Weekly Update – Spring Break

Goofing off

We have been on Spring Break, and the kids and I have both been enjoying it. We all needed a break, and I can’t quite believe it is almost over. I could really use another few weeks.

Gazing up at the Giant Sequoias

In front of Lower Yosemite Falls

My brother came out to visit us, and he and I went up to Yosemite for a few days. My parents watched the kids, so it was just him and me. It was nice to have a few days alone, but by the end of our stay I was missing the kids so much. Isn’t it funny how that works?

It was great to spend some time with my brother.

The kids have been hanging out all week, not doing too much. Tru has been golfing a little, Decca has been practicing the piano, and Autry has been drawing and singing. Other than that the kids have been playing video games, watching tv, and enjoying the outdoors.

Self-portrait by Autry

One thing that we all have been watching this week is the premiere of The Legend of Korra. This is the follow-up to Avatar, and the kids have been waiting for it for over a year. The official release date is not until April 14th, but you can get the first episode free on iTunes right now. We all liked the first episode, and the kids are looking forward to the rest of the season.

I have tried to spend some of this week planning for school next year. I haven’t gotten very far, but I was inspired by my trip to Yosemite to do a state study with Decca next year. I plan to use California History for Kids as our main spine for the study. He likes activity-based books, so I hope this will be a good match for him. Other than deciding on doing a state history I have nothing else figured out, nothing. Hopefully I will remedy this problem over summer break.

In other news this week Kingsley got a much-needed bath…

and a shave.  

And that is our week in review.

Weekly Update

Autry had a wonderful concert last Friday night. I can’t believe it, but I didn’t get one picture of her singing. She wanted me to record the songs, so I was busy doing that, and I forgot about pictures. It was a wonderful concert though, and I was surprised at how much better the kids sounded than at the start of the year. It has been great to hear the progress.

We had some powerful winds her last weekend and along with all the branches that fell we found this bird’s nest. It was in great shape, so of course we scooped it up and brought it into the house. The kids all had fun trying to pick out everything the bird used to make it. Decca was most surprised by how much dryer lint was used in the construction of the nest.

Decca continued with his animal studies this week. He is studying the polar regions and is having fun with it. He read these two books this week,

worked on some notebooking

and watched these two videos.

He and Autry enjoyed the wolves documentary, and although he enjoyed the beginning of Knut, he turned it off in the middle. The music drove him crazy, and he insisted on turning it off. Music is very important to him!

Decca also began working on Beast Academy this week. If you haven’t heard of Beast Academy it is a new elementary math program put out by AOPS. Decca has been eagerly anticipating this math since we first heard about it months ago. We have worked through the first section now, and he loves it. The textbook is a comic book that is engaging, and the workbook is challenging. This seems to be a perfect combination for him, and I wish we could find more programs like this.

Tru did his usual work this week. He also spent a good deal of time down on the golf course.

He spent much of his time practicing his putting. He also took some time to teach Decca how to putt.

Tru set up some game that his teacher sets up for the class. Decca thought this was great fun and now he wants to start golf lessons. Maybe next year…

It is really funny to see everyone’s reaction to the boys down at the golf course during the day. I have never had anyone take much notice of the kids out and about during school hours, but for some reason at the driving range EVERYONE notices. The men (for it is mostly men) always seem so surprised to see them, and sometimes they stare at them, and then at me, for the longest time. I just smile and yell, “they’re homeschooled!” over and over again.

We also spent some time at the beach this week. My yearly pass is about to expire, so I suddenly felt the need to get some more use out of it. We hung out at Huntington Beach for a while, and next week I think we will spend some mornings at Crystal Cove.

And that is our week in review.

Weekly Report

My daughter is home from school today. Because of this, and the wonderful weather, we are not doing any school. Instead we have spent most of the day outdoors. We started the day with a swim, and then Decca and I went on a nature walk. I love days like this.

The rest of the week we were all hard at work. Because I focused on my youngest son last week I thought I would focus on Truffaut this week. Tru has fallen into a wonderful schedule, and for the first time I can see how I would easily be able to homeschool him for the high school years if he so desires. The reason for this is that he has started to take control of his education. He knows what he wants to learn and what he needs to learn, and he takes responsibility for all of it.

