Friday, February 24, 2017

Weekly Wrap- Up: The Week it Felt Like Spring In New England!

We had such beautiful weather here this week!  It was sunny and in the upper 50's/ low 60's all week.  This meant a lot of snow melting, lots of time spent outside, and the definite clawing of spring fever.  Alec has continued to bake up a storm; making lots of cupcakes for us all.

Friday we got a late start on our schoolwork Friday since all the boys had been up late on Thursday night.  We started by watching a few more episodes of Cupcake Wars and Alec told me he REALLY wanted to make some more cupcakes; Cookies and Cream flavored this time.  We sat at the table looking up recipes and writing up a shopping list while Ian made waffles for everyone for breakfast.  While eating breakfast the boys listened as I read aloud two chapters in A King's Ransom.  The boys then took their Friday spelling tests and their math minutes.  Each of the boys worked on either 2 pages math or on Khan Academy.  Alec read The Five Kingdoms Rogue Night.  Evan read a few more pages in Batman's Guide to Being Cool. Ian read Making Tracks. All three boys did some writing too.  I had writing prompts but I told them they could have a free write too if they'd rather.  Evan chose to write about 5 things most people don't know about him.  Alec wrote about describing his day in the life as a penguin and Ian wrote about the one thing he'd like to change about himself. With schoolwork done we ran to do errands and bout the supplies we needed to make cupcakes.  Alec dove in and started making cupcakes just after lunch.  Ian and Evan went outside to start making a snow tunnel/ fort.

Alec had a friend sleeping over Saturday and since Friday's cupcake recipe only made 9 he ended up throwing together yet another recipe!  He made some vanilla cupcakes with Oreo chunks baked right into the batter and used the leftover Oreo frosting to decorate them.  Evan and Ian continued working on the fort. They made the tunnel with a lookout opening on top and worked until the cold and wind got to them and then Ian brought in some sand to play with his trucks in the basement.  After lunch Ian headed off with his father to start making his toy sized screening plant... which is now 6 feet long and about 2 feet high!

Look at those chunks of Oreo! yum!

Ian lying across the top of the fort helping to open the lookout hole

You can just see Evan's feet sticking out the bottom hole and the wind wall
they built to block out the wind from entering the tunnel.

Ian's job site got moved indoors for a day

The completed vanilla Oreo cupcakes

Sunday the boys spent a lot of time playing video games.  The sun was shining and it was close to 60 here in New England so we did spend an hour working in the woods. The boys discovered that their entire tunnel melted and caved in! When we got home Alec worked out with his father lifting weights.  Evan asked to finish reading his Ninjago Spy vs Spy book with me and we played a round of Harry Potter Scene it 2.

Long jump contest in the snow.

Their snowball face on the tree.

We had a whole day of schoolwork planned for Monday and ended up setting most of it aside to head out to a park for the day with my sister and nephews.  The boys did work on spelling, math, and reading though.  Alec and Ian had worked on another page in their English and Grammar book while Evan worked on two pages in his word family book.  We started a new read aloud; we're re- reading the book The Candymakers.  A second book came out and we could not remember that many details in the story to start book two.  We had a great, relaxing afternoon playing by the water, throwing snowballs, and just talking and walking around.  Once home the younger boys asked to play Harry Potter Scene it with me while Ian spent the rest of his afternoon outside digging in the dirt.

Throwing snow in the brook

Throwing snow and stones at the ice and open water

Ian found some sand to dig in; he was happy as a clam!
Tuesday the boys amazed me by zipping right through their work.  They were all just about finished by the time we left for karate.  All three boys worked on one page in spelling and cursive and two pages in math (even Alec chose a book over Khan Academy today).  Ian read a few more pages in Making Tracks.  Alec read another few chapters in The Five Kingdoms Rogue Night.  Evan read The Bear Ate Your Sandwich and What To Do With a Box.  Ian watched the movie Bridge of Spies and filled out a page in his Film Study Journal.  We talked about the cold war, Berlin and the wall, other movies we've watched on atomic bombs, and the time in history that the movie occurred.  During lunch we read a few chapters in The Kings Ransom and read the book War Game.  Then we headed outside for some fresh air.  Ian showed me the fort he's been working on in our woods then Alec and I wandered around checking out the various snow levels in the woods and field and comparing it to how high the snow as just a few days ago.

