Thursday, April 1, 2010

Homeschool Highlights: March

The month of March brought some new additions to our homeschool subjects.  Yeah, I don't know what I'm thinking starting new subjects when the year will be over in two more months (we should finish up the end of May).  All I know is that I'm the teacher and therefore I am allowed.  So there.

The first thing we added this month is cursive.  Yes, Sam is only in second grade, but he has been begging to learn cursive for ages.  He was an early reader and it has always bugged him that he can't read my lists and notes to Jamey because they are in cursive.  He can't stand not knowing things.  Hm.  I wonder where he gets that from (me).  

Then, I noticed that midway though his Spelling Workout B workbook, they start listing the spelling words in cursive beside the manuscript list.  The student is not required to complete their pages in cursive, just get used to seeing cursive and start decoding some of it.  Well, Sam has been doing great.  I honestly thought he'd get frustrated and want to stop soon after he started.  I was going to let him stop and pick it up another year, but he keeps plugging away and is very pleased with himself since now he can read some cursive. (Since we now can't write things or spell things, we've resorted to speaking in Spanish when we don't want him to understand.)

The second thing we added is English from the Roots Up Volume I by Joegil Lundquist.  This stems from my somewhat insane preoccupation with whether or not to teach Sam Latin.  I love the book The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise and while I don't follow all of their recommendations, I do use it as a reference because I think they have really good things to say.  In this book, they recommend starting Latin in 3rd grade.  Yes, Latin.  The idea is that it will equip the child with the definitions of many Latin root words that appear in the English language (and other languages) so when they come across a word they don't know they will be able to figure it out based on the Latin roots.

I get it.  I think they are probably right.  But, I would so prefer Sam learn Spanish, a language that he may be able to use one day, versus a dead language.  All this to say, when I heard about these cards, I was smitten.  In the box are one hundred cards each listing a Latin or Greek root word.  On the back is the definition and examples of words we use that contain these roots and how to break them down and figure out their definitions.   Brilliant.  We are only doing one new Latin or Greek word a week- touching on it ever so briefly each day so that by the end of the week, Sam knows the definition and some every day uses.  It will take us a couple years to get through the stack, but that's okay with me.  This is my kind of Latin.

In science we've been studying social insects this past month- mainly ants, bees and termites.  We've come across some amazing resources and I'd like to share them with you.  First off, I picked up these two books years ago at a discount book store and was thrilled to find out how perfectly they fit with our studies on ants and bees...The Life and Times of Ants and The Life and Times of the Honeybee.  Did you know that an entire honey bee's (life) production of honey is 1/16th of a teaspoon?  And that it takes 5 million flowers' nectar to produce 1 pint of honey?  Oh, see.  Now, I've got you hooked.

Another great find was this documentary on honey bees... Bees: Tales From the Hive (Nova).  We got it through Netflix and it was fascinating- the footage incredible.  It's a must see if you have Netflix or if your library carries it- even if you don't homeschool.  Even if you don't have children.  Seriously.

Sam's musher, Lance Mackey won the Iditarod.  For all the preparation that went into learning about the race, making the map and reading books, none of us were as on the edge of our seats as we thought we would be the week of the actual race.  Over the course of the 8 days it took Mackey to finish, we checked the standings maybe 5 times.  Don't tell Mackey.  We don't want to hurt his feelings.  What's important is that we all learned a lot.

Lastly, I'll mention that I am experiencing a little bit of curriculum envy.  Okay, it's more than a little bit.  I am trying to decide whether or not to pursue another curriculum next year for Sam.  My Father's World has served us well and I've decided we will be using it for Sadie's first couple years.  I think it's just her pace.  Sam seems to need more.  More history, more reading, more substance.  I'm on a mission, folks.  A mission that seems like such a luxury- to be able to choose what and how my child will learn.  It's humbling and also a bit overwhelming, but I would much rather do the researching and choosing myself.  I know Sam and I want him to continue to love learning.

In an attempt to qualify our month of March, let me tell you a little something Sam said. One morning, I had left Sam to complete his Math worksheets in the school room while I went out to the kitchen to clean up some dishes.  He called to me that he was done and I asked him to bring them out to me so I could look over them.  He skated out to me and, with a huge grin on his face, said, "Wow.  I bet in big school they wouldn't let me roller skate my worksheets to my teacher!"

That about sums it up.  Five out of five pencils.

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  1. No Sam... they would not let you bring worksheets to your teacher on roller skates :) How cute was that? Made me smile :)

  2. When Walker first started school, i debated homeschooling. I honestly thought #1) i wasn't cut out for it and #2) i had some very poor (admittedly so)preconceived ideas about socialization skills and the need for the boys to be in a classroom. I was dumb. Now after going through what we've went through with my oldest sons and school - i should have bucked up and did it. Good for you. That's all I have to say - good for you. You're doing the right thing at the right time.

  3. Sounds like an amazing month of school! I have to admit, I'm having home school envy. I decided too late that I wanted to try home school and by then my kids were NOT agreeable to it. Actually, Ian would have done it. But Seth was horrified at the thought. Looking back, I wish I'd known what I wanted for my family from the start. I went for so long just doing what everyone else did...what you were "supposed" to do...what I did. But that doesn't always mean it's the best for your know?

    I am still open to home school for Ian...I'm a little worried about how junior high will be for him. He has a hard time keeping things in order...or remembering more than two directives at a time. So we may have to make some changes in the future...and he just told me a month or so ago that HE was interested in home school when we talked about it 3 years ago. That he was willing to try it. Would it be crazy to start at the junior high school level?

  4. Hi! I just wanted to tell you that I just found your blog yesterday and spent way too much time here! You are just a lovely lady, and I've enjoyed reading :) I'll be back for sure!

  5. Me too. You write with wisdom and encouragement. I visited kissesfromkatie.blogspot from your sidebar link and am amazed at what God is doing through her. I spent an hour reading her true stories from Uganda.


  6. I am always so inspired by your blog. I love your passion for homeschooling your children. I hope that they continue to love learning.

    Thanks also for the DVD recommendation - I have Bees Tales on order from my library! Keep those recommendations coming - DVDs, books, etc.

  7. I stumbled across your blog (coming from Clover Lane, I think). Anyway, I thought I'd mention that my mother used English from the Roots up with me and I LOVED it. I still have my flashcards up in my attic. They are well-worn and saw me through high school, the ACT and college. It's a great course and I plan to use it with my own children... once they're old enough to even consider schooling!

  8. fearlesschef, Welcome! Thanks for the confirmation that English from the Roots Up is the way to go. I LOVE that you used it growing up and still know where your cards are!:-)


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