Sunday, January 3, 2010
Back to School Tomorrow!
Our super awesome science lab... Bwah ha ha ha!
The Christmas tree decorations are down, the new toys and clothes that Santa brought are put away, and the January lessons are (mostly) planned. Super and I are still suffering from this icky cold, but we're not too sick to start school. I'm actually really excited to get back on schedule, and I think the kids are ready, too. They've had a good break, but are already asking what we'll be doing this month...
Dude got an awesome chemistry set for Christmas, and Super got a giant Elements of Science kit, so we'll be using them in addition to our NOEO lessons. (Little do they know that all those nonfiction books we read over the break were part of our science curriculum! Heh, heh, heh!) Both kids are fascinated with the aurora borealis now; I guess I'll just have to put Alaska on our "someday" list!
Since we've been reading Little House in the Big Woods together, I thought it would be fun to make a Laura Ingalls Wilder collage/timeline, to put the story in historical perspective. I happened to mention to Dude that Coca-Cola was invented the same year that Rose Wilder was born, and he got really excited about the project and started calling it "our soft drink unit." (Maybe we'll celebrate its completion with a Coke!) Of course the best way to get Super interested is to relate it to animals somehow, so we'll be making a book called Wildlife in the Big Woods. We'll be studying bears, wolves, and other animals mentioned in the series.
We plan to cook some pioneer-style food as well. I have a terrific resource called The Little House Cookbook by Barbara M. Walker. In addition to the historic recipes, the author gives an honest assessment of what dishes are actually good to eat, as opposed to the ones that are more, um, "educational." We already tried making butter, and we'll be having a johnny-cake breakfast soon, and baked beans and blueberry pudding for dinner one night.
Santa brought me a word wall chart!
I'm really excited to start the year with our new Math on the Level curriculum. I set up the record keeping system over the weekend and made a couple of week's worth of lesson plans and 5-a-days. Long before I read about this curriculum, I had started making mini-practice sheets for the kids because it was clear that they didn't need tons of repetitive drill. We called them "quick six" sheets. It really boosted my confidence to find that Math on the Level uses a similar system! Our first week will consist of lots of review, from subtraction with rounding to multiplication word problems. And we'll get some fraction review with our Little House cooking projects. I don't want to jump into a new topic the first week, but if it looks like we're moving too slowly, I can always adjust the pace.
Dad plans to teach history on Wednesdays, and he'll also start with a review. The kids will look over the timelines they made and discuss what they have learned so far, from the Stone Age to the Ancient Sumerians. Then, it's on to Egypt and Greece!
We learned about Van Gogh's life and paintings last semester, and we'll move on to Monet and Cassatt soon. We never got a chance to do our Van Gogh art project, so that's on the agenda for Friday, along with a museum field trip. A lot of our favorite exhibits seem to be ending this month, so we're trying to catch a few things before they're gone.
Every spelling workbook we've tried so far has been uninspiring, so I'm making a change to AVKO Sequential Spelling. I really like the theory behind it, but I haven't seen it in practice yet. We'll do the first lesson tomorrow and see how it goes (actually, we'll probably do the first 5 or 6 lessons, judging by the difficulty level.) I'm hoping it will make it easier for the kids to do spelling together, instead of maintaining two lists.
We'll continue with the writing practice techniques from Mastering the Mechanics. I still feel like writing takes a back seat to math and science. This year we need to strive for more balance in that area. They get some writing practice working on their science and history notebooks, but not as much as they need. It should be easy to work some writing opportunities into our Laura Ingalls Wilder author study.
As requested by the kids, we'll be taking an imaginary trip to Africa later this spring. I found a couple of great ready-made unit studies and I'm already working on our book list. Super has been interested in lions (and other big cats) for a long time, and both kids really love elephants, so it should be a fun unit for everyone. In addition, Dude wants to make a lapbook about the history of the automobile. Not sure where that came from, but I found some great books for him already. Super isn't sure what her next lapbook will be. I'm betting on an animal of some kind!
The kids will need some time to prepare presentations for their speech club, and Super will probably do drama club again this semester. She and I are really enjoying our mother-daughter book club, too. I'll be teaching at least one French class for our co-op, and we'll continue our Tuesday tea parties where the kids write letters to their pen-pals. If we do just half the things on my master planner, we're sure to have a fun and fascinating semester. I can't wait to get started!