherry, olive, and avocado? This one was tough for her!

WRITING/GRAMMAR: Our formal writing program does not start until after Labor Day. In the meantime, I have Katie doing a workbook called "Note taking." It's boring to her. As is the grammar. But it's good to keep up her skills.

GEOGRAPHY: This is now Katie's favorite subject. (She said it was a toss up between Geography and History) We started the week just reading about Europe - and then moved on to our first country : Denmark. I had planned to start with China - to go with the Olympics. But I accidentally put China in another week, and didn't feel like erasing it to go back to the beginning (I know...shocker...I use a manual planner...not a computer!).

Katie read a book about Denmark: city and village life; and another book about how the Danish King helped to save the Jews from the Nazis. We watched a short movie about the country. And we made a Danish recipe for Æblepandekager which is a Danish apple pancake (or cake, really). It was quite yummy.

That was our week. Pretty good start. What about you? When you were in school - what was your favorite subject? And do you want to learn how to make Æblepandekager?

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Shannon said...

"peach, cherry, olive, and avocado?"... they all have pits (am I right?)

Sounds like the year is off to a good start! :)

My favorite subjects were Reading, English, French and History!

And I sooo had to scroll back up and gaze upon the gorgeous Gerry Butler :)

Swirl Girl said...

WOW- can you teach me those things too?

Teri said...

Well, the kids have seemed to survive Week 1. And surprisingly, the favorite subject for both continues to be Lunch. Yep, same answer every year.

Love the Back to School Hunky Stuff. Oh, and btw, "Learning Cottages" <-- that PC for BS. hehe

Angie's Spot said...

I am so in awe of parents who homeschool. Before Big A was born, I swore I would do it. Now, I'm not so sure. You make it sound do-able, so I'm reading all your "drivel" and taking it all in. And thanks for Gerry. I need my cold rag again.

Keys to the Magic Travel said...

Shannon--Yep. They all have pits. Which was a difficult question for a child who won't go near any of them except for the peaches. And even then, she wants them peeled and sliced. Never to see the pit. I can keep sighing myself over Gerry :-)

Swirl Girl--I'll try to stick to edumacation on Fridays. :-) There's no telling what you might learn!

Teri--I love "learning cottages." It just cracks me up every time I think about it. Every time Madalyn says it. I want to know who came up with it!

Angie--I so did not want to homeschool. And please's only the one. And the other one is going to our wonderful public school around the corner. You just do what's best for you. And for your child. I am certainly not here to say this is the right choice for everyone! But...if you want to think about must read The Well Trained Mind. I am sure your library will have it...

Rhea said...

learning cottages. snort.

I lvoe hearing about your homeschooling. IMpressive teach, you are.

I loved language classes and English. My favs!

Unknown said...

YES PLEASE, I wwant to learn how to make Danish Apple Pancake.

Katie is so lucky. It sounds like she is getting a well rounded education.

I sometimes want to weep when I compare the education that my Grandkids are getting in NZ and the education that Taylor is getting here. Alexander is at a comparable grade level as Taylor. he gets Art, Social Studies, History, Sports, Geographt, Science and goes on Field Trips as well as doing Readin', Writin', and 'Rithmetic.

Taylor's class just seems to do Reading, Writing and Math ... there's no time for anything else. :-(

At least she gets all tghe otehr stuff from me and her parents!!

Lula! said...

You inspire me. You do. Can I come learn with Katie?

And yeah, feel the know I was all wondering what was up this morning. Thanks for the heads up!

Kim said...

Denali just finished The Seeker by the same author I think. Glad your week went well. We have not started yet but I got excited about it after reading your blog.

GBK Gwyneth said...

Sounds a lot like our week... :) Except Camille's using Cranium Crackers, which I'm really liking. And we studied Monaco this week. There really isn't that much out there about it in terms of recipes and crafts. I was once reprimanded at the palace there for taking a photo. Does that count?

The outlining stuff I have is too easy for her.

Anonymous said...

Go Kat Go!! I've told you before, but I'll tell you again, I think you're an amazing mom to homeschool, and I know you love your babies so much. Best of luck with the school year.

Keys to the Magic Travel said...

Rhea--Are we doing Yoda speak today? :-) Can you believe I wasn't a big fan of English in school. Because it was too much writing?! Oh, my how times have changed!

Karen--Oh, yippie...someone wants to see my recipe. I'll be sure to dedicate the post to you!

And I know what you mean about American schools. The teaching to the test exasperates me. But I think Madalyn gets some of what we are doing - she usually is there when we do experiments - and she reads all our books, too.

Lula--So are you and Swirl Girl going to sign up for a correspondence course? Oh, now wouldn't that be fun?!

Kim--Is that the new Polar Bear series? Katie is sooo hooked on those Warriors books. She has all her friends reading them. Including her friends with reading issues. I love her enthusiasm about them.

Gwyneth--Are you using a Geography curriculum or winging it? Next week we are doing Malawi - and there is nothing. So, I am thinking we'll be looking up stuff on the internet instead...

Elena--I am no more amazing because I homeschool - than you are amazing with yours! It was just the situation that was right for that particular child. And for me. But certainly not right for my other one! But...thank you :-)

Tiffany said...

Sounds like an awesome start, Kat! Can't wait to read more!

Firefly Mom said...

Wow, all my homeschooling blogger friends have been posting about what they're planning/already doing this year and I'm impressed! Since homeschooling is such an individual thing (even among homeschoolers of the same "style"), it's fun to hear the different ways people do it! Not to mention, it's also a great way to get some new ideas ;) We still have a couple of weeks before "school" starts here, which is a good thing because I'm not ready!

The only class that I enjoyed *attending* in public school was science, because I loved doing the experiments. Even the disections didn't bother me at the time. I also loved history and literature, but HATED the way they were taught in school, and preferred to learn them on my own. Should have known I'd end up a homeschooler!

Kel said...

Sounds like a great week. I wish I had found WTM earlier, My son just turned 9 and has no writing skills to speak of (he was in PS for K and 1st)

Your dd, has amazing writing skills for a 10 year old. Hopefully someday my son will be able to write his own narrations and they'll be longer than 2 sentences.

GBK Gwyneth said...

Kat - We are winging geography. I love it, and I'm not concerned. This year our focus is Europe, and I started out slow on purpose :)

The Joye of Teaching said...

Sounds like a great start! I love the bus story...