Saturday, October 30, 2010

Weekly Wrap-up ~ 2nd Quarter changes {Less is More}

 If you have read my Weekly Wrap-ups for the past nine weeks, you have probably seen a trend of cramming a lot into one week!

This week, however, I have noticed myself being much more laid back in the area of schoolwork. I am pretty certain it has had something to do with my newfound interest in the Charlotte Mason method. But, on top of that I have seen that with two children at home, learning two completely different sets of things (being 9 years apart in age), I am quickly overloading myself!

This past Fall Break was a great one for me. It gave me some downtime and some time to reflect on the past quarter. I realized that I was beginning to pause much more frequently to notice the education that was occurring all day long, without the aid of any school books ... the aha moments ... the learning from doing things they had interest in ... the application of things learned in books to real life! I would stop myself from hurrying Brynne along to go upstairs to resume workbox assignments because I noticed her stopping to count the number of stairs from the first floor to the second, or because she was just sitting at the coffee table writing her whole family's names on index cards to play school. Or I would skip one written assignment of Dawson's that we really needed to get to because he was enthralled in yet another documentary on The Military Channel.

I am realizing how smart my kids already are, and how they have been stifled {primarily by me} in their real-world learning because of the system and schedule we have always been following.

So this week, instead of dazzling you with our long list of things marked off our to-do list and planner, I will just tell you that lots of learning has been going on! ~~~ mostly by me. But I wouldn't be "ME" if I didn't give you a glimpse into the specifics of our week.

Brynne ~ 1st Grade

Brynne's letter-of-the-week is "D". She has done her tracer and writing pages, mini-book, Letter Bag, Letter Spiral and Collage letter decorated with 'diamonds' and 'dental floss'.

She continued to do lots of math workbook pages {because she loves them!} and we read lots of books highlighting the Letter D and books about Native Americans to finish our American Girl unit on Kaya, a Nez Perce indian girl. We concluded our Kaya unit by completing our very first lapbook!

We went to the library for homeschool story and craft time, where stories were read, "eyeballs" were made and cupcakes were eaten.

On Thursday we had PJ Day. All three of us stayed in our pj's all day and had school on the couch. {Eli had a PJ day at his school as part of Red Ribbon Week, so we wanted to have one, too.}

And today we started an ABC Nature Scavenger Hunt. This was inspired by reading the book Path of the Quiet Elk by Virginia A. Stroud. We only just started, and I hope to do it more formally over the weekend. After that we did some real-life learning by doing our grocery shopping.

She's already completed most of the little workbooks I had, so I went to The Dollar Tree today and bought 8 new books that I thought might challenge her. She also got a Strawberry Shortcake coloring book and spent much of her evening coloring.

Dawson ~ 8th Grade

My newfound philosophies have really hit home with Dawson. We are using A World of Adventure by Dorian Holt for our curriculum. Love it! It is designed for 4th-8th grade boys. I can see how it would be a little much in some areas for some 4th graders and there have appeared to me to be definite holes that needed to be filled for someone as old as the 8th grade. This first quarter I added a lot of busywork to the curriculum .. lots of extra busywork. Our days were long and cram packed!

After diving into the Charlotte Mason theory on education over the last couple of weeks, I see that Dorian Holt's curriculum follows the same premise. I thought it was "lacking" without all the worksheets and such. But what I am seeing now is that she bases her lessons on a piece of literature, with lots of additional reading, and inspires discussion (Or as Miss Mason would put it, "narration"). It's less about me teaching and more about me learning alongside him. I see some tweaking I can definitely do for him that will make his learning process much more enjoyable!

We are in the middle of our study on Ancient Greece. He doesn't like it as well as Ancient Egypt. And, neither do I. But, we're making it. This week he started an amphorae vase, worked on adding drawings to his Mythological Creatures, Gods and Goddesses notebook and watched some videos. He is also continuing on his journey of the history of Athens and Sparta, doing comparisons. He wrote a beautiful comparison paper of the two cities!

We have discussed that his favorite thing to learn in these ancient studies is about war and war weapons (thus his interest in The Military Channel). I have decided that if that's his interest then I will make sure he has supplementary reading materials about those topics from now on. I've got two books and a video waiting for us at the library. Last night we watched the 1962 movie, "The 300 Spartans".

In Science we have concluded our study of The Human Body Systems and have moved on to a healthy body ... diet and exercise. We will be working with this for the next two weeks and working on a First Aid project. We'll primarily be concentrating on The Food Pyramid by inputting his daily food intake into the PyramidTracker to see how his eating measures up to the recommended standards.

We have decided to limit his Spanish lessons to LiveMocha and discontinue using the textbooks we borrowed from one of his former teachers. He felt that it wasn't productive. He is also still steadily working on his typing lessons. We don't take it overly serious, but it's just a good idea for him to keep practicing typing.

We participated in Sketch Tuesday this week and Dawson drew something that you brush your teeth with.

He has expressed an interest in teaching Brynne about art and artists. He wants to start with Picasso.

In Math, he told me that he is really likes his Life of Fred assignments. He likes it beause the lesson sets are short, and each problem is shown in a real-life {albiet silly} situation allowing him to see the practical and useful side of what he is doing. (And I'm not spending 30 minutes grading his assignments each day, making him redo the ones he missed, and then regrading). So, we're both happy. And last night he even said that one of the problems was "fun". He actually used the word "fun".

And that's been our week. It's still been busy, but a lot less "we have to get this done" structured. To this structured gal, it's been a challenge. But I hope to be able to embrace this more laid back method. I can already see a less stressful environment with lots more smiles and laughs and "I love yous" ~~ and I'm talking about from me to the kids.

We are linking up to Weekly Wrap-up at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. Welcome back, Kris!

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