Friday, September 28, 2012

Weekly Wrap-up ~ 1/6 of the Way


We just completed our first six weeks. On a 36 week schedule, that means we are already one-sixth of the way done with this school year. What?

With six weeks under our belts, we are in a good schedule and have figured out what is and is not working for us.


What's Working

Starting our day between 10 and 11 a.m. each day is working well. The kids are up around 9:00 a.m. They get up and have plenty of time to play for a bit, have breakfast, get dressed and get ready for the day. Without rushing them along, I find that they are then ready to start schoolwork when I am ready. They usually end up playing the iPad anyway during this time, learning geography, history, math, or grammar.

Starting our school time with Bible is the perfect way to start our day. The kids asked why we always start with Bible. I told them that God likes us to devote the first part of our day to Him each day. It just gets us in a good mood. They are loving our Bible curriculum, Stick Figuring Through the Bible by Grapevine Studies, so we always start out happy.

We draw sticks to determine the order of the rest of our subjects, with Eli and Brynne taking turns drawing. This keeps things interesting and keeps them from grumbling when we are coming up on a subject that's not their favorite.

We do two subjects, take a 15 minute break, do two more subjects, take a lunch break, do two subjects, take a 15 minute break, and then finish with our last two subjects. Our eight subjects are:  
  • Read-a-loud (currently James and the Giant Peach
  • Bible (studied the Tower of Babel this week) 
  • Grammar (this is one thing that's NOT working .. see below) 
  • Writing (this week we worked on writing titles with a theme of "friends") 
  • Spelling (we have completed Step 13 of All About Spelling
  • Math (we moved on to MEP and have been working hard on two-step double-digit addition and subtraction with an ultimate goal of doing those problems in our head) 
  • Unit Study (we rowed Lentil this week ... LOVED it ... you can see our Collage about it at the end of this post) 
  • PE (either riding bikes, scootering, walking, or doing our Family Time Fitness lessons).
While I'm fixing lunch each day, Eli and Brynne do their personal reading. This works really well in our schedule.

Having one full day devoted to Nature and Art is definitely working! We have completed all four of Barb's Outdoor Hour Challenges for the month of September! We did not accomplish that one time last year!


We also concentrate on our artist, either learning about him/her or creating a piece of art ourselves.This week we learned about Monet, did a notebooking page, and watched Youtube videos about his life and art. Remember our Water Lily art we did a couple of weeks ago?




What's Not Working

Really, the only thing that is not working for us is Grammar. Last year Brynne did Easy Grammar. It worked well for her and she zipped through it independently. But this year, with Eli, yuck! We are doing so much reading and writing every day that Easy Grammar is a struggle and we have dreaded it.

I know there is a lot of controversy about whether to teach formal grammar at this particular age (ages 7 and 8, 2nd/3rd grade transition). We GET lots of grammar in our reading and writing. But, I just feel like, "why NOT teach formal grammar?" I don't want them to get in bad habits of grammar, and I want them to be able to identify how grammar is working in their reading and writing. And, I'm a grammar freak. It's never too early to have good grammar.

So, it was time to shake things up. Now we are doing a couple of different things each week.
  •  Rainbow Sentences. I made a simple worksheet for the kids to use. They build three sentences, write them on their worksheets, and then write down the subject, verb, and prepositional phrase.
  • Worksheets from tlsbooks.com. These are free worksheets that are grouped by grade. I have them completing a worksheet a couple of times a week from the second grade category.
  • Grammar editing worksheets from classroom.jc-schools.net. When we do these we just do a few sentences a day. I want them to be able to identify mistakes.
What I really want to use for Grammar is Cozy Grammar. However, I don't want to purchase it right now. I still have my library membership in Oklahoma, and our library system has it for checkout. Rick is there and could get it for me and deliver it back. I think I will go ahead and request it and use it for a while.


This was a very steady week. And rowing Lentil by Robert McCloskey was a lot of fun.


1. We had an introduction to fractions by cutting apples into halves and fourths. We also discussed wholes, halves, and fourths pertaining to time and musical notes.

2. To reinforce our lessons on American symbols, we made a crepe paper American flag that we hung on our clothesline in the basement.The kids drew 50 stars with white chalk on blue construction paper. What I loved was when we were done with the flag the kids started singing the 50 States song with their hands over their hearts. It was really cute. We also read two very good books: The American Flag by Jennifer Silate and The Flag We Love by Pam Munoz Ryan.

3. In the story of Lentil, the grumpy old character sucks on a lemon as a way to mess up the band who is playing for the homecoming of the town hero. So, we did a Taste Buds experiment, which was our Favorite Resource this week. We tasted lemon (sour), instant coffee (bitter), sugar (sweet), and salt (salty) and labeled which taste buds on our tongues were the most sensitive to it.

4. We also identified detail in the illustrations by Robert McCroskey. Brynne and Eli each drew a picture of them doing something (Brynne playing volleyball and Eli fishing) and then put detailed action words on it (Brynne's were "boof, bam, boof" for the sound of the volleyball hitting and Eli's was "wiiiishh" which was the sound of him casting his line.)


Here is what you might have missed this week at Journey to Excellence:
I reviewed a great once-a-week unit study product.
We learned about the Autumnal Equinox.
The kids explored one small square.
I shared a new iPad app that my kids are loving!
I revealed my tip for a reusable number line for the kids to use in math.


I am linking up at:





6 comments:

  1. We're WATCHING "James and the Giant Peach" tonight! LOL I read aloud the story last year? year before? and the kids still remember it. We're borrowing the movie from Netflix.

    I agree about Grammar! I don't think it has to be challenging Grammar at younger ages, but understand the very basics doesn't hurt?

    My oldest...Well, it feels funny that I'm not doing all the planning of his classes and overseeing everything. Letting those reins go has been hard for ME! LOL We did have a goal meeting this morning to look at how he's doing as we're 4 week down of our first 7 week session. He's a little behind in a couple of subjects so he'll be working on catching up in the next 3 weeks.

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  2. Wonderful week!!! And congrats on being 1/6 done. Awesome!!

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  3. I also tried Easy Grammar and it didn't seem to work well. So far I like the grammar component of WriteShop Junior D and its focus on self editing. I'm a bit of a grammar freak, too!

    We've been starting our day with Bible study as well and I do think it has helped get our day off on the right foot.

    And congrats on completing all the outdoor hour challenges! Great work.

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  4. I can't wait to read James and the Giant Peach again, this time with Noodle. Bear loved that book!

    Looks like another good week. Grammar has always been a thorn in the side of our homeschool. There are many programs that I like, by my older boys didn't like them. I love www.clp.org, Rod and Staff amd even BJU, but BJU incorporates writing, and I didn't care for their writing lessons. I hope your new plan works out well for you all!

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  5. It sounds like you all have really gotten into your "groove" :) Thanks for sharing at Favorite Resources.

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  6. What a full and wonderful week!! I really enjoyed reading about everything you did! And I enjoyed walking down memory lane with Lentil. Fantastic book! :)

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We all know that in this crazy world of homeschooling, we need all the (adult) support we can get. Please leave a comment if you so wish!