This week Tru worked through 6 lessons in Saxon Algebra 1. He has also began working through Saxon grammar and writing, and for the first time he is doing all the writing required in this program. He realized that he needed to get his writing skills up, and now that he has realized that, he is determined.

Life is hard when you are a homeschooler. Here is Tru in the morning at his desk. He is watching a lecture while enjoying his Starbucks.

Besides all of his Saxon work, Tru is plowing through a new Great Courses course. His newest one is Einstein’s Relativity and the Quantum Revolution.  He started this course last week, and he is nearly finished. He sits and watches these lectures for hours a day, and he never gets bored. I keep thinking we will get one he doesn’t like, but so far he has enjoyed them all.

(Note to self – before next school year you need to stock up on more courses for Tru.)

For French, Tru wanted to add an actual course to his Rosetta Stone, so last week I purchased Breaking the French Barrier. Tru has only worked through the first few lessons, but he seems to enjoy it. I think he is just happy to have a physical book for learning French. Rosetta was working for him, but it wasn’t enough. The two programs together will be more complete, at least in Tru’s mind.

Also this week Tru continued with his golf lessons. I am thinking about adding another day of lessons to the week. Tru isn’t sure how he feels about that. Some days he loves golf, and sometimes he is completely frustrated by it. I think that is a fairly normal reaction to the game.

And that is our week in review. If anyone missed my daughter’s song in the previous post I highly recommend you take a listen. She recorded all the parts to the song, and I think it came together wonderfully. Of course everything she does sounds great to me. After all, I am her mom….

Weekly Update

I haven’t posted an update in a while, but I felt inspired today to share what the kids have been working on. Maybe this desire stems from the truant officers visit yesterday. Something about that leaves me unsettled, and I feel that if I go over what we worked on this week I will feel better.

The girl and I went on many walks this week.

Autry was on a final schedule at her school this week, which meant she had Monday and Friday off, and she had half days on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. I loved having her home so much. I miss her when she is at school, and I cherish the time when she is here. Because she is only in seventh grade she did not have too many finals. Most of her teachers opted to not give finals, which she was happy about. The two finals she had were in Jazz Dance (she got an A!) and pre-algebra.

Autry spent most of the week singing, taking photos, writing on her blog, and hanging out with her twin brother.

Decca has been working on a Monet study the last two weeks. He and I read several books about Monet, including Charlotte in Giverny, which he loved. He also spent the last two weeks exploring impressionism and trying to paint and sketch in that style.

We finished with his Monet study this week and started a unit study on Rocks and Minerals. He was excited to start digging for his dinosaur bones in his kit, and he can’t wait to start using his Rocks and Mineral kit.

Decca also spent much of his time this week working on math with Dreambox learning, working on his handwriting skills, and working on his writing skills. He is a contributor to the Scooby Doo fan wiki page, and he spent hours writing for this. I love that he can do something he is passionate about, and I can count it as school. It works out great for both of us.

Tru read A Single Shardand The Kite Fightersthis week, and he is working on an essay in which he is comparing and contrasting the two stories. He told me yesterday how much he enjoyed reading both books, and he has decided that Linda Sue Park is one of his favorite authors.

Tru is working his way through Life of Fred Pre-Algebra with Economics. He is on chapter 15 now. He has taken two bridges and passed them both on the first try. I have a feeling that most of the information in here is review, but he wanted to get the book and work through it anyway. When he is finished working through this book (which he has read all the way through twice this week) he will start Saxon Algebra 1 4th Edition. I haven’t read too many reviews about the 4th edition, but Cathy Duffy gave it a positive review, so I thought we would try it out. I will let everyone know how it goes once he starts working on it.

Tru studied Ancient Korea this week to go along with his reading, and Autry is studying Ancient China in school, so I decided to take the kids to the Bowers Museum on Friday to see the Terra Cotta Warriors. It was a great field trip!

Autry taking some pics at the exhibit.

