Friday, April 22, 2011

Weekly Recap 4/18-4/22/11

This week was one of those weeks that just hummed with learning and connections.  While our focus was on the Renaissance, so much of our past learning came into play.  We spent time learning about the artists and scientists that flourished during this period of rebirth.  We talked about how art changed.  We talked about astronomy and how the teaching of the church put many scientists at risk. 

Last summer we were blessed to attend a lecture and learning series about Galileo at a local university and museum. We got to listen to an expert compare the view of the universe before Copernicus, by Copernicus and by Galileo and show us the various perspectives in a planetarium for a sky view like no other.  We also got to learn about how Galileo drew maps of the sun and sky by tracing shadows on paper.  And we got to make a replica of Galileo's early telescope and experiment with it on the roof top of the museum. 

So much of what we learned almost a year ago made even more sense as we recalled it this week. 

We reviewed all that we'd learned about the reformation and how that led to a rebirth of the church.  We talked about why people resist change.  We read the book Fine Print by Joann Burch and learned how the struggle of one inventor made much of the rebirth possible by giving the means to share ideas with many through printed books. 

S9 carving a letter for printing.

S9 is convinced Gutenberg would not find his printing acceptable.
In addition to all our reading, looking and talking, we did quite a bit of hands on learning. We made stamps out of potatoes and realized that Gutenberg would have had a difficult job if he'd had a quiet place to work and all the money he needed for materials. The challenges he faced made his success with printing even more impressive.

We became scientists and explored the characteristics of our materials while making playdough. Then we turned our playdough into works of art over and over again.

S9 using himself as a model for his Hercules sculpture.

H12 and I have been reading various books set during the Renaissance this week.  One story we enjoyed in particular was The Smile by Donna Jo Napoli.  H12 didn't like the way the story ended.  She still longs for a happily ever after in all of her stories.  She also finds the differences between classes and the limits placed on girls to be especially irritating.  She did like the storyline and the characters.  She also liked hearing familiar names from our history work and learning more about what life was like during the Renaissance. 

The rest of our learning went well this week too.  We are on track to finish required hours by the end of May and will finish most of our subjects before then.  It's a good feeling to get so close to the end and not feel overwhelmed, especially when we've had so much change this year, our own Renaissance.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Weekly Recap 4/11-4/15/11

This week was busy and successful but not much to write about.  We completed all our subjects.  We had a great time.  The good news is there's no news.  That's a nice change after all the change we've been through.

The chickens are doing great, all 24 of them.  The goat is fat and happy.  The children are right on schedule and we are feeling settled in our lessons and our home.

We spent several hours this week talking about The Reformation and listening to Morning Star of the Reformation, a biography of John Wycliffe.  I wanted the children to understand that the Reformation took time and lots of people, not just Martin Luther.  H12 said that the book was interesting and kept her excited.  She's interested in learning more about the reformers that helped bring us the faith we have today.  I'm pretty pleased.  I don't want my children to take their faith for granted.  Nor do I want them to adopt mine, just because I say so.  I want them to learn and question for themselves, like Wycliffe did.

The switch to spiral notebooks is going really well for us.  I don't feel as if I'm drowning in a pile of miscellaneous papers and the dc like being able to hand their notebook to Daddy and have him look at what they've been doing.  Having the spiral notebook has also kept me accountable for copywork and dictation.  I'm surprised by how much the children like that part of our day now.

We finished reading Signs and Seasons this week too.  There's a sense of accomplishment in completing something even if we didn't do it as thoroughly as I'd hoped.  We spent our math time this week inside and outside working on perimeter and area of squares and rectangles. On Friday we compared the planets and filled out Venn diagrams.  Next week we'll be doing more solar system math activities.  It's nice to take a few days out to do something more fun than our routine lesson.

For our read aloud, we began reading The Hunchback of Notre-Dame by Victor Hugo.  I was concerned that the dc wouldn't care for it, mostly because I thought it would be too wordy.  Evidently, it's a classic for a reason and the dc are anxious to continue the story.  I love it when they prove me wrong like that.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Weekly Recap 4/4-4/8/11

Monday and Tuesday were chick days.  We'd intended to get all the chicks on Monday but S9 had his heart set on a rooster and our local feed store only had pullets.  We found a store with a straight run of Plymouth Barred Rocks on Tuesday and bought six.  We are counting on at least one of them being a boy.

