Weekly Update

I know it is Sunday, a little late for an update, but I figured better late than never. The kids and I had a busy week this week, and the first thing that gets neglected when I get pressed for time is my blog. Today is a nice relaxing day though, so I thought I would spend some time recapping the last few weeks.

Decca and I started one last unit in his animal studies, and he is enjoying it. We are using an Intellego unit study on dolphins, and I have to say I am somewhat surprised by how happy I am with this study. I have looked at Intellego many, many times, and I was always underwhelmed by what I saw. It seemed to me, from the samples I looked at, that it was just a collection of links and nothing more. Well it is a collection of links, but there is a good deal of thought put into the structure of the unit, and the links chosen are there to demonstrate and support the learning for the lesson. I have been so happy with this unit that I am planning on using Intellgo next year for all of Decca’s science and social studies.

In addition to the Intellego unit Decca is reading Dolphin Adventure and Seashore, which is another One Small Square book. These are both easy reads, but I find as we head into summer this is all he wants.

Decca is not doing too much else on our summer schedule. He practices piano everyday, works in a few review workbooks, and writes his own stories. He has also discovered Italian Scooby Doo books, and he received his first book in the mail this week. This has led to a new summer project which I have labeled, “The Great Google Translation Project – Summer 2012” which I have nicknamed “Another Horrible Project That I has Been Sucked Into”. Basically he wants to translate all the Scooby Doo Italian books that he gets. He said he would do this himself, and to his credit he has worked on it everyday, but he is a s-l-o-w typer, so I have stepped in to help him along. It has not been fun, especially because the translations are a little weird (Fred is very angry through most of the book, and he cusses quite often), and I am translating from Italian to English, and then from English to Scooby Doo lingo. I am not sure how many books we will end up doing, but I am hoping he looses interest in these fairly quickly.

Grandma taking Autry to her last Classical Voice concert of the year.

Autry had her last week in conservatory this week. She is off until September, and although she was very sad to see it end, I was very happy. I am amazed at all she has learned in one year at OCHSA, and I love how close everyone in her conservatory has become, but I am tired. Tired of all the driving, tired of the rehearsals and concerts, and tired of the late nights. I am looking forward to her second year, and I can’t wait to see all that she learns next year, but I am so thankful for the break. It came just in time!

Here is a short clip from the season ending song. It was great to hear the whole conservatory sing as one choir.

This last Friday Autry and I went to the Great Homeschool Conference in Long Beach. I was considering not going because of the controversy surrounding the group that sponsors the conference (if you would like to read about this click through to this thread from  the WTM), but I decided to go because I wanted to her some of the speakers, and I wanted to peruse the vendor hall. Autry wanted to go with because she loves to hear about homeschooling, as a formally homeschooled kid, and she wanted to meet Susan Wise Bauer.

We spent just one day at the conference, and we listened to several talks given by Susan Wise Bauer, and between those talks we perused the vendor hall and went out to eat for lunch. It was great to spend a day with just my daughter, and I was so happy to see how enthusiastic for homeschooling Autry was. She loved hearing Susan Wise Bauer speak, and when we left one particularly good talk on literature, Autry proclaimed that she was going to homeschool all her children. She also got to meet Susan Wise Bauer, and she got her autograph on The History of the Medieval World. It was a great day!

Weekly Update

We are on a very relaxed schedule now, and we will probably be on this schedule through July. We do this every year, and it works out for all of us. By May the kids, and truthfully I, are all burned out and ready for a break. I pull way back on what I expect from them, and they spend most of their time doing what they want.

This doesn’t mean that we stop all academic work. Tru is still working through his algebra, as he wants to have this done by next September. He is also reading Shakespeare and keeping up with his French (Rosetta Stone) and history. He plays golf 3 to 4 times a week.

In his room working.

Decca is working on Dreambox math, and he is reading everyday. He is also keeping up with his piano.

In addition he is working on his Scooby Doo story that he is writing, and my mom is illustrating. He takes this very seriously and is on page 33 right now. He hopes to have it finished by June.

The cover of Decca’s Scooby book

With all this free time what have the boys and I been up to? Well we have been swimming nearly every day this week. It has been so nice out, and we felt we had to take advantage of this wonderful weather by being outside.

We have been going on many walks enjoying the nature all around us.

The boys have been working on their Scratch projects, and they both are excited about Scratch 2.0 coming out.

Tru’s latest Scratch project

The changes to Scratch look amazing, and if you haven’t downloaded Scratch for your kids yet, now would be a good time. Here is a video explaining the new version.

Autry was very busy last week with school. She had a concert and a competition. She did an amazing job in both, and she was so happy to find out this week that she has passed the first round in the Southern California Junior Bach Festival, and she will be competing in the second round in September.

Arriving for rehearsals for the Bach Competition.

She sang her songs in English for the first round, but I think she will have to learn them in German for the next round. She is happy that she has all summer to work on them.

Picking up Autry from school on Thursday.

School seems to be winding down for her too, which works nice with our schedule. She only has two more weeks of conservatory and four weeks of academics. Homework is very minimal right now because most of the kids at OCHSA are busy with concerts and shows, and this is great. Autry has been able to come home from school and just relax with the rest of us. In her down time she has been working on writing songs and drawing comics.

Autry’s song Ode to Purple

A comic Autry has been working on this week.

And that is our week in review.

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 – 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 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

Decca started a new unit in Moving Beyond the Page. It is a study of early explorers. He is reading Pedro’s Journal and studying navigation. He is enjoying this unit more than his last, which I am happy about. He especially loves his explorer cards, and he has already cut them out and put them in a case. He wants some bubble gum, so they seem like a collectible pack you would buy in a store. He did the same thing with his American Heroes cards that he had last year.

Decca is also working on Time4Learning again. After many years the company has finally updated some of their lessons, and I am so glad they did. Decca is enjoying them, and he spends over an hour a day on the work. I am so happy that we have re-discovered Time4Learning.

Decca working on Time4Learning

Decca also made more books this week. He is working on the Tio Chuy mysteries (named after his uncle, Tio Chuy).

The Tio Chuy Mysteries

Tru is plugging along with all his work.  I am ecstatic that everything is working out, and I think this may be his best year ever. I can’t tell you how amazed I am that he is still plugging along with Writing With Skill. It is amazing that my reluctant writer has become so confident in his writing.

A first draft of a writing assignment from Writing with Skill. Ignore his heading, it was wishful thinking. 😉

Grandpa had the boys were out at the driving range this week. Decca is getting better every time he goes, but I think he should be wearing his shoes. Tru at least has on some flip-flops. You can tell they are my kids. Autry didn’t wear shoes consistently until she was 9. definitely a homeschooler….

Autry has had a few good weeks at school. She has her first vocal concert tonight which she is looking forward to. She lost her voice yesterday morning, but she rested it for a while and got it back thankfully.

Autry on the way to OCHSA with her "friend" Hillman MacMillman (named by Decca).

She is enjoying the creativity and open-mindedness found at the school. The students at OCHSA seem to have few rules, and the environment supports the kids and their creativity. This week in dance they are learning the routine to Thriller for a dance they will do on Halloween.

In science she worked on a plant cell project. Projects like this are not our strong suit, but she had fun making her edible cell.

Other happenings this week…

Autry and I spent some quality time together. We went out all day Saturday, and it was great to spend some time with her.

Tru and I also had some quality time together. We went out to dinner together and then came home and watched a movie. One-on-one time is so important at this age.

Tru couldn't help sharing his feelings about the math on Time4Learning. He felt they made this problem too complicated and that everyone should be able to add up 50+50+50 on their own.

And that is our 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.