Weekly Update – Spotlight on my Youngest

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I wanted to shift focus this week from the twins to my youngest. I was so worried about the high school years for the twins that I haven’t spent as much time on my youngest. It is not that we have not been schooling every week, but I haven’t taken time to reflect on what is working and what isn’t. This week though I thought I would do just that.

This week Decca worked on Latin every day and as always did wonderfully with it. He also likes it a great deal, and I know this because he always chooses to do it first. I will be keeping him in Latin all year, and next year I have plans to continue with Latin and perhaps add another language.

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Also this week Decca finished A Wrinkle in Time and read a biography on Albert Einstein. A Wrinkle in Time turned out to be one of his favorite books of all time, so we are going to get the rest of the books in the series to read. He did not like the biography on Albert Einstein, and he disliked the work associated with it even more. He enjoyed learning about Albert Einstein, but I believe, as I reflect on it, that the book was too young and basic for him. He was bored with the book and the work.

He worked through five chapters of Life of Fred fractions. He does not like math, but he does like Life of Fred. The lessons are short, he picks up what he needs to know with only a few problems, and he laughs about the story. He is engaged in this curriculum, and it is working so no need to change anything there.

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This is all he did academically this week. Outside of academics he worked on piano daily, he wrote for hours a day, he created new rules for a game he loves,  he made several episodes of a cartoon he is working on, and he also made a game on Scratch. He fills his days up with no trouble. He is never bored when he is working on his own projects, and he is always doing something creative.

Most days I feel like he is an unschooler who I interrupt to work on formal academics. He doesn’t like giving up on his personal time to work on his work even if it is Latin or Life of Fred. He loves those subjects when he finally starts working on them, but if he had his way he would not be working on any formal school.

Anything that bores him he despises. I don’t blame him for that. We are homeschooling, so I should be able to find materials that engage him. I had him tested last year and I was told that he should be working a grade or two ahead overall, and specifically in language arts, he could easily be several grades ahead. The problem I have is that I am having trouble finding material in language arts that is on his level.  I find that it is quite easy to accelerate a student who is ahead in math, but I struggle with language arts. This is confounded by the fact that Decca has a great deal of anxiety and reading anything at a high school level tends to deal with topics that he is not ready to learn about.

So what to do? The truth is I don’t know. He does learn so much on his own that part of me believes I could leave him alone and he would be fine. Another part of me feels like we should be spending so much more time on academics. The truth is that I am far too relaxed of a homeschooler to do that. I do think that I will double his reading, as he loves to read, and I will pick up a grammar book for older kids for him to work through. Other than that I will leave him to his own devices. He is happy to be working on his projects, and I am happy to give him the time.

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Weekly Update

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My youngest had an off week this week. Monday morning started off strong with him beginning a new unit in Moving Beyond the Page (The Wanderer). He plowed through a few lessons in Life of Fred Fractions and he started his new weather unit. Monday afternoon we went to park day with our homeschool group.

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He didn’t seem to have the best time there and when we got home he was done with anything school related.  He was a little sunburn and very tired.

Tuesday he was still feeling tired and unmotivated. He worked a little on weather, reading, and math. He also practiced piano and then we called it a day.

Wednesday he went to piano and had a fairly productive lesson. He also worked for a while on his Latin. It was a review week so he knew all the material which made for an easy time. Also on Wednesday I took him outside to run around and play which was fun for both of us.

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Thursday he went to the studio with my mom to paint. He finished a painting while there.

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He painted this while at the studio.

The rest of the day was not too productive.  He did get a little work done in Moving Beyond the Page. Thankfully he liked the assignment, which had to do with finding your writing voice. The assignments in Moving Beyond the Page never seem like busy work which makes him more engaged and apt to finish. We also completed this fun art project on Thursday.

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Today he has the day completely off. He needed the break, which I understand. Sometimes being 10 can be hard and sometimes being a kid can be hard. He was in need of some down time, so my mom took him to her house for a couple of days, and he was so happy to go.