I have so many pictures I want to share from our day at Bowers. Not only was there the Warrior exhibit, but they had another interesting exhibit on Skrimshaw, which is the art of the American whaler.  I will have to make another post with all our photos from the day soon, but I will leave you with this short video on Decca’s favorite part of the exhibit. Make sure to watch to the end of the video to see a working miniature guillotine.

And that is our week in review.

Weekly Update

This week we started a unit on the brain using Ellen McHenry’s curriculum. The boys are loving this, and I think if their enthusiasm lasts through out the unit we will order more of her materials.

Tru coloring in a brain image.

To go along with this unit Tru is reading Phineas Gage: A Gruesome but True Story About Brain Science. The story of Phineas Gage is a highly interesting one, and I recommend the book to anyone studying the brain.

Decca began a new unit on Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh. I am embarrassed to admit that I have never read this book before. We have only read the first five chapters, but Decca seems to be enjoying it. He did comment that we have read so many books about mice and rats lately that he is not sure he can read anymore for a long time.

We are making a lapbook to go along with our studies. I just decided this at the last minute, so this is not a fancy lapbook by any means, but Decca likes it. Along with the lapbook Decca is completing activities in his Moving Beyond the Page workbook.

The outside of his lapbook.

An activity on rats

An activity from the inside, here he wrote an original story featuring Mr. Ages.

Working on a plot flowchart from Moving Beyond the Page.

Also this week Decca continued working on math with Life of Fred, did language arts and math on Time4Learning, made a movie with his Legos, and wrote many, many stories. If he could he would write all day.

Making a movie

One of his stories he worked on this week.

Decca also got his braces on this week. He was not happy about this, but he is adjusting.

He truly has a metal mouth.

In other news my mom celebrated a birthday this week. The kids and I took her out to eat and gave her a travel book on Europe. She is hoping to go there next year, so I thought she would enjoy a book to help plan.

Happy Birthday Mom!

Autry has been working hard practicing for her first solo at a concert in a few weeks. In addition she has been working on her Christmas concert which is just a week after the solo concert. Tomorrow we will be going to Disney Hall to hear the Los Angeles Chamber Singers perform. It is a dress rehearsal, and the kids at OCHSA were given free tickets. I can’t wait to see the performance tomorrow, and I look forward to hearing Autry in her own concerts.

Autry with her class performing a concert at OCHSA. She is third one from the left in the second row.

And that is our week in review.

Weekly Update

We have had a slow week this week. Monday we were busy with Halloween, so the kids did not do much school. Tru and Decca did their online work (Time4Learning, Rosetta Stone, AoPS Math) and Decca went to his homeschool p.e. class.

At homeschool p.e.

On Halloween

Tuesday was a little better. The boys did their online work, and then Tru read for history. Decca and I worked on Life of Fred and read Pedro’s Journal. I am not enjoying Pedro’s Journal that much, so the story is dragging on. I just want to be done with it.

Wednesday Decca tried going to homeschool choir again. He loves to sing, and he has taken this class before, although the last time he was not speaking in front of people, so he mostly just stood with the other kids. I thought we would try it again this year, as he is communicating with others now. He did not want to go in, but I made him. He wasn’t ready to participate with the other kids, so he just sat in the audience. I am not sure about sending him back. I don’t want to push him too much now that he has made so much progress.

After the choir we had lunch, and Tru had speech and debate. Then we called it a day.

Thursday was spent running around. We had to meet our E.S. for the charter school the kids are enrolled in. This is a meeting that I dread every month. I hate writing up their progress reports, getting work samples together, and having to meet to discuss it all. I use to enjoy the charter, after all it does provide me with many resources that I wouldn’t have otherwise, mostly in the form of money. But for the past year or so the requirements have gotten more and more intrusive, and  some days I feel like being attached to a charter is taking the joy out of homeschooling. I think it is time for a change, and I look forward to homeschooling completely on our own.

Today is Friday, and we aren’t doing much. The kids and I just needed to have a light week this week, and we are ending our light week with a day off. Autry stayed home from school today, and we woke up to a rain storm which was wonderful. It was cold, wet, and foggy. Just the kind of day I love to have in the fall. We went for a walk in the rain, and then came home and sat in front of the fire. The kids are listening to Vivaldi’s Ring of Mystery while drawing in their sketch book.  Next they plan to listen to Mozart’s Magic Fantasy. It is a perfect day.

