Monday, October 4, 2010

Month in Review: September

The weekly report thing didn't work out very well the last couple of years. I'm a pretty inconsistent blogger as it is, and I really don't want to spend what little blogging time I have on just weekly reports. So while I'm admitting defeat, I'm moving to Plan B -- monthly reports. I'm linking this post up with The Well Trained Mind Weekly Report, so welcome to any fellow WTMers!

Blue House Academy got off to a great start! I spent a lot of time in August and September preparing for the new school year and it has made life so much easier. I can find things in my school room closet, my bookshelves are all categorized, all the handouts for the entire year have been copied and filed in 36 weekly hanging files, and supply lists for each week have been made. I've also come up with a pretty good routine for my weekly prep -- school, that is. My next goal is to get the rest of my life this organized! I'm definitely a work in progress.

Memory Period & Habit Training
geography flashcards for memory period
We reviewed phone numbers, our address, planets, continents and oceans. We learned the books of the Old Testament, our geography vocabulary, two Bible verses for MFW, Sunday School verses, and half of Heidelberg Q&A 1. Over the summer I attended a wonderful Charlotte Mason seminar by Sonya Shafer and decided that we would add habit training to our homeschooling. So we started with the habit of attention and will focus on it for another two weeks.
This has been a good visual reminder for all of us!
We are definitely more aware of when we aren't practicing the habit of attention, but we all still have quite a bit of progress to make. : )
I think he's actually working on his composer study, but the map in the background made me think of geography.
We love, love, love MFW Exploring Countries and Cultures so far! The first week the kids filled out their passport applications and learned that it usually takes a few weeks or more for them to arrive. So we spent the month doing introductory geography activities and touring the United States, which was mostly review from last year when we did Adventures. We "leave" for Mexico on Monday, so I have a feeling those passports will arrive soon. :)
Here are our favorite geography read-alouds for the month:

We're starting up our study of Matthew with ECC. We read about Dwight Moody and Harriet Tubman in Hero Tales. I like how ECC incorporates praying for missionaries and peoples around the world, using Window on the World. Not part of our ECC studies, we going through our church's Jr. Catechism course. It's normally done at the church, but my kids were the only students this year, so we're doing it at home. It's normally for 4th graders, but I thought maybe Grace could handle it. I was wrong. It's a little too difficult, so I'm really having to adapt it for her. Both kids needed more than one week for the memory work (and my kids are great at memorizing). So I'm going to give it another couple of weeks and then decide if we should continue.
We spent the month finishing up our Exploring Creation with Astronomy from last year, or at least we tried. There are still a few more activities I'd like to do, so we'll spend one more week on it and then move on with Zoology I - Flying Creatures. I can't believe I have no science pictures to share!
Art & Music
We learned about lines, primary colors and secondary colors. Coincidentally, when we went out to eat Friday night, Grace pointed out that her crayon packet had the three primary colors and Ryne's had the three secondary colors! Our main art activities for the week, however, are on Fridays, which I will tell about in a minute. The instruments we studied were the clarinet, saxophone, bassoon, and trumpet. Our composer for the month was Franz Schubert, which I wrote more about here.
Read Aloud
Following the ECC schedule, we are working on Cameron Townsend. I love it, but I'm having to stop and explain things quite a bit. The kids do seem to be mostly enjoying it though.
We spent the month finishing Song School Latin and going through Latin Words Sticker Book. I'm so sad to be done with SSL. We dragged it out as long as possible, because it was so much fun. For those of you who've been around a while, remember this?

Last year math went so amazingly great for Ryne. That is until he hit Lesson 24 in Math U See Gamma: Multiplication with Regrouping. We've been on this lesson since spring. And at this rate we might still be working on it next spring. I'm at a loss. Ryne knows how to do the steps -- he can explain it to me. If we work a problem out together he gets it right every time. He knows all his facts, so that's not the problem. He just can't focus long enough to do more than a problem or two correctly. And, yes, I'm keeping the lessons short. I'm going to be reading Knowing & Teaching Elementary Mathematics in hope of finding some inspiration in getting over this hurdle.
Grace too is in a holding pattern. She has not completely mastered her addition and subtraction facts, so we're holding off on Beta will a little bit. In the meantime, while we work on her facts, she's been completing some worksheets from some math workbook that's been sitting on my shelf for years. It has lots of supplementary-type lessons that were not covered in Alpha (ex. - symmetry, simple fractions, graphs, etc.). She also spends a few minutes each day doing different activities for telling time. Our favorite has been this chart that I picked up in the dollar section of Target.
Yes, I did eventually realize she spelled eleven wrong, and we're working on those f's.
It had a title like "Schedule for the Day" or something, but I cut that part off. What I like about it is that I can mix and match so many clock skills. On one line I will draw the hands of the clock and have her fill in the time. Other lines she will fill in the clock hands or even write out the time.

We do almost all our spelling at the white board.
Last year we switched to All About Spelling and I had a hard time getting the hang of it. It felt like a lot of work, and from what I've read on TWTM forums that's a common initial reaction. But I gave it a second chance this year, and it's going wonderfully. Ryne will finish up Level 1 next week and Grace is probably a couple of weeks behind him. They both already know how to spell 99.9% of the words, but I do like how they are really learning the rules behind the spelling. I know I've learned a few things already!
Grammar, Reading & Writing
Ryne's transition from First Language Lessons to Rod and Staff is going great, thanks to some advance planning. Grace continues with FLL and Adventures in Phonics. She is also reading through Paths to Adventure. And now I get to admit my biggest failure for the month. I had planned to watch the IEW DVDs this summer, but didn't. And I didn't get it done in September either. So other than some copywork and journaling for astronomy, there has been very little formal writing for Ryne. I'm pretty sure he's okay with that too. : )
Friday School
This year we are excited to add a mini co-op with a family from our church. We meet at the Blue House where my friend Casey leads art and I lead math games and nature study. You can follow our nature study adventures here. Casey has been coming up with some great activities for art. Two weeks ago the kids put together some modern style self portraits (pictures coming soon) and this last week they made cute paper owls and decorated owl cupcakes while listening to White Owl, Barn Owl.
Friday School is the highlight of our week. The kids are getting along great, and Casey and I are able to sneak in a bit of socializing too. : )
Whew! What a month! Next time I will work on taking more pictures and writing less for our monthly review.
Happy Homeschooling!

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