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The twins working out. They go to a trainer once a week.

The twins, on the other hand, had a great week this week. Their first year of high school is working out so amazingly well that I am almost afraid to write about it in fear of jinxing our good luck.

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Early Monday morning, working on French

On Monday they finally started their French class, which is an online class. It is a live class that meets on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 7:00 am. The first day of class I had to drag Tru out of bed to get him signed in on time. He is not a morning person, so it was quite a production to get him out of bed. Once awake though he loved the class, as did Autry. Their teacher is funny which is the best possible trait a teacher who works with teens can have. He is also quite knowledgeable which makes me happy.

After working through French, math, and history we all went to the park for our homeschool group. The twins hung out with the other teens and then after a few hours they had a group guitar lesson. This was their first lesson and again they both enjoyed it. We tried the first class without a commitment but now we are committed for the year. It is a group lesson in the park that meets twice a month for an hour. This makes it easy to add to our schedule and the practicing only takes about twenty to thirty minutes a day which is manageable for both kids.

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Tuesday they started their day in Laguna working out with a trainer. They do this once a week to help build their core muscles and improve their balance.

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After their session all the kids like to stop in at a local coffee shop for some tea and croissants. Then we spend some time walking around the town and sometimes the beach.

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After our morning the twins came home and did a typical day of school. Their daily work includes biology, algebra (1 and 2), English 1, french, astronomy, piano, and history. Their days are long now that they are doing high school work. Tuesday they worked until 5:00.

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Wednesday and Thursday  was more of the same. French class in the morning on Wednesday, a full day of school until around 5:00. Autry also had piano on Wednesday and choir on Thursday. The twins also made their own painting on Thursday.

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Today the twins had French in the morning, completed math, and then they completed a biology lab. They are working on growing protozoa and also practiced making hanging drop mounts. I don’t remember biology lab being so heavily focused on microscope work when I was younger, but it seems like today that is the main focus (at least so far) in biology.

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 Because Decca is not here today, the twins and I took some time off and went out to eat and then to the costume store. We are hosting a costume party in October and we wanted to get some ideas for what to be. Everyone has to come dressed up as either a historical character or a literary character. Autry has decided to be Marie Antoinette. Tru isn’t sure what he wants to be yet. He was thinking about going as Abraham Lincoln but he didn’t like any of the costumes for Lincoln. If we can put together a Lincoln costume on our own I think that is what he will go as.

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Photo copyrighted and in care of the website Take Back Halloween.
http://takebackhalloween.org/

I am also not sure of what to dress up as. I have been pouring over this great site, and I am getting some wonderful ideas. I appreciate a site that has costumes that my daughter can view without any weird sexual overtones. If you are looking for some costume ideas for yourself or your teen daughter make sure to check it out.

As I finish this update I am sitting on my living room floor watching Midsommer Murders, a favorite around here lately. Tru is in his room working on the credits to a game he finished today. Autry is in her room writing a song. Every so often she runs out here to play something on the piano, then runs back to her room to write it down. It is so quiet here, and already I am missing the noise of my youngest. By the time he comes home Sunday morning I will be ready for his non-stop talking. Until then I am enjoying the peace.

Weekly Update

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Wow, I can’t believe that we have made it through another week here at TADTown. It feels like we started only a few days ago and here we are at the end of week 3. Our routine is now more firmly established, although the twins are still waiting to start an online french class and writing class. Once those start next week we will be up and running on a full schedule.

 

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Working on his balloon globe with his Grandma.

Decca is working through all his work now. He spends about two hours a day on his Moving Beyond the Page work. This week we continued working through the geography unit and The People of Sparks unit. He is slowly adjusting to the amount of reading required at this age. While he loves to read and will often finish a book in one day, when the reading is a book that he didn’t pick out, it seems to take him a long time. Once his reading is done he enjoys doing the work that is scheduled. This week he did several writing assignments, worked with maps, created a newspaper, and created a setting. The work with Moving Beyond the Page seems to be more than busy work. It encourages the student to interact with the material in a meaningful way, and this is why I like it so much.

