Monday, October 27, 2014

Weekly Wrap-up ~ Living Things (Prairie Primer ~ Plum Creek Week 1)

All things with school went as planned last week, with the exception of a slower day on Wednesday because I had a really bad sinus headache that I couldn't shake. On that day the kids still got the basics done, worked on their current art project, and watched an episode of Little House on the Prairie.

We have been without a Bible curriculum for the past few weeks waiting for our new one to come in, and it did over the weekend. So we were back at Stick Figuring Through the Bible on Monday, this time from the New Testament. We have used Grapevine Studies Level 3-4 for the past two years and it is a highlight of our morning. My kids have learned so much by using it and were excited to start drawing about Jesus!

We also moved on ahead in Math U See Delta with two-digit division with remainders. The kids have already learned this with the CTC math curriculum they used over the summer. But it's nice to be building on division from the ground up again.

Even though our review period is over, we are continuing with Fix-It Grammar by Institute for Excellence in Writing. I love this program. The lessons are short with daily review and both of the kids have improved, especially Eli. There are no complaints when it's time for grammar.

Every day the kids read books of their choice. Brynne has been reading One White Dolphin for a few weeks. Eli is reading another book from the Middle School series by James Patterson. To think that Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Captain Underpants are responsible for Eli's love of reading. Mary at Homegrown Learners had a lively debate over the topic of Diary of a Wimpy Kid. What do you think about such "twaddle"? (My opinion is that Greg Hefley is one of the reasons why Eli now loves to read. Twaddle or not, my goal was reached. If you have a kid who doesn't like to read, get him or her those books .. Brynne loves them, too!) The newest Wimpy Kid book will be released on November 4th. Eli is definitely getting it for his birthday!

Last week we finished Little House on the Prairie and this week we started On the Banks of Plum Creek. This is something else that the kids look forward to every day.

Classifications of Living Things

Classifying living things was a review for us but we dug a little deeper into it this time. We used the mnemonic "King Phillip Came Over for Good Spaghetti" to help us memorize "Kingdom, Phylus, Class, Order, Family, Genus and Species". See, it works! I just did those from memory! We used Playdoh to demonstrate how each classification narrows down the living thing to minute characteristics.

Then we did a fun activity where we answered certain questions to identify the animals.

"Bank of Plum Creek" Art

We kind of came up with our own art project after reading the first few chapters of On the Banks of Plum Creek. First the kids drew a tree trunk with colored pencils. Then they used watercolors to paint Plum Creek flowing behind the tree. Then they colored in the grass and sky with colored pencils. Along the banks of the creek were rushes and blue flags. They colored those in. Finally we glued crayon shavings (I just crushed them in a ziplock bag with a hammer) to the top of our paper and blow dried them to get crayon drippings down the page to make a willow tree. According to the book there were lots of willows next to the creek. As the dripping was inconsistent, the kids used q-tips to "paint" the willow branches with the melted crayons. Overall they turned out really neat.

Pond Water Observation

Tuesday was a beautiful day so we went down to the park to collect some pond water. We watched a video called "The Important Little Life of Dylan Diatom" that showed a day in the life of a diatom. We also looked at some virtual microscope slides of pond water.

On Thursday the high school science teacher allowed us to come up to the school and use a microscope to inspect our pond specimen. The kids were thrilled to see active diatoms float across right in their view. They took a few minutes and drew what they saw in their science notebooks.

We discussed water purification briefly and planned to make a homemade water purification system with sand, rocks and charcoal. We didn't get to it last week, but we are going to try to fit it in this week.

Parts of a Tree

We went over the part of a tree again and read the book Are Trees Alive by Debbie S. Miller. The kids then did some worksheets to diagram the parts of the tree.

The Adventures of the Wilderness Family

Homeschooling affords me the opportunity to pull out some of my favorite childhood movies to share with my kids. On Friday we popped some popcorn and enjoyed The Adventures of the Wilderness Family. This movie is about an L.A. family who gives it all up to move to a cabin in the Montana wilderness. It is such a great book about wilderness survival and how a family handles the stress of isolation and danger.

It was a great week! So grateful for the opportunity to homeschool my children.

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