Sunday, February 21, 2010

Friday- Homeschool 2 Weeks in Review for Duncan

Language Arts
We finished looking at Rossetti and Duncan is now studying the poetry of Carl Sandburg. He participated in Teatime Tuesday Poetry where we read A Valentine by Laura Elizabeth Richards on Tuesday, 2/9 and Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll on Tuesday, 2/16.

I read aloud pp. 47-51 from Milo Winter’s Aesop for Children. For read-aloud Thursday we read Barbara Cooney's Chanticleer and the Fox on Thursday, 2/11 and Saint George and the Dragon by Geraldine McCaughrean on Thursday, 2/18.

Duncan has just started No Dogs Allowed by Jane Cutler and finished chapter 1.

Duncan played some in his beginning cursive book, did Wordly Wise Book 2 Lesson 14 and Plaid Phonics C pp.98-104. This week he started Spectrum Writing Grade 2 and completed pp.5-7

We totally dropped Easy Grammar the week of 2/8-2/12. I tried this years ago with my older two and it didn’t work for them. I had thought it might be a good fit for Duncan, but I just don’t like it. Anyway, I have been writing my own language arts material that is part PLL/ CM, but also part Living Memory/ LCC. It has been time consuming, but I am pleased with where it is going. This week we completed the first week of my material.

Duncan completed pp.1-16 in Key to Decimals Book 1. We have been doing Saxon 65 about every other day and he completed lessons 70-77. In poor neglected MEP 3A he only did pp. 13-19. Duncan has been to the Kumon Center twice in these two week, but he hasn’t made it to the math tutor at all.

This week Duncan continued learning about water. He finished The Wonder in Water. For the 2/8-2/12 he memorized the Great Lakes and 2/15-2/19 he memorized the world oceans- both as listed in Living Memory.

I read aloud chapters 8-10 from The Story Book of Science.

He also watched some science videos from the library and on TV.

History and Geography
Duncan again played with The Seven Continents of the World Jigsaw Book. We spent some time reviewing.

2/8-2/12, we read pp.232-239 in the Usborne Internet Linked Encyclopedia of World History. We looked through Cathedral by Macaulay and made clay gargoyle heads. We learned the during the Middle Ages the popes of Rome who were the head of the Western Church wanted power over the rulers of Europe.

2/15-2/19, we read pp.240 in the Usborne Internet Linked Encyclopedia of World History and SOTW2 chapter 18. We learned that the crusades began in 1095 when Pope Urban II urged Christians to go on a crusade to drive the Muslims out of the Holy Land.

Foreign Language
I keep forgetting to report foreign language! Duncan hasn’t been doing much RS Farsi, but we have been working through Passport’s Spanish for Children chapter 2.

Duncan has not been practicing violin like he should . He did have a lesson Monday 2/8.

We went to a Nashville symphony children’s program the week of 2/8-2/12.

We finished looking at the sculptures of Donatello and listening to Gregorian chants the week of 2/8-2/12. This week we began looking at the work of Botticelli.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Read-Aloud Thursday

This week we read Saint George and the Dragon by Geraldine McCaughrean. I have had this version for years. My oldest had it when he was little. He wanted it, because he liked the illustration of the dragon. Margaret Hodges version seems to be the popular one these days. The illustrations in the McCaughrean version are less cutesy/ pretty than the illustrations in the Hodges book. By this I mean that, although the illustrations in the McCaughrean version are still stylized, they are more graphic art than cartoon-like. As a visual for this particular story, I prefer the graphic art look.

As for the story, it is not an ambitious attempt at simplifying Spenser like Hodges. It is just a simple version of the story of St. George. Omitting religious detail, it basically reads like a standard knight saves the princess story.

I admit this isn't a stellar review, but the dragon illustrated by Nicki Palin in the McCaughrean story is unique and IMHO more visually interesting in the context of the story of St. George than the dragon illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman in the Hodges version. I really do enjoy Hyman's work, but in this one instance I just prefer the other dragon.

Well, this is a rambling post, so I'll stop now.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Duncan and I studied the Christian Church in the Middle Ages last week, so we made gargoyles. This activity is in How to Teach Art to Children. I love to play with clay!

Duncan's gargoyle

Mandy's gargoyle

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Teatime Tuesday Poetry

Is anyone else having cabin fever? I think it is time to be silly!

by Lewis Carroll

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

'Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!'

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
long time the manzome foe he sought--
so rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.

And as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
he went galumphing back.

'And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!'
He chortled in his joy.

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

Was that silly enough? Gotta love nonsense poems.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Aargh! Homeschooling Vent

I know that I should be typing out my week in review, but...

I try not to talk to strangers about homeschooling. Stories like this are exactly why.

It does make me want to say something along the lines of-
Glad that worked out well for your family, because it doesn't for the vast majority of public school graduates.

Yeah, I know that there are slacker homeschoolers, but there are also brick-and-mortar schools that provide less than stellar educations.

In the state of TN realistically about 70% of the high school freshmen can be expected to graduate.

Of those that graduate about 60-65% of them go on directly to college. Let's just say about 45% of the kids who begin high school in TN go to college. (I would say that this is inaccurately high.)