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A poem he wrote about the four wars and three plagues in The People of Sparks.

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Another work Decca did for an assignment in Moving Beyond the Page – This had to do with setting and was supposed to be a painting or drawing. After he tried for over an hour to get his painting right, he gave up and went to his computer and made this.

In addition to his MBTP work Decca completed another week in Latin, finished a unit in Beast Academy ( he is loving geometry), and began piano lessons with a new teacher that he clicks with. He is now practicing piano every day with no prompting from me.

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He also created a new user profile at Scratch called ScratchLatin and he plans to make videos teaching Latin to kids. His first lesson is already completed and he has begun lesson number two.

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The twins are keeping up with their workload. They are spending a good deal more time working on their school work since they are doing high school level work and taking many outside classes.

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Last year was somewhat of a bust for us because Autry was quite sick for most of the time, so this year we are having to do a few of the same classes again. They are working on biology again this year and Autry is taking Algebra 1 over. She did most of the class last year but she retained so little from it that she wanted to take it again. They are also doing US History again as we did not cover it at a high school level last year. Added to this list is Algebra 2 for Tru, economics for both, guitar lessons for both, French for both, English 1 with additional writing for both, piano lessons and choir for Autry, and fencing and astrophysics for Tru.

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Autry practicing piano.

They are also working on Spencerian Penmanship this year. Tru started this last year, but he didn’t get very far. This year I purchased a set of books for Autry and together they are both working through them.

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They are working through them very slowly, but it is the kind of program where slow and steady is the appropriate way to go. The script is very hard to learn, especially for Tru, but it is worth it. Tru struggles with handwriting  and needed a new program to work through. Autry wanted a program that taught beautiful handwriting,. With Spencerian both of their needs are met. It is hard for Tru, but he takes pride in learning it. They both do, and I have realized that even in the high school years handwriting is important.

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The twins outside the Irvine Museum of Art this week.

Also this week we had park day with our homeschool group on Monday and we went to a museum on Thursday. I am trying to find a balance this year between work at home and activities outside of the house. I want to be able to have time for both, and this week it seemed to work.  I am hoping it works this easily all year.

And that is our week in review.

Weekly Update

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The kids and I are still trying to get into a school routine, but we had a nice week easing back into our schedule. Many of the twin’s outside classes have not started yet, but they have begun their at-home studies. They worked on biology, history, algebra (1 and 2), health and literature.

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The highlight of their week was finishing And Then There Were None
by Agatha Christie. They are reading this book for their teen book club, and they both loved it. Neither one of them could put it down once they started and now they are both reading Murder on the Orient Express.

Tru has also been enjoying his Algebra 2 class that he is taking through CTY online. He spends a couple of hours on it each day and always has some amazing math fact to tell me afterwards. It is wonderful to see him so enthusiastic about math.

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Speaking of Tru, he has also been pouring over another great book, One Two Three . . . Infinity. My friend gave Tru this book because she thought he would enjoy it, and I am so glad she did. I had never heard of it, but I have since read up on it. Apparently it is a classic  in the science and math world . If you have an older kid or teen who loves either subject I highly recommend this book.

Also this week Autry decided that she wants to make lecture videos on the joy of classical music. I think she was inspired by The Great Courses, so she spent the week making her introduction video. She enjoyed making it, and I got a kick out of watching it.

 

This week Decca finished week 2 of Latin, week 3 of this month’s Arrow, and the first few lessons of the environment and cycles unit in MBTP. I am not sure why Moving Beyond the Page is not more popular in the homeschooling world, but I feel like it is one of the best options out there, especially if you have a creative or gifted learner.

