Weekly Update – The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly – 4th Grade Edition

The Good

California History – It is a wonderful state with an interesting history – what’s not to like? This week we learned about the earliest Californians and the  La Brea Tar Pits.

The Creative Writer – This is technically for slightly older kids, but Decca has a passion for writing, so I thought we would try it. He loves it! This week we worked on plot points. He went over the samples in the book, and then he wrote out the plot points for his independent reading book (Bunnicula) and for a Scooby Doo cartoon. He also went over plot points in his own stories that he has written.

The Arrow – Another hit for my language arts loving guy. I got the subscription for the current year, as there is an added emphasis on grammar. I have looked at Bravewriter before, but I never liked what I saw, as the samples never seemed meaty enough. This year I decided to give it a try because I couldn’t find anything else for Decca that would work for him.  I am glad I did. The first book he is working from is Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, and the work is quite meaningful and enjoyable.

Timez Attack – What can I say? It is a program that teaches kids their math facts, but it feels like a video game. As my son says, “It even has bosses!”. How can anybody not love that?

The Bad

DreamBox Learning – My son loved this last year and worked on it for most of the year. This year…I don’t know. He is bored by it and doesn’t seem to be learning anything new. The game choices are all the same, and we can’t figure out what he should be working on. There are too many choices in the menu, and he seems to pick the same games over and over. I would like DreamBox better if it would choose what lessons the student should work on each day to keep them progressing.

I was going to use this as his main math program, but I don’t think that will work out. Instead I will most likely have him work on his math facts with Timez Attack and then move on to Life of Fred fractions in January. This was what I did with the twins, and it worked out nicely for them. Hopefully Decca will be able to take the same path.

The Ugly

Equine Science – Honestly Decca loves it. He would be happy learning about horses, or any animal, all day long. Unfortunately I don’t share that passion, and I think after nearly four years of studying animals with him I am done. I don’t want to know about all the different horses or the points of a horse. I don’t want to teach him to draw horses, and I am not interested in looking at picture after picture of horses. I hate to admit it, but we did no science at all this week.

However I did purchase the curriculum and all the books. I took this on knowing I would most likely not like it, and we have no other science as of right now. I am just going to have to buckle down and try to get through it, or at least use the resources with Decca to get something out of it. Then we will be moving on to a different science, a more traditional science. I think it is time that we expand our studies and discover other passions.

Next week I will turn the spotlight on eighth grade and share my thoughts on our curriculum choices.

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.