Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Homeschool Highlights: April

Well, April was another month that just flew by.  Just like in "big school" (as we call it), kids are starting to get spring fever and are looking forward to the end of the year.  SO ARE WE!  Sam's PE class wrapped up this month, it's warm outside and, for goodness' sake, we're ready for a break.  A loooong break.

We've had a few great finds this past month that I want to share.  First of all, Sam discovered the Mandie books by Lois Gladys Leppard at our church library and we've gone ahead and purchased the first four volumes (each volume contains five books- there are 40 books total).  I was a little surprised that Sam took to them so readily because the main character is a girl.  I'm not sure why I thought this would bother him.  Mandie does have a close friend (a boy) who goes along on her adventures.  That may help.  Set in the early 1900's, this is Christian historical fiction.  Sam adores these books and as I write this, Sadie is watching a video and Sam is upstairs reading one of the volumes.  For him to pass up video time is HUGE.

I am reading A Family Apart, one of the Orphan Train Adventures by Joan Lowery Nixon, out loud to them.  This is the first book in a series of five telling the fictional story of a group of six siblings who found themselves sent out west by train to be adopted .  The Children's Aid Society actually existed from 1854-1929.  Children, many orphaned by disease, from New York were sent out west to be adopted by pioneer families.  The story is gripping (as you can imagine).  The end of the first book finds the children settled into their new homes.  The following books in the series (which we haven't read- yet!) take turns telling the stores of the children in their new homes.  I would recommend reading these aloud to your kids.  There isn't any questionable content, but what transpires may be scary for them (having to leave/lose parents).  Having an parent present to answer questions and provide assurance that they won't be sent away on a train if something should happen to Mom and Dad is pretty important if you ask me.

My sister (a teacher) introduced me to the Four Square Writing technique.  Sam used to hate writing.  My Father's World (history) and Exploring Creation (science) both require him to occasionally write a notebook page about what he has learned.  Pulling.  Teeth.  We started implementing some of the Four Square Writing techniques this past month and the results have been great.  He no longer complains about writing and the quality of his writing has improved greatly.   Scroll through this pdf (Four Square Writing) or print it out to get the gist- it's very simple and very easy to follow and implement.  Here's a sample of Sam's first go of it.

Do you remember School House Rock?  Did you watch it growing up?  I did.  Last year, Pioneer Woman wrote about it (here).  I had almost completely forgotten about the program.  Months went by and I couldn't fight it anymore- I ordered the Special 30th Anniversary Edition which includes every school house rock song ever created.  There are a lot of songs.  It's a two disc set and the kids love watching- just love it.  Video time comes and little do they know that they are still in school!  Their favorite section is the one on grammar.  C'mon, you remember "Conjunction junction, what's your function? Hooking up words and phrases and clauses."    And they retain this information because it's in song form.  Remember the song that explains how a bill becomes a law?  "I'm just a bill.  Yes, I'm only a bill, and I'm sitting here on capital hill...."  So fun.

Below is what Sadie has been working on.  Very, very important work for a four-year-old.  Yes, indeed. 

It's been another good month.  Our anticipation of summer break is keeping it from reaching a five pencil rating, though.  Four out of five it is.  Again.  How predictable have we been?

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  1. Ohhh Sadie... I don't know if I should feel sorry for those poor kids sleeping between bookshelves or their Mother's who are chatting away with their big 80's hairstyles.

  2. " would be great...if I could skate...a figure eight..."

    Schoolhouse Rock was my FAVORITE! That and the After School Specials.

  3. Hi! Just started reading your blog after finding it through your interview on Clover Lane. If your kids love Mandie and Orphan Train, you might want to look for the Grandma's Attic books...especially the ones w/ the girls as small children. I loved them as a child and my 7 year old boy loved having them read to him about a year ago or so. They were originally published by Chariot, but I think the new reprints are w/ another publisher. Not sure. The author is Arleta Richardson. The stories were true tales from her grandmother's childhood in Michigan (late 19th century-ish). Most of the tales have a clear moral lesson (but not overly heavy handed.)

  4. Mindi, Hello! And thank you for the recommendation. We have "In Grandma's Attic" on our shelf waiting to be read- it was recommended by My Father's World, the curriculum we are using this year. I didn't realize it was a series, though. We really like series-books around here. Now I think it will be the next one we read- thanks:-).

  5. Hi, I tried to look at the pdf file on 4 square writing and I couldn't get it to work. It may just be me, but I have downloaded plenty of things in my day and don't usually have a problem. Would you mind double checking the link, or briefly explaining the idea?

  6. Some of you were having trouble with the Four Square Writing Method link. It opens for me and I wish you could see it because it explains the method very simply. Here is another link, this one appears lengthy and complicated, but it's not:-).


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