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Working on a project for Moving Beyond the Page

Decca also started his first set of lessons in Beast Academy 4a. We just received his next two books in Life of Fred, fractions and decimals, which we will probably start next week. Honestly math is not a favorite subject of his, but with these books he does seem to tolerate the work.

Also this week Kingsley and I spent a day at the doggie beach in Newport. He had an amazing time!

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And that is our week in review!

Weekly Update

We have been home for almost a week now, and we are starting to get back into the swing of things. The first few days the kids and I were very tired from our trip that we had trouble getting motivated.

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This is a picture of three very bored and tired kids on the plane on the way home from Chicago. Our four-hour flight turned into more of a six-hour flight due to runway delays at both Chicago and Orange County. In Chicago we had to sit on the  runway for nearly an hour while the mechanics double checked the plane due to a warning light that came on. We finally left, and our flight was quick and uneventful to Orange County. However once we landed we were informed that there was no gate for us to taxi to due to the thick fog that had been in Orange County that morning. We ended up spending another hour on the plane just waiting for a gate to open. It was hot and stuffy in the plane, and we all wanted off.

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The kids and I were only on about four hours sleep, and by the time we got home I was done. I hardly made it through the day, and that night I slept for almost twelve hours which is quite crazy for me. I must have been worn out from the trip and needed the sleep. The next day the kids and I finished decorating the tree for Christmas.

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My parents put the tree up while we were gone, and my mom decorated the house. It was great coming home to a festive house with a tree already up (thanks Mom!).

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Besides decorating the house the kids each began reading new books this week. The twins are reading Seraphina, and they both love it. They are enjoying it so much that neither can put it down, but since we only have one copy, they have to take turns. The minute one of them puts it down, the other picks it up.

photo(10)Tru is often into a book like this, but it has been a while since Autry has been. Because she was in school the last year and a half, she rarely had the time for reading for pleasure. She had very little free time due to school, homework, and lessons. In addition she seemed to have lost her love of reading while at school. I am so happy to have her home, and I am so happy to see her once again lost in a book.

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Decca also started a new series this week. He is reading The Boxcar Children. This series is below his reading level, but somehow we missed it when he was younger (although the twins read it). There was a deal on kindle this week for the first ten books in the series for only $6.00. I decided to grab them at that price, and he has been reading them all week. It is a pleasant change to see him reading something other than Scooby Doo.

Tru is still plugging along in all his work. He is flying through Teaching Textbooks geometry, and he is nearly finished with his great course on Understanding the Universe. I need to get him a new course for January, and I am hoping I can pick it up greatly discounted. With all the sales floating around lately this shouldn’t be too hard.

Autry is working through Life of Fred algebra. She came home from school with no confidence in her math abilities, but with Fred’s help, it is slowly coming back. Today we worked on mixture problems which did not come easy to either of us. Luckily Khan Academy is around to help. She watched a few videos on the concept, and then she sat back down to work them out.

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We finished the week working on Block by Block and with a game of Sushi Roll. It was a great ending to our week.

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Weekly Update Through Pictures

I thought it would be fun to do a weekly update through pictures only. Right? Isn’t this fun?

Actually the truth is that I am feeling kind of lazy today, and I just don’t want to write out a long weekly update. So this is not only fun, but also very convenient for me. Yeah!

I can tell already that this is going to be a very random post with very random photos. The one above is of my daughter’s llama friend.  He has recently grown a mustache, and I for one like the new look.

Now to get down to business. What has been going on here lately? Well we had a wonderful storm a week or so ago. I loved it because it was truly a downpour, something that is very rare here in Southern California.

My brother Jesse came out to visit us for a few days. We all had fun spending time with him, but I think Decca and Kingsley enjoyed the visit the most.

I caught Decca working on a new composition on the piano. I love when he sits down at the piano for an hour or so and experiments with sound and rhythm.

And just because I know everyone is dying to hear another song that Decca has been working on here is Worlds are Dying Stars are Crying.

