Saturday, April 24, 2010

Bon Voyage... zzzzzzzzzz

I'm sitting at an airport gate as I type this post!

Don't hate me, but I'm going on a week-long Caribbean cruise with my mother-in-law and two sisters-in-law. We are celebrating the 50th birthday of Marc's oldest sister. Marc's sisters have the greatest nicknames, She-She (that's how Anna pronounced Shari when she was a baby) and Tookie (I'm not sure I'm clear on the origin of that one). So happy birthday, She-She!!!

So while I'm off relaxing and having fun, my kids are being lovingly cared for by Auntie Kristin. I left Kristin with a notebook containing a schedule and menu plan for the week. I managed to prepare most of the meals I planned and even filled the kids workboxes. Yes, I go on a cruise, and they get to do math worksheets.

It sounds like I have my act totally together, right? If you hear laughing right now, that would probably be from my sister and husband who just witnessed a crazy woman trying to get herself out the door on time, not stopping to breath as she babbled on and on about all the important things they needed to know.

Anna's tan school uniform skirt needs to be ironed. I couldn't find the plaid one.

Scratch the quiche for Sunday morning -- it didn't get made. Use the frozen cinnamon rolls instead.

When you drive Ryne to therapy, take a right, a right, a left, a right, a left... got that?!

DO NOT tell the kids the secret ingredient in the blueberry smoothies is frozen spinach!

Please don't let Auntie Kristin see the kids' bathroom!

Yes, I think everyone is ready for me to have a vacation. This is what happens when you get an average of 3 hours a sleep a night all week. So I have my books ready and I'm looking forward to recharging my batteries.

So if my blog is a little quiet... well, that's pretty normal, isn't it. ; )

I really wanted to tell you about something exciting that happened this week too. I had my first in-real-life blog friend meeting! I'll tell you all about it later, but if you're just dying to know, go visit Amy's blog. It was such a fun day!

Okay, the plane is boarding! Please keep my family in your prayers!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

5th Grade Grammar Plans - woo hoo!

Warning #1: This might be the most boring blog post ever.

Warning #2: This post contains way too many abbreviations.

How's that for an intro?

Boring or not, I spent a few precious hours putting together next year's grammar plans for Ryne, and you just never know who might find this information useful. This post does have a limited target audience, however. If you have a child transitioning from
First Language Lessons 4 to Rod & Staff English 5, read on! Otherwise, you have permission to skip this post. : )

Ryne has done amazingly well with the First Language Lessons series. He enjoys it and has really mastered the material. Sometimes when we read for history or another subject, he will point out prepositional phrases or other things he's learned from his grammar studies. And he loves sentence diagramming almost as much as his mother!

I would love for him to continue with the series, but this is the end of the road for FLL. Apparently Jessie Wise is ignoring pleas from homeschool moms everywhere to continue the series past 4th grade. Therefore, a frequent topic on
The Well-Trained Mind forums is what to do after FLL 4. Rod and Staff is a common choice since that was the series recommended by TWTM before FLL came out. Anna never used FLL because there was only FLL 1 & 2 when she started homeschooling in 3rd grade. She did very well with R & S, and has commented often this year that she misses R & S (her school uses A Beka 7 for 6th grade). I always loved R & S too, so I'm happy to be returning to it.

But what if we could have the best of both worlds? I set out to do just that. Well, first I searched in vain all over the internet to see if someone else had already done it. Since that didn't work out, and writing grammar plans seemed a lot more fun than finishing our tax return, I did it myself.

FLL's approach is four-fold: 1) Memorization (poetry and rules/definitions), 2) Copywork and Dictation, 3) Summary Exercises (Narration), 4) Grammar. For us, copywork, narration and dictation are covered in Writing With Ease (which we just started this year). But I knew if I didn't come up with a plan for poetry, it would never get done. So I came up with a grammar schedule that includes memorizing and reviewing six poems. My poetry selections come from the books The Harp and Laurel Wreath or A Family of Poems. I tried to find poems that would appeal to Ryne, yet offer him enough challenge. I scheduled the poems to be introduced at the end of each chapter, with the intention that it would take an entire chapter to fully memorize each poem. There are a few chapters that are devoted to poem review -- just pick one poem to review each day.

Probably the biggest strength of FLL is that the student memorizes several definitions, chants, and songs (if you have the CD) that become the building blocks of English grammar. It would be such a waste to forget it all, so in my schedule I made notes of when to review certain definitions. The child who has finished FLL 3 or 4 should have these definitions and chants down pat, so it should just take a few lessons of review to keep it fresh. The memory work can be found at the back of FLL 4 (make a copy before you sell your TM!).

Since I use WWE for writing, I've omitted the R & S writing lessons from my plans. For outlining I use Beginning Outlining and Outlining by Remedia Publications. I also omitted the lessons on poetry (even Anna found them difficult last year and I think it can wait until later grades -- I'm eyeing The Art of Poetry by Classical Academic Press). Oh, and I omitted some of the R & S lessons on telephone and conversation skills because I think there are more natural ways of teaching a child those skills. Any of these lessons could easily be added back into the plans. What I did include, that could easily be dropped, are tests. I happen to like the tests, but they are not necessary. The worksheets are also unnecessary, but I think my son will find them easier than having to write out all his answers for every lesson. The whole goal of creating these plans was to give him a nice transition between programs. FLL 3 and 4 had easy-to-use worksheets, so using some worksheets in R & S will hopefully make the transition easier. The lessons that have accompanying worksheets are marked with an asterisk.

My plan has 111 lessons, which comes out to a little more than three days a week for a 36 week school year. Very doable. If anyone is still reading this, please feel free to download a copy and tweak it to fit your needs.

5th Grade Grammar Plans

Happy grammar planning!

Monday, April 12, 2010

a will to live

With Dutch blood flowing through my veins, you'd think I'd have a garden full of tulips. Only in my dreams, sadly. But these two beauties? They have determination. I bought these bulbs over 10 years ago. The yard around my 1920 Dutch Colonial was going to have sweeps of spring color through it.

But I was so busy raising babies and and tip-toeing around a kitchen that was missing a floor (seriously! you could just look right down to the basement), that the bulbs never got planted. I read that they would keep in the refrigerator, so they found a home in the vegetable bin, next to the carrots and celery. For two years.

Then we moved to the Blue House. I almost tossed the tulip bulbs as I cleaned out the refrigerator, but I thought,

Oh, why not? You never know...

Even though I did nothing other than bury them in the dense clay that is supposed to pass for a yard, the next spring we did see green leaves. But no flowers.

Fast forward about six or seven years. One fine spring day, the babies who are no longer babies, come running in, saying,

Momma! Come see the tulip!

What tulip?

In the backyard!

You must be kidding.

But they weren't kidding. And this year we even have two tulips.


Sweet Shot Day

Saturday, April 3, 2010