Sunday, February 3, 2008

Weekly Report, Sort Of

This post is an experiment. I'm testing out an idea I've seen on some other homeschool blogs: a Weekly Report. I like reading the reports of others, to get ideas and be encouraged to keep on truckin'. I also like the idea of using a Weekly Report as an accountability exercise for me: if I know I'm going to report on our week, I'll be motivated to be more productive!

Our last 2 weeks have been sort of a jumble, so I'm combining them. According to my calculations, we've finished our 17th week of school, so we'll call this Weekly Report 17. Due to combining a couple of weeks and introducing our curriculum, this post is going to be a long one. I promise they won't all be epic novels!

With three students, one preschooler, a toddler, and a couple of field trips, there is a lot to report. First, I'm going to report on the things we did as a group and then itemize the math and language arts - rather than lising it all out for each child and repeating myself. We'll see how it goes.
If you would rather not read the whole report, I won't be offended. (Though you should scroll down to see the cute pictures, of course! ) Feel free to skip it and stop by later for a more reader-friendly post.
Weekly Report 17
Mixed in with the activities reported here, we had a trip to Tennessee to visit family; a weekend of guests when other members of the family visited us; Master's Academy, ballet, a trip to the doctor, and a playdate.

Schoolwork Done as a Group
History - While we were in Tennessee, we took a field trip to the Parthenon, a replica of the one in Athens, Greece. This fit nicely with our studies. The children have been studying Greek architecture and art at Master's Academy, and I was impressed when they correctly identified the Doric columns on the exterior...
...and the Ionic on the interior!
C., in particular, enjoyed himself and annoucned he wanted to "kiss a column!" He also was amazed at how easy the 2.5 ton bronze doors were to open and close (though Mom freaked out when he gave one a push!) Everyone enjoyed the colossal gilded statue of Athena in the Naos (sanctuary.) We were amazed by the workmanship and detail, especially on her shield. We relished being able to see ruins of some actual statuary from the Acropolis (they are casts of the original fragments now housed in the British Museum in London.)

S. was intruigued by a large model of an ancient Greek crane. M. and I enjoyed the art in the gallery down in the Parthenon's basement - we were particulary excited to see an original Winslow Homer. We studied his painting The Catboat when we were researching sailing for Swallows and Amazons.

In our history studies at home, we discussed the Greek city-states, Athens and Sparta in particular. C. and M. studied this topic in their Master's Academy classes. We read the entries on Greek city-states in The Kingfisher History Encyclopedia. C. is writing a compare/contrast essay on Athens and Sparta. He began last week with a Venn diagram, followed by a rough draft. He's now completed a second draft and we hope to finish the final essay this week. M. enjoyed reading and narrating entries from the Usborne Book of World History. S. studied Greek gods and goddesses at Master's Academy. I read aloud passages from vol. 1 of Story of the World, and we all did mapwork. (Even little A., who drew giant red tornado-like circles on his map and said, "This is Athens.") We finished our week with reading about the Battle of Marathon. (The kids also watched several lessons in C.'s A Beka 5th grade history videos. We've ended up not using these DVDs much for C.'s every day instruction, so in order to not feel I've wasted my $$, I have the kids watch the history and science together. The history lessons blend beautifully with what we're studying - the Ancient World. The "DVD class" is also currently drilling the states & capitals, so that's a nice bonus.)

Science / Nature Study - For group science, the Big 3 are watching the A Beka DVDs and studying stars and constellations. We did 2 nature study activites: one was the day in the park I posted about previously. At the end of the day, each child had a nice entry in their Nature Journals - a sketch and a selection of poetry or informative description of the subject of the sketch. The second nature study was on the topic of cormorants, a species of bird mentioned in our read-aloud, Swallows and Amazons. We looked up cormorants in our various field guides and on the internet (even found a site that had an audio recording of its call.) Each child colored a picture of the bird from our Peterson's Field Guide Coloring Book and wrote a brief description of the bird under their picture. (C. was very concerned that we were not coloring the particular species of cormorant that would be found in the English Lake District, where our story takes place. I told him this was the best we could do, LOL!)

Bible - We started off the year with our Bible and history being in sync. But in Bible, we spent a long time on creation and the Flood; plus the history curriculum moves a little faster and we are enjoying taking our time in Bible. Therefore in history we're up to about the 500-400s BC (after Babylonian captivity), but in Bible we're way back in Joshua (approx 1450 BC.) We're reading through The Child's Story Bible by Catherine Vos. We are also drilling the books of the Old Testament daily.
S. (13)
Math - made progress in Saxon Alebra 1/2; did 6 new lessons with the D.I.V.E cd and corrected his mistakes.
Grammar - did 1 to 2 pages per day in Grammar and Composition I, from A Beka. He's working on proper usage of words like "set and sit, rise and raise" etc.
Spelling - completed 5 drills in Apples: Daily Spelling Drills for Secondary Students. This has been a good tool for him to polish his spelling. Quick, easy, but effective.
Literature - He finished reading The Hobbit. He wrote one narration and made a Venn diagram comparing Gollum and Bilbo. He wrote a rough draft of a compare/contrast essay on that topic. He also began reading Archimedes and the Door of Science.
Copywork / Dictation - In the last couple of years, I have really dropped the ball on this with him. I know he's too old for copywork, but I gave him a lengthy passage from The Hobbit to copy each day. I picked a passage with a conversation between Bilbo and Smaug, and reviewed the punctuation rules for writing dialogue. Last week I dictated the passage and he got a 99! This week he is working on a passage from his pleasure reading book, Around the World in Eighty Days, focusing on spelling and objective case pronouns ("to whom,"etc.)
Science - S. continued to work on Module 4 of General Science by Aplogia: simple machines. No experiments this week, just reading and journaling the voabulary and chapter questions.

