Thursday, March 28, 2013

A Report By Our 3rd Grader

The two younger girls have been working their way through the Apologia Swimming Creatures science program this year with our co-op.  We have finished all the reading and the girls final project is to do a report on one of the swimming creatures we learned about this year.  It fell at the perfect time because Peanut had been learning how to write a report with our IEW writing program.

Sweet Baby did not do IEW with us this year, we tried it for a couple days, but it became apparent that she was not able to sit through the video lessons. So, we have been using a much lighter program for our 3rd grader.  I like the program we are using  but it does not cover report writing so I had to come up with a way to keep it simple for her.  She chose sharks so we checked out a couple books from the library.

I had her choose a couple interesting topics in the books and using a 4x6 note card, she wrote one fact on each card and the topic was placed at the top of the card.  Her topics of choice were:  teeth, body, food and uses for sharks.

After she wrote her bits of information on each card she took the cards and sorted them according to similar topics.  Here she is making her piles. (By the way, I didn't realize how colorful her outfit was, of course it is our school uniform of pj's and a robe, until I looked at this picture!)

After she made her piles we talked about paragraphs having the same ideas in them.  We sat down and then looked at her piles according to individual ideas.  We laid out each card and she ordered them according to which idea logically came first, next, etc.

After she got them in an order she approved of, I had her number the cards (just in case they got separated).

Next week we will move on to writing one paragraph at a time.  

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Lost Coin

Sissy has been working on the Bible Basics badge for American Heritage Girls.  This is a badge she wanted to do herself so we have been working the requirements into her school day.  She needed to choose one of Jesus' parables and tell the story through puppets (which she was required to make). 

She chose the parable of the lost coin.  Mom required her to write the script rather than ad lib and she asked Peanut if she wanted to help.  Yesterday I needed to take Sweet Baby to the orthodontist.  When I arrived home, this was the sight I saw.  It warmed my heart!  Seeing the two of them working together, craft supplies spread out, laughing going on - I reminded myself that THIS is what these days of homeschooling are about. 

I've been a bit preoccupied lately with the fact that Sissy will start high school next year.  I've been stressing out over so much!  Which curriculum will challenge her but not be too difficult? What to do about science specifically, since she really does not like Apologia's upper level sciences?  How do you plan to cover all the necessities for "graduation" while still allowing for some self discovery?  Is my daughter the ONLY 8th grader that doesn't seem to have a passion for anything more than Toby Mac, Jamie Grace and Adventures in Odyssey?  How do I help her find her passion?  SOOOO much has been on my mind - and then I come home and see love, team work, problem solving and having fun. made my heart smile.

So, the girls worked on their puppets - 10 coins and a lady.  The puppets were made of basic felt, googly eyes, craft sticks, pom pom balls and pipe cleaners.  Peanut hand stitched smiles on all of the "gold" coins.  Sissy created the lady.

When I asked why one of the coins had one giant eye, they didn't have a real reason.  They said that it was just because he is the one who gets lost and they wanted him to stand out.  He stood out alright, he makes me think of Mike Wazowski!

 As an after dinner treat, the girls performed their show for us.  I'm not sure which I like best out of this process - seeing Sissy choose the Bible Basics badge and complete it on her own, watching the two girls work so well together or watching the show.  Either way, there were alot of things to enjoy about this one!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Besty Ross, Stars and the Liberty Bell

We have been learning about the Revolutionary War the last few weeks and enjoying it.  We have been discussing the people involved, are working on a lapbook from Hands of a Child about the Founding Fathers, and we have been reading Johnny Tremain for our read aloud.

We were talking about how our first flag was created and discussing Besty Ross.  A badge requirement for one of our American Heritage Girls badges had the girls cut a five pointed star, just like Besty Ross did.  I remembered doing this about 5 years ago, but could not recall the pattern that needed to be followed.   I hopped over to Pinterest to look for a pattern.

It took SEVERAL tries, and SEVERAL links. But eventually we got it.  

Sissy and Sweet Baby gave up after about 6 tries, but Peanut just continued giving it a shot.  She was getting quite frustrated - ok, in all honesty, so was I!  But after about 8 tries, she was delighted when she figured out how to cut a 5 pointed star with just a few folds and one snip.

After the girls cut the star they made a replica of the Liberty Bell.  We used a styrofoam cup, a toilet paper roll, tin foil and pipe cleaners.  First the girls covered their cup with tin foil.  Next we poked two holes in both the toilet paper tube and the top of the cup. They girls fed the pipe cleaner down through the holes in the tube and cup to attach them together.

When the bell was assembled they used a sharpie marker to draw the crack and add "Liberty" on it.

This craft was much easier than the 5 pointed star!

It was much easier and thus, more fun as well.  I can tell by the smile on Sweet Baby's face!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Curriculum Change

I realized I had not shared that we have undergone a curriculum change.  If you recall, we have used My Father's World for the last 4 years.  It has worked fine for us - the best part being the already laid out weekly lesson plans.  I was quite excited to work our way through ancient history the last 2 years and start American History. 

We had been doing pretty well with My Father's World - Explorers to 1850 and then we hit a point, around week 17 or 18 the curriculum had us digress a bit.  We began visiting India, China, Japan, etc. and my kids got confused.  They got confused and I got frustrated.  We were all excited to be learning about America but here we were, exploring other countries for about 3 weeks.  SIGH...I took stock and examined what it is that I like about MFW and what drives me crazy about MFW, because I fully realize that no curriculum is perfect. 

What do I love?  I love the fact that the lesson plans are completely laid out for the parent - honestly, they make it VERY easy to wake up each day and just pull out your manual.  I love the fact that it is a Christian based curriculum so that the majority of the books they choose have a Christian slant and if there is anything in the section that may not match up with a Christian view point, they warn the parent ahead of time.

What drives me crazy?  How long it takes us to do history.  It easily takes us an hour to an hour and a half to work our way through history each day (even for a 3rd grader) and that does NOT include any read aloud that I'm wanting to get through.  I hate jumping all over the globe when it does not seem to tie into what we are learning about. 

Now, keep in mind that MFW has deeply wants our children to recognize that Americans should not be the main focus of everything - they want our children to recognize that God created ALL people and that not all people live like we do.  I do LOVE this aspect of MFW.  In keeping with this thought, they sprinkle information about many different cultures and countries throughout their years with MFW.   I know the thought behind it all but honestly, my children get that. We spent an entire year examining geography and the countries, cultures and religious beliefs of many different areas of our world and then the last 2 years we spent discussing countries other than America.  My kids get it.  They do.  So, we were excited to focus on places we are somewhat familiar with, people we have heard about before, etc.  but we found ourselves jumping to other places and it did not make sense to us.

So....we are trying our hand with TruthQuest history.  TruthQuest is a Christian based curriculum that provides the author's commentary and an enormous amount of books to read related to various topics.  The topics are broken down chronologically and the best part is that we have remained here in America.  History does not take quite as long each day so this allows us to feel a bit freed up AND work our way through a read aloud each day.  Right now we are nearly finished with Johnny Tremain.

What I don't like?  It is a bit of work for mom.  There are no daily lesson plans like My Father's World.  That is about it. 

Will we stick with TruthQuest next year?  Possibly.  We'll have to see what God has planned for us - I've been deep in prayer about it and as we begin planning our courses for next year, TruthQuest is high on our list.