Wednesday was a great day!  All the boys slept in and started watching Atlantis The Lost Empire before and during breakfast.  They quickly started in on their schoolwork when the movie was done.  They each worked on a page in spelling and two pages in their Multiplication Games journal and took a math minute.  Alec read The Five Kingdoms Rogue Night, Evan read a chapter in Saving the Sun Dragon and Ian read aloud a chapter from The Candymakers to us all.  Alec and Ian worked on a writing page while Evan worked on two pages in his word family book.  All three boys pitched in and we cleaned the entire upstairs.  Alec and I made marbled mint cupcakes and we all settled down to lunch,  I read aloud a chapter in The King's Ransom and read the book Getting to Know the U. S. Presidents Woodrow Wilson.  It was warm and sunny out so we spent quite a bit of time outside.  Ian started building a second fort using all of his tools while the younger boys and I looked for tracks in the snow.  Evan started reading the first chapter in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone to me; the small writing was hard for him to read and many of the words were hard to sound out so we took turns with him reading one page and then I'd take over and read the second page.  I was stunned that he wanted to do this!

Atlantis - The Lost Empire




Evan found a frozen spider web!

Ian's second fort

We were supposed to head out hiking Thursday afternoon so the boys worked hard all morning to get their schoolwork done and help me clean the whole downstairs.  They each worked on two pages in math, took a math minute test, did another page in their spelling books and read.  Alec read a few more chapters in The Five Kingdoms Rogue Night, Ian read a few chapters in The Quicksand Question and Evan read Memoirs of a Hamster.  Alec and Ian had a free write while Evan worked on two more pages in his word family book.  Together we read another chapter in The King's Ransom and The Candymakers.  We also finished up our World War I unit looking through the Eyewitness book World War I.  While I read the boys used different window markers to draw on our windows. Our hike was canceled and so we headed out for a few quick errands and then spent the rest of the day outside.  Ian worked on his fort and the two younger boys played, rode bikes, and enjoyed all the warm weather. After dinner Evan went to the woodworking shop to work on his shelf.

Linking Up With:
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Thursday, February 23, 2017

Our 8th Grade Curriculum Picks

Ian has started thinking about and talking about going to a technical high school!  We went to tour the school, check out their program rooms, and talk to the teachers this past week. While Ian is no where near ready to make a final decision yet it has definitely changed our plans for 8th grade.

We know that the school is quite competitive to get into and has a heavy emphasis on math and reading skills.  So we're going to be focusing a lot on those skills going into what might end up being his last year at home learning with us.

We have a lot of books on our list for the next year, but keep in mind that we school year round and so this list includes books for our summer learning session as well as our complete school year next year.

Here are some of the books we'll be using for 8th grade:

Building Spelling Skills Grade 5 (& 6-- These are 30 week books but we tend to work on spelling year round so we will be starting on 5th grade over the summer and should finish up 6th grade by the end of next summer).

Spelling is one book that we use everyday.

Grammar Workbook (grades 7-8)

We tend to add grammar lessons into our day just once or twice a week so while I know we probably wont complete the whole book it will give us some wonderful lessons along the way.

Practice Makes Perfect- Mastering Writing (grades 6-8)

We're hoping to use this writing book on the two days a week we aren't using the grammar book

Kumon Algebra Workbook I (grades 6-8)

This book is only 96 pages and will be the perfect introduction to algebra (I HOPE!) to use over the summer.  Having used these Kumon math books before I know they tend to be a bit basic and build on skills slowly with lots of repetition; just what we need to start math confidently in the fall. 