Speaking of music Autry has a concert and a competition next weekend. She has been working hard preparing for both. I hope I am able to get a recording of her songs to post on here next week. In the meantime here is a clip of her and her fellow classmates working on Swing Low Sweet Chariot.

Autry has also been on a Harry Potter kick ever since she signed up for Pottermore, so she created a paper version of getting into Hogwarts. Here is a page where you get to pick your animal. The choices are so cute.

I would have to choose the awkward owl for no reason other than to see the awkwardness.

Now that I have read back through this post I am worried about the possibility of any grandparents and/or other relatives reading this and wondering whether or not the kids have done any real schooling this week. To alleviate those fears I feel the need to state that yes they have done some school this week.

Tru began reading and studying Romeo and Juliet.

And Decca read two books of Scooby-Doo.

We started back up on our study of film history. I put this on hold for a long time because I lost the book we are using as a spine, but I am happy to report that it has been located and our study is going forward. Hopefully by the end of summer the whole study will be completed and uploaded onto my blog.

Also this week I was lucky enough to spend some one-on-one time with a great kid. I snapped this picture of him while we were driving around on errands.

I also snapped this picture of Kingsley in the car with me. The kids and I took him to In-N-Out, which he loved.

And that is our (very strange) week in review.

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

Our week started out great. Everyone was working hard, I was feeling good about OCHSA and the drive, and curriculum was working out. I was feeling great about everything, and then the inevitable happened. We all got sick!

Apparently Autry was feeling bad in the beginning of the week with a sore throat. She didn’t want to tell me because she was afraid she would have to stay home sick from school, and she didn’t want to do that. So she was sick in the beginning of the week, then Tru and I started having a sore throat Wednesday night, and then Decca got sick.  He always seems to get a high fever every time he gets sick, even if the rest of us don’t. He has been sick in bed for the last two days with a 104 degree fever. I am hoping it breaks soon, and that he sleeps tonight, because I am so tired.

We did get some work done in the beginning of the week. Tru is still enjoying his MBTP work. He is working his way through The Hobbit and learning about the history and culture of Australia and Oceania. He is working on maps in both areas, and for literature he is enjoying making his own fictional creature that could be part of the world of The Hobbit. He is going to sculpt a figure of his creature this weekend with his Grandma, and I hope to have a pic up next week of it.

Hobbit map

Map of Australia and Oceania

In science Tru continued studying the lithosphere. He studied shock waves, seismometers, Alfred Wegener, tectonic plates, and the continents. He did two experiments, both of which he enjoyed immensely, even though I thought they were rather simplistic for his age.

In this experiment he was testing how sound travels through different solids and liquids.

A rebound model in which Tru tried to show how the ice age affected the earth's crust. He decided he needed an audience, hence the Lego guys.

In math Tru continued to plug along in LoF pre-algebra. We haven’t received his AoPS book yet. When we do we will share our reactions.  Tru had another speech class, and he is still liking it. He gave a short speech on why he wants to become a better speaker. He told the class that he either wants to be a history professor or an attorney when he gets older, and he thinks being able to speak in public would be helpful for either of those jobs. I thought that was funny.

Decca did a little work this week. We worked through most of LoF Apples. He still loves it. He also continued working in his Singapore Word Problems book. We read more of The Sign of the Beaver, and he did some worksheets on cause and effect and on vocabulary.

He also watched the Sign of the Beaver on Hulu. It is free, and I thought it would be fun to watch. The makers of the movie felt it necessary to add a whole story about Matt’s parents, which I felt was very unnecessary. I skipped all those parts, and we just watched the scenes with Matt and Attean. Decca liked it, and we had a great discussion on how books change when they are made into movies.

Autry started conservatory at OCHSA, and she loves it. She has choir on Monday/Wednesday, theory on Tuesday, and solo work on Thursday. This is why she is at OCHSA, and the drive now seems worth it. She is very happy there, and I am adjusting. I love to see her so enthusiastic for school every morning.

On her way to school in the morning

And that is our week in review.