 Felicia, is now more than two weeks old and she's finally thriving.  It's been fun to see her eat eagerly and prance around.  Now, if we can just keep her out of the house.

In addition to our farm animal adventures, we dug deeper into live in South and Central America during the Middle Ages.  We were impressed with Machu Picchu and horrified by the Aztecs. We also spent extra time learning about explorers and some famous women of the period.  Listening to the Lives of Extraordinary Women: Ruler, Rebels (and What the Neighbors Thought) was a highlight of the week.  I'd intended to just listen to the biographies from the beginning until the end of the Middle Ages but my dc were so interested in the women that they insisted on listening to the entire book.

For math this week S9 and H12 focused on factors and prime numbers.  They were pleased to put their multiplication facts to use and find prime numbers to be easy and interesting.  M6 worked on fractions.  We used play dough and had a great time making smaller and smaller parts. 

At the homeschool conference last week I ordered the California Achievement Tests (CAT) for our yearly evaluations.  This is new for us because Indiana didn't have any requirements pertaining to evaluations.  I got the tests yesterday and feel pretty confident that S9 and H12 will have no problem.  I think M6 will breeze through the math but there is more independent reading than I was expecting on her test.  I think I'm going to go ahead and have her take it.  She may surprise me and the 25 percentile performance level doesn't worry me too much. 

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Farm Life Brings New Experiences

S9 feeding Felicia, our week old kid.

M6 holding two day old chicks.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Scary Chicken Stories by S9

I have a guest author today who would like to share three stories with you.  These stories were written to scare chickens because they are, after all, chicken.

The Legend of Fire Tail

Once there were 24 chickens and it was a full moon.  The strangest thing happened.  One was missing.  They searched everywhere but she wasn't anywhere.  They saw Fire Tail and he ate them all alive.  Legend has it that when there is a full moon there is Fire Tail.

The Legend of the Dogs

Once there were 24 chickens and a full moon, then a pack of hungry dogs came and ate all the chickens.  So, beware of the dogs!


There were 24 chickens and they decided to swim but when the first one stepped in the water it was bones.  So my fine feathered friends, beware of Rex!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Homeschool Conference 2011: A Review

The most memorable thing about the homeschool convention this year was the food and the company.  A good friend and her daughter were able to join us for Friday and Saturday.  It was lovely to eat lunch in the restaurant at the Millenium Hotel.  We even had our dessert before dinner on Friday as we enjoyed Graeter's ice cream while we waited for our table at the Rock Bottom Brewery.  Saturday we enjoyed sushi for lunch. 

In addition to wonderful meals and great company, I enjoyed several outstanding speakers.  Carlita Boyles gave an outstanding talk on maturation levels and math.  It was so comforting to hear a speaker say things that my heart already knew.  I also enjoyed the intellectual challenges offered by several other speakers about worldview and teaching classical literature.  Both talks made me wish to spend several more hours being tutored myself. 

My major struggle this year was how Christian was being emphasized over all else at the convention. We are Christian but we don't list our religious beliefs as our primary reason for homeschooling.  Therefore, avoiding all things secular is not our top priority.  In fact, sometimes we seek out the secular and find that it's the best choice for us.  Just because a book says Christian on the front, doesn't make it the best choice.  I struggled with the Christian means superior attitude several times through the weekend.  I tend to think that Christian means sinner bathed in grace.  I'm not sure how that applies to literature, science and handwriting.

R didn't go with me to the conference this year and I hadn't voiced my struggle about the Christian curriculum claims.  I found it interesting that when I showed him a book I had debated over because of it's title(... for Christian Kids), his first comment was, "How is Christian ...... different from regular ......"  Well, it's not and that's why I bought the book.  Not because of the title but because what the book contained was really the best choice for my children, whether they were Christian or not.  I wonder how long it will take until Christians stop striving for recognition and begin to seek excellence.