Friday, August 20, 2010

Weekly Wrap-up (our first 3 weeks)


It’s Thursday evening here, and man I am SO glad tomorrow is Friday! I haven’t posted any updates yet to share how the new school year is going because I have been so busy and just plain worn out!

I am amazed at the difference one more student in our homeschool makes. The fact that she is almost a high-schooler and has never been homeschooled makes things that much more interesting (and challenging). But I’ll share more about that later.

In the hustle and bustle of getting adjusted to new curriculums and new ways of doing things, we haven’t been able to enjoy a whole lot of the “fun stuff” I always try to incorporate into our days. The few projects we have attempted failed miserably. For example, our ming bowls…

Although the kids did a very good job molding them and thoroughly enjoyed the process, the clay we used shrank up while drying. This resulted in a few cracks. Ok, I thought, no big deal. We can use fresh clay to patch them up! Then this curious little monkey came along…

IMG_0328Since we had our projects drying on the table, right at his eye level, he just couldn’t resist touching. Long story short, the cracks became complete breaks that were beyond repair :( We had planned on redoing them, but we just didn’t have the time. Which brought a thought to mind: We definitely need a high up, out of reach shelf hanging on the wall to keep things like this safe from exploring hands. The kids were pretty bummed we didn’t even get a chance to paint and glaze our creations.

One fun activity we did get to complete was trying to reproduce different forms of Chinese pictograms. The kids each chose 3 characters and painted both the early and modern forms on page.

Now I think it would be nice to share a little bit about each of the kids’ studies and how they are doing so far.

Isaiah – 8

Isaiah has gotten to the point with his reading where he is hitting a wall, actually it’s more like a plateau. So we have been doing things other than our BJU Phonics and Reading 1 program. the first new thing we are trying is ETC Online. This is working out pretty well, and I am seeing improvement with his basic phonics skills. The second part of our new approach is using Rocket Phonics. At the HOTM conference last week, Dr. Guffanti (the creator of Rocket Phonics) shared a lot of great info about Kinethetic learners, and I got to ask him some questions about reading. So after listening to him talk about incorporating games and motion into your curriculum, especially when a subject is tough for the child in question, I decided to give it a try. So we started working through the lessons and games in Rocket Phonics this past Monday. So far, we are mostly reviewing the skills he has already learned. But he is really enjoying it and is able to actually sit and “do” reading for about 30-40 minute sessions daily without losing focus or getting frustrated. I think we have a winner! Isaiah is doing a lot more things on the computer now as part of my attempt to make his learning more engaging and exciting.

Drew – 10

Speaking of reading, I’m just dying to share a little Mommy brag. Drew has always been a pretty strong reader, but has never really enjoyed the process of reading. I have purchased any number of highly recommended books for boys his age, but none of them have really produced the enthusiasm I have been working for. The other day we went to the bookstore and I allowed the boys to choose a book. Drew recently read a few superman comics, graphic novels actually, and kept bringing me these $20 books. Of course, I was not planning on buying him a $20 book, so we went over to the young reader’s section. I happened to see the “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” series, which I have heard lots of good things about. I talked him into it and we left to go get dinner.

This child read the book through dinner, on the way home, and for an hour after we got home! He kept giggling and rereading parts to me and his brother. He went to bed soon after, and I looked where he had placed his bookmark – he had read 65pp in just a few hours!! he read more today and is now over halfway through the book. It was a beautiful sight to come downstairs after waking up this morning to see both my boys, not vegging on the couch watching cartoons, but READING!! I am LOVING it!

Besides the reading progress, we have also changed latin programs for Drew. I realized, halfway through level 2 of Latin’s Not So Tough, that it was teaching him whole-to-parts latin instead of the parts-to-whole that the WTM recommends. So, we are now doing the Big Book of Lively Latin, and though it has been a bit more challenging for him, we are both learning way more from one week of this program than we did in 2 months of doing the previous program.

Drew is also really enjoying doing Logic stage Biology ala TWTM. He has not complained once about a single Science assignment, even when he is required to read and outline (he dictates, I type or write) from the Usborne IL Science Encyclopedia. I was worried about that being too challenging of a read for him, but he is grasping the material beautifully this far!

Jasmine – 13

Overall, Jasmine is doing well. We are having some issues with breaking some of her public-school, one in a classroom of 30 students mentality. She has shown at times that if something is too hard or takes too long, she won’t finish it. She has had a few days where she has had double assignments in a subject because she neglected to finish the work on the day it was originally assigned.

She does, however, take great notes for her notebooking pages in History, although I think we are going to be working on learning some outlining skills as I think she is being a bit too thorough and missing some of the key information. My goal is for her notes/outlines to be all she needs in order to study for an evaluation at the end of a week or a chapter. So far, she hasn’t done well on tests.

She has really been enjoying doing the transparencies for her TOG atlas assignments, though I am disappointed that she isn’t enjoying doing her timeline activities more. I am hoping this will change as she continues to adjust to homeschooling. Her writing thus far has been really good, and though she needs to hone her grammatical skills, her creativity is inspiring. She does a great job of getting her thoughts down onto the paper.

We also started our formal Latin and Logic studies this week, using materials from Classical Academic Press: Latin Alive level 1 and The Art of Argument. She seems to be enjoying these and while the Latin is pretty intense, between it and Lively Latin, Mom is getting a crash course! We are still wading through the introductory material from AofA, but she seems very pumped about learning how to argue logically and identify fallacies. I am really glad we are going through this program together, cause I have a feeling she is going to be pointing out the shaky arguments of everyone in the house. I will be prepared!! LOL

So I hope that gives you a decent idea of what’s been going on the past few weeks around here. As for me, this post has taken much longer to write than I had anticipated, and it’s now very much past my bedtime! I hope you had a great week and an even better weekend…




  1. I notjced your post because I grew up hating to read.

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  2. That's too bad about the ming bowls. They are great pics though.


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