I love having the girl home for a day.

Weekly Update

This is me happy.

It is funny how long it can take us find our groove each year. We have been working on school this year since mid-August, and I feel like this is the first week that has gone great. I am finally used to my daughter’s public school schedule, older son is now happy with all his curriculum/classes, and my youngest has all his school materials for the year. I am also feeling better after being sick off and on for weeks. The result of all of this is that our week went very smoothly, and I feel like we are finally on a decent schedule that works for everyone.

Tru has a good schedule going now. He wakes up and does all his computer work. For him that is watching CNN student news, completing Time4Learning, working on Rosetta Stone French, and spending an hour on AOPS prealgebra.

He is working on problems from the online class. He goes through roughly six pages of scrap paper a day on these problems. They are hard but he enjoys the challenge.

In the afternoon he works on Writing with Skill, Spelling, and Sonlight 7. He was doing Moving Beyond the Page for a while, but it was just too much busy work. Hours of busy work to complete each day, which at this age is just not practical or necessary. (Is it really necessary at any age?)

In addition to all of that he is still working through Middle School Chemistry. We are not going through this as fast as I  originally planned, but we are getting to it every week, which is good. This week the lesson was Moving Molecules in a Solid. It was another good lesson, and the boys seemed to like it. Of course they would love anything that involved fire.

Decca taking a turn heating up the metal ball.

We had to use a candle to heat up the metal, as out burner was broken. It took a long time to heat up.

Tru demonstrating what happens when the ball is heated up.

In addition to science, Decca started a new unit in Moving Beyond The Page. He is reading Abel’s Island and studying animals and adaptations. He likes studying animals, and he has created several of his own animals to go along with the study, but he does not like the book Abel’s Island. I am going to try to read it with him and see if we can get through it. If he truly is not enjoying it we will probably start another book next week.

Abel's Island is on Discovery Education. I tried to get him to watch it, but he lost interest quickly.

A sample of what he worked on in MBTP this week.

In math he continued working through Life of Fred, Singapore’s Challenging Word Problems, and Dr. Wright’s Kitchen Table Math: Book 2. We read about five chapters this week in LoF, did about ten word problems, and worked through three lessons in Kitchen Table Math. We aren’t spending a great deal of time on math, but the quality is so high that I do not worry about the quantity.

One lesson this week was learning how to check his answers using expanded form.

Also this week:

We took a field trip to California Scenario.

We read Dragon’s Milk.

Decca created some monsters for a Scooby Doo contest.

Tru and Autry worked on various Scratch games.

Decca played flag football.

And we made time to watch the turkey vultures in the sky. It was a great week.

Weekly Update

Waiting outside LACMA for the Tim Burton exhibit.

Hmm…how did our week go. Well we went to LACMA to see the Tim Burton show on Tuesday. This was a wonderful show, and I wish I could have taken pictures. Photography was not allowed, so you will just have to trust me on this, it was a great exhibit. The boys enjoyed it, and I think it inspired them to draw even more than they already are (if that is possible).

While we were at LACMA we also visited the Pavilion for Japanese Art. The building is very funky and dated (I felt like I had just step back into the seventies), yet peaceful and full of great art. The boys loved the netsuke room and the paintings.

Inside the Pavilion for Japanese Art

We also walked around the grounds of LACMA. The Brea Tar Pits are there, so Decca explored a bit. He wants to come back to visit the Page Museum and to learn more about the tar pits. I think I will bring them back in a couple of weeks.

Looking at a tar pit

The boys had to turn in a writing sample for our charter school. I detest this assignment, and every year I threaten to quit the school because it frustrates me to no end. I don’t mind that they have to produce a writing sample, but the assignment just seems like busy work, and it disrupts our week. Anyway Tru had to write an essay comparing and contrasting microscopes and telescopes, and Decca had to write one comparing and contrasting board games and video games. It was a very boring assignment, and I am just glad it is over.