Mastering Essential Math Skills (20 Minutes a Day to Success for grades 6-8)

We use one of these books right now and it's been a great review of all different math skills each day as a warm up to math.

7th Grade Math Minute-- another super quick warm- up for math each day.

No- Nonsense Algebra 

Our actual math work for the year... I'm not sure how this will go over but since there are video lessons to go with each day's work I am hoping this will be a painless way to begin our algebra study.

Reading we'll take on a book by book basis.  I did talk to him about leaving books from the kids' section behind and focusing more on longer books found in the young adult section; he's not thrilled about the idea so I think we'll try and do a mix of longer more challenging books with some short and easy books sprinkled in.

Geography-- This coming year I'd really like to pick one state each week and study all of the other 49 states.  We've tackled this in fits and spurts in past years but never really finished.

I thought perhaps we'd more successful if we used  this journal to keep us focused.

For science
we've always just run fun experiments and read about science topics that interested us... however I am quickly running out of ideas so we're going to buy a book this year.  I figure the younger boys can listen in and watch along with whatever experiments are listed in Ian's book.

I found a science book that looks promising over at Rainbow Resources called Science By the Grade and we'll use the 8th grade book.

That gives us a good start into all the basics and has made me quite excited for next year!

Some of our curriculum round up posts from previous years:

2nd grade curriculum
3rd Grade Curriculum
4th Grade Curriculum
5th Grade Curriculum
6th Grade Curriculum
7th Grade Curriculum

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Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Homeschooling Through the Alphabet: F is for Fun!

As much as I know my goal in homeschooling is to prepare my boys for "real life" and their "future" I have always thought of making learning fun as my number one goal.  So I just had to pick Fun for this week's blogging through the alphabet challenge!

I think it's important to keep our learning and days fun because I have realized that:

The more fun we create; the more willing  my boys are to learn.

The more fun we have together; the more we make fun family memories together.

The more fun I made learning the more they are likely to want to keep on learning.

I used to find it hard to make learning fun because I was trying to make our day look like school but I soon realized that we seemed to learn the most when we were just focusing on having fun together and trying new things together.  After all any new experience, material we were working with, or game we were playing had to be leading to something new being learned!

There are so many ways we add to fun to our days:

  1. I look for ways to turn math and spelling assignments into games.  
  2. I often make special snacks or treat just because I want to see them smile.  
  3. We plan field trips that get us excited about learning something new.
  4. We use candy and food for math, science, and even art on occasion because I know nothing motivates my boys to work hard quite like food.  
  5. I use silly voices when I read aloud.
  6. I'll declare a day off on the spur of the moment!
  7. We'll pop in a movie.
  8. I'll give them a video game to play.
  9. We invite friends or family over.
  10. I ask them what they want to do.
  11. We look on Pinterest for new science experiments, art projects, or challenges to try out.
  12. We take classes together-- painting pottery, glass fusion, etc.
  13. We head out somewhere unexpected-- the amusement park, the movies, out to lunch, on a picnic.
  14. We take our schoolwork with us to the park, to the library, or even build a fort to work inside of. 
  15.  We'll have themed days or even weeks-- some of the boys' favorites include Pi day, Star Wars day, Harry Potter Week, Game Day, Our No Book Day, Kit Day (A day we pull all the crafting and science kits out of the cabinet and just play with whatever we want), etc.  You get the idea. 

At the end of our days I always look back and think about whether or not we were smiling.  If we were having fun, had a chance to be silly and laugh together or not, and if not I try to think of some way I can bring that into our day next time.

It's important to me that my boys learn all that they need to know to succeed in life but I also want them to remember that life is short and while it's not always about fun and games you do need to enjoy the journey before the years pass you right on by.

Homeschooling Through the Alphabet:

A is for Awe
E is for Expectations

Linking Up With:
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What to Read Wednesday
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Homeschooling the Middle & High School Years

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