Saturday, January 31, 2015

Weekly Wrap-up ~ Introducing "Freedom Fridays" (Prairie Primer: Silver Lake Week 2)

This month our Prairie Primer lessons have us memorizing the states and their capitols in the order they were admitted into the union. We work on three states each day. Eli mentioned that he wanted to watch the clips about each state from our dvd set "The States" (History Channel) as we are learning about them. We have watched this series once before, but it is very informative and enjoyable to watch. As it usually takes at least a half-hour to forty-five minutes of our day to watch three clips, I have had to readjust some of what we try to accomplish each day to make room. But they really, really enjoy them. Delight-directed learning is important. Plus, their interest in the states is also helping them in memorizing the capitols and state abbreviations. We are through the 19th state in a week.

We learned all about the history of the steam locomotive by watching "The History of Steam Locomotives" (pts 1-3) on Youtube. We also read The Stourbridge Lion: America's First Locomotive by Karl Zimmermann.

A field trip to the St. Louis Iron Mountain and Southern Railway would be fun, huh? (St. Louis is one of our favorite places to go for mini-vacations.) There you can take a 2-hour ride in a passenger car pulled by a steam locomotive. Then we could go to The St. Louis Museum of Transportation and see "Big Boy", the largest steam locomotive in the world's history, as well as learn about other railway history. That would be an awesome two-day trip and one that I am seriously considering scheduling.

We started learning a tiny smidge about bird migration. The kids did watch a short video, but that's as far as we got. I've got some good resources so we are going to plan a day next week to do everything.

We finished our "Which Surface Has the Most Germs" experiment. It was a gross one, but lots of fun!!

The rest of our subjects rolled along smoothly. We hit the 3R's every day, moving nicely from one lesson to the next.

I am happy to report that the kiddos are mastering long division and are through Lesson 24 of Math U See Delta. We will have this level complete in a few weeks and will be ready to move onto Epsilon and fractions.

I wrote in my Random 5 yesterday about how Fridays tend to get away from us in regards to our actual school work. I feel torn between things I need to get done around the house and actually instructing my children for 6 hours. The house typically wins out. So taking some cues from some of my favorite homeschool IGers, I am instituting a delight-directed learning opportunity (unschooling-ish) routine on Fridays called "Freedom Friday".

The kids have to finish their work from the week that didn't get completed, read for one full hour throughout the day (in increments of their choosing), and do one writing assignment. The rest of the day is theirs to do and learn as they so choose, as long as they are pursuing learning until 4:00 p.m.! It can be in the form of creating, watching videos, playing educational games, playing board games, playing outside, building, whatever. Not only do the kids have freedom to do what they choose (and learn how to fill empty space with worthwhile activities), but I also have the freedom to get things done that I really need to do without taking away from their learning. How liberating!

What did they choose to do this week, and how did it go?

Well, we had a few extra assignments to finish because Brynne was sick last Friday which put us a day behind. The kids started their day with CNN Student News (don't want to miss it no matter what!), math, grammar, and a writing assignment (letters of invitation). This took them through the morning until lunch.

After lunch they decided to read for a bit and then pulled out a board game. This wasn't the educational type game that I would have chosen (The Game of Life), but it was great for them to play something together. We will work on game choices later.

They took turns playing Stack the States and Stack the Countries on the iPad. They had forgotten how much they love these games, so much so that they ended up playing them for about an hour past time to conclude school for the day. Eli also put together some Legos, and they both got their reading done with no problems and put some pretty good dents in their books.

Brynne is reading the first book in the Warriors series. Eli finished one of his Middle School books and then scooped up Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Long Haul that he got for Christmas.

What did I do? I did several loads of laundry, washed sheets, put away said loads of laundry, made food for a banquet we went to last night, ran some errands, exercised, took a shower and put on real clothes, fixed meals, and unloaded the dishwasher. Since we do schoolwork in the dining room and living room, I was in and out and around the kids all day while they did their work, stepping in to aid when necessary or to just hear about something they were learning.

I would say it was a pretty good success this first week.

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