Tru enjoyed another great class at speech and debate this week. I am still amazed at how much he loves this class. I never would have guessed this would be his favorite activity this year. They played a fun game in class were you weren’t allowed to use certain words when you talk, and Tru taught Decca and Autry the game. This led Decca to create a shirt with the words on it.

Decca with his shirt

The kids didn’t really do much else this week besides Time4Learning everyday. I am still sick, and I haven’t had the energy to do too much. This has made for some happy kids and for a messy house.

Enjoying their week

And that is our week in review.


Weekly Update

Decca modeling his lower metal. He also has metal on the roof of his mouth and on the inside of his cheeks. It is not fun!

We had a light week this week. There was not much done in the way of tangible work, but that does not matter, as we needed some days off. Decca got an expander and an herbst appliance placed in his mouth on Tuesday, and it caused so much discomfort. Although the pain is subsiding today, he still cannot eat. I am hoping he figures that out soon, or he will be drinking smoothies and shakes for the next 6 months to a year.

Since Decca was in so much pain this week, I kept the school light and fun. We played a few games in math from Kitchen Table Math. He had fun playing them, although they were a little easy.

In this game he would build up numbers and write them down.

In this game he and I would take turns drawing numbers to try and create the larger number.

He also completed a few Mom-made worksheets based on the lessons of Kitchen Table Math.

He still reverses many of his numbers. We are working on this, and it seems to be getting a little better.

We also finished Little House in the Big Woods, and Grandma helped him make a cabin for a final project. This was a time-consuming project, but it was worth it. He took so much pride in making it, and he has been playing with it everyday since. Although it started out as a cabin from Little House in the Big Woods, it quickly morphed into a playset for his Scooby Doo games.

Making his cabin with Grandma's help.

A monster hiding in the trees.

Scooby and Shaggy trying to solve the case.

Tru worked on all his normal studies: French, Pre Algebra, History, and Writing with Skill. We also got in another chemistry lesson. This week the kids studied thermometers and how temperature and molecules work in the thermometer. It was another great lesson from Middle School Chemistry.

Reading the temperature on the thermometer.

Filling out his lab worksheet.

We also played a fun game this week called I’ve Got a New Business. This turned out to be the best game. The kids, my mom, and I played it all day. I decided to make a little video of it, as it was so much fun.

And that is our week in review.

Weekly Update

Some highlights from our week:

Tru made it through another week of Writing with Skill. I am amazed that he has been able to work through this for five weeks now without much trouble. It is great that we have finally found a strong writing curriculum that works for him.

A sample of his writing, with drawings of course.

Tru studied Africa in MBTP. He worked on his African map, and he began reading A Girl Named Disaster.

Reading in his sister's room.

Tru was able to do Rosetta Stone every day this week. I love to hear his French accent.

Relaxing while working on Rosetta Stone

He also had another golf lesson this week. He is taking what he is learning and teaching it to Decca. He is a great teacher!

At his golf lesson

Helping Decca with his follow through

Autry did a great job on an assignment in school this week, and I wanted to share it. She had to create a super hero and write about the hero. Her hero was Operetta, and her power is singing.

All about Operetta

Autry sang The Star Spangled Banner this week at an equestrian fair. She was nervous, but she did it. I was very proud!

She had fun at the fair. She even tried riding the bull!

I caught her warming up one day and taped it. She doesn’t think she sounds that great, but I disagree. I love to hear her warm-ups.

Decca at the beach. He is sporting another hand-drawn mustache. He is obsessed!

I don’t know why, but I don’t have many (actually I don’t have any) pics of Decca working on school this week. He went to homeschool PE, worked on math, continued reading Little House in the Big Woods, and drew tons of pictures and made some movies.

Also this week we managed to get out to Crystal Cove. The highlight of the day was Tru almost stepping on a rattle snake in the sand. Although there are many rattlesnakes at the park, we had never seen one in the sand so close to the beach. It was very cool! I only had my iPhone, so I didn’t get a great of a pic, but I thought I would share.

The snake in the sand

Decca set up a science lab.

The view never gets old.

The boys loved the little waterfall.

We spotted many small lizards. This one was maybe two inches.

And that is our week in review.