C. (11)
Math - he did new new lessons in Arithmetic 5 from A Beka and LOTS of practice. He's working on fractions: least common denominator, adding & subtracting fractions, etc. He also did the "Timz It" and "Doublit" portions of Math-It two times per week.
Grammar - several new pages in God's Gift of Language, by A Beka. He's into subject/verb agreement. Easy stuff for him. I think we need to pick up the pace in grammar! He could do more, but I take advantage of the fact he's fairly independent in grammar at this point. I'm hoping to carve out time to challenge C. in this area soon.
Spelling - 5 Apples spelling drills
Literature- Read several chapters of Black Ships Before Troy. He did one narration and two worksheets from the Veritas Press Comprehension Guide.
Copywork / Dictation - I chose a fun selection from Black Ships - part of Hector and Achilles' big battle. C. hates handwriting and I expected him to balk. But he seemed to enjoy the repetitive nature of the exercise, trying to beat his time each day. He also memorized the selection and almost didn't need me to dictate on "dictation day." The mechanics we focused on were correct comma placement and spelling. This week he's working on a passage from his pleasure reading book, The Jungle Book.
Science - C. tried to perform an experiment from our Chemo-Electro kit (found at a parent-teacher store.) I think our 9-volt battery was dead, because the electric potato writing didn't work. We're going to try again next week.
M. (8)
Math - worked in her MCP Book; finished chapter on subtracting 3 digits w/ borrowing; adding and subtracting money; and estimating. Took chapter test. Reviewed time and clocks.
Grammar - finished punctuation unit and completed review on periods and commas.
Spelling / Phonics - worked in Adventures in Phonics C - reviewed r-controlled vowels, especially the ur and the or sound. M. is still struggling with reading fluency, so we are doing phonics for the 4th year in a row! But I am seeing so much fruit this year - her reading has improved by leaps and bounds and she is turning out to be the best speller in the family!
Reading - Continued reading Busy Times (Pathway reader) for practice reading aloud and The Trojan Horse: How the Greeks Won the War for independent reading.
Writing - M. wrote several short narrations; some on her reading in Busy Times, and some from her history reading.
Handwriting - continued cursive practice in Writing With Prayer
Copywork / Dictation - M. did a great job with her sentence last week from The Trojan Horse: How the Greeks Won the War (a Step Into Reading book.) I chose a sentence with a comma, some tricky spelling words, and capitalizing proper nouns.

A. (3 1/2) and K. (21 mo.)
In an effort to meet my goal of being more Deliberate about spending time with my little ones, I've been having "preschool time" every morning while the older three do seatwork. It has been so much fun! We dusted off the old set of Fisher Price preschool flash cards. It's a little set my dear mother-in-law bought me years ago. M. and I used to get them out while the older boys did school, back when she was a little tyke. Somehow they've managed to survive as a nearly complete set.

During our preschool time, I sat on the playroom floor with A. (while the big ones did math seatwork) and counted to ten, built towers out of linking cubes up to five, compared bigger and smaller, practiced left and right, and made fun patterns such as "sheep, sheep, pig." It was so much fun to spend alone time with my little guy and watch the joy on his face when he correctly identified his left foot and discovered that "five" is the number of fingers on his hand. Then we snuggled on the sofa and read lots of books!

One book we've read several times in the last week is Curious George Rides a Bike. A. wanted to make little paper boats like George, so we did! Now A. has his own little fleet to "sail" around the house.
The "school" enthusiasm tended to carry over into the rest of the day... at lunch he wanted to practice his letters on a wipe-off ABC board. After dinner he sat in his "hideout" (under the desk) and practiced shapes on the geoboard. My Sweetie was amazed when A. popped out and announced that a stop sign is an octagon!

K. enjoyed preschool time, too - especially reciting the ABCs. I sing the song with them while pointing to the letters on our big wall chart. While A. and I were working, K. would pick up M's baton (my "pointer") and try to point to letters and sing.

These sweet moments are balm to my soul, reminders that there is more to A. and K. than a couple of crazy, tribal, strong-willed challenges to my parenting skills!

End of Report...

I'm hoping to be able to get a report out regularly. It is good for me to see the progress we've made in spite of all the interruptions to our schedule! I wish there was a way to make the report more concise, but still give a good picture of what we've done... I may do some tweaking!


jennifer h said...

Reading (well skimming and reading) this makes me tired. It reminded me why I am no longer homeschooling. It also made me want to do it again. Who knows, I may do it again, depending on what circumstance dictates.

But mainly, I wanted to encourage you in what you are accomplishing. I think writing the weekly report will go a long way in helping you to have a real sense of achievement as well as serving as a tool to evaluate what you might want to do differently. You Go Girl!

Jennifer@DoingTheNextThing said...

Thanks for the encouragement, Jennifer!

Janice said...

I agree with Jennifer H! This is a good measure of your progress. This also helps me see the depth that is possible in homeschooling. Woo hoo!

50 toes said...

I might learn something reading your updates! :)


Cathy said...

I think you are doing a great job! Get ready, in a couple of years, I'll be bugging you for advice on homeschooling!

Mary@notbefore7 said...

Wow. What a great report. I am going to love seeing these...I can feel like I am in your home watching, right? (just without the noise...ha ha ha)

Great me day at a time!

Jennifer@DoingTheNextThing said...

One day at a time is right... or as I like to say it, "Just do the next thing!"
We NEVER check off our to do list; we never make through all the lesson plans for a day - heck, sometimes we don't even make plans! Sometimes I just say, "go do one lesson in everything!" But that's why I think I'll like weekly reporting ... so I can see the growth curve over time and not be discouraged with a bad day here or there!