However, this doesn't mean that 45 of 100 TN high school freshmen will be prepared for college.

To receive the basic TN Hope/Lottery scholarship a student needs have an ACT 21 composite (this is about the national average) and weighted minimum GPA of 3.0. However 50% of the students awarded lottery scholarships lose them their freshman year of college.

Of the students who enter the TN public colleges only 45% have graduated by the time they are 26. (Obviously, not all of the students are in-state high school graduates and certainly some of them are private school and homeschool graduates, but the statistic is still startling.)

Of course, statistics can be manipulated as stated in the first article. Also, some schools, some ethnic groups, and some economic groups will have better odds than others. Anyway- bottom line- it doesn’t seem to me that the public high schools in TN are doing a bang up job. It then follows that I have more faith in our ability as a family than I do in the government schools to do what is best for our children.

I know others have worked within the public school system and have been able to acquire the education they want for their kids. The thing is I want more for my children than the filling of a state-dictated bucket. While I don’t doubt my ability to build a bucket and find things to put in it, I want to have time to teach how to be part of a family and to share the things that I think are culturally important. I also want them to have the time to develop passionate interests of their own. Oh, and I want to be able to do all of this and still have time to stare at the clouds.

This fall my oldest will begin college at Berea. Berea College has a less than 20% acceptance rate and every freshman is given a 4-year full tuition scholarship. Based on what I’ve read, this means that, educationally speaking, he is already doing better than at least 55% of the students who began public high school in TN.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Read-Aloud Thursday

Since The Canterbury Tales were mentioned in our history reading, today we read Chanticleer and the Fox. This is an adaption of the "Nun's Priest's Tale." I think I like Geraldine McCaughrean's adaption better, but Barbara Cooney's illustrations more than make up for it. They tell the story so clearly that you hardly need the words. It is a lovely introduction to Chaucer for very young children!

(As a side note- This doesn't bother me, but I hear it often and thought I should mention it here. The rooster has 7 wives. I mean really- have you ever been to a farm that only had 1 chicken? Also, how else would Brother John, the priest who is telling the story, refer to the rooster's hens?)

Teatime Poetry

Well, I know it isn't Tuesday, but I did not post our poem yet. So, here is our Valentine's poem pick to just read for fun.

A Valentine
by Laura Elizabeth Richards

Oh! little loveliest lady mine,
What shall I send for your valentine?
Summer and flowers are far away;
Gloomy old Winter is king to-day;
Buds will not blow, and sun will not shine:
What shall I do for a valentine?

I 've searched the gardens all through and through
For a bud to tell of my love so true;
But buds are asleep, and blossoms are dead,
And the snow beats down on my poor little head:
So, little loveliest lady mine,
Here is my heart for your valentine!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Friday- Homeschool Week in Review for Duncan

Language Arts
Duncan continued his study of Christina Rossetti. He began memorizing his third Rossetti poem. We also read Rossetti poems other than those he is memorizing. He participated in Teatime Tuesday Poetry where we discussed personification, hyperbole, and metaphor in White Fields by James Stephens.

I read aloud pp. 44-46 from Milo Winter’s Aesop for Children. For read-aloud Thursday we read Snowflake Bentley and looked at The Story of a Castle.

Duncan read chapters 5-11 of Sword in the Tree.

Duncan played some in his beginning cursive book, did Wordly Wise Book 2 Lesson 13 and Plaid Phonics C pp.93-97.

Duncan completed Key to Fractions Book 4 pp.27-32, Saxon 65 lessons 64-69, and MEP 3A pp. 9-12. Duncan went to Kumon on Monday and the math tutor on Tuesday. For Kumon he is doing about a hundred fraction problems a day, so we are going to skip the last few pages of Key to Fractions Book 4 and move on to Keys to Decimals Book 1 next week.

Duncan's writing is so light that I had to trace over the answers for them to show up in the photo.

This week Duncan learned about water. He read pp.2-9 in The Wonder in Water. He also memorized the water cycle as listed in Living Memory.

I read aloud chapters 5-7 from The Story Book of Science.

He also watched some science videos from the library: The Best of Beakman’s World (This was a huge hit.) and Bill Nye the Science Guy: Lakes and Ponds. He also watched Sea Monsters: A Prehistoric Adventure that was hanging out on our DVD shelf.

History and Geography
Duncan again played with The Seven Continents of the World Jigsaw Book. We continued looking at the countries of Europe.

We studied the feudalism and read pp.220, 222-231 in the Usborne Internet Linked Encyclopedia of World History. We watched the video Castle by Macaulay and looked at some of the pictures in the book of the same name. We looked at some castle pictures in Anatomy of the Castle and the also the already mentioned Thursday read-aloud The Story of a Castle.

My senior and I were the primary designers and construction crew for this lovely lego castle. Sadly we don’t have enough legos to finish the side walls and the two towers that were planned for the back two corners. Duncan is all for finishing them in red and orange. OTOH- Christian and I don’t want a rainbow castle and since this ended up being our project I may need to buy more legos.

