Well, here’s what’s up.
We have been “in session” for a couple of weeks now – ever since brother trotted off to start high school. There are a couple of missing pieces, and only one of the extra classes (boxing) has started – the rest won’t begin until mid-September.
There are two events next week – a rock-climbing training session at a park about an hour away and an Asian water-color class at the museum of art. And of course, piano has started back up on a regular basis. Social? Good friend down the street. Two hours of play tonight with another good friend while I was at a meeting. An hour of boxing. Tomorrow: Seeing friends at and after the Mass for homeschoolers, and then another couple of hours with a friend…etc. In case you were wondering.
- Religion so far is daily prayer focused on the saint of the day and Mass readings, and discussions regarding saints and Bible that spring from that. We’ll start the 5th grade Faith and Life volume next week.
- (To see how this works – today was the feast of St. Louis IX. This led to a bit of discussion about Louis XVI and the French Revolution. Then we learned that he died in Tunis, so we pulled out the map and saw where that was, and then reviewed all those north African countries, saw that if we’d gone to Africa when were in Sicily, it would have been Tunis. Then we read the Mass readings, reviewed Paul and why he was writing epistles and where Thessalonika and Philippi are. Then the Gospel, which led to a discussion of both its meaning and a bit about 1st century Jewish religious structure – what are scribes, Pharisees & Saducees. Etc. See how that works? It’s that way with everything.)
- Math: Beast Academy 4D, waiting patiently for new of 5A to be released. We’re on decimals, so it’s easy to supplement, right now, with material from Math Mammoth, Pearson (the most commonly used school math program around here – I just grab worksheets online where I can find them), various Scholastic books (digital editions that cost a buck each during sales – watch for them), and Khan Academy. But…hurry up, Beast Academy!
- We are just now starting history for the actual year – he has been finishing up reading and discussing this book up to this point. Now we’re going to mash up Hakim’s History of US and the Catholic Textbook Project From Sea to Shining Sea.
- We started by me giving him a blank US map and having him label all the states, which he did, almost all spelled correctly. I was kind of amazed. Then he reviewed capitols via Sheppard Software, and will review geographical features via the same, so the basics are done. Geography is a strong point over here, and doesn’t require a lot of reinforcement.
- Latin for Children is going well. It’ s not the best ever, but at this point, I prefer it to the Memoria curriculum, which I had used with another of my kids way back when. And it’s more substantive than either Visual Latin or Getting Started in Latin. (If I had to choose between the last two, I would choose the latter. In fact, I would say, don’t spend your money on Visual Latin.)
- Continuing with writing. We are behind, grade wise, on this. I wanted to start from the beginning of the series when we picked it up last year when he was in 4th grade, and the first volume is grades 3-4. We moved slowly through it, not because it was hard (it’s not) or because we don’t like it (we both do), but just because…well, because Rabbit Hole. As usual. But we are trying to hit it hard right now and get up to the actual 5th grade books by January. Let me repeat: I like this program quite a bit – the way that it teaches summarizing, amplification and just general stretching of the writing brain is very engaging and this interesting, effective combination of simple yet complete.
- But also still trying to incorporate aspects of Brave Writer.
- I said before that we don’t do spelling, but in order to address his occasional concern about “keeping up,” I this week did the same thing I did last year, but earlier in the year this time – I downloaded and printed out all the year’s spelling words from the curriculum his former school uses, (also one of the worst reading programs I have ever seen. They are all mostly bad anyway – this one weirdly managing to both dumb down material and ask impenetrable questions about same material…so strange) and we just go through them orally, checking of the ones he knows and working on those he doesn’t. Which has been three total from the first 75 words. Started yesterday, and we try to do a couple of lists a day, give or take, so we should we be done w/”5th grade spelling” by the end of September.
- Understand that etymology is one of those things that we talk about all the time.
- Handwriting – daily cursive. Goal is for all work to be done in cursive by January. If he goes to school in 6th grade, which he will if he wants to, the school he’ll attend will expect that, so aside from all the other (good) reasons, there’s that.
- Music: his piano lessons are fairly demanding. At home we listen to music all the time, talk about it, watch videos of performances, particularly of pieces he’s working on. We’ve also been getting back to Classics for Kids, which is a great website – so far this year, we’ve done Joplin, Bach and John Philip Sousa – the latter because earlier in the summer, we saw a (great) local production of The Music Man, so I thought I would try to make sense of “And you’ll feel something akin to the electric thrill I once enjoyed when Gilmore, Pat Conway,The Great Creatore, W.C. Handy and John Philip Sousa all came to town on the very same historic day!”
- And science: We are doing Biology for the Logic Stage, but have hardly actually done anything, because of the press of the
Teachable Moment. This week, it’s been two things: mushrooms & hummingbirds. Our yard sprouted with mushrooms, so we took an afternoon and examined them, discussed fungi, read about them in our main resource and on the internet, and then swung back to taxonomy – he memorized the basic categories of taxonomy (Kingdom, phylum, …etc) and then the five kingdoms. Memorized the characteristics of living things. (Which take us back to what we should have originally been working on) Did a spore print. Then started two long-term experiment/demonstrations: a mold terrarium with 8 possibly moldy things, and then two pieces of bread, sprayed with water and put in plastic bags, one rubbed on the ground outside, one not. Hypothesis formed, observation sheets printed, etc.
- Then, the hummingbirds. Of late, the hummingbirds coming to our feeder have been crazy. There are three or four all afternoon, most afternoons, and they are apparently at war. No more than one can be at the feeder at once, and we have spent a great deal of time watching them fly from one tree to another, wait each other out, then dive
bomb as soon as one of the others makes a move for the feeder. We can stand pretty close to the feeder, and they will still streak right by us, chirping angrily at each other and, yes, wings and little bodies humming as they speed by.
- So, much research on hummingbirds, going over the taxonomy, watching slow motion videos on their wing action and articles about how they actually use their tongues to get the nectar.
- Oh, and the spider. So three teachable moment living things over the pats two days. A huge spider built a web outside the front door last night, and it was gone this morning. Someone had told me before that the spiders actually take their webs back up in the early dawn, and I believe it – tonight, as I write, the spider is right back in the same spot, enormous web intact. I will try to get up super early and take a peak outside to see if I can spy it retreating. So he researched what kind of spider it was and we watched it for a long time last night, just talking about spiders in the dark with his brother and sister, too.
- One new (used) book that has come in very handy in all of this is this one. I had read about it on some homeschooling board, and it lives up to the hype – it’s really good, and great for the budding naturalist.
- As I said, there are missing pieces. Shakespeare, an ongoing “school” novel aside from the books he’s already scarfing, and art. Next week. Next week. But rock climbing and art at the museum, next week! Argh. Nope. NEXT WEEK.
- Haven’t actually watched any of these, but this channel looks like it will be good to add to the video lineup.
- One thing I’ve started doing this year is having him do a “learning journal” each day (or every couple of days) – he writes down what he learned about that day. It made more sense to me than either: Me doing it or him planning what he would learn about. It made a lot more sense for this to be something he does after the fact, at the end of the day. It’s his learning, his brain, his mind – he’s the one that needs to mull it over and make sense of it, not me!
Friday was a light day. Obviously. We did prayer/religion and math, and then I told him the rest of the day was his. So he spent time digging in the back yard and figuring stuff out about roots and ants, doing some trivia on the computer (starting with reptiles and somehow ending up at Star Wars, apparently) and drawing a picture related to the Maya & 2012.