We also made a shield. Since our last name is Persian, I googled Duncan family heraldry. I printed off stuff that Duncan painted and glued to a sheet of red poster board. Voila, a Duncan family shield.

Duncan practiced violin about 20 minutes a day except Thursday when we ran out of time. He also had a lesson Monday afternoon.

We continued looking at the sculptures of Donatello and listening to Gregorian chants.

Friday- Homeschool Week in Review for Grayson

Religious Studies
Grayson continued reading through The 100 Most Important Events in Christian History and Christian History Made Easy.

Language Arts
This week in Bullfinch’s Mythology King Arthur and His Knights Grayson finished chapters 10 and 11.

He continued using his online Grammar program.

This week Grayson started reading The Emperor’s Winding Sheet.

He also completed pp.19-26 in Jump-In.

Algebra 2
On Tuesday he went to the math tutor and spent the rest of the week doing Teaching Textbooks Lessons. Since Tuesday, he has reviewed 94 which they will wrap up next week and has begun working on 95-98 that are due next Tuesday.

This week Grayson read pp.1-10 in The Forensic Casebook and perused a forensics website. He also did lesson 1-7 in Crime Scene Investigations. He watched a lecture from The Teaching Company’s- Understanding the Human Body.

Grayson began Conceptual Physics Chapter 21 and watched the fifth lecture from The Teaching Company’s Physics in Your Life.

This week in TRISMS EOC Grayson began researching the Early Middle Ages and the Vikings. He a completed some vocabulary, filled in a civilization questionnaire on the Vikings and an Early Middle Ages worksheet, and completed some mapping.

He also read a lengthy excerpt from Beowulf.

Grayson spent about 45 minutes each day working on SOS Spanish.

Grayson continued listening to Gregorian chants and looking at the works of Donatello. He also watched lecture 22 from The Teaching Company’s Great Artists of the Italian Renaissance.

Life Skills
Grayson is still moseying his way through Ourselves by Charlotte Mason. Ambleside uses this over a couple of years and I suspect that it will be taking Grayson that long as well.

Friday Homeschool Update- Christian

My senior did Spanish 2 for his tutorial. He went to the math tutor and continued preparing for the Pre-calculus CLEP exam. He finished his half credit in economics. This next week we will begin writing his senior paper. Christian also did some independent language arts.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Read-Aloud Thursday

Yeah, this is a little belated, but it was in response to the snowfall we received last week. However, since his birthday is February 9th, maybe it is just as appropriate now as last week. Snowflake Bentley is a Caldecott winner and the wood block illustrations certainly capture the story's words and era. Also, Wilson Bentley and his brother were homeschooled!

The Story of a Castle is a wordless picture book that chronicles a "typical English castle" from about 1170 to about 1970. Before the pictures begin there is a page with a little timeline and a brief explanation of the pictures. Each long, two-page spread has a half page in the middle that can be flipped back and forth to change the scene in the larger two page spread. The paintings are fabulous, but be aware that the two-page spread of Cromwell's Roundhead troops sacking the castle may be disturbing to sensitive children. All things considered this was a good addition to our week's history study.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Bird’s Nest Snow Cone

I have a couple of photos of our yard at the bottom of yesterday's Teatime Tuesday Poetry.

Also, I posted a really cute toddler photo of my senior on his homeschool update and I don't think anyone saw it. :-(

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Teatime Tuesday Poetry

White Fields
by James Stephens

In the winter time we go
Walking in the fields of snow;
Where there is no grass at all;
Where the top of every wall,
Every fence and every tree,
Is as white, as white can be.

Pointing out the way we came,
Everyone of them the same--
All across the fields there be
Prints in silver filigree;
And our mothers always know,
By our footprints in the snow,
Where the children go.

The first stanza of this poem contains some visual imagery, but we talked about the hyperbole in the 3rd verse- “Where there is no grass at all.” A hyperbole is an exaggeration for effect. (I could eat a whole horse.) We know that there is grass under the snow. Instead of saying that you can’t see the dead grass because it is covered with snow, it creates a more effective visual image of a winter snowfall to say that there is no grass.

In the second stanza the footprints are personified in the first verse where they are said to be pointing. It is then followed by another hyperbole. “Every one of them the same.” Logically, we know that this is not true, but we can understand that when we view many little footprints heading in the same direction we don’t make a distinction between them.

“Prints in silver filigree” is a lovely metaphor in the second stanza. The edges of a footprint in the snow glitter like silver filigree. We know that the footprint isn’t literally silver filigree, but keeping the comparison as a brief metaphor creates an attractive image, flows smoothly, and is in better keeping with the poem than a longer simile or analogy would be.

Can you rewrite the second stanza in prose without the personification, hyperbole, and metaphor?

Our mothers can deduce where we children are by looking at the footprints we left in the snow.

Humph! That doesn’t create a visual image and therefore certainly isn’t as interesting to read. As my 16yo said, “Compared to the poem, that is one lame sentence.”

Where the top of every wall,
Every fence and every tree,
Is as white, as white can be.

And our mothers always know,
By our footprints in the snow,
Where the children go.

Duncan and Mei leaving plenty of footprints!